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Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago

Neutrality offers Ukraine the best hope of preserving its sovereignty.
Once we have grown beyond war, all arms are in museums, an the lion shall lie down with the lamb, that would certainly be the best possible result. Meanwhile, the first requirement of Ukrainian sovereignty is that Russia refrains from invading or dominating – which Putin does not seem to be offering. How does the author imagine that Ukraine could protect its neutrality and complete sovereignty – in the real world?

David Uzzaman
David Uzzaman
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

There are two models of neutrality. The first is similar to Ireland where you make no real effort to defend yourself but rely on others. The second is armed neutrality as practiced by the Swiss and Swedes. They both spend significant amounts on their own defence and have capable forces. Which do you think Ukraine is likely to use as a model?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago
Reply to  David Uzzaman

Probably the Swiss model – but it does not matter. Without allies to help I regard it as impossible for Ukraine to stay free from Russian domination. Russia is too big and too determined. And too close. Nuclear weapons might do it, of course, but maybe even Philip Cunliffe would accept that being part of a western military alliance was the lesser evil here.

Martin Logan
Martin Logan
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

It has been Putin’s continual intervention in Ukraine that brought this about. Even in 2014, if he had simply taken a hands off approach, Ukraine in NATO would have been an impossibility. Just holding Crimea was more than enough to insure that.
It is his misguided attempts to resurrect the Russian/Soviet empire that have brought him and his nation low.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
9 months ago
Reply to  David Uzzaman

Ireland’s position and a friendly neighbour explains, at least in part, the neutral position. There is also the small matter of money. Additional postives include a beneficial position as a UN peacekeeping force around the world.

Oliver McCarthy
Oliver McCarthy
9 months ago

I’m not sure that only standing and waiting for the UN is exactly a “beneficial position”.

Rafi Stern
Rafi Stern
9 months ago
Reply to  David Uzzaman

Zelensky has said that he wants an Israeli model. Heavily armed by the West but looking after itself (while needing to continuously look over its shoulder for the approval of its patrons).

Paul Smithson
Paul Smithson
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The US might not have physically invaded Ukraine, but their involvement in the country is slowly becoming clear for all to see, or at least ask questions about.

– Was 2014 planned regime change managed wholly by the US?
– Were the US pumping in millions of dollars a day and if so why?
– Why did the US have so many biolabs in the country?
– What were the biolabs really working on?
– What was Hunter Biden really up to?
– Why were the offspring of other top US politicians so involved in the Ukraine?
– Why are US and NATO so intent on pushing right up to the Russian border?

And so many more questions.

This excellent article reminds readers of NATO’s role in the Balkans and touches on the US and NATO’s role in other world conflicts. It is refreshing to see such honest analysis and is just a shame we don’t see this quality of writing much in the MSM these days.

If people are wanting a full-on, long, drawn-out war with Russia (direct or proxy) then we seem to be following the playbook perfectly. That isn’t what I want, or any reasonable person, but all this Ukrainian flag waving and non-stop one-sided propaganda (on both sides) seems be encouraging a gung-ho attitude that’s almost saying ‘bring it on’. I’m sure the industrial military complex in Washington will be dancing on the tables with the massive increase in arms sales. After losing the cashflow that was Afghanistan such a major new conflict must be quite a relief.

Personally, I would much prefer to have never got to the point of a full-on conflict, but thanks to the incompetence of our political class that’s where we have ended up, but for the sake of the people of Ukraine we should be demanding an immediate ceasefire and conducting real negotiations.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

