Ukraine and the Deeper Global Suicide Agenda
The decision by the Russian President to order military action in neighboring Ukraine beginning February 24, 2022 has shocked many, myself included. The question at this point almost two weeks into military action by Russian and other forces inside Ukraine, is what pushed Russia into what Western media portrays as unilateral unwarranted war of aggression. A public threat by Ukrainian president and comedian Volodymyr Zelenskyy on February 19, during meetings with top-level NATO officials and others in the annual Munich Security Conference, provides a largely-ignored clue to Moscow actions. In addition more recent reports of numerous US Pentagon bioweapons labs across Ukraine add to the background threats. Did Moscow believe Russia faced a literal do-or-die reality?
Some essential history
The current conflict in Ukraine has its seeds in the 1990’s and the US-backed collapse of the Soviet Union. During high-level Two Plus Four Treaty talks pertaining to Germany’s reunification in 1990, talks between US Secretary of State James Baker III and then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, along with France, the UK and the West German government, over unification of Germany, Baker gave a verbal promise that NATO would not move “one inch” to the East to threaten former Soviet territories, in return for the USSR allowing German reunification within NATO.
For years Washington has lied about the exchange, as they moved one after the other former Warsaw Pact countries including Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Hungary, Baltic States into NATO and closer to striking distance to Russia. Recently Putin cited the 1990 Baker agreement to justify Russian demands that NATO and Washington give binding legal assurances that Ukraine would never be admitted into the NATO alliance. Washington until now has categorically refused to do so.
Putin’s 2007 Munich Speech
At the 2007 annual Munich Security Conference, as the Bush-Cheney administration had announced plans to install US missile defense systems in Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic to,“guard against rogue states such as North Korea or Iran,” Russia’s Putin delivered a scathing critique of the US lies and violation of their 1990 assurances on NATO. By that time 10 former communist Eastern states had been admitted to NATO despite the 1990 US promises. Furthermore, both Ukraine and Georgia were candidates to join NATO following US-led Color Revolutions in both countries in 2003-4. Putin rightly argued the US missiles were aimed at Russia, not North Korea or Iran.
In his 2007 Munich remarks Putin told his Western audience, “It turns out that NATO has put its frontline forces on our borders, and we continue to strictly fulfil the treaty obligations and do not react to these actions at all. I think it is obvious that NATO expansion does not have any relation with the modernization of the Alliance itself, or with ensuring security in Europe. On the contrary, it represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? Where are those declarations today? No one even remembers them.” Putin added, “But I will allow myself to remind this audience what was said. I would like to quote the speech of NATO General Secretary Mr Woerner in Brussels on 17 May 1990. He said at the time that: “the fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee”. Where are these guarantees?”
That was 15 years ago.
The 2014 Maidan Coup d’Etat
By November 2013 an economically corrupt and floundering Ukraine under elected and also very corrupt President Viktor Yanukovych, announced that, rather than accept a “special” association with the EU, Ukraine would take a far more generous offer from Moscow to join the Eurasian Economic Union led by Moscow. Russia had agreed to cut the price of Russian gas to Ukraine by 30% and to buy $15 billion of Ukraine bonds to ease the Kiew financial crisis. At that point, on 21 November, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the man selected by Washington’s Victoria Nuland and Kiev Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, together with then-Vice President Joe Biden, launched what were called Maidan Square protests against the Yanukovych regime backed by US NGOs. On February 20, 2014 after CIA-organized snipers, reportedly recruited from nearby Georgia, killed dozens of student protesters and also police, leading Yanukovych to flee, Yatsenyuk became Prime Minister in a hand-picked US-run regime, hand-picked by Nuland and Biden among others.
Later in December 2014 in an interview with a Russian newspaper, George Friedman of Stratfor, a private firm consulting to the Pentagon and CIA among others, said of the US-led February 2014 Kiev regime change, “Russia calls the events that took place at the beginning of this year a coup d’etat organized by the United States. And it truly was the most blatant coup in history.”
He was boastful in the interview.
That Kiev coup regime proceeded after February 22, 2014 to wage a war of extermination and ethnic cleansing of Russian-speakers in eastern Ukraine, led to a large degree by a private army of literal neo-nazis from Right Sector (banned in Russia), the same ones who ran security in the Maidan Square and launched a reign of terror against Russian-speaking Ukrainians. Battalions were formed of neo-nazi mercenaries. They were given official state status as “Ukrainian National Guard” soldiers, the Azov Battalion, financed by Ukrainian mafia boss and billionaire oligarch, Ihor Kolomoisky, the financial backer of Zelenskyy as president. The Azov soldiers even sport open SS runes as its logo. In 2016, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) accused the Azov Battalion, officially upgraded to a regiment in January 2015, of committing war crimes such as mass looting, unlawful detention, and torture. Today Nuland is Biden’s Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs responsible for Ukraine and Russian affairs. She is well aware of who the Azov Battalion are.
Zelenskyy and Munich 2022
On February 19 in Munich, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy made his threat to deploy nuclear weapons on Ukrainian territory. He expressed this as his unilateral revocation of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, although Ukraine was not a signatory of the agreement. Two days later on the evening of February 21, Putin made his speech recognizing the sovereign independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. He explicitly referenced Zelenskyy’s Munich nuclear weapons pledge: “This is not empty bravado,” Putin stressed in his speech.
On March 6 Moscow state news agency, RAI Novosti, quoted a senior Russian SVR foreign intelligence source with details on a secret Ukraine project, reportedly with vital covert Western support, to build a Ukrainian nuclear missile capability and a Ukrainian atom bomb in brazen violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. According to the report, Ukrainian nuclear scientists were disguising the developments by locating them near the high-radiation levels of Chernobyl nuclear reactor site, an explanation for the swift Russian moves to secure Chernobyl. “It was there, judging by the available information, that work was underway both on the manufacture of a “dirty” bomb and on the separation of plutonium,” RIA Novosti quotes the source. The primary bomb research facility was located at the National Scientific Center, “Kharkov Institute of Physics and Technology.” As of this writing reports of fierce fighting underway between Russian forces and neo-nazi Ukrainian Azov fighters who reportedly are planning to blow up the research reactor site and blame it
on Russia. The battle for control of the large Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is also apparently part of the attempt to conceal the illegal Ukraine bomb project. It now begins to become more clear that Putin had serious reason to react at the Ukraine nuclear threat. A Ukrainian nuclear missile within six minutes of Moscow would present existential danger whether Ukraine were in NATO or not.
Huge Military Buildup- Biowarfare?
There was more. Ukrainian press reported a year ago about new Western-built de facto NATO naval bases in Ochakov and Berdyansk as, “modern infrastructure facilities capable of receiving ships of all types, equipped according to NATO standards and built with the money of the alliance countries.” The media boasted, “In three years we will be able to strike at Russian ships in the Black Sea with our mosquito fleet. And if we combine with Georgia and Turkey, the Russian Federation will be blocked,’ Ukrainian military experts boasted. “
In addition, the US Pentagon had no less than eight, perhaps as many as 30 top-secret bioweapons research labs across Ukraine testing DNA of some 4,000 military volunteers. Once Russian soldiers moved to secure the evidence, the US Embassy in Kiev deleted previous mention of the sites from its website, and Ukrainians reportedly moved to destroy the lab evidence. Ukrainian labs in Kharkiv and elsewhere were operating in cooperation with the United States. Stocks of such weapons were being secretly stored in direct violation of international conventions.
A full month before the Russian military action on 24 February in Ukraine, independent biowarfare researcher, Dilyana Gaytandzhieva, obtained documents detailing “US Pentagon biological experiments with a potentially lethal outcome on 4,400 soldiers in Ukraine and 1,000 soldiers in Georgia. According to the leaked documents, all volunteer deaths should be reported within 24 h (in Ukraine) and 48 h (in Georgia).” She details the human experiments, which include testing for antibodies against some 14 pathogens including Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, Borrelia species (Lyme disease) and others. According to the documents the labs in Ukraine and Georgia are part of a Pentagon “$2.5 billion Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Biological engagement program which includes research on bio agents, deadly viruses and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”
On March 6, in a statement to the official RAI Novosti in Moscow, Major General Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Defense, stated they had received documents, “from employees of Ukrainian biological laboratories confirming that components of biological weapons were being developed in Ukraine, in close proximity to Russian territory.” He noted, “In the course of a special military operation, the facts of an emergency cleansing by the Kiev regime of traces of a military biological program being implemented in Ukraine, funded by the US Department of Defense, were uncovered.”
Added to this evidence of nuclear and bioweapon WMD placements inside Ukraine in recent years, the West NATO member countries have been pouring billions of dollars of military equipment including anti-tank weapons and explosives into Ukraine while Zelenskyy, rumored by opposition to be in hiding in the US Embassy in Warsaw, calls repeatedly for a NATO “No-Fly” zone over Ukraine, an act that would be a direct casus belli of war between Russia and NATO a war that rapidly could go nuclear or beyond.
The question is whether this years-long provocation by Washington and NATO of Russian national security via Ukraine is aimed at destroying the viability of Russia as a sovereign nation and military power. Is it a calculated move to use sanctions against Russia to cause global collapse and energy crises, food shortages and worse, all to advance the Davos 2030 Great Reset agenda? Blame it on the “evil Putin” and Russia while BlackRock and the financial powers reorganize the world? It is too early to tell but certain is that whatever prompted the action by Russia on February 24, 2022 had to have been far more serious than CNN or other controlled Western media are telling us.
Ukraine: The War That Went Wrong
NATO support for the war in Ukraine, designed to degrade the Russian military and drive Vladimir Putin from power, is not going according to plan. The new sophisticated military hardware won't help.
Empires in terminal decline leap from one military fiasco to the next. The war in Ukraine, another bungled attempt to reassert U.S. global hegemony, fits this pattern. The danger is that the more dire things look, the more the U.S. will escalate the conflict, potentially provoking open confrontation with Russia. If Russia carries out retaliatory attacks on supply and training bases in neighboring NATO countries, or uses tactical nuclear weapons, NATO will almost certainly respond by attacking Russian forces. We will have ignited World War III, which could result in a nuclear holocaust.
U.S. military support for Ukraine began with the basics — ammunition and assault weapons. The Biden administration, however, soon crossed several self-imposed red lines to provide
a tidal wave of lethal war machinery: Stinger anti-aircraft systems; Javelin anti-armor systems; M777 towed Howitzers; 122mm GRAD rockets; M142 multiple rocket launchers, or HIMARS; Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles; Patriot air defense batteries; National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS); M113 Armored Personnel Carriers; and now 31 M1 Abrams, as part of a new $400 million package. These tanks will be supplemented by 14 German Leopard 2A6 tanks, 14 British Challenger 2 tanks, as well as tanks from other NATO members, including Poland. Next on the list are armor-piercing depleted uranium
(DU) ammunition and F-15 and F-16
Since Russia invaded on February 24, 2022, Congress has approved
more than $113 billion in aid to Ukraine and allied nations supporting the war in Ukraine. Three-fifths of this aid, $67 billion, has been allocated for military expenditures. There are 28 countries transferring weapons to Ukraine. All of them, with the exception of Australia, Canada and the U.S., are in Europe.
The rapid upgrade of sophisticated military hardware and aid provided to Ukraine is not a good sign for the NATO alliance. It takes many months, if not years, of training to operate and coordinate these weapons systems. Tank battles — I was in the last major tank battle outside Kuwait City during the first Gulf war as a reporter — are highly choreographed and complex operations. Armor must work in close concert with air power, warships, infantry and artillery batteries. It will be many, many months, if not years, before Ukrainian forces receive adequate training to operate this equipment and coordinate the diverse components of a modern battlefield. Indeed, the U.S. never succeeded in training the Iraqi and Afghan armies in combined arms maneuver warfare, despite two decades of occupation.
I was with Marine Corps units in February 1991 that pushed
Iraqi forces out of the Saudi Arabian town of Khafji. Supplied with superior military equipment, the Saudi soldiers that held Khafji offered ineffectual resistance. As we entered the city, we saw Saudi troops in commandeered fire trucks, hightailing it south to escape the fighting. All the fancy military hardware, which the Saudis had purchased from the U.S., proved worthless because they did not know how to use it.
NATO military commanders understand that the infusion of these weapons systems into the war will not alter what is, at best, a stalemate, defined largely by artillery duels over hundreds of miles of front lines. The purchase of these weapons systems — one M1 Abrams tank costs
$10 million when training and sustainment are included — increases the profits of the arms manufacturers. The use of these weapons in Ukraine allows them to be tested in battlefield conditions, making the war a laboratory for weapons manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin. All this is useful to NATO and to the arms industry. But it is not very useful to Ukraine.
The other problem with advanced weapons systems such as the M1 Abrams, which have 1,500-horsepower turbine engines that run on jet fuel, is that they are temperamental and require
highly skilled and near constant maintenance. They are not forgiving to those operating them who make mistakes; indeed, mistakes can be lethal. The most optimistic scenario for deploying M1-Abrams tanks in Ukraine is six to eight months, more likely longer. If Russia launches a major offensive in the spring, as expected, the M1 Abrams will not be part of the Ukrainian arsenal. Even when they do arrive, they will not significantly alter the balance of power, especially if the Russians are able to turn the tanks, manned by inexperienced crews, into charred hulks.
So why all this infusion of high-tech weaponry? We can sum it up in one word: panic.
Having declared a de facto war on Russia and openly calling for the removal of Vladimir Putin, the neoconservative pimps of war
watch with dread as Ukraine is being pummeled by a relentless Russian war of attrition. Ukraine has suffered
nearly 18,000 civilian casualties (6,919 killed and 11,075 injured). It has also seen around 8 percent of its total housing destroyed or damaged
and 50 percent of its energy infrastructure directly impacted
with frequent power cuts. Ukraine requires at least $3 billion a month in outside support to keep its economy afloat, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director recently said
. Nearly 14 million Ukrainians have been displaced
— 8 million in Europe and 6 million internally — and up to 18 million people, or 40 percent of Ukraine’s population, will soon require
humanitarian assistance. Ukraine’s economy contracted by 35 percent in 2022, and 60 percent of Ukrainians are now poised to live on less than $5.5 a day, according
to World Bank estimates. Nine million Ukrainians are without electricity and water in sub-zero
temperatures, the Ukrainian president says
. According to estimates from the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, 100,000 Ukrainian and 100,000 Russian soldiers have been killed
or injured in the war as of last November.
“My feeling is we are at a crucial moment in the conflict when the momentum could shift in favor of Russia if we don’t act decisively and quickly,” former U.S. Senator Rob Portman was quoted as saying
at the World Economic Forum in a post by The Atlantic Council. “A surge is needed.”
Turning logic on its head, the shills for war argue
that “the greatest nuclear threat we face is a Russian victory.” The cavalier attitude to a potential nuclear confrontation with Russia by the cheerleaders for the war in Ukraine is very, very frightening, especially given the fiascos they oversaw for twenty years in the Middle East.
The near hysterical calls to support Ukraine as a bulwark of liberty and democracy by the mandarins in Washington are a response to the palpable rot and decline of the U.S. empire. America’s global authority has been decimated by well-publicized war crimes, torture, economic decline, social disintegration — including the assault on the capital on January 6, the botched
response to the pandemic, declining
life expectancies and the plague
of mass shootings
— and a series of military debacles from Vietnam
. The coups, political assassinations, election fraud, black propaganda, blackmail, kidnapping, brutal counter-insurgency campaigns, U.S. sanctioned massacres, torture in global black sites, proxy wars and military interventions carried out by the United States around the globe since the end of World War II have never resulted in the establishment of a democratic government. Instead, these interventions have led to over 20 million killed
and spawned a global revulsion for U.S. imperialism.
In desperation, the empire pumps ever greater sums into its war machine. The most recent $1.7 trillion spending bill included $847 billion for the military; the total is boosted
to $858 billion when factoring in accounts that don’t fall under the Armed Services committees’ jurisdiction, such as the Department of Energy, which oversees
nuclear weapons maintenance and the infrastructure that develops them. In 2021, when the U.S. had a military budget of $801 billion, it constituted nearly 40 percent of all global military expenditures, more than
the next nine countries, including Russia and China, spent on their militaries combined.
As Edward Gibbon
observed about the Roman Empire’s own fatal lust for endless war: “[T]he decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the cause of the destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest; and, as soon as time or accident had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight. The story of the ruin is simple and obvious; and instead of inquiring why the Roman Empire was destroyed, we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted for so long.”
A state of permanent war creates
complex bureaucracies, sustained
by compliant politicians, journalists, scientists, technocrats and academics, who obsequiously serve the war machine. This militarism needs mortal enemies — the latest are Russia and China
— even when those demonized have no intention or capability, as was the case with Iraq, of harming the U.S. We are hostage to these incestuous institutional structures.
Earlier this month, the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, for example, appointed eight commissioners to review
Biden’s National Defense Strategy (NDS) to “examine the assumptions, objectives, defense investments, force posture and structure, operational concepts, and military risks of the NDS.” The commission, as Eli Clifton writes
at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, is “largely comprised of individuals with financial ties to the weapons industry and U.S. government contractors, raising questions about whether the commission will take a critical eye to contractors who receive
$400 billion of the $858 billion FY2023 defense budget.” The chair of the commission, Clifton notes, is former Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), who “sits
on the board of Iridium Communications, a satellite communications firm that was awarded
a seven-year $738.5 million contract with the Department of Defense in 2019.”
Reports about Russian interference in the elections and Russia bots manipulating public opinion — which Matt Taibbi’s recent reporting on the “Twitter Files” exposes
as an elaborate piece of black propaganda — was uncritically amplified by the press. It seduced Democrats and their liberal supporters into seeing Russia as a mortal enemy. The near universal support for a prolonged war with Ukraine would not be possible without this con. America’s two ruling parties depend on campaign funds from
the war industry and are pressured by weapons manufacturers in their state or districts, who employ constituents, to pass gargantuan military budgets. Politicians are acutely aware that to challenge the permanent war economy is to be attacked
as unpatriotic and is usually an act of political suicide.
“The soul that is enslaved to war cries out for deliverance,” writes
Simone Weil in her essay “The Iliad or the Poem of Force”, “but deliverance itself appears to it an extreme and tragic aspect, the aspect of destruction.”
Historians refer to the quixotic attempt by empires in decline to regain a lost hegemony through military adventurism as “micro-militarism.” During the Peloponnesian War (431–404 B.C.) the Athenians invaded Sicily, losing 200 ships and thousands of soldiers. The defeat ignited a series of successful revolts throughout the Athenian empire. The Roman Empire, which at its height lasted for two centuries, became captive to its one military man army that, similar to the U.S. war industry, was a state within a state. Rome’s once mighty legions in the late stage of empire suffered defeat after defeat while extracting ever more resources from a crumbling and impoverished state. In the end, the elite Praetorian Guard
auctioned off the emperorship to the highest bidder. The British Empire, already decimated by the suicidal military folly of World War I, breathed its last gasp in 1956 when it attacked Egypt in a dispute over the nationalization of the Suez Canal. Britain withdrew in humiliation and became an appendage of the United States. A decade-long war in Afghanistan sealed the fate of a decrepit Soviet Union.
“While rising empires are often judicious, even rational in their application of armed force for conquest and control of overseas dominions, fading empires are inclined to ill-considered displays of power, dreaming of bold military masterstrokes that would somehow recoup lost prestige and power,” historian Alfred W. McCoy writes
in his book, “In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power.” “Often irrational even from an imperial point of view, these micro-military operations can yield hemorrhaging expenditures or humiliating defeats that only accelerate the process already under way.”
The plan to reshape Europe and the global balance of power by degrading Russia is turning out to resemble the failed plan to reshape the Middle East. It is fueling a global food crisis and devastating Europe with near double-digit inflation. It is exposing the impotency, once again, of the United States, and the bankruptcy of its ruling oligarchs. As a counterweight to the United States, nations such as China, Russia, India, Brazil and Iran are severing themselves from the tyranny of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, a move that will trigger economic and social catastrophe in the United States. Washington is giving Ukraine ever more sophisticated weapons systems and billions upon billions in aid in a futile bid to save Ukraine but, more importantly, to save itself.Source: https://chrishedges.substack.com/p/ukraine-the-war-that-went-wrong
The situation in the Ukraine is an historical event of immense magnitude
Recently, some readers have complained to me that we are covering the Ukraine situation too closely, saying they are bored with the topic. In fact, I’m not really covering it that closely. I’m really just giving the broad strokes, and giving people a basis upon which they can do further investigation into what is going on if they are so inclined.
If readers find the coverage boring, they can skip over it. There is a lot of other stuff on this site. I am covering the Ukraine the exact right amount. I am obligated to do this because so few outlets are covering the war with any truth or honesty. In the English language, the pro-Russia perspective is very difficult to find, with most conservatives who are against the war simply saying that they don’t care either way. “I do care and I actively support those fighting against the Washington and Brussels elite” is an important perspective that must be in the public conversation.
Mitch McConnell was right when he said the most important thing happening in the world is the Ukraine conflict. He was right for the wrong reasons, but he was right. Someone is going to win this conflict, and someone is going to lose. The stakes could not be any higher. The future of the entire world now hinges on the outcome of this conflict. This is the single most consequential military conflict in all of human history.
If Russia loses, the Putin government will collapse, and the US will be able to steamroll the country, break it apart into several pieces. From there, the US will have China isolated, and then eventually break them. This will result in the final establishment of a singular world order run by the Jewish power centers in the United States, Europe, and Israel. If the US loses the war, we are looking at a freefall collapse of the Western economic and military order, a rising China, and a reshuffling of the entire order of power on the planet earth. The reason I support Russia is that I want the US empire to collapse. The reason I want the US empire to collapse is that I do not believe that the US empire is compatible with freedom in the US, and believe that we can only reestablish freedom in this country when the empire falls.
If the dollar goes down and the US can no longer export debt to the world through the dollar reserve system, the US government will no longer have the ability to micromanage the lives of American citizens. They will not have the resources (you have to have a lot of excess money to inflict your will on the entire population, which is one reason why people are so much freer in third world countries). We will be free, and we will then be able to return to the natural order in our society, without Jews controlling everything, without trannies, without deadly fake vaccines, without mass immigration, without feminism. Those are the stakes.
I do like Russia as a country. I like that they are Christian, that they have a masculine leader, that they allow their population to have freedom. However, that is more or less incidental. I would support Russia fighting against the NATO machine even if I did not like Russia’s politics. In the end, I don’t really care about Russia or China – I care about myself, my own friends and family, my own country. I view the world in terms of what is best for me, as is the natural way for anyone to view world events.
Responding to Pro-Ukraine Neo-Nazi Posters
We have all seen posters on 4chan and various other places where right-wingers post attacking Russia and even going so far as to support the Ukraine. I tend to just assume most of these posters are employees of the federal government, but some of them are probably real people who picked up on narratives from the shill posters. These people will say “Russia is not based.” They will go on to claim that people should support the Ukraine because it is a “white country” fighting for independence. You can get down into the weeds with all that, and explain that the Ukraine has a Jewish occupation government. You can point out the ridiculousness of a right-winger supporting the narrative of the Jewish US State Department. But it is unnecessary to go into all of that.
Here is something these allegedly right-wing anti-Russia people will never explain: how is it good for Americans or Westerners generally for the Ukraine to win this conflict? They do not have any answer and so they will pretend it is not even a question. They will just go on and on about how Putin insulted Adolf Hitler, and how great the Ukraine is because they have neo-Nazi fighters in skull masks. They will cite the ideology of Ukraine nationalists as good. And that’s all they’re talking about: ideology.
These ultra-suspicious neo-Nazi people on forums are supporting the ideology of neo-Nazism, explaining that they stand with the Ukraine because of this ideology, while people on CNN – and Fox News, for that matter – are standing with the Ukraine because of the ideology of “democracy values” (gay sex, feminism, Jewish dominion). Ideology is not real, and it is not useful for human beings. When it comes down to it, there is only one thing that matters, and that is what happens in your life, and what will happen in the lives of your children and grandchildren after you’re gone. You are not obligated to support foreign peoples against your own interests. All you are expected to do in this life is take care of yourself, your friends and family, and your homeland. That’s all.
As a rule, your interests are likely to overlap with foreigners who are also putting their own interests first, as all nations of the world are fighting against a Jewish world order that seeks to undermine every state and implement a single global government system. But if your interests do not align with foreigners, you’re under zero obligation to support foreigners, in any situation.
It is a self-evident fact that a collapse of the US as the dominant military power in the world will lead to a severe decline in the ability of the US government to inflict its will on the domestic population. This is very straightforward, and it is not reasonable for anyone to try to muddle this issue with nonsense about ideology. Events and their effects are the only things that have any relevance to humans. Ideology is a way for people to bypass the real world effects of events, and instead focus on the perceived deeper meaning of events. In reality, there is no deeper meaning to events beyond what you yourself project onto them. The only thing that is real are real world outcomes. The fact that both Jewish democracy people and internet neo-Nazis can project meaning onto the events in the Ukraine and come to the same conclusion proves that the perceived meaning is not intrinsic, but rather projected.
People do things for all kinds of different reasons, and you can’t figure out what they mean when they do something. Probably, they do not “mean” anything by their actions. Typically, people do things that they believe will be beneficial to themselves and their interests, and that is definitely the way institutions do things.
These pro-Ukraine ZOG shills will also project things onto me and others who support Russia and China. They will claim that I believe “Putin is the savior of the white race.” Although I do think it is fun to lionize Putin as a White Christian warrior of historical significance, the basic fact is that it does not matter to me how Putin views himself. What matters to me is that Putin’s interests align with my own, because he has the same enemies as I have: the Western establishment. The same people in the government and the media who tried to force-vaccinate me and my family, the people who are pushing homosexuality and genital mutilation on little kids in my community, are at war with Russia.
If someone is able to do ideology-based mental gymnastics and come up with “here’s why I’m siding with the people trying to vax me and cut my son’s dick off,” they’ve lost the plot. The immediate and correct response is to support absolutely anyone who is standing in opposition to the people trying to sexually mutilate your kids – regardless of who it is or what they believe, someone who is going to fight against people trying to hurt your kids is a friend.
Frankly, even responding to people who are “standing with Ukraine” is something that is below me, but I am seeing an increase in these posts in various places, clearly because the feds are putting more money into it. I know that some of my readers are not totally informed on the details of everything, and sometimes these arguments on how “Putin is not based” can be compelling to people who do not have all the details. I do think Putin is based, but the bottom line is that it simply does not matter. What matters for you is how things affect you and your life, and you should make decisions on where to put your moral support based on a logical assessment of how events will affect your life.
“We Can’t Do Anything”
Another reason that people find the news about the Ukraine conflict tiresome is that it feels like something we don’t have any influence on, and therefore whether or not you support Russia is irrelevant. My response to that would be that the same is true for events happening in the United States. We are largely completely powerless to do anything about anything that is happening anywhere. Polls show that more people than ever are dropping out of following the news because they don’t have any ability to affect anything.
So why should we care about anything?
Well, there is probably an intrinsic human need to know what is going on around us, even if we can’t do anything to affect it. At the very least, it helps us plan for the future. However, I would also argue that having the correct understanding of the world leads to people being able to exercise more influence on events. We could go through specific examples, but we can see plainly that the most impotent people are those with a distorted understanding of what is happening. We have “conservatives” watching Sean Hannity and then supporting the wars. Whether or not one person supports the war is irrelevant, but in order for this system to work, these people do still need some amount of public support. There are a lot more of us than there are of them.
As has been said: if the situation were truly hopeless, their propaganda would not be necessary. I do understand people who are tired of reading about the Ukraine, and you are more than welcome to skip over my writings about that situation. I write about a lot of different topics, and there is much non-Ukraine material on here every day. But I feel I have a duty to cover this topic, regardless of how many people are reading it.
Ignored Warnings: How NATO Expansion Led to the Current Ukraine Tragedy
History will show that Washington’s treatment of Russia in the decades following the demise of the Soviet Union was a policy blunder of epic proportions.
NATO Expansion — The Trigger for Russia’s Attack on Ukraine? – Russia’s military offensive against Ukraine is an act of aggression that will make already worrisome tensions between NATO and Moscow even more dangerous. The West’s new cold war with Russia has turned hot. Vladimir Putin bears primary responsibility for this latest development, but NATO’s arrogant, tone‐deaf policy toward Russia over the past quarter‐century deserves a large share as well. Analysts committed to a U.S. foreign policy of realism and restraint have warned for more than a quarter‐century that continuing to expand the most powerful military alliance in history toward another major power would not end well. The war in Ukraine provides definitive confirmation that it did not.
Thinking Through the Ukraine Crisis — the Causes
“It would be extraordinarily difficult to expand NATO eastward without that action’s being viewed by Russia as unfriendly. Even the most modest schemes would bring the alliance to the borders of the old Soviet Union. Some of the more ambitious versions would have the alliance virtually surround the Russian Federation itself.” Beyond NATO: Staying Out of Europe’s Wars (p. 45). I wrote those words in 1994, at a time when expansion proposals merely constituted occasional speculation in foreign policy seminars in New York City and Washington, D.C. I added that expansion “would constitute a needless provocation of Russia.”
What was not publicly known at the time was that Bill Clinton’s administration had already made the fateful decision the previous year to push for including some former Warsaw Pact countries in NATO. The administration would soon propose inviting Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary to become members, and the U.S. Senate approved adding those countries to the North Atlantic Treaty in 1998. It would be the first of several waves of membership expansion
Even that first stage provoked Russian opposition and anger. In her memoir
, Clinton’s secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, concedes that “[Russian President Boris] Yeltsin and his countrymen were strongly opposed to enlargement, seeing it as a strategy for exploiting their vulnerability and moving Europe’s dividing line to the east, leaving them isolated.” Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott similarly described the Russian attitude
. “Many Russians see NATO as a vestige of the cold war, inherently directed against their country. They point out that they have disbanded the Warsaw Pact, their military alliance, and ask why the West should not do the same.” It was an excellent question, and neither the Clinton administration nor its successors provided even a remotely convincing answer.
George Kennan, the intellectual father of America’s containment policy during the Cold War, perceptively warned
in a May 2, 1998 New York Times interview about what the Senate’s ratification of NATO’s first round of expansion would set in motion. ”I think it is the beginning of a new cold war,” Kennan stated. ”I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else.”
He was right, but U.S. and NATO leaders proceeded with new rounds of expansion
, including the provocative step of adding the three Baltic republics. Those countries not only had been part of the Soviet Union, but they had also been part of Russia’s empire during the Czarist era. That wave of expansion now had NATO perched on the border of the Russian Federation.
Moscow’s patience with NATO’s ever more intrusive behavior was wearing thin. The last reasonably friendly warning from Russia that the alliance needed to back off came in March 2007, when Putin addressed the annual Munich Security Conference
. “NATO has put its frontline forces on our borders,” Putin complained. NATO expansion “represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact?”
In his memoir, Duty
, Robert M. Gates, who served as secretary of defense in the administrations of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, stated his belief that “the relationship with Russia had been badly mismanaged after [George H.W.] Bush left office in 1993.”Among other missteps, “U.S. agreements with the Romanian and Bulgarian governments to rotate troops through bases in those countries was a needless provocation.” In an implicit rebuke to the younger Bush, Gates asserted that “trying to bring Georgia and Ukraine into NATO was truly overreaching.” That move, he contended, was a case of “recklessly ignoring what the Russians considered their own vital national interests.”
The following year, the Kremlin demonstrated that its discontent with NATO’s continuing incursions into Russia’s security zone had moved beyond verbal objections. Moscow exploited a foolish provocation by Georgia’s pro‐Western government to launch a military
offensive that brought Russian troops to the outskirts of the capital. Thereafter, Russia permanently detached two secessionist‐minded Georgian regions and put them under effective Russian control.
Western (especially U.S.) leaders continued to blow through red warning light after a red warning light, however. The Obama administration’s shockingly arrogant meddling
in Ukraine’s internal political affairs in 2013 and 2014 to help demonstrators overthrow Ukraine’s elected, pro‐Russia president was the single most brazen provocation, and it caused tensions to spike. Moscow immediately responded by seizing and annexing Crimea, and a new cold war was underway with a vengeance.
Could the Ukraine Crisis Have Been Avoided?
Events during the past few months constituted the last chance to avoid a hot war in Eastern Europe. Putin demanded that NATO provide guarantees on several security issues
. Specifically, the Kremlin wanted binding assurances that the alliance would reduce the scope of its growing military presence in Eastern Europe and would never offer membership to Ukraine. He backed up those demands with a massive military buildup on Ukraine’s borders. The Biden administration’s response to Russia’s quest for meaningful Western concessions and security guarantees was tepid and evasive. Putin then clearly decided to escalate matters. Washington’s attempt to make Ukraine a NATO political and military pawn (even absent the country’s formal membership in the alliance) may end up costing the Ukrainian people dearly.
The Ukraine Tragedy
History will show that Washington’s treatment of Russia in the decades following the demise of the Soviet Union
was a policy blunder of epic proportions. It was entirely predictable that NATO expansion would ultimately lead to a tragic, perhaps violent, breach of relations with Moscow. Perceptive analysts warned of the likely consequences, but those warnings went unheeded. We are now paying the price for the U.S. foreign policy establishment’s myopia and arrogance.
What’s Ahead in the War in Ukraine
The war in Ukraine has dragged on for nearly 10 months. After an initial Russian cavalry dash seized over 20% of Ukraine, Russian forces then smashed into determined Ukrainian resistance, ending in an embarrassing retreat from Kyiv. From then, the war became an attritional contest between Russia on one side and Ukraine fighting at the head of a Western coalition on the other. During the summer, Russian offensives captured Lyman, Lisichansk and Severo Donetsk. In the fall, Ukrainian offensives recaptured Kharkiv province and Kherson city, shrinking Russian control to roughly 50% of the territories they had captured since Feb. 24, according to one estimate. The opposing sides have adopted two opposing strategies: Russians are fighting a traditional firepower-centric war of attrition; Ukraine is pursuing a terrain-focused war of maneuver. These opposing strategies are as much a product of national resource availability as a deliberate choice. As freezing ground ushers in the winter campaign season, both sides will follow their strategies into limited offensives. So far both strategies appear to work. Ukraine has recaptured large swaths of territory but exhausted itself during the fall offensive. It suffered frightful losses and depleted key stockpiles of equipment and ammunition. There is still capacity to replace losses and establish new combat formations, but those are rapidly withering. I believe that neither side will achieve spectacular territorial gain, but the Russian side is more likely to achieve its goals of draining Ukrainian resources while preserving its own.
The Ukrainian Strategy
The Ukrainians’ terrain-focused war of maneuver is constrained by two factors: limited artillery ammunition and equipment production, and coalition considerations. Ukraine started the war with 1,800 artillery pieces of Soviet caliber. These allowed firing rates of 6,000 to 7,000 rounds a day against 40,000 to 50,000 Russian daily rounds. By now this artillery is mostly out of ammunition, and in its place Ukraine is using 350 Western caliber artillery pieces, many of which are destroyed or breaking down from overuse. Meanwhile, Western nations are themselves running out of ammunition; the U.S. is estimated to produce only 15,000 155mm shells a month. This constraint has forced Ukraine to adopt mass infantry formations focused on regaining territory at any cost. Ukraine simply cannot go toe to toe with Russia in artillery battles. Unless Ukrainian troops close to direct fire fights with Russian troops, there is a significant chance that they will be destroyed at a distance by Russian artillery. Ukraine’s second constraint is the coalition nature of its warfare. Since running out of its own stocks, Ukraine is increasingly reliant on Western weaponry. Maintaining the Western coalition is crucial to the Ukrainian war effort. Without a constant string of victories, domestic economic concern may cause coalition members to defect. If Western support dries up due to depletion of stock or of political will, Ukraine’s war effort collapses for lack of supplies. In some ways, Ukraine has no choice but to launch attacks no matter the human and material cost. Ukraine built an infantry-centric army of highly motivated conscripted troops with limited to no training. They support the core fighting force of the prewar professional army and about 14 new brigades equipped with Western-donated weapons and vehicles. On the battlefield, strike groups attack quickly, penetrating deep and fast, then hand over captured areas to draftees to defend. This tactic worked well in areas where the shortage of Russian manpower prevented a solid front, such as in the Kharkiv region. In the Kherson region, where Russia had sufficient density of forces, this tactic resulted in large casualties and little progress, until logistic issues caused Russia to retreat. The Achilles heel of this strategy is manpower. Ukraine started the war with 43 million citizens and 5 million military-aged males, but according to the U.N., 14.3 million Ukrainians have fled the war, and a further 9 million are in Crimea or other Russian-occupied territories. This means Ukraine is down to about 20 to 27 million people. At this ratio, it has less than 3 million draftable men. A million have been drafted already, and many of the rest are either not physically fit to serve or occupy a vital position in the nation’s economy. In short, Ukraine might be running out of men, in my view.
The Russian Strategy
The Russian forces are limited by manpower but strengthened by massive artillery and equipment stockpiles enabled by a robust military industrial complex. While there have been numerous reports in Western media that the Russian army is running out of artillery ammunition, so far there’s been no visible slacking of Russian artillery fire on any front. Based on these factors, the Russian side has relied on a traditional firepower-centric war of attrition. The goal is to force an unsustainable casualty rate, destroying Ukrainian manpower and equipment, while preserving Russia’s own forces. Territory is not important; its loss is acceptable to preserve combat power. At Kyiv, Kharkiv and Kherson, the Russian army refused to fight under unfavorable conditions and withdrew, accepting the political cost to preserve its forces. To execute this strategy, the Russian army relies on firepower, particularly its artillery. Each Russian brigade has three artillery battalions compared to just one in each Western brigade. Paired with correction by massed quantities of UAVs and quadcopters, Russian artillery pulverizes Ukrainian forces before infantry mops up survivors. It is a slow, grinding war, but with a casualty ratio that is significantly in Russia’s favor. Russia couldn’t attack because it lacked the manpower to secure the flanks of advancing troops. Up to now, Russians could only advance in Donbas, where advance did not extend the frontline. Even here the intent was more to draw in Ukrainian forces and destroy them rather than capture the city of Bakhmut. Mobilization has the potential to overcome Russia’s manpower shortages and enable offensive operations, while equipping its forces is possible due to the mobilization of industry. Precision munition production is also up, despite consistent doubt in Western press. Video of strikes by Russian "Lancet 3” loitering kamikaze drones is up up by 1,000% since Oct. 13, according to one estimate, indicating a major increase in production.
The Coming Winter
If the Ukrainians decide to launch a major offensive, they could do so in two places, in my view. The first is in the north, in the Kharkiv region, but limited crossing over the Oskil River generates the same logistical challenges the Russians faced at Kherson. The second is in the south, to cut off the Russian land bridge to Crimea, eventually capturing the peninsula. This is unlikely to succeed. The Ukrainian army would be attacking in terrain ideal for Russian artillery. It could become a repeat of the battle at Kherson, but without Russian logistics difficulties, stemming from a limited number of crossings over the Dnipro River, with just as little gain and the same heavy losses marked by whole mechanized companies wiped out, endless scenes of ambulance convoys and new cemeteries all over Ukraine. The levels of attrition would play right into Russian hands. The political pressure on the Ukrainian government to justify the losses taken from Russian artillery in Donbas by retaking territory elsewhere, as well as the pressure from the Western coalition, may drive Ukraine to attack regardless.
For the Russian leadership the question is: When and where to attack? The timing depends on Russian artillery ammunition stocks. If they are high, Russia may attack in winter, otherwise it may stockpile and attack in spring after the mud season. Timing is also driven by the training requirements for the mobilized reservists. Longer training increases the effectiveness of the reservists and reduces casualties, thus lowering political risk for the Kremlin. Ultimately, the pressures that the Russian leadership views as most important will decide the outcome. Will the pressure from domestic politics for a quick victory win out, or will military considerations favor delaying until the end of spring mud season in March/April? So far, the Kremlin has gone with military considerations ahead of political ones, suggesting that Russia will launch only a limited offensive this winter.
Location is another factor. The Kharkiv front is heavily wooded, restricting the effectiveness of firepower, and it is strategically meaningless without attacking the city of Kharkiv. This major urban center would take months to capture at very high cost. A limited attack to regain the Oskil River line would improve Russia’s defensive line but present no strategic gain. In Donbas, the Russian army is already maintaining pressure. Extra manpower and artillery units won’t speed up that offensive much. For the Russian army, the Zaporizhzhia front holds the most promise. The Pologi-Gulai Polie-Pokrovskoye railroad is ideally placed to supply a Russian offensive driving north from Pologi. Eventually capturing Pavlograd would allow the capture of Donbas by cutting off two main railroads and highways supplying the Ukrainian army in Donbas and attacking the Ukrainian army there from the rear. The open terrain is ideal for the Russian firepower-centric strategy, and a chance to draw in and destroy the last of the Ukrainian operational reserves and further attrite its manpower is directly in line with Russian objectives. Lastly, the hard frozen ground would make new defensive positions hard to dig without heavy equipment. The limited attack vicinity of Ugledar could be a shaping operation to secure the eastern flank of the future offensive.
Wars of attrition are won through careful husbandry of one’s own resources while destroying the enemy’s. Russia entered the war with vast materiel superiority and a greater industrial base to sustain and replace losses. They have carefully preserved their resources, withdrawing every time the tactical situation turned against them. Ukraine started the war with a smaller resource pool and relied on the Western coalition to sustain its war effort. This dependency pressured Ukraine into a series of tactically successful offensives, which consumed strategic resources that Ukraine will struggle to replace in full, in my view. The real question isn’t whether Ukraine can regain all its territory, but whether it can inflict sufficient losses on Russian mobilized reservists to undermine Russia’s domestic unity, forcing it to the negotiation table on Ukrainian terms, or will Russian’ attrition strategy work to annex an even larger portion of Ukraine.
Ukraine Is the Latest Neocon Disaster
The war in Ukraine is the culmination of a 30-year project of the American neoconservative movement. The Biden Administration is packed with the same neocons who championed the US wars of choice in Serbia (1999), Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003), Syria (2011), Libya (2011), and who did so much to provoke Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The neocon track record is one of unmitigated disaster, yet Biden has staffed his team with neocons. As a result, Biden is steering Ukraine, the US, and the European Union towards yet another geopolitical debacle. If Europe has any insight, it will separate itself from these US foreign policy debacles.
The neocon movement emerged in the 1970s around a group of public intellectuals, several of whom were influenced by University of Chicago political scientist Leo Strauss and Yale University classicist Donald Kagan. Neocon leaders included Norman Podhoretz, Irving Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Kagan (son of Donald), Frederick Kagan (son of Donald), Victoria Nuland (wife of Robert), Elliott Abrams, and Kimberley Allen Kagan (wife of Frederick).
The main message of the neocons is that the US must predominate in military power in every region of the world, and must confront rising regional powers that could someday challenge US global or regional dominance, most importantly Russia and China. For this purpose, US military force should be pre-positioned in hundreds of military bases around the world and the US should be prepared to lead wars of choice as necessary. The United Nations is to be used by the US only when useful for US purposes.
This approach was spelled out first by Paul Wolfowitz in his draft Defense Policy Guidance
(DPG) written for the Department of Defense in 2002. The draft called for extending the US-led security network to the Central and Eastern Europe despite the explicit promise by German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher
in 1990 that German unification would not be followed by NATO’s eastward enlargement. Wolfowitz also made the case for American wars of choice, defending America’s right to act independently, even alone, in response to crises of concern to the US. According to General Wesley Clark, Wolfowitz already made clear to Clark in May 1991
that the US would lead regime-change operations in Iraq, Syria, and other former Soviet allies.
