Author: Jacques Baud
Publisher: Max Milo, France
In an interview in Postil Magazin on September 1, 2022, the author of Operation Z – an analysis of the Ukraine War and its causes, Swiss Jacques Baud, reveals his motivation for writing the book: «It is from our understanding of the crisis that we find the solutions.» In my first meeting with him, in the book Putin – The Master of the Game? he begins as follows:
«The conflict begins with those who, in the past eight years, have told us about ‘separatists’ or ‘independence’ for Donbas. This is incorrect. The referendums in the self-proclaimed republics of Donbas and Luhansk in May 2014 were not about independence (независимость), as irresponsible journalists called it, but about self-determination or autonomy (самостоятельность). Their use of the term ‘pro-Russian’ insinuates that there was Russian interference in the conflict, which was not the case. ‘Russian-speaking’ would have been more accurate. Remember that these referendums were held against Vladimir Putin’s wishes.»
Baud starts from the ethnic origins of the conflict: Western media are unwilling to see that this started as a struggle for a «white and pure» Ukraine, which led to repressive laws and physical violence against the Russian-speaking population in Donbas after 2014. The Maidan coup did not usher in a diverse democracy, as many seem to believe, but rather years of racist and neo-Nazi-motivated abuses against Russian speakers in eastern parts of Ukraine. According to Baud, the media have blinders on.
The reason for the Western media’s blinders lies, he believes, in the fact that knowledge of this racism would undermine the accusations that Putin could not tolerate a Western democracy so close to Russia. But the resistance to Kyiv did not originate in Moscow. Instead, the resistance arose as a local popular movement in Donbas. This was confirmed by the Western-funded International Crisis Group on July 16, 2019: «The conflict in eastern Ukraine began as a popular movement […] organised by local residents […] They were concerned about both the political and economic consequences of the new government in Kyiv and their efforts to counteract the Russian language throughout the country.»
The threat to Donbas has been demilitarised.
An expert to be reckoned with
Baud divides Operation Z into ten chapters. He introduces the region’s history up to the current conflict. The author possesses great expertise and presents himself with authority. A broad canvas includes a detailed overview of the balance of power, the war’s progression, the propaganda threat, Russian intentions, Western reactions, Nazi allegations, and propaganda campaigns.
Operation Z is such a comprehensive, well-documented, and detailed book that it cannot be considered an easy read. However, it is not without humour. Take former President Bush’s slip of the tongue on May 18, 2022, when he condemned «this person who single-handedly initiates an unprovoked and brutal invasion of Iraq […] I mean Ukraine.»
Baud is an expert on Ukraine, Russia, and the former Warsaw Pact countries. He speaks the languages and has worked on détente policy in the region for decades, from Ukraine’s independence process following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, through the Maidan coup and the civil war in the Donbas region in 2014, to the current violent war. He was responsible for the Warsaw Pact region for Swiss intelligence from 1983 to 1990 and led the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations from 2011 to 2013. He was a member of the Swiss General Staff from 1999 to 2002 and an advisor to the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the following seven years. He led NATO’s work on small arms from 2013 to 2017. With his eight comprehensive security and conflict resolution books, it is difficult to imagine a more competent commentator on this war.
Based on Western sources
As a former NATO advisor, Baud knows he is dealing with a delicate topic. Therefore, he relies «as much as possible on Western and Ukrainian sources (the government side) […] as well as on the Russian opposition.» Nevertheless, he expects to be called a ‘Putinist’ and is fine with it, he says laconically. There are many source references, and I take the time to check many of them. But we’re talking about nearly 1,000 such references.
Operation Z has a clear message aimed at «those who want to understand this crisis, who want to find a path to dialogue» and will conclude that his book aims «to promote peace and therefore, ultimately, to promote Ukraine’s cause.»
Moscow’s goal, according to Baud, has not been to conquer territory or ‘take’ Kyiv and Ukraine, as Western experts, media, commentators, and letters to the editor repeat daily, for example, in Klassekampen and Aftenposten on January 12. He states that from the first day, i.e., February 24 of last year, the Russians have been clear about their primary goal: «To demilitarise the threat to Donbas, where the civil war has claimed thousands of lives in the past eight years, and where Russian speakers have been targeted both brutally and violently, culturally and economically.»
