The Kremlin's Unprecedented Description Of The Ukraine Conflict As A "War" & What It Means

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Friday, Mar 22, 2024 - 07:00 PM

Authored by Andrew Korybko via Substack,

This should be seen as the Kremlin’s clearest signal yet that it’ll respond to the scenario of a conventional Western intervention by striking those opposing forces in line with the international laws governing this form of conflict... Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Argumenti I Fakty newspaper that “We are at war. Yes, it began as a special military operation, but as soon as this group was formed there, when the collective West became a participant in this on the side of Ukraine, for us it already became a war.” This is unprecedented since national security legislation prohibits the use of the word “war”, which is regarded as a mischaracterization of the way in which Russia is conducting what it refers to as a special operation.

The distinction is important regardless of whatever Western commentators claim since a special operation is a voluntarily limited military action whereas a war is only restricted by the international laws governing it (and only then if they’re abided by or externally enforced). Additionally, fighting what’s legally designated by the state as a war instead of a special operation pressures the authorities to respond accordingly to the West’s participation in this conflict, thus heightening the risk of escalation.

Peskov’s rhetorical shift came as France prepares to conventionally intervene in the NATO-Russian proxy war in Ukraine, which German Chancellor Olaf Scholz inadvertently revealed is already an undeclared but limited hot one that’s thus far remained manageable due to each side abiding by unofficial “rules”. By formalizing and then expanding the presence of French troops in the battlespace, however, President Emmanuel Macron risks exacerbating the NATO-Russian security dilemma to uncontrollable proportions.

Peskov’s unprecedented description of the Ukrainian Conflict as a “war” should therefore be seen as the Kremlin’s clearest signal yet that it’ll respond to the scenario of a conventional Western intervention by striking those opposing forces in line with the international laws governing this form of conflict. The reason behind publicly conveying this intent is to prompt France and the other states like the UKPoland, and the Baltic States that might also be contemplating a conventional intervention to rethink their plans.

Their decisionmakers and societies now know how Russia would respond to this provocation, and that could lead to an uncontrollable cycle of escalations that culminate in World War III by miscalculation. To be clear, Russia would have the legal and moral right to strike those opposing forces that enter the battlespace, so the responsibility for setting this dangerous sequence of events into motion rests entirely on the West’s shoulders.

The only reason why that bloc is considering this is because it fears that the possibly impending Russian breakthrough that the Ukrainian Intelligence Committee recently warned might materialize by this summer could deal them a strategic defeat that discredits their politicians at home and abroad. They hyped the world up to expect Russia’s strategic defeat during last summer’s counteroffensive, but that maneuver totally failed, thus reshaping the conflict’s dynamics by placing Kiev back on the defensive.

Instead of accepting a full strategic defeat, some in the West now want to “escalate to de-escalate” by launching a conventional intervention that would either preempt a Russian breakthrough or immediately respond to it, which could then enable them to influence the endgame. In particular, they want to preserve their envisaged “sphere of influence” in Ukraine via its asymmetrical partition between NATO and Russia, not to mention reduce the size of Moscow’s hoped-for buffer zone in that country.

The Kremlin wants to deter them from doing so, which explains its spokesman’s unprecedented rhetorical shift that came amidst the largest-ever attack against Ukraine’s energy grid, with these intertwined diplomatic-military moves signaling what would happen to NATO troops if they get involved. Maintaining their undeclared but limited hot war is much more manageable than Russia being forced to respond to a conventional NATO intervention that it rightly fears could be the start of a larger invasion.

The international laws governing war would therefore be applied to stop this threat right in its tracks, with the consequence being that the West is pressured to retaliate in at least a tit-for-tat fashion so as not to “lose face” at home and abroad, especially after its uniformed soldiers are killed. Although Russia just carried out its largest-ever attacks against Ukraine’s energy grid, however, it’s still officially fighting a special operation that voluntarily limits its military actions instead of an all-out war according to Peskov.

He clarified shortly after his interview was released that “This is a special operation de jure, but de facto for us it turned into a war after the collective West increasingly increased the level of its involvement in the conflict.” This served to show that Russia is still restraining itself, which is meant to prevent its opponents from commencing a conventional intervention on the false pretext that Russia has supposedly already removed all such restraints after Peskov described the conflict as a “war”.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban expressed shock at how Macron’s rhetoric catalyzed this latest “spiral of war” as he phrased it, which “seemed absurd and unthinkable just two months ago” in his words, but he doesn’t have the influence required to stop it or help them manage this latest escalation. The Pope and/or India are the only players with the ability to mediate between the warring parties to that end due to their neutral reputations and the trust that they enjoy with all sides.

China is also neutral just like those two, but it’s not trusted by the West, whose American leader is already preparing to “Pivot (back) to Asia” for the purpose of containing the People’s Republic after the Ukrainian Conflict inevitably ends. It therefore falls on the Pope and/or India to diplomatically intervene if the warring parties agree, which they appear somewhat receptive to when it comes to the second after Prime Minister Narendra Modi just spoke to Presidents Putin and Zelensky on Thursday.

Furthermore, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba is expected to visit India sometime next week in the first such trip by one of his country’s top officials since the special operation began, and this could help India get the diplomatic ball rolling if the political will exists on Kiev’s side to do so. Peace talks might not resume anytime soon, but Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar could still position himself as a possible mediator between the West/Ukraine and Russia.

He's one of the world’s most experienced diplomats so he’ll certainly be able to handle this task if requested, in which case his involvement could help manage this latest escalation by helping the warring parties get a clearer idea of each side’s red lines and how they’ll react in various scenarios. The importance in doing so is to decrease the risk of World War III by miscalculation in the event that a NATO member or group thereof conventionally intervenes in Ukraine after the warning that Russia conveyed.  

Returning to Peskov’s rhetorical shift, the best that it could therefore do is prompt the West to back off from its plans, after which the warring parties could rely on Indian mediation to manage this latest phase of their security dilemma. If the West misinterprets his words as a “bluff” and still goes through with what Macron talked about, especially without India mediating to share each side’s red lines and how they’ll react in various scenarios, then the risk of World War III by miscalculation will be higher than ever.