By Jacques Baud *
Below, we document an an article by Jacques Baud. Baud’s article have several merits: First of all, Baud is what one would call an insider to intelligence and military affars. He is a former Colonel of the General Staff, former member of Swiss strategic intelligence, specialist in Eastern European countries. He was trained in the American and British intelligence services. He was the head of doctrine for United Nations peace operations. A United Nations expert for the rule of law and security institutions, he designed and led the first multidimensional United Nations intelligence service in Sudan. He worked for the African Union and was responsible for the fight against the proliferation of small arms at NATO for 5 years. He was engaged in discussions with top Russian military and intelligence officials right after the fall of the USSR. Within NATO, he followed the Ukrainian crisis of 2014, then participated in programs of assistance to Ukraine.
Based on his close work on Ukraine, Baud provides a close look at the political context within Ukraine and how the crisis evolved and escalated. His main and attention calling thesis: The war did not start on Febaruary 24, with the begin of the Russian “special military operation”, but already on February 16, when the Ukrainian forces started to attack the Donbass Region.
Secondly, Baud takes a critical stance towards common narratives regarding the Ukraine crisis. He presents an account on how the conflict evolved and escalated, based on his own experiences and open material. He exmanines the role of Western intelligence services, takes a close look on the Ukrainian armed forces and the militias, and questions profoundy Western media policy, arguments and narratives.
PART ONE: ON THE ROAD TO WAR
For years, from Mali to Afghanistan, I worked for peace and risked my life for it. It is therefore not a question of justifying the war, but of understanding what led us to it. I note that the “experts” who take turns on the television sets analyze the situation based on dubious information, most often hypotheses turned into facts, and therefore we no longer manage to understand what is happening. That’s how you create panic.
The problem is not so much who is right in this conflict, but how our leaders make their decisions.
Let’s try to examine the roots of the conflict. It starts with those who for the past eight years have been talking to us about “separatists” or “independence” from the Donbass. It’s wrong. The referendums conducted by the two self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk in May 2014 were not “independence” (независимость) referendums, as some unscrupulous journalists claimed, but “self-determination” or “autonomy” (самостоятельность). The term “pro-Russian” suggests that Russia was a party to the conflict, which was not the case, and the term “Russian speakers” would have been more honest. Moreover, these referendums were conducted against the advice of Vladimir Putin.
In fact, these republics did not seek to separate from Ukraine, but to have a statute of autonomy guaranteeing them the use of the Russian language as an official language. Because the first legislative act of the new government resulting from the overthrow of President Yanukovych, was the abolition, on February 23, 2014, of the Kivalov-Kolesnichenko law of 2012 which made Russian an official language. A bit as if putschists decided that French and Italian would no longer be official languages in Switzerland.
This decision causes a storm in the Russian-speaking population. This resulted in fierce repression against the Russian-speaking regions (Odessa, Dniepropetrovsk, Kharkov, Lugansk and Donetsk) which began in February 2014 and led to a militarization of the situation and a few massacres (in Odessa and Mariupol, for the most important). At the end of summer 2014, only the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk remained.
At this stage, too rigid and stuck in a doctrinaire approach to the operational art, the Ukrainian staffs suffered the enemy without succeeding in imposing themselves. Examination of the course of the fighting in 2014-2016 in the Donbass shows that the Ukrainian general staff systematically and mechanically applied the same operational plans. However, the war waged by the autonomists was then very close to what we observed in the Sahel: very mobile operations carried out with light means. With a more flexible and less doctrinaire approach, the rebels were able to exploit the inertia of the Ukrainian forces to “trap” them repeatedly.
In 2014, I am at NATO, responsible for the fight against the proliferation of small arms, and we are trying to detect Russian arms deliveries to the rebels in order to see if Moscow is involved. The information that we receive then comes practically all from the Polish intelligence services and does not “match” with the information from the OSCE: in spite of rather crude allegations, we do not observe any delivery of arms and materials Russian military.
