Where does it end ?

Even with Covid and climate change to worry about, it’s hard to pay attention to much else besides the disaster in Ukraine. It’s easy enough to imagine a scale of escalation leading to nuclear war (Putin’s army occupies Ukraine, resistance bases itself in Poland, attacks into Poland produce NATO resistance, someone makes a mistake, and that’s that). What’s harder is to think about less extreme outcomes.

Making things even harder is that this is a field where there is no relevant expertise, because there is essentially no relevant data. Modern wars are rare and each is very different from all the others: no one could accurately predict the outcomes of the Iraq and Afghan wars, and no lessons can be drawn from them, except that things will usually turn out badly for everyone.

Having said all that, here’s my non-expert analysis. I assume that the fighting will continue for some time, without a clear victory for either side, and that the current US/EU response of sanctions and military aid will escalate further, probably including wider confiscation of assets, exclusion from the global banking system and (one way or the other) a partial or complete cutoff in energy trade.

Any outcome has to be acceptable enough to both sides that neither wants to go on fighting. I can’t imagine Putin admitting defeat, so a ceasefire with something close to the status quo ante borders seems like the best we can hope for. In return he might get a partial lifting of sanctions, but it won’t be anything like a return to the pre-crisis situation. There may be a form of words that puts formal NATO membership for Ukraine off into the indefinite future, but the fact that Russia now has a hostile and heavily militarised neighbour, allied to NATO, isn’t going to be changed by words.

The invasion pretty much guarantees an end to Russia’s role in the global economy. Russian oligarchs will get as much as they can out of Western banks before it gets seized, and investors in Russia will dump their assets for whatever they can get. European buyers of Russian gas and oil will rush to find new sources, and Russia will be looking to sell on spot markets, rather than through long-term contracts. The situation will resemble the latter stages of the Cold War.

As with Covid, there are bound to be some positives. The need to clamp down on the money-laundering global financial system is now obvious, as is the toxicity of cryptocurrency. A switch from Russian gas may delay the end of coal, but in the medium term it is bound to accelerate the rise of renewables. And, maybe (though past experience isn’t encouraging), Trump’s support for Putin will turn out to be the catalyst for a split between MAGA loyalists and Republican hawks, putting a halt to their plans to overturn US democracy.

54 thoughts on “Where does it end ?

  1. I agree that it is impossible to predict outcomes from here. The best outcome for the world, though not for the Ukrainians who will die, is a protracted Ukrainian resistance which bogs Russia down and drains them. Along with that, a total expulsion of Russia from the world economy must follow. Germany and Italy must give up their untenable resistance to Swift expulsion and swift and complete expulsion of Russia from all aspects of the global economy.

    The price of Russia’s return to the world economy must be the overthrow of Putin and his henchmen and preferably life imprisonment for them by a new and finally democratic Russian government. I would not argue against Putin, his henchmen and his oligarchs receiving capital punishment from a war crimes tribunal.

    There is every possibility that Russia, China and the SCO will form a new trading bloc if excluded from the rest of the global economy. In that case, SCO must be expelled and excluded from the rest of the world economic system, by strategic interdiction if necessary. That would mean closing all their sea routes and over-sea air routes.

    This would split the world economy into two but the rest of the world should be the more sustainable and more autarkically self-sufficient of the two. Democratic states should not trade with totalitarian states. Of course, there will be a big problem for all if the USA becomes fully totalitarian with Trump winning a second term. Hopefully, this is less likely now as the world polarizes into pro-totalitarian and anti-totalitarian groupings. It is clear that the SCO is completely pro-totalitarian.

    India is a problem and a fence sitter. They are mortal enemies with China but still too friendly with Russia. India has to be split off somehow from Russia, maybe with economic sweeteners and further QUAD alliance guarantees.

  2. A Goehring & Rozencwajg blog post on Jan 6, headlined The Energy Crisis is Here – What’s Coming Next?, includes:

    Investors need to recognize how interlocked energy markets have become. A crisis in one market is all but certain to spill over into another. European utilities are desperately switching from burning expensive natural gas to much less expensive crude oil, increasing demand by over 500,000 b/d. This additional source of demand has introduced even more tightness into an oil market that is already undersupplied. The oil crisis we had originally expected to emerge in 4Q22 will now likely come even sooner. As the natural gas shortage did, the coming oil crisis will seemingly come out of nowhere, taking much of the investment community by surprise.

    Energy markets are also tightly bound to global agriculture. We believe agricultural markets are primed to slip into crisis at some point this decade. As energy shortages have spread, many fertilizer and soybean processing plants in China and the UK have already been shut. We discuss the connection between the unfolding energy crisis and global agriculture in our Q3 2021 letter.

    How did this energy crisis emerge so quickly and unexpectedly? The most important cause has been the ongoing underestimation of global energy demand. In turn, this resulted in dramatic underinvestment in oil and gas development.


    I’d suggest a war instigated by a country that in 2020 produced 12.1% of the world’s crude oil + condensates and is also the world’s second largest producer of gas (16.6%), is only going to make the energy supply crisis worse.

  3. If Russia does prevail how can it govern an occupied country? Are there enough Russian (plenty of speakers) orientated Ukrainians to stifle resistance? Will the anti war sentiments in Russia prevail? Lots of questions.