The West has helped Putin achieve his goals
By sending weapons and inciting Ukrainians to fight rather than seeking diplomatic solutions. The West has actually helped the Russians achieve their goals, Baud’s somewhat surprising message states. Because: Since the Russians’ declared goal has not been a territorial occupation, the flood of weapons from the West has cost tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers their lives, something the Russians would never have taken the chance on, let alone achieved, and something that has horrendously and dramatically decimated Ukraine’s army, yes, Ukraine’s youth generation. On November 30, 2022, EU chief von der Leyen published a tweet relayed by Yahoo News the same day: «she stated that Ukraine’s loss of soldiers had reached 100,000, while civilian casualties had reached 20,000.» Leyen was immediately muzzled by Zelensky and complied!
In this game, it seems important to deny significant human losses. Because weapons can be replenished with constant NATO supplies, while loss of life is not renewable and is unsuitable for applications to weapon donors. When Kyiv shuts down all opposition newspapers and TV stations and prevents people from mentioning the dead and wounded, one often ends up like this.
The weakening of Ukraine’s army is enormous – and irreversible. Ukraine is depleting its manpower potential, according to Baud’s message from sources deep within NATO. In this regard, Baud’s conclusions align with those of former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter and British analyst Alexander Mercouris. When Mariupol fell in the early summer of 2022, the war was won for the Russians. Yes, there are still battles remaining, but the war is won. The threat to Donbas has been demilitarised. With Mariupol in ruins, the worst threat of Nazification was also eradicated, as Financial Times reported on March 28, 2022: «Putin no longer demands the denazification of Ukraine» simply because Russia had wiped out the core of the hornet’s nest, the Azov forces in Mariupol.
Russia is not targeting civilians
In their propaganda, the West has focused more on scoring «points» against Putin and Russia than on resolving the conflict, says Baud. One fundamental propaganda method is, of course, to demonise the enemy. The narrative in Western media is that Putin is ruthless and brutal, aiming to cause as much suffering and death as possible. However, Baud’s review of Western sources shows a different reality. On March 22, 2022, Newsweek’s William Arkin wrote: «Russia’s conduct in the brutal war reveals a different reality than what people seem to believe, that Vladimir Putin is determined to destroy Ukraine and cause maximum civilian suffering and destruction […] Russia inflicts less damage and kills fewer civilians than it could have, according to a US intelligence expert.»
Newsweek’s source is cautious about coming forward openly: «But, the analyst says, it may be difficult for people to see what is actually happening [under these circumstances]. The analyst wanted to remain anonymous when discussing these classified matters. [Even after a month of warfare], the centre of Kyiv has hardly been affected by bombing. And all long-range missiles have been aimed at military targets», researchers, commentators, and pundits.
The West sabotages negotiations
Furthermore, Baud argues that the EU, for example, has never taken the initiative to negotiate or resolve the conflict. In fact, it is even worse, according to him: from day one, the EU and NATO have focused on «send more weapons» instead of negotiations and even undermined attempts at negotiations. The result is a war that, he acknowledges, has come at a high cost for the Russians but has completely crushed Ukraine.
The opposition to negotiations by the West is evident in Boris Johnson’s behaviour. Referencing a passage from Baud’s book on page 274: «It is interesting that if the West had allowed Zelensky to proceed with the proposal he presented to Russia at the end of March 2022, Ukraine could more or less have maintained its borders from February of the same year. [Zelensky] presented his first proposal for negotiations on February 25, which the Russians accepted, but which the EU stopped by instead offering an initial weapons package worth 450 million euros. In March, Zelensky came up with another proposal that the Russians were willing to discuss, but which the EU again halted by offering yet another weapons package worth 500 million euros. As Ukrainian politician Roman Romanyuk wrote in the Ukrainian Pravda on May 5, 2022, Boris Johnson called on April 2 and asked Zelensky to withdraw his proposal to Putin. If not, Johnson would stop support to Ukraine. Johnson visited Ukraine on April 9, reiterated the threat, and repeated it again during his last visit to Kyiv in August.»
Romanyuk concludes in the Ukrainian Pravda on May 5 that «the possibility of talks between Zelensky and Putin was closed after Johnson’s visit.»
The US unilaterally withdrew from the ABM treaty
Baud sees the sanctions against Russia in a broader global context of invasions: the West has illegally and illegitimately invaded Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya without facing sanctions or condemnation. No physically disabled American or British athletes were deprived of opportunities in the Paralympics – British cats can be freely sent to exhibitions. With the sanctions against Russia, it seems like «the West has suddenly developed a conscience», he dryly remarks.
What does Baud think about NATO, which he knows from the inside? He quotes Professor Richard Sakwa from Kent University: «It is a geopolitical paradox that NATO exists to handle threats that it creates itself.» Examples of this date back to 2002 when the US unilaterally withdrew from the ABM treaty, which aimed to limit the threat of nuclear weapons, and immediately began talks with Poland, the Czech Republic, and Romania to deploy missile carriers for nuclear warheads. Who has paid attention to this in the Norwegian media? It should not be difficult to understand why Russia’s top leader perceived this as a threat. Because that’s precisely what it is intended to be, as evident as it is.
