The US Strategic Provocations before and during the Olympic Games
To make your foe act in a definite way through the planned escalation of events, thereby making him lose his position and assets is the essence of any international provocation.
Introduction. To make your foe act in a definite way through the planned escalation of events, thereby making him lose his position and his tangible and intangible assets — that is the essence of any international provocation. In history, one can find many examples of strategic provocations with long term goals and, very often, grave and long-term international consequences. The Gulf of Tonkin incident in August 1964 — where a North Vietnamese torpedo boat allegedly attacked a US warship — was the excuse the USA used to enter fully into the Vietnam War. This false allegation led to the deaths of millions of victims and massive social problems that persist to this day. In 1989, a questionable incident between US and Panamanian troops led to an invasion of Panama. The leader of Panama, Manuel Noriega, was charged with drug trafficking, though the real reason for the invasion was Noriega’s insistence on claiming control over the Panama Canal after the lease agreement with the USA expired. In 2003, Colin Powell, the Secretary of State at the UN, holding a test tube in his hand, said that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, which served as the false basis for an armed invasion of that country with the intention of controlling the country in the key region of the Middle East, housing the world’s fifth largest oil reserves. The result was the chaos of a long civil war and hundreds of thousands of victims.
Within the framework of this article, I consider the global goals of the US strategic provocations before and during the Olympic Games. Special attention is paid to the synchronization of actions for its implementation in different regions of the world. A provocation of a strategic nature — exactly like a sequence of deliberate actions aimed at global destabilization — has a time limit and is synchronized at the global level. Also somewhat similar to actions aimed at global destabilization are its means and methods of achieving its goals. These strategic provocations will be conventionally referred to as the “China 2008 Olympics,” “Russia 2014 Olympics,” and “China 2022 Olympics.”
Georgia, 2008. The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing were held August 8–24, 2008. On the night of August 8, 2008, Georgian troops (who, for a number of years, were re-equipped mainly with US funds and trained under the guidance of US military instructors) began a massive artillery bombardment of the capital of South Ossetia, the city of Tskhinvali, and surrounding areas. A few hours later, the city was stormed by Georgian armored vehicles and infantry. Russian peacekeepers were in the combat zone as per the Sochi Agreement of 1992, when, after an 18-month armed conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia, representatives of Russia, Georgia, and South Ossetia had signed an agreement on the principles of conflict settlement on June 24, 1992 (RIA "Novosti", 2008). As a result of the Georgian attack, dozens of Russian peacekeepers were killed and wounded. On August 8, 2008, Russia officially joined the conflict on the side of South Ossetia as part of the operation to force the Georgian side into peace. On August 12, 2008, Russia officially announced the successful end of this operation.
Western mainstream media gave a one-sided anti-Russian version of events both on the eve of and especially during the conflict, which became one of the important means of justifying the conflict as “Russian aggression.” A one-sided presentation of the conflict in 2008 by the mainstream Western media was not accidental, taking into account a real participation of the USA on all levels in the conflict, except for the direct involvement of US armed forces in the military operations of Georgia. The USA supported the regime of Mikhail Saakashvili in light of methods for coming to power, the ways and purposes of power retention, and the results of activities within the framework of the common, dangerous strategy of NATO expansion to the East. This last point became the decisive factor for the geopolitical consequences of the conflict and its representation in international mass media. Even in some later research of US scholars, one can see such an approach. As Christopher R. Eidman and Gregory. S. Green emphasize in their thesis, “This conflict also served as a proxy for the ongoing friction between NATO and Russia with regard to NATO expansion into former Soviet satellite states” (Eidman and Green, 2014, p. 28). The short-term armed conflict in Georgia took hundreds of lives on both sides, and thousands more were injured. At the same time, it served as the beginning of open pressure being placed on Russia; open attempts to isolate it in the international arena.