The rebels are armed thanks to the defections of Russian-speaking Ukrainian units which cross over to the rebel side. As the Ukrainian failures progressed, the entire tank, artillery or anti-aircraft battalions swelled the ranks of the autonomists. This is what drives the Ukrainians to commit to the Minsk Accords.
But, just after signing the Minsk 1 Accords, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko launched a vast anti-terrorist operation (ATO/Антитерористична операція) against Donbass. Bis repetita placent: poorly advised by NATO officers, the Ukrainians suffered a crushing defeat at Debaltsevo which forced them to commit to the Minsk 2 Agreements…
It is essential to recall here that the Minsk 1 (September 2014) and Minsk 2 (February 2015) Agreements provided for neither the separation nor the independence of the Republics, but their autonomy within the framework of Ukraine. Those who have read the Accords (they are very, very, very few) will find that it is written in full that the status of the republics was to be negotiated between Kiev and the representatives of the republics, for an internal solution in Ukraine.
This is why since 2014, Russia has systematically demanded their application while refusing to be a party to the negotiations, because it was an internal matter for Ukraine. On the other side, the Westerners – led by France – systematically tried to replace the Minsk Accords with the “Normandy format”, which brought Russians and Ukrainians face to face. However, let us remember, there were never any Russian troops in the Donbass before February 23-24, 2022. Moreover, OSCE observers have never observed the slightest trace of Russian units operating in the Donbass. Thus, the US intelligence map published by the Washington Post on December 3, 2021 does not show Russian troops in Donbass.
In October 2015, Vasyl Hrytsak, director of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), confessed that only 56 Russian fighters had been observed in the Donbass. It was an even comparable to that of the Swiss going to fight in Bosnia during the weekends, in the 1990s, or the French who are going to fight in Ukraine today.
The Ukrainian army was then in a deplorable state. In October 2018, after four years of war, Ukraine’s chief military prosecutor Anatoly Matios said that Ukraine had lost 2,700 men in the Donbass: 891 from disease, 318 from traffic accidents, 177 from other accidents, 175 from poisoning (alcohol, drugs), 172 from careless handling of weapons, 101 from breaches of safety rules, 228 from murder and 615 from suicide.
In fact, the army is undermined by the corruption of its cadres and no longer enjoys the support of the population. According to a UK Home Office report, when reservists were called up in March-April 2014, 70% did not show up for the first session, 80% for the second, 90% for the third and 95% for the fourth. In October/November 2017, 70% of callers did not show up during the “Autumn 2017 ” callback campaign. This does not include suicides and desertions (often for the benefit of the autonomists) which reach up to 30% of the workforce in the ATO zone. Young Ukrainians refuse to go and fight in the Donbass and prefer emigration, which also explains, at least partially, the country’s demographic deficit.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense then turned to NATO to help it make its armed forces more “attractive”. Having already worked on similar projects within the framework of the United Nations, I was asked by NATO to participate in a program intended to restore the image of the Ukrainian armed forces. But it’s a long process and the Ukrainians want to go quickly.
Thus, to compensate for the lack of soldiers, the Ukrainian government resorted to paramilitary militias. They are essentially made up of foreign mercenaries, often far-right activists. As of 2020, they constitute around 40% of Ukraine’s forces and number around 102,000 men according to Reuters. They are armed, financed and trained by the United States, Great Britain, Canada and France. There are more than 19 nationalities – including Swiss.
Western countries have therefore clearly created and supported Ukrainian far-right militias. In October 2021, the Jerusalem Post sounded the alarm by denouncing the Centuria project. These militias have been operating in the Donbass since 2014, with Western support. Even if we can discuss the term “Nazi”, the fact remains that these militias are violent, convey a nauseating ideology and are virulently anti-Semitic. Their anti-Semitism is more cultural than political, which is why the adjective “Nazi” is not really appropriate. Their hatred of the Jew comes from the great famines of the years 1920-1930 in Ukraine, resulting from the confiscation of crops by Stalin in order to finance the modernization of the Red Army. However, this genocide – known in Ukraine as the Holodomor – was perpetrated by the NKVD (predecessor of the KGB) whose upper echelons of leadership were mainly made up of Jews. That is why, today, Ukrainian extremists are asking Israel to apologize for the crimes of communism, as the Jerusalem Post reports. We are therefore a long way from a “rewriting of history” by Vladimir Putin.
