Three Things: Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine

[NB: Note the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Because community members are posting Ukraine content in the Durham-Sussman thread, I’m putting up a fresh post here to capture Ukraine related comments.

~ 3 ~

Look, we all should have and could have seen the current situation coming. Think about it.

— The annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 and the incursion into eastern Ukraine along with the shooting down of Malaysia Air MH-17;

— Paul Manafort, former consultant and lobbyist for pro-Russian former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, was Trump’s campaign manager in 2016  during which the GOP’s platform was tweaked in favor of Russia over Ukraine;

Sanctions placed on Russia at the end of the Obama administration for election hacking tweaked Putin;

— Trump was in Russia’s pocket before and after his inauguration, from his real estate and golf course development to his first visit by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in the White House in May 2017 and beyond;

Cyberattacks in 2017 which appeared to target Ukraine;

— The GOP’s failure to establish a new platform in 2018 and in 2020 besides the one created in 2016, leaving their position frozen in place;

— The laying of Nordstream 2 natural gas pipeline to Germany from Russia;

— The threat by Lavrov in 2019 about Georgia becoming a NATO member;

— Trump’s gross abuse of office over the Ukraine quid pro quo for which he was impeached by a Democratic-majority House but not convicted by a GOP-majority Senate in 2020;

— The change in leadership in Germany and the increasingly white nationalist fascist positions of European countries like Hungary;

— The questionable election in Belarus as a soft annexation by Russia.

I’m sure there’s much, much more to this list of predicate events and conditions but I want to get this post up and not write a book. I’ve already published a lengthy piece back in 2019 with a timeline documenting many points of conflict since WWII between Ukraine and Russia spelling out generations’ worth of tension.

We shouldn’t be surprised at all by the current situation. If anything we should be surprised this hadn’t ramped up more quickly last January-February while Biden was still getting his sea legs in office during a pandemic.

Of course now, during winter when natural gas supplies offer increased leverage on the EU, when it’s easier to move heavy equipment over frozen ground, when soldiers are more likely to want to wear masks so their faces don’t freeze off. There are a lot of not so obvious reasons why now.

One of them may be the possibility that 2022 is up in the air — the hold on Congress may be thin, and a lot of negative sentiment one way or the other can build up over the next 9 months. It may be too close to call.

The other may be that destabilization is at its maximum considering the majority of this country voted for Biden and GOP voters are killing themselves with COVID. A key ally, the United Kingdom, has nearly had enough of destabilization by Brexit and Boris Johnson, and may soon be angry enough to reject one if not both.

And then there’s time. Putin is 69 years old. The average life expectancy for men in Russia is a little over 73 years. Granted, Putin will have access to better care than the overwhelming majority of his countrymen. But time doesn’t care, and the pandemic has reduced access to quality health care for everyone by some degree everywhere. He doesn’t have long to do whatever it is he wants to do for his own ego trip and for his legacy.

Don’t need a clock to hear that tick-tock.

~ 2 ~

Here’s Michael McFaul about the increased tensions over Ukraine:

McFaul’s had a lot of experience dealing with Russia. A key point his expressed position doesn’t communicate is that Putin isn’t a legitimate leader with authority conferred upon him by a free citizenry — just ask Alexei Navalny. Oops, you really can’t do that freely.

What we are dealing with is another flavor of narcissist, this time one who is far more ruthless and clever than Trump, retaining power with an iron grip and a lot of defenestrations and dead journalists. We are dealing with a mob boss of mob bosses who wants to protect his turf absolutely and wants to add yet more turf.

We are constrained by being a democracy and the needs of our NATO allies and the people of Ukraine.

We’re somehow going to have to navigate that difference to protect Ukraine and NATO.

~ 1 ~

But why are we bothering at all? Why don’t we let fishstick heir and now Russian asset Tucker Carlson persuade us that Russia is merely protecting its interests with those +100,000 Russian troops sitting at the Ukraine-Russia border?

The U.S. is party to the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances — as is Russia and the UK — in which it was agreed that the parties would “respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine” and “refrain from the threat or use of force” against Ukraine.

Russia is and has been in violation of this agreement since 2014.

The U.S. is a proponent of democracy, and Ukraine is a democracy. If Ukraine asks our assistance to protect its democracy and enforce the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, we should provide aid.

