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Vladimir Putin’s dangerous madness His creeping insanity has finally erupted

The king of chaos. (Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)


February 23, 2022   5 mins

“He’s lost his fucking mind.” It’s Monday night, and I’m speaking to my friend, the American-Ukrainian author Vladislav Davidzon. We have both just watched Vladimir Putin’s televised speech from the Kremlin, and he — like Putin — is no longer mincing words. He lives in Ukraine; he can no longer afford to.

Last week, I wrote that the idea of an all-out invasion of Ukraine and a march on Kyiv, touted so often by Joe Biden, made no sense. As it stood, the world hung on Putin’s every move: Russia had cemented its superpower status — and all this was achieved without the need to fire a single shot. Putin had won gold; he had leverage without cost. That would change with a full invasion — and what would be the point of that?

But I did caveat all this: “It may well be that after 20 years of acting like a Tsar, he has gone mad, like so many before him, and something crazy is coming.”

Judging by his speech on Monday, he may well have gone mad, and the crazy may well be coming. It was as if Putin was finally able to say what he’d been thinking for 20 years. What most concerned me, beyond the content, was the tone. It was a combination of self-pity with a sense of utter superiority; a toxic mix which always, always leads to violence. “You didn’t want us to be friends,” he told the West, “but you didn’t have to make an enemy of us.”

Three things became clear from his controlled and detailed rant. Firstly, that he is obsessed with the idea that the West is determined to “Keep Russia Down”; and secondly, that he does not even accept the idea of Ukraine. He claimed, falsely, that it had never really been an independent state; he also said it was “madness” that republics were allowed to leave the Russian Empire. Thirdly, and perhaps most disturbingly, it became clear that this is no longer just about Ukraine (if indeed it ever was). Every former Soviet state is, by implication, now in the firing line.

This was the performance of a man who has been the Tsar of Russia for two decades. A man surrounded only by flatterers and “yes men”, who now seems to use even his inner circle as little more than a rubber stamp for his delusions. But it was also the performance of a man who had weathered the pandemic locked away from other humans, with his head buried in dodgy Soviet books on Ukraine history.

The climax of the speech was, of course, the decision — accompanied by an official signing of the relevant documents, no less — to recognise the “separatist republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk, the two areas of the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine that Russia de facto carved out in 2014 when it sent troops across the border to aid a nominally spontaneous separatist uprising that emerged in response to the Maidan Revolution.

I was there on the ground as pro-Russian separatists aided by the Russian military seized municipal buildings and took control of key cities. There was very little that was spontaneous about it all, and it was clear even then that they were taking orders from Moscow. Soon the Russian hardware began to roll across the border. The Ukrainians duly rolled out an anti-terror operation in response, and the fighting began. A peace of sorts was eventually signed in Minsk and an uneasy stasis held for almost eight years.

But on Monday, Putin blew all that up. The regions will now be recognised as autonomous states. Ukraine has been officially sundered. Now Russia plans to send troops across the border for “peacekeeping” purposes, though Putin clarified yesterday that they would not necessarily go in “right now”.

The morning after the night before is fraught. I spent Monday night speaking to friends in Ukraine. “Tired,” said Viktoria when I asked her how she felt. “Just tired of this never-ending stress.” She continued: “I don’t want to think about the economic crisis that will follow, my possible death, my destroyed country
 But I don’t want to run away in panic because it’s my land. Few of the people I know here are frightened. We are irate — you can feel a sense of unity everywhere.”

My friend, Dmitri, is less sanguine. “I was sceptical about talk of an invasion,” he told me. “But after hearing about the annexation in Donbas, I started to panic. I read Putin’s tweets. He is a high functioning psychopath. Any scenario now is bad, isn’t it? We might be trapped.” And yet it’s not just my many Ukrainian friends I now fear for. I also fear for my Russian ones. Russia is going to become an even darker and more repressive place. And they will pay, as surely as Ukrainians will, for Putin’s creeping madness.

So, what next? Well, Putin has telegraphed his next move; now we must, too. Already the talk from the EU and Washington is of sanctions. Yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson came out and announced a new package: he has sanctioned five banks and three Russian oligarchs with ties to Putin. Germany, meanwhile, has said Nord Stream 2, the gas pipeline on which so much of Russia’s energy leverage over Europe relies, is to be put on hold. All of which sounds like it could be a game-changer, but don’t be fooled. I’ll believe it when I see it. I’d wager the Kremlin feels the same.

Of course, it’s a start — and amid the chaos we must remain calm. Right now, it’s important to remember that nothing has changed on the ground. Even in Donetsk, the centre of global attention, the influx of more soldiers does not actually alter the status quo. It may prove to be the launching point for something larger, but right now what was in Russian control remains so. Yes, it looks like that’s going to change — perhaps irretrievably. And like everyone who cares about geopolitics and, more immediately, who cares about Ukraine, I am angry. But for now, we must eschew hysteria.

For no matter how repulsed we are by his behaviour, if Putin wants a war we must do whatever we can not to give it to him. On Monday, I watched him look into the camera and say of the Ukrainians that he could “break their bones”, and I knew he meant it. He could and he would. That man would shell cities, would send a million to camps — and he would do it without hesitation and without pity.

We must not push him into it. Instead, we should do what we should have done years ago: we enable Putin’s kleptocracy and it’s time to stop being Russia’s butler. This means no more London laundromat, no more friendly banks, no more cosying up from Eton; no more nice lawyers and art galleries and big houses. Enough is enough. We were told that we left the EU for reasons of national sovereignty. Well, if that were really the case then there has never been a better time to take back control — from Russia.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy is that all this and more could have been achieved years ago. We could have stopped him in Georgia. We could have stopped him in Syria. We could have stopped him in Crimea. We could have stopped him in Eastern Ukraine. But we did nothing. And here we are.


David Patrikarakos is UnHerd‘s foreign correspondent. His latest book is War in 140 characters: how social media is reshaping conflict in the 21st century. (Hachette)

dpatrikarakos

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Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
2 years ago

But it was never about leverage or prestige. It was about geopolitics. The Ukraine has set itself on a determined course towards western alignment and Putin had decided this would be to Russia’s detriment and had to be stopped.

If Putin did not strike now then what would he have gained? Even if Ukraine had accepted Minsk 2, it would not have been difficult, in say in 10 years time or more, for a better armed, more prosperous Ukraine, to ignore the constitutional settlement and push western integration further, forcing a repeat of the current crisis but from a much stronger position.

Putin is not mad, he just recognises that the current constellation of events puts Russia in a position of strength it will not likely see again. Western economic and military weakness combined with an over dependence globally for Russian raw materials, means that Putin believes he can use military force to arrest what would have been the inexorable drift of the Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit, without having to face a concerted opposition.

I’m not commenting here on the morality of Putin’s actions, just that Russian military action has always been far more likely and from a cold strategic position, rational, than many commentators have been willing to accept.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

I agree. There is a “narrative” afoot that because one acknowledges that Putin is pursuing Russian national interest it follows that one supports him. I don’t. But I don’t wish to be dragged into a dispute that is of no real consequence to the UK. We have been down that road before and I am getting tired of it. We lost the lives of countless soldiers, bankrupted ourselves and turned the UK into the plaything of successive US Presidents by taking sides in disputes between unsavoury foreign powers, neither of which deserved to win.
Surely there is one thing that we can all agree on though: Putin is a better judge of his opponents than any Western leader currently in office.
PS: If it is in our interest to expel Russian oligarchs from the UK, why do we need a conflict in the Ukraine to justify it?

Bill W
Bill W
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

“If it is in our interest to expel Russian oligarchs from the UK, why do we need a conflict in the Ukraine to justify it?”: an excellent point and something which has bothered me for years, namely why we have allowed so many super rich enter our country in the first place.

