From Nezavisimaya gazeta, Feb. 28, 2022, p. 2 Complete text:

The only way to figure out what is happening today – and, more importantly, why – is by carefully parsing [Russian President] Vladimir Putin’s statements. There are no other sources of information or analysis.

Putin’s position is as follows: “The very course of events and our analysis of incoming information show that a collision between Russia and these forces is inevitable. It’s just a matter of time: They are getting ready, waiting for the right moment. On top of everything else, they are now talking about acquiring nuclear weapons.” Hence, “we can no longer just look on at what is happening. This would be absolutely irresponsible on our part.”

The operative words here are that a collision is inevitable and “we can no longer just look on at what is happening.” The Russian president has analyzed the geopolitical situation our country is in and has made a decision not only to recognize the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics (DPR/LPR), but also to invade Ukraine in order to demilitarize and denazify it [see, respectively, Vol. 74, No. 8, pp. 3‑8, and pp. 9‑13].

If we view this matter in the geopolitical context, we should point out the following. In the last 100 years, a new world order has been established twice. Both times happened after a world war. World War I created the Versailles order; World War II created the Yalta/Potsdam order. The geopolitical interests of the leading powers were taken into account and balanced out.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, we suddenly learned that the US alone was entitled to have national geopolitical interests. All the other countries, including Russia and China, were demoted to a status where their interests had to be rationed. Just like when you are on a diet. You are only allowed 6 grams of this and no more than 5 grams of that. At the same time, the vast majority of Western countries don’t even seek agency in these matters. They have long delegated to supranational bodies the right to ration national interests. Perhaps this is why the West did not deem it necessary to negotiate with Russia over a matter that is extremely important to us – namely, moving NATO’s military infrastructure closer to our borders.

Putin decided not to wait for a new world order to be established after that future “inevitable” war.

This is the context we need to be aware of in order to understand Russia’s policy vis-à-vis Ukraine. One thing that’s unclear, though, is how Russia can improve its security by neutralizing Ukraine. In this new environment, NATO will completely rethink its principles and its nuclear posture. Specifically, it will build a missile shield along its eastern flank. In addition, Russia is now under tough financial and economic sanctions. The purpose is to disrupt Russia’s long-term development through soaring inflation, and limited access to foreign currencies and technology. By setting such objectives, the West probably thinks that there is no need to come to terms with Russia, because it will fall anyway due to lack of resources. Obviously, Russia will not fall (after all, even North Korea and Iran didn’t). So, after a while, the West will realize that it has to negotiate a legal foundation for a new world order – and not just with Russia. By that time, China, too, will get a seat at the table, because it too is determined to safeguard its national geopolitical interests and resolve the Taiwan issue – and is capable of doing so.

What started out a week ago as Russia’s recognition of the DPR/LPR has now been transformed into a special military operation. And the goal is to seize Kiev, topple [Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensky and reconstitute Ukraine as a state, one that is friendly toward Russia.

Given the total lack of information and an articulated official position, all these plans seem very questionable.

Kiev is still able to feed its narrative to the rest of the world, almost as if there were no war. Communications have not been severed. When the US launches a military operation, the first thing it always does is jam the Internet and cell communications, so it can promote its own narrative by vetting war footage. This is not what is happening in Ukraine today. It seems that a narrative that favors Zelensky dominates the international media landscape these days.

Apparently, the Russian leadership has not yet fully realized that such unprecedented sanctions will swiftly wipe out Russia’s financial and economic status in the world. But most Russians will very soon face the prospect of a drastic deterioration in their economic well-being. This will undoubtedly influence public opinion – and ratings.

On the other hand, the Russian leadership may not care much about ratings right now. It perceives the current threats as existential, and no concessions can be made, even if this means saying goodbye to a comfortable life. In that case, there is no sense talking about politics.

Politics is a peacetime luxury.