  4. There is strong evidence that democracies rarely if ever fight each other: that democracy engenders peace.


    On the other hand there is very poor evidence that trade causes peace. Democracies merrily trade away with non-democracies and non-democracies regularly thank said democracies by attacking them. You would think democracies would learn. Trading with totalitarian nations ends in grief. They grow strong and then attack their traders and benefactors. The lesson must be learned. Democracies must cease trade with totalitarian nations until when and if they become genuine democratic nations of sufficiently long standing. The “peace though trade” theory is bankrupt. It’s time to abandon it.

  5. Ikonoclast,

    In the recent (June 2020) attempted Chinese incursions into the state of Ladakh, only France and Russia came to India’s rescue by providing needed weaponry. Can USA be fully trusted? If not then why should India go against Russia in the UN security council? Hence, abstaining was an optimal strategy. It does not imply that India supports the invasion.

    This war could have been avoided if EU and USA guaranteed that Ukraine will not be allowed to join NATO.


    PS: There were causalities on both sides on June 15th, 2020 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020%E2%80%932022_China%E2%80%93India_skirmishes#Casualties_and_losses

  6. Russia will continue to have a substantial role in the world’s economy.

    Export Volumes:
    – China, which dominates demand for many commodities, will maintain and increase import volumes, and is already removing restrictions on wheat imports.
    – Russian oil and gas pipelines to Europe are very important but – beyond Nordstream 2 not starting – is it clear that volumes will suffer substantially in the next year? Nordstream 1 is still flowing and, from Euronews.com, “”We do not think it likely that Russia would shut off gas supplies to Europe. Russia delivered gas to Europe through the Crimea crisis in 2014/15 after the imposition of selected sanctions in response, and at the height of the cold war,” said Barclays analysts. ”
    – Some pipelines run through Ukraine and could be shut down or damaged, and Europe could choose to reduce reliance on Russian but that has limits especially in the short term.

    Export Prices:
    – Commodity prices are high which favours Russia.

    Imports – what does Russia need that China cannot supply?

  7. “Modern wars are rare and each is very different from all the others”
    “The situation will resemble the latter stages of the Cold War.”
    “India has to be split off somehow from Russia, maybe with economic sweeteners and further QUAD alliance guarantees”

    Modern wars are not rare – not a day goes by without a war somewhere and many of these are closely connected with US imperial interests. This includes the sad saga we witness continuing in what US military planners used to regularly expound upon in press releases and interviews. If it wasn’t Yoda’s (Andrew Marshall) RMA bragging it was others’ Long War analysis involving North Africa and the Middle East as preludes to crushing Russia. They thawed the ground to encourage the flowers of the Arab Spring to bloom so they could be cut down, grabbed Libya’s oil, but had their eyes blackened in West Asia and the dumb attempt in Syria at weaponising gas pipelines against Russia’s in Ukraine, then the great Pivot turnet out a 360, and with those literally blowing up in their face they are more circumspect in mentioning the Long War plan in later years. It has been said that Putin is not a Judo master, but then see how Russia’s role in the global economy may be a little reduced in the short term, but long term it shall continue growing with strong support from leveraged from globalised capitalism – it has much of what many need (eg., wait for the farmers and consumers’ grumbles in the US aligned states due to price hikes and absolute farm shortages of oil and phosphate fertilizer inputs (Russia had prepared already by cutting phosphate exports some time ago, then further as a particular signal to India after Russian phosphate dependent India joined the Quad yet apparently right now won’t join in the US instigated pile on against Russia at the UN. Recall what Keating said about the scomoronic Quad?), and see how for the short term Russia has much of what it needs. Sanctions against Russian oligarchs, even with all the loopholes guaranteed to be built in, are set to give Putin greater control over them and work better for Putin than for those imposing such sanctions. There are two huge differences between the latter stages, so called, of the US-USSR cold war: China then and now.

  8. Assume the Russian army wins, as is very likely, though with soberingly higher losses than they had expected. How does Putin keep control of his new colony, against near – universal popular opposition? A Stasi police state requires a core of true believers and a level of organisation beyond his capabilities. The Nazis controlled occupied countries by extreme and overt brutality, for instance by reprisal shootings of random civilian hostages in response to attacks. Or worse, see Lidice and Oradour. Ordinary Russians will not stand for this. Colonial rule usually involved an initial bloody demonstration of superior military technology and organization, followed by co-optation of local élites. Neither fits Ukraine. The best Putin can hope for is roughly the model of the Baltic states in the Brezhnev era: grudging acceptance of Russian rule as an inevitable evil. But the memory of Stalinist repression was a part of this, and won’t be in much more populous Ukraine. Putin must have a plan, but the chance of it working is slim, as he denies the evident fact of Ukrainian national identity – largely created by him.

    A separate observation. Throwing Russia out of the Eurovision Song Contest sounds like a joke, as is the illumination of the Eiffel Tower in the colours of the Ukrainian flag. But these are part of a wider movement of cultural isolation. Football matches with Russian teams have been cancelled, as has a cocert at La Scala with a famous Russian conductor. A star Russian ice hockey player in the USA, and previous Putin supporter, has condemned the invasion, as has the Russian male tennis player curently ranked 7th in the world. It all adds up. The most apolitical young Russian must now be aware that his country is an international pariah. As I wrote, Putinism is fragile.

  9. There seems to be an assumption that Russia, with all its weaponry, will win this war. Reports from the Ukraine, which under the circumstances have to be treated as suspect, suggest that Russian soldiers have no will to fight – they don’t want to shoot their cousins.

