France 24 reported on 1 October 2022 that: (A spokesman for the Ukrainian army announced the entry of its forces into the town of Lyman in the east of the country (in the Donetsk region) after besieging Russian forces…). Russian President Putin had ordered on Wednesday “the first mobilization in his country” since the Second World War, after a major setback on the battlefield in Ukraine… (Euronews 21/9/2022). This came after a counter-attack during which Ukraine regained large areas that Russia had occupied: (The Deputy Defense Minister of Ukraine said on Sunday in statements to Al-Hurra Channel that Ukraine regained 10 thousand square kilometers that Russia had occupied in eastern Ukraine… He explained that Kiev received a lot of support from Western countries and they succeeded in the counter-attack in the east… (Al Balad, Sunday 18/9/2022).
The question is: Is Russia actually weak militarily? Or has Western arm supplies doubled dramatically? Will the partial mobilization of reservists in Russia turn things around? And what is the significance of Russia’s annexation of the four Ukrainian regions, even though Ukraine recaptured Lyman on the following day, which is part of it? Can Russia withdraw from the annexation plan?
In order to crystallize these new facts and realize their dimensions and repercussions, it must first be emphasized that major wars are the fastest and the most guaranteed ways to change the actual balance of power, as they have been throughout history, and by following up on the developments of the war in Ukraine it becomes clear that:
1- Russia did not start the war in Ukraine in order to defend the Russian-speaking people in the Donbas region, even though it was its pretext, but also ignited it to strengthen Russia’s international position. At the verge of igniting the war, Russia demanded security guarantees from Europe, America and NATO, and those guarantees included the non-inclusion of Ukraine to NATO. These Russian aims resulting from what the Russians consider a Western injustice against Russia and an unfairness to its international position as a first-class nuclear power was evident in all statements issued by Moscow before the war. This is also confirmed by Moscow’s insistence on those guarantees and that America and the West provide them in written form. Therefore, and this is very important, America, followed by Europe, has dealt with the Russian war as a rebellion against the international system and not just land claims from Ukraine or in defense of the Russians in eastern Ukraine. The position of America and the West was completely different to the similar position in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea, that is, it was at the level of dealing with a major country that rebelled against the Western international system, which America alone leads.
2- Therefore, the American and European response was severe against Russia, and Russia, which is famous for its political futility, did not expect it… Therefore, America and Europe imposed on it the toughest sanctions in history, and froze its funds abroad, and those countries cut their ties with Russia despite the great need of Europe for Russian oil and gas. Europe, especially Germany, started arming again, and America and Europe started providing massive military support to Ukraine. In the wake of the Russian war in Ukraine, America demonstrated its leadership of the West clearly and unequivocally after it was doubtful during former President Trump’s term. America filled many gaps in its relations with its allies. Due to the reality of the Russian power that pushes Moscow forward was unclear at the beginning of the war as it is clear today, more than half a year after its entry into Ukraine, America has begun providing military aid to Ukraine gradually, and was watching Moscow’s reaction to it, and with the passage of time, the Russian red lines began to fall one after the other, and America and its allies broke the red lines of Russia. Then crossed it beyond them without Russia being able to deter it, and bringing down these lines was to provide military aid to Ukraine and increase it in quantity and quality, from defense to attack… Thus, after America was not encouraging Ukraine to attack Russia in Crimea, it started to encourage it.
3- With its strategic stupidity, Russia rushed recklessly to occupy the Ukrainian lands, and due to its feeling of superiority over Ukraine, it rushed in the depth towards the capital, Kiev, and failed to occupy it and retreated to Donbas. But this retreat revealed a great weakness in the Russian army. Russia did not introduce its aircrafts and did not control the airways in Ukraine, and it was not able to provide logistical support to its advanced forces, and was caught by surprise by the size of the Ukrainian resistance, contrary to what its intelligence had expected. Thus, a serious military weakness was revealed in the Russian army, which created great hopes in Washington for its defeat in Ukraine. It turned out that Russian President Putin’s statements about Russian power were not compatible with the poor field performance of his army. Due to the impact of this exposed weakness on the ground, foreign embassies returned to Kiev after they were closed, and Western officials flocked to the Ukrainian capital one after the other.
4- America began to announce the goals of the military aid to Ukraine, and the announcement of these American goals had a thunderbolt effect in Moscow. America collected field intelligence information via satellite for Ukraine and provided it with military advice. Even the Chief of Staff of the US Army said that he calls his Ukrainian counterpart seven times in the week (Al-Jazeera, September 2022), and by all accounts, this means that America considers the war in Ukraine its war, but without direct participation in it. Indeed, America announces on a weekly basis that additional military aid is provided to Ukraine in billions of dollars. In the sense that America is determined to defeat Russia in Ukraine and remove it from the list of major countries, and this is what Russia is now realizing, but it is too late!
5- Among the indicators of Russia’s strategic weakness that were revealed is that it continued to supply oil and gas to Europe during the six months of the war, even though Europe announced openly that it was on its sure way to give up Russian oil and gas imports, meaning that it did not initiate cutting off oil and gas from countries that declare their hostility to it morning and night. This indicates the severity of Moscow’s need for money, despite its bragging that its economy was not affected by Western sanctions and that the ruble is steadfast in the face of sanctions! And if Russia had completely cut off the Nord Stream 1 gas supply line in early September 2022 before the explosions, but that came too late, and it has been declaring that it is a reliable supplier of energy, on the one hand, and on the other hand, other gas supply lines to Europe, such as the Yamal transiting Poland, Progress and Soyuz lines crossing Ukraine, and Turk Stream pipeline transiting Turkey are still operating and feeding Europe with gas, except for those branches that were cut off by Poland and Ukraine and not by Russia. Russia’s need for money has made it lose its dignity in the international arena. This contradicts its efforts prior to the war to enhance its international standing!
6- Moreover, Russia was surprised by the recent Chinese positions that emerged during the Samarkand Summit of the leaders of the Shanghai Organization, which was held in mid-September 2022 i.e., shortly after Russia’s defeats in Kharkov. Those positions that the Russian president himself revealed when he expressed his understanding of “China’s fears and concerns.” from the war in Ukraine, and (Putin said - in his first meeting with his Chinese counterpart since the start of the Russian war in Ukraine - that Russia appreciates China’s “balanced” position on the Ukrainian crisis. (Al Jazeera Net, 15/9/2022). Thus, it became clear to Russia that the position of China, with which it signed a cooperation agreement “to the fullest extent” before the war in Ukraine, has become “balanced”, that is, it is neither with Russia nor with Ukraine and the West. In fact, China refrained from even mentioning the name “Ukraine” in its joint statements with Russia at the Shanghai Summit and in the statements of its president, but only hinted to that. There is no reasonable doubt that America is showing China the danger of any support for Russia in its war in Ukraine, which is undoubtedly something that China responded to, fearing for its international trade… Therefore, it did not support Russia against the Security Council resolution that denounced the annexation of the four regions in Ukraine. On 1/10/2022, France 24 published the following: (On Friday, Russia has used its veto to prevent the adoption of a draft resolution in the UN Security Council condemning its annexation of four Ukrainian regions… The draft resolution prepared by the United States and Albania was supported by ten member states in contrast to four countries that abstained: China, India, Brazil, Gabon…)
7- In light of all that was mentioned, the Russian attack on Ukraine, which did not succeed in Ukraine’s surrender to Russia’s conditions, reveals a serious military weakness of Russia, and reveals qualitative and large military support from America and the West to Ukraine, some of which are public and some of which are hidden, and because Russia has seen these new facts which it did not expect before the war, Lavrov reminded on 12/9/2022 that Russia does not refuse negotiations with Ukraine (Al-Jazeera, 12/9/2022), but he realizes that the terms of Russian surrender that were placed on Ukraine’s table in the first days of the war have evaporated. There is no hope to restore those Russian conditions except by Russia’s use of nuclear weapons, which is perhaps Russia’s last card at all, but it also knows that the use of nuclear weapons will drag America to war in one way or another, and it is unable to achieve victory in its war with the Ukrainian army, which receives American aid, so how can it achieve it if the US army participated in the war. This is why Russia after the Ukrainian attack is in a difficult situation.
