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Ukraine and the myth of peace Nations must be able to defend themselves

"There can never be any retreat." Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images

"There can never be any retreat." Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images


February 23, 2023   6 mins

It was exactly a year ago this week that, contentedly ensconced in a Cape Town hotel, I was woken in the middle of the night by an incessant pinging on my phone. Messages were pouring in from friends in Ukraine telling me that Russia’s invasion had begun. Slumbering next to me, a newspaper columnist of more refined interests was startled, after a pleasant evening, to hear me muttering and swearing about Vladimir Putin.

The insanity of Putin’s march on Kyiv shocked me. I had reported on Ukraine since March 2014, just after the war first began. I was in New Haven and watched on an oversized diner TV as men in green military uniforms without any identifying insignia walked into Crimea and hoisted the Russian flag over the Supreme Council building. Later, I listened incredulously as Putin denied they were his troops and then, yet more incredulously, as the West’s leading politicians appeared to accept this obvious nonsense. In those moments, a new era had started to dawn.

Despots are democracy’s most attentive students. Wary of becoming another Saddam Hussein or Bashar al-Assad, Putin was taking pains to coat his actions in the language of human rights and constitutional politics. More than this, he took care to avoid too much bloodshed. This was the brilliance of his Crimea operation. Everyone from the EU to Nato knew it was the Russians, but because there was no violence it made it hard for them to act, or gave them the excuse they needed not to.

But Putin had no intention of stopping with Crimea. I first arrived in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk in April 2014, after local “separatists”, backed and coordinated by Russia, had seized the municipal building. Thugs in masks and baseball bats were hanging pro-Russia banners over the balcony and skulking in the central square. There were roughly 1,000 of them in this city of one million: strange for a place that I was repeatedly told was so pro-Russian.

From there I moved onto Luhansk. I was inside its municipal building when a different gallery of thugs — this time armed with automatic weapons — announced the establishment of the separatist “People’s Republic of Luhansk”. Later, in the city of Sloviansk, where “protestors” seized the police station, I saw for the first time what I was certain were Russian troops: masked and without insignia. This was, I realised, now a front line. Ukraine no longer simply faced protests in the East; it was at war with Russia.

But it was a funny kind of war. Back then, Putin had no designs on marching to Kyiv and forcing Ukraine to surrender. He swiped Crimea, which many Russians had always resented being passed to Ukraine in 1954, and then sent his troops into eastern Ukraine. But this was more about enabling the Russian media to take control of information spaces and start pouring in unfiltered pro-Kremlin narratives. It was when I first encountered a term that would come to dominate our age: “disinformation”.

Since then, this word has become problematic, not least because it has become so overused that, to echo Orwell, it has degenerated to the level of a swear word. It has also spawned an industry filled with charlatans. But if we correctly understand it as just another word for “propaganda” — often made more potent through digital technologies — then its presence in Ukraine was clear, and its effects devastating.

In Donetsk and Luhansk, people told me with utter sincerity how Kyiv wanted to ban the Russian language in the country — an impossibility even if it did, which it didn’t — and how they were coming to kill all Russian speakers. They showed me articles from Kremlin news outlets and videos from Russian TV. All of them false, some outright staged. Their effects cannot be underestimated. In July 2014, for instance, fraudulent Russian media reports, started by Putin associate Aleksandr Dugin, claimed the Ukrainians had crucified a small child in Sloviansk. It has served as a rallying cry for Russian atrocities ever since.

Ukraine was, in many regards, the laboratory for much of the behaviour we now accept as part of a public sphere: trolls, bots and fake news. “Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it,” wrote Jonathan Swift: as good a description of the current moment (and Twitter) as any I’ve ever read. Perhaps we eventually became guilty of overegging the threat. From Brexit to Donald Trump, Russian trolls became for many an excuse for everything we didn’t like. Last year’s invasion also taught the world that hybrid war has its limitations — you can’t march to Kyiv on a tweet thread; the war on the ground will always reassert itself. Those, though, who sought to dismiss the role of information entirely were also mistaken.

As information warfare has evolved, 21st-century state leadership — for autocrats and democrats alike — has evolved alongside it. When Putin, clearly chafing in his role of cuddly despot, made the decision to try to conquer Ukraine outright, he made many mistakes, but chief among them was to underestimate Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy. This was probably fair enough; his career before taking office was as a TV comedian. But in that lay his strength. Zelenskyy did two things. First, as so many soldiers on the front told me proudly, he didn’t run. Second, he used his professional experience to devastating effect.

In the months following February 24, Zelenskyy became perhaps the most televised man on Earth. He used humour, pathos and bathos to make Ukraine’s case, and in so doing, he created a new form of wartime leadership. He became master of what I call “digital statesmanship”: his output was short, to-the-point, informal — designed not for oratorical flourish but to go viral. And as a result, he influenced the war on the ground more than any Ukrainian general; his messaging made Ukraine’s case for a steady supply of weapons impossible for Western leaders to ignore. Zelenskyy did something remarkable: he transmuted Ukrainian soft power into hard power. Putin, meanwhile, has become little more than a polished Saddam.

The two men are now fighting it out in an arena largely of their own making. In southern and eastern Ukraine last month, I heard drones buzzing overhead while Soviet-era tanks rumbled by. This is nothing new: modern technology has always rubbed up against older weapons on the battlefield. What is new is our integrated global system which means that, for example, financial sanctions can become more targeted, while the digital revolution means that wars are now fought amid near-total data coverage. You can stream pretty much any video from anywhere now. This hasn’t brought the changes many hoped. Assad’s crimes are there to download, yet he remains in power. But the ability to influence the war on the ground through non-kinetic means has increased exponentially.

But again, within the new, the old remains. I have reported from all three fronts in Ukraine — in the South, East and North East. Conditions are varied, as are the challenges the soldiers face, but one thing is constant: the understanding that this is an existential struggle for nationhood. Putin wants to expunge the very idea of Ukraine from history. He believes it to be a fallacy. The Ukrainians hold because of many reasons, including continuing Western support, but in the end they hold because they have no choice. They are fighting for their existence. Even in the age of a supranational Europe, Ukraine shows that sovereignty and national feeling still drives peoples.

Ukraine has also taught us that Europe is no longer free of history and its perennial attendant war. Nations must be able to defend themselves. The Human Rights Act is no match for a T-90 tank. Peace is not a policy, merely something most of us want; and the only thing that guarantees it is possessing sufficient strength to deter those who want its opposite.

This is something the West seems to be learning. Part of the reason why Putin shifted from hybrid to all-out war last year was that he saw the West scuttle from Afghanistan and concluded we had no stomach left for the fight. He saw Joe Biden as old and weak, and the West as finished. In rolled the Russian tanks, only to be met by a hail of Western Javelins and NLAWs. We proved him wrong — for now. Moscow is still betting that we will falter; that Berlin will cave to the demands of German industry; that the heating bills will get too much.

Whether that happens partly depends on how long discussion over Ukraine remains charged with tropes. On the one hand, there is a rhetorical strain in politics that labels every refusal to bomb or invade “appeasement”. On the other sits its equally pernicious opposite, which labels every desire to act militarily beyond one’s narrow borders and interests as an act of warmongering. When we whacked Qasem Soleimani, and when we first started sending weapons to Kyiv, many said it would start World War Three. Well, it didn’t. In the meantime, we’ve stopped Soleimani murdering. We’ve stopped Putin conquering Ukraine and then, almost certainly, moving onto Moldova and Georgia.

But what is being decided on the battlefields of Ukraine extends far beyond them. A new Europe is emerging — one in which countries like Ukraine have become de facto garrison states against Russian aggression. We probably won’t let Ukraine join Nato, but we will arm it against external threats.

In his annual address to the Russian nation on Tuesday, Putin doubled down. “I want to repeat: it was they [the West] who unleashed the war,” he said. “And we used and continue to use force to stop it.” He also suspended Russian participation in the New Start Treaty, the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty between Russia and America. He has made it clear that, as far as he is concerned, the war will not end anytime soon.

“Sooner or later,” wrote Graham Greene in The Quiet American, “one has to take sides, if one is to remain human.” That is perhaps the final lesson of these nine years. Wars are squalid, messy things. Right and wrong can often be hard to find. But as Dominic Sandbrook eloquently argued this week, that is not the case with Ukraine. In Ukraine, a clear right faces off against an unalloyed wrong. There, they are fighting not only because it is right, but because they have no other choice. The Ukrainians — and by proxy the West — never sought this war, but it came anyway, and against it there can never be any retreat.


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

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J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

The Ukrainians — and by proxy the West — never sought this war, but it came anyway,
That assertion, coming right at the end of this fine essay, is the key insight for determining attitudes to the war. For some people, this war is simply good versus evil; the right of a nation to self-determination versus the imposition of totalitarian control. Endless war and endless escalation are justified.
People holding this view tend, imo, to give too much weight to the observation that, “When we whacked Qasem Soleimani, and when we first started sending weapons to Kyiv, many said it would start World War Three. Well, it didn’t.” True. But it doesn’t necessarily follow that relentless escalation will not finally start WWIII.
People who’re more inclined to believe there is historical context to this war, particularly in relation to the US favoring expansion of NATO, and blocking, over decades, attempts to better integrate Russia with the West, are less likely to view the war in such black and white terms. For them, “negotiation” is not the new N word.
It seems the ideological views about this war are now drawn as brightly as the battle lines in Ukraine. I’m sure they will be visible in the comments section to this article and every other article dealing with the war. How and when this war ever ends remains an open issue.

Last edited 1 year ago by J Bryant
AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Well said. Negotiation needn’t be identical to appeasement.
We should be suspicious of ourselves when intense dislike or outright hatred–or the object thereof: Putin, Biden, totalitarianism, the military-industrial complex, etc.–seems to illuminate a straight, clear path forward. That’s a dark guide.
I agree with Patrikarakos that there can be no retreat now. But inflexibility or dreams of righteous vengeance could lead to horrific new escalation, or a post-victory landscape that looks a lot like defeat for the so-called winners too.