The neocons championed NATO enlargement to Ukraine even before that became official US policy under George W. Bush, Jr. in 2008. They viewed Ukraine’s NATO membership as key to US regional and global dominance. Robert Kagan spelled out the neocon case for NATO enlargement in April 2006
" [T]he Russians and Chinese see nothing natural in [the “color revolutions” of the former Soviet Union], only Western-backed coups designed to advance Western influence in strategically vital parts of the world. Are they so wrong? Might not the successful liberalization of Ukraine, urged and supported by the Western democracies, be but the prelude to the incorporation of that nation into NATO and the European Union -- in short, the expansion of Western liberal hegemony? "
Kagan acknowledged the dire implication of NATO enlargement. He quotes one expert as saying, “the Kremlin is getting ready for the 'battle for Ukraine' in all seriousness." After the fall of the Soviet Union, both the US and Russia should have sought a neutral Ukraine, as a prudent buffer and safety valve. Instead, the neocons wanted US “hegemony” while the Russians took up the battle partly in defense and partly out of their own imperial pretentions as well. Shades of the Crimean War (1853-6), when Britain and France sought to weaken Russia in the Black Sea following Russian pressures on the Ottoman empire.
Kagan penned the article as a private citizen while his wife Victoria Nuland was the US Ambassador to NATO under George W. Bush, Jr. Nuland has been the neocon operative par excellence. In addition to serving as Bush’s Ambassador to NATO, Nuland was Barack Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs during 2013-17, where she participated in the overthrow of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, and now serves as Biden’s Undersecretary of State guiding US policy vis-à-vis the war in Ukraine.
The neocon outlook is based on an overriding false premise: that the US military, financial, technological, and economic superiority enables it to dictate terms in all regions of the world. It is a position of both remarkable hubris and remarkable disdain of evidence. Since the 1950s, the US has been stymied or defeated in nearly every regional conflict in which it has participated. Yet in the “battle for Ukraine,” the neocons were ready to provoke a military confrontation with Russia by expanding NATO over Russia’s vehement objections because they fervently believe that Russia will be defeated by US financial sanctions and NATO weaponry.
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a neocon think-tank led by Kimberley Allen Kagan (and backed by a who’s who of defense contractors such as General Dynamics and Raytheon), continues to promise a Ukrainian victory. Regarding Russia’s advances, the ISW offered a typical comment
: “[R]egardless of which side holds the city [of Sievierodonetsk], the Russian offensive at the operational and strategic levels will probably have culminated, giving Ukraine the chance to restart its operational-level counteroffensives to push Russian forces back.”
The facts on the ground, however, suggest otherwise. The West’s economic sanctions have had little adverse impact on Russia, while their “boomerang” effect on the rest of the world has been large. Moreover, the US capacity to resupply Ukraine with ammunition and weaponry is seriously hamstrung
by America’s limited production capacity and broken supply chains. Russia’s industrial capacity of course dwarfs that of Ukraine’s. Russia’s GDP was roughly 10X that of Ukraine before war, and Ukraine has now lost much of its industrial capacity in the war.
The most likely outcome of the current fighting is that Russia will conquer a large swath of Ukraine, perhaps leaving Ukraine landlocked or nearly so. Frustration will rise in Europe and the US with the military losses and the stagflationary consequences of war and sanctions. The knock-on effects could be devastating, if a right-wing demagogue in the US rises to power (or in the case of Trump, returns to power) promising to restore America’s faded military glory through dangerous escalation.
Instead of risking this disaster, the real solution is to end the neocon fantasies of the past 30 years and for Ukraine and Russia to return to the negotiating table, with NATO committing to end its commitment to the eastward enlargement to Ukraine and Georgia in return for a viable peace that respects and protects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The War Has Just Begun
I have been attempting for several days to collect my thoughts on the Russo-Ukrainian War and condense them into another analysis piece, but my efforts were consistently frustrated by the war’s stubborn refusal to sit still. After a slow, attritional grind for much of the summer, events have begun to accelerate, calling to mind a famous quip from Vladimir Lenin: “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” This has been one of those weeks. It began with the commencement of referenda in four former Ukrainian oblasts to determine whether or not to join the Russian Federation, accompanied by Putin’s announcement that reservists would be called up to augment the force deployment in Ukraine. Further excitement bubbled up from the Baltic seabed with the mysterious destruction of the Nordstream pipelines. Nuclear rumors circulate, and all the while the war on the ground continues. In all, it is clear that we are currently in the transitional period towards a new phase of the war, with higher Russian force deployment, expanded rules of engagement, and greater intensity looming. Season 2 of the Special Military Operation looms, and with it the Winter of Yuri. Let’s try to process all the developments of the past few weeks and get a handle on the trajectory in Ukraine.
The keystone event at the heart of recent escalation was the announcement of referenda in four regions (Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhia, and Kherson) to determine the question of entry into the Russian Federation. The implication of course was that if the referenda succeeded (a question that was never in doubt), these regions would be annexed to Russia. While there were some rumors circulating that Russia would delay the annexation, this was never really plausible. To allow these regions to vote in favor of joining Russia only to leave them out in the cold would be monumentally unpopular and raise serious doubts about Russia’s commitment to its people in Ukraine. Formal annexation is a certainty, if not on September 30th as rumored, then within the next week. All of this is rather predictable, and completes the first layer of annexations which I noted in previous analysis. The reasoning is not particularly complex: clearing the Donbas and securing Crimea were the absolute minimum Russian objectives for the war, and securing Crimea requires both a land bridge with road and rail connections (Zaporizhia oblast) and controlling Crimea’s water sources (Kherson). These minimum objectives have now been formally designated, though of course Ukraine maintains some military activity on these territories and will have to be dislodged.
I think, however, that people lost focus as to what the referenda and the ensuing annexation means. Western talking points focused on the illegitimacy of the votes and the illegality of any annexation, but this is really not very interesting or important. The legitimacy of annexation is derived from whether or not Russian administration can succeed in these regions. Legitimacy, as such, is merely a question of efficacy of state power. Can the state protect, extract, and adjudicate? In any case, what is far more interesting than the technicalities of the referenda is what the decision to annex these regions says about Russian intentions. Once these regions become formally annexed, they will be viewed by the Russian state as sovereign Russian territory, subject to protection with the full range of Russian capabilities, including (in the most dire and unlikely scenario) nuclear weapons. When Medvedev pointed this out, it was bizarrely spun as a “nuclear threat”, but what he was actually trying to communicate is that these four oblasts will become part of Russia’s minimum definition of state integrity - non-negotiables, in other words. I think the best way to formulate it is as such:
Annexation confers a formal designation that a territory has been deemed existentially important to the Russian state, and will be contested as if the integrity of the nation and state is at risk.
Those fixating on the “legality” of the referenda (as if such a thing exists) and Medvedev’s supposed nuclear blackmail are missing this point. Russia is telling us where it currently draws the line for its absolute minimum peace conditions. It’s not walking away without at least these four oblasts, and it considers the full range of state capabilities to be in play to achieve that goal.
The move to hold referenda and eventually annex the southeastern rim was accompanied with Putin’s long-awaited announcement of a “partial mobilization”. Ostensibly, the initial order calls up just 300,000 men with previous military experience, but the door is left upon for further surges at the discretion of the president’s office. Implicitly, Putin can now ramp up the mobilization as he sees fit without needing to make further announcements or sign more paperwork. This is similar to American Lend-Lease or the “Authorization for Use of Military Force” in America, where the door is opened once and the President is then free to move at will without even informing the public. It was increasingly clear that Russia needed to raise its force deployment. Ukraine’s successful drive to the Oskil River was made possible by Russian economy of force. The Russian army had completely hollowed out Kharkiv Oblast, leaving only a thin screening force of national guardsmen and LNR militia. In places where the Russian Army has chosen to deploy sizeable regular formations, the results have been disastrous for Ukraine - the infamous Kherson Counteroffensive turned into a shooting gallery for Russian artillery, with the Ukrainian Army haplessly funneling men into a hopeless bridgehead at Andriivka.
A Shooting Gallery
So far in this war, Ukraine has achieved two big successes retaking territory: first in the spring, around Kiev, and now the late summer recapture of Kharkov Oblast. In both cases, the Russians had preemptively hollowed out the sector. We have yet to see a successful Ukrainian offensive against the Russian Army in a defensive posture. The obvious solution, therefore, is to raise the force deployment so that it is no longer necessary to hollow out sections of the front.
The initial surge of 300,000 men is being a bit muddled. Not all of the men being called up will be sent to Ukraine. Many will remain in Russia on garrison duty so that existing ready formations can be rotated to Ukraine. Therefore, it is likely that we will see more Russian units arriving in theater much sooner than expected. Additionally, many of the units originally committed to Ukraine have been off the front for refitting and resting. The scale and pace of Russia’s new force generation is likely to shock people. On the whole, the timing of Russia’s manpower surge coincides with the depletion of Ukrainian capabilities.
Ukraine spent the summer sending its 2nd tier conscripts to the front in the Donbas as it lovingly collected NATO-donated weapons and trained units in the rear. With generous NATO help, Ukraine was able to accumulate forces for two full scale offensives - one in Kherson (which failed spectacularly) and one in Kharkov (which succeeded in pushing past the Russian screening force and reaching the Oskil). Much of that carefully accumulated fighting power is now gone or degraded. Rumors circulated of a third offensive towards Melitipol, but Ukraine does not seem to have the combat power to achieve this, and strong Russian forces are in the region behind prepared defensive lines.
On the whole, therefore, Ukraine’s window for offensive operations has closed, and what remains is closing quickly. The last zone of intense Ukrainian operations is around Lyman, where aggressive Ukrainian attacks have so far failed to either storm or encircle the town. It is still possible that they take Lyman and consolidate control of Kupyansk, but this would likely represent the culmination of Ukrainian offensive capability. For now, the area around Lyman is a killing zone that exposes attacking Ukrainian troops to Russian air and ground fires. The large scale view of force ratios is as follows:
Ukraine has spent much of the combat power that they accumulated with NATO help during the summer, and will have an urgent need to reduce combat intensity for refitting and rearming at precisely the same time that Russian combat power in the theater begins to surge.
Simultaneously, NATO’s ability to arm Ukraine is on the verge of exhaustion. Let’s look at this more closely.
One of the more fascinating aspects of the war in Ukraine is the extent to which Russia has contrived to attrit NATO military hardware without fighting a direct war with NATO forces. In a previous analysis I referred to Ukraine as a vampiric force which has reversed the logic of the proxy war; it’s a black hole sucking in NATO gear for destruction. There are now very limited stockpiles to draw from to continue to arm Ukraine. Military Watch Magazine noted that NATO has drained the old Warsaw Pact tank park
, leaving them bereft of Soviet tanks to donate to Ukraine. Once these reservoirs are fully tapped, the only option will be giving Ukraine western tank models. This, however, is much harder than it sounds, because it would require not only extensive training of tank crews, but also an entirely different selection of ammunition, spare parts, and repair facilities.
Tanks are not the only problem, however. Ukraine is now staring down the barrel (heh heh) of a serious shortage of conventional tube artillery. Earlier in the summer, the United States donated 155mm howitzers, but with stockpiles of both guns and shells dwindling
, they’ve recently been forced to turn to lower caliber towed trash. After the announcement of yet another aid tranche on September 28th
, the USA has now put together five consecutive packages which do not contain any conventional 155mm shells. Shells for Ukraine’s Soviet vintage artillery were running low as early as June
. In effect, the effort to keep Ukraine’s artillery arm functioning has gone through a few phases. In the first phase, Warsaw Pact stockpiles of Soviet shells were drained to supply Ukraine’s existing guns. In the second phase, Ukraine was given mid-level western capabilities, especially the 155mm howitzer. Now that 155mm shells are running low, Ukraine has to make do with 105mm guns which are badly outranged by Russian howitzers and will be, in a word, doomed in any kind of counterbattery action.
As a substitute for adequate tube artillery, the latest aid package does include 18 more of the internet’s favorite meme weapon - the HIMARS Multiple Launch Rocket System. What is not explicitly mentioned in the press release is that the HIMARS systems don’t exist in current US inventories and will have to be built, and are thus unlikely to arrive in Ukraine for several years
. The increasing difficulties in arming Ukraine coincide with the rapid closing of Ukraine’s window of operational opportunity. The forces accumulated over the summer are degraded and fought out, and every subsequent rebuild of the Ukrainian first tier forces will become harder as manpower is destroyed and NATO arsenals are depleted. This depletion comes precisely as Russian force generation is surging, foretelling the Winter of Yuri.
The Winter War
Anyone who expects the war to slow down during the winter is in for a surprise. Russia is going to launch a late autumn/winter offensive and achieve significant gains. The arc of force generation (both Russia’s increasing force accumulation and Ukraine’s degradation) coincide with the approach of cold weather. Let’s make a brief note about combat in the cold. Russia is perfectly capable of waging effective operations in the snow. Going back to World War Two, the Red Army was more than capable of offensive success during the winter, starting in 1941 with the general counteroffensive at Moscow, again in 1942 with the destruction of the German 6th Army at Stalingrad, and in 1943-44 with two successful large scale offensives beginning in the winter. Now, of course World War Two is not directly applicable in all ways, but we can establish that from a technical standpoint there is a clearly established capability to wage operations in cold weather. We also have more recent examples. In 2015, during the first Donbas War, LNR and DNR forces launched a pincer operation which successfully encircled a Ukrainian battalion at the Battle of Debaltseve. And, of course, the Russo-Ukrainian War begin in February, when much of northern Ukraine was below freezing temperatures.
Winter weather actually favors a Russian offensive for multiple reasons. One of the paradoxes of military operations is that freezing weather actually enhances mobility - vehicles can get stuck in mud, but not on frozen ground. From 1941-43, German troops celebrated the arrival of spring, because the thaw promised to bog the Red Army down in mud and slow their momentum. The winter death of foliage also reduces the cover available to troops in a defensive posture. And, of course, cold weather favors the side with more reliable access to energy. As for where Russia will choose to commit its newly generated forces, there are four realistic possibilities, which I will enumerate in no particular order:
- Reopening the Northern Front with an operation around Kharkov. The attractiveness of this option is clear. A Russian move in force towards Kharkov would immediately collapse all of Ukraine’s gains towards the Oskil by compromising their rear areas.
- An offensive on Nikolayev out of the Kherson region. This would move further towards the goal of a landlocked Ukraine, and would take advantage of the fact that Ukrainian forces in this region are badly chewed up after their own failed offensive.
- Massive commitment to the Donbas to finish the liberation of DNR territory by capturing Slovyansk and Kramatorsk. This is less likely, as Russia has demonstrated comfort with the slow tempo of operations on this front.
- A push north from the Melitopol area towards Zaparozhia. This would safeguard the nuclear powerplant and end any credible threats to the land bridge to Crimea.
Other possibilities I regard as unlikely. A second advance on Kiev would make little operational sense, as it would not support any of the existing fronts. I would expect action around Kiev only if the new force generation is significantly larger than the headline number of 300,000. Otherwise, Russia’s winter offensives are likely to be concentrated on mutually supporting fronts. I think some movement to reopen the northern is likely, as it would completely compromise Ukraine’s gains in the Izyum-Kupyansk direction. There are rumors that forces are being moved into Belarus, but I actually think the Chernigov-Sumy axis would be more likely than a new Kiev operation, as it could be supportive of an offensive on Kharkov.
Potential Axes of Winter Advance (Base Map Credit: @War_Mapper)
On the broadest level, it is clear that Ukraine’s window to conduct offensive operations is nearing its close, and the force generation ratios on the ground are going to swing decisively in Russia’s favor through the winter.
Nordstream and Escalation
As we were pondering these developments on the ground, yet another plotline emerged underwater. The first hint that something was amiss was the news that pressure in the Nordstream 1 pipeline was dropping mysteriously. It was then revealed that the pipeline - along with the non-operational Nordstream 2 - had suffered serious damage. Swedish seismologists recorded explosions
on the floor of the Baltic Sea, and it was revealed that the pipelines are heavily damaged. Let’s be frank about this. Russia did not blow up its own pipelines, and it is ludicrous to suggest that they did. The importance of the pipeline to Russia lay in the fact that it could be switched on and off, providing a mechanism for leverage and negotiation vis a vis Germany. In the classic carrot and stick formulation, one cannot move the donkey if the carrot is blown up. The *only* feasible scenario in which Russia might be responsible for the sabotage would be if some hardliner faction within the Russian government felt that Putin was moving too slowly, and wanted to force an escalation. This would imply, however, that Putin is losing internal control, and there is no evidence whatsoever for such a theory. And so, we return to elementary analysis, and ask: Cui bono? Who benefits? Well, considering Poland celebrated the opening of a new pipeline to Norway
only a few days ago, and a certain former Polish MP cryptically thanked the United States on Twitter, it is fair to make a few guesses.
The first lesson of doing crimes is not to brag about it on twitter
Let us briefly meditate on the actual implications of Nordstream’s demise. Germany loses what little autonomy and flexibility it had, making it even more dependent on the United States. Russia loses a point of leverage over Europe, reducing the inducements to negotiation. Poland and Ukraine become even more critical transit hubs for gas. Russia clearly perceives this as a bridge burning move of sabotage by NATO, designed to back them into a corner. The Russian government has decried it as an act of “international terrorism” and argued that the explosions occurred in areas “controlled by NATO” - the concatenation of these statements is that they blame NATO for an act of terrorism, without explicitly saying that. This precipitated another meeting of the Russian National Security Council. Many western nations have advised their citizens to leave Russia immediately, suggesting they are worried about escalation (this coincides with Ukraine’s unhinged claim that Russia may be about to use nuclear weapons). For the time being, I expect Russian escalation to remain confined to Ukraine itself, likely coinciding with the deployment of additional Russian ground forces. If Russia feels compelled to undertake an out of theater escalation, targeting American satellites, digital infrastructure, or forces in Syria remain the most likely option.
On the Precipice
I am fully cognizant that my views will be spun as “coping” after Ukraine’s gains in Kharkov oblast, but time will tell out. Ukraine is on its last legs - they drained everything usable out of NATO stockpiles to build up a first tier force over the summer, and that force has been mauled and degraded beyond repair just as Russia’s force generation is set to massively increase. Winter will bring not only the eclipse of the Ukrainian army, the destruction of vital infrastructure, and the loss of new territory and population centers, but also a severe economic crisis in Europe. In the end, the United States will be left to rule over a deindustrialized and degraded Europe, and a rump Ukrainian trashcanistan sequestered west of the Dnieper. For now, though, we are in the interregnum as the last flames of Ukraine’s fighting power flickers out. Then there will be an operational pause, and then a Russian winter offensive. There will be several weeks where nothing happens, and then everything will happen. During that operational pause, you may be tempted to ask - “is it done, Yuri?” No, Comrade Premiere. It has only begun.
John Mearsheimer Blames US, NATO for Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine
International Relations scholar and offensive realist John Mearsheimer has blamed the United States (US) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) for the current crisis in Ukraine. Mearsheimer, who has been critical of US foreign policy since the Cold War, said in an interview with The New Yorker that NATO’s eastward expansion and its establishment of “close ties” with Ukraine have increased the chances of war between the US and Russia. He said that the roots of the current crisis has its origins in 2008, when NATO agreed to admit Georgia and Ukraine. “The Russians made it unequivocally clear at the time that they viewed this as an existential threat, and they drew a line in the sand,” Mearsheimer notes. During the same year, Russia invaded Georgia and occupied the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Mearsheimer also notes that the European Union’s (EU) efforts to integrate Ukraine into its fold have unsettled Russia, which views the prospect of a “pro-American liberal democracy” at its doorstep as a grave security threat. According to him, the three core concerns of Russia are: EU expansion, NATO expansion, and turning Ukraine into a pro-American liberal democracy. Keeping this in mind, Mearsheimer posits that Ukraine joining the EU, NATO, and becoming a democracy would be seen by Moscow as “categorically unacceptable.” A better way of approaching this situation, he says, is if Ukraine just became a democracy and had friendly ties with the US, rather than joining the EU and NATO. Ukraine “could probably get away with that,” Mearsheimer argues. When asked about whether telling Ukrainians not to join the EU and NATO when they clearly want to is a form of imperialism, Mearsheimer said that rather than imperialism, it is “great power politics.”
“When you’re a country like Ukraine and you live next door to a great power like Russia, you have to pay careful attention to what the Russians think because if you take a stick and you poke them in the eye, they’re going to retaliate,” he emphasised. Regarding Ukraine, Russia has taken a leaf out of the US playbook, Mearsheimer said, referring to the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, which that the US will not tolerate a distant power bringing military forces into the region. Mearsheimer notes that rather than focusing on terms like imperialism, it is important to look at the underlying reality—all great powers try to undermine policies they deem as a threat, regardless of whether those policies are democratic or not. He notes that the US “overthrew democratically elected leaders in the Western hemisphere during the Cold War” because it was unhappy with their policies. “This is the way great powers behave,” he asserted.
Arguing that the world does not work entirely on moral terms, Mearsheimer said that US efforts to liberalise and democratise countries since it achieved unipolarity following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 have been “disastrous.” “We [US] went around the world trying to create liberal democracies. Our main focus, of course, was in the greater Middle East, and you know how well that worked out. Not very well.” Taking this into consideration, Mearsheimer argues that the US and NATO are responsible for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “My argument is that the West, especially the United States, is principally responsible for this disaster,” he said.
Regarding the current crisis in Ukraine, Mearsheimer opines rather than trying to re-create the Soviet Union, which he says is an argument invented by the West to justify Moscow’s actions, President Vladimir Putin is trying to reduce the West’s sphere of influence. He also notes that arguments that Putin will turn to the Baltic states—Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania—next are false. “There are people who believe that when he is finished conquering Ukraine, he will turn to the Baltic states. He’s not going to turn to the Baltic states.” Mearsheimer makes two arguments as to why Russia will not invade the Baltic states. Firstly, he says that they are part of NATO and, according to Article 5 of NATO’s convention, the alliance will respond to an attack on any member. Secondly, he notes that Putin is simply not interested in conquering the Baltic states and that there is no evidence to show that he plans on doing so.
He argues that rather than focusing on Europe, the US should shift its focus to China, which is set to emerge as Washington’s main foe. “We should be pivoting out of Europe to deal with China in a laser-like fashion, number one. And, number two, we should be working overtime to create friendly relations with the Russians.” In a scenario where China is challenging the US global order, Mearsheimer notes that the US should focus on bringing Russia closer to its orbit. “Instead, what we have done with our foolish policies in Eastern Europe is drive the Russians into the arms of the Chinese. This is a violation of Balance of Power Politics 101.”
Strategic Impasse of the Special Operation: Problems and New Reality
As usual, I try to prepare large analytical reports for the weekend. Today I will collect a few questions from Readers about the situation on the fronts of the Special Operation, and estimate its further course. We take the introductory notes: during the “counter-attacks” in the Kherson
regions, the Ukrainian Armed Forces suffered significant losses. I speak confidently because the interception of the strategic initiative ended in nothing. Our hasty “regrouping” was not used, the battles at Krasny Liman
turned into tough defensive fights without rest.
Despite the danger, large reserves of our troops are not being transferred there, and the state of the defense line is very, very alarming, fraught with breakthroughs and withdrawal of troops to new frontiers. Two mechanised and two tank, amphibious and amphibious-assault brigades of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, replenished every day, with incomprehensible military perseverance, beat their foreheads against units of the L/DPR shock corps, “Bars” volunteers and a combined hodgepodge of Russian units of the 20th combined arms army.
Heroes of Liman
I don’t know how the Liman operation will end, but reinforcements arrived last night, and the “wheels” joined the battle, if to believe the direct inclusion of military correspondent Evgeny Poddubny from the scene. Once again … if so, then the situation is clear. With their steadfastness, the defenders of Krasny Liman thwarted the broader plans of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, who were going to strike at Ugledar in the middle of the week. Against them stood only one “Vostok”battalion of Aleksandr Khodokovsky, and a dozen “supporters” of not very combat-ready units.
On September 30, the enemy took Krasny Liman into an operational environment, blocked the Svatovo highway with artillery fire and actions of sabotage and reconnaissance groups. Reinforcements to the Ukrainian side come continuously, battered units are not even taken to the rear, they are completed right in the course of the battle.
Again, there is a lot of foreign speech on the air, but unlike the “Kharkov regrouping”, there is no panic, the aircraft are flattening the enemy’s orders, the lack of artillery affects, the existing one does not have time to make two shots, as it is detected by numerous counter-battery stations of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and is subjected to retaliatory strikes. Ugledar is forgotten, at least two brigades have been deployed from there, and attempts are being made to conduct a classic encirclement operation.
The task is ambitious, if successful, the enemy is able to defeat the Donetsk Special Operation group, leave (at least) the agglomeration of Severodonetsk
and the borders along the Oskol River, and surrender previously liberated territories to the enemy. This is hard to believe (although I won’t rule out the cold logic of military operations), since the Kherson scenario of the end of August is being viewed. When with difficulty, rolling back and securing themselves, the combat-ready units of the UAF Reserve Corps were dragged into large fire pockets, they were slowly dislodged.
Here and now, the enemy with maniacal persistence wants to take exactly territory, settlements, and not develop operational success. Maps show that the rough terrain allows to make a dash to Svatovo, but with a rush worthy of better use … the initiative is lost, intercepted by our forces. This, having exhausted the enemy to the utmost, forcing them to spend all their reserves, will organise the deblocking of Liman, and withdraw the garrison from there. Or they will throw the enemy back to their original positions.
I adhere to restrained assessments, the state of the Special Operation forces here is frankly unimportant. There is a severe shortage of personnel units, confusion with the general command, the enemy has at least a three-fold advantage over the entire contact line, exceeds the means of NATO intelligence, calmly unloads from echelons in the front line, manoeuvres reserves. It’s not possible to fight like this. I do not foresee catastrophes, tactical successes of the Ukrainian army are possible, nothing more.
Another tense point in Donbass was easily guessed, the strike on Svatovo would be delayed, within a week or two we can expect strong attacks by at least three brigades, equipment is continuously being transferred from near Kiev and Chernigov. The conclusion is simple: the Western curators, namely the military ones … were not impressed by the results of the “victory” on the Izyum
high road, our forces were not defeated, they simply evaded, causing huge losses to the mercenaries and the UAF with aviation and artillery.
Real success is needed, not propaganda hype, but a radical change on one of the fronts. The “window of opportunity” is small, in a month our conscripts will start arriving smoothly after retraining, Special Operation units will be released from rear control, and with the beginning of 2023, interruptions in NATO equipment and ammunition will begin, several reputable American experts counted the volumes and became sad, allotting to the UAF only two months of a well-fed life.
And the happiness with uncontrolled allocation of funds will stop if Republicans occupy Congress. I do not share the experts’ optimism, because the Poles actively enter Lvov and concentrate in Dnepropetrovsk and Poltava. They are freeing up border units, replacing Ukrainian policemen in cities, and territorial defence units. If equipment appears not from warehouses, but from units of the Polish Army, the High Command will have to make difficult decisions, 300,000 of our mobilised troops will not be enough reinforcement for the current front line.
In the meantime, having a strategic initiative and a preponderance in people, the pressure of the Ukrainian Armed Forces continues in Donbass, in the Zaporozhye
region, maniacal attempts to hold and fill the bridgehead in the Kherson direction with troops, with the direction of the strike on Kakhovka. The plan is also clear, the Ukrainian general staff members are pulling apart our few reserves, which are dangling like crazy on a ribbon, creating confusion, violating the “combat vicinity” system. They strike in the gaps.
If … we do not remove the white gloves, do not paralyse the ability of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to manoeuvre entire brigades in the near rear, calmly roll out military echelons, take equipment for repair, get Western equipment – there will be problems. Military science says that after two “counter-offensives”, the UAF will restore large manpower losses in a month and a half, and equipment – in two or three. Provided NATO applies extra effort, as in the case of completing the Reserve Corps of the “South” and “East” groups.
AndNATO troops need to hurry, the autumn mud is gaining momentum, the “green” will thin out, they will have to hide in cities again. Two logistics flows that are built by Western strategists are clearly visible. The remnants of Soviet-made equipment are sent to the Kherson direction, and there are also untrained units, but more numerous. Cover with personnel the lack of artillery, which is concentrated in the direction of Krasny Liman. All 155-mm guns of Western designs and MLRS HIMARS are assembled there.
Deliveries of “Dana” Czech self-propelled guns are expected, there are up to two divisions promised, floating infantry fighting vehicles in the amount of seven to eight dozen. For a good prod it should be enough, another attempt to show the sponsors a heroic attitude to fight to the last Ukrainian. Get a few billion to live on from the IMF and Germany. I will not talk about the ability of the Special Operation to withstand this last storm of 2022, after which the parties will take an operational pause. The guys will survive. We’re obliged, help is already on the way.
For more than a week, I got an idea of the events being held, the assembly points and training grounds where the mobilised people started to restore their military skills. The mess is getting smaller, but there are a lot of problems. They relate to equipment, combat training, weapons systems, and coordination within platoons/crews. It is not yet possible to look at the company and battalion levels, but fellow reserve officers … do not yet understand what kind of war they are going to. Although, I start to grumble in vain, little time has passed, the rusty mechanism has just begun to rotate.
The magic kick in the ass will not be superfluous, so that the units do not turn out “raw”. The first conscripts have already appeared in Donbass after honing their personal skills, and now they are being trained at the training grounds of Novorossiya under the supervision of shelled fighters. In at least three weeks, they will start replenishing the thinned units, the right decision. What will happen to the rest of the divisions: will they start being created from scratch or will they strengthen the existing ones? If the first option is used, then only in three months all the stages of formation and combat coordination will be completed, up to fully-fledged exercises at the regiment/brigade level.
But even those who have been trained and brought down in new formations are not able to seriously influence the course of the Special Operation, even 500,000 soldiers will not be enough to confidently control the Left Bank. It means … the calculation of political unrest within Ukraine and the collective West. Yesterday they received a notable blow with a whip, part of Novorossiya returned to its native harbour. And reinforcements will also hang over the front for the winter cold.
Vladimir Vladimirovich, clearly under the fierce blackmail of the Turkish sultan, delayed the issue of joining the liberated regions to Russia for as long as possible. But after the direct threat of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant
and the Western figures who went off the rails and started preparing nuclear provocations … he threw away the political plays, did not allow Zelensky to lose without losing face. Now equivalent negotiations are impossible in principle, and the West has begun to prepare a new dictator, General Zaluzhny
(who said a lot of compliments to our General Staff the other day).
A battle of attrition begins, the Commander-in-Chief does not intend to make any sudden movements. It will be very interesting to see how the paralysed economy of Ukraine will enter the winter. And if fundamental humanistic considerations are discarded, the Army will be allowed to fight properly not just with the enemy’s army, but with its supply routes and “dual-use” infrastructure, progress will be made soon.
But even such a scenario will not radically change the situation, that’s what I’m puzzling over. If the idea is to skim the West as much as possible, to damage the military-technical potential that is being burned on the fields of Novorossiya … this is not a good idea, the expenditure of weapons and equipment can continue not indefinitely, but for a long time.
The 300,000 people arriving will not be able to carry out serious offensive actions within two or three months, the service regulations must first be rewritten, taught to think and act in a new way, a different type of war is being waged than even in Syria. For a blind defence, there are too many mobilised people, for ambitious offensive tasks – not enough, so think about the plans of the General Staff afterwards.
Although. Our Army, after partial mobilisation, wins more than the Ukrainian one. We are better prepared for the protracted phase of the conflict, no one will spurt hundreds of kilometres, the concept of maximum protection of soldiers will remain. We will learn from mistakes, move slowly in certain areas and endure. Looking with curiosity at “Western partners”, after the territories of Novorossiya were accepted into the Russian Federation, the move is theirs. Just how ready to raise the stakes, or is it time to show cards, to talk about the security and borders of NATO.
There is the desire to have offensives, of course, flags over the liberated cities. But the 300,000 called up will not be enough for such ambitious tasks. Therefore, when Russia wakes up this morning, it will start plowing, shaking off its slumber, realising a new reality – we are defending our Motherland, and not the distant “separatist Donbass”. The conscripted defenders need not the acceleration of military operations, but the products of the military industry, our attention and respect, all possible help, and combat training.
The country was not ready for the war, it did not foresee its course, nothing strange. The big powers are always unprepared, but the winner is the one who builds up the military economy faster, equips and trains the battalions better than the enemy. Yesterday’s speech of the Commander-in-Chief got through to the core, everyone received answers to the questions that tormented them.
Citizens of Russia, the liberated territories, fierce enemies of our state. What we will do with Ukraine is also clear. Negotiations without the participation of Kiev, in case of arrogant refusals – the sequential cutting off of new pieces of territory, at each stage demonstrating the inevitability of the defeat of the West by the growth of lands and Russian people. Waiting on a stable front for a change in the current Kiev non-negotiable regime, or a military coup.
Zelensky & associates is completely unviable without the supply of Western friends, money and material resources. How long will this state of affairs continue? The question is rather philosophical, not forever. Not even a year or two, the relentless recession and the depletion of the European economy will not help Kiev, America will be distracted after November. As well as the population of Ukraine, taken hostage. Let’s see who has a longer will, who is determined to win seriously. For some it’s not seen, but the answer is on the surface after yesterday’s appeal of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief.
Winter will come, soon millions of Ukrainians will have serious problems, there will definitely be interruptions in energy resources and electricity, food and the junta’s fierce punitive pressure. Even the informational “victories” will end, there will be continuous “betrayal”. A tub of icy water on September 30 strongly cooled the hot heads of not so many Ukrainians, but rather shocked Westerners.
For seven months they continuously defeated Putin together with Kiev, filling the heads of those around them with psychological operations … and as a result received 100,000 square kilometres of new lands of Russia. In the configuration “we give you freedom, you give us protection”. New times have come, the ball is sent very deep into the opponent’s half of the field. With the inscription: “You can’t defeat a nuclear superpower by force.” How did Kissinger say: Chicago is not worth Paris? Learn lessons.
I would very much like to know the name of the smart guy who was able to convince the collective West that Putin is bluffing, will never transform the chessboard, will not call opponents satanists, will not include new regions in the Russian state. And now it is clear, he will continue to fight further and will not capitulate. Therefore, it is too early to celebrate, we will work, the country and society have a lot of problems at the front, in the rear, but our affair … as it turned out – is right, is far from hopeless. The enemy has occupied part of the Russian land, you will not have to fight “with white gloves” now.
SCOTT RITTER: Phase Three in Ukraine
Russia’s “Special Military Operation”, which began on Feb. 24, is entering its fourth month. Despite stiffer than expected Ukrainian resistance (bolstered by billions of dollars of western military assistance and accurate, real-time battlefield intelligence by the U.S. and other NATO members) Russia is winning the war on the ground, and in a big way.
After more than ninety days of incessant Ukrainian propaganda, echoed mindlessly by a complicit western mainstream media that extolls the battlefield successes of the Ukrainian armed forces and the alleged incompetence of the Russian military, the Russians are on the cusp of achieving the stated goal of its operation, namely the liberation of the newly independent Donbass Republics of Lugansk and Donetsk, which Russia recognized two days before its invasion.
The Russian victory in Donbass comes after weeks of intensive combat that saw the Russian military shift gears away from what has become known as Phase One. That was the month-long opening act which, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin in his Feb. 24 address, was tasked with taking “actions throughout the territory of Ukraine with the implementation of measures for its demilitarization and denazification.” Putin said the purpose was to restore “the DPR [Donetsk People’s Republic] and the LPR [Lugansk People’s Republic] within the administrative borders of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, which is enshrined in the constitutions of the republics.”
On March 25, the head of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy, declared that “the main objectives of the first phase of the operation have been achieved. The combat capabilities of Ukraine’s Armed Forces have been significantly reduced, which allows us, once again, to concentrate our main efforts on achieving the main goal – the liberation of Donbass.” According to Rudskoy, Phase One’s objectives were to cause:
“Such damage to military infrastructure, equipment, personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the results of which allow not only to shackle their forces and do not give them the opportunity to strengthen their grouping in the Donbass, but also will not allow them to do so until the Russian army completely liberates the territories of the DPR and LPR. All 24 formations of the Land Forces that existed before the start of the operation suffered significant losses. Ukraine has no organized reserves left.”
Russia has completed Phase One despite the efforts of the U.S., NATO, and the E.U. to supply Ukraine with a significant amount of lethal military assistance, primarily in the form of light anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. “We consider it a vast mistake,” Rudskoy concluded, “for Western countries to supply weapons to Kiev. This delays the conflict, increases the number of victims and will not be able to influence the outcome of the operation.”
The history of the conflict so far has proven Rudskoy correct — no amount of western military aid has been able to prevent Russia from achieving its military objective of liberating the entire territories of both Lugansk and Donetsk. As Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba admitted at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, “I don’t want anyone to get the feeling that the war is more or less OK. The situation in Donbass is extremely bad.”
Gone are the bold pronouncements made on the eve of the May 9 Victory Day celebrations, when Russia’s many detractors proclaimed that Rudskoy’s Phase Two offensive in the Donbas had stalled, and that Russia would, in short order, be compelled to transition from the attack to a defensive posture, signally the beginning of a retreat that the Ukrainians claimed would culminate not only in the recapture of all territory lost so far, but Crimea as well.
Such fanciful thinking has given way to the kind of hard reality that ignores propaganda and favors the dirty task of destroying the enemy through firepower and maneuver. Complicating this task, however, was that during the eight years of incessant conflict in the Donbass, which precipitated Russian’s invasion, the Ukrainian military had prepared a defensive belt that was, General Rudskoy noted in his March 25 briefing, “deeply echeloned and well-fortified in engineering terms, consisting of a system of monolithic, long-term concrete structures.”
According to Rudskoy, offensive operations against this defensive belt were, by necessity, “preceded by a heavy fire attack on the enemy’s strongholds and their reserves.” The Russian advantage in artillery was a key factor in the victorious outcome of its Phase Two operations, pulverizing the Ukrainian defenses and opening the way for the infantry and armor to finish off the survivors. According to the daily briefings provided by the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Ukrainians are losing the equivalent of a battalion’s worth of manpower every two days, not to mention scores of tanks, armored fighting vehicles, artillery pieces, and trucks.
Indeed, several observers of this conflict, myself included, projected that based upon predictive analysis drawn from the basic military math regarding actual and projected casualty levels, there was a real expectation that Russia, upon completion of Phase Two, would have been able to claim, with justification, that it had accomplished most, if not all the political and military objectives set out at the start of the operation. Logic dictated that the Ukrainian government, stripped of a viable military, would have no choice but a modern-day version of the surrender of France in June 1940, following decisive battlefield victories by the German army.
While Russia continues to position itself for a decisive military victory in eastern Ukraine, it may likely confine itself to the liberation of the Donbass, seizures of the land bridge connecting Crimea with the Russian Federation mainland (via Donbass), and the expansion of the Kherson bridgehead to secure fresh water resources to Crimea which had been cut off by the Ukrainian government since 2014.
The State of Russia’s Objectives
In his classic treatise, On War, Prussian military theorist Carl Von Clausewitz penned what has become one of the ultimate truisms of conflicts involving nations, namely that “war is a continuation of politics by other means.” This holds as true today as when it was published in 1832. Putin articulated two principle political objectives for the military operation: to keep Ukraine out of NATO and to create the conditions for NATO to agree to Russia’s demands set forth in a pair of draft treaties presented to the U.S. and NATO on Dec. 17, 2021. Those treaty proposals set out a new European security framework by demanding the withdrawal of NATO military power back to the borders that existed in 1997. Both NATO and the U.S. rejected Russia’s demands.
When it comes to military objectives, in addition to the liberation of Donbass, Putin declared in his Feb. 24 speech, announcing the invasion, that Russia “will seek to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine, as well as bring to trial those who perpetrated numerous bloody crimes against civilians, including against citizens of the Russian Federation.” While the defeat of the Azov Regiment and other neo-Nazi formations during the Battle of Mariupol represented a decisive step toward the accomplishment of that goal, several thousand neo-Nazi fighters, organized into a variety of military and paramilitary formations, continue to fight on the frontlines in eastern Ukraine and carry out security operations in Ukrainian rear areas.
Denazification, however, has an important political component that, at the moment, is not being addressed by Russia’s military operation, namely the continued existence of Ukraine’s far-right and neo-Nazi political parties at a time when all other political activity has been shut down under martial law. If anything, the “Nazification” of Ukrainian political life has expanded exponentially since Russia’s invasion, with Ukraine more under the influence of the ideology of Stepan Bandera, the Ukrainian nationalist whose followers killed hundreds of thousands of Jews, Gypsies, Poles, and Russians while fighting alongside Nazi Germany in World War Two.
Whereas Russia may have earlier been able to conceive a political settlement that saw the Ukrainian government right-wing political parties and their militarized progeny, the fact is today the Ukrainian government has increasingly aligned itself with the neo-Nazi movement to strengthen its rule in the face of growing domestic political opposition to war with Russia. True denazification, in my view, would require Russia to remove the Zelensky government from power and replace it with a new political leadership that will aggressively sustain the Russian objective of an eradication neo-Nazi ideology in Ukraine. So far there is no indication that that is a Russian objective.
Likewise, demilitarization has become much more difficult since the invasion of Feb. 24. While military aid provided to Ukraine by the U.S. and NATO before that date could be measured in terms of hundreds of millions of dollars, since Phase Two operations began this aid has grown to the point where total military aid provided to Ukraine by the U.S. alone approximates $53 billion. Not only has this aid had a measurable impact on the battlefield in terms of Russian military personnel killed and equipment destroyed, but it has also enabled Ukraine to reconstitute combat power, which had been previously destroyed by Russian forces.
While this massive support will not be able to reverse the tide of inevitability concerning the scope and scale of the Russian military victory in the Donbass, it does mean that once Russia has fulfilled its stated objective of liberating the breakaway republics, demilitarization will still not have taken place. Moreover, given the fact that demilitarization is premised on Ukraine being stripped of all NATO influence, including equipment, organization, and training, one can make a case that Russia’s invasion has succeeded in making Ukraine a closer partner of NATO than before it began.
The Legal Questions
If Russia were the United States, operating under the notion of a “rules based international order,” the issue of outstripping the legal justification for a conflict would not represent a problem — one only needs look at how a succession of U.S. presidential administrations abused the Congressional authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) passed in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks by wrongfully using it to justify operations that fell outside its legal authorities.
A party can get away with such inconsistencies if they are responsible, like the United States, for making and implementing the rules of the game (i.e., the so-called “rules-based international order.”) However, Vladimir Putin, when meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the opening of the Winter Olympic games, committed himself on a policy course which sees Russia, together with China, rejecting the rules based international order that defines the vision of a unipolar world dominated by the U.S., and instead replace it with a multi-polar “law based international order” grounded in the United Nations Charter.
Putin was very careful in trying to link Russia’s military operation to the legal authorities that existed under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter governing self-defense. The specific construct involved — which cited what amounts to a claim of preemptive, collective self-defense — hinges on Russian claims that “the Armed Forces of Ukraine were completing the preparation of a military operation to take control of the territory of the people’s republics.”
