61 thoughts on “Ukraine open thread

  1. JQ, I hope you detail for us economic consequences asap:
    “The global economy is ‘staring into the abyss’ as Ukraine invasion hits the Australian stock market”

    Putin is basically mad. And lack of if free press and free elections nailed the coffins.

    Babushka’s incite disobedience and civil war the best we can hope for in the short term.

    Medium to long term I’m too fearful to contemplate.

    Read by Tolstoy “‘’Resurrection’’ is the politically incendiary story the Russian regime tried to bury”

    “For readers looking to understand what it was in his thinking that inspired the likes of Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King to fight against racial oppression and take up the mantle of universal brotherhood, Resurrection is the go-to treatise.

    “Tolstoy succeeded in writing a story with great transformational potential by not shying away from the deeply personal.”

    “The Novel by Tolstoy You Never Heard Of.


  2. Does not look like any non symbolic sanctions are planned against Russia. Don´t think Putin is mad in the narrower sense. That is, my guess is he does not believe large parts of what he is saying and the other crazy stuff has broad support.

  3. Matt @crudeoilpeak tweeted earlier today:

    As long as this war in Ukraine goes on there will likely be an oil crisis the consequences of which have not been thought through @AngusTaylorMP
    @Dom_Perrottet #Australia was supposed to get away from oil ever since the crude #peakoil in 2005. It was never done. Howard botched it

    Zali Steggall warned last year: “No platitudes or magical thinking from the Prime Minister will reduce petrol prices. No blaming another side of politics or doing the usual political football is going to change that reality.

    I guess we will see soon.
    IMO, it couldn’t be worse timing for the Morrison government.

  4. @hix Germany blocking Nordstream 2 and (it looks like) supporting lethal military aid to Ukraine, both announced before the invasion, seem more than symbolic to me. The big test will be SWIFT.

  5. The modern experience seems to be that wars of conquest and control are not winnable. The USA was defeated by Vietnam and Afghanistan. Russia was defeated by Afghanistan. Where the resisting state and population is extensive (Ukraine fits this bill), a foreign power seems unable to subjugate it under modern conditions IF the resistance is deep-seated. Now, I admit this hypothesis is not scientifically testable in the sense that if it is refuted then the let-out clause is that the resistance was not deep-seated. But as a rule of thumb it looks reasonable.

    What are “modern conditions”? Modern conditions seem to include the fact that the resisting state is assisted indefinitely by intelligence, economic assistance and weapons assistance by coalitions supporting them. In this case, a guerilla war seems prosecutable indefinitely. The least worst feasible option seems to be to assist Ukraine to fight a conventional and then guerilla war indefinitely until Russia is exhausted. One wishes there was a better way but anything that leads to WW3 is off the table.

    On the side of sanctions, I would opt for total sanctions. Total war is not possible but surely total sanctions are possible. All allied nations (NATO plus allies) should implement total sanctions. All trade, transactions and people movements between the Allies and Russia should cease until all Russian forces leave Ukraine.

    Unfortunately, the West is so morally compromised from Vietnam to Afghanistan it is hard for it to retain any moral credibility. Everything we accuse Russia of with respect to Ukraine we have done to nations like Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. We have been both morally and economically weakened by these grave errors: perhaps fatally. The damage extends to the anti-democratic extremism of Trump, the Republican Party and their supporters. Many of them admire Putin apparently. They don’t get that Putin and Xi despise them as useful fools.

  6. Well, please correct me if wrong, but I’m reading that ~1/3 of Germany’s gas comes from Russia and about the same fraction of oil and >50% of their coal for power generation came from Russia last year. A scent of vulnerability?

  7. Iko, I’m guessing the Russian’s have done their game theory sums and balanced the trade-offs with future sanctions and the staggeringly resource rich Ukraine – but I guess we’ll see.

  8. Troy Prideaux,

    I would hazard a guess that gaining resources by trade in the modern world is more cost effective than gaining them by war. Modern limited conventional wars become interminable quagmires. I guess that is my thesis. Total conventional war is no longer prosecutable effectively because of nuclear escalation dangers but also because of information availability and interconnection. It is no longer possible to hide information from (multiple) critics and opponents now from domestic populations. Interconnection means resources and arms can keep flowing to groups and nations fighting guerrilla wars and proxy wars. So long as the Ukraine populace are willing to fight, the means to fight can be funneled to them.

    If Putin takes Ukraine successfully and unpunished, imagine the encouragement to Chinese expansion. If Russia and China plus other Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) countries act as a bloc, they have the advantage of internal lines and of holding the world’s expanded “Heartland” somewhat as per Mackinder. I’ve never been a fan of Mackinder’s theory but the current situation looks more than concerning. The Ukraine action ties NATO down in Eastern Europe. The USA needs to help there and try to contain China on the other side of the world. The USA will almost certainly be overstretched.

    It all depends on Ukrainian resistance and supplies to Ukraine. If Russia wins a permanent victory there, then the global strategic initiative passes to the SCO and the West’s position may crumble mid to long term. Who can predict the outcome? Global grostrategic competition is a negative sum game but nobody seems to be acting on that principle.

  9. What happens in the not unlikely event the invasion succeeds? Ukraine gets a pro-Putin (which is not necessarily the same thing as a pro-Russian government) and the Russian army withdraws? In that case there will be another Euromaidan and another presidential overthrow. The Russian army stays and an insurrection breaks out? And any insurrection would be capable of sabotage attacks within Russia itself where is already a large Ukrainian population.

    The solution to the problem of mixed populations and borders is what was proposed by Kenyan UN Ambassador Martin Kumani—no irredentism.

  10. The only scenario that Russia (i.e. Putin) might feel wasn’t likely is the one in which most of Europe, both NATO and non-NATO forces, form a non-NATO coalition and use military force against Russia, both in the Ukraine and Belarus. That also means this is the only scenario that has the best chance of defeating Russia. Economic sanctions cannot possibly force Russia to back down, so while punitive economic sanctions are a necessary action, it is not sufficient.

