(MENAFN- Asia Times)
NATO sources as well as Russian military sources reject US Secretary of State antony blinken's claim tuesday that the United States had nothing to do with Ukraine's missile strike against Russian air force bases December 5 and 6.
“We have neither encouraged nor enabled the Ukrainians to strike inside of Russia,” Blinken told reporters during a meeting with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Australian officials.
Multiple military sources in NATO countries as well as Russia contradict him, reporting that the reconditioned Russian Tu-141 drones that Ukraine launched at Russian air bases downlinked US satellite GPS data to hit their targets.
The 1970s-vintage Russian recon drones were converted into cruise missiles, fitted with new guidance systems and directed by American satellites, the sources said. Ukraine does not have the capability to guide missiles on its own, they added.
Russia's Defense Ministry identified one of the weapons as the Tu-141 in a December 6 statement. According to Russian military sources, the Russians identified the Tu-141 from fragments recovered after the missiles struck Russia's Dyagilevo and Engels air force bases.
If, contrary to Blinken's denial, the United States provided guidance for the missile attack, then Washington must be well aware that this brings NATO forces to the brink of direct involvement in the Ukraine war and the Biden administration must be prepared to run that risk.
The damage that Ukraine inflicted on Russian planes at the two Russian bases is trivial compared with the strategic risk that the United States has introduced into the conflict.
As Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley warned on November 9, there is no military victory in sight for the Ukraine War.
Russia analyst James Davis writing in the December 7 edition of the Global Polarity Monitor, a strategic report published in cooperation with Asia Times, described a military stalemate:
Milley's mention of a“window” for peace talks during the winter pause in fighting provoked consternation among US officials who want victory at all costs. While Milley and US military leaders believe that the only way out of the war is negotiation with Russia, the US State Department and National Security Council are determined to achieve a military victory over Russia by any means necessary.
NATO is divided on how to resolve the Ukraine conflict. French President Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have revived the idea of offering security guarantees to Russia, including Ukrainian neutrality.
US Undersecretary of State victoria nuland visited Kyiv December 3 to reassure the Ukrainians that the US believes that“Putin is not sincere” in proposing negotiations“and not ready for this.”
Ukraine doesn't have the forces to mount an effective counteroffensive against the Russians, so a military solution presupposes NATO troops on the ground.
The attack on the Russian bases might be intended to provoke a Russian response that would, in turn, justify the deployment of NATO ground troops in Ukraine.
American satellites used to guide missiles into Russian territory, might be considered legitimate military targets, Russian foreign ministry official vladimir yermakov said November 30. A Russian attack on US satellites could draw the US into a war with Russia.
A prominent Chinese military columnist, Chen Feng of guancha.cn (“Observer”), wrote December 7 that“It is an open secret that Western satellites are being used to support the Ukrainian army in operations, but it is also a matter of mortal danger.” Chen offered a stern warning to Moscow:
Yermakov“should not have made such a statement,” Chen concluded.
Guancha.cn frequently raises issues of importance to China's leadership, and Chen's widely-followed column suggests that Beijing has serious worries about the possible widening of the Ukraine conflict into a world war.
A Russian source with access to the thinking of Vladimir Putin's inner circle said that Russia would not retaliate against US satellites.“That would be a casus belli for the United States,” the source said.
NATO military analysts worry that Russia might launch an intermediate-range ballistic missile with a conventional rather than a nuclear payload at a major Ukrainian target, as a warning to the West about the consequences of escalating the conflict. IRBMs travel roughly ten times faster than cruise missiles like the TU-141 and are practically impossible to shoot down.
A Russian military analyst, though, told Asia Times that this tactic was discussed and rejected by the Russian military. Reconfiguration of missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads would be difficult and time-consuming, the analyst said.