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Putin’s next move A shock and awe campaign could overwhelm Ukraine

There is no time to waste (Yuri SmityukTASS via Getty Images)


February 24, 2022   8 mins

A couple of weeks ago, in a biting sleet wind, I visited the graveyard of the tiny village of Bohoniki in Poland’s far north east, home to Poland’s minuscule Tatar Muslim minority, descendents of the Mongol Golden Horde. On the graveyard hillock beneath the swaying pine trees, below gilded crescent moons and Arabic calligraphy, the names on the headstones — Miroslawa Safarewicz, Ali Bogdanowicz, Aleksander Sulkiewicz — spoke of centuries of Tatar assimilation since their arrival on horseback in Poland in the Middle Ages.

The four newest headstones, decorated with plastic flowers, gave evidence of more recent arrivals — the graves of migrants from Yemen and Syria who died trying to cross the nearby border from Belarus, after the country’s strongman Alexander Lukashenko deployed illegal migration as a weapon against Poland and the EU last autumn.

The Tatars of Bohoniki prepare and deliver food to their co-religionist migrants who make it through the closed border, hiding in the forests, as well as to the Polish troops and border guards whose role it is to hunt them down and return them across the barbed wire border fence. Outside the village’s small wooden mosque, a banner spread against the railings declares: “Thank you for your service and for protecting our border #PolishMilitaryWall.” For centuries, the Tatar minority distinguished itself through loyal military service to Poland’s rulers, serving as cavalry in the contested steppes of Ukraine, against the Ottomans at Vienna, and conducting one of the last Polish cavalry charges against the invading Germans in 1939.

This bleak stretch of borderland, an extension of the great Eurasian steppe with no defensible natural frontiers, has always witnessed the movement of peoples and the sudden extinction of nations following the ebb and flow of imperial borders. The golden onion domes of Orthodox churches rise up from the wooden cottages of villages which seem to have spilled over the natural border: though of course it was the borders which came after the peoples, washing back and forth in bloody waves.

An ethnic map of the province in the late 19th century reveals a Pollock painting of peoples, two of whom — the Jews and the Germans — have been entirely expunged from the region within living memory. Twice in the past 300 years, Poland has vanished entirely, carved up by hungry neighbours. Twice in the twentieth century, these borderlands were drenched in blood as great empires rose and fell. Now, once again, Europe’s eastern marches are witnessing the massing of armies and the threat of a sudden, violent reordering of borders as a great empire wanes.

At its moment of greatest strength in the Nineties, the American empire expanded to encompass these borderlands, taking the former satellite states of the Soviet Union under the Nato umbrella. Now that the great empire is itself weakened by political turbulence at home and an existential challenge in East Asia, a resurgent Russia feels emboldened to renegotiate this settlement by the threat of force, demanding that not just that Nato advances no further eastward, but also that it withdraws from the region.

No-one can predict with certainty what will happen next: but as troops and materiel flood westwards in vast numbers across Russia to the eastern marches of America’s European empire, it seems clear our continent is at a great inflection point, like 1914 or 1939, 1945 or 1989. The generation-long slumber of the post-Cold War era has ended: Europe is awakening to history once again.

With every day, it becomes more likely that a great hammer blow is about to descend on Ukraine. More than 100,000 Russian troops have been deployed to Ukraine’s frontiers, in a great arc from Belarus to the north to the Black Sea in the southeast. Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its parallel detachment of two predominantly Russian-speaking portions of eastern Ukraine did not bring about the great reordering Putin sought in Eastern Europe. The Minsk agreement that sought to end the war did not bear fruit; Ukraine’s armed forces are stronger than they were eight years ago, and the Ukrainian purchase of Turkish Bayraktar attack drones threatens to overturn the fragile stalemate in the country’s east.

 

For Russia, there is therefore no better time to attack than now, while Europe is weak and divided and the Americans are distracted. The sheer size and strength of the Russian armed forces, which have rapidly modernised since 2014, will likely overwhelm any Ukrainian opposition. What happens next will be Putin’s choice, and perhaps he has not yet decided.

Yet the military toolkit he has assembled in recent weeks gives him a wealth of options: he could destroy the Ukrainian armed forces from afar with stand-off weapons without any new border incursions; he could formally annex the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk; he could even attack along Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, deploying the naval infantry and amphibious armoured vehicles recently moved to the border from the Russian Far East, capable of seizing territory from Mariupol in the east as far west as Odessa and the border with Romania; finally, Russia could move on Kyiv itself, striking both south from Belarus and westward across the flat plains in a display of armoured warfare of a type Europe has not seen since 1945.

Ukraine’s options in all this are limited in the extreme. The claims by Western thinktankers that Russia will have no stomach for the guerrilla warfare that will ensue seem doubtful: Putin is unlikely to send his troops to the Ukrainian nationalist heartlands of the west, where the topography lends itself to armed resistance.

The flat plains of the country’s east, though useless for an insurgency, are ideal for a quick armoured blitzkrieg all the way to Kyiv and the Dnieper river. Russia will control the airspace above the battlefields, and a Ukrainian repeat of the successful deployment of Bayraktar drones by Azerbaijan against a degraded Armenian army therefore seems impossible. Ukraine’s greatest chance of avoiding military defeat and perhaps dismemberment at Putin’s hands lies in Western diplomacy: and this is surely now the country’s greatest curse.

The simple fact is, Nato will not go to war with Russia for Ukraine. As it stands, Ukraine is about to suffer a historic defeat to defend the illusion that it may one day join the Nato alliance, a point of principle that everyone involved knows to be fantasy. By sending Ukraine munitions and non-lethal aid, Nato powers like the US and Britain, as well as the Baltic states, have already approached the utmost limits of their response to Russia. The threat of sanctions will count for less than our leaders claim against a Russia that has successfully reordered its economy to cope with the Western sanctions deployed since 2014, and which is increasingly reorienting itself towards America’s great rival China. Indeed, it is now Russia that has the upper hand in threatening Europe by withholding its own vital resources.

It is midwinter after all, and Europe is dependent on Russian gas to keep European voters warm in their homes. Almost half of Germany and Poland’s gas supply comes from Russia; countries like Slovakia, Latvia, Estonia and Finland are almost 100% dependent. No wonder that Germany’s government is doing all that it can to avoid becoming embroiled in this confrontation, refusing to supply Ukraine with munitions, and with Germany’s new SPD chancellor Olaf Scholz refusing even to take Biden’s calls on the crisis. Europe has had since at least 2014 to wean itself off its dependence on Russia, and chose not to, with Germany instead deepening its energy dependency by shuttering its nuclear power plants and constructing the Nordstream 2 pipeline despite American pressure to cancel it.

Border guards on patrol in Poland (Aris Roussinos)

Instead, it is France, energy secure through its network of nuclear power stations, that is playing the greatest EU role in defending Nato’s eastern borders, pushing for a forward presence in Romania and sending warships to the Black Sea. There is a great irony here: the scepticism of Poland and the Baltic states over French proposals for greater European capacity to defend itself from external threats was used by the German security establishment to dampen any enthusiasm for strategic autonomy, with German politicians and analysts making great rhetorical play of the sacred Nato bond. But now that Nato’s integrity is threatened by Russia’s demands that the alliance “pull back” from Romania and Bulgaria, which joined in 1997, Germany recuses itself from involvement. Through its dependency on Putin’s goodwill, it is ironically Germany that has distanced itself from Nato, a negative form of strategic autonomy from the US, if not from Russia. That great weakness at the heart of Europe, Merkel’s parting shot, now threatens the security of the continent’s eastern fringes.

One way or another, Nato’s newer Eastern members will now learn the value of America’s security guarantee compared to that of a strong Europe capable of defending itself. Biden’s initial remark that the United States would not severely punish a “minor incursion” into Ukraine’s territory did not inspire confidence; his administration is now briefing that America is considering deploying thousands of troops to the eastern Nato countries.

The limited deployment of US forces in Poland and the Baltic states after 2014 was a purely symbolic exercise: the decision to deploy tens of thousands of American troops, if it actually occurs, is a signal to Russia that America is prepared to defend the European half of its core empire if necessary, despite the greater need to concentrate its attention and resources on the looming showdown in the Pacific’s other half. Rather than being a force multiplier for the US, Nato obligations now weaken America’s overall position: Europe’s weakness has now become America’s burden.

For Britain, the options for involvement are limited. We are perhaps fortunate that decades of neglect have left the Army unable to deploy anything but a token force to the region. Even if it had a better record of success in recent conflicts, the British Army is now simply too small and weak to play any role in a major European war. The Russian forces massed on Ukraine’s border are already larger than the entire British Army, and their numbers grow every day.

Yet British politicians always display an appetite for getting involved in distant conflicts greater than their capabilities allow: it would surely be better for our political opposition to now focus their attention on what, if anything, Britain’s response should be to the looming war in our home continent than to drag on their weeks-long exegesis of civil servants’ illicit cheese and wine parties.

There is not much time to waste: a Russian armoured push will need to take place while the ground is still hard and frozen, before the spring thaws settle in and the soil turns to mush. This year’s late snows have likely delayed the hammer blow: Russia’s announcement of joint military exercises with Belarus between the 10th and 20th of February indicate the probable starting date. The deployment of Russian troops in large numbers to southern Belarus, whose border is less than 60 miles from Kyiv, is a major threat to Ukrainian planners: even if Putin does not decide to take the capital, the need to guard against a sudden push will force Ukrainian generals to spread their forces thinly, weakening their response to an assault elsewhere.

Principled though it may have been, the vocal support Poland and the Baltic states gave to Belarus’s opposition after last year’s disputed election may not have been wise. By driving Lukashenko further into Putin’s embrace just to survive, they have allowed Russian forces to deploy closer to the European Union’s borders than was previously the case, and enraged a mercurial neighbour. The recent migrant crisis with Poland, at the border post at Kuznica, just a few minute’s drive from the Tatar village of Bohoniki, was the immediate result, and perhaps history will record it as the opening incident of a great and terrible conflagration.

With European nations from Sweden in the Baltic to Romania in the Black Sea now deploying their limited troops and equipment in a defensive crouch, a great confrontation is developing across the continent’s east. All the states involved — apart from Britain — are acting according to the rational motives of self-interest.

It was natural for Nato’s eastern nations to seek America’s defence guarantees against their historic master, just as it is natural for Russia to resent the alliance’s expansion to its own borders. It was natural and rational for the United States to expand Nato eastward at the moment of its greatest strength and Russia’s greatest weakness, just as it is natural and rational for Russia to seek to renegotiate Nato presence now that her own forces are stronger than they have been since the fall of the Soviet Union, and now that the American empire seems to have entered its own period of decline.