It is the imminent threat posed by this alleged Ukrainian military operation that gives legitimacy to Russia’s claim. Indeed, both Phase One and Phase Two of Russia’s operation were specifically tailored to the military requirements necessary to eliminate the threat posed to Lugansk and Donetsk by the buildup of Ukrainian military power in eastern Ukraine.
A problem, however, emerges when Russia completes its task of destroying, dismantling, or dispersing the Ukrainian military in the Donbass region. While one could have previously argued that an imminent threat would continue to exist so long as the Ukrainian forces possessed sufficient combat power to retake Donbass region, such an argument cannot be made today. At some point soon, Russia will announce that it has defeated the Ukrainian military forces arrayed in the east and, in doing so, end the notion of the imminent threat that gave Russia the legal justification to undertake its operation.
That came about because of the major battlefield successes of the Russian military. But it will leave Russia with a number of unfulfilled political objectives, including denazification, demilitarization, permanent Ukrainian neutrality, and NATO concurrence with a new European security framework along the lines drawn up by Russia in its December 2021 treaty proposals. If Russia were to call a halt to its military operation at this juncture, it would be ceding political victory to Ukraine, which “wins” by not losing.
The challenge facing Russia going forward, therefore, is how to define the scale and the scope of Phase Three so that it retains the kind of legal authority it asserted for the first two phases, while assembling sufficient combat power to accomplish its tasks. Among these would appear to me to include overthrowing the Zelensky government and replacing it with one willing and able to outlaw the ideology of Stepan Bandera. It might also entail launching a military operation into central and western Ukraine to completely destroy the reconstituted elements of the Ukrainian military along with the surviving neo-Nazi affiliated forces.
As things currently stand, Russia’s actions are being implemented upon the limited legal authorities granted to Putin by the Russian Duma, or parliament. One of the most constraining aspects of these authorities is that it limits Russia’s force structure to what can be assembled under peacetime conditions. Most observers believe Russia is reaching the limit of what can be asked of these forces.
Any large-scale expansion of Russian military operations in Ukraine,which seeks to push beyond the territory conquered by Russia during Phase One and Phase Two, will require additional resources which Russia may struggle to assemble under the constraints imposed by a peacetime posture. This task would become virtually impossible if the Ukrainian conflict were to spread to Poland, Transnistria, Finland and Sweden.
Only Russia’s leaders can decide what is best for Russia, or what is deemed to be viable militarily. But the combination of an expired legal mandate, unfulfilled political objectives, and the possibility of a massive expansion of the scope and the scale of combat operations, which could possibly include one or more NATO members, points to an absolute need for Russia to articulate the mission of Phase Three and why it needs one. Failure to do so opens the door to the possibility that Russia puts itself in a position where it is unable to successfully conclude a conflict that it opted to initiate at the end of February.
Scott Ritter is a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD.
Putin and Clausewitz: Politics By Other Means
With the sole possible exception of the great Sun Tzu and his “Art of War”, no military theorist has had such an enduring philosophical impact as the Prussian General Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz. A participant in the Napoleonic Wars, Clausewitz in his later years dedicated himself to the work that would become his iconic achievement - a dense tome titled simply “Vom Kriege” - On War. The book is a meditation on both military strategy and the socio-political phenomenon of war, which is heavily laced with philosophical rumination. Though On War has had an enduring and indelible impact on the study of military arts, the book itself is at times a rather difficult thing to read - a fact that stems from the great tragedy that Clausewitz was never actually able to finish it. He died in 1831 at the age of only 51 with his manuscript in an unedited disorder; and it fell upon his wife to attempt to organize and publish his papers.
Clausewitz, more than anything, is famous for his aphorisms - “Everything is very simple in war, but the simplest thing is difficult” - and his vocabulary of war, which includes terms such as “friction” and “culmination.” Among all his eminently quotable passages, however, one is perhaps the most famous: his claim that “War is a mere continuation of politics by other means.” It is on this claim that I wish to fixate for the moment, but first, it may be worthwhile to read the entirety of Clausewitz’s passage on the subject:
“War is the mere continuation of politics by other means. We see, therefore, that War is not merely a political act, but also a real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means. All beyond this which is strictly peculiar to War relates merely to the peculiar nature of the means which it uses. That the tendencies and views of policy shall not be incompatible with these means, the Art of War in general and the Commander in each particular case may demand, and this claim is truly not a trifling one. But however powerfully this may react on political views in particular cases, still it must always be regarded as only a modification of them; for the political view is the object, War is the means, and the means must always include the object in our conception.” On War, Volume 1, Chapter 1, Section 24
Once we cut through Clausewitz’s dense and verbose style, the claim here is relatively simple: war-making always exists in reference to some greater political goal, and it exists on the political spectrum. Politics lies at every point along the axis: war is begun in response to some political need, it is maintained and continued as an act of political will, and it ultimately hopes to achieve political aims. War cannot be separated from politics - indeed, it is the political aspect that makes it war. We may even go further and state that war in the absence of the political superstructure ceases to be war, and instead becomes raw, animalistic violence. It is the political dimension that makes war recognizably distinct from other forms of violence. Let us contemplate Russia’s war-making in Ukraine in these terms.
Putin the Bureaucrat
It is often the case that the most consequential men in the world are poorly understood in their time - power enshrouds and distorts the great man. This was certainly the case of Stalin and Mao, and it is equally true of both Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. Putin in particular is viewed in the west as a Hitlerian demagogue who rules with extrajudicial terror and militarism. This could hardly be farther from the truth.
Almost every aspect of the western caricature of Putin is deeply misguided - though this recent profile by Sean McMeekin
comes much closer than most. To begin with, Putin is not a demagogue - he is not a naturally charismatic man, and though he has over time greatly improved his skills as a retail politician, and he is capable of giving impactful speeches when needed, he is not someone who relishes the podium. Unlike Donald Trump, Barack Obama, or even - God forbid - Adolf Hitler, Putin is simply not a natural crowd pleaser. In Russia itself, his imagine is that of a fairly boring but level headed career political servant, rather than a charismatic populist. His enduring popularity in Russia is far more linked to his stabilization of the Russian economy and pension system than it is to pictures of him riding a horse shirtless.
Trust the plan, even when the plan is slow moving and boring
Furthermore, Putin - contrary to the view that he wields unlimited extralegal authority - is rather a stickler for proceduralism. Russia’s government structure expressly empowers a very strong presidency (this was an absolute necessity in the wake of total state collapse in the early 1990’s), but within these parameters Putin is not viewed as a particularly exciting personality prone to radical or explosive decision making. Western critics may claim that there is no rule of law in Russia, but at the very least, Putin governs by law, with bureaucratic mechanisms and procedures forming the superstructure within which he acts.
This was made vividly apparent in recent days. With Ukraine advancing on multiple fronts, a fresh cycle of doom and triumph was set in motion: pro-Ukrainian figures exult in the apparent collapse of the Russian army, while many in the Russian camp bemoan leadership which they conclude must be criminally incompetent. With all of this underway on the military side, Putin has calmly ushered the annexation process through its legal mechanisms - first holding referendums, then signing treaties on entry in the Russian Federation with the four former Ukrainian oblasts, which were then sent to the State Duma for ratification, followed by the Federation Council, followed again by signature and verification by Putin. As Ukraine throws its summer accumulations into the fight, Putin appears to be mired in paperwork and procedure. The treaties were even reviewed by the Russian constitutional court, and deadlines were set to end the Ukrainian hryvnia as legal tender and replace it with the ruble.
This is a strange spectacle. Putin is plodding his way through the boring legalities of annexation, seemingly deaf to the chorus which is shouting at him that his war is on the verge of total failure. The implacable calm radiating - at least publicly - from the Kremlin seems at odds with events at the front. So, what really is going on here? Is Putin truly so detached from events on the ground that he is unaware that his army is being defeated? Is he planning to use nuclear weapons in a fit of rage? Or could this be, as Clausewitz says, the mere continuation of politics by other means?
Of all the phantasmagorical claims that have been made about the Russo-Ukrainian War, few are as difficult to believe as the claim that Russia intended to conquer Ukraine with fewer than 200,000 men. Indeed, a central truth of the war that observers simply must come to grasps with is the fact that the Russian army has been badly outnumbered from day one, despite Russia having an enormous demographic advantage over Ukraine itself. On paper, Russia has committed an expeditionary force of less than 200,000 men, though of course that full amount has not been on the frontline in active combat lately.
The light force deployment is related to Russia’s rather unique service model, which has combined “contract soldiers” - the professional core of the army - with a reservist pool that is generated with an annual conscription wave. Russia consequentially has a two-tiered military model, with a world class professional ready force and a large pool of reserve cadres that can be dipped into, augmented with auxiliary forces like BARS (volunteers), Chechens, and LNR-DNR militia.
The nation’s sons - bearers of vitality and sinew of the state
This two-tiered, mixed service model reflects, in some ways, the geostrategic schizophrenia that plagued post-Soviet Russia. Russia is an enormous country with potentially colossal, continent spanning security commitments, which inherited a Soviet legacy of mass. No country has ever demonstrated a capacity for wartime mobilization on a scale to match the USSR. The transition from a Soviet mobilization scheme to a smaller, leaner, professional ready force was part and parcel of Russia’s neoliberal austerity regime throughout much of the Putin years.
It is important to understand that military mobilization, as such, is also a form of political mobilization. The ready contract force required a fairly low level of political consensus and buy-in from the bulk of the Russian population. This Russian contract force can still accomplish a great deal, militarily speaking - it can destroy Ukrainian military installations, wreak havoc with artillery, bash its way into urban agglomerations in the Donbas, and destroy much of Ukraine’s indiginous war-making potential. It cannot, however, wage a multi-year continental war against an enemy which outnumbers it by at least four to one, and which is sustained with intelligence, command and control, and material which are beyond its immediate reach - especially if the rules of engagement prevent it from striking the enemy’s vital arteries.
More force deployment is needed. Russia must transcend the neoliberal austerity army. It has the material capacity to mobilize the needed forces - it has many millions in its reservist pool, enormous inventories of equipment, and indigenous production capacity undergirded by the natural resources and production potential of the Eurasian bloc that has closed ranks around it. But remember - military mobilization is also political mobilization.
The Soviet Union was able to mobilize tens of millions of young men to blunt, swamp, and eventually annihilate the German land army because it wielded two powerful political instruments. The first was the awesome and far reaching power of the Communist Party, with its ubiquitous organs. The second was the truth - German invaders had come with genocidal intent (Hitler at one point mused that Siberia could be turned into a Slav reservation for the survivors, which could be bombed periodically to remind them who was in charge).
Putin lacks a coercive organ as powerful as the Communist Party, which had both astonishing material power and a compelling ideology which promised to bring about an accelerated path to non-capitalist modernity. Indeed, no country today has a political apparatus like that splendid communist machine, save perhaps China and North Korea. So, in the absence of a direct lever to create political - and hence military - mobilization, Russia must find an alternative route to creating a political consensus to wage a higher form of war. This has now been accomplished, courtesy of western Russophobia and Ukraine’s penchant for violence. A subtle, but profound transformation of the Russian socio-political body is underway.
Putin and those around him conceived of the Russo-Ukrainian War in existential terms from the very beginning. It is unlikely, however, that most Russians understood this. Instead, they likely viewed the war the same way Americans viewed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - as justified military enterprises that were nevertheless merely a technocratic task for the professional military; hardly a matter of life and death for the nation. I highly doubt that any American ever believed that the fate of the nation hinged on the war in Afghanistan (Americans have not fought an existential war since 1865), and judging by the recruitment crisis plaguing the American military, it does not seem like anyone perceives a genuine foreign existential threat.
What has happened in the months since February 24 is rather remarkable. The existential war for the Russian nation has been incarnated and made real for Russian citizens. Sanctions and anti-Russian propaganda - demonizing the entire nation as “orcs” - has rallied even initially skeptical Russians behind the war, and Putin’s approval rating has soared. A core western assumption, that Russians would turn on the government, has reversed
. Videos showing the torture of Russian POWs by frothing Ukrainians, of Ukrainian soldiers calling Russian mothers to mockingly tell them their sons are dead, of Russian children killed by shelling in Donetsk, have served to validate Putin’s implicit claim that Ukraine is a demon possessed state that must be exorcised with high explosives. Amidst all of this - helpfully, from the perspective of Alexander Dugin and his neophytes - American pseudo-intellectual “Blue Checks
” have publicly drooled over the prospect of “decolonizing and demilitarizing
” Russia, which plainly entails the dismemberment of the Russian state and the partitioning of its territory. The government of Ukraine (in now deleted tweets
) publicly claimed that Russians are prone to barbarism because they are a mongrel race with Asiatic blood mixing.
Simultaneously, Putin has moved towards - and ultimately achieved - his project of formal annexation of Ukraine’s old eastern rim. This has also legally transformed the war into an existential struggle. Further Ukrainian advances in the east are now, in the eyes of the Russian state, an assault on sovereign Russian territory and an attempt to destroy the integrity of the Russian state. Recent polling shows that a supermajority of Russians support defending these new territories at any cost.
All domains now align. Putin and company conceived of this war from the beginning as an existential struggle for Russia, to eject an anti-Russian puppet state from its doorstep and defeat a hostile incursion into Russian civilizational space. Public opinion is now increasingly in agreement with this (surveys show that Russian distrust of NATO and “western values” have skyrocketed), and the legal framework post-annexation recognizes this as well. The ideological, political, and legal domains are now united in the view that Russia is fighting for its very existence in Ukraine. The unification of the technical, ideological, political, and legal dimensions was, just moments ago, described by the head of Russia’s communist party, Gennady Zyuganov:
“So, the President signed decrees on the admission of the DPR, LPR, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions into Russia. Bridges are burned . What was clear from the moral and statist points of view has now become a legal fact: on our land there is an enemy, he kills and maims the citizens of Russia. The country demands the most decisive action to protect compatriots. Time does not wait.”
A political consensus for higher mobilization and greater intensity has been achieved. Now all that remains is the implementation of this consensus in the material world of fist and boot, bullet and shell, blood and iron.
A Brief History of Military Force Generation
One of the peculiarities of European history is the truly shocking extent to which the Romans were far ahead of their time in the sphere of military mobilization. Rome conquered the world largely because it had a truly exceptional mobilization capacity, for centuries consistently generating high levels of mass military participation from the male population of Italy. Caesar brought more than 60,000 men to the Battle of Alesia when he conquered Gaul - a force generation that would not be matched for centuries in the post-Roman world.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, state capacity in Europe deteriorated rapidly. Royal authority in both France and Germany was curtailed as the aristocracy and urban authorities grew in power. Despite the stereotype of despotic monarchy, political power in the middle ages was highly fragmented, and taxation and mobilization were highly localized. The Roman capacity to mobilize large armies that were centrally controlled and financed was lost, and warfare became the domain of a narrow fighting class - the petty gentry, or knights.
Consequentially, medieval European armies were shockingly small. At pivotal English-French battles like Agincourt and Crecy, English armies numbered less than 10,000, and the French no more than 30,000. The world historical Battle of Hastings - which sealed the Norman conquest of Britain - pitted two armies of fewer than 10,000 men against each other. The Battle of Grunwald - in which a Polish-Lithuanian coalition defeated the Teutonic Knights - was one of the largest battles in Medieval Europe and still featured two armies that numbered at most 30,000.
European mobilization powers and state capacity were shockingly low in this era compared to other states around the world. Chinese armies routinely numbered in the low hundreds of thousands, and the Mongols, even with significantly lower bureaucratic sophistication, could field 80,000 men. The situation began to shift radically as intensified military competition - in particular the savage 30 years’ war - forced European states to at last begin a shift back towards centralized state capacity. The model of military mobilization shifted at last from the servitor system - where a small, self-funded military class provided military service - to the fiscal military state, where armies were raised, funded, directed, and sustained through the fiscal-bureaucratic systems of centralized governments.
Through the early modern period, military service models acquired a unique admixture of conscription, professional service, and the servitor system. The aristocracy continued to provide military service in the emerging officer corps, while conscription and impressment were used to fill out the ranks. Notably, however, conscripts were inducted into very long terms of service. This reflected the political needs of monarchy in the age of absolutism. The army was not a forum for popular political participation in the regime - it was an instrument for the regime to defend itself from both foreign enemies and peasant jacqueries. Therefore, conscripts were not rotated back into society. It was necessary to turn the army into a distinct social class with some element of remoteness from the population at large - this was a professional military institution that served as an internal bulwark of the regime.
The rise of nationalistic regimes and mass politics allowed the scale of armies to increase much further. Governments in the late 19th century now had less to fear from their own populations than did the absolute monarchies of the past - this changed the nature of military service and at last returned Europe to the system that the Romans had in millennia past. Military service was now a form of mass political participation - this allowed for conscripts to be called up, trained, and rotated back into society - the reserve cadre system that characterized armies in both of the world wars.
In sum, the cycle of military mobilization systems in Europe is a mirror of the political system. Armies were very small during the era where there was little to no mass political participation with the regime. Rome fielded large armies because there was significant political buy-in and a cohesive identity in the form of Roman citizenship. This allowed Rome to generate high military participation, even in the Republican era where the Roman state was very small and bureaucratically sparse. Medieval Europe had fragmented political authority and an extremely low sense of cohesive political identity, and consequently its armies were shockingly small. Armies began to grow in size again as the sense of national identity and participation grew, and it is no coincidence that the largest war in history - the Nazi-Soviet War - was fought between two regimes that had totalizing ideologies that generated an extremely high level of political participation.
That brings us to today. In the 21st century, with its interconnectedness and crushing availability of both information and misinformation, the process of generating mass political - and hence military - participation is much more nuanced. No country wields a totalizing utopian vision, and it is inarguable that the sense of national cohesion is significantly lower now than it was one hundred years ago.
Putin, very simply, could not have conducted a large scale mobilization at the onset of the war. He possessed neither a coercive mechanism nor the manifest threat to generate mass political support. Few Russians would have believed that there was some existential threat lurking in the shadow - they needed to be shown, and the west has not disappointed. Likewise, few Russians would likely have supported the obliteration of Ukrainian infrastructure and urban utilities in the opening days of the war. But now, the only vocal criticism of Putin within Russia is on the side of further escalation. The problem with Putin, from the Russian perspective, is that he has not gone far enough. In other words - mass politics have already moved ahead of the government, making mobilization and escalation politically trivial. Above all, we must remember that Clausewitz’s maxim remains true. The military situation is merely a subset of the political situation, and military mobilization is also political mobilization - a manifestation of society’s political participation in the state.
Time and Space
Ukraine’s offensive phase continues on multiple fronts. They are pushing into northern Lugansk, and after weeks of banging their heads against a wall in Kherson, they have finally made territorial progress. Yet, just today, Putin said that it is necessary to conduct medical examinations of the children in the newly admitted oblasts and rebuild school playgrounds. What is going on? Is he totally detached from events at the front? There are really only two ways to interpret what is happening. One is the western spin: the Russian army is defeated and depleted and is being driven from the field. Putin is deranged, his commanders are incompetent, and Russia’s only card left to play is to throw drunk, untrained conscripts into the meat grinder.
The other is the interpretation that I have advocated, that Russia is massing for a winter escalation and offensive, and is currently engaged in a calculated trade wherein they give up space in exchange for time and Ukrainian casualties. Russia continues to retreat where positions are either operationally compromised or faced with overwhelming Ukrainian numbers, but they are very careful to extract forces out of operational danger. In Lyman, where Ukraine threatened to encircle the garrison, Russia committed mobile reserves to unblock the village and secure the withdrawal of the garrison. Ukraine’s “encirclement” evaporated, and the Ukrainian interior ministry was bizarrely compelled to tweet (and then delete)
video of destroyed civilian vehicles as “proof” that the Russian forces had been annihilated.
Russia will likely continue to pull back over the coming weeks, withdrawing units intact under their artillery and air umbrella, grinding down Ukrainian heavy equipment stocks and wearing away their manpower. Meanwhile, new equipment continues to congregate in Belgorod, Zaporizhia, and Crimea. My expectation remains the same: episodic Russian withdrawal until the front stabilizes roughly at the end of October, followed by an operational pause until the ground freezes, followed by escalation and a winter offensive by Russia once they have finished amassing sufficient units.
There is an eerie calm radiating from the Kremlin. Mobilization is underway - 200,000 men are currently undergoing refresher training at ranges around Russia. Trainloads of military equipment continue to flood across the Kerch bridge, but Ukraine’s offensive plods on with no Russian reinforcements to be seen at the front. The disconnect between the Kremlin’s stoicism and the deterioration of the front are striking. Perhaps Putin and the entire Russian general staff really are criminally incompetent - perhaps the Russian reserves really are nothing but a bunch of drunks. Perhaps there is no plan. Or perhaps, Russia’s sons will answer the call of the motherland again, as they did in 1709, in 1812, and in 1941. As the wolves once more prowl at the door, the old bear rises again to fight.
Putin Halts The West's Playing God
The west has illegitimately put upon itself the power to decide who lives or dies. Over history, all its adversaries are dehumanized as deserving the worst, even death, as the story of Gadhafi, Saddam, and their countries show. The west had extended this verdict to the residents of Donbas and but not anymore.
About a fortnight ago, the EU leadership was sc
reaming how “Putin brought war to Europe
” despite the UN documenting the death of civilians
in Donbas since 2014. The EU’s statement can only be premised on two assumptions 1) Yugoslavia was not in Europe 2) Donbas is not in Europe. The racist west also said that war in Ukraine is unacceptable because Ukraine is civilized relative to other countries that NATO has destroyed, this point means that people in Donbass, who have been targeted by Kyiv’s pro-west regime are uncivilized, and by extension, Russians, simply because the west said so. If NATO then attacked Russia, the same racists would justify it using the line of thinking seen above, noting that some anti-Russian sanctions began even before the military operation
. Putin thinks otherwise and has responded to such racism, but the west wants to shred Russia’s economy and reputation as a warning, as it pushes on with its destruction of countries all the way to Moscow and Beijing as John McCain
outlined after their campaign in Libya.
Dehumanization of Adversaries
Some might have noted that citizen’s countries that US/UK labels as adversaries are subjected to pervasive hate and dehumanization, examples being Russians, Muslims, and Now Chinese (and Asians). To the west, the worst crimes against these groups become justified and sometimes praised. During the cold war, US/UK, Canada, and Australia, (henceforth anglosphere) began a campaign to dehumanize Russians, depicting them as mafia bosses or racketeers. Some movies such as Jack Reacher (2012), equalizer (2014), and the James Bond 007 series illustrate this point. Someone joked that before the end of the cold war, very few Americas knew there were other regions apart from ‘allied’ Japan and Europe and evil Russia. After the Arabs spring when John McCain revealed plans to roll out Libya-styled regime change campaigns to Moscow and Beijing, the Russian leadership has now been smeared as undemocratic, propping dictators, threatening Neighbors including Ukraine and Baltic states, and poisoning innocent people in London. They give no attention to the reality that the Ukrainian government gained power through a coup and has been ethnically cleansing its Russian-speaking Minorities. Anglosphere acting gods have Okayed this senseless killing for 8 years Putin pulled the plug and the west came out kicking and screaming. How did we get here?
Creating the “Terror Threat”
After the 1980s oil embargo and later the collapse of the USSR, the Anglosphere wanted to secure free oil and client states across the Middle East. A full-proof way of dehumanizing residents of this region to justify the endless war was hatched; creating a terror threat.
Towards and after the September 11. The Wests’ Mockingbird media judiciously spent all their time and efforts dehumanizing Arabs and Muslims as terrorists. Again, the media was key an example being 24 TV series that laundered capture and torture of Muslims without trial. Anglosphere and its accomplices launched devastating wars against Afghans and Iraqis under farfetched links to September 11 and having Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)
respectively, killing hundreds of thousands. The hypocritical George W. Bush was seen teeing off golf claiming that Saddam Hussein was ‘killing civilians’ in thousands but then ordered an invasion where close to half a million people
have died. Retrospectively, it’s safe to argue that Bush was very jealous because it was Saddam killing the hundreds and not him and other imperialists that play gods, killing millions of innocent civilians abroad and pretending to resist the death penalty for criminals at home. Masses there seem easy to manipulate. Meanwhile, Imperialist gods pretended to hate Muslims remaining allied with Saudi Arabia
and Gulf monarchies who were directly linked to the September 911 bombing.
Then came Obama, half African whose father had an Islamic name. He proceeded with Islamaphobia, simultaneously bombing 5 Muslim majority countries, turning Libya, Syria, and Yemen into what Bush had turned Iraq and Afghanistan Into. Masses in UK-US remained silent while imperialists, playing gods again, persistently framed destruction of the Middle East as a righteous cause. John McCain, in the height of self-conceitedness in his country’s murder of Arabs and destruction of countries, boasted that this trend would end in Beijing and Moscow. For Beijing, the dog had to be given a bad name as I will illustrate before I concluded with Moscow.
The Pivot to Asia happened
Obama felt that Asia was economically developing fast
through trade such that it was poised to become the center of the world in the 21st century. Instead of enhancing trade, diplomatic and cultural cooperation with the region, he announced his militaristic
‘Pivot to Asia’, which entailed increased military spending and launching of new military doctrine aimed at fighting Asia. Suddenly, there were to be wars in Asia, with anglosphere gods shifting what they had done in the Middle East to Asia and China. As if by waving of the magic wand, the mockingbird media started rolling negative coverage of China and anti-Asian hate crimes have been on the rise since. Chinese people are now dehumanized through claims that they are propagating genocide in Xing Jiang, suppressing freedoms in Tibet, and causing or contributing to the spread of COVID-19. The media there can lie without evidence. Apparently, Uighurs who have been subjected to the so-called genocide have enjoyed higher fertility and increase in life expectancy, while minorities in the US have a significantly lower life expectancy
than whites. How about Native Americans who were genocide close to extinction while Canada killed and buried hundreds of first nations’ kids in mass graves in recent history. Anglosphere and its mocking bird media have no problem with that and have never stopped to view their actions towards minorities as genocide. With anti-Asian hate crimes climbing 339%
between 2021 and 2022, we can see the Anglosphere has succeeded in brainwashing its citizens to hate Chinese and Asians, as was the case with Muslims. As they push for war through probing Chinese boundaries and arming Taiwan, which they recognize as China, they are sure that brainwashed masses readily will enlist to get an opportunity to go express this hate in the coming war with China
. Before we get to China, we started in Russia.
Back to Donbas
Earlier, I was narrating how Russians have been demonized since the beginning of the cold war. Now, they are rendered as evil people who run crime syndicates in the west and cheat by using banned substances in sports. The wests’ mockingbird media has rendered Russian leadership as propping dictators, condoning Syria’s use of chemical weapons and poisoning people in western capitals. All these efforts have been done using concocted lies but the west could not care less. And after everybody is convinced that Russians are evil, no one should consider their views, even when the Anglosphere overthrew Kiev’s
government and installed a rabid regime that kills Russian-speaking citizens on wests’ behalf. When ethnic Russians have been subjected to ethnic cleansing, repression of language, and daily shelling, the US/UK and the larger west ignored it, as if more deserve to die. Remember the journey that started in Libya, through Syria, and was supposed to end in Moscow and Beijing? If you do, isn’t it okay to have a rabid regime in Kyiv eliminating Russians? And that was what has been happening for the last 8 years until Putin decided to pull the plug. Now, the West’s racist leadership and pundits are kicking and screaming that Russia ‘invaded’ Ukraine. Their real bitterness is that Russia has stopped their little games which may have been the overture for further plots for regime change in Moscow.
Colonel Douglas Macgregor: When the Lies Come Home
After lying for months, the media are preparing the public for Ukraine’s military collapse
Diogenes, one of the ancient world’s illustrious philosophers, believed that lies were the currency of politics, and those lies were the ones he sought to expose and debase. To make his point, Diogenes occasionally carried a lit lantern through the streets of Athens in the daylight. If asked why, Diogenes would say he was searching for an honest man. Finding an honest man today in Washington, D.C., is equally challenging. Diogenes would need a Xenon Searchlight in each hand.
Still, there are brief moments of clarity inside the Washington establishment. Having lied prolifically for months to the American public about the origins and conduct of the war in Ukraine, the media are now preparing the American, British, and other Western publics for Ukraine’s military collapse. It is long overdue. The Western media did everything in its power to give the Ukrainian defense the appearance of far greater strength than it really possessed. Careful observers noted that the same video clips of Russian tanks under attack were shown repeatedly. Local counterattacks were reported as though they were operational maneuvers.
Russian errors were exaggerated out of all proportion to their significance. Russian losses and the true extent of Ukraine’s own losses were distorted, fabricated, or simply ignored. But conditions on the battlefield changed little over time. Once Ukrainian forces immobilized themselves in static defensive positions inside urban areas and the central Donbas, the Ukrainian position was hopeless. But this development was portrayed as failure by the Russians to gain “their objectives.”
Ground-combat forces that immobilize soldiers in prepared defenses will be identified, targeted, and destroyed from a distance. When persistent overhead intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets, whether manned or unmanned, are linked to precision guided-strike weapons or modern artillery systems informed by accurate targeting data, “holding ground” is fatal to any ground force. This is all the more true in Ukraine, because it was apparent from the first action that Moscow focused on the destruction of Ukrainian forces, not on the occupation of cities or the capture of Ukrainian territory west of the Dnieper River.
The result has been the piecemeal annihilation of Ukrainian forces. Only the episodic infusion of U.S. and allied weapons kept Kiev’s battered legions in the field; legions that are now dying in great numbers thanks to Washington’s proxy war. Kiev’s war with Moscow is lost. Ukrainian forces are being bled white. Trained replacements do not exist in sufficient numbers to influence the battle, and the situation grows more desperate by the hour. No amount of U.S. and allied military aid or assistance short of direct military intervention by U.S. and NATO ground forces can change this harsh reality.
The problem today is not ceding territory and population to Moscow in Eastern Ukraine that Moscow already controls. The future of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions along with the Donbas is decided. Moscow is also likely to secure Kharkov and Odessa, two cities that are historically Russian and Russian-speaking, as well as the territory that adjoins them. These operations will extend the conflict through the summer. The problem now is how to stop the fighting. Whether the fighting stops in the early fall will depend on two key factors. The first involves the leadership in Kiev. Will the Zelensky government consent to the Biden program for perpetual conflict with Russia?
If the Biden administration has its way, Kiev will continue to operate as a base for the buildup of new forces poised to threaten Moscow. In practice, this means Kiev must commit national suicide by exposing the Ukrainian heartland west of the Dnieper River to massive, devastating strikes by Russia’s long-range missile and rocket forces.
Of course, these developments are not inevitable. Berlin, Paris, Rome, Budapest, Bucharest, Sofia, Vilnius, Riga, Tallin, and, yes, even Warsaw, do not have to blindly follow Washington’s lead. Europeans, like most Americans, are already peering into the abyss of an all-encompassing economic downturn that Biden’s policies are creating at home. Unlike Americans who must cope with the consequences of Biden’s ill-conceived policies, European governments can opt out of Biden’s perpetual-war plan for Ukraine.
The second factor involves Washington itself. Having poured more than $60 billion or a little more than $18 billion a month in direct or indirect transfers into a Ukrainian state that is now crumbling, the important question is, what happens to millions of Ukrainians in the rest of the country that did not flee? And where will the funds come from to rebuild Ukraine’s shattered society in a developing global economic emergency?
When inflation costs the average American household an extra $460 per month to buy the same goods and services this year as they did last year, it is quite possible that Ukraine could sink quietly beneath the waves like the Titanic without evoking much concern in the American electorate. Experienced politicians know that the American span of attention to matters beyond America’s borders is so short that an admission of defeat in Ukraine would probably have little or no immediate consequences.
However, the effects of repeated strategic failures in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria are cumulative. In the 1980s, General Motors wanted to dictate the kind of automobiles Americans would buy, but American consumers had different ideas. That’s why G.M., which dominated the U.S. market for 77 years, lost its top spot to Toyota. Washington cannot dictate all outcomes, nor can Washington escape accountability for its profligate spending and having ruined American prosperity.
In November, Americans will go to the polls. The election itself will do more than test the integrity of the American electoral process. The election is also likely to ensure that Biden is remembered for his intransigence; his refusal to change course, like Herbert Hoover in 1932. Democrats will recall that their predecessors in the Democratic Party effectively ran against Hoover for more than a half century. Republicans may end up running against Joe Biden for the next 50 years.
Douglas Macgregor, Col. (ret.) is a senior fellow with The American Conservative, the former advisor to the Secretary of Defense in the Trump administration, a decorated combat veteran, and the author of five books.
The Eurasian Chessboard: Brzezinski Mapped Out “The Battle for Ukraine” in 1997
It’s all about maintaining the US position as the world’s sole superpower
Why would the United States run the risk of siding with anti-Semitic, neo-Nazis in Ukraine
? One of the keys may be found by looking back at Zbigniew Brzezinski’s 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard
in which he wrote, “Ukraine, a new and important space on the Eurasian chessboard, is a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire.”
“However, if Moscow regains control over Ukraine, with its 52 million people and major resources as well as access to the Black Sea, Russia automatically again regains the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state, spanning Europe and Asia.” The former national security advisor to Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981 and top foreign policy advisor to Barack Obama, Brzezinski wrote that US policy should be “unapologetic” in perpetuating “America’s own dominant position for at least a generation and preferably longer still.”
Brzezinski delved into the importance of little known Ukraine by explaining in his 1997 book, “Geopolitical pivots are the states whose importance is derived not from their power and motivation but rather from their sensitive location… which in some cases gives them a special role in either defining access to important areas or in denying resources to a significant player.”
“Ukraine, Azerbaijan, South Korea, Turkey and Iran play the role of critically important geopolitical pivots,” he wrote in The Grand Chessboard
, a book viewed by many as a blueprint for US world domination. Brzezinski wrote that Eurasia is “the chessboard on which the struggle for global primacy continues to be played,” and that “it is imperative that no Eurasian challenger emerges, capable of dominating Eurasia and thus also of challenging America.”
Understanding Brzezinski’s long-term view of Ukraine makes it easier to comprehend why the US has given $5 billion to Ukraine since 1991
, and why today it is hyper-concerned about having Ukraine remain in its sphere of influence. It may also help explain why in the past year the US and many of its media outlets have feverishly demonized Vladimir Putin. By prominently highlighting the mistreatment of activist group Pussy Riot, incessantly condemning Russia’s regressive position on gay rights, and excessively focusing on substandard accommodations at the Sochi Olympic Games, the Obama administration has cleverly distracted the public from delving into US support of the ultra-nationalist, neo-Nazi factions of the Ukrainian opposition, and has made it palatable for Americans to accept the US narrative on Ukraine.
Interestingly enough, it was Brzezinski who first compared Putin to Hitler
in a March 3 Washington Post Editorial. Hillary Clinton
followed-up the next day with her comments comparing the two, followed by John McCain and Marco Rubio
who on March 5 agreed with Clinton’s comments comparing Putin and Hitler. Apparently Brzezinski still continues to influence US political speak. In his book, Brzezinski contends that “America stands supreme in the four decisive domains of global power: militarily… economically… technologically… and culturally.” While this may have been accurate in 1997, it can be argued that today, other than militarily, the US no longer reigns supreme in these domains. So late last year when Ukraine’s now-ousted president Viktor Yanukovych surprisingly canceled plans for Ukrainian integration into the European Union in favor of stronger ties with Russia, the US may have viewed Ukraine as slipping even further out of its reach.
How to Destroy Russia. 2019 Rand Corporation Report: “Overextending and Unbalancing Russia”
Force the adversary to expand recklessly in order to unbalance him, and then destroy him. This is not the description of a judo hold, but a plan against Russia elaborated by the Rand Corporation, the most influential think tank in the USA. With a staff of thousands of experts, Rand presents itself as the world’s most reliable source for Intelligence and political analysis for the leaders of the United States and their allies.
The Rand Corp prides itself on having contributed to the elaboration of the long-term strategy which enabled the United States to win the Cold War, by forcing the Soviet Union to consume its own economic resources in the strategic confrontation. It is this model which was the inspiration for the new plan, Overextending and Unbalancing Russia,
published by Rand .
According to their analysts, Russia remains a powerful adversary for the United States in certain fundamental sectors. To handle this opposition, the USA and their allies will have to pursue a joint long-term strategy which exploits Russia’s vulnerabilities. So Rand analyses the various means with which to unbalance Russia, indicating for each the probabilities of success, the benefits, the cost, and the risks for the USA.
Rand analysts estimate that Russia’s greatest vulnerability is that of its economy, due to its heavy dependency on oil and gas exports. The income from these exports can be reduced by strengthening sanctions and increasing the energy exports of the United States. The goal is to oblige Europe to diminish its importation of Russian natural gas, and replace it by liquefied natural gas transported by sea from other countries.
Another way of destabilising the Russian economy in the long run is to encourage the emigration of qualified personnel, particularly young Russians with a high level of education. In the ideological and information sectors, it would be necessary to encourage internal contestation and at the same time, to undermine Russia’s image on the exterior, by excluding it from international forums and boycotting the international sporting events that it organises.
In the geopolitical sector, arming Ukraine would enable the USA to exploit the central point of Russia’s exterior vulnerability, but this would have to be carefully calculated in order to hold Russia under pressure without slipping into a major conflict, which it would win. In the military sector, the USA could enjoy high benefits, with low costs and risks, by increasing the number of land-based troops from the NATO countries working in an anti-Russian function.
The USA can enjoy high probabilities of success and high benefits, with moderate risks, especially by investing mainly in strategic bombers and long-range attack missiles directed against Russia. Leaving the INF Treaty and deploying in Europe new intermediate-range nuclear missiles pointed at Russia would lead to high probabilities of success, but would also present high risks.
By calibrating each option to gain the desired effect – conclude the Rand analysts – Russia would end up by paying the hardest price in a confrontation, but the USA would also have to invest huge resources, which would therefore no longer be available for other objectives. This is also prior warning of a coming major increase in USA/NATO military spending, to the disadvantage of social budgets.
This is the future that is planned out for us by the Rand Corporation, the most influential think tank of the Deep State – in other words the underground centre of real power gripped by the economic, financial, and military oligarchies – which determines the strategic choices not only of the USA, but all of the Western world. The “options” set out by the plan are in reality no more than variants of the same war strategy, of which the price in sacrifices and risks is paid by us all.
RAND: Extending Russia: Competing from Advantageous Ground
This report examines a range of possible means to extend Russia. As the 2018 National Defense Strategy recognized, the United States is currently locked in a great-power competition with Russia. This report seeks to define areas where the United States can compete to its own advantage. Drawing on quantitative and qualitative data from Western and Russian sources, this report examines Russia's economic, political, and military vulnerabilities and anxieties. It then analyzes potential policy options to exploit them — ideologically, economically, geopolitically, and militarily (including air and space, maritime, land, and multidomain options). After describing each measure, this report assesses the associated benefits, costs, and risks, as well as the likelihood that measure could be successfully implemented and actually extend Russia. Most of the steps covered in this report are in some sense escalatory, and most would likely prompt some Russian counter-escalation. Some of these policies, however, also might prompt adverse reactions from other U.S. adversaries — most notably, China — that could, in turn, stress the United States. Ultimately, this report concludes that the most attractive U.S. policy options to extend Russia — with the greatest benefits, highest likelihood of success, and least risk — are in the economic domain, featuring a combination of boosting U.S. energy production and sanctions, providing the latter are multilateral. In contrast, geopolitical measures to bait Russia into overextending itself and ideological measures to undermine the regime's stability carry significant risks. Finally, many military options — including force posture changes and development of new capabilities — could enhance U.S. deterrence and reassure U.S. allies, but only a few are likely to extend Russia, as Moscow is not seeking parity with the United States in most domains.
Russia's weaknesses lie in the economic domains. Russia's greatest vulnerability, in any competition with the United States, is its economy, which is comparatively small and highly dependent on energy exports. The Russian leadership's greatest anxiety stems from the stability and durability of the regime.
The most promising measures to stress Russia are in the realms of energy production and international pressure. Continuing to expand U.S. energy production in all forms, including renewables, and encouraging other countries to do the same would maximize pressure on Russia's export receipts and thus on its national and defense budgets. Alone among the many measures looked at in this report, this one comes with the least cost or risk. Sanctions can also limit Russia's economic potential. To be effective, however, these need to be multilateral, involving (at a minimum) the European Union, which is Russia's largest customer and greatest source of technology and capital, larger in all these respects than the United States.
Geopolitical measures to bait Russia into overextending itself are likely impractical, or they risk second-order consequences. Many geopolitical measures would force the United States to operate in areas that are closer to Russia and where it is thus cheaper and easier for Russia than the United States to exert influence. Ideological measures to undermine the regime's stability carry significant risks of counter escalation. Many military options — including force posture changes and development of new capabilities — could enhance U.S. deterrence and reassure U.S. allies, but only a few are likely to extend Russia, as Moscow is not seeking parity with the United States in most domains.
New Eastern Europe: The world has changed. Time for the US to take note
The US has proven itself to be a firm supporter of Ukraine in resisting Russian aggression. Despite this, however, Washington has still not taken advantage of the various opportunities now presenting themselves in Eurasia and the strategically important South Caucasus.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February has had ramifications around the world. One major consequence has been the denting of Russia’s image as a great power. Russia is the most sanctioned country in the world, facing more sanctions than even Iran. Russia’s international image is in the doldrums. While Russia’s military was touted by the Kremlin as the second best in the world, it is now seen as weak, poorly commanded and reliant on Soviet era training. Its corruption is a reflection of the kleptocratic mafia state built by President Vladimir Putin over his last two decades of power.
Russia has always viewed Eurasia as its exclusive sphere of influence. However, the Kremlin’s influence has collapsed in the area. Only Belarus continues to support Russia. Self-declared President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has little choice after Moscow rescued his regime from mass protests following electoral fraud in the 2020 presidential elections.
Traditionally pro-Russian Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Armenia have distanced themselves from the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine. One example of how countries in Eurasia are standing up to Russia was evident during last month’s St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev went so far as to outline his disagreement with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and expressed strong opposition to the Kremlin’s support for separatist movements in former Soviet republics.
Putin made the traditional Russian imperial claim that the entire former Soviet Union is part of “historical Russia”. He also warned that other countries could face the same fate as Ukraine if they defied Moscow. Nevertheless, Tokayev did defy Putin, possibly in the knowledge that the decrepit Russian army would be unable to fight additional wars on other fronts when it was already faring so poorly in Ukraine.
When quizzed by the head of RT Margarita Simonyan during a panel at the forum, Tokayev stated that Kazakhstan does not diplomatically recognise the so-called DNR (Donetsk People’s Republic) and LNR (Luhansk People’s Republic), two Russian proxy entities illegally created eight years ago in Ukraine’s Donbas region. Tokayev argued that recognising such entities would triple the number of countries in the world today and only lead to chaos. This is why Kazakhstan also does not recognise Taiwan, Kosovo, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Tokayev said that this “principle will be applied to quasi-state entities, which, in our opinion, Luhansk and Donetsk are”. This presumably explains why Kazakhstan has also never diplomatically recognised Crimea, Transniestria, South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Karabakh.
