Putin: Cross Red Line? Know What ‘Asymmetrical’ Means?

By Ray McGovern, April 22, 2021

The Critical Hour interviewed me today on my article “Putin Isn’t Bluffing on Ukraine” ((See:  https://original.antiwar.com/mcgovern/2021/04/21/putin-isnt-bluffing-on-ukraine/ ))

The interview was 15 minutes

We cranked in some new reporting against the background of the events of recent days.

Chances are better now that the Kiev crazies (and the chickenhawks egging them on from Washington) will factor in Putin’s warning and back off, at least for a while — the more so, inasmuch as the deployment of some 100,000 Russian troops near Ukraine pretty much defined and gave flesh to “asymmetrical”. Putin said Wednesday that Russia’s response to provocations from Ukraine “will be asymmetrical, swift, and tough” and that the provocateurs “will regret what they have done in a way they have not regretted anything for a long time.”

I noted that on Wednesday morning before Putin spoke, Gennady Zyuganov told Russian news services that the upper house of the Duma (parliament) was expecting a message from President Vladimir Putin directing them to vote without delay on any legislative resolution authorizing the president to send the armed forces into action outside the borders of the Russian Federation.  Zyuganov, who is leader of the main opposition (communist) party in the Russian parliament, said he would vote for such a resolution.  During his address, Putin did not drop that shoe, apparently believing his stern warnings would suffice to rein in the crazies.  Oddly, no Western news outlet seems to have picked up on what Zyuganov said.

Just an hour or two before my interview, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced that the large military exercises near Ukraine had been completed and that he had ordered troops to return to their permanent bases by May 1.  One can still count on Russian retaliation for any further provocations from Ukraine but, Putin having made his point, such responses from Russia can be expected to be more “symmetrical”, so to speak.

Strategic Symmetrics

Strategically, the Russian military and Kremlin leaders are frequently reminded that there are crazies at the U.S. 4-Star level — beyond the military and civilian crazies in Washington and Ukraine. New weapons and deployments have reduced the time leaders need in order to distinguish between a false alarm and an actual attack. And loose talk on Twitter in the middle of Monday night by the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) adds to the things Gen. Shoigu has to worry about.

The Tweet read, in part:

We must account for the possibility of conflict leading to conditions which could very rapidly drive an adversary to consider nuclear use as their least bad option.

Writing in the U.S. Naval Institute Journal early this year, STRATCOM commander Admiral Charles A. Richard warned:

There is a real possibility that a regional crisis with Russia or China could escalate quickly to a conflict involving nuclear weapons,” he wrote, demanding that the United States “prepare for the conflict we prefer, instead of one we are likely to face.

If this betokens a change in U.S. strategic doctrine or policy, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin owes it to the world to have the words translated into understandable English.  Otherwise, prudence would force Gen. Shoigu and his Chinese counterpart to read Admiral Richard’s prose — and the Tweet from STRATFOR — the the most alarming light.