I think Putin does sense a weakened west, especially in regards to Biden and the recent withdrawal from Afghanistan. I dont think the west has the stomach for war anymore, a ‘humanitarian war’ is almost an oxymoron, and I think the west are tired after decades of ineffective war operations that lead nowhere. I also think the prevailing woke culture that enthralls our elites leads to a non combative ‘scared to upset anyone’ position, that China regularly takes advantage of, where any accusation is met with a retaliation of ‘racisim’. The obvious bitter divide that woke culture supplies is also quite rightly viewed as a weakness in places like Russia and China, who are busily banning ‘effeminate men from their TV screens etc. I also take on board the ‘reverse Cuban Crisis’ position, but Putin is also a master at the geopolitical chess game, and I think he has chosen his time well. What concerns me the most, is the possibility, however slight, that this may trigger a ‘domino affect’ world war, similar to 1914, where the situation in Ukraine, gives China a opportunity to invade Taiwan. There is also trouble brewing in Serbia at this moment in time and I could see things really getting out of hand in Eastern Europe. Hopefully I am wrong, but I can certainly see how certain leaders around the world are now positioning themselves, and can only guess at their intent.
But woke culture only really prevails in the Anglophone countries. The entire West is bigger than the Anglophone countries. Yet it’s quite clear that Germany is nothing without a strong America projecting its military power. But a ‘weakened west’ is precisely when America begins to puzzle (once again) over why its big rival countries become very, very upset with it, handily eased along by the recent self-inflicted guilt of America over its having become supremely influential, happy and successful, especially if as there would probably be a great clamour from within America for peace and instant de-escalation of conflict should things be ratcheted up by the first shots being fired. America’s big rivals may wager that at least at the initial stages of fighting there will be cries springing from within America of “let what is inevitable happen as we have no right to object”. Welcome to woke culture. You’ll only ever hear the crackling of eggshells rather than the whizz, bang of shells. Until the shells move closer to home.
Unfortunately not. ‘Woke’ is endemic in Germany, at the least…
Serbia? oh, this – https://www.beaumontenterprise.com/news/article/Serbia-praises-another-arms-shipment-from-Russia-16745278.php
Remind me, when the USSR put nukes in Cuba, a few miles off the Contineantal US, how did the USA react?
The Russians are simply doing what the USA did – guaranteeing that their borders are safe.
In 1962 the aggressors backed down; rather hoping that the same happens here.
I think I read there was also a a parallel crisis involving US nukes in Finland?
recently watched Thirteen Days – great film, recommended if you’ve not watched yet. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0146309/
Do you seriously think that the presence of NATO makes Russia’s Western borders unsafe? That Russia is not just bullying its ‘near abroad’ back into the subordination it had to endure in the USSR?
So tell me. How many Russian troops were on Crimea in January of 2014? One month before the coup in Kiev and the Russian “invasion” of Crimea.
A dead give away. 😉
Think I see a lot of Russian trolls here. 😉
I think it is rather telling that you see a lot of trolls here where we just see the one.
I believe that the Russians believe that Nato is trying to surround them.
I believe that the vast majority of Russians just want to just get on with their lives, and are probably bored with Putin’s war-mongering.
A ridiculous comparison. Just where are these “US missiles” in Ukraine?
Nato has said that it will not be dictated to as to whom may or may not join it. If the Ukraine were to join Nato, the US could station nuclear missiles there and if Russia wanted to do anythying about it, they would face a war against the whole of NATO. I would prefer that we did not go poking skicks into the bear’s cave just because we think we can.
If Ukraine joined NATO that would not automatically give the US the right to station nuclear weapons there without Ukraine’s consent.
Indeed, in 1994 Ukraine destroyed the nuclear weapons it had inherited from the USSR.
I’m not sure that it is in our interest to fight the Russians over Ukraine. A victory for Russia will leave it slightly stronger but at a high cost and still facing numerous long term difficulties. It will not put it in any credible position to threaten the rest of Europe. Indeed, this is likely to be its high water mark this century.
I have sympathy for the people of Ukraine but I cannot see what the strategic goal of escalating a region conflict into a large scale confrontation would be at this point for the Western powers?
Mr Chamberlain’s point exactly. Do you have a piece of paper signed by Mr Putin himself that this is his last territorial demand?
Yes – we MUST have a world war, mustn’t we ?
IN 1939 it was because of Munich.
