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John Mearsheimer: We’re playing Russian roulette The West is screwed, says the realist foreign policy scholar

Escalation is inevitable in Ukraine. Credit: Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty

Escalation is inevitable in Ukraine. Credit: Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty


November 30, 2022   9 mins

Until the Russia-Ukraine crisis, Professor John Mearsheimer was mainly known in academic circles as a leading scholar in the “realist” school of foreign policy. That is to say, he takes an unsentimental view of world affairs as being a muscular competition between great powers for regional hegemony.

But with the Ukrainian “Maidan revolution” in 2014 and then the Russian invasion this February, he became a figurehead for the millions of people worldwide who have misgivings about the wisdom of Western actions in Ukraine. A single lecture delivered in 2015 entitled “Why is Ukraine the West’s fault” has been viewed a staggering 28 million times on YouTube.

His central argument, that by expanding Nato eastwards and inviting Ukraine to join the bloc, the West (and in particular the United States) created an intolerable situation for Vladimir Putin which would inevitably result in Russia taking action to “wreck” Ukraine, is politically unsayable today. His critics denounce him as a Putin apologist; his supporters, however, believe the invasion was proof that he was right all along.

 

When I meet Mearsheimer, I am keen to focus on what we have learned since the February invasion began. I want to know how can he still maintain that there is “no evidence” that Russia had ambitions to conquer Ukraine? How else are we to interpret that shocking moment when it became clear that the Russians were launching a full-scale invasion — from the North, the South and the East of the country?

“The Russians invaded Ukraine with 190,000 troops at the very most,” he replies. “They made no effort to conquer all of Ukraine. They didn’t even come close. There is no way they could have conquered Ukraine with 190,000 troops. And they didn’t have the troops in reserve to do that. When the Germans invaded Poland, in 1939, they invaded with 1.5 million troops. That’s the size army you need to conquer a country like Ukraine, occupy it and then incorporate it into a greater Russia. You need a massive army. This was a limited aim strategy.”

In which case, what was that limited aim?

“What the Russians have said they have wanted from the beginning is a neutral Ukraine. And if they can’t get a neutral Ukraine, what they’re going to do is create a dysfunctional rump state
 They’ve taken a huge swath of territory in the East, they’ve annexed those oblasts that are now part of Russia. And at the same time, they’re destroying Ukrainian infrastructure. They’re wrecking the Ukrainian economy. It’s sickening to see what’s happening to Ukraine.”

This assessment of the situation on the ground is very different from the reports we hear every day of Ukrainian successes and Russian retreats. The underdog nation, by most accounts, is performing astonishingly well against the aggressor.

Mearsheimer concedes that he was surprised by how poorly the Russians have performed, but that doesn’t seem to have affected his assessment of the realpolitik. I put it to him that the progress of the Ukraine war thus far can be seen as a repudiation of his “realist” theory of international affairs. The smaller power is outperforming the greater, in part through the sheer moral conviction of its people defending their homeland — evidence, surely, of the intangible moral element that is missing from his coldly “realist” world view?

“The key word here is nationalism,” he responds. “There’s no doubt that when the Russians invaded Ukraine, nationalism came racing to the fore, and that Ukrainian nationalism is a force multiplier. There’s also no doubt that nationalism is not part of the realist theory of international politics that I have, but nationalism is consistent with realism. Nationalism and Realism fit together rather neatly. But the point you want to remember is that Nationalism is also at play on the Russian side. And the more time goes by, and the more the Russians feel that the West has its gun sights on Russia, and is trying to not only defeat Russia, but knock Russia out of the ranks of the great powers, the more Russian nationalism will kick in. You want to be very careful not to judge the outcome of this war at this particular juncture. This war has got a long time to go and it’s going to play itself out in ways that are hard to predict. But I think there is a good chance that in the end, the Russians will prevail.”

Bleakly, Mearsheimer now believes that the opportunity for peace has been lost, and that there is no realistic deal that could be reached in Ukraine. Russia will not surrender the gains made in Eastern Ukraine, while the West cannot tolerate their continued occupation; meanwhile, a neutral Ukraine is also impossible, as the only power capable of guaranteeing that neutrality is the US, which would of course be intolerable to Russia. As he puts it, succinctly: “There are no realistic options. We’re screwed.”

He believes that escalation is likely, and the chance of a nuclear event is “non-trivial”. He lays out his rationale for why the Russians might well go there, step by step:

“If the Russians were to use nuclear weapons, the most likely scenario is that they would use them in Ukraine. And Ukraine does not have nuclear weapons of its own. So the Ukrainians would not be able to retaliate against the Russians with their own nuclear weapons. So that weakens deterrence. Furthermore, if the Russians use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, the West, and here we’re talking mainly about the United States, is not going to retaliate with nuclear weapons against Russia, because that would lead to a general thermonuclear war.”

Western restraint cannot be relied upon in this scenario, he concedes, and the chances of catastrophic escalation remain strong, which is why he considers the current rhetoric among Western leaders about defeating Russia “foolish”.

The British are “major cheerleaders” for the policy, by his assessment, pushing the United States into stronger action. “I think the British are being remarkably foolish, just like I think, the Poles, the Baltic states, and the Americans.”

Sweden and Finland meanwhile, with their Nato membership bids, are only making the situation more dangerous. The idea that Russia is poised to invade either Finland or Sweden is a “figment of the West’s imagination” and their membership of the security pact will only heighten Russia’s sense that it is being deliberately encircled. He believes their applications should be rejected, and that nobody should have the “right” to join a security pact like Nato.

Mearsheimer’s logic all points in the same direction: if there is no peace deal now possible in Ukraine, the only logical outcome is ongoing fighting; ongoing fighting will logically lead to escalation, particularly if Russia appears to be losing; and escalation may very well eventually take a nuclear form, at which point a great power nuclear conflict becomes a real possibility.

A more positive eventual outcome than this, of course, will falsify his theory and prove him wrong. I ask him, if the Ukraine conflict ends less badly — perhaps with Russia withdrawing or accepting a fudge, Ukraine strengthened and no nuclear event — will he admit he was wrong?

“Of course,” he says. “International Politics operates in a world of what I would call radical uncertainty, it’s very hard to figure out what the future looks like, it’s very hard to make predictions
 Is there a possibility that the Russians will cave at some point? I think there’s a small possibility. I also think there’s a non-trivial chance that this will lead to nuclear war. And when you marry the consequences of nuclear war with the possibility, in my mind, that means you should be remarkably cautious. Let me illustrate this by this analogy. If I have a gun, and the barrel has 100 chambers, and I put five bullets in that barrel. And I say to you, Freddie, I’m gonna pull the trigger and put the gun up to your head. But don’t worry, there’s only a 5% chance that I will kill you
 The question you have to ask yourself is, are you going to be nervous? Are you going to be scared stiff? 
The consequences here involve nuclear war. So there only has to be a small probability that John is right.”

The common critique of this line of argument is that it becomes hard to see how the behaviour of a nuclear power could ever be curtailed. The bully could always wield the threat of nuclear disaster to get away with a new atrocity. And that logic also leads to disaster. So where would Mearsheimer draw the line? His answers are unambiguous.

First, he believes without hesitation that the existing Nato countries must be defended, notwithstanding the risks. “The Baltic states are in Nato. Poland and Romania are in Nato. They have an article 5 guarantee. If the Russians were to attack those countries, we would have to come to the defence of those countries, there’s no question about that. I would support that.”

More surprisingly, on the subject of China and Taiwain, which you might think bears a resemblance to Russia and Ukraine as a smaller Western-backed entity in the orbit of a rival regional hegemon, he takes the opposite view.

“I have a fundamentally different view on China than I do on Russia. And therefore, my thinking about Taiwan is different from my thinking about Ukraine. I believe that China is a peer competitor of the United States, and that it threatens to dominate Asia the way the United States dominates the Western Hemisphere. … From an American point of view, that’s unacceptable. And I think that’s correct. I think the United States should not want China to dominate Asia, the way we dominate the western hemisphere. So we’re going to go to great lengths to contain China. And for purposes of containing China, it is important for us to defend Taiwan.”

Mearsheimerism, then, is not quite what either his followers or his detractors might think it is. It is not an anti-war doctrine (his branch of “Offensive Realism” specifically sees aggression as a necessary part of great powers’ survival); nor is it fundamentally sceptical of American power. He supports American power being projected in its interests, but believes that the war in Ukraine is a distraction from the real threat, which is China, and worse, will drive Russia into the arms of China when it is in America’s interests to drive them apart.

A week before we met, Isaac Chotiner published a transcript of a telephone interview with Mearsheimer in the New Yorker. It was ostensibly about Ukraine, but Chotiner pushed Mearsheimer to talk about his recent meeting with Viktor OrbĂĄn. Which he refused to do. The effect was to imply that he was covering up murky friendships in the illiberal (and Russia-sympathetic) fringes of Europe.

Mearsheimer tells me, which he refused to do on the phone to Chontiner, that he was in Hungary to promote the translation of his latest book The Great Delusion, and that the prime minister and president requested a meeting via the publisher. He says he jumped at the chance, and ended up having a three-hour conversation with OrbĂĄn.

“I was very interested in talking to him for two reasons. One, I was interested in hearing his views on Ukraine, and how his views compare to the views of other European leaders and where he thought this was all headed. But I was also very interested in talking to him about nationalism and liberalism, the relationship between those two isms, this is one of the central themes in my book. What I have in common with OrbĂĄn is he thinks nationalism is a very important force, obviously, and I agree with him. But where I disagree with him is I think that liberalism is a very powerful force, and it’s all for the good. He, on the other hand, detests liberalism, so what he sees is liberalism and nationalism as polar opposites, and he favours nationalism, and wants to crush liberalism. I, on the other hand, see nationalism and liberalism as two ideologies that differ in important ways, but nevertheless, can coexist.”

Is he not worried that, whatever the content, by having those kinds of meetings, he will start to be seen as an activist with a political agenda more than an observer and an analyst?

“I’m not an activist, I’m an academic, I’m a scholar. And this is part of my research. My goal is to understand what’s going on in Europe
 I’m not condoning Victor OrbĂĄn’s policies, or condemning them, I’m simply talking to him to understand what is going on in his mind and what is going on in Hungary and what is going on in Europe more generally
 The fact that people are trying to smear me because I talked to Viktor OrbĂĄn is hardly surprising in the context that we now operate, because people are really not that interested these days in talking about facts and logic. What they prefer to do is to smear people who they disagree with.”

It is perhaps not surprising that Mearsheimer’s brand of cold realism has become popular in our increasingly multipolar, competitive world. But there is an impassive, observational quality to it which sounds negative and even cynical to the progressive ear. I ask him whether this uncertain, multipolar world is here to stay and if so, is that a good thing?