These militias, stemming from the far-right groups that led the Euromaidan revolution in 2014, are made up of fanatical and brutal individuals. The best known of these is the Azov regiment, whose emblem is reminiscent of that of the 2nd SS Das Reich Panzer Division, which is the object of real veneration in Ukraine, for having liberated Kharkov from the Soviets in 1943, before to perpetrate the massacre of Oradour-sur-Glane in 1944, in France.
Among the famous figures of the Azov regiment was the opponent Roman Protassevich, arrested in 2021 by the Belarusian authorities following the case of RyanAir flight FR4978. On May 23, 2021, there is talk of the deliberate hijacking of an airliner by a MiG-29 – with Putin’s agreement, of course – to arrest Protassevich, although the information then available does not confirm this scenario in any way.
But it must then be shown that President Lukashenko is a thug and Protassevich a “journalist” in love with democracy. However, a rather edifying investigation produced by an American NGO in 2020, highlighted Protassevich’s far-right militant activities. Western conspiracy then sets in motion and unscrupulous media “groom” his biography. Finally, in January 2022, the ICAO report is published and shows that despite some procedural errors, Belarus acted in accordance with the rules in force and that the MiG-29 took off 15 minutes after the RyanAir pilot decided to land in Minsk. So no Belarus plot and even less with Putin. Ah!… One more detail: Protassevich, cruelly tortured by Belarusian police, is now free. Those who would like to correspond with him, can go to his Twitter account.
The labeling of “Nazi” or “neo-Nazi” given to Ukrainian paramilitaries is considered Russian propaganda. Maybe; but that is not the opinion of The Times of Israel, the Simon Wiesenthal Center or the Counterterrorism Center at West Point Academy. But this remains debatable, because, in 2014, Newsweek magazine seemed to associate them with… the Islamic State. A choice!
So the West supports and continues to arm militias that have been guilty of numerous crimes against civilian populations since 2014: rape, torture and massacres. But while the Swiss government has been very quick to impose sanctions against Russia, it has not adopted any against Ukraine, which has been slaughtering its own population since 2014. In fact, those who defend the rights of the men in Ukraine have long condemned the actions of these groups, but have not been followed by our governments. Because, in reality, we are not trying to help Ukraine, but to fight Russia.
The integration of these paramilitary forces into the National Guard was not at all accompanied by a “denazification”, as some claim. Among the many examples, that of the insignia of the Azov Regiment is edifying:
In 2022, very schematically, the Ukrainian armed forces fighting the Russian offensive are structured as:
– Army, subordinate to the Ministry of Defence: it is articulated in 3 army corps and composed of maneuver formations (tanks, heavy artillery, missiles, etc.).
– National Guard, which depends on the Ministry of the Interior and is articulated in 5 territorial commands.
The National Guard is therefore a territorial defense force which is not part of the Ukrainian army. It includes paramilitary militias, called “volunteer battalions” (добровольчі батальйоні), also known by the evocative name of “retaliatory battalions”, composed of infantry. Mainly trained for urban combat, they now ensure the defense of cities such as Kharkov, Mariupol, Odessa, kyiv, etc.
PART TWO: THE WAR
As former head of the Warsaw Pact forces in the Swiss strategic intelligence service, I observe with sadness – but not astonishment – that our services are no longer in a position to understand the military situation in Ukraine. The self-proclaimed “experts” who parade across our screens tirelessly relay the same information modulated by the assertion that Russia – and Vladimir Putin – is irrational. Let’s take a step back.
The outbreak of war
Since November 2021, the Americans have constantly brandished the threat of a Russian invasion against Ukraine. However, the Ukrainians do not seem to agree. Why ?