Putin will only want more of the old Soviet Union.
That is to say, large parts of eastern Europe, to safeguard his natural borders.
No, obviously not. But this is how Putin thinks we think, as did Hitler, and if we do not become resolute eastern Europe slides back into cruel dictatorship. The lesson of history is that we learn nothing from history, but if we care to learn, earlier resolution by the allies – say in 1937 – would probably have avoided WW2
Perhaps Biden will turn out to be our Chamberlain, but where is our Churchill?
And where are our armed forces?
It aint a binary choice, order US troops fight the Russians, or quitely allow a Russian invasion. The third option is to fill Ukraine with lethal weapons and ammo, allowing them to fight effectively for their own self defense. Whatever is on the Ukranian military’s wish list, they should get. The only limitation should be that top secret weapons shouldn’t be included.
Putin can’t afford to take a lot of casualties. Putin had to suppress the Association of Mothers of Soldiers of Russia after the last Ukranian invasion because they were complaining so loudly about casualties. There were reports of burials spread out in many rural graveyards to conceal how many Russian soldiers died the last time. We should give the Ukrainians as many ways to inflict casualties as possible.
The US has to stop training and supplying allies in ways that make them dependent on US air power and logistics. We need to teach and supply our friends self reliance. There are much less costly ways to project power than using US soldiers to do it.
It’s not that easy. Any earlier attempts to significantly arm Ukrainian army would have probably provoked a Russian invasion and whilst modern equipment could increase the potential of the Ukrainian army, you can’t win a modern war without either air superiority or the ability to at least suppress the enemy’s airforce. This capability is not something that can be acquired at short notice or at an affordable cost for all but the richest or most militaristic economies.
The Russians won’t look to penetrate deep into the Ukraine, they will isolate their objectives in the East, cut them off from the rest of the country and put them under defacto Russian control. Large scale resistance won’t have the logistics to sustain the fight. Whist much is being made of the Ukrainian will to resist, and I don’t doubt their sincerity, modern airforces and guided missiles can bring more advanced economies to their knees by targeting their infrastructure and industrial capacity. Insurgencies are more difficult to suppress in less developed economies, which are poorer but less centralised and so more resilient than ones which rely on modern infrastructure which can easily be destroyed to suppress the populace. I don’t think the Ukraine could sustain an insurgency on the door step of Russia in the same way the Taliban did in Afghanistan.
I’m not looking to excuse the Russians, I just don’t think this is a fight that the West can win and would only harm itself more if it were to try. Would this lead to Putin becoming the next Hitler, marauding across Eastern Europe? Unlikely, the Russian army is capable and disproportionately large for its economic size but has minimal logistic capabilities. It can deploy great force on its borders but little further than that (Syria was some special forces and air assets not a major ground offensive) and the spoils of the East of Ukraine are not going to change this.
The Western military establishment know all this, which is why for all the tough talk there is no effort being made find a military solution and with the worlds economy still in a fragile state, don’t expect crippling sanctions to be put in place. If Russia does decide to opt for a military solution to achieve its aims. The battle has likely been lost already.
If the Afghans can do it, why not the Ukrainians?
As indeed the USA should have learned from other conflicts since WW2.
Look I’m no fan of Putin, but I would be really pissed if say Mexico joined the Warsaw Pact after the Cold War had been supposedly over decades ago. That is basically what Russia is seeing when Western powers tried to get Ukraine to join NATO. It was a very provocative action to start with.
Should Ukraine, a sovereign nation, not be free to join whichever groups or alliances it wishes? Why should Russia be able to dictate the foreign policy of other nations, especially ones they’ve treated terribly in the not too distant past?
Perhaps the situation is complicated by the large ethnic Russian minority living in Ukraine.
That’s what elections are for, to find a majority consensus. Should a minority be able to override the wishes of the majority who voted for closer relations to the West?
That line of reasoning presupposes robust democratic institutions and safeguards for minority rights. I’m not sure these things are evident in UA.
So what are you suggesting? Might has right is a legitimate way to run a nation? I may be mistaken but I don’t recall ever hearing of the Russian leaning minority being mistreated before they seceded with the help of Putins soldiers
I wasn’t really suggesting anything. I was merely trying to explain why the situation might not be so clear cut.
As regards the political position of ethnic Russians in UA (and elsewhere in that part of the world), that’s also not clear cut. But it would be naive to imagine ethnic Russians would see their slice of the pie increase if UA started to lean more heavily to the West.
