December 13, 2018

The Kerch Strait and Riots in France

Moscow Keeps Raising the Stakes

 

In our previous publications, we already analyzed the reasons for the incident in the Kerch Strait on 25th November 2018, and warned about possible consequences. However, further developments unfolding around it indicate a deeper nature of the political, economic and military aspects associated with the new act of Russia's aggression against Ukraine.

Here we should analyze more attentively what is the result of Moscow's actions aimed at raising the stakes both, in its conflict with Ukraine, and in its geopolitical confrontation with the West. Especially as such a policy directly affects the interests and security of our state.

…Russia's outright assault on Ukraine has given our state a legitimate right to repulse aggression and restore the territorial integrity of the country, which is fully in line with international law and the UN Charter…

So, given the analysis of the whole set of events that occurred after the incident, the following generalizations can be made:

  • Firstly, Russia's open use of weapons in the Kerch Strait directly provoked the conflict with Ukraine, in which Russia stands as an aggressor country. From now on, its leadership will no longer be able to deny this fact, as it had been doing before.
  • Secondly, as a result of the incident, Russia will not be able any longer to rely on any support for its positions in Europe and the United States. Given the common civilization values, none of the influential political forces in the countries of the Western world will side with the aggressor;
  • Thirdly, Russia's outright assault on Ukraine has given our state a legitimate right to repulse aggression and restore the territorial integrity of the country, which is fully in line with international law and the UN Charter. At the same time, our partners and allies have a legitimate right to provide assistance to Ukraine, in particular a military one;
  • Fourthly, the US and the EU, given the aggressive actions of Russians in the Kerch Strait, have unquestionable grounds for continuing and toughening sanctions against Russia.

 

At the highest political level the United States and NATO condemned Russia's actions and supported Ukraine
At the highest political level the United States and NATO condemned Russia's actions and supported Ukraine

In this context, the most significant was the actual restoration of full cooperation between Ukraine and NATO, which was previously blocked by Russia with the help of the leadership of Hungary. Thus, November 26, 2018, the emergency meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission was held at the level of Permanent Representatives. Later, December 4, 2018, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine was invited to the meetings of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs. And December 13, 2018, there will be a meeting of the NATO Secretary General and the President of Ukraine.

During these events, the representatives of the North Atlantic Alliance condemned Russia's actions and supported Ukraine. At the same time, agreements were reached on deepening the interaction between Ukraine and NATO in a number of new directions to strengthen the counteraction to the common threats posed by the Russian Federation. At this, despite all its statements about the immutability of the attitude to the question of cooperation between Ukraine and NATO, the official Budapest abstained from creating obstacles for all such steps.

Besides, at the highest political level, the United States and NATO have demonstrated that they intend to concretize and increase the amount of military assistance to Ukraine. And, most importantly, the United States and the EU, having promised to continue sanctions against Russia, began to develop a set of new restrictive mechanisms. According to statements by representatives of the US administration and the EU leadership, such mechanisms will be much more effective than those already introduced against the Russian Federation over its annexation of the Crimea and non-fulfillment of the Minsk Agreements.

 

According to French law enforcement agencies, the RF is directly involved in the massive riots in France
According to French law enforcement agencies, the RF is directly involved in the massive riots in France

On the whole, this has markedly complicated the situation around Russia with the real threat of a critical escalation of the country's socio-economic problems. However, the leadership of the RF has not given up its geopolitical goals. And even more so, in response to the growing pressure from the West, Putin's regime is struggling to expand the scope of its actions to weaken NATO and the EU and destabilize the situation in leading European countries. In this way, Moscow is also trying to increase its ability to confront the West and to change its policy on the Russian and Ukrainian directions.

Thus, according to French law enforcement agencies, the RF is directly involved in the massive riots that are taking place in France under the leadership of the right-wing radical movement “yellow vests” (formally, the movement does not have clear organizational structures and is obviously headed by straw persons). Today, the French police, investigating these events, have already discovered and proved the facts of Russia's provocative actions on the Internet and its support of all sorts of unrest with the participation of the left, nationalist and euro-skeptic forces. Such as the right-wing “National Rally” Party, headed by M. Le Pen, who was the main rival to the current French President E. Macron in the 2017 presidential election. Just like then, the main slogans of this party in foreign policy remain slogans about France's withdrawal from the EU and NATO and resumption of full cooperation with Russia. It is these slogans that are the basis of the “yellow vests”' demands to the French government. In addition, of course, to purely populist maxims — to raise living standards in the country.

 

In fact, the development of these events fully corresponds to the classic scenario of the organization of riots in a country, with the participation of internal and external forces, which was practiced during the so-called “Arab Spring”, namely, of massive social unrest in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East in the early 2010s. In particular, such a scenario includes the organization of local protests by anti-government forces on the basis of economic problems and certain resonant causes, which subsequently grow into widespread unrest under political slogans. At this, any government's concessions are used to further strengthen the attacks exactly on the government.

