I’ve been wrestling with the different response we all seem to have to this one than we do towards Iraq, or Yemen, for example. I’m shying away from blame it on ethnicity, it just doesn’t seem to fit.
But I think we’ve all got so used to seeing Iraqis and their leaders say. “Yes, yes, yes, protection of minorities, free speech, women’s rights, all good, yes, yes, yes…” And then lower themselves back into moral sewer, slowly and with great purpose. Pursuing ugly little grievances with a passion that takes our breath away. But it’s not racial, I’ve met plenty of people from trouble spots who totally understand. But it’s the culture and history drags it all back to that ugly place. And for us looking on, it’s absolutely exhausting.
But the Ukrainians actually get it, hallelujah! We don’t have to constantly explain the benefits of tolerance, decency and the rule of law. Yes, they actually get it and have already been fighting for it for years. We’ve not trying to push sand uphill this time. It’s such a relief. We weren’t wrong all those years.
You are getting downvoted on this. I can’t be the only one who’s upvoted to see it vanish. Troll alert.
Just upvoted and a negative count appeared !
That happens to me quite a lot, and I no longer downvote, because bizarrely, it adds to the approval!
I’ve been cancelled before you know, but never, to my knowledge, been up-voted. I shall continue to affect a casual distain 😉
But the Ukrainians actually get it, hallelujah! We don’t have to constantly explain the benefits of tolerance, decency and the rule of law. Yes, they actually get it and have already been fighting for it for years.
What on God’s Earth are you talking about. Do you really know nothing about the systematic suppression of the Russian minority in Ukraine (over 20%), and the thousands of civilians who have been brutally murdered in the Donbass in the last 8 years?
For a start Russian minority in Ukraine is 17%.
They are Russian settlers from Tsarist times.
Russians expelled Tatars from Crimea, moved borders of Europe in 1945, so now can take their Donbass Russian with them.
Russia has plenty of land already and declining population.
They could move them to Siberia to guard against Chinese invasion.
Never mind few thousands Russia soldiers pretending to be Donbass residents.
What about millions of Ukrainians starved to death by Stalin in 30s?
Yes, of course Putin is bringing much needed humanitarian assistance to the Russian speaking population of Ukraine by shelling Kharkov to smithereens…
The Ukrainians deserve our sympathy and support but why is it necessary for so many to pretend the country is a democracy with “tolerance, decency and rule of law”?
Zelinksky banned 10 opposition parties and closed 3 TV stations that didn’t tow the government line. https://news.yahoo.com/zelensky-suspends-opposition-parties-ukraine-154011590.html
I can hear the apologist now “but it is an emergency!” – do you mean like Covid or the “Insurrection”?
I don’t remember seeing anyone claiming that Ukraine was a model of perfection.
Few countries are. Certainly not UK, by a stretch.
But is that why Putin “had no option but to invade”, as those here paid in Rubles, immediately instruct us?
reread the post that I quoted
then reread mine – no Putin excuses
We red your post Misha.
It is indirect support of Putin, so gold “Mother Russia” medal for you comrade.
Basically, you use “what about” technique to justify Russian war.
Yes, Ukraine is not perfect, but still 10 times better than genocidal, imperialist Moscovy dictatorship.
Ad hominem attacks are the favorite of weak minds because there is no logic to their arguments. To summarize your post: Putin is bad; Putin does not like Zelinsky; I questioned the adulation of Zelinsky; Therefore I “indirectly” support Putin.
Same logic as: the leader of Germany during WWII liked peanut butter sandwiches, you like peanut butter sandwiches, therefore you must support that tyrant.
Are you seriously saying you can’t tell the difference between banning some political parties in wartime and doing so in peacetime? You’d be hard pushed to find any democracy that hasn’t banned at least a few repugnant parties even in peacetime.
So are you saying that banning some political parties constitutes ““tolerance, decency and rule of law”?
Well maybe we democracies are learning that ‘tolerance’ can be a weak spot when dealing with tyrannical and murderous regimes. When opposition parties are fronted by your enemy’s best mates, perhaps watch your back?
Of course, the latest thing here and today is to just squash or delete unfashionable opinions.
That’s where the ‘Chat Fekkers’ come in handy.
Most first world countries have banned groups due to their extremism, that doesn’t make those countries totalitarian.
Banning Kremlin linked groups (11 parties out of 300) doesn’t seem excessive when Ukraine is fighting Russia for its survival as a sovereign nation.
If you want an example of intolerance, maybe Putin locking up anybody who calls the war a war for 15 years would be a better example?
I tend to agree with part of what you say, but this is WAR in which Ukraine was attacked, shot at, exploded and pissed-on, not January 6 or cloth face-masks.
Lincoln famously suspended habeas corpus during the early part of the Civil War when Washington DC and Maryland were crawling with confederate spies (somethings are unforgivable like Earl Warren and FDR relocating patriotic Japanese families because they were, well, Japanese looking).
That said, Ukraine remains a corrupt (hello Hunter and “the Big Guy”) but functioning democracy (before the war), and will be more like the West than Putin ever was.
Well it’s a continuum isn’t it? I agree Ukraine does have its very own oligarch problem and the EU was sucking it’s teeth mightily about Ukraine’s accession.
But chat to any East European you know, and even after Brexit they are everywhere still, and chat about their future plans. There will be an implicit expectation that you should get a reasonable chance to carry them out and not have to push against prejudice or corruption too much and be left to get on with it. The law should “work” and you might have to do some side favours, but generally you have options to do what you want.
This is what I mean when I mentioned tolerance ect. It’s assumed, it’s a baseline.
