LOGIC FROM A MAN WITH A TARGET ON HIS BACK: re: the Russian “Special operation” in Ukraine

Thanks to Mischa Firer, via Quora 2022

Silver-haired Red Army general Leonid Ivashov, “Out of fifteen republics of the USSR, Ukraine had given us more headache than any other.”

Retired Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov spoke out vocally against hypothetical Russia’s war with Ukraine. As the chairman of the All-Russian Officers’ Assembly, the general who’s known for his pro-Soviet and patriotic views, had written and signed an open letter addressed to president Putin and citizens of Russia.

He sat down for an interview with a host of the liberal radio station Echo of Moscow to assess risks and consequences of a military invasion, blamed the escalation on President Putin, and demanded his resignation.

I’m posting highlights from the interview with the focus on the military aspects below.

“My open letter was an anti-war statement. It expressed collective opinion of the retired army officers and generals, members of All-Russian Officers’ Assembly, and after our discussion, as the chairman, I signed the letter.

“We at the Assembly have received a wealth of military experience and first class military higher education.

“We acknowledge that preparations for a war with Ukraine have been well under way including diplomatic negotiations, with groupings of troops massed on the border. In such conditions, one gun shot might provoke a conflict with ensuing dire consequences. If extensive military actions begin, tens of thousands of young men will die.

“I served as a military diplomat and sat behind the table with Nato and European top brass, and I can tell you that people who want a war the least are generals, while politicians can easily start it over for the sake of for example winning re-elections. Politicians don’t hold any responsibility and shift all the blame on to the military. And when there’s a victory, politicians own it.”

“In the 1990s, we observed Nato’s planned military exercises and reacted by conducting our own planned military exercises, manoeuvres, missile lunches, etc.

“All that didn’t pose any critical dangers. Our military and civil leadership should have been taking initiative into their own hands, and without any hysterical ultimatum like “give us answer tomorrow. Fulfil our demands right away.”

“As the head of International Military Cooperation Department, I persuaded Minister of Defence to prepare a collective plan of European Security. It was well received although Americans and the English blocked it.

“Nonetheless, we pressed on, step by step, to deescalate the level of tensions. Our European colleagues always responded well to our suggestions and we found solutions to problems together. War is, as they say, the last resort.

“We have discussed at the assembly why Putin is triggering the last resort and arrived at the only plausible conclusion: Russia is going through a systemic crises that the leadership cannot put a check on. In every sphere of economy – healthcare, culture, education, etc – everywhere is degradation and collapse.

“My personal impression is that Putin is tired of Russia. And he wants to be finished with it, because a large-scale war would result in the disappearance of Russia as an integral, big country.

“As a civilisation it was over for us after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. After this escapade, we’ll be finished as a country.

“It won’t be a blitzkrieg, a walk in the park. This will be a mass-scale war with tens of thousands of killed and maimed soldiers on both sides.

“Even if we conquer Kiev, we’ll have to dig in and build garrisons and fight partisan movements. We’ll have to use our entire nation’s energies and resources to keep some semblance of order in Ukraine. It is savagery. Absolute savagery.

“And what for? For the sake of decades of military confrontation? Of course, some parties in the West would feel joyful. Gas won’t flow from Russia, and it will never be a competitor again. It will be an awful geopolitical catastrophe. And that’s the reason why we took a stand against it.

“I repeat, there’s no critical situation. I can’t name a single European country that wants a war between Russia and Ukraine. And even Americans who wouldn’t find Ukraine on the map will protest and there will be a public resonance if just a dozen American soldiers die in this war. So I don’t see anyone who actively wants this war.

“To me the West has always been an opponent and a rival, but I was surprised how they reacted to our ultimatum. They didn’t escalate the situation, but offered a negotiating process.

“Instead, our ultimatum has united the entire Western world against us. And not only the West. India has just rejected to purchase 1700 Russian tanks, which will spell the end of our tank industry exports.

“There’s an easy way to stop it. Putin calls Zelensky and offers to meet in a neutral country and talk. The other option that can stop the war is public outcry.

“And I don’t mean those so-called experts on TV who talk about taking over Ukraine in ten days, or a few hours. I suggest that the senior leadership’s, bankers’ and business elite’s and talk shows hosts’ children take assault rifles in their own hands and join the front chain of the attack. Only then those people would play an active role in stopping this war not to get their children in body bags.

“Mass media shouldn’t be the instrument of war, the role they have performed since 2014 when instead of using kindness to resolve our differences with Ukraine, they engaged in aggression to widen that chasm between us and anger each other. That spilled blood will separate us forever into enemies’ camps.

“Once we cross into Ukrainian territory, they will receive all the weapons that they need, and thousands of volunteers will join the army to fight.

“76.6% per center of our members, which includes retired police officers and special forces, share this opinion. Bottom line, our goal is to stop this bloody tragedy from happening.

“Assault troops are still massed on the border with Ukraine and Putin after his return from Beijing didn’t order to pull them back. That means that hostilities can start at any moment.

“Resignation of Putin will give Russia a small chance to keep Russia’s statehood going. It’s what we’re counting on.

“You have to understand one thing. When Putin was propelled to this scale of of power, he knew nothing. It’s only with time that he learned and was exploited by all sorts of individuals.

“Any man with regional managerial experience that will take his place, the first thing he’ll do is hire professionals. PROFESSIONALS. Professionals with proper education and experience. Yes, in a way that will be a ‘technical’ president, but he will surround himself with people who have professional knowledge.

“At this time, much depends on Putin. There needs to be a clear-minded person in his circle who will give it to him straight – ‘as a commander in chief and a mastermind of this war, you will carry full responsibility and go on international trial like those war criminals in Nuremberg.’

“We have to stop this absolutely unnecessary war.”

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Amy Renfrew · February 10

Mischa your insight as “a person on the ground” is much appreciated. I am a Army officer in the Canadian Armed Forces, and what you are bringing to light in your writing is what we have been positing since we were caught completely flat footed in 2014 and have since devoted much attention to the Ukrainian question. I most sincerely wish it weren’t so.

I can attest hand to heart, the West does not want a war with Russia but if our hands are forced by an invasion the response will be swift and devastating. Crippling economic sanctions and arming the Ukrainians will be step one. This will be done in an attempt to subvert a protracted armed conflict between nuclear/super powers. If that does not cause the cessation of Russian forces in Ukraine it will turn into full war along the entirety of Russia’s Western border and any other number of proxy fronts. This will be a war on the scale we have not seen since WWII. It will indeed be a global conflict. Lots of soldiers will die and be injured on both sides, but more devastating will be the loss of life and mass displacement of civilians. This may well be on the magnitude of tens of millions

Do take care of yourself. I do have concerns for your safety, and I assume you do too, even if you are able to joke about it.

Misha Firer

Thank you, Amy.

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Piotr Szafranski · 

In 1938/9, the only real barrier between the madman, and the world war and eventual destruction of Germany, were German General Staff generals. In 1938, the madman managed to sucker punch the most senior generals, and to bribe the rest, bribe into actions which eventually meant grinding Germany to rubble and rape of some 3M German women.

German generals, who in 1938 opposed the madman, were not that touchy-feely. They would execute, I guess with a professional pleasure, any war which made sense for Germany. They opposed the madman not because they disliked war, but because they could, better than most, predict the war outcome.

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