Russia could indeed escalate its special military operation to a literal war as a reciprocal response to the US-led West’s increasingly intensified proxy war on it through Ukraine, though that hasn’t yet happened. Even so, President Putin still felt it necessary to remind everyone about this in the faint hope that cooler heads will prevail.
President Putin met with State Duma leaders and party faction heads on Thursday to commemorate the end of their spring session the day prior, during which time he also shared some thoughts about the Ukrainian Conflict. A certain comment of his caught the eye of the Editorial Director of the Wilson Center-partnered Riddle Russia online journal, Anton Barbashin, who tweeted disinformation by falsely claiming that the Russian leader contradicted his stance of referring to the conflict as a special military operation by finally calling it a war for the first time. A reading of his remarks from the transcript posted on the official Kremlin website reveals that Barbashin was deliberately decontextualizing that particular part of his speech exactly as he earlier twisted CGTN’s reporting about the conflict earlier this spring.
For the reader’s convenience, here are the three instances where President Putin used the word “war”:
“We are being told, we hear some people say that we started the war in Donbass, in Ukraine. No, the war was unleashed by the collective West, which organised and supported the unconstitutional armed coup in Ukraine in 2014, and then encouraged and justified genocide against the people of Donbass. The collective West is the direct instigator and the culprit of what is happening today. If the West wanted to provoke a conflict in order to move on to a new stage in the fight against Russia and a new stage in containing our country, we can say that it has succeeded to a certain extent. A war was unleashed, and the sanctions were imposed. Under normal circumstances, it would probably be difficult to accomplish this.”
Omitted from Barbashin’s disinformation tweet is reference to the Russian leader’s very next paragraph:
“But here is what I would you like to make clear. They should have realised that they would lose from the very beginning of our special military operation, because this operation also means the beginning of a radical breakdown of the US-style world order. This is the beginning of the transition from liberal-globalist American egocentrism to a truly multipolar world based not on self-serving rules made up by someone for their own needs, behind which there is nothing but striving for hegemony, not on hypocritical double standards, but on international law and the genuine sovereignty of nations and civilisations, on their will to live their historical destiny, with their own values and traditions, and to align cooperation on the basis of democracy, justice and equality.”
What follows is an analysis of President Putin’s points and the reason why Barbashin twisted them.
The Russian leader is factually correct: Ukraine has been in a state of civil war since 2014, one which was indeed unleashed by the collective West following the “EuroMaidan” coup in Kiev at the beginning of that year and directly resulted in the slow-motion genocide of the indigenous Russian people of Donbass. Referring to the pre-February 2022 state of affairs as a war is therefore the only accurate way to describe the conflict. Furthermore, the US-led West’s response to Russia’s subsequent special military operation in Ukraine that was initiated in part to end that same genocide is also a war, albeit one waged by proxy against that Eurasian Great Power as practically admitted to by the US Secretary of Defense in late April.
As the author explained in detailed two days after the latest phase of this conflict began, “Russia Isn’t At War With Ukraine, It’s Fighting A US-Backed Fascist Puppet Regime”. This is a crucial distinction that President Putin has hitherto strictly adhered to since his country isn’t at war with that neighboring state nor its people, but with the US-installed fascist puppet regime that’s been exploited by NATO to create unacceptable conventional and unconventional threats to Russia’s national security red lines. Russia’s military activities in that former Soviet Republic still remain just a special operation regardless of politically driven claims to the contrary, which President Putin himself acknowledged when saying on Thursday that his country hasn’t even begun to seriously fight there.
In his words, “Today we hear that they want 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 the Ukrainian people, but that seems to be where it is going. But everyone should know that, by and large, we have not started anything in earnest yet.” This is yet another accurate reflection of reality since Russia hasn’t yet mobilized like it would presumably do if it was truly intent on waging a war, nor has it yet expounded anywhere near the resources connected with such a conflict no matter the discredited claims spewed by the Mainstream Media ridiculously alleging that it’s already run out of ammo and manpower nearly one-third of a year ago.
The difference between a “war” and a special military operation isn’t just a pedantic dispute for propagandistic reasons but the baseline upon which the unipolar liberal-globalist (ULG) and multipolar conservative-sovereigntist (MCS) views towards this conflict respectively are built. To explain, the first-mentioned regard the latest phase of the conflict as having been an unprovoked “Russian invasion”, which therefore makes it an “illegal act of war”, while the second understand the reality of it being Russia’s use of force as a last resort to defend its national security red lines and especially the genocided indigenous Russian people of Donbass after all diplomatic means to that end were outright rejected by Kiev and its US-led Western overlords.
There wasn’t any “Freudian slip of the tongue” like Barbashin falsely implied after deliberately twisting the truth and omitting the paragraph that the author earlier pointed out had literally followed the one that he cited to spew his disinformation, which that US government-connected individual (by virtue of his site’s partnership with the partially Congressionally funded Wilson Center’s “The Russia File” run by its Kennan Institute) did in order to falsely portray President Putin as a hypocritical warmonger. Rather, the Russian leader simply reflected reality as it objectively exists in describing the pre-February 2022 phase of the conflict as a literal (civil) war and pointing out how the US is exploiting its latest phase in order to wage a (proxy) war on his country.
Having clarified that, Russia could indeed escalate its special military operation to a literal war as a reciprocal response to the US-led West’s increasingly intensified proxy war on it through Ukraine, though that hasn’t yet happened. Even so, President Putin still felt it necessary to remind everyone about this in the faint hope that cooler heads will prevail and Kiev’s overlords might ultimately realize that it’s better to have them pressure Zelensky to unilaterally concede on certain sensitive issues than to continue funding his campaign at the inevitable expense of more territorial losses to Russia in that scenario. This goes to show that President Putin isn’t a “monster” or a “madman” like his foes claim, nor a ”mastermind” like his friends do, but is simply someone who sincerely believes in peace if it’s possible.