Above photo: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, left, shakes hands with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, October 19, 2021. cbs17.com.
On the day after the USA announces it has supplied Ukrainian forces with 80,000 kilos of ammunition, this is what was happening this morning in a residential area of Donbass whilst children were making their way to school. #Donbass pic.twitter.com/fPiy8S0z6s
— Dean O'Brien – BA (Hons) (@DeanoBeano1) November 15, 2021
Recent Visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Raises Concerns.
Russell Bentley, a Texan and author of this article, served in the Donbass army. His motivation was to fight fascism; he envisioned himself as an heir to members of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade who volunteered to fight fascism in Spain during the Spanish Civil War.
In part one, Bentley’s provides an assessment of the current tensions in the Ukraine and the character of the regime. Ranked as one of the most corrupt governments in the world, it is a monstrous creation of the U.S. empire guilty of large-scale war crimes.
In part two, Bentley discusses three potential military options for Russia. CAM’s position on this conflict is to endorse the Minsk protocol, which focuses on a diplomatic settlement that offers the Eastern Ukrainian provinces considerable autonomy and could help defuse tensions in the region.
The third military option discussed by Bentley—the Kyiv plan which would entail a Russian march on Kyiv—has three main dangers: a) Ukrainian rightists and nationalists would mobilize against the Russians and pro-Russian forces, prompting a prolonged and devastating war that could be a quagmire for Russia (rather than a cakewalk, as Bentley suggests); b) a Russian invasion would potentially ignite World War III by drawing in the U.S. and NATO; and c) it could even lead to the advent of nuclear war.
Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be conscious of these dangers and intent on restraining hawkish elements within the Russian military—a good thing. At the same time, he has made it clear that Russia will defend its interests and not be pushed around.—Editors
On October 18, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to affirm U.S. support for Ukraine’s war against its eastern provinces.
Since the beginning of the conflict in 2014, the United States has provided more than $2.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine, including $275 million in military aid that has been announced in the last ten months under President Joe Biden, a staunch champion of the war from its inception.
In early November, President Biden dispatched CIA Director William F. Burns to Moscow to warn the Kremlin about its troop buildup on the Ukraine border and to try and force it to back off. Secretary of State Antony Blinken followed up this past week by threatening Russia further in a joint press conference in Washington with the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.
Ukraine, however, started the war following the February 2014 U.S. backed coup and carried out sustained war crimes.
These crimes include: a) the recent kidnapping and torture of a Russian ceasefire monitor in Lugansk; b) a recent attack on Staromaryevka, a settlement of 180 civilians in the de-militarized “Grey Zone,” which included the kidnapping of eight more unarmed civilians (who were also Russian citizens) by neo-Nazi terrorists; and c) the use of a Turkish Bayraktar attack drone against Donbass defense forces.
All this is in addition to the repeated shelling of civilian areas and infrastructure along with a hardening of war rhetoric by the Kyiv regime—with U.S. backing.
Readying for War
The main hope for a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Ukraine lies with the Minsk peace accords—which includes a provision that would allow for considerable autonomy for the eastern provinces. Predictably, the U.S. and Ukraine have shown little interest in adhering to the Minsk accords.
A no-fly zone is currently being enforced by Russia in the airspace over the Donbass Republic. Russia cannot recognize the Donetsk Republic because it would invite further U.S. sanctions and efforts at political isolation; the Donetsk Republic is considered to be a renegade and the U.S. wants Russia to stay out of the war.
All military units of the DPR are currently on full combat alert. News reports and videos have appeared with Russian armor, including “hundreds” of heavy combat vehicles, and 80,000 to 90,000 troops, moving toward the Ukrainian border from the Bryansk, Voronezh and Rostov military districts. They are stationed at Novy Yerkovich—a four-hour (250 km) drive to Kyiv—and along the border near Kharkov, which lies a scant 30 kilometers from Russia’s border.
The troop buildup indicates that Russia is prepared to defend the Donbass region, which consists of almost a million Russian citizens, and to potentially go further and liberate the part of Ukraine populated primarily by ethnic and Russian-speaking Russians.
The U.S./EU/NATO and Ukraine have all been pretending since 2014 that “Russia invaded Ukraine”—which it never did, though Ukrainian provocations make it more likely that it soon will.
The war in Ukraine is not a Ukrainian civil war, nor is it a war between Russians and Ukrainians.
It is a war by resurgent international neo-Nazism, led by the USA against a people fighting for their autonomy backed by a reinvigorated Great Power, Russia, which wants to expand its regional influence and counteract a legitimate security threat on its border.
World Flash Point
The fight in Donbass is one of the major world’s flash points alongside Syria and Taiwan—where U.S. provocations threaten a major war with China.
If the West forces a military confrontation with Russia in Ukraine, it can be sure it will face one with China over Taiwan simultaneously, neither of which it has any chance of winning. The Russians and Chinese have forged a partnership against Western, primarily U.S. aggression in the political, economic, and military spheres.
In Syria, the Turks (a NATO member) have in recent days directly threatened Russian military installations and troops; Should they actually carry out attacks on Russians in Syria, Russia has made clear it will fire back. Turkish troops are now also on the ground in Ukraine, involved in combat operations against Donbass Defense Forces. This too, is a major and recent escalation.