Since 2014, Armenia, a member of the Russian-led CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organisation) and EAEU (Eurasian Economic Union), has always voted with Russia at the UN in opposing resolutions condemning Crimea’s annexation. Yerevan wrongly believes that the Crimea situation is analogous to Karabakh. The Armenian government ignores the fact that territories within states do not have the right to “self-determination” in international law. The invasion of Ukraine proved too much for Armenia and Yerevan has abstained in votes at the UN denouncing Russia’s military campaign.
Russia’s rapid decline as a great power is taking place at the same time as the revival of the West and reinvigoration of NATO and the EU. This affords Washington an opportunity to rebuild its damaged strategic partnership with Turkey, which has the second largest army in NATO, and forge a new strategic alliance with Azerbaijan. Improved US-Turkish relations would help ease the tension surrounding offering NATO membership to Finland and Sweden, which Turkey initially opposed but then agreed to. The US would be following the EU, which has led the way in building relations with the South Caucasus and brokering talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan regarding a future peace treaty.
The US should encourage and facilitate Turkish-Armenian reconciliation as it would be in the interests of all three countries. This would subsequently expand western influence in the South Caucasus. Towards this end, Washington should stand up to the Kremlin and pro-Russian nationalist lobby in Armenia, which is backed by the large Armenian diasporas in the US and France. Russia continues to use old “divide and rule” imperial policies to maintain conflicts and tensions in the South Caucasus, preferring poor inter-state relations and frozen conflicts to reconciliation and peacemaking.
Azerbaijan always resisted joining Russian-led structures in Eurasia, such as the CSTO and EAEU. Instead, it has preferred to maintain a strong presence in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). India is a key member of NAM and a key target for the US in its campaign to strengthen the western alliance against Russia’s revanchism. Despite India being the world’s largest democracy, it has resisted joining the West in condemning Russia’s invasion, let alone imposing sanctions. A new US strategic partnership with Azerbaijan would provide Washington with fresh opportunities to spread its influence within NAM and subsequently among countries such as India.
Besides its high-profile membership in NAM, Azerbaijan would bring two further advantages for Washington if it were to upgrade its strategic relationship with Baku.
The first is Azerbaijan has a long-standing economic and security partnership with Israel that goes back as far as the late 1990s. Israel is a major purchaser of Azerbaijani oil. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan has long been a major purchaser of Israeli military equipment, especially different types of drones and air defence systems. For example, the Israeli Iron Dome system purchased by Baku shot down an Iskander missile fired from Armenia into a civilian area of the country during the Second Karabakh War in 2020.
Israel and Azerbaijan – much like the US – view Iran as a security threat and proponent of chaos, political instability and regime change throughout the Greater Middle East. Iranian terrorist attacks in Azerbaijan against Azeri and Israeli targets have been thwarted on numerous occasions. Iran held military exercises on its border with Azerbaijan last year after briefly occupying Azerbaijani territory during the Second Karabakh War.
The second is Azerbaijan’s long border with Iran and the large size of the Azerbaijani national minority in the country. This makes it a geographically important country that lies at the crossroads of the South Caucasus. Better relations could only benefit US geostrategic policies in the region. The Azerbaijani minority in Iran supported Baku in the Second Karabakh War. Reports have even surfaced of anti-government sentiment and instability among the large number of Azerbaijanis living in Iran.
A natural partnership
Azerbaijan does not come empty handed to the table. Baku has heavily invested in modern military equipment and this was evident in the first war in history won with the assistance of (Turkish and Israeli) drones. Azerbaijan’s victory in the Second Karabakh War was effectively the result of NATO training and western equipment defeating an Armenian military that had continued to rely on outdated Soviet equipment and Russian training. The victory showed Azerbaijan to be the most powerful military power in the South Caucasus.
Another important factor is Azerbaijan’s role as an energy superpower. Oil and gas supplies via Turkey to the Balkans and Italy play a strategic role in reducing Europe’s dependency on Russian gas. This has become imperative since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as EU member states desperately seek ways to reduce their dependency on Russian energy supplies.
Iran is a well-established ally of Russia in Syria, the South Caucasus and elsewhere. Iran has long established ties with Armenia, a country Tehran has used to bypass international sanctions. Improved and reinvigorated ties between Washington on the one hand, and Turkey and Azerbaijan on the other, would establish a strategic axis stretching from Istanbul to Baku. This would act as a deterrent to Iranian meddling in the Greater Middle East. This in turn, would improve the security of Israel, a key US ally.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought many security challenges. However, it has also created opportunities for Washington to work with the EU in developing strategic partnerships with countries in Eurasia that no longer see themselves as part of Russia’s sphere of influence. The EU has led the way, brokering peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan and offering candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova. The US is working closely with Ukraine to counter Russia’s military aggression but remains a bystander in the South Caucasus. With Russian influence in Eurasia in decline, now is the time for the US to work with the EU to deter Russia and Iran and bring peace and development to this critically important crossroads.
Hungary warns of shift in world order
The West’s reliance on military aid to Ukraine and sanctions on Russia has failed, Hungary’s PM has said
The Russia-Ukraine conflict could end the West’s dominance and shift the balance of power in the world, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said. Russia launched a military campaign against the neighboring country in late February. Orban argued that the decision to impose sanctions on Moscow and supply Kiev with heavy weapons de facto turned the EU and NATO member states into participants in the conflict, but ultimately yielded no results.
“Instead, today we are sitting inside a car with flat tires on all four wheels,” Orban said in a speech in the Romanian city of Baile Tusnad on Saturday. “The world is not only not with us, but it is demonstratively not with us,” the PM added, arguing that, instead of thinking about gaining the upper hand on the battlefield in Ukraine, the West should now focus on achieving peace through negotiations. Orban also warned that the conflict could easily put an end to Western supremacy and “create a multipolar world order.”
“We must try to persuade the West to develop a new strategy,” the PM said. He later added that the conflict “will end when the Americans and the Russians come to an agreement.”
Hungary has refused to send weapons to Ukraine, while Orban said this month that the EU “shot itself in the lungs” with its ill-considered sanctions. Hungarian officials also criticized the proposal by Brussels to ration gas in an attempt to phase out deliveries from Moscow. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto traveled to Moscow on Thursday to negotiate the purchase of additional gas volumes in order to ensure that the country has enough reserves for the winter. “It is currently simply impossible to buy this much extra natural gas in Europe without Russian sources,” Szijjarto told reporters.
The ongoing conflict in Ukraine poses threat to globalization
Ukraine conflict poses a threat to globalization and may create a major “division” in the world, Josep Borrell believes
The Ukrainian crisis and the West’s reaction to could “push” Russia towards China, the EU’s foreign-policy chief Josep Borrell warned during the opening session of the Doha Forum on Saturday. Doing so could lead to the creation of a major rift between the global north and south, the diplomat explained, stressing that such a scenario should be avoided. “One of the bad consequences of what’s happening is that we can push Russia to China, and we can create a division between the global southeast and the global northwest,” Borrell stated. First of all, the West should ramp up its efforts to end the Ukrainian conflict in order to avoid the emergence of such a global rift, he explained, describing Russia’s ongoing offensive in Ukraine as a “war of attrition.”
“In order to avoid this trend, the first thing to do is to stop this war of aggression, war of attrition today,” the diplomat said, outlining the West’s strategy as a mix of military aid to Ukraine and anti-Russian sanctions.
And what we’re doing to support Ukraine, also by military means, without escalation, without horizontal or vertical escalation, that could bring [us] to a bigger conflict and try to put pressure on Russia by all our capacities in order to make it to pay the price for it.
The diplomat did not elaborate on how such a strategy would help to avoid “pushing” Russia into China’s arms. Since the beginning of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Beijing has taken a neutral stance, urging all parties to stick to diplomacy, calling upon the West to address Russia’s longstanding security concerns and opposing unilateral anti-Russian sanctions. China’s stance has been interpreted by the West as pro-Russian, with the US-led NATO bloc openly urging Beijing to “to abstain from supporting Russia’s war effort in any way, and to refrain from any action that helps Russia circumvent sanctions,” as well as accusing it of providing Moscow “with political support, including by spreading blatant lies and misinformation.”
Beijing, however, has refused to bow to such demands, pointing to NATO’s continued expansion into Eastern Europe as a key factor behind the current conflict, as well as citing the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade during the 1999 Yugoslavia attack as one reason it won’t listen to a “lecture on justice from the abuser of international law.” Russia attacked Ukraine in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements and Russia’s recognition of the Donbass republics with capitals in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state. Russia has demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join NATO. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked, denying claims it was planning to retake the Donbass republics by force.
Dmitri Trenin: Russia has made a decisive break with the West and is ready to help shape a new world order
Just before the G7 leaders met at Elmau Castle in Bavaria last week, their counterparts from the five BRICS countries held an online summit under the Chinese presidency. Russia had been discussed as a threat at the G7 gathering but was a key participant in the latter.
Long gone are the days when Moscow could straddle the divide between the West and the non-West. Following the 2014 Ukraine crisis, the G8 reverted to its previous G7 format; in the wake of the Russian military action in Ukraine last February, Russian-Western confrontation degenerated into a full-blown “hybrid war,” complete with an actual confrontation – if so far a proxy one. Having tried, after the end of the Cold War, to become part of the new West, and having failed at that endeavor, Russia is now focusing on developing its ties with Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.
This is both a difficult and a necessary task, for a number of reasons. First, there is a powerful inertia from the past. At least since the days of Peter the Great, Russian elites have looked westward, adopting Western ways of appearance and behavior (while remaining distinctly Russian beneath the garb and manners); adapting Western institutions (even if often only superficially); borrowing Western patterns of thinking (while creatively developing them, as with Marxism); seeking to become a great European power; then, in Soviet days, a global superpower; and, more recently, a key component of a greater Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok.
This is a pathway hard to wean off from. Yet, now, for the first time ever, Russia is facing a united West, from North America, the European Union, and Britain, to Japan and Australia. What’s more, there are no allies in the West that Moscow can turn to – even notionally neutral states such as Finland, Sweden, Austria, and Switzerland, have all ditched their neutrality. Russia’s political rupture with the West is thus complete, and any new norm of relations between them can only emerge as a result of the “hybrid war,“ which will take years, if not decades, to fight out.
Second, Moscow’s economic relations have been largely built with the West. Historically, Russia has been a resource for Western European industry; a breadbasket of the continent; and a major importer of industrial products and technology. Until recently, Russia’s trade with the European Union alone accounted for more than half of Russia’s foreign commerce, and Germany was the lead exporter of machinery and technology to Russia. Since the early 1970s, oil and gas pipelines from Russia to Western Europe have formed the backbone of economic ties and provided for general stability on the continent, even in the dangerous decades of the Cold War and in the turbulent times of the disintegration of the Soviet Union itself. This, too, is on the way out, however. The severe sanctions imposed on Russia by the US, EU and UK will not be lifted even when the actual fighting in Ukraine stops, and the painful experience of foreign exchange and asset seizures will leave a huge imprint on any future Russian approach to economic ties with the West.
Third, in cultural terms, Russians have traditionally identified themselves with the rest of Europe. Christianity; the legacies of Ancient Greece and Rome; the ideas of French Enlightenment and German philosophy; European literature and the arts, music, and dance – all of this helped shape and form Russia’s own culture, giving it a powerful stimulus for self-development. Despite the recent political rupture and the geo-economic shift, the foundations of Russian culture remain definitely European. However, a number of elements of today’s cultural scene in the West, particularly the dominant cult of individual self-expression, runaway liberalism that is turning increasingly oppressive, the erosion of family values and the proliferation of genders, jars with the more traditional cultural code of the majority of the Russian population.
That said, the obvious necessity for Russia to now look beyond the West means it can probably overcome the historical inertia, the legacy of previous geo-economic priorities, and cultural affinities. With the West shunning Russia, trying to isolate and sometimes 'cancel' it, Moscow has no choice but to kick its old habits and reach out to the wider world beyond Western Europe and North America. In fact, this is something that successive Russian leaders vowed to do repeatedly, even when relations with the West were much less adversarial, but the Europe-oriented mindset, the apparent ease of trading resources for Western goods and technologies, and the ambition to be accepted into Western elite circles prevented that intention from turning into reality.
It has been noted, however, that people start doing the right thing only when there are no other options. And certainly, capitulating to the West is no option for Russia, at this point. Things have gone too far. Beyond the necessity of an overhaul of Russia’s foreign relations there are real opportunities to pursue. Since the end of the Cold War, the leading countries of Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America have risen spectacularly in all respects, from economically and politically to technologically and militarily.
Even before the outbreak of the “hybrid war,” China had overtaken Germany not only as Russia’s principal trading partner, but also as the leading exporter of machinery and equipment to Russia. India, a traditional importer of Soviet and Russian weapons, is now emerging as a major technology partner for Moscow. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are Russia’s principal partners in regulating oil output in the OPEC+ format. Turkey and Iran are major independent players in a key strategic region. The fact that the vast majority of non-Western countries refused to condemn Russia for what it is doing in Ukraine – many of them despite strong US pressure – is most encouraging for Moscow. In the sense that those who are not against us could be considered to be with us.
From Indonesia to Brazil, and from Argentina to South Africa, there are many dynamic and ambitious countries that Moscow is seeking to engage. To be able to do that, Russia’s foreign policy needs to come up with an appropriate strategy. Above all, it needs to give relations with non-Western countries priority over the de facto firmly frozen ties with the West. Being an ambassador to Indonesia should be more prestigious than an ambassadorship in Rome, and a post in Tashkent should be viewed as more important than one in Vienna.
There needs to be an audit of potential economic and other opportunities for Russia in the BRICS countries, and a plan to work on them. Apart from economics, student exchange programs should be expanded, and Russian tourism encouraged to move east, and south. The Russian media would be right to increase coverage of developments in the key non-Western nations, educating the Russian elite and the broader public about the economic realities, politics, and culture of those nations.
Paul Craig Roberts: When It Comes to Conducting a War, the Kremlin Has Proven Its Incompetence
To be clear, I respect Putin as a person. He is humane. He cares about life and civilization. He is a good person. In fact, he is proving to be too good of a person to be dealing with the venal and corrupt West, and he has no idea how to conduct a war. Putin thinks, or thought, that Russia and the West shared common values. This shows how little Putin understands the West. The West is Washington, and the rest of the West are not independent countries but Washington’s puppets. None of Washington’s puppets represent their own citizens and neither does Washington. Washington’s values are measured only in dominance and money.
Washington is concerned only with its political, military, and financial hegemony over everyone else, including its own people who are waking up in each successive day in an ever tightening police state where the US Constitution is erased bit by bit, day by day. The FBI has become a Gestapo for the Democrat Party. The Western media is a propaganda ministry for Washington. Truth that is inconsistent with the ruling official narratives is suppressed. The government and its presstitutes feed the people lies and tell them it is truth.
Putin gives speeches in which he shows that he understands this, but his actions do not reflect his understanding in his speeches. The distance between Putin’s words and his action is almost infinite. The Kremlin had to be totally out of touch with reality when the Kremlin thought that its “limited military operation” in Donbass would be allowed by Washington to be limited. How anyone in the Kremlin could possibly have been this naive, this gullible, this uninformed is beyond my imagination.
How is it possible that the Kremlin could possibly have thought that after Washington went to the trouble to force Russian military intervention in Donbass, Washington didn’t intend to use it to greatly widen the war. Here we witness the total failure of Russian intelligence and the total failure of Russian understanding of the enemy with which Russia is at war. Indeed, it is not even clear that Russia understands that she is at war with the West. Here and there a Russian says so, but Russia’s actions belie any such understanding. The Kremlin is still trying to bail out Europe by supplying energy so Europe can continue its war against Russia. How does one understand this?
It has to be a first in History when a country at war supplies its enemies with the fuel with which to conduct war against itself. The Kremlin is begging Europe to please let us sell you energy so your war industries don’t have to close down. Could the Kremlin do anything else to make the Russian government look like the most confused government on earth? https://www.rt.com/business/564148-novak-nord-stream-supplies-europe/
Let’s put the origin of the ongoing and widening war in Ukraine in its factual context. In 2014 the American neoconservatives who dominate the American government overthrew the government in Ukraine while the Russian government, totally ignoring happenings in its backyard, was focused on trying to win Western acceptance as an Olympics host in Sochi. In other words, the Kremlin thought the Olympics was more important than Ukraine.
The Kremlin’s insouciance made Washington’s takeover of Ukraine a cake walk. Suddenly, the Kremlin was faced with Ukrainian neo-Nazis prohibiting the use of the Russian language and terrorizing and killing ethnic Russians who comprise the population of Donbass and Crimea, historical parts of Russia that Soviet authorities moved from the Russian province of the Soviet Union to the Soviet Ukraine province.
These Russian areas of Ukraine all voted by massive majorities to be reunited with their home country, but the Kremlin only accepted the application from Crimea, a part of Russia since the 1700s. The Kremlin accepted Crimea, because that is where the Russian Black Sea Naval Base is located, leased since the Soviet collapse, from Ukraine which was separated from Russia by the Soviet collapse.
By leaving the Donbass Russians hanging at the mercy of the US neoconservative coup, the Kremlin guaranteed a military conflict. The punishment the Ukrainian neo-Nazis inflicted on the Donbass Russians resulted in the creation of two independent republics: Donetsk and Luhansk. To defend themselves from being occupied by neo-Nazis, the two republics organized governments and militias. After loosing some of their territory to Ukrainian neo-Nazi militias, the Donetsk and Luhansk republics stopped the advance, but were subjected to artillery attacks for eight years on civilian housing that continue today.
Putin and Lavrov tried to pass the buck to the West and stupidly, although with the best intentions, tried to deal with the problem diplomatically, showing how little they understood the West. Putin came up with the impractical Minsk Agreement signed by Ukraine and the two Donbass republics and guaranteed by France and Germany. Under the Minsk Agreement Donbass was to remain within Ukraine, but would have sufficient autonomy to have their own police force so they they could not be persecuted by neo-Nazi Ukrainian police.
It became clear almost instantly that Ukraine would not comply with the agreement it signed and that France and Germany would not enforce the agreement. Why the Kremlin thought two Washington puppet states would enforce an agreement that permitted Russia to escape a military conflict is beyond my imagination. That Putin spent eight years trying to save an agreement that never had any prospect shows how out of touch with reality the Kremlin is. With this factual background, let’s come to the present conflict today.
When it comes to International Law, Putin is the only person in the world who abides by it. Certainly Washington doesn’t. By abiding by international law, Putin gives Washington every advantage in the conflict. Under international law a Russian invasion of Ukraine is an act of aggression. So Putin was careful not to invade Ukraine, despite what you hear from the presstitutes. The two Donbass republics, belatedly recognized by Russia eight years afterwards, requested assistance from Russia to prevent their conquest by a large Ukrainian army trained and armed by the West that was poised to invade.
Perhaps at this point the Kremlin realized its mistake of failing to accept, as the republics begged, reincorporation into Russia in 2014. In February 2022, if the Kremlin allowed neo-Nazis to exterminate Donbass Russians, the Kremlin would loss all legitimacy with the Russian people. In other words, Washington successfully maneuvered the Russian government into war that served Washington’s interest. As the West presented it, here was Russia the aggressor confirming Western propaganda. Here was Russia subverting Europe with energy dependence. Here was Russia rebuilding the Soviet Empire. Next Russia would be recreating the Warsaw Pac and extending it into Western Europe with Europe’s energy dependency on Russia. No one in the West listened to the Kremlin’s explanation.
With the official narrative set, Washington began supplying Ukraine with modern weapons, intelligence, and targeting information. When the Russian offensive paused, because Putin or the Russian military lacked the foresight to realize that an offensive required reserves, and as a result of this oversight, had no reserves, the US/UK trained Ukrainians began their own offensive, which has partially succeeded against the thinly protected Russian lines.
The Russian retreats, while awaiting reinforcements, have been presented in Western media such as the New York Times and the UK Telegraph as Russian forces fleeing the battlefield in terror, leaving behind their equipment. This is not what is happening, but it is not the fact of the situation that matters but how the media explains the situation. The narratives created by Washington and its presstitutes create their own “facts.”
Putin and the Russian military unbelievably went to war with minimal commitment of forces and no reserves. The Russian forces simply lacked the manpower, given Putin’s limited commitment, to defend thin lines once Putin stopped the offensive and handed the initiative to Washington. This is one of the most stupid mistakes that a wartime commander can make. What is actually happening is that the Kremlin in its totally incorrect reading of Washington had no idea that Ukraine would be supplied with endless modern weapons, intelligence, and targeting information. Not expecting this response, the Kremlin was not prepared for real war.
Even if the Kremlin had better understanding of the situation, the Kremlin has shown no comprehension of how to fight a war. We are now into eight months of a conflict that Russia could have settled in one week. And mighty Russia has been forced on the defensive with its lines retreating both in Kharkiv in the North and Kherson in the South. Wars that are perceived as being lost can lose their glory and support of the population.
To be clear, when the mobilized Russian reinforcements, which an intelligent military would have had on hand from the first of the conflict, are finally prepared for war, apparently sometime in December, the Russians will regain the lost territories, although the Ukrainians might have killed the inhabitants. But there is still no guarantee that Putin understands that Russia is at war with the US and Europe or what do do about it if he does understand it. The Kremlin’s spokesman says that the limited operation in Donbass will continue. If so and nothing else, the only possible conclusion is that Russia will be long suffering. A military that is prevented from attacking the communication and military infrastructure and most of the territory of the country with which it is at war cannot prevail. The Kremlin has been at war for eight months and has done nothing to prevent Kiev’s ability to fight a war. The Kremlin’s view that it is not at war with Ukraine and is only conducting a police action to remove Ukrainian forces from the Donbass is a self-deceiving idea that prevents the Kremlin from conducting a war.
To speak the truth, the Kremlin’s conduct of war is juvenile. A 10-year old kid could do a better job. Was the Kremlin even thinking when it thought it could conduct a war while leaving the opposing government perfectly secure in its conduct of the war? Russia has refused, to shut down the government in Kiev, thus allowing its enemy to conduct, unopposed, war against Russia. This has to be the first time in human history that a government at war has been permitted to operate as if it were not at war. There is no Russian attempt to destroy Zelensky, to shut down Kiev, to disrupt the communication and infrastructure of Ukraine.
Any country that conducts war in such a self-defeating way convinces its opponents that it has no intention of winning the war. This perceived lack of Russian resolution enbolders the West to push Russia harder and to violate more Russian red lines. Violating Russian red lines means nothing to the West as Russia never does anything about violations of its red lines. Russian protests are nothing but meaningless Russian bluster, says the West.
Apparently, never in Putin’s entire life did he ever learn to put his foot down. Putin seems to think it can be done with mere words, but it cannot. Putin’s hesitancy and toleration of provocations has undermined his credibility. As the West has no fear of its opponent, Putin’s Goody Two Shoes behavior is bringing us Armageddon. The longer the war goes on, the more involved the West becomes, the greater the stake powerful interest groups, such as the US military/security complex, have in the war, and the less prospect for de-escalation.
By constantly showing irresolution, acceptance of extreme provocations, and shamelessly begging for negotiations, the Kremlin has convinced Washington that Russia is incapable of fighting. From Washington’s viewpoint, Russia is nothing to be feared, only something to be moved out of way. It is extraordinary that the government of what is probably the most powerful military force in the world has convinced Washington that Russia is military impotent. This is Putin’s achievement from trying to save the Donbass Russians without having to fight a real war.
Andrei Martyanov, the Saker, and Dmitry Orlov have seriously misled their pro-Russian audience. Martyanov and Saker stressed the superiority of Russian firepower and tactical operations, which was correct, but they ignored the built-in strategic failure of the Russian “limited operation.” Moreover, the Russian tactical advantage was reduced when the limited forces Putin had been willing to commit became too thin to protect the boundaries of the conquest, and modern weapons from the West and targeting information substantially reduced Russian firepower advantage.
Putin, having foolishly let the war go on month after month, a war that he should have competed in one week, gave the US and UK time to train a larger Ukrainian army and equip it with modern weapons. It should have been obvious to the Kremlin from day one that this was in the cards. Any time a war is drawn out the advantage passes to the side that is not constrained by self-imposted constraints. It is impossible to imagine Napoleon or the Wehrmacht fighting in such a constrained way as Russia is required to fight in Ukraine. If Stalin had fought in the way Putin is today, there would be no Russia.
The USA and its quest for Full-Spectrum Dominance across the globe
“Don’t get me into a shooting war with the Russians”, Obama told his CIA Chief during the Syrian Civil War.
This quote has resonance, because it testifies the fact that different parts of the massive US Government work largely independent of one another, sometimes at cross-purposes. Syria (again) provides us example
of this when a conflict broke out between the CIA-backed Sunni Islamist jihadis and the US DoD-backed Kurds in Northern Syria.
“The USA is” or “the USA wants”, are easy and lazy mental shortcuts that allow people to assume that the world’s greatest superpower is united in purpose, when the fact of the matter is that there are different power centres, each with their own agendas, and that these agendas can sometimes align through “buy ins” with other power centres to focus on a given target. This results in the expansion (or failed expansion) of US Empire on the global stage, and this is the subject of this essay.
There has been a significant debate taking place not just on the internet between anonymous people and the occasional journalist who wades into the action, but also behind closed doors in various, relevant parts of the US Government as to whether the USA should pivot more quickly to China, or deal with Russia first, or both. But first, an explanation:
In International Relations (IR) Theory, the world is divided between hegemons (those in power), revisionist states (those seeking to change, reform, or end the current hegemonic condition and possibly replace them as hegemon), and free-riders (those that benefit from the present hegemon). The USA has been seeking to tame revisionist powers since the end of the Cold War, each in their own theatre. The following states are “revisionist” in IR terms:
4. North Korea
Three of the above are in possession of nuclear weapons, with Iran seeking to join the club. The USA, as current hegemon, seeks to prevent the rise of threats to its hegemonic status. This can be done in various ways, from armed conflict through to economic sanctions, and everything in between.
There are those like Henry Kissinger who seek to do a “Nixon Goes to China
”, but in reverse, whereby the USA engages in détente with Russia to bring it onside in a showdown with China over who gets to be the primary power in East Asia. These people view China as the greater threat, when compared to Russia, to US interests. This coloured the tone of the Trump Administration’s foreign policy as it was the first to take China on, by launching a failed rebellion in Hong Kong, by publicizing accusations of genocide in Xinjiang against the Uighurs there, and by slapping tariffs onto Chinese goods destined for the US market. COVID-19 caused a pause in the escalation of the US targeting Beijing.
There are others who insist that Russia is the greater threat to US interests and seek to surround and neutralize Moscow’s ability to engage in nuclear deterrence. Full-Spectrum Dominance
is the concept whereby a military has complete control over all dimensions of any potential battlefield. It order to achieve Full-Spectrum Dominance, a state must have Nuclear Primacy
, i.e. the ability to win in a nuclear war, whereby the other side’s nuclear arsenal is wiped out before it can launch any of its missiles. Russia’s nuclear arsenal is the only present roadblock towards American Full-Spectrum Dominance, which is not just why many US foreign policy planners seek to defeat the Russians first, but is also a large part of why this war in Ukraine is taking place at present.
Still others want to go for gold and take on BOTH China and Russia at the same time. This screams of hubris, and we can now safely conclude that the various moving parts of the USGov and non-governmental centres of power have agreed on this approach. The drive for global hegemony whereby both China AND Russia are targeted simultaneously is what I mean by the term “Turbo America”.
America: Never More United, Never More Powerful Than It Is Today
I get a lot of shit when I bluntly state that the USA has never been more powerful than it is today. People will point to the USA’s de-industrialization, its opiate-death crisis, its falling living standards, its disappearing middle class, crumbling infrastructure, the growing divide between red and blue states, and the collective meltdown of half of America thanks to Trump’s surprise win in 2016. All of these points are valid, but they also mean fuck all in the greater scheme of things.
To effect change (at its most conservative, or revolution at is most liberal), a segment of the elites need to defect to the side of those seeking change. The USA today is a picture of elites united in total. Bipartisan consensus on all matters imperial is the rule, with intelligence agencies in bed with both media and Silicon Valley. Those who diverge from “the current thing” are quickly cast out of good company, with some losing their jobs and becoming unpersoned. All centres of power (with the notable exception of maybe the massive NYPD) are firmly onside, happily conforming to ever-changing prevailing narratives that find their way into laws, into schooling, and into corporate governance.
“But Niccolo, half of the country hates this!” Sure, but they don’t matter. Flyover America can rot for all they care, so long as the lights aren’t turned off in the places that count. The idea that the people matter was easily laid to rest with how easily the Trump Administration was subverted through the joint action of the intelligence/security servies with the mainstream media, NGOs, the judiciary, and various planted agents within the actual Trump Regime. They then went on to “fortify”
the 2020 election to ensure that such a wrong result could not be repeated. If it is repeated again, they will simply subvert once more, as they got away with it the first time and are still in the same positions of power.
It does not matter to the elites whether Peoria, Illinois or Topeka, Kansas is seeing growth or regeneration. This does not impact the concerns of those in power on the federal level because these are national concerns that have for some time taken a back seat to imperial concerns. John McWilliams in Greenville, South Carolina is as relevant to them as Jose Cortes in Arica, Chile, or Dieter Schliemann from Dortmund, Germany: they are all imperial subjects.
Russia is fighting its war in Ukraine with one hand tied behind its own back (its unwillingness to send in overwhelming force), but the Americans are fighting this proxy war with not just one hand tied behind its back, but with another four fingers on the other hand as well. Happy to fight to the last Ukrainian, the Americans are using their massive stockpiles of weapons alongside real-time intel to hamper Russian efforts in that country. US policy planners know that the Ukrainians cannot win this war on the ground, but they can make it as bloody as possible for the Russians. When combined with symbolic strikes like that on the Moskva naval flagship in tandem with their overwhelming dominance on the propaganda plane of battle, the USA can also diminish the reputation of Russia’s armed forces in the eyes of many (but not all).
To further compound matters, the USA has placed the monetary cost of this conflict entirely on the shoulders of its European satrapies. US-Russia trade amounted to very little not just in the run up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but in years prior as well. Europe, on the other hand, has had its arm twisted to reduce trade with Russia over the years to reflect the increasing strain of ties between its American lord and Moscow. Just today, Germany reported a record historical high of 30% producer price inflation
, and this was from last month. The blame is laid on skyrocketing energy prices. Just think what will happen if the USA gets its way and the EU approves an embargo on Russian oil (this vote is coming up next week). Europe is seeing inflation galloping across the continent, as the USA just looks on and tells them to tighten their belts to ‘save democracy’, while planning to sell them overpriced American LNG to replace Russian gas which powers many of Europe’s economies. This is a flex. And the flexing on Europe doesn’t stop with matters not relevant to Ukraine and/or Russia either.
The Full Spectrum Dominance of Europe
Not content with just military and economic domination of the European continent, the Americans want to transform Europe to better reflect the USA culturally and socially. With a pliant Eurocracy in Brussels, much of this is outsourced to them, leaving America’s hand invisible. But America’s hand is visible where it feels it must be made so.
Just after last Christmas, Poland’s President Duda vetoed a media law
drafted and passed by his own party so as to not upset the USA. The Americans did not like and did not approve of a law that stipulated that Polish media must be in Polish hands. The reason? Poland cannot be trusted with media independent of US ideological liberalism, with George Soros at the forefront of looking to purchase Polish media outlets in order to transform Polish society. Poland is currently the USA’s forward base in its proxy war against the Russians in Ukraine, but this is no excuse for trying to protect its own media from its American overlords.
Poland still remains largely Catholic, but this is eroding. Will it go the way of Ireland? That remains to be seen. France has fallen to Americanization
(where Catholicism has been eroding for a very long time, to be fair, but where a French civilization remained separate from that of Anglosphere):
Americanisation, Fourquet writes, has profoundly transformed France. Although 27% of French people have visited the US at least once, every second person among the wealthy has done so. The upper classes are fluent in English — Macron voters were the most proficient in this language, while Le Pen voters were the least — and consume mostly American media.
The less fortunate have their own cultural markers of Americanisation. Again, Fourquet analyses names. The Maries of French tradition were replaced by Kevins (after Home Alone) and Dylans (after Beverly Hills 90210). The map of these American names coincides with the places where Marine Le Pen can count on her firmest support. Many National Rally activists bear names such as Jordan Bardella, today the number two in the party, or Davy Rodriguez, who headed its youth organisation. More phenomena of this kitschy low-status Americanisation include the immense popularity of country music clubs, vintage US cars, and pole dancing across France, as well the spread of the Buffalo Grill restaurant chain in hundreds of locations.
Both the elites and the working classes began to dream American dreams. Fourquet calls one of them the “Plaza majority” lifestyle, after the name of the celebrity real estate agent Stéphane Plaza. In his TV shows, he advertises an ideal shared across French society: a house with a garden, a desire that mimics the American suburban lifestyle. Depending on the class, this ideal assumes different forms, but it often includes a swimming pool. This vision of affluence from America captured the imagination of the French, who have built 1.3 million pools in their country. Elsewhere, Fourquet says the last common experience of the “French archipelago” is a visit, or “pilgrimage” to Disneyland — 75% of those under 35 have visited the theme park.
Americanisation was the only component of globalisation that did not bitterly divide the French. According to Fourquet the split between those for whom globalisation meant achievement and those for whom it meant dispossession, would, from 2017, become central to understanding France. As in the United States and Britain, globalisation swept the French economy. As in the United States and Britain, its impact could have perverse consequences.
Europe would benefit from a balance of powers effect whereby the USA and another competitor would be closely matched in power, so that European states (or the EU in theory) could play one off of the other to maximize their own sovereignty and best protect their own interests. With American Full-Spectrum Dominance on the European continent, Europe is reduced to little more than a collection of American satrapies, whereby the Metropole (the USA) informs the satraps by way of direct edicts, coercion, soft power, and cultural change.
Turbo-America means that the USA openly engages in coercion of both opponents and allies to get its way. There is little to stop them, so why not do it? Hiding behind the mask of “democracy” and “global norms”, the USA introduces new concepts of rule globally to further cement its rule and gain advantage for its corporations. US-introduced sanctions have increased by a staggering 933%
(!) in the past 20 years alone:
Sanctions designations net increased 933% over the last 20 years, increasing virtually every year for the past two decades, from a total of 912 sanctioned parties in 2000 to a whopping 9,421 on OFAC’s lists as of this year;
While OFAC issued over 12,000 designations during that same period, it also delisted nearly 3,000 persons – a quarter of the overall total;
Since 2000, the number of underlying sanctions authorities grew from 69 to 176 in 2021; and
The ratio of Executive versus Legislative Branch actions has remain relatively constant over the years; about 63% of sanctions authorities over the last 20 years have been executive orders while about 37% have been statutes, but the ratio has not changed much in the past two decades (64% executive orders/36% statutes in 2000 versus 61% executive orders/39% statutes in 2021).
This is known in some quarters as “sanctions inflation”, as it is the ‘go-to’ tool in the US toolbox for trying to change the behaviour of those that their policies target. Turbo-America means that sanctions will become an even more routine occurrence, and we are already seeing this with the threats to sanction both India and China over their refusal to break with Russia over the war in Ukraine. Together, these two countries account for roughly 36% of the world’s entire population.
Complementary to sanctions inflation is the new corporate concept of ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) in which western concepts revolving around the fight against Climate Change, around social concerns such as race, inequality, sexual minorities, etc. and around who gets to be in charge of various businesses are standardized across the western corporate landscape. Naturally, the rules being put into place best serve the interests of American corporations, which allows for buy ins from them with respect to these policies. This is an add-on to Globalism itself, raising the barrier to entry for others, while sandbagging and extending already existing advantages for those that have them at present.
Do you want funding for your venture? Do you want to be able to bid for various contracts? Then you must conform to these new standards or you are shit out of luck. It is through ESG (and spinoffs like DEI: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) where the USA most quickly engineers social change in its satraps and dependencies. As I wrote in “The Desquamation of America”
, this indicates that the USA has entered an ideological phase where once it was purely mercantalist. But this ruling ideology serves those very same mercantilist interests.
Big Tech and US Empire
It’s one of a string of examples of the Biden administration’s breaking with recent precedent by deploying declassified intelligence as part of an information war against Russia. The administration has done so even when the intelligence wasn’t rock solid, officials said, to keep Russian President Vladimir Putin off balance. Coordinated by the White House National Security Council, the unprecedented intelligence releases have been so frequent and voluminous, officials said, that intelligence agencies had to devote more staff members to work on the declassification process, scrubbing the information so it wouldn’t betray sources and methods. Observers of all stripes have called it a bold and so far successful strategy — although not one without risks.
Big Tech is the lynchpin
that effects US military, economic, and socio-cultural control over its own country and those of its allies:
A group of former intelligence and national security officials on Monday issued a jointly signed
letter warning that pending legislative attempts to restrict or break up the power of Big Tech monopolies — Facebook, Google, and Amazon — would jeopardize national security because, they argue, their centralized censorship power is crucial to advancing U.S. foreign policy. The majority of this letter is devoted to repeatedly invoking the grave threat allegedly posed to the U.S. by Russia as illustrated by the invasion of Ukraine, and it repeatedly points to the dangers of Putin and the Kremlin to justify the need to preserve Big Tech's power in its maximalist form. Any attempts to restrict Big Tech's monopolistic power would therefore undermine the U.S. fight against Moscow.
Censorship plays a key role in this, as those with ideas that run counter to prevailing narratives and foreign policy objectives and who gain sizable audiences, are to be unpersoned to “protect democracy”, as per Max Boot
. Few reject the overwhelming evidence of growing conformity in western society with respect to prevailing narratives involving “the current thing” as the fear of punishment for those who diverge from those narratives is overwhelming, due to the increasingly precarious economic conditions that most people now live in. This makes censorship quite a lot easier, only serving to make policy much simpler to effect when opposition is either muted or silenced altogether. It also gives the impression of overwhelming support for imperial policies and dictates.
China and Hubris
The threat of applying sanctions to China for refusing to break with Russia is what took me most aback and what has led me to write this piece, as I was not sure as to whether the USA would move against Russia or China first, thinking that they could not threaten both at the same time. I was wrong of course. As mentioned above, the USA does very little trade with Russia, but its trade with China is monstrous. It’s one thing to sanction the Russians as any costs can be put onto the Europeans who wouldn’t dare to complain, but to sanction China is a trickier adventure by exponential amounts. How do effectively sanction this without committing economic suicide?
I am certain that US policy planners in the Treasury Department have been thinking up ways to make this work, and their confident threats to sanction Beijing tell me that they have thought it through. The Chinese have already warned against any sanctions, saying bluntly that any threat to its gas and oil imports will be considered threats to its own national security
. Openly telling everyone that they will lie to us to make Russia bleed to death, and openly threatening to sanction both China and India at the same time for not breaking with Russia is a big, glowing red sign indicating hubris. For some, this will suggest desperation on the part of the USA to maintain its global standing. To me, it suggests that the USA is confident in its own power, having put Russia onto the Europeans to allow itself to effect its Pivot to East Asia once and for all.
By combining its economic strength with its military, its soft power, and its technological advantages to dominate and micro-manage its Americanizing client states while engaging in a proxy war with the nuclear-armed Russians AND moving towards cutting China down to size in East Asia and the Pacific, the USA is on the path towards Full-Spectrum Dominance. The only question that remains to be seen is whether they will succeed. In the meantime, Turbo-America will continue to steamroll and Americanize everything in its path.
The Grayzone: How the US weaponized Ukraine against Russia
Since the US-engineered 2013-14 coup in Ukraine, American forces have taught Ukrainians, including neo-Nazi units, how to fight in urban and other civilian areas. Weaponizing Ukraine is part of Washington’s quest for what the Pentagon calls “full spectrum dominance.”
“[I]f you can learn all modalities of war, then you can be the god of war,” so said a Ukrainian artillery commander in 2016 while receiving training from the US Army. The unnamed commander was quoted by Lt. Claire Vanderberg, a mortar platoon leader training soldiers as part of the Pentagon’s Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine. The training has taken place at the absurdly named International Peacekeeping and Security Center, which sits close to the border with Poland near the Ukrainian town of Yavoriv. Western media reported Russia’s recent cruise missile attack on the base, but chose not to mention what has taken place inside. The relationship described above is a snapshot of a decades-long US-NATO effort to not only pull Ukraine from Russia’s orbit, but to actively weaponize the country against Moscow.
US national security state acknowledges “Russia is pushing back,” not pushing first
In their internal documents, the Pentagon and other arms of the US national security state reiterate the same arguments the anti-war left does when it explains how Ukraine has been used to provoke Russia into a military escalation. The principal difference is that the Pentagon speaks from an unabashedly imperialist perspective in which such provocations are seen as an important component of US power projection. Recently, the US Director of National Intelligence’s Annual Threat Assessment reported: “Russia is pushing back against Washington where it can—locally and globally—employing techniques up to and including the use of force.” Note: Russia is “pushing back,” not pushing first.
A report from 2021 by the National Intelligence Council concedes of Russia and China: “Neither has felt secure in an international order designed for and dominated by democratic powers,” with “democratic” meaning the US and friends. Both Russia and China “have promoted a sovereignty-based international order that protects their absolute authority within their borders and geographic areas of influence.”
In October 2017, US Army Field Artillery School Assistant Commandant, Col. Heyward Hutson, who is responsible for training Ukrainians, explained: “Ukraine wants to become a NATO nation, but Russia doesn’t want them to be a NATO nation. Russia wants to have a buffer zone.” He added that another “problem is a lot of Eastern Ukraine is pro-Russia so the civilian population there is divided.” A 2016 US Army War College report reiterated: “Russia’s basic national security strategy is to keep its ‘neighboring belt stable’, NATO weak, China close, and the United States focused elsewhere.” Another, from 2007, explains that the “pro-reform forces in power since the Orange Revolution” (read: pro-US forces) “would like to move Ukraine squarely into the Euro-Atlantic community with only limited deference to Russia.”
The document goes on to note that, at the time, the “Ukrainian political and military leadership has remained divided over the question of whether Ukraine should pursue a collective security approach or retain its neutral status.” It concluded that, while “[m]ost senior [Ukrainian] commanders have pro-reform credentials… there are still large numbers of senior leaders within the Main Defense Forces who have no or only limited exposure to Western training and operations.” The US-sponsored coup of 2013-14 enabled Washington to smooth over that contradiction by launching an extensive program to train units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
NATO is “not an exercise in diplomacy and deterrence as before”
When the Soviet Union collapsed, so too did its military alliance, the Warsaw Pact. But the West not only refused to disband its alliance—the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)—it expanded up to Russia’s borders. NATO’s own records state that in 1992, “Just four months after Ukraine’s declaration of independence” from the USSR, “NATO invited its representative to an extraordinary meeting of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, the body set up to shape cooperation between NATO and the states of the former Warsaw Pact.” Russia did not propose a similar pact with America’s neighbors.
In 1994, Ukraine joined the so-called Partnership for Peace (PFP). Citing the UN Charter, the PFP states that signatories agree “to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, to respect existing borders and to settle disputes by peaceful means.” A US State Department primer reveals that the PFP had an ulterior motive. Its real aim was not neutrality but to move Ukraine and other signatories closer to NATO. “Participation in PFP does not guarantee entry into NATO, but it is the best preparation for states interested in becoming NATO members.” The primer also lists the 52 actual and planned military exercises in which PFP members initially engaged on or near Russia’s borders.