8- Russia realized all these dangers, and its president showed his refusal to the defeat (Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the partial mobilization of the army, referring to his country’s exposure to nuclear threats. (Al Jazeera Net, 21/9/2022), as well as (representatives of Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia provinces supported by Russia, have announced their intention to organize referenda to join Russia from this September 23 to 27. (Turkish Anadolu Agency, 21/9/2022)). Indeed, the referendum took place and the annexation happened. Al Jazeera Net published on 30/9/2022 the following: (Russian President Putin announced that the Ukrainian regions of Lugansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson have become Russian. He also condemned in a lengthy speech what he called the West’s control of the world order, while Ukrainian President Zelensky confirmed that his country had taken a “decisive step” in response to the Russian action). Despite that, the Ukrainian army continued its military actions inside these four regions… It was stated in the France 24 website on 01/10/2022: (A Ukrainian army spokesman announced the entry of his forces into the eastern town of Lyman after besieging the Russian forces around a very important stronghold of Moscow. While Russia confirmed that thousands of people withdrew from the town amid the continuation of the fighting. This is at the same time as Moscow continues to escalate politically after Russian President Vladimir Putin approved on Friday the annexation of four Ukrainian regions… The Ukrainian Defense Ministry wrote on Twitter (Ukrainian air attack forces enter Lyman in Donetsk region). Shortly before that, the Ukrainian army said that it was besieging thousands of Russian soldiers in this town located in the Donetsk region, which was annexed by Russia on Friday).
9- A closer examination of these Russian positions, after all that happened, reveals the following:
a- As has been the mentality of the Russians throughout history, Russia looks at land gains and wants to preserve them at any cost. Therefore, it conducts referendums in the areas that it controlled in whole or in part to annex to Russia, and make this a fait accompli. In the sense that Russia wants to say that these new regions (Lugansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson) have become Russian territories and that an attack on them is an attack on Russia, and that this may require their defense using nuclear weapons according to the requirements of what Russia calls its “military-nuclear doctrine”, that is, it wants to terrorize America and European countries and worn them of the danger of supporting the Ukrainian army by attacking Russian lands and intimidating the Ukrainian army itself. All this indicates the weakness of the Russian army and that it resorts to threats of using nuclear weapons after its inability to win in Ukraine, despite what looks like an international agreement prohibiting their use in wars.
b- The announcement of a partial general mobilization to enlist 300,000 soldiers from the reserves, and a much larger number may be recruited, all of which indirectly indicates the weakness of the Russian army and that it is unable to achieve Russia’s goals in Ukraine, and that the heavy human losses incurred made it need reserves. Yet Russia still boasts that it is not fighting a war but a special military operation.
10- Most likely war in Ukraine has entered an escalating phase surrounded by great danger. If Russia wants to regain dignity for itself, it will burn everything in Ukraine in the coming days, if it has the ability and will to do so, many indicators indicate a decrease in its ability and that its will has weakened. Russia has realized too late that it is in one way or another facing America and European countries in the Ukrainian arena, even though the European countries keep a small opening of their door for Russia, unlike America that turned its back to Russia. Europe plans to abandon Russian oil by the end of this year, and after that its gas, all of this makes the countries of Europe more aggressive in confronting Russia, and this is apparent from the escalation of the Germans’ rhetoric against Russia and the escalation of Germany’s armaments. Russia wanted the referendums of the Ukrainian regions to join Russia to make the Russian gains in these regions a fait accompli for everyone, and kept the ambiguity of the use of nuclear weapons to defend these regions, but the West rejected these referendums and announced that it would continue to support Ukraine militarily, and even provided defense systems that is more advanced air force for Ukraine, and here the Russian predicament became further complicated.