I believe you see the nuances of the situation very well. Firstly, Europe has tied itself into a little ball by making themselves dependent on Russian gas and fear the voters far more than any principle of standing up for a country threatened by an aggressive neighbour. Further to this, it is very difficult to morally justify standing up for a country which, whilst nominally democratic, has done nothing to stamp out endemic corruption and is no less criminal in its dealings than Russia. Ukraine has done little to engender Western sympathy making it all too easy to cut them adrift. Putin has played his hand brilliantly, Europe is in hock to him, but I believe invasion may be a bridge too far. This war which, by all the Gods, I pray does not happen, will be bloody. Very, very bloody. Ukraine fought for many years to achieve independence, she will not give it up lightly.
There were a lot of ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland . That’s why Hitler had to annex Czechoslovakia.
Stull said it was “complicated”. Not that it was justified.
Should Yemen? Or Iraq? Or Syria? Ukraine isn’t powerful enough to demand anything. This is why they had an agreement to lease Sevastopol to Russia until 2042 and a promise to renew it. It is also why they agreed to not allow settlement of Crimea from the West of Ukraine and why their militaries did exercises together. All of that changed after the US inspired coup in Kiev in February 2014. It doesn’t matter what you want or think is fair.
Just because those nations aren’t as powerful as their neighbours, doesn’t mean the stronger countries should be able to dictate what their neighbours do. Most of us have moved on from a colonial mindset of wanting to control nations weaker than themselves. Also your description of the removal of the pro Kremlin government in 2014 as a coup does imply you’re feelings in the matter aren’t entirely neutral
Which Western powers tried to get Ukraine to join? I thought the impetus was (very understandably) coming from Ukraine.
You are correct.
“I’m no fan of Putin, but…”
The battle cry of every Russian troll.
The battle cry of every Neoliberal bootlicker.
As oppsed to Putin bootlickers. 😉
A simple solution was the Finland option. All former USSR territories ,Baltic, Ukraine, Georgia would be like Finland after WW2: free, democratic, property owning but non aligned, not even member of EEC.
Develop Shale oil and gas in Europe and liquid Flouride Thorium reactors. Drive oil down to $20/barrel for four years. Russia may have developed very advanced tanks but an army need more than a few. Schroder, Merkel and The Greens have closed down nuclear energy, stopped shale gas development and constructed gas pipelines from Russia. Germany and the EU has become dependent on Russian gas. Germany has run down it’s defence capability. Russian income is mainly from oil and a few other minerals. Freeze all assets owned by Russians unless proved earned honestly. If wealthy Russians can only spend their money in Russia, they will put pressure on Putin. Let wealthy Russians know that support for Putin will cause economic hardship.Bankrupt Russia and it will stop causing problems.
How much dirt does the FSB have on Biden’s son from dealings with the Ukraine? How many assets do the FSB have in the Ukraine and dirt on their officials? Before we support Ukraine, how can we be sure that the rulers are not like those in S Vietnam in the 1960s and Afghanistan recently, corrupt and cowardly and happy to flee with funds at the slightest threat of danger?
Russian does not have the military resources to occupy the Ukraine, only the Russian speaking part.
It is as if Schroder, Merkel and The Greens were KGB/FSB assets and handed military and energy resources to control by Russia.
great post. but we are reliably informed by MSM that Merkel was an anti-communist growing up in East Germany… oh I see now! 😉
Thank you. Her father was a Pastor who had a car and was able to travel from East to West Germany and return: why was this allowed? She was involved with communist propoganda until the age of 35 years. Judge people by their fruits, not their words. Germany has banned Britain from flying over her airspace in order to supply weapons Ukraine.
Questions for Merkel ;-Did she support those fleeing the West; did she support guards killing those who fled to the West, did she infiorm on anyone intending to flee to the West?
“involved with communist propaganda”… drivel, most young people found it hard not to be involved or, say, to be insightful enough to see beyond the immerging scene. In the U.S., most young people don’t see beyond the local woke culture with respect to race, religion, politics, etc. They become what media surrounds them with until they hear a voice that encourages them to take their own stand. There are few independent thinkers in the U.S.today.
Of course, the Greens are, if not the main villains here, at least a significant part of the problem. Europe is energy hungry and it cannot get what it needs from renewables. The technology simply is not there, and won’t be, if at all, for generations. In the meantime, how do we heat our homes, run our transport and fuel our data centres? This is what’s putting the Russians in such a powerful position and nobody in the Green camp is acknowledging this. They’re like children who want what they want when they want it, and the adults are just not saying “no” to them.