    Whatever Russia wins will be overshadowed by its losses, this pigheaded reluctance to embrace a functioning democracy (this goes for China too) will have enduring consequences.

    They really are living in a murky medieval world run by cantankerous warlords.

  10. Yes, Rog, there could be positive outcomes from this act of Putin bastardry. The immediate future however looks incredibly bleak for the Ukraine – I agree their resistance is strong – but that is likely to produce an intensified onslaught by Russia. Hopefully the Russian nation will work toward getting rid of Putin and establishing less strained relations with Europe.


  11. This war could have been avoided if EU and USA guaranteed that Ukraine will not be allowed to join NATO.

    It’s important to remember that no matter how bad the policy choices of the EU, USA, or NATO were, they still didn’t justify Vladimir Putin’s choice to send hundreds or thousands of people to their deaths.

  12. I have just jeen shopping. A poster was headed;

    “Western Warfare 5”.

    I kid you not. Sponsored by a local council in Central West NSW.

    A ‘charity’ match for a partener of a fighter who died. Sad but? I’d donate if asked.

    I took it down, brought it to the attention of Woolies Manager who gasped and said no way.

    On Woolies community notice board next to bring your kids to … and clean up Australia Day posters.

    I’m sending image of poster to Grace Tame.

    Welcome to Australia.

    J-D plus 1.

  13. In addition to above. Even if EU and USA had guaranteed that Ukraine would not be allowed to join NATO that would have been no guarantee that Putin would not attack. For all we know, he would have taken that as a further sign of appeasing weakness and accelerated his plans to conquer Ukraine.

  14. Before the end, there is the end of the beginning, and the beginning of the middle. The middle goes for as long as it takes. I certainly hope that non-nuclear, non-NATO EU countries come together to fight against Putin in the Ukraine itself. As I’ve said before, perhaps NATO can permit a temporary relinquishing of membership for the purposes of joining the willing countries in directly confronting Putin’s forces in the Ukraine. If this happens, it would remove NATO’s nuclear powers from directly taking military action, and avoiding to the extent possible, a clash of nuclear powers. I don’t know if NATO countries can relinquish membership easily or not, but so long as they can, if they form a cohesive alliance with other concerned EU countries, they could take on the fight against Putin’s totalitarianism. And, as Hannah Arendt pointed out, nations are not totalitarian, it is the leadership and their twisted vision of their totalitarian movement. They never stop unless stopped by force. Once they are stopped by force, *that’s* when we can start talking about the beginning of the end.

    Serious financial compensation would need to be part of the middle of the end. Serious resources for building up the destroyed cities, that’s part of the middle.

    The end of the end is when the war criminals are hurled into an Oubliette, never to see daylight again.

  15. James, you said;

    “I give Putin five.” And
    ” Ordinary Russians will not stand for this.”

    And your link to Napoleon shows you have a far better grasp of history than I. Thanks.

    Considering “only 45% of Russians” (guardian below – who to believe) and other opinion polls below, what time frame and probabilites to you place on Russia, not just Putin, totally falling apart please?

    ” But it can still get worse: in an extraordinary address on Friday evening,Vladimir Putin called on Ukrainian forces to overthrow their government, indicating that his ultimate goal is regime change. “It seems that it will be easier for us to come to an agreement than with this gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis,” he said.” [Total Psycho Putin Projection]

    “But the split in elite support for the operation indicates this will be different from Crimea, where public support was widely seen as about 85%. By contrast, the Levada Centre, an independent polling agency, reported last week that only 45% of Russians supported recognising the Russian-controlled territories in south-east Ukraine. Far fewer are believed to support a full-scale war against Ukraine.”

    “… the Levada Center regularly conducts its own and commissioned polling and marketing research. In 2016, it was labelled a foreign agent under the 2012 Russian foreign agent law.[1]

    I doubt we will see too much from Levada as: Chilling:
    “twitter swotithot
    [Didn’t link for obvious reasons [
    “Rajagopalan (swotithot@) – Twitter
    “Moscow’s Higher School of Economics sociologist Grigory B. Yudin was protesting the war on Ukraine. He was beaten up by the police. Carried away ”

    Lucky our host is here. I don’t kniw where it ends, but I kniw where it starts – in Queensland now:

    “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.”…

  16. Ikonoclast FEBRUARY 27, 2022 AT 11:51 AM,
    “In addition to above. Even if EU and USA had guaranteed that Ukraine would not be allowed to join NATO that would have been no guarantee that Putin would not attack.”

    That should read as “would not (have) to attack” – they have lied to USSR/Russia about their plans for over thirty years. Gorbachov was their patsy. After Putin emerged and ended their rape of Russia during the 90s they got on with that long intended game by other means including NATO and US expansion to the Russian borders where fortune seeking aggressors have repeatedly crossed…

    …The documents show that Gorbachev agreed to German unification in NATO as the result of this cascade of assurances, and on the basis of his own analysis that the future of the Soviet Union depended on its integration into Europe, for which Germany would be the decisive actor. He and most of his allies believed that some version of the common European home was still possible and would develop alongside the transformation of NATO to lead to a more inclusive and integrated European space, that the post-Cold War settlement would take account of the Soviet security interests. The alliance with Germany would not only overcome the Cold War but also turn on its head the legacy of the Great Patriotic War.

