Where does it end: Part 2

With the pace of events accelerating all the time, yesterday’s hot take is today’s embarrassing blunder, to be forgotten as soon as possible. Still, so far this suggested way out of the Ukraine disaster doesn’t look too bad to me.

By explicitly raising the threat of nuclear war, Putin has reminded everyone that any outcome has to look better to him than fighting on. At the same time, in every other respect, things look worse and worse for him. There have been no easy battlefield wins, Europe is supplying arms to Ukraine at a rapid rate, his allies are abandoning him, and sanctions that seemed unimaginable a week ago are already in place. So, both sides have an incentive to seek peace in the talks that are about to open.

The obvious face-saver for Putin, at which the Ukrainians have already hinted, would be a commitment not to join NATO and to adopt a position of neutrality. The first is now irrelevant: the invasion which NATO membership might have prevented has happened, and (if the war ends now) been repelled. As for neutrality, a war between NATO and Russia would kill us all, so the position of Ukraine would be hypothetical.

The other side of the coin would be a Russian withdrawal to the positions held a week ago. This would save face, but would still be an utter disaster for Putin. Whatever its official position, the postwar Ukraine will be remorselessly hostile to Putin and Russia, as well as being armed to the point where the threat of invasion (at least without nuclear weapons or similar) would be irrelevant. And even if Russia is readmitted to SWIFT, its exclusion from the world economy is a fait accompli. BPs decision to dump its holding in Rosneft, taking a big loss in the process, is an indication. The oligarchs who were welcomed with golden passports a week ago, will be lucky if they can get a fraction of their wealth back. Most importantly, Europe will be rushing to end its reliance on Russian gas and oil. Russia might find new markets in China, but it will almost certainly be selling at a discount.

As I hinted at the time, the over-optimistic part of my take was the idea that there would be a positive outcome in the US. No sign of that so far, which means the end of democracy is still on track to happen. But at least there is some chance that Europe will hold out.

74 thoughts on “Where does it end: Part 2

  1. it is of course very important to have as many of the facts as you can possibly avail yourself of. to this end i offer Scott Ritter addressing the question why did putin “order the defense minister and the chief of the general staff of the Russian armed forces to put the deterrence forces of the Russian army into a special mode of combat service.”

  2. i agree that “a commitment”, from ukraine, “not to join NATO and to adopt a position of neutrality” would be a very good idea.

    i disagree, however, that it would be a “face saver” for putin; it would, in fact, be the achievement of one of his stated goals for the invasion : to disarm ukraine & to denazify ukraine. -a.v.

  3. It seems clear to me, both from the statement Putin made last week and from the sort of ethnonationalists he seems to favour, that his preferred state of affairs is for Belarus and Ukraine to be ruled from Moscow. (Already true for the former in many of the ways that matter.)

    The minimum goal is presumably still to bring Ukraine to a military defeat and force it to formally cede the Crimea and Donbass regions. We can see the attacks on Kyiv and other major cities through a blitzkrieg lens. But since the Ukrainian leadership aren’t folding easily, it looks like there’ll be a much more drawn-out struggle.

    So what does that mean for nuclear prospects? I think as long as the West keep assistance reasonably moderate (no kinetic attacks on Russian soil) then it’s just sabre rattling. What’s Putin going to do, nuke territory that (in his mind) ought to be his?

  4. JQ, my reading of today’s news, starting at about 4:00AM, was a rollercoaster experience. First the nuclear threat then nothing for a long time, then the better news rolled in, leaving me with sentiments akin to your post.

    Being in this optimistic frame of mind, a possible positive monetary externality from the freezing of the accounts of Russian oligarchs came to mind: It could also happen to non-Russian corporate players who are treated in the English press under the heading ‘state capture’ and they might be aware of this, too.

    There is one point in your post I am not convinced to be helpful: “And even if Russia is readmitted to SWIFT, its exclusion from the world economy is a fait accompli.” In my reading of the news, the EU, the USA, the UK, Canada follow an agreed strategy of proportionality of sanctions. The primary aim is to punish Russia for violating international law but not to exclude Russia from (their part of) the world economy for any longer than necessary. Maybe I am wrong in my interpretation.

  5. I do not think it is sabre rattling; however, I think his meaning is subtly different to all out nuclear war. I think he is saying he is ready for any attempt at a retaliatory strike against Russia, thus preventing one; I think he is hinting he could deploy a *single* tactical nuke to destroy the CBD of a mid-sized to large city in the Ukraine, and that he thinks the West won’t retaliate (hence his nuclear forces action, to ensure the West doesn’t retaliate).

    I don’t believe he’ll do much more damage to Kyiv, unless he thinks the situation is impossible—would you destroy the very city you only a few days ago was saying is the jewel and the original spiritual and actual capital of the Old Russian Empire? I’d say that is unlikely. On the other hand, I doubt he would think twice, about levelling another mid-sized to large Ukrainian city, whether by conventional weapons or a tac-nuke. Therefore, in this game of backgammon, Putin turns the doubling cube, and he dares us to redouble, or play, or conceded; in the meanwhile, he has a slightly different strategy in mind to the one we think he is maniacally following. He does that; he is GRU/KGB trained and deployed, after all. People claimed Hussein was mad; they proclaimed Gaddafi was mad; they proclaimed that Osama bin Laden was mad. No, they most likely weren’t. What people took for madness was a person with goals antithetical to our own. If two persons have antithetical goals that, in each case, necessitate a particular resource they can’t share, then you have conflict; it doesn’t mean that one person is sanely following a rational course, while the other is insanely following an irrational course. Perspective matters. If we refuse to see the world through Putin’s eyes, we miss what he is really doing, and why.