Brooke Walford
Brooke Walford
2 years ago
Reply to  Bill W

I don’t live in the UK but I’m sure ‘allow’ is not the right word. Not withstanding any Magnitsky Acts UK government may have in place, ‘You’ like most countries is in the business of attracting capital and London has been particularly adept at enticing truck loads of cash via all sorts of amenable financial instruments and aristocratic titles for years.

Charles Lawton
Charles Lawton
2 years ago
Reply to  Bill W

There seems to be a symbiotic relationship between The Tory party and the oligarchs that want to live in the UK. The Golden visa scheme has brought investment in many forms some good and some not so good.

Richard Jay
Richard Jay
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Lawton

The Golden Visa scheme was introduced by a Labour government and mirrored similar schemes elsewhere including the EU.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Jay

And what’s more, there are numerous Russians elsewhere in Europe, and very welcome they are, too. Britain is of course a good place in which to shelter, for many reasons, and always has been.

Marcia McGrail
Marcia McGrail
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

Try telling that to Litvinenko et al

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Lawton

And Labour have their own love in going on with Russia too.

Dave Patterson
Dave Patterson
2 years ago
Reply to  Bill W

it’s capitalism – money rules

Jonathan Weil
Jonathan Weil
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Ukraine “deserves to win”.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Weil

The Ukraine is as corrupt as Russia. It is not worth the bones of a single British soldier.

Jonathan Weil
Jonathan Weil
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Ukraine, for all its faults, is a sovereign country. It does not deserve to be invaded and dismembered. Never mind your precious bones, which are irrelevant to the question. What does Ukraine deserve?

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Weil

Not to rely on me to fight its wars. You go if you wish – I daresay that the German Government will sell you a helmet.
The people of The Ukraine have my sympathy, but it makes no difference which gang of kleptocrats are in charge of their country.

Michael K
Michael K
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Being a Westerner myself, the last two years have made me wary of calling other countries corrupt.

Peter B
Peter B
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael K

Whatever … most of us are happy living in a “less corrupt” country where it possible to earn a living honestly and journalism isn’t a higher risk occupation than serving in the armed forces.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael K

Good point. Terry seems to think we’re paragons of virtue.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Criticise me for what I said rather than something you have made up

Last edited 2 years ago by Terry Needham
Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael K

The level of corruption in The West is trivial compared to that in the countries of the former soviet union. Listen to Peter Hitchens’ accounts of life in Moscow – THAT was corruption and it was the only way to survive. Let us have less of “the wicked west is no better than the rest”

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

“Now who’s being naive, Kay?”—Michael Corleone

Dave Patterson
Dave Patterson
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael K

2 years?!?!?!? – say 40 at least ….

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Weil

Life is not about deserving anything, good or bad. Many good people have died in death camps in the 20th century.
What we have is ruling class or influential upper middle class of politicians, civil servants, solicitors, barristers, academics, journalists, writers, financiers, teachers, etc who lack an adequate level of toughness, technical, skills including trade and understanding of foreign countries and their peoples.
Orwell was writing about the decline of the ability of The Ruling Class in the1930s. As Orwell said ” The battle of Waterloo may have been won on the playing fields of Eton but it was also started there “.
Basically, a combination, of greed, ignorance of other countries and their peoples and individual peoples weakness within The Ruling Class means we have ignored warning signs of conflicts; made things worse, got involved when we should have left alone and and become involved too late and with inadequate preparation.
The reality is that by the mid 1980s, those middle and upper class people those men who had gone to war and had been rank in their early 20s had all retired. By 1945 there SOE/SF / Commando/Intelligence officers who were majors at the age of 23 years. These people had seen the complexities where there were conflicts between groups in occupied countries. Much of the work of SOE /SF officers was getting groups who hated each other to fight against the enemy. Much of the skills of colonial civil/military and engineering officers was to get different groups to work together. Construction and fighting would often involve groups of different tribes, religions and cast having to put aside some of their differences in order to accomplish a task.
An example of where we are lacking information is clear understanding of the history and peoples of the Ukraine since 1917. There is talk of the extensive corruption by those ruling the Ukraine. Therefore it is vital that we know the inter action between those who ran the USSR and Ukraine prior to break up and between Ukraine and Russia post break up and possible people in The West who have received monies.
The lack of understanding of the Ukraine mirrors the lack of understanding of Yugoslavia post 1991; Afghanistan post 2001, Iraq post 2001 and Libya post 2001.

Kathleen Stern
Kathleen Stern
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Isn’t that supposed to be the business of the foreign office,our security services and our military?

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
2 years ago
Reply to  Kathleen Stern

Just before Afghanistan went down the toilet, I saw a video of a posh woman from Britain speaking about the values of Western culture. Her illustration of this was a painting of an actual toilet by Marcel Duchamp. Modern art, you see, throwing off the shackles of tradition and so forth. One look around the room told you the ladies in burkas not only were not impressed but were disgusted. This was the foreign office’s idea of showing our superior way of life. Nothing is too disgusting or depraved for us to brag about.

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 years ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ was not a painting of an actual toilet. It was an actual toilet. And a perfect metaphor for modern western culture. No wonder the ladies in burkas weren’t impressed!

Marcia McGrail
Marcia McGrail
2 years ago
Reply to  Kathleen Stern

[trigger warning for any competent young people] You mean the limp lettuces with as much competence in their respective fields as the children in the present government? Governance, security & defence might be their business but none of them appear to be very good at it.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago
Reply to  Kathleen Stern

There is a certain type of Briton whom enjoys travelling in remote areas, living and working with the peoples and developing an understanding of them. I think we are unique amongst Western Nations. These people worked in The Indian Civil Service, Sudanese and Colonial Civil Services, , were explorers, naval officers, mining and construction engineers, archaeologists, travellers who enjoyed adventure and excitement. These people included Richard Burton ICS, Doughty, Gertrude Bell, Freya stark, Dickson of Kuwait, Glubb Pasha, Wilfred Thessiger, Lawrence plus others who were Arabists: Bill Hudson SOE mining engineer, in Yugoslavia: Ralph Bagnold, Long Range Desert Group, P Leigh Fermour plus various merchant families connected with the Hanseatic League, Turkey, South America ( Vestey ). People such John Masters DSO, author, Gurkha and Chindit officer was the fifth generation of his family to serve in India. Raffles of Singapore. The White Rajahs of Sarawak. The merchant families had often lived in foreign countries for generations especially in the wine trade.
We do not have this expertise any more. The FCO comprises competent linguists stationed in embassies and conduct business between HMG and the government of the local country . It does not comprises ICS officers who speak at least four languages; who are responsible from running a province on the border with Afghanistan; where he has been stationed for twenty years and who may be the fifth generation of his family to live in India. These ICS officers knew the lineage of the tribal elders, spoke all the dialects and slight variations in how people looked and dressed. If one knows lineage then one has an understanding of tribal loyalty in conflicts.

The failure to understand has led to disaster in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq, we not only failed to know there was conflict between Sunni and Shia but between Shia and Shia. Al Sadr had Al Khoei killed which alienated him from Al Sistani who had been a taleb of Al Khoei’s father. It was followers of Al Sadr who obtained support from Iran and killed British soldiers. There was a connection between the Grand Ayatollah Al Sadr and G A Khomeini in the 1960s.
Richard Burton of the ICS could pass himself off as an Indian and many others of the ICS did so during ” The Great Game “.
The post 1960s left wing middle class atheistic public sector suburban arts graduate refuses to acknowledge that religion, history, language, military and naval traditions, race, trade, geography, technology, character , etc has any influence on politics and when they do, are completely flummoxed. One cannot hope to understand the Russian character unless one understands the influence of geography, religion and history.

Tony Loorparg
Tony Loorparg
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Long live the Empire loyalists ! ??

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Weil

Ukraine deserves what it is willing to fight and die for. Just like virtually every other nation state in history.

