This is a republication of a post authored by Andrew Korybko, which was first published in OneWorld. It has been adapted with full permissions obtained from the author.

Russia’s special operation in Ukraine was commenced with the grand goal of restoring global strategic stability. The present piece won’t rehash those points but will instead trace the geostrategic sequence of the US’ attempting “containment” of Russia up until that point. It won’t be comprehensive since that would require a Ph.D.’s worth of work but will simply touch upon some of the primary developments of interest to the wider audience.

It goes without saying that NATO’s continual eastward expansion, the US’ deployment of “anti-missile systems” and strike weapons near Russia’s border, and America’s withdrawal from arms control pacts such as the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, and Open Skies Treaty all contributed to destabilizing the strategic security situation in the world. The same can be said for NATO’s Wars on Yugoslavia, Libya, and their informal ones on many other countries too.

Russian troops kitted out with the Ratnik combat system. PHOTO CREDIT: Wikipedia.

These developments set the backdrop for the accelerated attempted “containment” of Russia that began in earnest in 2014. The US supported urban terrorists who overthrew the Ukrainian government in February of that year. In hindsight, the purpose was to take control of that state in order to transform it into a launching pad from which to threaten Russia. Moscow evaded the most immediate security repercussions after Crimea’s democratic reunification with Russia but the threat still remained.

The US gradually began to unofficially incorporate Ukraine into NATO by establishing military bases there under the cover of so-called “training missions”. This threat continued to grow up until President Putin directly called it out earlier this week and partially justified Russia’s special operation in Ukraine on the pretext of the existential threat that the US and NATO’s activities there pose to his country’s national security red lines.

A year and a half later, the democratically elected and legitimate Syrian government was at risk of falling to ISIS terrorists whom the US strategically shepherded towards Damascus through airstrikes that began around 12 months prior. It was at that time that Russia decisively commenced its anti-terrorist intervention in the Arab Republic out of fear of the long-term strategic consequences to its security if the Russian-speaking terrorists there returned home and/or to Central Asia.

Looking back on it, the US wanted to create a terrorist superstate in West Asia with Syria as its hub that would attract radicals from all across the world, after which they’d return back to their homelands or regions in order to wage their own wars of expansion. Russia was among their top targets and therefore tremendously threatened in unconventional ways, ergo why President Putin decided to launch his country’s anti-terrorist intervention in September 2015 that continues to this day.

President Bashar al-Assad of Syria meets President Vladimir Putin of Russia in January 2020. PHOTO CREDIT: Wikipedia.

Having neutralized the US-backed unconventional terrorist threats to its security that were planned to emanate from Syria, Russia was able to rest comparatively easy for the next few years due to America’s domestic troubles driven by the Russiagate conspiracy theory that former US President Trump’s opponents in his country’s permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) weaponized against him. Even then, however, security threats once again soon began to rear their head.

It was under the former American leader that the US attempted to overthrow Belarusian President Lukashenko after his country’s summer 2020 elections in spite of their target having already de facto pivoted towards America ahead of that time. Nevertheless, America got arrogant and wanted to totally control that country in a similar manner as they did Ukraine, though their regime change operation eventually failed.

The purpose behind it was to complement the strategic success of their prior Ukrainian operation in order to create two pressing security threats to Russia along its western flank that could both be simultaneously exploited via the US and NATO. Had Lukashenko fallen, it would have been a major national security crisis for Russia for those reasons. That thankfully didn’t happen though and Russia was thus able to ensure its red lines, at least for the time being, though it wasn’t to last.

A little more than a month prior to its special operation in Ukraine, an unexpected Hybrid War of Terror was launched against Kazakhstan. It too was decisively defeated, though this time through a Russian-led CSTO peacekeeping mission, but its strategic purpose in hindsight might have been a desperate last-ditch gamble to replicate the Syrian scenario right on Russia’s doorstep. That failed attempt was likely hatched by the anti-Russian faction of the US’ “deep state” to distract Russia’s focus from Europe.

Amidst all of these attempted containments of Russia was one game-changing development, Moscow’s successful development of hypersonic missiles and glide vehicles. These cutting-edge weapons ensured that it could defend its national security red lines even in the absence of the US refusing to respect the country’s security guarantee requests for diplomatically resolving the undeclared US-provoked missile crisis in Europe aimed at neutralizing its nuclear second-strike capabilities.

That gave President Putin the confidence to commence his country’s special operation in Ukraine, knowing very well that the US is unlikely to enter into direct hostilities with it out of fear of being completely destroyed by such weapons in self-defense if such an apocalyptic scenario were to transpire. Nevertheless, had Belarus, Syria, and Kazakhstan not been saved, then they all would have been exploited as launching pads for destabilizing Russia in their own ways, thus overwhelming it.

Despite the US’ success in its Hybrid War on Ukraine, its failure in those aforementioned three geostrategically positioned countries afforded Russia the breathing space to remain focused on counteracting the threats to its nuclear second-strike capabilities that lie at the true heart of this crisis. That in turn ultimately spelled its defeat since Moscow might otherwise have not been able to counteract so many threats at once. Russia’s triple successes on those fronts ensured its continued survival.

As Russia’s special operation in Ukraine rolls on, it appears increasingly likely that it’ll also be successful with its grand strategic goal of revising the European security architecture in order to ensure the integrity of its national security red lines. That in turn will restore global strategic stability and thus make International Relations more predictable than they’ve been at any moment since the end of the Old Cold War. In this way, the latest phase of the New Cold War might not actually be that bad of a development.

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