    No-one is able to read his brain. But, he isn’t that deceptive in his conduct that it can’t be unpicked in real time.

    Having said this, I feel that because of the goals Putin has clearly professed, over the years, and because of the quite Totalitarian world view he is espousing, I feel there is no solution that involves Putin still being in the world of the living. I certainly would like to believe it was otherwise, and yet a rough reading of Putin’s tea leaves is that he is currently contemplating a single tac-nuke on a town or city, as a means of extorting VZ to surrender up to Russia.

    Ukraine is not my land of birth, nor my parents. I do, however, know a lot of Russian, Croatian, old Yugoslav, German, French, Turkish, and Ukraine people. Those people are all good people, as are the half a dozen Polish people I have been friends with, in another life. I don’t know their personal positions with respect to Putin’s grievances, but I am confident not one of them would wish this war on the Ukraine. It is so damn sad that the lives of so many people should be tossed aside, all for the ambition of a single old man.

  6. The House considered amendments to H.R. 2685 “On the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2015,” during which Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Congressman Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) offered bipartisan amendments to block the training of Azov, which they described as a Ukrainian neo-Nazi paramilitary militia, and to prevent the transfer of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles—otherwise known as Man-Portable Air-Defense Systems (MANPADS)—to Iraq or Ukraine.

    from the u.s. congressional record
    congressman John Conyers :-

    “I am grateful that the House of Representatives unanimously passed my amendments last night to ensure that our military does not train members of the repulsive neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, along with my measures to keep the dangerous and easily trafficked MANPADs out of these unstable regions.”

    “Ukraine’s Azov Battalion is a 1,000-man volunteer militia of the Ukrainian National Guard that Foreign Policy Magazine has characterized as ‘openly neo-Nazi,’ and ‘fascist.’ Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, who oversees Ukraine’s armed militias, announced that Azov troops would be among the first units to be trained by the Pentagon in Operation Fearless Guardian, prompting significant international concern.”

    today 2015 seems another world. meanwhile the azov battalion has been upgraded to a regiment. it is trained by blackwater. its regimental crest is copied from the regimental crest of the nazi unit “s.s. reich”. both unit crests can be viewed on their respective wikipedia articles. azov is one of 20 far right/neo-nazi groups integrated into police & military since 2014. president zelensky is not the problem, he is just the latest president whose independence & ability to effect necessary reforms have been constrained by interior minister arsen avakov, a close associate of azov’s founder and the nemesis of every ukrainian president since 2014, he epitomizes the neo-nazi problem.

    i agree putin & the russia he leads have many problems, but idolizing hitler & the s.s. and mainstreaming neo-nazis into the state & police & elite army formations is not one of them. i’ll retire now. -a.v.

    “Commentary: Ukraine’s neo-Nazi problem” – by Josh Cohen – 2018-03-20

    see also ha’aretz : google : “haaretz and azov”.

  7. I won’t tell Ukrainian people how to behave (and I include all the Russian-born Ukrainians in this), but when it comes to Putin, there is no rational ground for taking any thing he says at face value.

    Let me explain. In the `Art of War,’ by Sun Tzu, the advice is you hide your real intentions in amongst other, more plausible, prosaic, if strange intentions, i.e. keep them guessing. But, it also advises in the right circumstances to basically go for broke, and then let your enemy talk themselves into surrender.

    Well, “Art of War” it isn’t quite that specific, but that’s the thrust of it. In other words, when you use the threat of something so preposterous, that everyone goes, nah, that’ll never gonna happen., but what if, what if? It is what is known as the “anchoring effect;” if I say to you think of a random number, and I tell you that I first thought of 100, then are you likely to think of 1500000000000? Nope, you’ll come up with “random” numbers that are reasonably close, at least in a logarithmic sense, to 100. We can’t help it, and so we need to have explicit strategies for first recognising that we may have fallen for this, and secondly to determine what a non-anchored set of alternatives might reveal.

    My reading of Totalitarians is that they are quite schizoid in the way they signal what they are thinking of doing. On the one hand, they actually spell out the unspeakable horror that is their vision; normal people are simply psychologically unequipped to believe or even to provisionally accept such promised horrors as being anything more than yet another example of extreme rhetoric. T he thing is, while they spell it out, it is said in what I would call a crypto-manner, i.e. if you are familiar with the various long-standing tropes, you’ll hear the message in amongst the noise. On the other hand, if you are not familiar with those tropes, it all sounds like crazy jooz they’ve imbibed. If you don’t know the lingo, you cannot penetrate the underlying messaging, and the underlying overarching ambition that is a part and parcel of the Totalitarian Movement. I can only hope that Putin came late to this party, and is now too old and frail to run this to its ultimate and horrific conclusion. But, if he has another decade of life in him, then he is an existential threat to all of us, not merely (and I don’t view it as “merely”) Ukraine.

  8. Don´t know what exactly people seem to think about when they say dictator x is mad. Do they think he has a personality disorder? Or that he has an acute psychosis ? Or just that they are acting incoherent? Or irrational? Granted, there is no need to slavishly apply medical definitions, which are sometimes simply based on pragmatic considerations, rather than a proper theoretical framework for such a case. Either way, Putin has no totalitarian control, doubtfull any dictator really had such in the narrower sense, sure not Putin. If there is a Putin psychosis, it´s a Russian mass psychosis and if Putin on the other hand is a rational controled actor, he´s controled in the way the Count of Monte Christo is, deploying coherent brilliant actions to a mad goal.