The U.S. is a NATO member; under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, any attack on a NATO member is an attack on all of NATO. NATO’s EU members rely heavily on natural gas supplied through Ukrainian pipelines; any effort to cut off natural gas to and through Ukraine poses an economic attack — hybrid warfare, in other words. Cyber attacks on Ukraine which affect NATO members may also constitute hybrid warfare. We may be engaged just as we were in 2017 when Ukraine was attacked with NotPetya since U.S. business interests were affected.

~ 0 ~

Let’s confine comments on Ukraine-Russia to posts about Ukraine, please. Marcy may have a Ukraine-related post soon as well. Leave the January 6-related comments under those posts.

95 replies
  1. mvario says:

    Thank you. Side note, on the social media I still do, Twitter & Reddit, I’ve recently been running into an unusual amount of stuff pushing the “US should stay out of it” talking points. Makes me wonder if Prigozhin’s IRA has been retargeted.

  2. GKJames says:

    Ukraine’s going to be an issue for western policy makers for years to come, not least because, in terms of sentiment, many Russians do not accept Ukraine as a sovereign country. See Putin’s widely approved 2021 essay, “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians“. It’s Russia’s justification for ignoring the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. This means even if there is no war (in the traditional sense) this time, Russian efforts to keep Ukraine on a near-boil through all sorts of destabilizing moves will continue indefinitely, and that’s regardless who leads Russia.

    That said, the West hasn’t helped matters. While there was never a formal commitment NOT to expand NATO eastward (regardless how loud Moscow howls otherwise; even participants in the discussions disagree in their recollections), national security “professionals” (including the McFauls, Nulands, etc.) pushed for it anyway. A Russian reaction to this national security “threat” (real or feigned) hardly comes as a surprise. In response, Western governments fall back on formalities such as, Each country gets to decide whether it wants to join NATO, even though it’s clear to everyone (including Putin) that the chances of Ukraine membership are zero.

    The unknown, at least publicly, is whether anyone in the West is helping Ukraine set realistic expectations for itself in light of its geography. Finland could be an example, as could formal forms of Austrian or Swiss neutrality. But that would require western governments to have in mind Ukraine’s long-term interest, rather than have it be a pawn in their usual geopolitical wrangling with Russia. What likely is certain is that Ukraine is the last country to give up its nuclear capability voluntarily.

    • Peterr says:

      The voluntary nature of Ukraine’s actions to give up their nukes is a bit more complicated and nuanced. It wasn’t some grand “we renounce nuclear weapons as a grave danger to humanity” moral proclamation, but a cold political calculation. Ukraine made a deal, in which they traded their USSR-era nukes for promises from post-USSR Russia to respect their borders, guaranteed by the US and UK.

      In the breakup of the USSR, a sizable chuck of the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal was within the geographic territory of Ukraine. Russia, obviously, did not want to have them re-targetted toward Moscow, and the West did not want to have them fall into the hands of other more-hostile nations (like North Korea, Iran, Iraq, or Libya) or non-nation terror organizations (either from insider thefts or via official Ukrainian sales). This agreement was an effort to eliminate both those possibilities, as well as guarantee the integrity of Ukraine as an independent nation.

      The relevant parts of the agreement say this:

      1. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine;

      2. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defence or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations;

      3. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty and thus to secure advantages of any kind;

      4. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine, as a non-nuclear-weapon State party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used;

      5. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm, in the case of Ukraine, their commitment not to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclearweapon State party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, except in the case of an attack on themselves, their territories or dependent territories, their armed forces, or their allies, by such a State in association or alliance with a nuclear-weapon State;

      6. Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America will consult in the event a situation arises that raises a question concerning these commitments.

      The agreement succeeded in two out of three of those objectives I noted above. The third . . . as Rayne notes above, not so much.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Boris Johnson has made clear via Brexit that his government keeps treaty commitments the way the USG keeps them with Native Americans.

      • GKJames says:

        Thanks for your reply. I was not suggesting altruism as Ukraine’s reason for giving up nukes. It’s that it didn’t get the benefit of its bargain which will have other countries think twice before accepting that bargain.

    • Rayne says:

      See Putin’s widely approved 2021 essay, ‘On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians.’

      Yeah, he’s pulling the PRC’s Taiwan argument, One China. I don’t know who approved his essay but Ukraine is sovereign *now* and has a fundamental right of self determination. You’d think as much as Putin interfered in other country’s sovereignty by influencing their separatist entities — Catalonia comes to mind, the separatist movement in the U.S. for another — he’d appreciate Ukraine wanting to be separate and sovereign.

