Another phone call … and thereafter!
It has been fully clear for some time that the official stance of America is to see Russia defeated in Ukraine and to see Russia’s military machine reduced to such an extent that it will not be able to threaten any another European ally in the future.
Phone call Austin-Shoigu, May 13
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin initiated the call with Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu: On May 13, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke with Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu for the first time since February 18. Secretary Austin urged an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and emphasized the importance of maintaining lines of communication. Just a couple weeks ago, the same Mr. Austin stated that Ukraine is winning and the whole main stream media has repeated this same narrative “Ukraine is winning the war. It will soon push the Russian forces back over the border and with the help of Western aid will crush the Russian war machine.”
My conclusion/explanation for this phone call was, as stated in my previous article (May 15, 2022):
If Ukraine is really winning the war or at least has an upper hand over Russia in the battlefield, there would be no sense or logic that Austin should contact Shoigu and beg an immediate ceasefire. The operation to “weaken Russia”, which Austin had publicly announced couple weeks ago, does not seem to go that well.
Phone call Milley-Gerasimov, May 19
Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian General Staff, held a conversation that the Pentagon declined to further detail beyond acknowledging it had happened. “The military leaders discussed several security-related issues of concern and agreed to keep the lines of communication open,” the Pentagon said in a statement announcing the call. “In accordance with past practice, the specific details of their conversation will be kept private.”
Why again a phone call at top military level?
Perhaps again the course of events in the battlefield may shed more light on this “mystery”.
After the fall of Mariupol, the Russian War Machine has been grinding for weeks and now the entire Donbass Arc is in motion and the military situation there is very critical to AFU (Armed Forces of Ukraine). Russia has now concentrated much power there, also a lot of combat aircraft, and breakthrough is near.
Ukrainian sources report the withdrawal of troops from Severodonetsk-Lysychank, where up to 15000 Ukrainian troops are in the risk to fall in encirclement. The main supply routes are under the fire control of the Russian artillery. Next couple of days will show the outcome, which looks very ominous to Ukraine. The fall of Severodonetsk would be a fateful turning point to Ukraine in the whole Donbass theater.
In addition, the snapshots from other frontlines in eastern and southern theater of operations seem also ominous to Ukraine. Based on latest estimates of various sources, the average Ukrainian troop losses amount up to 500 (killed, wounded, surrendered) per a day, which is unbearable amount.
When looking at the big picture, there are right now two important persons and decision makers in Ukraine, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), General Valery Zaluzhny. Zelensky himself appointed Zaluzhny to command AFU but now their opinions differ on many issues.
So, Zaluzhny stated that it was necessary to save the lives of Ukrainian servicemen and advocated the removal of AFU troops from Severodonetsk and Kramatorsk but the Kyiv authorities ordered “to stand to the last.” Also, Zaluzhny was against the attack of Ukrainian paratroopers on Zmeiny Island, which led to catastrophy.
There are strong rumors of possible coup by Zaluzhny, if things go in chaotic inside Ukraine, due to collapses in the frontlines.
The massive military material aid already provided by the US and the EU as well as an extra $40 billion American aid package cannot compensate Ukrainian troop losses. AFU should get more “boots on the ground” in order to continue the war. Perhaps NATO will organize more troops from Poland, Romania and Moldova as reported earlier. Europe may see the wide-range summer war 2022 as I assessed in my article “Ode to Europe”, May 2, 2022.
Third phase of SMO
Anyway, it seems now quite clear that the second phase of Russian SMO (special military operation) in Ukraine is ending in the near future and possibly/obviously the third phase will start.
No sign of any interest or willingness to peaceful solution can be found among any parties of the conflict. On the contrary, both the US-EU-Ukraine and Russia seem to be ready to increase the stakes.
It begins to be more and more likely that the escalation ladder will be gone to the final step before the abyss.