  9. Neutral Finland is supplying weaponry to Ukraine – “2,500 assault rifles, 150,000 bullets, 1,500 anti-tank weapons and 70,000 food packages”. (The rations are thoughtful, see my thoughts on Scipio). This is a brave decision. Finland is not a NATO member and is not protected by Article 5 of the NATO treaty. It has a long border with Russia, was part of he Tsarist empire from 1809 to 1917, and fought a war with the Soviet Union in 1940. They must think Putin’s imperial dream is a real threat to take the risk. Sounds of geopolitical tectonic plates moving. Switzerland has copied the EU sanctions package, Germany is rearming.

  10. Already Putin has lost; the creation of enemies inside and out of Russia and the destruction of the Russian economy will be his enduring legacy.

    One mans megalomania will cost everyone in Russia.

  11. JQ, your comment in reply to Alfred V “the only place that needs denazification is the Kremlin”, sad to say, I half agree with, but I disagree with “only”.

    A clarification perhaps, as you say “yesterday’s hot take is today’s embarrassing blunder”. I am guilty of such many a time. Imho your ‘Kremlin only’ is a “hot take” in response to AV’s one sided reference of only a Ukraine group, now within the Ukraine war tent. One sided nArtzee references fit the Sandit criteria if continued. Yet Godwin’s law may be broken on your blog. See below “Has Godwin’s Law, the Rule of nArtzee Comparisons, Been Disproved?”

    I feel your hot take is in need of updating for tomorrows. And balance. The US neo nitwits will be making hay while the Ukraine endorsed Azov’s shine. 

    I prefer not to name them now, as it just provides energy by strength of ‘giga mentions news / algroithm volts’ GMAV’s. Unseen but powerful force, binding both coalitions energy until explosive propaganda forces realized. 

    And my teenager asked yesterday “what is ‘knee-O-n-Artzee'”. Scales off. (See fn-kid).

    The other side re AV & your exchange. 

    I find this vile yet, the US has said “Military Personnel Can Be in Neo-Nazi Groups, Defense …

    “United States military officials testified before Congress on Tuesday, telling legislators that personnel will not be discharged from the US military for claiming membership in a neo-Nazigroup. The House Armed Services subcommittee on military personnel hearing — which featured scholars, experts, and Pentagon officials — comes on the heels of a broad uptick in white-supremacist violence …”…
    https://www.insider.com › military-personnel-can-be-in-neo-nazi-group-officials-say-2020-2

    “White nationalism remains a problem for the military, poll… “A Military Times poll from last fall found that more than one in five servicemembers have seen evidence of white supremacy or racist ideology in the ranks, despite work from service leaders…”…
    https://www.militarytimes.com › news › pentagon-congress 

    They are here too.
    “Far-right [knee-O-n-Artzee] group [insert x+y+nationalist ] added to Australia’s terror list”
    Article in Canberra Times

    To de-energise safely the potential energy powered by polarized ionized ‘giga mentions news volts’, which as we all know is a major news click driver, leads me now use the neo (pun?) logism “‘knee-O-n-Artzee'” and ” nArtzee.

    “nArtzee”. I understand some logicians and grammer nArtzee’s will be upset by such. Re-parse with wider filters. You’ll get it.

    A small quantum news physics gesture. Nor devalues imo Holocaust mentions. I need to think on this aspect. 

    Azov is north of the Black Sea between Russia and Ukraine. 

    Less ”giga mentions news / algroithm volts’ GMAV’s example:

    “Has Godwin’s Law, the Rule of nArtzee Comparisons, Been Disproved?

    “As an online discussion continues, the probability of a reference or comparison to hewhomustnotbenamed or nArtzee approaches 1.” Thus states Godwin’s law, also known as Godwin’s law of nArtzee analogies, named after Mike Godwin, an American attorney and writer (and Future Tense contributor). Godwin articulated his rule in 1990, in the early days of the internet, after noticing that nArtzee references had gotten out of hand on Usenet newsgroups and bulletin board systems.

    “… It persists because it does double duty. On the one hand, Godwin’s Law is a somewhat-whimsical reminder that internet conversations can escalate quickly. At the same time, it warns against making casual comparisons to the horrors of the Holocaust. Don’t invoke the ultimate reference to evil in vain. The moment in the debate when someone glibly calls their ideological opponent a “nArtzee” is what the French call “the Godwin point.”

    “But recent academic research makes a bold claim: Godwin’s law does not work in practice. The study’s authors reviewed a sampling of nearly 200 million Reddit posts and found that references to “voldermort” and “nArtzees” did not occur with a high degree of frequency. In fact, after a certain point, the probability of observing these words actually decreased.

    “That’s a counterintuitive outcome, to say the least.”…

    Via: “Has Godwin’s Law, the Rule of nArtzee Comparisons, Been Disproved?”
    By Dariusz Jemielniak

    ● fn-kid. (Sandpit).
    I managed to keep Coke and Coke a Cola from my child’s mind until aged 5 when a visitor arrived drinking a can of coke. Kid: “What is Coke?”. Visitor:”! Your kid doesn’t know what Coke is!”. I am vigilant.

    Thanks as always.

