With Russian troops on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, on the second day of military operations, President Vladimir Putin held out an olive branch to his beleaguered and now abandoned Ukrainian counterpart,Volodymyr Zelensky.
In a televised address in the early hours of February 25, the former comedian-turned-politician, said Ukraine had been left alone to fend for itself.
“We have been left alone to defend our state. Who is ready to fight alongside us? I don’t see anyone. Who is ready to give Ukraine a guarantee of NATO membership? Everyone is afraid.”
Zelensky is a fast learner. He has discovered that the west is not a fair-weather friend.
All the tough talk from western capitals has amounted to very little as far as Ukraine is concerned.
The US, Britain and other European powers have issued belligerent statements but no one is willing to put boots on the ground.
They are not fools. Western armies are only good at fighting unarmed, defenceless people.
Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen come to mind.
Even in those locales, Nato armies have been given a blood nose.
Russia is not a third world country; it is a nuclear power.
It can give as good as it takes. The Nato regimes know this.
It is not surprising that after a single day of military operations, Russia has achieved all its objectives.
Ukraine’s air defences have been neutralized giving Russia mastery over Ukrainian airspace.
In the south, the Russian navy captured Zmiinyi Island in the Black Sea, where 82 Ukrainian soldiers surrendered to them, according to Russia’s defense ministry.
Putin said he was ready to discuss with his Ukrainian counterpart ways to obtain a guarantee of neutral status for Ukraine and the promise of no offensive weapons on its territory.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, however, was more forthright.
He said the Ukrainian military must lay down its arms before talks can be held.
He also said that Moscow did not want “neo-Nazis” to govern Ukraine.
“Demilitarization” and “denazification” was also the demand of Putin in his address on February 24 when he announced the launch of “special military operations” in Ukraine.
Let us deconstruct these terms.
“Demilitarization” means Moscow will not allow Nato expansion into Ukraine.
This has been Russia’s demand all along but hitherto, it fell on deaf ears in Nato capitals as well as in Kiev.
“Denazification” is a reference to the neo-Nazis that have usurped state power in Ukraine and targeted Russian speaking people.
Ukraine’s neo-Nazis are supported by western regimes.
Zelensky, of Jewish origins, was elected in 2019 by mainly the Russian speaking people of Ukraine.
They supported him because he promised to work with Russia.
Once in power, he became hostage to the neo-Nazis and the west’s charm offensive and pledges of help.
He now knows better.
In fact, Russia’s military operation and objectives will help Zelensky consolidate power.
It is also important to understand how Putin’s offer of talks emerged.
In an open letter to Zelensky on February 24, a group of Ukrainian MPs appealed to him to start negotiations with Moscow.
The group is led by Vadim Novinsky—a Ukrainian billionaire.
He is also one of the co-leaders of the Opposition Bloc, an association of over dozen political parties.
Did the appeal from opposition MPs lead Zelensky to request French President Emmanuel Macron to convey a message to Putin directly?
Both Macron and the Kremlin have confirmed that the French president held talks with Putin that were “direct and frank”.
Macron also added that the talks were held “on a request from President Zelensky.”
It is important to understand what “direct and frank” means.
Couched in diplomatic terms, they mean Putin must have read the riot act to Macron and told him in no uncertain terms what Moscow’s expectations are.
Macron admitted that the aim of his conversation with Putin was a request from Kiev “to end hostilities as soon as possible.”
This was given further credence when Reuters on February 25 quoted Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak as saying that Ukraine wants peace and is ready for talks with Russia, including on neutral status regarding NATO.
“If talks are possible, they should be held. If in Moscow they say they want to hold talks, including on neutral status, we are not afraid of this,” he said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov explained how this would come about.
“The president [Putin] formulated his vision of what we would expect from Ukraine in order for the so-called ‘red-line’ problems to be resolved. This is neutral status, and this is a refusal to deploy weapons.”
Moscow would like to see Ukraine adopt the same stance as Finland.
Ukraine is unlikely to become a Nato member. Russia will not allow it.
Having Nato troops on its borders armed with missiles that could strike Moscow within minutes is not Russia’s idea of an acceptable proposition.
Forget about Ukraine becoming a Nato member.
The neo-Nazis will also now be hunted by Russian troops.
This will also strengthen Zelensky’s hand since he was held hostage by them.
Welcome to the multi-polar world order.
The US and other Nato forces have been exposed as a bunch of thugs.
They are all gung-ho against unarmed weak states but they get cold feet when it comes to confronting a military power like Russia.
The era of the American century lasted a grant total of 30 years!