It’s part of our European heritage and it is a relief to be supporting people who get that on a fundamental level to the extent that it doesn’t need articulating.
Now Ukraine and I’m thinking Hungary have had some corrupt leaders (UK too.) Plenty suspect going on with the Polish legal system right now. But the wrongness is understood, and civil society pushes back. Little Englanders getting their way over Brexit for example, it was their turn after all.
I feel much happier supporting Ukraine because I know that our help will be valued and maybe used appropriately. Ukrainian oligarchs maybe bad news but they pale in comparison to Iraqi and Afghani corruption. Or the Tory party miss-selling Covid contracts for that matter. That bumbling moron is still in number 10 by the way. b***h slapped and confused. Way easier to wax lyrical about the brave Ukrainians, than think about the lack of talent in contemporary UK politics. Sigh.
Opposition parties supporting Putin. Like we banned fascist parties during WW2 – but that probably seems oppressive to you?
Yes, after the invasion. It is a war…… I believe Mosley and the blackshirts were interned during World War 2, as well as the entire German population of Britain.
That the nation being invaded is bordered by NATO has much more to do with this than any supposed “European racism”–something that we find in abundance in the Middle East.
Fact is, as soon as Putin became a dictator in 2012, he lost Ukraine.
Maidan then became inevitable, because few wanted to live the way Russians do–in a police state. You wouldn’t want to live in Russia either.
Putin then destroyed what remained of his position in Ukraine by annexing Crimea. That made Russian-speakers a minority–who quickly understood that he was going to keep them poor and under constant assault. Moreover, the only way to get Crimea and Donbass back was with military force. And the only place they could get it was the West and NATO.
Putin pushed Ukraine into the arms of NATO.
But his crowning glory was to launch an invasion–without telling the Russian army. The 7-15,000 dead Russians are the result.
So the more Putin tries to get Ukraine, the weaker Russia becomes.
And it’s all his doing.
“We don’t have to constantly explain the benefits of tolerance, decency and the rule of law.”
I think we do have to constantly remind people in the West of this. When I look at what is happening in the great institutions in the U.S., I certainly don’t see tolerance and decency. And surely don’t see the new generation of leaders abiding by the rule of law, which is now castigated as an old concept shilled by the white patriarch.
The irony of this is that the Left wants war with Russia to protect the Ukrainian’s “democracy”, yet are perfectly happy with crushing it over here.
Now there’s a classic racist post!
Iraq was complicated, because clearly errors were made in not managing to get more Iraqis on board following Saddam’s downfall.
There were two big problems with Syria; ISIS joined the insurrection, making it difficult to support, and Obama acquiesced in the use of chemical weapons by Syrians on Syrians, possibly encouraged by the Commons vote to stay out.
I don’t think you know what is happening in Yemen if you think that it’s about promoting democracy and “our values”. That’s not what the west should be doing anyway, who is to say what values are universal? Given we change our values every generation anyway – presently we are promoting LGBT and woke rather than old school liberalism, hate speech rather than free speech – but whatever they are this year Saudi doesn’t aspire to them. And the war in Yemen isn’t spreading any kind of democracy, it’s a fight between bad guys and caught in the middle are Yemeni children. To be honest that war should expose western values, I’m surprised to see that anybody believes that the war there is about “liberalism”.
Agreed – the human psyche has only so much lying it can take – before it withdraws .
Well I’m no expert but that all rings true to me, and it’s horrifying. We see these people and hear them speak, and recognise them as kin. They are proud, patriotic and brave, and we admire and weep for them.
We’ve lived with Syria and Afghanistan rumbling in the background and a majority of us have probably not connected personally with those populations or their politics. But this is next door and these people are like us, fighting for the democratic rights we take for granted but they are prepared to die for.
Those of us old enough will remember thinking of Russia as a dark and dangerous place, but I think we genuinely believed it couldn’t go backwards. We’ve read the literature and heard the stories and it’s hard to credit that the current leader of that country could aspire to recreate its past.
Democracy is messy and our system prioritises short term policies at the expense of the long game. But those who play the long game, ensuring they stay in power for their lifetime, are truly terrifying.
You mean Syrians and Afghans are brown, and Ukrainians are white? And that makes it easier to identify?
I’m tempted to believe you think this, as you end with a slogan that for decades has been associated with fascist groups.
Virtue signaller alert – can’t tell the difference between patriotism and fascism.
Thank you Jane for great post.
That is the problem (or maybe asset?) of the West that we allow different views.
So enemies of the West can freely undermine our system and our values using our freedoms against us.
I believe that no enemies of freedom should be allowed to teach in our schools and universities.
All this lefty parasites wearing Lenin, Stalin or Marx tee-shirts should had been removed years ago.
I think this article is a little pessimistic. According to Wikipedia (I know, not the most reliable source, though I think it’s accurate in this case) the Soviets lost about 15000 dead in Afghanistan in a decade. Western estimates are calling almost that high a loss in Ukraine in the first month. Even if that’s double the reality, Russia cannot sustain those losses for long. They were already undergoing demographic collapse BEFORE the invasion. They don’t actually have the endless number of conscripts to throw into the meat grinder that we think of when we think of Russia’s military. And that’s especially the case when we remember they can’t conscript them from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Georgia and, of course, Ukraine anymore.
Everywhere is undergoing demographic collapse in that fight. Including Ukraine (maybe especially Ukraine) which has a tfr of 1.2 or so. In fact its population was collapsing before the war, dropping by 7 million or so since the 90s.
And of course most of the countries of NATO are in demographic decline, or would be without immigration.