  12. Alfred Venison, it’s been more than a decade since I last paid attention to our host’s blog so I suppose I have no idea who’s who any more, but the article you posted from Consortium News is propaganda, not the source of another viewpoint. Its argument is basically, “Russia’s nuclear threat is rational because if Nato is stupid enough to transport weapons and planes to Ukraine instead of giving them to Ukraine on their own territory and Russia is stupid enough to decide to shoot at Nato weapons transport vehicles and planes being transferred to Ukraine, then Russia might find itself in a shooting war with Nato”. He sandwiches this presentation of Russia as completely incapable of self-control and Nato and Russia as incapable of de-escalation in between paragraphs presenting Nato’s self-controlled refusal to escalate as dangerous and propagandistic. But his argument genuinely does amount to “Russia is controlled by a madman whose insane threats should be taken seriously, because he would rather destroy the whole world than pick up the phone” — despite pretending to argue against that position. It is not worth the time of day, and made worse by the author (or editor)’s desire to use the Russian name of a Ukrainian city whose Ukrainian name is better known than its Russian name. If a person goes out of their way to tell you that they are a partisan, you listen to them.

    As to our host’s question of how this war will end, I think it is to the death, either of Putin or Ukraine. With Ukraine now applying for EU membership it is clear that they will not surrender on any terms Putin will accept. But Zelensky’s words have had a powerful effect on the West. if Ukraine goes down fighting, it will mean a new iron curtain through the territory of the old USSR, dividing ethnic Russian families who live partly in Russia and partly in the Baltic states, which even if Ukraine is on the same side as Russia I can hardly imagine will be more appealing and less embarrassing than the status quo ante. And a kleptocracy is worthless if you can’t go and spend it abroad, as Putin will have less to offer anyone. I agree with rog. Putin has already lost, and the only question is how much.

  13. Me too: “… the over-optimistic part of my take was the idea that there would be a positive outcome in the US.”

    Love or loathe Niall Ferguson, he called war on January 2nd 2022.

    “Putin’s Ukrainian War Is About Making Vladimir Great Again

    “Current conditions are ideal for a Russian invasion, but the historical inspiration is more tsarist than Soviet.

    By Niall Ferguson
    January 2, 2022

    “War is coming — a not-so-great northern war. 

    “Don’t be fooled by last Thursday’s conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his American counterpart Joe Biden, with its promise of further negotiations in January. When one party is bent on war, this kind of diplomatic activity often continues until just hours before hostilities begin. We should not be deluded: Putin is bent on war against Ukraine.”…
    [ paywall]

  14. Scott Ritter is wrong. Let me repeat a key passage of his first.

    “Finally, Stoltenberg’s anointing of Ukraine as a NATO ally came at the same time he announced the activation and deployment of NATO’s 40,000-strong Response Force, some of which would be deployed to NATO’s eastern flank, abutting Ukraine. The activation of the Response Force is unprecedented in the history of NATO, a fact that underscores the seriousness to which a nation like Russia might attach to the action. When seen in this light, Putin’s comments last Thursday were measured, sane, and responsible.”

    Putin deploys at least 190,000 troops right around the borders of Ukraine, encircling 80% of Ukraine. Then he attacks over Ukraine’s borders and drives towards the capital and multiple other objectives. On the other hand, NATO activates (NOT (activates AND deploys entire)) 40,000-strong Response Force and deploys “some” to NATO’s Eastern flank. From what I can tell, “some” equals about 2,000 to 20,000. It’s hard to find out more, hence the large margin of estimation.

    The two actions are not equatable in any way. Putin’s actions are a mass invasion of Ukraine. NATO’s actions are a very low key response defensive, trying to underplay and not inflame the situation. Activating 40,000 troops and deploying up to 20,000 is not an offensive signal. Days ago I argued for more and maybe I was wrong. Maybe NATO’s response is better calibrated to not provoke Putin further.

    But Putin cannot realistically expect complete acquiescence to the invasion and take-over of Ukraine. But who knows if he is contact with reality any more? NATO is placed in a very difficult position. Over-reaction provokes WW3. Under-reaction provokes nobody-knows-what but probably strategic “salami-slicing”. The take-over of the Baltic states could easily be the next step. Dictators seeking “living space” and the spoils of war never stop until they are stopped by superior force or superior craft. Time will tell.

  15. for the record, the conyers/yoho amendment to H.R. 2685 “Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2015,” was removed after representations from the pentagon. azov, today, is trained by blackwater, erik prince’s mercenary outfit, not the u.s. army. -a.v.

  16. Spoiling the pie, Putin style. 1st round negotiations <'d'.

    "Assume the players discount at the geometric rate of d, which can be interpreted as cost of delay or "pie spoiling". That is, 1 step later, the pie is worth d times what it was, for some d with 0<d<1."

    Q: What is the pie? Now and then?

    As Harry Clark said "In terms of bargaining theory" … " Putin has shot himself – and the Russian people – squarely in the foot on this one".

    And is continuing to so do. But others are getting shot in other places.

  17. Iko, read Ritter again. Putin responded to NATO first switching on their aggressive treaty option following which at any time they may initiate aggressive attacks on Russia as opposed to self defense, ie., Article 4 not 5. Blue pills much?

  18. Svante,

    Putin assembled 190,000 troops and invaded Ukraine. Of course NATO are going to activate their defense clauses. It is simply not credible that NATO is activating to attack or invade Russia. NATO cannot muster sufficient forces to invade Russia and it would come off worse in any tactical nuke exchange in that process. NATO’s military posture and options are purely defensive in conventional conflict terms and even nuclear terms, as they have to be due to the sheer and insane size of Russia’s military, conventional plus nuclear.

    It is absurd to take legitimate critiques of USA and NATO (like those critiquing Iraq 2 and Afghanistan) to the point of supporting Putin’s invasion of Ukraine which is what you and your fellow-travelers are doing. Putin’s regime is poisonous, literally. Did you watch last night’s 4 Corners on the ABC? I did but I already knew the whole story. They poison and supress to an extremely high level. The Russian Putin Regime is totally poisonous and as even our host has pointed out here, Nazi comparisons ARE valid. The Putin Regime is essentially Nazi now. It is certainly is not democratic socialist or communist.