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

You’re correct that negotiations needn’t be appeasement, but unfortunately for many that’s what they imply when they scream for peace at all costs. Any settlement (short of outright victory for either side) has to guarantee the Ukrainians safety and security, otherwise they may as well keep fighting. They know they can’t take Russias word on anything so any final agreement has to be backed by outright power along the lines of NATO or something similar

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I don’t disagree. My stance is against any “at all costs” approach that is not utterly compelled.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I think the west has been very careful not to make the situation worse though. They’ve only sent more advanced weapons whenever the Russians have first escalated their attacks on the Ukrainians

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

That may be true in the main but the situation isn’t getting better, and that remains a real worry despite the good intentions and reasons for our (Western) actions. I was impressed with Biden’s “covert photo-op” and Warsaw speech but worry about too much public one-upmanship with Putin, who had a follow-up performance of his own with ratcheting up on China-outreach and nuclear front.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

You should have learned to ignore Putin by now. Everything he says is a lie or self delusion of one form or another. He’s off in a wolrd of his own. There’s very little we can do about the madness and delusion that’s taken hold in Russia. We just need to focus on what we can and must do and prevent the Russian chaos, lawlessness and corruption spreading any further.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

After your shushingly pedantic first sentence, I agree with you.
Yes, Putin is too hollow and warped to be taken seriously. But how does ignoring Putin fit with making an informed decision on how to respond to a Russian chaos, lawlessness, and corruption of which he is the greatest single source and guide (or lord of misrule)?
I’m not impressed or convinced by Putin’s act but I think it makes sense to keep tabs on a tyrant, especially as he ages and seems newly erratic and desperate. I’m not all-aflutter about it throughout my day, but I pay some attention. Don’t you?

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

No, not really.
I meant that you and I – private individuals – should ignore Putin. We’ve got better things to do with our time.
Western leaders do need to pay attention to him though in their planning and policies. I’m fairly satisfied with the way they are handling it, so I’m not spending any time listening to Putin’s two hour speeches (funny how dictators always make very long and boring speeches – but there’s no one to tell them to shut up, is there ?).

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Fine. But wartime aggressors are part of the debate, central even.
I watched a one-minute snippet of Putin and I wouldn’t follow him on Instagram if either one of us had accounts. When I say I’m worried about escalation it’s not in a neurotic, sky-is-falling way, but I guess you’re more convinced than I am that Western powers are handling things just fine, doing what we “can and must” as you say. Hope you’re right on this one.
I think it is being handled ok under the circumstances, and could be handled worse but I sure don’t want to see that! I don’t pretend to expertise or inside knowledge but I want to see a tamping down of the rah-rah good vs. evil talk, however true it may be. I hope you’re right about how well the Powers That Be are doing on our behalf.
(I agree that most dictators like to give long speeches (dictation) but I’d add that “normal-range” leaders also seem to rattle on without much pushback).

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Fine. But wartime aggressors are part of the debate, central even.
I watched a one-minute snippet of Putin and I wouldn’t follow him on Instagram if either one of us had accounts. When I say I’m worried about escalation it’s not in a neurotic, sky-is-falling way, but I guess you’re more convinced than I am that Western powers are handling things just fine, doing what we “can and must” as you say. Hope you’re right on this one.
I think it is being handled ok under the circumstances, and could be handled worse but I sure don’t want to see that! I don’t pretend to expertise or inside knowledge but I want to see a tamping down of the rah-rah good vs. evil talk, however true it may be. I hope you’re right about how well the Powers That Be are doing on our behalf.
(I agree that most dictators like to give long speeches (dictation) but I’d add that “normal-range” leaders also seem to rattle on without much pushback).

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

No, not really.
I meant that you and I – private individuals – should ignore Putin. We’ve got better things to do with our time.
Western leaders do need to pay attention to him though in their planning and policies. I’m fairly satisfied with the way they are handling it, so I’m not spending any time listening to Putin’s two hour speeches (funny how dictators always make very long and boring speeches – but there’s no one to tell them to shut up, is there ?).

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

After your shushingly pedantic first sentence, I agree with you.
Yes, Putin is too hollow and warped to be taken seriously. But how does ignoring Putin fit with making an informed decision on how to respond to a Russian chaos, lawlessness, and corruption of which he is the greatest single source and guide (or lord of misrule)?
I’m not impressed or convinced by Putin’s act but I think it makes sense to keep tabs on a tyrant, especially as he ages and seems newly erratic and desperate. I’m not all-aflutter about it throughout my day, but I pay some attention. Don’t you?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

The ‘situation isn’t getting better’ because Putin doesn’t want it to get ‘better’ in any normal humane terms as we would understand it!

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Ok. But the situation he has caused becomes our responsibility to manage too, as well as we can. And I hope we won’t push toward global cataclysm talking about how Putin started it or “made us do it”. I’ll play my version of the voice of moderation because there’s no shortage of loud war drums right now,

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Ok. But the situation he has caused becomes our responsibility to manage too, as well as we can. And I hope we won’t push toward global cataclysm talking about how Putin started it or “made us do it”. I’ll play my version of the voice of moderation because there’s no shortage of loud war drums right now,

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

You should have learned to ignore Putin by now. Everything he says is a lie or self delusion of one form or another. He’s off in a wolrd of his own. There’s very little we can do about the madness and delusion that’s taken hold in Russia. We just need to focus on what we can and must do and prevent the Russian chaos, lawlessness and corruption spreading any further.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

The ‘situation isn’t getting better’ because Putin doesn’t want it to get ‘better’ in any normal humane terms as we would understand it!

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Only! had the West and the US minded their own business, we would not be in the current pickle. And there is no question that the US is escalating this, and to what purpose I’ve no idea, because it’s quite clear that the Russians consider this whole business as an existential threat.

Diane Merriam
Diane Merriam
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Right. Putin is so afraid of NATO that he pulled his troops from places they share a border in order to send them to fight in a non-NATO country.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

This is the West’s “business,” Mr. Putin bootlicker. Just ask formerly neutral Sweden and Finland.

OrthoChristos
OrthoChristos
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Try to avoid posing logical questions like “Russians consider this whole business as an existential threat”. Just keep it simple. Start with “Putin is Thanos and we are the avengers”…

Diane Merriam
Diane Merriam
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Right. Putin is so afraid of NATO that he pulled his troops from places they share a border in order to send them to fight in a non-NATO country.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

This is the West’s “business,” Mr. Putin bootlicker. Just ask formerly neutral Sweden and Finland.

OrthoChristos
OrthoChristos
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Try to avoid posing logical questions like “Russians consider this whole business as an existential threat”. Just keep it simple. Start with “Putin is Thanos and we are the avengers”…

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

That may be true in the main but the situation isn’t getting better, and that remains a real worry despite the good intentions and reasons for our (Western) actions. I was impressed with Biden’s “covert photo-op” and Warsaw speech but worry about too much public one-upmanship with Putin, who had a follow-up performance of his own with ratcheting up on China-outreach and nuclear front.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Only! had the West and the US minded their own business, we would not be in the current pickle. And there is no question that the US is escalating this, and to what purpose I’ve no idea, because it’s quite clear that the Russians consider this whole business as an existential threat.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I think the west has been very careful not to make the situation worse though. They’ve only sent more advanced weapons whenever the Russians have first escalated their attacks on the Ukrainians

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Given your stance on this war, I would suggest you volunteer to fight over there. At least your comrades in arms in the 1930s had the gumption to join up the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, rather than sit back in the luxury of their comfortable armchairs.
The truth of the matter is that Ukraine as currently constituted really comprises two countries: the western part with strong associations, among other to Poland, and the eastern part with strong associations to Russia. And worth recalling in all of this is that Kiev was the birthplace of the Russian nation (albeit in the middle ages).

Last edited 1 year ago by Johann Strauss
Jeff Watkins
Jeff Watkins
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Yes and this is probably how it will end with the partition of Ukraine along these lines. Interesting to see if the Chinese peace plan due tomorrow makes some kind of reference to this.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

You keep repeating Russian propaganda, as always.
There was Ukrainian independence referendum in 1991 and both Donbas and Luhansk voted over 80% to be part of Ukraine.
Even Crimea voted 54% for it.
So your claim that Estern Ukraine wants to be part of Russia is a blatant lie.
Russian stooges like you keep asking for West to stop arming Ukraine, so Russian looters, rapists and murderers can comit genocide on Ukraine nation.
As they already done in the 30s under Stalin.
Shame on you and people like you.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew F

There also was a later referendum in 1994, when disillusion set in. The eastern regions and Crimea wanted more autonomy from a centralised Ukraine. The outcome was quite different then

Last edited 1 year ago by Stephanie Surface
Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago

Interesting. Quite different? Results or link to them?

Ian Johnston
Ian Johnston
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

90 or so % to claim autonomy.

Wiki is your friend.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1994_Crimean_referendum
that is just Wikipedia, but there are many interesting articles on the internet. Crimea seems to have always tried to have some kind of autonomy, even during the time of the Soviet Union.

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago

So, note that was Crimea only and not the ‘Eastern Regions’, and absolutely no further vote anywhere on the question of joining up with Russia again. Also looking at the actual questions asked, as they say the result of a referendum is decided by whoever sets the question! Still, I’m not surprised that Crimea wanted more autonomy, it was within living memory that Stalin shipped off much of the native population, that is not murdered by the Nazis, to Siberia.

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago

So, note that was Crimea only and not the ‘Eastern Regions’, and absolutely no further vote anywhere on the question of joining up with Russia again. Also looking at the actual questions asked, as they say the result of a referendum is decided by whoever sets the question! Still, I’m not surprised that Crimea wanted more autonomy, it was within living memory that Stalin shipped off much of the native population, that is not murdered by the Nazis, to Siberia.

Ian Johnston
Ian Johnston
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

90 or so % to claim autonomy.

Wiki is your friend.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1994_Crimean_referendum
that is just Wikipedia, but there are many interesting articles on the internet. Crimea seems to have always tried to have some kind of autonomy, even during the time of the Soviet Union.

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago

Interesting. Quite different? Results or link to them?