    Who wants war? But, once you have an aggressor coalition invading and occupying a nation of 45 million and decapitating (almost in the literal sense) the democratically elected government, you are in a state of total war in Europe. To think it will somehow go away, if you just ignore it (in the sense of military engagement), you are engaging in magical thinking. We’ve seen magical thinking in the denialism with respect to the fact of Anthropogenic Global Warming. We have seen magical thinking with respect to economic conditions, with respect to the pandemic, etc; it is part of the human condition. But now is not the time to fall for this emotional crutch.

    Putin will use the huge outflow of refugees to cause resentment and severe negative social impacts upon the non-NATO countries that are squeezed between Russia and the NATO bloc. NATO’s hands are tied, for whatever they do as NATO, it risks bringing two nuclear powers into direct hot war. This impotence is almost certainly part of Putin’s strategic thinking, with respect to the coming months and years. In other words, NATO either address this head on, now, or Europe will see other smaller countries getting picked off. If I was in the Lithuanian government, I’d be pretty nervous right now. Clearly they are exposed to an invasion force crossing the Belarus border, and leading to another land bridge connecting a Russian port city of Kaliningrad Oblast, with land supply lines through Lithuanian territory and Belarus territory, through to Moscow and St Petersburg. Putin is in this for the long haul.

    Make no mistake, Putin cannot afford to leave a numerically large opposing military force within Ukraine, even after he has control of the government itself. This implies—don’t look away now—that he must kill a hell of a lot of people in the Ukraine, if he is to “pacify” it; furthermore, he will ship by rail tens of thousands of people to gulags, in order to use them as leverage to ensure the good behaviour of their families in the “new” Ukraine. I cannot underscore this enough: Putin has to kill and/or capture a hell of a lot of people, if he is to kill the will for reprisal and resistance actions against his occupying force and government puppets.

    This is not a person who is concerned about his wealth, for his roll of the dice is a fairly big gamble, one that will cost him financially, no doubt about it; this tells me that it is about the symbolism of having reconstructed the old Soviet Empire. Everything he is doing is a war crime, and same for his special forces that have taken part in this invasion, same for the generals.

  11. “If Putin takes Ukraine successfully and unpunished, imagine the encouragement to Chinese expansion.”
    And remember both Xi and Vlad held a very chummy face-to-face meeting just prior to this – the 1st in 2 years iIRC. It would seem inconceivable that Ukraine wasn’t front & centre of that (deal making) agenda.

  12. Geoff, the US has explicitly said that any short-term energy sanctions are off the table, and oil is fungible, so unless there is literally a blockade of Russia, why would oil supplies be impacted?

  13. Then again Morrison’s mate Modi’s anti Russian haven’t been up to the stridence level proscribed by Duddy as adequate.

  14. Tom Davies,
    Global oil production peaked in Nov 2018, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Most oil producing countries are post-peak, and only a few are at peak. The world is running out of pre-peak oil producers.

    The world is running out of spare oil production capacity. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, investments in new oil production projects have substantially reduced. Less new oil projects coming onstream means less new oil production replacing declining production from legacy oil fields.

    Since the Ukraine invasion oil prices have spiked. That puts the prices up on nearly everything.

  15. Don, re your:
    “Putin will use the huge outflow of refugees to cause resentment and severe negative social impacts upon the non-NATO countries that are squeezed between Russia and the NATO bloc.”

    Which non-NATO countries do you have in mind that are “squeezed between Russia and the NATO bloc?


    Finland, Sweden, Austria, Ireland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Switzerland are the only (West) European Countries that are neither NATO members nor are part of the European Part of Russia. None of these countries have a border with the Ukraine.

    The relationship of these countries to NATO can be read by clicking on the respective country on the map shown in the link above.

    According to news reports, Finland and Sweden have recently expressed interest in becoming NATO members.

    Switzerland has no intention of changing its business model. That is, Switzerland has declared not to join the sanctions of banks or accounts.

    There are already refuges from the Ukraine. They go first to Poland primarily or to Rumania, ie the closest neighbours. The Head of the EU Commission announced there are plans in the making on how to assist the refuges and their distribution.

    Re Lithuania: It is already a NATO member (see map).

    Re: “The only scenario that Russia (i.e. Putin) might feel wasn’t likely is the one in which most of Europe, both NATO and non-NATO forces, form a non-NATO coalition and use military force against Russia, both in the Ukraine and Belarus.”

    Have you considered that the UK and France also have nuclear weapons, which do not disappear as a consequence of eliminating the word NATO?

    The Russian Federation reaches from Belarus and the Ukraine and the Baltic Sea in the West to the Pacific in the East.
    What about the 7 to 8 million Russians who currently live in the Ukraine?

    During the past two weeks I spent a lot of time reading about Eastern Europe and Russia to discover that I know essentially nothing. But I learned to appreciate a little more the importance of diplomacy and the skills involved.

  16. My model for Putin is that he does not fit into any variation of Westphalian self interest and his ends are far more apocalyptic. His worst outcome is “survives, but loses – read even compromise”. He would prefer death and the destruction of millions over that.
    The sanctions are meaningless unless applied over a long time which is politically unsustainable for the West (Germans and Italy will not go without Russian gas) and will provide Putin with the excuse to wade into the Baltics triggering Clause 5
    Probability of nuclear war in next 12 months = 30%
    The only hope is that he will be removed from the inside but it seems that there is no one left who could or would.
    One of the biggest errors of the post 89 period is that we have downgraded negotiations on arms controls in favour of other issues thinking that nobody would ever dare push the button. It remains our greatest existential risk and Putin has reminded the world of it even if few want to mention it.

  17. And how will Italian banks cope given the Russian loans on their books. Another financial crisis may also be in the offing.