  19. Where does it end – very slowly for many. Reparations quick + UBI.

    London: 0.0005263158% Poverty reduction per year since 1889. Wow.
    Check my calculations.

    ” “If they be evidences of vigour, pleasure seeking and extravagance need not be condemned, nor even some excess be dreaded. We may confidently trust in the balance of forces; a running stream is always wholesome; a stagnant pool, the danger.”

    Poeverty 2020 -28% in London

    Poverty 1889 – 35% in London

    7% decline in poverty over 133 years.

    The Poverty Map

    “His findings, published as Life and Labour of the People in 1889, showed that fully 35 percent of residents in the East End were poor.”



    “London’s Poverty Profile 2020
    ” Key findings

    “Poverty continues to be higher in London than in any other region in the UK

    – 28% of people live in poverty in London (2.5 million) compared to 22% in UK.
    – The costs of living in London are 15-58% higher than the rest of the UK.
    – However the picture is mixed across London – six in ten (57%) of children in Tower Hamlets are in poverty, compared to two in ten (21%) in Sutton.”


  20. Micheal Koffman, long thread of military analysis of first 5 days:

    Key point; Russians thought they could do this the easy way and not use a sledgehammer to crack what they thought was a nut. They still hold the sledgehammer and may use it. Five days is early days. This could get a lot worse.

    Key acronyms;

    IFV = Infantry Fighting Vehicle
    VDV = Vozdushno-desantnye voyska Rossii = Russian Airborne Services
    Su-25 = subsonic, jet aircraft designed to provide close air support for ground forces
    “Fires” = artillery and may include rocket artillery.
    BTG = Battalion Tactical Group, about 300 to 1,000 troops, equipment depends on role.

  21. Ikonoclast, “Of course NATO are going to activate their defense clauses.” No, do read Ritter again. NATO activated its offensive article 4, not defensive 5. As for 4 Corners or other coverage from ASPI’s lickspittle ABC outlet? You must be joking.

    Watch out for Russian nazis under beds now is it? No. Seriously it seems likely Russian de-nazification, stated as a prime objective, has already once more rid Ukraine of many of them while the ilk of 4 Corners look only elsewhere away from the main action and beat up what they can:

  22. Ikonoclast, this is about as close as your Koffman source gets: “They’re (Russians) not really fighting the way they train and organize for a major conventional war.” Further along Crystal asks: “The big question is why are RU army not fighting like they train?”

    Do you really think it is because a dads’ army threatening molotov cocktails has caused a Russian double take? Or because not engaging such soft targets was planned for?

  23. “It is simply not credible that NATO is activating to attack or invade Russia.” Sure, but you’re willfully overlooking and inflting what in fact it was: their open threat to directly attack Russian forces in non-NATO Ukraine. Russia responded to that application of offensive article 4… in the manner it clearly had said it would.

  24. Svante,

    Now, you are distorting completely. Perhaps you are even deliberately lying, I am not sure.

    “Article 4 – The Parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened.”

    “Article 5 – 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 recognised 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 distinction between Article 4 and Article 5 is NOT between offensive and defensive war. The distinction is between being threatened in terms of territorial integrity, political independence or security in the opinion of any members (Article 4) and actually being attacked (Article 5). There is no mention in those articles of actions, offensive or defensive.

    The rest of your rantings just become more obnoxious. You clearly don’t care that Putin is a dictator who rigs elections and routinely has political and media opponents poisoned and shot. You clearly don’t care that he invades peaceful neighbors. I won’t bother with your rot any more. I will leave responses to others and/or our host.

  25. Boys, Svante & Ikon, your slippery slopes are showing. I’d appreciate it if you could try to not be having a who’s is bigger / wrong contest in this thread Seems petty in the current beouhaha.

    Maybe JQ can put up a Sandpit where slinging is fine to me. I’ll chime in too.

    I think you are both better than that. Many of your prior comments attest to your better natures.

    My kids, where it ends after ze’vore, and the future are counting in you. Thanks.

    Oh. Remember not to feed the algorithms. nArtzee and kneeOnartzee. Please.

  26. Iko those blue pills are very strong. FCOL, under Article 4 NATO has recently been on a few killing sprees outside it’s members’ strict territorial concerns in Europe and North America as defined by Article 6! Very recently NATO states including Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia invoked Article 4, and NAC responded as it has, and Russia responded to that aggressively purposed NATO armed deployment under Article 4 as it repeatedly has stated it would.

    Article 4
    Article 4 is generally considered the starting point for major NATO operations, and therefore is intended for either emergencies or situations of urgency. It officially calls for consultation over military matters when “the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the parties is threatened.”[7] Upon its invocation, the issue is discussed in the NAC, and can formally lead into a joint decision or action (logistic, military, or otherwise) on behalf of the Alliance.[8] It has been invoked seven times since the alliance’s creation.
    – wikipedia.

    Any member country can formally invoke Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty. As soon as it is invoked, the issue is discussed and can potentially lead to some form of joint decision or action on behalf of the Alliance. Whatever the scenario, fellow members sitting around the Council table are encouraged to react to a situation brought to their attention by a member country.

  27. Christine Amanpour’s interviewee, the Senior Adviser at the International Institute for Strategic Studies François Heisbourg, spells out that Putin does not play the bluffing game, and also that Putin’s aims haven’t changed since 1999; all that happens is if he can’t achieve an aim by one method, he switches to another method, with open war being one such method of choice.