In the coming days, the likelihood is that a shock and awe campaign analogous in scale to that of America in Iraq will take place in Ukraine; its chances of success seem far greater. The demands Russia has made of the United States — over the head of a Europe kept weak and powerless by its own leaders — cannot be met without America ceding its imperial role and prestige. Perhaps they are not intended to be met, and perhaps by enhancing the Nato presence on its borders, they will turn out to be counterproductive.

Yet once again, these flat and snowy borderlands seem destined to play their allotted role as arena for the contest of great empires, and the cockpit of Europe’s bloody history.

First published on 31 January 2022


Aris Roussinos is an UnHerd columnist and a former war reporter.

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Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago

This is why Unherd is so necessary. Where else can this depth of analysis, taking in the historical context, strategic overview and likely military tactics, be found? Yet again the dismal failings of our MSM, currently being manipulated by an embittered ex employee into conducting his personal agenda against his old boss, are thrown into sharp relief.

I’m hoping other commenters will know enough about the situation to endorse/dispute/expand Aris’s analysis.

The sense we could be about to revisit Aug 14 or Sep 39 is overwhelming and yet the bulk of the population seem blissfully unaware, focused only on parties, cake and nightclub passports.

Last edited 2 years ago by Martin Bollis
Jonathan Weil
Jonathan Weil
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Blissful unawareness is a pretty good description of many key players in Aug 14 as well. Asquith more focused on adultery; the Kaiser off yachting in the Baltic


SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Weil

Particularly the voluptuous body of Venetia Stanley, who was many years Asquith’s junior.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

And what does UnHerd do? We have a small number of people, usually older people, who look back on some halcyon days in the past. Meanwhile the real world is adopting ever more left-leaning policies.

There is almost no analysis. You must be anti-Russian, anti-Chinese, anti-abortion, anti-feminist, etc. Otherwise you get a zillion downticks and some abuse.

I have to say that I disagree with myself on one thing here – UnHerd is much less racist than any other site I have visited. Almost all newspapers and TV channels are fanning the flames of racism.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

â€œï»żAnd what does Unherd do?” It’s a valid question Chris, and, I think, one you return to often.

On one level, if Unherd just provides a shady tree for the old folks to sit under and put the world to rights, that’s not an ignoble goal, but I do think it’s much more than that.

I’ve watched a BBC interview today about the Rogan/Spotify/Neil Young farrago. It focussed mainly on the commercial drivers of podcast platforms. At one point the interviewer did say Rogan had interviewed an expert on viruses. At no point was it acknowledged that he interviewed the man who holds the patent for mRNA technology. There was a dismissive mention of free speech issues but no discussion about what expertise Neil Young or Spotify have to censor an expert at that level.

I only know he interviewed Dr Robert Malone because of links provided on here. Because I know, so do my children and most of my (and their) friends and acquaintances. The point is that if countervailing voices don’t exist, if there is no platform for thinkers like Mary Harrington, Douglas Murray et al, the “narrative” must prevail because how is anybody to know any different?

Other bodies, like the Free Speech Union, do fight back on a practical basis. They fund legal challenges, support people at employment tribunals and contribute to legislative consultations. Commenters on here have joined because they became aware of it from Unherd articles. The FSU often quotes Unherd articles in its weekly news letter.

If there is to be any march back into the institutions, it has to start somewhere. A platform providing erudite arguments, both in the articles and the comments, is one very important element of the political, media and educational structures that will have to be developed.

As to “a million down ticks,” it’s a debating forum. Everybody fights their corner, as they should, and there are very articulate voices on both sides of most debates, even if they’re not always evenly split. Compared to anything else I’ve found on the internet, the tone is generally well mannered, if robust. It’s easy to ignore the Twitter mannered.

I’ve learned both from those on a different side of an argument, and also noted how people on my side of the argument often employ the emotional, ad hominem, and selective fact quoting, that I abhor in the woke. That’s also been educational!

Enjoy your weekend.

Last edited 2 years ago by Martin Bollis
Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Thanks for the detailed answer to my question. It was a good answer and it did make me think. BTW, I also joined the FSU a couple of months ago.

My difficulty comes from time living in Southern Italy. Every day, old men took over the cafĂ©s for a morning shift of argument and discussion. They shouted at each other from table to table. As my Italian improved I realised that they were talking about politics – everything modern was bad, everything old was great. Everybody else thought they were ga-ga. Young people didn’t listen, they just laughed.

So, my only problem with UnHerd is that it takes itself so seriously – just like those old men – that young people can only laugh. The young don’t share those old experiences so they can’t understand.

I try very hard to see all sides of an argument and am accused of being defeatist – because I am giving in by acknowledging that the other side even exists.

A good example for me is the number of times people on this site refer to the ‘Freedom of the Individual’. I more or less agree with idea that FOTI means that I ought to be able to say anything but I don’t think that it means I can do anything I want. In a complex society of 64 million, people just can’t do as they want if the society suffers by it. For example, people can’t be allowed to glue themselves to roads if it spoils everyone’s life; also people shouldn’t be allowed to work for the NHS if they don’t get vaccinated against Covid. We can’t encourage immigration but we also can’t allow human beings to drown. We can’t allow old people to die, having spent billions to extend life expectancies.

Despite UnHerd views, there are two sides to every discussion.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

You very much echo my opinions as far as this site is concerned. In particular, the concept of “freedom” that seems to be popular here, to me, often seems like selfishness and an eschewal of one’s duties within a community. Martin is correct in that the voices are not evenly split, and generally the people on the site are tending towrds the right, however as the field of debate and free speech has been abandoned by the many on the left this is, as I have reluctantly accepted, the way such sites will be (at least for the moment).

I would, respectfully disagree with some of your assessment about the aged. I would probably fall into your pot of old duffers, nevertheless, I should like to say that just because these men are old and often look back it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are wrong, exerience does matter in some cases, therefore, they should be listened to as much as the young, Remember the young will get their chance to make a hash of it, and then they can look back nostalgically at their golden age (at least I hope that they will be able to look back with nostalgia)

Clare Jones
Clare Jones
2 years ago

What those who are not cut down in the blood bath?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

These musings are all fascinating, but one particular irritation I have with UnHerd is how people just cannot stick to the topic in question!

What on earth does this have to with a prospective huge military invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the first such since 1945?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

I must irritate the heck out of you, Andrew.

And speaking of musings… Did I ever tell my experience of Yetis? One night in a exceedingly remote place, alone but for my dog, camped in a sparse forest where all was white – the trees all snow covered as was the forest floor – and the full moon gave it all that unworldly moon light blue glow, so light from it one could see as if a dark day, but with that indescribable moon light effect, utterly unlike day sun, being a reflection of just some of the spectrum…. It is like a different reality you stepped into, the moon shadows of the trees being complete black, the rest so sharp an image – unlike any other light….

In my sleeping bag, sometime after midnight that sound only very few have heard, one which is so powerful it electrifies one – just began like a light switch had been flipped – it began with a single bar of sound, one note, unwavering and struck you as does electricity, then the second note laid with it – building the effect, and the third, and then….

sorry, I do ramble, but there is the scroll button to pass it by – You know how they solicit articles to be submitted when you open Unherd – I offered to write on my yeti experience, but they never bothered to reply……

Last edited 2 years ago by Galeti Tavas
Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

You had me there for a while. Let me know when the novel is coming out.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Well I enjoy your diversions. I’m not in your league, but have done a few wilderness hikes in Namibia and some dogsledding trips in the arctic circle.

Wild geese hooting in the silence of a night in the Fish River Canyon, the Northern Lights in a remote forest in Northern Norway, the lead husky giving you the eye when you’re not pulling your weight, a troop of baboons tracking your path, ancient ladies skinning reindeer. Real life is a wonderful thing.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Very good.

Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

That sound you heard, was it the pure voice of Neil Young singing one of his greatest hits?

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good yarn. Let the “Black-catting” commence.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Why irritated? It’s a conversation. In any dinner party the conversation ebbs and flows. If you find you’re listening to some anecdote about the antics of somebody’s kids, you tune into something more interesting on the other side of the table. It’s much easier in a written thread. Why get annoyed by a branch off that doesn’t interest you, when it so easy to scroll on?

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

I see no invasion, just talk.

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

What happened today Chris?

Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

And then there’s Joni Mitchell saying, “I stand with Neil Young.” This daft kerfuffle is what is occupying the minds of Americans as meanwhile the tectonic plates shift beneath us. When the first Ukrainians fall before the Russian goliath I look forward to candle-lit vigils and people singing “Imagine.”

Ray Zacek
Ray Zacek
2 years ago

Don’t forget the hashtags on Twitter in addition to the vigils, candles and singing.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Nonsense. Approximately 2000,000 Warsaw Pact troops, plus 5,000 tanks invaded Czechoslovakia in August 1968, or had you forgotten?

Last edited 2 years ago by SULPICIA LEPIDINA
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I don’t think there is a problem with anyone here not caring about the greater good of society, however many of us are discerning. What has happened in the last two years, is that it is very evident that e.g. lockdown negatively affected society (just wait for more fall out) and it is also very evident that given the vaccines and what we know about them, vaccine mandates are completely illogical, are potentially dangerous and moreover cross many lines in a modern democracy. And let’s not forget the theatre of masks. All that this is, is an overreach of governments playing to people who want to be told what to do and feel morally superior while doing it. Never mind the huge amount of money that is being made behind the scenes.
I lived in an authoritarian regime for many years and it is dire. Be careful what you wish for.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I loved Italy, I spent a long time in Livorno, and as I must fish I would walk down to the harbour and fish with the old men who also would be there for the same reason I suppose. I would buy a small amount of coquinas on the way for bait, and fish in the beautiful place – the fish we caught were some kind of blenny kind of thing, 3 – 6 inches long, and the old guys kept the bigger ones to eat.

But on the way I would go by the statue ‘Quatro Moors’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monument_of_the_Four_Moors of Ferdino standing over 4 chained – conquered Moors, and now slaves. I saw it a hundred times and now always think of how the statue topplers must crave the opportunity to destroy this monumental work of art and throw it into the sea waters of the harbour….

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

For what it’s worth, I enjoy your posts and those of other contrarians like Rasmus Fogh and Billy Bob. They’re always articulate and well reasoned. Down ticks without engagement are just boo boys and not worth consideration.

