War as reality check
Information and Reality
War is always a reality check. What precedes and accompanies it, as a rule, has a virtual character and is, if not pure disinformation (from all sides), then close to it. And it is almost impossible to catch those topics and theses which correspond to the real state of affairs. These are the laws of the correlation of the information sphere and reality.
In recent decades, the proportions between reality and virtuality have been changing in favor of the superiority of the information sphere. It plays an ever-increasing role in modern warfare. Already in the 1990s, the Pentagon developed systems for conducting network warfare. At the first stage, it was simply a question of increasing the scale and importance of information processes in conventional military conflicts. But gradually the theory and practice (practiced by the Americans in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and during the color revolutions in Europe and the Arab world) developed so much that the idea arose that the war could be won only in the field of information, and this would mean complete victory.
But this is where some of the problems began. This thesis presented too hypertrophied a picture. Classic weapons and traditional forms of warfare, including guerrilla warfare and urban warfare, had not lost their full significance and very often proved decisive. In addition, the substitution of political processes for virtual ones has not always been successful. Examples of this are the failure of the Guaido, Tikhanovskaya or Navalny projects, which led to pitiful results despite their "triumph" in the virtual sphere.
The disgraceful withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan is further proof that with total control of the information sphere on a global scale, the real result may be defeat.
War is the ultimate form of juxta posing the virtual with the real. This is exactly what we see today in Russia's military operation in the Donbass and Ukraine as a whole.
Problems in the east: the key to the real state of affairs
What Kiev, the West in general, and even Russian President Vladimir Putin said on the eve of the operation were all virtual talking points. Neither side, for obvious reasons, communicated the real state of affairs. Only a few days after the start of the operation did the reality check become possible. And when the first shock of the rush of events of the first days has somewhat passed, we can relatively objectively assess everything that is going on.
The key factor is the picture of military action in different regions of Ukraine. This is where the answers to the main questions lie, the main one being, of course, why did Russian President Vladimir Putin launch such a large-scale operation throughout Ukraine, despite the obvious costs to the country?
The most important is the real difficulties that the Russian troops and militias of the DPR and LPR faced in liberating the territories of the respective Republics. Here, the successes in the advance of Russian and pro-Russian forces stand in stark contrast to other parts of the theater of military operations. In the north of Ukraine and in the central regions, including the territories adjacent to the capital itself, the actions of the Russian Armed Forces are much more impressive and successful. But the east, against this backdrop, presents a definite problem. Although many of the victorious reports in the Ukrainian and Western media regarding the AFU's (armed forces of Ukraine) "crushing victories" in the Donbass, including the capture of a number of settlements previously under DPR control - such as Gorlovka - belong to the virtual sphere, throughout Novorossiya Russian units and militia face serious resistance, an effective, though inhumane, strategy of defending towns with shields from civilians and even counterattacks - such as the shelling of Donetsk.
Rather easily overcoming the resistance of the AFU and nationalist formations in other regions of Ukraine, it is in the east and even more specifically in the DPR and LPR, as well as in Kharkiv, that Russia is dealing with strong resistance. And this despite the fact that the military operation from the very beginning was conducted on a maximum scale, including simultaneous offensive in 5 directions, air strikes on the enemy's military infrastructure throughout the territory of Ukraine, a decisive siege of major cities and the capture of Kiev in the ring. And despite the crushing successes on the whole, military action in the Donbass has been much slower and more difficult than elsewhere. This is despite the fact that it is not a question of simply reinforcing the DPR and LPR militias with Russian troops and absolute air superiority, but of mass involvement of Russian military forces in the conduct of military operations.
Moscow reported the truth
What follows from this? Practically everything follows. And most importantly, among the stream of pre-war disinformation, the closest to the real state of affairs were the statements of President Putin and the Russian side. This does not mean that ours did not resort to disinformation on specific points, in war as in war, but the overall picture of the balance of power and geopolitical logic Moscow described much more realistically.
What is meant by that? If with a full-scale military operation involving a huge military potential of Russia, which has put almost everything at stake and has already sacrificed relations with the West, with all the onslaught of the Russian offensive and decisiveness of actions, including the destruction of strategic important facilities - including information warfare centers throughout the enemy's territory - the restoration of control over Donbass is so difficult, This can only mean one thing: it was in the Donbass that Russia faced the utmost concentration of Ukrainian armed forces and nationalist formations, which had prepared not only every meter of territory for deep and effective defense, but also quite obviously - it is obvious now! - but clearly intending to unleash all this power on the DPR and LPR in the very near future. And if we imagine that Moscow would not start a military operation without first recognizing the DPR and LPR, not only would these republics be unable to resist the Ukrainian attack, but Russia's support of their defense would also be insufficient. If the AFU forces, concentrated in the east, put up such fierce resistance and with a full-scale military operation, what would happen if the DPR and LPR found themselves face to face with the enemy with paralyzed or minimal, forced to look back at every detail of Moscow's help? It is quite obvious that if Putin had not decided to launch a military operation, first recognizing the DPR and LPR, the situation would have been completely different: the AFU - contrary to any degree of heroism of the DPR and LPR - would have captured these territories, subjected the local population to total genocide, and in ecstasy from their "exploits" would have moved to "liberate Crimea". Either immediately, or after a pause. And Kiev could simply ignore Moscow's angry protests and even nuclear threats: Russia would lose critical weight if it surrendered its own.