  28. Updates
    Sweden, another neutral non-member of NATO, has joined Finland in supplying 5,000 Bofors AT-4 portable antitank missiles to Ukraine. Canada is sending weapons, Australia $70m in money. Unaccountably nobody sees to be following Finland in supplying field rations, as recommended by me (expertise rating 0.2) and Scipio Africanus (expertise rating 99).Wikipedia: “The AT4 requires little training and is quite simple to use, making it suitable for general issue.” IKEA have I understand no plans to add cuddly Pansarskott to the catalogue. https://www.army-technology.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2017/09/1-Image-1-21.jpg

    Retired US general on CNN pointing out that the nose-to tail columns of Russian vehicles north of Kiev are reckless, unprofessional and an invitation to Ukrainian artillery guided by drones. My addition: the point of a tank’s tracks is that you are not restricted to roads on the open plains of Ukraine, see 1941-44. But off-road uses much more fuel, especially in combat, so the traffic jam may reflect severe supply problems.

    Russian heavy forces have still not reached Kiev. That battle is being fought out of sight of the reporters holed up in the city, sending video of housewives making Molotov cocktails in the street. Pro-am insurgency tip: shred packaging polystyrene with a cheese grater before dissolving it in gasoline, to make the fire stickier. I hope to God they never try using them.

  29. Update:
    Unity among the 27 EU countries to taking in refugees from the Ukraine. Background info: Poland and Hungary were objecting strongly to refugees from Syria in 2015, ongoing problems in the Mediterranean sea. Poland did take in refugees from Belarus though.

  30. Th give you an idea of what it means to a tank crew to be hit by a modern antitank weapon, Wikipedia again; “FFV [the manufacturer] claims that besides the effect of the massive spalling and fragmentation on the occupants of the armoured vehicle, which is standard for all HEAT warheads to a degree, the massive overpressure and intense heat will ignite ammunition and more importantly the armoured vehicle’s diesel fuel. The intense light effect will blind any occupants for at least seven minutes, adding to the obscuring effect of the dense smoke created by the AT4’s HEAT warhead.”. Short take: you are horribly, but at least quickly, dead.

  31. Update on financial sanctions
    BBC: ” Western leaders have agreed to freeze the assets of Russia’s central bank, to limit its ability to access its $630bn international dollar reserves.” https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-60125659 A former US Treasury official with a background in sanctions explained on CNN that technically the assets are not frozen or seized. but the citizens of the USA, the EU and the UK (I assume the same holds for foreigners in their jurisdiction) are prohibited as individuals from dealing with the Russian central bank. This comes to the same thing in practice. Russia can still use a slice of the reserves held in China.

  32. “Assume the players discount at the geometric rate of d, which can be interpreted as cost of delay or “pie spoiling”. That is, 1 step later, the pie is worth d times what it was, for some d with 0<d<1."
    wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubinstein_bargaining_model" [KT2 above, 1/3/22]
    The quote, taken from wikipedia, refers to Rubinstein's 1982 model. Care has to be taken with abstract theoretical models. 1. Are the assumptions of the model at least approximately close to the actual situation? (No, IMHO). 2. The model aims to deal with the problem of indeterminancy of Nash equilibria. Rubinstein's model uses the concept of sub-game perfect equilibria. The solution is described in the Wikipedia article as 'essentially unique'. This means no more than there is a unique algebraic sub-game perfect equilibrium condition. However, the cardinality of the solution set is still infinite unless each player is forced to settle on the numerical value of "d".
    Conclusion: So far the game theory arguments do not help to answer the question post on this thread.

  33. Correction: “Conclusion: So far the game theory arguments do not help to answer the question posed on this thread.

  34. (Continuing my argument with Svante over NATO)
    NATO is quite a large organization. Its civilian staff numbers about 6,500, in addition to all the military officers on secondment. What do they do all day? A good part of it is contingency planning. One contingency is surely Russia attacking Estonia, a NATO member. What should Portugal, another NATO member, do in response? Sending a battalion of troops to Narva does not make much sense. But the conflict is likely to spread to the North Atlantic, where Portugal has warships and bases, and can support air and naval operations by bigger countries. I dare say they have probably also gamed out a much less likely scenario in which the Russian navy tries to seize the Azores. What can Estonia do to help? The answer is nothing, apart from getting ready to defend Narva. The political decisions that both governments would have to take at the time would not start with blank sheets of paper but worked-out and detailed contingency plans, prepared on the assumption that Article 5 solidarity is real. They are very likely to be activated.

  35. Fiona Hill is calling it WW3, it’s already started and the full suite of weapons will be used to create Putins new world order.

    Putin likes to reference the siege of Stalingrad, where unarmed and defenceless Soviet soldiers exposed themselves to Nazi guns to waste the Germans dwindling supply of bullets. That’s where Putins head is, a delusional megalomaniac.

  36. Ernestine. Thanks. I understood and agree with you re Rubinstein bargaining model “Conclusion: So far the game theory arguments do not help to answer the question posed on this thread.”. I really liked the “spoiling the pie” metaphor.

    Imo game theory is an early thought tool, it annoys me, and when first step in a battle is taken, it necessitates a feedback loop of never ending games. A thought tool. Witness Putin machinations. Game theory 0.

    Does anyone know a rational agent? Not me.

    Every chemical engineer I’ve met – 3-5? – was more capable of analysis than nearly every modeller -100’s- I’ve met. A chemical engineer I knew worked out for police who backpack kilker was. ML, NNets & AI taking over now.