Dave Patterson
Dave Patterson
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Weil

smiley smiley – a sovereign country run by the US smiley smiley

Charles Lawton
Charles Lawton
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

I cannot disagree with that, but a large part of the corruption in Ukraine is down to Russian interests and connections with Russia’s elite. No way should the UK become directly involved with UK forces.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

It may be corrupt, but I have met Ukrainians who recognise this and yearn for change. I think they have, or had, more chance of succeeding than do the few remaining exceedingly brave Russians who think similarly.

Peter B
Peter B
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

Totally agree. Eastern Europe is still recovering from the corruption instilled by communism. Slowly. One country at a time if necessary.

Sam Brown
Sam Brown
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

We don’t; it should never have been allowed in the first place In the same way we should never have allowed foreign money to buy key industries and vast swathes of freehold property.

Michael Gibson
Michael Gibson
2 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

Let’s just hope that ‘the current constellation of events’ doesn’t provide the perfect opportunity for China to move on Taiwan…

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael Gibson

They’re fools if they don’t. This is the chance of a lifetime. A senile president in Washington, a beseiged prime minister in Britain, a strutting narcissist running the show in Paris, committee meetings and paperwork flooding forth in Brussels, none of the latter amounting to anything as usual.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael Gibson

The Chinese will be much stronger in a few decades.

Charles Lawton
Charles Lawton
2 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

One of the issues here is that Russia has meddled on Ukraine’s politics virtually constantly since the demise of the USSR. I totally agree that it was now or never for Putin. Whilst I don’t think he is mad (yet) his almost absolute power as President seems to be leading to him ranting more, rather than smoothly governing as he has in the past.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Lawton

“Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Martin Logan
Martin Logan
2 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

Except one’s strategy has to conform to reality.
The USSR could–just barely–dominate eastern Europe for 40 years.
There is no way in hell that a nation of 140 million can dominate a nation of 40 million.
It is total fantasy. Naryshkin, in charge of foreign intel, knows it, as do probably most of the siloviki whose brains have not been pickled by vodka.
Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan were far more “doable” than Putin’s looming fiasco.

Last edited 2 years ago by Martin Logan
Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Logan

I think there are key differences here with the analogies been made between Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Ukraine.

I doubt Russia is interested in nation building or full scale occupation. I suspect it’s interested in seizing a few key strategic areas of Ukraine, particularly where it has enough local support to blunt any insurgency but for the most part it will be happy to defeat the Ukrainian army and damage the infrastructure of the western Ukraine sufficiently to force them to the negotiating table.

However, much can go wrong in armed combat and the resolve of Ukraine forces remains a great unknown. Perhaps the Russian military offensives and occupations will fail but I have less faith in that than you do.

A Western Ukrainian rump state, economically and militarily emasculated, rather than the full occupation and integration of Ukraine into Russia is, I believe, a more likely out come.

Martin Logan
Martin Logan
2 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

Any Ukrainian govt that remains will be an existential threat to whatever part of Ukraine Putin controls, particularly if the Ukrainian govt is based in the West.
Plus, it will have the full support of the rest of Europe. You can’t steal, and expect the coppers to let you keep the swag.
Again, there is no scenario where Moscow benefits long term.
But then, Putin doesn’t think long term.

Joe Donovan
Joe Donovan
2 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

Agree!

Dave Patterson
Dave Patterson
2 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell
  • nice to see so many people agreeing with this utterly rational comment – the article itself is just more western (aka US) hysteria, right off the deep end, kind of sad to see Unherd publishing such arrant rubbish
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

Nah he’s screwed up by invading. Should have stopped with the bluff.
Some genius.

Philip Stott
Philip Stott
2 years ago

It pains me to say it, but at least Putin has a long term, thought through plan.
We in the west, with plans that are based upon 4 or 5 year electoral cycles have shown ourselves wholey inadequate to the menace of Russia and China.
We’re tearing ourselves apart over pronouns, when we should have been securing ourselves with the raw materials for the coming onslaught.

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
2 years ago
Reply to  Philip Stott

Much more complicated. The world started to change in 2008, when the credit crisis bankrupted the American banking system. It’s been gradually shifting ever since. Biden is too old, we know that, but there’s something else happening which is more fundamental. The US does not run the world any more.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

It doesn’t want to, really.

Aidan Trimble
Aidan Trimble
2 years ago
Reply to  Philip Stott

He is only capable of a long term plan because he’s successfully engineered the political system to ensure he’s in a job for life.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
2 years ago
Reply to  Aidan Trimble

Democracies can long term plans as well but they need a much better consensus than is there now.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago
Reply to  Philip Stott

Be careful of what you wish for.
ï»ż“Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Philip Stott

If you think Putin has a long-term, thought-through plan, perhaps you’ll tell us what his retirement plan is. Is it like Stalin’s?

J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

This article is unconvincing. It’s a semi-hysterical rant against a supposedly mad Putin; one long ad hominem attack in place of reasoned analysis.
I don’t know what Putin is up to. Maybe the author, despite his hysteria, is right that Putin has lost touch with reality. But here’s my 2 cents for what it’s worth.
Putin scored a limited victory against the west just by rolling his armor up to the Ukrainian border. It was headless chicken time in DC, London, Bonn and elsewhere. But he couldn’t be seen to back down and that’s how it would have looked if he’d just ordered the armor and troops back home, especially since Biden deliberately talked up the possibility of invasion.
So now Putin has made an “incursion” into Ukrainian territory. He hasn’t backed down but he hasn’t quite invaded. I have no idea what he’ll do next although the US has already announced a sanctions package while saying, in very plain English, they will not fight Russia militarily.
I would love to read an article on the reality and politics of sanctions. Why aren’t the Russians more afraid of these financial sanctions? How far will the West go sanctioning Russia? What are the limits of sanctions? Will the Chinese help Russia avoid financial sanctions? Those seem to be the key questions in all of this. Putin now knows (if he didn’t know before) the west will not fight on behalf of Ukraine, so all that’s left is to figure out how many sanctions they can survive.

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

“I would love to read an article on the reality and politics of sanctions.”

It’s behind a paywall unfortunately but Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has written a couple of good articles in The Telegraph and it makes for grim reading. Russia has a low debt to GDP ratio, large foreign currency reserves, controls significant proportions of several vital and in the short to medium term, irreplaceable raw materials needed by the global economy and looks to have China’s support in circumventing the worse of any sanctions. On his assessment, Russia can ride then out.

Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

During the 2016-2021 period when terrible EU sanctions on Britain – cliff-edges! – were breathlessly debated by journalists, my view was always:

1. Any restrictions on imports or exports from the EU would lead to increased domestic production and deeper integration with other foreign markets
2. The EU would not follow through on threats that were against their own interests.

In other words, they did not have any effect on my decision making. The same seemed to be true for most other Leavers.

I suspect Russia feels the same.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt M
Charles Lawton
Charles Lawton
2 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

Similar article in FT, noting Russia has been building reserves since 2014. However to lose the use of the personal money that was hidden in the West by former KGB officers since the mid 1990s would be a significant loss. I think we are in for an uncomfortable time with a sort of mini Cold War taking place over the long term control of Ukraine. It is likely to drag on for some time.
The big problem is still the dependence of Europe on Russian gas and oil. A long term hike in energy costs is going to hurt the West.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

To add. Many of the investments in Russia involve western companies who lose when the sanctions hit.

Taiwan next.

Justin Clark
Justin Clark
2 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

Russia has prepared itself to ride this out. They also know they can be disconnected from the internet and still function.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

“Sanctions” is another word for “we don’t have the spine to fight you, so please stop being aggressive, go home and sign up for anti-aggression counseling.”

Mark Turner
Mark Turner
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Unfortunately, the vested interests will no doubt mean that instead of in depth and punitive sanctions response, we will get some kind of half hearted effort that will serve as a minor annoyance at best. 100% agree we should stay the hell out militarily, but we can and should put our sanctions money where our mouth is……..