We have to go back to March 24, 2021. On that day, Volodymyr Zelensky issued a decree for the reconquest of Crimea and began to deploy his forces towards the south of the country. Simultaneously, several NATO exercises were conducted between the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea, accompanied by a significant increase in reconnaissance flights along the Russian border. Russia then conducts a few exercises to test the operational readiness of its troops and show that it is following the evolution of the situation.
Things calm down until October-November with the end of the ZAPAD 21 exercises, whose troop movements are interpreted as a reinforcement for an offensive against Ukraine. However, even the Ukrainian authorities refute the idea of Russian preparations for a war and Oleksiy Reznikov, Ukrainian Minister of Defense declares that there has been no change on its border since the spring.
In violation of the Minsk Accords, Ukraine is conducting aerial operations in Donbass using drones, including at least one strike against a fuel depot in Donetsk in October 2021. The American press points this out, but not the Europeans and no one condemns these violations.
In February 2022, events rush. On February 7, during his visit to Moscow, Emmanuel Macron reaffirms to Vladimir Putin his attachment to the Minsk Accords, a commitment he will repeat after his interview with Volodymyr Zelensky the next day. But on February 11, in Berlin, after 9 hours of work, the meeting of the political advisers of the leaders of the “Normandy format” ends, without concrete result: the Ukrainians still and always refuse to apply the Accords of Minsk, apparently under pressure from the United States. Vladimir Putin then notes that Macron has made empty promises to him and that the West is not ready to enforce the Accords, as they have been doing for eight years.
Ukrainian preparations in the contact zone continue. The Russian Parliament is alarmed and on February 15 asks Vladimir Putin to recognize the independence of the Republics, which he refuses.
On February 17, President Joe Biden announces that Russia will attack Ukraine in the coming days. How does he know? Mystery… But since the 16th, the artillery shelling of the populations of Donbass has increased dramatically, as shown by the daily reports of OSCE observers. Naturally, neither the media, nor the European Union, nor NATO, nor any Western government reacts and intervenes. We will say later that this is Russian disinformation. In fact, it seems that the European Union and some countries purposely glossed over the massacre of the people of Donbass, knowing that it would provoke Russian intervention.
At the same time, there are reports of acts of sabotage in the Donbass. On January 18, Donbass fighters intercept saboteurs equipped with Western equipment and speaking Polish seeking to create chemical incidents in Gorlivka. They could be CIA mercenaries, led or “advised” by Americans and made up of Ukrainian or European fighters, to carry out sabotage actions in the Donbass Republics.
In fact, as early as February 16, Joe Biden knows that the Ukrainians began to shell the civilian populations of Donbass, putting Vladimir Putin in front of a difficult choice: to help Donbass militarily and create an international problem or to sit idle and watch Russian speakers. from the Donbass being run over.
If he decides to intervene, Vladimir Putin can invoke the international obligation of “Responsibility To Protect” (R2P). But he knows that whatever its nature or scale, the intervention will trigger a shower of sanctions. Therefore, whether its intervention is limited to the Donbass or whether it goes further to put pressure on the West for Ukraine’s status, the price to be paid will be the same. This is what he explains in his speech on February 21.
That day, he acceded to the request of the Duma and recognized the independence of the two Republics of Donbass and, in the process, he signed treaties of friendship and assistance with them.
The Ukrainian artillery bombardments on the populations of Donbass continued and, on February 23, the two Republics requested military aid from Russia. On the 24th, Vladimir Putin invokes Article 51 of the United Nations Charter which provides for mutual military assistance within the framework of a defensive alliance.
In order to make the Russian intervention totally illegal in the eyes of the public we deliberately obscure the fact that the war actually started on February 16th. The Ukrainian army was preparing to attack the Donbass as early as 2021, as certain Russian and European intelligence services were well aware… The lawyers will judge.