The decision to start the China 2008 Olympics provocation was made taking into account the presence of Vladimir Putin (who then held the post of Prime Minister of the Russian Federation) at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing. The calculation was made that if the reaction to aggression and the death of peacekeepers was mild due to unwillingness to interfere with the Olympic Games, it would help to both destabilize the domestic political situation in Russia and weaken its position in the international arena. But the organizers of this provocation failed in their plans. Moscow’s justifiably tough but balanced response (Russian troops did not enter Tbilisi, even though, from a military point of view, it was quite possible to do this on the shoulders of the retreating and demoralized Georgian army) quickly stopped the fighting. The strategic provocation also had a backup option: Russia’s military response to Georgia’s aggression was used to launch a massive anti-Russian propaganda campaign and open attempts to isolate it in the international arena, thereby causing serious damage to international stability and security.
Ukraine 2014. The 2014 Winter Olympics were held February 7–23, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. The time for provocation was selected not accidentally as several months prior to the Olympic Games, the hands of the Russian government were tied with the oncoming global event. Protests at Maidan Nezalezhnosti began on November 21, 2013, in response to the suspension of the preparations to sign the agreement of association between Ukraine and the European Union (EU) by the Ukrainian Government. The agreement “On Settlement of the Political Crisis in Ukraine” was signed after mediation between the EU and Russia after negotiations had taken place between President Victor Yanukovich and the opposition on February 21. However, the Right Sector party did not accept the terms of the agreement and claimed the continuation of the “National Revolution” and struggle against the criminal regime (RBC-Ukraine, 2014).
Under these circumstances of continued direct pressure and bloody confrontation in Kiev, Yanukovich left Kiev. The Supreme Rada adopted a resolution that stated that Yanukovich “withdrew from the exercise of constitutional authority in an unconstitutional manner” and did not perform his obligations under the pressure of the Right Sector and other radical nationalists and neo-Nazis on February 22, and the Supreme Rada called for early presidential elections on May 25, 2014. The authority was taken over by the opposition with broad neo-Nazi representation in the government that formed after the coup. Thus, the peak of the coup took place during the period of the Olympic Games in Sochi.
From the perspective of the development of the situation in Ukraine itself, the regime of Yanukovich was already sufficiently discredited in the eyes of its population, with unpopular decisions having been made in the social sphere and with corruption that led to the objective possibility of the development of social unrest. At a critical moment, it was skillfully transferred to the synchronous interaction of provocateurs in government structures with ultra-nationalist and neo-Nazi groups who had the direct support of the USA and other NATO members in the political media sphere. Ukrainian nationalist youths had undergone a course of sabotage and terrorist training under the guidance of NATO instructors at a military base in Estonia long before the events at Maidan took place in the summer of 2006 (Military Review, 2014).
There was an evident and very likely artificially organized synchronization of events in Ukraine during the Olympics in Sochi on February 6–23, 2014, and in Venezuela.
Venezuela, 2014: Civil unrest started in Venezuela on February 4, 2014. The peak of the protests took place on February 12, when National Youth Day is celebrated in the country. The use of certain means of pressure from the opposition (including Molotov cocktails, common during the events in Kiev), international campaigns in the mainstream media to support protests against Nicolas Maduro’s government, and the active role of the USA made the events in this Latin American country look like the situation in Ukraine. After the completion of the Olympic Games, there was a slow decrease in civil unrest. The attempted coup in Venezuela failed because Maduro’s government had more grassroots support in Venezuela than the Yanukovich government did in Ukraine, and political mobilization helped to stop the radical right opposition.
The goals of the USA’s strategic Russia 2014 Olympics provocation went far beyond the tasks of establishing pro-American regimes in Venezuela and Ukraine as places with strategic military–political importance — and, in the case of Venezuela, its importance in terms of raw materials — in the context of the geopolitical balance of power.
Among these goals were:
- To justify long-term extraordinary measures for “bringing order” among the general public in the USA and other Western countries that would become inevitable at a certain stage of development of the global crisis.
- To place the responsibility for the inevitable financial and economic collapse of the USA and for the world’s unjust financial and economic system, through intrigues, onto an external “enemy,” with Russia and China being the best candidates for this role. This would allow these countries to then be accused of the subsequent catastrophic worsening of the material status of the world’s population, causing their estrangement. Public opinion has been prepared and led in this direction through the mainstream media for many years.
