By Gilbert Doctorow, International relations, Russian affairs. Originally published on his personal website.
Americans have taken umbrage at the now commonplace habit of Russian media personalities to speak of “Anglo-Saxons” as the principal opponents, or enemies if you will, of their country. In Russia the term is meant to include the USA. Given the high percentage of Blacks, Hispanics and Orientals in the U.S. population, there is some substance to American objections. However, as regards the British, they have not a leg to stand on: they are Anglo-Saxons like it or not. And by their behavior towards Russia right to the present day, they have well earned the intense dislike bordering on hatred that a large swathe of influential Russians feel towards them.
First you had Boris Johnson, who ruined the nearly agreed peace accord between Russia and Ukraine back in March 2022. Boris threatened to put a stop to Western assistance to Kiev if Zalensky took the draft treaty through to signature. Zelensky then backed out of the negotiations and went all out for war.
Now we have Prime Minister Sunak sending long range cruise missiles to Ukraine supposedly to help them succeed with their counteroffensive and recapture lost territory from the Russians. The missiles are to be fitted onto existing Ukrainian Soviet era jets and have a 250 km range. This will theoretically enable Ukrainian forces based in Kharkov or Zaporozhie to deliver highly destructive warheads to anywhere in Crimea, for example.
Yes, you may say, but the Ukrainians already have been making daily drone attacks on Sevastopol. However, the new missiles will be far more deadly and less easy for air defense to bring down because of the inherent advantages of their speed, very low altitude and variable flight paths.
The new weapons are potentially a game changer in a way that the Leopard or Abrams tanks that have attracted so much public attention over recent months are not.
Why a game changer? Because with each incrementally more powerful artillery or tank delivered to Ukraine the Russians could say they only meant that Russia would have to push the Ukrainian border back that much further to keep Russian territories safe from attack. But there is no way for the Russians to push back the line of confrontation with Ukraine 250 km in the short term. That might be possible in a matter of months if not years. But in the meantime the missiles could do vast damage in purely Russian territories and create enormous numbers of casualties among both civilians and military.
I can easily imagine the popular reaction in Russia of a Ukrainian rocket attack on Sevastopol that killed, say 400 civilians. There would be a great public uproar and it is hard to see how the Kremlin could avoid responding with its own devastating counter blow. But counter blow against whom? Against the Ukrainians or against those truly responsible for the atrocity, namely the British? Here is where the current strong dislike for “Anglo-Saxons” in Russia may come into play. It comes on top of the recent Russian outrage over delivery of depleted uranium artillery shells to Ukraine by Britain.
In effect, by delivering these weapons to Ukraine Britain is wrecking the hitherto generally accepted notion that the war between Russia and Ukraine will be decided on the battlefield. That is precisely how the EU’s foreign policy and security chief Borrell put it more than half a year ago. Instead the outcome in Ukraine may now be decided by a war between Russia and Britain. This is a war that Britain is as likely to lose as the ongoing war being fought by Ukraine. And what comes after that? A full NATO-Russia war? A nuclear war?
The dangers have now been vastly raised by Mr. Sunak’s ill-conceived decision on arms shipments to Ukraine. It would be a positive step towards their own survival if EU authorities took cognizance of this British idiocy and brought their British colleagues to their senses.
©Gilbert Doctorow, 2023
Postscript: Update, 13 May
The Russian Ministry of Defense has just confirmed statements made earlier in the day by the authorities of the Lugansk Republic that yesterday, on the 12th, Lugansk city was struck by British supplied Storm Shadow cruise missiles which caused outbreak of fires in food processing and chemical plants in the city and damaged residential housing with injuries to six children. The Ministry further announced that they had shot down the Ukrainian SU-24 which had fired the missiles and a MiG-29 which had provided cover for the mission.
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