Medium, Aug 18, 2022
Zelenskyy Gamble in Crimea — Everything Is Done to Draw Attention to the Real Start of Putin’s War.
The war did not start on February 24, 2022, but on February 27, 2014.
Almost six months after the outbreak of Russian aggression against Ukraine, the determination of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy remains intact. Every day, he is there to give an update on the situation of this odious war led by Vladimir Putin’s Russian army while giving the necessary motivation to his people to continue the struggle for the survival of their identity.
This asymmetrical war, imposed by an invader much more powerful than its victim, remains particularly difficult in the Donbas, where the Russian steamroller, after the bitter failure of its initial offensive on Kyiv, does not stop advancing, even very slowly.
One after the other, two attacks on Russian military sites in Crimea have just shown that the Ukrainian authorities refuse to resign themselves to being subjected to Russia. As Zelensky had already said several times, the Ukrainians are already prepared to carry out counter-offensives against the territories illegally occupied by the Russian army.
However, the attacks in Crimea remain for the moment tactical moves, not officially claimed. They in no way presume an offensive of which the Ukrainian army remains incapable as it stands. But they do reflect a desire to broaden military options, display a strategy of reconquest, and also to wage battle on the terrain of symbols.
These attacks reinstate the current conflict in the Ukrainian narrative, which fixes the beginning of the Russian aggression not on 24 February 2022, but eight years earlier, on 27 February 2014, with the launch of Russian military operations in the peninsula, the base of the Russian Black Sea fleet. These would lead to a unilateral annexation that a controversial referendum would try to cover with a veil of legitimacy. The United Nations never recognized it.
This battle of narratives is as strategic as the one fought with weapons.
Until now, the calm enjoyed by Crimea, the starting point of the invasion by Russian troops of southern Ukraine, validated Vladimir Putin’s thesis of territorial conquest that was no longer debated. The stays of many Russian nationals on its shores bathed by the waters of the Black Sea supported it. The deterioration of the situation, which has led to hasty departures in the last few hours, is brutal and blurs Moscow’s propaganda.
Zelenskyy wants to remind the world of the reality: Crimea is a Ukrainian territory illegally occupied by the Russian army for over 8 years.
If it is confirmed, as some experts believe, that the attacks were caused by bombings of an unprecedented range (about 200 kilometers), these attacks potentially create a new situation. This could force the Russian aggressor to review a large part of his military system. Anxious not to fuel an uncontrolled escalation, the Western allies have so far limited themselves to military aid, which theoretically does not allow for such bombings.
By attempting to put the fate of Crimea back on the table militarily and by announcing the creation of an “advisory Council on the de-occupation of Crimea”, Volodymyr Zelenskyy is showing boldness. By declaring on August 9, 2022, that “this Russian war against Ukraine and entire free Europe began with Crimea and must end with Crimea — with its liberation,” he confirmed that he considers the time for negotiation to be less than ever, as he is playing new cards in the ongoing war of attrition.
Ukraine will not be satisfied with a ceasefire that splits its territory in two. Ukraine wants its entire territory back, and that includes Crimea, as the events of the last few days show!
Vladimir Putin, who denounced on August 16, 2022, at a conference on security in Moscow the role of the United States, accused of “dragging” the conflict, will have to take into account once again, under pressure, the resilience of Kyiv. Putin, who saw his Russian army capable of taking control of Ukraine in less than a month, is in the middle of a nightmare.
Prisoner of a doxa that has made Crimea a red line, he will have no choice but to escalate, if the attacks attributed to Ukraine continue on the peninsula. Putin would then contribute to making more visible a war that he wanted to hide from his population.
A Russian population that supports him for lack of alternatives, but which will end up dropping him when it realizes the shameless lies of the Kremlin czar which are propagated continuously by the Russian propaganda. Putin will indeed have a hard time justifying the chaos in Crimea when he has been talking for almost 200 days about a simple “special military operation” in Ukraine.
The truth will eventually come out, bringing Putin closer to the inevitable humiliating defeat that awaits him. The big question is to know if he will be able to resist this humiliation …