    I hope CGT replaces std game theory asap.
    “Chemical Game Theory
    Computer ScienceIndustrial & Engineering Chemistry Research
    “…This framework, called “Chemical Game Theory” (CGT), ”

  37. James Wimberley @11:02 pm “5,000 Bofors AT-4 portable antitank missiles”. Much worse are Thermobaric weapons.

    The absolute last place I’d want to be in in a tank! Or that trafic jam convoy.  So 20thC. And good pick up in supplying vehicles. The troops moral must be plummeting unless brain dead. Sitting ducks.

    Thermobaric weapons.
    Again, the mamas and babushkas will spu and riot at Putin, on the streets without a care, when they realise, as they did when “.. handheld thermobaric weapons were used by the Russian Armed Forces in their efforts to retake the school during the 2004 Beslan school hostage crisis. The RPO-A and either the TGB-7V thermobaric rocket … used by the Spetsnaz during the initial storming of the school. At least three and as many as nine RPO-A casings were later found at the positions of the Spetsnaz. The Russian government later admitted to the use of the RPO-A during the crisis.[53]”. Expletive wits.

    People seem to think Putin will use nukes. I agreed w Andrew in previous thread ~30% chance. Chance of Thermobaric weapons +95% imo. Russia now: “During the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, CNN reported that Russian forces were moving thermobaric weapons into Ukraine.”. 

    Petrol bomb 1. Thermobaric weapons – whoever is in range. If the shock wave and dire & heat doesn’t kill you asap, the vaccum will suck the air from your lungs.

    The nuclear option is way down the list.

    ‘We’, the barbarians -US, British, Russia, terrorists etc – have used thermobaric weapons on our perceived barbarians in:  
    – the Taliban in the War in Afghanistan,  
    – the First Battle of Fallujah and the Second Battle of Fallujah, against cave complexes in which Al-Qaeda,  
    – during Operation Desert Storm (not confirmed). 
    – Russia supplied Syria with thermobarics  “during the Battle of Aleppo and in Kafar Batna”.
    – 1983 Beirut barracks bombing in Lebanon
    – in the US 1993 World Trade Center bombing 
    – Jemaah Islamiyah …to attack the Sari nightclub during the 2002 Bali bombings.[72]”.

    See, or not – above from wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermobaric_weapon

    War, what is it good for. Please stop it.

  38. Cryptocurrency. War. Tipping point. Private militias. 

    Brought to you by the billionaire boys, the greedy & gullible, and now war. Crypto is a “we’re done” done deal. Too late to stop.

    Love it or hate it, this is the cryptocurrency tipping point. Yes value chaos, exchange dilemma, climate, fraud, libertarians, fragmentation, etc etc, but the psycho security and potential for exchange for goods now irresistible. If I were a Ukranian with current volatility, I’d have a crypto wallet. Yesterday. A Flee Fund.

    Please tell me I am wrong (JQ separate thread pls)
    1) how many will NOT have rainy day funds in crypto?
    2) how and when will fiat currencies and states EVER regain enough trust to return capital to central banking? It looks we’ve hardly studied trust! Study below. 
    3) JQ – Please initiate a “Trust in Banks & Currency” study asap at UQ.

    Wikipedia says “”In 2022, the Ukrainian government raised over $10 million worth of aid through cryptocurrency following the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine”
    “Aid agencies  … aid agencies … the American Red Cross, UNICEF, and the UN World Food Program.”.

    “Crypto and blockchain are being used in unprecedented ways in the Russia-Ukraine war

    “The war in Ukraine is the first major conflict of the crypto era, and, as it happens, Ukraine itself is a cryptocurrency capital.
    “Key points:
    * Ukraine has the highest uptake of crypto in Europe
    * Government IT staff are being drafted as hackers and millions in crypto donations from around the world are paying for military equipment
    * New kinds of blockchain-based organisations are coordinating aid in a way that hasn’t been seen before.”

    Trust hasn’t been studied! Academic FAIL. I am shocked to learn “little is known about what determines trust in banks. Only a handful of single-country studies discuss the topic,”! (Yes Ikon…grrrr!)

    “Trust in banks” (2019 study)
    “Trust in banks is considered essential for an effective financial system, yet little is known about what determines trust in banks. Only a handful of single-country studies discuss the topic, so this paper aims to fill the gap by providing a cross-country analysis on the level and determinants of trust in banks. Using World Values Survey data covering 52 countries during the period 2010–2014, we observe large cross-country differences in trust in banks and confirm the influence of several sociodemographic indicators. Our main findings include: women tend to trust banks more than men; trust in banks tends to increase with income, but decrease with age and education; and access to television enhances trust, while internet access erodes trust. Additionally, religious, political, and economic values affect trust in banks. Notably, religious individuals tend to put greater trust in banks, but differences are observed across denominations. The holding of pro-market economic views is also associated with greater trust in banks.”
    By  Zuzana Fungáčováab
    Laurent Weillf

    Double warning! Except US legal … finacialisation squids wrapped around us already.
    – “first big Wall Street bank to embrace cryptocurrencies, Morgan Stanley announced on 17 March 2021 … Bitcoin funds”
    – “BNY Mellon on 11 February 2021
    –  “Venmo added support to its platform to enable customers
    – “In October 2021, financial services company Mastercard announced it is working with digital asset manager Bakkt on a platform that would allow any bank or merchant on the Mastercard network to offer cryptocurrency services.

    Mastercard has just bought crypto infrastructure at a bargin by “working with digital asset manager Bakkt”
    Bakkt Holdings, Inc.
    Share price – $5.63. Mkt cap- $2B. Ytd -63.0%. Minus 63%! I can smell the burnt fingers from here. But soon some ten baggers. They will buy electric hyper yachts as escape danger vehicles – that they helped create. 