    But inside the U.S. government, a different discussion continued, a debate about relations between NATO and Eastern Europe. Opinions differed, but the suggestion from the Defense Department as of October 25, 1990 was to leave “the door ajar” for East European membership in NATO. (See Document 27) The view of the State Department was that NATO expansion was not on the agenda, because it was not in the interest of the U.S. to organize “an anti-Soviet coalition” that extended to the Soviet borders, not least because it might reverse the positive trends in the Soviet Union. (See Document 26) The Bush administration took the latter view (in public). And that’s what the Soviets heard.

  17. this interview elucidates how we came to here.


    This interview was recorded on Tuesday 15th February before Russia invaded Ukraine. Professor John J. Mearsheimer is the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, where he has taught since 1982. He graduated from West Point in 1970 and then served five years as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. He has published six immensely influential books on international relations theory. In 2020, he won the James Madison Award, which is given once every three years by the American Political Science Association to “an American political scientist who has made a distinguished scholarly contribution to political science.”


  18. A thought on NATO. It’s a defensive alliance of which Ukraine is not a member. Under the NATO treaty, there is no obligation on members to come to the aid of Ukraine. But nothing in the treaty prevents its members from doing so independently or in concert. They have all decided not to send troops or planes into combat, and are just supplying arms and intelligence. This decision is not motivated by NATO membership but by their assessment of the interests and risks they have at stake. FWIW, I think they are right not to risk war with Russia over Ukraine, and also right not to go back on the vague commitment they have made in NATO to accept it as a member at some unspecified time in the future. It’s not like Czechoslovakia in 1938, when Britain and France reneged on a clear treaty commitment, and struck a deal with Hitler behind the back of the Czechs.

  19. Given Russian air superiority how are those NATO arms to be delivered into Ukraine now? Contrary to urban myth under the NATO treaty there is no obligation on members to come to the aid of other members either – merely an obligation to consider doing so. Russia if pressured, say by Ukrainian attacks based out of NATO territory, will put this to the test. If it is then not seen to be reflexively all for one it is the end of NATO.

  20. Where does it end?
    Putin proposed a Russian delegation to meet with a Ukrainian delegation in Minsk, Belarus. Zelensky rejected the location and proposed 3 alternative cities, including Warsaw, Poland, and Istanbul, Turkey – NATO countries. (Invitation to become like Belarus vs Invitation to where I want to go? It seems to me Helsinki would be a suitable location because Finland borders Russia, is in the EU but not in NATO.

    Where did it start?
    In the East Ukraine? On the Ukraine border with Russia? On the Belarus border? At meetings between Gorbachev, Baker, Genscher after the fall of the Berlin wall? With Poland becoming a NATO member? In his early years as President, Putin expressed the wish for Russia to join NATO https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/04/ex-nato-head-says-putin-wanted-to-join-alliance-early-on-in-his-rule. In Bucharest when Merkel vetoed the admission of the Ukraine and Georgia into NATO in 2008 (giving the green light for Russia to ‘attack’ – but why not Finland) ? In whatever location where the rules of NATO were set out?

    PS: Up-date on Germany’s supply of lethal weapons to the Ukraine: They are supplying anti-tank and anti-aircraft stuff.

  21. Perhaps after Russia has neutralised sufficient Ukraine military installations if Russia sets up the Donbass as a country and is then invited in to openly protect what will be a disputed border with Ukraine then Russia will have blocked Ukraine from joining NATO due to the joining bar on wannabe members with disputed borders. That no one else will likely recognise the Donbass as a new state doesn’t matter, that’s a feature not a bug, as it is the NATO disputed border provision that delivers Russia what it wants, ie., NATO permanently out of Ukraine:

    The Ukraine crisis goes to the next level: soldiers and sanctions – bne IntelliNews, Feb 26, 2022

  22. Putin is playing a deadly game of Russian Roulette. He has mobilized his nuclear weapons. Then will it be an empty threat or will it be the real firing of nuclear missiles? This dilemma is now meant to freeze all anti-Russia moves. Yet Putin may be just the public face of a much worse military mob that want power YES but also want to pillage western Europe. Lets hope is the second one because then the world has a chance to fight back. If this is just power mad “dementia” by Russians who can no longer remember the present, but are locked in the past, then the world is doomed. This is 1939 all over again. Does the Western democracies give up their easy life and fight Russian mad men NOW? Does it prevaricate and fight only when it is too late to stop Europe from being destroyed by nuclear weapons? My Dad lived through 1939 but fought only in 1944, by then Europe was a smoking ruin. If that happens again who will rebuild Europe this time around? Surely the USA, if it wins, will be too busy rebuilding itself. As for Australia we are too small, too far away and too insignificant to do anything other than fall in line with other, larger democracies. Our fate is not our own. As the Vikings used to say all the time:

    Wyrd bid ful araed,.
    Roughly translated that means:
    Fate is all.

    Time to dust off all our old notes on war capitalism and national rationing – just in case.

  23. hix asked where to track info and others may be so inclined. I won’t be watching, yet if I was in Ukraine I’d be glued.

    If you are into war games and on the ground details in near time…

    “It was 3:15 a.m. in Belgorod, Russia — much too early for a traffic jam, thought Jeffrey Lewis, who was watching the traffic pileup on Google Maps.