In other words, the initiator of this military operation was in fact not Putin. This is hard to believe, and one does not want to - neither friends nor enemies - but Moscow really had no other choice. There was nothing personal in the decision about the military operation. It was forced and inevitable. It was neither a cunning plan nor a sophisticated strategy: it was a direct imperative of national security and a demand to preserve the sovereignty of Russia. Without belittling the merits of the Russian president in any way, anyone in his place, except a direct enemy or a complete idiot, should have done the same thing. Moscow could not but launch an all-out offensive, because without it it would not have been able to achieve any local successes in the territory of Donbass - and even within the old and pathetic borders.
What are observers observing?
In 2014, I voiced a formula on Russian television's Channel One:
If Russia loses Donbass, it will lose Crimea. If it loses Crimea, it will lose itself".
This was my last appearance on the central channels because it was considered "aggressive" and "militaristic". It was neither of those things. I was simply describing the objective geopolitical situation and its inevitable consequences. I certainly had my own - patriotic - position, but that was not the point. What I was talking about was not a propaganda formula, but a cold and objective - scientific - statement of the actual state of affairs.
Today everyone repeats this formula. Only because it contains truth. Not only our Russian truth, the truth as such, no matter which way we look at it. And Kiev thought about the state of affairs in exactly the same way. And all the assertions by Kiev and the West about Russia's readiness to launch an "invasion" were of a preventive nature: if you are preparing to attack yourself, accuse your opponent of doing so. And if the world's entire informosphere is behind you, the public can believe anything. No one is going to study the real state of affairs on the fronts, especially since any observer has to deal with one of the sides, and this is ideology and taking quite a specific geopolitical position. Each observer observes in its own way, to the extent of its civilizational and political peculiarities. Therefore, no one can know for sure before the start of the war as a reality check.
Why so late?
Many today ask the bitter question: Why so late? Why not eight years ago? This applies to the liberation of Donbass, the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine as a whole, the closure of the Russophobic media, and the transition to a sovereign economy in Russia itself. The answer to all of this is given by the difficulty of advancing our troops in Volnovakha, Mariupol, and the level of preparedness for war in all of eastern Ukraine. The thesis of Novorossiya and Russian peace, which were the slogans of the first Russian Spring, was heard not so much in Moscow as in Kiev and Washington. Western strategists realized that it was serious and justified. And they began to move toward complete subjugation of the east exactly at the moment when we ourselves stopped, having drawn our own red lines - just Crimea and part of Donbass. We stopped, and they, on the contrary, took up the cause. And they prepared for the battle for Novorossia, that is, for the capture and genocide of Donbass, and then Crimea, tirelessly for eight years.
We see today what the state of mind of the Kiev authorities is. Even in their current miserable position, practically surrounded and having lost all military infrastructure, they desperately insist on their hallucinatory - virtual - picture of the world. It is very similar to the staff of Echo of Moscow, who, incidentally, have escaped to Kiev from time to time. Is it really possible that such insane rulers of a nazified and militarized Ukraine would be frightened only by the theoretical use of a nuclear encirclement by Russia in the event of an attack on Crimea? Don't be ridiculous. They do not accept the reality that they are in a Kiev densely surrounded by Russian troops, where hunger is rampant, looters are rampaging, and mad neo-Nazis are rampaging. And would they have been stopped by Moscow's simple words that "Crimea is ours and it's forever?"
Putin didn't get ahead of history. He did exactly what was necessary and inevitable. And it seems to me, subjectively, that he didn't want to. If he wanted, he would have started earlier. Our troops, of course, in 8 years were perfectly prepared, but the enemy was also prepared. And the Kiev junta did not collapse, and the corrupt Ukrainian oligarchs did not cause mass protests. Ukraine is not in the best shape, but the economic decline and social collapse are skillfully compensated by hysterical nationalist and Russophobic propaganda. Now, by the way, it is clear why and for what reason this frenzied racist Russophobia has served a pragmatic function. Without it, Ukraine could not be held, and the cynical West took such excesses for granted, turning a blind eye to Ukrainian Nazism. You can't do it anywhere, but you can in Kiev. Without this, the pro-Western, but totally ineffective Ukrainian government would not have survived for long. And it did. Everything was falling, and Nazism and militarism were growing.
And hence our actions today.
The inevitable and justified defense.
The last thing Putin wanted was to break off relations with the West. And this is why he steadfastly tolerated the liberals in Russia itself - the oligarchs, the fifth column, the cultural figures and the economic bloc in the government itself. He was well aware of who they were and what harm they were doing to the country. But Putin kept them as a bridge of communication with the West. He suppressed only the most extreme forms. He went for a military operation only because there was no other way out. He followed the only line that was possible. So he not only hesitated and procrastinated, he did not want a military operation or a withdrawal from modern Western civilization at all. When he speaks directly and honestly about this, he is not believed. They think it's just another piece of disinformation. But Putin speaks the pure truth.
It is an unavoidable and completely logically justified defense. And not just in retrospect with regard to what the West imposed on the previous Russian rulers in the 1980s and 1990s, but right now, in the conditions that will be in place by February 2022. Of course, it did not start now, and all thirty-odd years after the collapse of the USSR, the West continued to attack what was left of it. Not stopping for a moment. As long as one could somehow live with it, Putin lived. But the moment came when it was no longer possible. The geopolitical and ideological status quo is no longer compatible with the life of a sovereign country.
So Russia is telling the truth. Naturally, no one will believe it. But it turns out that in this case it is exactly so.