      I laugh at your example of Finland. You should try following their Twitter accounts like the Puolustusvoimat. Wouldn’t hurt to see what Estonia does to maintain their own integrity. They are aggressive in maintaining their sovereignty through security.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Estonia’s in NATO along with Latvia and Lithuania and their annexation by the Soviets in 1939 was never accepted by the USA. This buttresses your point about former satellites being serious about self-security with respect to Russia. Ukraine under Zelensky also is leaning that way.

        As for Finland, they’ve never been wholly Russian either, whether as a Grand Duchy under the Czars or as an independent country that fought the Winter Wars against the Soviets. Combined with the above there is no justification for Faux to claim a happy Russian hegemony as a basis for future boundaries, but that’s never stopped Faux before. Finland and Sweden are both non-aligned (i.e. not in NATO) but are quite concerned about Russian activities probing their defenses as well.

        • Rayne says:

          I think you’ll enjoy this piece about Finland’s Winter War in 1939:

          What Ukraine Can Learn From Finland
          In December 1939, a small country with a small military held off the vastly superior Soviet Red Army and avoided occupation by its larger neighbor.
          Elizabeth Braw | Foreign Policy | December 19, 2021

          The Finns have sisu!

        • Pete T says:

          I do a lot of Jewish ancestry owing to my wife’s ancestry stemming from the general area of Latvia and Lithuania. Not just Jews from that era, but I rather suspect all who descend from there are wary of the Russian boot. The Russian Empire/Imperial Russia 1721-1917 and even before that. I realize Rasputin and Putin are very dissimilar in many areas, but the closeness of their surnames catches my eye.

      • GKJames says:

        No disagreement on Ukraine’s sovereign rights. Long-term, though, Ukraine needs to be realistic about what its neighbor is prepared to tolerate. Unfair, of course. Austria and Finland are simply examples by which smaller countries were able to thread that needle, the first to persuade Moscow to end the post-war occupation and the second to live next to the USSR while still able to create a thriving democracy. It would be useful for the West to help Ukraine do the same.

        • Rayne says:

          what its neighbor is prepared to tolerate

          Do you hear yourself? Why should a sovereign democracy have to worry about what the neighbors think? The neighbors should be minding their own knitting inside their own borders.

          • Marty from Canada says:

            As a Canadian, this Pierre Elliot Trudeau (The current PM’s dad) quote from 1969 comes to mind.

            “Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”

            • Rayne says:

              That’s not the same as having +100,000 troops at your border along with military equipment after eight years of partial occupation.

              Being “affected by every twitch and grunt” also isn’t the same as having a neighbor who’s also taken control of the presidency a couple times.

  3. StuartC says:

    Seem like Putin waited until Merkel was out of office, and winter set in to ramp up the pressure on Germany. Distracting the Russian people from his disastrous COVID response is another likely motive in the mix.

    • Rayne says:

      The distraction from COVID is a biggie; I think the Sputnik vaccine response has been iffy. Russia has a population which is a little less than half the US but it’s had 677,154 COVID-related deaths so far and as of the end of 2021 they had 930,000 excess deaths.

      Plenty of reason to wag the dog.

      • klynn says:

        1. Sorry I posted about Putin and Ukraine in the previous post.
        2. Putin’s greatest fear lies in his people rising up. His covid response has been a problem. He needed to get control back in his power dynamic. Ukraine is his covid distraction most definitely. Besides, last month he just threw up his hands and declared his covid plan as herd immunity. So even more people will die.
        3. It has baffled me that world leaders – including Putin – did not come together to create a unified front to fight against covid globally. It’s not too late on one level. Imagine, Putin could be part of a Nobel Peace Prize.
        4. Putin wants to be one of the world’s strongest economies. I think (and somewhat hopeful) there is room to do soft diplomacy. He’d settle for being just a little stronger economy. Unfortunately, China’s influence is not unfolding as the economic impact as planned by Putin. He needs the US and EU and GB. I hope we get a vision for what might work. Here’s an interesting read on the China-Russia-US economic dynamic:

        • Peterr says:

          Re #3, I’m not baffled at all.

          Given Trump’s egotism, Boris Johnson’s ineptitude, Putin’s expansionist nationalism, and China’s obsessive need for secrecy and control of its internal affairs, I’d have been stunned if it had been otherwise.

          • klynn says:

            While I agree with your character assessments, a year out from covid, I was more hopeful for an understanding of a need for a global effort to slow covid despite character flaws.

            • skua says:

              Seems that most in governments want the benefits of globalisation. But shirk the work needed to address things like global pandemics. And probably global warming.