  18. “Germany blocking Nordstream 2 and (it looks like) supporting lethal military aid to Ukraine, both announced before the invasion, seem more than symbolic to me. The big test will be SWIFT” [JQ, above]

    Reports of who, where, and what come in at a speed which makes it difficult to be sure what exactly is the situation now.

    As JQ said, the German government has stopped the certification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline before the invasion. However, Germany has reiterated she will not to supply “lethal military” aid to the Ukraine.

    There is already a big hole in the financial sanctions due to Switzerland having declared it will not sanction the banks and it will not stop transactions on accounts.

    Incidentally, it was reported that a huge yacht has been moved from Hamburg, Germany, to Russia. This private yacht is said to belong to Putin.

  19. Thanks Ernestine, for correcting me on the present form of NATO; wrt France, it was one of the founding members of NATO, so it is in the same boat as the USA and the UK, as founding members that now have nukes.

    The newer, post-Soviet, NATO members are the ones that I believe Putin has an eye on, the ones whose existence is grit in his eye. He has to find a way to break NATO as an institution. While I doubt that is his immediate objective, I believe that the invasion and dismemberment of the Ukraine is his way of saying, “See? NATO is an impotent force, good for nothing. Who protects you now?”

    Ukraine, as the second largest country in Europe/Russia, adds a lot of fertile ground (in both agricultural and military senses) for the future Russia. If he starts taking land and giving it to Eastern Russian-Ukrainian Separatists, or to Russians from Russia Federation itself, that is a way of effectively taking over the country for the long haul, and permanently displacing the local populations from the rural areas, at the very least. The people fleeing are most likely to be ethnically Ukrainian, but they’ll be by no means the only ones; there will be Ethnic Russians who feel they are on the wrong side of Putin, and they will either flee or fight, I guess. And there are other ethnic groups who may feel very threatened by Putin’s attempt at revival of the old-school Soviet.

    I also (obviously) don’t know a great deal about the Eastern Europe and Baltic states, although I have read (some time ago) about the history of the Russian Empire(s), and the imperialism from 1884 through to 1914.

    Having by fluke caught a broadcast of Putin’s incendiary speech, the one where he essentially said there is no such thing as the Ukraine, as far as I heard he had nothing much to say about ethnic Ukraine people, and given the follow-up address, that points pretty clearly towards a series of war crimes and large scale displacement of humanity. I certainly hope I am mistaken on this, but what is there to indicate a more tempered approach by Putin? His words? Putin, like other totalitarians before him, speaks in a mix of all but saying what his grand plan is, through some lens of history and future building mythos; and, deception, by denying the very next action in his overarching plan. Hannah Arendt picks this apart in forensic detail, in “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” published in 1950, and second edition some time in the 1960’s, I think.

    I don’t think Putin would want a toe-to-toe with the USA, and so he’ll avoid any action for now that steps on a NATO member’s toes; however, I do not believe that Putin sees Lithuania as “NATO,” per se; he sees it, if I am correct, as an errant school child that needs a smack in the head and put back to hard work in the fields. And it directly connects Russia with the Baltic sea. I guess we’ll see.

    The thing about dictators is that they tend to stick to their own territories, at least in the modern context; perhaps they skirmish with bordering countries, and certainly there are enough examples of that. They generally don’t preach on an overarching ideology for taking a whole swag of countries they view as historically their own; that tends to be the wet dream of the totalitarian, not mere dictators. Again, I hope I have misread this, that Putin is not a totalitarian, and that Putin pulls back, having done what he is going to do, and doesn’t obliterate a whole country as the first among others. I just say this: if he is willing in this world to do it to a country the size of the Ukraine, to even deny its very existence on international media, well I fail to see him as viewing Romania, or Lithuania or Moldova, etc., as being somehow off limits, or as “legitimate NATO members”. He may well take his time, before having a go at them, but somehow, I doubt it will be too long from now.

    Putin certainly had his reasons for feeling aggrieved by the expansion of NATO membership. But, Putin didn’t make a very good case for those countries that were once satellite countries of the USSR to rejoin Russia in some federation or other. It would be a fair reading to say that some of those countries had populations that were sufficiently traumatised by decades of Soviet Moscow rule, they wanted nothing to do with the denuded Russia, and voted with their feet, joining NATO. Putin has been the Russian leader for most of the post-Soviet USSR period, the longest of the leaders, or as close as to make no difference. If he was unable to make the case for these so-called satellite countries to imagine a conjoined and prosperous mutual future, then that’s really on him as leader, not on the satellite countries.

    I don’t think Putin is mad or acting illogically, except in the overarching ideology of this reunion of old Soviet States (whatever his personal reasons for wishing the world was so). He has probed the weakest points of Europe in the post-Cold War period, and he has come up with a strategy that gives him many options, many opportune points at which to adapt and continue. I still think that the most likely successful counter-strategy is the one that isn’t going to be followed, i.e. a solid European front that isolates Russia both economically, politically, and most importantly, militarily. At some point in the future, there will be more than one country that has to confront Putin’s Russia. When is the right time for that, if not in the midst of dismemberment of a non-threatening country?

  20. Per US DoE EIA Executive Summary on Russia, dated 13 Dec 2021, includes:

    • Russia was the world’s third-largest producer of petroleum and other liquids (after the United States and Saudi Arabia) in 2020; it had an annual average of 10.5 million barrels per day (b/d) in total liquid fuels production. Russia was the second-largest producer of dry natural gas in 2020 (second to the United States), producing an estimated 22.5 trillion cubic feet (Tcf).
    • Europe is Russia’s main market for its oil and natural gas exports, and by extension, Europe is its main source for revenues. Russia is a major source of oil and natural gas for Europe; a significant share of Europe’s oil and natural gas imports come from Russia.
    • Since 2014, Russia has been subject to sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union (EU). The sanctions were imposed in response to the actions and policies of the Russian government with respect to Ukraine. The U.S. sanctions mainly affect Russian energy companies’ access to U.S. capital markets and to goods, services, and technology in support of deepwater exploration and field development.


