Kon/nos Philis: The status quo change brought by the referendums and Putin’s nuclear bluff (?)

Kon/nos Philis: The status quo change brought by the referendums and Putin’s nuclear bluff (?)
Kon/nos Philis: The status quo change brought by the referendums and Putin’s nuclear bluff (?)

Russia in recent days roars dangerously. The recent liberation of several areas occupied by Russian forces in its northeast Ukrainian by the Ukrainian army, seems to have made the Russian “bear” forget any narrative of “de-Naziization” of the neighboring country and show the teeth her.

After bringing the issue of the nuclear threat back to the table with a bang, which after Hiroshima and Nagasaki is considered “taboo”, stressing that he is “not bluffing”, he called on partial conscription the Russians and hastened the pseudo-referendums in the Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine, threatening to impose a status quo ala Crimea on Zaporizhia, Luhansk, Donetsk and Kherson.

“I think that at this moment we are in the third phase of the war”, estimates CNN Greece Konstantinos Philisdirector of the Institute of International Affairs and associate professor of the American College of Greece and explains:

“The acceleration of the referendums will create a new reality. That reality is that those remaining in these four areas – because obviously a large part of the native population has been displaced by the war and those who are left will vote alongside the guns of the Russian soldiers – will vote to join Russia. Therefore, there is no doubt about the outcome of the referendums. What remains to be seen is how high the percentage of those who will vote in favor will be.”

“This means that if Putin, the very next day, as happened with Crimea, attach these four regions in Russia, we have change the status quo. Change which is illegalas it was in the Crimea, however it is one de facto new situation. Until today, Russia possessed these regions, but we did not know what their future was – that is, if it would negotiate with them, if they would enter a special status of autonomy, if not within Ukrainian sovereignty. After the referendums, we now have a new fact”, emphasizes the professor.

If the predictions about the result of the referendums are confirmed, we will now be talking about redistributing the deck in 15% of Ukrainian territorywhich now “passes” into Russian hands.

It is underlined that on Friday, NATO, with its statement, condemned in the strongest way the plan to hold referendums.

“This new data creates risks, because Russia claims that if its national security – which will no longer be on its current borders but on the new borders after the referendums – and its sovereignty are threatened, it will respond even with the use of nuclear weapons”, points out Mr. Filis to CNN Greece.

“Essentially, by threatening to use nukes, Russia is trying to prejudge the developments and to prevent an attempt to recapture these areas by the Ukrainian forces with Western weapons and any assistance offered by the West”.

“So it’s escalating too much, because Putin realizes, beyond the partial mobilization, which will take time to be implemented, that the threat of nuclear weapons will act as a deterrent against the Ukrainians.”

This development will, however, have one more direct consequence according to the internationalist:

“It also means that the possibility of negotiation is removed. In Ukraine the current mood in the world is that, even if Putin threatens to use nukes, the Ukrainians will go all the way and that they have no reason to negotiate with the aggressor, who even wants to mutilate a 15% of the Ukrainian territory”.

In his recent speech, the Russian president clarified that he is not bluffing.

Which reaction yet would it be effective in taking even the possibility of a bluff off the table for good?

“No one can know how much he means it. Let’s say he’s bluffing. Can anyone, when the bluff involves the use of nukes, take the risk? If we want to prevent Putin from using nukes, he needs to be told, not just by USA but also from China that any use of nukes, of any type, will not only him isolate but it will also be the end of. Only if the movement is shared by the countries that are close or feel closer to them, it will have an effect”, estimates the internationalist.

The role of China and Turkey

With the West currently considered by Putin to be an “enemy” and refusing to negotiate with it or accept its mediation on Ukraine, Constantinos Filos believes that a decisive intervention by China “above or below the radar” would be far more effective in unnerving the Russian president into a retrenchment than any threat of new sanctions.

“The last thing China would want is to see nukes in Ukraine. China is taking advantage of the weakness of Russia, which has been marginalized by the West and the “rich” world, to reach agreements with it that are lions for Russia and particularly favorable for Chinese interests.”

And he continues: “China does not support Russia in the war in Ukraine. He is more critical of and confronts the West in the Ukraine war, accusing it of largely causing what happened. But if we look carefully at the attitude of the Chinese, I am not sure that they have uncritically supported Russia in the Ukrainian one. After all, China is a beneficiary of globalization and does not want to see it undermined by a conflict between East and West because this will have a direct impact on the Chinese economy.

»Secondly, having her Xiangthe province with the Uighurs, this Muslim minority, and having a “sensitivity” to the involvement of third parties inside states, it is not certain that it likes a country that is close to it, even as a junior partner to it mutilates territorially another country, to invade it, to violate every concept of international law, the inviolability of borders, etc.”

Regarding Turkey and Erdogan’s attitude, Mr. Filis “sees” the attitude of the Turkish president to be adjusted… geographically, depending on where he is.

“Besides the domestic Erdogan and the foreign Erdogan, there is also Erdogan Pacific and Erdogan Atlantic. While in the Pacific last week we saw him arm in arm with Putin and talk about the prospect of Turkey’s full membership in the Shanghai Organization.

The same man a few days after America said, firstly, that the F-16 talks are going well (let’s say this is not related to Russia which is obviously related because it has to do with the S-400), and, secondly , two Turkish banks decided to exit the MISK system which enables Russians in Turkey to withdraw money from banks without going through the financial system they no longer have access to (Mastercard, Visa etc). So it seems that depending on the position he is in, he also changes his attitude.”


The article is in Greek

Tags: Konnos Philis status quo change brought referendums Putins nuclear bluff

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