Antony Hirst
Antony Hirst
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The sanctions are intended to make the dumbass public think we are doing something, when in fact the intention is not to deter Putin from war.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The Russian ambassador to Sweden said Putin “doesn’t give a sh*t about sanctions.”

Martin Layfield
Martin Layfield
2 years ago

There’s a pattern to journalistic articles that make out Putin to be mad or unhinged whereby at the end of the article you’re left with the impression the author is unhinged and mad themselves.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 years ago

My thoughts exactly. This piece is so emotional I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a large empty bottle next to the author’s keyboard.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

I am surprised at this article. I have always said to keep out of it. That making East Europe NATO, and then adding in more and more, and then ex-Soviet Republics, it is not good. It is against real-politic, which I felt is a ti-lateral power structure, Russia, China, the West. But Biden and the EU idiots had to get into it, although it was a losers game.

I have felt is like how one best not get into some other family’s domestic dispute, as it were.

Just now in the Daily Mail is an article by one of the men I most respect in the world on this:

“Why I blame the arrogant, foolish West: Our response to this crisis in Ukraine has been to react with mistrust and abuse, and with blatant attempts to worsen the situation, writes PETER HITCHENS”
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-10540829/PETER-HITCHENS-blame-arrogant-foolish-West-Ukraine-crisis.html

AND another thing – the freezing the banks thing.

The neo-commie-fasc* st Trudeau just froze the Truckers Bank accounts – and casual supporters of them. THIS IS BIG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

See, Canada already has in scary Bank situation – (“see George Gammon and Emil Kalinowski (And The Banking Crisis Nobody Is Talking About Emil Kalinowski joins George Gammon on the Rebel Capitalist Show to discuss the banking crisis that nobody is talking about. – they talk about lots of banking – and Canada is in there too”)

NOW the insane Trudeau has frozen accounts – this MUST cause people to distrust banks as an Institution. This is destabilizing the finance world badly – and watch how Crypto behaves, and I suspect Gold, as Banking is now becoming a part of Government, where they punish those they do not like, and reward those they do like by overt control of Banking accounts and Finance Market control. (and you are not one of the ones they like)

Biden and EU reaching for the banks to fight their contrived war? How much will that help things as the entire Global system is groaning under the insane Covid $ Trillions and $Trillions of debt the Central banks created, supposedly for ‘Health’, but obviously nothing to do with health….

This is Biden part VI – cannot control his Border. Messing up every foreign Policy, Dividing America, and destroying the global economy, keeping interest zero wile causing double digit inflation, by crazy Monetary and Fiscal policies. And now string up a wasp nest best to have left alone, although only time will tell the ending…

Last edited 2 years ago by Galeti Tavas
Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
2 years ago

“Firstly, that he is obsessed with the idea that the West is determined to ‘Keep Russia Down'”
Do you have any idea how many articles I have read saying not only should we do that very thing, but we have a moral imperative to do so, over the last few months!? Many of those articles in places like National Review and the Atlantic treat Ukraine itself as almost an afterthought.

Lloyd Byler
Lloyd Byler
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

The National Review and the Atlantic are legitimate print of thought?

I thought they were keister wipe.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lloyd Byler
Michael K
Michael K
2 years ago
Reply to  Lloyd Byler

But they are; don’t be detracted from your wiping.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael K

The important thing to remember about those two publications is why they exist. Their job is to set the positions party voters should believe according to their establishment, Republicans in the case of National Review and Democrats in the case of The Atlantic (New Yorker works as well). Informing their readers is not their priority. Messaging about the party platform is. They tell you what talking points you should repeat. You will occasionally get a good article in such publications and they still have two or three good writers, but there is a reason they are in decline.

Wally Winthrop
Wally Winthrop
2 years ago

You would have to be illiterate to call this “analysis.”

Lloyd Byler
Lloyd Byler
2 years ago
Reply to  Wally Winthrop

Exactly.

The author should have clarified the definition of ‘laundromats’, to wit:

quote: “This means no more London laundromat, no more friendly banks, no more cosying up from Eton; no more nice lawyers and art galleries and big houses. Enough is enough.” (end quote).

Here is a question: Is it possible that Putin is going after Biden’s laundromats in Ukraine?
I mean there is a bit of money involved in it, a nice source of extra income if you can get.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
2 years ago
Reply to  Lloyd Byler

I think that’s a well known usage? Money laundering?

Wally Winthrop
Wally Winthrop
2 years ago
Reply to  Wally Winthrop

Not sure how an article that starts off with “I don’t understand the reasons for Putin’s actions and therefore he is crazy” ever made it here. Its childish and I wish UnHerd would do better. Also, very much over with all these stock photos of Putin looking like evil incarnate.

Dave Patterson
Dave Patterson
2 years ago
Reply to  Wally Winthrop

couldn’t agree more, this is such rubbish it makes Unherd look bad …

stephen archer
stephen archer
2 years ago
Reply to  Wally Winthrop

Well, there’s nothing wrong with the stock photos, that’s what he is. In what way do you wish Unherd would do it better?

Alex Colchester
Alex Colchester
2 years ago

To call someone mad is to admit your analysis is bad.

Peter B
Peter B
2 years ago

What is this nonsense ? It’s a personal opinion and arguable. It would appear you however are covertly trying to censor free speech by posting this logically incorrect statement.

Tony Loorparg
Tony Loorparg
2 years ago

Mad is a synonym for “mental dis-function” would you prefer that ?

Michael K
Michael K
2 years ago

If you have really listened to his speech, you should realize that Putin is by no means a madman. I know it’s confusing, because in contrast to Western politicians, Putin in his speeches often uses multiple (!) arguments, which are often multi-dimensional (!), and he is at times even critical of himself and his people. Worst of all, his arguments are usually based on facts, rather than emotions. Nobody in the West could understand an attitude like that – so they just call the man “mad”.

Lloyd Byler
Lloyd Byler
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael K

Exactly.

Sanja Sulić
Sanja Sulić
2 years ago

“ Perhaps the greatest tragedy is that all this and more could have been achieved years ago. We could have stopped him in Georgia. We could have stopped him in Syria. We could have stopped him in Crimea. We could have stopped him in Eastern Ukraine. But we did nothing. And here we are.”

Who and where is “We”?

Lloyd Byler
Lloyd Byler
2 years ago
Reply to  Sanja Sulić

The “we”, is the ‘us’ who do nothing about Biden’s laundromats in Ukraine…perhaps Putin is gunning to acquire Biden et al’s laundromat money maker in Ukraine?

Last edited 2 years ago by Lloyd Byler
John Tyler
John Tyler
2 years ago
Reply to  Sanja Sulić

The “we” is very clearly the Western democracies. The author is absolutely correct on this, whatever flaws may appear elsewhere in article.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago
Reply to  Sanja Sulić

And it’s certainly ironic that the American Democrats were apoplectic that a Trump presidency would be the cause of WWIII. The moment Biden was “elected”, the tanks started to roll towards Ukraine.

Juffin Hully
Juffin Hully
2 years ago

Putin is definitely not mad, his actions are completely logical. If after all his posturing he had just withdrawn the troops, he would be seen as week by Russian and international elites. He cannot afford that.
What is rather less logical is all the posturing by Western elites, without having any leverage on Putin, neither economical (sanctions won’t bite), nor military (nobody wants to go to war with Russia).

Gordon Welford
Gordon Welford
2 years ago
Reply to  Juffin Hully

I am astonished at the lack of humanity here on this site.Wars kill people.Are you happy to see Putin kill lots of Ukranians who voted by a large margin to have their own country.Putin is a megalomaniac of the likes of Hitler.Someone has to stop him.Are you all selfish cowards?

Juffin Hully
Juffin Hully
2 years ago
Reply to  Gordon Welford

Of course I am not happy that Putin has started a war that has claimed thousands of lives. It should be noted, however, that that war was started back in 2014, and the recent events have not (yet) affected any change on the ground, compared to 6-7 years ago.
Also, comparing Putin with Hitler will not get you very far. Outrage and posturing from the West just persuade Putin’s supporters (or those undecided) that West does not have much to offer against them. Since I don’t count myself as one, this whole situation makes me a bit sad.

