Russia’s Non-Aggression Pact Is an Offer for Germany To Realize the US Won’t Negotiate Because the Blin-Needle Gang Will Fight to the Last German, Then Run Away

Yves here. John Helmer gives an overview of the dynamics behind the continued US eyepoking of Russia, despite Russia drawing some bright red lines, and how some European leaders are realizing that they’ll wind up holding the bag if things get ugly.

By John Helmer, the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia. Originally published at Dances with Bears

How to stop the US provocations aimed at pushing Russia to go to war in the Ukraine, and at claiming credit for deterring Russian from doing so? Impossible – the US cannot be stopped. But Germany, the country most likely to suffer the direct effects of war in the Ukraine, can stop the American deployment of nuclear-capable weapons on Ukrainian territory.

Will the war start? Silly question – the war won’t start because it has already started, and has been in active use-of-force mode since February 2014 when the US overthrew the Kiev government of President Victor Yanukovich; attempted to take Russian bases in Crimea; and followed in July of that year with the plot to down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and trigger a NATO invasion of the Donbass.

Right now on the Ukraine front, Russia will do nothing new; that’s to say, nothing more than it has already done, and is doing. But if and when Germans agree to the Americans deploying nuclear-capable weapons on Ukrainian territory, as they have already done in Romania, Poland,  and the Black Sea, then the Stavka in Moscow  will do something no western intelligence agency, think-tank, propagandist, and least of all the Japanese mouth organ known as the Financial Times will  have anticipated.

For the time being, the Russian assessment is that the US will not make war against Russia directly because it is divided between the Americans who are reluctant, of whom President Joseph Biden is one;  CIA director William Burns another;  Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,  two more. Gung-ho by contrast are Secretary of State Antony Blinken (lead image, left) and Victoria Nuland, Under Secretary of State —  the Blin-Needle* gang who are quite recent Americans; their grandparents were Ukrainians.   The Russian assessment is that their anti-Russian violence is in part the outcome of their relatively recent capture of state position.  For the past three generations, and longer, the Blin-Needle gang has been hating and under-estimating the Russians; they think they have made their successful careers, advancing themselves to the top of the US state, by doing so.

Under-estimating the Russians was a mistake the advancing German army commanders made during the first wave of their invasion eighty years ago. They don’t make the same mistake today.

The Russian tactic, therefore, is to try publicly differentiating the Blin-Needle gang from Biden, Burns, Austin, and Milley in Washington, and from the new German leadership in Berlin of Olaf Scholz (lead image, right). Their coalition can hold together so long as they can keep their proxies – the Ukrainians, Romanians and Poles – on a short leash. Taken together, or separately, these three national groups present no serious risk of war the Kremlin isn’t confident of managing in the short or medium term.

The war problem becomes immediate and much more difficult to manage if and when the US moves its own forces with nuclear-capable weapons into firing positions in these front-line states, in the skies above, and on the Black and Baltic Seas.

Over the evening and early morning of June 21-22, 1941, when German forces were launching their Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, the German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, summoned the Soviet ambassador in Berlin, Vladimir Dekanozov, to tell him the “serious threat represented by Russian troop concentrations on Germany’s eastern frontier have compelled the Reich to take military counter-measures.” On Dekanozov’s way out, von Ribbentrop also whispered: “Tell them in Moscow I was against this attack.”

In Moscow the German ambassador Count Fritz-Dietlof von der Schulenberg was summoned to the Soviet Foreign Minister, Vyacheslav Molotov, and delivered Germany’s declaration of war. It is recorded there were tears in his eyes. Von der Schulenberg said he thought the decision to invade was madness. On November 10, 1944, von der Schulenberg was hanged for his part in the assassination plot against Adolf Hitler of that year. Two years later, on October 16, 1946, von Ribbentrop was hanged for war crimes and crimes against humanity. There is this risk for state officials who go to war with Russia.

In the present situation on Russia’s western fronts, the lines beyond which the US, Germany and Russia will be at war directly, are not new. These red lines have been spelled out repeatedly since President Vladimir Putin’s cross-hairs warning of May 2016 in Athens.

