Russian special military operation in Ukraine, military expert’s opinion – interview
“I think all the disinformation used by the US and other Western powers will inevitably backfire, as their populace will be shocked by the outcome of this crisis.” – Colonel Wolf
Drago Bosnic, independent geopolitical and military analyst
The special military operation in Ukraine has been at the center of the ongoing information war between the political West and Russia for nearly 3 months now. Unequivocal support for the Kiev regime is an absolute must for the political and mass media elites in NATO and EU countries. Within this framework, portraying the Ukrainian crisis as a sort of defeat for Russia has been the norm. To keep this narrative, Western mainstream media spend most of their time desperately trying to twist reality. But to do that more effectively, they need absolute dominance, not just in their own media space, but around the globe.
Keeping the narrative in the political West is made possible by simply banning or suppressing any alternative source of information. In such a media climate, getting reliable information has become a laborious task. To ease the effort, we have decided to talk to Colonel Wolf, a retired military officer and former member of an air defense unit of the Yugoslav Army. Colonel Wolf has been in the military for 40 years before retiring and has extensive combat experience, including against a vastly superior air force, as he had fought to defend his country from US and NATO airstrikes in 1999.
– Thank You for taking the time to participate in this interview, Colonel. We would like to start by asking the most obvious question these days. Do You think the goals of the ongoing Western media propaganda campaign are to discredit the state structure of the Russian Federation and turn the special military operation into a long-term conflict to exhaust Russia?
First of all, I would like to send my regards to your readers and thank You for inviting me to the interview. As for the current situation, I would first like to say that this crisis is a tragedy. And by this, I don’t mean the military operation which started in late February, but the whole confrontation which pitted the Ukrainians and Russians against each other and which was started in 2014, thanks to foreign meddling and shenanigans. In this regard, I think that the intentions of the West are more than clear.
And this is nothing new, as Russia has been in the crosshairs for centuries. The current situation is the consequence of the, to say the least, naive decisions taken by the Soviet and later Russian leadership to trust the US and NATO. This changed only in the last 20 years, but the damage was already done, as NATO is already at Russia’s doorstep. The consequences are catastrophic, as the enormous sacrifices taken by the Russian people and other peoples of the former USSR in defeating Nazism have been invalidated with the stroke of a pen. And now the people of Russia are forced to fight the same battle against the same enemy, which is costing the lives of soldiers and civilians alike.
When it comes to the media campaign aimed at Russia, again, it’s not new. Portraying Russia as bad has been the norm for quite some time now, but the current crisis has pushed this to the extreme, virtually war footing, as if the West is preparing their public for war with Russia. The information people are being fed may be outright false, but it doesn’t matter. The endgame is quite obvious. Pushing Russia into another 1990s geopolitical irrelevance, so it could then be plundered and slowly dismantled, piece by piece. This would accomplish two very important goals for the West. First, the removal of a top geopolitical, primarily military rival, and second, it would provide the West with access to Russia’s limitless resources. This has been the goal of all Western geopolitical actors for nearly a thousand years now, from the Teutonic Knights to Napoleon, Hitler, and NATO nowadays. It’s so obvious, that all you need to do is take a map and compare the staging areas of each of these invaders. They’re virtually the same.
– How would you assess the actions of the Russian Armed Forces in the Crimea, Syria, Kazakhstan?
Those three operations have certain similarities, but are also very different in many respects. The operation in Crimea was conducted without firing a single shot, so to speak. It was lightning fast and extremely well organized. The intelligence behind it was superb. It was also a perfect moment, since the new regime in Kiev wasn’t consolidated enough to respond effectively, and not just in Crimea, but anywhere in Ukraine, for that matter. From a military standpoint, I think Russia could’ve conducted such an operation in the entirety or at least most of Ukraine at the time. However, it’s a whole other issue how effectively Russia would’ve handled the economic and other sanctions by the West at the time, especially on the scale we’re seeing today.