One of the joys of this site is that you can’t box people. I would strongly agree that people shouldn’t be allowed to glue themselves to the M25, and strongly disagree that NHS workers should be forced to inject something into their bodies, that they don’t want, on pain of losing their job.

On many subjects, people who you think might have one view, surprise you with an opposite view, so you can’t approach any debate from a tribal standpoint.

Of course many people take themselves too seriously, but many don’t. That’s just life. The joy of this site is that a considerably majority are not so convinced of their own virtue that their only arguments are personal attacks.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

I’m always suspicious of people whose views just happen to perfectly align with those of a particular political party, be it Labour/Tory in the UK or Republican/Democrat in the states as I think it implies a lack of critical thinking. I think it’s odd when you can tell a persons complete political outlook by just hearing their opinion on a single subject. The vaccines are a prime example of this. If you listened to social media or message boards you’d be forgiven for thinking that people are either totally for vaccine mandated or anti vax completely, when my personal experience seems to imply people are generally very pro vaccine and think should be freely available but believe mandates are a step too far which is my position on the matter. I’ve always leant left economically and right socially so there’s no particular tribe I align with, I just chop and change depending on what’s happening at election time.
As for the issue regarding Ukraine, I feel it’s a bit rich of the Russians to be complaining about NATO and believing they have the right to tell other sovereign nations which groups they can and cannot join. You can’t blame the Eastern European countries for wanting to join, especially after Russians actions in the recent past in Georgia, Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

Peter Branagan
Peter Branagan
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Agree with most of your post Billy Bob.
On Ukraine and Russian claims, I think if you read up on the cultural and religious history of ancient Rus you might begin to think that the Russians have at least as much a historical claim to Eastern Ukraine including Kiev as the Israelis have to Palestine.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Branagan

I think believing you have a right to other nations’ lands simply because at some point in the distant past you owned them is incredibly dangerous. If all nations acted that way the world would be on a constant war footing as borders have moved countless times over the centuries

Peter Branagan
Peter Branagan
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Thanks for the prompt reply. At what point in history would your aversion to historical religious/cultural claims of land start? After 1945 or perhaps 1948?
What constitutes a national entity? A politically inspired cartographer drawing lines on maps ? Or the people living in the so-defined areas?

After WWI and WWII arbitrary lines were drawn on maps by the victorious Allies. The lines drawn were more based in punishment/reward of polities than representing the peoples who actually lived there.

After WWII tens of millions of Eastern Europeans were summarily booted out of their homelands of many centuries, some Westwards others Eastwards, yet others Northwards and Southwards.

Do the lines drawn up by the victorious powers after WWI and WWII remain forever sacrosanct – the end of history so to speak? Or, are there exceptions? If so what are the exceptions and why?

If suffering of a people, in addition to any historical/religious claims, is cause enough to change boundaries then the Russian people, who lost over 20,000,000 of their brethern during WWII would have a good call on some changes!

If no changes post 1945 should be allowed, then some rearrangement of the current boundaries in the Middle East would be needed.

Or perhaps you can get some hegemon to bludgeon it’s view through the UN and make it all tickety-boo.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Branagan

And who started ww2?
It was Germany and Russia when they invaded Poland and then Finland and Baltic States.
I am really puzzled why people in democracy are so keen on supporting actions of dictators like Putin?
Why Russia then accepted territorial integrity of Ukraine in 1994 treaty?
If they raised objections then and asked for referendum on disputed territories, i would have some sympathy for their views.
What we are seeing is no different to what Hitler did with Czechoslovakia in 1938/39.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Your point isn’t valid. Russia did not invade Crimea. You can’t invade a territory you already control. Same was true for South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Crimea was even more provocative because the Russians had their most important naval base there. Meaning it was already there they didn’t just build it in March of 2014. They only had peace keeping troops in the nominally controlled breakaway provinces in Georgia. The US and ukro nazis can create whatever narrative they want to fool ignorant Westerners but Russia owns Crimea and it will take a nuclear war to clear them out.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Isn’t that precisely what Israel’s claim to Palestine is based on?

In short, ‘God’ gave it to them in perpetuity.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Exactly.
So Lithuania and Poland controlled current territory of Bielorusia and most of Ukraine till late 17th century.
Poland even occupied Moscow in 1600 or so.
Most former colonial countries accepted that people should be allowed to make their own choices.
Only Russia insists that they have a right to terrorize smaller nations.
Problem with Russian Imperialism is that no one aspires to at least some aspects of their culture.
Unlike Roman, British or French.
So the only weapon they have is military force.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Branagan

This is just Russian propaganda.
Kevan Rus was a state when Moscowy did not even exist.
Till 14th century, Moscowy was controlled by Tatars.
Then Moscowy started their expansion both South and West.
Russia only fully controlled Ukraine including Crimea by the end of 18th century and conquest of Caucasus took the well into 19th century.
If i recall 92% of Ukrainian people voted for independence in 1991 referendum on turnout of 83%.
Not surprising if you remember murder of millions of Ukrainians in the 30s and suppression of their culture and language.

Sue Whorton
Sue Whorton
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Only two?

Clare Jones
Clare Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

What a marvelous and clear report, has Brexit had any place in these problems?

Julian Pellatt
Julian Pellatt
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Excellent points! I value respectful and rational discussion. Thank you.

D Glover
D Glover
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I don’t know what papers and TV channels you’re seeing.
Name one newspaper or TV channel that is fanning the flames of racism.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  D Glover

Anything pushing CRT is, by definition racist, so most of the left wing media.

If you look at the comments on newspaper feeds on MSN’s homepage, many are borderline racist. I haven’t seen any of that on here.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  D Glover

I seldom watch anymore – if ever, but I can name CNN, MSNBC, New York Times, Washington Post. In the UK, The Guardian
. Of course lots behind paywalls now. I used to follow New York Times, The Guardian as some of my go to news, but it is now just dire. The US mainstream news is especially racist


Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 years ago

The US mainstream news is ridiculous. They have made themselves irrelevant.

Last edited 2 years ago by Cathy Carron
Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  D Glover

Well the Guardian, the Independent, the BBC and Channel4 for starters, and further afield the NYT, CNN and the Washington Post.

Last edited 2 years ago by Eddie Johnson
John Aronsson
John Aronsson
2 years ago
Reply to  D Glover

The New York Times, the Washington Post, MSNBC, CNN, the US Public Broadcasting System, the Guardian, the BBC, the US Office of Civil Rights, the Democratic Party in the US.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Chris, I think you have some things right and some wrong. I think the majority here are a mix of libertarian, old classic liberal and conservative – most are anti woke and ‘progressive’.
Not all are anti-abortion and anti-feminism (not fond of radical divisive feminists or those views that lump feminism into one category!)
Generally there is a fondness for robust democracy (anti authoritarian), freedom of speech, freedom of press, anti-censorship, proper scientific dialogue and process. Anti governmental manipulation according to obvious agendas (power and money). This adds up to anti-China. We have only just got started on Putin, haven’t we.
Curious to hear the take of others.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago

Thanks to you also, Lesley. People don’t want intrusive government, nor authoritarian styles, nor silly fads like transes (or is it trannies?), nor extreme views of any kind. But the comment with the most upticks above yearns for strong statesmen to come back to say ‘Boo’ to Putin.

So, strong government is good if it agrees with your opinion?

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Maybe this is motivated by the dearth of good leadership in the West. Not that I saw a yearning for strong government in the post. Maybe I missed something.
Anyway of course people want a strong leader and ideally a moral and ethical one (haha). In the absence of a morals and ethical leader, a country must have robust institutions in place to hold the course. Strong judiciary and media for example. A minimum requirement should be a leader in possession of their faculties. Do you see the problems we face just in the few things I’ve raised in this short paragraph.

Michael K
Michael K
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Strong government is defined by virtuous leadership. Intrusive government is defined by distrust and an irrational desire to control everything. Those two are entirely different things.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

“And what does UnHerd do? We have a small number of people, usually older people, who look back on some halcyon days in the past.”

Back in the 1960s my family was in Eastern Europe on one or our epic camping trips to odd places – and in a remote part of Bulgaria we got talking to a couple really impoverished peasants, and old man and woman, ragged closes, muddy and pulling a hand wagon full of some kind of root crops they had dug in a muddy field.

They spoke excellent English, and were aristocrats treated much like China did the land owners when they took over. They told of the old days, the beauty of the place, the happy people working the land, and the sparkling, bright intellectual life they once lived…..(They were also nervous to be seen talking with us)

Anyway, the world can learn from the past, and us stuck in the past always see the wrong directions taken because we have so much experience, and also – as you say, are stuck in the past. Like those brutally impoverished aristocrats, we need to learn acceptance I suppose, but inside we cannot as we remember how it was..

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

With only a little re-writing this by H G Wells might fit the situation, too well.
“No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, 

Martin Logan
Martin Logan
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Putin will never cross the border. This is all a bluff to try and divide nations like Germany from the rest.
It hasn’t worked and isn’t working, in case you actually noticed.
Spoiler alert: spies don’t make good strategists. Putin is the prime example. Now that he has supreme power, the only thing he can come up with i that tiny head is a hoary KGB “special operation,” sort of like Cuba.
That’s what he did in Crimea. That’s what he did in Donbas. Indeed, that’s what he did in Georgia.
Go back to sleep.

Iris C
Iris C
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Logan

He looks after his own and protects his borders. He doesn’t invade other sovereign states to impose his will as has happened this century with American-led NATO.

Aidan Trimble
Aidan Trimble
2 years ago
Reply to  Iris C

Well this smug assertion didn’t age well, did it ?

David Fellowes
David Fellowes
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

As they were then.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

“bulk of the population seem blissfully unaware, focused only on parties, cake and nightclub passports”.

Yes indeed, and amply demonstrated by Princess of Nut Nut, the wife of our beloved leader, Boris.

Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

I agree the big picture is illuminating…and prescient. But if Aris is right that Russia will stop on the Dnieper rather than invade the “Ukraine nationalist heartlands”, doesn’t that weaken Putin’s “pan Russian” narrative and delegitimise Russian intervention in the Baltics to prevent another bogus “genocide” of the sizeable Russian minorities there?

Or does Putin’s revanchist rhetoric condemn him to swallowing Ukraine whole and possibly sucking Russia into a long, drawn-out insurgency?

We will only know if the West has got the message if Western defence budgets rise to Cold War levels. And if we decouple from Russian hydrocarbons and strategic metals, not a short-term task. A twin track strategy of weakening the Russian economy and forcing Russia to either match or exceed higher Western defence spending is likely to end as the Soviet Union ended. Bankrupt. Will that prospect encourage or discourage Russia from forcing its ahort term hand?