    Russia’s crude oil and condensate exports by destination, 2020 are shown at: https://www.eia.gov/international/content/analysis/countries_long/Russia/images/crude_oil_condensate.png

    Asia could be substantially affected.

  21. JQ please explain how SWIFT will derail Putin’s Plans, because barring short term pain, what actual effect will it have,  except to further anger and justify in his mind, his actions?

    Putin pulled a SWIFTy “in August 2014 the UK planned to press the EU to block Russian use of SWIFT as a sanction due to Russian military intervention in Ukraine.[47] However, SWIFT refused to do so.[48] SPFS, a Russia-based SWIFT equivalent, was created by the Central Bank of Russia as a backup measure.[49]During the 2021–2022 Russo-Ukrainian crisis, the United States developed preliminary possible sanctions against Russia, but excluded banning Russia from SWIFT.[50]Following the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, the foreign ministers of the Baltic states called for Russia to be cut off from SWIFT. However, other…

    ● EU member states were reluctant, both because European lenders held most of the nearly $30 billion in foreign bank’s exposure to Russia and 

    ● because Russia had developed the SPFS alternative.[51]”


    SPFS has “At the end of 2020, 23 foreign banks connected to the SPFS from Armenia, Belarus, 

    ● Germany, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and 

    ● Switzerland.[7]”


    As Ernestine above notes “Switzerland has no intention of changing its business model. That is, Switzerland has declared not to join the sanctions of banks or accounts.” And further “There is already a big hole in the financial sanctions due to Switzerland …”. 

    Naughty Switzerland. Sanctions against Switzerland’s banking system – where will the kleptocrats hide thier money then? Russia! Using SPFS. Putin already lowered rates dramatically and will welcome them. He has a big barrel to put them under.

    And “Alternatives to the SWIFT system include:

    INSTEX – sponsored by the EU, limited to non-USD transactions for trade with Iran, largely unused and ineffective[53][54]CIPS – sponsored by China, for trade-related deals in the Chinese currency with Chinese clearing banks[55]SPFS – sponsored by Russia, mostly composed of Russian banks[56]SFMS – sponsored by IndiaRipple (payment protocol) – blockchain product by Ripple Labs Inc.Stellar (payment network) – blockchain product by Stellar Development Foundation

    So I am wondering; 

    1) what will blocking Russia from SWIFT accomplish. I assume make it very hard to “do bank transfers” but not impossible and

    2) as Germany and Switzerland are hooked into SPSF, ‘we’ would have to sanction Germany and Switzerland and

    3) the US will be sniffing SWIFT to see where tainted money goes for tactics and to protect it’s perceived friends and

    4) won’t this strengthen alternate bonds (pun) with other not nice leaders and countries, strengthening Putin’s geopolitical positions and

    5) make crypto – via Ripple & Stellar – another point of leakage and leverage and

    6) boost crypto as a store and currency and

    7) engender more and diverse intermediaries and executors of financial transactions between banks and now crypto worldwide

    8) leading to fragmentation and less trust in banking (I have lost trust today reading up in this – any alternatives?) and

    9) further increasing dominance of the US$

    10) leading to the biggest war machine in the known universe being strengthened

    11) making stability, geopolitics – as Andrew says “sanctions are meaningless unless applied over a long time which is politically unsustainable for the West “, and money beholden for safety to a giant gravity pit of trust and money  (US$ and SWIFT) again sending the world into a repeat and rinse cycle of all above again until

    12) chaos & bifurcation 

    13) about the time sea level rise makes serious climate refugees go into fibrillation of positions. 

    And sadly I too, as Ernestine commented, have “spent a lot of time reading about Eastern Europe and Russia to discover that I know essentially nothing.” 

    Yet I haven’t, as you have Ernestine “learned to appreciate a little more the importance of diplomacy and the skills involved.” 

    ● Andrew, existential groan, but I agree “Probability of nuclear war in next 12 months = 30%”.

    ● I hope some -body’ has a VERY good plan!

     Playing on the poop deck soon:
     … “When two tribes go to war A point is all that you can score Score no more! Score no more! … Working for the black gas Cowboy No. 1 A born-again poor man’s son Poor man’s son On the air America I modeled shirts by Van Heusen Working for the black gas Yeah..”
    Frankie Goes To Hollywood

    Or … for the exeptional and dreamy;
    “Because we got the bombs, that’s why
    Two words: Nuclear fuckin’ weapons, OK?
    Russia, Germany, Romania, they 
    can have all the democracy they want…they can have a big democracy 
    cakewalk right through the middle of Tienamen Square and it won’t make a lick of difference, because we got the bombs, OK?”
    Denis Leary -A…hole.

  22. I see a number of consequences to this event;

    1) has Russia worked out what to do with with the Ukraine, should their conquer be successful?

    2) Ukrainians dont seem to be happy to receive Russian forces.

    3) the security of occupying forces will be costly and Russia doesn’t appear to have those resources.

    4) the advantages of a democracy, where you get to vote Govts out, has suddenly become more appealing.

  23. I’m waiting for any serious moves in Europe to accelerate the transition away from Russian gas. The methods are known: residential heat pumps, induction cooktops, hydrogen, salt cavern storage, more wind and solar. The US frackers and Qatar will try to replace an actual reduction in demand by a mere shift in suppliers, to their benefit.

    The other serious move is seizing the offshore assets of Russian oligarchs, as proposed by Zucman and Krugman.

  24. For what it´s worth the numbers about German basic resource imports from Russia above are rather unlikely to be correct. Not that it changes the substance. Coal and oil imports can be easily substituted anyway. And it´s the coal number that looks to high or maybe limited to the share of import coal -Germanhy has substancial local coal unfortunatly of the dirtiest kind , while the natural gas number – the one that cannot be easily substituted entirely is too low.