Bill Clinton-era policymakers explained that “NATO is not merely an exercise in preventive diplomacy and deterrence as before.” NATO expansion had a political agenda. They considered “NATO enlargement [a]s a democratization policy.” As above, “democratization” means pro-US. Citing President Clinton’s 1996 campaign speeches, the report notes that in their minds NATO “will provide the stability needed for greater economic development in Central and Eastern Europe.” In other words, post-USSR NATO was designed, in part, to guarantee US led-“free markets” (which are often neither free nor markets, but monopolies,) in ex-Soviet nations where state-ownership of businesses was the norm.
In 1997, NATO and Ukraine signed the Charter on a Distinctive Partnership. The Charter was a prima facie violation of the PFP in that it compromised Ukraine’s political independence. It proposed several areas of NATO-Ukraine cooperation, “including civil emergency planning, military training and environmental security.” NATO brags: “cooperation between NATO and Ukraine quickly developed” in the form of “retraining for former military officers … and invit[ing] Ukraine to participate in NATO-led exercises.”
Making Ukraine a “military partner of the US”
The US Army says: “Ukraine has been a military partner of the U.S. dating back to the mid 1990s.” In 1998, America’s Special Operations Command Europe hosted a Special Operations Forces (SOF) conference in Stuttgart, Germany. The US Army reports: “This benchmark even brought military personnel from Moldova, Georgia, and the Ukraine together to view U.S. SOF demonstrations and discuss opportunities for future Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) and Joint Contact Team Program (JCTP) events.”
In June 2000, the US Marines reported that the Navy’s amphibious warship, the USS Trenton, had sailed from the Aegean to the Black Sea and had docked in Odessa (Ukraine). The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) “got to experience some of Odessa’s history first hand when they climbed the Prymorsky, or ‘Maritime’, Stairs.” In addition to the pleasantries, “the focus for MEU personnel and USS Trenton crew [was] NATO’s next exercise – Cooperative Partner 2000 (CP00) – of which Ukraine is the host nation.”
In addition to Ukraine’s participation in the US-led NATO training and exercises, Ukrainian soldiers fought in American-led wars. After 9/11, they participated in the occupation of Afghanistan via NATO’s so-called International Security Assistance Force. Ukrainian troops also aided the US-British-occupation of Iraq. In 2008, the Army lauded their comrades: “More than 5,000 Ukrainian troops have served in Iraq during Ukraine’s five years of service in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
After backing 2014 coup, US provides “lethal security assistance”
Established in 2014 during the US-backed coup, the Ukraine component of the US State Department and Pentagon’s Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF) provides tens of millions of dollars-worth of training and equipment to “develop the tactical, operational, and institutional training capacities of its Ministry of Defense and National Guard.” The State Department says: “The GSCF has also supported Ukrainian Special Operations Forces in developing tactical and institutional capabilities that are compatible with Western models.” According to one Pentagon-linked journal: “Arsen Avakov, the Minister of Internal Affairs from 2014 to 2021[, …] enabled the expansion and later integration of paramilitary forces into the National Guard,” including the nazi Azov Battalion.
From 2015, the Pentagon’s European Command oversaw the Joint Multinational Task Force-Ukraine (JMTF-U), in which the US Army and National Guard trains the Ukrainian Armed Forces. In addition, officers were trained in the US through the International Military Education and Training program. The Congressional Research Service reports that, “[s]eparately, U.S. Special Operations Forces have trained and advised Ukrainian special forces.” In addition, the US participates in the annual NATO Partnership for Peace exercise, Rapid Trident.
In November 2015, supposedly at the request of the new pro-US regime, the Obama administration sent two AN/TPQ radar systems to Ukraine. “President Petro Poroshenko had the opportunity to review the equipment, and was briefed by U.S. military personnel on its capabilities.” The US Army later revealed that the radar system was not purely defensive. A team from US Army Europe, Fort Sill’s Fires Center of Excellence (FCoE), and the Army Security Assistance Training Management Organization (SATMO) “conducted four weeks of operator training.” Since the initial delivery, “Ukraine received four additional Q-36 radars … and training by U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command with support from the FCoE and USSATMO.” The publication quoted one trainer as saying that “the U.S. team showed their brigade, battalion and platoon commanders how to tactically employ the radar system to support fire and maneuver efforts.”
Since 2016, SATMO’s Doctrine Education Advisory Group (DEAG) “has advised Ukrainian Security Forces at the operational level to revise doctrine, improve professional military education, enhance NATO interoperability and increase combat readiness.” In January this year, DEAG brought the first load of $200m-worth of “lethal security assistance, including ammunition for the frontline defenders of Ukraine.”
US trains Ukrainians to “blend into the local populace” waging warfare in civilian-heavy areas
One of the more immoral US actions in Ukraine has been the training of armed forces to fight in civilian areas, goading Russia to fight in densely-populated locations with the effect of scoring anti-Russia propaganda points when Russians kill Ukrainian civilians. In 2015, the US Marines implied that American service personnel would travel to Ukraine to fight. “Unofficial travel (leave or liberty) to any country in Africa or the following European countries [including Ukraine and its neighbors] requires command O-6 level approval … The countries are subject to change based on the Foreign Clearance Guide (FCG), Department of State (DOS), Combatant Command, and/or Intelligence threat notifications.” This suggests preparation for “irregular” warfare.
An undated document published by the US Special Operations Center of Excellence (SOCE), apparently from around 2017, states that “the United States should learn from the Chechnya rebels’ reaction” to Russia’s invasion of Chechnya in the ‘90s. It explains that the “rebels” engaged in “decentralized operations,” using social media to “blend into the local populace.” Russia’s enemies used “misinformation” to manipulate Russians into killing the rebels’ enemies.
The SOCE paper goes on to note that the Army Special Operation Forces “are trained to thrive in these environments.” The document explicitly advocates for the US to train irregular forces to provoke Russia: “The United States should form an interagency working group with the Department of State, members of the intelligence community and SOCOM,” the Special Operations Command, which would “serv[e] as the DoD lead/representative.” It suggests that such a working group “understand that SOCOM actions will need to be unconventional and irregular in order to compete with Russian modern warfare tactics.”
By bolstering Ukraine’s armed forces and goading Russia, US elites have openly used Ukrainian civilians as pawns. For many years, Ukrainian forces were trained in urban combat by US personnel: i.e., to fight Russians in densely-populated civilian areas. “Task Force Illini” is comprised of 150 soldiers from the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Illinois Army National Guard. In September 2020, the US Army reported that Armed Forces Ukraine soldiers “honed their urban operations skills as Task Force Illini advisors lent their expertise at Combat Training Center in Yavoriv” – the Western Ukrainian de facto NATO base near Poland’s border. You may have heard about the International Peacekeeping & Security Center in Ukraine since Russia struck it. Previously, US & Canada used it to host trainings of Ukrainian forces. Here's a trainee with two black US servicemembers geotagging himself in Zimbabwe & posting "14/88" pic.twitter.com/dzsNsKzZEC
— Alex Rubinstein (@RealAlexRubi) March 16, 2022The Oklahoma-based “Thunderbirds” have gone through several incarnations over the last century. The army unit was originally known as the 45th Infantry Division and is now the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. By early-2017, the JMTG-U mission fell under the 7th Army Training Command and US Army Europe, which paired Thunderbirds from the 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment with soldiers from the Ukrainian 28th Mechanized Brigade and 79th Airborne Brigade. Their goal was to prepare Ukrainians for full-on vehicular combat.
“Thunderbirds” train Ukrainian in full-scale vehicular combat
Putin claims that Ukraine is a pawn of NATO. US propaganda rejects the notion, attempting to prove it by publicly ruling out Ukraine’s membership in the Alliance. But in April 2017, the US Army admitted that under the JMTG-U, the Thunderbirds’ mission was “to train the Ukrainian army to NATO standards, develop their noncommissioned officer corps, and help them to establish a combat training center, so that in the future, they can continue to train themselves.” So, if the Ukrainian military is trained to NATO standards and is overseen by a US puppet president, it might as well be part of NATO, minus the US obligation to come to its defense.
The proposed center became the Yavoriv Combat Training Center. The US Army reported that in October 2017, “a new grenade range was opened. Maj. Montana Dugger said: “We’ve helped them build long-range maintenance plans so they’ll be able to use these facilities for the next 20, 30-plus years.” Seemingly ignorant of the comical doublespeak, the US Army also explained that Ukrainian’s Combat Training Center “is being established at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center near Yavoriv.” Also ironic is that while the Thunderbirds train a military incorporating neo-Nazi units to fight Russians in Ukraine, its pre-1930s insignia was a swastika, which its Oklahoma-based museum describes as “an Ancient American Indian symbol of good luck.”
CIA covert operations’ goal: “kill Russians”
In addition to the overt but under- or non-reported events outlined above, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has run a covert, eight-year training program. Why the need for covert ops in the face of extensive overt projects? The CIA specializes in assassination, proxy warfare, psychological operations, and false flags. This suggests that their efforts include tactics prohibited by the Geneva Conventions. Yahoo! News reported that in 2014, under a doctrine called “covert action funding,” “a small, select group of veteran CIA paramilitaries made their first secret trips to the frontlines to meet with Ukrainian counterparts.” The training was conducted by the CIA’s Special Activities Center, which suggests that even if the officers were “ex-CIA” and Special Forces, they were given access to Langley at high-levels, making it a de facto official mission.
One operative is quoted as saying that the officers attempted to Talibanize the Ukrainian paramilitaries in the sense that the Afghan Taliban had no sophisticated hardware that was vulnerable to enemy blinding. Ergo, basic, non-tech warfare training was required. The report says that the trainers: “taught their Ukrainian counterparts sniper techniques; how to operate U.S.-supplied Javelin anti-tank missiles and other equipment; how to evade digital tracking the Russians used to pinpoint the location of Ukrainian troops, which had left them vulnerable to attacks by artillery; how to use covert communications tools; and how to remain undetected in the war zone while also drawing out Russian and insurgent forces from their positions, among other skills, according to former officials.”
In addition, one former senior source said (paraphrased by the reporter): “The agency needed to determine the ‘backbone’ of the Ukrainians … The question was, ‘Are they going to get rolled, or are going to stand up and fight?”
So who tends to have “backbone,” i.e., a ruthless and psychopathic fighting spirit? Fascists and ultra-nationalists. Indeed, it has been widely reported by even US corporate media that the Ukrainian Armed Forces and paramilitary units were infested with Nazis. Today, the same media refer to the Nazis as mere nationalists. Beginning 2015, the CIA’s Ground Department arranged for Ukrainians to be trained in the US south. The operations continue to the present and have been expanded under the Biden administration. “The multiweek, U.S.-based CIA program has included training in firearms, camouflage techniques, land navigation, tactics like ‘cover and move,’ intelligence and other areas.” One senior officer is quoted as saying: “The United States is training an insurgency … to kill Russians.”
In February this year, shortly before the Russian invasion, it was reported that the CIA had been “preparing Ukrainians to mount an insurgency against a Russian occupation.” Against an occupation? Or an insurgency to provoke an occupation? In addition to the CIA, the US military has its own covert operations. Under the Resistance Operating Concept started in 2018, the Pentagon appears to have been training territorial defense units comprised of Ukrainian civilians. This seems to have led to the creation by Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces creating a National Resistance Center that teaches civilians guerrilla tactics.
Ukraine military build-up brings the world to the brink
After Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, pro-Russian eastern protests erupted in Donetsk and Luhansk. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) noted: “The government in Kyiv responded with military force and employed local militias to help push back the separatists.” The CRS added that the US leads Britain, Canada, and Lithuania in the Multinational Joint Commission on Defense Reform and Security Cooperation. The Pentagon’s European Command had a European Reassurance Initiative at the time, which is now called the European Deterrence Initiative. Under this program, dozens of Ukrainians were trained in Huntsville, Alabama, in RQ-11B, hand-launched Raven drone operations. Seventy-two drones were sent to Ukraine in 2016.
A January 2016 UK House of Commons Library research briefing states: “Fighting between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed separatists has killed more than 9,000 people since April 2014 and injured more than 20,000.” The briefing goes on to note that after the UN Security Council-backed Minsk II agreement, which called for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of frontline forces on both sides, the Ukrainian parliament granted special status and enhanced autonomy to parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
The Royal United Services Institute is a UK Ministry of Defense-linked think-tank. One of its reports concedes that Russia had a largely “defensive policy” when it came to Ukraine. It says: “Russian officials have become alarmed by expanding and overlapping Western alliances from an enlarged NATO and EU, to AUKUS and the Coalition of Democracies promoted by both the US and the UK.”
Part of Russia’s strategy has its roots in the US-led destruction of Libya in 2011, the report explains. The NATO bombing of Libya and overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi “underscored how strong Western alliances were able to bypass or manipulate the [UN Security Council] UNSC, essentially circumventing a forum where Russian interests could be protected.”
Indeed, on February 27th, 2022, the UNSC adopted Resolution 2623, which states: “the lack of unanimity of its permanent members at the 8979th meeting has prevented it from exercising its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.”
The absence of international diplomacy, the weakness of a domestic anti-war movement in the US, and the cheerleading for war by many leftists and liberals under the doctrine that Putin is an evil villain has pushed the world as close to terminal nuclear disaster as it has been since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis; perhaps even closer. Many Russians have taken to the streets to clamor for a ceasefire. After looking the other way as their leaders spent the past 8 years weaponizing Ukraine against Russia, Western publics have yet to demand the same.
Ukraine war veterans on how Kiev plundered US aid, wasted soldiers, endangered civilians, and lost the war
“The weapons are stolen, the humanitarian aid is stolen, and we have no idea where the billions sent to this country have gone,” a Ukrainian complained to The Grayzone.
In a video sent via Facebook messenger in July, Ivan* can be seen standing next to his car, an early 2010s model Mitsubishi SUV. Smoke is pouring out of the rear window. Ivan laughs and pans his phone’s camera across the length of the vehicle, pointing out bullet holes. “The turbocharger died in my car,” he said, panning his phone toward the front of the vehicle. “My commander says I should pay to repair it myself. So to use my own car in the war, I need to buy a new turbocharger with my own money.” Ivan flipped the camera toward his face. “Well, you fucking motherfucker members of parliament, I hope you fuck each other. Devils. I wish you were in our place,” he said. Last month, Ukraine’s parliamentarians voted to give themselves a 70% salary increase. Filings indicate the raise was enabled and encouraged by the billions of dollars and euros of aid that have poured in from the US and Europe.
“We, the Ukrainian soldiers, have nothing,” said Ivan. “The things the soldiers have been given to use in the war came directly from volunteers. The aid that goes to our government will never reach us.”
Ivan has been a soldier since 2014. Currently, he’s stationed in the Donbas region, where he is tasked with using small, consumer-grade drones to spot Russian positions for artillery targeting. “There are so many problems on the frontline now,” he said. “We don’t have an internet connection, which makes our work basically impossible. We have to drive to get a connection on mobile devices. Can you imagine?”
Another soldier in Ivan’s unit sent us a video of himself from a trench near the frontlines in Donbas. “According to documents, the government has built us a bunker here,” he says. “But as you see, there are only a few centimeters of a wood covering over our heads, and this is supposed to protect us from tank and artillery shelling. The Russians shell us for hours at a time. We dug these trenches ourselves. We have two AK-47s between 5 soldiers here, and they jam constantly because of all the dust.
“I went to my commander and explained the situation. I told him it’s too hard to hold this position. I told him I understand this is a strategically important point, but our squad is broken, and no relief is coming for us. In 10 days, 15 soldiers died here, all from shelling and shrapnel. I asked the commander if we could bring some heavy equipment to build a better bunker and he refused, because he said the Russian shelling could damage the equipment. Does he not care that 15 of our soldiers died here?”
“If you tried to explain the situation Ukrainian soldiers are facing to an American soldier, they would think you were insane,” said Ivan. “Imagine telling an American soldier that we are using our personal cars in the war, and we’re also responsible for paying for repairs and fuel. We’re buying our own body armor and helmets. We don’t have observation tools or cameras, so soldiers have to pop their heads out to see what’s coming, which means at any moment, a rocket or tank can tear their heads off.”
Illya*, a 23 year-old soldier from Kiev, says his unit is facing the same conditions in another part of the Donbas region. He joined the Ukrainian Army shortly after the war started. He has a background in IT and knew such expertise was in high demand. “If I had known how much deception there was in this Army, and how everything would be for us, I never would have joined,” he said. “I want to go home, but if I flee, I face prison.”
Illya and the other soldiers in his unit lack weapons and protective gear. “In Ukraine, people cheat each other even in war,” he said. “I’ve watched the medical supplies donated to us being taken away. The cars that drove us to our position were stolen. And we have not been replaced with new soldiers in three months, though we should have been relieved three times by now.”
“Everyone is lying”: US doctor describes shocking corruption
Samantha Morris*, a doctor from Maine, went to Ukraine in May to try to help provide medical training for soldiers. “The first time I crossed the border from Poland, I had to hide my medical supplies under mattresses and diapers to prevent them from being stolen,” she said. “The border guards on the Ukrainian side will just take things, and tell you, ‘we need this for our war,’ but then, they just steal the items and resell them. Honestly, if you don’t hand-deliver donations to the intended recipients, the items will never reach them.”
Morris and a few other American medical professionals began to hold training courses in Sumy, a mid-sized city in northeastern Ukraine. “We drew up a contract with the governor in Sumy, though all they provided to us were meals and lodging, and the lodging was just us sleeping in the same public university we held our training courses in,” she said. “The Sumy governor had a friend, a local businessman, and he demanded that this businessman be added to the contract as a ‘liaison’ between us and the city of Sumy. And as a liaison, he would get a percentage fee of the contract. Our lawyers tried to negotiate the businessman out of the contract, but the governor of Sumy wouldn’t budge. We ultimately just signed the contract so we could hold our trainings.”
In the two months she spent in Ukraine, Morris says she encountered theft and corruption more times than she could count. “The lead doctor at the military base in Sumy has ordered medical supplies from and for the military at different points in time, and he has had 15 trucks of supplies completely disappear,” she said. The military first aid kits she had intended to give to soldiers once they graduated her training program were stolen. She saw the same kits for sale at a local market days later.
“I got a call from a nurse at a military hospital in [the Ukrainian city of] Dnipro,” Morris recalled. “She said the president of the hospital had stolen all the pain medications to resell them, and that the wounded soldiers being treated there had no pain relief. She begged us to hand-deliver pain medications to her. She said she would hide them from the hospital president so that they’d reach the soldiers. But who can you trust? Was the hospital president really stealing the medications, or was she trying to con us into giving her pain medications for her to sell or use? Who knows. Everyone is lying.”
Donated protective military equipment and combat medical supplies have flooded Ukraine’s online marketplaces. Sellers are careful to hide their identities, often creating new vendor accounts for each sale and willing to fulfill orders exclusively by mail. “We have found armored helmets given as aid from the Americans for sale on websites,” Ivan said. “You know, inside the helmet, the class of protection and brand are written. We saw this brand before and realized the helmets were the ones given to us as aid. Some of us tried to contact the sellers to set up a meeting, so we could prove they were selling stolen aid, but they were suspicious and stopped responding to us.”
Ivan says he has heard about the theft of weapons donated from Western countries, but pointed out that several soldiers in his unit are sharing a single AK-74. “I wouldn’t know about how they’re stealing the weapons, because the weapons never reach the Ukrainian soldiers in the first place,” he said. “And if they were giving more than small missiles and rifles, if they were giving us what we actually need to fight Russia, they would be weapons too big to steal.”
“I don’t think they want us to win”: Ukrainians scoff at Western aid
Ivan is not optimistic about Ukraine’s chances to win the war. “There won’t be a Donbas left,” he said. “The Russians will destroy it, or they’ll control all of it, and then they’ll move on to the south. And now, as it is, I’d say 80% of the civilians who have stayed in Donbas support Russia and leak all of our location information to them.”
When asked if he thought the US and European countries truly want Ukraine to win the war, Ivan laughed. “No, I don’t think they want us to win,” he said. “The West could give us weapons to make us stronger than the Russians, but they don’t do this. We know Poland and the Baltic countries want us to win, 100%, but their support isn’t enough.”
“It is obvious that the US doesn’t want Ukraine to win the war,” said Andrey*, a Ukrainian journalist based in Mykolayiv. “They only want to make Russia weak. No one will win this war, but the countries the US is using like a playground will lose. And the corruption related to the war aid is shocking. The weapons are stolen, the humanitarian aid is stolen, and we have no idea where the billions sent to this country have gone.”
Andrey is especially appalled by the lack of services provided to internally displaced Ukrainians. “It really isn’t a mystery why everyone wants to go to Europe,” he said. “There’s a refugee center near Dnipro, for example, and displaced people are only allowed to stay there for three days. And it’s 45 or 50 people in one big, open room with one bathroom and a tiny kitchen. Horrible conditions. So after the three days, if they have no money, no clothes, nothing, they are kicked out and have no choice but to go back to their homes in dangerous areas. We must ask our government where all the aid money has gone, when our soldiers don’t have what they need, and our civilians don’t have safe places to stay.”
Foreign journalists cover up grim reality with triumphalist delusions
Before the war started, Andrey spent several years reporting on corruption and crooked politicians in Ukraine. After an investigation into a government official in Odessa resulted in death threats against his wife and young daughter, Andrey sent them to live with relatives in France. “Ukraine is a democracy, right? So the government won’t press on you in an official way. First, you get phone calls warning you to stop. Then, they offer you money to stop. And then, if you refuse to be bought, you should be prepared for an attack.
“Real journalism is dangerous here,” he continued. “You see, since the war started, we have these new star reporters, and every day, they write that ‘Putin is bad, the Russian soldiers behave very badly…today, the Ukrainian army killed 1,000 Russians and destroyed 500 Russian tanks.’ They get a million followers on Twitter because they lie, and this isn’t real reporting. But if you write about the corruption in the Armed Forces, and have real examples…you won’t be famous, and you’ll be in trouble.”
Andrey has been picking up extra work as a fixer, arranging interviews and translating for foreign journalists in Ukraine to cover the war. “I have worked with about a dozen journalists from different countries in Europe,” he said. “All of them have been shocked. They left Ukraine shocked. They said they could not believe the situation here. But this shock did not make it into any of their articles about the war. Their articles said that Ukraine is on the road to victory, which is not true.”
Ukrainian soldiers and volunteers confirm Ukraine’s Armed Forces endanger civilians
In July, we spent the night at a hotel in Kramatorsk and were concerned to see that neo-Nazi Azov battalion soldiers were among the hotel’s guests. On August 4th, Amnesty International published a study
revealing that since the start of the war in February, Ukrainian forces have endangered civilians by establishing bases in schools and hospitals and operating weapons systems in civilian areas, which is a violation of international law. Amnesty International now plans to “re-assess”
its report, in response to a massive public outcry after its publication, but Ukrainian soldiers and foreign volunteers have confirmed that Ukrainian armed forces maintain a heavy presence in civilian areas. “Our bases were mostly built in Soviet times,” said Ivan. “So now, Russia knows our bases inside and out. It’s necessary to spread the soldiers and weapons out to other places.”
A former US serviceman who goes by the moniker “Benjamin Velcro” was a volunteer fighter for the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ official unit for foreign volunteers. He spent five months in various parts of Ukraine, and says that soldiers being stationed in civilian areas was a common occurrence.
“Whenever I hear that Russia bombed a school, I just kinda shrug,” the American foreign fighter said. “Because I garrisoned inside a school. That’s a fact. The school didn’t have kids in it, so it’s not like they were endangering children. So all it takes is for Ukraine to say, ‘Ah! They hit a school!’ And that cumulates into an easy media narrative on their part.”
Like Ivan, Velcro is also pessimistic about Ukraine’s chances to win the war. “Man, I want everything in the world for Ukraine to win this. I want Ukraine to get its pre-2014 borders back. But do I think that’s tenable? No. You can’t sustain a war by crowdfunding forever.”
Fighting to the Last Ukrainian: Biden's Proxy War of Attrition has Become an Unmitigated Disaster
Russian forces are, to put it bluntly, mopping the floor with the Ukrainian military. Moscow is methodically sweeping up vast amounts of territory in the country’s east, as the Ukrainians remain badly outgunned and outmaneuvered by a superior army. Despite that reality, the Zelensky government's western allies all agree that now is not the time to negotiate an end to this conflict. Not only has the economic war against Russia been an unmitigated disaster, but the kinetic proxy war is achieving similar results. The Biden Administration and its NATO partners have decided, from a comfortable distance away from the fight, that millions of Ukrainian lives are a price worth paying to make sure the band stays together, with the side benefit of chipping away at Russia’s military. The longer the war, the better.
They’ve already allocated some $100 billion to the fight (much of it seemingly missing), with endless billions more to come, and have grand plans to spin up the military industrial machine to cash more weapons purchase orders. It seems that just enough monetary, military, and intelligence support has been deployed into Ukraine to make sure that Russia’s gains are a bit slower than they would be without the help. Yet Kiev is still losing strategically important and economically valuable territory, and as each day passes, their negotiating leverage declines. Meanwhile, NATO leaders continue to tell the Ukrainians to keep fighting, promising more weapons, more aid, and more hope to turn the tide.
Over the course of the inter slavic turf war, the globalist interventionists in D.C. and Brussels have made sure to deploy routine injections of hopium through western propaganda channels. It’s enough agitprop to get the blue flag emoji waivers committed to this take no prisoners approach to the war, and demand that their legislators continue to pass billions of dollars in financing that is supposedly going to Ukraine, albeit with no oversight measures. Nonetheless, Ukrainians are paying the ultimate price, losing hundreds of soldiers on a daily basis, while witnessing the destruction of their country. At the G7 this week, the western world leaders went on a video conference with Ukrainian president/actor Volodymr Zelensky and encouraged him to keep up the fight.
"We will continue to provide financial, humanitarian, military and diplomatic support and stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes," the G7 leaders said in a combined statement. "We remain appalled by and continue to condemn the brutal, unprovoked, unjustifiable and illegal war of aggression against Ukraine by Russia and aided by Belarus."
The Pentagon, for its part, remains dedicated to the narrative. Similar to how victory was always right around the corner in Afghanistan, the defense contractor-influenced institution continues to warp reality around rhetoric that continues the war in perpetuity.
“The Russians are losing a large number of people. The Ukrainians are making them pay for a very small piece of ground,” a senior Pentagon official said
Tuesday. “The Ukrainian fighter has demonstrated an ability to win in a level of adversity that is just surprising in so many cases.”
They don’t mean winning, they mean fighting, because Ukraine has not reclaimed any territory from Russia in weeks, and Moscow continues to vacuum up resource rich land in the country’s east. It has become quite clear that the Zelensky-allied faction is financing and supplying a war of attrition. They are using Ukrainian soldiers as mere cannon fodder, with the hopes that it will continue to wear down the Russian army. But make no mistake, Ukraine has no chance of winning this war, and the people funneling all kinds of goods and services through Kiev know that all too well. Time is not on Ukraine’s side, but its allies have all the time in the world. It’s time to end both the economic war and the military conflict, as soon as humanly possible.
NYT: Commando Network Coordinates Flow of Weapons in Ukraine, Officials Say
As Russian troops press ahead with a grinding campaign to seize eastern Ukraine, the nation’s ability to resist the onslaught depends more than ever on help from the United States and its allies — including a stealthy network of commandos and spies rushing to provide weapons, intelligence and training, according to U.S. and European officials.
Much of this work happens outside Ukraine, at bases in Germany, France and Britain, for example. But even as the Biden administration has declared it will not deploy American troops to Ukraine, some C.I.A. personnel have continued to operate in the country secretly, mostly in the capital, Kyiv, directing much of the vast amounts of intelligence the United States is sharing with Ukrainian forces, according to current and former officials.
At the same time, a few dozen commandos from other NATO countries, including Britain, France, Canada and Lithuania, also have been working inside Ukraine. The United States withdrew its own 150 military instructors before the war began in February, but commandos from these allies either remained or have gone in and out of the country since then, training and advising Ukrainian troops and providing an on-the-ground conduit for weapons and other aid, three U.S. officials said.
Few other details have emerged about what the C.I.A. personnel or the commandos are doing, but their presence in the country — on top of the diplomatic staff members who returned after Russia gave up its siege of Kyiv — hints at the scale of the secretive effort to assist Ukraine that is underway and the risks that Washington and its allies are taking. Ukraine remains outgunned, and on Saturday, Russian forces unleashed a barrage of missiles on targets across the country, including in areas in the north and west that have been largely spared in recent weeks. President Biden and allied leaders are expected to discuss additional support for Ukraine at a meeting of the Group of 7 industrialized nations that begins in Germany on Sunday and at a NATO summit in Spain later in the week.
Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the Army’s 10th Special Forces Group, which before the war had been training Ukrainian commandos at a base in the country’s west, quietly established a coalition planning cell in Germany to coordinate military assistance to Ukrainian commandos and other Ukrainian troops. The cell has now grown to 20 nations.
Army Secretary Christine E. Wormuth offered a glimpse into the operation last month, saying the special operations cell had helped manage the flow of weapons and equipment in Ukraine. “As the Ukrainians try to move that around and evade the Russians potentially trying to target convoys, you know, we are trying to be able to help coordinate moving all of those different sort of shipments,” she said at a national security event held by the Atlantic Council.
“Another thing I think we can help with,” she said, “is intelligence about where the threats to those convoys may be.”
The cell, which was modeled after a structure used in Afghanistan, is part of a broader set of operational and intelligence coordination cells run by the Pentagon’s European Command to speed allied assistance to Ukrainian troops. At Ramstein Air Base in Germany, for example, a U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard team called Grey Wolf provides support, including on tactics and techniques, to the Ukrainian air force, a military spokesman said.
The commandos are not on the front lines with Ukrainian troops and instead advise from headquarters in other parts of the country or remotely by encrypted communications, according to American and other Western officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss operational matters. But the signs of their stealthy logistics, training and intelligence support are tangible on the battlefield.
Several lower-level Ukrainian commanders recently expressed appreciation to the United States for intelligence gleaned from satellite imagery, which they can call up on tablet computers provided by the allies. The tablets run a battlefield mapping app that the Ukrainians use to target and attack Russian troops. On a street in Bakhmut, a town in the hotly contested Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, a group of Ukrainian special operations forces had American flag patches on their gear and were equipped with new portable surface-to-air missiles as well as Belgian and American assault rifles.
“What is an untold story is the international partnership with the special operations forces of a multitude of different countries,” Lt. Gen. Jonathan P. Braga, the commander of U.S. Army Special Operations Command, told senators in April in describing the planning cell. “They have absolutely banded together in a much outsized impact” to support Ukraine’s military and special forces.
Representative Jason Crow, a Colorado Democrat on the House Armed Services and Intelligence Committees, said in an interview that the relationships Ukrainian commandos developed with American and other counterparts over the past several years had proved invaluable in the fight against Russia.
“It’s been critical knowing who to deal with during chaotic battlefield situations, and who to get weapons to,” said Mr. Crow, a former Army Ranger. “Without those relationships, this would have taken much longer.”
The C.I.A. officers operating in Ukraine have focused on directing the intelligence that the U.S. government has been providing the Ukrainian government. Most of their work has been in Kyiv, according to current and former officials. While the U.S. government does not acknowledge that the C.I.A. is operating in Ukraine or any other country, the presence of the officers is well understood by Russia and other intelligence services around the world.
But the agency’s expertise in training is in counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations, former intelligence officials say. What Ukrainians need right now is classic military training in how to use rocket artillery, like the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, and other sophisticated weaponry, said Douglas H. Wise, a former deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and retired senior C.I.A. officer.
“We’re talking about large-scale combat here,” Mr. Wise said. “We’re talking about modern tank-on-tank battles with massive military forces. I can’t imagine the C.I.A. training Ukrainian guys how to fire HIMARS.”
The Biden administration has so far sent four of the mobile multiple-launch rocket systems to Ukraine and announced on Thursday that four more were on the way. They are the most advanced weapons the United States has so far supplied Ukraine, with rockets that have a range of up to 40 miles, greater than anything Ukraine has now.
Pentagon officials say a first group of 60 Ukrainian soldiers have been trained on how to use the systems and a second group is now undergoing training in Germany. After a meeting in Brussels this month, Gen. Mark A. Milley, second from the left, and military leaders from nearly 50 countries pledged to increase the flow of advanced artillery to Ukraine. Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the training had begun in a “rational and deliberate” manner, as Ukrainians who have historically used Soviet-era systems learn the mechanics of the more high-tech American weapons.
“It’s no good to just throw those systems into the battlefield,” General Milley told reporters traveling with him on a recent flight back to the United States after meetings with European military chiefs in France. After a meeting in Brussels this month, General Milley and military leaders from nearly 50 countries pledged to increase the flow of advanced artillery and other weaponry to Ukraine. “That all takes a bit of time, and it takes a significant amount of effort,” General Milley said. American troops need six to eight weeks to learn how to use the systems, but the Ukrainians have a two-week accelerated training program, he said.
Still, former military officials who have been working with the Ukrainian military have expressed frustration with some of the training efforts. For instance, Ukrainians have struggled to evacuate soldiers wounded at the front lines. The United States could step up front-line first-aid training and advise the Ukrainians on how to set up a network of intermediate mobile hospitals to stabilize the wounded and transport them, former officials said.
“They are losing 100 soldiers a day. That is almost like the height of the Vietnam War for us; it is terrible,” a former Trump administration official said. “And they are losing a lot of experienced people.”
Army Green Berets in Germany recently started medical training for Ukrainian troops, who were brought out of the country for the instruction, a U.S. military official said. From 2015 to early this year, American Special Forces and National Guard instructors trained more than 27,000 Ukrainian soldiers at the Yavoriv Combat Training Center in western Ukraine near the city of Lviv, Pentagon officials said. Military advisers from about a dozen allied countries also trained thousands of Ukrainian military personnel in Ukraine over the past several years.
Since 2014, when Russia first invaded parts of the country, Ukraine has expanded its small special forces from a single unit to three brigades and a training regiment. In the past 18 months it has added a home guard company — trained in resistance tactics — to each of those brigades, Gen. Richard D. Clarke, the head of the Pentagon’s Special Operations Command, told the Senate in April.
The Ukrainian military’s most acute training problem right now is that it is losing its most battle-hardened and well-trained forces, according to former American officials who have worked with the Ukrainians. The former Trump administration official said Special Operations Command had small groups of American operators working in the field with Ukrainian officials before the war. The American teams were sometimes called Jedburgh, a reference to a World War II effort to train partisans behind enemy lines, the official said.
The modern special operations teams mainly focused on training in small-unit tactics but also worked on communications, battlefield medicine, reconnaissance and other skills requested by Ukrainian forces. Those efforts, the official said, ended before the Russian invasion but would have been helpful if they had continued during the war. Having American trainers on the ground now might not be worth the risks, other former officials said, especially if it prompted an escalation by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.
“Would the enhancement of the training be worth the possible price that is going to have to be paid?” Mr. Wise said. “An answer is probably not.”
Col. Richard Black - U.S. Leading World to Nuclear War
BILLINGTON: Hi, this is this is Mike Billington with Executive Intelligence Review and the Schiller Institute. I am here today with Col. Richard Black, Sen. Richard Black, who, after serving 31 years in the Marines and in the Army, then served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1998 to 2006, and in the Virginia Senate from 2012 to 2020. I’ll also allow Colonel Black to describe his military service himself.
So, Colonel Black, welcome. With the with the U.S. and U.K. and NATO surrogate war with Russia, which is taking place in Ukraine, and the economic warfare being carried out directly against Russia, this has been accompanied by an information war which is intended to demonize Russia and especially President Vladimir Putin. One repeated theme is that the Russian military is carrying out ruthless campaigns of murder against civilians and destruction of residential areas, often referring to the Russian military operations in Syria, claiming that they had done the same thing in Syria, especially against Aleppo. These are supposedly examples of their war crimes and crimes against humanity.
You have been a leading spokesman internationally for many years, exposing the lies about what took place in Syria and the war on Syria. So first, let me ask: How and why did Russia get involved in Syria militarily? And how does that contrast with the U.S. and NATO supposed justification for their military intervention in Syria?
BLACK: Well, let me begin, if I could, by telling our listeners that I’m very patriotic: I volunteered to join the Marines and I volunteered to go to Vietnam. I fought in the bloodiest Marine campaign of the entire war. And I was a helicopter pilot who flew 269 combat missions. My aircraft was hit by ground fire on four missions. I, then, fought on the ground with the First Marine Division, and during one of the 70 combat patrols that I made, my radioman were both killed, and I was wounded while we were attacking and trying to rescue a surrounded Marine outpost.
So I’m very pro-American. I actually was a part of NATO and was prepared to die in Germany, to defend against an attack by the Soviet Union. But Russia is not the Soviet Union at all. People don’t understand that because the media have not made it clear. But Russia is not a communist state; the Soviet Union was a communist state.
Now, one of the things that I’ve seen claimed, that has been particularly irritating to me because of my experience with Syria: I have I have been in Aleppo city. Aleppo city is the biggest city in Syria, or it was at least before the war began. And there was a tremendous battle. Some some call it the “Stalingrad of the Syrian war,” which is not a bad comparison. It was a terribly bitter battle that went on from 2012 until 2016. In the course of urban combat, any forces that are fighting are forced to destroy buildings. Buildings are blown down on a massive scale. And this happens any time that you have urban combat. So I have walked the streets of Aleppo, while combat was still in progress. I have looked across, through a slit in the sandbags at enemy controlled territory; I’ve stood on tanks that were blown out and this type of thing.
What I do know, and I can tell you about Aleppo is that Russia was extremely reluctant to get involved in combat in Syria. The war began in 2011, when the United States landed Central Intelligence operatives to begin coordinating with Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. And we had been unwavering supporters of Al Qaeda, since before the war formally began. We are supporters of Al Qaeda today, where they’re bottled up in Idlib province. The CIA supplied them under secret Operation Timber Sycamore. We gave them all of their anti-tank weapons, all of their anti air- missiles. And Al Qaeda has always been our proxy force on the ground. They, together with ISIS, have carried out the mission of the United States, together with a great number of affiliates that really are kind of interchangeable. You have the Free Syrian Army soldiers move from ISIS to Al Qaeda to Free Syrian Army, rather fluidly. And so we started that war.
But the United States has a strategic policy of using proxies to engage in war. And our objective was to overthrow the legitimate government of Syria, and in order to do that, we employed proxy soldiers who were the most vile of all terrorists. Something very similar is happening right now in in Ukraine.
But going back to Aleppo, the Syrian army, together with Hezbollah, which was very effective; there were some troops that were organized by Iran also, but it was pretty much a Syrian show, certainly directed by Syrian generals. And they had fought this bitter urban combat, very brutal, very deadly. And they had fought it for four years, before Russia ever joined the battle. So after four years, the city of Aleppo had enormous destruction. And at that point, the Russians, at the invitation of the legitimate government of Syria, entered the war. But unlike many of the media reports, they did not enter the war as a ground force. Now, they had some small ground forces. They had military police, they had a few artillery units, a few special operations people, and quite a number of advisers and that sort of thing. But they were not a significant ground force.
On the other hand, they were a significant and very effective air force, that supplemented the Syrian Air Force. But it really was just the last year of the war, the battle for Aleppo, just the last year, that they entered and their air power was very effective. And by this time, the Syrians had pretty well worn down the terrorist forces. And the Russian assistance was able to tip the balance, and Aleppo was the grand victory of the entire Syrian war.
But to blame the Russians for the massive destruction that took place within Aleppo, it’s bizarre: Because they were not there, they were not even present when this happened. So this is simply another part of the propaganda narrative, which is which hasbeen very effective for the West, demonizing Russia, and making claims that have no substance. But people don’t remember the history of these things—they’re rather complex. So, no: Russia was not in any respect responsible for the massive destruction of the city of Aleppo.
BILLINGTON: How would you contrast the methods of warfare followed by Russia, as opposed to the U.S. and allied forces in Syria?
BLACK: Well, first of all, the American involvement, the United States war against Syria is a war of aggression. We put a highly secretive CIA special activities center—these are kind of the James Bond guys of the Central Intelligence Agency, total Machiavellian; they will do anything, there’s no it’s no holds barred with these guys. We sent them in and we started the war in Syria. The war didn’t exist until we sent the CIA to coordinate with Al Qaeda elements. So we began the war and we were not invited into Syria.
In fact, the United
States has seized, two significant parts of Syria. One is a very major
part, the Euphrates River, carves off about a third of the northern part
of Syria: The United States invaded that portion. We actually put
troops on the ground, illegal—against any standard international law of
war—it was it was a just a seizure. And this was this was something that
was referred to by John Kerry, who was then the Secretary of State, and
he was frustrated at the tremendous victory by the Syrian Armed Forces
against Al Qaeda and ISIS. And he said, well, we probably need to move
to Plan B. He didn’t announce what Plan B was, but it had it unfolded
over time: Plan B was the American seizure of that northern portion of
Syria. The importance of taking that part of Syria is, that it is the
bread basket for all of the Syrian people. That is where the wheat—Syria
actually had a significant wheat surplus and the people were very well
fed in Syria, before the war. We wanted to take the wheat away, to cause
famine among the Syrian people.
other thing we were able to do, is to seize the major part of the oil
and natural gas fields. Those also were produced in that northern
portion beyond the Euphrates River. And the idea was that, by stealing
the oil and then the gas, we would be able to shut down the
transportation system, and at the same time, during the Syrian winters,
we could freeze to death the Syrian civilian population, which in many
cases were living in rubble, where these terrorist armies, with
mechanized divisions had attacked and just totally destroyed these
cities, and left people just living in little pockets of rubble.