Russia Prepares Its Saddle
But it is in Donbass that the situation is the most incendiary. In response to recent Ukrainian provocations and acts of terrorism, Russia is again sending a military task force to its border with Ukraine, as it did in the spring of this year, which stopped the planned U.S./Ukrainian offensive in its tracks.
After the offensive was scrubbed and the situation de-escalated, the Russian troops withdrew from the border, but now again have returned. This time, indications are that the Russian formations are preparing to, at minimum, come into Donbass as peacekeepers, and perhaps go as far as Kharkov and Odessa as Liberators. Maybe even to Kyiv.
As the recent words of Putin, Lavrov, Medvedev and others have made clear, the Russians have now decided that the time for talking is over. There is an old saying about Russians that applies perfectly well to the current situation—”The Russians are slow to saddle their horses, but when they do, they ride very, very fast.”
Those horses have now been saddled.
Responsibility to Protect (R2P)
If the Russians were to deepen their involvement in the Ukraine, they would not be doing anything the U.S. and NATO have not done themselves on more than one occasion.
Russia not only has the right to protect its citizens, it has the responsibility to do so, under international law.
The “R2P” or “Responsibility to Protect” concept is based on three “pillars” –
Pillar I—Each individual state has the responsibility to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity.
Pillar II—“States pledge to assist each other in their protection responsibilities.”
Pillar III—If any state is “manifestly failing” in its protection responsibilities, then states should take collective action to protect the population” in a “timely and decisive response.”
The UN Security Council has recognized and reaffirmed its commitment to the R2P in more than 80 resolutions. R2P as such has the force of international law.
The flip side of R2P is that it has been used as an excuse by the most powerful countries for international war crimes and has resulted in the trampling of state sovereignty.
One of the requirements of R2P is a UN Security Council resolution approving its implementation. Though this will never happen in the case of Ukraine, there can be no doubt that Ukraine is, in fact, guilty of all the crimes that R2P was created to prevent, including a) war crimes, b) ethnic cleansing, and c) crimes against humanity, all of which have been, and continue to be, committed by the Kyiv regime and its military on a daily basis.
Russian intervention as such could be justified under the R2P doctrine–though it is unlikely any NATO countries would acknowledge this.
Who Will Stop the Crimes Against Humanity?
The list of Kyiv’s war crimes under international law include: a) denial of water to almost 2.5 million civilians in Crimea, b) the intentional targeting of civilians, journalists and medical personnel by artillery and snipers, c) random terror attacks on civilian areas, d) kidnapping, e) rape, f) torture and g) murder.
The Russians have over 2,000 specific war crimes cases open against the Kyiv regime and its proxies, and more are being opened daily. Even the USA has opened war crimes investigations into at least seven U.S. citizens who fought on the Kyiv side in the war.
These investigations into kidnapping, torture, rape, and murder are based on eyewitness, and video and forensic evidence. It will be the first time the U.S. has prosecuted anyone under the War Crimes Act since its passage into law in 1996, a quarter century ago.
The Ukrainian military has as of this writing massacred at least 10,000 ethnic Russian civilians. Some were killed in house-to-house searches of civilian homes by paramilitary units wearing Nazi insignia on their uniforms. The Gestapo-like forces were searching for DPR and Russian passports and kidnapped those who had them.
The Russians cannot just stand by and allow this to happen. And neither should Americans.
Western intellectuals have been quick to invoke R2P to support the bombing of Libya and Syria and a host of other Middle East countries as a cover for U.S. aggression. But how many will invoke the same doctrine when it can be applied to actually save people from large-scale ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity—if Russia is the one doing the saving? Likely none.
Part 2: Three Options for Russia
The way I see it, Russia currently has three main options:
1) The Donbass Plan—The Russian Army can roll into Donbass as peacekeepers, along the current contact line from North of Lugansk to Mariupol, after publicly announcing it to the world a few hours ahead of time, in order to warn the Ukrainian military against resistance, and to explain and justify its humanitarian intervention to the “international community.” They would announce that they come in peace to stop the war crimes and the war, but that any military resistance from any source will be instantly eliminated, with the warning, “If you shoot at us, you die.”
This ultimatum would be non-negotiable and backed up by Russia’s full military power, including air and missile forces, and applied not only to Ukrainian military units, but to U.S. and NATO troops in Ukraine and U.S. and NATO ships in the Black Sea, as well as anywhere else. It can and should also include a reminder of Putin’s previous quote that “Russia will respond to any attack by the destruction not only of the source of the attack, but also the source of the orders for the attack.”
This option would stop all terrorist attacks against Donbass, permanently and completely, and would hopefully give time for a diplomatic solution based on new political realities to be found. It would also not entail the taking of any territory under Ukraine control, only that which has long been alleged under “Russian occupation”.
Once it is seen that the Russians really are coming, and they really do mean business, it is unlikely that the Americans, NATO, or the Ukrainians will fire a shot. This is the least confrontational and least risky approach, as it could be accomplished in a matter of 24 hours, with minimal bloodshed.
