It is no secret that by annexing Donbass to Russian lands Putin is trying through a referendum, to justify his call for partial mobilisation in order to avoid domestic discontent and criticism by claiming that he is defending Russian lands and the Russian people, in addition to his quest to secure the battlefronts with soldiers as a precaution against the Ukrainian attack and the continuation of the war in which America continually seeks to heavily invest in.
A few days back, Turkey offered mediation to end the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, bring together the Russian and Ukrainian presidents, and proposed handing back the lands occupied by Russia. However, the Kremlin responded to the Turkish offer by stating that the prospects for a settlement at the present time were out of the question.
This is not the first time Turkey has offered mediation between Ukraine and Russia, as it has been preceded by several attempts since the Russian military operation was launched including an offer of mediation in February 2022, March 2022 and last August, all under different circumstances, as Russia was in a more comfortable position, and neither Russia nor America had an interest in stopping the war as Russia had her stakes and America had her strategy which surfaced in her desire to prolong the war.
As for mediation at the present time, it is probably a trial balloon that has been agreed upon between Turkey and Russia who is suffering from painful field losses, a lack of combat human resources and most importantly, the expansion of hotbeds of tension in the Russian lebensraum such as the Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan conflict coinciding with the move and visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Armenia, akin to her provocative visit to Taiwan, in order to support Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan who came to power following the Velvet Revolution against Russia’s man, Serzh Sargsyan, in order to lure Armenia out of Russian influence. Pashinyan was pushed into the recent Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict to put pressure on Europe, in addition to America’s incitement of the Moldovan government over the Transnistria file with the aim of intensifying pressure on Russia and raising Europe’s concern over the expansion of the war towards the Romanian borders.
Moreover, the voice of the Georgian government has been growing louder as it has recently received Western military support to fortify itself against any possible Russian aggression. Therefore, it is possible that the Turkish mediation aims to feel the pulse of America and motivate the Europeans towards the option of calm, i.e., sending a message suggesting the possibility of ending the war before winter enters and the situation in Europe worsens, especially since the discontent among European countries has widened due to the rise in energy prices, the consequent expected recession, and the disturbances that this may cause.
The mediation and Russia’s rejection of it also fall within the context of maneuvering to gain time by discouraging America from continuing the counterattack on the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions after the Russians had lost Kharkov and Izyum, and at the same time, Russia is trying to send a message expressing her determination to continue the war.
Therefore, it is likely that the Turkish mediation is not a prelude to a breakthrough as much as it entails messages, trial balloons and maneuvering. Turkish mediation is important for Erdogan in terms of stressing the usefulness of the relationship with Putin and justifying it after he was slammed by the Europeans, and in terms of owning the key to returning to America to ease pressure on him in the upcoming elections, especially in the presence of the Turkish economic interests in stopping the conflict.
As for Putin, he wants to send a message to the Russian masses that he will not give up his gains, especially to the extreme right, which criticised him personally after he had assumed the military leadership of the operation. In this context, news reports indicate that there are Ukrainian preparations for an attack similar to the five-day attack which achieved great success in the Kharkov and Izyum regions, boosted the morale of Ukrainian soldiers, shook the image of the Russian army and revealed a weakness in Russian human resources which prompted Putin to announce partial mobilisation on the advice of the defence ministry, in addition to resorting to upping the ante in his speech today in which he said that there are “anti-Russian plans in Ukraine; they have turned the Ukrainian people against Russia.” He indicated that “Kiev obtained an order to undermine the proposals for a peaceful solution,” explaining that “Washington, Germany and others give orders to Kiev against Russia.” He added “we cannot let down the people of the land. Therefore, the parliament of the Donbas took the decision to hold a referendum on self-determination and joining Russia” (Kremlin.ru 21/09/22).
Meanwhile, the leader of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, Leonid Pasechnik, announced the signing of a law “holding a referendum on the accession of the Lugansk People’s Republic to the Russian Federation”. Likewise, the head of the administration of the Kherson province, Volodymyr Saldo, announced his approval to hold a popular referendum on the accession of the province to Russia, while the head of the administration of the Zaporizhzhia region Yevgeny Balitsky announced on Tuesday that the referendum on the province’s accession to Russia would take place from 23 to 27 September.
It is clear from the standpoints of both Putin and the leaders of these regions, especially the Zaporizhzhia region, that they are the target of Ukrainian military preparations with US and Western support. This explains Putin’s escalation in his speech that “the threat to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant poses a threat of a nuclear disaster…. Russia has nuclear weapons….and to defend Russia and our people, we will certainly make use of all weapon systems available to us” (Kremlin.ru 21/09/22)
It is no secret that Putin is trying, by annexing Donbass to Russian lands through a referendum, to justify his call for partial mobilisation in order to avoid domestic discontent and criticism given that he is defending Russian lands and the Russian people, in addition to his quest to secure the battlefronts with soldiers as a precaution against the Ukrainian attack and the continuation of the war in which America seeks to invest in as much as possible.
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