There is only one way to stop a war quickly: One side surrenders. Meanwhile ‘real negotiations’ can only work if both sides are willing to accept a real compromise. If you think that for the sake of peace and great power spheres of influence, Ukraine must go under Russian domination, by all means say so. If you do not favour that solution, you owe us to describe what kind of acceptable compromise you think you can bring about.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I fully concur with Paul and the author of the article. It is not up to the West to pretend to act as the world’s policeman while in effect being a bully and instigating trouble. That’s exactly what happened in the many year lead up to the current war.
Further, thanks to our great President pushing for regime change in Russian and a war crime trial for Putin, all options for negotiations have essentially been shut off. Putin and the Russians are no doubt guilty of wartime horrors, and I suspect the Ukrainian side is as well (although one would conclude from the MSM that the Ukrainian military are perfect little darlings). But Biden has effectively removed any possibility of compromise with Putin and the Russians. The US can act like that with small countries (e.g. Iraq and Libya), but not with a nuclear armed Russia that has more nuclear weapons than we do, plus some additional very dangerous delivery technology in the form of hypersonic missiles.
Let’;s hope that some cooler heads prevail in the West and we don’t end up with nuclear Armageddon.

Martin Logan
Martin Logan
9 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

This is about a former empire unable to perform even the most basic requirements of an empire: projecting a credible military force. The atrocities we see simply reflect the weakness and frustration of Russia’s military.
Any “compromise” will involve the fall of Putin–and probably Russia itself.
Weak empires don’t last very long, once the wolves start circling.

Last edited 9 months ago by Martin Logan
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
9 months ago
Reply to  Martin Logan

This is about a former empire unable to perform even the most basic requirements of an empire: projecting a credible military force.”
Sorry, but were you on about the US or Russia? 

Oliver McCarthy
Oliver McCarthy
9 months ago

Touché!

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
9 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Do you have any evidence of Ukrainian war crimes during the course of this conflict? If not your attempts to paint both sides as equally bad is your usual attempt at deflecting blame from Putin and his forces. One side has invaded its neighbour, reduced its cities to rubble and seemingly executed civilians on its retreat. What has Ukraine done that’s comparable?

Michael K
Michael K
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Ukraine will go under domination anyway. What difference does it make whether it’s the letters US, EU or UdSSR? There is a war going about, and people talk about compromise. Really? I thought those two were opposites. This whole thing has been about damage control, still is, and will be for the foreseeable time.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago
Reply to  Michael K

Ask the Ukrainians, I suspect they have a preference. If you asked me, I would prefer the EU and hate idea of submitting to Russia.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Same here, and I voted to leave

Martin Logan
Martin Logan
9 months ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

Nice rundown of conspiracy theories without evidence. Sort of like James I ingeniously postulating witches with the aid of the Malleus Malificarum.
Bravo…

Aidan Trimble
Aidan Trimble
9 months ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

Yep, whatever else you do, definitely don’t lay any blame at Russia’s door. That would be unconscionable.

Andrew F
Andrew F
9 months ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

You really can not accept the reality that Ukraine does not want to be part of Russia empire?
Like other countries of Soviet Block or Soviet Union.
Could you explain what is the benefit to Ukraine of being part of Russia?
Unless you mean “they will not be bombed any more by Russia”?
Even if you watch prof Mearsheimer videos you can see that there is no majority in any part of Ukraine for Putin economic zone.
Whereas there are majorities for EU membership in most regions.
It is pure economic.
Russia has nothing to offer apart from poverty and dictatorship.
At least China has dictatorship and economic growth.

Martin Logan
Martin Logan
9 months ago

The author ignores the fact that Russia is the last colonial power–or rather would-be colonial power. That Putin is now faced with an alliance also demonstrates where this must end.
The tragedy of this war is that Putin’s empire is far weaker than either the Russian empire in 1914, or the the Soviet empire in 1985. It is a simulacrum created by the Siloviki. Because deception lies at the heart of Putin’s system, every level of authority thinks it is perfectly fine to deceive the level above it. Hence the chaos on the battlefield and the enormous Russian casualties.
That the war is called “a special military operation” and is supposedly focused on routing “N*z*s” also reveals a nation completely out of touch with the present.
Most important, 500 years of European history suggest that being part of an alliance guarantees one’s survival–as the unfortunate fates of Felipe II, Louis XIV, Napoleon, the Kaiser, Hitler, and the Soviet Union itself amply demonstrate. Like Putin, they all sought empire–and lost. This is simply the last stage in the breakup of the Russian empire–and probably of Russia itself in its present form.
The author’s quaint, antique solutions to complex 21st Century problems are touchingly naive.
But they aren’t a substitute for Javelins and Stingers.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
9 months ago
Reply to  Martin Logan