We wanted to starve and we wanted to freeze to death the people of Syria, and that was Plan B.
we became frustrated at a certain point that somehow these Syrians,
these darned Syrians—it’s a tiny little country, and why are these
people resilient? They’re fighting against two-thirds of the entire
military and industrial force of the world. How can a nation of 23
million people possibly withstand this for over a decade? And so we
decided we had to take action or we were going totally lose Syria. And
so the U.S. Congress imposed the Caesar sanctions. The Caesar sanctions
were the most brutal sanctions ever imposed on any nation. During the
Second World War, sanctions were not nearly as strict as they were on
weren’t at war with Syria! And yet we had a naval blockade around the
country. We devalued their currency through the SWIFT system for
international payments, making it impossible for them to purchase
medications. So you had Syrian women who would contract breast cancer,
just like we have here in this country. But instead, where in this
country where breast cancer has become relatively treatable, we cut off
the medical supplies so that the women in Syria would die of breast
cancer because they could not get the medications, because we slam their
dollars through the SWIFT system.
of the last things that we did and the evidence is vague on it, but
there was a mysterious explosion in the harbor in Lebanon, and it was a
massive explosion of a shipload of ammonium nitrate fertilizer. It
killed hundreds of Lebanese people. It wounded thousands and thousands,
destroyed the economy of Lebanon. And, most importantly, it destroyed
the banking system of Lebanon, which was one of the few lifelines
remaining to Syria. I don’t think that explosion was accidental. I think
it was orchestrated, and I suspect that the Central Intelligence Agency
was aware of the nation that carried out that action to destroy Beirut
throughout you see this this Machiavellian approach, where we use
unlimited force and violence. And at the same time, we control the
global media, to where we erase all discussions of what’s truly
happening. So, to the man or the woman in the street, they think things
are fine. Everything is being done for altruistic reasons, but it’s not.
of your military service was as a JAG officer, and for a period of
time, you were the Army’s head of the criminal law division at the
Pentagon. And in that light, what do you see as of how these Caesar
sanctions—how would you look at those from the perspective of
international law and military law?
now, I was not the international law expert. I was the criminal law
expert. But I would say that making war on a civilian population is a
crime of grave significance in the law of war. One
of the things that we did as we as we allied ourselves with Al Qaeda,
and on and off with ISIS; I mean, we fought ISIS in a very serious way,
but at the same time, we often employed them to use against the Syrian
government. So it’s kind of a love-hate. But we have always worked with
the terrorists. They were the core.
of the policies that was followed was that under this extreme version
of Islam, this Wahhabism, there was this notion that you possess a woman
that you seize with your strong right arm in battle. And this goes back
to the seventh century. And so we facilitated the movement of Islamic
terrorists from 100 countries, and they came and they joined ISIS, they
joined Al Qaeda, they joined the Free Syrian Army, all of these
different ones. And one of the things that they knew when they arrived
is that they were lawfully entitled to murder the husbands—I’m not
talking about military people, I’m talking about civilians—they could
murder the husbands, they could kill them, and then they could possess
and own their wives and their children. And they did it in vast numbers.
so there was there was a campaign of rape, it was an organized campaign
of rape across the nation of Syria. And there actually were slave
markets that that arose in certain of these rebel areas where they
actually had price lists of the different women. And interestingly, the
highest prices went to the youngest children, because there were a great
number of pedophiles. And the pedophiles wanted to possess small
children, because under the laws that were applied, they were permitted
to rape these children repeatedly. They were able to rape the widows of
the slain soldiers or the slain civilians, and possess them and buy them
and sell them among themselves. This went on. I’m
not saying that the CIA created this policy, but they understood that
it was a widespread policy, and they condoned it. They never criticized
it in any way.
was so bad, that I spoke with President Assad, who shared with me that
they were in the process—when I visited in 2016; I was in a number of
battle zones, and in the capital. And I met with the President, and he
said that at that time, they were working on legislation in the
parliament, to change the law of citizenship. They had always followed
the Islamic law, which was that that a child citizenship derived from
the father. But there were so many tens, hundreds of thousands of Syrian
women impregnated by these terrorists who were imported into Syria,
that it was necessary to change the law, so that they would have Syrian
citizenship and they wouldn’t have to be returned to their ISIS father
in Saudi Arabia, or in Tunisia. They could be retained in Syria. And I
checked later and that law was passed and was implemented.
it just shows the utter cruelty. When we fight these wars, we have no
limits on the cruelty and the inhumanity that we’re prepared to impose
on the people, making them suffer, so that somehow that will translate
into overthrowing the government, and perhaps taking their oil, taking
BILLINGTON: Clearly, the policy against Russia today, by the current administration.
Yes. You know, Russia is, perhaps more blessed with natural resources
than any other nation on Earth. They are a major producer of grain, of
oil, of aluminum, of fertilizers, of an immense number of things that
tie into the whole global economy. And no doubt there are people who
look at this and say, “if we could somehow break up Russia itself, there
will be fortunes made, to where trillionaires will be made by the
dozens.” And there’s some attraction to that. Certainly you’ve seen some
of this taking place already, with foreign interests taking over
Ukraine, and taking their vast resources.
we began a drive towards Russia, almost immediately after the Soviet
Union dissolved in 1991. The Soviet Union dissolved, the Warsaw Pact
dissolved. And unfortunately, one of the great tragedies of history is
that we failed to dissolve NATO. The sole purpose of NATO was to defend
against the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union no longer existed. NATO went
toe toe with the Warsaw Pact. The Warsaw Pact was gone; it no longer
existed. There was no purpose in NATO’s continuing to exist. However, we
retained it, and it could not exist unless it had an enemy. Russia was
desperate to become part of the West.
met with the head of Gazprom, the largest corporation in Russia, And
this was shortly after the demise of the Soviet Union, and he described
for me how they were struggling to have their media be as free as it was
in the West. And they perceived us as being much more free and open
than we were. And he said, you know, we’ve got this problem because we
have this uprising in Chechnya, which is part of Russia. And he said the
Chechnyan rebels send videos to Russian television and we play them on
Russian television, because that’s the way freedom of speech works. And
I said, “Are you kidding me?” I said, “You’re publishing the enemy
propaganda films?” He said, “Yeah.” He said, “Isn’t that the way you do
it in the United States?” I said, “No. In the Second World War, we took
the head of the Associated Press and we put him in charge of wartime
censorship, and it was very strict.”
but this is just an example of how they were struggling. They went from
being an officially atheist country, to where they became the most
Christianized major nation in Europe, by far. Not only were the people,
the most Christianized people in any major country in Europe, but the
government itself was very supportive of the church, of the Christian
faith. They altered their Constitution to say that marriage was the
union of one man and one woman. They became very restrictive on the
practice of abortion. They ended the practice of overseas adoptions,
where some people were going to Russia and adopting little boys for
immoral purposes. So they became a totally different culture and.
any event, the United States has this long-standing strategy, this
political-military strategy, of expanding the empire. We did it in the
Middle East, where we attempted to create a massive neocolonial empire.
It’s it became rather frayed. The people did not want it. And it seems
to be doomed to extinction sometime—but it may go on for another 100
years. But in any event, we are trying to do something similar, as we
roll to the East, right up virtually to the Russian border.
So, the U.S. and U.K. position on the war in Ukraine, just over these
last few weeks has now become not only supporting the war, but victory
at all costs. This has been declared by Defense Secretary Austin and
others. And they are pumping in huge quantities of not only defensive
but offensive military weaponry to the Kyiv regime. What do you see as
the consequence of this policy?
I think one thing that it will do is it will ensure that a tremendous
number of innocent Ukrainian soldiers will die needlessly. A lot of
Russian soldiers will die needlessly. These are kids. You know, kids go
off to war. I went off to war as a kid. You think your country, right or
wrong, everything they’re doing is fine. It just it breaks my heart,
when I look at the faces of young Russian boys, who have been who have
been gunned down—in some cases very criminally by Ukrainian forces. And
likewise, I see Ukrainian young men, who are being slaughtered on the
don’t care! The United States and NATO, we do not care how many
Ukrainians die. Not civilians, not women, not children, not soldiers. We
do not care. It’s become a great football game. You know, we’ve got our
team. They’ve got their team, rah rah. We want to get the biggest score
and run it up. And, you know, we don’t care how many how many of our
players get crippled on the playing field, as long as we win.
we are shipping fantastic quantities of weapons, and it’s caused the
stock of Raytheon, which creates missiles, and Northrop Grumman, which
creates aircraft and missiles, all of these defense industries have
become tremendously bloated with tax dollars. I don’t think it’s
ultimately going to change the outcome. I think that Russia will
prevail. The Ukrainians are in a very awkward strategic position in the
if you look at the way that this unfolded, President Putin made a
desperate effort to stop the march towards war back in December of 2021.
He went so far as to put specific written proposals on the table with
NATO, peace proposals to defuse what was coming about. Because at this
point, Ukraine was massing troops to attack the Donbas. And so, he was
trying to head this off. He didn’t want war. And NATO just blew it off,
just dismissed it; never took it seriously, never went into serious
that point, Putin seeing that armed Ukrainians, with weapons to kill
Russian troops were literally on their borders, decided he had to strike
first. Now, you could see, that this was not this was not some
preplanned attack. This was not like Hitler’s attack into Poland, where
the standard rule of thumb, is that you always have a 3-to-1 advantage
when you are the attacker. You have to mass three times as many tanks
and artillery and planes and men, as the other side has. In fact, when
Russia went in, they went in with what they had, what they could cobble
together on short notice. And they were outnumbered by the Ukrainian
forces. The Ukrainian forces had about 250,000. The Russians had perhaps
160,000. So instead of having three times as many, they actually had
fewer troops than the Ukrainians. But they were forced to attack, to try
to preempt the battle that was looming, where the Ukrainians had massed
these forces against the Donbas.
the Donbas is adjacent to Russia. It is a portion of Ukraine that did
not join with the revolutionary government that conducted the coup in
2014 and overthrew the government of Ukraine. They refused to become a
part of the new revolutionary government of Ukraine. And so they
declared their independence. And Ukraine had massed this enormous army
to attack against the Donbas. And so Russia was forced to go in to
preempt that planned attack by Ukraine. And you could see that Russia
very much hoped that they could conduct this special operation without
unduly causing casualties for the Ukrainians, because they think of the
Ukrainians, or at least they did think of the Ukrainians as brother
Slavs; that they wanted to have good relations. But there is a famous
picture with a Russian tank, that had been stopped by a gathering of
maybe 40 civilians who just walked out in the road and blocked the road
and the tank stopped. I can tell you, in Vietnam, if we had had a bunch
of people who stood in the way of an American tank, going through, that
tank would not have slowed down, in the slightest! It wouldn’t honk the
horn, it wouldn’t have done anything; wouldn’t have fired a warning
shot. It would have just gone on. And I think that’s more typical—I’m
not I’m not criticizing the Americans. I was there and I was fighting,
and I probably would have would have driven the tank straight through
what I’m saying is that the rules of engagement for the Russians were
very, very cautious. They didn’t want to create a great deal of hatred
and animosity. The Russians did not go in—they did not bomb the
electrical system, the media systems, the water systems, the bridges and
so forth. They tried to retain the infrastructure of Ukraine in good
shape because they wanted it to get back. They just wanted this to be
over with and get back to normal. It didn’t work. The Ukrainians, the
resistance was unexpectedly hard. The Ukrainian soldiers fought with
great, great valor, great heroism. And. And so now the game has been
upped and it’s become much more serious.
it is amazing to look and to see that Russia dominates the air. They
haven’t knocked out the train systems. They haven’t knocked out power
plants. They haven’t knocked out so many things. They’ve never bombed
the buildings in the center of Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine; they
haven’t bombed the buildings where the parliament meets. They’ve been
incredibly reserved about these things, hoping against hope that peace
could be achieved. But
I don’t think I don’t think Ukraine has anything to do with the
decision about peace or war. I think the decision about peace or war is
made in Washington, D.C. As long as we want the war to continue, we will
fight that war, using Ukrainians as proxies, and we will fight it to
the last Ukrainian death.
How do you project the potential of a war breaking out directly between
the United States and Russia? And what would that be like?
know, if you go back to the First World War in 1914, you had the
assassination of the Archduke of Austria-Hungary. He and his wife were
killed. As a result of those two people being killed, you had a domino
effect of all of these alliances, and anger, and media hysteria. And
before it was over, I think it was 14 million people had been killed.
It’s always hard to get true numbers, but anyway, it was an enormous
number of millions of people who died as a result of that.
need to recognize the risk of playing these games of chicken. Where,
for example, the Turkish media just published an article saying that at
Mariupol, where there was a great siege, that the Russians ultimately
won. The one area they haven’t taken over is this tremendous steel
plant. There are a lot of Ukrainian soldiers who are holed up there. And
now it has come to light that apparently there are 50 French senior
officers, who are trapped in that steel plant along with the Ukrainians.
The French soldiers have been on the ground fighting, directing the
battle. And this was kept under wraps, ultra-secret, because of the
French elections that just occurred. Had the French people known that
there were a large number of French officers trapped and probably going
to die in that steel plant, the elections would have gone the other way:
Marine Le Pen would have won. And so it was very important that for the
entire deep state, that it not come to light that these French officers
know that there are NATO officers who are present on the ground in
Ukraine as advisors and so forth. We run the risk. Now, my guess is—and
this is this is a guess, I could be wrong—but the flagship of the
Russian Black Sea Fleet, the Moskva, was sunk as a result of being
struck by anti-ship missiles. My guess is that those missiles, I think
there’s a good chance they were fired by the French. Now, I could be
wrong, but those missiles are so ultra-sensitive and so dangerous to our
ships, that I don’t think that NATO would trust the missiles to
Ukrainians, or to anybody else. I think I think they have to be
maintained under NATO control and operation. So I think that it was
probably NATO forces that actually sunk the Moskva.
you can see we’re taking these very reckless actions, and each time we
sort of up the ante—I happen to be a Republican—but we have two
Republican U.S. senators who have said that, “well, we might just need
to use nuclear weapons against Russia.” That is insane. I think it’s
important that people begin to discuss what a thermonuclear war would
we need to understand, we think, “oh, we’re big, and we’re bad, and we
have all this stuff.” Russia is roughly comparable to the United States
in nuclear power. They have hypersonic missiles, that we do not have.
They can absolutely evade any timely detection, and they can fire
missiles from Russia and reach San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago,
Detroit, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New York City.
if you think about just Virginia, where I happen to live, if there were
a nuclear war—and keep in mind, they also have a very large and
effective fleet of nuclear submarines that lie off the coast of the
United States. They have a great number of nuclear-tipped missiles, and
they can evade any defenses we have. So just in Virginia, if you look at
it, all of Northern Virginia would be essentially annihilated. There
would hardly be any human life remaining in Loudoun County, Prince
William County, Fairfax County, Arlington, Alexandria. The Pentagon lies
in in Arlington County: The Pentagon would simply be a glowing mass of
molten sand. There would be no human life there. And there would be no
human life for many miles around it. Just across the Potomac, the
nation’s capital, there would be no life remaining in the nation’s
capital. The Capitol building would disappear forever. All of the
monuments, all of these glorious things—nothing would remain.
you go to the coast of Virginia, you have the Norfolk Naval Shipyard,
you have the Port of Norfolk. You have you have the greatest
accumulation of naval power on the face of the Earth. This is where we
park all of our aircraft carriers, our nuclear submarines, all of those
things. There would be nothing remaining. There would be nothing
remaining of any of those shipping industries there.
you can carry this on. You talk about New York City, probably New York
City itself, not only would everybody be killed, but it would probably
be impossible for people to inhabit New York City for hundreds of years
afterwards. But not only would it cease to be a place of vibrant human
life, but probably going out for maybe half a millennium, it would not
recover any sort of civilization.
need to understand the gravity of what we’re doing. Perhaps if it were a
matter of life and death for the United States, what happens in
Ukraine, that would be one thing. Certainly when the Soviet Union put
missiles in Cuba, that targeted the United States, that was worth taking
the risk, because it was right on our border and it threatened us. And
it was it was a battle worth fighting for and a risk worth taking. The
Russians are in this in exactly the mirror image of that situation,
because for them, the life of Russia depends on stopping NATO from
advancing further right into Ukraine, right to their borders. They
cannot afford not to fight this war. They cannot afford not to win this
I think, toying with this constant escalation in a war that, really, in
a place that has no significance to Americans—Ukraine is meaningless to
Americans; it has no impact on our day-to-day lives. And yet we’re
playing this reckless game that risks the lives of all people in the
United States and Western Europe for nothing! Just absolutely for
flag grade officers certainly understand the consequences that you just
described in a rather hair-raising way. Why is it that, while there are
some generals speaking out in Italy, in France, in Germany, warning
that we are pursuing a course that could lead to nuclear war, why are
there not such voices from flag grade officers—retired, perhaps—saying
what you’re saying here today?
You know, there’s been a tremendous deterioration in the quality of
flag officers, going back to, well, certainly the 1990s. We had very,
very fine flag officers, during the time I was on active duty—I left in
‘94—just superior quality people. But what happened is, subsequently, we
had President Clinton take over, later, we had Obama. We’ve got Biden
now. And they apply a very strict political screen to their military
officers. And we now have “yes men.” These are not people whose
principal devotion is to the United States and its people. Their
principal devotion is to their careers and their ability to network with
other military officers upon retirement. There’s a very strong network
that can place military generals into think tanks, where they promote
war, into organizations like Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, and all of
these defense operations, where they can get on boards and things like
that. So there’s quite a personal price that you pay for saying, “Hey,
stop. War is not in the interests of the American people.” If we had a
better quality of individual, we would have people with the courage who
would say, “I don’t care what it costs me personally.” But it is very
difficult to get into the senior ranks, if you are an individual guided
by principle, and patriotism, and devotion to the people of this nation.
That’s just not how it works. And at some point, we need a President
who will go in and shake the tree, and bring a lot of these people
falling down from it, because they’re dangerous. They’re very dangerous
Zepp-LaRouche and the Schiller Institute have a petition — and we held a
conference on April 9th on the same theme — that the only way to really
stop this descent into hell and into potential nuclear holocaust is for
a new Peace of Westphalia. In this case, an international conference to
secure a new security architecture and a new development architecture,
the right to development for all countries. And like the Peace of
Westphalia, one in which all sides sit down together, recognize their
interests, their sovereign interests, as including the sovereign
interests of the others, and forgiving all past crimes. Anything short
of that is going to keep this division of the world into warring blocs.
Just like I asked what’s keeping the generals from speaking out, why,
and what will it take, to get Americans to recognize that we can and
must sit down with Russians, and with Chinese, and with all other
nations and establish a true, just world based on the dignity of man and
the right to development and security?
think, unfortunately, there’s going to have to be enormous pain to
drive that, just as there was with the Peace of Westphalia. A nuclear
war would do it; an economic cataclysm of unprecedented proportions,
resulting from the unbridled printing of money that we’ve engaged in
over the last 20 years, there are things that could bring it about. But
at this point, the media have been so totally censored and so biased
that the American people really don’t have a perception of the need for
anything of that sort. It’s going to be difficult.
know, here’s something that’s interesting that has happened. Here in
this country, you would think the entire world is against Russia. It’s
not. In fact, there are major countries of the world that lean towards
Russia in this war, starting with China, but then Brazil, you’ve got
South Africa, Saudi Arabia—a wide array of countries. India. India is
tremendously supportive of Russia. The idea that somehow we have this
enormously just cause, it doesn’t strike a great deal of the world that
it is just, and much of the world does not accept the latest propaganda
about war crimes: this thing about Bucha. That’s probably the most
prominent of all the war crimes discussions. And
what was Bucha? There was a film taken of a vehicle driving down the
road in Bucha, which had been recaptured from the Russians. And every
hundred feet or so there was some person with his hands, zip tied behind
his back, and he’d been killed. It was not announced until four days
after the Ukrainians had retaken Bucha.
we knew almost nothing about it. We actually didn’t even have proof
that people had been killed. But assuming they had, we didn’t know where
they had been killed. We did not know who they were. We did not know
who killed them. We did not know why they were killed. No one could
provide an adequate motive for the Russians to have killed them. The
Russians held Bucha for a month. If they were going to kill them, why
didn’t they kill them during that month? And if you’re going to
slaughter a bunch of people, wouldn’t they all be in one place and
wouldn’t you gun them all down there? Why would they be distributed
along a roadside, a mile along the way? It makes no sense!
we do know is that four days after the mayor of Bucha joyously
announced that the city was liberated, four days after the Ukrainian
army had moved in, and their special propaganda arm of the Ukrainian
military were there, all of a sudden there were these dead people on the
road. How come they weren’t there when the Russians were there? How
come they only appeared after the Russians were gone?
I were looking at it as simply a standard criminal case, and I was
talking to Criminal Investigation Division or the FBI, or military
police or something, I’d say, “OK, the first thing, let’s take a look at
the Ukrainians.” My guess would be, and you start with a hunch when
you’re investigating a crime—my hunch is that the Ukrainians killed off
these people after they moved in, and after they looked around, and
said, “OK, who was friendly towards the Russian troops while the
Russians were here? We’re going to execute them.” That would be my
guess. Because I don’t see any motive for the Russians to have just
killed a few people on their way out of town.
nobody questions this, because the corporate media are so monolithic.
We know for a fact, from the mouth of the head of a Ukrainian hospital,
the guy who ran the hospital, he boasted that he had given strict orders
to all of his doctors, that when wounded Russian POWs, when casualties
were brought in, they were to be castrated. Now, this is a horrific war
crime, admitted from the mouth of the hospital administrator, and the
Ukrainian government said, “we’ll kind of look into that,” Like it’s no
big thing. I can’t think of a more horrific, horrific war crime, ever.
Where did you hear about it, on ABC and MSNBC and CNN and FOX News? Not a
whisper. And yet the proof is undeniable. We had another clip where
there was a POW gathering point, where the Ukrainians would bring POWs
to a central point for processing—and this is about a seven-minute
video—and the Ukrainian soldiers simply gunned them all down. And they
had probably 30 of these wounded Russian soldiers lying on the ground,
some of them clearly dying from their wounds. Some of them, they put
plastic bags over their heads. Now, these are these are guys who are
laying there, sometimes fatally wounded with their hands zip-tied behind
their backs, and they’ve got plastic bags over their heads, making it
difficult to breathe. And because they can’t raise their hands, they
can’t take the bags off, so that they can breathe. At the end of the
video, the Ukrainians bring in a van, and there are three unwounded
Russian POWs. Without the slightest thought or hesitation, as the three
come off, and their hands are bound behind their backs, they gunned down
two of them, right on camera and they fall over. And the third one gets
on his knees, and begs that they won’t hurt him. And then they gun him
down! These are crimes. And these were not refuted by the Ukrainian
government. But you’d never even know that they occurred! So far, I will
tell you that the only proven—I’m not saying that there aren’t war
crimes happening on both sides. I’m just telling you, that the only ones
where I have seen, fairly irrefutable proof of war crimes, have been on
the Ukrainian side.
often you hear it said, well, the Russians have destroyed this or
destroyed that. Well, I’ve got to tell you, you go back to the wars that
we fought when we invaded Iraq, the “Shock and Awe,” we destroyed
virtually everything in Iraq, everything of significance. We bombed
military and civilian targets without much discrimination. The coalition
flew 100,000 sorties in 42 days. You compare that to the Russians, who
have only flown 8,000 sorties in about the same period of time. 100,000
American sorties versus 8,000, in about the same time. I think the
Russians have tended to be more selective. Whereas we went out — the
philosophy of Shock and Awe is that you destroy everything that is
needed to sustain human life and for a city to function. You knock out
the water supply, the electrical supply, the heat, the oil, the
gasoline; so that you knock out all of the major bridges. And then you
just continue to destroy everything.
it’s really ironic. And keep in mind, Iraq is a relatively small
country. Ukraine is a huge country. 100,000 sorties in 42 days, 8,000
sorties in about the same time. A tremendous difference in violence
between what we did in Iraq, and what they have done in Ukraine. So
there’s simply no credibility when you actually get down to the facts
and you look at the way that the war has been conducted.
Well. Senator Black, Colonel Black. I think the way you have described
the horror that’s already taking place, and considering that we can’t
wait for a nuclear war to provoke a new a Peace of Westphalia, I would
suggest that what you have described is already horrific enough. And
when combined with the hyperinflationary breakdown now sweeping the
Western world, with everybody being affected, we believe that we have to
take that as the adequate horror, and a recognition of a descent into a
dark age, to motivate citizens in Europe, in the United States.
are finding that there is a waking up of people who have not wanted to
look at their responsibility to the human race as a whole in the past,
but who now are forced to consider that, which is the basis on which
we’ve called for this, in this petition, for an international conference
of all nations, with the U.S., Russia, China, India and so forth,
sitting down to end this horror; but to also bring about a true peace
for mankind and an era of peace through development. And
we thank you for giving this breath of ugly truth to a population which
needs to hear it. If you have any final thoughts, I ask you to give
your final greetings.
I’ll just add one thing, and I thank the Schiller Institute for the
tremendous effort that you’ve made towards achieving world peace. It is
one of the most important efforts ever made, and I certainly applaud
you look at Russia, the Russian troops that went into battle in
Ukraine, for the most part had never experienced combat. This is a
peacetime army. Russia doesn’t fight overseas wars. Syria is the only
significant overseas engagement that they have had. You compare that
with the United States, where literally speaking, if a soldier retires
today after a 30-year career in the military, he will not have served a
single day when the United States was at peace. Kind of an amazing
thing. And you contrast that with the Russian military, where, with few
exceptions, the country has been at peace.
So we really need to start thinking about peace and about the limits of warfare, this idea that somehow we need a zero sum game where we take from you and that enhances us. We’re in a world where everyone can gain and prosper by peace. But I’m concerned that the hyperinflation may be the wake-up call that jolts the world into a recognition that we must have a new paradigm for the future, and I think the Peace of Westphalia at that point might become a possibility. So thank you again for the opportunity to be here. There’s always hope and I think there’ll be good things in the future, with the blessings of God.
On The Brink of Armageddon
War is unpredictable. It was only eight months ago that a conventional war began with Russia invading Ukraine, and now the world may be facing the end of civilization as we know it. This may seem like a stretch of the imagination until we witness the irrationality escalate into what has now become rational. Russia has made ominous threats to use nuclear weapons in the theatre of war. President Vladimir Putin recently claimed NATO of nuclear blackmail and warned that nuclear winds could blow both ways. He warned that Russia could us all means at its disposal to protect the recently disputed territories annexed in the east of Ukraine which he now considers an integral part of the Russian homeland.
Then Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky asserted on October 6th that NATO has the responsibility to pre-emptively strike Russia to make it impossible for Putin to use nuclear weapons first. Zelensky followed this statement with an aggressive photo-op by signing an application for Ukraine to join NATO. On the same day, US President Joseph Biden significantly moved the doomsday clock forward when he stated, “We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis.” Biden inferred that Putin’s threat is real and the Russian President “is not joking when he talks about using tactical nuclear weapons.”
The 13-day showdown during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis had America and the former Soviet Union on the brink of nuclear war. The US had discovered the Communist Regime assembled missile launch systems in Cuba that could deliver nuclear warheads onto American cities in a matter of minutes. While 60 years have passed since Cuba, remarkably the Ukraine crisis is quite similar in some respects; yet a far different approach to a resolution in deescalating the current tensions towards nuclear confrontation.
Reminiscent of the US setting up the offensive Jupiter missiles six decades ago in the NATO partners of Turkey and Italy that were aimed towards Russia and its former satellite Eastern Bloc nations, the Americans have recently set up missile systems in new NATO members of Romania and Poland within proximity of delivering a blow to Russian cities, infrastructure, and military bases.
The dynamics in 1962 intensified quickly with a U2 American plane shot down over Cuba, a US naval blockade circling the island nation, calling up all active air force personnel to their bases, a Soviet submarine with nuclear tipped torpedoes arriving on the scene, a CIA report that all missiles in Cuba were armed and ready, and NATO allies were informed that circumstances were deteriorating and within a short period of time to take whatever military action is necessary. US Attorney General Robert Kennedy recalled the mood, “We had abandoned all hope”. Military confrontation was imminent.
Emissaries were sent by the USSR Chairman Nikita Khrushchev and President Kennedy to meet at a Chinese restaurant to find a path forward. Robert Kennedy and Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin met on the sidelines to find a solution. The US deployed 161 nuclear-armed interceptors, twenty-three nuclear-armed B-52s were orbiting near the Soviet Union, and 145 intercontinental ballistic missiles were on standby.
A deal came in the nick of time. Under tremendous pressure, Khrushchev blinked. He sent this message to Kennedy. “You are disturbed over Cuba. You say that this disturbs you because it is ninety-nine miles by sea from the coast of the United States of America. But… you have placed destructive missile weapons in Italy and Turkey, literally next to us…. I therefore make this proposal: We are willing to remove from Cuba the means which you regard as offensive…. Your representatives will make a declaration to the effect that the United States will remove its analogous means from Turkey…”
Kennedy responded. The message read, “As I read your letter, the key elements of your proposals—which seem generally acceptable as I understand them—are as follows: You would agree to remove these weapons systems from Cuba under appropriate United Nations observation and supervision; and undertake, with suitable safe-guards, to halt the further introduction of such weapon systems into Cuba. We, on our part, would agree upon the establishment of adequate arrangements through the United Nations, to ensure the carrying out and continuation of these commitments to remove promptly the quarantine measures now in effect and to give assurances against the invasion of Cuba.”
On October 27, Kennedy secretly agreed to remove all missiles set in Turkey and southern Italy in exchange for Khrushchev removing all missiles in Cuba. Only afterwards was it learned that the Soviets had 162 nuclear warheads in Cuba. The world was at the precipice. Contrasting to today’s crisis and one must wonder whether substantial efforts and backchannels are taking place to advert an escalation that can quickly spiral out of control as the conflict becomes more entrenched with political positions difficult to crawl out from.
Why didn’t the Biden Administration not act decisively to head off the invasion when Russia was assembling the ground forces months ahead of crossing into Ukraine? Why did Biden state a small excursion by Russia into Ukraine may be permissible? Perhaps this was a green light to create a conundrum for Russia at the expense of allies in Europe. Why would the US not recognize the bigger picture of death, destruction, and billions of dollars sunk into a less than democrat country of Ukraine and simply inform Putin there are no plans to allow Ukraine into NATO. Perhaps the Biden Administration recognized the repercussions for Russia all along.
The wildcard of course is Putin. He is an idealogue that is unchallenged in Russia. He now finds his back pushed up against a wall as the designated pariah of the world. With options to win this war becoming more drawn out and the ability to hold onto the annexed territories in doubt, Putin is more apt to consider the nuclear option if his dogmatic views of Russia’s existence and culture is at risk.
To be clear, we did not move closer to Armageddon with Russia invading Ukraine. When Russia was preparing to invade Ukraine in December of 2021, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated. “The missile defence systems installed in Romania and Poland can be used for offensive operations. The military infrastructure of NATO irresponsibly gets closer to the borders of Russia. Medium-range American missiles appearing in Europe bring back the nightmare scenario of a military confrontation”.
Lavrov’s nightmare scenario of American missiles in Europe seems to reference the abyss the world faced with the missiles facing Russia in 1962. This was the signal for the Biden Administration to build the off ramp for the lines of Russian tanks to veer home instead of crossing into Ukraine. This was the moment where the West miscalculated that would have saved countless lives on both sides and pull the world back from a potential nuclear travesty. Why did Biden not open direct lines of communication with Putin like Kennedy and Khrushchev to find a solution?
Let’s be honest and ask how America would respond with missiles located within a fictitious expanding Russian alliance in Canada and Mexico. Well, we have a pretty good example in how the US responded to Russian missiles in Cuba. It would not fair well for America’s neighbors to the north and south. Should the military action be any less or expected by Russia when Ukraine juts deeply into their country, and the US houses missile systems on the doorstep in the newest NATO member.
Inevitably, the writing was on the wall, and Russia believed they needed to act in their national interests and preservation. America, on the other hand, decided to go forward with providing their proxy in Ukraine with billions of dollars in sophisticated weaponry to fight Russia. The question should be considered if regime change is at the core knowing Putin is constantly blamed or scapegoated for interfering in America and for having a relationship with Biden’s potential adversary in 2024 presidential elections, former President Donald Trump. Biden told the world from Warsaw on March 26 that Putin “cannot remain in power”. When the White House attempted to downplay Biden’s remarks, noting his remarks were not calling for regime change in Moscow, Biden stated that he was “not walking back anything”.
The question should be asked if this war is of any real interest to the American people at home and Europeans facing a very cold winter. To what end? Some will claim Russia will not stop at Ukraine and move against another country. Perhaps, however Russia’s capability to take on NATO directly in a conventional war is not plausible with the apparent difficulties they face holding on to portions of eastern Ukraine. Where does NATO end its ‘gun at the head’ advancement of new NATO member states surrounding Russian territory? To what gain will there be years from now looking back at the death and destruction that may have been avoided with a sincere effort for a negotiated resolution?
Is it reasonable to think the potential for thermonuclear war with no recognizable parameters to the destructive power terminating vast populations in Europe, North America, Russia, and China? It seems most people are oblivious to the implications in contrast to the anti-nuclear demonstrations across the world throughout the 1970s-80s. Can we believe deterrence by mutual destruction is a fail safe against a nuclear strike when the country with the largest nuclear arsenal is pinned down? Can deterrence always hold true if the threat is always perceived as a bluff; yet the credibility of the threat hinges on the potential recklessness of those in power, and the opposition, in this case NATO, claiming there will be severe consequences beyond calculation?
What makes this situation more dangerous is there no effort to deescalate but rather obfuscate personal attacks and political sound bites. These allegations are unhelpful in the short-term and can be addressed later when emotions are in check. There is a more pressing matter. It becomes more likely that nuclear weapons will be used when there is an inability to look beyond the criticism on the battlefield and not understand the intent that diminishes the time for diplomacy to work a solution.
It would seem for now that the Biden Administration is moving to prepare for a nuclear holocaust. Most recently, the US government is stocking up on a treatment for radiation sickness in a $290 million purchase of romiplostim. The medicine, which reduces bleeding caused by acute radiation syndrome from the fallout of a nuclear explosion, was bought after Putin issued a threat that he is prepared to use nuclear weapons.
New York City, one would assume to be a prime target for a nuclear strike, is also preparing when the city’s Emergency Management Department released a public service announcement video on steps to survive a nuclear attack. The narrator states, “Don’t ask me how or why. Just know the big one has hit. So, what do we do…” NYC Mayor Eric Adams stated it is better to be safe than sorry following the invasion of Ukraine.
Can or will Biden and Putin understand what is at stake and learn to set aside their ambitions as Kennedy and Khrushchev demonstrated when facing the overwhelming responsibility beyond their countries and to this planet, we call home. The world was on edge when on October 26, 1962, the State Department received a message that appeared to be written personally by Khrushchev. Robert Kennedy described the letter as long and emotional. Excerpts from the telegram read as such:
I think you will understand me correctly if you are really concerned about the welfare of the world. Everyone needs peace: both capitalists, if they have not lost their reason, and, still more, Communists… I see, Mr. President, that you too are not devoid of a sense of anxiety for the fate of the world understanding, and of what war entails. We must not succumb to intoxication and petty passions, regardless of whether elections are impending in this or that country, or not impending… Only lunatics or suicides, who themselves want to perish and to destroy the whole world before they die, could do this. We, however, want to live and do not at all want to destroy your country.
I don’t know whether you can understand me and believe me. But I should like to have you believe in yourself and to agree that one cannot give way to passions; it is necessary to control them.
If, however, you have not lost your self-control and sensibly conceive what this might lead to, then, Mr. President, we and you ought not now to pull on the ends of the rope in which you have tied the knot of war, because the more the two of us pull, the tighter that knot will be tied. And a moment may come when that knot will be tied so tight that even he who tied it will not have the strength to untie it, and then it will be necessary to cut that knot, and what that would mean is not for me to explain to you, because you yourself understand perfectly of what terrible forces our countries dispose.
Consequently, if there is no intention to tighten that knot and thereby to doom the world to the catastrophe of thermonuclear war, then let us not only relax the forces pulling on the ends of the rope, let us take measures to untie that knot. We are ready for this. There, Mr. President, are my thoughts, which, if you agreed with them, could put an end to that tense situation which is disturbing all peoples. Robert Kennedy reflected on President Kennedy in ‘The Thirteen Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962.
“It was not only for Americans that he was concerned, or primarily the older generation of any land. The thought that disturbed him the most, and that made the prospect of war much more fearful than it would otherwise have been, was the specter of the death of the children of this country and all the world—the young people who had no role, who had no say, who knew nothing even of the confrontation, but whose lives would be snuffed out like everyone else’s. They would never have a chance to decide, to vote in an election, to run for office, to lead a revolution, to determine their own destinies. Our generation had. But the great tragedy was that, if we erred, we erred not only for ourselves, our futures, our hopes, and our country, but for the lives, futures, hopes, and countries of those who had never been given an opportunity to play a role, to vote aye or nay, to make themselves felt.”
“The President was deciding, for the U.S., the Soviet Union, NATO, and really for all mankind….”
If Biden has soured the relationship with Putin beyond repair, who will step up to open a channel of communications between the two nuclear adversaries? Could the one other man Biden dislikes on the same level of Putin and blamed for having a relationship with the Russian leader be the answer. The former President Donald Trump would likely say, “What the hell do we have to lose”. Well, the world and if that is the case, the answer is clearer if Biden can set politics aside for humankind.
The other credible partner to take along to a meeting would be President Emmanuel Macron of France. In an interview on October 12, 2022, Macron urged Putin to “come back to the table”. Macron, unlike Biden, has defended his refusal to break off the opportunity to communicate with Putin, stating he would continue to talk “whenever necessary”. Macron said it is important to avoid an escalation with the conflict spreading… and to prevent Moscow from using nuclear weapons.
The threat of nuclear annihilation is left to chance when a conventional war evolves from predictability and the opponent finds the circumstances no longer bearable. This situation is close to where we are now with leaders holding the world in contempt as their trigger finger hovers over the button. We can not simply predict the same behaviour of going to the brink will repeat itself every time when the chess match of diplomacy has changed to a high stakes game of poker between to adversaries seeking to win or survive at all costs.
The United States Could Not Win and Will Not Fight a War Against Russia
I continue to be convinced the US/NATO could never win and will never fight a war against Russia in eastern Europe – unless the #EmpireAtAllCosts
death cult somehow seizes the reins of power, in which case, it will become the biggest catastrophe in US military history, and very possibly result in a civilization-ending nuclear war. For me, one of the most intriguing aspects of the unprecedented levels of propaganda beclouding the ongoing Ukraine War are the incessant claims, from the very beginning, of the alleged strategic, tactical, and logistical ineptitude of the Russian military.
The theme of the bumbling Russians was clearly preconceived and coordinated, and commenced in earnest within the first 24 hours of hostilities. CIA/MI6 fronts like Oryx, Bellingcat, and the war-mongering Kagan family propaganda mill The Institute for the Study of War have pumped out this narrative so relentlessly that it has now been almost universally enshrined as “received wisdom” in the western state-controlled corporate media and among large numbers of clueless, arms industry-compromised former generals – even to the point of entering into the body of assumptions embraced by many “experts” who I expected to be more discerning.
It has given rise to countless evidence-free myths, from the #FakeNews downing of two IL-76 jumbo transports packed with Russian paratroopers, to the persistent meme of thousands of Russian tanks and armored vehicles allegedly abandoned for mechanical breakdown, lack of fuel, or other logistical failures. One of the more inexplicable narratives included in this disinformation package has been the allegation that Russian troops are poorly trained conscripts who are thrown into the meat grinder with antique weapons, little ammo, and so little food they are literally starving.
These tall tales are then woven back into the main strand of the narrative: the Russian army is a disorganized mob of demoralized “orcs” whose only real talent is plundering household appliances, raping young women, and randomly gunning down old folks on the streets. Attached to this constant refrain are repeated comparisons to the allegedly incomparable professionalism, organization, training, and weaponry of US/NATO forces. The implication is that any undersized company of exceptional American soldiers would be more than a match for an entire oversized battalion of incompetent Russians.
I’ve concluded this unrelenting narrative must have as its aim the persuasion of the general public and policy-makers in NATO countries that western militaries are so vastly superior to their Russian counterparts that no one should entertain reservations about making war against them. Connected to this theme is a recurring baseless assertion that the Russian nuclear arsenal is in a state of total disrepair, and that, were nuclear war enjoined, very few Russian missiles would even make it out of their silos, let alone fly long enough and straight enough to then be summarily dispatched by the fictional impenetrable American missile defense shield.
In other words, we have virtually nothing to fear from the bumbling Russians – that "gas-station masquerading as a country" – as the late Fighter Ace in Reverse
John McCain was fond of saying. And thus we continue to hear calls for immediate NATO intervention into the war; the establishment of a “no-fly zone” over Ukraine, and “boots on the ground” to teach the amateurish third-world Russian army a lesson it will not soon forget. Never mind the numerous reports from western mercenaries and foreign legion volunteers who managed to escape back to their home countries after very brief and terrifying “tours of duty” in Ukraine, all of whom relate similar accounts.
They talk about encountering overwhelming firepower for the first time in their military careers, and they soberly warn anyone else thinking of embarking on a “safari” to kill Russians that it was “nothing like Iraq” and they feel very lucky to have made it out alive – often without ever firing their weapon, nor having even seen a Russian soldier.
Never mind also the fact that, to my knowledge, there are few if any conscripts among the Russian forces fighting in Ukraine, and few if any reports in Russian independent media sources of demoralized, under-supplied Russian battalions in any theater of the war. Quite to the contrary, every indication I have seen suggests that Russian morale is sky high, both among the soldiers doing the fighting and the Russian public at home. To be sure, there have been Russian casualties – they are, after all, going up against what was, on February 24, 2022, the largest and best-armed land force on the European continent (outside of Russia).
Best estimates are ~5000 Russian Federation KIAs (killed in action) plus ~8000 of their DPR / LPR (Donetsk People’s Republic / Lugansk People’s Republic) allies, or ~13,000 KIA in total.
These numbers pale in comparison to the western propaganda "think tank" fantasies of ~100k total Russian casualties, including 35k – 50k KIAs, which, were it true, would be unmistakably reflected both in the morale of the army itself and the public at home – and it clearly is not. Nor is any of this manufactured narrative consistent with the desperate and incessant Ukrainian appeals for massive replenishment of lost heavy weaponry, air-defense systems, and ammunition, as well as the total mobilization of poorly trained and equipped "territorial guard" troops and expansion of the conscript window to include boys, old men, and now even women.
On the other side, Russian troops are regularly rotated off the battlefield, rested and refitted, then returned to the front. Russia has deployed ~15% of its total professional force, has not ordered a general mobilization, and has approximately the same number of soldiers in the theater that they started with (175k – 200k). So I leave the reader to judge the facts of the matter in terms of Russian military ineptitude and massive logistical failures. And with that preface, let’s turn to the primary question: could NATO fight and win a war against the Russians on this same battlefield? My answer is an emphatic NO – for three distinct but equally disqualifying reasons:
1) There is zero persuasive evidence that NATO soldiers, weaponry, training, logistics, and command are superior to that of the Russians.
2) Sufficient NATO forces could NEVER be assembled, equipped, and sustained to defeat the Russians in their own backyard.
3) The very attempt to concentrate sufficient US forces in the region in order to take on the Russians would very likely result in the disintegration of the global American Empire and its massive network of overseas bases – thereby rapidly accelerating the already-in-progress transition to a multipolar world.
As to point #1 above, it bears repeating what I have argued multiple times in recent weeks: this war has seen the Russian military quickly evolve into a battle-hardened and quick-to-adapt fighting force. The US has not faced such a force since World War II. Many believe the US is a “battle-hardened” force. This is utter nonsense. Of the many thousands of troops currently manning US combat units, only a minute fraction has experienced ANY battle whatsoever, and NONE have experienced high-intensity conflict such as is taking place in Ukraine.
Indeed, I submit that one of the inadvertent and unforeseen byproducts of this war is that, even as the NATO-trained and equipped Ukrainian army has been devastated, the Russian army has been transformed into the single most experienced army on the planet. Needless to say, this is NOT what US/NATO strategists intended to achieve. But it does explain why we now see them doubling-down on efforts to prolong this war – both to (hopefully) degrade Russian capabilities, and to buy time for themselves to determine what to do next.
You see, if NATO had to go to war today against Russia, and all their troops and equipment could be magically teleported to the battlefield, they simply could not sustain high-intensity conflict for more than about a month, as this excellent analysis persuasively argues: The Return of Industrial Warfare
. The zealous disciples of indisputable American military supremacy will undoubtedly reply:
“Overwhelming American air power alone would devastate Russian military capabilities in a matter of days; a couple weeks at most.”
The average Call of Duty warrior believes such nonsense, but I'm confident very few in the Pentagon harbor such delusions. To the contrary, they understand perfectly well that Russian best-in-class air defenses would shred attempted US/NATO airstrikes. It would be a stunning massacre, the results of which after even the first 48 hours would see wiser heads calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities. Not only that, but even attempted, but catastrophically failed NATO airstrikes against Russia would result in a massive series of counterstrikes against NATO bases and warships at distances never seen in previous wars. It would be a no-holds-barred affair.