Andy Iddon
Andy Iddon
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew F

You ignore the Coup and svoboda and the various other very unpleasant russian-hating folk from the west who gained significant power in 2014 – of course the russian speaking east do not feel they are the same nation as these folk. You should be ashamed of yourself for being so remarkably ignorant.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy Iddon

You deserve a pot.kettle.black award for your reference to ignorance. This talk about “russian-hating folk” resembles more than anything else the Nazi whinging about how everyone persecutes the poor Germans. Face it. Putin has imperial ambitions. He’s made it abundantly clear. The “hate” clearly emanates from Putin et al, who, unsatisfied with carving away Crimea and destabilizing the Donbass, etc. , now wants the whole pie because “Ukraine isn’t a real country,” as if that’s his determination to make. It’s you who should be ashamed, not only of your ignorance, but of your attitude.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy Iddon

Well worth reading Who decided on the boundaries of the ‘Russian World’? A brief history of Donbas separatismon meduza.io please do read.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy Iddon

You deserve a pot.kettle.black award for your reference to ignorance. This talk about “russian-hating folk” resembles more than anything else the Nazi whinging about how everyone persecutes the poor Germans. Face it. Putin has imperial ambitions. He’s made it abundantly clear. The “hate” clearly emanates from Putin et al, who, unsatisfied with carving away Crimea and destabilizing the Donbass, etc. , now wants the whole pie because “Ukraine isn’t a real country,” as if that’s his determination to make. It’s you who should be ashamed, not only of your ignorance, but of your attitude.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy Iddon

Well worth reading Who decided on the boundaries of the ‘Russian World’? A brief history of Donbas separatismon meduza.io please do read.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew F

There also was a later referendum in 1994, when disillusion set in. The eastern regions and Crimea wanted more autonomy from a centralised Ukraine. The outcome was quite different then

Last edited 1 year ago by Stephanie Surface
Andy Iddon
Andy Iddon
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew F

You ignore the Coup and svoboda and the various other very unpleasant russian-hating folk from the west who gained significant power in 2014 – of course the russian speaking east do not feel they are the same nation as these folk. You should be ashamed of yourself for being so remarkably ignorant.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Why would I go and fight? That’s an idiotic thing to say as it’s not my country therefore it’s not something I’d be willing to risk my life over. However that doesn’t mean I need to abandon the fact I know right from wrong, and in this instance Russia is firmly in the wrong and assisting Ukrainians with weapons to help repel an invasion that has seen numerous atrocities committed is a good thing to do. Especially as the US and UK were signatories to a treaty that guaranteed the integrity of Ukrainian territory. Just because Putin doesn’t feel the need to abide by it doesn’t mean everybody else should ignore the commitments they made

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

This Kiev being the birthplace of the Russian business is ridiculous. Yes, Kievan Rus — originally Scandinavian Varangians (Vikings) — is the start of Russian history. Since then, however, the Rus have fragmented into Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarussians, It’s up to the Ukrainians as to whether they are separate from Russians. It’s not up to me, you, Putin or the Russians to decide that. Only the Ukrainians. And they made that decision a very long time ago. Your Russian trolling is tiresome.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

“The truth of the matter is that Ukraine as currently constituted really comprises two countries” – Nonsense, propaganda. There are E-W divide issues to be settled, not unlike the US urban-rural divide, but those need to be sorted internally not by outside forces.

willful knowledge
willful knowledge
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

and not vice versa. ” … worth recalling in all of this is that Kiev was the birthplace of the Russian nation.” There has been a Ukrainian identity that has been constrained by conquerors for centuries.

Jeff Watkins
Jeff Watkins
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Yes and this is probably how it will end with the partition of Ukraine along these lines. Interesting to see if the Chinese peace plan due tomorrow makes some kind of reference to this.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

You keep repeating Russian propaganda, as always.
There was Ukrainian independence referendum in 1991 and both Donbas and Luhansk voted over 80% to be part of Ukraine.
Even Crimea voted 54% for it.
So your claim that Estern Ukraine wants to be part of Russia is a blatant lie.
Russian stooges like you keep asking for West to stop arming Ukraine, so Russian looters, rapists and murderers can comit genocide on Ukraine nation.
As they already done in the 30s under Stalin.
Shame on you and people like you.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Why would I go and fight? That’s an idiotic thing to say as it’s not my country therefore it’s not something I’d be willing to risk my life over. However that doesn’t mean I need to abandon the fact I know right from wrong, and in this instance Russia is firmly in the wrong and assisting Ukrainians with weapons to help repel an invasion that has seen numerous atrocities committed is a good thing to do. Especially as the US and UK were signatories to a treaty that guaranteed the integrity of Ukrainian territory. Just because Putin doesn’t feel the need to abide by it doesn’t mean everybody else should ignore the commitments they made

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

This Kiev being the birthplace of the Russian business is ridiculous. Yes, Kievan Rus — originally Scandinavian Varangians (Vikings) — is the start of Russian history. Since then, however, the Rus have fragmented into Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarussians, It’s up to the Ukrainians as to whether they are separate from Russians. It’s not up to me, you, Putin or the Russians to decide that. Only the Ukrainians. And they made that decision a very long time ago. Your Russian trolling is tiresome.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

“The truth of the matter is that Ukraine as currently constituted really comprises two countries” – Nonsense, propaganda. There are E-W divide issues to be settled, not unlike the US urban-rural divide, but those need to be sorted internally not by outside forces.

willful knowledge
willful knowledge
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

and not vice versa. ” … worth recalling in all of this is that Kiev was the birthplace of the Russian nation.” There has been a Ukrainian identity that has been constrained by conquerors for centuries.

Pete Holtom
Pete Holtom
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

The reason the Russian invasion happened at all is because NATO showed that Russia couldn’t take NATO’s word for anything.
Merkel spilled trhe beans on their duplicity in signing an agreement with Russia which they had no intention of keeping.
If they had stuck by their word and not pushed towards Russia’s borders, the invasion might nver have happened.
Does anyone seriously believe that America would be happy if China or Russia decided to start building bases in South America????
Of course they wouldn’t, so why on earth does everyone ecpect Russia to be happy with the actions of NATO and the EU in pushing towards the Russian borders???
It is blatant hypocrisy by the Western(ized) powers.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Pete Holtom

Russia have proved their intentions to take land. Why shouldn’t the west be ready. We’d be fools if we didn’t.

OrthoChristos
OrthoChristos
1 year ago
Reply to  Pete Holtom

My advice is similar to what I posted above to another person who actually tries to understand the conflict. Keep it simple for some people. Start with “Putin is Thanos and the west is the avengers”. An actual retweet by the official NATO account recently…

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Pete Holtom

Russia have proved their intentions to take land. Why shouldn’t the west be ready. We’d be fools if we didn’t.

OrthoChristos
OrthoChristos
1 year ago
Reply to  Pete Holtom

My advice is similar to what I posted above to another person who actually tries to understand the conflict. Keep it simple for some people. Start with “Putin is Thanos and the west is the avengers”. An actual retweet by the official NATO account recently…

Pawel Kalinski
Pawel Kalinski
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Indeed. Appeasement of Hitler in 1938 allowed him to use Czech weaponry in 1939 and 1940 against Poland, Denmark, Netherlands and France.
After the conquest of Chechenya 15 years ago Putin is now using Chechens to fight in Ukraine. Now he is forcibly incorporating Ukrainian citizens from Donetsk region into Russian army and and moving Ukrainian kids to Russia to teach them to be his loyal subjects.
This is truly awful.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I don’t disagree. My stance is against any “at all costs” approach that is not utterly compelled.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Given your stance on this war, I would suggest you volunteer to fight over there. At least your comrades in arms in the 1930s had the gumption to join up the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, rather than sit back in the luxury of their comfortable armchairs.
The truth of the matter is that Ukraine as currently constituted really comprises two countries: the western part with strong associations, among other to Poland, and the eastern part with strong associations to Russia. And worth recalling in all of this is that Kiev was the birthplace of the Russian nation (albeit in the middle ages).

Last edited 1 year ago by Johann Strauss
Pete Holtom
Pete Holtom
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

The reason the Russian invasion happened at all is because NATO showed that Russia couldn’t take NATO’s word for anything.
Merkel spilled trhe beans on their duplicity in signing an agreement with Russia which they had no intention of keeping.
If they had stuck by their word and not pushed towards Russia’s borders, the invasion might nver have happened.
Does anyone seriously believe that America would be happy if China or Russia decided to start building bases in South America????
Of course they wouldn’t, so why on earth does everyone ecpect Russia to be happy with the actions of NATO and the EU in pushing towards the Russian borders???
It is blatant hypocrisy by the Western(ized) powers.

Pawel Kalinski
Pawel Kalinski
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Indeed. Appeasement of Hitler in 1938 allowed him to use Czech weaponry in 1939 and 1940 against Poland, Denmark, Netherlands and France.
After the conquest of Chechenya 15 years ago Putin is now using Chechens to fight in Ukraine. Now he is forcibly incorporating Ukrainian citizens from Donetsk region into Russian army and and moving Ukrainian kids to Russia to teach them to be his loyal subjects.
This is truly awful.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Why is it “the West” escalating the war and not Putin? Isn’t recruiting hundreds of thousands of men for an offensive considered an escalation anymore?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

You’re correct that negotiations needn’t be appeasement, but unfortunately for many that’s what they imply when they scream for peace at all costs. Any settlement (short of outright victory for either side) has to guarantee the Ukrainians safety and security, otherwise they may as well keep fighting. They know they can’t take Russias word on anything so any final agreement has to be backed by outright power along the lines of NATO or something similar

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Why is it “the West” escalating the war and not Putin? Isn’t recruiting hundreds of thousands of men for an offensive considered an escalation anymore?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

You make an un-evidenced and very vague assertion, that the West ‘blocked attempts to integrate Russia’. Pretty weak stuff – in fact all sorts of discussions and summits were held with Yeltsin.

The usual accusation by the contrarians is the expansion of NATO, which of course entirely ignores what Poland and the Baltic States, both historically victims of outright aggression from Russia/ Soviet Union m
(and Germany, but Germany isn’t the same aggressive power) might think about it. And my usual challenge, never do far answers, why is this aggression different in any meaningful way from that of Hitler’s in the 1930s, where he made precisely the same kind of justifications as Putin’s today?

Putin doesn’t think Ukraine really exists, he wants to restore the Russian Empire. The contrarians on this issue just sound more and more desperate. For all the faults and missteps of the West and indeed international bodies, we are seeing at close hand what a world run in the basis of pure brute force looks like..

stephen archer
stephen archer
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

That’s not what he asserted, he was referencing others. Read it again.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

“You make an un-evidenced and very vague assertion, that the West ‘blocked attempts to integrate Russia’. Pretty weak stuff…”

Indeed – with clear counter evidence – Germany integrated it’s energy security with Russia, making itself reliant on their gas. The UK and other European countries welcomed Russians and their business, turned a blind eye to, or soft peddled FSB assassinations in their own country…

stephen archer
stephen archer
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

That’s not what he asserted, he was referencing others. Read it again.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

“You make an un-evidenced and very vague assertion, that the West ‘blocked attempts to integrate Russia’. Pretty weak stuff…”

Indeed – with clear counter evidence – Germany integrated it’s energy security with Russia, making itself reliant on their gas. The UK and other European countries welcomed Russians and their business, turned a blind eye to, or soft peddled FSB assassinations in their own country…

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Actually it is possible to satisfy both conditions you describe: to believe that the Ukraine war as it stands now is a pretty simple case of right vs wrong, but also to accept that the West bears part of the blame for the geostrategic errors that led to it. I certainly believe that the 2022 invasion has resolved the history prior to that point out of a complex moral puzzle and into a much simpler binary choice.

The reason these views aren’t incompatible lies in the reason Putin’s excuses are propaganda: Russia may well have been provoked by NATO expansion, but this does NOT mean that Russia had no choice to resort to war to defend itself, and it emphatically does not provide cover for the forcible confiscation of national identity from forty million people.