A final question is to M. Macron. Is NATO “brain dead”? Or is it the only credible bulwark against Russian aggression?

Martin Logan
Martin Logan
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Actually, this has almost nothing to do with conditions in 1914.
But if that’s the best you come up with, well…

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Logan

Are you the same guy who claimed 3 weeks ago that “Putin will never cross the border”?
Unfortunately for Russian stooges on various forums, people who for years warned against Russian aggression were proven right.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Well, former Polish president Lech Kaczynski warned against what is likely to happen long term in 2008 after Georgia was invaded by the Russians.
He was criticised as Russophobe by both Polish and German MSM.
No one listened then and nothing changed after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in Donbass and Crimea.
I never understood all the prise Merkel got as a great leader.
Nearly every call she made is being proven wrong and costly and much sooner than I imagined.
The same goes for Obama another pathetic example of how not to conduct foreign policy.

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
2 years ago

At the core of our pathetic weakness lies our wholly inadequate energy policy. A plentiful, secure, reliable and affordable source of energy is required to grow and sustain a developed industrial economy. Instead our politicians in U.K. and Europe have been persuaded by the “ models” of hysterical environmental extremists allied with the Panglossian fallacies of wind and solar. This has resulted in our reliance on Asia for our manufactures, Russia for Europe’s gas and the Middle East for our transport fuels. And now we are surprised by the blackmail. It was inevitable. An urgent and radical rethink on energy policy is needed – otherwise we truly are back on the Road to Serfdom.

Edward Jones
Edward Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

“our politicians in UK” and his wife.

Natasha Felicia
Natasha Felicia
2 years ago
Reply to  Edward Jones

Any politician that listens to unelected family members instead of those knowledgeable in statecraft just reveal how they lack strategy and are weak willed.
“His wife” only has as much power to influence him as the PM allows.

Last edited 2 years ago by Natasha Felicia
Tim Dilke
Tim Dilke
2 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

Spot on. Such is the hypocrisy inherent in the decarbonising of our economy by offshoring our high carbon manufacturing to China, India et al to allow us to maintain our lifestyle whilst we don our green laurels.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
2 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

Spot on…the era of wishful thinking is ending as the rubber really hits the road in Germany (ending nuclear), here, messing around forever putting off decisions,America..hopelessly divided and inward looking (see also *here* and *Germany* for other examples).
In Scotland Sturgeon, for purely performative political reasons, has entered a *Not-a-coalition* coalition Greens. Given the lead in a couple of their pet policy areas they have driven her to withdraw SNP support for the Cambo oil field.
The final decision rests with the UK govt but the inward looking politics of the UK mean Sturgeon and her Green overlords make the weather.And as Dominic Cummings said when channelling his inner Otto von Bismarck…when treating with a pirate; one and a half times a pirate, with a gentleman one and a half times a gentleman. So it is with Johnson, Sturgeon, Merkel or any of the other Europeans who when faced with crazy Green politicians demands decide *one and a half times a Green then!*
Who will explore the North Sea with no hope of recouping exploration costs as any oil found will now be shuttered?
Across the West this sort of short term politics has led us to where we are now

Saul D
Saul D
2 years ago

I still don’t get Putin’s game plan here. He’s showing the world that he can invade Ukraine,almost with impunity. There is no appetite for war in the US or Europe. That doesn’t mean that his game plan is to invade Ukraine. He is more Machiavellian than merely a simple thug, as his control over oligarchs and Russia shows.
Getting Nato to freeze expansion, which has long been a Russian complaint, would be minor and short-term as, perversely, border states would be more likely to see shelter under the Nato umbrella with a belligerent Russia on their doorstep.
However, Europe, by now, should be acutely aware of the importance of energy ties with Russia. And America is being humiliated – weapon-rich but geopolitically stupid.So come March or April, if the troops fade away, Russia will have demonstrated its strategic importance. The EU will need to trade in return for energy assurances. Ukraine will need to hold back from the Donbas. The khan states will be reminded to pay tribute to their neighbour. China will see the benefit of another American antagonist as it buys its way into South East Asia and Africa.
And Putin doesn’t need to do anything more. He was beng courted by the West up to 2014, and then cast out as a bogeyman as Nato/CIA politicked and color-revoltioned, assuming Ruissa was a spent force until Crimea. Putin has now embraced the bogeyman mantle, and it’s America that is looking doddery and impotent. He could still invade. But in many ways his point has been made, and not invading may now be a stronger play. There is always next year…

Mike Mclaughlin
Mike Mclaughlin
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

“ America that is looking doddery and impotent”. Yup, just look at the leaders we elect.

Tim Dilke
Tim Dilke
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

I think you are right but surely you must add the personal element. What is the point of being capo dei capi and a crypto multi billionaire if you can’t retire in peace and security to your modest home on the Black Sea?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

Excellent post Saul. Really good. Best I have read on the situation.

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

is this not also much about internal Russian politics? Putin having to show how great his country is to paint over the dire situation inside his country…?

John Aronsson
John Aronsson
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

The worst case scenario is that the Russian Federation and the Peoples Republic of China are prepared to act in concert against a common enemy, that being the US hegemon that is clearly and rapidly declining. If the RF moves against Ukraine and if the US responds then the PRC simply seizes Taiwan.
I believe the RF’s objective will be to deny Ukraine access to the Black Sea and create a land connection between the RF, Crimea and Odessa.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

Great analysis thanks – well done ! I think you are on the money..

Suki Harrison
Suki Harrison
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

I agree. Also it sends a message to China about Tiawan.

Saul D
Saul D
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

Got that wrong then… He did want the war. Bogeyman it is.

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago

“The simple fact is, Nato will not go to war with Russia for Ukraine.”
Spot on!
The question posed in the title could be answered as follows: quickly–the seizure of Crimea–and then slowly–the period since.
Maybe there will be blitzkrieg, maybe not, but Russia has already won. Estonia can send some artillery pieces–or maybe not, if Germany stops them–but so what? Will that make a difference, or is this just theater saying “Look how important we are! Look how much we support you!?”
Same with the US, putting 8500 troops or so on “high alert.” High alert to do what? 8500 troops from Ft. Benning, Georgia to stop the Russian army on the border in Ukraine? Really?
Didn’t Russia win when Lukashenko clung to power–with Russian help? Shame on Europe for allowing the last dictator in Europe to remain, when the people were out on the streets in massive numbers at considerable cost.
Didn’t Russian win when Belarus–as payback for the tepid support of the West against Lukashenko–sent non-Europeans to the EU’s borders?
Didn’t Russia win when Qadaffi was removed in Libya and many non-Europeans made it to the EU’s borders–Lampadusa, Greece, Gibraltar, and many in the divided West actually helped them? They’re people smugglers, not humanitarian workers.
Russia has won by showing how feckless and divided the West is.
China has taken notice.

Last edited 2 years ago by James Joyce
James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Why was this post “pending approval” when I had “invading hordes” instead of “non-Europeans?”
This is disgraceful!

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

It’s word press for you

Natasha Felicia
Natasha Felicia
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

“Europe is home to at least 60,000 US troops. At 33,900, Germany has the highest number of US troops in Europe – and the second highest in the world – followed by Italy at 12,300 and the UK at 9,300. However, the number of US troops stationed in Germany has more than halved between 2006 and 2020, dropping from 72,400 to 33,900.”
The USA still has a significant presence in Europe the 8,500 arriving from Georgia would be added to the 60k troops already stationed in the EU. They also have large bases with supply chains and will be pivoting to react to Putin. It would be a mistake to assume that the largest military in the world won’t be able to respond quickly and decisively against Putin if necessary. That does not include other NATO troops.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/9/10/infographic-us-military-presence-around-the-world-interactive

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
2 years ago

It’s silly to assume that the US is in the mood for a war in Europe, especially since even the least aware American voter knows Europeans decline to pay for their own defense. What the US can do, and what it will do, are two entirely different things. Biden is focused on domestic politics.

Joe Biden created this mess by suppressing North American oil and natural gas production, which doubled the price of oil and natural gas. This gave Russia the cash to finance an invasion of Ukraine. Not only is Europe not willing to pay for its own defense, Europe is unwilling to allow fracking and drilling on its own territory to help ease their energy crisis, and their dependence on Russia.

Russia and China bought and paid for the Biden family. Biden is a senile old man. There’s no way Biden will do anything smart other than send a few plane loads of weapons to Ukraine. Virtue signalling is an art form for Democrats. That’s what the 3 plane loads of arms are all about. That’s all you’re going to get from Biden. However, rude tweets and bad manners from the White House are gone. Isn’t that a relief worth sacrificing half of Ukraine?

Last edited 2 years ago by Douglas Proudfoot
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago

An excellent and eloquent analysis from Aris Roussinos of a dangerous threat from Russia. Meanwhile the UK opposition and the Tory Party remain obsessed by petty hypocrisies in Downing Street. Where are the statesmen?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

“Where are the statesmen?”

Where are the yetis and where is ‘The Science’? Because they are pretty much mythological lately too. All politics is two things:

1) Paying back the Elites who funded their climb up the greasy pole of Party Politics – no independent winners – you sell your soul to the Party Elites or you are done, and then in turn you get quite wealthy off ‘Insider Trading’ if you do as told, and what you are told to do is never statesman stuff.

2) pandering to the stupid, venal, and ignorant voters who decide who runs the Nation. Mostly this is giving them stuff paid off by increasing National Debt, or giving minorities special privileges. (trans…) And that is the opposite of Statesman.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I’m sure that the UK could stop Russia if we had proper statesmen. Perhaps one smoking a cigar?

Peter Branagan
Peter Branagan
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Ha, Ha.

Greg Moreison
Greg Moreison
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Liked (because who doesn’t like Churchill?) …but what about Yalta?

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

It’s not proper statesmen we need (always in short supply, whether this country or any other), but proper divisions, by which I mean the kind of divisions to which Stalin was referring when he was considering what the Pope might think.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Yea, he could invade Galloipoli again as a gateway to the Crimea – or as in WWII invade the Eastern Europe through Greece (where unfourtnately he was again pushed back to Crete, and then only a Dunkerk like rescue saved the army, but again left the equipment.)

David FĂŒlöp
David FĂŒlöp
2 years ago

The West has collectively forgotten that you cannot exercise influence without military power.

Nato countries are fixated on how much they spend when in reality that has very little to do with actual capabilities. We should evaluate the possible threats and make sure our forces can match them. That is what should determine spending not an arbitrary number.