I think you may be living in lala land. First, as a matter of history, the Warsaw pact was the counter alliance to NATO. Second, you may be a little over-confident in the outcome and a little too sure about the reliability of Ukrainian propaganda which is simply being regurgitated both by the MSM and western politicians (especially in the US).

GA Woolley
GA Woolley
9 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

The Warsaw Pact was not an ‘alliance’; it was a collection of client states controlled by Moscow. NATO was a defensive pact made necessary by the USSR’s aggressive takeovers and occupation of European countries. The West was demobilising; the USSR wasn’t, and kept an enormous standing army, which, after Austria’s vote against communist takeover, was clearly intended to avoid any semblance of a democratic decision keeping them at bay.

Mike Wylde
Mike Wylde
9 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Could you really say the Warsaw Pact was an alliance? There was only one member who was there voluntarily. The option to leave was not there either, while it may be difficult to do, leaving NATO has always been an option – as France did in 1966.

Martin Logan
Martin Logan
9 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Better have some inkling of the nature of the Russian military today–and of Russia itself.
Most troops have already been committed. In the north, at least, they have been decimated. Putin may be able to hang on to some territory in the south. But Russia will be isolated and poor, with a devastated military force it cannot resurrect. Moreover, the longer Putin remains in power, the weaker the nation becomes.
His is the greatest strategic blunderof the 21st Century–luckily for George and Tony.
In the 21st Century, “Real Politik” involves Stingers and Javelins, not aristocrats in wigs trading pieces of Europe back and forth.
Get Real.

Last edited 9 months ago by Martin Logan
Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
9 months ago
Reply to  Martin Logan

You’re entitled to your own opinion. I happen to disagree. I suspect that the massive sanctions will backfire on the US (even if they make us feel virtuous), especially if the dollar loses its status as the world’s reserve currency. As it is Biden little line about the “Rouble being in rubble” didn’t even hold for a few days given that the rouble is now back to its value prior to the sanctions. As for the military campaign, I suspect that eventually there will be a partitioning of Ukraine with the East and South (up to Odessa) going to Russia, and the rest with Ukraine. If the Russians take Odessa, and I suspect they will eventually, then Ukraine will be landlocked. Further, once the Ukrainian army in the East is fully encircled, they will have nowhere to go.
I suspect this war will continue until either the Ukrainians come to a compromise involving some sort of partition with the Russians, and/or the US no longer profits from the war. Right now, the US and NATO are simply using Ukraine as a proxy to fight Russia, and as a source of revenue for the US industrial-military complex (given that they can no longer sell weapons for use in Afghanistan).
As for troops committed, only a small fraction of the total Russian military has actually been committed to the Ukrainian invasion. And don’t forget that Russia possess more nuclear weapons than the US as well as functioning hypersonic missiles. While it would be suicide to launch these, one can well imagine that if Putin is completely cornered he well might resort to the nuclear option as a last resort, knowing that everybody will be destroyed in the process. So be careful what you wish for.
Lastly, also worth recalling that the jingoism and self-congratulation that you have exhibited is exactly the situation that pertained prior to WWI, and look where that got us. The U.K. might have won WWI but in the process the British empire was ultimately doomed and the role of the UK in the world significantly curtailed (to playing the poodle to the US).

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
9 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

A small fraction? I understand it’s over 50% of their experienced (non conscripted) resources (conscripts and ex forces being fairly useless in this type of war), and they’ve been asking China for military arms.