Staging areas in Poland and Romania would be hit first and hardest, but strikes would very likely range over all of Europe and the Mediterranean. Russian missiles and submarines would sink several ships within hours, including, almost certainly, a US carrier. This, of course, is the nightmare scenario – one which very conceivably risks an escalation to nuclear war. But it also assumes that Russia would stand by idly as NATO concentrated forces in the region sufficient to launch a war in the first place.
In my estimation, the Russians would NOT sit back and watch the US/NATO methodically conduct a Desert Storm-style buildup over the course of a year (or more) – which is how long it would take to assemble a force large enough to launch a war against Russia. Just as they preempted Ukrainian designs to retake the Donbass and Crimea, they would likewise strike NATO forces long before they reached a level of strength sufficient to conduct operations against Russia. One final observation on this whole notion of the US/NATO making war against Russia:
People neglect to consider the fact that US forces are dispersed all around the world, in over 750 foreign bases of varying sizes and strategic importance.
In other words, most fail to appreciate the fact that US military might is highly diluted, and the only way to possibly concentrate a force sufficient to take on the Russians would be to literally evacuate almost every significant US base on the planet. Japan, Korea, Guam, Syria, Turkey, multiple African nations, etc. A massive power vacuum would be created all around the world, and would constitute an irresistible temptation for “hostile powers” to exploit. It would spell the end of American global empire and hegemony.
Yuan-ruble trading surges more than 1,000% as China and Russia draw closer together amid US tensions
- Yuan-ruble trading volumes have surged 1,067% since Russian invaded Ukraine in February, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.
- The jump in yuan-ruble trading is one of a number of signs of China and Russia strengthening their ties.
- The two countries signed a "no limits" friendship deal in February as they looked to reduce the power of the US.
Trading of China's yuan
and Russia's ruble
has soared more than 1,000% since the war in Ukraine began, according to data reported by Bloomberg
, as the two countries strengthen ties. Monthly yuan-ruble volumes have risen 1,067% to just under $4 billion since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, Bloomberg
said Tuesday. The two countries have sought to strengthen ties this year, announcing a "no limits" friendship directly aimed at countering the influence of the US over the global economy. Since the US has slapped tough sanctions on Russia, both sides have looked to pull closer together economically.
China's trade with Russia rose 12% in March year-on-year, faster than trade increased with the rest of the world. Russia's imports from China fell but trade accelerated in the other direction, likely reflecting higher energy prices. Russia said in April it expects trade with China to hit $200 billion by 2024, up from around $150 billion last year. Meanwhile, tough US sanctions on Russia and tight capital controls put in place by Moscow have caused dollar-ruble trading to fall sharply. Bloomberg said volume in the dollar-ruble pair has fallen to its lowest level in a decade.
"The current crisis is unlikely to lead to anything other than a further tightening of Sino-Russian bilateral relations," said Bjorn Alexander Duben, an academic, in a report on the situation for the London School of Economics last week. "Xi's China will prop up Russia and try to ensure that Putin's power is preserved," he said. However, Duben said Russia was the much weaker partner, and would likely be relegated "from a great power peer to a client of Beijing."
Russia and China are brewing up a challenge to dollar dominance by creating a new reserve currency
- Russia and China are developing a new reserve currency with other BRICS countries, President Vladimir Putin said.
- The basket currency would rival a US-dominated IMF alternative and let Russia widen its influence, an analyst said.
- The dollar's dominance is already eroding as central banks diversify into the Chinese yuan and smaller currencies.
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. Russia is ready to develop a new global reserve currency alongside China and other BRICS
nations, in a potential challenge to the dominance of the US dollar. President Vladimir Putin signaled the new reserve currency would be based on a basket of currencies from the group's members: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
"The matter of creating the international reserve currency based on the basket of currencies of our countries is under review," Putin told the BRICS Business Forum on Wednesday, according to a TASS report
. "We are ready to openly work with all fair partners."
"This is a move to address the perceived US-hegemony of the IMF," ING's global head of markets Chris Turner said in a note. "It will allow BRICS to build their own sphere of influence and unit of currency within that sphere."
Russia's move comes after Western sanctions imposed over the Ukraine war all but cut the country out of the global financial system
, curtailing access to its dollars and putting pressure on its economy. "The speed with which western nations and its allies sanctioned Russian FX reserves (freezing around half
) no doubt shocked Russian authorities," ING's Turner said. "The Central Bank of Russia effectively admitted as much, and no doubt some BRICS nations — especially China — took notice of the speed and stealth at which the US Treasury moved," he added.
Those sanctions have likely encouraged Moscow and Beijing to work on an alternative to the IMF's international reserve asset, the special drawing rights
, Turner suggested. While it's not a reserve currency, the SDR is based on a basket of currencies made up of the US dollar
, the euro
, the British pound
and Japan's yen — as well as China's yuan
. One possibility is that the BRICS basket currency could attract the reserves not just of the group's members, but also countries already in their range of influence, he suggested. These include nations in South Asia and the Middle East.
Russia has seen its currency the ruble
rebound to above its pre-war level, thanks to central bank support, after it plunged 70% in less than two weeks after the Ukraine invasion. It has risen 15.2% in June to 1.87 cents. Meanwhile, the yuan has held steady at around $0.15 over the same period.
Petr Akopov: As Putin visits Tehran, Russia and Iran are ready to create a strategic partnership
Iranians are experienced in forging their own identity, without relying on the West – Russians can learn a thing or two
On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin is visiting Iran for a fifth time. Is that a lot or a little? Well, if you count back to 2000, when he first became the leader of Russia, it doesn’t seem like much. However, if you look at the dates of the visits, a very different picture emerges. It turns out that this trip is the fourth in the last seven years. Yes, Putin first came to Tehran in 2007, but his regular trips did not start until 2015. At the same time, all of Putin's visits have been of a working nature. He has never been to the Islamic Republic on an official tour. Each time his arrival was linked to a multilateral event held in the Iranian capital, such as The Caspian Forum, a summit of gas-exporting countries.
Or, as in this case, a meeting in the Astana format, i.e., a trilateral summit of Russia, Turkey, and Iran. This “big three” emerged five years ago in connection with the search for a solution to the conflict in Syria, but it has long outgrown that single issue. Because all three countries are truly sovereign states, they have a lot to discuss.
Moreover, while Turkey's importance in both regional and global affairs is well understood (by both supporters and opponents of strengthening bilateral relations), the role of Iran has been underestimated for many years. More precisely, it has been completely misjudged. The reason is simple. Our Western-oriented expert community looked at Iran mainly through the American-led prism: a rogue country, mullahs with missiles and a desire for a nuclear bomb, theocracy, a repressive regime, a security threat to the Middle East and the world, Islamic fanatics, etc.
In general, it has been perceived as some kind of eastern hole, incomparable to the advanced, enlightened and wealthy West.
The political leadership looked at Iran with different eyes, but what did our people know about the Islamic Republic? At worst a retelling of Western propaganda, at best some echoes of Traveler’s Club (a TV show once popular in Russia and the USSR). Even our pivot to the East after 2014 has not changed that perception: the real Iran is still very poorly known in Russia.
However, we are now moving towards a comprehensive strategic cooperation treaty – one that can last for 20 or 25 years. It could be signed as early as this year: in January, the new president, Ebrahim Raisi, presented the Iranian draft to Vladimir Putin in Moscow, and last month Sergey Lavrov brought the Russian version to Tehran. Russia and Iran will not become military allies (although military-technical cooperation is increasingly complemented by joint exercises), but our relationship will develop very seriously.
Iran is increasingly involved in the multilateral format of cooperation with Russia – it has already joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO); the accession procedure will be completed in autumn – and Tehran wants to join BRICS. In other words, we are talking about a full-fledged course towards strategic cooperation between the two countries, both bilaterally and on the global stage. Russia and Iran have enormous potential for cooperation, from trade to the North-South transport corridor linking the Baltic Sea to Iranian ports in the Arabian Sea. That is, the European Union to India via the Caspian Sea.
There is no need to think that Russia’s conflict with the West has made it irrelevant – the potential for North-South trade is still enormous. Even if the war of sanctions between Russia and the EU lasts for a long time, the corridor will be needed for Russia’s trade with the Middle East and Asia.
And most importantly, rapprochement with Iran is in Russia's strategic interests. Because we are not simply dealing with the heir to great civilizations, with an 86-million-strong country, but with one of the strongest nations in the world in spirit. Iran is truly a sovereign country, going its own way, looking for its own forms of state and societal organization, standing up for its national interests and not bowing to any external pressure.
This is exactly what Russia is doing, but we have yet to fully complete the process. And it is not even about the Iranian experience of living and developing under decades of Western sanctions – that too will come in handy, although the old world, in which the West could significantly hamper countries undesirable to it (and threaten to destroy them), is a thing of the past. More importantly, Iran has managed to find its own formula of state structure and social relations, a formula expressing exactly its national identity and aspirations.
The Islamic Republic is not a carbon copy of foreign models, Western or Eastern – it is a unique Iranian invention. It is complex, based on both tradition (religious and national) and the notion of the correct form of popular representation and the application of Islamic law. With its problems, mistakes, and lessons, but surviving in the most difficult external conditions. None of the great powers – and Iran is undoubtedly among them – has demonstrated anything like this kind of creativity in building a new kind of state in recent decades. The last one to have a similar experience was the Soviet Union.
Now we are again facing a huge challenge – we need to invent a new form of existence for our people and our state. Not only to withstand a confrontation with the West, but because we have long needed it ourselves.
The Iranian experience is not directly applicable to Russia, but their aspiration for an ideal social structure is close to Russians as well as the dream that the state must stand for justice, embody, and protect people's ideals, that the leaders must be honest, strong in spirit and feel their responsibility before the people and God.
And that is why Putin's fifth meeting with Rahbar Khamenei, the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, is not just a conversation between two very influential and very experienced statesmen – it is also a meeting between two people who have something to talk about, besides global issues and challenges. Because if two countries such as Russia and Iran go their own spiritual and national way, then they will go together. And each will become stronger – no longer just responding to challenges from the West, but together building a new world where traditionalist peoples can live by their own ways and their own laws.
Partnership Of Russia, Iran And Turkey- Foundation Of A New World Order Has Begun
While the world is going through the ill effects of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the recent visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin along with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the Iranian capital Tehran is on the cross hairs of the world powers. This has not only irked Uncle Sam but also created anticipations that laying of the first foundation of a new Anti-US world order has started. Soon after the cold war & dissolution of Warsaw Pact, US had absolute freedom to play around & the world was watching it however the current meeting of three world leaders reminds us of 1943 Tehran conference where President Franklin Roosevelt of US, Winston Churchill of UK & Joseph Stalin of Russia met with a common goal to counter Germany. Now after nearly 80 years, goalposts have changed. Russia & Turkey which used to be an ally of US are now turning its ante against the American hegemony.
Russia & Iran, although were the top two producers of petroleum but were isolated from the rest of the world by sanctions put by US-led coalition while Turkey despite of being a NATO ally did not only had strains in its relations with the US but also severe economic crisis too and these three powers came together after all the doors were closed to them. They are calling it as “Axis of Good” against the American term used by then President George W Bush for trio of Iran, Iraq & North Korea as “Axis of Evil”. This is going to be detrimental to the US because more pro-Moscow countries and Anti-US powers may join hands with this trio in the coming future. It is not only Russia, Iran & Turkey but several other countries of the world looking for a new world order against United State. Let’s understand as how they can make it possible.
Weakening US backed oil producers- As Russia & Iran are the two biggest oil & gas producing nations yet were facing issues because of US backed sanctions. While Iran faced lack of critical infrastructure & technology for exploration & transportation of oil & gas due to US sanctions, Russia faced supply chain issues due to lack of warm water ports. With the countries coming together, the routes of Persian Gulf can be opened for Russia and Iran will have Russian technology to transfer petroleum products. Together they can break the cartel of US backed oil producers in the region like Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, UAE & others. Recent agreement between Russian GAZPROM & National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) for a whooping 40 Bn USD is the first step in this regard.
Denting US Dollar- The coalition has signed a memorandum & are ready to accept their payments in any prominent currency of the world. Ever since US started the concept of Petro dollar, it has made US Dollar as the most prominent foreign currency of the world. Globally countries are not only trading in US dollars but also maintaining large deposits of USD as their forex reserves. Currently US has over 2.5 trillion USD in circulation as currency notes and over 25 trillion USD in circulation as bonds, treasury receipts & other instruments. This is much more than its total GDP & almost 55 times more than the entire gold reserves of US. If countries start trading in other currencies, US dollar will go back to Washington resulting in collapse of US economy. We saw in the first few months of Russia Ukraine conflict that Russian Ruble has become stronger after Russia started trading in its own currency.
Establishing a new Supply Chain system (INSTC): Recently Russia proposed a new trans-shipment route through Astrakhan in Russia, passing through Caspian Sea, Iran & finally reaching a southern port in Iran can be the future of the world. While the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) is primarily aimed to target Asian markets, it can also perform vice versa to open up the avenues for India & other Asian countries to ship its goods to Europe via Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan & Russia. While China failed to establish its Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) miserably because of Pakistan’s inability in setting up CPEC, INSTC can be a good answer to western hegemony and can provide relief to both Asia & Europe by creating foundation of mutual trade.
A New Military Alliance: We all know that Iran has emerged as a big military power as it was under continued threat for a US led invasion in last few years. It has created large stockpiles of Missiles, Drones & other conventional weapons. On the other hand, Russia is already an established military power in the world who is on the ante of US. Turkey is a NATO ally but its relations with US are strained beyond critical limits. If we see the geo-strategic location of these countries, we can say for sure that if this alliance turns into a military alliance, they will be the biggest military power of the world with controls over Asia & Europe.
Opportunities for India: India for quite sometimes has been facing issues with US. There have been several instances. Threatening with CAATSA, use of threatening words by American deputy NSA Daleep Singh during his visit to India & several other cases of Arm-twisting by White house are example of this. India already has Chabahar port of Iran on lease which can be a key factor in not only INSTC but also a major part of future supply chain system to other parts of Asia & Europe. On the other hand, India can be a transit point for goods travelling between Russia/Iran to rest of Asia & vice versa & can effectively counter Chinese influence by sending its goods to Europe at a cheaper price. So, it is a win-win situation for India but at the cost of straining the relations with US.
Today, the Russian-backed coalition of Russia, Turkey & Iran is full of anticipations & assumptions but it is turning into a reality very fast & in case it is fully materialised & operational, will wipe off American hegemony from the world. Although time will tell the real outcome but it is bringing a plethora of opportunities for India which can put our country on the podium once again.
Henry Kissinger: Ukraine must give Russia territory
Veteran US statesman Henry Kissinger has urged the West to stop trying to inflict a crushing defeat on Russian forces in Ukraine, warning that it would have disastrous consequences for the long term stability of Europe. The former US secretary of state and architect of the Cold War rapprochement between the US and China told a gathering in Davos that it would be fatal for the West to get swept up in the mood of the moment and forget the proper place of Russia in the European balance of power. Dr Kissinger said the war must not be allowed to drag on for much longer, and came close to calling on the West to bully Ukraine into accepting negotiations on terms that fall very far short of its current war aims.
“Negotiations need to begin in the next two months before it creates upheavals and tensions that will not be easily overcome. Ideally, the dividing line should be a return to the status quo ante. Pursuing the war beyond that point would not be about the freedom of Ukraine, but a new war against Russia itself,” he said.
He told the World Economic Forum that Russia had been an essential part of Europe for 400 years and had been the guarantor of the European balance of power structure at critical times. European leaders should not lose sight of the longer term relationship, and nor should they risk pushing Russia into a permanent alliance with China. “I hope the Ukrainians will match the heroism they have shown with wisdom,” he said, adding with his famous sense of realpolitik that the proper role for the country is to be a neutral buffer state rather than the frontier of Europe.
Mr Habeck, who doubles as economy minister, said Germany is more or less ready to endure the shock of a total cut-off in Russian oil imports but others want to carry on as if nothing had changed. “I expect everyone to work to find a solution, and not to sit back and work on building their partnership with Putin,” he said. Yuriy Vitrenkio, head of the Ukrainian energy consortium Naftogas, said the refuseniks are demanding exemptions from the embargo on false pretences. “What they really want is a free-ride on discounted Russian oil,” he said.
Eleven Republican senators and 57 congressmen in the US voted against the colossal $40bn aid package for Ukraine, an early sign of fragmenting cohesion in Washington. “Putin is counting on the West to lose focus and that is our real challenge. People are as concerned, or more concerned, about the rising price of gas and groceries,” said Senator Christopher Coons. “I’m not sure the unity will last. We may not get the next vote,” said Eric Cantor, former House Whip and a key figure in the sanctions policy against Iran.
Nobody is sure whether the US is trying to punish Russia for its aggression or whether the goal is a subtler use of policy that gives the Kremlin a “route out of sanctions” if it changes course. The fundamental divisions over the West’s war aims in Ukraine have so far been masked by an outpouring of solidarity and emotion, but these rifts are coming to the fore.
President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered his usual tour de force in a video address to the forum, saying “this is the year when we learn whether brute force will rule the world”. If it does, he added with his trademark touch, there will be no point in any more World Economic Forums in Davos. Yet he also said Russia should be shut out of the civilised world entirely, and that all trade should stop until Russian forces are driven from Ukraine. “Sanctions should be maximum, so that Russia and every other potential aggressor that wants to wage a brutal war against its neighbour would clearly know the immediate consequences of their actions," he said.
It is doubtful whether the West can maintain a united front in pursuit of such far-reaching war aims with absolutist aims. Mr Cantor said it would require secondary sanctions against other countries, putting the West in a head on clash with China, India, and almost 60 states that refused to back a UN resolution denouncing Russia’s invasion. India’s energy minister Shri Hardeep Puri brushed aside suggestions that his country should stop buying Russian oil. “The Europeans buy more Russian energy in an afternoon than we do in a quarter,” he said in Davos.
Mr Cantor said the US was in danger of overplaying its hand. “We have got to have multilateral support. We are already being accused of weaponising the world’s reserve currency
. Even allies and friends are starting to ask, if you are using it in this way, we too could one day be subject to these sanctions,” he said. The US Congress is split on the ultimate war aim. Senator Joe Manchin said the US should keep going until there was a clear “win” that restored all of Ukraine’s territory and led to the toppling of Vladimir Putin but other members of the Congressional delegation in Davos want a negotiated outcome.
Saudi Arabia and the Opec states have made it clear that they will not draw on their spare capacity to cover the lost Russian supply of oil, estimated at around one million barrels a day at the end of April. This makes it extremely hard to plug the gap if Europe cuts off purchases of Russian barrels. Francisco Blanch from Bank of America said the oil market is now extremely tight. “The energy buffer is nearing a vanishing point. Crude oil inventories are down to a dangerously low point across Europe, North America, and OECD Asia. Inventories have also fallen to precarious levels for middle distillates and even gasoline as the market heads into the peak of the US driving season,” he said.
Unless there is a global recession and violent demand destruction, crude prices could soon spiral higher. “We’re not living in a dream world: we have to replace the lost oil with other oil,” said Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency. Mr Birol said that the OECD bloc of rich states are releasing 1.5m barrels a day of oil to stabilise the market, and have so far depleted 9pc of their stocks. This is before the European embargo against Russia even begins. “This winter in Europe will be tough,” he said.
Ivan Timofeev: It’s about more than Ukraine, Russia is staging a rebellion against the West and its liberal world order
Moscow has been unwilling to accept the secondary role assigned to it by the West and now the consequences are being felt
The military conflict in Ukraine today is the central flashpoint in relations between Russia and the West, and largely sets the tone for security policy in the Euro-Atlantic region. It also has many global implications. In the ideological sphere, it is increasingly presented as a struggle between the liberal world order and the “mutiny of the malcontents.” It is Russia that today has assumed the role of the vanguard of such a rebellion, openly challenging its Western rivals.
The use of the concept of a revolt here is not accidental. The West is promoting a liberal world order based on clear ideological assertions. These include the market economy; the globalization of standards, trade and technologies; liberal democracy as the only acceptable political form for the organization of states; an open society and a diversity of cultures and ways of life; and its interpretation of human rights.
In practice, the implementation of these principles varies from country to country and changes over time. However, the diversity of practice has little effect on the integrity of the ideology. Unlike the West, Russia does not offer an alternative ideological menu. So, Moscow, today, differs from the Soviet Union, which at one time adopted another modernist creed –socialism– and actively promoted it as a global alternative.
At the same time, both liberalism and socialism are Western doctrines. The pair are based on the ideas of progress, rationality and emancipation. There are more similarities between them than you might think. Socialists offer a different view of private property, pointing to the excesses of the uncontrolled market. Already in the twentieth century, however, there was a convergence of liberal and socialist ideas in the form of a combination of state regulation and the market. With regards to their political ideation, democracy and the power of the people are no less important for socialism than for liberalism. Traces of the idea of globalisation could be found in the concept of international worker solidarity. Liberation from prejudices and the rationalisation of all spheres of life are expressed as clearly in socialism as in liberalism.
The problem with the Soviet Union was that the implementation of socialist ideas eventually turned into an imitation. The principles of democracy remained on paper, but in reality they were crushed by an authoritarian (and at certain stages totalitarian) state. In the initial rationalisation of the economy and industrialisation, the USSR achieved amazing success, but later it ran into stagnation, unable to adapt its system to rapidly changing world realities. The weakness of the economy, with its raw-material bias, was identified back in the Brezhnev era. Emancipation, at first, proved unprecedented, but was also ultimately hobbled by the increasingly rigid social structure of the Soviet state. At the end of the Cold War, the picture was completed by double standards and a cynical attitude towards the ideology of Soviet society itself and its elite.
Despite the collapse of the Soviet project, the policy of the USSR could hardly be called a rebellion. Throughout its history, the state still offered a systemic alternative. Relations with the bourgeois environment could be called an attempt at revolution, and then rivalry and competition, but not a revolt. Soviet policy had a positive agenda, offering a holistic picture of the world. The current “Russian rebellion” is based on dissatisfaction with the established status quo of the liberal world order, or rather, its individual consequences for Russia.
There are reasons for such a posture. Scepticism about democracy has been fuelled by the practical possibilities for foreign states to ‘hack’ democratic institutions. Colour revolutions in the post-Soviet space have only strengthened this attitude. The flip-side of democracy is the possibility of interference in democratic institutions from the outside in order to ‘correct’ the political course. The US, not without reason, was considered a key ‘hacker’ of national sovereignty through the manipulation of democratic institutions abroad. All the more ironic was the indignation of Washington itself, after Russia itself allegedly also tried to interfere in American democracy.
Russia’s greatest annoyance was its secondary role in the unipolar world order, the disregard for its interests, and that system’s increasingly clear refusal to perceive it as an equal partner. Interestingly, economic factors were secondary for the ‘Russian rebellion.’
In theory, Russia can be considered dissatisfied with its peripheral status in the global economy and its role as a raw materials appendage. In practice, Russia has become very deeply integrated into the international division of labour. However, compared to the stories about democracy, sovereignty and foreign policy, Russia’s concern with its place in the world economy was articulated in a very weak way. Liberal emancipation can hardly be considered the main political problem for Moscow. In some aspects, the Russian narrative has distanced itself from the Western mainstream. This concerns such topics as multiculturalism and sexual minorities; although in the West itself, perceptions of these remains extremely heterogeneous. At the same time, in terms of lifestyle, Russia is a European and Western country, so culture, like the economy, can hardly be considered a key source of the problem.
Given the concentration of Russian discontent in the political sphere, it is hardly surprising that it was the Ukrainian issue that became the trigger for the“Russian rebellion.” The Maidans and the change of power were seen by Moscow as a cynical hack into the country's political system, and a harbinger of a potential hack eventually targeting Russia itself.
In addition, at the doctrinal level, Ukraine was increasingly positioned as a fundamentally different project, drifting further and further towards Western values. From the point of view of foreign policy, it was with regards to the Ukrainian issue that Russian interests in the field of security were discriminated against in the most acute form. Economic issues here also acquired political overtones: Moscow could put pressure on Kyiv with gas prices and threats to diversify its transit, but it was clearly losing to the European Union and other Western players in the very model of economic integration. It is not surprising that all those contradictions that had accumulated after the Cold War made themselves known in Ukraine.
Realising that the game was being played according to fundamentally unfavourable and discriminatory rules from the Russian point of view, Moscow not only slammed the table with its fist and brushed the pieces off the board, it also decided, figuratively speaking, to hit its opponents hard on the head with this board. Rivalry ‘according to the rules’ turned into a fight, the field of which is Ukraine. At the same time, on the part of the West itself, there is a degree of irritation, discontent and rejection of Russia, proportional to its own discontent or even surpassing it.
The West is frustrated by the very fact of a decisive rebellion, its senselessness in terms of the balance of benefits and losses, and the ruthlessness of Russian pressure. Hence the obvious non-selectivity and emotionality of retaliatory strikes, a bizarre mixture of sanctions bombings, plans to confiscate Russian property, defeat the 'oligarchs’ (the most pro-Western wing of Russian high society) and equally senseless bullying of the Russian cultural, sports and intellectual elite, and of the citizenry as a whole. Only the threat of a direct military confrontation with Moscow keeps them from using military force.
The West has every reason to fear the "Russian rebellion." Worries about the liberal world order arose long before 2022 and even before 2014. Compared to Russia, China poses a far greater danger. If the ‘Russian rebellion’ is successful, it will become clear that China’s ambitions will be even more difficult to contain. Moreover, unlike Russia, China can offer an alternative economic model, and its own view of democracy, as well as a different ethic of international relations.
The success of the 'Russian rebellion’ may become a prologue to much more systemic challenges. Therefore, the pacification of Russia for the West has become a task that clearly goes beyond the boundaries of the post-Soviet and even the Euro-Atlantic space.
Meanwhile, in the actions of Moscow, there have been signs of progress that are unpleasant for the West. Yes, the Western blockade will increase the lag and backwardness of the economy. Yes, military operations are costly. Yes, they can cause unpredictable social reactions and even present a challenge to political stability. None of these challenges, however, are capable of knocking Russia off its political course from now on. Moscow is slowly developing an offensive and seems to be determined to integrate the occupied Ukrainian territories into its political, informational and economic space.
Ukraine faces not only colossal economic and human losses, but also the threat of losing territory. Large-scale Western aid is having an effect, making it difficult for Russia to act. Apparently, however, it is not able to stop Moscow: infusions of military equipment are simply ground up by military operations. The longer the conflict drags on, the more territory Ukraine could lose. This presents the West with the unpleasant realisation that it is necessary to reach at least a temporary agreement with Russia. It will be preceded by an attempt to reverse the military situation. However, if it fails, Ukraine will simply not be able to stop the further loss of its statehood.
In other words, the 'Russian rebellion’ has a chance to end in success in the sense that it may end in a fundamental reformatting of a large post-Soviet state that has recently been hostile to Russia. It will show the readiness and ability on the part of Russia to back up its claims with the most radical actions.
Will the success of the rebellion mean its victory? This will depend on two factors. The first is the international political implications. A military success in Ukraine could set off a chain of global consequences leading to the decline of the West. However, such a scenario is far from predetermined. The West's margin of safety is high, despite its apparent vulnerability. The readiness of other non-Western players to give up the benefits of globalisation for the sake of abstract and vague political guidelines like a multipolar world is not completely obvious.
It is likely that the West will have to endure the new status quo in Ukraine, but this does not mean the defeat of its model. Russia does not systematically challenge this system and does not have a complete picture of how to change it. In Moscow, perhaps, they believe that the structure has become obsolete and expect it to collapse by itself, but this conclusion is far from certain.
The second factor is the consequences for Russia itself. By avoiding promoting a global alternative to the liberal order, Russia will at least have to decide on a programme for its own development. So far, its contours are also built mainly around the denial of the West and its models in certain areas. Nevertheless, the vast majority of other non-Western countries, while defending their sovereignty, are actively developing and cultivating Western practices that benefit them. These include the organisation of industry, developments in the field of science and education, and participation in the international division of labour.
The rejection of such practices, just because they are conditionally Western, as well as the 'cosplay’ of Soviet attitudes created amid different historical conditions and left in the distant past, can only increase the difficulties that Russia is currently facing. The preservation and development of a market economy as well as an open and mobile society remain among the most important tasks.
Western ‘network of commandos and spies’ helping Ukraine
A secret network of commandos and spies from the US, and some of its allies, is working to provide weapons, intelligence and training to Ukraine, the New York Times (NYT) reported on Saturday, citing current and former American and European officials.
While much of the activity takes place at bases in Britain, Germany and France, some CIA agents have been stationed in the east European country, mostly in the capital Kiev, the paper said. The agents are tasked with sharing satellite images and other intelligence with Ukrainian troops, according to the story.
The US announced the evacuation of military instructors from Ukraine in February. Shortly afterwards, Russia launched its military campaign and the US Army’s 10th Special Forces Group set up a planning cell in Germany to coordinate military aid to Kiev, the paper explained. The group has reportedly grown to include participants from 20 nations. The NYT added that “a few dozen commandos” from other NATO member states, including Canada, Britain, France and Lithuania, have also been working in Ukraine.
Ukraine with heavy weapons, including missile launchers, combat drones and armored vehicles, and training Ukrainian troops to use them. In recent months, the Pentagon has delivered M142 HIMARS multiple rocket launchers and M777 howitzers. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said last week that Ukraine was facing “a pivotal moment on the battlefield” and urged Washington's allies to continue aiding Kiev.
The report about the activities of Western commandos and CIA agents in and around Ukraine comes as a three-day Group of Seven (G7) summit kicks off in Germany on Sunday. The group, which comprises of the US, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, which have imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia. Moscow has said in the past that it will treat foreign weapons, on Ukrainian soil, as legitimate targets.
Exclusive: Inside the Military's Secret Undercover Army
The largest undercover force the world has ever known is the one created by the Pentagon
over the past decade. Some 60,000 people now belong to this secret
army, many working under masked identities and in low profile, all part
of a broad program called "signature reduction." The force, more than
ten times the size of the clandestine elements of the CIA,
carries out domestic and foreign assignments, both in military uniforms
and under civilian cover, in real life and online, sometimes hiding in
private businesses and consultancies, some of them household name
The unprecedented shift has placed an ever greater
number of soldiers, civilians, and contractors working under false
identities, partly as a natural result in the growth of secret special
forces but also as an intentional response to the challenges of
traveling and operating in an increasingly transparent world. The
explosion of Pentagon cyber warfare, moreover, has led to thousands of
spies who carry out their day-to-day work in various made-up personas,
the very type of nefarious operations the United States decries when
Russian and Chinese spies do the same.
exclusive report on this secret world is the result of a two-year
investigation involving the examination of over 600 resumes and 1,000
job postings, dozens of Freedom of Information Act requests, and scores
of interviews with participants and defense decision-makers. What
emerges is a window into not just a little-known sector of the American
military, but also a completely unregulated practice. No one knows the
program's total size, and the explosion of signature reduction has never
been examined for its impact on military policies and culture. Congress
has never held a hearing on the subject. And yet the military
developing this gigantic clandestine force challenges U.S. laws, the
Geneva Conventions, the code of military conduct and basic
signature reduction effort engages some 130 private companies to
administer the new clandestine world. Dozens of little known and secret
government organizations support the program, doling out classified
contracts and overseeing publicly unacknowledged operations. Altogether
the companies pull in over $900 million annually to service the
clandestine force—doing everything from creating false documentation and
paying the bills (and taxes) of individuals operating under assumed
names, to manufacturing disguises and other devices to thwart detection
and identification, to building invisible devices to photograph and
listen in on activity in the most remote corners of the Middle East and
Special operations forces constitute over half the entire
signature reduction force, the shadow warriors who pursue terrorists in
war zones from Pakistan to West Africa but also increasingly work in
unacknowledged hot spots, including behind enemy lines in places like
North Korea and Iran. Military intelligence specialists—collectors,
counter-intelligence agents, even linguists—make up the second largest
element: thousands deployed at any one time with some degree of "cover"
to protect their true identities.
The newest and fastest growing
group is the clandestine army that never leaves their keyboards. These
are the cutting-edge cyber fighters and intelligence collectors who
assume false personas online, employing "nonattribution" and
"misattribution" techniques to hide the who and the where of their
online presence while they search for high-value targets and collect
what is called "publicly accessible information"—or even engage in
campaigns to influence and manipulate social media. Hundreds work in and
for the NSA,
but over the past five years, every military intelligence and special
operations unit has developed some kind of "web" operations cell that
both collects intelligence and tends to the operational security of its
In the electronic era, a major task of signature
reduction is keeping all of the organizations and people, even the
automobiles and aircraft involved in the clandestine operations, masked.
This protective effort entails everything from scrubbing the Internet
of telltale signs of true identities to planting false information to
protect missions and people. As standard unforgettable identification
and biometrics have become worldwide norms, the signature reduction
industry also works to figure out ways of spoofing and defeating
everything from fingerprinting and facial recognition at border
crossings, to ensuring that undercover operatives can enter and operate
in the United States, manipulating official records to ensure that false
identities match up.
as biometrics and "Real ID" are the enemies of clandestine work, so too
is the "digital exhaust" of online life. One major concern of
counter-terrorism work in the ISIS
age is that military families are also vulnerable—another reason,
participants say, to operate under false identities. The abundance of
online information about individuals (together with some spectacular
foreign hacks) has enabled foreign intelligence services to better
unmask fake identities of American spies. Signature reduction is thus at
the center of not only counter-terrorism but is part of the Pentagon's
shift towards great power competition with Russia and China—competition,
influence, and disruption "below the level of armed conflict," or what
the military calls warfare in the "Gray Zone," a space "in the
One recently retired senior officer
responsible for overseeing signature reduction and super-secret "special
access programs" that shield them from scrutiny and compromise says
that no one is fully aware of the extent of the program, nor has much
consideration been given to the implications for the military
institution. "Everything from the status of the Geneva Conventions—were a
soldier operating under false identity to be captured by an enemy—to
Congressional oversight is problematic," he says. He worries that the
desire to become more invisible to the enemy not just obscures what the
United States is doing around the world but also makes it more difficult
to bring conflicts to a close. "Most people haven't even heard of the
term signature reduction let alone what it creates," he says. The
officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he is discussing highly
'Her Majesty's Russia Unit': How British spies have launched a full-scale propaganda war to demonize Moscow
The growing political feud between Russia and the West has spurred
the activation of specialized propaganda and intelligence units. With
regards to the Ukraine crisis, experts say one of the most active
parties has been the United Kingdom, which in recent years has stepped
up its efforts to demonize Russia by waging a full-scale propaganda war. As
an RT analysis has shown, Britain’s 'HMG Russia Unit,' an
interdepartmental government organization created several years ago, has
acted as a front for soft influence operations against Moscow with the
assistance of international consulting organizations.
now, the activities of the operation had not been publicly visible.
However, last month publications containing its employees’ personal
information appeared in a number of Russian Telegram channels. It is
alleged that the email addresses included in these posts belong to
employees of the HMG Russia Unit who are also connected to various other
UK government departments, including the Cabinet Office, the Foreign
and Commonwealth Office, military intelligence, MI5, and the Ministry of
Defence, as well as American curators attached to the group.
begin with, let’s explain how a group specifically targeting Russia
appeared within the British government, what its purpose is, and what it
“The government has long recognized the presence of a sustained
and significant threat from Russia to the UK and its allies, including
both conventional military capabilities and disinformation, illegal
financial transactions, influence operations, and cyber-attacks,” said a report submitted to parliament by the Office of the British Prime Minister in 2020.
For the British government, Russia has become “one of the main priorities from the point of view of national security,” it adds.
is why in 2017 the Government implemented the NSC-endorsed (National
Security Council — RT) Russia Strategy, and in 2017 established the
cross-Government Russia Unit which brings together the UK’s diplomatic,
intelligence and military capabilities to maximum effect,” the report goes on to say.
to the British government’s own reports, the HMG Russia Unit, which was
formally attached to the UK Foreign Office, was primarily tasked with
coordinating information and propaganda campaigns aimed against Russia.
This can be traced from data released
by the British government and, in particular, from a large-scale
program financed by the UK Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF)
that was carried out by the Foreign Office up until 2021 to develop
media resources, including in Russian, and so-called "counter disinformation."
program notes that the United Kingdom is working with a number of
partners to improve the quality of public and independent media
resources, including Russian-speaking ones, so they can “support
social cohesion, uphold universal values and provide communities in
countries across Eastern Europe with access to reliable information.”
forms of support vary. They include, for example, mentoring by British
media staff, consultations on creating broadcast networks, financing of
joint productions, and support for regional media projects in Russian.
the coming year we will be investing over £8m in supporting public
service and independent media. This will include projects in the Baltic
States and Ukraine, as well as regional initiatives,” according to a document published by the UK government.
Contract for demonization
the HMG Russia Unit’s efforts are not limited to coordinating
propaganda efforts. From data on the UK government’s public procurement
portal, it can be seen that it has served as a customer for the Green
Finance initiative – a British-Russian project aimed at promoting
sustainable financing for developing institutional ties between Moscow
and London in the environmental and economic spheres. The final date for
fulfilling the contract is March 31, 2022. If we analyze the UK government’s funding allocations targeting Russia,
it turns out that in addition to PwC, Moody’s Analytics (a Moody’s
subsidiary) received funds through a specialized non-profit entity named
UK Research and Innovation as part of a contract to track companies and
individuals that have been sanctioned over the Ukraine conflict. The
relevant restrictions are noted on a portal for the placement of UK government contracts.
The involvement of private international consulting companies in
promoting the UK agenda with respect to Russia, as well as the
post-Soviet space, logically correlates with the HMG Russia Unit’s
involvement in large-scale projects to demonize Russia’s image. In
this regard, there is a noteworthy letter dated February 7, 2019,
addressed to the British investigative journalist Till Bruckner, who had
requested data on the activities of the Integrity Initiative from the
British Foreign Office. It states that in 2017-2018, £296,500 was
earmarked to finance the project, and an additional £1.961 million in
A response to the journalist’s request was received from the
HMG Russia Unit. The Integrity Initiative has been flagged as one of
Britain’s main programs responsible for spreading anti-Russia fakes and
waging a propaganda war against Moscow. At the same time, as RT noted
back in 2018, the hacker collective Anonymous published
internal documents from the Integrity Initiative that revealed the
mechanisms British media networks employ in their subversive work aimed
British influence networks
initially set a certain standard for the West’s anti-Russian template,
Alexey Martynov, a political scientist who heads the Institute of Newly
Established States, said in an interview with RT. The academic noted that using private consulting companies and rating
agencies as tools to influence Russia was a ‘soft power’ tactic
traditionally employed by specialized British agencies.
rating agency is created as a tool for manipulating media flows, and
other business dimensions grow out of this. They also have access to
domestic statistics that are not available to the public,” the political scientist said.
“These mechanisms have been tested since the 1990s, when all data was
opened to foreign ‘partners’. Then these mechanisms were created – it is
important to have a high ranking with rating agencies, otherwise you
won’t receive loans.”
The UK continues to ramp up its
sanctions against Russia. In May, it announced another package of
restrictive measures, adding more individuals and legal entities from
Russia to the list and planning to ban imports of Russian oil. In April,
London also banned the import of Russian silver, caviar, and wood products.
CIA ops, commandos in Ukraine: Can we just admit we are fighting this war?
The Central Intelligence Agency is operating in Kyiv and has been for some time, according to new reporting by the New York Times.
So, while Biden has insisted on “no U.S. boots on the ground” in
Ukraine, there are soft-soled operatives, otherwise known as American
spies, providing intelligence and other tactical assistance to Ukraine
in its war with Russia. Sounds like Americans are in this war, like it or not. The news, based on sourcing from current and former U.S. government
officials, is part of a broader report about a “stealthy network” of
U.S. and European commandos and spies in “cells” run by the Pentagon’s
European Command “to speed allied assistance to Ukrainian troops.” Much
of this is operating from military bases in France and Germany and
elsewhere. But as the NYT points out, there are European commandos and
CIA agents working on the inside.
The commandos are not on the front
lines with Ukrainian troops and instead advise from headquarters in
other parts of the country or remotely by encrypted communications,
according to American and other Western officials, who spoke on the
condition of anonymity to discuss operational matters. But the signs of
their stealthy logistics, training and intelligence support are tangible
on the battlefield. Several lower-level Ukrainian commanders
recently expressed appreciation to the United States for intelligence
gleaned from satellite imagery, which they can call up on tablet
computers provided by the allies. The tablets run a battlefield mapping
app that the Ukrainians use to target and attack Russian troops.
As usual it appears that the administration wants to have it both
ways: assure the American people that it is being “restrained” and that
we are not “at war” with the Russians, but doing everything but planting
a U.S. soldier and a flag inside Ukraine. The CIA, as you will recall,
has increasingly had an operational combat focus since 9/11, running elaborate secret prisons overseas, engaging in enhanced interrogations (torture) and manhunting with armed
drones and commando teams over the last 20 years. There may be a sliver
of daylight between the CIA operatives there today and the U.S. special
forces that left Ukraine after Russia invaded, but given the
circumstances, is it a meaningful one? Is it all about who is pulling
the trigger? The Russians may not see the distinction and consider this news as
further evidence that their war is more with Washington and NATO than
with Ukraine. For this and other reasons the NYT report has sparked a
heated debate on social media.
Heer, who is a writer for The Nation, responded to Sipher by saying
that military decisions are “subject to civilian oversight,” to which
Sipher, whose Twitter profile says he is at the Atlantic Council and is
“former CIA Clandestine Service,” quipped, that’s to be done “through
Right. And I have a bridge to sell you in Fallujah. Perhaps two percent of Congress through the House and Senate
intelligence committees is aware the CIA is operating in Kyiv but like
everything — from the 20-year war in Afghanistan to specific operations
like the assassination of Qasem Soleimani in 2020 — the whole process
has a whiff of retroactive rubberstamping with no room (or interest) for
debate in Congress. Operational secrecy and security are no doubt the
fig leaf, but when we’re not supposed to be in a war we aren’t supposed
to be in a war, right?
“I don’t think people realize that right now the spigot from Congress is fully open. Money, weps, intel, whatever they need,” tweeted Jack Murphy,
journalist and Iraq/Afghanistan vet. “The American public is not being
appropriately informed about what our government is up to as basically
every single op DOD/CIA proposes is getting the green light.”
But then again the CIA acted with impunity through much of its
formative years, and it wasn’t until the Church Committee brought all
the nastiness to light in the 1970s that the American public was made
aware of it. Still, the agency continued to fight bloody proxy wars in
places like El Salvador and Nicaragua — and let’s not forget Afghanistan in the 1980s. Are we to believe that there is any more stringent oversight today? Which brings us to the million dollar question — what do we expect to
come from this particular (proxy war) for which the U.S. is engaged
well beyond just sending assistance? My Quincy Institute colleague
George Beebe, who spent years engaged in Russia analysis for the CIA,
wonders if Washington even knows how far it is going here.
