Moscow's perspective: Russia in a state of intensified proxy war with the West
The West is increasing its military assistance to Kyiv one year after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. According to the latest reports, the U.S. and Germany have decided to give Ukraine Western armored vehicles, which could tip the balance in Kyiv's favor on the country's battlefront in the following months. The Western press has also reported that the West is considering giving Ukraine military jets.
Moscow views the most recent Western actions from a different perspective. Today, Gercek News compiles the most recent evaluations of Russian reporters and analysts for its readers. From their vantage point, even though the additional Western help for Ukraine won't immediately alter the military balance, it aids the Russian side in realizing that it is currently involved in an intensified proxy conflict with the West. Apart from the military shortcomings of the West in this historical conflict, Russian strategists claim their nation has a "strong card" on its side. Undoubtedly, Turkey's difficulties within the Western alliance advance Russian objectives.
The Russian perspective: A proxy war with the West
The deployment of the Western tanks to Ukraine is a crucial step presently flying beneath Moscow's radar, claims Kommersant. The press secretary for the Russian president, Dmitry Peskov, stated that the Ukrainian people would be held accountable for all these activities and this "pseudo-support.” The Kommersant writes that according to Russian
Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov, Ukraine is an actual war the West has been planning against Russia for a long time.
Regarding the new development in Ukraine's war theater, in the past few days, the Russian news agency Tass reported that the Russian Foreign Ministry informed the agency that "the red lines (in the relations with the West) are a thing of the past." The United States has unequivocally stated its desire to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia. "There is a hybrid war going on against our country, which Lavrov spoke about recently," concludes the pessimist assessment of the Tass.
The Tass, in a subsequent in-depth examination, also draws the following conclusion: "(Although) the Anglo-Saxons do not acknowledge that they consider it tremendously advantageous to attack Russia, (the western scholars) wonder whether there is a proxy conflict between NATO and Russia in Ukraine."
The Western help to the armed opposition to Soviet forces in Afghanistan between 1979 and 1989 is cited in the Tass as a paradigmatic example of contemporary proxy conflicts. The report continues, "now the same term is used to characterize events in Ukraine." The Americans have already made clear their goals for Russia to the Russian agency. They want Russia to be rendered ineffective so it can no longer threaten the West. Washington wants to "overstretch and unbalance Russia" to accomplish this.
"The Western tanks won't help Kyiv"
According to Kommersant, the West has a crucial purpose in the latest proxy conflict with Russia. The United States and other NATO nations are assisting Ukraine in preparing for a springtime counteroffensive. This is a development that, in Moscow's words, "takes the conflict to a new level of confrontation and contradicts comments by German politicians that Germany is not eager to get involved in the conflict.” Since Moscow has already clarified that every stage of the arms build-up by Germany and other NATO members makes them increasingly involved in the fight in Ukraine and, therefore, acceptable targets for the Russian military, they must not antagonize Russia.
Going even further and without ruling out any possibilities, an article in Izvestia concludes that the West's new plans for Ukraine won't have the desired effects. According to the top Russian publication, giving Ukraine new Western weapons won't help Ukraine. "Months will pass before 31 M1 Abrams tanks are delivered to the Ukrainian side. U.S. President Joe Biden decided to send the heavily armored vehicles on January 25. German Leopard 2A6 tanks could be sent to Kyiv by the German government on the same day,” underlines Izvestia, which adds that many European nations will lend the Ukrainian army their equipment.
The publication states: "According to military analyst Andrei Frolov, the Abrams are heavy vehicles. They have their limitations. They require maintenance. They, therefore, require both trained personnel and logistics. Experts remark that (their addition to the Ukrainian army) is unlikely to result in a strategic breakthrough since these tanks are not well equipped to deploy in the Eastern European theater of military operations.
The Leopard 2A6 is Bundeswehr's most up-to-date tank upgrade. However, Sergey Suvorov, a specialist in armored vehicles, warned Izvestia that these vehicles also had flaws. “No perfect tank has yet to be developed,” he said. The German vehicle is more vulnerable to grenade launchers and anti-tank-guided missiles. The German tank also has a limited firing rate. According to military expert Aleksey Leonov, the strategic supply of Western tanks will have little impact on the situation on the fronts. “Tanks need air support, and Ukraine has problems in this field,” Leonov adds.
"We have our trojan horse, Turkey"
Aside from the shortcomings of Western military technology, Moscow has another "strong card" in the ongoing conflict with the West. The Western alliance is experiencing issues and turbulence because of a significant NATO member. Focusing on this situation and placing it in the larger context of the conflict in Ukraine leads Russian journalists and analysts to an obvious conclusion: Moscow benefits from Ankara's disruptive role in NATO.
In the above view, Sergey Strokan emphasizes the fact that Turkey will have presidential and parliamentary elections in May. These elections will be among the most significant in the Turkish Republic's 100-year history since its founding in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The upcoming election will determine the power structure in Turkey, and Turkey will learn the answers to two crucial questions: whether President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, 68, will begin his third decade in office and whether the current ruling Justice and Development Party will continue to hold that position.
The Russian journalist continues: "Turkish voters, who have endured years of spiralling inflation and currency collapses, will soon have to decide whether to continue with President Erdogan's concept of a tightly managed economy or abandon it for a painful return to liberal ideology. Polls show that the victory of the Turkish leader and his supporters in parliament is not guaranteed. The president's camp is searching for counter arguments to persuade voters that there is no alternative to Turkey's powerful politician and his team. Socio-economic policy failures will be a sound argument for the coalition of six opposition parties planning to name their candidate for the May presidential election in February. President Erdogan's greatest electoral weapon is advocating for the independence of Turkish foreign policy and the country's tense relationship with NATO and the West."
Strokan sees the "Let's Leave NATO" campaign, started by Turkey’s Homeland Party, an ideological ally of the ruling coalition, as one way to rally Erdogan's supporters. Protests and rallies against NATO outposts are scheduled for the upcoming months as part of this campaign. "Events are compelling us to act in this way. NATO's provocations are putting us under pressure to comply. They are attempting to compare us with Greece, our neighbor. They are attempting to involve us in turmoil in the Middle East,” states Ethem Sancak, the deputy head of the Motherland Party. Sancak predicts that "Turkey will leave NATO in five to six months." At least 80% of Turkish citizens believe the United States to be "the country with the most antagonistic and harmful policies" toward the Republic of Turkey, adds the ambitious Turkish politician.
*Dr Nikolaos Stelgias was born in Istanbul. He is an independent researcher, writer, historian and journalist. His doctorate is in the field of the modern Turkish political system (Panteion University, 2011). His latest book “The Ailing Turkish Democracy” was published by the Cambridge Scholars Publication in 2020. Dr. Stelgias was a correspondent of the newspaper "Kathimerini (Cyprus edition)" for Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot community from 2009 to 2021. Currently, Dr. Stelgias works at the Cyprus News Agency. Dr. Stelgias publishes in Turkish news articles and analyses on Cyprus and Greece.