This may seem to be a pragmatic solution, but it has the least chance of finding a political compromise or permanent solution, in either the short or long terms. And while it would stop war crimes and protect Russian citizens, it would fail to resolve the overriding geopolitical problems Russia faces in Ukraine—belligerent war criminals on Russia’s borders, the critical Crimean water security issue, foreign enemies in control of a neighboring state, etc. One advantage to this plan, however, is that could be used as a first phase of the Novorussia Plan.
2) The second option is The Novorussia Plan. Under this plan, the Russians can liberate the area known as Novorussia, about one third of current Ukraine, with majority ethnic Russian populations, running along a line from Kharkov to Odessa (inclusive). This not only protects the vast majority of ethnic Russians (not just those in Donbass) from Ukrainian depredations, it solves the critical humanitarian water crisis in Crimea, and cuts Ukraine completely off from the Black Sea. This will also eviscerate all that is left of the Ukrainian economy and begin the process of the dismantling of Ukraine along ethnic lines while eliminating it as a state and as a threat to Russia once and for all.
It will also serve as an example to the world of the new political reality that Russia reserves the right to defend itself, unilaterally, if need be, and that the nation with the most powerful military in the world also has the political will to use it, if it has no other choice and if it is forced to defend itself. This scenario has the best hope of long-term stability for the region, and even the possibility of a future re-integration of some parts of central Ukraine with Novorussia.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of war criminals would probably escape to the West, at least for a while.
3) The third plan, the Kyiv Plan, would be to go to Kyiv, which may or may not involve engaging in a major war. In the best case scenario for Russia, the U.S. and NATO would desert Ukraine in the face of a real fight and leave them on their own. Even if Ukraine did not capitulate in the first few hours, any actual conflict could be finished in a few days, and the process of de-Nazification and war crime trials could begin. In an alternative scenario, the U.S. and NATO would launch air strikes and the war could devolve into a quagmire for Russia, with the risk of nuclear war intensifying.
My belief is that the outcome of the open combat phase of the war would be along the lines of the First Iraq War, (with 80% – 90% of Ukrainian soldiers surrendering without firing a shot) but the subsequent “occupation” would actually be a real liberation. With the removal of neo-Nazis and corrupt oligarchs from positions of power, and the improvement of life quality and life chances for a vast majority of the population, most Ukrainians (with the exception of the rabid fascists in Galicia or Poland) will see the Russian Army as their grandparents saw the Red Army, as heroes and liberators from foreign occupation—which is exactly what they would be.
This may be the least viable and least attractive of the three scenarios, but it is an option, and it would have the required effect of stopping the war crimes against Russian citizens and eliminating Ukraine as an existential threat right on Russia’s doorstep. It would also have the benefit of the capture a large percentage of war criminals (Ukrainian and otherwise) as well as documents and evidence that might be of great interest to history, Russia and the world—an option worthy of serious consideration.
Of all three of these plans, the second, the Novorussia Plan has the most benefit at the least cost. Only going to the contact line in Donbass is not sufficient to resolve the festering Ukrainian problem, and going all the way to Kyiv may well cost more than it is worth. The Novorussia Plan resolves all critical issues at an acceptable cost, and can be implemented, if need be, as a second phase of the Donbass Plan.
With the Voronezh troops coming in through (or around) Kharkov, Airborne and amphibious troops landing in (or around) Odessa, the Rostov Army coming up through Donbass, and the Crimean Army and Black Sea Fleet working along the coast, along with the Bryansk Army waiting in reserve and ready to take Kyiv if required, the 700 Km Front, running from Kharkov to Odessa could be formed and held in a matter of days.
Once Russian fuel and human aid start to flow to liberated Novorussia, grateful citizens will not only not oppose Russian “occupation,” they will support it as genuine liberation, and even be ready to defend it themselves from the cold and hungry Ukrainians who will be begging to be allowed to immigrate to Novorussia.
Incorrigible Nazis and war criminals will be rounded up, tried, and sentenced to work battalions in Donbass, to repair every single thing destroyed or damaged in the war, including the monument at Saur Mogila and all monuments to the Red Army Liberators in the newly liberated lands of Novorussia. The majority of Russian soldiers will quickly be free to return to Russia, and leave the administration and protection of the newly liberated lands to their inhabitants.
Vladimir Putin has more than once recounted a lesson that he learned as a youth on the tough streets of Leningrad. “If the fight is inevitable, it is best to strike first.”
If war indeed breaks out, the main responsibility would rest with the U.S. which triggered the current mess through its sponsorship of the February 2014 coup in Ukraine and gave a green-light for Ukraine to attack its Eastern provinces.
Russell Bentley is a former Texan who holds passports from Russia, the USA and the Donetsk People’s Republic. Russell came to Donbass in 2014 and served in the VOSTOK Battalion and XAH Spetsnaz Battalion through 2015. He then transitioned into the Information War, as a writer and video reporter, countering Western propaganda about the situation in Ukraine and Donbass. He currently works as an accredited war correspondent in the DPR, is married and lives in a small house with a big garden, 5 Km from the frontline in the ongoing Donbass War. Russell can be reached at: email@example.com.