It continues to amuse me that demographic collapse is something that is seen to affect the enemies of the west. What worries us (on the pages of the guardian or even here) is overpopulation, but demographic decline is very pronounced in the west.
Still, populations of Western European countries keep growing since 1991, while those of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine and several Eastern European countries keep on shrinking. True, migration is a factor. But the fact that there is no immigration towards Russia, only emigration from Russia, is telling in itself. Let there be demographic decline everywhere, but with differences so big as that they do matter.
I lived in Russia for many years and, I can assure you, its not somewhere to which I will be returning anytime soon.
Russia is in trouble but so is the west. And immigration brings its own problems.
I must agree that demographic collapse is a serious issue, that few want to discuss. See Mark Steyn’s “After America” and much beside.
Slight hope is to watch Japan, with pathetic birth rate and even marriage rate.
Almost zero immigration.
But so far, they seem OK.
Who knows what the future will bring? Knowing the Japanese a bit, if anyone can make this apparently impossible paradigm work, it will be them.
Just to point out – the US and Canada do not have demographic decline. Their populations will continue to grow strongly.
This is one key reason why the “decline of the US” argument is so over-stated – as is the “rise of China”. A US with half the population of China will still be the largest economy in the world.
Yes, but population growth is due to immigration.
Some high IQ like many Asians but many low IQ like most South Americans and Africans.
Having mass influx of people from different cultures does not inspire any confidence in the future.
The age of AI and automation is coming fast.
So there will be problems with employment of even existing population, never mind the millions of idiots whose best hope is to become Uber driver.
News from here in Tokyo is that everything works smoothly, and instead of flooding the country with cultural enhancers are solving the declining worker problem through ever-imaginative use of cute robots, e.g in old folk homes(!), greater participation of older workers, etc. Moreover, the slowly shrinking population means they will need fewer services and infrastructure. Population is now 126.5million (down from peak 128.56million in 2009). It first topped the 100million mark in 1967. At the end of WW2 it was 77 million and going back to the beginning of the Meji Era in 1868 when it embarked on its modernisation it was just over 34 million. Japan will adapt as its population gently glides down from its present overcrowded condition to a comfortable equilibrium.
What happens when the pensioners outnumber the workers, and Japan can no longer afford it’s public services due to having too small a tax base?
As the population declines so does the demand for additional infrastructure and services, hence lower budget outlays.
The difference is that people are queueing up to migrate to countries like the EU and Sweden – while they can’t wait to leave places like Russia and no one wants to emigrate there. I wonder why …
As per a leaked and quickly deleted report in Russia, close to 10,000.
I would suspect both sides combined have lost 20-25,000 which is half of what the US saw in Vietnam in a decade plus.
Which hopefully makes them both see sense and arrive at a compromise – any compromise.
But the risk is unlike Afghanistan, this is closer home. I don’t think anybody in the West understands or sympathises with Russian paranoia and the trauma of losing 20 million people dead to invasion from the West.
One might then expect them to be sceptical of going to war (which many are). It’s actually only Putin who ordered this.
And looks like it may well destroy Russia.
There is truth right there.
But few people are even aware of, let alone understand or sympathise with the pain of the Ukraine which saw a generation wiped out in the Holodomor – at least four million wiped out by absolutely deliberate famine in the 1930s and that in the ‘breadbasket of Europe’, by Putin’s predecessor. And then came the purges, both before 1941 and those after 1951.
Doesn’t excuse the rabid far right, but goes some way to explain.
Few people know about the Holomodor because the perpetrators were Communists. And their ideology wasn’t Russian racial hatred towards Ukranians but the dreadful concepts of communism. You apparently saw entire families sent to gulags because their starving children were found selling stuff to buy food
And there was a fledgeling Ukranians state in the early 1920s. Guess who were primarily responsible for their liquidation? Nope, not the Russians, the brave and fair Poles.
And that’s the problem here – there are no heroes and victims, this region is worse than the middle East.
You want to protect Poland and Ukraine against Russian aggression (and they are aggressive, no doubt)
You want to avoid threatening Russia, because they have memories of 1941 and 1812 and are paranoid.
What you really want to avoid, is threaten to expand NATO all the way to Russia, goad on the Ukrainian leadership, ignore Russian complaints and then refuse to militarily support Ukraine when war kicks iff.
Unless you really wanted to start off a messy, protracted war and use Ukraine as a tool to target Russia, even if it means the destruction of Ukraine. I am sure Nuland and co never wanted that, not at all.
You are clearly ignorant of history of this part of Europe.
After Romanov empire collapsed after revolutions of 1917 (in February and October), Germany forced Bolshevik government to sign Brest-Litovsk treaty.
Effectively ceding Ukraine to Germany.
When Germany signed armistice and Austro-Hungarian empire imploded, other nations, including Poland regained independence.
Polish leader, Pilsudski tried to support Ukraine independence and its leader Petlura during the Russian civil war.
When Bolshevik armies tried to conquer Europe in 1920, they were stopped by Polish forces on and Vistula River.
Eventually Poland and Russia signed the treaty.
Then Bolsheviks suppressed Ukrainian independence movement and created Ukrainian Soviet Republic.
All of Russia’s disasters were self-inflicted, except perhaps for Napolean’s foray in 1812. The Tsar’s folly when he sent the Murmansk fleet all the way around Africa (Turkey blocked the Dardanelles) to disastrous defeat at Tsushima by the newly emerging power Japan, to WW1 and WW2 when they almost lost the war thanks to Stalin.
I don’t think anybody in the West understands or sympathises with Russian paranoia and the trauma of losing 20 million people dead to invasion from the West.
