Gilbert Doctorow argues that Russia is no longer fighting a Special Military Operation but rather total war, and the objective now is Ukraine’s unconditional capitulation. From Doctorow at antiwar.com:
From ‘special military operation’ to open war: significance of the referendums in Donbas, Kherson and Zaporozhie
The televised speech yesterday morning by Vladimir Putin and the follow-up remarks by his Minister of Defense Shoigu announcing the partial mobilization of Russia’s army reserves to add a total of 300,000 men to the military campaign in Ukraine have been widely reported in the Western press. Plans to hold referendums on accession to the Russian Federation in the Donbas republics this weekend and also in the Kherson and Zaporozhie oblasts in the very near future also were reported by the Western press. However, as is very commonly the case, the interrelationship of these two developments has not been seen, or, if seen, has not been shared with the general public. Since precisely this interrelationship has been highlighted on Russian state television talk shows these past two days, I use this opportunity to bring to my readership the key facts on what turn the ongoing conflict in Ukraine will now take and an updated view of when it will end and with what results.
The very idea of referendums in the Donbas has been ridiculed by mainstream media in the United States and Europe. They are denounced as ‘sham’ and we are told that the results will not be recognized. In fact, the Kremlin does not at all care whether the results are recognized as valid in the West. Their logic lies elsewhere. As for the Russian public, the only critical remark about the referendums has been about the timing, with even some patriotic folks saying openly that it is too early to hold the vote given that the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Zaporozhie and Kherson oblasts have not yet been fully ‘liberated.’ Here too, the logic of these votes lies elsewhere.