The UK comes 5th behind Russia when it comes to absolute military expenditure but that is meaningless if you are trying to have a modern large navy complete with nuclear submarines and carriers, an air force with all the new toys, an army capable of rapid deployment AND a nuclear deterrent all included in the budget. Russians have large quantities of vehicles and equipment in good working order that we think of as outdated. Yet sheer numbers and effective military doctrine turns these into force multipliers.

They can amass huge armour formations using t72 and t80 tanks. Britain will only have a token force of around a 150 tanks left. If we took warfare seriously we should have not only maintained the original force of 400 plus along with upgrading the warrior ifv ( which is simply being thrown away without replacement ) but kept the challenger 1s in service and storage for strategic depth.

The numbers are similarly laughable around other nato countries apart from the USA that still seem to remember what warfare is about.

But instead the west seems to be unable to move away from the thinking instilled by fighting vastly inferior forces in the middle east. Drones and light mobile infantry will achieve very little in a peer to peer conflict where total aerial superiority is not possible.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago

How right you are. What sickens me is that our armed forces are used as tokens to fool the electorate, but then used as tokens when sent somewhere in the world, such as the Baltic, or others might advocate sending say 1,000 to Ukraine, without considering how they are integrated into existing forces, or are provisioned, supported by air or artillery, etc..
Biden’s sending 8,500, I understand. Maybe they will be properly supplied and integrated, but the act is also political, and tokenism, although at least the USA has, as you say, retained effective armed might while we and most of the rest of Europe have switched expenditure to more popular causes.
There are exceptions; I believe is Poland one, undoubtedly because of the lessons it has learned since 1939, while the other is Greece, ironically because of enmity with another NATO country. In numbers, her armed forces are comparable with ours.
Putin isn’t fooled for a second.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

The Russian Army may have great elan and fighting spirit, and massed equipment – BUT are they trained in ‘recognizing Diversity’ and gender pronouns and micro-aggression monitoring, and spotting racial bias? NO, so they are at a distinct disadvantage as the US solders have great training and expertise in these vital, military, qualities.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Plus enormous supplies of sanitary towels, lipstick, hair dryers and Botox.The Russians should very careful in provoking such an elite fighting force. ‘They have been warned’.

R Wright
R Wright
2 years ago

The hollowing out of our armed forces so we can pay for pensions, benefits and migrants doesn’t seem very wise in hindsight.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  R Wright

Not paying one’s insurance policy can have painful consequences. If politicians and civil servants think about it at all, I guess they hope it won’t happen while they’re on duty, and even if it does, it can surely be blamed on those who preceded them, and anyway, the public enquiry will take another 13 years or so.

David Wildgoose
David Wildgoose
2 years ago

Si vis pacem, parabellum. If you want Peace, prepare for War.

Which actually sounds like what Russia is doing. Making it clear that continued NATO encirclement will not be tolerated.

Why do our so-called “leaders” keep insisting on poking the Russian bear?

Finland has a heavily mined but stable border with Russia. It isn’t a member of NATO. It isn’t a threat. And there isn’t a problem.

Why does the West deem that result unacceptable for Ukraine?

Ukraine could have acted as a bridge, but the West’s actions have turned it into a battlefield.

Sheer madness and completely unnecessary.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago

What, another GRU post?

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

See the US Cuban Missile crisis in 1962

David Wildgoose
David Wildgoose
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

Haven’t we heard enough of the “Russian bot” slurs since 2016? It’s getting a bit boring. Why do you people want to start a war with Russia?

john zac
john zac
2 years ago

I Europe relies on Russian energy, they will soon buy it in digital yuan which will start a time bomb for the dollar’s displacement as the world’s reserve currency. Our friendly bankers want us to go to war for them—

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago

UnHerd is becoming a woke disgrace. I tried to post using the phrase “invading hordes” and it’s awaiting approval.
Is that over the top?

Steven Campbell
Steven Campbell
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Maybe they thought you misspelled Whores.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Well, I’ve just written, in all innocence, ” crystal {those round things]”, meaning of course one cannot see into the future, and it’s suspended, awaiting approval. I told my wife, and we both roared with laughter (contemptuous, of course).

Last edited 2 years ago by Colin Elliott
James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

those round things….
Cheeky! An algorithm with no sense of humor?
But it is UnFair on UnHerd to have (what one considers) an important post, perhaps it will drive the conversation (or perhaps not) lost in limbo for many important hours. If and when it is resurrected, the conversation has already taken off.
Of course this hurts me, as the magnificence and originality of my world view is delayed, but it also hurts UnHerd readers–for the same reasons!
Enough with the censorship! If someone calls for assassinations, by all means, take it down. But if someone is disrespectful, colorful, anything less, leave it alone….

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

I am pretty sure the comment facility is bought-in software that comes with built-in censorship of certain words that – the software assumes – we all agree are unacceptable. You can’t use a word like “sǝpÉčoÉ„” because it’s almost always part of the phrase “sʇuɐÉčÆƒáŽ‰ÉŻÉŻáŽ‰ ɟo sǝpÉčoÉ„”, and you’re not allowed to mention that they exist because this is almost certainly leading up to a remark suggestion that uoᎉʇɐÉčÆƒáŽ‰ÉŻÉŻáŽ‰ ssɐɯ is not always a good thing. I haven’t tried typing “pǝdÉŻÉÊs” in but I suspect it would be blocked too for the same reason.
You can’t mention “sllɐq” either because this is a rude word and offensive to men who still have them while claiming to be women.
Fortunately, there are websites that allow you to get around this nonsense.
It is, in effect, the real-word manifestation of the phenomenon Orwell describes in Nineteen Eighty-Four, whereby the dictionary gets smaller every edition. The idea is to make wrongthink literally unthinkable, by removing the words it relies on from the language. A first step is the concept of wrongcomment, where if you say something potentially expressive of wrongthink, it gets autocensored. It’s just to be on the safe side.

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I agree with what you have said but this is UnHerd–UnHerd–supposed to be a refuge from 1984.
I operate on the principle that if people here don’t like what I say they can tell me. I can take. Sticks and stones….

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Strange indeed! I seem to have ‘got away with’ Chinese hordes, below.

Emre Emre
Emre Emre
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Yes, it’s over the top, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be allowed to say it.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Unherd editors probably thought you meant ‘whores’ #soundslike : )

Last edited 2 years ago by Cathy Carron
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

You should have gone the whole hog and used the traditional term: W*gs.

Emre Emre
Emre Emre
2 years ago

And the traditional retort to that would be a “racist pig”, correct?

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Emre Emre

Unnecessary to malign the splendid pig, one word will do.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
2 years ago

yes – after all the pigs are donating their hearts to us !

Emre Emre
Emre Emre
2 years ago

I always felt there’s value in traditions, this particular one seems like good case in point where it’d be worth keeping it.

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
2 years ago
Reply to  Emre Emre

Yes but Sulpicia being a Brit with military backround is used to being called all sorts of nasty names. To most of us it’s just water of a duck’s back

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

Very interesting article from Aris, who comes into his own with this sort of article. Few reporters are ready to brave the elements, real physical danger and wars. Are they a dying breed? I stand to be corrected because I have in the main switched off corporate media since my ‘great awakening’ during the lockdown/covid experience. Before that I was locked in the jaws of corporate, so had little time.
I turned on Euronews this morning and I would have thought this would be the news 24/7. No – all sorts of individual experiential dross from people from fringe countries.
In the meantime. Putin puts on the pressure – as he knows he can. Who can forget Biden’s meeting with Putin. It was sheer embarrassment, as is the constant bumbling sh1tshow that is unfolding in the US. Yes, if there was a time for Putin to strike, it would be now.
Hopefully not.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

A pity the writer did not explain what would be Russia’s actual goals in all this. What geography they would hold, what they wish to do with them, and why Russia would risk such a game.

Maybe I missed it, but it seemed to be logistics and politics, but still I do not understand what the great cost Russia will bear for this invasion is really about, the costs will be vast –

Biden though – I get the impression he would like a war against an enemy which was very inferior as a sort of a 2022 midterms “Look! A Squirrel!” kind of distraction – but this is definitely not that. You see the anger and hate in his face as he leans to the microphone to threaten the un-vaxed, I have no doubt the human costs of war are not big concern with him, except as it would cost votes. I hope cool heads stay cool. Even a small fight with USA, fallowed by sanctions, could lead to retaliation in cyber attacks, as being on a different continent is not total defense anymore, and now is a bad time for those.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I can’t believe that US presidents in the last 100 years have ever cared about human costs. Wars are OK as long as they are not on American soil – Pearl Harbour and 9/11 have been the main wars in the US. Ask Hollywood !!

Nicholas Rowe
Nicholas Rowe
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

An acquaintance from one of the Baltic States recently put it rhetorically by asking why Russia would want to invade a country where most of the people apart from a few oligarchs are poor or drunk.
NATO is beginning to become like the Holy Roman Empire.

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago
Reply to  Nicholas Rowe

Or both!

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Nicholas Rowe

Maybe because it wants that country to remain that way, to avoid giving ideas to its own citizens.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Easy; what geography? The parts of the Ukraine they have not already reoccupied in the last 8 years.
What to do with them? Just look at a map; adding the Ukraine to Russia has huge strategic advantages. This is too obvious to require explanation.
Risks to Russia? What risks? If anything, Russia, or rather Putin’s idea of Russia, is at risk by not using its a decisive advantage which may never recur.
.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

But the costs – cost benefit analyst – what are the benefits to justify the costs?

Peter Taylor
Peter Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

It is perhaps less about what Russia would do in the Ukraine – and in the doing, give itself a massive headache, more about what NATO really means. There are very big ‘economic’ interests at play. Ukrainians are highly educated and technically competent, yet get paid a fraction of the wages paid to Czechs, for example, by big ‘western’ corporations keen to expand their production but lower their costs (especially motor manufactures). However, big capital investment moves would be unlikely unless guaranteed protection by a force such as NATO. Russia sees its former vassal states as potential continuing markets, just as the West sees them as potential cheap labour. Clashes or Empire is not just about military and nationalist histories, but also economic spheres of interest – where few analysts seem to delve deeply.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago

An excellent synopsis, however little mention of China.
A large area of the Russian Far East, particularly along the Amur River was formerly Chinese. It was ‘acquired’ by Czarist Russia in the mid nineteenth century, and now they want it back.

Will Russia really be capable of holding its own against the Chinese hordes? Or will it be a replay of the Mongol invasion of the thirteenth century?