Peter B
Peter B
2 years ago
Reply to  Juffin Hully

Putin’s manipulation of ethnic minorities is almost a carbon copy of Germany’s behaviour in the late 1930s. Tell me exactly how is it different this time ?
I am not saying that the newly independent states hqave always behaved perfectly here (either Ukraine and the Baltic states today or the Czechs and Poles in the late 1930s). I simply don’t know enough to attempt to judge that. I do however know that the world is a far better place with independent Baltic states than a new Russian empire.
We should know from Brexit that persuading Putin’s supporters to change their minds simply doesn’t work now – we’re in a state now where everything that happens just reinforces the existing positions and the middle ground disappears. Sadly a partition of Ukraine might now be the best way out, leaving a stable “West Ukraine” state (probably in NATO and the EU eventually). I would prefer the West had left Ukraine as a buffer state and not got involved. But we’re well past that point now.

Lloyd Byler
Lloyd Byler
2 years ago
Reply to  Gordon Welford

I am astonished at the ignorance here, is no one aware that the West and their mercenaries are the enablers of the corruption in Ukraine which leads to the bullheaded move to include Ukraine into NATO?

Peter B
Peter B
2 years ago
Reply to  Lloyd Byler

I think you will find that the corruption is Ukraine is probably about 25% cultural (stuff that’s always been that way – read some old Russian novels) and 75% the direct legacy of communism when it was no longer possible to make an honest living and corruption become endemic. You cannot purge that in a few years.

Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter B

You are so right about that. Speaking as an American, the idea that our current leadership seems so hell-bent on representing this incursion diversion as a matter of “saving democracy” can only provoke a wry smile. Nefarious Rooskies under every bed have been useful for confrontational purposes, but it’s wearing thin. The man in the street sympathizes with nationalism and patriotism, deplores the violation of borders etc. but also wonders how much of a dog we have in this fight. NATO has lost credibility with its mission creep, and the bang per buck for the USA is questionable. NATO needs to encourage strong neutral buffers, it shouldn’t metastasize provocatively as it recently has. Artificially created “nations” such as Iraq, Israel/Palestine, the Ukraine and others, are going to be vexatious. Self-determination in devolution could be beneficial to those around them.

Frank Freeman
Frank Freeman
2 years ago
Reply to  Gordon Welford

Are you happy to see Ukrainian ultra nationalists kill civilians in the Donbass? The Russian people are not, and that is why Russia has taken step to to stop this threat. These killing could be stopped if Ukraine agreed to letting the Donbass have a referendum.

Martin Logan
Martin Logan
2 years ago
Reply to  Frank Freeman

Only Kremlin stooges use the term “ultra-nationalists.”
I believe most call it “the Ukrainian Army.”

George Kushner
George Kushner
2 years ago

The article is a pretty standard highly partisan view but I’m pleasantly surprised by the comments, turns out people see through the Bidens games ( what business do US have in Ukraine anyway besides keeping Russia down ?)
That is not to say anything positive about Vlad. He hugely contributed to the crisis starting 2014.

Phil Rees
Phil Rees
2 years ago

It is disturbing when a commentator is so unable to see an opposite viewpoint that he attributes literal insanity. There are many other interpretations of Putin’s behaviour that at least make logical sense even if one rejects his thinking. Unherd doesn’t help by accompanying his article by a possibly photoshopped photo of presumed insanity.
This is decidedly not UnHerd at its best.

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
2 years ago

Putin is not mad. Putin is not mad. We’re looking at a new world. Wake up, everyone. The US doesn’t run the world any more.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

Repetitive and boring
Please tell us something new.For example’Who does run the World’?

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
2 years ago

We Iive in a multilateral world. Is that repetitive and boring ? Sorry, but it’s true. In 2022 Russia can march into Ukraine. 10 years ago that would have been unthinkable, The balance of power has shifted. I would have thought I was simply stating the obvious.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

Well Russia did ‘march into the Crimea’ seven years ago and that wasn’t unthinkable?

I think you are underestimating the strength of the US, although it is certainly not without blame.

For example its Foreign Policy is currently dominated by vociferous Lobby groups, the two most notorious being ‘ Kosher Nostra* and Wingeing Paddies otherwise known as NORAID. **

Both have far too much influence, to the general detriment of the reputation of the USA. However “God is still on the side of the big Battalions”***. I think you will find.

(* The Israeli one.)
(**The Irish/IRA one.)
(*** Voltaire.)

Martin Logan
Martin Logan
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

Very romantic notion of dictators.
But the problem for Putin is simply this:
The Alliance always wins in the end.
It beat Phillip II, Louis XIV. Napoleon, the Kaiser, Hitler, the Soviets.
And it will beat Putin.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Logan

Did it really beat Louis XIV. Despite ‘our’ best efforts he won his final war, the War of the Spanish Succession,* and placed a Bourbon on the Spanish throne. I would call that a victory wouldn’t you?

(* Despite: Blenheim, Ramilles, Oudenarde & Malplaquet.)

Peter B
Peter B
2 years ago

Yes. The French ultimately lost to what you might call the Anglosphere. Two or three centuries later they still cannot accept it. Still dreaming they’ll get it all back through the EU and their disastrous meddling in Africa (Mali, Chad, …).
The French “central planning” model lost to the greater economic efficiency of the English commercial/capitalist model.
And Putin has the same problem. He cannot accept that Russia is a declining power. The population is shrinking fast. Dreadful health and life expectancy. Basket case economy if you take out oil and natural resources – produces nothing else anyone wants to buy.
Putin is – as I’ve said elswhere “yesterday’s man with yesterday’s plan”.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter B

Yes the Anglosphere did win overall but in the specific case mentioned by Martin Logan it didn’t. (Louis XIV).

As to Putin you have put it perfectly, but as always an ‘animal’ can be at its most dangerous in its death throes.

Peter B
Peter B
2 years ago

Glad we agree ! But I think on balance Louis XIV left France weaker than it started. The Dutch certainly taught him a few lessons. And he set France on an ultimately losing direction.
Yes, Russia is a country where you cannot safely retire from politics and die in your bed.
For anyone in any doubt about the man I suggest reading “Putin’s People” by Catherine Belton.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter B

The French were responsible for one of the greatest defeats in British history, the loss of the American Colonies. Without them it would not have happened.

However thanks to the Industrial Revolution and the Royal Navy we’re got there in the end, for which the whole world should be grateful.

Yes the Dutch did well in the 17th century but faded rapidly in the 18th, ending very badly with French Revolutionary conquest.

Martin Logan
Martin Logan
2 years ago

Dominating Spain isn’t dominating Europe.
The latter, I believe, was his preferred goal.

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Logan

Breaking the Habsburg ring was a major achievement, and dominating Europe culturally if not militarily, wasn’t a bad effort.

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Logan

I repeat: the US does not run the world any more.

Dave Patterson
Dave Patterson
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Logan

you just wait we have friends coming from long long ago and far far away they’ll be here any day and then haha all your bases are belong to us!!

Dave Patterson
Dave Patterson
2 years ago

generally speaking, the international banking cartel, but don’t tell anyone it’s a secret.

Peter B
Peter B
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

It is entirely possible that Putin is becoming mad. He’s certainly surrounded by yes men all telling him how brilliant he is.
It’s starting to look like he’s been endplayed (to use a chess analogy) by the US who’ve convincingly played dumb for the past decade or so and got him to march his troops to the top of the hill from where he has to invade Ukraine and own the disaster that follows.
A lot of people are too early in believing the US is no longer the world’s dominant power … it’s the usual Western media fantasy of reporting the news as you want it to be rather than as it really is – only this time amongst the comments here.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

Russia is a gas station posing as a country. The more “green” the EU and US get, the more money Putin has to make trouble from higher oil and natural gas prices. We are doing this to ourselves in the name of saving the planet from a phantom menace. The sooner everyone decides to live with whatever small global warming results from fracking oil and natural gas, the better off we will be with regard to Putin, whether he’s mad or not.