    The thing about the gas pipline is that pipline capacities from Russia to Germany are already sufficient without it. As long as it is there, used or not, it serves it´s major porpose weakening the position of the the eastern European nations with the old piplines. Russia can still cut gas supplies to the Ukraine ee if Germany really is not willing to take the gas from the new pipline instead. There should be some possibility to deliver back from the other side, still ugly. The Ukraine or Poland cannot uniliateraly cut supplies further west as a sanction against Russia either. That also applies to more peacefull situations where those nations just demand exorbitant pipline fees. In essence both underwater piplines serve no porpose when all parties involved are reasonable. Unfortunately, frankly, non involved is, not just the Russians.

    The swift part is something i thaught was of the table at the time of my last post regarding sanctions. On further reading, it was not, rather that part might simply take some adminstrative time before anouncing it (not that i got a real clue what it will mean, the losses of western Banks exposure to Russia should be a rounding error however, so much is obvious)

  25. James Wimberley, how is “The other serious move is seizing the offshore assets of Russian oligarchs, as proposed by Zucman and Krugman”, different NOW from an act of war?

  26. Putin and far right and trumpians are the exxtreme version of;
    “Divergentism is the idea that as individuals grow out into the universe, they diverge from each other in thought-space. This, I argued, is true even if in absolute terms, the sum of shared beliefs is steadily increasing. Because the sum of beliefs that are not shared increases even faster on average.”

    By Venkatesh Rao
    February 23, 2022 

    “… 3 of 3 in the series Lexicon”

    “Divergentism is the idea that people are able to hear each other less as they age, and that information ubiquity paradoxically accelerates this process, so that technologically advancing societies grow more divergentist over historical time scales. The more everybody can know, the less everybody can see or hear each other. I first outlined this idea in a December 2015 post, Can You Hear Me Now?” …

    “Can You Hear Me Now?”


  27. “Welcome to Queensland. (Russia)

    “There is a politician we can’t name, using a non-publication order we can’t seem to get, in a case to suppress a report by a corruption watchdog which won’t talk about it, in a court hearing that was held with no names.”…


    As E O Wilson said, you can’t go straight ahead as the field space is littered with land mines.

    We don’t see them as we forget to keep beating the bushes. Putin & Xi & Australia (Bernard Collery) are in particularly thick bushes we ignore, at our peril. If we don’t clear the bushes we fall down the slippery slope. “We picked the travelled paths; there might be land mines along unbeaten ones.” EO Wilson

    “A Window on Eternity: A Biologist’s Walk Through Gorongosa National Park
    Edward O. Wilson

  28. I saw ABC News 24hr showing the Russian military commander who took Snake Island off Odessa saying “they surrendered”.

    Yet… “A Ukrainian official said all 13 guards stationed there had been killed and he circulated an audio clip that he and media outlet Ukrainskaya Pravda said was an exchange between Ukrainian and Russian forces.

    “This is a Russian warship. I propose you lay down your weapons and surrender to avoid bloodshed and unnecessary victims. Otherwise, you will be bombed,” the warship allegedly broadcast

    “Russian warship, go f*** yourself,” came the reply.

    “Defiant Ukrainian border guards reportedly taunt Russians before being shelled by warship”

    Who do ‘we’ believe?

    The US has been doing what it is doing since not getting into WWII until it was humiliated.

    Or doing a Putin in the name of [insert fave culture war here ].

    I wonder and worry when the US will be humiliated enough to strike. 😯

    More war heros and matyrs perpetuates war and is propaganda. By us. You and I have been asleep at the wheel.

    “Admiral (Ret’d) Chris Barrie – former Chief of Defence Force 1998-2002 said:  “This proposed expansion would see it become a place of cheap tourist entertainment. It is unconscionable.

    “I urge the Government to reconsider the project, and to spend the money on services to assist veterans, such as support for people suffering from PTSD.”

    “Dr Sue Wareham – President of Medical Association for Prevention of War said:  “It’s a national disgrace that the AWM’s surveys, which they use to claim strong support for the project, had highly leading questions and biased information which was clearly intended to deliver the desired results. They should have engaged in more listening and less spruiking from the outset.”

  29. It seems my rushed theory (put forward a few days ago) that Russia was seeking to capture the eastern sections of Ukraine was far too limited in scope. Russia seeks to capture and is capturing the whole of Ukraine. Whether they can successfully subdue it and digest it remains to be seen but we would now have to put the chances at 50-50 at least.

    We see that Germany and Italy oppose closing down Swift to Russia. Clearly, their self-interest predominates over any concern for Ukraine or any concern to stop Russia invading further East European countries. If Russia conquers and absorbs Ukraine easily why will it stop there? The assumption has to be made that Russia (and China) will aim to proceed to conquer as many countries as they wish. Russia and China will be emboldened by the weakness of the West.

    The weakness of the West is first the unwillingness to stop financial business and money making for any reason. We won’t stop (or moderate) financial business and money making to stop climate change, nor to stop a global pandemic. So why should we pause it to stop military conquests by dictators? This leaves the West open to “salami slicing tactics”.

    “Salami slicing tactics, also known as salami slicing, salami tactics, the salami-slice strategy, or salami attacks, is a divide and conquer process of threats and alliances used to overcome opposition.” – Wikipedia.

    In this case, countries that are thought to be safely part of the West’s proclaimed “rules based order” are sliced off. The process is brazen when the salami slice is as big as Ukraine. When would NATO activate? Has NATO even mobilized yet? Well, it has partly but what it has mobilized and even what it could mobilize in total is no match for Russia.

    Russia could for example, easily take the Baltic states and the US and NATO could do nothing about it. NATO is fatally weak. Western Europe is fatally weak.


    “Times have changed. “A NATO and U.S. threat to escalate to general nuclear war over a Russian invasion of the Baltic states has doubtful credibility,” a RAND study notes.