David Uzzaman
David Uzzaman
2 years ago

As Henry Kissinger said at the time of the Iran-Iraq War “It’s a pity they can’t both lose.”

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago

Whatever else Vlad andvXi are, they seem to be pretty good strategists. Working in concert (as they have been doing through social media misinformation, control of academia etc) to bring down the existing hegemon, will surely be their first priority.

Will Britain finish up in Oceania or Eurasia when all this has played out?

Bruce Luffman
Bruce Luffman
2 years ago

I cannot help feeling that Putin has a point when he complains about NATO extending its membership to states like the Ukraine which is, geographically, the underbelly of Russia. What would the US reaction be to Cuba, in a similar geographical position to the USA, if that was stacked with Russian weapons? Hang on that happened before and there was outrage from USA – pot calling the kettle!
I am not a supporter of Putin and his methods but it seems we ought to be prepared to be a bit understanding.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Bruce Luffman

Rubbish. You’re choosing to believe Putin’s casus belli. NATO is incapable of being a threat to Russia, and I’m certain her intelligence concerning its motives and capabilities is excellent. If Putin feels threatened, it’s because he doesn’t want European ways infecting his empire, both for self-preservation, and because he despises them, perhaps not without reason.
He has also gone on record as arguing that Ukraine should be joined with Russia. By the way, I heard someone on the radio (the UK Russian ambassador I think) say it won’t be an invasion, it’ll be a liberation.
Cuba missile crisis? An utterly different situation in an utterly different time. Bay of Pigs might be a bit closer, except that that failed.

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

With respect, I disagree and agree with BL. I head two people on BBC–one said Ukraine–his country–was worth fighting for; the other, not so much. He’d be content to let NATO do his job.
So, Colin, tell me why a lad from Hull or a bloke from Ohio should die defending Ukraine, while Ukrainian lads sit it out?
Re your first paragraph, NATO is incapable of any effective action. Some NATO members can’t even send artillery pieces or missiles–purely symbolic anyway–because Deutschland says Nein?
It’s about “the West,” writ large, not NATO. NATO is North Atlantic Treaty Organization–founded to combat the USSR in the Cold War. Is Turkey in the North Atlantic? Maybe I need to look at some maps again.
Guess What? NATO won. USSR is no more, though a sphere of Russian influence remains. Fair play. I know Russians and Baltic Russians and they all have a deep streak of paranoia, fear of the West, fear of being seen (and being) lesser. Given their history, this is not completely illogical.
Let’s get rid of NATO and found something else that meets 21st Century needs.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

I don’t believe a lad from Hull should die defending Ukraine, and he won’t, firstly because the Ukraine is not in NATO, which is a defensive alliance, and secondly because we are totally incapable of doing anything effective because of geography. All we can do is supply a few weapons, which aren’t going to make much difference, although better than 5,000 helmets.
I agree; NATO is incapable of effective action, partly because of the above, and because it is an alliance and vulnerable to lack of resolution of any member.
Any alliance tends to be weaker than a unitary enemy for decision making and logistics, hence the formation of NATO in the first place. You say NATO won; maybe it did, but as a consequence, its members reaped their ‘peace dividend’, and now find that a new potential enemy has arisen from the ashes of the old, taking advantage of massive inflows of $ and € and US technology, much of which it has lavished on its armed forces.
If a country is weak, it’s enemies are less inclined to avoid war with one, it is more likely to suffer unnecessary casualties than if better equipped, and if it has sufficiently numerous and well-armed forces, it’s options are multiplied.
In addition to armed force, Europe is weaker in financial, energy resources, communications, ease of being infiltrated, everything.
I haven’t advocated any particular action, mainly because we and other European nations have arrived at this situation over several years of strategic error, and I see no solution.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

You may think what you like but surely it is a question of what Putin thinks, To discard Russia’s concerns ‘out of hand’ seems somewhat strange.

Rupert Steel
Rupert Steel
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

Well, we know that Putin wants to restore the buffer zones that gave defence in depth and protected the Russian core from invasion by western European wannabees. Now, while Belarus is biddable and prepared to fall in line with Russian plans for its future, Ukraine is not. Putin seems to be ratcheting up the pressure to try and force surrender by the government in Kiev.

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago
Reply to  Bruce Luffman

Well said. Kindly see my response to CE below.

Edward Jones
Edward Jones
2 years ago

I wonder if General “thoroughly modern” Milley has assured his Russian counterparts that he will give them ample warning of any possible American military intervention?

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

It’s a bad sign that Germany is looking nonchalant while all this is going on.

Harry Child
Harry Child
2 years ago

They have been nonchalant for decades as they, the richest nation in Europe, have failed to pay their 2% towards Nato relying on America to defend them. It is time the back bill was paid

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Harry Child

Germany have sent 5,000 helmets to Ukraine to assist with their defence. Really, is this the best they can do? Germany are part of the problem and they only contribute some helmets.

JĂŒrg Gassmann
JĂŒrg Gassmann
2 years ago

For US strategists, the greatest danger to US hegemony (not to peace, not to Europe) is friendship between Germany and Russia. That is what the US is seeking to prevent. Talking up a Russian military threat and finding alternative suppliers of gas to Germany is meant to prevent normalisation of relations between Germany and Russia. It is a good sign that the US’ effort seems to be failing.

Jonathan Weil
Jonathan Weil
2 years ago

Does the Russian threat really need “talking up” at this point?

Last edited 2 years ago by Jonathan Weil
Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago

You seem to think that friendship between Germany and Russia is a good thing, thwarting US ‘hegemony’. I agree that the USA seems dysfunctional to Europeans in many ways, by which I mean the state of many cities, and the political bickering, but our unfavourable impression of the USA and its politics comes mostly from overexposure, because of its use of English, the output of its media industry, and the mad obsession with Trump our media acquired following 2016. We need to remember that it’s a democracy, it reveres free speech, it’s a federation of states, and it’s a continent.
The ‘hegemony’ it sought in the past was primarily because it thought it was in an existential struggle with communism. Times have changed, and despite bad actions at times, countries within its orbit have often prospered and achieved freedom.
In contrast, Russia is a closed book. For a while, we thought it was rejoining the rest of the world, but it’s now returning to tyranny. Remember what its government is prepared to do; poison with nasty and dangerous substances, devote much of its wealth to developing and deploying weapons, bomb hospitals, murder critics, or imprison them on false charges. Some friend.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

excellent post Colin

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago

You could just say that Germany is looking German. As long as they are in control of the EU (economically), Germany just doesn’t care.

D Glover
D Glover
2 years ago

I have read that when Angela Merkel was a schoolgirl in the DDR her father was a pastor, but was allowed to have a private car and visit the west.
She couldn’t have been a Manchurian Candidate, could she?

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  D Glover

I’ve wondered, the gas pipeline, immigration fiasco etc. Quite a lot of long term strategic decisions that played to the west’s obsessions with racism and climate change whilst undermining Europe’s ability to defend itself.

Last edited 2 years ago by Martin Bollis
Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
2 years ago

Finlandization is the obvious answer. So obvious that the fact nobody in the West will engage with it or even launch a trial balloon says there is something going on that is not publicly admitted and that we do not understand. Something very dark.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Johnson

Maybe the something which is going on is that the Ukraine would rather be like Finland is now than submitting indefinitely to a Russia which puts its nationalism above prosperity, and which becomes ever more tyrannical.
In any case, I think Putin’s looking for eventual absorption within the SFSR.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 years ago

“the British Army is now simply too small and weak to play any role in a major European war.”

Britain’s military decline mirrors Europe’s and are direct and entirely foreseeable results of NATO. An alliance to help Western Europe rebuild its military power has instead fostered dependency and stagnation. American politicians convinced themselves that a Europe protected by US security guarantees was a better ally, remaining silent for decades at Europe’s deficient military spending and resulting lack of local hard power.

Dependency is a trap for both sides though, something European officials are starting to sense. The Americans are still blind to it though. Being the 800lb gorilla with a bunch of underlings masks your inherent weakness for a long time. We had several decades to make a whole troop of 500 lb gorillas, but we choose not to.

Last edited 2 years ago by Brian Villanueva
rick stubbs
rick stubbs
2 years ago

I am not of the opinion that the author is a brilliant military analyst. He is a merely war reporter with a flare for over dramatization. And I can’t think why he has any special insight into Russian deployments or Putin’s state of mind. It takes a lot more troops to occupy UKR than are now deployed and their casualties could be very high even absent EU or US ground force push back. This is not a fool proof act & strong men are deposed quickly when clean clear victory is not delivered to their constituents. He has a lot to lose. Sanctions displace Russian energy exports in favor of US LNG forever, Finland Sweden enter NATO, Poland, etc support a Ukrainian guerrilla war against Russian forces, and Russians back home turn against the regime as casualties mount. The Russians remember Afghanistan better than Aris R.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  rick stubbs

After reading all the comments yours is the one that echoes my view – the writer seems to be a bit of a drama queen screaming to get attention.
Ukraine could be the end of Putin, but it won’t be the end of any western country, and as you say other western countries will become more aligned with the USA as a consequence. It could mark the end of the EU as Eastern European EU countries eyes are opened to the self serving betrayal of them by France and Germany.
If I was Biden I’d want Putin to invade and then the USA can provide all the materiel and intelligence to Ukraine for Putin to get bogged down – it could win Biden re-election (and he has no other hope).

R Wright
R Wright
2 years ago
Reply to  rick stubbs

Interesting.

Peter Branagan
Peter Branagan
2 years ago

As usual Aris – a super interesting article.