Andrew F
Andrew F
9 months ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Another nonsensical Russian propaganda from you.
What a surprise.
There Warsaw Pact was not an alliance.
It was just window dressing of Russian subjugation of Eastern Europe.
No one who is not mentally disabled (or Russian stooge) wants to be part of Russian “economic” zone.
Russia has nothing to offer to anyone politically, economically and culturally in present form.
Has it ever occurred to you why most (all?) of the former Soviet Block nations chose to join NATO?
Obviously you can not accept that they did this in their national interest.

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
9 months ago
Reply to  Martin Logan

Louis XIV? I’d have thought that dying in your bed at the age of 77 with all the consolations of religion, and leaving to your heir a greatly increased sphere of power, wasn’t particularly unfortunate.

Martin Logan
Martin Logan
9 months ago
Reply to  Sue Sims

He never united Spain with France, the whole object of his last war. And as I recall, things went downhill for the heirs that inherited his kingdom.
Easy to lose your head over it all…

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
9 months ago
Reply to  Martin Logan

Nice allusion! But the man himself can’t be grouped with the others you list.

Martin Logan
Martin Logan
9 months ago
Reply to  Sue Sims

Mille pardons!

Michael K
Michael K
9 months ago
Reply to  Martin Logan

Coming off as quite strong, alluding to the realities of weapons over verbal discussions… yet your post lacks substance. You claim Russia is weaker than ever – on what basis? The West has never depended more on Russian resources, and the Russians have invested in their military capabilities, where the West has wokified theirs. Javelins and stingers? Great idea, but currently we are more likely to shoot rainbows.
The neon*zi scene seems to be quite active in Ukraine indeed, there are many articles from before the current year, you only need to search for them.
Being part of an alliance doesn’t guarantee anything. Only being part of the stronger alliance does. Germany was allied with Japan and had swallowed smaller countries. Had their armies not been surprised by bad weather, their amphetamine-fuelled march on Moscow may have succeeded. There is more to war than counting the countries you are friendly with.
And Russia is going to spontaneously disassemble? I think not. Let’s see how paying resources in rubles turns out, or the attachment of the ruble to gold. Whereas the whole West has printed money like there’s no tomorrow, the Russian currency will be the most stable one on the planet. That’s quite good for business.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago

Mr Cunliffe, in spite of many good insights, is a bit schizophrenic on sovereignty. He is all for sovereignty and freedom from external control – but he clearly thinks that the dissolution of Yougoslavia was a very bad thing. Apparently sovereignty is good for multi-ethnic conglomerates, but very bad for states like Croatia or Slovenia. One even wonders whether he is equally shocked by the splitting of Ukraine away from the multi-ethnic Russian state?

Martin Logan
Martin Logan
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

IOW, it’s good for Milosevic and Putin, but bad for anyone else.

GA Woolley
GA Woolley
9 months ago

Yet another demonstration of how, if you start from a predetermined conclusion, all semblance of academic and intellectual rigour goes out of the window. Putin has declared his ‘rationale’ for annexing the Ukraine; to fulfil the nationalist and religious duty of reunifying the ‘Rus’. Nothing whatever to do with NATO, Bosnia, or any of the other fanciful ‘it’s all the West’s fault’ narratives which are the author’s stock in trade.

polidori redux
polidori redux
9 months ago

Either you have an empire or you are part of someone elses.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
9 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Correct. Ukraine will probably end up like Tibet. After all it’s not worth a full on Nuclear War is it?
That having been said we must recall the immortal words of the late US Airforce General, Jack.D. Ripper, Commander of the 843 Nuclear Bomb Wing, Strategic Air Command, (motto: ‘Peace is our Profession’). Burpelson Air Base, Alabama, USA.
“ Today war is too important to be left to Politicians.They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought “.

Paul Smithson
Paul Smithson
9 months ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

With better quality politicians we wouldn’t have war. All of this was avoidable.

As for the Ripper quote you could change the word ‘profession’ for ‘business’. Conflict is a huge business and worth many billions of dollars a year to some of the most influential people in Washington.

