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US/Nato underestimated Russia

Jonathan Chando
IN last week’s instalment, I wrote largely about misconceptions, and disinformation of the West about the reality in Ukraine.

This week I will begin by mentioning that the head of the European Union diplomacy, Josep Borrell admitted at the G20 summit in Bali last week that the West is losing the “battle of narratives on the situation in Ukraine, proving that the West’s propaganda warfare is failing.

While I indicated that this week I will discuss the ensuing economic warfare, I present further analysis of the military warfare and move to economic warfare next week.

What was Putin’s plan?
Weeks after the Special Military Operation (SMO) commenced, the world was inundated with Western intelligence analyses, proclaiming that Russian president Vladimir Putin had planned to take Kiev in three days but had dismally failed due to the ineptitude of the Russian military and the great professional resistance from the Ukrainian armed forces.

Well, the reality is, if Putin wanted conquest, he could have mobilised over a million men and women for the operation in Ukraine. Instead, he has not, hence he declared a SMO instead of a fully-fledged war.

Putin could also authorise indiscriminate airstrikes on Ukrainian cities using fuel-air and other thermobaric weapons, which could kill millions in a few days, like Nato does in many countries.

He has not. Kiev is still intact, with all its infrastructure functioning, electricity, communications, government agencies and civilian operations.

Putin’s objective as he articulated is denazifying and demilitarising Ukraine and ensuring the safety of the large ethnic Russian population in Ukraine. Western leaders have been visiting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev. They think Russia could not take them and Zelensky out?

Yet the West wants the world to believe that the Russians failed to take Kiev? The situation on the ground indicates that Putin’s objective is to inflict as little damage to Ukrainian infrastructure as possible and achieve the lowest civilian casualties.

Since the alleged American-engineered coup in 2014 that brought Arseniy Yatseniuk to power, and then replaced by Petro Poroshenko, America and Nato have been quietly setting up the command centre for Nato operations against the Russians under the Azovstal Steel Plant in Mariupol.

Three major goals were achieved in the last nine years — a command centre, a major bio-chemical weapon station and a regiment of neo-Nazi soldiers.

All these were done stealthily, top secret military stuff. With so many top NATO generals and scientists shuffling in and out of the secret underground fortresses, and so many soldiers and logistics, biochemical weapons in the facility, it was a very well-kept secret indeed. And they executed these successfully under the nose of the Russians for a while.

But Russian intelligence soon caught the wind. Putin, by the way, was not appointed to be director of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) (successor to the KGB), as a political appointee. He earned his spurs as an intelligent secret service officer.

The Russians became aware of the death machine under the Azovstal Steel Plant in Mariupol. They subsequently planned to denazify and demilitarise the Azovstal Steel Plant/Nato Headquarters and capture all the participants involved.

When Russia started the SMO in Ukraine, the Americans and Ukrainians believed they knew exactly what Putin was going to do. He was going to attack Kiev! The people in the Azov Plant in Mariupol stronghold thought they were safe and secure, unknown and undetected by the Russians. They continued with their daily activities undisturbed.

The US/UK/Nato intelligence failed to read the Russian military strategy and tactical formula. Russia held a siege on Kiev from the first night of the SMO.

The Ukrainian Air Force and air defence infrastructure were disabled/destroyed. That is when the 40-mile (60 km) Russian column was detected by US/Nato satellites, moving towards Kiev. US/Nato intelligence inaccurately read this as an imminent assault on Kiev.

They believed or appeared to believe that Russia wanted to capture Kiev, oust Zelensky and install a puppet in Ukraine. That was an absolute failure of intelligence analysis of Russian intentions.

Russia’s strategy was to hold Kiev under siege, so that Ukraine would keep a considerable chunk of its most effective military units to defend the capital.

And true to Russia’s strategy, Kiev put in place quite a huge chunk of its military to defend Kiev. The Russians, apart from attacking the air defence infrastructure, did not attack Kiev. They just laid siege of the capital. The Russians did the same on Kharkiv and Ukraine responded by building strong defence units there while neglecting the south east.

Instead, Russia went for the kill in the south east, and encircled Mariupol, their primary target, where Nato and the Azov regiment were headquartered.

Meanwhile everything appeared normal in Mariupol. The Americans/Nato believed they were very safe, and no one left the fortress. If they had learnt that they had been exposed, everyone would have evacuated. The Russian attack on Kiev was what they expected.