    “Lewis, a professor specializing in arms control and nonproliferation at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, Calif., was monitoring Google Maps with a research team of students he mentors as part of a project to analyze images taken from space. He and his team realized what was happening: a Russian armored unit was moving toward the border with Ukraine.

    “On Google Maps, tracking the invasion of Ukraine
    [Maps changing now]
    “The app has become a tool for visualizing the military action, helping researchers track troops and civilians seek shelter

    “Jeffrey Lewis professor Middlebury Institute of International Studies”


    “Jeffrey Lewis is an American expert innuclear nonproliferation and geopolitics, currently an Adjunct Professor at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies(otherwise known as the CNS) at theMiddlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, and director of the CNS East Asia Nonproliferation Program.[1] “…

  24. Svante; You are wilfully misrepresenting the NATO treaty. The full text of Article 5, my emphasis:

    “The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.
    Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.”

    The obligation of mutual assistance is binding. There is wiggle room on recourse to armed force, but in the context not much. “Deems necessary …. to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area” does not mean “if it feels like it”.

  25. JW, ““Deems necessary …. to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area” does not mean “if it feels like it”.”

    Good of you to check James, but it does mean that. Similar clauses are inserted in all US ‘mutual’ ‘defense’ pacts. Here, for example, we hear it argued all the time about ANZUS.

  26. Update (on my posts):
    1. Delegations from the Ukraine and from Russia are meeting today, Mo 28/2/22 in Gomel, Belarus.
    2. Switzerland is having a governmental meeting today to reverse its decision not to participate in blocking banking transactions and freezing accounts that have been adopted by the EU, the UK and the USA.
    [Source: der Spiegel online of today]

  27. Svante; It is always open to states to renege on their treaty commitments, as at Munich in 1938. That does not imply that treaty commitments are not real. Article 5 has been understood for 70 years to imply armed solidarity. If it doesn’t, why did NATO not admit Ukraine already?

  28. James, they misunderstand what they got into, or more like, it’s a case of hope over reason, and likely more so than their congenital misreading of Russia for centuries, perhaps an outcome dating well before that right back to the Great Schism. NATO signatories like any others in US security pacts are merely duped future cannon fodder for US warring as it suits US oligarchs and their MIC. And their soldier boys want the hand down US babyburner toys. They fly their flags here and there behind the US in vain hope the US might come to their aid, and without it costing them a great deal further. James, US hegemony expanding faster towards Russia would have brought this on earlier. Essentially, the US planned this from outside Russia in the 80s, and engineered this within Russia in the 90s and early C21.

  29. Where does it end?

    The long background article below from a month ago concluded with:

    “Every nation party to this should be looking for a deal.”

    Putin plays for history as Eurasia stamps the flames

    “..But the experience of trying to organise a national level agreement on the handling of gas transit to Europe has left its mark on Ukraine-Russia relations, which is magnified with the last major issue between the two nations, as well as replicated in many former Soviet and Warsaw Pact nations now inside NATO and the European Union. It boils down to trust – They don’t particularly trust the Russians, and the Russians don’t particularly trust them. And if Russia cant come to a deal with a state to whom it was closely allied not long ago, and Russians cannot strike a deal with peoples with whom they share a range of cultural and social ties, over an issue as straightforward as making sure Europe gets its gas, then can Russia come to a deal with the nations to its West about anything – especially military engagements and the deployment of military assets – and have confidence in the deal? …”

  30. James, Paul Keating saw things clearly in 1997! With characteristic ikonoclastic applied critical thinking, as usual, he laid it out re NATO in a speech! His facts were solid, his projections still sound. I believe I understand where your selective view comes from (less so the motivation for other’s selectively edited quote twists).

    With Keating and NATO (see below) apparently now set to be called out as pro-Putin apologetics and cast out of the growing urban myth endarkened bell chamber, I’ll leave you with excellent company:

    The decision to expand NATO by inviting Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to participate and to hold out the prospect to others—in other words, to move Europe’s military demarcation point to the very borders of the former Soviet Union—is, I believe, an error which may rank in the end with the strategic miscalculations which prevented Germany from taking its full place in the international system at the beginning of this century.

    The great question for Europe is no longer how to embed Germany in Europe—that has been achieved—but how to involve Russia in a way which secures the continent during the next century.

    And there was a very obvious absence of statecraft here. The Russians, under Mikhail Gorbachev, conceded that East Germany could remain in NATO as part of a united Germany. But now just half a dozen years later NATO has climbed up to the western border of the Ukraine. This message can be read in only one way: that although Russia has become a democracy, in the consciousness of western Europe it remains the state to be watched, the potential enemy.

    NATO’s declaration at the Copenhagen summit of 1991 was admirable. It said ‘We do not wish to isolate any country, nor to see a new division of the Continent. Our objective is to create a Europe whole and free.’ But that sentiment sits impossibly with the expansion of the institution. The fundamental point of principle that NATO enlargement should ‘contribute to stability and security in the entire Euro-Atlantic region and not pose a threat to any nation’ is simply incompatible with enlargement.

    The words used to explain NATO’s expansion have been nuanced, and the dangers have been acknowledged. But however careful the words are, whatever the window dressing of the Permanent NATO– Russia Joint Council, everybody knows that Russia is the reason for NATO’s expansion.