In his speech on February 24, Vladimir Putin stated the two objectives of his operation: to “demilitarize” and “denazify” Ukraine. It is therefore not a question of seizing Ukraine, nor even, in all likelihood, of occupying it and certainly not of destroying it.
From there, our visibility on the course of the operation is limited: the Russians have an excellent security of operations (OPSEC) and the detail of their planning is not known. But fairly quickly, the course of operations makes it possible to understand how the strategic objectives were translated into the operational plan.
- ground destruction of Ukrainian aviation, air defense systems and reconnaissance assets;
- neutralization of command and intelligence structures (C3I), as well as the main logistics routes in the depth of the territory;
- encirclement of the bulk of the Ukrainian army massed in the south-east of the country.
- destruction or neutralization of volunteer battalions operating in the cities of Odessa, Kharkov and Mariupol, as well as in various facilities on the territory.
The Russian offensive proceeds in a very “classic” manner. At first – as the Israelis had done in 1967 – with the destruction on the ground of the air forces in the very first hours. Then, we witness a simultaneous progression on several axes according to the principle of “flowing water”: we advance wherever resistance is weak and we leave the cities (very voracious in troops) for later. To the north, the Chernobyl plant is occupied immediately to prevent acts of sabotage. The images of Ukrainian and Russian soldiers jointly guarding the plant are naturally not shown…
The idea that Russia is trying to take over Kiev, the capital, to eliminate Zelensky, typically comes from the West: this is what they did in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and what they wanted to do in Syria with the help of the Islamic State. But Vladimir Putin never intended to take down or overthrow Zelensky. On the contrary, Russia seeks to keep him in power by pushing him to negotiate by encircling kyiv. He had refused to do so far to apply the Minsk Accords, but now the Russians want to obtain Ukraine’s neutrality.
Many Western commentators marveled that the Russians continued to seek a negotiated solution while conducting military operations. The explanation is in the Russian strategic conception, since Soviet times. For Westerners, war begins when politics ceases. However, the Russian approach follows a Clausewitzian inspiration: war is the continuity of politics and one can pass fluidly from one to the other, even during combat. This creates pressure on the opponent and pushes him to negotiate.
From an operational point of view, the Russian offensive was an example of its kind: in six days, the Russians seized a territory as vast as the United Kingdom, with a speed of advance greater than what the Wehrmacht made in 1940.
The bulk of the Ukrainian army was deployed in the south of the country for a major operation against Donbass. This is why the Russian forces were able to encircle it from the beginning of March in the “cauldron” between Slavyansk, Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk, by a thrust coming from the east via Kharkov and another coming from the south from the Crimea. The troops of the Republics of Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (RPL) complete the action of the Russian forces with a push from the East.
At this stage, the Russian forces are slowly tightening the noose, but are no longer under time pressure. Their objective of demilitarization is practically achieved and the residual Ukrainian forces no longer have an operational and strategic command structure.
The “slowdown” that our “experts” attribute to poor logistics is only the consequence of having achieved the objectives set. Russia does not seem to want to engage in an occupation of the whole Ukrainian territory. In fact, it seems rather that Russia is trying to limit its advance to the country’s linguistic border.
Our media speak of indiscriminate bombardments against civilian populations, particularly in Kharkov, and Dantesque images are broadcast on a loop. However, Gonzalo Lira, a Latin American who lives there, presents us with a calm city on March 10, and on March 11. Admittedly it’s a big city and you can’t see everything, but that seems to indicate that we are not in the total war that we are being served continuously on our screens.
As for the Republics of Donbass, they have “liberated” their own territories and are fighting in the city of Mariupol.
In cities like Kharkov, Mariupol and Odessa, defense is provided by paramilitary militias. They know that the objective of “denazification” is aimed primarily at them.
For an attacker in an urbanized area, civilians are a problem. This is why Russia seeks to create humanitarian corridors to empty the cities of civilians and leave only the militias in order to fight them more easily.