The west is fighting two ridiculous wars – against the climate and a virus. They will not win either. Russia and China are proving they are the dominant world powers.
It’s a bit worse than Nord Stream 2. Biden shut down pipelines in the US and made the US a net energy importer. Germany closed down nuclear power stations. Both of which have strengthened Russia’s hand enormously. Their greatest weapon is the gas pipelines into Ukraine. Turn off the gas and what’s Ukraine going to do?
https://unherd.com/2021/12/angela-merkel-is-no-saint/ “Merkel has pushed for the Nord Stream pipeline (admittedly initiated by her predecessor Gerhard Schröder, who now even sits on the operator’s board) through the Baltic Sea, enabling Germany to pipe in Russian gas directly without paying fees to those pesky middlemen such as Ukraine and the Czech Republic. Did her moral compass slide off deck?”
Which also answers the “Why now?” question. Russia has a world class, cold weather trained and equipped, Army. The Ukraine is a cold place in February. Any pretext will do to justify turning off the gas.
Price of oil high enough( Brent $87/barrel ) compared to Russia’s onshore production cost. Also it is winter so gas demand higher than in summer. Years ago talking with Ukrainian when barrel of oil was $150 /barrel, we considered best weapon against Putin was to increase oil production so price fell below $75/barrel. There is also the issue of Russia’s gold reserves; they are probably adequate. Biden is on the ropes. The USA’s main concern is China The SPD is in power and has no history of standing up to the Communists. Germany manufacturing has slowed down so high energy costs will damage profits which during boom times would be minimal. Consequently, any threat by Putin to reduce gas supplies will place enormous pressure on the car industry( also French and Italian ) and the threat of laying off employees will mean unions will put pressure on SDP. When is there going to be a better time for Putin ? Putin is KGB, not army so for him military force is only a tool and he is capable of assessing all the factors.
If Putin did launch an attack the Warthog Plane and Apache helicopters should be able to destroy many tanks but are they in the Ukraine?Pre 1990 NATO plans were for massive Warsaw Pact attack and defense measure were taken accordingly, but what now ?
Surely Russian sanctions are going to leave most of Europe with no gas and they cannot accept that.
Your starter for 10, which was the only country to give up its nuclear arsenal in exchange for territorial guarantees from Russia and the US?
Your bonus question, why did Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko feel able to order a Ryanair plane down and take a dissident off it last year?
Could it because in 2013 Joe Biden coerced the government of Austria to order the plane of the Bolivian President down because he thought Edward Snowdon might be on it?
The piece ends with a false choice: either back Ukraine or tell them that we are “abandoning” them to Russia. The actual policy is neither of these. We will abandon them to Russia but will continue to roar like Lear:
I will have such revenges on you both that all the world shall—I will do such things—What they are, yet I know not, but they shall be the terrors of the earth!
Very happy to say I was wrong, at least as regards the UK. BBC reports we are sending short range anti-tank missiles and a team to train in their use.
Biden hasn’t “sacrificed Ukraine”, as it was never his. The question is: is it in American and British interest to intervene in Ukraine? And he recognises that the answer is “no”, and that if we tried and Russia persisted we would have difficulty, Russia has “escalation dominance” – it can always escalate one step further than us – and how much are we really willing to sacrifice?
If Germany has anything to do with it, Ukraine will be betrayed. So what is Biden’s relationship with Berlin?
Presenting a false choice between peace and war is exactly what Russian trolls–and their clueless western dupes–do on a daily basis.
Arming Ukrainians will not see Russian tanks in London. Nor will Putin risk a nuclear war. That’s why he’s using CONVENTIONAL GROUND troops.
But not arming Ukraine means that Putin will be well on his way to reconstructing the western Soviet Union. The Baltics will be next, just as Poland was in 1939.
Idiots and gutless wonders abound in the world today.