              • Aknow says:

                Probably? You mean most definitely wrt Russia. Russia’s efforts to reduce emissions have pretty much flatlined. This has got to be another major source of concern to its population right now, quite apart from Covid. Their tundra is melting causing new sources of methane. Likely Putin will just try to make more (personal) money from the natural resources that are released but at a massive cost to Russia’s citizens and their health. Were Putin to redirect some of his efforts towards combating climate change, he wouldn’t have to doctor his election results so much.

  4. Epicurus says:

    As I referred to in another thread, I think demographics is the compelling motivation of Putin. I also think the attached encapsulates the self-argument Putin is having, especially the last paragraph. If the writer can see it and I can see it, Putin and his advisers have probably internalized it. One way for Putin to deal with the issue, maybe the best way, is not war with many casualties on his side but continued, ramped-up destabilization efforts and a hoped for creation of a puppet regime, as was pointed out elsewhere in another thread.

    • Epicurus says:

      Dean Martin sang the first part of a song as Putin eyeing Ukraine

      The Object Of My Affection
      Dean Martin

      The object of my affection can change my complexion from white to rosy red
      Anytime she holds my hand, tells me that she’s mine
      There are many girls who can thrill me and some who can fill me with
      Dreams of happiness
      But I know I’ll never rest until she says she’s mine

  5. Jenny says:

    “Imagine there’s no countries
    It isn’t hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people
    Living life in peace

    You may say that I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope someday you’ll join us
    And the world will be as one”
    ― John Lennon, Imagine

    • Marinela says:

      This is such a great summary on how I think.
      Geography should not limit any human to reach his/her potential.

    • Leoghann says:

      We can imagine and visualize world peace or whirled peas all we want to. It’s not gonna do a damn thing to stop Putin’s attempts to reassemble the USSR. But it can and will keep some people content in their own imagination, as things burn around them. Of course, eventually fires burn through all defenses.

  6. SVFranklinS says:

    I read a summary of that Putin 2021 essay here:

    Makes it clear this is not about NATO, it’s Putin’s sense of ethno-nationalism and nostalgia for the great days of his youth, when the Soviet Union was something powerful and feared. He wants that back again, and does not seriously believe Ukraine is a nation.

    McFaul is very insightful on this; among other things, he points out Putin genuinely does not believe there are independent actors – it’s all being stage managed from the enemy, the US.
    And the problem with a dictatorship is there is nobody around to tell you “No” when you drift off into irrational territory.
    But there could just be the desire cause trouble – the threat to invade causes everyone to react as if Russia were powerful, instead of just being a gas station with an economy the size of Spain. The NATO/US reaction alone may be part of the goal. Expect this “threat” to be drawn out for a while, to strain reactions and make everyone exhausted.

    Why now? Besides the fact that Winter is better for driving tanks around, Merkel is gone, the US looking weak after Afghanistan and under pressure from within, and then there is China looking to make moves on Taiwan. The next years will be quite tumultuous.

      • SVFranklinS says:

        “Not about NATO”, in that if in there was an agreement that Ukraine not join NATO ever, Putin would not be satisfied.
        McFaul has spoken often on this – the threat to Putin isn’t NATO, it’s a democratic Ukraine on Russia’s doorstep.

          • jakevovich says:

            Russia has been denying Ukraine’s existence forever. It wants to re-write the history of the Kiev-Rus empire – which originates with the economic relevance of Ukraine and the Dnieper river. Of course NATO has something to do with it, and a free democracy so close to home, but Putin wants everything that Ukraine has to offer. Agriculture, and the military industry in eastern Ukraine/ sole access to the Black Sea with the exception of Turkey, Moldavia, Bulgaria, and Romania – all under the influence of Moscow. It’s a combo of all of the above. Especially when he considers the dissolution of the USSR as the biggest tragedy of the 20th century.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      My guess is that aging mob bosses are usually interested in maintaining their own empire – Young Turks are everywhere – more than in nostalgia for a past national one.

    • Leoghann says:

      Yet NATO is the greatest threat to Putin’s sense of ethno-nationalism. So it really is about NATO.

  7. Spencer Dawkins says:

    Rayne, thank you for the Ukraine comments dumping ground, but even more for your insights.

    Re: “We shouldn’t be surprised at all by the current situation. If anything we should be surprised this hadn’t ramped up more quickly last January-February while Biden was still getting his sea legs in office during a pandemic.”