Conversely, these militias seek to keep civilians in the cities in order to dissuade the Russian army from coming to fight there. This is why they are reluctant to implement these corridors and do everything so that Russian efforts are in vain: they can thus use the civilian population as “human shields”. Videos showing civilians trying to leave Mariupol and being beaten up by fighters from the Azov regiment are naturally carefully censored here.
On Facebook, the Azov group was considered in the same category as the Islamic State and subject to the platform’s “dangerous individuals and organizations policy”. It was therefore forbidden to glorify him, and the “posts” that were favorable to him were systematically banned. But on February 24, Facebook changed its policy and allowed posts favorable to the militia. In the same spirit, in March, the platform authorizes, in the former Eastern European countries, calls for the murder of Russian soldiers and leaders. So much for the values that inspire our leaders, as we will see.
Our media propagates a romantic image of popular resistance. It is this image that has led the European Union to finance the distribution of arms to the civilian population. It is a criminal act. In my role as chief of doctrine for peacekeeping operations at the UN, I worked on the issue of the protection of civilians. We then saw that violence against civilians took place in very specific contexts. Especially when weapons abound and there are no command structures.
Now, these command structures are the essence of armies: their function is to channel the use of force according to an objective. By arming citizens in a haphazard fashion as is currently the case, the EU turns them into combatants, with the attendant consequences: potential targets. Moreover, without command, without operational goals, the distribution of arms inevitably leads to settling of scores, banditry and actions that are more deadly than effective. War becomes a matter of emotions. Force becomes violence. This is what happened in Tawarga (Libya) from August 11 to 13, 2011, where 30,000 black Africans were massacred with weapons parachuted (illegally) by France. Moreover, the British Royal Institute for Strategic Studies (RUSI) sees no added value in these arms deliveries.
Moreover, by delivering arms to a country at war, one exposes oneself to being considered as a belligerent. The Russian strikes on March 13, 2022, against the Mykolaiv air base follow Russian warnings that weapons transports would be treated as hostile targets.
The EU repeats the disastrous experience of the Third Reich in the last hours of the Battle of Berlin. War should be left to the military and when one side has lost, it should be admitted. And if there is to be resistance, it must imperatively be led and structured. However, we are doing exactly the opposite: we are pushing citizens to go and fight and at the same time, Facebook is allowing calls for the murder of Russian soldiers and leaders . So much for the values that inspire us.
In some intelligence services, this irresponsible decision is seen as a way of using the Ukrainian population as cannon fodder to fight Vladimir Putin’s Russia. This kind of murderous decision had to be left to the colleagues of Ursula von der Leyen’s grandfather. It would have been wiser to engage in negotiations and thus obtain guarantees for the civilian populations than to add fuel to the fire. It’s easy to be combative with other people’s blood…
It is important to understand beforehand that it is not the Ukrainian army which ensures the defense of Mariupol, but the Azov militia, composed of foreign mercenaries.
In its summary of the situation of March 7, 2022, the Russian UN mission in New York states that “Residents report that the Ukrainian armed forces have expelled the personnel of the Natal Hospital No. 1 from the city of Mariupol and have installed a shooting station inside the establishment.”
On March 8, the independent Russian media Lenta.ru published the testimony of civilians from Mariupol who said that the maternity hospital was taken over by the militias of the Azov regiment, and chased out the civilian occupants, threatening them with their weapons. They thus confirm the statements of the Russian ambassador a few hours earlier.
The Mariupol hospital occupies a dominant position, perfectly adequate for installing anti-tank weapons and for observation. On March 9, Russian forces hit the building. According to CNN, there are 17 injured, but the footage shows no casualties on the premises and there is no evidence that the reported casualties are related to this strike. We talk about children, but in reality, we see nothing. It may be true, but it may be false… Which does not prevent EU leaders from seeing it as a war crime… Which allows Zelensky, just afterwards, to claim a no-fly zone over Ukraine…
In reality, we don’t know exactly what happened. But the sequence of events tends to confirm that the Russian forces struck a position of the Azov regiment and that the maternity ward was then free of all civilians.