Russia’s casus belli is a convenient fallacy that hides what has always been Russian revanchism under Vladimir Putin. Russia’s borders have never been under threat and are still not: what Putin is trying to restore is the USSR, not to protect Russia as it now stands.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

It’s the Treaty of Versailles argument and I agree with it, but, as you say, “the 2022 invasion has resolved the history prior to that point out of a complex moral puzzle and into a much simpler binary choice,” much like Hitler’s invasion of Poland resolved the Versailles argument.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

It’s the Treaty of Versailles argument and I agree with it, but, as you say, “the 2022 invasion has resolved the history prior to that point out of a complex moral puzzle and into a much simpler binary choice,” much like Hitler’s invasion of Poland resolved the Versailles argument.

Phil Rees
Phil Rees
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

That quote with which you opened your comment was precisely what bothered me, indeed horrified me in its inaccuracy, its failure to look at history in other than the blinkered way the rest of the article proceeds. It is as clear as crystal that it has to end in negotiation and Zelenskyy losing at least Crimea.

The narrative constantly pumped out by the West is that if we fail to stop Putin Poland and the Baltic states (NATO and EU countries) will be next. This is one mistake the author does not make. It is abundantly clear that Russia no longer has anywhere near the strength to fight such an all out war against NATO – it would soon be bankrupt and deserted by China.

So, as the author says, the most he could take would be Moldova and Georgia and even they I doubt given the vast blood-letting Russia has already endured along with a ferocious economic battering.

Another thing to bear in mind – Russia may be able to suffer the manpower losses given its huge population, but Ukraine cannot. It’s not publicised much just how many fighting men Ukraine is losing and Putin knows they will run out before he does, particularly given his tactics in ignoring the Geneva convention. All the supplies from the West won’t compensate. The leaders of the West, for god’s sake, must start telling Zelenskyy about the facts and forcing some degree of negotiation Instead of the upward ratcheting of warlike propaganda that we are hearing.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Putin never had any desire to “integrate” with the West. Isn’t that obvious by now? Russia had a military delegation at NATO HQ for many years.
I think that’s a clear sign of Western attempts to reach out.
And NATO was, for a long time very hesitant about expanding. It was the aspirant new members, with their first hand knowledge of Soviet occupation, that made all the running. I think we can all understand why in the light of subsequent events.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago

Exactly. The 19th-century “sphere of influence” argument always conveniently ignores the democratic wishes of the countries fomerly dominated or actually controlled by Russia/SU. The desires of the peoples of the former SU and the Warsaw Pact don’t seem to matter at ALL.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago

Exactly. The 19th-century “sphere of influence” argument always conveniently ignores the democratic wishes of the countries fomerly dominated or actually controlled by Russia/SU. The desires of the peoples of the former SU and the Warsaw Pact don’t seem to matter at ALL.

Andrew Holmes
Andrew Holmes
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Poor victim Russia. The US failed to make more effort to integrate it into the West. And even worse, the US, with Germany and other European states, proposed that at some indefinite future date, Ukraine might be considered for memberships in NATO. Obviously, Russian leadership was forced to invade. You only need to sqinch your eyes and recite the mantra nuance, nuance, nuance.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Well said. Negotiation needn’t be identical to appeasement.
We should be suspicious of ourselves when intense dislike or outright hatred–or the object thereof: Putin, Biden, totalitarianism, the military-industrial complex, etc.–seems to illuminate a straight, clear path forward. That’s a dark guide.
I agree with Patrikarakos that there can be no retreat now. But inflexibility or dreams of righteous vengeance could lead to horrific new escalation, or a post-victory landscape that looks a lot like defeat for the so-called winners too.

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

You make an un-evidenced and very vague assertion, that the West ‘blocked attempts to integrate Russia’. Pretty weak stuff – in fact all sorts of discussions and summits were held with Yeltsin.

The usual accusation by the contrarians is the expansion of NATO, which of course entirely ignores what Poland and the Baltic States, both historically victims of outright aggression from Russia/ Soviet Union m
(and Germany, but Germany isn’t the same aggressive power) might think about it. And my usual challenge, never do far answers, why is this aggression different in any meaningful way from that of Hitler’s in the 1930s, where he made precisely the same kind of justifications as Putin’s today?

Putin doesn’t think Ukraine really exists, he wants to restore the Russian Empire. The contrarians on this issue just sound more and more desperate. For all the faults and missteps of the West and indeed international bodies, we are seeing at close hand what a world run in the basis of pure brute force looks like..

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Actually it is possible to satisfy both conditions you describe: to believe that the Ukraine war as it stands now is a pretty simple case of right vs wrong, but also to accept that the West bears part of the blame for the geostrategic errors that led to it. I certainly believe that the 2022 invasion has resolved the history prior to that point out of a complex moral puzzle and into a much simpler binary choice.

The reason these views aren’t incompatible lies in the reason Putin’s excuses are propaganda: Russia may well have been provoked by NATO expansion, but this does NOT mean that Russia had no choice to resort to war to defend itself, and it emphatically does not provide cover for the forcible confiscation of national identity from forty million people.

Russia’s casus belli is a convenient fallacy that hides what has always been Russian revanchism under Vladimir Putin. Russia’s borders have never been under threat and are still not: what Putin is trying to restore is the USSR, not to protect Russia as it now stands.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Phil Rees
Phil Rees
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

That quote with which you opened your comment was precisely what bothered me, indeed horrified me in its inaccuracy, its failure to look at history in other than the blinkered way the rest of the article proceeds. It is as clear as crystal that it has to end in negotiation and Zelenskyy losing at least Crimea.

The narrative constantly pumped out by the West is that if we fail to stop Putin Poland and the Baltic states (NATO and EU countries) will be next. This is one mistake the author does not make. It is abundantly clear that Russia no longer has anywhere near the strength to fight such an all out war against NATO – it would soon be bankrupt and deserted by China.

So, as the author says, the most he could take would be Moldova and Georgia and even they I doubt given the vast blood-letting Russia has already endured along with a ferocious economic battering.

Another thing to bear in mind – Russia may be able to suffer the manpower losses given its huge population, but Ukraine cannot. It’s not publicised much just how many fighting men Ukraine is losing and Putin knows they will run out before he does, particularly given his tactics in ignoring the Geneva convention. All the supplies from the West won’t compensate. The leaders of the West, for god’s sake, must start telling Zelenskyy about the facts and forcing some degree of negotiation Instead of the upward ratcheting of warlike propaganda that we are hearing.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Putin never had any desire to “integrate” with the West. Isn’t that obvious by now? Russia had a military delegation at NATO HQ for many years.
I think that’s a clear sign of Western attempts to reach out.
And NATO was, for a long time very hesitant about expanding. It was the aspirant new members, with their first hand knowledge of Soviet occupation, that made all the running. I think we can all understand why in the light of subsequent events.

Andrew Holmes
Andrew Holmes
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Poor victim Russia. The US failed to make more effort to integrate it into the West. And even worse, the US, with Germany and other European states, proposed that at some indefinite future date, Ukraine might be considered for memberships in NATO. Obviously, Russian leadership was forced to invade. You only need to sqinch your eyes and recite the mantra nuance, nuance, nuance.

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

The Ukrainians — and by proxy the West — never sought this war, but it came anyway,
That assertion, coming right at the end of this fine essay, is the key insight for determining attitudes to the war. For some people, this war is simply good versus evil; the right of a nation to self-determination versus the imposition of totalitarian control. Endless war and endless escalation are justified.
People holding this view tend, imo, to give too much weight to the observation that, “When we whacked Qasem Soleimani, and when we first started sending weapons to Kyiv, many said it would start World War Three. Well, it didn’t.” True. But it doesn’t necessarily follow that relentless escalation will not finally start WWIII.
People who’re more inclined to believe there is historical context to this war, particularly in relation to the US favoring expansion of NATO, and blocking, over decades, attempts to better integrate Russia with the West, are less likely to view the war in such black and white terms. For them, “negotiation” is not the new N word.
It seems the ideological views about this war are now drawn as brightly as the battle lines in Ukraine. I’m sure they will be visible in the comments section to this article and every other article dealing with the war. How and when this war ever ends remains an open issue.

Last edited 1 year ago by J Bryant
Alexander Dryburgh
Alexander Dryburgh
1 year ago

As a Canadian observing this conflict from some distance my first reaction was ‘oh please, not again’
..not another big war coming out of the ethnic cauldron of Eastern Europe. An Austrian Archduke takes a bullet in a Bosnian town and six months later young Canadians are dying in the trenches of northern France. A couple of decades further on the issue of Germans living in Czechoslovakia and Poland will bring another generation of Canadian youth to their potential resting places. These were kids from Saskatoon, Moose Jaw and Medicine Hat that couldn’t find Serbia or the Polish Corridor on a map.
And now its Donetsk and Luhansk that we couldn’t find on a map and how important is it that these places are part of Russia or Ukraine? But you know this conflict has the potential to kill a great many Canadians again if full NATO participation is in the cards. And who can say that is not the case. Every week we hear the sounds of this conflict ratcheting up, Himars, Leopard Tanks and F16 jets and the hole each side is digging gets deeper. (Apologies for the mixed metaphor.)
One arrives at the conclusion that this part of the world needs to solve its ethnicity issues themselves without involving the rest of the planet.
We’ve seen this movie before.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
1 year ago

I completely concur with you. I also think that many of our armchair generals would rapidly sing a different tune if either they or their children had to go and fight over there. I know for sure that if the US put boots on the ground, there would be massive clamor to get out within a couple of weeks, the moment the first American was killed and the body bags started coming hiomne..

