Rumblings: Abkhazia, Artsakh, S. Ossetia, Serbia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Transnistria, Moldova, Norway, Denmark, Poland and Romania, Part 1
One year from the day the Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine, the West hopes for an end to the conflict. Instead, things seem to be escalating. There is a real possibility now that Russia is about to accelerate and extend the theatre of conflict outside of Ukraine while the West ramps up the lethal firepower inside Ukraine. The threat of a nuclear event has sharply increased in the last few days. Norwegian Intelligence offered several reasons (see below), but they mostly suggest that the greater the loss of Russians in the warzone, the greater the risk of a nuclear escalation by Russia’s leader.
Russia has now abandoned the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks and the START Pact, which means the West will have to ramp up spending on detecting nuclear weapons since there are no more mutual inspection protocols in place. This is necessary now that Russian ships and subs in Northern Europe and the Arctic region are equipped with armed nukes for the first time in thirty years.
The Chinese have opposed Russia’s use of nuclear threats but are now standing by their alliance with Russia. President Xi is traveling to Moscow and has sent his Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, to Moscow in preparation for his visit. The US is now accusing China of considering giving Russia “lethal support.” China is insinuating that the US blew up Nordstream. Of course, the West is now accelerating its lethal support to Ukraine as well. While the rhetoric here is escalating, it may also be that China is trying to become a peace broker here, as I have long argued they would. This is their chance to emerge as a voice of reason and behave as a superpower to avoid terrible outcomes. Meanwhile, the US is moving in the opposite direction. Instead of welcoming China’s efforts, President Biden’s made a surprise visit to Ukraine and gave a confrontational speech in Poland, “Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia.” Even if Biden is right, this will have enraged Putin even more and made it harder to broker a deal.
So, there may be something to the suggestion posed by one of Putin’s philosophical opponents, Andrey Piontkovsky, which is that President Putin is planning to announce an expanded Russian Federation” which would include taking “South Ossetia, Abkhazia into the Russian Federation” whether they like it or not. There is a word for this Russian strategy: