Posts Tagged ‘War in Ukraine’

Weapons from Ukraine war appear in Nigeria

December 5, 2022

This just in from Antiwar.com.

Nigeria’s president has warned that weapons and ammunition used in the war in Ukraine are winding up in the hands of “terrorists” in the Lake Chad region of Africa.

President Muhammadu Buhari made the comments last week from the Nigerian capital of Abuja.  According to a press release from his office, Buhari drew attention “to the increased number of arms, ammunition, and other weapons from the Russia and Ukraine war in the Lake Chad Basin.”

Buhari said that weapons were also coming from other areas in Africa’s Sahel region and from fighting in Libya. “Regrettably, the situation in the Sahel and the raging war in Ukraine serve as major sources of weapons and fighters that bolster the ranks of the terrorists in the Lake Chad Region,” he said.

The Nigerian leader said that arms “being used for the war in Ukraine and Russia are equally beginning to filter to the region.”

Buhari’s comments come amid a push from some Republicans in Washington for more oversight of the over $19 billion in weapons that the US has poured into Ukraine, concerns that Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) has dismissed as “Russian propaganda.”

Buhari’s comments were not the first indication that Western arms bound for Ukraine are ending up on the black market.  Finland’s national law enforcement agency, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI),warned in October that arms meant for Ukraine have wound up in the hands of criminal gangs in Finland.  The NBI also said that weapons meant for Ukraine were also found in Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands.

LINKS

The Ukraine War: Cracks in Unexpected Places by Ted Snider for Antiwar.com.

Nigeria President Says Weapons From Ukraine Are Winding Up in Africa by Dave DeCamp for Antiwar.com.

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I pity the poor Ukrainians

November 18, 2022

The Ukrainian government is increasingly desperate, and is doing desperate things.  

In spite of its apparent victory in Kherson, its actions are the actions of a nation with its back to the wall.  

Its only hope is to drag the United States and other NATO allies into a wider war.

Those are the reasons behind the Ukrainian strikes on Russia territorythe assassination of Darya Dagina, and the bombardment of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.  

By the way, it’s interesting that in a Google search, almost every link to the last item was to the absurd claim that the Russians bombarded the Zaporizhzhia plant themselves while their troops were occupying it, and only one to any source that questioned it. 

This is almost as absurd as the claims that the Russians blew up their own Nordstream pipe lines, but both are unquestioned in the mainstream U.S. and allied news media.  This shows the power of American propaganda.  But I digress.

The Ukrainians and their American supporters take comfort from the Ukrainians’ bloodless occupation of part of Kherson city.  But it seems clear that the Russians are regrouping for a counterattack when their newly-mobilized troops are in place and the ground is frozen.

I agree with this assessment of the ground war by Larry Johnson, a veteran of the CIA and the State Department’s Office of Counterterrorism.

Fact one — Ukraine’s economy is in tatters and there is no viable path to restore what it was on February 24, 2022. 

Fact two — Ukraine is totally dependent on Western aid to keep its army in the field. 

Fact three — Ukraine does not have a viable air force and cannot provide close air support to its front line troops. This means any Ukrainian advance on the ground is dependent on the limited armor and artillery units still intact.

Fact four — Ukraine’s ability to produce electricity and power is being steadily degraded and there is no short-term solution to keep the lights on.

Fact five — Russia has not committed its front line forces and high tech weaponry to the fight.

Fact six — Russia’s economy is strong despite Western efforts to sunder it.

Fact seven — Russia is economically self-sufficient.  It does not need foreign exports to sustain its industrial base but the world does need critical products and minerals that only Russia produces.

Fact eight — Russian factories are operating 24/7, producing essential military equipment and technology to keep its forces in the fight.

Fact nine — Russia can mobilize and train new troops on its own territory without fear of attack from Ukraine.  Ukraine cannot.

The announced Russian goals of the invasion were to protect Russians living in Ukraine, to force Ukraine to leave the NATO alliance and to “demilitarize” and “denazify” Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin evidently intends to achieve those goals through force.  Demilitarization and denazification are to be achieved by inflicting maximum casualties on Ukrainian military forces while minimizing Russian casualties.

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Zelensky favors preemptive strikes on Russia

October 7, 2022

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky believes that “NATO should make it impossible for Russia to use nuclear weapons.”

“Preemptive strikes are needed so that they know what awaits them if they use nuclear weapons.  Not the other way around, waiting for Russia’s nuclear strikes and then saying, ‘oh, you’ve done that, then get this’,” he said on Thursday, speaking via video link at Australia’s think tank, the Lowy Institute.

NATO, Zelensky said, “should reconsider how it uses its pressure.”

Source: InterFax Ukraine.

You might say Zelensky is willing to fight to the last American.

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On the eve of destruction

October 3, 2022

I think the world is at the beginning of a major crisis and turning point – something like the eve of the Great Depression or of World War One.  Future generations will look back on our generation and wonder how we could have been so blind as not to have seen the trap we are jumping into.

The destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines means the destruction of European economies.

The European countries are already in crisis.  Whole industries are being devastated by the direct and indirect effects of the cutoff of cheap oil and gas from Russia.

The destruction of the pipelines means this cutoff will be permanent. Cheap energy was the foundation of the European economic miracle. This is gone indefinitely, unless the Russians can be persuaded to repair the pipelines – the pipelines they supposedly destroyed themselves.

From what I read, I understand there is a window of only a few months for this to take place. After that damage from sea water will be irreversible.

The economic crisis is not confined to Europe.  It is spreading throughout the world.  Failures of key energy-intensive businesses in Europe will cascade to businesses that depend on them as suppliers or customers.  It will be a domino effect similar to the economic crash of 1929-1933.

The destruction of The Nord Stream pipelines takes the NATO-Russia conflict to a new level.

Nuclear warfare, chemical warfare, cyber warfare have all been off limits because there is basically no defense against them, and no nation’s leaders want to be the ones to initiate it.

Attacks on pipelines and undersea cables fall into this category.  A taboo has been broken.  There is no reason to believe that Russia is the culprit.  Why would the Russians destroy an asset they spent years and billions of dollars to build and which is their main means of leverage over Europe?  And Vladimir Putin has made it clear that he blames the USA. 

What happens if there is retaliation?  What, for example, would happen to the world’s financial markets if fiber optics communications between North America and Europe were broken?  We can only hope Putin does not choose to follow that path.

Russia and the USA are committed to a fight to the finish in Ukraine.

Back in late March and early April, Russia and Ukraine were conducting secret peace talks.  British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.S. General Mark Milley reportedly flew to Kiev to tell Volodomor Zelensky that NATO’s goal is to fight on until Russia is defeated.

Zelensky had no choice.  Ukraine is not a sovereign nation.  It couldn’t survive without not only military support from the USA and NATO allies, but also economic support from the International Monetary Fund and other international agencies controlled by the USA.

Vladimir Putin defines the war as a clash of civilizations – a clash between Russia, representing Eastern Christianity, and the secular, imperialistic West.  In his speech of annexation of Russian-occupied Ukraine to the Russian Federation, Putin denounced the USA for its history of slavery and conquest, and also its support of the new gender ideology.

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Pipeline sabotage kills last hope of Ukraine truce

September 29, 2022

I don’t know for a fact who is responsible for the Nord Stream pipeline sabotage.   But it is plain who benefits from the sabotage, who is hurt and what the results will be.

A winter truce or peace negotiations in the Ukraine war are now virtually impossible.

People in Germany and other European countries face a disastrous winter because of the cutoff of Russian oil and gas. The possibility of turning the gas back on gave Vladimir Putin great leverage in negotiating a possible truce.

The leaks in the gas pipelines take away that leverage.  Now Putin has little or nothing to offer Russia’s former European gas customers in return for peace.

The chief beneficiaries of the pipeline sabotage are Ukraine, the USA and maybe Poland.  The chief victims are Germany, other European gas importers and Russia itself.

On the day of the pipeline break, Poland announced a new pipeline that will transport gas from Norway’s North Sea gas fields to Poland via Denmark and the Baltic Sea.  It reportedly will supply 15 percent of Poland’s needs.

[Added Later]  Alex Christoforous of The Duran, in the video posted above, makes some good points.  He said Russia wouldn’t have sabotaged its own pipeline, for the same reasons I gave.  It would be a case of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

If it had been a false flag operation of the United States, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken wouldn’t have been caught by surprise.  He’d be saying there is no need for an investigation, Russia is to blame, let’s retaliate.

Also, he said, the great powers do not attack each others’ undersea pipelines and cables because they all are so vulnerable and it would be so easy to retaliate.

His speculative answer is that there is some sort of a cabal, including rogue elements of the U.S. and other governments, which is committed to bringing down Russia and deindustrializing Germany at all costs, but which hasn’t thought out the consequences.

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Ukrainian general says: Take the war to Russia

September 25, 2022

RSZV M142 HIMARS and ATACMS missiles . Photo: Mariusz Burcz

The commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces co-wrote an article saying the only way for Ukraine to win is to take the war to Russia itself.

Right now Russian missiles can hit any target in Ukraine with pinpoint accuracy, General Valery Zaluzhny wrote; Ukrainian drones can only reach 60 miles into Russian territory.  I’ve read elsewhere that these drone attacks are already taking place.

Zaluzhny is commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and a member of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council.  

General Zaluzhny

He said that, in order to win, Ukraine needs the USA and other allies to provide longer-range missiles that can penetrate deep into Russia.  

Only then will the people of Russia feel the consequences of their war of aggression and pressure their government to back off.

General Zaluzhny said his short-range goal is to reconquer Crimea, an important Russian military and population center from which attacks on Ukraine are launched.  But that in itself will not end the war, he said.  It is necessary to attack the Russian Federation itself.

He went on to say:

Ukraine’s repulsion of aggression by a superpower requires and will require significant material resources and financial costs for a long time to come.  In 2023, the material basis of the Ukrainian resistance should remain significant in terms of military and technical assistance from partner countries.

After all, despite its own losses from economic sanctions, dependence on Russian energy sources and individual attempts to “pacify” the Russian Federation, world history will not forgive any country in the world for conniving with a bloody predator that only gets drunk on new blood. 

In the long run. he wrote, Ukraine needs to create its own armaments industry, perhaps in partnership with foreign investors.

I think this is an accurate description of the situation.  Right now the balance of forces is against Ukraine, both in the shooting war and the sanctions war.  Ukraine needs a game-changer if it is to win.

But what exactly would Zaluzhny do with longer-range missiles?  Just bombard Russian forces massing along the border?   Or bomb Moscow and St. Petersburg?  

Either way, the Russians would retaliate immediately, not just against Ukraine, but its NATO allies.  Then what?

Does he think a widening of the war would work to Ukraine’s advantage?  Indeed, a general war in Europe would devastate Russia and the NATO allies, but might well leave Ukraine a fully-sovereign nation—and also a blood-soaked wasteland. 

I wonder what U.S. and other NATO commanders this of this.  Do they also want to take the war to a new level rather than admit defeat?  Have they thought about the consequences?  We live in “interesting” times.

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Escalation in Ukraine

September 21, 2022

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin did two things today that escalate the war in Ukraine and make nuclear war a little more likely than it was before.

The first thing was to announce referenda in Russian-speaking, Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine on joining the Russian Federation.  It’s reasonable to think that the vote will be “yes.”

The second was to announce a partial mobilization, which will increase Russian troop strength by about 300,000.  This could double or triple the number of troops available to fight in Ukraine.

In other words, Russia has drawn a new red line and is increasing its war-fighting ability to maintain it.

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For years, Putin’s demand was only that Ukraine grant autonomy to the Luhansk and Donetzk regions and respect the civil rights of Russian-speakers.  But early this year, he persuaded the Duma to recognize Luhansk and Donetsk as independent republics.

This provided a theoretical legal justification for the “special military operation.”  Russia was defending two sovereign nations from attack.

Annexation of the Luhansk, Donetzk, Marupol and Kherson means that Russia would say that any invasion of these regions was an attack on Russia itself.  According to stated Russian policy, Russia would retaliate by any means deemed necessary, including use of nuclear weapons.

It also means that Russia’s occupation of these lands is non-negotiable.  Russia cannot afford to give them up.

When Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, it had the advantage.  It had prepared arms production so that the Ukrainians were outgunned.  It also had bolstered its economy so as to be able to survive the sanctions war launched by the United States.

By supplying Ukraine with modern weapons, and by providing intelligence, training and possibly support by elite troops, the U.S. has changed the nature of the war.  Military analyst Scott Ritter says the war is no longer a Ukrainian war using NATO equipment; it has become a NATO war using Ukrainian troops.

Russia’s main weakness is that the Russian people themselves are not eager to go fight and die in Ukraine.  The bulk of the fighting has been done by militias of Russian-speakers in Luhansk and Donetzk, the Wagner Group (private mercenary soldiers), Chechens and fighters from the Syria and other foreign countries.

While Russia has a military draft, there is an understanding that draftees won’t be sent to fight in Ukraine.

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Viktor Orban’s message to Europe

September 9, 2022

Viktor Orban

Viktor Orban, the prime minister of Hungary, refuses to join in the proxy war and economic war against Russia.  He gave his reasons why in a speech last summer, which I’ve excerpted, because it sums up the situation so well.  

He is a contentious character, for reasons explained in the linked articles.  But I don’t see anything in this speech excerpt that isn’t true.

Western strategy in this war is based on four pillars.  It is a sensible strategy on paper, and perhaps even has numbers to back it up.  

The first was that Ukraine cannot win a war against Russia on its own, but it can do so with training from the Anglo-Saxons and with NATO weapons.  That was the first claim.

The second strategic claim was that sanctions would weaken Russia and destabilise the leadership in Moscow.

The third strategic element was that – although they would also affect us – we would be able to deal with the economic consequences of the sanctions, so that they would be hurt more and we would be hurt less.

And the fourth strategic consideration was that the world would line up behind us, because we were in the right.

As a result of this excellent strategy, however, today the situation is that we are sitting in a car with four flat tires.  

It is absolutely clear that the war cannot be won like this.  The Ukrainians will never win a war against Russia with American training and weapons.  This is simply because the Russian army has asymmetric superiority.

The second fact that we must face up to is that the sanctions are not destabilising Moscow.

The third is that Europe is in trouble: economic trouble, but also political trouble, with governments falling like dominoes.  Just since the outbreak of the war, the British, the Italian, the Bulgarian and the Estonian governments have fallen.  And autumn is still ahead of us.  The big price rise came in June, when energy prices doubled.  The effects of this on people’s lives, which are creating discontent, are only just beginning to arrive, and we have already lost four governments.

And finally, the world is not only not with us, it is demonstrably not with us.  Historically the Americans have had the ability to pick out what they identify as an evil empire and to call on the world to stand on the right side of history – a phrase which bothers us a little, as this is what the Communists always said.  This ability that the Americans used to have of getting everyone on the right side of the world and of history, and then the world obeying them, is something which has now disappeared.

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Europe faces self-imposed economic crash

September 7, 2022

Thousands in Prague protest energy crisis and NATO alliance

I’ve written about why I think Russia is likely to win its ground war in Ukraine and its sanctions war worldwide, and what I think the results of Russian victory might be.  This post is about one aspect of that war—how the sanctions war has brought about an economic crisis in Europe.

Six months ago, Europe’s leaders boasted they’d bring Russia to its knees through economic sanctions. Today their countries fact economic disaster because of blowback from those sanctions.

Many Germans are hunting through forests for firewood for the winter, because of the looming scarcity of oil and natural gas.  One report says there is a one-year waiting list for purchasers of wood stoves. Coal also is in great demand and short supply.

In Spain, the government is imposed rules forbidding air conditioning to be set below 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In the Netherlands, a campaign called Flip the Switch asks Dutch people to limit showers to five minutes and do without air conditioning and clothes dryers.

One expert says six in 10 British factories are in danger of closing as a result of higher energy bills. The average British household is expected to see its annual average energy bill rise to $4,180, a rise of $1,765, according to CNN Business.

Forward contracts for electricity in France and Germany are 10 times what they were this time last year.

It’s hard to see how Europe can escape a energy crisis and an economic recession this winter.  The initial reaction of Europe’s leaders has been to double down.  Germany’s foreign minister said Germany will never desert Ukraine, no matter what.

The European Union is reportedly planning to seek sweeping powers over businesses in member states that would basically allow Brussels to tell these companies what to produce, how much of it, and whom to sell it to in times of a crisis.

A public opinion poll indicates a majority of Germans would like to negotiate a peace.  Unfortunately a compromise peace is no longer being offered.  The Russians now say their terms are unconditional surrender.

Tens of thousands joined to protest against the sanctions war in Prague.  I think it is the first of many such protests.  They may lead to sweeping changes across Europe; they may lead to existing governments and the. EU itself invoking emergency powers to stay in power.

I sympathize with the European peoples who’ve been caught up in the global struggle of the USA vs. the Russian-Chinese alliance.  Europeans have a lot to lose and little to gain by joining in.

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‘Why are we in Ukraine?’

August 24, 2022

The conservative writer Christopher Caldwell wrote an article in the latest Claremont Review of Books saying that even if the USA and its Ukrainian proxy win their ground war against Russia, the USA may well lose on the economic war front and the culture war front.

On March 24, a month after Russian tanks rolled across Ukraine’s borders, the Biden White House summoned America’s partners (as its allies are now called) to a civilizational crusade.  The administration proclaimed its commitment to those affected by Russia’s recent invasion—“especially vulnerable populations such as women, children, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTQI+) persons, and persons with disabilities.”

At noon that same day, Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted about the “massive, unprecedented consequences” American sanctions were wreaking on Russia, and claimed Russia’s economic “collapse” was imminent.

Never has an official non-belligerent been more implicated in a war.  Russia and its sympathizers assert that the U.S. attempt to turn Ukraine into an armed anti-Russian camp is what the war is about in the first place.  Even those who dismiss this view will agree that the United States has made itself a central player in the conflict.  

It is pursuing a three-pronged strategy to defeat Russia through every means short of entering the war—which, of course, raises the risk that the United States will enter the war.  

One prong is the state-of-the-art weaponry it is supplying to Ukraine. Since June, thousands of computer-guided artillery rockets have been wreaking havoc behind Russian lines.  

A second prong is sanctions.  With western European help, Washington has used its control of the choke points of the global marketplace to impoverish Russians, in hopes of punishing Russia.

Finally, the U.S. seeks to rally the world’s peoples to a culture war against an enemy whose traditionalism, even if it does not constitute the whole of his evil, is at least a symbol of it.

It would be foolish to bet against the United States, a mighty global hegemon with a military budget 12 times Russia’s. Yet something is going badly off track.  Russia’s military tenacity was to be expected—bloodying and defeating more technologically advanced armies has been a hallmark of Russian civilization for 600 years.  

But the economic sanctions, far from bringing about the collapse Blinken gloated over, have driven up the price of the energy Russia sells, strengthened the ruble, and threatened America’s western European allies with frostbite, shortages, and recession.  

The culture war has found few proponents outside of the West’s richest latte neighborhoods. Indeed, cultural self-defense may be part of the reason India, China, and other rising countries have conspicuously declined to cut economic ties with the Russians.

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Suppose Russia wins – what happens next?

August 22, 2022

 

Ukraine in 2021

We still cannot break the advantage of the Russian army in artillery and in manpower, and this is very felt in the battles, especially in the Donbass – Peski, Avdiivka, and other directions. It’s just hell. It can’t even be described in words.   ==Volodymyr Zelensky.

If a problem cannot be solved, it may not be a problem, but a fact.  ==Donald Rumsfeld.

I think the Russians have a good chance of winning their war in Ukraine, for reasons I’ve stated in previous posts.  You may disagree.  But suppose, for the sake of argument, I’m right.  What would happen next?

The first thing to understand is that, at this point, Russians are not interested in negotiation, only in terms of surrender.  And the terms offered at the outset of the war may not be enough.

Historical map of Ukraine

Before invading, the Russian leaders demanded that Ukraine recognize Russian sovereignty over Crimea and the independence of the secessionist Donbas republics, and renounce future membership in NATO.  But that is no longer enough to satisfy.

Russia is extending its operations to absorb the pink and blue areas on the map at the right, which are the areas with the heaviest concentrations of Russian speakers.  It is issuing passports to those who desire Russian citizenship.

This indicates a plan to carve out a “new Russia” from Ukrainian territory which would extend from Russia to Transnistria on the Moldovan border.

Russia’s demands go beyond Ukraine.  Russia’s goal is to push back all NATO bases and installations from which NATO forces could strike at Russia.  This includes missile sites in Poland and Rumania.  Presumably it would include Sweden, Finland or any other U.S. ally that becomes a site for NATO strike weapons.

The ultimate goal, which Russia shares with China, is to crack global U.S. military and financial domination and replace it with a balance of power that includes Russia, China, the USA and maybe other countries, such as India.

A vain hope

Compromise is no longer possible.  Vladimir Putin and Sergei Lavrov say that US American leaders are “not agreement-capable.”  They say the USA and NATO allies have ignored their red lines for years, and the time for talk is past.  A recent speech by General of the Army Sergei Shoigu, the Russian minister of defense, gives a good idea of the Russian point of view.

The main advantage Russia has in Ukraine is superior firepower.  The USA and its allies are drawing down their arsenals to supply Ukraine and will not be able to quickly replenish them.

Russia claims to be producing as much ammunition and armaments as it is expending.  If Russia wins, this claim will have been proved right.

Where does this leave Poland, Rumania and other NATO allies?  Their governments joined NATO because they believed the USA could protect them from Russia.  This belief will have been proved wrong.  The choices for Poland and Rumania will be to submit to Russia’s demands or to fight at a worse disadvantage than Ukraine had (except for being less corrupt than Ukraine).

The European nations would have to face the fact that they must either be willing to make peace with Russia or be prepared to depend on themselves for defense.  Ideally, they would do both, as Finland, Sweden and Switzerland did during the Cold War era.

At the same time, economic warfare against Russia is failing.  Economic sanctions have backfired.  The USA’s NATO allies are hurting much more than Russia is.

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Russia is winning, and here’s why

August 16, 2022

I never thought Russia would invade Ukraine. When it did, I thought President Putin had made a big mistake.

My reason was that I thought that if Russia invaded Ukraine, it would get bogged down in a quagmire war, as it did in Afghanistan in 1979-1989.

But it hasn’t turned out that way. Rather than being a quagmire for Russia, it has turned out to be a sinkhole for Ukrainian lives and NATO military equipment.

Russia has been preparing for this war since 2014, or maybe 2008. It has created war industries capable of supplying artillery shells and missiles as fast as they are being used up. It is using strategy based on leveraging its quantitative superiority in artillery and missiles to maximize Ukrainian casualties and minimize Russian casualties

The United States and other NATO allies are supplying expensive, high-tech weapons that are hard to use and in limited supply. They are stripping their own arsenals to prop up Ukraine.

The situation reminds me of an article written years ago by a management expert named Clayton Christiansen about disruptive innovation.  The idea was that high tech companies become so focused on the high-performance, high-margin and high priced end of the market  that they are disrupted by competitors who concentrate on the cheap and reliable.  Russia is using a disruptive military strategy.

A report by Britain’s Royal United Services Institute says that the United States and other NATO allies are depleting their stockpiles of munitions and do not have the manufacturing capability to quickly replace them.

It says annual U.S. artillery production would last only two weeks of combat in Ukraine.  In a recent war game involving U.S., U.K. and French forces, the U.K. forces exhausted national stockpiles of critical ammunition after eight days.

The United State shipped 7,000 Javelin missiles to Ukraine, about one-third of its stockpile, with more shipments to come.  Lockheed Martin produces about 2,100 missiles a year, although it might ramp up to 4,000 in a few years.  Ukraine claims to use 500 Javelin missiles every day.

A 2018 report for the U.S. Department of Defense described the weaknesses of the U.S. armaments industry.  These included a lack of skilled workers, a lack of manufacturing investment and dependence on foreign suppliers for crucial components and for raw materials.

The Russian superiority in firepower is devastating.  A writer for the Marine Corps Gazette, quoted in the previous post, say the barrages are equal to the most intense shelling in battles of the two world wars.  

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A U.S. Marine analyzes Russia’s Ukraine war

August 15, 2022

‘Lambert Strether’ of Naked Capitalism came across an article in the August issue of the Marine Corps Gazette analyzing the reasons why Russia is winning its war in Ukraine.

The anonymous author, whose pen name is Marinus, said the key to Russian victory was its use of artillery – surprisingly intense in some ways, surprising restrained in others.

The Russians took great pains to avoid hitting physical infrastructure such as electric power plants, water purification plants and railroad stations. There were civilian casualties, and, of course, it was Russia’s decision to start the war in the first place, but there was a real effort to avoid unnecessary death and destruction.

The first phase of the war was a raid, bypassing big cities and intended, in the author’s opinion, to pin down Ukrainian forces and keep them from being used elsewhere.  The second phase of the war, to install pro-Russian governing authorities in areas where there was a large Russian-speaking population. In both these phases, use of artillery and guided missiles was held to a minimum.

But third phase of the war consisted of trapping Ukrainian forces in “cauldrons,” where there were no Russian ground forces and they could be pounded with artillery and missiles without restraint.  The Russian bombardments, Marinus wrote, were equal to the most intense artillery bombardments of the two world wars.

Like certain French divisions in World War One, certain Ukrainian troops are saying that they will hold their ground, but they will not attack.  I don’t blame them.

“The program of missile strikes exploited a capability that was nothing short of revolutionary,” Marinus concluded.  “Whether new or old, however, these component efforts were conducted in a way that demonstrated profound appreciation of all those realms in which wars are waged.  That is, the Russians rarely forgot that, in addition to being a physical struggle, war is both a mental contest and a moral argument.”

The four-page article is behind a pay wall, but somebody posted a copy on Reddit.  I’ve taken the liberty of copying it in my turn. 

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Patrick Lawrence on truth, lies and propaganda

August 13, 2022

The news that most Americans are getting about Ukraine is war propaganda.  That doesn’t mean that it is all false.  What it does mean is that it is next to impossible for the ordinary busy person to separate truth from falsehood.  Patrick Lawrence, a respected retired foreign correspondent, gives examples.

Ten days into the Russian intervention, the propaganda coming out of Kiev was already so preposterous The New York Times felt compelled to publish a piece headlined, “In Ukraine’s Information War, a Blend of Fact and Fiction.” This was a baldly rendered apologia for the many “stories of questionable veracity,” as The Times put it, then in circulation. I do love The Times for its delicate phrasing when describing indelicate matters.

There was the “Ghost of Kiev” story, featuring an heroic fighter pilot who turned out to derive from a video game. There were the Snake Island heroes, 13 Ukrainian soldiers who held out to the death on some small speck in the Black Sea, except that it turned out they surrendered, though not before Zelensky awarded them posthumous medals of honor that were not posthumous.

After railing against disinformation for years, The Times wants us to know, disinformation is O.K. in Ukraine because the Ukrainians are our side and they are simply “boosting morale.”

We cannot say we weren’t warned. The Ghost of Kiev and Snake Island turn out now to be mere prelude, opening acts in the most extensive propaganda operation of the many I can recall.

There was the maternity ward the Russians supposedly bombed in Mariupol. And then the theater, and then the art school. All filled with huddling citizens the Russian air force cynically targeted because “this is genocide,” as the ever-intemperate Zelensky does not hesitate to assert.

All of this has been reported as fact in the Times and other major dailies and, of course, by the major broadcasters. There have been pictures. There have been videos, all very persuasive to the eye.

And then, as evidence mounts that these incidents were staged as propaganda to frame the Russians and draw NATO forces directly into the war, a silence worthy of a Catholic chapel descends. We read no more of the maternity ward that turned out to be an improvised Azov base, or the theater, where citizens were herded, photographed in raggedy blankets, and sent away.   Ditto the art school: Nothing more on this since the initial reports began to collapse. No body counts, no mention of the fact that Russian jets did not fly over Mariupol on the days in question.

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Some voices you’re not supposed to listen to

August 12, 2022

If you are Russian and read Tass and Pravda, my guess is that there are a lot of things you aren’t being told.  My guess is that you need to check dissident and foreign sources to learn things that don’t fit the Russian government’s propaganda version of reality.

I know – I don’t have to guess- that if you are a US American and read the so-called “mainstream media,” there are a lot of things you aren’t being told.  You need to check dissident and foreign sources to learn things that don’t fit the U.S. government’s propaganda version of reality.

Petal bombs

One of the things I wouldn’t know if I didn’t check alternative sources is that the Donbass is being sprinkled with “petal” or “butterfly” bombs, which are designed to injure and kill civilians.

Donetzk authorities say they are delivered via Hurricane MLRS rockets.  Each rocket has 12 cluster munitions, each cluster has 26 bombs.  Because of their shape, they float down without exploding and can land anywhere.  

They are the size of a cigarette lighter and hard to see. If your car runs over one, you will lose a wheel—or worse.  If you step on one, you will lose a foot—or worse.  

I learned about this by reading an article by Eva Bartlett, an independent Canadian journalist.  It first appeared on the RT News web site.  Maybe you think that fact discredits her reporting.  If you do, would you say the same thing about a Russian journalist quoted on BBC News or the Voice of America?

Bartlett is lucky.  She hasn’t been charged with a crime, nor has her bank account been closed down.  Not so  Alina Lipp and Graham Phillips, two other independent journalists reporting from the Donbass.

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Underestimating Russia, etc.

June 16, 2022

[check the comment thread for a correction]

The Russian Federation has not lost a war or failed in a military intervention since it came into existence in 1991.

The United States has not won a war or succeeded in a military intervention since the U.S. attack on Panama in 1989, and this includes campaigns to destroy nations by means of economic sanctions.

As corrupt as Russia is, on many levels, I don’t think its government spends money on weapons that don’t work, promotes generals who lose wars or doubles down on foreign policies that have failed.

At the top levels of the U.S. government and journalism, failure has no consequences.  Yes-men are rewarded, even when they’re proved wrong.  Dissidents are pushed aside, even when they’re proved right.

It is pretty plain that Biden, Blinken and the rest had no idea what they were getting into when they decided on a showdown with Russia.

The economic blowback from the sanctions war is hurting the U.S. and its allies more than it is hurting Russia.   Public opinion polls indicate that average American voters are more concerned about the cost of living than Ukraine.  What nobody has told them is that the sanctions war against Russia is driving up the cost of living.

U.S. spokesmen are talking more and more about the possibility of defeat and the need for negotiations, although I suspect that Vladimir Putin has decided that the USA is, as he puts it, “not agreement-capable.”

I am not a military expert, I’m neither bold enough nor foolish enough to predict the outcome of the Ukraine war, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be of net benefit to the United States or its allies.

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The Ukraine war and the cost of living

June 1, 2022

Click to enlarge.

Whatever else it is, the war in Ukraine is a war to control food and energy supplies.  The turning point was the 2014 coup, which took Ukraine out of the Russian economic orbit and into the U.S.-dominated  “rules-based economic order.”  

Umair Haque gives the big picture.

Food prices rising — commodities prices in general — were a directeffect of climate change.  So what about Putin’s war?  Well, just think about what it’s really about. Controlling resources.  Putin knows that if he controls the resources — oil, gas, metal, wheat, and so forth — he can control a dying planet.  He who controls the resources controls a dying planet, because we all need them that much more.  You can see this very, very clearly in the way that Putin’s skewered Europe right on the horns on an insoluble dilemma: allow war in Ukraine, or depend on Russian resources?

Putin’s war in Ukraine is driven by ideological reasons, true — the weird blend of religion and fanaticism I’ve called New Age Fascism.  But more than that, it’s the first of the great resource wars on a dying planet. Ukraine is a strategically vital nation, at least on a dying planet — it’s Europe’s breadbasket, provides the world all kinds of basic resources from wheat to metals.  Ukraine is one of the very first nations you’d want to conquer if you wanted to control what few resources were going to be left on a dying planet, and this is the deeper logic of Putin’s game.

Resource wars are not going to end. In fact, they are only now just getting started — just after commodities prices have been soaring for the last few years thanks to failed harvests.  See how predictable that is?  It’s not that the two are even consciously linked — some dictator sees commodities prices rising and thinks “it’s time for war!” — it’s just that this is what inevitably happens.  Putin’s wars are obviously not going to end.  China, soon enough, will have to secure its own empire of resources, as the planet goes on dying. The West appears to have no strategy for any of this, because it’s only answer is globalization,” which has failed the way that my first marriage did — she threw plates at me, dear reader, because I was a bastard.

We are therefore now entering an age of (a) resource wars (b) shortages and (c) inflation.  Serious, sustained, vicious inflation.  These three things have already the defined the 2020s.  What did Covid do? Cause shortages around the globe — in a foreshadowing of the future on a dying planet.  Covid highlighted just how illusionary all this abundance of stuff really is — ships stop for a few days, borders shut down for a day or two, and bang — you can’t get stuff to eat or drink the way you’re used to.  But what happens on a planet of mega fires and mega floods and mega weather?  Mega risk does.  Shortages becomes endemic, a way of life.  As they slowly are now.

The flipside of shortages is, of course, inflation.  And inflation is the savage, gruesome reality of living on a dying planet.  There isn’t enough left to go around.  There never was.  20% of humanity — otherwise known as “The West” — consumes 90% of the planet’s resources.  That leaves just 10% of them for 80% of humanity.  The rest of the world has always lived without.  It’s just we in the West who are starting to discover what the real economics of existence are.

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The case for peace in Ukraine

May 16, 2022

We are being told the USA needs to send another $40 billion in aid to Ukraine pronto and to completely disrupt world trade in grain, oil and gas.  Otherwise Russia may win.   Even so, some of our military leaders are saying the war will go on for years.

The independent military analyst Scott Ritter says the last is a real possibility.  Although he had been predicting a Russian victory, he now says that if the Ukrainian army can train in Poland and Germany, and receive potentially unlimited numbers of U.S. and other NATO arms, there is no telling how long they can hold out.

I consider Ritter an authority on the Russian military and on military science in general.  What his reassessments tell me is that war is, by its nature, unpredictable.  If the outcomes of wars could be foreseen with certainty, no nation would go to war in the first place.

Biden’s stated war aim is not just to save Ukraine.  It is to weaken Russia to the point where it is no longer capable of waging war.  Also, to pressure Russians into replacing Putin with a leader wiling to beg for mercy.   

Putin’s stated war aim is not just to save the Russians in the Donbas.  It is to roll back NATO so that it is no longer capable of threatening Russia.

If neither of them gives in, it is very possible the result will be the bankruptcy or near-bankruptcy of the USA, Russia and many other countries, including some neutral countries, with Ukraine, including its Donbas region, left as a blood-soaked wasteland.  That is not the worst-case scenario.  The worst case would be a nuclear holocaust of most of Russia, Europe and the USA..

The best possible outcome would be a truce and a ratification of the previous status quo—neutrality for Ukraine, autonomy for Donbas, continuing Russian control of strategically vital Crimea.

My readings of the Russian Dissent substack, Meduza news service and Alexey Navalny videos also make me aware of the authoritarianism, corruption and cronyism of the Putin administration, and of misgivings about the war by ordinary Russians.

Russia and Ukraine may be separate countries, but many Russians and Ukrainians are related by friendship, lineage and marriage.  They don’t want war with each other.

Both Russia and Ukraine are cracking down on dissent, so it is impossible for outsiders to know how much potential opposition there is to the war on either side.

All the Democrats I would have hoped might stand up for peace—Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ihan Omar, etc.—supported the $40 billion appropriation for the war.

It is strange that the progressives in Congress can be pressured to give in at key points, while Senators Manchin and Sinema have free rein to block the whole Democratic program.

Are the progressives so weak?  Or is it that the Biden Administration only applies pressure when its war policy is concerned?

Post-Communist Ukraine, like Russia, has long been known for corruption.  There is a real possibility of American weapons winding up on the black market or in the hands of Banderite white nationalist terrorists.

I’ve started reading a biography of their hero, Stepan Bandera, who really was a kind of little junior Hitler.  

The main difference between him and Hitler, apart from the enormously greater scale of Hitler’s crimes, was that Hitler thought of the Germans as a master race and Bandera thought of the Ukrainians as a victim race.  He would have been happy to see Ukraine as a German client state, provided it was cleansed of Russians, Poles and Jews.

The Banderites are much more influential in Ukraine than their voting strength or the size of the Azov Battalion would indicate.  

They’ve threatened to kill any Ukrainian to fails to resist the Russian army.  Circumstantial evidence indicates they may have been the ones responsible for the Bucha massacre.  They have threatened to kill Zelensky if he gives in.

If Zelensky negotiated a peace such as I suggested, he probably would have to wage a civil war in his own country to get it accepted.

The top 0.1 percent of income earners and the Washington elite glory in ignoring pandemic restrictions and holding possible super spreader events, such as the recent Washington Correspondents Dinner.

Many people at these events report getting covid, which means they could be suffering from long-term organ damage, including brain fog.

I seriously wonder whether Joe Biden, Anthony Blinken, Donald Trump and others suffer from covid-induced brain fog.  I am not being sarcastic (well,  not completely sarcastic).  But then again, if they were, how could you tell?

Ukraine war collateral damage and food prices

April 28, 2022

I’m stocking up on nonperishable food and other supplies in order to be prepared for scarcity this fall.

Both the fighting war and the sanctions war over Ukraine are disrupting world food supplies, and I think it can only get worse. Ukraine and Russia are important exporters of food, and also of diesel fuel, which is important in making fertilizer.

Food prices are already going up. Reasons for this include drought and floods in food-producing regions, disruption of supply chains due to the coronavirus pandemic and the power of monopoly agribusiness.

What this means is that there is no buffer to escape the disruption caused by war.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I have little to lose by being prepared. It is better to do too much than to learn the hard way I’ve done too little.

I also expect the war’s collateral damage to affect food prices, but there’s little I can do personally about that.

Russians will be affected by rising food and fuel prices, but both the USA and Russia have enough reserves and resources to avoid actual starvation.  The worst impact will be on poor small nations that depend in food imports. 

The price of wheat on world markets

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It seems Ukraine will never join NATO…

March 24, 2022

This video interview was given March 19.

Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN Sunday that Ukraine will never be allowed to join NATO or the European Union.  In that case, what is the fighting about?  Here is the CNN report:

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday that if his country had been admitted into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance earlier, then Russia would not have invaded the country.

“If we were a NATO member, a war wouldn’t have started. I’d like to receive security guarantees for my country, for my people,” Zelensky told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on “GPS,” adding that he was grateful for the aid NATO has provided since the invasion began. “If NATO members are ready to see us in the alliance, then do it immediately because people are dying on a daily basis.”

He continued, “But if you are not ready to preserve the lives of our people, if you just want to see us straddle two worlds, if you want to see us in this dubious position where we don’t understand whether you can accept us or not — you cannot place us in this situation, you cannot force us to be in this limbo.

“I requested them personally to say directly that we are going to accept you into NATO in a year or two or five, just say it directly and clearly, or just say no,” Zelensky said.

“And the response was very clear, you’re not going to be a NATO member, but publicly, the doors will remain open,” he said.

If Ukraine is never going to be admitted to NATO, what is Russia fighting to prevent?  And why does the USA publicly insist on Ukraine’s right to do something it is not going to be allowed to do?

I think Scott Ritter’s interview above provides the answer.  Ukraine is not part of NATO, but it is a vassal of NATO.  By vassal, I mean a person or community that serves an overlord, and in return serves protection from that overlord.

Since the new pro-American government took power in 2014, Ukraine’s military forces have been receiving NATO training and NATO equipment.  For practical purposes, Ukraine is a member of NATO in every respect except having a voice and a vote. 

The same is true of the European Union.  Ukraine signed an Association Agreement with the European Union in 2014 and received an International Monetary Fund loan.  This took down certain trade barriers between the EU and Ukraine, opened up Ukraine to EU investment and also required Ukraine to align its foreign and military policies with the EU as a whole.

So businesses in the European Union have essentially got what they want from Ukraine—access to its rich farmland and natural resources.  According to Wikipedia, the EU has replaced Russia as Ukraine’s main trading partner.

The bottom line: Formal NATO membership for Ukraine is a red herring.  The real issue is whether Ukraine will be a vassal of the USA or a vassal of Russia.

The best thing for Ukraine would be neutral, and have good relations with all nations.  As an American, I would be fine with that.  But this is not a choice on offer.

Many Russians open to use of N-weapons

March 21, 2022

A Ukrainian company conducted a public opinion poll of Russians about the Ukraine invasion.  The poll found that 40.3 percent of those answering think the Russian government would use nuclear weapons to protect its interests, and only 25.5 percent would not.  The rest were unsure.

I think the poll should be interpreted with caution.  If I were a Russian, I probably wouldn’t give my honest opinion to an anonymous pollster.  I suspect a lot of the non-committal answers were from people who had doubts about their government’s actions.

A recent Pew Research poll indicated that 35.5 percent of Americans are willing to take military action against Russia even at the risk of nuclear war.  

[I should have noted that there is an important difference between being willing to risk nuclear war and being willing to initiate nuclear war.]

None of this indicates Russians or Americans as a whole favor nuclear war.   It does indicate that a large fraction of both do not find nuclear war unthinkable.  This is disturbing.

Here are the rest of the Russian poll results.

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Who’s winning in Ukraine?

March 14, 2022

Not Ukraine.

Ukrainian forces are outnumbered and outgunned.  President Zelensky is arming untrained civilians, including convicts, and calling for volunteers to come help, including anti-Russian jihadists from Syria.  This is evidence of desperation, like the German arming of teenagers and the elderly during the last days of World War Two.

Until now, Russians have held back, in the false hope they could accomplish a relatively—I said, relatively—bloodless conquest and reconcile Ukrainians to defeat.  Military analyst Scott Ritter said the Russians wanted to give Ukrainians one last chance to surrender.  If that fails, Russians will wage war as they did in Afghanistan and Chechnya, which, as he said, will turn Ukraine into “hell on Earth.”

Not Russia

Hardly anybody expected a full-fledged invasion of Ukraine, because hardly anybody outside President Putin’s circle thought it would make sense.  Evidently Putin expected a weak resistance, after which the Ukrainian government would surrender and agree to stay out of NATO, recognize the independence of the Donbas republics, and accept Russian rule of Crimea.

This didn’t happen.  Putin is using Chechen and even Syrian fighters against his supposed Ukrainian brothers.  So much for Russian-Ukrainian brotherhood!  This is a sign of lack of Russian enthusiasm for the war.

Probably Russia will defeat the Ukrainian forces in the end.  Then Russians will face a protracted resistance movement in Ukraine, supported by the Western powers, and a long period of economic warfare that will strain Russian society to the limit.

Not the USA

The clash between Russia and the USA involves much more than Ukraine.  Russia’s aim is to challenge the military security structure that makes the U.S. the world’s dominant military power, and the financial structure which makes the U.S. the world’s dominant financial power.  The present conflict may stretch that power to its limit.

No nation in Latin America, Africa or Asia, with the exceptions of Japan and South Korea, has been willing to join the United States is imposing economic sanctions against Russia.  Russia can count on the support of China, the world’s most powerful manufacturing nation, and others who’ve been alienated from the U.S. system.

Russia has been planning for years on how to withstand a siege.  The USA is unprepared.  President Biden has swallowed his pride and asked for help from Iran and Venezuela, two nations he and his predecessors have literally been trying to destroy with economic sanctions.  What will we Americans do a year or so from now, if gasoline costs double or triple or ten times what it does now?

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One side or another may claim victory, by some criterion.  But all will be worse off than they are now.

“A strange game,” said the machine intelligence in the movie, War Games.  “The only way to win is not to play.”

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Ideals and realities in the Ukraine crisis

March 7, 2022

When World War One began, most people in Great Britain thought that the sold cause of the war was German aggression.  We Americans had to be propagandized a good bit before we came around to that view.

The reality was more complicated.  Some of other causes were the French desire to avenge their previous defeat, Russian intrigue in the Balkans and the Anglo-German naval rivalry.

But after Germany attacked France and Belgium, the question of war guilt didn’t really matter.  The questions become: (1) What would happen if Germany dominated Europe?  (2) What price are we wiling to pay to prevent this?

The answers to these questions are not obvious.  Few in England in 1914 would have accepted a 1920s Europe dominated by the German Empire.  But this would have meant a future without Hitler’s Germany and possibility without Stalin’s USSR.

In today’s Europe, the questions are: (1) What would be the consequences of Putin’s Russia becoming the dominant power in Eastern Europe? (2) What price are we willing to pay to prevent this?

The answers to those questions are not obvious.  It’s early days yet.  It’s important to consider these things dispassionately before the winds of war blow away all possibility of rational discussion.

I of course disapprove of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.  I disapprove of a lot of things.  But, in the present situation, I think an imperfect peace that both sides could live with would be better than a long mutually destructive war that would leave one or both sides in ruin.. 

LINK

It’s time to ask: What would a Ukraine-Russian peace deal look like? by Anatol Leiven for The Guardian.

War in Ukraine: Links & comments 2022/3/7

March 7, 2022

The American Empire self-destructs by MIchael Hudson.

The economist MIchael Hudson thinks Russia will benefit from the coming economic war..

What it will do is to force Russia to become more Wself-sufficient than it already is and to detach itself from the U.S.-dominated world financial system, and also to make neutral countries more wary.

Any country who gets on the bad side of the United States is subject to having its national assets confiscated, to the degree that they are in banks in the United States, the United Kingdom or other countries subject to U.S. influence.

This happened to Iran, to Venezuela and many other countries, and now it is happening to Russia.  The U.K. also is confiscating savings and investments owned by Russian individuals.

In the long run, he wrote, this will force not only Russia and its allies, but any nation that doesn’t want to be under the thumb of the United States, to find an alternative financial system, which the Chinese will be glad to provide.  London will cease to be the money-laundering capital of the world.

He said it also will force Russia to invest its revenues from oil, gas and other export industries into building up the nation’s industrial strength, instead of going into the pockets of wealthy oligarchs.

History shows that given a choice between destruction and reform, ruling elites do not necessarily choose reform.

Efforts to decimate Russian economy may boomerang by Sylvan Lane for The Hill.

Economic warfare is mutual destruction.  The United States and its NATO allies are in a position greatly damage the Russian economy, despite the Russians’ decade of trying to build up their defenses against economic warfare.

But the United States and its NATO allies also will pay a price.  Russia is an important exporter of food and fossil fuels.  The first result of an embargo will be big increases in the cost of food, gasoline and natural gas.

Russia’s new foreign policy: the Putin doctrine by Prof. Sergei Karaganov, academic supervisor of the School of International Economics and Foreign Affairs in Moscow.

This is a voice of the Russian academic establishment.

Prof. Karaganov said Vladimir Putin’s policies are the result of a long-term plan to break up the present U.S.-dominated geopolitical order and replace it with one in which the Russian nation and culture are safe.  The war in Ukraine is part of this, but only party.

He said Western society is in the process of self-destruction—economically, politically and morally.  It also is eager to start a new Cold War with Russia.

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The war hawks’ view of the Ukraine situation

March 2, 2022

This panel discussion is interesting because it represents the thinking of the U.S. national security establishment.  I watched it with mingled anger and despair, but their ideas and opinions are important to understand.

The panelists point out that Vladimir Putin probably thought the invasion of Ukraine would reveal the weakness and lack of solidarity of NATO, but the result has been just the opposite.

The immediate result  has been to create a new sense of anti-Russian solidarity among the Ukrainian people and the NATO allies.  The NATO countries, particularly Germany, are remilitarizing.

The result of the invasion is the very thing Putin feared, an attack (although not a direct military attack) on Russia itself.  I think they’re right about that.

What the analysts say we can look forward to over the next few years is a long mutually destructive economic war, a dangerous cyberwar and a propaganda war.  But it’s all good, because Russia will suffer most and ultimately be defeated.

The cyberwar threat is the most worrisome.  The USA, other NATO countries, Ukraine and Russia are all dependent on electronic computerized systems that are vulnerable to being hacked, which would result in economic breakdown and chaos.

Both sides have held back because of the mutually assured destruction principle.  But now NATO and Russia are at war, so there is no restraining principle.

The panelists think Ukraine will be defeated militarily after a heroic resistance.  But it’s all good, because it means the U.S. government can support an insurgency, as it did against the pro-Russian government of Afghanistan in the early 1980s.

Even if the result is to leave Ukraine in ruins, it will bleed and destabilize Russia.

The problem, the panelists say, will be maintaining the will to wage economic war, psychological war and cyberwar for a period of years, and, for the Ukrainians and other front-line countries, to continue fighting and dying over the long term.

President Biden or some future president may prioritize his domestic agenda (i.e., the needs and wants of the unimportant American people) or the U.S. rivalry with China. That would be a problem, they say.

I can’t say their predictions are wrong.  I hate how comfortable and even pleased they are with the war, but as a description of the sad reality, they could be right.

But there are things they didn’t talk about.

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