“I think it’s definitely here to stay. And I think it’s more dangerous than the Cold War was. I was born and raised during the Cold War, and the world was bipolar at that point in time… During the Cold War, we had the United States and the Soviet Union. During the Unipolar Moment, you just had the sole pole, the United States. And today, you have three great powers, the United States, China, and Russia. Now, you could not have great power politics in the unipolar world, because there was only one great power. What we have today, with the US-China competition in East Asia, and the US-Russia competition, mainly over Ukraine, is two conflict dyads. They’re separate conflict dyads — US-China, US-Russia. I would argue that not only do you have two instead of one, each one of those dyads is more dangerous than the conflict dyad in the Cold War.

“The United States and Russia are almost at war in Ukraine, and we can hypothesise plausible scenarios where the United States ends up fighting against Russia in Ukraine. And then we talked about the US China competition and the problems associated with Taiwan. And Taiwan is not the only flashpoint in East Asia, there’s also the South China Sea, the East China Sea, and the Korean peninsula. So you can imagine a war breaking out between the United States and China in East Asia, and a war breaking out in Ukraine involving the United States and Russia, I think more easily than you could imagine a war breaking out during the Cold War in Europe, or in East Asia involving the United States and the Soviet Union.

So I think we live in more dangerous times today than we did during the Cold War, and certainly than we did during the Unipolar Moment. And I think if anything, this situation is only going to get worse.”

I really hope you’re wrong, I say. “I hope I’m wrong too,” he replies.


Freddie Sayers is the Editor-in-Chief & CEO of UnHerd. He was previously Editor-in-Chief of YouGov, and founder of PoliticsHome.

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Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago

Mearsheimmer’s analysis makes sense to me. Good interview, thank you Freddie Sayers.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

Answering – as I still cannot comment.

Very interesting and refreshing interview, yes. But I challenge Mearsheimer on one point: Russia did not just want the ‘neutrality’ of Ukraine. They wanted Ukraine to be under Russian political control, even if formally independent, a vassal state in the Russian empire, like Belarus. I think Putin himself said that he did not mind formal independence as long as the country was part of the Russian world. It was the idea of a functional independent Ukrainian state with close ties to the EU – militarily neutral or not – that Russia refused to accept. As one of their propagandists put it on Unherd ‘Get rid of the corrupt pro-western oligarchs, and have Ukraine run by a group of corrupt pro-Russian oligarchs instead. No need for war and suffering at all.’ The size of the Russian invasion force could have been sufficient to achieve that – Zelensky flees the invasion, some friendly oligarch takes over, and the Russian troops are enough to convince people to accept the new regime. Only the Ukrainians insisted on fighting.

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I agree with you, there is no doubt in my mind Putin wants Ukraine back under Russian control. It seems to me the history of that area and Russia’s idea about itself makes that inevitable. Even Solzenitzyn was strongly against an independent Ukraine.

Last edited 1 year ago by Claire D
alison rain
alison rain
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

there is no evidence to support that claire, in fact everything thats happened over the years suggests the opposite as i point out in my reply above to rasmus

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago
Reply to  alison rain

You might be right, but remember that politicians, including Putin, are just as likely to change course in life as anyone else. Circumstances change, eg, the Maidan revolution, Biden following Trump into the White House, Zelensky’s promises before his election and his turn around afterwards + Russia has played it’s part for good or ill. Politicians alter course all the time, they have to to survive. Putin’s intentions in 2015 may have been as you say but they were unlikely to remain the same.

Last edited 1 year ago by Claire D
Emily G
Emily G
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

You need to know you are trying to understand politicians from the politicians that you know of. It is certain that the politicians you know of cannot represents what politicians are, at least this does not fit for every politicians. Jump outside of the mind box.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
1 year ago
Reply to  Emily G

Let’s not have the “mad Kaiser” theory again.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
1 year ago
Reply to  Emily G

Let’s not have the “mad Kaiser” theory again.

Emily G
Emily G
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

You need to know you are trying to understand politicians from the politicians that you know of. It is certain that the politicians you know of cannot represents what politicians are, at least this does not fit for every politicians. Jump outside of the mind box.

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago
Reply to  alison rain

You might be right, but remember that politicians, including Putin, are just as likely to change course in life as anyone else. Circumstances change, eg, the Maidan revolution, Biden following Trump into the White House, Zelensky’s promises before his election and his turn around afterwards + Russia has played it’s part for good or ill. Politicians alter course all the time, they have to to survive. Putin’s intentions in 2015 may have been as you say but they were unlikely to remain the same.

Last edited 1 year ago by Claire D
martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

The issue since 2013 is Putin’s attempt to corral Ukraine into his abortive Eurasian Economic Union. The Sochi Olympics were designed to put the cherry on its top.
In a sense, his behaviour since has been to try to somehow resurrect that dead parrot. But his invasion has put the final nail in the coffin. Note how cold Tokayev was at their latest meeting.
Even with a destroyed Ukraine, Russia will be a crippled nation for decades to come.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  martin logan

If the Russian Federation had been so great, countries would have been trying to join instead of escaping.

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

LOL…
Countries are indeed running and stand in line to join brics,… a club of states… why should they join the state Russia itself anyway?
Has any state tried to join the US or UK lately… or ever?

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

Many, people and states, are very keen to join with USA, UK Europe, EU, NAFTA Japan, ASEAN etc that’s why these countries are the wealthiest, happiest, freest, and why they have immigration problems – as opposed to miserable Russia which has a massive emigration problem, and North Korea, which would have if they didn’t so effectively threaten anyone thinking about leaving with death or imprisonment.

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Dude, dont let your superiority complex ruin your thinking.
Look up real world statistics. Russia is on balance a IMMIGRATION country, Top 3 in numbers for sure.
The point was not joining with a state, but join A state.
And even in joining WITH a state, Russia and its state clubs are superior right now… look at the line waiting to join BRICS,… e.g Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and many more
How many of states has the West (US+ca. 50 Vassals) succeeded to convince to JOIN the sanctions against Russia, within the 8 months (!) since they started??? Hint: a FAT zero…

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

Population of Russia has fallen by 4 million in the last 30 years (up to 2020), In the same period UK pop went up by 10 million and USA by 80 million. Russia is very keen to attract immigrants because of it’s population crisis:

https://fortune.com/2022/10/18/russia-population-historic-decline-emigration-war-plunging-birth-rate-form-perfect-storm/

If you ask the questions – how many immigrants relative to the population or geographic size? – Russia plummets down the list. Similarly, if you ask migrants where they’d like to emigrate to, Russia is fairly low on the list (1% of immigrants to US’s 25%):
https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/11/these-are-the-countries-migrants-want-to-move-to/

Beware that your inferiority complex leads you into the well-worn Soviet defences – denial, rationalisation, repression, and projection.

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Yeah dude, whatever your superiority complex wants you to believe, you’ll find some skewed data to support your fallacy…
Anyone can instead look up the raw data for himself:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_to_Europe#2013_UN_data
–> Russia is by far the first on the list as destination among European countries.

Last edited 1 year ago by Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Yeah dude, whatever your superiority complex wants you to believe, you’ll find some skewed data to support your fallacy…
Anyone can instead look up the raw data for himself:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_to_Europe#2013_UN_data
–> Russia is by far the first on the list as destination among European countries.

Last edited 1 year ago by Vojin Subasic
Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

Population of Russia has fallen by 4 million in the last 30 years (up to 2020), In the same period UK pop went up by 10 million and USA by 80 million. Russia is very keen to attract immigrants because of it’s population crisis:

https://fortune.com/2022/10/18/russia-population-historic-decline-emigration-war-plunging-birth-rate-form-perfect-storm/

If you ask the questions – how many immigrants relative to the population or geographic size? – Russia plummets down the list. Similarly, if you ask migrants where they’d like to emigrate to, Russia is fairly low on the list (1% of immigrants to US’s 25%):
https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/11/these-are-the-countries-migrants-want-to-move-to/

Beware that your inferiority complex leads you into the well-worn Soviet defences – denial, rationalisation, repression, and projection.

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Dude, dont let your superiority complex ruin your thinking.
Look up real world statistics. Russia is on balance a IMMIGRATION country, Top 3 in numbers for sure.
The point was not joining with a state, but join A state.
And even in joining WITH a state, Russia and its state clubs are superior right now… look at the line waiting to join BRICS,… e.g Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and many more
How many of states has the West (US+ca. 50 Vassals) succeeded to convince to JOIN the sanctions against Russia, within the 8 months (!) since they started??? Hint: a FAT zero…

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

Many, people and states, are very keen to join with USA, UK Europe, EU, NAFTA Japan, ASEAN etc that’s why these countries are the wealthiest, happiest, freest, and why they have immigration problems – as opposed to miserable Russia which has a massive emigration problem, and North Korea, which would have if they didn’t so effectively threaten anyone thinking about leaving with death or imprisonment.

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

LOL…
Countries are indeed running and stand in line to join brics,… a club of states… why should they join the state Russia itself anyway?
Has any state tried to join the US or UK lately… or ever?

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  martin logan

If the Russian Federation had been so great, countries would have been trying to join instead of escaping.

alison rain
alison rain
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

there is no evidence to support that claire, in fact everything thats happened over the years suggests the opposite as i point out in my reply above to rasmus

martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

The issue since 2013 is Putin’s attempt to corral Ukraine into his abortive Eurasian Economic Union. The Sochi Olympics were designed to put the cherry on its top.
In a sense, his behaviour since has been to try to somehow resurrect that dead parrot. But his invasion has put the final nail in the coffin. Note how cold Tokayev was at their latest meeting.
Even with a destroyed Ukraine, Russia will be a crippled nation for decades to come.

alison rain
alison rain
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

what evidence is there to support your claim regarding putin wanting ukraine under russian rule. since the war started in 2015 russia has tried its best to keep the country together under the minsk accords, even when the donetsk and luhansk regions carried out votes to separate from ukraine and applied to join russia putin said no and tried to keep minsk alive. this isnt the actions of a man who wanted to take over ukraine. also as pointed out in the article the military operation was a mere 190k personnel, hardly an invasion force intended to subdue an entire country.