    The decision is dangerous for several reasons. It will fuel insecurity in Russia and strengthen those strains of Russian thought, including the nationalists and former Communists in the Parliament, which are opposed to full engagement with the West. It will make more likely the restoration of military links between Russia and some of its former dependencies. It will make arms control, and especially nuclear arms control, more difficult to achieve. President Yeltsin’s offer to ‘take the tips off the warheads’ might have been described as a misstatement, or even the unconscious utterance of official briefing, but what are the chances of that happening now, with NATO creeping towards Russia’s western borders?

    And NATO expansion will do much less to strengthen the new democracies of eastern Europe than would enlargement of the EU. New strains will be opened up between the ins and the outs among those countries.

    It will also weaken NATO itself. The financial costs will be high and NATO’s effectiveness and credibility will be diminished. An American commitment to defend the border of Poland and the Ukraine in all circumstances simply lacks political credibility.

    The reasons Poland and the other countries of Eastern Europe believe their security is served in this way are obvious, and historically understandable. But I do not believe either European or global security will be helped by this decision.

    The better option, even now, would be to build on existing institutions like the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), or new mechanisms like President Clinton’s January 1994 Partnership for Peace proposals, to intensify military and political cooperation and improve transparency throughout Europe.


    Collective defence – Article 5

    The principle of providing assistance

    With the invocation of Article 5, Allies can provide any form of assistance they deem necessary to respond to a situation. This is an individual obligation on each Ally and each Ally is responsible for determining what it deems necessary in the particular circumstances.

    This assistance is taken forward in concert with other Allies. It is not necessarily military and depends on the material resources of each country. It is therefore left to the judgment of each individual member country to determine how it will contribute. Each country will consult with the other members, bearing in mind that the ultimate aim is to “to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area”.

    <At the drafting of Article 5 in the late 1940s, there was consensus on the principle of mutual assistance, but fundamental disagreement on the modalities of implementing this commitment. The European participants wanted to ensure that the United States would automatically come to their assistance should one of the signatories come under attack; the United States did not want to make such a pledge and obtained that this be reflected in the wording of Article 5.


    Article 5 has only been used once. To have NATO assist the US by supporting a long list of war crimes elsewhere over many years then to grab a tidy slice of the victims’ oil fields very cheaply for their own Big Oil corporates.

  31. NATO is not offensive, it is defensive.

    Putin is clearly on the offensive and undeniably demonstrates the need for NATO.

  32. Sure rog, just like the US was on the offensive after a more distant Cuba installed primitive, slow, short range nuke missiles aimed only at the US and at a stretch maybe its capital.

  33. Svante, what is your point? US has done bad stuff? Yes. NATO has constricting rules and is cinnflicted. Yes. Remunder: it is today. I even said one of your comments implored us to be in the present and you used the concept if now. So take a chill pill. This situation is a psychological trigger as yiur exclamation marks indicate.

    And is Paul Keating is correct? A stopped clock is right twice a day.

    Answer this please.

    1) What is happening NOW?

    2) Why has Russians suspended debt payments from Cuba?

    NOW there may be nukes in Cuba.

    Try prosecuting the present. Putin is prosecuting the past too.

    I need to make decisions about tomorrow. And I’ll try to fix rhe future with due diligence on the past.

  34. As a general comment, contemporary Russia is not a democracy. Putin is a dictator. Putin and his regime regularly have their opponents poisoned, shot, beaten and imprisoned. Putin and his regime have invaded a peaceful, democratic neighbor. His forces have already committed war crimes and used banned or “conventioned” weapons in this conflict.

    As to the whataboutery of Russia’s supporters, it is simply “a variant of the tu quoque logical fallacy, which attempts to discredit an opponent’s position by charging hypocrisy without directly refuting or disproving the argument.”

    The fallacy is easy to show. If the man down the road beats up his wife, it is not a defense for me to do the same and then say the bloke down the road does it. The tu quoque fallacy is the path to a general abyss.

    Re foreign “adventures” (really criminal wars and occupations) I have been consistent on this blog over the years, trenchantly criticizing the USA, UK, Australia and China in various contexts. I don’t recall, I may have criticized others like NATO too. Now I am criticizing Russia. I am consistent.

  35. Tu quoque abused, a contortion too cute. In the real world of late if the man down the road has someone across the road dead set on hosting wmds from which there is no known available defense nor response time once launched, and, no matter what those across the road and beyond may be saying the wmds can only be for use on the man down the road, then surely a bell chamber somewhere will reverberate with a reflexive conclusion that the man down the road should just roll with it and wait and see.

    KT2, to know what is happening right now, if indeed that knowledge is desired, all that can be done is to look around well and sift through and weigh what can be seen, eg., Ukraine soldiers from Snake Island ‘alive’

    Is not Paul Keating clocked an ad hominem? “Putin is prosecuting the past too.” Which invasion of Russia is that now, any in particular of the big, small, bloody, white collared, or just all of them?

    The USSR wanted its wmds hosted in Cuba. The US reacted to this with an all in naval blockade and Cuban fly overs. They unknowingly called it the Cuban Missile Crisis correctly even though the US and USSR thought any missiles already unloaded to be under direct Soviet control, but in the nick of time it was discovered that Soviet forces in Cuba somehow had rendered control of such missiles to Cuban missile crews who had armed and targeted them. The US now placing the missiles of current interest in unstable corrupt conflicted Ukraine is no different.

  36. Using the Cuban missile crisis as a counter argument fails on several points, one being that it actually improved communications between the two opponents.