Greece was not an accidental choice for that warning.  This is because the Greek government has now reversed the decision of Andreas Papandreou’s government between 1982 and 1989 not to allow secret treaty provisions for the US to store nuclear warheads at Greek bases, and to conceal US Navy missile-firing exercises in the Greek islands.  The nuclear missiles which US warships may now carry into the Black Sea to launch at Russia may be loaded at the Rota base in Spain, or the Souda base in Crete.

How close to Russian targets the Biden Administration has decided to move up these weapons, and with what operational orders, has been the principal objective of Russian meetings with the Americans since the inauguration in January. The deployments have been the explicit focus of the talks between Putin and Biden, and between the Russians and Blinken, Nuland, Burns, Austin, and Milley. Austin is the only ranking US official not to have met his Russian counterpart, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, face to face. Between Austin and Shoigu there has been just one telephone-call on August 11.  The political significance of that is unreported in Washington.

The decision of the Russians to release their summary of positions in these talks in the form of two draft treaties, one for the US and the second for NATO, makes public for everyone to read, especially in Europe, precisely what has been discussed and how little has been agreed in the secret discussions with US officials to date. That there are two pacts, not one, is principally a signal to the new German coalition government; and also to the collapsing pre-election coalition in France.

That direct nuclear war is imminent between Russia and the US, and in Europe, is the explicit point of the two documents. In the proposed US treaty, the Russians have introduced this as the concept of the “core security interest”,  which is repeated in Articles 1 and 3. At the same time, the Russian treaty drafts eliminate the distinction between direct nuclear and indirect, proxy war which the Blin-Needle gang started in Kiev in 2014 and which it has been escalating since it returned to power this year. It is the US nuclear targeting of Russia from the territories of Ukraine and other border  states and seas,  which is the pressing new purpose.

Click to read the first US-Russia treaty proposal.

Articles 3, 6 and 7 make this point emphatically: “the Parties shall not use the territories of other States with a view to preparing or carrying out an armed attack against the other Party or other actions affecting core security interests of the other Party [Article 3]…. The Parties shall undertake not to deploy ground-launched intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles outside their national territories [Article 6]…The Parties shall not train military and civilian personnel from non-nuclear countries to use nuclear weapons. The Parties shall not conduct exercises or training for general-purpose forces,  that include scenarios involving the use of nuclear weapons [Article 7].”

This break with the tactics of the Blin-Needle gang is unmistakeable and fundamental. If Biden, Burns, Austin, and Milley won’t agree, it is now for Chancellor Scholz to understand  —  and perhaps for Macron’s successors – the choice for nuclear war which the Americans are making.

In the proposed Russia-NATO treaty (note whose name comes first at the head of the paper), the Russians have included a reminder of what the NATO allies  were all prepared to agree with President Boris Yeltsin on May 27, 1997. Article 4 of the new treaty says: “The Russian Federation and all the Parties that were member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as of 27 May 1997, respectively, shall not deploy military forces and weaponry on the territory of any of the other States in Europe in addition to the forces stationed on that territory as of 27 May 1997.”

At the signing of the NATO-Russia  pact in Paris, May 27, 1997 – left to right, front row: Turkish President Suleiman Demirel, President Bill Clinton, President Yeltsin, French President Jacques Chirac, NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Back row: Prime Minister Tony Blair, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar, Romanian President Emil Constantinescu, Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok, Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima, and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi.

The reference is to the agreement known as the Founding Act – read what it said verbatim  and also the qualifications and change of meaning introduced almost immediately.


By returning to that pact, the Kremlin is now telling the Germans and French to decide in public, not in secret, whether they are prepared to go to nuclear war with Russia over US plans to deploy  nuclear-armed missiles in Germany, Romania, and Poland, and then nuclear-capable operations in Ukraine and the Baltic states.  This is far from being a novel choice for the Europeans.

The new pact is a reminder of the terms which the US itself accepted in concluding the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 with reciprocal missile withdrawals – the Cuban-based Dvina and Chusovaya  by Moscow, Turkish and Italian-based Jupiters by Washington — and then in the signing of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty of 1987:  “Article 5 — The Parties shall not deploy land-based intermediate- and short-range missiles in areas allowing them to reach the territory of the other Parties”.

