NATO warfare in opposition to Russia? What occurs now with the annexation of territories
Referendum of annexation of regions occupied by Moscow must transform theater of war; NATO has never been closer to a conflict with Putin
A new phase of the war in Eastern Europe should begin in the next few days, with the conclusion of the referendum on the annexation of occupied territories in Ukraine. In addition to the breakaway republics, Donetsk and Luhansk, in the region known as Donbas (by the way, one of the country’s industrialized ones), Kherson and Zaporizhia, in the south and southeast of the country, will vote starting this Friday, the 23rd, if they intend to become part Russia — the referendum runs until the 27th. The move comes at a time when Moscow is carrying out a massive recruitment of 300,000 reservists to reinforce the force in Ukraine.
With the annexation of the occupied territories, which total about 90,000 square kilometers, any military maneuver on the front line will be considered against Russia. Last Wednesday, the 21st, President Vladimir Putin threatened to use “all means” to protect Russia. “And that’s not a bluff,” he said. At the same time, Joe Biden has raised the bar on the use of nuclear weapons. In his speech at the 77th UN assembly, also on Wednesday, in New York, the American president accused Russia of making “irresponsible” threats about nuclear weapons.
The mood is one of apprehension — the annexation of territories raises the risk of a direct confrontation between NATO, which supports Ukraine, and Russia. Since the beginning of the war, the countries of the Western military alliance have sent more than 5.6 billion dollars in financial aid and war equipment to Ukraine. NATO strategists have also been working alongside Vladimir Zelinsky in the military arena. In recent weeks, Ukraine has made important advances, especially in the southern region. According to the Ukrainian president, 2,000 kilometers of territory have been retaken.
Behind the scenes, diplomatic sources comment that the main concern now is with an “all-out war”, in which Russia would not contain efforts to destroy Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure for good, with more comprehensive attacks on supply lines, such as transport trains. and roads, and large residential areas, on a scale similar to what was done in Mariupol.
Officially, NATO has considered the annexation of territories in Ukraine a significant escalation of the Russian offensive. “The United States will never recognize annexation,” Jake Sullivan, a White House security adviser, said Tuesday. while the European Union threatened tougher measures against Russia.
The timing could not be more complicated for Europe, with energy prices on an unprecedented rise since the start of the war in Ukraine and the sanctions on Russia, and the imminent risk of recession. With the crisis in the electricity sector worsening, with the cost of natural gas on average 100% higher than at the beginning of the year, the European Union is likely to plunge into a more extensive economic downturn. At least that’s what Deutsche Bank, Germany’s biggest bank, predicts. “The projection we made in July for a mild recession starting this winter is already behind us,” Mark Wall, the bank’s chief economist, said on Wednesday. “We now anticipate a longer and deeper recession.”