You hadn’t noticed that people in ‘The West’ also lost millions of lives? And not because they were invaded by ‘The West’, but specifically by Germany; moreover many Western European countries, and Russia were saved by The West (specifically the USA), just as Russia also saved The West.
Then there’s the 20 million or so who died as a result of Stalin’s mismanagement and paranoia, and the inevitable and more recent failure of their state, at the hands of their own politicians.
Well, is it because, as you call it, invasion from the West was by Russian ally Germany?
Russia started ww2 by invading Poland with Germany in 1939.
Then they invaded Finland and Baltic States.
When two gangsters, Russia and Germany, started fighting over the spoils, Russia became ally of the West.
The prize was Soviet subjugation of Eastern and Central Europe.
But Russian aggression was a constant of its policies since 16th century.
As it was oppression, cult of strong leader, slavery of its peasants and moronic believe that Russia is saving the world from whatever.
You are one of the main appeasers of Russia genocidal policies on this forum.
Hopefully you are not paid in Rubbles?
Most lost due to Stalin’s incompetence and paranoia executing the military’s capable officer class and ignoring intelligence that Hitler would invade from numerous spies, especially Sorge in Tokyo.
You can add in yet further “brain drain” emigration from Russia. Over 1 million Jews left for Israel since 1991. High tech industry in Israel has thrived since then. Russia’s military certainly doesn’t seem to have got any better.
What free-thinking young graduate in Russia is going to want to stick around in Russia living under sanctions and terrified to speak freely ?
I suspect many of the Russian minorities in Ukraine and the Baltric States are very happy not to be absorbed into Russia. The 8 million Russians in Ukraine certainly haven’t all risen up demanding to be “reunited” back into Russia.
Yes, first time I came across Russian Jews was in army uniform in Israel, maybe 2002. They’d be expected to do their 2 years (I think) National service? No doubt a good number would stay in the military or linked industries afterwards.
While your facts may be right, Putin’s taking advantage of the ‘military operation’ to reduce further the free speech there was, replaced with skilful propaganda, and is clearly prepared to see 10,000 casualties. In my opinion, he’s prepared to see 100,000, or whatever, provided he survives, because he won’t resign, and nor will he admit a catastrophic error which will force him out. People like him never retire; it’s too dangerous.
So he’ll just have to be “retired” then. The sooner the better.
‘This is not a 21st-century but a 20th century-conflict.’
It’s fascinating when people say things like this. There’s the myth of progress right there. It’s 2022: this clearly is a ’21st-century conflict’ in a very literal sense. What the author means is that it wasn’t supposed to happen. It was all supposed to be drones and robot dogs and Mars colonies.
I’ve always found the argument that NATO membership isn’t realistic because it’s unrealistic to be, well, circular. If the Baltics hadn’t already joined we could be making the exact same arguments today.
But if there’s one country who could use a defensive treaty to buttress against an expansionist power its Ukraine. After all – as you said – Ukraine is fighting for all of us. If the Donbass is turned into some client state, then it wouldn’t even be a new border.
It’s OK, this war is going to “demilitarise” Russia at the rate it’s going ! It’s economy will be trashed and export markets for it’s “less than bettle proven” weapons will be drying up. They won’t be able to effort to keep up with the US on military spending and technology after this.
Putin is often praised for his cleverness, but I think it’s confused with the craftiness of someone who never faces elections. In fact, I believe he has made a silly mistake; he may succeed in absorbing Ukraine, but he has revealed what he is, and the West will surely now increase arms expenditure greatly (although I’m still waiting for Johnson to say so). All the wealth Putin has poured into his military will soon be eclipsed. His own logic (and the apparent poor performance of his forces so far) will cause him to pour still more money in, but he can’t win.
This is what brought the USSR for which he is so nostalgic to its knees in 1990.
Gangster state like Russia only understand one language: power of the gun.
West made many mistakes in the last 30 years.
The main is the believe that Russia is somehow European politically and can be democratized.
Nothing in Russian history would make anyone sane to believe that.
It is time to bring back Regan policies.
Rearm and bring Russia to its knees.
It worked with Soviet Union.
It will work with Russia.
Let’s also hope the Kremlin is “de-nazified”, as well.
I think we are already back going back to the old cold war days. Some might even say we are there already. The West cannot negotiate with the Russians, I suppose, because the only language people in the Kremlin seem to understand is that of violence. What the West now needs to do is to fast-track NATO membership for all the other democracies like Finland who feel they need it to protect themselves from the Russians. Russia might not invade them in the future, true, but I believe it is far better to be safe than sorry. Ukraine is a case in point.
On top of that, it might be a good idea to increase troop levels in the countries that find themselves on the new frontline of this Cold War. I would also favor increasing the number of fighter jets, bomber jets, missile systems and nuclear weapons stationed in them. The Russians, and some people at home, will protest like they always do. The purpose of all this must be to demonstrate to the Russians and others of their ilk that when necessary the West is just as ready and willing to use force to defend its interests as they are.
For the sake of the people in Russia who might not have any animosity towards the West and are powerless to effect any change at home, we ought to try and make commercial and cultural ties with Russia as normal as possible. That will include bringing them back into the Swift system, bringing them back into sport and culture events and unfreezing their Central Bank assets. But we should cut down on our dependency on them for our energy needs. And we should also not allow ill-gotten wealth to be kept in Western financial institutions. Export restrictions on some goods must be implemented, particularly those with potential defense and surveillance uses. Targeted sanctions on those Oligarchs close to Putin must be kept up. To be precise, I advocate for some sort of limit on the amount of capital they can invest in our economies.
