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The more state terrorism that Ukraine commits against Russian civilians without any criticism from the West, the more that the Global South will sympathize with Russia’s goals of demilitarizing Ukraine, denazifying it, and restoring that country’s constitutional neutrality.
Ukraine launched a devastating terrorist attack with cluster and other munitions against purely civilian targets in the Russian border city of Belgorod shortly before the New Year, which killed at least 24 people and injured 131, including the deaths of four children. A sports complex, skating rink, university, and several residential neighborhoods were hit with the help of American and British advisors, who Russia’s Permanent UN Representative accused of helping to organize this atrocity.
It came right after Russia’s largest aerial barrage of the special operation thus far, which exclusively targeted military facilities even though some civilian collateral damage was reported, but Moscow attributed that to Kiev’s infamously faulty air defense systems per the aforesaid official. The timing therefore reveals the first message that was sent by the latest bombing of Belgorod, namely that nationwide military strikes will be responded to with cross-border acts of state terrorism.
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A conventional tit-for-tat response is impossible for the regime to pull off since it lacks the requisite means to do so at scale. The most that it was able to accomplish in this respect over the past 22 months was several high-profile drone strikes against military facilities deep inside the Russian hinterland, but those were exceptional strikes that haven’t occurred for some time. Instead of once again targeting the fleet in nearby Crimea like they recently did, they deliberately chose civilian targets in Belgorod.
Therein lies the second message, which is that the areas that were attacked had clearly been selected far in advance since they’re all static (unchanging) targets where large numbers of civilians either assemble or live. It’s unbelievable that all of them would be hit by Ukrainian munitions that supposedly went off course or by allegedly faulty Russian air defense systems like the regime’s propagandists claim. The fact that cluster munitions were used against civilian-populated urban targets proves Kiev’s lethal intent.
Accordingly, Ukraine and its Western patrons want Russia to know that they have a list of cross-border civilian targets ready to attack whenever their opponent pummels them with large-scale strikes. This is intended to deter the latter from carrying out such military operations, though it’s unimaginable that anyone in Moscow would ever consider giving in to this terrorist blackmail. To the contrary, these attacks have only steeled Russia’s resolve in demilitarizing and denazifying Ukraine.
This insight about their intent leads to the third message that was sent through the latest bombing of Belgrade regarding the regime’s literal bloodlust and its expectation that killing as many Russians as possible will help retain public support for their side in this conflict. Summer’s counteroffensive failed, Western aid was curtailed, Ukraine is back on the defensive, political rivalries are worsening, and a hugely unpopular conscription drive was just ordered, all of which demoralized many Ukrainians.
So serious is this crisis of confidence that an expert from the powerful Atlantic Council think tank demanded in a piece for Politico late last month that Zelensky form a “government of national unity” without delay in order to preemptively manage “justifiable public anger toward the authorities.” If left unchecked or inadvertently exacerbated through an even more draconian crackdown, then it could spiral out of control to the point of large-scale protests or even a military coup in the worst-case scenarios.
Zelensky doesn’t want to share power nor is he interested in resuming peace talks, either of which could help manage the aforementioned “justifiable public anger” that dangerously continues to rise, and instead wants to kill as many Russians as possible since he thinks that’s what Ukrainians expect of him. These calculations add context to what a security source told RT’s Russian-language service regarding their claim that he personally ordered the latest bombing of Belgorod.
Building upon this, Ukraine intended to send a fourth complementary message over the weekend but was prevented by Russia’s retaliatory strikes targeting military facilities and officials. According to the Defense Ministry, they hit the building formerly housing the Kharkov Palace Hotel in order to take out those who planned the latest bombing of Belgorod. Up to 200 foreign mercenaries who were preparing for another round of cross-border terrorist raids were also on the premises at the time of this strike.
If the latter weren’t stopped, then Ukraine could have tried to exploit the latest terrorist attack to temporarily seize some land across the international border out of desperation to boost morale at home. Those Anglo-American advisors who might have also either been aware of these plans or had a hand in organizing them just like they helped plot last weekend’s atrocity could have thought that it would inspire Western lawmakers to authorize more aid for their proxy once they return from holidays.
Although this fourth message wasn’t sent throughout the course of the latest attack because of Russia’s decisive retaliatory strike, it can’t be ruled out that there aren’t more foreign mercenaries elsewhere in Ukraine that are preparing similar cross-border terrorist raids. There might very well be a related incident sometime this month for the abovementioned reason, but the effect on Ukrainian morale might be a lot less than if it happened right after the latest bombings as was previously planned.
And finally, the last message that Ukraine sent was that it has a carte blanche from the West to commit acts of state terrorism after none of their media or officials criticized its attack. This observation exposes the “rules-based order” as rhetoric designed to disguise the arbitrary implementation of double standards in advance of this New Cold War bloc’s interests. Their conspicuous lack of interest in Kiev’s deliberate targeting of civilians discredits the claim that the West cares about “human rights”.
This fifth message might not have been intended since it’s counterproductive to that bloc’s soft power interests, but it was still sent through the latest attack. Russia would therefore do well to draw maximum international attention to it, particularly among the Global South, in order to further discredit the West’s standing in the eyes of the global majority. It’s all the more damning that no one in the West even shed crocodile tears in an attempt to keep up appearances about the “rules-based order”.
From the rest of the world’s perspective, the Ukrainian Conflict is indeed a NATO proxy war on Russia via Ukraine, and the West no longer tries to hide it either. The more state terrorism that Ukraine commits against Russian civilians without any criticism from the West, the more that the Global South will sympathize with Russia’s goals of demilitarizing Ukraine, denazifying it, and restoring that country’s constitutional neutrality. With this in mind, the latest bombing of Belgorod backfired on the West.