Last edited 2 years ago by Douglas Proudfoot
Iris C
Iris C
2 years ago

I do not agree with the focus of this article, and it cannot help Ukraine to rave in this way.
To my mind, the Ukrainian President and government would do well to look at the countries in which NATO has involved itself in the last 60 years from Vietnam, through Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, killing their citizens, destroying their infrastructure and leaving without achieving their long-term aim.
Does the Ukrainian hierarchy really want the same things to happen to their citizens and country?
They would be wise to face reality and negotiate a mutually beneficial settlement with their next-door neighbour..
..

Lloyd Byler
Lloyd Byler
2 years ago
Reply to  Iris C

Exactly.
It is okay to whitewash the West’s invasion of countries and leave them ravished and wanting, but it is not okay when Putin insists on drawing pre-communism borders.

Such rank hypocrisy/journalism is no longer interesting.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago
Reply to  Lloyd Byler

I’m not aware of any nation that has been invaded and taken over by “The West’ in the last century? (And please don’t offer Afghanistan, as the West never changed the name of that goat pasture nor the language, currency or political system.)

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  Lloyd Byler

Well, well…
Pre communist borders?
So you think that Russia should rule Finland, Baltic States and Poland, then?
Probably, like many of this forum, you think that NATO should be disbanded because Russia is such a peaceful country?

David NebeskĂœ
David NebeskĂœ
2 years ago
Reply to  Iris C

You’re incredibly naive. Russia has always violated all its commitments and treaties.
BTW: your second paragraph is pure nonsense.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  Iris C

Ridiculous. NATO had nothing to do with Vietnam and Iraq, while Russia is rather more involved in Syria. A more apt comparison is with Poland Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and East Germany.
I’m sure Ukraine would love a mutually beneficial settlement with Russia, while unfortunately for the arguments of people like you, Putin has made very clear what he wants.

Peter B
Peter B
2 years ago
Reply to  Iris C

Hold on a moment … so all the other former Warsaw Pact countries who joined NATO and the EU *because they wanted to and wanted security against Russia* – you’re implying they’ve all been wrecked by the West too ? Really ?
If you’re in Lviv or Kiev, you’ll be looking at neighbouring countries like Poland and seeing how well they’ve done and want some of that yourself. Those are the countries you would compare youself to.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 years ago
Reply to  Iris C

NATO has not been involved in any of these countries. Do a little reading and a lot less ranting

james ub
james ub
2 years ago

Talk of evil or mad Putin is meaningless, and leads to misunderstanding motives.
Most of the world is guided by cultural affinity and the quest for land and resources, and probably always will. It’s a primal force. The rule of law as a guiding, foremost principle is an oddity of our way of life in the West. Live with it. Then act in a sane fashion … to retain what we have, and to try to ensure some semblance of order elsewhere.

J.P Malaszek
J.P Malaszek
2 years ago

Just a couple of points.
1. There seems an uncanny similarity between some of the anti Nato rhetoric from the likes of Peter Hitchins and the sort of stuff I remember leftists saying here (in the UK) in the ’80’s.
To the effect the Nato is the aggressor and if only they would stop threatening the Soviet Union it would disarm voluntarily.
2. What’s missing is commentary from people actually living with the existential fear felt in the ‘post colonial space’ that is eastern Europe. Great power analysis is all well and good but there are other perspectives viewed and experienced away from our cosy little island. They are are not being heard.

Dominic A
Dominic A
2 years ago

Spending more than a decade in high office tends to result in megalomania, particularly in the absence of robust checks and balances.

alex CK
alex CK
2 years ago

Putin respects power. What does one expect, when he’s faced with a fat, stupid west, utterly bread and circus, more worried about woke politics and attacking anti-mandate citizens?
After Biden’s (and Blinken’s) disastrous exit from Afghanistan, it’s clear that international legitimacy and soft power the US had is seriously in jeopardy. So the threat will be sanctions – or worse, a weak-chinned Trudeau declaring that Putin must be a misogynist to do these terrible things. Terrifying indeed.
In the end, the west won’t do anything. We need the oil.

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
2 years ago
Reply to  alex CK

correct

David NebeskĂœ
David NebeskĂœ
2 years ago
Reply to  alex CK

The West has sent a lot of arms to Ukraine already. And West is providing military intelligence, hopefully in real time. Ukraine is able (with more help from the Wests) to defend itself.
I am sure Russian commanders know that the invasion would be extremely risky with uncertain outcome. The question is if Putin knows that too.

Tony Price
Tony Price
2 years ago
Reply to  alex CK

I think that it would be more correct to say that the exit from Afghanistan was Trump’s doing. Not that it particularly matters as the Western exit was inevitable, as was the manner of it happening. I suggest that a study of the Afghan war of 1839-42 would help – the 1980 (or 1976, or 2002 or whenever) to 2021 war progressed and ended in exactly the same way (there is a magnificent book by William Dalrymple on the subject).

Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
2 years ago
Reply to  alex CK

Biden’s decision to dismantle the USA’s energy independence was like an open door to a burglar. Sadly, in this past year, one can say of the US, as David Niven did of Errol Flynn: “It’s not true that you couldn’t count on him…You could absolutely count on him to let you down.”

Bruce Kerr
Bruce Kerr
2 years ago

Imagine Scotland eventually achieves independence and signs a military pact with the Russian Federation. How would we react? I can understand Putin’s anxiety about NATO on his borders, especially as we oppose everything he stands for and does (with considerable justification).
What we should be doing is pushing an agenda that guarantees Ukraine’s neutrality. We could also trade off Russian withdrawal from the Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk against NATO membership of the Baltic states, creating a buffer zone between the Russian Federation and NATO. What’s the point in winding up your aggressive neighbour by parking tanks on their border?
Finally, we need to play Putin at his own game. Why not recognise Yakutia as an independent sovereign nation (it sought this in 1991)? A gesture maybe but it sends a message to Putin that if he interferes in the sovereignty of other nations then he’s putting the coherence of the Russian Federation at risk.

Frank Freeman
Frank Freeman
2 years ago
Reply to  Bruce Kerr

The people of Crimea, Donetsk Luhansk do not wish to be part of Ukraine, their wishes should be considered.

Bruce Kerr
Bruce Kerr
2 years ago
Reply to  Frank Freeman

How do you know? the 2014 referendum in the Crimea is not internationally recognised – a 97% vote to integrate into the Russian Federation after the Crimea was annexed is not credible. There’s a majority Russian population in the Crimea but in Donetsk and Luhansk there’s a majority Ukrainian population. There’s some evidence that in the Crimea at least they would be satisfied with a regional government which is part of the Ukrainian governance structure.

Martin Logan
Martin Logan
2 years ago
Reply to  Frank Freeman

There never was an internationally monitored and sanctioned vote in either place.
Just Russian sham elections–over in two weeks.
You can do better than that!

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  Bruce Kerr

So you would want to throw out Baltic states from NATO.
I say throw out, because they wouldn’t leave voluntarily.
Do you believe they would be safer then from Russian aggression?

Martin Logan
Martin Logan
2 years ago

Professor Khrushcheva (who knows a little bit about that part of the world) says that Putin is no strategist. He simply does something and hopes, like a Sambo wrestler, that his lightning intuition will win him the match.
This is a badly educated guy from a St P slum. His only contacts for most of his life have been with other siloviki, who have almost zero real knowledge of the West–people who cover up their ignorance by assuring one another that Russia is much “tougher” than those “soft Westerners.”
Putin was grinning two months ago, certain that the Germans (and most other Europeans) would fold under his “master stroke.” They didn’t and won’t.
Now he’s terrified that anything less than his promised invasion (or non-existent Western capitulation) will make him look weak. Putin has no more idea how he can get out of this than a toad in a safety deposit box.
So we will have to somehow clean up his mess, talk him off the ledge, and make it seem like he is not the total fool he really is.
And that may be more difficult that fighting WW3.

