In a rather typical manner, Russia approached the latest round of negotiations with Ukraine in the Normandy format with a package of ultimatums, being 100% sure of own unshakable position.
Really, how else should it be perceived? Some 140,000 Russian troops have been amassed near the border with Ukraine, while over the next week, Moscow is set out to completely block the Sea of Azov and partially the Black Sea as part of the “exercises,” which significantly restricts navigation to Ukrainian seaports.
In addition, over the past weeks, Russian ultimatums put forward to NATO and the United States became both boorish, vividly reflected in the “pack your stuff” remark, and full of outright lies. For example, MFA spox Maria Zakharova claimed it’s the United States that could invade (sic!) Ukraine
But what do we have at the end of the day?
As a result, after many hours of negotiations, Russian delegate Dmitry Kozak said the talks saw no success, but at the same time Russia lifted its warning on plans to block the Sea of Azov, which was initially planned as part of the “drills.” That is, Russia could have received some counterarguments to its ultimatums, which Kozak couldn’t beat, so perhaps Moscow decided to show some compliance… Or maybe it’s something else.
The thing is that upon Kozak’s empty-handed return to Moscow, with nothing changing in this regard over the past three months despite the scale of the pressure and blackmail Russia exerts on the Western powers, the narrative started spreading rather intensively in the Russian information field that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are literally about to attack the so-called “DPR/LPR.”
That is, the revision of the blocked zones in the Sea of Azov was not so much a demonstration of compliance but rather Russia’s fear of sanctions that it could be faced with for such a gross violation of the Law of the Sea. After all, it was not in vain that Moscow was warned that for such behavior, its own ships may be banned from foreign ports.
Again, the financial factor turned out to be stronger than the inexorable desire to rattle sabers and threaten the whole world with a “Khrushchev shoe” from a Novo-Ogaryovo bunker.
On the other hand, Russia’s reflections didn’t stop there so, in parallel lines with the discussion of the issue of “recognition” of the so-called “LPR/DPR” and arms supplies to these pseudo-republics, Russia set up a large press conference of the self-styled “head” of the “DPR,” Denis Pushilin, to give him a platform for adding more weight to the narratives of an alleged threat posed by the Ukrainian Army.
I earlier wrote that the organizers had even tried to invite to the presser some foreign journalists, which testified to the importance of the event in the general concept of compromising Ukraine.
This, in turn, did not rule out the staging of some violent incident, including with casualties, to enhance the effect of Denis Pushilin’s speech, which Moscow had prepared for this Russian puppet.
Fortunately, it all boiled down to the Russian occupiers once again staging a downing of Ukrainian drone (which turned out to be a small quadcopter) right before the start of the press conference, claiming the UAV had allegedly been set to drop explosives on a civilian area. Also, Pushilin voiced concerns of another wave of “bomb threats” across Donetsk.
To put it mildly, the effect of Pushilin’s speech was just too weak, especially considering that in 2014, the Russian invaders didn’t care much about civilians and even resorted to shelling the entire neighborhoods only to create an appropriate propaganda image to accuse the Ukrainian Army. So this is telling.
Russia’s actions over the recent months clearly show that, while trying to corner the, Moscow went so far that it eventually found itself pressed against the wall. On the one hand, they are afraid to take a decisive step forward, and on the other hand, it is also difficult for them to retreat.
Therefore, we’re observing these opaque, unnerved reflections involving military maneuvers near the Ukraine borders, as well as diplomatic humiliation of Russian officials at international events, poorly crafted disinformation spins, indecisive blocking of the sea areas, and a weak press conference of their puppet in Donbas, which fortunately for Ukraine was not preceded by a staged casus belli Russia could use.