“This is reminiscent of the ‘sunk cost’ phenomenon that caused
Washington to increase its involvement in Vietnam from a handful of
advisors to half a million troops in direct combat,” he tells me. “In the face of growing Russian success in taking the Donbass, we are
doubling down on even more economic sanctions on Russia and deeper U.S.
and NATO support for Ukraine. How this is supposed to produce anything
beyond an ongoing and very volatile stalemate is very unclear. We seem
to have no viable exit plan.” If history is any guide, we won’t have one, until it’s too late.
Networks covered the war in Ukraine more than the US invasion of Iraq
The evening news programs of the three dominant U.S. television
networks devoted more coverage to the war in Ukraine last month than in
any other month during all wars, including those in which the U.S.
military was directly engaged, since the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq,
according to the authoritative Tyndall Report. The only exception was
the last war in which U.S. forces participated in Europe, the 1999
Kosovo campaign. Combined, the three networks — ABC, CBS, and NBC — devoted 562
minutes to the first full month of the war in Ukraine. That was more
time than in the first month of the U.S. invasion of Panama in December
1989 (240 mins), its intervention in Somalia in 1992 (423 mins), and
even the first month of its invasion of Afghanistan in November 2001
(306 minutes), according to a commentary published Thursday by Andrew Tyndall, who has monitored and coded the three networks’ nightly news each weekday since 1988.
“Astonishingly, the two peak months of coverage of the  Iraq
war each saw less saturated coverage than last month in Ukraine (414
minutes in March of 2003 and 455 minutes in April),” he wrote. “…The
only three months of war coverage in the last 35 years that have been
more intensive than last month were Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait
in August 1990 (1,208 minutes) and his subsequent removal in January and
February 1991 (1,177 and 1,033 minutes respectively).”
That was at a time, however, when the network evening news devoted
about a third more time to foreign news than it has in recent years when
international news coverage has fallen to all-time lows. Last month’s coverage of Ukraine even eclipsed by a wide margin the
three networks’ coverage of the chaotic end of Washington’s 20-year war
in Afghanistan last summer. Last August, the month with the most intense
coverage, the three networks devoted a total of 345 minutes (or only
about 60 percent of last month’s total Ukraine coverage) to the war’s
abrupt denouement. Once U.S. forces had fully withdrawn by August 31,
network coverage of Afghanistan fell precipitously
to a total of just 103 minutes between September 1 and the end of year,
despite the desperation of the country’s humanitarian situation that
followed (and persists).
While the major cable news networks often receive more public
attention, the evening news shows of ABC, CBS, and NBC collectively
remain the single most important source of international news in the
On weekday evenings, an average of some 20 million U.S. viewers
tune in to national news programs on one or more of the three networks.
That’s roughly four times the number of people who rely on the major
cable stations — Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN — for their news during prime
time. About two million more people watch the network news via the
internet, according to Tyndall. The actual news content on each network
runs about 22 minutes; in March, the total number of minutes of content
for all three weekday evening news shows would have reached around 1500
Historically, the amount of news coverage devoted to foreign wars has
been positively correlated with the direct involvement of the U.S.
military. “Normal expectations are that wars are always more newsworthy
in America when American lives are at risk,” according to Tyndall, who
noted that the only war in the last several decades to which the
networks devoted as much time in one month as last month’s total
coverage of Ukraine was in Kosovo in April 1999 (565 minutes) when U.S.
aircraft led NATO’s bombing campaign against Serbia.
But the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began in late February,
“has overturned all normal patterns of journalistic response,” according
to Tyndall. He gave most of the credit to the leadership and media
savvy of President Volodymyr Zelensky who has largely controlled the
narrative conveyed to Americans via the networks.
“It is a demonstration of Zelensky’s perceived newsworthiness that
both ABC World News tonight and NBC Nightly News decided to assign their
anchors to an extended interview with him, despite the fact that he
would not be speaking English, meaning that the audio would consist of
the stilted tones of a simultaneous translator,” Tyndall observed.
It also helped that “the overall structure of the coverage has been
Kyiv-based,” in part due to Russia’s enactment of strict censorship
coverage that, among other things, made it much more difficult to cover
Moscow’s views. “Yet, more unusual for the American news media, there
has been precious little coverage from Washington,” Tyndall observed.
“Normally in a war in which the United States is not involved, it would
be the default position of the American news media to search for a
fair-and-balanced way to present both sides of the conflict. It is to
Zelensky’s credit that, this time, the networks had no problem seeing
the conflict from his point of view.”
This has extended even to the networks’ treatment of the refugee
crisis provoked by the Russian invasion. “Normally, refugees are a
seen-from-both-sides problem: desperate Syrians, or Haitians, or Central
Americans clamoring at a border for humanitarian relief — and
immigration officials at checkpoints guarding against an untrammeled
influx that might overwhelm the host country,” according to Tyndall. “In
this case, …there was no doubt that these refugees, mostly women and
children and the elderly, were on a righteous ‘unarmed road of flight,’
as the bard puts it.”
The fact that all three networks sent their anchors to Lviv or Poland
to cover the displaced and the refugees underlined both the importance
of the story and the side that they were effectively taking, according
to Tyndall. In stressing the importance of Zelinsky’s own role, Tyndall noted
that last month’s intensity of coverage is not explained by the
uniqueness or importance to U.S. national security of Ukraine itself. In
all of 2014, when both the pro-Moscow government in Kyiv was ousted and
Moscow invaded and annexed Crimea and aided secessionist forces in the
Donbas, the three networks devoted a total of 392 minutes, or an average
of just over 32 minutes a month. Of course, that invasion resulted in
U.S. and Western sanctions against Russia that set relations on a
downward trajectory from which they have never recovered.
The networks’ fixation with Ukraine essentially filled to overflowing
the “news hole” for international news. Only short snippets, including
North Korean missile tests, the China East airliner crash, U.S.-China
talks (which also centered around Ukraine), and Venezuela’s release of
two U.S. oil executives were mentioned by one or more of the networks
during the month. The economic situation in Russia itself, as well as
the sanctions levied against Moscow and the country’s oligarchs — both
of which were directly related to Ukraine in any event — were also the
subject of discrete stories. The Ukraine coverage in March also crowded out the latest
developments in the devastating humanitarian crises caused by
Afghanistan’s collapsed economy and the ongoing wars in Yemen and
Pentagon contractors worked in Ukrainian biolabs under $80 million program
Leaked documents give new information about the Pentagon program in biolaboratories in Ukraine. According to internal documents, Pentagon contractors were given full access to all Ukrainian biolaboratories while independent experts were denied even a visit. The new revelations challenge the US government statement that the Pentagon just funded biolaboratories in Ukraine but had nothing to do with them. Last week US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland confirmed that “Ukraine has biological research facilities” and the US is worried that “those research materials” may fall into the Russian hands. What “research materials” were studied in these biolaboratories and why are US officials so worried that they may fall into Russian hands?
The Pentagon activities in Ukrainian biolabs were funded by the Defense Threat Reduction agency (DTRA). DTRA allocated $80 million for biological research in Ukraine as of 30 July 2020, according to information obtained from the US Federal contracts registry. The US company Black & Veatch Special Projects Corp. was tasked with the program.
The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) awarded Black & Veatch Special Projects Corp. an $80 million contract under the Biological Threat Reduction Program (BTRP) in Ukraine in 2020.
Pentagon contractors given full access to Ukrainian biolabs
The Ukrainian biolabs were accessible to Pentagon contractors but not to independent experts, according to internal documents published on Reddit by an alleged former employee of the Ukrainian ministry of health. The US company Black & Veatch Special Projects Corp. was given full access to freely operate in all biolabs in Ukraine that were engaged in biological research activities under the DTRA program, according to a letter dated 2 July 2019 from the Ukrainian minister of health to DTRA in Ukraine.
A letter dated 2 July 2019 from the Ukrainian minister of health Ylana Suprun to DTRA in Ukraine gives Black & Veatch Special Projects Corp. full access to all biolaboratories in Ukraine involved in the US military biological research program. Ylana Suprun is an American national and was conferred Ukrainian citizenship by former president Petro Poroshenko in 2015.
Ukraine rejected proposal for public control over the Pentagon-funded biolabs
While Pentagon contractors were given full access to all biolabs involved in the DTRA program, independent experts were denied such access under the pretext that these biolabs were working with especially dangerous pathogens. According to a leaked letter, the Ministry of health of Ukraine denied experts from the scientific journal “Problems of innovation and investment development” access to the Pentagon-funded biolaboratories. The ministry rejected the proposal made by the scientific journal and did not allow independent public control group of experts to supervise these biolaboratories.
“The Ministry of Health of Ukraine considers it inappropriate to create a working group for public control and it is not possible to allow members of the group to enter the premises of laboratories of especially dangerous infections of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine”, according to a letter dated 21 October 2016 from the Ukrainian Deputy Minister for European Integration Oksana Sivak to the scientific journal “Problems of innovation and investment development”.
Another DTRA contractor that operated in Ukraine was CH2M Hill. The American company was awarded a $22.8 million contract (2020-2023) for the reconstruction and equipment of two new biolaboratories: the State Scientific Research Institute of Laboratory Diagnostics and Veterinary-Sanitary Expertise (Kyiv ILD) and the State Service of Ukraine for Food Safety and Consumer Protection Regional Diagnostic Laboratory (Odesa RDL). According to leaked documents, CH2MHill was tasked with an $11.6 million program “Countering Especially Dangerous Pathogen Threats in Ukraine”.
German-Ukrainian project on bird flu
German and Ukrainian scientist conducted biological research on especially dangerous pathogens in birds (2019-2020). The project was implemented by the Institute of Experimental and Clinical Veterinary Medicine (Kharkov) and the Friedrich Lerfler Institute (Greifswatd, Germany). According to the project’s description, the main goal of this project was to carry out sequencing of orthomyxoviruses (causative agents of avian flu) genomes, as well to discover new viruses in birds.
According to the Russian ministry of defense, DTRA funded a similar project in Ukraine UP-4 in 2020. The project’s goal was to research the potential of especially dangerous pathogens to be transmitted via migratory birds, including the highly pathogenic H5N1 flu, whose lethality for humans can reach 50%, as well as Newcastle disease. The use of migratory birds for possible delivery of pathogens was a major research program between Smithsonian Institute and the US Department of Defense in the past.
The National Interest: Time to Prepare for Russia’s Disintegration
Russian president Vladimir Putin is correct that a color revolution, which will overthrow Russia’s current semi-authoritarian political framework, has begun its inevitable march toward Moscow. Putin’s emerging conservative social program may have staved it off, or his poorly-calculated gamble in Ukraine may have accelerated the mobilization against his revanchism. However, Putin’s desperate attempt to shore up Russian geography before a liberal regime permanently closes the window of opportunity is rational. What is certain is that a liberal constitution in Moscow will lead to further secession of Russian minority territories. It is time that Western strategists think clearly about their preferred geopolitical organization of Eurasia before, rather than while, Russia begins its spontaneous disintegration.
The break-up of the United Arab Republic between Egypt and Syria in 1961, the unification of Vietnam in 1975, and Germany in 1871 and 1990 all had regional strategic implications. The Soviet Union constituted 15 percent of the world’s land surface before its disintegration, which led to the creation of fifteen new nation-states and a spate of continental-scale geopolitical challenges. Irredentism in the Caucasus has become the battleground between Russian, Turkish, Iranian, and Western interests. Central Asia has overlapping spheres of Russian and Chinese influence and is threatened by militant Takfirism. Russian irredentism remains an issue in the Baltic States, Ukraine, and Moldova in Europe, and Kazakhstan in Central Asia. In comparison, Russia possesses 11 percent of the world’s terrestrial surface, including much of the northern Eurasian landmass that is favored to become productive with global climate change, and it shares a vulnerable common border with the world’s emerging Eurasian power, Communist China.
Russia is more ethnically and linguistically homogeneous than the Soviet Union, with 78 percent of its population being of Russian ethnic origin, and is therefore unlikely to unravel as calamitously as the USSR. Though Turkic peoples account for 9 percent of the population (principally the Tartars at 4 percent, and Bakshir and Chuvash at one percent each, followed by lesser-sized communities), their variations in language and religion make their combined secession unlikely. Furthermore, Turkic peoples are concentrated in the south of the Ural Mountains in the interior of European Russia, rather than on an easily detachable periphery. In contrast, the Caucasus contains geographically coherent communities of 1.5 million Chechens, almost a million each of Avars and Mordvins, and four other communities of approximately half a million. Independence plebiscites would be irresistible in a newly liberal Moscow, but the significant Azeri population in Dagestan would quickly lead to pervasive ethnic conflict, there and in every neighboring independent territory. These developments would lead to inroads by Turkey and Iran.
In the Far East, Russian demographic preponderance is sufficient to counter any independence drive. Sakha (2 percent of the world’s total land area) is evenly divided between a million Russian and Yakut people. Buryat has a similar distribution. Neither of these communities is susceptible to non-Russian ethnic incitement, given their integration. However, revolutionary transformations of government, even if they are not accompanied by uprisings, can have dramatically paralyzing effects on a state’s integrity and security. The August 1991 KGB coup against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev led to the cascade and generally unforeseen collapse of the USSR. If an umbrella revolution in Moscow causes Russia to become as politically irresolute as the USSR was during the breakup of the Warsaw Pact, distant Russian territory may become indefensible. It is almost certain that Chechnya will promptly declare itself independent under these circumstances, as it did in 1991.
Russia’s Far Eastern territories are thinly populated, with only six million persons living East of Irkutsk, a 25 percent drop since 2000. China has a significant historical and resource incentive to reclaim the territories north of the Amur and Ussuri Rivers, ceded by the Manchu Empire to Russia in 1860. Russian weakness in the Far East could lead to a cascade of Chinese interventions into Mongolia, as well as in the Buryat and Sakha territories.
There is a Western precedent for intervention in Siberia. In August 1918, American, Japanese, British, Indian, Canadian, Australian, and Chinese troops landed at Vladivostok, some advancing to Irkutsk along the Trans-Siberian railway, largely to counter Japanese expansion there. A contemporary intervention would be very difficult to carry out from the sea given the proximity to Chinese air interdiction, but there are rudimentary ports whose approaches are under the cover of Japanese airbases on Hokkaido Island. Along the Primorsky Krai coast, these include Rudnaya and Svetlaya, and along the Khabarovsk Krai, there is De Kastri, Vanino, and Nikolayevks-on-Amur. If the Amur region were to fall to a Chinese incursion, Russia can maintain resistance at Yakutsk through its rail links to Irkutsk. Western forces could also secure Sakhalin Island as well, or land at Magadan in the Sea of Okhotsk.
The abrupt collapse of authoritarian regimes in Eurasia has occurred with great regularity since before the fall of the Berlin Wall in November of 1989. A cumulative demonstration effect has influenced anti-authoritarian uprisings in countless countries since the mid-1980s. The essential ingredients are generational change coupled with the widespread awareness that corrupt governance is the root cause of economic stagnation. It is Putin’s fear of the political mobilization of the eighteen to thirty-year-old cohort that has kept him from conscripting them for the war effort in Ukraine, especially as these would provide the bulk of the army that could turn against the Siloviki. Beijing, like Moscow, believes these liberal-democratic “color revolutions” are an instrument of U.S. hegemonic influence.
Had the West been aware of the impending collapse of the USSR, there may nevertheless have been an impulse to see it collapsed down to a more manageable size. The West deferred to the Soviet suppression of Baltic independence movements in 1990 (in exchange for support against Saddam Hussein), but it backed independence after the fall of the USSR. However, plebiscites could have been held in Crimea and parts of Ukraine to avert the current Russia-Ukraine conflict. Armenia certainly would have been better off remaining within a Russian confederation, given its severe security challenges, as would the governance of many of the Central Asian “Stans.”
To the extent that a territorially expansive China is the principal security threat to the rules-based international order, the West may see it advantageous to arrest the further disintegration of Russian territory. On the principle of self-determination and religious solidarity, the newly independent states of the Caucasus could be encouraged to enter into a Yugoslavian-style confederation, rather than immediately micro-fragment into ethnic conflict. It is in the interest of democratic states to ensure that the Russian Far East does not succumb to Chinese control, until at least China itself liberalizes.
Dr. Julian Spencer-Churchill is associate professor of international relations at Concordia University, and author of Militarization and War (2007) and of Strategic Nuclear Sharing (2014), and a former operations officer, 3 Field Engineer Regiment. He has published extensively on security issues and arms control, and completed research contracts at the Office of Treaty Verification at the Office of the Secretary of the Navy, and the then Ballistic Missile Defense Office (BMDO).
How US-NATO Illegal Bombing of Yugoslavia Undermined Rule of Law in the World 23 Years Ago
On 24 March 1999, the US-led NATO bloc launched a bombing campaign, Operation Allied Force, against Yugoslavia which lasted for 78 days. During the operation, NATO aircraft flew 38,400 sorties, including 10,484 strike sorties, and released 23,614 air munitions, killing at least 2,000 civilians and injuring 12,500.
"Twenty-three years after the NATO aggression in Yugoslavia, the memories among the Serbian population are very vivid," says Dr. Srdjan Sljukic, a professor of sociology at the University of Novi Sad, Serbia. "The anti-NATO feelings dominate not only in Serbia, but also among the Serbs in Republika Srpska (Bosnia and Herzegovina), in Montenegro, etc. In spite of very strong NATO propaganda in the Serbian media that are controlled by the West and the activity of NGOs financed by the West, over 80% of the Serbian population are against the idea that our country should join NATO." The campaign was kicked off after the failure of the Rambouillet talks between members of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) – a Kosovar Albania militia that was regarded as a terrorist organisation by Belgrade.
"What people in the West have been indoctrinated into believing is that the bombing was the consequence of alleged crimes against Kosovo Albanians," says Dr. Srdja Trifkovic, a Serbian-American publicist, historian, and foreign affairs editor for Chronicles magazine. "Well, that is not true at all. The bombing was a consequence of the Serbs refusing to sign the documents prepared at Rambouillet near Paris, where the conference was held in February of 1999, which was in fact mostly US-inspired."
Two conditions inserted into the agreement were unacceptable to the Serbian side, according to the publicist: first, was a binding referendum on Kosovo independence three years after the signing of the agreement; second, the free movement of NATO personnel under arms through the territory of Serbia itself, to have access to Kosovo. In fact, the US deliberately blocked any peaceful settlement to the conflict in former Yugoslavia to open the door to the military campaign, according to Daniel Kovalik, author and adjunct professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh, in the US state of Pennsylvania. It was former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger who admitted in an interview with the UK Daily Telegraph on June 28, 1999: "The Rambouillet text, which called on Serbia to admit NATO troops throughout Yugoslavia, was a provocation, an excuse to start bombing."
"Bringing the Serbs to Heel"
According to RAND's 2001 study, titled European Contribution to Operation Allied Force, NATO's military planners started preparing for a possible operation in Kosovo in May and June 1998. NATO was tasked to develop a wide range of alternative options, from preventive deployments to a full ground invasion to stop the Yugoslavian government from preventing Kosovo's secession.
"The goal of the NATO bombing campaign was, first, to destroy the last vestiges of socialism in Europe; and, second, to demonstrate to the world that the rest now ran the world and could go to war unilaterally without UN Security Council authorisation," says Kovalik. "The result was the fatal undermining of the rule of law in the world."
Then-US Senator Joe Biden was an ardent proponent of a NATO invasion of Yugoslavia. “If I were president, I would just bomb Serbian President Slobodan Milošević,” Biden said in October 1998. "The bombing was intended to destroy Serbia as an independent country, to occupy 15% of its sovereign territory and eventually recognise the secession of that territory as an independent country in its own right," says Srdja Trifkovic. "So one could say, with equal validity, that if there was a headline in the Völkischer Beobachter in Berlin on 22 of June 1941, that the Wehrmacht was opening the door to peace in the East, that's exactly the same validity. The cover of Time claimed that what NATO had done was opening the door to peace."
The Clinton administration's bombing campaign targeted not only the Yugoslavian armed forces. According to some estimates, NATO destroyed or damaged some 25,000 residential buildings, 470 km of roads, 595 km of railway infrastructure, 14 airports, 19 hospitals, 20 health centers, 69 schools, 18 kindergartens, 176 cultural monuments and 38 bridges, causing up to $100 billion in economic losses. NATO aggression provoked a humanitarian disaster and an ethnic cleansing of the Serbs, according to Sljukic: "They were forced to leave their homes and become refugees in their own country," he notes.
US-NATO Military Adventurism: From Kosovo to Ukraine
NATO crimes against Serbs in Yugoslavia have never been thoroughly investigated and those responsible had never been held accountable, according to some observers.
"The ICTY, the International Court Tribunal for Yugoslavia only prosecuted people from Yugoslavia," says Professor Stevan Gajić, a research associate at the Institute of European Studies in Belgrade. "But the conflict of Yugoslavia involved people from the West, it involved NATO countries. But nobody ever held Bill Clinton or Javier Solana or Madeleine Albright accountable. All of them were war criminals; or Tony Blair, for that matter, Robin Cook and many others, Wesley Clark, of course, the chief commander. Nobody held them accountable." US-NATO military moves in Europe did not end with carving out Kosovo, dismantling Yugoslavia and redrawing the European map. Having got away with an illegal bombing campaign, the Western military bloc continued its march to the east, welcoming new members and deploying weapons on Russia's doorstep, according to scholars. "NATO expansion to the east has, as many predicted, led precisely to what we see today – the conflict between Russia and Ukraine," claims Kovalik. "The US clearly wanted that conflict, it did everything it could to bring it about and is now trying to prevent peace at all costs." There are parallels between NATO's invasion of Yugoslavia and a similar move by the Kremlin in Ukraine, according to the observers. The member states of the western military bloc turned a blind eye to eight years of Ukrainian shelling in Donbass and widely-reported neo-Nazi battalions, according to Srdja Trifkovic.
"Fourteen thousand civilians in the Donbass who died as a result of Ukrainian shelling simply do not exist," the Serbian-American professional publicist says, adding, "the horrid episode from Odessa on 2 May 2014 does not exist."
In a similar vein, the US and its allies gloss over the crimes by the KLA, "in the complete avoidance of any discussion of extremely valid Serbian arguments, both historical and legal," he notes. What is driving the US-led NATO bloc is American exceptionalism that has, since WWII, been "the most dangerous doctrine in the world," stresses Kovalik. "[This doctrine] has justified some of the most brutal wars, such as those against Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Panama and Syria, in the name of ''democracy and freedom' when the goal of these wars was anything but," the academic offered.
Petr Akopov: Why George Soros and Francis Fukuyama are ‘Putin’s useful idiots
The Western establishment's preference for liberal loudmouths rather than genuine Russia experts is a major boon for Moscow
There is a surprising debate taking place in in the West – they are arguing about French President Emmanuel Macron’s call not to humiliate Russia. The point here is not that the question itself is ridiculous – generally speaking, the West cannot currently humble our country. Because you can only humiliate someone who depends on you (and with whom you have, if not common values, then at least a harmonized system), but nothing like this can be said about relations between Russia and those countries today.
No, the responses to Macron – and Hillary Clinton was the most recent to raise an objection, saying that this stage has already passed – are indicative of the fact that people who object to him live in some parallel universe. They are not even faced with the question of whether it is possible for Russia to win, because they are sure that it will lose, or even that it has already lost, and they only care to what extent it has been defeated, and how much it needs to be hurt.
It’s not just politicians who are talking about this, it’s also opinion leaders like the American philosopher Francis Fukuyama. His latest interview with Germany’s Die Welt is an example of the piling up of such statements.
He became famous in 1989 for prophesying “the end of history” and the advent of an era of the triumphant march of liberal democracy (that was literally all the nations of the world falling into line with the West towards the bright future of a united humanity). For him, it turns out that making speculative and self-defeating statements is a habit. And now Fukuyama, who, by the way, is very much loved in Kiev and was even recently hired as a consultant by the National Council for the Recovery of Ukraine, is again casting his policy formulations in stone. The first of these, however, he revealed back in March, shortly after the start of Russia’s military operation. Back then, the professor stated:
“I think all of us have an interest in supporting [Kiev’s fight] because the broader liberal democratic order is really what’s at stake in this current war. It’s not a war just about this country, Ukraine. It’s really the attempt to roll back the entire expansion of the realm of liberal democracy that took place after 1991 and the collapse of the former Soviet Union.”
Thus, he’s now trying to tell us that the triumph of liberalism is now not a fait accompli. The problem is that the Russians are simply trying to undo the “inevitable,” to turn back time and the West should fight with them, win (through its Ukrainian proxies) and then return humanity to the right path of history. By early June, Fukuyama was already convinced that everything was going great, Russia was practically defeated, and a new world order was coming (or rather, returning):
“Yes. This new order is taking shape. It is the result of several years of struggle by the Western democratic camp against authoritarian regimes, mainly against Russia and China. This war is the culmination of this process. Russia is heading for a rout. It has already suffered a series of battlefield defeats, and now it is about to be driven out of Donbass by the Ukrainian Army. This is a real disaster for Putin. He turns out to be just a shoddy leader. And not just as a warlord: It’s also a complete political debacle.”
He continued: “NATO will certainly expand by integrating Sweden and Finland. It’s been a long time since the West has been so united. Germany has reconsidered its Ostpolitik of the past 40 years and is supplying Ukraine with heavy weapons. The US has reasserted its leading role in the world, which was lost under [former President Donald] Trump. The West is providing massive aid to Ukraine… Russia will have a very hard time climbing out of this abyss into which it has fallen. It will be excluded from the international world order like North Korea.” If you think that Fukuyama’s optimism is completely disconnected from reality, you just don’t understand what it is based on. And the professor has a holistic view of the Russian president:
“Putin rules alone, without any restraints, plus he is cut off from information and expert advice. He lives in a world of his own delusions. Ukraine is an example of this. Everything he has convinced himself about the subject is wrong, but he clings firmly to these illusions because he has created one-man domination. In addition, he clearly has mental problems. He is a paranoid person. He listens to no one and is guided by fantasies. However, this is a common threat in any authoritarian country...”
Of course, this is exactly what our own domestic Russian “anti-regime fighters,” most of whom have now departed abroad, have been saying for years: Putin is simply a paranoid dictator. During his numerous trips to Kiev in recent years, Fukuyama must have been told this a lot by his Ukrainian friends and our “political emigres.” How can you not believe such informed people, who just happen to be like-minded, when they talk about the “triumph of liberalism”?
The only problem is that such “understanding” has nothing to do with the discipline of political science – which Fukuyama, we are assured, represents. To believe that Putin “attacked Ukraine” because he is “paranoid and cut off from information” is hardly a very academic approach. Perhaps Fukuyama would rather leave the tabloids to analyze the history of Russia, the situation around its relations with the West, modern geopolitical processes and trends in general. After all, low-brow stuff like this is beneath the abilities of a mere Stanford professor, who clearly prefers to deal in gossip rather than actual scholarship. Nevertheless, why should we care about Fukuyama and his next prophecy? There are two points of interest here.
First, we see the transformation of a professor – once hailed by the West as an oracle and influential philosopher – into a banal propagandist who is also poorly versed in the material at play, and has no sense of the course of history. Despite all that – and this is the second point – Fukuyama remains for the West an authority and thinker with answers to important questions. This means the blind are leading the blind. That is exactly what it is. George Soros, Fukuyama and other 1990s gurus of globalization are still in demand – not so much by the public but by those who define the discourse, the people who shape the agenda for the West.
This is both a very bad and a very good sign, from a Russian point of view. Bad, because it shows the weak levels of genuine expertise and intellectual heft available to decision makers in the Atlantic world. The strength – and it is enormous strength – is still there, but the levels of intelligence are not up to scratch. However, in a situation of increased conflict and tension, this combination does not reduce, but instead increases, the risks of a confrontational scenario developing into an open conflict.
The good sign, on the other hand, is that a poor understanding of Russia, the things that really matter to us and our strategic goals – combined with elites betting on our defeat – is working for us as a whole. So the real “useful idiots of Putin” (as the West likes to call supporters of honest dialogue with Russia) are certainly not former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and one-time Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi, but rather instead Soros and Fukuyama.
Soros says ‘defeat Putin ASAP to preserve our civilization’
Unless Russia is quickly defeated in Ukraine, the collective West won’t be able to address climate change in time to save civilization, billionaire financier George Soros told the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday. He also called Russia and China the greatest threats to his concept of open society. Russia sending troops into Ukraine “may have been the beginning of the Third World War and our civilization may not survive it,” Soros told
the WEF, and even when the fighting there stops, “the situation will never revert to what it was before.”
In his telling, the “invasion” came amid a struggle between “two systems of governance that are diametrically opposed to each other: open society and closed society,” the former embodied by the West and the latter by Russia and China. Soros, 91, reminisced about the “exciting days” of the Soviet Union’s disintegration, when his wealth increased to the point where he could spend $300 million a year in 1987, and his foundations in Eastern Europe “turned out to be more successful than I expected.”
The Hungarian financier failed to mention the collapse in living standards that followed for ordinary citizens. He argued that the tide began to turn after the 9/11 attacks of 2001, “repressive regimes are now in the ascendant and open societies are under siege,” with China and Russia representing “the greatest threat.”
Soros was optimistic about how that fight was going, however. According to him, Russian troops expected to be greeted in Ukraine as liberators and emerge victorious within days or weeks, but Ukraine was able to “defeat” them with the help of the US and NATO. Meanwhile, he claimed that Chinese leader Xi Jinping has damaged his legitimacy with Covid-19 lockdowns in Shanghai and elsewhere. What really worried Soros, however, was that the conflict in Ukraine interfered with the environmental agenda, meaning that climate change might become irreversible.
“That could be the end of our civilization,” he said, insisting that “we must mobilize all our resources to bring the war to an early end.”
“The best and perhaps only way to preserve our civilization is to defeat Putin as soon as possible,” he added.
On Monday, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger
urged the WEF to broker a peace in Ukraine in the next two months, before Russia is driven into “a permanent alliance with China” that would destabilize Europe. “Russia has for 400 years been an essential part of Europe,” noted the 98-year-old Kissinger, warning those who seek Moscow’s “defeat.”
Church of Satan condemns Putin
Although Vladimir Putin is often portrayed by the most extreme of his critics as “the beast” or “antichrist”, it seems as not even real life Satanists are down with his politics. The American Church of Satan founded by Anton LaVey in 1964 in San Francisco and still functioning as a community of adult free thinkers who’s beliefs center around personalism, self-indulgence contrary to Christian self-denial, and a simple rule of not letting others to take advantage of you, has recently released an article on their official web page which explains the church’s views on Vladimir Putin and his recent activities. The feedback is not pleasant, to say the least – Church of Satan criticizes Putin for corruption, anti-humanism and overall stupidity (the last one being number one on the list of LaVey’s “satanic sins” and most condemned personal qualities among Satanists).
“There’s a reason Europe has always shut the door on Russia,” says the article, “and Peter the Great had to settle for a mere window. Russia’s hyper-corrupt culture and its highly chauvinistic geopolitical policies have made Putin a logical continuation of Russia’s so-called exceptional path, meaning its eternal desire to live by European standards but somehow maintaining the oligarchy as means of power.” “It’s tempting to idolize Putin as a throwback to what Niccolò Machiavelli advocated in The Prince,” the article continues, referring to the 16th century political treatise advocating actions of so-called ‘self-made princes’ who ascended to power through intrigues and war rather than chance, “and that is exactly how Putin is framed when he is being idolized by Westerners that have read too many Viking sagas and have never lived a day in Russia.”
The Church of Satan has a very individualistic approach when it comes to personal politics of the members. As stated by one of the churches high priests H. Gilmore, “one’s politics are up to each individual member,” which simply put means the church has nothing against people of different political views joining and sharing the views of Satanism. Nevertheless, it seems like putinism is not something followers of the Left-Hand Path are OK with.
“In Russia, if you keep your head down and drink your vodka, there are no guarantees that you won’t fall foul of the government. It is a bipolar culture, which is fun to look into sometimes, but is too crazy to those of us in the know.”
It looks today as if not even the black Magik practitioners are siding with Putin, even though many Westerners still fall victim to his professionally engineered image and surgically sculpted face – the majority, and even those who are in the minority, seem to be awakening to the fact that Putin is neither a great evil, nor a great virtue, but simply a menace to freedom that has to be dealt with.
Satanist Marina Abramovic: 'An attack on Ukraine is an attack on humanity and has to be stopped'
'An attack on Ukraine is an attack on humanity and has to be stopped': Artist Marina Abramovic sends message of solidarity to Ukraine as Russia invades.
The artist Marina Abramovic has posted a video in solidarity with Ukraine after Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Thursday. In the short film, she speaks about being born in former Yugoslavia, "a country which thrived under cultures from the West and Russia from the East." During her time in Ukraine, which she visited for work a few years ago, she "got to know the people there", describing them as "strong" and "dignified". About the invastion, she says: "I have full solidarity with [the Ukrainian people] on this impossible day. An attack on Ukraine is an attack on all of us. It’s an attack on humanity and has to be stopped.
Russian Patriarch says Orthodox faithful are holding back the antichrist
The head of the Russian Orthodox faith was quoted as saying on Thursday that his church and its faithful were holding back the antichrist. Patriarch Kirill was speaking six weeks into Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has forced over 4 million people to flee, killed or injured thousands and left cities and towns destroyed. While he was not quoted specifically referring to Ukraine, Kirill's comments backed the Kremlin line on the war by implying that Russia's actions there were a forced response to a foreign aggressor. "Why did external forces rise up against the Russian lands? "Why do they strive to destroy, divide, set brother against brother?" Kirill was quoted by Russia's RIA news agency as saying. The Kremlin says the invasion is a special operation to demilitarise and "denazify" Ukraine, arguments Ukraine and Western governments reject as a false pretext for an invasion. Kirill, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, has defended Russia's actions and sees the war as a clash with a Western liberal culture he considers decadent, in particular in its acceptance of homosexuality. That stance has angered some within the Orthodox Church and in affiliated churches abroad. Referring to a New Testament text in which intensifying conflict between good and evil culminates in the second coming of Christ, Kirill said "the Book of Revelation mentions a certain force that holds back the coming into the world of the antichrist." "Some thought it is the church that is holding this back, and that is correct," he was quoted as saying. "The church keeps people from losing their bearings in life ... it is the Orthodox faith, living and acting in the Orthodox church – this is the force that holds back (the antichrist)." Kirill said it was no coincidence that "at this force today are aimed all the sharp arrows of all those who seek to compromise the church, to divide and tear it from the people," according to RIA.
War in Ukraine is a 'metaphysical' battle against a civilization built on 'gay parades,' Russian Orthodox leader says
He argued that war broke out after eight years of "attempts to destroy what exists in the Donbas," because the pro-Russian separatist republics embodied "a fundamental rejection of the so-called values that are offered today by those who claim world power." Kirill did not mention that a majority
of Ukrainians are also Orthodox
. This world order, Kirill said, offers "excess consumption" and "visible 'freedom'" to any nation that proves its loyalty by "hold[ing] a gay parade." Kyiv hosts
an annual gay pride parade. In 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a ban on gay "propaganda,"
a term that included pride parades and exposing minors to information about homosexuality. Gay sex remains decriminalized in Russia. Putin frequently accuses
the West of "denying moral principles and all traditional identities" while portraying Russia as the guardian of "the Christian values that constitute the basis of Western civilization." Kirill, a strong supporter
of Putin, urged his flock on Sunday not to "put up with … those who promote sin" — specifically homosexuality — "as an example or as one of the models of human behavior." He also said Orthodox Christians who oppose the war are "humbly follow[ing] the path that the powers that be show them." Kirill delivered this sermon on Forgiveness Sunday
, a day on which Orthodox Christians prepare for the penitential season of Lent and ask forgiveness of one another.
Esquire: Russia's Assault on Ukraine Has a Crusader Element
In her Substack shebeen, religious historian Diana Butler Bass takes a deep dive into how Christian ethno-nationalism has joined hands across the globe with reactionary Catholicism and, most importantly, with hyper-conservative Russian Orthodoxy to add a little old-time religious filigree to Vladimir Putin’s current depredations.
The dream gripping some quarters of the West is for a coalition to unify religious conservatives into a kind of supra-national neo-Christendom. The theory is to create a partnership between American evangelicals, traditionalist Catholics in western countries, and Orthodox peoples under the auspices of the Russian Orthodox Church in a common front against three enemies — decadent secularism, a rising China, and Islam — for a glorious rebirth of moral purity and Christian culture.
In the United States, Trumpist-religion is most often framed as “Christian nationalism.” It is, indeed, that. But it is also more — it is the American partner of this larger quest for Christian internationalism. No one has articulated this more clearly than Steve Bannon, who, despite his legal troubles, remains a significant force as a kind of philosophical apostle in right-wing Christian circles for a neo-Christendom.
The reaction in some quarters to Putin’s criminal war-making illustrates Butler Bass’s point. Rod Dreher, a “respected voice” among religious conservatives, who not long ago was luxuriating in the embrace of Hungarian strongman Victor Orban, would like you to know that this is a global conflict of…sexy time. From the American Conservative
I know it is unpleasant for some of you to consider the decadence in the US and in the West in general in this context (e.g., “Bombs are falling in Ukraine, and you’re obsessing over trannies?!?”), but you should think twice about this. If we are now facing a renewal of the long struggle with Russia, and probably even a struggle against China too, allied with Putin’s Russia, then the leaders of Western countries had better think about how they are going to meet the demands of this struggle. They have no hope of doing so with a country in which they have abused and alienated a huge number of people for the crime of being white, heterosexual, culturally conservative, or clinging bitterly to their bigoted churches. We saw just the other day that Justin Trudeau actually seized the bank accounts of people supporting the trucker protests, under the guise of fighting domestic terrorism. I have absolutely no doubt that Washington will try the same. The woke left, having marched through the institutions, are weaponizing them against parents, children, families, church people, conservatives, and other deplorables.
Butler Bass goes on to an account of the historic role that Ukraine played in the formation both of the Russian state and the effect that the split between Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox churches have played in that history. And this is not ancient history, either.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, Ukraine had several different Orthodox churches, only one of which was in close relationship to Moscow. In 2018, two of those Ukrainian churches and some of the Moscow-leaning Orthodox parishes joined in a union and created a newly unified Orthodox Church of Ukraine, a fully independent national ecclesial body under no control from Moscow, with its head in the ancient seat of Orthodoxy in Kyiv. Putin and the Moscow Russian Orthodox church authorities protested. They’ve been claiming the 1,000 years of Kyiv Christianity as its own — basically appropriating Ukraine’s church history — to the point of erecting a gigantic (and controversial) statue of St. Vladimir outside of the Kremlin. Putin wants the weight of tradition on his side, and St. Vladimir validates both his religious and political aspirations. There should be no doubt that Putin sees himself as a kind of Vladimir the Great II, a candidate for sainthood who is restoring the soul of Holy Mother Russia. The Ukrainians, on the other hand, would like to remind the Russians that they were the birthplace of both Orthodoxy and political unity in Eastern Europe.
Now, Putin’s approximately as religious as a meat cleaver, but he can sense a center of power from centuries in the past. He has assiduously recruited the Russian Orthodox hierarchy into his dreams of a new Russian empire. (Remember it was performing in a Russian Orthodox cathedral that first got Pussy Riot
in trouble with the folks in the Kremlin.) Butler Bass sees an old-school crusade hidden underneath all the tanks and cruise missiles.
The conflict in Ukraine is all about religion and what kind of Orthodoxy will shape Eastern Europe and other Orthodox communities around the world (especially in Africa). Religion. This is a crusade, recapturing the Holy Land of Russian Orthodoxy, and defeating the westernized (and decadent) heretics who do not bend the knee to Moscow’s spiritual authority. If you don’t get that, you don’t get it. Who is going to control the geographical home, the “Jerusalem,” of the Russian church? Moscow? Or Constantinople? And, what does claiming that territory mean for Orthodoxy around the world? Will global Orthodoxy lean toward a more pluralistic and open future, or will it be part of the authoritarian neo-Christendom triumvirate?
Just what this nightmare needs: the influence of a 13th-century religious conflict.
Putin dubbed 'fighter of the Antichrist' as 'de-Satanization' rhetoric escalates
Russian President Vladimir Putin was dubbed a "fighter of the Antichrist" by a top religious figure as rhetoric referring to the war in Ukraine as a "de-Satanization" operation escalates. Russian pundits and media presenting the invasion of Ukraine as a holy war are not new, with Russian ideologues frequently portraying the conflict as a struggle between the religious and traditional Russia versus the decadent and secular West. Russian Orthodox Christians and Muslims in the country have united in their opposition to the progressive values of the West, which they view as symbolized in the post-Maidan government in Kyiv. But recently, rhetoric from these camps has escalated into describing the West as "satanic," starting with Putin's use of the term in his speech announcing the annexation of several eastern Ukrainian territories, which has since been widely adopted by his key allies and Russian state media. Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, the world's largest by a substantial margin, has joined in these calls, moving to portray the conflict as a new crusade of sorts. "Go bravely to fulfill your military duty. And remember that if you lay down your life for your country, you will be with God in his kingdom, glory, and eternal life," he said in a sermon directed toward newly mobilized troops at the Zachatyevsky Monastery in Moscow last month, according to the Daily Beast. In a speech opening the 24th Congress of the World Russian People's Council, Kirill heaped praise on Putin, calling him a "fighter of the Antichrist" and even one that would help prevent an apocalypse. He stated that Putin's Russia is fighting against a "unipolar world," a manifestation of globalism, of which "the essence of this phenomenon is the creation in the world of conditions for the emergence of a sole ruler, who will be the Antichrist," according to SOTA. The patriarch specifically pointed to Western acceptance of gay marriage, euthanasia, and genetic experimentation as features of the "upcoming apocalypse." Alexei Pavlov, the assistant secretary of the Russian Federation's Security Council, backed up this rhetoric in an op-ed published in Arguments and Facts titled "What is cooked in the 'witch's cauldron.' Neo-pagan cults gain strength in Ukraine." In the article, he alleges that neo-paganism, a new religion that seeks to return to worshiping pre-Christian gods, is growing rapidly in Ukraine, intertwined with satanism.
"With the continuation of the special operation in Ukraine, there is more and more evidence that the greatest atrocities in the territory of Donbass and in other Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine have been committed for many years by fanatics blinded by ideas that are far from common sense, morality and traditional religious teachings," Pavlov wrote. He also mentions the influence of some neo-pagan figures on Ukrainian nationalism, such as Volodymyr Shayan. He goes on to claim that satanists and neo-pagans were put in positions of power by the United States. The "sects" in Ukraine then multiplied drastically, pointing to not just satanism and neo-paganism but certain Christian and Jewish groups as well.
"Using network manipulations and psychotechnologies, the new authorities turned Ukraine from a state into a totalitarian hypersect," he added.
The op-ed generated some controversy, however, as Moscow's head rabbi accused the author of antisemitism, according to Haaretz, despite his listing of Judaism alongside Christianity and Islam as holding "real values." Rabbi Berel Lazar was likely referring to one part of the op-ed in which Pavlov criticizes the ultra-Orthodox Judaism of two influential Jewish Ukrainian oligarchs, Igor Kolomoisky and Viktor Pinchuk, as holding the "superiority of the supporters of the sect over all nations and peoples."
Recently, the Muslim Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov fully endorsed Putin's messaging, calling for a Jihad in Europe against "devils" and vowing to take none of them prisoner. Ukraine, which has the backing of the United States and much of the West, is still engaged in combating Russian invaders more than seven months after the full-scale war began.