- To raise trust in the USA in the international arena and among US citizens proper. According to the Pew Research Center Report published in 2019, three quarters of Americans say that their fellow citizens’ trust in the federal government has been shrinking, and 64% believe the same about people’s trust in each other. When asked a separate question about why trust has declined over the past 20 years, people offered a host of reasons in their written answers (Rainie and Perrin, 2019). An important result and evidence of a certain maturity of the respondents is that they do not attribute the decline in confidence to the activities of individuals or parties. According to a 2017 Pew survey, 39% of respondents across 38 countries consider U.S. influence and power a major threat to their countries, compared to 31% for both Russia and China. That’s up from 25% in 2013, when the survey was conducted previously (Lawler, 2018). According to Gallup in 20 of the 29 countries and areas in 2020, approval ratings of U.S. leadership were at new lows or they tied the previous lows. Median approval across the 29 countries and areas stood at 18% in 2020, down from 22% for this same group in 2017 (Ray, 2020). Paradoxically, this country with its talented, vibrant population is feared and hated more and more. This, naturally, is already having sufficient and quite negative consequences today, and tomorrow it may be dangerous (if not catastrophic) to the ruling circles of the USA. But if an “enemy” that is dangerous to all is found, then the USA will be called for help, which, in turn, will raise its international authority and the trust placed in the nation. Fear before the “enemy” is also a good means of controlling the population of one’s own country.
- To get the grounds for deploying the new large-scale arms race as a means of revitalizing the economy. Its strategic tasks are to achieve a decisive military advantage over the enemy and secure global hegemony militarily or exhaust the enemy with exorbitant military spending (compared to the experience of the Soviet Union during the Cold War) to provoke riots and eliminate the existing regimes in Russia and China.
- To unite military and political unions (NATO, first of all) to use military hysteria to subordinate the countries of Latin America, Asia, and the EU for its interests.
- To justify the beginning of an intervention into countries rich in power resources such as Venezuela and Iran. (The political and ideological reasons for such an intervention are evident.)
- To get a substantial profit from controlling supplies of power resources in conditions of the new Cold War (or, partially, a “hot” war).
- To separate the EU and Russia, as such a union, first, means the strengthening of cooperation and interaction between continental Europe and Russia, and, in the opinion of certain US circles, can cause the gradual expulsion of the USA from Europe. The USA is extremely worried by the signs of close relations between Germany and Russia, as their joint weight can threaten the global interests of the US elite (Friedman, 2010). Further, mass meetings of solidarity with the antifascist struggle in Ukraine happened recently in Berlin and other German cities. These protests may soon help usher in the day of Ukraine’s national liberation from tens of thousands of US occupation troops.
- To separate the peoples of Russia and Ukraine with blood. For this purpose, a certain type of provocation must be used to start a military conflict with Russia. The possible liberation of Ukraine from the radical nationalists and neo-Nazis during the peacekeeping mission of the Russian troops will involve thousands of fighters of the Right Sector (new Bandera fighters) within the scope of a “guerrilla war” in an arrangement that will lead to mass civilian casualties.
Ukraine 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping during a video conference on December 15 that he will attend the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. This is despite the UK, Australia, and the USA saying that they will not send high-level officials to the Chinese capital for the sporting event that is to begin on February 4 (Nigam, 2021). Of course, if Ukraine, contrary to the letter and spirit of the 2015 Minsk Agreements, attempts to resolve the conflict in the Donbass by force, Russia’s armed forces will be involved. Valery Gerasimov, the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, said at a briefing to military attachés of foreign states in December 2021 that Russia will not stand aside and that any provocations of the Kiev authorities to forcefully settle the situation in the Donbass will be stopped (RIA "Novosti", 2021). President Alexander Lukashenko stressed at a meeting on military security at the end of November that if the West starts a war in Donbass again, Belarus will not stand aside either (RBC, 2021).
