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Western ‘Experts’ Insist: Putin Is Bluffing, and Russia Must Be Defeated

June 21, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—The Bloomberg today ran a lengthy op-ed by “Russia expert” Leonid Bershidsky headlined “Putin’s Nuclear Scare Tactics Will Fall Flat.” His analysis is that the Karaganov article was part of a calculated Russian ploy. “The game being played here is, of course, a time-tested good cop/bad cop one. Vladimir Putin, who used his state-of-the-nation address in 2018 to threaten the U.S. with Russia’s new hypersonic weapons, now has taken on the good-cop part.”

Bershidsky confidently asserts that Putin is bluffing, and that the only real red line is if Russia’s “internationally recognized territory” is massively invaded—i.e., Crimea and the Donbass are fair game.

“The Russian response to previous weapon supply escalations has been consistently underwhelming: Russia simply adapted to losing one trump card after another. This has emboldened the U.K. to arm Ukraine with longer-range Storm Shadow missiles, which Russia struggles to shoot down, and a coalition of eight European countries plus the U.S. to start active preparations, including pilot training, for the handover of F‑16 fighter aircraft....

“No nukes will fly until Russia faces an existential threat, such as a massive invasion of its internationally recognized territory. No matter what the Kremlin and its various messengers may say, Ukraine’s efforts to liberate its own territory do not represent such a threat, not even to Putin.”

More pompous, but no less psychotic, is the Kissingerian argument published as an op-ed in the Financial Times by Rose Gottemoeller, a former a high-level State Department official and chief U.S. negotiator on New START, as well as former deputy secretary-general of NATO. “The West Must Act Now To Break Russia’s Nuclear Fever,” she writes. “Putin’s threats are a symptom of a wider anxiety that the U.S. and NATO are bent on Russian dismemberment ... [and seeks] Russia’s full and complete destruction as a nation state. This logic is ridiculous.”

For Gottemoeller, the silly, paranoid Russians need to be reassured that nothing of the sort is in store for them—after they are defeated in Ukraine.

“Russia of course has national interests.... As a first order of business, we can clarify that strategic defeat of Russia does not mean its dismemberment, but it does mean its exit from Ukraine, its willingness to atone for the invasion and the horrors that followed, and its readiness to repair the massive war damage. In those circumstances, we can cooperate with Russia to advance its interests.”

She patronizingly adds: “While Russia’s interests cannot come at the cost of any other country, we can acknowledge that they are valid. Making that clear may help break the nuclear fever: it is to everyone’s benefit that we make that happen.”

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