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Oh the crocodile tears for Western lives are very moving.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Oh the crocodile tears for Western lives are very moving.

stephen archer
stephen archer
1 year ago

This part of the world? Yes, it’s the part of the world which has created your country and the citizens resident there, and it’s also the part where a lot of trade is done with your country and where common values in general preside. Or do you believe that you’re all more closely related to China and its citizens or to the brainwashed population of Russia or the masses in India? Just ask the Canadian residents in the Vancouver suburbs what they think of the way their new Chinese neighbours have redeveloped those areas. Keep observing from a distance. We who are closer to the action but just as remote compared to the Ukrainians in terms of the action maybe have a different view. My mother in law in southern Poland who was subjected to Gestapo interrogation as a ten year old in Poznan and then forced to live under Soviet-dictated regimes for the most part of her life might even have more relevant views. Just be thankful you only had the British-French conflict on your land, not to mention wiping out large groups of natives.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  stephen archer

I agree with much of that but your comments about the Chinese in Vancouver are bigoted and wrong. I live here, and the Chinese community — which is by no means a monolith — has contributed immeasurably to the cultural and economic life here, and most people wouldn’t have it any other way. There are always bigots, and they often make a lot of noise. The chinese community contributes far more to Vancouver and the surrounding suburbs than it takes away; the people are law-abiding and, for the most part, lovely neighbours.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  stephen archer

I agree with much of that but your comments about the Chinese in Vancouver are bigoted and wrong. I live here, and the Chinese community — which is by no means a monolith — has contributed immeasurably to the cultural and economic life here, and most people wouldn’t have it any other way. There are always bigots, and they often make a lot of noise. The chinese community contributes far more to Vancouver and the surrounding suburbs than it takes away; the people are law-abiding and, for the most part, lovely neighbours.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago

Right. We should have just let Hitler run rampant over Europe and stayed home to harvest the wheat, hoping and praying he wouldn’t come after us once he’d gobbled up all he could over there.
And when you talk about “ratcheting up,” it’s most interesting that you don’t include the 300,000 new conscripts Putin has marshalled to try to put some legs into his very stalled, pathetic and poorly thought out invasion of a sovereign country.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
1 year ago

I completely concur with you. I also think that many of our armchair generals would rapidly sing a different tune if either they or their children had to go and fight over there. I know for sure that if the US put boots on the ground, there would be massive clamor to get out within a couple of weeks, the moment the first American was killed and the body bags started coming hiomne..

stephen archer
stephen archer
1 year ago

This part of the world? Yes, it’s the part of the world which has created your country and the citizens resident there, and it’s also the part where a lot of trade is done with your country and where common values in general preside. Or do you believe that you’re all more closely related to China and its citizens or to the brainwashed population of Russia or the masses in India? Just ask the Canadian residents in the Vancouver suburbs what they think of the way their new Chinese neighbours have redeveloped those areas. Keep observing from a distance. We who are closer to the action but just as remote compared to the Ukrainians in terms of the action maybe have a different view. My mother in law in southern Poland who was subjected to Gestapo interrogation as a ten year old in Poznan and then forced to live under Soviet-dictated regimes for the most part of her life might even have more relevant views. Just be thankful you only had the British-French conflict on your land, not to mention wiping out large groups of natives.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago

Right. We should have just let Hitler run rampant over Europe and stayed home to harvest the wheat, hoping and praying he wouldn’t come after us once he’d gobbled up all he could over there.
And when you talk about “ratcheting up,” it’s most interesting that you don’t include the 300,000 new conscripts Putin has marshalled to try to put some legs into his very stalled, pathetic and poorly thought out invasion of a sovereign country.

Alexander Dryburgh
Alexander Dryburgh
1 year ago

As a Canadian observing this conflict from some distance my first reaction was ‘oh please, not again’
..not another big war coming out of the ethnic cauldron of Eastern Europe. An Austrian Archduke takes a bullet in a Bosnian town and six months later young Canadians are dying in the trenches of northern France. A couple of decades further on the issue of Germans living in Czechoslovakia and Poland will bring another generation of Canadian youth to their potential resting places. These were kids from Saskatoon, Moose Jaw and Medicine Hat that couldn’t find Serbia or the Polish Corridor on a map.
And now its Donetsk and Luhansk that we couldn’t find on a map and how important is it that these places are part of Russia or Ukraine? But you know this conflict has the potential to kill a great many Canadians again if full NATO participation is in the cards. And who can say that is not the case. Every week we hear the sounds of this conflict ratcheting up, Himars, Leopard Tanks and F16 jets and the hole each side is digging gets deeper. (Apologies for the mixed metaphor.)
One arrives at the conclusion that this part of the world needs to solve its ethnicity issues themselves without involving the rest of the planet.
We’ve seen this movie before.

Janko M
Janko M
1 year ago

I can’t help but feel that the fact the Ukrainians have decided to make a stand has allowed the West to miss an important lesson. If the Ukrainians had rolled over, we would have been faced Russia with our tiny peacetime armies and depleted arsenals.

However, while we have now been made aware of the importance of armament, I don’t see anyone truly discussing the more important component – i.e. willingness of the population to fight. Recent polling shows that very few Germans would fight in case of attack, and I would not be surprised if these figures applied to Western Europe and North America broadly. Nobody talks honestly about bringing back conscription.

It is as if the Western media and politicians want to intervene everywhere and all the time, yet all the while not fostering a culture of the importance of duty, which in the woke era we live in, receives a mocking treatment as if it were a relic of the past (Ukraine shows how present it really is). European countries in particular have almost no reserve components to speak of and, for all our derision of Russia, I can’t imagine where we would find the weapons even if we had people who wanted to fight.

We want to beat Russia, but we expect someone else to do it for us.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Janko M

I think you’d be surprised. If any country was being invaded the way Ukraine has been I think most would fight. I don’t think you’d get too many volunteer to fight to protect another nation from invasion, but most would step up if their home country was under attack. Theres no doubt that the west became complacent since the Cold War finished I’ll agree however, this has served as a rude wake up call

Janko M
Janko M
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I would like to think that, but the irony is that for specialist roles such as comms, artillery, engineering, etc. not to mention staff work and officer training takes time – meaning in case of conflict it becomes impractical to train them. This is why we see a lot of people end up as infantry with 5 days of traning. You go to war with the army you have, not the one you wish you had. Training in peacetime improves deterrence and gives the populations skills necessary to fight.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Janko M

I agree we’d be woefully unprepared, but I do think the bulk of the population would be willing

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Janko M

I agree we’d be woefully unprepared, but I do think the bulk of the population would be willing

Janko M
Janko M
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I would like to think that, but the irony is that for specialist roles such as comms, artillery, engineering, etc. not to mention staff work and officer training takes time – meaning in case of conflict it becomes impractical to train them. This is why we see a lot of people end up as infantry with 5 days of traning. You go to war with the army you have, not the one you wish you had. Training in peacetime improves deterrence and gives the populations skills necessary to fight.

Steven Somsen
Steven Somsen
1 year ago
Reply to  Janko M

I am not sure if my perception is correct but I do believe the Romans lost it when they were no longer willing to fight their wars but used mercenaries. Our mercenaries are high tech. We may win a war but on a deeper level we loose.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Steven Somsen

It was much more complicated than that, this was a sympton not the cause. There had been problems in the Roman empire for a very long time, perhaps starting with the 3rd century crisis, but some historians would say even before that.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago

excellent response.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago

excellent response.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Steven Somsen

It was much more complicated than that, this was a sympton not the cause. There had been problems in the Roman empire for a very long time, perhaps starting with the 3rd century crisis, but some historians would say even before that.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Janko M

That would change rapidly should Germany or North America come under direct threat of attack.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Janko M

I think you’d be surprised. If any country was being invaded the way Ukraine has been I think most would fight. I don’t think you’d get too many volunteer to fight to protect another nation from invasion, but most would step up if their home country was under attack. Theres no doubt that the west became complacent since the Cold War finished I’ll agree however, this has served as a rude wake up call

Steven Somsen
Steven Somsen
1 year ago
Reply to  Janko M

I am not sure if my perception is correct but I do believe the Romans lost it when they were no longer willing to fight their wars but used mercenaries. Our mercenaries are high tech. We may win a war but on a deeper level we loose.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Janko M

That would change rapidly should Germany or North America come under direct threat of attack.

Janko M
Janko M
1 year ago

I can’t help but feel that the fact the Ukrainians have decided to make a stand has allowed the West to miss an important lesson. If the Ukrainians had rolled over, we would have been faced Russia with our tiny peacetime armies and depleted arsenals.

However, while we have now been made aware of the importance of armament, I don’t see anyone truly discussing the more important component – i.e. willingness of the population to fight. Recent polling shows that very few Germans would fight in case of attack, and I would not be surprised if these figures applied to Western Europe and North America broadly. Nobody talks honestly about bringing back conscription.

It is as if the Western media and politicians want to intervene everywhere and all the time, yet all the while not fostering a culture of the importance of duty, which in the woke era we live in, receives a mocking treatment as if it were a relic of the past (Ukraine shows how present it really is). European countries in particular have almost no reserve components to speak of and, for all our derision of Russia, I can’t imagine where we would find the weapons even if we had people who wanted to fight.

We want to beat Russia, but we expect someone else to do it for us.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

People get the rulers they deserve. Reading Orwell’s essay from the late 1930s, the similarities are amazing. A country which resents it’s collapse; economic chaos brought upon by left wing management; an army planning for the next war; charismatic leader pulls a demoralised country together and reduces economic hardship; highly effective and ruthless secret police; utterly weak and naive leaders in the democratic countries where transgender issues are given more importance than defence and security of raw materials.
The result is a war started by a charismatic leader who considers that democratic countries are defeatist so they cannot and will not fight to defend themselves.
Britain had Macdonald Baldwin and Chamberlain as Prime Ministers in the 1930s because that is what we wanted. Churchill realised war with Germany would occur within the next 25 years in 1919 and was certain of it from his visit to the country in 1929. Putin was a threat from the moment he became President in 1999.
Where effete impractical middle classes are brought up in comfort and security, not only do they lack the ability to defend themselves, they they consider physical courage and fighting skills as barbaric. Why, because they have an inferiority complex about their inability to defend themselves. As Orwell said the British working class were not militaristic nor were they pacifists because they knew from experience they had to defend their possessions from those who would use force to steal them. The affluent effete secure comfoprtable middle class rarely have the experience of having to defend their persons and possesions against those who would use force to take them.
Those middle classes who shape politics and public opinions live in a world of ideas divorced from physical reality of which the most basic is violence.

Michael Spedding
Michael Spedding
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Agreed, paticularly about Orwell, a prophet unfortunately. Probably the most stable societies in Europe are Finland and Switzerland and both have conscription and take seriously the issue of being able to defend themselves without resorting to destroying the world with nuclear weapons. After a dinner in Switzerland I put my hand over the back of the sofa, and found an enormous heavy machine gun, the host’s responsibility in his section – in the USA or France it would probably have been used on the neighbours if they were making a noise…
But seriously the UK (and France and Germany) have been totally ignoring military threats for decades and leaving token armies with little ammunition to face determined agressors of all sorts.. The only advanatge is that we now know the basic Russian military unit of a tank 2 or 2 APCs is not invincible, but regression to first world war tactics is a terrible ordeal for the Ukrainians as well.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

What Orwell keeps repeating, because it is true, is the lack of responsibility of the Left Wing Middle Class. Responsibility requires emotional maturity, an appreciation of how the World works, not as one would wish and a willingness to accept the burden of leadership.What was characteristic of the left wing middle class of the 1930s and 1940s Britain, namely financial security from a private income, physical security because one lives on an island protected by a navy in an area of very low crime and very lowly paid domestic staff, is now enjoyed by the upper middle classes of most of the Western World.
Most countries are run by a few academic institutions at most and the graduates, now mostly with post graduate degrees, shape public opinion and politcs. The entry standards for these academic institutions largely mean only those from professional upper middle class families will gain entry.
The boys British boarding schools of the 1930s with emphasis on sports such as rugby, boxing, cricket or rowing, squash or fives and the girls on hockey, lacrosse and tennis did produce tough people but this largely ceased by the early 1970s. Very few of those running the West are tough which as emboldened Putin.
From the break up of Jugoslavia onwards in 1992, the democratic West has been led by people who are incapable of understanding that much of the World is ruled by people whose primary tool for control is violence be they heads of state or bosses of criminal gangs. Putin or Assad are the result of when a boss of a criminal gang runs a country.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Agree with most of that, but not the description of Britain in the 1940s, which was entirely different than 1930s Britain.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Agree with most of that, but not the description of Britain in the 1940s, which was entirely different than 1930s Britain.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