    Putin first invaded the Ukraine in 2014, with little direct intervention by NATO, and his latest threat to go nuclear if his expansion is challenged is completely offensive – he has shown no desire to negotiate.

  37. Svante, “Ukraine is no different.”.

    Tu quoquo on keating. He would have said it to me!

    Q: Has there been in recent history such a wide and deep set of supporters – even nutral Switzerland and the IOC, acting for one goal and condemning an invader please?

    I am sure everyone w nukes and thermibaric bombs is readying them.

  38. Svante, I understand you have a point – “The US now placing the missiles of current interest in unstable corrupt conflicted Ukraine is no different.”. I hope this time the geopolitical outcomes are different.

    What will a book say in 16 years – 2038!, about Ukraine?

    And “How the Press” are involved is a wicked and severe problem in need of addressing, as much as the war drummers.

    “16 Years Later, How the Press That Sold the Iraq War Got Away With It

    “In an excerpt from his new book Hate Inc., Matt Taibbi looks back at how the media built new lies to cover their early ones

    “” Instead, we should secure a “preponderance of influence” over all countries, having a plan for “change of regime” for any country not under our control, from Cuba to Iran to China.

    “How to justify this dressed-up version of “pre-emptive war”? We know from Bush speechwriter David Frum’s bootlicking account of having served that administration, The Right Man, that the “Axis of Evil” concept was something Frum found flipping through history books about World War II.

    “There, he came up with the idea that America’s enemies were so crazy with hatred for us, they couldn’t be trusted to behave rationally even if threatened with annihilation. “If deterrence worked,” he noted, “there would never be a Pearl Harbor.”

    “Tony Blair was fine with regime change, but felt he couldn’t sell the concept politically. In 2009 he admitted this and said he’d have “deployed” different argumentswithout WMD if he had it to do over. From the Chilcot inquiry we know his foreign policy advisor David Manning had dinner with Condoleezza Rice in March of 2002, and afterward wrote a damning memo to Blair.

    ““I said that you would not budge in your support for regime change,” he wrote. “But you had to manage a press, a Parliament and a public opinion that was very different.”

    “So they cooked up the idea of invading Iraq as a response to longstanding violations of a UN inspections regime, a reason that they hoped would provide Blair with the fig leaf of UN Security Council approval.

    “Later, British intelligence officials like Sir John Scarlett worried the public would not buy a case for war against Iraq because Iraq wasn’t “exceptional” even compared to other states like Libya, Iran, and North Korea.

    “This means all the marchers were right to ask all those obvious questions about the war from the start.”


  39. KT2,

    Svante is making stuff up. The incoherent claim, “The US now placing the missiles of current interest in unstable corrupt conflicted Ukraine is no different.”, is nonsense. There are no US strategic attack or strategic defense missiles in Ukraine. This is a complete fabrication.

    An RT claim implicitly admits there are no THAAD missiles in Ukraine currently. It simply claims on flimsy evidence that Ukraine is trying to get them. Getting them in the current situation would be impossible of course. Note that THAAD (THAAD missile defense system) is DEFENSIVE only so Russia’s beef is really that it could be stopped from hitting Ukraine and Western Europe with high altitude missiles, conventional or nuclear.That stopping is hardly likely though. Missile defense systems struggle to stop all but the more “primitive” missiles; certainly not Russia’s hypersonic and ICBM multi-target missiles.

    “Ukraine has asked the US to place high-altitude missile defense systems in one of its eastern regions bordering Russia, TASS reported on Monday, citing a diplomatic source. The Kremlin has branded the potential move “destabilizing.”

    Kiev has reportedly reached out to Washington, seeking to have “several batteries” of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile interceptors deployed in the country’s eastern region of Kharkov, along with “corresponding radar equipment,” the source told the news agency.

    “The AN/TPY-2 radar system, which is part of the THAAD complex, is capable of watching the aerospace situation over a significant part of Russian territory and can allow Kiev and its NATO allies to ‘peek’ deep into Russian territory for a distance of up to 1,000km,” the source explained.
    Russia could take Kiev in 72 hours, US warns READ MORE: Russia could take Kiev in 72 hours, US warns

    Asked about the report on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned that the potential deployment would further escalate the ongoing crisis around Ukraine.” – RT (Pure Russian propaganda of course).

    Svante has also studiously avoided addressing the facts of the dictator Putin and Putin’s regime poisoning, shooting, beating and imprisoning opposition and media figures. He avoids this because it is indefensible and highly embarrassing to his argument. He seeks to muddy the waters with claims about non-existent missiles (implied to be offensive) and pretending (it seems) they are nuke missiles based in Ukraine and pointed at Russia. He clearly has no idea how offensive strategic delivery systems work and how far they can work from. No-one would place them forward where they could be over-run on the ground as indeed Ukraine is being over-run right now.

  40. rog says MARCH 2, 2022 AT 4:58 PM
    Using the Cuban missile crisis as a counter argument fails on several points, one being that it actually improved communications between the two opponents.

    Putin first invaded the Ukraine in 2014, with little direct intervention by NATO, and his latest threat to go nuclear if his expansion is challenged is completely offensive – he has shown no desire to negotiate.

    Rubbish, sorry but your grasp of history, or your preferred revision is the least of it. Fyi, let’s see just how similar it is.

    Rog, iirc, the yanks didn’t want hostile nukes sited next door close to them. They went all out attempting to block that, and were set to go further not least with a 2nd invasion of Cuba.