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
1 year ago
Reply to  alison rain

190,000 men was plenty of force to subdue a willing country. Ukraine wasn’t willing to be subdued. Given the problems Russia has had supplying its 190,000 men, it probably couldn’t muster the men necessary to subdue an unwilling Ukraine, and it certainly couldn’t supply them.
Remember, the Nazis marched into the Rhineland a mere 20,000 strong — all the force the Nazi regime could muster in 1936. They were greeted jubilantly by the Rhinelanders.
The German General Staff were quaking in their boots. If either Britain or France had responded with force, the 20,000 men would have been toast. Neither Britain nor France did anything, and a jubilant Fuhrer was on his way to world domination.
Be warned.

alison rain
alison rain
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Wagner

either you didnt read what i wrote correctly or youre intentionally misinterpreting it and your making some comparisons that are not at all comparable at all, for example the rhineland is miniscule compared to the size of ukraine.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Wagner

Excellent point! Upvotes don’t seem to be working.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Wagner

Rhineland was/ is a pure German region (Land) and always belonged to Germany. The invasion by the Nazi Regime was so successful, because there was no resistance from the inhabitants and they were jubilant to be “freed”. Rhineland was occupied by the French because the Germans were behind their payment of the Reparations. So there is no comparison with the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops

alison rain
alison rain
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Wagner

either you didnt read what i wrote correctly or youre intentionally misinterpreting it and your making some comparisons that are not at all comparable at all, for example the rhineland is miniscule compared to the size of ukraine.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Wagner

Excellent point! Upvotes don’t seem to be working.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Wagner

Rhineland was/ is a pure German region (Land) and always belonged to Germany. The invasion by the Nazi Regime was so successful, because there was no resistance from the inhabitants and they were jubilant to be “freed”. Rhineland was occupied by the French because the Germans were behind their payment of the Reparations. So there is no comparison with the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  alison rain

I did say ‘Russian control’, not ‘Russian rule’.

First, that the conquest of Crimea and the Russian-fomented ‘insurgency’ in the Donbas were triggered by the Maidan, where Ukraine refused to join the Russian orbit and made a deal with the EU (*not* NATO). Second, that I see the Minsk accords as, effectively, a form of Russian control. The Donbas regions would be effectively ruled from Moscow – whatever the constitutional arrangements any local government there would be 100% dependent on Russian military force for its survival. And, being still part of Ukraine, those regions would give Moscow an effective veto over Ukrainian foreign and security policy. One of the disagreements that sank the Minsk accords, I seem to remember, was how much control Ukraine would have over elections in the Donbas, which is sort of suggestive. Ukrainian connection to the Russian economic system and forced disconnection from the Western one would do the rest. Once Ukraine was run by a pro-Russian (and likely corrupt) elite, it would be a safely Russian vassal state (like Belarus) without going to the trouble of actually conquering it. Which is of course why Ukraine was not willing to abide by the Minsk accords.

Jim McDonnell
Jim McDonnell
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The kind of authoritarian kleptocracy Putin runs can’t survive unless it can keep its people focused on external threats, real and imagined, against which their fearless leader will protect them. A truly independent, prosperous Ukraine would, by its very existence, be a threat to such a regime. If Putin really wanted to encourage Slavic brotherhood that can be done without subjugating people.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jim McDonnell
Jim McDonnell
Jim McDonnell
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The kind of authoritarian kleptocracy Putin runs can’t survive unless it can keep its people focused on external threats, real and imagined, against which their fearless leader will protect them. A truly independent, prosperous Ukraine would, by its very existence, be a threat to such a regime. If Putin really wanted to encourage Slavic brotherhood that can be done without subjugating people.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jim McDonnell
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  alison rain

He stated it explicitly in the paper he published. Just like Adolf – Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein FĂŒhrer! 

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
1 year ago
Reply to  alison rain

190,000 men was plenty of force to subdue a willing country. Ukraine wasn’t willing to be subdued. Given the problems Russia has had supplying its 190,000 men, it probably couldn’t muster the men necessary to subdue an unwilling Ukraine, and it certainly couldn’t supply them.
Remember, the Nazis marched into the Rhineland a mere 20,000 strong — all the force the Nazi regime could muster in 1936. They were greeted jubilantly by the Rhinelanders.
The German General Staff were quaking in their boots. If either Britain or France had responded with force, the 20,000 men would have been toast. Neither Britain nor France did anything, and a jubilant Fuhrer was on his way to world domination.
Be warned.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  alison rain

I did say ‘Russian control’, not ‘Russian rule’.

First, that the conquest of Crimea and the Russian-fomented ‘insurgency’ in the Donbas were triggered by the Maidan, where Ukraine refused to join the Russian orbit and made a deal with the EU (*not* NATO). Second, that I see the Minsk accords as, effectively, a form of Russian control. The Donbas regions would be effectively ruled from Moscow – whatever the constitutional arrangements any local government there would be 100% dependent on Russian military force for its survival. And, being still part of Ukraine, those regions would give Moscow an effective veto over Ukrainian foreign and security policy. One of the disagreements that sank the Minsk accords, I seem to remember, was how much control Ukraine would have over elections in the Donbas, which is sort of suggestive. Ukrainian connection to the Russian economic system and forced disconnection from the Western one would do the rest. Once Ukraine was run by a pro-Russian (and likely corrupt) elite, it would be a safely Russian vassal state (like Belarus) without going to the trouble of actually conquering it. Which is of course why Ukraine was not willing to abide by the Minsk accords.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  alison rain

He stated it explicitly in the paper he published. Just like Adolf – Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein FĂŒhrer! 

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I agree with this assessment. It is no less consistent with political realism than Mearsheimer’s opinion and as you mention it better fits the facts such as troop levels and overall military strategy. The Russians were attempting to do what the Americans did in Iraq and Afghanistan and hoping their proximity and lack of moral scruples would allow them more success. Also, your point fits with the origin of the conflict, the 2014 revolution that ousted the pro-Russian Yanukovych. The Russians believed that the coup was backed by NATO and the US. The nearest analogy for the Americans would be if someone staged a coup and installed a Chinese/Russian pawn regime in Mexico or Canada. Obviously, the US would not and could not simply ignore this. They would, logically, attempt to bring a friendly government to power and bring the nation back into the American sphere of influence. Whether that rose to the level of military conflict would depend on specific circumstances, threat levels, the current domestic and geopolitical climate, etc.
Also, I am able to comment on some articles but not others. It’s very strange. I think it must be some computer bug.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

I could quibble a bit. Ukraine did not belong to Russia before 2014, so it is not a question of bringing it ‘back’, and I do think it makes a difference that your ‘coup’ has been repeatedly legitimised by free elections. This was not some generals taking over, but a government falling to popular insurgency, like the Arab Spring.

Still, the parallel with Iraq and Afghanistan, while painful, is unfortunately rather apt.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

A ‘coup’ is used to take away democracy and free elections. You have it backwards. The people of Ukraine are not slaves to be owned by Russians. They have a right to their own government that they control. So do the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. A “government” that is NOT elected is by definition illegitimate.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

Near as I can see we agree about what is happening. What is it you think I am saying that you disagree with?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

Near as I can see we agree about what is happening. What is it you think I am saying that you disagree with?

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

You’re correct in that subsequent history does vindicate the Maidan Revolution as more a popular revolution than a ‘coup’. Had the Yanukovych election been legitimate, future elections would have shown as much. Russia would, of course, contest that interpretation.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

A ‘coup’ is used to take away democracy and free elections. You have it backwards. The people of Ukraine are not slaves to be owned by Russians. They have a right to their own government that they control. So do the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. A “government” that is NOT elected is by definition illegitimate.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

You’re correct in that subsequent history does vindicate the Maidan Revolution as more a popular revolution than a ‘coup’. Had the Yanukovych election been legitimate, future elections would have shown as much. Russia would, of course, contest that interpretation.

martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Sorry, since 1848 the US has had many unfriendly govts in Mexico. Some have been overtly Marxist.
Except for one questionable foray after a border raid, the US has tried to maintain good relations. And I recall a nation about 90 miles away that is as hostile as you claim Ukraine was to Russia.
The idea that Ukraine would immediately become a NATO missile base is simply disinformatin.
Zelensky only wanted in when he thought Russia would invade.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

I could quibble a bit. Ukraine did not belong to Russia before 2014, so it is not a question of bringing it ‘back’, and I do think it makes a difference that your ‘coup’ has been repeatedly legitimised by free elections. This was not some generals taking over, but a government falling to popular insurgency, like the Arab Spring.

Still, the parallel with Iraq and Afghanistan, while painful, is unfortunately rather apt.

martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Sorry, since 1848 the US has had many unfriendly govts in Mexico. Some have been overtly Marxist.
Except for one questionable foray after a border raid, the US has tried to maintain good relations. And I recall a nation about 90 miles away that is as hostile as you claim Ukraine was to Russia.
The idea that Ukraine would immediately become a NATO missile base is simply disinformatin.
Zelensky only wanted in when he thought Russia would invade.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

“Russia did not just want the ‘neutrality’ of Ukraine. They wanted Ukraine to be under Russian political control”
Strangely, this desire did not seem to become apparent till 2014.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

For the very good reason that until 2014 Russia thought, not without reason, that they could get the control they wanted by political means. The Yanukovich government accepted to ditch the EU and opt for Russias economic sphere in return for Russian cash promises (and maybe some discreet threats?). Only Yanukovich could not carry his people with him so that his government fell and the plan fell through. On to plan B: Conquest of Crimea, send the ‘little green men’ into the Donbas, and use the Minsk accords to keep Ukraine under control. Only Ukraine refused to remain bound by the accords (the other side did not respect the details much either), so there was no stable control to get here either. On to plan C and invasion.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Governments only exist with the permission of their people. Unhappy people overthrow illegitimate governments.

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

No, they usually dont, they do however vote governments out in elections in functional democracies (quite few nowadays)… If a few % of radicals do try to do a insurrection, they usually end in prison, like 6th January…
Maidan was an exemption which confirmes the rule, and only succeeded because of outside help.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

they usually don’t…until they do.

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Yes indeed, a few % of the population can overturn a government, if they have radical (Nazis) prominently agitating among them… Especially if they are massively supported by foreign powers.
So governments, beware!

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

Putin beware! And boy he knows it, hiding from his own team, his own people, imprisoning and killing any of them who so much as hurt his feelings, and paying hacks and hackers to ‘create content’. Rarely in history has the distance between a mans ambition & self regard, and the reality, been so great, and so pathetic. Chekist loser punk.

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Hey Dominic,
Are you still showering regularly?
I heard Putin ordered an even longer table to distance himself from his EU guests, once he heard, that EU countries advise their citizens to take less showers… He must have an overly sensitive nose…;-)

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Hey Dominic,
Are you still showering regularly?
I heard Putin ordered an even longer table to distance himself from his EU guests, once he heard, that EU countries advise their citizens to take less showers… He must have an overly sensitive nose…;-)

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

Putin beware! And boy he knows it, hiding from his own team, his own people, imprisoning and killing any of them who so much as hurt his feelings, and paying hacks and hackers to ‘create content’. Rarely in history has the distance between a mans ambition & self regard, and the reality, been so great, and so pathetic. Chekist loser punk.