    Yatchs are so  passé. At “$9.5 million price tag” Thiel, Musk, Bezos can afford a flotilla of them. With private militia too.
    “It’s A Boat, It’s A Sub, It’s Hyper-Sub! 
    ” …applications, from recreational boating to marine research and military uses.”

    “It looks like something out of a spy novel, and it actually appeared on the cover of adventure writer Clive Cussler’s 2010 novel Crescent Dawn. The book’s plotline also features the sub.”

    Putin & Biden, Peter Thiel, Luke Nosek, Max Levchin, Elon Musk, Yu Pan, have probably read Cresent Dawn “… involved in uncovering a plot to resurrect the Ottoman Empire.”

  39. KT2, thanks for the link to the paper on “Chemical Game Theory”. The new (for me) stuff comes at the end after a rather succinct summary of part of Game Theory, presumably that part which they used to get to where they are. With respect to the topic of this thread, it seems to me the ‘inverse game theory’ (the authors’ term) may be useful in the ‘information or communication war’. This is my best guess at present, whereby there may be more than one ‘information or communication war’ going on. One on the level of the strategists and governments and another one in the public domains.

  40. Baaaad development which hadn’t occured to me.
    “Russia postpones Cuba debt payments amid warming relations Reuters. “When do the missiles go in?” i can’t view this.

  41. rog says: 6:37 am “Fiona Hill is calling it WW3”

    ‘Yes, He Would’: Fiona Hill on Putin and Nukes

    MR.”Putin is trying to take down the entire world order, the veteran Russia watcher said in an interview. But there are ways even ordinary Americans can fight back.

    MR…”It’s important not to have any illusions — but equally important not to lose hope.
    … -WW3 quote…
    “Every time you think, ’No, he wouldn’t, would he?’ Well, yes, he would,” Hill said. “And he wants us to know that, of course. It’s not that we should be intimidated and scared…. We have to prepare for those contingencies and figure out what is it that we’re going to do to head them off.”

    “The following transcript has been edited for length and clarity.

    “Maura Reynolds: You’ve been a Putin watcher for a long time, and you’ve written one of the best biographies of Putin. When you’ve been watching him over the past week, what have you been seeing that other people might be missing?

    “Fiona Hill: Putin is usually more cynical and calculated than he came across in his most recent speeches. There’s evident visceral emotion in things that he said in the past few weeks justifying the war in Ukraine. The pretext is completely flimsy and almost nonsensical for anybody who’s not in the echo chamber or the bubble of propaganda in Russia itself. I mean, demanding to the Ukrainian military that they essentially overthrow their own government or lay down their arms and surrender because they are being commanded by a bunch of drug-addled Nazi fascists? There’s just no sense to that. It beggars the imagination.”


  42. Even if Putin wins he loses. If Putin “wins” the war in Ukraine he gains a shattered state with many millions of guerillas ready to fight him for years. Ukraine will be an endless drain on Russia’s resources. The rest of the world will shun Russia as long as they occupy Ukraine. There is no win for Russia.

    There were no nukes or nuclear missiles on Ukraine’s territory just as there are no nuclear missiles on Eastern Europe territories, even now. The EU’s nuclear missiles are in France and UK and/or in their nuclear submarines. The only publicly known US nuclear weapons on European soil are about 150 American B-61 tactical nuclear gravity bombs stationed in five countries in Europe: Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Turkey.

    “In peace time, the nuclear weapons stored in non-nuclear countries are guarded by US forces, with a dual code system activated in a time of war. Both host country and the US would then need to approve the use of the weapons, which would be launched on the former’s airplanes.

    There is strong opposition to these weapons being sited in Europe, including from some of the host nation governments. Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands have all, unsuccessfully, called for the removal of US nuclear weapons from their countries.” – Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

    To repeat, these are tactical nukes configured as gravity bombs, no doubt as guided bombs now, so again no US missile nukes on NATO soil, SFAIK.

    In any case, the US needs no strategic nukes in Europe. France and the UK have strategic nuke forces. The USA has a large ballistic strategic nuke force both on US soil and on US submarines. The latter can get close enough to all of western Russia to launch, just as Russian subs can get close enough to the US seaboards to launch. The US has no need of strategic nuclear missiles on NATO soil or in NATO and has none there to all public knowledge.

    Russia’s defense pretexts for invading Ukraine are threadbare. NATO has no incentive to attack Russia. That would be a very negative sum game for everyone. Russia was safe militarily before this invasion. As safe as anyone is in a nuclear armed world. Now, everyone is far less safe.

    Everyone wages grey war, cyber war and so on plus economic, trade, information, propaganda and soft power wars. I am not defending or advocating this, just raising it all as a known fact. Putin apparently felt he was losing these kinds of wars so he has escalated. But it’s a miscalculation. He can’t win, although he can make the whole human race lose.

  43. Gas update
    The Swiss shell company financing the NordStream 2 gas pipeline to Germany has filed for bankruptcy. https://www.ukrinform.net/rubric-ato/3417397-nord-stream-2-operator-declares-bankruptcy.html The non-Russian bondholders are taking a serious hit. Shell and BP are quitting joint ventures in Russia, presumably with major writedowns. True, oil and gas are exempt for now from the financial sanctions. But western investors who trusted Putin’s oilmen are taking large losses. The bad news is that American frackers are rescued from their looming bankruptcy, and the coal industry gets a stay of execution too. Overall, I suppose that the risk premium for oil and gas over safe renewables will widen.

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