“You should not hesitate to commit the greatest crime if the good of the cause requires it.”
This slogan, taken up by Ukrainian nationalists in 1929, seems to be resonating throughout the current Russo-Ukrainian war and beyond, penetrating deep into the halls of power in all countries in the NATO bloc as rhetoric regarding a nuclear escalation reaches a fever pitch.
While US President Joe Biden had to walk back his comments that the risk of nuclear Armageddon was closer than the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 (the White House stated that there was no sign that Russia was preparing any sort of nuclear strike), Western media have been obsessively publishing opinion pieces, stories and content about a “desperate” Vladimir Putin with his finger on the button.
Having pushed their capabilities to the breaking point with extreme sanctions policies, constant weapons shipments, and nonstop financial aid to prop up Ukraine’s economy, one gets the impression that the US/NATO planners not only wish Putin would escalate beyond conventional means, but that they need him to.
The military situation on the ground in Ukraine has been relatively stable for nearly a week, with both sides massing forces and the Russians biding their time until the onset of winter when they will presumably launch a much larger ground operation. Until then, the Russians remain in a defensive posture as Ukrainian and NATO troops on the ground conduct probing attacks in preparation of further counter offensives.
This military reality appears to be unacceptable to the US/NATO as they are intent on baiting Russia into acting impulsively and forcing their timetable. This attitude is apparent when taking into consideration the assassination of Russian civilian Darya Dugin in August, the sabotage on the NordStream pipelines in September, and the recent attack on the Kerch bridge to Crimea.
The truck bombing of the Kerch Strait bridge has garnered a lot of attention in Western media as a significant blow to Russian supply lines, despite the fact that the lightly damaged rail crossing has been restored. Ukrainian officials claimed responsibility for the attack which reportedly killed the driver as well as four other civilians in a passing car.
Two of the victims, identified as Eduard Chuchakin and Zoya Sofronova, were reportedly a married couple who worked as tour guides and historians in the city of St. Petersburg. The couple created a Youtube channel to publish videos on national and local history; the comment section of their last video upload now features multiple expressions of condolences and grief.
In response to the bombing, many pundits and politicians in the NATO sphere expressed delight, revelling in the symbolic attack on an objectively impressive feat of structural engineering.
New Brunswick Minister of Education Dominic Cardy took time out of his day to post that he would like to have a memento of the attack printed on his new bank card:
In Ukraine’s capital city, the postal service created giant replicas of stamps featuring the attack and placed them in public areas, encouraging citizens to take selfies in front of the celebratory illustration:
🔴Ukraine’s Post Office has released a new stamp celebrating the destruction of the Crimea bridge within hours of an alleged attack on it https://t.co/vn6Pg8krYe
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) October 8, 2022
These attacks, which many have argued are explicitly terrorist in nature, and the repeated rhetoric surrounding nuclear escalation that has been on display in NATO countries, must also be placed in the context of the upcoming midterm elections taking place in the US on November 8.
The Republicans, and most recently Donald Trump himself, have been making the midterms into a referendum on Biden’s foreign policy, specifically with regard to Ukraine. In a recent speech, Trump decried the lack of negotiations between Ukraine and Russia; the former President stated that there would be “nothing left of our planet all because stupid people didn’t have a clue” about the danger of escalation.
Coming on the heels of the OPEC+ decision to cut oil production, sending gas prices higher, President Biden and his backers have a rapidly closing window to pull some measure of success out of the multiple crises that threaten to engulf the administration.
As Ukraine attempts to launch what increasingly look like last-ditch counteroffensives before the Russians can bring their growing complement of mobilized ground forces into the field, President Zelensky has stated (before being forced to walk back his comments) that NATO should launch “preventative strikes” against Russia – an act that would undoubtedly lead to the deaths of hundreds of millions.
Russia looks prepared to wage a conventional war on the ground against the “rules-based international order” which is using Ukraine as an instrument toward its larger aims. Will the US accept a military defeat in this grand game for their “order”? Or will they lash out and flip over the game board?
It is a very dangerous moment in the history of our planet, one that sees those holding power in the US becoming more irrational and unpredictable with each passing day. As we are faced with growing economic volatility, we must advocate for a path to stability – a journey which must begin with an end to the pursuit of Russia’s destruction. It is this obsessive pursuit which puts us all at risk of being enveloped in a horrific disaster from which there will be no way back.
Ryan Hillier is a Moncton-based writer and musician.
This report was updated at approximately 1:45 p.m. on October 11, 2022 to clarify initial reports about the Kerch bridge attack.