Putin will eventually leave power in Russia. And so will his henchmen. Lukashenko won’t be around for long in Belarus. That’s just a hunch. Its up to the people in those countries to bring about the change they want in their lives, not us. People did eventually grow tired of the Communists. We don’t have them around anymore. Putin and his system aren’t as powerful and steady as the old Soviet system was. Their time will come. We only have to be patient.
I honestly have no ideas when it comes to Ukraine. The only thing I have I suppose is hope.
Why didn’t we target the oligarchs to begin with? They looted Russia in the 90s.
Because they were looting the Russian people and reducing them to desperate poverty and bringing wealth and elevating property prices in the West.
Why would you target them?
I don’t usually agree with you but that is 100% correct.
That is why we have name for it “Londromat”
All the bankers, lawyers, accountants and politicians selling their services to all the crooks (not just Russian).
Russia, China — in fact many countries — they operate according to different notions of power; a more traditional (you might say innate/human nature) sense of it.
Russia is a classic ‘power politics’ player, and in the west we seem to find it really hard to understand that other countries aren’t like us, and may not wish to be like us. I feel we look at ourselves like we’re standing on a mountain of progress, and saying to those not standing on that hill “you really need to stop whatever you’re doing over there, you should be striving to summit this hill to join us in the enlightened realm”…
Which is a nice thought, but when our world — of endless talking and ‘expressing’ our points of view — collides with the world that only speaks the language of hard power, then things can end really badly. :/
I notice that there was some loose talk by the Ukrainian govt about NATO in March last year, and following on from that, Russian troops began heading for the border in April. They slowly built up troops there until Dec when it was estimated that 150K were now gathered. At that point, Putin sent a draft treaty to the US (and the UN) seeking terms. He was rebuffed.
But think about what was happening there, and what it means about the way we are unable to understand each other’s language, so to speak…
Before even attempting to talk, Putin showed. This is the language of hard power that Russia operates in… “Look at the troops I have. Look where I have put them, ready to execute my orders. Now here is a draft treaty, you should negotiate with me or you see that I will use my force.”
We didn’t really get what was happening. We thought he was bluffing. We thought more ‘talks’ would happen. This was two completely different world views communicating at cross purposes. I think we still don’t really get what Russia is doing here, we’re still emoting and chiding (which may be very valid, but isn’t de-escalatory). What is happening is heartbreaking to watch. It’s also an insight into the clash of cultures that we will have to learn to deal with in the new multi-polar world that is ascending with the rise of Chinese power (also a hard power empire).
Loose talk? They, inter alia, changed their Constitution in 2019 to include the strategic course for membership of NATO and undertook exercises in the Black Sea in 2021 jointly with NATO.
“we seem to find it really hard to understand that other countries aren’t like us, and may not wish to be like us”…
And God help those who do, apparently?
I don’t believe the US military really thought he was bluffing. I suspect they actually led him on to make his catastrophic error invading Ukraine. I’m certain the US military/DoD are not stupid (below the US political level). This is a golden opportunity to finish off Russia as a military power – both the military and the weapons industry behind it – without needing to fire a shot themselves. And they’ve taken it.
Putin’s demands of the West/NATO were utterly ludicrous and unnacceptable. Circular filing cabinet nonsense. Quite correctly “rebuffed”.
Russia’s just going to have to get over its sense of entitlement that it’s still a “player”. It isn’t. Not any more. The US and China are the big winners here.
You’ve hit a nail on the head. And just because you apparently subscribe to reality, as do I, it doesn’t mean we are Putin supporters! Western leaders were not living in reality, they were living in a fantasy world.
I’ve read most of the comments and this is by far the most insightful. It alone recognises head on the clash of cultures. The progressive liberalism of the West tacitly still assumes Fukuyama was right and its only a matter of time before all the world join the progressive liberal world. Meanwhile countries like Russia and China have not forgotten the realities of hard physical power. In the past 75 years the west has forgotten it and thinks that liberal institutions like UN, the War Crimes Tribunal, International Human Rights Commission, etc really do govern the world. I’m afraid they do not but hard power still does and that’s the lesson we need to learn from Russia in Ukraine. (I freely acknowledge the influence of John Mearsheimer on my thinking)
But we don’t have to learn anything from Ukraine war.
Regan showed 40 years ago that gangster states like Russia only understand power of the gun.
And in your view, West should just agree to Russian demands?
Like we did with Hitler in Munich?
What I never get from appeasers is the price they are willing to pay for cowardice.
Obviously not them and their families.
Just other “little” people.
So what is your price, then?
Ukraine, Baltic States, Poland?
But your approach did not work in 1939.
Why do you think it will work now.
You have your belief but history says otherwise.
Squint fiercely to reduce everything to the most abstract and it seems that the ‘special military operation’ in the Ukraine is Big Brother (Russia) vs Big Business (The West). Another reason perhaps why peace talks will not work in this conflict.
“War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.”
― George Orwell, 1984
But real people are suffering and dying.
Stripping away the scare stories of Putin invading Poland and resurrecting the Soviet Union, what is especially tragic is how easy this war was to prevent – and the Russians were all too open about it for years.
– No NATO in Ukraine (remember, prior to that development Russia had not bothered to threaten Ukraine in the first place)
– Accept Crimea to Russia, which was a fait accompli and in line with historical borderlines
– Crack down on the Ukranian thugs persecuting the Russian minority in the East
None of which would bring any harm to Ukraine overall.
The worst case scenario for the Russian and Ukrainian peoples was a war, irrespective of what happens in the end.