In such a situation, to imagine that Putin wants to start a war in Ukraine in late January to early February, which Western mainstream media have been writing about without evidence since October, and which has also appeared in statements by the heads of military departments of NATO countries, primarily the United States, is to assume that he wants, if not to disrupt, then to overshadow the opening of the Olympic Games in the capital of Russia’s strategic partner, China. Meanwhile, Putin has already accepted the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping to attend the Winter Olympic Games. It is not in Putin’s interests to disrupt the games in Beijing, even when distanced from Russia’s general unsubstantiated accusations of wanting to start a war with Ukraine. A war during the Olympics is completely unnecessary for Xi Jinping too. But it would be beneficial to Washington.
In some ways, the imagination of analysts from Washington has clearly become impoverished. They are clearly being repeated in their strategic provocations before and during the Olympic Games, though not without tactical success — the flame of a bloody conflict with global consequences was kindled twice. Why not try to do it a third time, using leading positions in the world media? The organizers of provocation are trying to achieve this by endlessly repeating the myth of the growing military threat from Russia.
In April 2021, Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign affairs chief has said that Russia deployed 100,000 troops at the border with Ukraine, its biggest-ever military deployment there (Euronews, 2021). President Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky in August 2021 told in his interview about 100 thousand Russian soldiers on the border with Ukraine (Malyarenko and Bobenko, 2021). Since that time, as a result of the nightmarish growth of the military threat from Russia and the buildup of troops on the borders with Ukraine, the same 100,000 have been found there. In November 2021 Zelensky said in a speech on his website: “I hope the whole world can now clearly see who really wants peace and who is concentrating nearly 100,000 soldiers at our border” (Malyarenko and Bobenko, 2021). The US warned allies Russia was amassing troops on Ukraine's border, Bloomberg reported November 22 that intelligence sources said it could put 100,000 troops there, around half of which were there already. The US warned Russia could invade in early 2022, the report said (Baker, 2021). Thus only 50 000 Russian troops were there in the end of November but not 100 000. According to the mainstream media analytical centers. Russia keeps on amassing the military forces next to the Ukrainian border. For example, Bloomberg reported that December 24 with a reference to satellite images examined by Janes, the defense and intelligence company. “While the images appear to show limited troop numbers on the ground with the equipment, Russia would be able to reinforce them quickly and covertly with large deployments using trains or aircraft” (112 Ukraine, 2021), Janes representatives claimed. The evidence of US propaganda does not make it less dangerous for global peace and security.
It may indeed be the case that all three Olympic Games in Russia and China will be overshadowed by the hostilities that have arisen as a result of US puppets being pushed to embark upon military adventures. The clearly planned third adventure is fraught with notions of a world war to a much greater extent than were the military conflicts in 2008 and 2014. This is due to the much more complex and tense current international situation, a dangerous crisis of global governance, and a drop in trust in the authorities in many countries, and, not least, in the USA itself.
Obviously, crisis management mistakes and the misinterpretation of specific actions of the opposing side during a conflict are also fraught with notions of a world war. However, there are other risks that, so far, the international community has not focused on. Nevertheless, hopefully all interested parties adequately take them into account.
According to retired US Central Intelligence Agency officer Philip Giraldi, the work associated with the training of American instructors from the intelligence services of Ukrainian "partisans" to conduct sabotage activities against Russian troops can lead to extremely negative consequences. Phil Giraldi considers that if American intelligence is training Ukrainian saboteurs ("partisans"), then in the end it can hit the US itself, primarily in terms of the possible commission of war crimes by Ukrainian saboteurs (Military Review, 2021).
For example, it can be assumed that the ultra-right circles in the West, relying on neo-fascists who feel at ease in the armed forces of Ukraine, organize a second Chernobyl event (only more powerful) at one of the nuclear power plants of Ukraine. Today, there are four nuclear power plants in operation in Ukraine, with 15 power units and a total installed capacity of 13,835 MW, which is 26.3% of the total installed capacity of all power plants in Ukraine (Uatom, 2021). They were designed to have a service life of 30 years. This milestone has been surpassed by 12 of the power units, but the State Inspectorate of Nuclear Regulation of Ukraine (Gosatomregulirovaniya) has extended the service life of them all by 10–20 years (My.Ua, 2021), which has raised disturbing questions from the public and some specialists.