As for Syria, that conflict was and still is a much more complicated endeavor for Russia and its military. The sheer concentration of regional and global players involved there is a geopolitical and military nightmare. Frankly, I’m amazed by the way Russia and its diplomatic elite have managed to keep the delicate strategic balance there virtually intact for all these years. Russia’s ability to compartmentalize all the crises, not just in Syria, but in the Middle East in general, is nothing short of a miracle. There are so many independent, and yet inextricably connected and intertwined elements in the tragic story of Syria. There’s Russia, Israel, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, the US, UK, EU, NATO, various groups such as the Kurds, but also many terrorist groups, which aren’t universally accepted as terrorists, since some consider many of them to be the so-called “democratic opposition”.
So, when conducting the operation in Syria, Russia has to take into account all of these actors. Sometimes, it was possible to work together with some of them, but oftentimes, this was easier said than done. From a military standpoint, the operation has been fantastic. Regardless of the difficulties and the constantly volatile situation, Russian forces there have been consistent and determined to complete their mission. I’m especially amazed by the superb performance of Russian air defense units. Despite daily attacks by drones, mortars, rockets and other weapons, the Russian grouping of forces is not only safe, but continues to advance and provide support to the Syrian military, which has also been transformed from the ground up, turning it into a deadly force, perfectly capable of dealing with terrorist threats and air attacks alike.
When it comes to the operation in Kazakhstan, it falls somewhere between Syria and Crimea, although much closer to the latter. The situation in Kazakhstan was an attempt to divert Russia’s attention and bog the country down, so that Ukraine could take Donbass with little to no interference from Russia. Obviously, this failed, but it does prove that the West still has considerable influence in Central Asia and elsewhere in the post-Soviet region. Russia’s and CSTO’s reaction was very similar to the one in Crimea, although there were some casualties in Kazakhstan. Luckily, it was nowhere near the events in Syria or Ukraine. Militarily, it was conducted as professionally as the previous two. Intelligence services also did a great job. The operation also revealed the need for greater cooperation and interoperability within the CSTO, which, if I’m not mistaken, was also discussed during a recent meeting in Moscow.
– The actions of the Russian Armed Forces aim to prevent large-scale casualties among the civilian population and even huge losses of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. A good example is the withdrawal of Russian troops from Kiev in order to avoid large-scale civilian casualties. In this, Russia’s tactics differ from the actions of the United States, which completely destroyed cities such as Mosul and Raqqa. How do you assess the difference in the actions of the two armies?
The difference is primarily doctrinal. The United States and NATO are heavily focused on airpower. Without it, their style of warfare effectively crumbles. Land forces of NATO countries never engage in combat without complete air dominance. And even then, they hesitate, as was the case in my country, where they didn’t dare to conduct a land invasion, as the terrorist groups they armed, funded and directly supported by providing air cover were soundly defeated by our (Yugoslav) army. Their command assessed there would be unacceptable losses on the ground, so they resorted to the mass bombing of civilians and civilian infrastructure. It worked, as our government realized the civilian casualties which were in the thousands by that moment would soon turn into tens of thousands if the bombing was to continue. Not to mention the worsening humanitarian disaster which was already affecting millions.
Iraq was unfortunate to experience this over a span of several decades. There have been millions killed in Iraq, which is a testament to NATO’s brutality and complete disregard for the safety of the Iraqi people. Given that the US has been bombing Iraq intermittently for decades, I don’t see why they would suddenly start caring about civilians now or ever. Worse yet, the ISIS attack on Iraq was a direct result of US aggression in the Middle East. In order to save face and push the terrorists back into Syria, so they could continue the regime-change operation there, the US intervened, but refused to send land forces, with the exception of intelligence and special forces. And even they were used as an integral part of the bombing operation. This is why all these cities in northern and western Iraq suffered tremendously.
There’s also one major difference between the actions of the US in Iraq and Russia in Ukraine. The US doesn’t see the Iraqi people as their own. The Iraqi people, and Arabs in general, have been demonized by US and other Western media for quite some time. This has had a dehumanizing effect which resulted in high casualties among the Iraqis. Russia, on the other hand, sees the Ukrainian people as its kin. President Putin himself has been saying it for years and it’s quite obvious that the Russian military is going out of its way to protect civilians in Ukraine, even at the expense of its own troops in some cases, which is an extremely rare occurrence in military operations of such magnitude. I have certainly never seen anything even closely resembling this during any operations conducted by NATO. Russia’s withdrawal from northern areas of Ukraine also proves this. By limiting large-scale operations to Donbass, the Russian military is trying to reduce the territorial scope of the fighting. Obviously, the goal is to finish the operation as soon as possible and force the government in Kiev to capitulate or at least sign a peace treaty favorable to Russia.