    So much THIS. ^^^. I hope I live long enough to see a Stalin-esque post-Putin history looking back at Putin decisions and the thinking behind them. I’ve read enough background material on the USSR-era KGB to have some guesses about what Putin might have been thinking during the Trump-Biden transition, both about Ukraine and about so much else, but I’d REALLY love to see someone on the inside explaining this.

    One question I have is what Putin might have thought he was getting after the 1/6 machinations failed and Biden was getting sworn in. I understood Biden to say that he had met Putin, at least as Obama’s VP, and I know that any competent intelligence agency will have prepared bios for key candidates in countries of interest, long before the election, but I wonder whether Putin thought Biden would either be weak, or would weaken over time as our domestic situation demanded more and more of his attention.

    I don’t think Putin is stupid, and I guess he spent enough time as a KGB intelligence officer himself that he wouldn’t “kill the messenger” and demand that his SVR RF underlings tell him what he wants to hear about his adversaries (that never ends well). So I’m led to believe that he thought he was making a smart move based on reality, and I’d love to understand why he thought that.

  8. Jon says:

    I agree, up to the penultimate paragraph. Ukraine is not a US ally, though they certainly seem to want to be. Ukraine does not belong either to NATO or to the EU. They are not entitled to military support by the US, EU, or NATO. Military aid might be provided (largely defensive), but provision of troops would obviously broaden the conflict with potentially catastrophic results It is in the nature of international conflict that the nations of Eastern Europe will be a place of contest between Russia and the West – though that does not demand that wars have to be fought there.

    Ukraine is not a member of either the EU or NATO in large part due to consideration for Russia’s well articulated objections. But Russia has not supplied the history, economic or political considerations sufficient for the people of Ukraine to desire the close association Russia now demands.

    The best outcome would be for Russia to withdraw its ludicrous demands, aimed primarily at the US, NATO, and the EU, to stop acting provocatively towards Ukraine, ceasing support for separatists and returning Crimea. There is room for negotiation on some points. If Russia’s primary objective is to have security of its own territory, that can be readily achieved. Threats of further Western sanctions are unlikely to achieve much of this on their own. The West has many other tools and capabilities that it might deploy to assist Ukraine and deter Russian aggression, short of triggering a wider war. Perhaps that is happening, but if so, it is not getting attention at this point. Russia is not the only actor that can play with asymmetric conflict.

    • Rayne says:

      I wrote in that penultimate graf,

      The U.S. is a proponent of democracy, and Ukraine is a democracy. If Ukraine asks our assistance to protect its democracy and enforce the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, we should provide aid.

      — If Ukraine ASKS, which is essential;
      — 1994 Budapest Memorandum stipulates the US already has obligations to Ukraine;
      — ‘should provide aid’ doesn’t necessarily spell out troops inside Ukraine. I don’t see that happening but I do see us sending troops to NATO countries who want them. ‘Aid’ can mean weaponry and remote assistance like cyber defense.

      Like Finland I don’t see Ukraine seeking NATO membership.

      • SVFranklinS says:

        Ukraine and Georgia did seek to understand terms to join NATO in 2007; there was clearly interest.
        Putin’s response was to attack Georgia in 2008.

        And after the government change in Ukraine in 2014, turning towards Europe and away from Russia, Putin’s response was to seize Crimea.

        Great motivators – The beatings will continue until morale improves.

      • Jon says:

        Thanks for that welcome clarification. My two prior readings of the post scanned that as implying direct US military involvement, which opens several cans of worms.

        Much as Putin enjoys squeezing Ukraine and peeling off what he can, he’d most like to diminish the US internationally, and to force splits in NATO.

        It’s my understanding that Ukraine has a long standing application in to join NATO, and similarly wants to join the EU. Neither is going anywhere fast because NATO is wary of internal social and political issues in Ukraine, such as kleptocrats, corruption, democratic shortfalls, and most importantly the outstanding conflicts with Russia.

        Putin is being an excellent recruiting sergeant for NATO right now. A strong, moderate and united response by NATO should see a much more united coalition in the future, as well as greater levels of association by unaffiliated European nations, if not moves towards full membership. Putin has previously made some provocative moves towards the Baltic states, but nothing like this, and the Balts can remain rather confident about their future sovereignty as a result. Other countries notice things like that.

        I’m so old, I can remember when there was a reasonable hope (for a hot minute) that Russia would more fully embrace democracy, and follow the opening to join NATO and the EU. That’s a great opportunity, which all could have benefitted from, long gone. Played well, there is a slender possibility that some good progress can emerge from the current crisis.

    • Peterr says:

      By the post-USSR agreement I quoted above, the US and UK have pledged to guarantee the sovereignty of Ukraine against Russian aggression, in exchange for Ukraine disposing of its nukes. It does not explicitly say the US pledges to send troops if Ukraine is invaded by Russia, but it puts the US and UK on the hook.

      If we don’t act in some way to protect Ukraine in the event of an invasion, it is just another nail in the coffin of the US reputation in foreign affairs. I’m not saying sending the Marines into Ukraine, but our signature on that agreement means that there has to be some kind of protective action to support Ukraine. Either our word means something, or it doesn’t. Trump made clear he did not feel bound by earlier agreements made by any of his predecessors, and it is up to Biden to make it clear to the world either that Trump was a one-off or that the word of the US is no longer worthy of trust.

  9. Phaedruses says:

    “this time one who is far ruthless and clever than Trump,”

    does this need the word “more” added

    [Thanks, will fix. I tell myself all the time to stop writing after midnight because of boo-boos like this but no…/~Rayne]

  10. Bobby Gladd says:

    Podcasting Troll Steve Bannon just lamented that we don’t have the “Germany of 1942“ today, that THEY would have taken care of business with respect to Russia pronto.

    Okeee dokeee, then…

    • Al Ostello says:

      You gotta hand it to these cocky crooked felons…they have giant balls to continue to spill the beans on the daily. Funny how they won’t do it under oath. LOL

    • P J Evans says:

      Someone should explain to him about Stalingrad again. He seems to have not gotten it the first time.

    • Tom says:

      Bannon is wrong. Nazi Germany and its armies on the Eastern front were well on their way to defeat even before 1942. David Stahel is a lecturer at the University of New South Wales and has written a number of highly readable books analyzing the Russo-German War. He makes a convincing case that Hitler only ever had the slimmest of chances of defeating Russia in a blitzkrieg attack. When the Red Army failed to collapse within the first weeks of Operation Barbarossa, Nazi Germany was doomed to a war of attrition it could not hope to win. As early as July 1941, some German frontline officers realized that Hitler’s gamble had failed and that the war was lost.

      In his 2009 book, “Operation Barbarossa and Germany’s Defeat in the East”, Stahel concludes: ‘Operation Barbarossa’s failure was more than just a lost campaign; the scale and importance of the eastern theatre ensured that the summer of 1941 was the turning point of World War II.’

      • timbo says:

        Students of history do study the Patriotic War of 1812. But, in general, the mood in Berlin and in most of the world’s capitols in the summer and fall of 1941 was that soon England would have to go it alone. And, in fact, the successes of Barbarossa encouraged the Japanese to move ahead with their surprise attacks on the US bases in the Philippines and Pearl Harbor et al at the end of 1941. So, indeed, one might argue that Barbarossa was the largest gamble of the war. Or that the Tripartite Agreement was the biggest gamble of the war… since Hitler honored that treaty and declared war on the US after the US officially entered the war against Japan.

    • Leoghann says:

      Ah yes. Bannon is a historian second only to Newt Gingrich. But every school child learns about the Blitzkrieg of Stalingrad, when Hitler’s armies took the city in only 36 hours, gained control of the Volga, and cleared the way to winning World War 2-A.

      Being a troll, Bannon will say anything.

  11. klynn says:

    Upthread I noted Putin’s fear of his people. Here are resources that address the reasons.


    Both are good reads. I would add that part of the Ukraine picture driving Putin is that there are Russian speaking Ukrainians who support democracy. That plays into his fear of non-ruling class Russians rising up.

    • klynn says:

      Here is a piece with some interesting diplomatic suggestions:

      “Instead of acquiring land, Moscow should focus on acquiring people. Not by automatically handing out Russian passports to anyone who would like to be able to nip over the border and draw a pension: that project is already being implemented in the parts of the Donbas no longer under Kyiv’s control. Instead, Moscow should act strategically, by making moving to Russia to live and work an attractive prospect for Russian speakers from Ukraine and other former Soviet countries, above all for highly skilled specialists.“

      Before commenting on the isolated quote above, read the article for the full context.

      I honestly think there is room for diplomacy still and this is one part on the path to a solution.