The problem is that the paramilitary militias which ensure the defense of the cities are encouraged by the international community not to respect the customs of war. It seems that the Ukrainians have re-enacted the scenario of the maternity hospital in Kuwait City in 1990, which had been completely staged by the firm Hill & Knowlton for the amount of 10.7 million dollars in order to convince the United Nations Security Council to intervene in Iraq for Operation Desert Shield/Storm.
Western politicians have also accepted strikes against civilians in Donbass for eight years, without adopting any sanctions against the Ukrainian government. We have long since entered into a dynamic where Western politicians have agreed to sacrifice international law to their objective of weakening Russia.
PART THREE: CONCLUSIONS
As a former intelligence professional, the first thing that strikes me is the total absence of Western intelligence services in representing the situation for a year. In Switzerland, the services have been criticized for not having provided a correct picture of the situation. In fact, it seems that all over the Western world, the services have been overwhelmed by the politicians. The problem is that it is the politicians who decide: the best intelligence service in the world is useless if the decision-maker does not listen to it. This is what happened during this crisis.
That said, while some intelligence services had a very precise and rational image of the situation, others clearly had the same image as that propagated by our media. In this crisis, the services of the countries of the “new Europe” played an important role. The problem is that, by experience, I found that they were extremely bad on the analytical level: doctrinaire, they do not have the intellectual and political independence necessary to appreciate a situation with a “quality” military. It is better to have them as enemies than as friends.
Then, it seems that in some European countries, politicians have deliberately ignored their services to respond ideologically to the situation. This is why this crisis has been irrational from the start. It will be observed that all the documents that have been presented to the public during this crisis have been presented by politicians on the basis of commercial sources…
Some Western politicians obviously wanted there to be a conflict. In the United States, the attack scenarios presented by Anthony Blinken to the Security Council were only the fruit of the imagination of a Tiger Team working for him: he did exactly like Donald Rumsfeld in 2002, who thus “bypassed” the CIA and other intelligence services that were far less assertive about Iraqi chemical weapons.
The dramatic developments we are witnessing today have causes we knew about, but refused to see:
- at the strategic level, the expansion of NATO (which we have not dealt with here);
- on the political level, the Western refusal to implement the Minsk Agreements;
- and on the operational level, the continuous and repeated attacks on the civilian populations of Donbass for years and the dramatic increase at the end of February 2022.
In other words, we can of course deplore and condemn the Russian attack. But WE (that is to say: the United States, France and the European Union in the lead) have created the conditions for a conflict to break out. We show compassion for the Ukrainian people and the two million refugees. It’s good. But if we had had a modicum of compassion for the same number of refugees from the Ukrainian populations of Donbass massacred by their own government and who have been accumulating in Russia for eight years, none of this would probably have happened.
Whether the term “genocide” applies to the abuses suffered by the populations of Donbass is an open question. This term is generally reserved for larger cases (Holocaust, etc.), however, the definition given by the Genocide Convention is probably broad enough to apply. Lawyers will appreciate.
Clearly, this conflict has led us into hysteria. Sanctions seem to have become the preferred tool of our foreign policies. If we had insisted that Ukraine respect the Minsk Accords, which we negotiated and endorsed, none of this would have happened. The condemnation of Vladimir Putin is also ours. There is no point in whining after the fact, we had to act before. However, neither Emmanuel Macron (as guarantor and as a member of the UN Security Council), nor Olaf Scholz, nor Volodymyr Zelensky have respected their commitments. Ultimately, the real defeat is that of those who have no voice.
The European Union was unable to promote the implementation of the Minsk agreements, on the contrary, it did not react when Ukraine bombarded its own population in the Donbass. Had she done so, Vladimir Putin would not have needed to react. Absent from the diplomatic phase, the EU distinguished itself by fueling the conflict. On February 27, the Ukrainian government agrees to start negotiations with Russia. But a few hours later, the European Union voted a budget of 450 million euros to supply arms to Ukraine, adding fuel to the fire. From there, the Ukrainians feel that they will not need to come to an agreement. The resistance of the Azov militias in Mariupol will even causea raise of 500 million euros for weapons.