– The Ukrainian command uses big cities as fortresses, and their populations as human shields. A good example is the Azov Regiment and the population of Mariupol. How do you feel about such tactics of warfare?
I wholeheartedly detest and reject such tactics. I find it hard to imagine a more disgraceful behavior. Military honor should make any decent officer reject even the notion of using civilians for that purpose. During NATO aggression on Yugoslavia, our military did everything humanly possible to remove our forces from cities. We knew full well what large-scale bombing could do to our people and we did everything we could to prevent that. It was only after the US and NATO failed militarily and expanded their operations to residential areas and civilian infrastructure that our government decided to negotiate with the aggressor.
What I can conclude from the conduct of the Ukrainian army is that it simply doesn’t see the Ukrainian population as its own. If they did, they certainly wouldn’t be placing their troops inside towns and cities, especially not cities the size of Kiev or Kharkov, as that puts millions of people directly at risk. Ukraine is the largest country in Europe. I’m sure there’s more than enough space to conduct military operations tens, if not hundreds of kilometers away from densely populated areas.
– Russia is trying to keep the nature of the special operation limited, maintaining a humane attitude towards the civilian population and the enemy. What is your assessment of the actions of the Russian Armed Forces in this sense?
As I stated before, I think this is the only way military operations should be conducted. Of course, it’s best to try and avoid military action whenever possible, but if it’s absolutely necessary, there’s simply no other way, if civilians are to be spared. I believe Russia will offer a peace treaty after the operation in Donbass is completed in order to avoid further bloodshed, but given the lack of actual sovereignty in Kiev, I’m afraid they will refuse to negotiate. This will force Russia to continue the operation, which might drag the conflict on for months. I believe Russia will take its time, because trying to reduce civilian casualties inevitably slows down military operations.
– One of the main means of provocation by the Western media is the regular use of unreliable and sometimes dishonest information about the top military-political leadership of the Russian Federation (Head of the Ministry of Defense, Chief of the General Staff). Does such a set of actions seem justified in order to discredit Russian leaders in the eyes of the international community?
Well, you know what they say in the West, “All is fair in love and war.” I think this is especially true for the hybrid warfare which has been taking shape in recent decades. Information, or better said, disinformation is one of the most important aspects of modern warfare. The goal is to demoralize the opponent, strengthening your own resolve in the process. However, this should be matched with actual successes on the ground. The problem is, there are little to no such successes for the West in Ukraine. Sure, there might be some minor tactical successes, but the overall situation looks rather grim for the Ukrainian forces. In order to divert attention from that, the US and NATO need at least something. But because there is almost nothing they can use, they disseminate outright lies as part of a wider disinformation effort to portray Russia, its armed force, and military and political leadership as incompetent and divided.
Of course, this can only have a very limited effect in terms of Russia’s international prestige, because leaders around the world are perfectly aware of what’s going on. It’s obvious that all the disinformation is primarily designed for domestic consumption. We even see this in the actions of top US officials. For example, the US Defense Secretary, Mr. Austin openly stated that the goal of the US is to weaken Russia. However, just the other day, he called his Russian counterpart, General Sergei Shoigu, to ask for an immediate ceasefire. Just ask yourself, why would the side which is supposedly winning ask for a ceasefire? I find this very indicative of the actual situation on the ground. Even if I knew nothing about military matters, even if there was no real-time information from the battlefield, to me, this would be a clear sign of what’s really going on. This is why I think all the disinformation used by the US and other Western powers will inevitably backfire, as their populace will be shocked by the outcome of this crisis.
– Thank You very much, Colonel. It was a pleasure hearing Your point of view.
Thank You for having me. Once again, best regards to You and Your respected readers.