Russia, in her war with Ukraine, is now pursuing, on the Russian-Ukrainian winter of 2022, to force Ukraine to succumb by destroying the country's power infrastructure and thereby preventing people from heating their homes or other places essential to civilised living. This policy began about a month ago, and it involves using various types of high explosive warheads carried by Kalibr cruise missiles or drones, deployed against power stations, electricity relay points, gas pipes, and anything else the damage to which might turn off the power in 'free Ukraine'.
Obviously this approach (we dare not call it a 'policy') is both barbaric and inhumane. Forcing civilians to succumb to foreign military occupation by causing them to die from cold during Ukraine's notoriously harsh winters is beneath contempt. No nation has, in the history of warfare, pursued a policy of mass and indiscriminate slaughter of civilians in this way - except Russia, which has a historicsl habit of it.
Here are some essential facts you need to know about the Russian 'freezer' approach to foreign policy currently underway.
Regular fighting in Ukraine has for the most part stopped, because Ukrainian winters are too cold an environment in which to wage war. Armour stops working, soldiers freeze to death, nobody is interested in anything but surviving the arctic weather and all its incidents (such as the need to store food).
Having suffered a series of military setbacks recently, including the loss of the key southern city Kherson to advancing Ukrainian forces (principally due to NATO supplying superior quality ballistic missiles of various kind to the Ukrainian Armed Forces), the Russian Armed Forces urgently welcome a pause to take stock of the situation and to regroup.
The winter, when fighting gets too difficult due to temperatures plunging to as low as -25 degrees Celsius, is the opportunity for the Russian Armed Forces to do that.
However the Russians wish to take additional advantage of the winter, by disrupting power supplies to Ukrainian cities such that it is no longer possible to live in those cities in the cold winter without dying because there is no heating. Hence the Russians are adopting a new philosophy of seeking to prevail in Ukraine by ensuring that when Spring comes and fighting in earnest can rebegin, there is nothing left for the Ukrainian Armed Forces to defend because everyone in the cities behind free Ukrainian lines has either died of conditions related to cold temperatures or has fled.
The tactic seems to be working. The government of Free Ukraine, realising that it is unable to meet residents' basic power needs for their survival in winter, has advised the entire population of the country still present in free Ukrainian territory to leave en masse.
No doubt those able to move will do so and become refugees elsewhere in Europe; while those who cannot move (for example the elderly) will simply die.
This is appalling behaviour on the part of a Great Power such as Russia. The West should stand in ever increasing resolve against this moral outrage, and we believe that it will.
There are several steps that can and should be taken to frustrate the Russian strategy.
The first is to ensure that Ukraine keeps track of where all the fleeing people are going, so that it can call them back at the Winter's end to repopulate the cities with renewed grit in resisting the Russian invasion.
The West must unbuckle a lot more money to ensure that these temporary refugees are accorded safe, warm and tolerable accommodation pending Ukraine's winter, where they can wait until the Spring in comfort and be ready to go back. If we can achieve this, then the Russian 'winter strategy' will end up having achieved nothing save slaughter of Old Age pensioners: a disgrace for which the Free World will hold the Russians accountable, but militarily a step that achieves no strategic advantage of any kind for the Russian side.
NATO should seek to minimise the effects of Russian attacks upon free Ukrainian energy infrastructure by using their massive cruise missile supply to destroy Russian launch positions for both Kalibr cruise missiles and drones. This should be a comprehensive strategy, stepped up to NATO# maximum capacity. Russia has escalated this war by seeking to freeze millions of people to death, in a modern day Holodmor or genocide; the only appropriate response by NATO is further and sharp escalation, if necessary striking sites inside the Russian Federation and in Russian-occupied Crimea and Donbas.
Preemptive strikes of this kind are vastly preferable to reconstructive strategies for destroyed Ukrainian infrastructure. It is too cold during winter to rebuild complex and in many cases outdated Ukrainian energy infrastructure; and even if it can be rebuilt then it can just be destroyed again in a constant cycle of missile and drone strikes intended to keep the heating off.
Hence NATO should act now in a regime of comprehensive and systematic destruction of Russian launch facilities, wherever they may be, before the situation gets any worse. Russia will face the inevitable consequences of its barbaric actions, at the hands of NATO, by far the world's largest combined military force. That is the natural result of the Russian 'winter policy', and it is what we must do to then, both for humanitarian reasons (to stop millions of people dying) and also strategic ones (to thwart this new Russian strategy of decimating Ukraine's population during the winter.)
Russia's activity shows barbarism not witnessed in war since World War II. There is no other choice for NATO. Russia must be stopped or they will commit genocide on a massive scale. The NATO alliance exists in large part on principle, in order to ensure that such things - associated with Stalin and the Nazis - can never be repeated.
This article is dedicated to this author's Ukrainian long-term former domestic partner, and to her family, and to the country whose passport she is proud to display. Their suffering is tragic; yet they are but a handful amongst millions in jeopardy in the face of the Russian 2022 winter genocide.
For that is what we should call this: genocide. It is the forced movement or extermination of populations in pursuit of military objectives. It has always been the most grave of all international crimes, and NATO must use its superior force to prevent it. NATO has the capacity. They just need the political will to execute the necessary measures. We have every confidence that NATO leaders will rise to this challenge and thwart Russian attempts at genocide before they are successful.