What Orwell keeps repeating, because it is true, is the lack of responsibility of the Left Wing Middle Class. Responsibility requires emotional maturity, an appreciation of how the World works, not as one would wish and a willingness to accept the burden of leadership.What was characteristic of the left wing middle class of the 1930s and 1940s Britain, namely financial security from a private income, physical security because one lives on an island protected by a navy in an area of very low crime and very lowly paid domestic staff, is now enjoyed by the upper middle classes of most of the Western World.
Most countries are run by a few academic institutions at most and the graduates, now mostly with post graduate degrees, shape public opinion and politcs. The entry standards for these academic institutions largely mean only those from professional upper middle class families will gain entry.
The boys British boarding schools of the 1930s with emphasis on sports such as rugby, boxing, cricket or rowing, squash or fives and the girls on hockey, lacrosse and tennis did produce tough people but this largely ceased by the early 1970s. Very few of those running the West are tough which as emboldened Putin.
From the break up of Jugoslavia onwards in 1992, the democratic West has been led by people who are incapable of understanding that much of the World is ruled by people whose primary tool for control is violence be they heads of state or bosses of criminal gangs. Putin or Assad are the result of when a boss of a criminal gang runs a country.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

To be fair Churchill had been quite a fan of Mussolini.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

Mussolini was in Zurich 1905 and a friend of Lenin. Lenin congratulated him when it took power in 1923. In Italy, various left wing groups evolved into fascist groups over the period of the late 1890s to the 1920s.
The communists tried to take power in Germany in 1919.
Muggeridge exposed the mass famine in the Ukraine in the early 1930s.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

Mussolini was in Zurich 1905 and a friend of Lenin. Lenin congratulated him when it took power in 1923. In Italy, various left wing groups evolved into fascist groups over the period of the late 1890s to the 1920s.
The communists tried to take power in Germany in 1919.
Muggeridge exposed the mass famine in the Ukraine in the early 1930s.

Andy E
Andy E
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

“People get the rulers they deserve.”
I instantly had image of that clown Boris Johnson in my mind and started to laugh.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy E

One aspect which is ignored is that Boris plays the fool because he has to hide his scholastic abilities. Dennis Healey had a First in Greats , politicians such as Foot, Shore, Gaitskill , Wilson all had firsts when these were rare. What I have noticed is the massive inferiority complex from the midddle class graduates who lack a classical education.
When Boris spoke in Greek at the opening of the Olympics who could see clouds of resentment and spite rise from the non classical middle class graduates, especially on the Left. My experience is that very skilled tough foremen expect their managers or should I say leaders, to be scholars and gentlemen and have little time for those who are not. This is why so many post Callaghan Labour leaders fail to earn the respect of foremen.
It was noticeable that Boris was the first leader to realise the need and deliver effective military aid to the Ukraine and not just wring his hands. Boris was also the first leader to start the productuion and distribution of of vaccines.
Leadership is about making the correct decisions quickly enough in order to improve the situation; evrything else is flim flam.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Andy E

One aspect which is ignored is that Boris plays the fool because he has to hide his scholastic abilities. Dennis Healey had a First in Greats , politicians such as Foot, Shore, Gaitskill , Wilson all had firsts when these were rare. What I have noticed is the massive inferiority complex from the midddle class graduates who lack a classical education.
When Boris spoke in Greek at the opening of the Olympics who could see clouds of resentment and spite rise from the non classical middle class graduates, especially on the Left. My experience is that very skilled tough foremen expect their managers or should I say leaders, to be scholars and gentlemen and have little time for those who are not. This is why so many post Callaghan Labour leaders fail to earn the respect of foremen.
It was noticeable that Boris was the first leader to realise the need and deliver effective military aid to the Ukraine and not just wring his hands. Boris was also the first leader to start the productuion and distribution of of vaccines.
Leadership is about making the correct decisions quickly enough in order to improve the situation; evrything else is flim flam.

Michael Spedding
Michael Spedding
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Agreed, paticularly about Orwell, a prophet unfortunately. Probably the most stable societies in Europe are Finland and Switzerland and both have conscription and take seriously the issue of being able to defend themselves without resorting to destroying the world with nuclear weapons. After a dinner in Switzerland I put my hand over the back of the sofa, and found an enormous heavy machine gun, the host’s responsibility in his section – in the USA or France it would probably have been used on the neighbours if they were making a noise…
But seriously the UK (and France and Germany) have been totally ignoring military threats for decades and leaving token armies with little ammunition to face determined agressors of all sorts.. The only advanatge is that we now know the basic Russian military unit of a tank 2 or 2 APCs is not invincible, but regression to first world war tactics is a terrible ordeal for the Ukrainians as well.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

To be fair Churchill had been quite a fan of Mussolini.

Andy E
Andy E
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

“People get the rulers they deserve.”
I instantly had image of that clown Boris Johnson in my mind and started to laugh.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

People get the rulers they deserve. Reading Orwell’s essay from the late 1930s, the similarities are amazing. A country which resents it’s collapse; economic chaos brought upon by left wing management; an army planning for the next war; charismatic leader pulls a demoralised country together and reduces economic hardship; highly effective and ruthless secret police; utterly weak and naive leaders in the democratic countries where transgender issues are given more importance than defence and security of raw materials.
The result is a war started by a charismatic leader who considers that democratic countries are defeatist so they cannot and will not fight to defend themselves.
Britain had Macdonald Baldwin and Chamberlain as Prime Ministers in the 1930s because that is what we wanted. Churchill realised war with Germany would occur within the next 25 years in 1919 and was certain of it from his visit to the country in 1929. Putin was a threat from the moment he became President in 1999.
Where effete impractical middle classes are brought up in comfort and security, not only do they lack the ability to defend themselves, they they consider physical courage and fighting skills as barbaric. Why, because they have an inferiority complex about their inability to defend themselves. As Orwell said the British working class were not militaristic nor were they pacifists because they knew from experience they had to defend their possessions from those who would use force to steal them. The affluent effete secure comfoprtable middle class rarely have the experience of having to defend their persons and possesions against those who would use force to take them.
Those middle classes who shape politics and public opinions live in a world of ideas divorced from physical reality of which the most basic is violence.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago

I didn’t think to make the connection to America’s disgraceful exit from Afghanistan and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It would explain why Putin thought the West too weak to stand up to him.

Bruce Edgar
Bruce Edgar
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Biden’s numerous mistakes since being alected (including botched withdrawal from Afghanistan) are an important cause for his intransigence re. Ukraine and Russia. Electorally, his corrupt Democratic party insists that he win something. There is one other motivation that has yet to be confirmed: Hunter Biden. In time we may learn that Zelenski has some dirt on Biden’s family that further strengthens his idiotic intransigence.

Bruce Edgar
Bruce Edgar
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Biden’s numerous mistakes since being alected (including botched withdrawal from Afghanistan) are an important cause for his intransigence re. Ukraine and Russia. Electorally, his corrupt Democratic party insists that he win something. There is one other motivation that has yet to be confirmed: Hunter Biden. In time we may learn that Zelenski has some dirt on Biden’s family that further strengthens his idiotic intransigence.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago

I didn’t think to make the connection to America’s disgraceful exit from Afghanistan and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It would explain why Putin thought the West too weak to stand up to him.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

Absolutely correct. And a welcome reminder of Putin’s decades of lies.
Also a reminder that this war is proving very useful in reminding people in the West what really matters and that freedom needs to be defended. Hopefully, this will purge some of the nonsensical and dangerous “progressive” policy rubbish out of Western societies by reminding us of our priorities.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

Absolutely correct. And a welcome reminder of Putin’s decades of lies.
Also a reminder that this war is proving very useful in reminding people in the West what really matters and that freedom needs to be defended. Hopefully, this will purge some of the nonsensical and dangerous “progressive” policy rubbish out of Western societies by reminding us of our priorities.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
1 year ago

David, your experience is visceral and front-line and I suppose one would like to understand what drove you to be there and experience these events.
From the experience of someone working immediately before and after 1991 on things Russian from the American side, I tend to have a slightly different view on how we arrived at this series of catastrophes. That perspective is also visceral but not in the same way.
It appeared to me, as someone very onside with US goals in the Cold War, that no sooner was it over than we decided: “OK, now we’re not going to lose the Cold War we just won by allowing Russia to just integrate with Europe, with no cost, and moreover to possibly displace our political influence in Europe and regions south, and our economic interests.”
Plus we still don’t trust them in Eastern Europe or Southern Europe (particularly after decades of the Non-Aligned Bloc but let’s not forget a thousand years of allegiance before that), or Central Asia, or the Middle East.
So here’s an opportunity to recast the world permanently and irrevocably while they’re out of the game, just in case they get any ideas. We’ll contain them with independent democratic states and break up any powerful spheres of remaining regional influence. We can use ancient European discords as leverage, while disparaging any Slavic claims of a stake in that kind of game.
And so we started.
We began by shoe-horning in a pliable but clearly terrible leader for their state, and offered him some uniquely bad economic advice, tied to obedience. At the end of which and on death’s door, said terrible leader looked back and thought: “What have I done?” And anointed a more able successor.
But it’s along story, which largely ends when yours begins. The die was cast, and at the point you began, we doubled-down. As self-fulfilling as Mearsheimer and Cohen say.
The people who formulate these policies are not like you or I, but we naturally judge the outcomes as if they were. They aren’t, and this is the result. It didn’t happen because a vampire flew into the Kremlin, that’s a cover for gross incompetence on the part of our core of geopolitical decision-makers.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Boughton
Ian Johnston
Ian Johnston
1 year ago

Brilliant comment.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Johnston

We’re all victims of the sociopaths I reference, who act much like legendary Greek deities, with just as much self-assurance and pride. And who when it all goes grotesquely wrong, concoct ‘narratives’ to protect themselves and make a bad situation infinitely worse.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Johnston

We’re all victims of the sociopaths I reference, who act much like legendary Greek deities, with just as much self-assurance and pride. And who when it all goes grotesquely wrong, concoct ‘narratives’ to protect themselves and make a bad situation infinitely worse.

Derek Smith
Derek Smith
1 year ago

Thanks for this comment, Andrew. It’s very enlightening.

Ian Johnston
Ian Johnston
1 year ago

Brilliant comment.