11- As for the issue of declaring mobilization, according to military experts, the issue of mobilizing and bringing in untrained reserve soldiers will not benefit the Russian army much. The issue of the
weakness of the Russian army is much deeper than being aided by an increase in numbers. It is a problem of leadership and a problem of equipment that is not available today in Russia, although Russia is operating its military and dual-production factories for the army with maximum capacity as if it were in a world war, but this will not be decisive because America and the countries of Europe are providing Ukraine with what its army needs as well, and if the heavy losses of the Russian army continue in Ukraine, great pressure will be placed on the Kremlin from inside Russia to stop the war. This pressure will be increased by the explosions of the Russian Nord Stream lines in the Baltic Sea and the resulting interruption of Europe’s hopes for cheap Russian natural gas. And all this makes Russia face greater European hostility, which is the increase in support for the Ukrainian army and the weakening of European voices calling for reconciliation with Russia to obtain cheap gas. This is in addition to the decline in Chinese positions, and thus Russia’s feeling that it is alone in the field of confrontation with America and the West increases, meaning that China has largely abandoned it. All this raises widespread internal criticism of the Kremlin’s leaders that their calculations were wrong, that is, they will be blamed for the new Russian predicament.
12- As for the Russian nuclear threats, they first lack the actual will, as Western intelligence did not notice any new movements of Russia’s nuclear forces, which increases the West’s belief that these Putin’s threats are closer to intimidation than to the actual use of nuclear weapons. And because America and European countries did not show their fear of Russia’s nuclear weapons, even though they said that they take these threats seriously, especially since what is often meant is the Ukrainian arena and not the West itself, and although America announced that it will respond to any Russian use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine, even if it retaliated with conventional weapons to prevent a nuclear war between Russia and America, all of this might cause Russia to lose the deterrent power of the last weapon it possesses, and its weapon might lead to these scourges in the post-war settlements.
13- As for Russia’s retreat from annexation, as stated in the question, it means removing Russia from the international standing and ending its influence on it, and this is a heavy matter for the Russian leadership. Therefore, it is expected that Russia will stop at these four regions, i.e. at the borders of the regions in which it conducted annexation referendums, and perhaps it will add a little more than that, by trying to regain the areas it lost in Kharkov. This will make the Russian president appears “strong” in front of his people and has brought new ground gains to Russia after reclaiming Crimea in 2014, and if this is achieved, it is a small goal for a country that was appearing as a great power that threaten to swallow Ukraine wholistically within a short time. But on the other hand, America and Western countries are encouraging Ukraine and supporting its army to liberate these areas occupied by Russia, and between increasing Western military support to Ukraine and Russia’s mobilization of reserve soldiers, the war zone in Ukraine will most likely witness fierce battles, that it will last for a longer period. While it weakens Russia’s guarantee to win the war except by using nuclear weapons. The war in Ukraine remains open to more international dangers… And if Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov reminds that Russia does not refuse negotiations, America and Britain in particular show their determination to make Ukraine the arena in which Russia is written off from the list of major countries. And between this conflict of wills, Ukraine’s arena remains full of surprises that can turn things upside down.
14- Finally, the major countries in today’s world struggle with each other to achieve their brutal ambitions without paying any attention to any human or moral values. Injustice turns into justice if it achieves what they want, even if it is harmful to others, even if it is all evil. These countries have increased corruption on earth, and the world will not be reformed except by their demise, then the Khilafah (Caliphate) will return on the method of the Prophethood with the work of the workers and the support of the Lord of the worlds.
[وَيَوْمَئِذٍ يَفْرَحُ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ * بِنَصْرِ اللَّهِ يَنْصُرُ مَنْ يَشَاءُ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الرَّحِيمُ]
“And that day the believers will rejoice * In the victory of Allah. He gives victory to whom He wills, and He is the Exalted in Might, the Merciful” [Ar-Rum: 4-5]