Rupert Steel
Rupert Steel
2 years ago

Things may not be so bleak as Aris portrays. The US empire is both global and flexible, unlike the Russian Federation. There is no doubt that if Russia is able to agglomerate both Belarus and Ukraine, as seems to be the immediate aim, western Europe is suddenly faced with an existential threat. The Chancelleries of the EU seem to show not the slightest indication of recognising this possibility, although in Warsaw, the bell would be ringing very loudly indeed. However, as the western nations of the EU regard the eastern nations with patrician disdain, any warnings will be discounted as the usual fantasies of crypto-fascist barbarians.
So how does the US imperium and its satellites respond to a Russian envelopment of Ukraine? As unmatched maritime powers, the answer is obvious, play to the strengths. No Russian warship should leave the Baltic or Black seas floating upright. In the Russian Far East, even greater prizes await. It appears that Putin has struck a deal with Xi, enabling Russian forces to be removed from the Far East and transferred to Belarus. This opens the way for a US-Japanese task-force to re-take the Northern Territories seized by Stalin from Imperial Japan. These four island seem insignificant but in part block the mouth of the Sea of Okhotsk, the key patrol ground for Russian SSBNs.
It is a pre-supposition of this article that the Russians can trust the Chinese. But can they? Recently the Russians had to prevent Chinese front companies from buying up land around Lake Baikal, the largest freshwater resource in East Asia. Piping the water from Baikal across Mongolia to the north China agricultural basin, where the natural aquifer is depleted, seems to have been the plan. But what if the hawks surrounding Xi urge execution of another plan? Blocked from maritime expansion by the US Pacific fleet and allied navies, a lightning thrust towards Lake Baikal by the PLA while Russia is bogged down in Ukraine has clear appeal. If successful, with one stroke the entire Russian Far East would fall into China’s hands. Once Siberia is bisected by the PLA, the Russians could not reinforce Vladivostok. China gains the entire Sea of Okhotsk and stares down the US in Alaska from a province with a frontage on the Arctic Sea.
Irresistible.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago
Reply to  Rupert Steel

Good points. Is Putin trying to secure Ukraine before China attacks eastern Russia? What does Putin fear ? I expect a resurgent China in the far East and Islam in the central areas.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  Rupert Steel

Well, pretty good script for a movie.
However much I dislike Putin and Russian policies, I am not convinced that strengthening China at expense of Russia is in long term Western interest.
Have you been to Siberia?
This quick dash across it is not that simple.
The best bet long term is to persuade future Russian government (Putin will not be persuaded) that it is China which poses existential threat to Russia.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew F
Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago

Is the tension really over NATO and not EU expansionism (Empire as Guy Verhofstadt said)? The EU made advances to Ukraine about joining some years ago and then Russia occupied Crimea.
Aris, you keep conflating NATO with the US; is that deliberate? It was conceived as a parry to the spread of Communism in Europe. I can imagine the US would be happy just concentrating on South Asian threats as per AUKUS if NATO is disbanded.
You seem to have a contradictory view of EU capabilities, viz “Nato’s newer Eastern members will now learn the value of America’s security guarantee compared to that of a strong Europe capable of defending itself.” But also “a Europe kept weak and powerless by its own leaders”. Which is true?

Last edited 2 years ago by Peter LR
Jonathan Weil
Jonathan Weil
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Both can be true. Roussinos is arguing that a “strong Europe capable of defending itself” is what *might have* been, had Germany (ironically backed up by the Eastern NATO members) not blocked the French push for greater strategic autonomy, invoking the primacy of a NATO alliance that it (Germany) is now undermining.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jonathan Weil
Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Weil

Jonathan, I’d always understood that the mooted EU Army would be independent of NATO, all EU countries would then leave NATO, but that it would prove ineffective due to “too many cooks” disagreeing on any action.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Weil

Because NATO Eastern members know that only USA can guarantee their security.
French push for greater strategic autonomy is just another reply of DeGaulle broken record.
France is just trying, as usual, to undermine USA to strut their pathetic “global player” stuff.
In case of any real action their will fold like a cheap suit.
Not convinced?
Just read about France great success in fighting insurgency in Mali.

Nicholas Rowe
Nicholas Rowe
2 years ago

Isn’t progressivism supposed to avoid a ‘writing back’?
Europe is awakening to her history? If we bring the past into the present, we will re-create it.
In 1914 the crisis was in Eastern Europe. It could have been confined there but for the prior determination of the minority of liberal interventionists in the cabinet and some influential newspaper magnates to involve Britain.
The guarantee given to Poland in March 1939 by Lord Halifax effectively made that country a potential ally on the eastern front in a future war with Germany. A necessary ally to ensure the encirclement of Germany and her defeat as in the Great War.
Instead of allowing the territorial dispute between Poland and Germany to be settled by negotiation, the guarantee made such a negotiation unnecessary and war more likely.
It was the British Empire that fell as a result of Britain’s own decision to involve herself in 1914. It did not fall because Germany desired it.
As the author could have observed, we could be thankful for the first time, and unlike in the history of the 20th century to which we are supposed to be returning, that Britain isn’t able to stage even a return of the Old Contemptibles.
After a virus pandemic we now have a war pandemic.

Jonathan Weil
Jonathan Weil
2 years ago
Reply to  Nicholas Rowe

“If we bring the past into the present, we will re-create it” seems like a poor argument against “awakening to [our] history”. Those who forget the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it, no?

Last edited 2 years ago by Jonathan Weil
Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Nicholas Rowe

Amazing. Someone can actually justify co-operating and appeasing Hitler? The guarantee was clearly both wise statesmanship and honourable, in contrast with, for example, the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.
What one also has to bear in mind is that although Britain was feeble in terms of fighting a European land war, France, Poland and Czechoslovakia were not, since no one had crystal balls. Even Italy was looked on as a potential ally.
Do you seriously think Germany and Poland would have come to a happy agreement? That wasn’t going to happen; look at a map of the Gdansk corridor.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

Thanks Colin,
I replied unnecessarily before reading your post.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  Nicholas Rowe

I am surprised that after what happened to Czechoslovakia, you still believe that conflict between Germany and Poland could be resolved by negotiation?
To negotiate you need element of trust.
Could anyone still trust Hitler in 1939?
Ah, yes.
Stalin did. That did not end well, did it?

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
2 years ago

Lol. The “elitists” of the West are literally begging Putin to invade. Ending European energy cooperation with Russia and keeping NATO relevant. They desperately need their Russian enemy. If Putin doesn’t invade soon they’ll have to start it off themselves. Am I the only one seeing this?

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Boylon

No, unfortunately you’re not the only idiot in the world, assuming your real name isn’t Chepiga or Mishkin.

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
2 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Boylon

Yes

T Doyle
T Doyle
2 years ago

Grim reading. Civilisations fall because of moral decline followed by military impotence. The West has been in decline since 1945. Germany has played a massive part in our decline.

trevor fitzgerald
trevor fitzgerald
2 years ago
Reply to  T Doyle

Well rearming Germany is a tough diplomatic request?

Matty D
Matty D
2 years ago

This article is pro Russian war mongering nonsense. There are too many inaccuracies to list them all, but I’ll start with a few: Europe is not part of an American empire. And Russia’s economy is smaller than Italy’s. And Putin is highly unpopular in Russia. Did this guy seriously get paid to write this?

Emre Emre
Emre Emre
2 years ago
Reply to  Matty D

Russia may have a relatively small economy but it’s not a hair dressing competition the article is discussing. Most will agree Russia has the world’s second most powerful military at the moment with China coming at third.

Last edited 2 years ago by Emre Emre
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Emre Emre

and NO one on the planet would want to fight Russian soldiers. The terror of facing them on the battle field would give them a vast advantage, no matter how they are armed.

Andrew Holmes
Andrew Holmes
2 years ago
Reply to  Matty D

American empire indeed. It is a strange position to hold, when the analysis starts with asserting the existence of the empire, continues with a discussion of how European states proceed on their independent paths, and returns to empire at the end. If Europe is a subordinate element of an American empire, it redefines the term.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Holmes
Rupert Steel
Rupert Steel
2 years ago
Reply to  Matty D

The point is that if Ukraine’s economy is aggregated with Russia’s GDP, despite being a backward petro-state, Russia’s GDP enjoys a secular shift upwards. Ukraine has a population of 44m but grows enough food for 150m. Russia already practices gas-diplomacy, Ukraine provides the means for diversification into food diplomacy. Translation: do as we say or you starve. Note too that Russia has just forced a change in the Belarus constitution, enabling Russian forces to be stationed there indefinitely. This is tantamount to subjugation. If Putin succeeds in these initiatives, Russia suddenly becomes the dominant power in Europe. Kiss goodbye to the Baltics, and Poland is on notice.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

Depressing reading, but inarguable as far as I can tell – which isn’t far given that I’m not a military strategist.

What I do say is that back in Britain, if this doesn’t act as a wake-up call to reverse the decades of decline in our military capabilities, what will?

David FĂŒlöp
David FĂŒlöp
2 years ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Nothing. I do not think people are interested in history and Britain’s place in history anymore. The average voter are focused on material gains – nice holidays, benefits, food, infrastructure. That is how they measure happiness and well being.
Britain certainly has the means to have a capable and large military but sacrifices would have to be made elsewhere which would not be palatable for the majority.
China and Russia know that in the West there are no votes in defence and that we have lost our appetite for war and they will act accordingly.

trevor fitzgerald
trevor fitzgerald
2 years ago

Ukraine is probably regretting the day they gave their nukes to Russia and that treaty isn’t worth the paper it’s written on in 1994 as is U.K. & US assurances?

And Germany is regretting they switched off their nuclear power to be completely beholden to Russian gas?

Geoffrey Wilson
Geoffrey Wilson
2 years ago

I knew I had read this before! However I see the point of re-issuing it. The penultimate paragraph foretelling a shock and awe assault within a few days has indeed come to pass, congratulations to the author are due, and I do congratulate him.
If the West want to minimise the suffering of Ukrainians (which sadly I doubt), they should be preparing the Ukraine establishment to concede a demilitarised Ukraine, and a process for recognising de facto Russian control over chunks of the country, in exchange for a peaceful “finlandisation” of their country. I point out that Finland is a very wealthy, stable, democracy so nothing really wrong with that.

Last edited 2 years ago by Geoffrey Wilson
Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago

Problem with your argument is that Russia doesn’t want successful, democratic country on its border in case Russian citizens get wrong ideas.
It wants disfunctional autocracy on lines similar to Bielorusia as a minimum.
As a maximum, it wants to incorporate Ukraine into Russia.
It is up to the West to extract such price as to make maximum option unpalatable.

Michael Burnett
Michael Burnett
2 years ago

A great thought provoking article – reminds me of reading about the ‘Great Game’.

Leslie Cook
Leslie Cook
2 years ago

Nice piece. Thanks.

Natasha Felicia
Natasha Felicia
2 years ago

Russia is militarizing their population. The huge Orthodox cathedral of the Armed Forces opened recently blending the state, the military and religion. Putin is building a youth movement who are preparing for and expecting war. Putin’s propaganda creates an internal impression that the West is antagonistic toward Russia and ready to attack its borders and civilization.
The actions in Ukraine may also be to help reinforce that narrative at home so the Russian people believe they need to be constantly ready to defend the nation. Focusing them on foreign threats and policy rather than domestic problems.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/22/world/europe/russia-soviet-youth-army.html?searchResultPosition=5

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

Very scary link – a paywall though – but just the picture is enough to get your point.