Derek Smith
Derek Smith
1 year ago

Thanks for this comment, Andrew. It’s very enlightening.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
1 year ago

David, your experience is visceral and front-line and I suppose one would like to understand what drove you to be there and experience these events.
From the experience of someone working immediately before and after 1991 on things Russian from the American side, I tend to have a slightly different view on how we arrived at this series of catastrophes. That perspective is also visceral but not in the same way.
It appeared to me, as someone very onside with US goals in the Cold War, that no sooner was it over than we decided: “OK, now we’re not going to lose the Cold War we just won by allowing Russia to just integrate with Europe, with no cost, and moreover to possibly displace our political influence in Europe and regions south, and our economic interests.”
Plus we still don’t trust them in Eastern Europe or Southern Europe (particularly after decades of the Non-Aligned Bloc but let’s not forget a thousand years of allegiance before that), or Central Asia, or the Middle East.
So here’s an opportunity to recast the world permanently and irrevocably while they’re out of the game, just in case they get any ideas. We’ll contain them with independent democratic states and break up any powerful spheres of remaining regional influence. We can use ancient European discords as leverage, while disparaging any Slavic claims of a stake in that kind of game.
And so we started.
We began by shoe-horning in a pliable but clearly terrible leader for their state, and offered him some uniquely bad economic advice, tied to obedience. At the end of which and on death’s door, said terrible leader looked back and thought: “What have I done?” And anointed a more able successor.
But it’s along story, which largely ends when yours begins. The die was cast, and at the point you began, we doubled-down. As self-fulfilling as Mearsheimer and Cohen say.
The people who formulate these policies are not like you or I, but we naturally judge the outcomes as if they were. They aren’t, and this is the result. It didn’t happen because a vampire flew into the Kremlin, that’s a cover for gross incompetence on the part of our core of geopolitical decision-makers.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Boughton
Seth Edenbaum
Seth Edenbaum
1 year ago

“Nations must be able to defend themselves”Like Iraq. And Iran?

Seth Edenbaum
Seth Edenbaum
1 year ago

“Nations must be able to defend themselves”Like Iraq. And Iran?

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
1 year ago

This article makes a good case for Ukraine’s right to defend itself against Russia but nothing much beyond that. It does not discuss the level of support we should provide, nor, as is so common, does it discuss the endgame.
It’s a bit like climate change. Very few people dispute that the world is warming up and that we are contributing to that. The dispute is over what to do about it.
We need to move beyond who is right and who is wrong and beyond squabbling over whether NATO expansion or Russian expansion is the dominant cause and figure out how we are going to try to seek a negotiated settlement that might last a few years at least.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Fiona Hill covered that pretty well. Either you let Russia have what it wants now, or you try to pressure it until it gives up on reaching its maximum goals and (hopefully) becomes willing to live with getting less. What else is there?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I agree with that – except that what Russia wants is very dependent on what he thinks he can get away with. A clear Russian victory will almost certainly lead to further aggression.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I agree with that – except that what Russia wants is very dependent on what he thinks he can get away with. A clear Russian victory will almost certainly lead to further aggression.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

If both sides cannot – at least in private – understand and agree the cause of the war, then there is very little chance of achieving a permanent peace. It doesn’t actually matter what you, I or the public think here if the leaders are not aligned.
But since there is no doubt that Russia (Putin) started the war and is wholly responsible for everything that resulted, the only thing needed is for him to “own it”. Or be removed.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Removing another country’s leader–if that’s what you’re broaching with Putin–is almost always a total disaster.
I wish his own people had the will and wherewithal to do it. Wouldn’t he be removed, or “neutralized”, by his own people soon after the Bizarro World episode of Putin Comes Clean that you’re proposing? I hope you’re not advocating any kind of outside removal of Putin, let alone assassination. Another horrible leader would probably step in to replace him, with the rage of an angrier, more war-enthused populace to orchestrate. He’s not exactly unpopular at home, and not without fans on these comment boards.

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

To be clear, I do not advocate our involvement in replacing Putin. This is the Russians’ job. They need to step up and take responsibility. Or continue to suffer. Their choice.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

That I agree with.

Andy E
Andy E
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Suffer?!? don’t count on that. Suffer from cheap electricity of about 1 cent/kW, gas 60 cents/liter and abundance of food ($1 a loaf of bread)? (I called a pal in Russia to get the real numbers) Oh yes, from the Chinese and Turkish brands replacing Western ones. It’s a real pain so the approval rating of the gov went from 70 to 80%+. “Life is normal, business as usual” — that’s what I keep hearing from people, but not from Ursula FDL.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andy E
AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

That I agree with.

Andy E
Andy E
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Suffer?!? don’t count on that. Suffer from cheap electricity of about 1 cent/kW, gas 60 cents/liter and abundance of food ($1 a loaf of bread)? (I called a pal in Russia to get the real numbers) Oh yes, from the Chinese and Turkish brands replacing Western ones. It’s a real pain so the approval rating of the gov went from 70 to 80%+. “Life is normal, business as usual” — that’s what I keep hearing from people, but not from Ursula FDL.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andy E
harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

My guess is he’s a lot less popular now than he was a year ago, regardless of what his propagandists there and bootlickers here tell you.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  harry storm

I’d agree. Especially among the population whose sons are being fed to the war machine in the greatest numbers. But he’s punishing dissent more ruthlessly than ever now–lucky to get 5 years in prison instead of “falling” out a high window.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

which no doubt also contributes to a drop in popularity.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  harry storm

True but he retains enthusiastic supporters even among the common people (from whatever I’ve read and heard). True popularity is not always needed to retain power if you are sufficiently feared. In this Machiavellian sense, Kim Jong-un, feared not loved, has quite a grip on power.
I do think Putin has badly miscalculated and might be gone before he otherwise would have been.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  harry storm

True but he retains enthusiastic supporters even among the common people (from whatever I’ve read and heard). True popularity is not always needed to retain power if you are sufficiently feared. In this Machiavellian sense, Kim Jong-un, feared not loved, has quite a grip on power.
I do think Putin has badly miscalculated and might be gone before he otherwise would have been.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

which no doubt also contributes to a drop in popularity.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  harry storm

I’d agree. Especially among the population whose sons are being fed to the war machine in the greatest numbers. But he’s punishing dissent more ruthlessly than ever now–lucky to get 5 years in prison instead of “falling” out a high window.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

To be clear, I do not advocate our involvement in replacing Putin. This is the Russians’ job. They need to step up and take responsibility. Or continue to suffer. Their choice.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

My guess is he’s a lot less popular now than he was a year ago, regardless of what his propagandists there and bootlickers here tell you.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

While there is no doubt that Putin launched the current proximal war, historical context is still required, and I would argue that the US stirred the pot and continually pocked the bear.
The simple analogy is the school cafeteria. A new kid comes, and the bullies persuade a small kid to throw bits of bread at the new kid. For a long time, the new kid doesn’t respond, until he’s fed up and beats the small kid throwing the bread. The bullies stand back and say “we had nothing to do with this”, and of course the new kid gets called to the Principal’s office and is either suspended or put in detention. That’s the gist of the current situation.
The belief that the US is virtuous and that Russia is bad and evil, permeates western thinking, a type of thinking that is no different to Western thinking during the Crusades. Now for sure I think our western form of Government is way superior and far more just than that of Russia or China, but it took us a very long time to get to where we are.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

“The belief that the US is virtuous and that Russia is bad and evil, permeates western thinking”

Whilst I’m sure you can find such opinion quite easily, I think you are overstating it; or you spend too much time with this group. Most Westerners are well aware of malfeasance of their own countries, and especially the most powerful one (and therefore able to do most damage) – the USA. That is in no small part because we have, relatively, a mature culture which allows for dissent, thrives off it – most of the whistleblowers, cogent critics of the West are Westerners. Russia (and China) on the other hand are authoritarian states, imprisoning and killing dissenters, opposition politicians, ethnic cleansing, directly responsible for the deaths of millions of their own citizens, (in living memory).

Your analogy would be more accurate thus:

A kid with an esteemed background leaves a powerful school gang, well known for its brutal behaviour (he is one of many such kids to have left the gang in recent years, for the same reasons). A rival group, worried that the gang wishes to beat up the kid and bring him back into the gang, dead or alive, encourages the kid to protect himself. The kid is not entirely sure, but begins to like his new friends and accepts their support and tactic protection. The gang is now doubly insulted – not only have they been rejected by the kid with the esteemed background, but the squirt is now fronting up to them. To their thug mentality this cannot stand, and so, when they think the kid is alone, and the group is too weak to protect him, they beat the holy s++t out of him – only to be stunned when the group turn up, cheering from the sidelines, and throwing him some weapons. When the headmaster turns up and demands to know what happened, the gang says ‘the little kid started it, but it was all a plotted by the group, who left us no choice beat the kid black and blue.

Bruce Edgar
Bruce Edgar
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

America does not thrive on dissent. Its democracy has been moribund for decades, and its imperial policies unravel all of its professed values.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruce Edgar

“America does not thrive on dissent.”

Really? I’ve been living there back and forth since the 1970s, and it seemed to me that they love, love, love open dissent. Reps vs Dems, Progressive vs cons; hawks vs doves; South vs North; black vs white; Roe vs Wade; Letterman or Carson; libertines vs puritans. Probably the most conflicted, splits both ways, do what thou wilt, let’s compete society that has ever existed.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

As a Canada-born American who does little back and forth but engages with Canadian and other “foreign” viewpoints, I partly agree. Many of us love to be loudly independent but a lot of that is fueled, in truth, by some kind of groupthink. Fierce (so-called) tribal loyalties and defining oneself by antipathies has also gotten worse here this century. But I think we’d need one or more nationally viable third/fourth parties to have a more robust version of meaningful dissent.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I would say each sides dissents from the other quite vociferously, and especially since Trump, they have little in common, certainly domestically. There is a bit more agreement on foreign issues, but not much.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  harry storm

Sure, but the dissent is largely within a two-sided box, if you will–at least when it comes to who is electable for major office.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

And dissent has more to do with divergence within groups, it’s not mere antagonism or disagreement.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Sure, but in that case, there is dissent in both the Democratic and Republican parties with regard to aiding Ukraine.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  harry storm

Yes. I’m not claiming America is without dissent nor any other absolute stance. Just that some of that dissent is “off the rack” and according to tribal loyalties; not in pure zombie fashion though, and with tons of nonconformity among many of our 330 million souls. I think we’re essentially in agreement on this one, but perhaps you’d disagree.

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  harry storm

Yes. I’m not claiming America is without dissent nor any other absolute stance. Just that some of that dissent is “off the rack” and according to tribal loyalties; not in pure zombie fashion though, and with tons of nonconformity among many of our 330 million souls. I think we’re essentially in agreement on this one, but perhaps you’d disagree.