If over the course of Ukraine’s military provocation in the Donbass, and an inevitably tough response to it, “evidence” of the direct involvement in the accident of the so-called “little green men” were to be fabricated, this may very well become a reason for the long-term ostracism of Russia, an iron curtain, and the annual coffins of not only the Ukrainians who will have died from radiation, but also the residents of neighboring countries meeting the same fate. This will continually remind people of the “atrocity” of Russia — one that she did not commit. Such a scenario, or a similar one, is not at all beyond the realm of possibility; there are many right-wing radicals not only in the Ukrainian army but also in the US armed forces. Recall that general Lloyd Austin, during his confirmation hearing as Defense Secretary in the Senate, stated that the armed forces must “rid [their] ranks of racists and extremists” (Schmad, 2021). He also recognized: “I expect for the numbers to be small. But, quite frankly, they’ll probably be a little bit larger than most of us would guess… I would just say that small numbers in this case can have an out-sized impact” (Rempfer, 2021). Yes, they can — and not only in the USA.
US President Joe Biden acknowledged his own country’s vulnerabilities as he hosted a virtual Summit for Democracy in December 2021. For the first time, the USA was labeled a “backsliding democracy” in a 2021 report released in November by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. This label was mainly due to the 2020 elections results being challenged, which culminated in the storming of the US Capitol building on January 6 by supporters of former president Donald Trump (Voice of America, 2021). If democracy in the United States is under threat, which is quite understandable, Russia does not want to have US and NATO troops on its border: it is not known who will be in power tomorrow in the United States.
Three retired US generals warned in a chilling column (Eaton, Taguba and Anderson, 2021) in December 2021 that another coup attempt in the USA in 2024 could divide the military and plunge an unprepared nation into civil war. Given the wave of crime and violence that has swept the USA and the severity of political contradictions, worst-case scenarios do not seem unlikely at all. This is if we proceed from the optimistic interpretation of events by the current US authorities, according to which the elections were fair, and the events of January were unconstitutional actions of the ultra-right. However, according to former President Trump and millions of his supporters, the election results were falsified. If so, Russia especially does not want to have the nuclear missile potential of the USA and NATO troops supporting armed neo-Nazis in Ukraine near its borders.
It is up to the people of the USA to decide which political forces defend corporate or national interests and whether they are legally in power. Outside interference in the affairs of the world’s largest power is dangerous and counterproductive, but this does not remove the growing and well-founded anxiety about its further democratic development among the peoples and governments of other countries. This anxiety should be taken into account but not be perceived from the very beginning with hostility. It is unlikely that the current US president will go on a dubious adventure in Ukraine. However, the constantly exaggerated reminders in the media about his advanced age and the rumors of his incapacity to rule or dementia are clearly designed to prepare in the eyes of the public a “scapegoat” for all the possible tragic global consequences of a possible provocation if it goes wrong.
The framework of this article does not leave room to consider specifically the prospects of the worst-case scenario of a direct military clash between the two largest nuclear powers as a result of an escalation of events or a chain of tragic mistakes and miscalculations, which should not be ignored. A compromise is being sought. For example, an important agreement has been reached at the UN. On November 3, 2021, without calling for a vote, the United Nations General Assembly First Committee adopted a drafted Russian–US resolution on the rules of behavior in cyberspace. The document will be considered by the General Assembly in December (Suciu, 2021). This is a good example of the possibility of such cooperation. There is direct contact between Russian leadership and the US administration to get out of the most dangerous situation in which the world finds itself. One part of the US elite and, hopefully, Biden himself retains the ability to act intelligently, but is this enough to stop the other part of it?
Prof.Evgeny N. Pashentsev is a leading researcher at the Diplomatic Academy, Moscow. He is a member of the international Advisory Board of Comunicar (Spain) and is on the editorial board of the Journal of Political Marketing (USA). His areas of research interest include strategic communication, advanced technologies and social development, malicious use of artificial intelligence and international psychological security.
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