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Yes indeed, a few % of the population can overturn a government, if they have radical (Nazis) prominently agitating among them… Especially if they are massively supported by foreign powers.
So governments, beware!

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

they usually don’t…until they do.

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

You want to tell that to the Canadian truckers or the Dutch farmers?

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

No, they usually dont, they do however vote governments out in elections in functional democracies (quite few nowadays)… If a few % of radicals do try to do a insurrection, they usually end in prison, like 6th January…
Maidan was an exemption which confirmes the rule, and only succeeded because of outside help.

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

You want to tell that to the Canadian truckers or the Dutch farmers?

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Governments only exist with the permission of their people. Unhappy people overthrow illegitimate governments.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Because before 2014, Putin had a puppet government in Uraine that was under Russian political control.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Strangely, this desire was apparent, which makes you seem either ignorant, or a shill. Gary Kasparov was very vocal, before Putin even took power, in warning Russian and the World of Putin’s mindset and intention to ‘rebuild Russia’ using whatever means necessary (crime, aggression). The West largely ignored him, as they ignored Boris Nemstov, until Putin had him killed.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

For the very good reason that until 2014 Russia thought, not without reason, that they could get the control they wanted by political means. The Yanukovich government accepted to ditch the EU and opt for Russias economic sphere in return for Russian cash promises (and maybe some discreet threats?). Only Yanukovich could not carry his people with him so that his government fell and the plan fell through. On to plan B: Conquest of Crimea, send the ‘little green men’ into the Donbas, and use the Minsk accords to keep Ukraine under control. Only Ukraine refused to remain bound by the accords (the other side did not respect the details much either), so there was no stable control to get here either. On to plan C and invasion.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Because before 2014, Putin had a puppet government in Uraine that was under Russian political control.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Strangely, this desire was apparent, which makes you seem either ignorant, or a shill. Gary Kasparov was very vocal, before Putin even took power, in warning Russian and the World of Putin’s mindset and intention to ‘rebuild Russia’ using whatever means necessary (crime, aggression). The West largely ignored him, as they ignored Boris Nemstov, until Putin had him killed.

Emre S
Emre S
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Just fully refresh Unherd page. It’s either ctrl+f5 or ctrl+r.

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I agree with you, there is no doubt in my mind Putin wants Ukraine back under Russian control. It seems to me the history of that area and Russia’s idea about itself makes that inevitable. Even Solzenitzyn was strongly against an independent Ukraine.

Last edited 1 year ago by Claire D
alison rain
alison rain
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

what evidence is there to support your claim regarding putin wanting ukraine under russian rule. since the war started in 2015 russia has tried its best to keep the country together under the minsk accords, even when the donetsk and luhansk regions carried out votes to separate from ukraine and applied to join russia putin said no and tried to keep minsk alive. this isnt the actions of a man who wanted to take over ukraine. also as pointed out in the article the military operation was a mere 190k personnel, hardly an invasion force intended to subdue an entire country.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I agree with this assessment. It is no less consistent with political realism than Mearsheimer’s opinion and as you mention it better fits the facts such as troop levels and overall military strategy. The Russians were attempting to do what the Americans did in Iraq and Afghanistan and hoping their proximity and lack of moral scruples would allow them more success. Also, your point fits with the origin of the conflict, the 2014 revolution that ousted the pro-Russian Yanukovych. The Russians believed that the coup was backed by NATO and the US. The nearest analogy for the Americans would be if someone staged a coup and installed a Chinese/Russian pawn regime in Mexico or Canada. Obviously, the US would not and could not simply ignore this. They would, logically, attempt to bring a friendly government to power and bring the nation back into the American sphere of influence. Whether that rose to the level of military conflict would depend on specific circumstances, threat levels, the current domestic and geopolitical climate, etc.
Also, I am able to comment on some articles but not others. It’s very strange. I think it must be some computer bug.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

“Russia did not just want the ‘neutrality’ of Ukraine. They wanted Ukraine to be under Russian political control”
Strangely, this desire did not seem to become apparent till 2014.

Emre S
Emre S
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Just fully refresh Unherd page. It’s either ctrl+f5 or ctrl+r.

Andy Gilop
Andy Gilop
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

What makes me wonder is that Mearsheimer does not seem to take into account what the Ukrainians themselves wanted. We discuss the Russian point of view, West’s strategy etc and the will of the Ukrainian people is absent. Do Ukrainians want to be part of the EU or NATO or Russian Federation or …Starfleet? They should be able to join whatever organization they wish for.
Coming from a democratic tradition, I find inexplicable that lack of supporting the will of a Nation. Why Russian, Western or Chinese interests should block, at least in principle, Ukrainians to decide for themselves?
I have read dozens of articles in which the Ukrainian point of view is dismissed as non relevant. But, defending Democracy, we have first and above all ask the Ukrainian people how they wish to live.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andy Gilop
alison rain
alison rain
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy Gilop

as mearsheimer points out in his lectures, yes in an ideal world democracy should prevail, however we dont live in that ideal world. so this is when different rules need to come into play for the sake of the human race, and if that means ukraine doesnt get a say and has to stay neutral to save us all from being blown to smithereens then so be it

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  alison rain

Keeping Ukraine demilitarised and out of NATO should not be a problem – provided of course they could trust Russia not to invade them. This is not about neutralisation, but about subjugation.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  alison rain

Keeping Ukraine demilitarised and out of NATO should not be a problem – provided of course they could trust Russia not to invade them. This is not about neutralisation, but about subjugation.

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy Gilop

Unfortunately no one ever cares what Ukrainians want…
Starting with US proclaiming in 2007 at the NATO summit, that Ukraine will be part of NATO , when polls in Ukraine showed there was around 20% public support in Ukraine for joining…

Last edited 1 year ago by Vojin Subasic
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

You mean the US was going to incorporate Ukraine into NATO by force, against the will of the Ukrainian government? Or that the outcome of opinion polls trump government decisions?

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

What else is an election but a type of opinion poll.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

What else is an election but a type of opinion poll.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

That’s obvious nonsense. That was 14 years ago, and Ukraine still wasn’t part of NATO. Countries have to apply to be part of NATO. People of the country have to want to be part of NATO. It doesn’t get decided from the outside by a military invasion like Russian monsters prefer. Typical that a Russian troll would have no understanding of how NATO works. Freedom and democracy baffle people who prefer slavery to a brutal dictator.

Last edited 1 year ago by Robin Lillian
Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

This were not my words but the ones of US President GW Bush…
Anyone can go find them and read them for themself…

But awesome that you find the whole thing to be nonsense, totally agree, btw… GW Bush and all US governents since have been mostly whackos imho…
And the dude before Bush,.. with the cigar in the girl and “read my lips” lying, ah… yes: Clinton, BFF of Epstein was not better either…

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

This were not my words but the ones of US President GW Bush…
Anyone can go find them and read them for themself…

But awesome that you find the whole thing to be nonsense, totally agree, btw… GW Bush and all US governents since have been mostly whackos imho…
And the dude before Bush,.. with the cigar in the girl and “read my lips” lying, ah… yes: Clinton, BFF of Epstein was not better either…

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

The moves to bring Ukraine into NATO was led by the Ukrainian government – no, it was not a popular position until after 2014, when Putin showed himself and taught Ukrainian people why being part of NATO would protect them. I would imagine now that a large majority of Ukrainians would like to join, and wish they had. They probably also wished that they had not got rid of their nukes, as Putin reneged on his promise not to invade, whilst the West has not reneged on their promise to support Ukraine.

Moreover, the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO was generally a headache for NATO, which is why they delayed it.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

You mean the US was going to incorporate Ukraine into NATO by force, against the will of the Ukrainian government? Or that the outcome of opinion polls trump government decisions?

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

That’s obvious nonsense. That was 14 years ago, and Ukraine still wasn’t part of NATO. Countries have to apply to be part of NATO. People of the country have to want to be part of NATO. It doesn’t get decided from the outside by a military invasion like Russian monsters prefer. Typical that a Russian troll would have no understanding of how NATO works. Freedom and democracy baffle people who prefer slavery to a brutal dictator.

Last edited 1 year ago by Robin Lillian
Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

The moves to bring Ukraine into NATO was led by the Ukrainian government – no, it was not a popular position until after 2014, when Putin showed himself and taught Ukrainian people why being part of NATO would protect them. I would imagine now that a large majority of Ukrainians would like to join, and wish they had. They probably also wished that they had not got rid of their nukes, as Putin reneged on his promise not to invade, whilst the West has not reneged on their promise to support Ukraine.

Moreover, the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO was generally a headache for NATO, which is why they delayed it.

Edwin Blake
Edwin Blake
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy Gilop

Exactly! To the Mearsheimer’s of this world the desires of the little people are irrelevant. They have no agency at all. That’s real politik. The corollary is that “powers” have “legitimate” spheres of influence that others need to respect.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy Gilop

Because Mearsheimer agrees with the Russians that they own Ukraine instead of the people of Ukraine owning themselves and their country. He is all about power and dictatorship like a proper Putin tool. He thinks people should be forced to stay as slaves of the dictator in power.

alison rain
alison rain
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy Gilop

as mearsheimer points out in his lectures, yes in an ideal world democracy should prevail, however we dont live in that ideal world. so this is when different rules need to come into play for the sake of the human race, and if that means ukraine doesnt get a say and has to stay neutral to save us all from being blown to smithereens then so be it

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy Gilop

Unfortunately no one ever cares what Ukrainians want…
Starting with US proclaiming in 2007 at the NATO summit, that Ukraine will be part of NATO , when polls in Ukraine showed there was around 20% public support in Ukraine for joining…

Last edited 1 year ago by Vojin Subasic
Edwin Blake
Edwin Blake
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy Gilop

Exactly! To the Mearsheimer’s of this world the desires of the little people are irrelevant. They have no agency at all. That’s real politik. The corollary is that “powers” have “legitimate” spheres of influence that others need to respect.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy Gilop

Because Mearsheimer agrees with the Russians that they own Ukraine instead of the people of Ukraine owning themselves and their country. He is all about power and dictatorship like a proper Putin tool. He thinks people should be forced to stay as slaves of the dictator in power.

Jeff Watkins
Jeff Watkins
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

Thank you Freddie for a really good interview. It would be good if you followed this up with an interview on Are sanctions working? Now it has become apparent how dependent on Russia we still are in Europe. To give a couple of examples 40% of Uranium supply still comes from Russia, 20% of LPG is is still coming from Russia etc etc

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

Answering – as I still cannot comment.