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

There is a lot more to American culture, and dissent, than progressives vs conservatives & culture wars. Overall, America is the place where you are most likely to be able to do and say whatever you want. Suppression of dissent, relative to other countries, is not an issue.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

I agree with your reply, as phrased. There are few legal barriers to dissent or any free expression here, and those that exist are sensible, even minimal.
The culture leans more toward hyper-individualism than conformity and those who claim “you can’t say anything now” are not placing that in a sound global or historical context.
However, there are increased barriers to a culture to free expression in academia (where I have some recent experience, as an “older student”), and in the so-called legacy media here, compared to 20 years ago. That is massively counteracted by the wild availability of places to run our mouth and fingers online, of course.
And many clamor for a national Conversation on Race, which I agree with in principle (I long for a truth and reconciliation period of some kind–something restorative, not punitive).
But we can’t seem to get much going in between silence and shouting, as presumed correct views and terminology (from multiple angles, but with mini-orthodoxies) and terminology are given too much weight and condemnation, dismissal, or hurt feelings arise before a real discussion–not a contentious dispute or parroted orthodoxy–can emerge. We’re are trying, but too hard and not well enough, in my opinion. I’d like to see an uptick in the live and let live spirit you justly insist is far from dead here in the States, combined with a greater sense of overall common purpose as citizens. Ah well, one can dream.
I fully agree that America is far more complex than its simplistic detractors or rah-rah exceptionalists want to admit.
(Incidentally, as you might have noticed I have a pretty overactive contrarian or disputatious side, but I’m trying to cut down on that, with partial success. I notice there are more substantive exchanges that are not abusive or combative on UnHerd than on most websites. I partly attribute this to the prevailing (if barely) presence of a certain English sensibility. Would you agree?)

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Agree with all you said there – commenting on Wapo, NYT, just soo hyper partisan, it’s nuts. As Bill Maher says, the US is still in its adolescence; centrist, right and leftie Europeans get him, but many American nu-progressives ‘think’ (if only they could…) that he’s a traitor to the left.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Yes. I can’t even get many of my centrist or dissenting comments through on the NYT, and when they make it they are often delayed until the comments section is just about to close. It’s mostly a loud-agreement chamber, with some refreshing exceptions. WaPo is far worse–mostly a waste of time and unreadable both for level and one-sidedness of discourse. I respect Maher but find him too mean and smug at times (other times: brilliant!), so that I go away but creep back to his show, in waves. I live in the Bay Area so my contrarianism leans right, but not in a hard or automatic way.
We sure are a young country, with all the energy and insecure bravado that entails. Of course I might push back if an outsider said that.

Stevie K
Stevie K
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Thanks AJ, your last paragraph there makes a very astute point with candour and humour!
The struggle to personify patriotism or identity with both humility and nuance is hard work at times, but it’s that ability to have a complex, nuanced view that demonstrates you have been watching the world and learnt the many lessons it can teach you if you care to listen.
To the joys of hard-won wisdom!

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Stevie K

Thank you, Stevie. Nice to read those kind words.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Stevie K

Thank you, Stevie. Nice to read those kind words.

Stevie K
Stevie K
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Thanks AJ, your last paragraph there makes a very astute point with candour and humour!
The struggle to personify patriotism or identity with both humility and nuance is hard work at times, but it’s that ability to have a complex, nuanced view that demonstrates you have been watching the world and learnt the many lessons it can teach you if you care to listen.
To the joys of hard-won wisdom!

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Yes. I can’t even get many of my centrist or dissenting comments through on the NYT, and when they make it they are often delayed until the comments section is just about to close. It’s mostly a loud-agreement chamber, with some refreshing exceptions. WaPo is far worse–mostly a waste of time and unreadable both for level and one-sidedness of discourse. I respect Maher but find him too mean and smug at times (other times: brilliant!), so that I go away but creep back to his show, in waves. I live in the Bay Area so my contrarianism leans right, but not in a hard or automatic way.
We sure are a young country, with all the energy and insecure bravado that entails. Of course I might push back if an outsider said that.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Agree with all you said there – commenting on Wapo, NYT, just soo hyper partisan, it’s nuts. As Bill Maher says, the US is still in its adolescence; centrist, right and leftie Europeans get him, but many American nu-progressives ‘think’ (if only they could…) that he’s a traitor to the left.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

I agree with your reply, as phrased. There are few legal barriers to dissent or any free expression here, and those that exist are sensible, even minimal.
The culture leans more toward hyper-individualism than conformity and those who claim “you can’t say anything now” are not placing that in a sound global or historical context.
However, there are increased barriers to a culture to free expression in academia (where I have some recent experience, as an “older student”), and in the so-called legacy media here, compared to 20 years ago. That is massively counteracted by the wild availability of places to run our mouth and fingers online, of course.
And many clamor for a national Conversation on Race, which I agree with in principle (I long for a truth and reconciliation period of some kind–something restorative, not punitive).
But we can’t seem to get much going in between silence and shouting, as presumed correct views and terminology (from multiple angles, but with mini-orthodoxies) and terminology are given too much weight and condemnation, dismissal, or hurt feelings arise before a real discussion–not a contentious dispute or parroted orthodoxy–can emerge. We’re are trying, but too hard and not well enough, in my opinion. I’d like to see an uptick in the live and let live spirit you justly insist is far from dead here in the States, combined with a greater sense of overall common purpose as citizens. Ah well, one can dream.
I fully agree that America is far more complex than its simplistic detractors or rah-rah exceptionalists want to admit.
(Incidentally, as you might have noticed I have a pretty overactive contrarian or disputatious side, but I’m trying to cut down on that, with partial success. I notice there are more substantive exchanges that are not abusive or combative on UnHerd than on most websites. I partly attribute this to the prevailing (if barely) presence of a certain English sensibility. Would you agree?)

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Sure, but in that case, there is dissent in both the Democratic and Republican parties with regard to aiding Ukraine.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

There is a lot more to American culture, and dissent, than progressives vs conservatives & culture wars. Overall, America is the place where you are most likely to be able to do and say whatever you want. Suppression of dissent, relative to other countries, is not an issue.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

And dissent has more to do with divergence within groups, it’s not mere antagonism or disagreement.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  harry storm

Sure, but the dissent is largely within a two-sided box, if you will–at least when it comes to who is electable for major office.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I would say each sides dissents from the other quite vociferously, and especially since Trump, they have little in common, certainly domestically. There is a bit more agreement on foreign issues, but not much.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

As a Canada-born American who does little back and forth but engages with Canadian and other “foreign” viewpoints, I partly agree. Many of us love to be loudly independent but a lot of that is fueled, in truth, by some kind of groupthink. Fierce (so-called) tribal loyalties and defining oneself by antipathies has also gotten worse here this century. But I think we’d need one or more nationally viable third/fourth parties to have a more robust version of meaningful dissent.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruce Edgar

That’s utter rubbish. America’s very polarization illustrates that dissent is alive and well. And its policy of aiding Ukraine may be called many things, but not “imperial.”

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruce Edgar

“America does not thrive on dissent.”

Really? I’ve been living there back and forth since the 1970s, and it seemed to me that they love, love, love open dissent. Reps vs Dems, Progressive vs cons; hawks vs doves; South vs North; black vs white; Roe vs Wade; Letterman or Carson; libertines vs puritans. Probably the most conflicted, splits both ways, do what thou wilt, let’s compete society that has ever existed.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruce Edgar

That’s utter rubbish. America’s very polarization illustrates that dissent is alive and well. And its policy of aiding Ukraine may be called many things, but not “imperial.”

Bruce Edgar
Bruce Edgar
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

America does not thrive on dissent. Its democracy has been moribund for decades, and its imperial policies unravel all of its professed values.

Simon Latham
Simon Latham
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Jeffrey Sachs & John Mearsheimer make it very clear that the USA has created this situation. The Warsaw Pact was broken up in 1991 but NATO aggressively enlarged. Russia was exploited and humiliated and treated like the enemy the former USSR had been. America has shamelessly & lethally interfered in sovereign countries ever since the end of WW2.
Putin could not re-establish an “empire” if he wished. But he knows his history and does not want the US too close. A neutral Ukraine (and Georgia) was his demand. The perfidious US still cast Russia as Commies, they staged a coup in Ukraine to get rid of Yanukovych and then trained and armed Ukrainian troops with this conflict in mind. Germany & Russia were getting along just fine and that bothered the US so the Biden Admin blew up the Nordstream pipelines.
How much further will the US push things? The military industrial complex only gets richer, Russia gets weaker and the Ukrainians forfeit their lives to the war machine and their country to US corporate interests.

Bruce Edgar
Bruce Edgar
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Latham

This thread has been a wasteland so far, except for your comment. To come back to the ideas of Sachs is the only sensible thing.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruce Edgar

Bootlicking is not a pretty look.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruce Edgar

Bootlicking is not a pretty look.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Latham

Nato did not “aggressively enlarged”.
Former victims of Soviet and Russian aggression chose to join NATO to seak protection from genocidal Russian imperialism.
Now Finland and Sweden did the same.
What happens when you are not in NATO but Russia fances your land is clearly shown in Ukraine.

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Latham

If memory serves, after the collapse of the USSR Jeffrey Sachs went over there to set things right — and made a pig’s breakfast of it. As to Mearsheimer — he consistently sounds like a Russian plant.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Latham

Oh, well if Mearsheimer says it, it’s absolutely gotta be true. After all, he’s the big realist that would give all of eastern europe back to Russia.
And please note that the above bootlicker doesn’t give any agency whatsoever to Ukraine or Ukrainians. It’s all big bad America’s fault. How much further will they push things. Not Putin, he’s not pushing anything. What a joke.

Last edited 1 year ago by harry storm
Bruce Edgar
Bruce Edgar
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Latham

This thread has been a wasteland so far, except for your comment. To come back to the ideas of Sachs is the only sensible thing.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Latham

Nato did not “aggressively enlarged”.
Former victims of Soviet and Russian aggression chose to join NATO to seak protection from genocidal Russian imperialism.
Now Finland and Sweden did the same.
What happens when you are not in NATO but Russia fances your land is clearly shown in Ukraine.

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Latham

If memory serves, after the collapse of the USSR Jeffrey Sachs went over there to set things right — and made a pig’s breakfast of it. As to Mearsheimer — he consistently sounds like a Russian plant.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Latham

Oh, well if Mearsheimer says it, it’s absolutely gotta be true. After all, he’s the big realist that would give all of eastern europe back to Russia.
And please note that the above bootlicker doesn’t give any agency whatsoever to Ukraine or Ukrainians. It’s all big bad America’s fault. How much further will they push things. Not Putin, he’s not pushing anything. What a joke.

Last edited 1 year ago by harry storm
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

“but it took us a very long time to get to where we are”.

Indeed it did Mr Strauss, and via The Holocaust it must be said.

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago

How does the holocaust fit into all this?

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago

How does the holocaust fit into all this?

harry storm
harry storm
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

What crap. Ukraine didn’t do anything to Russia. It’s always been the other way around.

harry storm
harry storm