      If done right, Putin, with some other world leaders involved, could be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

  12. Greg Hunter says:

    Yes the tic-tock of age seems to be a prime motivator on many fronts as the Baby Boomers on the right that includes Putin, Trump, McConnell, the SCOTUS, Eastman and all the way to the Wyoming GOP are in a hurry to see there efforts succeed before they shuck their mortal coils. Snuffing out abortion is the tip of the spear in America to destroy any progressive agenda, while Putin is using energy to spear any attempt at Democracies succeeding on Russia’s borders.

    Putin knows Oil is the Economy and any pressure he can apply to drive inflation higher may ensure his victory in the East as well as gifting Republicans/Far Right Groups with election victories in the West. A good war will help pull the Russian people into complying long enough for his plans to succeed.

    It seems easy to see that voters will ignore the threat to Democracy in the hopes of having a growing and stable economy. Seemingly the media is on board with this idea and I suspect the voters will follow.

    IMHO Biden could do/say some things that would help explain what we are facing and how we might address the problems of rising energy costs driving inflation. He could also score big points on crime and inequality by acknowledging that many of problems we see in society from immigration, policing and drug overdoses are directly due to America making naturally occurring plants illegal ie the Drug War. Prohibition caused the largest crime wave in American history and so we decided to export that idea into a worldwide crime wave that has cost the world dearly.

    Unfortunately Big Pharma is far worse and insidious then the NRA and American society is not informed of this issue as politicians and the media get paid to ignore the facts. Biden could speak and act boldly but alas he advocates for more police instead of a solution that would solve immigration, incarceration, drug over doses and wasteful military incursions to fight something that Prohibition proved was a losing battle.

    • Al Ostello says:

      You had me at “shuck their mortal coils”. lol

      All I hope is Trump spends at least 1 month of his future jail time before he shucks his mortal coil.

      This blog is like a wishing well but for the internet, right? :D

  13. Badger Robert says:

    Ukraine is not our fight, and the US has no compelling national interest there. But NATO is an enormous success, and the US does have compelling interests in supporting NATO.
    And as noted above most persuasively, once having made an agreement with Ukraine, which they relied on to their disadvantage, the agreement itself creates a compelling national interest.

    • jakevovich says:

      “Ukraine is not our fight, and the US has no compelling national interest there.”

      If that’s the case, then invading a sovereign nation is normalized. Which I guess for the U.S. is a positive since Hubris and Jingoism go hand in hand with Imperialism. This leaves the door open for any stronger country to absorb and annex its weaker neighbor.

  14. Fran of the North says:

    A couple of marked differences between foreign policy today and the practice just a 18 months ago. First, it seems that the adults are back in charge. Presumably career foreign service types providing varied and detailed insight without leaking every detail to a hungry press corps.

    Most important, thankfully POTUS isn’t trying to compensate for shortcomings by tweeting every poorly defined thought that comes into his head.

    • Peterr says:

      It helps that Biden was either chair or ranking member of the Senate Committee on Foreign relations for over a decade, and has been negotiating with Russians going back to Andrei Gromyko and SALT II.

      • Fran of the North says:

        Imagine that, experience leads to expertise. Who’da thunk it?

        Here I was led to believe that good looking 25 year olds were the font of all wisdom and ability to get things done.

  15. gmoke says:

    Former senior director on Europe and Russia for the National Security Council Fiona Hill explains what she thinks Putin is trying to accomplish:

    Two Views on Ukraine/Russia

    Dr Joseph Gerson, longtime peace advocate and President of the Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security, on some of the background and common security approaches to resolve the situation:

  16. DM says:

    Let us not forget the significance of the North Crimean Canal. Without water from the Dnieper, the Crimean Peninsula is wilting. The Russians will continue to pour resources into sustaining the peninsula until the flows are restored. I somewhat suspect the Nato encroachment arguments asserted by the Russians will be used to justify seizing all of Ukraine East of the Dnieper to create something akin to a reverse Panther-Woltan line, which may be easier/cleaner to defend than a line of control extending along an axis from Dnipro to Kharkov, or something similar.

    Or perhaps this is really all about Hillary’s emails, “The server, they say Ukraine has it.”

    • Jimmy Anderson says:

      “Russian conformists are, of course, traditionally bellicose people, but theirs is the bellicosity of propaganda television talk shows, or the language of online hate.”

      …………. This sounds vaguely familiar.