    Russian forces would likely conduct a well-dispersed, fast-moving advance into the Baltic States, which would mean even NATO tactical nuclear weapons wouldn’t be able to hit concentrated troop formations.
    Even if NATO resorts to tactical nuclear weapons, it still can’t save the Baltic States from a Russian invasion. One reason? The Warsaw Pact—the Eastern European satellites of the Soviet empire—can’t be held hostage anymore.

    That’s the conclusion of a 2019 wargame by the RAND Corporation. In RAND’s view, NATO’s nukes are not a deterrent to Russia because Europe would have far more to lose from a tactical nuclear exchange than Russia.

    “The biggest takeaway from the wargame exercise is that NATO lacks escalation dominance, and Russia has the benefit of it,” the study found. “In contemplating war in the Baltic states, once nuclear attacks commence, NATO would have much stronger military incentives to terminate nuclear operations, if not all of its operations, than Russia would.””

    End of Quote.

    NATO lacks escalation dominance. These are the key words worth repeating. NATO lacks escalation dominance. Russia knows it can do anything it likes from this point on if successfull in Ukraine. Equally, China knows it can do anything it likes now. China can attack Taiwan and the USA is unlikely to seriously intervene. Western Europe and the USA will seek to simply preserve themselves. Russia knows that they cannot take the western part of of Western Europe because France and Britain would use their nuclear weapons if existentially threatened. However, what is there to stop Russia taking everything east of France, perhaps even including Germany? Very little it seems. UK, France and the USA will simply seek to preserve themselves. They will abandon everyone else. So what do we do? There are no easy answers. The hard answer, which may have to be adopted, is that all mid-size allies of France, UK and USA will need their own nuclear weapon arsenals. I mean Germany, Italy, Japan and Australia in particular.

  30. Let’s not forget the most important question on any issue, What All This Means For Australian Federal Politics. If only we had a commentariat incapable of, and unqualified for, doing any analysis except for empirically groundless speculation about voter psychology and horserace tips — oh, no, wait, never mind

  31. KT2; What’s the difference between throwing Russia out of Swift and seizing the assets of criminals? One works.

  32. Prevaricating on Swift sends a signal of weakness and capitulation. Italy for example doesn’t want Swift closed to Russia because it wants to sell Gucci to Russia. Germany doesn’t want Swift closed because it wants energy from Russia. It can’t contemplate changing its energy supplies because its strategic vision is weak. This sends signals of great weakness; unwillingness to take economic hits to stand up to Russia. Europe and NATO are completely unready and unwilling to face Russia. This weakness has grown historically over the last several decades. But now they show signs they are unwilling to ever become ready. Russia knows now it can do anything it likes in Eastern Europe. Taking the Baltic states and Poland again would be a push-over for Russia.

    The EU and USA are sending nothing but signs of collapsing and capitulating weakness. Russia and China will be much emboldened. China will certainly bring forward its Taiwan assault date. Russia and China will likely co-ordinate actions in Eastern Europe and East Asia. NATO and the US will not be able to defend on both fronts. We now have to assume the absolute worst about their intentions. The Russian and Chinese dictatorships are an existential threat to the entire world.

  33. As Ikon says, it’s a biit joke. And we are being salami sliced and diced.

    And James “One works.” To it’s own ends not to cease Putin though. Convince me more please. Maybe if everyine gave their profit to charity. See Browder & BP investors below.

    As Rorschach in Watchmen says, “I’m not liked up with you, you locked in here with me”.***

    Bill Browder et al, who I have today, lost a fair bit of respect for, isbagain as Ikonoclast says “won’t stop (or moderate) financial business and money making to stop climate change, nor to stop a global pandemic. So why should we pause it to stop military conquests by dictators?” It won’t. SWIFTy my foot.

    Re BP’s 20% stake in Russian oil:

    “Surveillance: Ukraine Talks with Browder

    “- Bill Browder, Hermitage Capital CEO, says Vladimir Putin’s offer for talks with Ukraine is “pure theater.”
    – Natalie Jaresko, Former Ukraine Minister of Finance, says Ukraine needs a more urgent response from the West.
    – Tony Crescenzi, PIMCO Market Strategist, Portfolio Manager & Member of the Firm’s Investment Committee, says investors have been taking a leap of faith.
    – Seema Shah, Principal Global Investors Chief Global Strategist, says the U.S. is the safest place for investments to be sitting right now.”
    Feb 25, 2022

    [Google says::
    “Content not available
    “We’ve restricted some content for people who aren’t over 18.]

    Bill Browder says who’d by the 20% Russia stake. Who cares except mug punters as commenter said to abusive pontious pilot “catlin” …
    “Also being appealed and catalin, didn’t seem bothered when you doubles you share , you didn’t care that Russia did this to Ukraine in 2014 and BP held rosneft then, I’m assuming you will be donating all your profit to charity”.

    “Recent Share Trades for BP (BP.)
    17:42:48 at £378.119 vol 1,712,415 Unknown* bid 378.55 ask 378.65 val £6m 
    View more BP trades”

    “RE: Sell BpToday 22:58
    “Catlin [says]

    “So glad clueless like you who don’t understand their investments in a most basic way is out and actually please stay out.

    “Your comments of BP share being part of massive genocide is the most stupid and rather sick comments I ever heard for years which shows how little you understand the situation here or your investment.

    “You honestly don’t have a slightest clue what you are saying mate, not a slightest 

    So let me ask you this… All these companies (who are many including in UK) selling stuff to Russians are they also part of genocide too? in what way they knew something like that would happen? The whole europe were doing large scale business of various kind right to the core of Russian goverment or Russian companies and most of them they might continue depending how sanction effect them; are they part of genocide too?

    “How about GERMANS and other part of Europe who are buying gas and electricity from Russians, are they doing genocide too?

    “Please stop this utter BS and go and do some research to understand where we are and where we are heading and why rather than these stupid comments which is a total nonsense. 

