Top Analyses from Euromaidan Press
Selections from Hans Peter Midttun on Euromaidan Press
March 28, 2023
Western analysts on Russia’s war on Ukraine and the West vary widely in their reliability. Some, like Mario Loyola, have pushed lightly repackaged Kremlin narratives containing serial falsehoods and warrant no mention except to refute. Others have demonstrated varying degrees of insight which are often meaningful, albeit incomplete or with some errors. Through ideology, agenda, and often very limited knowledge, many so-called experts fall short.
Hans Petter Midttun, a former Norwegian military attache to Ukraine, is one of the most astute analysts of Russia’s war against Ukraine. Midttun’s analyses are fact-based and correspond closely to data and findings identified by our own independent, non-partisan research. Midttun is a prolific author who has written numerous analyses in the daily updates on Euromaidan Press. We have no connection or affiliation with Mr. Midttun.
The items below represent what we feel are some of Mr. Midttun’s most important analyses and observations. While we have tried to keep the selections as brief as possible, in some cases lengthier quotes are cited to provide context for key recommendations. We recommend reading the full articles at the links below on the Euromaidan site, and also commend his many other analyses not listed here.
Russia’s Hybrid War against Ukraine and the West
In February 2023, Midttun explained Russia’s use of hybrid warfare tactics to undermine Ukrainian statehood, economy and the West. A longer selection is cited due to the coherent enumeration of economic and other factors which have rarely been well addressed in Western media.
“Hybrid War is the parallel and synchronized use of both military and non-military means to destabilize nations from within. Synchronization is the ability to effectively coordinate the employment of both military and non-military means in time, space, and purpose to create the desired effects. It allows Russia to ‘escalate’ or ‘de-escalate’ horizontally rather than just vertically, thus providing further options… By escalating the military aggressions and simultaneously intensifying its diplomatic, political, economic, and information efforts, Russia can achieve effects greater than through a one-dimensional military effort only. Instead of only military gains, Russia ensures multiple effects across NATO, EU, and Ukraine (e.g., impact on foreign policy, diplomatic initiatives, bilateral relationships, finance markets, costs of living, information sphere, public opinion, fear, and more).
“The economic losses from the temporary occupation of the Crimean Peninsula by Russia have previously been assessed at $135 billion. This is a conservative estimate since it only lists known oil and gas deposits. The losses are increasing by the year. Last summer, Russia occupied territories containing $12,400 billion [$1.24 trillion] in minerals, gas and oil. Additionally, it controls Ukraine’s maritime exclusive economic zones assumed to contain a ‘North Sea basin’ reservoir of gas and oil. It has also taken possession of some of its crucial coal deposits.
“Its massive attacks on critical infrastructure, as well as Ukraine’s industrial and agricultural basis further erode its economic viability. The destruction of the Ukrainian energy sector, including the occupation of Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plants, helps ensure a further erosion of its independence and sovereignty. The Russian maritime blockade of the Ukrainian ports is part of its wider effort to undermine Ukrainian statehood.
“The list is by no means complete. Russia is using diplomacy, politics, energy, information, humanitarian, and lawfare to defeat Ukraine, knowing that Western support comes with a ‘best before date.’ The cost of rebuilding Ukraine alone is presently assessed to be a staggering $750 billion, a bill that no one is keen to pay.
“NATO – or a coalition of the willing – urgently needs to intervene militarily to end the war and reduce Russia’s ability to undermine Ukraine’s economic viability and change the West’s political landscape. The present Western strategy allows Russia to continue the hybrid war at the peril of democracy, shared values and principles, and not least, our security and stability.”
NATO as Idle Bystander
Midttun observed that while individual countries have contributed defensive arms to Ukraine, NATO – formed ostensibly to protect European security – has done nothing. He wrote:
“Imagine the world’s biggest military Alliance watching a war unfolding without responding; seeing the preparations for a full-scale invasion and war without trying to stop it; watching men, women and children being killed, tortured, raped, executed, forcibly displaced without trying to intervene; witnessing critical infrastructure being destroyed without trying to stop the perpetrator; watching the world being held hostage to a terrorist while asking for dialogue and negotiations; standing idle while 15 million are forced to flee for fear of genocide.
“Imagine the Alliance arguing that it couldn’t help because the victims weren’t members of the “club” and it feared the response of the aggressor (despite the one being far weaker than the alliance of thirty). Imagine it shrugging off the multiple repercussions for the world community as not its responsibility, and arguing that it is not its task to defend international law and our core values and principles….
“[NATO’s] inaction in the face of murder, torture, rape, execution, displacement by force, hunger, destruction, destabilisation, subversion, and the destruction of a nation – is, unfortunately, all too real. NATO has decided to act in conflict with its past commitment and has chosen to be a bystander to a war and atrocities at its borders. The sad fact is that after the war started on 20 February 2014 and escalated into a full-scale invasion eight years later, NATO has done nothing to stop it, despite that it is threatening the security and stability of its member states, despite calls from many of its member states to do more, despite the atrocities listed above, and despite the multiple calls for help.
