Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
If we look at the timeline, the US media campaign started early November with 90 000 troops. It got Ukriane on board 3rd of November after the minister of defense was replaced:

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) -- Ukraine complained Wednesday that Russia has kept tens of thousands of troops not far from the countries' border after war games, as part of its attempts to exert pressure on its ex-Soviet neighbor.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry's statement marked an about-turn from its denial of any Russian military buildup -- as reported in U.S. media -- just two days earlier.

The ministry said Wednesday that about 90,000 Russian troops are stationed not far from the border and in rebel-controlled areas in Ukraine's east. It said specifically that units of the Russian 41st army have remained in Yelnya, about 260 kilometers (about 160 miles) north of the Ukrainian border.

"Russia has periodically deployed and built up troops to maintain tensions in the region and exert political pressure on neighboring countries," it said.

On Tuesday, Ukraine's Defense Minister Andriy Taran submitted his resignation and Ukrainian lawmakers quickly approved it Wednesday. Davyd Arakhamia, the head of the parliamentary faction of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's Servant of the People party, said Taran had health problems.

The Russian proposal for a security treaty came one and a half months later:

Putin's demands include stopping NATO from expanding east, including closing Ukraine's door to membership, and halting its deployment of weapons in neighboring states.

Ushakov said Putin informed Chinese President Xi Jinping of the U.S. and NATO security guarantee proposal during virtual talks Wednesday.

"The Chinese president stressed that he [...] fully supports our initiative to develop appropriate security guarantees for Russia," Interfax quoted him as saying.

Putin's aide added that the Russian leader agreed to keep Xi informed "about how negotiations develop on this matter with American and NATO partners."

What the actors think they were doing is often not observable until later (when diaries, memos etc becomes accessible for historians, or if they brag about it).

When the US media starts a campaign to claim that the other side is about to attack, that is part of US preparations for war at least increased sanctions. So if there wasn't a build up at the border (which Russia would know), I think viewing the media story as hostile is reasonable.

The increased hostilities along the seize fire line in Donbass this week was more from the Ukrainian side, that much we can know from OSCE. We also know that it was portrayed as Russian aggression from day one.

Were Ukrainian forces about to attack Donbass on a large scale? We don't know.

If as you say Putin decided to humiliate Biden, why the whole "Russia is about to attack Ukraine" campaign from November and onwards from the US?

by fjallstrom on Tue Feb 22nd, 2022 at 10:14:36 AM EST
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So I'm trying to follow your reasoning here :

Putin was unjustly getting a bad press about his completely imaginary intentions to invade Ukraine.

He reacts by demanding a complete redo of European defense arrangements, which none of the other actors concerned are interested in entertaining.

This vexes him even further.

Meanwhile, lots of people are getting excited because of the US propaganda campaign, and (controlled/uncontrolled) elements of the Ukraine forces along the Donbass front line have fired some shells.

Also, (and I have no sources for this) Putin alleges that there is ethnic cleansing going on (how many thousands of ethnic Russian Ukranians have fled to Russia in recent months? Or are they held in secret prison camps?

After such unbearable provocation, Putin goes on an unhinged rant about how Ukraine has always been a natural part of Russia, and... invades Ukraine.

And this is a victory for Uncle Joe?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 22nd, 2022 at 11:46:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, after reflection (and discussion with my wife) I can converge somewhat with you, Fjallstrom :

Perhaps Putin and Biden are objective allies, insofar as they are each other's useful idiots :

Biden is seen to be "standing up to a bully" and to be "proved right" about Putin's malevolent intentions. He could care less about another war in eastern Europe. No skin in the game.

Putin is delighted to stand up to Biden, to excite his population about alleged Russian greatness, and to have a little low-cost military action. He could care less about his country's economy.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 22nd, 2022 at 05:15:50 PM EST
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That is very possible, yes.

And Ukraine is then the big loser, with EU as secondary losers.

The reason I try to focus on what we know and don't know, is that everyone, and in particular organisations, act on what they think they know, and sometimes they are plain wrong. The Russian government could think that the sanctions won't bite because it would punish the EU more, or they could think that sanctions is coming anyway. Both would lead to ignoring threats of sanctions, regardless of if they are true. The US government could think that by claiming that Russia is about to attack they force the Russian hand, but the predicted move could have been something other than what happened.

I keep coming back to Failure of a mission, by Sir Nevile Henderson, British embassador to Nazi Germany. He describes appeasement from the inside. Essentially they thought that the Versailles treaty was a mistake that led to the rise of Nazism (and thus far most historians would agree to some extent), therefore it could be turned around by giving Germany the borders it should have gotten in Versailles. And if it gained those borders peacefully it would strengthen the peace wing within the Nazi party. This was proven wrong when Germany invaded rump Czechoslovakia, so Brittain started preparing for war. Henderson was wrong, but it wasn't unreasonable given what they knew.

On the other side, the German government thought that Brittains acceptance of the annexation of Austria and the Munich treaty was proof that Brittain would never go to war over east Europe and for a long time expected Brittain to stay out or make a separate peace. They were also wrong.

And the USSR government thought they had bought enough time to build up so they could attack and defeat Nazi Germany. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

And of course, I could be wrong. If Russia uses Donbas as a spring board and attacks the rest of Ukraine, then I was wrong. That the US is crying wolf doesn't prove there isn't a wolf. But I sure hope there isn't a war.

by fjallstrom on Tue Feb 22nd, 2022 at 07:08:13 PM EST
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