Articles 6 and 7 invite Germany to understand it cannot survive itself if it accepts US nuclear-capable arming of the Ukraine, the Black and Baltic Seas. “All member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization commit themselves to refrain from any further enlargement of NATO, including the accession of Ukraine as well as other States [Article 6]… The Parties that are member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization shall not conduct any military activity on the territory of Ukraine as well as other States in the Eastern Europe, in the South Caucasus and in Central Asia. In order to exclude incidents the Russian Federation and the Parties that are member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization shall not conduct military exercises or other military activities above the brigade level in a zone of agreed width and configuration on each side of the border line of the Russian Federation and the states in a military alliance with it, as well as Parties that are member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization [Article 7].” Click to read the second Russia-NATO treaty proposal.

Under former chancellor Angela Merkel, the German government’s secret fabrications and public lying during the Navalny Novichok affair seriously damaged the reciprocal understandings required for Moscow and Berlin not to go to war with each other again. That was in large measure the intention and objective of the plan — just as it had been the intention and objective of the Skripal Novichok operation in the UK since 2018. The Kremlin is now trying publicly and secretly to ask the same questions of Scholz and his coalition.

In parallel, the Germans have been asked to watch as the Kremlin does its best, in the open and on videotape, to demonstrate President Biden’s capacity to decide differently from the Blin-Needle gang. This is the reason for this fresh Kremlin release of film of Putin’s preparations for the video summit with Biden ten days earlier, on December 7.


The commentary by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov emphasizes, not only Biden’s capacity to decide, but also the videotape record to prove exactly what was said in case the Blin-Needle gang publishes a different version.

And so the first question now tabled by the draft treaties is whether there is anyone on the US and NATO sides worth the Stavka talking to. The second question is whether the negotiations on the treaty terms can transform the public propaganda of the war which the Blin-Needle gang believes the Russians deserve – and they, if not other Americans and Germans, will survive.

When the Russian draft of the treaty with the US invites the sides to “[reaffirm] that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”, it’s a message to Berlin that this time round, not even the hangman will survive.

[* CORRECTION]  In the story of Antony Blinken’s change of family name from its Ukrainian roots, the original name appears to signify the Jewish village of Blinki which has come under Russian, Soviet, and Ukrainian rule, and is now deserted. The village’s name, a diminutive, refers in Russian to the blin (блин) or pancake; for more detail, click to read this  and this.    “Nudelman”, the original family name in Ukraine of Victoria Nuland’s father and his family, identified their occupation as tailors. In English transliteration, nudel meant “needle” in Yiddish (נאָדל).  Noodle in Yiddish is לאָקשן – lokshen. Here is Nuland’s father’s account of why he changed his name from Nudelman to Nuland.  In April of this year, I was mistaken in a report to apply the German noodle, not the Yiddish needle for the etymology of the Nudelman name; the German for needle is nadel.  

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  1. DJG, Reality Czar

    Well, even though I was aware of many of the facts of this article, thanks to the regular postings by Helmer and the many other links about this situation here on Naked Capitalism, I can only say that that self-absorption, incompetence, illiteracy (Don’t Know Much about History), and hybris of U.S. elites sure stands out, now doesn’t it?

    Most likely, one can count on the French and Germans to understand their geo-political and historic position, given that each nation is on the North European Plain and each of them has made serious mistakes in the past involving invasions of Russia. Eventually.

    The Anglo-American world believes (it’s a kind of religion) that war is fought using remotes–it’s like Super Mario Bros, but even better. The war, according to this religious belief, will be fought with missiles and drones, even as U.S. aircraft carriers master the Black Sea while their crews munch on obesity-inducing delights from the embedded and highly profitable Taco Bell.

    The U.S. cannot even manage a vaccination program–due to corruption and to decadent religious beliefs and to the MonoParty and its ruination of politics.

    The U.S. has no strategic interests in Ukraine. Anyone arguing to the contrary is not worth dealing with. This is pure war-mongering and provocation. And given Poland’s current record of cooptation of the judiciary, human-rights abuses, and exporting of excess workers (which seems to be exactly why Poland joined the EU), it’s looking like 1939.

    Or is this sleep-walk into the horrors of war a mirror of 1914?

    What could possibly go wrong?

    1. Samuel Conner

      But, but, but, … how else can we possibly stimulate the economy?