And it seems pretty obvious a lot of people who are suddenly offering fake outrage and love for peace, were very keen on this war. Especially in upper levels of politics and the military industrial complex, those like Nuland were probably dancing with joy when Russia attacked.
It is obvious that you and many commenters presently, are very enthusiastic indeed, at the idea that naked aggression by authoritarian kleptocrats should be richly rewarded.
Putin is an “authoritarian kleptocrat” for sure, well spotted
But there is a reason why 70% of Russians support the war, despite the sanctions, and it isn’t because they are mindless zombies.
I am curious to understand though, since you are so against naked aggression, why you were so supportive of a bunch of Ukranian xenophobes, attacking civilians in Russian regions (led by openly Nazi gangs like Azovs), suppressing Russian language, banning the opposing party simply for representing Russian minorities.
Some naked aggressions, such as the stuff the US / UK coalition has been up to in much of the middle East, is all right it seems.
“scare stories of Putin… resurrecting the Soviet Union”…
Hang on a minute, did we invent that fantasy, or did it come from the horse’s mouth?
I think it is now quite obvious that Putin is the bad guy here and a threat to peace everywhere. If you still can’t see it, there really is no hope for you. Go sign up for Putin – they like foreign mercenaries (or perhaps you’re Russian).
I don’t believe a word Putin and his cronies say. They’re professional liars and thieves to a man. I seriously doubt now that this conflict could have been avoided – Putin would have started it sooner or later somewhere.
So let’s get on and finish the job abd help the Ukrainians – and equally the Russians – get rid of this tyrant.
What happened in 1994, with the Budapest Memorandum?
Granted that there are Ukrainian thugs, but they receive very few votes in elections. In contrast, a nation of thugs has invaded the parts of Ukraine not already invaded, and on the orders of someone who receives a lot of votes, thanks to his electoral tactics. This won’t persuade Ukrainians to suppress their own nationalists.
It is indeed tragic, but not because the war was easily avoided. Putin has made it clear that the cause of invasion was the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO; that is merely one of the excuses provided for the use of Putin’s apologists. He made his strategic ambition plain; he believes, I think sincerely, the Ukraine should be a part of Russia, with the added bonus of rich agricultural areas and other things which the world wants. .
Agreed, Colin – not to mention the energy pipelines running from Russian energy fields through Ukraine to Europe (for which Putin has to pay a throughput fee). Controlling Ukraine would “solve” this financial pickle.
The one way this doesn’t resemble WW1 is the fact that few on the Russian side have the commitment that was displayed by both sides in 1914-18, or by the Ukrainians now.
Now the Ukrainians are taking back lost ground in both the north and the south. Since most Russian battle groups are already committed, Putin will soon have to send in unorganized reservists and conscripts to face a Ukrainian army with considerable battle experience–and very lethal weapons.
Any sane leader would try for a deal now, before Ukraine takes back even more potential bargaining chips.
So it’s really a sanity test for Putin. But at this stage, whether he passes is anyone’s guess.
Where did you get that information on the Russian push backs?
Don’t suppose you’ve ever heard of Makariv or Mikolaev. We see Ukrainians inside the first, and Ukrainians on the road to Kherson from the other.
But despots in Russia have always been able to enforce their will using brute force with minority support, except in 1917.
It is more than time to use deterrence.
Nuclear weapons that no-one in the West will use in ANY circumstance CANNOT be a deterrent.
If there was a grown up in charge in London, Washington or Paris; they would give Putin 48 hours to get out before attacking Russia. Sieze Kaliningrad.
Don’t be first to go nuclear but faithfully promise a nuclear response to use of WMDs.
But we have Sleepy Joe, Macron and Boris.
God help us (and the Ukraine).
No-one else will.
Having read all the comments, I am, depressingly no wiser. what is truth, what is fiction, what is hearsay. All I know is that the invasion was wrong, whatever the justification. The foundations for a negotiated settlement were there before the conflict and will probably form the basis for a negotiated peace. No NATO, Russian control of Crimea and the Donbass regions and neutrality of Ukraine.
We seem to agree on the practical peace terms. The problem you seem to duck is that the “West” refused to negotiate with Russia whenever they made these proposals. The actions we could all see in recent months were arming/training Ukraine to Nato standards, Zelensky talking about nuclear arms in Ukraine and imminent Nato and EU membership (without any contradiction from Western leaders), sanctions on Russia for exercising control over Crimea/Donbass, continuing violations of the Minsk agreements with more “rebel” donbassians dying, etc. What was left for Russia to do? Of course I agree that the invasion and the large civil and military death toll are horrible, but if we (the West) are as civilised as we claim, we share a lot of the blame for not negotiating.
So; it’s all horrible, but Russia is in the right, and the civilised world is in the wrong?
What was left for Russia to do?
Act like a rational adult? Like Russia has done for a century – under real pressure – not this fake boo-hoo NATO so mean whinge.
Yes, and that is the singular, adult, because, in truth, the war happened because of the grandiose dreams of one man, Putin (though we should also credit his muse, Alexander Dugin).
I expect that the foundations for a negotiated settlement were there, but would it have been a fair settlement, and would it have lasted longer than suited Putin?
“No NATO, Russian control of Crimea and the Donbass regions and neutrality of Ukraine” is victory for Putin, achieved by violence, but clearly not his final objective.
Obviously you are no different to people appeasing Hitler over Czechoslovakia.
Why should not West force some country to give up territory to gain few years of peace?
But that did not work then, did it?
For all the confident talk in the last century about Progress, human nature never changes.The secular humanists in the socialist movement who think a paradise can be built on Earth just don’t get it. The will to power always gets in the way.