In Ukraine, with the blessing of Western countries, those who are in favor of negotiation are eliminated. This is the case of Denis Kireyev, one of the Ukrainian negotiators, assassinated on March 5 by the Ukrainian secret service (SBU) because he is too favorable to Russia and is considered a traitor. The same fate is reserved for Dmitry Demyanenko, former deputy head of the main directorate of the SBU for Kiev and its region, assassinated on March 10, because too favorable to an agreement with Russia: he is killed by the Mirotvorets militia (“Peacemaker”). This militia is associated with the Mirotvorets website which lists the “enemies of Ukraine”, with their personal data, address and telephone numbers, so that they can be harassed or even eliminated; a punishable practice in many countries, but not in Ukraine. The UN and some European countries have demanded its closure… refused by the Rada.
Eventually, the price will be high, but Vladimir Putin will likely achieve the goals he set for himself. Its ties with Beijing have solidified. China emerges as a mediator of the conflict, while Switzerland enters the list of enemies of Russia. The Americans must ask Venezuela and Iran for oil to get out of the energy impasse in which they have gotten themselves: Juan Guaido leaves the scene definitively and the United States must pitifully reverse the sanctions imposed on their enemies.
Western ministers who seek to collapse the Russian economy and make the Russian people suffer, even calling for the assassination of Putin, show (even if they partially reversed the form of their remarks, but not on bottom!) that our leaders are no better than those we hate. Because, sanctioning Russian athletes from the Para-Olympic Games or Russian artists has absolutely nothing to do with a fight against Putin.
Thus, therefore, we recognize that Russia is a democracy since we consider that the Russian people are responsible for the war. If not, then why are we trying to punish a whole population for the fault of one? Remember that collective punishment is prohibited by the Geneva Conventions…
The lesson to be drawn from this conflict is our sense of variable geometry humanity. If we were so attached to peace and to Ukraine, why didn’t we encourage her more to respect the agreements that she had signed and that the members of the Security Council had approved?
Media integrity is measured by their willingness to work under the terms of the Munich Charter. They had succeeded in propagating hatred of the Chinese during the Covid crisis and their polarized message leads to the same effects against the Russians. Journalism is stripping itself more and more of professionalism to become militant…
As Goethe said: “The greater the light, the darker the shadow”. The more the sanctions against Russia are excessive, the more the cases where we have done nothing highlight our racism and our servility. Why has no Western politician reacted to the strikes against the civilian populations of Donbass for eight years?
After all, what makes the conflict in Ukraine more blameworthy than the war in Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya? What sanctions have we adopted against those who have deliberately lied before the international community to wage unjust, unjustified, unjustifiable and murderous wars? Did we try to “make suffer” the American people who had lied to us (because it’s a democracy!) before the war in Iraq? Have we even adopted a single sanction against the countries, companies or politicians who are fueling the conflict in Yemen, considered the “worst humanitarian disaster in the world“? Have we sanctioned the countries of the European Union who practice the most abject torture on their territory for the benefit of the United States?
To ask the question is to answer it… and the answer is not glorious.
* Jacques Baud is a former Colonel of the General Staff, former member of Swiss strategic intelligence, specialist in Eastern European countries. He was trained in the American and British intelligence services. He was the head of doctrine for United Nations peace operations. A United Nations expert for the rule of law and security institutions, he designed and led the first multidimensional United Nations intelligence service in Sudan. He worked for the African Union and was responsible for the fight against the proliferation of small arms at NATO for 5 years. He was engaged in discussions with top Russian military and intelligence officials right after the fall of the USSR. Within NATO, he followed the Ukrainian crisis of 2014, then participated in programs of assistance to Ukraine. He is the author of several books on intelligence, war and terrorism, and in particular Le Détournement published by SIGEST, Govern by fake news, The Navalny affair, and Poutine, master of the game? published by Max Milo.