Very interesting and refreshing interview, yes. But I challenge Mearsheimer on one point: Russia did not just want the ‘neutrality’ of Ukraine. They wanted Ukraine to be under Russian political control, even if formally independent, a vassal state in the Russian empire, like Belarus. I think Putin himself said that he did not mind formal independence as long as the country was part of the Russian world. It was the idea of a functional independent Ukrainian state with close ties to the EU – militarily neutral or not – that Russia refused to accept. As one of their propagandists put it on Unherd ‘Get rid of the corrupt pro-western oligarchs, and have Ukraine run by a group of corrupt pro-Russian oligarchs instead. No need for war and suffering at all.’ The size of the Russian invasion force could have been sufficient to achieve that – Zelensky flees the invasion, some friendly oligarch takes over, and the Russian troops are enough to convince people to accept the new regime. Only the Ukrainians insisted on fighting.

Andy Gilop
Andy Gilop
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

What makes me wonder is that Mearsheimer does not seem to take into account what the Ukrainians themselves wanted. We discuss the Russian point of view, West’s strategy etc and the will of the Ukrainian people is absent. Do Ukrainians want to be part of the EU or NATO or Russian Federation or …Starfleet? They should be able to join whatever organization they wish for.
Coming from a democratic tradition, I find inexplicable that lack of supporting the will of a Nation. Why Russian, Western or Chinese interests should block, at least in principle, Ukrainians to decide for themselves?
I have read dozens of articles in which the Ukrainian point of view is dismissed as non relevant. But, defending Democracy, we have first and above all ask the Ukrainian people how they wish to live.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andy Gilop
Jeff Watkins
Jeff Watkins
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

Thank you Freddie for a really good interview. It would be good if you followed this up with an interview on Are sanctions working? Now it has become apparent how dependent on Russia we still are in Europe. To give a couple of examples 40% of Uranium supply still comes from Russia, 20% of LPG is is still coming from Russia etc etc

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago

Mearsheimmer’s analysis makes sense to me. Good interview, thank you Freddie Sayers.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
1 year ago

Nobody has done more to knock Russia out of the ranks of the great powers than President Putin. Russia appears well on its way to becoming a vassal state of China’s; just a bigger version of North Korea or Uganda. If Ukraine becomes a failed state, due either to Russian invasion or to its forced subjugation to Russia (“a neutral Ukraine” as Mearsheimer calls it), then many millions more of its population will migrate west, which in itself is a security threat to the rest of Europe. If little Estonia is to get the benefit of an article 5 guarantee, with the resulting possibility of nuclear war, it is not clear why Ukraine should not get the support of the US and UK as fellow parties of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, in which Ukraine surrendered its nuclear arsenal to Russia.

Last edited 1 year ago by Stephen Walsh
Mustard Clementine
Mustard Clementine
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

This is what came to mind for me as well, when he stated nationalism could also factor in to Russia’s efforts. I don’t see how you could know anything about Russia, or actual Russian people, and think this could be anything but a negative force.

To any Russian who felt like they were finally beginning to actually be a part of the wider world, to have opportunities and improvements to their lot in life – this war has been a devastating blow. I have heard people who fled talk about how homeless and hopeless they feel, like the Russia they knew and/or at least thought it was possible could one day become is now likely lost forever, at least in their lifetime.

This effort may have been seen as a restoration of greatness to someone like Putin – but to many, it was actually the death of Russian potential. They are now back to being a pariah, back to USSR, as it were – and other than the rallies Putin forces government employees to attend, or the online trolls he pays to push a narrative – I don’t hear a lot of Russians expressing any sort of nationalism. I hear a lot of despair and fatalism.

Max Price
Max Price
1 year ago

Yep. He said in the article that Russia planning to invade the Nordic states was only in the Western imagination. The idea that NATO was any type of offensive threat to Russia is absurd. Not even Putin believes it. You’re also right about the aspirations of the Russian people; They have no desire to invade Ukraine and restore greater Rus, they want to join the modern world as the proud nation they are.
Apart from anything else it’s just heartbreaking.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  Max Price

“The idea that NATO was any type of offensive threat to Russia is absurd. ”
Absolutely. Ask Serbia, Libya and Iraq.
There was absolutely nothing wrong about Ukraine joining NATO and US missiles literally next door to Moscow.
After all, recall how gracefully the US accepted Cuba’s right to join the Soviet bloc and Soviet missiles being based there.

martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

You’re sounding a bit like a self-pitying Russian.
Since Russia already has NATO states on all its western borders, and Putin’s explicit reason for invading was that Ukrainians are really “just Russians,” it was actually the best way to get NATO missiles “literally on Russia’s doorstep.”
Wherever you put the border, NATO will alwasy be on teh other side.
Of course, one could then negotiate a treaty, as Reagan and Gorbachev did.
But invasions are so much more fun!

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Ukraine never intended to join NATO before Putin attacked. The Ukrainians thought the Russians would abide by their prior agreement to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity in exchange for Ukraine giving up their nukes.
If Putin is really concerned about war with NATO, he shouldn’t constantly be trying to cause one. If Putin is so concerned about missiles next door to Russia, he shouldn’t be taking actions almost guaranteed to cause just that. Is he really that stupid, or is it just you Russian trolls who are?

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

“Absolutely. Ask Serbia, Libya and Iraq”

NATO was not a threat to these countries, but to Milosevic, Gaddafi and Hussein.

Authoritarians; always confusing the country with the bossman.

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Yeah!!! PURE LOGIC man…
Of course the death of 500.000 Iraqi children, that Albright claimed were an O.K. price to remove the henchman Hussein from Iraq were not a threat to the country Iraq… Never mind talking about victims other than children… These stoopid Iraqis should not take their deaths so personal… just business, baby. These dead kids if they had any sense of morality should instead sing as angels in heavenly choirs and praise the nobility and harmlessness of US/Nato.
Also never mind, that Saddam himself was an US stooge before, and massively supported by US to inflict death and destruction on the neighboring state Iran, just because the people choose to rather live under even the Ayatollahs, than the US stooge Shah, after the US and UK first overthrew the legally democratically elected prime minister Mossadegh, who did not want to continue to give US+UK Irans Oil basically for free…
Nah, the US (or its puppet self financing foreign legion NATO) is NO danger to anyone…
The people of Libya can totally confirm this! What the heck did they need that highest human development index (HDI) of all Africa for, before the benevolent Nato intervention???
HDI is so totally overrated, Libyan people now enjoy living in the mad Max world of warlords, where you never know if you still have to eat or if you even are alive the next day… MUCH more fun! Thanks, Nato!
Nato was never a danger to them, but brought them heaven on earth!

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

By your logic, Germany’s main threat mid C20th was not Hitler and his NSDAP, but the Allies – and the Allies are responsible for German deaths. Maybe they should be paying reparations to the German people? And did you conveniently forget, or not know, that NATO did not get into the Iraq War?

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

So you like to play naming games and are throwing in straw-man arguments.
Any reasonable person does not care if you call it “coalition of the willing” if it anyway is mostly US + her vassals in Nato.
How do you compare Germany with Libya?
Did Libya or Iraq declare war against US as Hitler did in 43? Note that the US did NOT even declare war on Germany before that (because of so called humanitarian reasons, “fight against evil”), but waited that Germany exhausted itself against Russia before they joined the fight to pick up Western Europe on the cheap…

Mike Keohane
Mike Keohane
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

You undermine everything else that you try to argue for by saying that Hitler declared war on the US in 1943 and claiming on that basis that the US waited until the Germans had exhausted themselves fighting the Russians before joing the war in Europe/North Africa. In fact, today is the 81st anniversary of Hitler’s declaration of war against the US, on December 11th 1941. At that stage the German invasion of the USSR had been highly successful, and most historians presume, logically, that Hitler in acting as he did must have thought completing the conquset of the country was simply a matter of time. You can’t expect to be taken seriously when you get such basics wrong: but then, you come across as someone who hates the US and is eager to take the opportunity to vent that hatred.

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Keohane

You are completely right! Thank you for the correction!
I remembered it wrong and confused it with the first US active fighting in Europe in 1943.
Wiki:
“The United States entered the war in the west with Operation Torch on 8 November 1942, after their Soviet allies had pushed for a second front against the Germans.”
–> in Africa, close to a year after declaration of war vs. US.
combined allied (US/UK/etc.) troops ca 100K vs . ca 125K axis forces (incl. lots of Vichy French, who surrendered/switched sides quite fast). At the same time the Axis had 3700K forces on Eatern Front vs ca. 3000K Soviets.
the US joined the bombing campaign in 1942:
“In mid-1942, the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) arrived in the UK and carried out a few raids across the English Channel.”
“The first stepping stone for the Allied liberation of Europe was invading Europe through Italy. Launched on 9 July 1943…”
–>close to 2 years after Hitler declared war.
combined ally troops 160K, in Sicily vs. ca. 200K axis troops, later in Italy 180K allies vs 100K Axis.
Same time on Eastern Front: Axis forces 3700K vs Soviet 5200K.
Finally the main US thrust with significant numbers followed only in Normandy in 1944 almost 3 years after declaration of war:
“The second European front that the Soviets had pressed for was finally opened on 6 June 1944, when the Allies launched an invasion of Normandy.”
Allied forces (13 countries, mainly US UK) 1450K vs. Axis 380K (later 600K).
At the same time on the eastern front: 3370K Axis vs. 6800K Soviet.

So the US/western allies forces impact did never engaged more than 5% of Axis forces, until Normandy in 1944, when it was close to 20%
–> My point still stands, though I was clearly mistaken with the date of the declaration of war.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allied_invasion_of_Sicily
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_history_of_the_United_States_during_World_War_II#Europe_first
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Front_(World_War_II)

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Keohane

And I dont hate US, far from it!
I just despise most actions of the US government in other countries, once it became the western hegemon after WWII, just as I despise most of the actions of the eastern hegemon, the communist Party in Soviet Russia.

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Keohane

You are completely right! Thank you for the correction!
I remembered it wrong and confused it with the first US active fighting in Europe in 1943.
Wiki:
“The United States entered the war in the west with Operation Torch on 8 November 1942, after their Soviet allies had pushed for a second front against the Germans.”
–> in Africa, close to a year after declaration of war vs. US.
combined allied (US/UK/etc.) troops ca 100K vs . ca 125K axis forces (incl. lots of Vichy French, who surrendered/switched sides quite fast). At the same time the Axis had 3700K forces on Eatern Front vs ca. 3000K Soviets.
the US joined the bombing campaign in 1942:
“In mid-1942, the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) arrived in the UK and carried out a few raids across the English Channel.”
“The first stepping stone for the Allied liberation of Europe was invading Europe through Italy. Launched on 9 July 1943…”
–>close to 2 years after Hitler declared war.
combined ally troops 160K, in Sicily vs. ca. 200K axis troops, later in Italy 180K allies vs 100K Axis.
Same time on Eastern Front: Axis forces 3700K vs Soviet 5200K.
Finally the main US thrust with significant numbers followed only in Normandy in 1944 almost 3 years after declaration of war:
“The second European front that the Soviets had pressed for was finally opened on 6 June 1944, when the Allies launched an invasion of Normandy.”
Allied forces (13 countries, mainly US UK) 1450K vs. Axis 380K (later 600K).
At the same time on the eastern front: 3370K Axis vs. 6800K Soviet.