    “BP is a global company try to understand what that 20% interest in Russian oil company means for BP and why!

    “With oil price at such a high level every single day is a massive profit for BP 

    … and a commenter says to “catlin” …
    “Also being appealed and catalin, didn’t seem bothered when you doubles you share , you didn’t care that Russia did this to Ukraine in 2014 and BP held rosneft then, I’m assuming you will be donating all your profit to charity”.

    Sanction LSE? Traders? Investors? Just profiteers?  Unfortunately we are locked up with them***. Superannuation anyone? Capital and neolibs play the long game and we silly, greedy and lazy (me – sorry)  to just go with it, asleep and amnesiacs until we are punched in the head by a Putin.

    Remember the Pandemic anyone?

  34. That’s it. Primary sources please. Propaganda & tribalusm all the way.

    Which news said …

    1.) “More Republicans have negative view of Biden than of Putin, poll finds

    2.) “Overall, 9% have a favorable opinion of Putin.  Most voters, 82%, view him negatively. ”

    1.) https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/feb/25/republicans-biden-putin-trump-fox-news-poll

    2.) https://www.foxnews.com/official-polls/fox-news-poll-president-biden-not-tough-russia

    The Guardian just slipped off the perch. What do you think?

  35. One plane on earth, or one satellite in space is all it will take. The nutters ARE in charge of the asylum.

    “If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States or Europe?” tweeted Rogozin in Russian. “There is also the option of dropping a 500-ton structure on India or China. Do you want to threaten them with such a prospect? The ISS does not fly over Russia, so all the risks are yours. Are you ready for them?”

    “мусором, коим ваши талантливые бизнесмены загадили околоземную орбиту, производится исключительно двигателями российских грузовых кораблей “Прогресс МС”. Если заблокируете сотрудничество с нами, кто спасёт МКС от неуправляемого схода с орбиты и падения на территорию США или…
    — РОГОЗИН (@Rogozin) February 24, 2022″

    Check yourself…

    Yours in anticipation…

    JQ, time for a comment from you please.

  36. I can’t find any good reporting of developments in the skies and on the ground in Ukraine. I refer to hour by hour situation reports, maps etc. Does anyone know where this reporting can be found?

    On this topic, I have found the Australian media useless. There is no substantive reporting on the military situation. There are talking heads giving opinions and interviews with random Ukrainians of the Uk. diaspora or hiding in cellars in Uk. The latter are to be pitied for sure but they possess no knowledge of what is happening on the surface or in the skies. This lack of serious war reporting feeds the Western disinterest in what is happening to Ukraine. The West continues to hide its head in the sand and pretend this isn’t real and pretend it won’t be on their doorstep next. The whole of Western Europe faces an existential threat from Putin and no mobilisations to speak of. They are asleep at the wheel just as Ukraine was. Ukraine called a mobilization only when Russian units crossed the border. That was way too late. Pure complacency. NATO is making the same mistake.

  37. NATO are moving more troops into the Ukraine, but for what reason? A war between NATO and Russia will be catastrophic for Russia, NATO and the Ukraine and could affect the whole world.

    The best solution would be for both NATO and Russia to go back to there respective homes and leave the Ukraine neutral. Someone needs to tap these two on the shoulder, perhaps China.

  38. Putin borrows his invasion script and his actions from Adolf Hitler. Lies, lies, transparent lies.

    This gives Putin an advantage in a “Chicken Game”*: A megalomaniac who often lies is a dangerous opponent. In fact, in this sort of Game, the advantage lies with the crazy bully not with the careful strategist who weighs up costs and benefits.


  39. rog,

    Source please. So far as I know, NATO have zero troops in Ukraine and they have expressly stated they are not and will not be moving any troops into Ukraine. That’s a wise move as any such troops would be utterly destroyed if they attempted it.


    NATO has deployed some extra troops to eastern NATO countries. It has been reported that NATO is sending “thousands” of troops to their eastern flank. “Thousands” is a pitiful, token number. Many tens of thousands would be needed for even a first line defense designed only to delay a Russian advance and then retreat to a second line. Hundreds of thousands would be required for a full defense which would still be flat-out stopping a Russian advance before the German border. That is to say the Baltic states and Poland would fall to any serious Russian drive.

    Finally, at least 500,000 troops (or even up to 1 million) would be needed to defend Europe against a full Russian attack. At least, we have to assume this. To underestimate defense needs with Russia on the rampage is too big a risk to take. If Russia take Ukraine easily, the above assumptions would have to stand. If Russia bogs down in Ukraine, which already seems unlikely, then a reappraisal would have to be made.

    Currently, we have to assume Russia and China intend to carve up and control the world between themselves. They will completely destroy us unless we resist with all possible force.

  40. Harry,

    I agree with you. There should be no more treating with Russia in any form. An absolute finance and trade “wall” should go up against Russia. It’s unconscionable that Germany and Italy (to name two) still want to trade with Russia under these circumstances.

  41. Gru, Ed, whatever, democracy. And sources please. Going ro search for them on an apple phone using google?

    Facebk is being dumped by Putin etal. Twitter throttled. State media but gee, you can search the internet. And reveal yourself to Putin internal henchmen. Use an IP address and have geolocation on? .your on the hit list.

    Money talks, democratic walks.

    Complicit? Apple, googl alphabet phone, shares, searches?

    “Then, last September, after facing fierce pressure from the government, Apple and Google both  removed an app run by opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The two companies’ ubiquity across mobile means the app was essentially wiped from existence in the country. Not long after that, Russia threatened 13 mostly U.S. internet companies with expulsion if they did not set up local offices in the country by 2022, a move some feared would be used to strongarm the types of content allowed on those sites.”


    Just say NO to violence.

  42. All the “learned” people are in the secondary hit list. Invoking historic reasons.

    And imo invoking history in any way as a reason collapses any decision today. And annihilates justification. ‘Yes, I am just as bad’.