    Rog, the Cubans in 1962 were ready to launch the Soviet nukes they already possessed. The silly ignorant yanks were about to bomb then invade Cuba. On being informed the Kremlin had trouble accepting that the Cubans had hold of their missiles, armed and aimed. That wasn’t the plan! After the silly yanks rejected such information passed repeatedly through diplomatic channels as being a Soviet trick they had locked in a time for their 2nd attempt at taking Cuba – the gung-ho yanks didn’t think the Soviets would seriously fight them and bring on WW3 over that, sure the Cubans would fight but they’d get what for this time – and on top of thwarting any Russian unloading of nukes in Cuba, that’d show everyone. Nice. BUT the Cubans had nukes! Finally through back channels the Russians sent a connected US trusted citizen to take the information and a letter directly into the White House. Lucky a sharp, sane, and sober Bobby Kennedy was there! Shocked, and totally aghast the yanks called off the attack and took the call from Khrushchev. The yanks ‘defense’ just missed blowing the world to bits. Yes, the famous red phone came into being. Perhaps the US NATO puppet may have improved communications with Russia after this Nukes misadventure.

    Putin first invaded the Ukraine in 2014, with little direct intervention by NATO, and his latest threat to go nuclear if his expansion is challenged is completely offensive – he has shown no desire to negotiate.

    The yanks first invaded Cuba in 1961. NATO, pffft. The yanks are the only ones with nukes with a standing threat of not excluding a first use of nukes. The yanks for over 30 years now are the only ones that spend big on trying to develop the tools for what they plan on being a winnable nuclear war. If Russia’s action is challenged it will be by several NATO sock puppet nuclear powers. Russia has shown with repeated clear messaging what its response would be to such overwhelming deployment of force against them. All other nuke powers would say/do the same, but some of those others and their media have it that Russia is the odd one out of their cuddly and rational group.

    Back to Cuba. NATO-US trying to site their nukes lately virtually just across the road from Moscow’s outer suburbs is clearly the first offensive step in this rhyming history.

  41. KT2 says: MARCH 2, 2022 AT 5:02 PM

    “Q: Has there been in recent history such a wide and deep set of supporters – even nutral Switzerland and the IOC, acting for one goal and condemning an invader please?”

    For crying out loud, it isn’t hard, just follow the money.

  42. KT2, it appears now that Iconoclast is drowning not waving. Where will he wash up in the end?

  43. Re Ikonoclast says MARCH 3, 2022 AT 9:23 AM

    “Svante is making stuff up. The incoherent claim, “The US now placing the missiles of current interest in unstable corrupt conflicted Ukraine is no different.”, is nonsense. There are no US strategic attack or strategic defense missiles in Ukraine.”

    Placing not placed. It appears you are drowning in an under toe, not waving. Where does it wash up in the end? Where will the currents take it?

  44. See Svante, you will go to great extremes to embellish your irrelevancy.

    Putin is the aggressor, he is committing war crimes onto Ukraine, and no amount of red herrings can dissuade from this fact.

  45. Svante, thanks. Today, really, in my kids school newsletter:

    … “But if that “best friend” routinely puts you down or makes fun of you, maybe even seeks to exclude you, YOU NEED to KNOW THIS: That’s not friendship.
    Never be so desperate to be a part of something that you are prepared to be treated like dirt just to be included. That is too high a price to pay.
    “I’m upset! Someone is going to get punished!”

    If someone upsets you, don’t discuss it with everyone else or worse, look for ways to punish the person who has upset you.
    It’s dramatic. It’s theatrical. It’s emotionally draining. It’s extraordinarily stressful.
    Looking to punish the people in your life you feel are mean will almost certainly achieve nothing productive. Ask yourself this: Do I need additional stress in my life? It’s a simple thing.
    No one needs additional stress in their life. Life is stressful enough, and it seldom becomes any less stressful the older you get.
    If someone upsets you, you should consider talking to them about it in a respectful yet assertive manner. If someone has hurt your feelings, you really only have two choices for moving forward. You can:
    Do nothing and GET OVER IT! (it’s not entirely impossible the person did not intend to hurt your feelings). or
    Be proactive and talk to them about it.

    “Dishonesty ruins relationships
    The pressure on people to always be nice can compel an individual to take out their anger in sneaky ways. This covert sneakiness has a name. It is called relational aggression.” …

    Putin is rationally irrational and is currently – now – the agressor. I won’t continue this one with you. Maybe bedore the war crimes tribunal *if* you publish 1 doc I can read w references. Gwtting tricky on t

    Ikon, I am not going to bother with the planning laws whilst the rain is still falling. Yes, we can make sruff up and check later.

    +1 rog, “Putin is the aggressor, he is committing war crimes onto Ukraine, and no amount of red herrings can dissuade from this fact.”.

    Script of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
    ““What’s the meaning of all of this?
    “It’s about the future, Madam Chancellor.
    “Some people think the future means the end of history.
    KIRK: “Well, we haven’t run out
    of history quite yet.”


  46. KT2 and rog, Oh dear, a pre-emptive defense (and that against actual wmds) is now redefined as an aggression. What’s uncle sam gunna come up with in future? Here’s a clue: different legal dictionary and arbitrarily different rules of course for those who buy it.

    rog, your ‘arguments’ make no sense. Where’d you look up “red herring”?

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