“N**i infested basket case that is Ukraine”?
Tell me, what defines a N**in your lexicon?
It doesn’t matter. He’s a proven idiot as pretty much everyone on here knows. Just “low pass filter” (ignore) anything he says. It’s all wrong.
Peter (and Jane) – I haven’t stopped laughing in total agreement with your (Peter’s) statement about our friend – I’ve been too shy to speak this truth previously. I begin to wonder if he isn’t a troll from the Guardian (or the New York Times) hired to stick it to UnHerd subscribers!
So. The main proposition of this meandering essay is what?
“As it happens the Ukrainians — pumped full of Western javelins and stingers — fought like hell.”
Yes, they did. And this was not unexpected by everyone. In an interview on Sky News, a friend of mine, a member of the Ukrainian cabinet, had hinted that the Ukrainians could be expected to be ready for business. The Russians had been in Ukraine since 2014. Anyone walking past St. Michael’s in Kyiv could see the display of thousands of faces of people who had fallen in the fighting in the east. I counted them up one day.
If counted in lives lost, the Ukrainians have millions of reasons from the Russian Civil War and from Russian collectivization in the 1930’s to be upset with the Russians. This Russo-Ukrainian war provides the first opportunity for these people to fight Russians. The Poles have a long history of that. The Ukrainians have less history of that. They have more history of being subjugated by the Russians. Indeed, the G.U.L.A.G. system was largely assembled to deal with recalcitrant people from Na Kraina — mostly Ukrainians.
Will Russian Invasion Achieve Ukrainian Objectives?Relationships do not unfold like Hollywood scripts with Chiliastic denouement.https://dvwilliamson.substack.com/p/will-russian-invasion-achieve-ukrainian
Nothing would be better in the long term for Russia itself than to see this would-be Tsar condemned as a war criminal. Look what happened to post-war Germany, and post-war Japan.
As soon as I saw this headline pop op in my mail box, I knew it was a Patrikarakos production. It’s pure clickbait, as were the articles by Tom Chivers, and just as unoriginal, one-sided, simple-minded and riddled with rumours and assumptions presented as fact.Journalism this bad is simply activism (or propaganda, if you like). I understand that Unherd is trying to do the right and difficult thing of giving room to a range of opinions, but this article/opinion piece can’t be in that range, as it is de-ranged. It’s irrational, emotional drivel, and the writing is poor, being nothing more than a very long Tweet.
Unfortunately, I also had to take personal offence at this sentence:
This is not the t*t-for-tat killings between psychotic paramilitaries that was Yugoslavia.
My father is from the former Yugoslavia, we have physically and mentally wounded relatives, and I know many families who have lost loved ones and property in that terrible and unnecessary war. These were most definitely not ‘psychotic paramilitaries’ involved with ‘t*t-for-tat killings’. At least Mr. Patrikarakos is consistent when it comes to inaccurate descriptions of conflicts.
I’m not some woke person who will now call for cancelling, but I’m sure Mr. Patrikarakos can sell his ‘work’ to a host of mainstream media outlets. This is trash, absolute trash.
Twenty years ago, Putin wanted the be friends and bring Russia closer to the West. He was told to push off – NATO was held together by having a common enemy and Russia was that designated enemy. So here we are.
Because Russia is the enemy.
If you still don’t get that after Russia invasion of Ukraine, there is no help for you Nikolai.
Idea that Putin wanted to bring Russia closer to the West is for the birds.
It has become an almost infallible indicator–when someone is just spouting the US State Dept or CIA or FBI line, whether on foreign policy or domestic issues, they engage in hyperbole that insults the intelligence of anyone retaining critical faculties. I suppose that is embedded in the approved talking points.
I’m looking at you, Patrikarakos.
I think Putin is happy with things as they are going . We need to remember his early days of KGB and the objective of sowing chaos across the west. He has destabilised the fuel and food markets across the globe threatening fuel poverty across Europe , has fuelled the post covid inflationary impacts globally. Governments in their covid ridden debts are sending 100s of millions of dollars, pounds and euros of weapons across to the poor people of Ukraine placing many of the western nations in deeper and deeper debt, while Putin is re-establishing marshall law in his own country. What is there for Putin not to like or be happy with in this current situation? As the Ukrainian leader has said many times, we are already at war with Russia in all but name .
Oh my. This dripping with hate piece of anti-Russian propaganda is quite illuminating.
“More war, not peace, will always be his aim.” God is this idiotic and like so much that is written about Russia right now. We’re not going to look at Russia the way we look at the rest of the world, as a country with geopolitical strategies and needs, but only as an expression of big and terrible words, like evil and fascism. And this as most of us writing this crap sit in the United States, which has the most dreadful record in the last sixty years of almost non-stop violence around the globe. Oh, it’s become so unfashionable to remind everyone that if the China decided to form a ‘defensive pact’ with countries of South American, starting with Chile and Argentina and Bolivia, it would all be regarded in the US and the West as the most outrageous act of aggression, and the invitation of Mexico into that pact would ignite shooting in about a minute. But of course it’s now regarded as outrageous to be reminded that Russia has plenty to fear from NATO, whose entire reason for existence is to counter it. Does this mean that Putin is a nice guy or that Ukraine deserves the fate that it’s suffering? Of course not. But somehow for most people it’s become impossible to hold these two ideas in their heads–that Putin’s a bad dude, and that Russia has genuine geopolitical concerns that the US and NATO have pushed to the brink. Rather all over you can see this entire conversation has devolved into a bunch of shouting four year olds, in articles like this, with everyone intoxicated by their own righteous indignation and moral certainty. It’s just garbage and it’s everywhere right now, like a disease.