“Worse still, Russia has continued to escalate the war ever since without triggering any countermeasure from the Alliance….And still, NATO does nothing…NATO – as an Alliance – remains idle.”
Midttun noted that NATO’s nonengagement has not stabilized the situation or pacified Russia, but has enabled Russian aggression:
“[NATO’s] inaction is consistent with its ‘Modus of Operandi’ during the last 15 years which led Russia to believe that it would get away with a war in Europe. NATO’s much too obvious lack of will – not military capability, but political will – and the blatant cynicism demonstrated by many of its heads of state, led to the fatal strategic miscalculation by President Putin. Today, Putin continues to escalate for the exact same reason. He still believes escalation to be the only way forward. And NATO still believes that being a bystander will bring peace.”
Western Inaction Ensures a Protracted War
In another piece, Midttun observed:
“The western strategy has helped ensure that it remains a protracted war:
Firstly, due to 8 years of inaction, refusing Ukraine to rebuild deterrence.
Secondly, by keeping all military options off the table, leaving Ukraine vulnerable to threats from Air and Sea.
Thirdly, by refusing Ukraine the tools it needs to defeat Russia.
Fourthly, for failing to strengthen its own military capabilities and sustainability when the war started in 2014.
And lastly, for failing to acknowledge that Europe is exposed to a Russian Hybrid War and that Ukraine is defending European security, stability, and prosperity.”
Misunderstandings of Western Leaders
Midttun noted the amnesia and misunderstandings of former Western leaders who failed to respond strongly to Russian aggression in 2014 and previously, guaranteeing further Russian aggression. He wrote:
“Merkel left out the fact that the main purpose of the Armed Forces of any democratic country is to deter war. The NATO member states – including Germany – collectively failed to support Ukraine’s efforts to rebuild a credible deterrence until the full-scale invasion was inevitable. Ukraine was denied weapon supplies for eight years to ‘avoid an escalation of the war,’ as the West tried to adhere to the intention of the so-called Minsk Agreements: to find a political solution to the war.
“As previously argued, the notion that the West is the problem is utterly absurd. NATO didn’t invade Georgia. NATO didn’t invade Ukraine. NATO didn’t commit war crimes and genocide in Ukraine. NATO didn’t start a Hybrid War in Europe. NATO didn’t trigger the biggest refugee crisis since World War 2. NATO didn’t weaponize global food supplies. NATO didn’t infringe on independent countries’ right to choose governance, security arrangements or alliances. NATO didn’t blackmail the world with Nuclear Arms. Putin and Russia did.”
The Need for a Western Strategy with Clear “Red Lines” for Military Intervention
Finally, Midttun called out the need for a clear Western strategy with specific “red lines” for military intervention, without which Russia's war against Ukraine will continue:
“The US, NATO and the EU have all failed to define the ‘red lines’ Russia cannot cross. They have failed to respond to the Russian continuous escalation of the war, that being the energy war against Europe, its attempt to eradicate Ukrainian nationhood, its war on global food security or its destruction of the Ukrainian energy sector. They have also failed to publicly support the Ukrainian declared end-state (or define one themselves) or clarify what “support as long as it takes” means in practical terms.
“All talks of future negotiations while keeping military options off the table serve one purpose – and one purpose only: It confirms the Russian perception of the West as weak, and strengthens its resolve and belief that victory is possible.
“Until the US, NATO and the EU can articulate the preconditions for negotiations and put military power behind their demand, they need to stop talking about negotiations. They must start talking about a Ukrainian victory and a Russian defeat.”
 Midttun, Hans Petter. “West urgently needs to step up its game: time is working to Russia’s advantage.” Euromaidan Press, February 11, 2023. https://euromaidanpress.com/2023/02/11/west-urgently-needs-a-new-strategy-time-is-working-to-russias-advantage/
 Midttun, Hans Petter. "Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 266: The largest missile strike against Ukraine since the start of the war." Euromaidan Press, November 16, 2022. https://euromaidanpress.com/2022/11/16/russo-ukrainian-war-day-266-the-largest-missile-strike-against-ukraine-since-the-start-of-the-war/
 Midttun, Hans Petter. "For the sake of European stability, NATO needs to intervene in Ukraine." Euromaidan Press, December 17, 2022. https://euromaidanpress.com/2022/12/17/for-the-sake-of-european-stability-nato-needs-to-intervene-in-ukraine/
 Midttun, Hans Petter. "The Minsk Agreements and Merkel’s political amnesia." Euromaidan Press, December 11, 2022. https://euromaidanpress.com/2022/12/11/the-minsk-agreements-and-merkels-political-amnesia/
 Midttun, Hans Petter. "Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 278: Ukrainian authorities warn about possible Russian attack." Euromaidan Press, November 28, 2022. https://euromaidanpress.com/2022/11/28/russo-ukrainian-war-day-278-ukrainian-authorities-warn-about-possible-russian-attack/