    Anyone, have you ever seen so much dipolmacy offered before such? Jame’s?

  43. Calling J-D.

    As JQ labelled this “Have your say”, I’d be happy if you’d once more, get out your logic scalpel and pendant pestle, and challenge us for clarification or justification.

    As usual for a thread this long, entropy sets in for information transmission.

    We can always ignore you. Or me.

    +1 J-D: (blunt and to my points at CT)
    “It’s important to stress that even if the West really is trying to dominate and humiliate Russia, that stilldoesn’t justify all the deaths of Ukrainians and of Russians for which Vladimir Putin is now responsible. If somebody were trying to dominate and humiliate me, it would not justify me in sending hundreds or thousands of other people to their deaths.”

    “People are being killed! What more important reasons could there possibly be for thinking this horrible?”

  44. Oops Ikon!

    You got you feet wet crossing the Rubicon. I didn’t see you as a dictator. “”His crossing of the river precipitated Caesar’s civil war,[1] which ultimately led to Caesar’s becoming dictator for life (dictator perpetuo).”. Putin-esque.

    Think about the method you’d use, then recant. It is the 21st C not 49 BC :- second chance before action at law these days. Maybe not in Putin’s Russia though.

  45. Oops Ikon!

    You got you feet wet crossing the Rubicon. I didn’t see you as a dictator. “”His crossing of the river precipitated Caesar’s civil war,[1] which ultimately led to Caesar’s becoming dictator for life (dictator perpetuo).”. Putin-esque.

    Think about the method you’d use, then recant. It is the 21st C not 49 BC :- second chance before action at law these days. Maybe not in Putin’s Russia though.

    “I would not argue against Putin, his henchmen and his oligarchs receiving [ I won’t even repeat it] ”

  46. KT2,

    No, I don’t recant. If a duly constituted war crimes tribunal found Putin, his henchmen and oligarchs guilty of war crimes, and passed the death penalty against them, then I would not argue against the sentence. If one argues the right of self-defense in defensive war, one is already arguing for the death penalty being dealt out in combat to as many enemy combatants as possible. These are all death penalties in essence. Why should the common soldiers get the death penalty and the elite war criminals not get the death penalty? That seems perversely unjust to me.

  47. “Russia could for example, easily take the Baltic states and the US and NATO could do nothing about it. NATO is fatally weak. Western Europe is fatally weak.” [Iconoclast, above]

    The Baltic states, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, are NATO members. Putin has achieved something he might not have anticipated, namely his unprovoked invasion of the Ukraine (and his associated series of lies) resulted in NATO members being unified to an extent that was unimaginable only one year ago. One or two years ago President Macron had declared NATO as dead (excuse my impression regarding the timing – the pandemic has blurred my mental record of the time of events a bit). As evidence, in the past one or two weeks the US has moved military forces to former East Block countries (Poland, the Baltic states, Rumania) and to former West Germany. Moreover, the UK and EU countries (including the Netherlands, Germany, Italy) have moved military resources to the Baltic States and Rumania with Germany declaring it will provide whatever NATO wants of her military resources.

    Iconoclast, I cannot form an opinion on the content of the RAND study you have referenced – I lack military educational background. However, I can pass on what I heard in a public interview of Sigmar Gabriel (former Social Democratic Foreign Minister and Deputy Chancellor in Germany and now Chair of the ‘Atlantic Bruecke’ – Atlantic Bridge) on nuclear strategies. He said the Russians still use the strategy, which NATO had used in the 1960s, namely to use nuclear weapons at the beginning of a war not at the end. I was shocked when I heard this. But in relation to the Baltic States a look on the map shows that Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is a proverbial stone throw away from St Petersburg (about 400km) and Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, is very close (ca 200km) to Misk (Belarus, Putin’s partner). Only military experts will be able to assess the implications properly.

    Another example, for Russian foot soldiers and tanks the Polish-Lithuanian border seems impossible to avoid to get to the Russian enclave Kaliningrad. But the Russian military can get to Kaliningrad by water and by air.

    The current situation with the Ukraine is horrible IMHO. It is horrible because there does not seem to be a solution without either giving up the admirable stance taken by the democratically elected government in the Ukraine and the people of this country or for NATO to breach its own rules (defence pact) and, by doing so (get involved), risk an incalculable destruction – atomic war.

    The Ukrainian government had asked for military equipment and some countries have obliged when it was still possible (before Russia gained control over the airspace within 24 to 48 hours after Putin ordered the invasion. It is not clear to me whether more weapons in the Ukraine would even be helpful, if avoidance of loss of lives and injuries is important. Last Thursday evening local time, a retired General, Erich Vad, publicly considered the war in the Ukraine unwinnable for the Ukraine because Russian troupes entered from the North, the East and the South. Moreover, the Russian military is now again modern, well equipped and well organised (in contrast to 1990). In his opinion and from a purely military perspective, the war will last only a few more days, except possibly in the West Ukraine where there is most resistance to Russia (and, if I may add, also the shortest escape route for civilians to flee to ‘the West’). For how many more days could more weapons extend this war and at what cost to lives?

    There is one clear loser, IMHO: Donald Trump has isolated himself even from some of his admirer in the EU when he declared Putin is a genius. The far right extremist AFD declared its objection to Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine.

    There is also a clear signal that the idea of ‘change through (private) trade’ (globalisation) has aged even more quickly in the past few weeks than during the past two years of the pandemic.

  48. Ikon “in defensive war” there will be no tribunal.

    A war crimes will be post war. No combatants will be issued a / the death penalty.

    Of what use will it be to off leaders in a time of peace?

    As I said above, the decisions need to be “now”, not retribution for “then”.

    I can just see the polarized crowds, one side baying for blood, and the other side baying for blood.

    Such crowds of humans are called mobs, exhibit tribal behaviour and have neocortex excision at time mob+n. And exibit negative consciousness.

    Making for matyrs for wars forever. Like bad debts you rail against.

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