“Rather all over you can see this entire conversation has devolved into a bunch of shouting four year olds, in articles like this, with everyone intoxicated by their own righteous indignation and moral certainty. It’s just garbage and it’s everywhere right now, like a disease.”
And you Sir, are spreading the “disease”. Get a grip.
Opinion piece with precious little credible support. In this propaganda war of smoke and mirrors, what’s missing is the painstaking hard work and risk it takes to pull together real journalism. UnHerd should do better or at least refrain from the excesses of opinion. Counter arguments need to be examined. Assertions need to be supported with more evidence. Historical context matters but saying Putin always does this is not persuasive to any but the predisposed.
To be honest I’m finding views, opinions etc are a bit of a luxury with the abomination that is taking place at present. Better to put my money where my mouth is and support Ukraine in the only way I can.
If Ukraine wanted peace, why were Minsk agreements not followed? Why didn’t France and Germany push for their acceptance, as was their responsibility? Why did the US persuade Ukraine to ignore them? Was something in it for the US? Heaven forbid, what a thought! Why did Neo-nazis in the army threaten Zelensky if he accepted the terms? Let’s not forget, Russia has waited 8years for these agreements to be followed and for the killings in the Donbass to stop but nobody was interested. Those deaths didn’t interest the western media. The last thing the US wants is peace in Ukraine, hence all the weapons.
Only one person ordered this. Indeed, he kept it so secret that it negated his battle plan.
The Third Crimean War is far more disastrous than the ones in 1854 and 2014.
It will probably destroy Russia.
Another Putin apologist, who contrasts devious aggressive USA with patient peaceful Putin. This attempts to obscure the fact that Putin has unleashed enormous death, destruction and suffering.
It implies that Ukrainians were killing people in Donbass, and not vice versa (and don’t forget MH17).
The Minsk agreements were not agreed with by Ukrainians, and rightly so, because it would have allowed the Russians too much control over Ukraine. Sooner or later, they would have mounted another ‘military operation’, but with less effective military resistance than they are meeting with now.
Russia will never want peace
What a moronic headline. Obviously, most people in Russia want peace, and for the most part, so have its leaders. It’s not that Stalin was a nicer man than Truman, it’s just that he was less powerful. In particular, his country was threatened by nuclear annihilation. This accounts for Russian foreign policy ever since.
This is a ludicrously onesided view. It takes THREE participants to make a war, the third is the entity creating the conflict the other two are fighting over. In this case the West and NATO have been the catalyst that Putin has used to justify his action. Look at the history of Ukraine since 2013, the interference of third parties stoking conflict. There are NO good guys in this. The victims are the populations of Ukraine and Russia that had little or no say in this tradgedy.
How dare the Ukrainians try to join a defensive group, and foolish of NATO to consider their need for protection – they’ve only themselves to blame. This is what I tell my children – do what the bully wants, and do not seek support from the teachers; otherwise it’s your fault when the bully comes for you in full force.
It is a little naive to think that Putin in the end would not have gone to war if NATO hadn’t admitted new members after the Cold War, or if NATO had disbanded itself all together somewhere in the 1990’s. Both from his article on “the historical unity of Russians and Ukrainians” and his TV speech early on the 24th of February it is clear that he is convinced that Russia is entitled to a sphere of influence in Europe not too much smaller than the spere of influence that Stalin created for the Soviet Union in 1945. Just read. It is the presupposition of all of his arguements. And as Russia has nothing to offer to its European neighbours to join an alliance with them, not even economic prosperity like China, it would have tried to restore its sphere of influence with some form of violence. In fact, without NATO Putin would have tried to take Ukraine a lot earlier and we would now be debating about some kind of “neutral status” for Germany, just like Father Stalin in all his generosity proposed it to his Western allies from World War II. The rest of Eastern Europe would have been by now a kind of Belarus with a slightly better climate.
Besides: Russia has nukes in Kaliningrad, 550 km from Berlin. How different is that from the 550 km from Moscow to the Ukrainian border (where there are no nukes by the way)?
So yes, it is Putin’s war. And he didn’t need NATO to justify his dreams of an Empire. NATO is just in his way. But that doesn’t make the war “our fault” in any way whatsoever.
I suspect you give NATO far more respect than they deserve.
Once, they were absolutely a force to be reckoned with.
Now, with Sleepy Joe in the Whitehouse and the gormless twats in Canada, EU and UK?
More like a paper tiger. More interested in the correct pronouns than winning even a five a side footy match.
If anything has worried Putin at night in the last decade, NATO is about as likely as the “Climate Emergency”.
The biggest worry he has, is dying of excessive laughter.
Utterly delusional drivel.
The US are finishing off Putin’s Russia right now – without needing to fire a shot themselves. They suckered him into the blunder of invading Ukraine.
The big winners here are going to be the US and China.
Nice touch to title your comment:-
“Utter Delusional Drivel”
Indeed it is. All will fully agree.
“US are finishing off Putin’s Russia…”
Really? Under Sleepy Joe? The US under Biden struggles to finish off an ice cream.
I wish they would finish off Putin Xi Jinping, the Ayatollahs.
You’re going to have to up your trolling or it will be YOU getting the 3:00 knock on the door…
Nice. Personal threats. Classy.
You’re still deluded.
Even if the top (political) layer of the US is incompetent, the military and operational levels below this are not. Russia is clearly incompetent right the way down the stack. That’s why they always lose. Corrupt and inflexible and never learn. That’s what happens when you promote on “loyalty” and not merit.