  17. mospeck says:

    David Ignatius on the existential threat of rule of law

    After vlad invades, and the young Ukrainians and young Russians go about killing off each other.. All due to the restless Richard the third dreams of a 69 year old short-timer joe, kgb old-timer mob boss wannabe pres., who because of his friends (see “The Friends of Eddie Coyle”) is just locked in and unable to allow for real rule of law. This since it would allow for Navalnys, who would subsequently allow for Russian rocket scientists in Progress 1 spaceships to make for the creation of actual entrepreneurs that make Silicon Valleys, Googs and SpaceXs. Think the young Russians and young Ukrainians maybe get together to make vlad an historical figure? ..borders being two way things..

  18. Alan Charbonneau says:

    My wife’s parents, (both deceased) were from Ukraine andTucker Carlson’s crap is really annoying. Obvious Russian talking points – the “it’s not a real country” kind of idiocy.

    I repost Marcy’s article about Tucker possibly being recruited by the Russians in every twitter thread mentioning his name. I thought Hannity’s smugness would be unsurpassed—then I heard Bill O’Reilly. He set a new standard of assholishness to measure against. Now Tucker is in first place of being the most loathsome POS ever on TV. Please don’t let the universe unleash on us someone who is more vile, I can’t handle it.

  19. madwand says:

    Citing the current situation in Ukraine. From

    ‘The United States and the West have so far failed to force Russia to withdraw its army from the Ukrainian border. For Russia, the best military option will be to enter Ukraine until reaching the Dnieper River in the first stage of its operation. It is easy to quickly stabilize the post-war situation as the east side of the river is greatly influenced by Russia and the Orthodox Church.

    The mission has to be completed within three to seven days. Russia should launch its attack in May and June when the melting period has passed, rather than in January and February. The sunshine time is longer while the operations of mechanized equipment and personnel have fewer problems in summer than in severe winter.

    The NATO countries do not seem firm in supporting Ukraine as they are still paying Russia for its gas supply. If the US and the West impose sanctions on Russia, they will only push Russia toward China, the world’s second-largest economy. (Translator’s summary)”

    The above is a summary of the ATimes article.

    Then on why Russia will intervene in Ukraine.

    A couple different viewpoints, the first article also shows possible avenues of approach for Russian forces.

    Biden has indicated the US will not intervene militarily but will support by providing weapons ammo etc.

    This is a topographical map of Ukraine, the Dneiper effectively divides the eastern from the western half of the country, the eastern is more Russian and Greek Orthodox while the west is more European and Latin Rite. So both the authors believe the Russians will stop at the Dneiper but one author leaves the chance of Russia going all the way is a slim possibility. Russia, if they attack, will attack on multiple fronts bypassing cities with the goal of getting to the Dneiper in 3 to seven days.

    Time will tell.

  20. Lex says:

    It’s funniest when the liberal intelligentsia falls so hard for propaganda that they start perpetuating it. I know, I know, this will be the one time the US empire arrives to actually protect and foster democracy and/or human rights. Eventually Lucy will let Charlie Brown kick the football, right? I, for one, am super excited about kicking or a three front land war in Asia. Pure brilliance and since we don’t have anything better to spend our money on that war, why not? I mean, other than that we’ll lose and lose badly. I look forward to the democratic arguments that launching nuclear weapons are really a tool of promoting human rights.

    • Rayne says:

      It’s funniest when the drive-by trolls fall so hard for Putin’s kleptocratic propaganda that they start perpetuating it by platforming his nonsense to avoid the point that Ukraine has a fundamental right to self determination.

      p.s. don’t think your name escapes my attention, Lex, which is a contemporary diminutive.

  21. Christopher Blanchard says:

    I wonder, looking at a map. One possibility is that Putin is aiming to gain a land route from Russia to Crimea. Given the grief Crimea has experienced because it is cut off from Ukraine that makes a nasty kind of sense. The way this might work politically would be that there is a relatively small invasion through Mariopol, and posturing about the Russians going north and west from there. Then it stops with both sides claiming victory – ‘The West’ because Ukraine has repelled an invasion and the Russians because they gained something, while Putin has actually achieved his underlying strategic aim. I don’t mean the Russians could use a land route to fix the Crimean water shortage, but the route would still be very useful. An important point being that Putin needn’t make that explicit, but the US government could (might ,,, maybe ,,,) end up complicit with it by accepting a negotiated apparent victory, but giving up the ‘small’ thing Putin always aimed for.

    • Rayne says:

      How inconvenient for Putin that might need a land route to Crimea which he annexed illegally and doesn’t belong to him. The solution is to concede Crimea.

  22. skua says:

    Why is Biden and Putin going to do things differently to Obama and Putin in 2014?

    If Putin can’t see a difference, why wouldn’t he do more taking?

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