Martin Logan
Martin Logan
9 months ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

Your naive faith in the Russian army is touching.
But only a fool could think that a mid-sized nation of only 140 million souls could take over any significant part of a nation of 40 million.
The Russians found such a fool in V. V. Putin.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
9 months ago
Reply to  Martin Logan

Mr Putin has the Bomb, or had you forgotten?

Martin Logan
Martin Logan
9 months ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

And how does that enable him to occupy Ukraine?
Sort of like using a cricket bat to kill a fly.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
9 months ago
Reply to  Martin Logan

Well a cricket ball did kill a little sparrow once.
I think his/her remains are preserved in ‘Lords’ somewhere.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
9 months ago

“Bosnia remains a de facto protectorate of the European Union to this day, hosting international forces and even sporting a blue and yellow flag expressly modelled on that of the EU”.
Gosh, I’d never thought of that. Is the same true of Kosovo’s flag?
Re: H. H. Munro’s book: Luitpold Wolkenstein is not an absurd name. Not if you live in Vienna anyway. There are many odd aristocratic names floating around here and alot of people that bear them are very self-important on a very small scale. One of my favourites is Schmid von Schmidsfelden. The “von” has disappeared these days but the Schmid-Schmidsfelden is still around.

Last edited 9 months ago by Katharine Eyre
Andrew F
Andrew F
9 months ago

Another pro Russia article on here.
This time using Yugoslavia as a template.
I travelled to that country and all Balkans many times even during communist times.
Author seems to accept the idea that “Great” power either local or global has a right to decide who they control.
In this instance it is Yugoslavia as a “mini mi” of greater Russian clown.
Reality was that most component parts of Yugoslavia (really Great Serbia) did not want to be part of it.
They wanted to be independent (whatever it means in current world).
Author completely ignored the basic historical fact:
Why all the subject countries of empires like Russia and Serbia wanted to leave at the first opportunity?
The obvious answer is that so called empires had nothing to offer apart from poverty and violence.
Looking at former Soviet Block states like Poland, Czechia etc, it is clear they are much better of as part of Western alliance.

John Riordan
John Riordan
9 months ago

“If Ukraine is to safeguard the independence it is fighting for, it must not only repel the Russian invasion but also avoid becoming a Western protectorate, dependent on Nato arms and EU aid to survive.”

That is, frankly, not realistic. Ukraine will need the diplomatic, military and economic backing of the West in perpetuity to defend itself from Russia. And I don’t think this makes it inevitable that it becomes a protectorate of any Great Power (ignoring for a moment that it’s a bit daft to consider the EU such a thing anyway).

The reality is that Western Europe needs Ukraine to remain majority-opposed to Russia and majority-inclined to the West for reasons that go well beyond any concern for Ukrainians themselves. That just means there’s a deal to be done, it doesn’t have to be that Ukraine has to decide which side to surrender to.

Last edited 9 months ago by John Riordan
laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
9 months ago

One of the problem with academic-style arguments like Mr. Cunliffe’s is the vigorous spin on some of the basic facts.
Unless I’m mistaken, Germany only recognized Slovenia and Croatia after the Serbs had already started their drunken rampage. While they were perfecting the use of mass rape as a weapon, the US and everyone else did squat. Absolutely nothing! The Germans were the only ones who did anything at all; they deserve credit for that.
And, by the way, Secretary of State Baker made an “illustrious” career out of acting like a vegtable. Of course he was ignored. He spent years trying to make sure that the Soviet Union did not break-up. It was comical. He and his ilk had spent their lives in heated opposition to the Soviets; they had no idea what they would do if the USSR ceased to exist. Luckily, younger minds took matters into their own hands.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
9 months ago

“At the time, German defiance of the US was taken to signal the revival of German power in the wake of the country’s reunification in 1990.”
Or more likely a rekindling of an old WW2 alliance 

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
9 months ago

The only way Putin is copying the conflicts in the Balkan’s is the tactics used in Sarajevo and Srebrenica