So the US/western allies forces impact did never engaged more than 5% of Axis forces, until Normandy in 1944, when it was close to 20%
–> My point still stands, though I was clearly mistaken with the date of the declaration of war.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allied_invasion_of_Sicily
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_history_of_the_United_States_during_World_War_II#Europe_first
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Front_(World_War_II)

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Keohane

And I dont hate US, far from it!
I just despise most actions of the US government in other countries, once it became the western hegemon after WWII, just as I despise most of the actions of the eastern hegemon, the communist Party in Soviet Russia.

Mike Keohane
Mike Keohane
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

You undermine everything else that you try to argue for by saying that Hitler declared war on the US in 1943 and claiming on that basis that the US waited until the Germans had exhausted themselves fighting the Russians before joing the war in Europe/North Africa. In fact, today is the 81st anniversary of Hitler’s declaration of war against the US, on December 11th 1941. At that stage the German invasion of the USSR had been highly successful, and most historians presume, logically, that Hitler in acting as he did must have thought completing the conquset of the country was simply a matter of time. You can’t expect to be taken seriously when you get such basics wrong: but then, you come across as someone who hates the US and is eager to take the opportunity to vent that hatred.

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Sorry double post, did not see the above in the thread so I rewrote, but more detailed:
Playing with names?
So how exactly is it different when you call US +Vassals the “Coalition of the willing” instead of US+Nato, if it is overwhelmingly the same countries?
Another straw-man argument from you with throwing Hitler-Germany into the mix…
So how exactly does Hitler-Germany equate to Iraq or Libya?
With Iraq US had to invent the false testimony of incubator atrocities by the Iraqis, just to convince their own population, that Saddam is now bad invading Kuwait and not doing the exact same as before, when invading Iran, when the West supported him with even giving him chemical weapons he used against the Kurds…
What did Libya do, that was even in the slightest comparable to Germany?
Not to mention that US did not fight against Germany (for “humanitarian reasons”, “fight against evil”) until Germany themselves declared war on US and defacto US started fighting only when Germany has exhausted themselves and the soviet Union…

Last edited 1 year ago by Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

LOL… While checking to edit my double post, I noticed that I received 2 negative “likes” on both of them within minutes, between refreshing to check if they are in the thread…
Looking down further I seemingly received the exact same 2 negative likes on ALL of my posts, even from yesterday… while the post I was responding to, received always 2 positive likes at the same time…
LOL… nice job with your double/triple accounts you sockpuppet! (thumbsup)

Last edited 1 year ago by Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

And there we go… ROTFLMAO
Looking in to the thread again I seemingly got 5-6 further negative likes on ALL my ca. 30 comments in this tread in the these 30 minutes between checking. The same positives likes went to the posts I answered to, if I was arguing against it… While other comments barely moved in their likes in this time.
Dude, don’t you have anything better to do?
You could at least try to do the manly thing, to defeat my posts with arguments. ;-D

Last edited 1 year ago by Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

Just came back to see the progress…
Seems after clicking most of my posts into the red within an hour the dude stopped… Now almost no move in likes for 2 hours. Did his mouse break down clicking?
LOL

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

Here we go again…
He bought a new mouse!
Another 6-7 negatives on all my comments within the last hour.
Though this sockpuppet’s intellectual skill to argue may be lacking, you’ve got to admire his energy in creating additional accounts and clicking all these likes/dislikes. Kudos to him!

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

Here we go again…
He bought a new mouse!
Another 6-7 negatives on all my comments within the last hour.
Though this sockpuppet’s intellectual skill to argue may be lacking, you’ve got to admire his energy in creating additional accounts and clicking all these likes/dislikes. Kudos to him!

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

Just came back to see the progress…
Seems after clicking most of my posts into the red within an hour the dude stopped… Now almost no move in likes for 2 hours. Did his mouse break down clicking?
LOL

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

Good effort, Someone’s flipping the votes on here…..

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

And there we go… ROTFLMAO
Looking in to the thread again I seemingly got 5-6 further negative likes on ALL my ca. 30 comments in this tread in the these 30 minutes between checking. The same positives likes went to the posts I answered to, if I was arguing against it… While other comments barely moved in their likes in this time.
Dude, don’t you have anything better to do?
You could at least try to do the manly thing, to defeat my posts with arguments. ;-D

Last edited 1 year ago by Vojin Subasic
B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

Good effort, Someone’s flipping the votes on here…..

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

LOL… While checking to edit my double post, I noticed that I received 2 negative “likes” on both of them within minutes, between refreshing to check if they are in the thread…
Looking down further I seemingly received the exact same 2 negative likes on ALL of my posts, even from yesterday… while the post I was responding to, received always 2 positive likes at the same time…
LOL… nice job with your double/triple accounts you sockpuppet! (thumbsup)

Last edited 1 year ago by Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

So you like to play naming games and are throwing in straw-man arguments.
Any reasonable person does not care if you call it “coalition of the willing” if it anyway is mostly US + her vassals in Nato.
How do you compare Germany with Libya?
Did Libya or Iraq declare war against US as Hitler did in 43? Note that the US did NOT even declare war on Germany before that (because of so called humanitarian reasons, “fight against evil”), but waited that Germany exhausted itself against Russia before they joined the fight to pick up Western Europe on the cheap…

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Sorry double post, did not see the above in the thread so I rewrote, but more detailed:
Playing with names?
So how exactly is it different when you call US +Vassals the “Coalition of the willing” instead of US+Nato, if it is overwhelmingly the same countries?
Another straw-man argument from you with throwing Hitler-Germany into the mix…
So how exactly does Hitler-Germany equate to Iraq or Libya?
With Iraq US had to invent the false testimony of incubator atrocities by the Iraqis, just to convince their own population, that Saddam is now bad invading Kuwait and not doing the exact same as before, when invading Iran, when the West supported him with even giving him chemical weapons he used against the Kurds…
What did Libya do, that was even in the slightest comparable to Germany?
Not to mention that US did not fight against Germany (for “humanitarian reasons”, “fight against evil”) until Germany themselves declared war on US and defacto US started fighting only when Germany has exhausted themselves and the soviet Union…

Last edited 1 year ago by Vojin Subasic
Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

By your logic, Germany’s main threat mid C20th was not Hitler and his NSDAP, but the Allies – and the Allies are responsible for German deaths. Maybe they should be paying reparations to the German people? And did you conveniently forget, or not know, that NATO did not get into the Iraq War?

fiso jukijk
fiso jukijk
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

NATO is the greatest threat to peace in Europe, just as the US is the greatest threat to peace in the world.
The greatest terrorist country on the planet, bar none, is the good ol’ USA.

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Yeah!!! PURE LOGIC man…
Of course the death of 500.000 Iraqi children, that Albright claimed were an O.K. price to remove the henchman Hussein from Iraq were not a threat to the country Iraq… Never mind talking about victims other than children… These stoopid Iraqis should not take their deaths so personal… just business, baby. These dead kids if they had any sense of morality should instead sing as angels in heavenly choirs and praise the nobility and harmlessness of US/Nato.
Also never mind, that Saddam himself was an US stooge before, and massively supported by US to inflict death and destruction on the neighboring state Iran, just because the people choose to rather live under even the Ayatollahs, than the US stooge Shah, after the US and UK first overthrew the legally democratically elected prime minister Mossadegh, who did not want to continue to give US+UK Irans Oil basically for free…
Nah, the US (or its puppet self financing foreign legion NATO) is NO danger to anyone…
The people of Libya can totally confirm this! What the heck did they need that highest human development index (HDI) of all Africa for, before the benevolent Nato intervention???
HDI is so totally overrated, Libyan people now enjoy living in the mad Max world of warlords, where you never know if you still have to eat or if you even are alive the next day… MUCH more fun! Thanks, Nato!
Nato was never a danger to them, but brought them heaven on earth!

fiso jukijk
fiso jukijk
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

NATO is the greatest threat to peace in Europe, just as the US is the greatest threat to peace in the world.
The greatest terrorist country on the planet, bar none, is the good ol’ USA.

martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

You’re sounding a bit like a self-pitying Russian.
Since Russia already has NATO states on all its western borders, and Putin’s explicit reason for invading was that Ukrainians are really “just Russians,” it was actually the best way to get NATO missiles “literally on Russia’s doorstep.”
Wherever you put the border, NATO will alwasy be on teh other side.
Of course, one could then negotiate a treaty, as Reagan and Gorbachev did.
But invasions are so much more fun!

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Ukraine never intended to join NATO before Putin attacked. The Ukrainians thought the Russians would abide by their prior agreement to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity in exchange for Ukraine giving up their nukes.
If Putin is really concerned about war with NATO, he shouldn’t constantly be trying to cause one. If Putin is so concerned about missiles next door to Russia, he shouldn’t be taking actions almost guaranteed to cause just that. Is he really that stupid, or is it just you Russian trolls who are?

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

“Absolutely. Ask Serbia, Libya and Iraq”

NATO was not a threat to these countries, but to Milosevic, Gaddafi and Hussein.

Authoritarians; always confusing the country with the bossman.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  Max Price

“The idea that NATO was any type of offensive threat to Russia is absurd. ”
Absolutely. Ask Serbia, Libya and Iraq.
There was absolutely nothing wrong about Ukraine joining NATO and US missiles literally next door to Moscow.
After all, recall how gracefully the US accepted Cuba’s right to join the Soviet bloc and Soviet missiles being based there.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago

Putin is only concerned with his own greatness as “owner” of the Russian Federation. He wants to expand his ownership. He has no concern for the welfare of the Russian people.

lewis guignard
lewis guignard
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

Having no concern for their people is true of many, if not most, politicians. Those who do care about their people stand out.

lewis guignard
lewis guignard
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

Having no concern for their people is true of many, if not most, politicians. Those who do care about their people stand out.

Max Price
Max Price
1 year ago

Yep. He said in the article that Russia planning to invade the Nordic states was only in the Western imagination. The idea that NATO was any type of offensive threat to Russia is absurd. Not even Putin believes it. You’re also right about the aspirations of the Russian people; They have no desire to invade Ukraine and restore greater Rus, they want to join the modern world as the proud nation they are.
Apart from anything else it’s just heartbreaking.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago

Putin is only concerned with his own greatness as “owner” of the Russian Federation. He wants to expand his ownership. He has no concern for the welfare of the Russian people.