The development of events in France fully corresponds to the classic scenario, which was practiced during the “Arab Spring”
The development of events in France fully corresponds to the classic scenario, which was practiced during the “Arab Spring”

This is what is happening now in France. For example, the reason for the start of the protests was the increase in fuel prices, which quite naturally caused dissatisfaction with the population and was used by the right radical forces. After the French government agreed to slow down the rise in fuel prices, anti-government forces put forward new socio-economic demands, including tax cuts and salary increases. At this, the demands were supported by more unrest, which made the government use force to ensure order in the country.

After all, as in all other similar cases, the French government's forceful actions became a catalyst for expanding the scope of the rallies and radical right-wing movements' moving from economic slogans to political demands, as well as blocking government agencies, transport communications and other critical objects. In particular, with the involvement of trained Russian-speaking militants, as evidenced by video materials.

Despite the experience of similar events in other countries, it is obvious that further the opposition will demand the resignation of the President and government, dissolution of the French Parliament and, consequently, early elections. In particular, the three left parties (the Socialist Party, the Communist Party and the “La France Insoumise” Party) have already prepared a draft resolution of the French Parliament on a vote of non-confidence in the government.

 

In the 1920s–1930s Moscow had been actively organizing socialist revolutions in European countries
In the 1920s–1930s Moscow had been actively organizing socialist revolutions
in European countries

All this fully meets the Kremlin's goals to “neutralize” the West. Today, the Putin regime has achieved some of such goals. In particular, due to the UK's Brexit (which had been largely inspired by Moscow), Russia managed to shake the unity of the European Union, including to create a precedent for other members of the Organization. In addition, has been undermined the position of the Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, A. Merkel as the main initiator and driving force of the EU's policy to curb Russia's aggression. Incidentally, in this regard, very illustrative are the German experts' conclusions about the deliberate damage to the electronic equipment of A. Merkel's plane, which were revealed during her flight to the G20 summit in Argentina in late November 2018.

And now a direct strike is on France, as another member of the EU's “Top Three”, which has the same firm policy toward Russia. By the way, even if Moscow and its supporters in France fail to remove the current government from power there, we should acknowledge that the actions of the radical forces and blocking of motorways have already cause French trade enterprises have lost 15–50 % of revenue, and France's National Federation of Road Transport — about 500 million Euros. All in all, according to experts, in the last quarter 2018 there will be a decline in GDP growth rate by 0.2 %. Of course, this will weaken France as one of the leaders of the EU.

Later, Russia will try to use similar scenarios in other countries of the European Union. Especially as it already has such experience. Thus, in the 1920s–1930s Moscow had been actively organizing socialist revolutions in Germany and Eastern Europe, and in the 1960s–1970s — pro-communist and anti-war campaigns in Western European countries. And since 2014, the Russian leadership has started to massively interfere with the situation in the United States and NATO and the EU, including trying to influence electoral processes or trigger mass riots and disorder. An example of this can be, in particular, events in the USA, Germany, Montenegro, Macedonia and other countries, as has already been repeatedly reported in our materials.

 

Against this background, Moscow's involvement in the events in France is due to the “Ukrainian component” of protest actions. The greatest resonance in the media was the case when several participants of anti-government riots in Paris unfolded the flag of the so-called “DPR”. As the journalistic investigation showed, a member of the “National Rally” F. Sorlin, who had previously been head of the “France-Europe-Russia” Alliance, was one of the “protesters”. At the same time, he was the head of the “Katehon” international analytical center which included the famous Russian ideologue of the “Russian world” A. Dugin. The same was another fan of the so-called “DPR” in France — X. Moreau, the author of the book “Ukraine: pourquoi la France s'est trompée” (“Ukraine. Why France Deceives Itself?”). He was also an “international observer” in the “elections” in the self-proclaimed republic. And one more thing: who, if not Moscow, needed demonstrative damage to the Cultural Information Center at the Embassy of Ukraine in France?!

…The criticality of the situation makes Putin's regime to raise the stakes in the conflict with Ukraine and confrontation with the West…

Despite the fact that such actions openly compromise the leadership of the RF, it still resorted to them because of both, professing its strategic goals, and due to the peculiarities of its mentality. In the first case, in order to demonstrate the supposedly negative attitude of the French society to Ukraine and that society's support for self-proclaimed republics in the Donbas. And in the other — it's just primitive revenge on Ukraine for the Kerch Strait and all that happened later with Russia.

On second thought, both, the incident in the Kerch Strait, and events in France, once again confirm the criticality of the situation in which Putin's regime has found itself. This makes it to raise the stakes in the conflict with Ukraine and confrontation with the West. At this, Moscow moves step by step to more rigorous and aggressive actions that are already on the verge of an open confrontation between Russia and its opponents, including with the use of military force.