Russia didn’t just walk into Crimea. They already had 30,000 troops there. More than usual because of the unrest in Kiev. The situation at the time was Russia had a lease on Sevastopol until 2042 with a promise to renew it on the base founded by Catherine the Great in the late 1700s. There was also an agreement not to settle Crimea from the West. All that changed with the Victoria Nuland coup operation in Kiev in Feb 2014. The new coup governmemt started talking about throwing Russia out of Crimea. Russia decided that wasn’t going to happen. Kiev, the USA, Nato could do nothing about that unless they wanted the world to end in a nuclear holocaust. So the current situation is the coup government in Ukraine wants Russia to attack. They hope Russia just takes the Donbas and they can get more money, weapons, and support from the US. This would be a win for them as they are a corrupt basket case and this is the only way they survive. Russia does not want to attack and correctlly sees it as a NATO trap. As soon as Rusia attacks that will be the nail in the coffin of Nord Stream 2 and any chance of improving economic ties to Europe. The US wants Russia to attack so they can go into full propaganda mode “The Russians are coming” and get European support for NATO and end all European economic cooperation with Russia. The Donbas wants Russia to invade so they can merge or at least become independent under Russian protection. Russia will reluctantly attack if Ukraine continues to build up its military. Right now they would have an easy rout. Militarily Russia has the upper hand. If Russia does attack they will use standoff weapons, invade and mop up any resistance, Fall back (desert storm or Iraq war 1 model ) so they dont have to deal with an insurgency. In the end just cleave off a piece of the East. If they go in… they go in big and make it hurt bad. They have nothing to lose at that point because they already know what the US is trying to accomplish. They might as well make sure that the US and Europe have to sink massive resources into that corrupt endless pit.
If anybody hasn’t noticed (Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Iran) the USA is not all powerful. Fighting Russia near their border after Russia has been building back up its military for the last 20 years is not going to happen. The only successful counter they have is nukes and we all know how that ends
If the Europeans are unwilling to defend their eastern borders, why should the US do it for them? Communism is no longer threatening the west. The US has its hands full with China, which unlike Russia wants to replace the US as dominant world power. Russia just wants to secure its borders – hardly surprising after what Napoleon and Hitler did.
Biden can’t afford to look a total pushover but he will not start a war over Ukraine. And after Russia has succeeded here, it will move on to Lithuania etc. The real loser is not the USA or the UK as we have no real interests in eastern Europe. It’s the EU which eventually will see the eastern bits of its empire gobbled up because it has no means of defending them.
Europe is no longer the centre of the world but just a backwater which the rest of the world cares little about. Europeans should get used to that. Biden’s policy is right.
I can’t help but harken back to 2016, and the predictions that World War III was soon to commence due to the election of the new American President. Yet the world was strangely quiet during his 4 year term. Now the U.S. has another quisling in office, so we now return to the regularly scheduled broadcast.
The writer claims there are two choices: the west defends Ukraine or abandons it.
Well there is a third choice – Ukraine defends itself. It’s about one quarter of the population of Russia (excluding Russia. Speakers) and huge, and its had years to gather up weapons, develop strategies and recruit resources. That’s plenty of time to set up all sorts of traps for incoming forces.
But maybe the Americans haven’t ‘abandoned’ Ukraine since it would be a good strategy for the USA to let the Russians invade, take territory and suffer economic ignominy for the next 20-30 years while the US keeps the pot bubbling by providing hardware; and if the Russians stick around they’ll be stuck in a Venus flytrap draining their economy and losing people for years, like Chechnya. That rules out Russia as a strategic enemy to the USA for decades, and they can concentrate on China instead.
Hey, forget about Ukraine. Why don’t the Russkies take out the Turks? My Greek friend tells me (per 23andMe) that most Turks are really Greeks that converted after 1922.
Then the Russkies would finally control the Dardanelles. Of course, there is still the problem of Gibraltar…
Meanwhile, don’t forget to read Putin’s scholarly dissertation on Ukraine as part of the “ancient Rus.” Who knew he was a scholarly historian?
Deep down – the Russians are afraid of the Turks. The numbers and hardiness of certain sections of the Turkish Army could wear the Russians down for little gain. Mind you – I think there are places in Northern Turkey where the US Armed Forces are still not welcome.
There is nothing scholarly about Putin’s claims that Ukraine was “ancient Rus”.
Just standard Russian and Soviet propaganda to justify territorial expansion of Muscovy since 15 century.
You can always choose particular point in history, as Putin does, to justify your territorial ambitions.
Poland and Lithuania used to rule Bielorusia and most Ukraine in 17th century.
Should they have it back now?
How wise is this recently letter, for British interests & safety? https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/open-letter-it-s-time-to-invite-russia-to-join-nato-a-682287.html