Michael McDonald
Michael McDonald
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Ukraine surrendered “its” nuclear weapons because, since Ukraine was part of USSR, the nuclear weapons were actually part of the Russian arsenal. It was understood by all parties that NATO would not expand to the east.

Roger Irwin
Roger Irwin
1 year ago

So what belonged to the ‘Union’ automatically became Russian after the break-up? Those were NOT the terms of the USSR break-up.
Nor should they have been. A lot of Soviet technology, nuclear and otherwise, was developed in Ukraine, not Russia.
And any which way, Ukraine did agree to disarm in exchange for assurances over the protection of its border.
If such agreements are seen to be worthless, then the world will soon realise just how easy it is for tinpot countries to build nuclear arsenals.

fiso jukijk
fiso jukijk
1 year ago
Reply to  Roger Irwin

Russia never attacked Ukraine for decades, until Obama began his brainless move to overthrow Ukraine’s elected government.
In fact, Russia leased Crimea from Ukraine, and paid as agreed, for many years.
Then the black Marxist (aka Obama) came in and in 2014, began to destroy Ukraine through his foolish policies.

fiso jukijk
fiso jukijk
1 year ago
Reply to  Roger Irwin

Russia never attacked Ukraine for decades, until Obama began his brainless move to overthrow Ukraine’s elected government.
In fact, Russia leased Crimea from Ukraine, and paid as agreed, for many years.
Then the black Marxist (aka Obama) came in and in 2014, began to destroy Ukraine through his foolish policies.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
1 year ago

Russia comprised 51% of the population of the USSR in 1989. If a partnership is wound up, a 51% shareholder doesn’t get to keep all the key assets, potentially to use them against their former partners. Ukraine received security assurances from the US, UK and Russia in 1994 in exchange for surrendering to Russia the nuclear weapons deployed within its borders, which Russia had already recognised. In those circumstances, potential NATO membership for Ukraine did not arise. As Russia has now reneged on the security assurances it then gave, making the achievement of similar nuclear non-proliferation agreements in the future much less likely, the US and UK have a legitimate interest in the security of Ukraine.

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
1 year ago

You got a document for that “understanding?” It’s certainly not in the text of the agreement.
What is in the text of the agreement is the statement that all of the signatories will respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine, refrain from the use of force or economic coercion against Ukraine, and not use nuclear weapons against Ukraine or any other non-nuclear state.
treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/UNTS/Volume%203007/v3007.pdf, pages 168-171
Russia broke all these openly published agreements when it invaded Crimea in 2014 and again when it went into Ukraine proper last February. Ukraine only applied to join NATO after Crimea, and who can blame them?
Your argument is so feeble, you should be ashamed.

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Wagner

The Budapest memorandum was null and void after the US and EU staged the coup and insurrection against a legally elected Ukrainian government with the so called Maidan “revolution”. This was a clear breach against the memorandum and its agreement to respect Ukrainian sovereignty. The US/EU disrespect and thus destruction of the Budapest memorandum went even as far as Victoria Nuland deciding who shall be next president/prime-minister in Ukraine…
Agreements are there for ALL sides to respect them. If one side first does not but breaches it and then accuses the other, that it IN TURN as well does not respect it (Russia taking Crimea), then this is pure hypocrisy and shows a shameful lack of understanding of pure logic.

Last edited 1 year ago by Vojin Subasic
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

The US/EU did not stage a revolution. The Ukrainians did that all by themselves – at most the US/EU made some promises. Besides there have been several legally elected Ukrainian governments since 2014. All of them had the option to undo that supposed ‘coup’, yet none of them did. Anyway. do you really think that the FSB did not interfere on the other side? That would put Russia as much in the wrong. Finally, just check the memorandum. It says nothing about the memorandum being null and void if any of the signatories should be unhappy with the way future Ukrainian governments are formed.

You are just looking for pretexts.

Last edited 1 year ago by Rasmus Fogh
Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

You wrote that ironically?
The political party which has been legally in government before the insurrection has been declared illegal by the hunta installed by US, as well as any party which had a similar program. That party had more than 50% of the population before the coup..
Members of parliament have been lynched, any opposing mass media forbidden… Dozens of People have been burned ALIVE (without any consequence for the perpetrators TILL TODAY, 8 years after. Overall a nice democratic atmosphere for “legal elections” after the coup…
But still, Zelensky came only to power because he promised peace with Russia in his campaign… look it up yourself.

Or you can stay in Lala-land…

martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

Looks like Russia will go the way of Serbia.
Nobody planned it that way, but some nations just aren’t meant to be.

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  martin logan

LOL…
Amazing how delusional people can be!
You, just like the US/Western governments have totally lost contact to reality.
Yeah, sure you’ll do to Russia as you did to Serbia!?!?!…. 😀
Well, Albright mentioned once how it was unfair that Russia owns so much real estate in Siberia, that it does not really “need”… And US pundits have tried to circulate the idea how Russia needs to be “decolonized” (aka reduced to a small territory around Moscow),…
LOL again…
If even small Serbia had had a few nukes US would not have dared to touch her, just like NKorea now…
Sure US, as world champion producer of “collateral damage” everywhere it goes and philanthropic sponsor of human rights institutions like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, would have groaned and moaned, huffed and puffed about how “Hitlerite the demonic Serbs” were, and all of the “international Community” (=US+Vassals) would have joined the choir….but they would not have touched Serbia.
Russia has more nukes than US and could turn it into glowing ash… Be carefull how much you want to bite of Russia like of YU/Serbia, you might regret it one day.

Last edited 1 year ago by Vojin Subasic
harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

Putin bootlicker.

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  harry storm

Any arguments of substance? Or do you do just ad hominem attacks?

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  harry storm

Any arguments of substance? Or do you do just ad hominem attacks?

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

Putin bootlicker.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  martin logan

As if. You Russian trolls are such terrible liars. Nobody ever planned to invade Russia in modern times, and that still won’t happen even after what you have done.
Russians make their own troubles and blame it on other people. No one will invade, BUT: You have made yourselves pariahs. No one will trust you to keep agreements. No one will do business with you, either. Europe was set to buy all your gas and be your trading partner, and you threw all that in the garbage for fantasies of empire. You’re your own worst enemies.

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

LOL. Delusional.
Though Putin proposed a “common European House” from Lissabon to Vladivostok, Russia sure does not necessarily need neither EU money nor EU love, if it comes with the price of being treated very disrespectfully.

Russia has options, more then EU has. You are completely disconnected from reality, if you think that US+UK+puddles (EU and the few other vassals) are the REAL “international community”.
Russia is totally selfsufficient in all its needs. EU is NOT, which will be an unpleasant thing to watch this winter.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

Serbians are scary – like Russians – they seem to be unable to rise above their pathetic liitle delusions of grandeur – stuck in some kind of megalomaniac obsession. Bad news for anyone in their vicinity. in an ideal world natural selection would have thinned their ranks, maybe it is -but it is taking WAY too long….

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  chris sullivan

LOL.
Nice analysis (from a hobbyist psychiatric?).
Lots of projection going on in your post.
But seriously, you should have a shrink look into that racist genocidal dreams you write about…
Best wishes and get well soon!

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  chris sullivan

LOL.
Nice analysis (from a hobbyist psychiatric?).
Lots of projection going on in your post.
But seriously, you should have a shrink look into that racist genocidal dreams you write about…
Best wishes and get well soon!

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

Serbians are scary – like Russians – they seem to be unable to rise above their pathetic liitle delusions of grandeur – stuck in some kind of megalomaniac obsession. Bad news for anyone in their vicinity. in an ideal world natural selection would have thinned their ranks, maybe it is -but it is taking WAY too long….

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

LOL. Delusional.
Though Putin proposed a “common European House” from Lissabon to Vladivostok, Russia sure does not necessarily need neither EU money nor EU love, if it comes with the price of being treated very disrespectfully.

Russia has options, more then EU has. You are completely disconnected from reality, if you think that US+UK+puddles (EU and the few other vassals) are the REAL “international community”.
Russia is totally selfsufficient in all its needs. EU is NOT, which will be an unpleasant thing to watch this winter.

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  martin logan

LOL…
Amazing how delusional people can be!
You, just like the US/Western governments have totally lost contact to reality.
Yeah, sure you’ll do to Russia as you did to Serbia!?!?!…. 😀
Well, Albright mentioned once how it was unfair that Russia owns so much real estate in Siberia, that it does not really “need”… And US pundits have tried to circulate the idea how Russia needs to be “decolonized” (aka reduced to a small territory around Moscow),…
LOL again…
If even small Serbia had had a few nukes US would not have dared to touch her, just like NKorea now…
Sure US, as world champion producer of “collateral damage” everywhere it goes and philanthropic sponsor of human rights institutions like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, would have groaned and moaned, huffed and puffed about how “Hitlerite the demonic Serbs” were, and all of the “international Community” (=US+Vassals) would have joined the choir….but they would not have touched Serbia.
Russia has more nukes than US and could turn it into glowing ash… Be carefull how much you want to bite of Russia like of YU/Serbia, you might regret it one day.

Last edited 1 year ago by Vojin Subasic
Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  martin logan

As if. You Russian trolls are such terrible liars. Nobody ever planned to invade Russia in modern times, and that still won’t happen even after what you have done.
Russians make their own troubles and blame it on other people. No one will invade, BUT: You have made yourselves pariahs. No one will trust you to keep agreements. No one will do business with you, either. Europe was set to buy all your gas and be your trading partner, and you threw all that in the garbage for fantasies of empire. You’re your own worst enemies.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

Pot.kettle.black award.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  harry storm

You get the whataboutism award.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

First of all, since I didn’t do a “whatabout”. But more important, I agree with YOU. It’s those you were arguing with who deserve the pot.kettle.black award. If you look closely, you’ll see my comment was to the delusional vojin subasic.

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  harry storm

The pot calling the kettle black seems to to be per definition a “whataboutism” argument!
But I see the usual lazy “whataboutism” reply itself as a total non-argument, rather is any “whataboutism” reference the best way to out oneself as a hypocrite…

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  harry storm

The pot calling the kettle black seems to to be per definition a “whataboutism” argument!
But I see the usual lazy “whataboutism” reply itself as a total non-argument, rather is any “whataboutism” reference the best way to out oneself as a hypocrite…

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

First of all, since I didn’t do a “whatabout”. But more important, I agree with YOU. It’s those you were arguing with who deserve the pot.kettle.black award. If you look closely, you’ll see my comment was to the delusional vojin subasic.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  harry storm

You get the whataboutism award.

martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

Looks like Russia will go the way of Serbia.
Nobody planned it that way, but some nations just aren’t meant to be.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

Pot.kettle.black award.