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

You didn’t want us to be friends,” he told the West, “but you didn’t have to make an enemy of us.”

The West could have chosen to treat Russia as an equal, and (as it did with the far more evil Nazi and Japan regimes in 1945) played an active role in their resurgence…..
but they didn’t want to be friends.

They could have laid off meddling in Ukraine, not tried to roll NATO eastwards, not tried to engineer a pro West regime (which would be like a communist government in MĂ©xico)……
but they had to be an enemy of Russia.

Martin Logan
Martin Logan
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

And now we have to first isolate and then destroy Russia.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Logan

Which precise is why they want their buffer states.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Your argument is nonsense.
Japan became democracy and part of Western alliance.
Russia was totalitarian communist state which enslaved Eastern Europe and kept invading them to stop them leaving Russian paradise (Berlin 1953, Hungary 1956, Czechoslovakia 1968, Poland 1981 via Marshal Law).
You want to befriend gangster?
Go ahead and enjoy consequences.
Others would rather have different friends.

hugh bennett
hugh bennett
2 years ago

“You didn’t want us to be friends,” he told the West, “but you didn’t have to make an enemy of us.”………
“Because of the self-confidence with which he had spoken, no one could tell whether what he said was very clever or very stupid.”
― Leo Tolstoy,

Ian Cooper
Ian Cooper
2 years ago

OK Putin is reprehensible. But after the collapse of the USSR wasn’t NATO’s anti-communist role finished? And would it have not been better to cultivate good relations with Russia? We fraternise with the appalling Saudi Arabia but can’t reach out to Russia and thus our folly has consequences. I’d prefer the land of Tolstoy etc than the desert of Mohammed.

Tony Price
Tony Price
2 years ago

It’s strange that general comment in and around the media does not make the obvious comparison: Putin and Donbas/Ukraine is an almost exact replica of Hitler and the Sudetenland/Czechoslavakia situation in 1938. Appeasement there didn’t work well did it? Admittedly this time the Germans are not on the other side as Stalin was happy to collaborate in the eating of Eastern Europe in between the two powers, but Putin doesn’t really care about that.

Antony Hirst
Antony Hirst
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Price

There are more implicit ultimatums attached to this one, so I think Poland 1939 is a better example. It seems that Ukraine is very obstinate in the face of Putin with Western support. Maybe no so without. Especially, when it came to handing the nukes back to Russia in the nineties and noughties.
Granted, the parallels are tenuous, in that British backing Poland encouraged the murder of Ethnic Germans and the stealing of their land, which I guess Hitler felt he could not ignore. But emboldened weak states being the meat in the war sandwich…
Having said that, I really think the confrontation is more about strategic positioning. NATO wants a base in the Black Sea. That would be intolerable to Putin. The West has put him in a position where he will lose politically back home if retreats or loses. Invasion is the only rational way forward. This taking of Donetsk and Lushaaa… (I can’t even remember the name of it!) probably gives Putin some breathing space. In that regard, this is more akin to the Cuban Missile Crisis, enemy bases on the doorstep and all that.

Last edited 2 years ago by Antony Hirst
Martin Logan
Martin Logan
2 years ago
Reply to  Antony Hirst

Pls give the evidence that NATO has ever wanted a base in the Black Sea–other than Putin’s justification for taking Crimea in 2014.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Logan

I already replied but it is awaiting moderation, probably because of me typing B***k Sea
There are 3 NATO countries on this lake already.
Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Price

The obvious comparison is Mexico deciding to join the Soviet bloc.

And as for the Hitler comparisons..
Putin has killed, or has been responsible for fewer deaths, than western leaders.
The concept of blaming one ethnic group for all of society’s ills (White men) is also prevalent in Western Europe and US
We haven’t seen the equivalent of BLM / Antifa or Trudeau tactics in Russia.

So, convenient but no, false comparison.

Martin Logan
Martin Logan
2 years ago

BTW, I am greatly amused at all the romantic notions about Putin below.
Rather like a really bad version of Paradise Lost, certain people see him as the Luciferian hero in his pathetic little drama.
But it’s mainly people who know nothing about either Russia or Putin. They simply project their own insular fantasies on to a badly educated slum kid from St Petersburg.
People in Britain have been doing that since Napoleon.
So just grow up, and learn how to understand what’s in front of your face.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 years ago

I had the privilege of working for many years for the cleverest man I have ever known. He was in the habit though of referring people he did not have much time for as “totally mad, he is completely mad you know”. One day I asked him about one of our colleagues who had disagreed with the great man on a matter of policy and he said “he is totally mad, completely mad”.
I said “But how can you tell?” His response was “He disagrees with me, it is sure madness”.
It is a risk that if we do not understand what others are doing we attribute it to madness. I am not sure Mr Putin is at all mad. Maybe mistaken. Certainly mistaken.

Tommy Abdy
Tommy Abdy
2 years ago

The trouble is that in London in particular, the police, lawyers, accountants, politicians, bankers and CEOs of some major companies are seriously corrupt and dishonest. The Russians have taken full advantage of this over the years and egged it on to the extent that too many have too much to lose to be able to pull together to oppose. All are intertwined with everyone having some dirt on another. I am not exaggerating. In due course, and with a lot of luck, the CEOs of all our major banks will end up in court and hopefully in prison. Their behaviour in dragging down thousands of companies over more than 20yrs and making families bankrupt eclipses the behaviour of the Post Office which is finally being revealed. It is such a vast scandal that no politicians have dared to move it forward but at last there is an indication that it will be confronted. We must clean up our act and set an example and I hope the new, young tranche of politicians will lead the way. We should all be ashamed of where we are.

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
2 years ago
Reply to  Tommy Abdy

It’s a wakeup call.

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
2 years ago

We could have stopped him in Georgia. We could have stopped him in Syria. We could have stopped him in Crimea. We could have stopped him in Eastern Ukraine. But we did nothing. “
Why choose these events as your starting point?
ï»żWhy not start with the Orange revolution (Western backed) overthrowing a democratic government because we didn’t like them cosying to Russia. Why not start with the NATO intention that Georgia and Ukraine could join. Why not start with the West’s refusal to consider Russia’s request for a buffer-zone.
It’s an easy trick – used by both sides – just choose your starting date and you come out looking like the good guy.
This is not to support Putin’s actions, but, we can fool ourselves so easily.

Martin Logan
Martin Logan
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Bell

I fear you greatly exaggerate the capabilities of NATO and the West.
If people in Ukraine see a prosperous West–and a poor, dysfunctional, lawless Russia–guess which one they will choose?
They did it in both 2008 and 2014.

Jason Highley
Jason Highley
2 years ago

Wha-? I don’t even know where to start with this piece. Consider that Putin is 100%, absolutely not crazy, and that he has very clearly defined goals and reasons for acting the way he has. ANYONE surprised by any of this, or who thinks Putin is just a wild, incoherent mad man, has NOT been paying attention, and has obviously never heard of the realist view of geopolitics. The reason half the damn world is in this mess is because pundits like this author are perpetually “surprised and aghast” that life is hard and people and nations are motivated by self-interest.
“We could have stopped him!” You and what army? What is the desired end state? What are your ends, ways, and means? Your lines of effort and operation? Honestly, if you even had a semblance of some answers to these questions you could have called it a “plan”, and even then it wouldn’t have survived first contact. Good grief, man. Pull you head out of the bubble!

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Jason Highley

So you think Putin describing Zelensky, a Jew with forebears murdered in the Holocaust and fought for the Red army, as a n**I is sane?