Baud points out that this was already Putin’s topic in Munich on February 10, 2007. It was the combination of NATO’s broken promises of expansion to the east, along with the US abandoning agreements on the limitation of nuclear weapons, meaning «stepping outside the normative framework of international security», that truly triggered Putin’s fear. Russia has a history of Western invasions that lack parallels. But with Putin highlighting this existential perception of threat, the demonisation of him from the Western side began in earnest, observes Baud.
The RAND report is a recipe for war
And Baud is correct. This reviewer retrieves the advice given to the US government in 2019 from the American RAND report on how to destabilise Russia and bring it out of balance, in other words, how to sabotage and seek regime change. In other words, it seeks to threaten Russia’s existence. Just look at the following points:
- «Undermine Russia’s reputation abroad»
- «Reduce faith in the electoral system among the Russian population»
- «Create the impression that the Kremlin is not working in the best interests of the people»
- «Encourage local protests and nonviolent uprisings.»
This reviewer’s thoughts go to peace activist Gene Sharp and how well he fits into this Pentagon strategy with his book and film How to Start a Revolution (2011, 2020).
So what is the rationale behind this hostile project, according to the RAND report? Well: «Although [Russia] is vulnerable and fearful, the country is still powerful and represents a strong competitor to the United States in several key areas.» In other words, Russia is a competitor that the United States cannot tolerate seeing succeed!
Putin has not threatened with nuclear weapons
NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg claims that Putin threatens with nuclear weapons and points to Putin’s speech on September», writes Baud, who reads Russian. John Mearsheimer made the same point in the Holberg Debate on December 1 last year. However, Putin warned the West against using nuclear weapons first. The month before, on August 24, British Prime Minister Liz Truss had stated that she found it acceptable to use nuclear weapons «even if it leads to ‘global annihilation’.» And furthermore, in April, Biden withdrew from the no-first-use policy, «thereby reserving the right to use nuclear weapons first.»
The closing words of Baud’s book are a warning that when we support the US-NATO policy in Ukraine, we support acts of terrorism. Baud points out that the US, under Bush, Trump, and Biden, has unilaterally withdrawn from agreement after agreement that was previously made to limit the deployment and use of the most dangerous weapons: the ABM Treaty (2002), the Open Skies Treaty (2018), the JCPOA with Iran (2018), and the INF Treaty (2019). Trump cited Russian violations of the agreements as a reason but never presented evidence for this. Numerous other agreements that aimed to build international understanding, peaceful development, conflict and tension management, and cooperation were also scrapped, as Baud lists.
When NRK allows Petia Mankova from the University of Tromsø to state on Dagsnytt 18 on February 21 that Russia increased the risk of nuclear war by «withdrawing from the arms control agreement», i.e., the START treaty, this turns the entire issue of agreements upside down. It is not Russia that has sabotaged a series of agreements on international cooperation against nuclear weapons, but the USA. Agreements must be built on trust, and the West has deliberately fostered mistrust, undermining the work for nuclear security.
Today we see a clear pattern where the US wants to go all the way alone, without international constraints. The recipe can be read in open sources like the RAND report on how to destabilise Russia. The US gives commands, and the world is expected to follow. The slogan of the rule of law has become a de facto US rule of law. With tools to crush the economies of several countries and around 800 bases around the globe as a threatening whip, it is best to adapt. Furthermore, the US has never recognized fundamental international agreements and institutions such as the International Criminal Court in The Hague or the ILO’s labour regulations. The US drags NATO and the West along with it.
Baud concludes the book with a particularly dark view: «After the murder of Russian journalist Darya Dugina on August 20, the sabotage of Nord Stream 1 and 2 on September 26 and 27, the attack on the Kerch Bridge on October 8, and the attack on the TurkStream gas pipeline on October 13, one can only conclude that the West is using terrorism to achieve its goals.»
Operation Z‘s perspective, elaborations, and contextualisation – based solely on sources from Western media, from Kyiv, or from Russian opposition – present a revealing and clear landscape. A landscape that you find far too few pictures of elsewhere today. It would benefit Karneval Förlag to include an index for cross-referencing in the next edition. The author believes you cannot ignore this book if you truly want, like Baud, «to promote peace and, therefore, ultimately, to promote the cause of Ukraine.»
Also, see the sub-article «Shall War Crimes Be Ignored?»