According to US/Nato intelligence, the attack on Kiev was imminent and all their attention was concentrated on Kiev. It did not happen, Russia never attacked Kiev. It never intended to.

When Russia had ensured the complete encirclement of Mariupol, from land, sea and air, they relaxed the siege on Kiev and Kharkiv. They had achieved their goal, of snaring the Nato/Azov HQ.

None of the US/Nato intelligence analysts saw this coming.

They missed the signs, the decoy, and the diversionary strategy of the Russians — which was to appear to attack west and strike south east. The Russian deception was as perfect as possible from the point of military strategy.

Of course, the arrogance of US/Nato helped, making it easier for Russia to round them up in one move. This miscalculation by US/Nato intelligence resonates with Sun Tzu’s maxim, “If you know neither yourself nor the enemy, you will succumb in every battle”. The US/Nato will succumb in every battle in the Ukraine theatre going forward.

It was not surprising when the desperate US/Nato tried a last-ditch assault on Mariupol to free their valued generals and scientists. They tried sending helicopter units twice and once using boats, but the Russians thwarted the missions.

The US/Nato are guessing and spreading propaganda about the intent of Russia and they continue to claim fake victories against the Russians. They accuse Russia of bombing civilian targets and destroying infrastructure.

Instead, they hide the fact that the Ukrainian Nazis and other soldiers are using civilians as a human shield, positioning their tanks and heavy weapons in civilian areas.

The Russian response would naturally be to direct missiles at positions where Ukrainian fire is coming from, thereby destroying buildings and posing danger to civilians. If any comparison were to be made with Nato’s indiscriminate bombing in  the Russians are too cautious in their approach.

They are doing their best to preserve civilians and infrastructure. With the heavy artillery they are pouring on Ukrainian positions, civilians would have died in their millions if it were Nato.

With most of the heavy weaponry sent to Ukraine by the West being destroyed by Russian precision missiles, while in transit or in warehouses, the West has already started to develop fatigue as they realise they will not win.

Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon recently stated that the continued pumping of military aid to Ukraine, while citizens are facing unprecedented cost of living is irresponsible.

She said no more money for Ukraine will come from Scotland. Sturgeon’s Welsh counterpart, Rebecca Evans said she had been forced to donate for Ukraine, money earmarked for devolved areas like health and education. Demonstrations have erupted across Europe against continued aid to Ukraine on the backdrop of the rising cost of living.

US President Joe Biden stated in the New York Times of May 22, 2022, that the war in Ukraine “will only definitively end through diplomacy”.

He went on to say “every negotiation reflects the facts on the ground. We have moved quickly to send Ukraine a significant amount of weaponry and ammunition so it can fight on the battlefield and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table”. He surmised the US/Nato objectives in giving Ukraine weapons to fight Russia.

They wanted Ukraine to regain lost territory and defeat Russia, then negotiate from a position of strength. However, the reverse is happening, and Ukraine continues to lose territory and will have a much weaker position to negotiate from, if there will be a Ukraine to negotiate for.

On July 7, 2022, former advisor to the US Secretary of State, Colonel Douglas McGregor, warned that if the West continued to supply weapons, Ukraine might disappear from the world map. He criticised the West for military assistance to Kiev instead of contributing to a peaceful resolution of the situation.

Also on July 7, 2022, Putin gave a chilling warning to the West. Part of his speech read:

“Today we hear that the West wants to defeat us on the battlefield. Well, what can I say . . . let them try. We have already heard a lot about the West wanting to fight us to the last Ukrainian. This is a tragedy for Ukrainian people, but that seems to be where it’s going. Everyone should understand that by and large, we’ve not yet commenced anything serious. Those who are refusing to negotiate should know that the longer they wait the more difficult it will be to negotiate with us”.

The speech by Putin is the most direct challenge by Russia to US/Nato that should they want direct confrontation with Russia, they can try and will not win in Russia’s backyard. While Russia now boasts the possession of hypersonic missile systems, the US hypersonic missile test failed for the second time on July 1, 2022, and last Sunday its ICBM test ended in an explosive disaster, thus pitting Russia as the dominant hypersonic force only matched by its ally, China.

In next week’s instalment, I will discuss US/Europe’s economic warfare against Russia and its detrimental effect to Europe, US and the rest of the world, and how it will be the birth of a multipolar world.

  • Chando is a lawyer, political analyst and commentator on International Law and Politics.

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