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

You wrote that ironically?
The political party which has been legally in government before the insurrection has been declared illegal by the hunta installed by US, as well as any party which had a similar program. That party had more than 50% of the population before the coup..
Members of parliament have been lynched, any opposing mass media forbidden… Dozens of People have been burned ALIVE (without any consequence for the perpetrators TILL TODAY, 8 years after. Overall a nice democratic atmosphere for “legal elections” after the coup…
But still, Zelensky came only to power because he promised peace with Russia in his campaign… look it up yourself.

Or you can stay in Lala-land…

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

Yanukovych was ousted by a majority of the Ukrainian Parliament after plans were found that he planned to kill many of the protestors by sniper guns. He was also secretly planning to change the Ukrainian Constitution.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

Putin’s puppet government was NOT legitimate. The present government was legally elected. There was nothing in that agreement about Russia keeping control of Ukraine’s government by dictatorship.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

The US/EU did not stage a revolution. The Ukrainians did that all by themselves – at most the US/EU made some promises. Besides there have been several legally elected Ukrainian governments since 2014. All of them had the option to undo that supposed ‘coup’, yet none of them did. Anyway. do you really think that the FSB did not interfere on the other side? That would put Russia as much in the wrong. Finally, just check the memorandum. It says nothing about the memorandum being null and void if any of the signatories should be unhappy with the way future Ukrainian governments are formed.

You are just looking for pretexts.

Last edited 1 year ago by Rasmus Fogh
Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

Yanukovych was ousted by a majority of the Ukrainian Parliament after plans were found that he planned to kill many of the protestors by sniper guns. He was also secretly planning to change the Ukrainian Constitution.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  Vojin Subasic

Putin’s puppet government was NOT legitimate. The present government was legally elected. There was nothing in that agreement about Russia keeping control of Ukraine’s government by dictatorship.

Irene Ve
Irene Ve
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Wagner

There is no a document for that “understanding “.
However, James Baker (then the United States Secretary of State) gave a verbal promise to Eduard Shevardnadze (then Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union) that NATO would not expand Eastwards during negotiations regarding the situation with the sudden collapse of Eastern Germany (DDR or GDR). It was not written on paper, but it was said with a few people present in the room including interpreters.
I cannot judge to what extent it was a legally binding statement. However, it seems that the Russians viewed it as a morally binding one.

martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago
Reply to  Irene Ve

The problem is: it was made to the Soviets, when many present nations were still in the Union. When it broke up, as sovereign states, they were free to do what they wanted.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  martin logan

So true. As if James Baker had the power to decide for Eastern Europeans what they were permitted to do in perpetuity.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
1 year ago
Reply to  martin logan

So true. As if James Baker had the power to decide for Eastern Europeans what they were permitted to do in perpetuity.

martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago
Reply to  Irene Ve

The problem is: it was made to the Soviets, when many present nations were still in the Union. When it broke up, as sovereign states, they were free to do what they wanted.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Wagner

spot on…The top and bottom is that if you start a war you own all of it… what your side does and what the other side do, and what non involved nations or people do.
All of this is on Putin and his own already ramshackle country is suffering as well. I agree with the article that 190,000 wasn’t meant to seize and hold the country, but it was meant to kill Zelensky and others, decapitate the state and insert client politicians , and they messed that up.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Ted Ditchburn

it seems to me that Putin knows EXACTLY what he is doing – ie turning the Ukraine into a rubbish dump at minimal expense to the Russians – because they cant risk attacking inside Russia. Damned easy to sit on the safe sidelines firing endless rockets into Ukraine knowing that they wont fire back -p cant lose unfortunately – this should have been sorted years ago- but we all got sidetracked by that super ultra killer bug from our other global megalomaniacs. The US, are of course, also megalomaniacs but at least they have the problem of democracy to cause a little hauling of the reins ….

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Ted Ditchburn

it seems to me that Putin knows EXACTLY what he is doing – ie turning the Ukraine into a rubbish dump at minimal expense to the Russians – because they cant risk attacking inside Russia. Damned easy to sit on the safe sidelines firing endless rockets into Ukraine knowing that they wont fire back -p cant lose unfortunately – this should have been sorted years ago- but we all got sidetracked by that super ultra killer bug from our other global megalomaniacs. The US, are of course, also megalomaniacs but at least they have the problem of democracy to cause a little hauling of the reins ….

Vojin Subasic
Vojin Subasic
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Wagner

The Budapest memorandum was null and void after the US and EU staged the coup and insurrection against a legally elected Ukrainian government with the so called Maidan “revolution”. This was a clear breach against the memorandum and its agreement to respect Ukrainian sovereignty. The US/EU disrespect and thus destruction of the Budapest memorandum went even as far as Victoria Nuland deciding who shall be next president/prime-minister in Ukraine…
Agreements are there for ALL sides to respect them. If one side first does not but breaches it and then accuses the other, that it IN TURN as well does not respect it (Russia taking Crimea), then this is pure hypocrisy and shows a shameful lack of understanding of pure logic.

Last edited 1 year ago by Vojin Subasic
Irene Ve
Irene Ve
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Wagner

There is no a document for that “understanding “.
However, James Baker (then the United States Secretary of State) gave a verbal promise to Eduard Shevardnadze (then Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union) that NATO would not expand Eastwards during negotiations regarding the situation with the sudden collapse of Eastern Germany (DDR or GDR). It was not written on paper, but it was said with a few people present in the room including interpreters.
I cannot judge to what extent it was a legally binding statement. However, it seems that the Russians viewed it as a morally binding one.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Wagner

spot on…The top and bottom is that if you start a war you own all of it… what your side does and what the other side do, and what non involved nations or people do.
All of this is on Putin and his own already ramshackle country is suffering as well. I agree with the article that 190,000 wasn’t meant to seize and hold the country, but it was meant to kill Zelensky and others, decapitate the state and insert client politicians , and they messed that up.

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
1 year ago

You got a document for that “understanding?” It’s certainly not in the text of the agreement.
What is in the text of the agreement is the statement that all of the signatories will respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine, refrain from the use of force or economic coercion against Ukraine, and not use nuclear weapons against Ukraine or any other non-nuclear state.
treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/UNTS/Volume%203007/v3007.pdf, pages 168-171
Russia broke all these openly published agreements when it invaded Crimea in 2014 and again when it went into Ukraine proper last February. Ukraine only applied to join NATO after Crimea, and who can blame them?
Your argument is so feeble, you should be ashamed.

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Wagner

Sorry for the double post.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Wagner

It needed repeating.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Wagner

It needed repeating.

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas Wagner

Sorry for the double post.

martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago

Er, that was something called the USSR–not Russia.
The latter is half the size, with a much smaller miltiary force.
And the treaty stating that is…where?

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago

Outrageous BS. Pure Russian agitprop. Ukraine surrendered its nukes after Russia agreed to respect its sovereignty. Putin broke that promise long before the invasion. And Meirsheimer’s idiotic claim about 190,000 Russians not being enough is 20/20 hindsight. Before the invasion, he (and most others) thought Ukraine would fold in a week, so more troops weren’t required. The Germans did NOT think that about the Poles in 1939.

Marek Nowicki
Marek Nowicki
1 year ago
Reply to  harry storm

He is a demagogue and useful idiot. On the positive note: He understands Mafia. He is from Chicago….

Marek Nowicki
Marek Nowicki
1 year ago
Reply to  harry storm

He is a demagogue and useful idiot. On the positive note: He understands Mafia. He is from Chicago….

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago

As I recall the agreement, Ukraine would be an independent state with that condition guaranteed by the US, UK and Russia. There was no “understanding” given the guarantee made that step unnecessary. Russia violated the agreement in 2014, even more so today.
In 2014 it seemed more a contest of which criminal gangs were to operate and where. The current Ukrainian government has decided to clean out a large number of those gangs.

Roger Irwin
Roger Irwin
1 year ago

So what belonged to the ‘Union’ automatically became Russian after the break-up? Those were NOT the terms of the USSR break-up.
Nor should they have been. A lot of Soviet technology, nuclear and otherwise, was developed in Ukraine, not Russia.
And any which way, Ukraine did agree to disarm in exchange for assurances over the protection of its border.
If such agreements are seen to be worthless, then the world will soon realise just how easy it is for tinpot countries to build nuclear arsenals.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
1 year ago

Russia comprised 51% of the population of the USSR in 1989. If a partnership is wound up, a 51% shareholder doesn’t get to keep all the key assets, potentially to use them against their former partners. Ukraine received security assurances from the US, UK and Russia in 1994 in exchange for surrendering to Russia the nuclear weapons deployed within its borders, which Russia had already recognised. In those circumstances, potential NATO membership for Ukraine did not arise. As Russia has now reneged on the security assurances it then gave, making the achievement of similar nuclear non-proliferation agreements in the future much less likely, the US and UK have a legitimate interest in the security of Ukraine.

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
1 year ago

You got a document for that “understanding?” It’s certainly not in the text of the agreement.
What is in the text of the agreement is the statement that all of the signatories will respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine, refrain from the use of force or economic coercion against Ukraine, and not use nuclear weapons against Ukraine or any other non-nuclear state.
treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/UNTS/Volume%203007/v3007.pdf, pages 168-171
Russia broke all these openly published agreements when it invaded Crimea in 2014 and again when it went into Ukraine proper last February. Ukraine only applied to join NATO after Crimea, and who can blame them?
Your argument is so feeble, you should be ashamed.

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
1 year ago

You got a document for that “understanding?” It’s certainly not in the text of the agreement.
What is in the text of the agreement is the statement that all of the signatories will respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine, refrain from the use of force or economic coercion against Ukraine, and not use nuclear weapons against Ukraine or any other non-nuclear state.
treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/UNTS/Volume%203007/v3007.pdf, pages 168-171
Russia broke all these openly published agreements when it invaded Crimea in 2014 and again when it went into Ukraine proper last February. Ukraine only applied to join NATO after Crimea, and who can blame them?
Your argument is so feeble, you should be ashamed.

martin logan
martin logan
1 year ago

Er, that was something called the USSR–not Russia.
The latter is half the size, with a much smaller miltiary force.
And the treaty stating that is…where?

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago

Outrageous BS. Pure Russian agitprop. Ukraine surrendered its nukes after Russia agreed to respect its sovereignty. Putin broke that promise long before the invasion. And Meirsheimer’s idiotic claim about 190,000 Russians not being enough is 20/20 hindsight. Before the invasion, he (and most others) thought Ukraine would fold in a week, so more troops weren’t required. The Germans did NOT think that about the Poles in 1939.