Natasha Felicia
Natasha Felicia
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas
Last edited 2 years ago by Natasha Felicia
Natasha Felicia
Natasha Felicia
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

My mistake, the Youth army has 718,000 members across all of Russia and its allies.
https://www.csis.org/blogs/post-soviet-post/next-generation-fighters-youth-military-patriotic-upbringing-bolsters-russian

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
2 years ago

There’s an old proverb that goes something like this:

A fool throws a precious stone into the sea and seven wise men can’t get it out.

Zorro Tomorrow
Zorro Tomorrow
2 years ago

White flag journalism. Putin has already won, the fragile virgin millennials of Ukraine in retreat from the testosterone ridden Russian bear? One jet can sink a ship, one missile fired by one soldier can brew up a tank. Snipers can keep the commanders in their bunkers and shoot the gunsights off the tank turrets. Mines seem to be forgotten as are cruise missiles and drones from the west. Meanwhile Russian assets are seized and frozen. Putin is only there because it suits the oligarchy.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Zorro Tomorrow

Yes the writer seems to think Ukrainians are just going to lie back and let Russia have her way. Every incursion by one country into a resistant country since WW2 where political domination is the intent has shown this to be a very risky venture – except for Hungary and Prague, when their people had no resources to fight the Russians.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

In Vietnam and Afghanistan, then corrupt wealthy ruling classes were prepared to betray the country and the soldiers knew it, so they did not fight. There have been many accusations of corruption levelled against the governmments of Ukraine . Also it highly likely that the FSB has assets in all parts of the Ukraine and it’s defence/intelligence services. My concern is if Britain gets involved, is that British personnel are captured because the Ukrainian ruling class capitulates without warning. Think of Belgium and Netherlands in 1940 and Afghanistan recently.

Steve Elliott
Steve Elliott
2 years ago

Mary Dejevsky has written some interesting articles about Putin on Spiked including this recent one –
https://www.spiked-online.com/2022/01/31/what-putin-really-wants/

Kiat Huang
Kiat Huang
2 years ago

NATO has no pact to defend Ukraine, as Britain had to defend Poland when Germany invaded it and it looks like Putin is well aware that Ukraine is on its own, despite the token sympathy from NATO countries.

My feeling is that the Russian soldiers must be chomping at the bit. They’ve been brought en masse, with full invasion kit, at speed right up to the borders of countries that “threaten” Russia’s sovereignty. They will be disappointed not to now be given the chance to do their job as fighting men. This is all climactic buildup is ominous.

I feel for the Ukrainian people. It must be a horrendously stressful and uncertain time.

The other ex-Soviet Bloc countries must get over the quaking in their own boots and plan a way your of this mess. Perhaps it would be far better to drop all thought of joining NATO and create their own alliance of Nations of ex-Soviet Bloc countries, like Visegrad, that is independent of Russia and NATO. A defensive buffer block that would appease both Russia and NATO. But such an alliance must be completely neutral and independent from either to have a chance, like Switzerland, to go about building their countries economically and in peace.

Last edited 2 years ago by Kiat Huang
Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  Kiat Huang

Well, it might be news to you but former Soviet Block countries are already in NATO.
And based on current developments their decision was very wise one.
Your comparison with Switzerland is illogical because Switzerland does have gangster state like Russia as neighbour.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 years ago

Surely we should use the massive power of our inclusive diverse non racist multicultural LGBTQ+ hate crime non priveliged zero emission green planet saving carbon neutraloids to strike fear into Putin?

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
2 years ago

Perhaps time to blow the dust of Halford John Mackinder’s 1904 theory:
“Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland;
who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island;
who rules the World-Island commands the world.”

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

No, domination of the oceans counts for more, which also now requires domination of the air.

Last edited 2 years ago by Colin Elliott
LCarey Rowland
LCarey Rowland
2 years ago

Now is the time for Macron to step into de Gaulle’s unfillable shoes.
C’est la guerre…peut-Ă©tre.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  LCarey Rowland

What, being a pain in the …….?

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago

Great article, thank you.

Rafi Stern
Rafi Stern
2 years ago

An ethnic map of the province in the late 19th century reveals a Pollock painting of peoples, two of whom — the Jews and the Germans — have been entirely expunged from the region within living memory.

Do I need to be a descendant of the murdered Jews of Europe to see something wrong with this statement?

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  Rafi Stern

I think you read too much into it.
I assume he means that while Jews were murdered in Holocaust, the German population of East Prussia was expelled after the war.
The same happened to Poles in Western Ukraine, albeit more gently (Poland is not here anymore, so leave, my grandfather was told by Russian official)

William Shaw
William Shaw
2 years ago

Russia has already invaded Ukraine.
Has been there for years.

Andrzej Wasniewski
Andrzej Wasniewski
2 years ago

Great analysis and maybe Putin wants war but no one is pushing for war, not clear what his victory could be, harder that the US media and Democratic party, and the elites. Biden presidency is in the gutter and those scumbags will not hesitate for a moment to send other people sons and daughters to die so they can expand their power. US soldiers were dying and killing for 19 years out of of 20 of American presence in Afghanistan just to make other people rich with government contracts.

David Harris
David Harris
2 years ago

a strong Europe capable of defending itself”
The EU might become ‘capable’ but Germany will never allow it to respond forcefully to Russian aggression.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
2 years ago

https://news.antiwar.com/2022/01/31/us-and-european-officials-unhappy-with-ukraines-zelensky/

Zelensky didn’t get the memo. Aris please tell your CIA handler to get this clown on point.

Jason Smith
Jason Smith
2 years ago

This hasn’t aged well.

John Urwin
John Urwin
2 years ago

Russia may do a Aris suggests, but anybody in the army will say it is one thing to take ground, another to hold it, as Russia and the US found in Afghanistan. Perhaps it will depend on how many of those in Ukraine value the taste of democracy they have experienced? Also the Russian army is one of conscripts, I believe…

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  John Urwin

What’s your point? The current issue is; will they invade or won’t they? Not ‘will they be able to hold it?’. Putin’s Russia isn’t impeded by either Russian or world public opinion. See what they were prepared to do to Grozny.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago

What are Putin’sd goals and how does he intend to achieve them? The Ukraine is just a stepping stone. Unless we can define Putin’s goals and methods we are unlikley to make the correct decision.The correct decisions are the ones Putin fears will thwart his ambitions.

Campbell P
Campbell P
2 years ago

Three author blind spots. First, you cannot invade with only 100,00 troops. Secondly, you are assuming far too much about the capability of both Russian troops, their equipment, and their Generals (Remember Chechnya?). And thirdly, Putin knows he only need rattle his sabre to panic the wet Western leaders, so no need for an all out invasion which could easily prove his Waterloo. Wonderful flowery, emotive prose though!

Chris Eaton
Chris Eaton
2 years ago

Very interesting article. Having said that, I don’t think Putin is going to invade for one simple reason: He doesn’t have to. He can get all he wants by continuing of his current path.

Chris Eaton
Chris Eaton
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Eaton

It seems I stand corrected.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Eaton

And proven that he ain’t the genius people claimed he is. His speeches actually have echoes of Hitler’s rants too.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Eaton

Sorry, your post was from 2 hrs ago?
Didn’t he start his invasion already?

Justin Clark
Justin Clark
2 years ago

Putin will cross Lithuanian territory to “protect” the “threatened” Russian people of Kaliningrad. No corridor exists but to do so means invading a NATO member country. https://i.insider.com/5321c9ffeab8eafd5f537928?width=800

R Wright
R Wright
2 years ago

A prescient and terrifying piece. This is why i subscribed.

Jonathan Weil
Jonathan Weil
2 years ago

Well this hasn’t aged well, has it?

Chauncey Gardiner
Chauncey Gardiner
2 years ago

Cut it out.
You don’t know anything about military capabilities or options on either side of the Don or the Dnipro. You don’t any more knowledge or understanding than I do — maybe less by virtue of the fact that I’ve spent appreciable time in Ukraine.
This is a lazy, throw-away piece, full of atmospherics and nothing else. “It’s not even wrong.”

Last edited 2 years ago by Chauncey Gardiner
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

Yes, the writer has turned out to be largely wrong about the western response. Quite embarrassing.

D Hockley
D Hockley
2 years ago

News just in : France has surrendered.

Martin Logan
Martin Logan
2 years ago

Sorry, again the Strong Man Romanticism.
A poorly educated and very isolated Russian leader has just unleashed an attack on a nation of 40 million. Regardless of the morals of the case, this is near suicidal for Russia. Any alternate regime Putin installs (either in Kyiv or elsewhere) will have no legitimacy, and its members will be in great fear of their lives. As Putin himself acknowledges, he doesn’t want to annex Ukraine. If even he wont stay, how could any Ukrainian leader dare to “play ball?”
Ukraine has over a million reservists. They have guns galore, and now are awash with tank killing missiles. They will get more, unless Putin tries to occupy all of Ukraine, something that will require far more than 200,000 troops to seal the border. Decapitating Zelensky’s regimes just means that Putin will have no one with which to negotiate an exit strategy.
Every effort Putin has made to get back Ukraine has failed over the last 8 years. Now, as approaches his end, he fears for his legacy. He is desperately trying to get back to Sochi in 2014, when he had the bright promise of a Eurasian Economic Union and a vibrant economy. So, as in Dostoevsky’s The Gambler, he will keep betting until it destroys him–and Russia.
It’s quite understandable why the Right worships strong men just now. Political and intellectual movements in their dotage do that quite frequently. But at least worship leaders who are genuinely strong, like Xi.
Don’t settle for simulcra like Trump or Putin.

Last edited 2 years ago by Martin Logan
Martin Logan
Martin Logan
2 years ago

Nonsense.
Zelensky has the best take on this. Putin will not risk his entire regime on Ukraine. He already sees he’s gained no benefits so far. He loses far more than he gains if he invades.
This is old-fashioned brinkmanship. No one can predict where it would go if there was a full-scale invasion. Putin knows this most of all.
Relax. There wont be a war. This is all designed to frighten the more neurasthenic among us.
Indeed, the “crisis” is already passed. Putin’s gambit failed. NO one has crumbled or given in. And now he has to come up with some other kind of “win” to present to his clueless followers.

John Montague
John Montague
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Logan

well – that was wrong then!

Jaden Johnson
Jaden Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  John Montague

It’s very funny isn’t it? So many assertive and (faux-)authoritative comments and commenters here look damn foolish now that events have proved them to be utterly wrong.

Paul K
Paul K
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Logan

This one didn’t age well.

Neven Curlin
Neven Curlin
2 years ago