Zorro Tomorrow
Zorro Tomorrow
2 years ago

We don’t mind the Russians. It’s the Mafia Thugs, the kleptocracy who have pillaged the country since 1991, the remainder of the KGB and the long memory of Stalin. Under normal circumstances parking troops, tanks and artillery on a border in midwinter is hardly friendly. If he is indeed mad he can always be deposed.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
2 years ago

I can remember to footages in Yeltsin days where he was the laughing stock of Schultz Clinton and Co. It was painful to watch, even for a non Russian.
The Cold War was over, soviet Russia dead and buried
..so they thought, Russia wasn’t. And now ?? well, smell the coffee folks !!! Years of cockiness and arrogance have brought right where we are, threatening sanctions Russians do not give a hoot about.
Payback time is on the agenda for lies about not enlarging NATO and now, against Angela Merkel s opinion, the US wanting Ukraine to join NATO as well as Ukraine wanting to join. Very toxic combination.
Putin, as much as the dictator he is, wants his buffer zone. Why did he take over Crimea ? Cuz US navy ships would have docked there had the Ukrainians had their ways.
How would the US react in a similar situation
..say
.missiles in Cuba ?
Russian proverb :
If you invite a bear to dance

the bear decides when the dance stops.
It does help not being stupid in life 
..something the US seems having difficulties to fathom.

Last edited 2 years ago by Bruno Lucy
Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  Bruno Lucy

There is no evidence that Russia was promised anything about future of former Soviet Block but now sovereign states.
And you had to know nothing about history of Europe to pretend that you don’t know why they wanted to join NATO.

Art C
Art C
2 years ago

Well the author can stop his handwringing now. Putin attacked Ukraine earlier this morning. For the West, the logic ought to have been simple: if you think Putin is a bully and an aggressor and your interests will be impacted by his actions, confront him with the only language he understands; force. And if not, then leave him alone in his neighborhood. But of course Putin always knew that for all the bluster he could do what he wanted. The West has been standing back from any sort of confrontation with international thugs for the past 80 years. The one certainty is that some region(s)/population(s) or even an entire country will always be tossed to the wolves first to avoid the West having to go war to defend a principle. Britain and France threw Czechoslovakia under the bus before WWII and Poland toward the end of it. And when the West does go to war it gets out as soon as is possible, leaving the field wide open for the next bully to operate. The Americans took over after WWII to abandon the rest of Eastern Europe to Stalin’s tender care, and this at the crucial period when the US had the bomb which could have provided the leverage to ensure that the Soviet Union abided by agreements. i.e. to defend the principle of democracy. Since then the debacles of Vietnam and Afghanistan stand out. But there are numerous other examples: thugs across the world know now that the West will never stand fast over time.
If anyone thought it would be different this time they haven’t been paying attention. The only thing a US leadership consisting of senile, stage-managed Biden, the weasel-like Blinken and Kamala the half-wit was ever going to do was provide rich material for after dinner jokes for Putin and his cronies. And when he looked further all Putin saw was blustering Johnson & histrionic Macron, with pathetic creatures like Trudeau and Arden lurking in the background. And this magnificent leadership caste propped up by a ruling class which is saturated with net-zero fanatics, covid-stricken lunatics and gender & race experts. The only surprise is that Putin waited so long to make his move!

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

Russia’s butler? Is there a more appropriate word? Maybe not. “”I’ll take your hat and coat, my lord. May his lordship care for a drink?” Their London agent? Like Lady Penelope in Thunderbirds? Their London agency, perhaps.
Thunder sanctions are go! Da-da-da-dah, da-da-da-dah, da-da-da-dah-da 
.

Last edited 2 years ago by Dustshoe Richinrut
Rod McLaughlin
Rod McLaughlin
2 years ago

The warmonger who wrote this article would have said Stalin was mad when he poured resources into the Soviet Union’s nuclear programme to save millions from annihilation. Ever since then, Russia has been on the defensive, and has retreated over and over again. But Putin realises that giving in to bullies encourages them. His moves so far just say to Ukraine “don’t join the nuclear US alliance”.
No, it’s the USA and its NATO submissives who are mad, and have been since August 6th, 1945.

Lloyd Byler
Lloyd Byler
2 years ago
Reply to  Rod McLaughlin

Exactly.

john zac
john zac
2 years ago
Reply to  Lloyd Byler

Fascist. I may stop this subscription

John Montague
John Montague
2 years ago
Reply to  Rod McLaughlin

Don’t think I have laughed quite so much since the first time I watched Life of Brian. Stay delusional and historically inept Rod and please keep posting – we all need a good chuckle every now and then. Thanks mate.

Martin Logan
Martin Logan
2 years ago
Reply to  John Montague

The poor little KGB thug–always picked on by the Big Boys.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  John Montague

Thanks, you saved me responding.
Rouble is down today.
But he might be paid in euro?

Alan Groff
Alan Groff
2 years ago

I found his speech specific and rational. That doesn’t make him right or balanced. Still, he is articulating a historical point of view.

The US chose to take advantage of Russia’s extreme weakness at the time to impose a maximalist approach to expansion, comfortable that Russia’s security anxieties about an encroaching encirclement could be ignored because of that weakness. Some security concerns were legitimate and bound to provoke a reaction when alliance expansion really did threaten encirclement. People and countries are most dangerous when they feel mortally threatened.

Peter B
Peter B
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Groff

So it simnply doesn’t matter to you that – for example – Poland and the Baltic states who have repeatedly suffered from Russian aggression and occupation (before we even mention Katyn) rightly wanted security from potential future Russian aggression ? You think they should not be free to defend themselves ?

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter B

I would suspect Russia us motivated less by a desire to replicate Katyn and more memories of the repeated, bloody invasions by Mongols, Swedes, French and Germans.
They would rather have their buffer states than be the good guys who end up losing 10% of their population.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

But poor Russia never invaded anyone.
They did and much later than invasions you mentioned.
Hungary 1956, Czechoslovakia 1968 etc…
Btw Germany invasion happened after Russia became Germany ally and invaded Poland together in 1939, Finland and Baltic States in 1940.
You are either totally ignorant of European history or you are Russian stooge.
Have your pick.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew F
Antony Hirst
Antony Hirst
2 years ago

I think Putin is as irrational as Kennedy was during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Pretty much the same thing, maybe leading to the same thing.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
2 years ago

‘Everything is Plundered, Betrayed, Sold’
Anna Akhmatova

Everything is plundered, betrayed, sold,
Death’s great black wing scrapes the air,
Misery gnaws to the bone.
Why then do we not despair?
By day, from the surrounding woods,
Cherries blow summer into town;
at night the deep transparent skies
glitter with new galaxies.
And the miraculous comes so close
to the ruined, dirty houses –
something not known to anyone at all,
but wild in our breast for centuries.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago

Yes amazing poet.
Marina Cvetaeva is another.

Chauncey Gardiner
Chauncey Gardiner
2 years ago

“Crazy like a fox,” no? The same goes for Kim Jung-un.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

Putin’s speech was amazing – some of it was just ignorant rants. But Putin has done us a favour here by exposing to the world his extreme empire agenda, unfortunately at the cost of Ukrainian lives and territory.
All his useful idiots in the U.K. and elsewhere in the west have to accept they’ve supported a megalomaniac – even the SNP. As a pragmatist, I think this is worth it to reinforce NATO unity and expose the joke that is EU stopping wars in Europe. We’ve even got the African countries condemning Russia for trying to takeover Ukraine like an old style colonial power.
I hope Ukraine has some decent military defence that can protect them.

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
2 years ago

Interesting to see many commenters on this site in the last few weeks who clearly agree with the ‘Young Labour’ wing of The Labour Party.

Neven Curlin
Neven Curlin
2 years ago

David Patrikarakos isn’t insane, but he thinks like a little boy. Grow up, please. You’re the problem here.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 years ago

Give me Putin over Boris and todays toylitte, settee, leounge, politicians any day of the week….