      Military Keynesianism is the only kind that is politically acceptable in US.

      And for those in despair over the munching of the BBB,

      Think of the employment opportunities for rebuilding after a nuclear exchange!

    2. Matthew G. Saroff

      There has been a war consuming Europe roughly every 100 years going back to at least the 1500s.

      We are overdue.

    3. Kouros

      The strategic interest of the US elites (as opposed to its peoples) is world domination. Hence, Ukraine is of a great strategic interest because it helps in the fight of the greatest enemy out there.

    4. Synoia

      There is an old adage:

      When in trouble at home, go adventuring abroad.

      With the failure of Build Back Better, I assert the Biden administration is clearly in trouble at home.

      Is the Biden administration in trouble at home? It appears to me that the answer is “yes”.

    5. Tom Stone

      Blinken and Nuland are not just viciously corrupt, they are clinically insane.
      ANYONE willing to risk a nuclear exchange is out of their mind.

  2. praxis

    Joe Manchin suggested BBB would conflict with important funding for security interests against Russia. How much of this propaganda is money/corruption and how much is the consequence of madness and brains long since turned to mush?

    Failing upwards in the service of hysteria has become canon. I seriously wonder how many of these careerists have even a basic handle of reality?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Manchin doesn’t care. These are just deflections for the brain dead. He’s also worried about people buying drugs and spending money. He doesn’t want competition for his coal mine. That is it. He has some attention, playing Mr. Smith.

  3. John Candlish

    It should be better known that Antony Blinken’s stepfather was Robert Maxwell’s lawyer, friend and confidant.

    1. Maxwell Johnston

      I didn’t know that (just fact-checked Samuel Pisar and you are absolutely right). Wow, what a small world. Or as George Carlin said, “it’s a big club… and you ain’t in it.”

    1. Douglas

      Putin has one role to play, now notably, that of a, by now familiar, ‘near-mad’ brinksman, correct?

      Therefore what need for him to display his team.

      Helmer has shown many “fascists” are funded in Ukraine, ok, not disputed.
      But why do the Russians continue to lob shells into the new boundary lands? Are there ACTUAL provocations, or are those shells ‘bids’ for acceptance? Russian “investors” seeking ‘inflation-indexed returns’?

      Assuredly, somebody knows the reasons, perhaps .. Helmer .. knows?

      He’s going to nuke all of Europe, send hyper-cruise missiles to America and survive the wasteland he’s created? Really?
      Tsunami’s off the coastlines .. and ‘the obese Americans will accept’? Really?

      Because the facts-holders are .. “reticent”.

  4. The Rev Kev

    You just know that Washington and Brussels are going to reject this plan. To accept the Russian proposal, they would have to give up on the idea of a unipolar world where Washington runs everything with impunity and accept the reality of the present multi-polar world instead. They would have to also give up on the idea of a ‘rules based order’ and go back to solving problems through the United Nations and international treaties. Maybe even the idea of militarizing space to achieve ‘dominance’ would have to go out the airlock.

    But the main problem is that you have a generation of people whose entire career was spent with the US as the dominant power, not only in government but in major corporations. It is all they know and to give it up is like them quitting their jobs to become tree-hugging hippies. Not going to happen. I suspect that both Russia and China are going to have to administer good solid doses of reality to the beltway crowd but when and in what form I have no idea. But you can bet that it will happen.

    1. LowellHighlander

      I’m not worried about Russia and China’s administering a good dose of reality to the Beltway Crowd, for two reasons. First, I’m sure that hundreds of thousands of young Americans (hell, millions really) will be eager to sign up and defend the country. After all, think of all the wonderful ways in which they’re currently being treated by the U.S. government: lower-than-survival-rate minimum wage, corporate health care for those who can pay for it, student debt galore, almost no chance in their lifetimes to own their own house, fracking and lack of clean water for all not to drink, etc. All while Wall Street bankers get to have it all, even when that requires bailouts from the FED. Second, if the worst happens, I’m sure that the highly-educated (and thus “deserving”) apparatchiks in the Deep State organs will be safely spirited to the underground safe havens in the mountains of West Virginia, so they’ll be OK.

      What’s to worry about?

  5. ptb

    The Russian position is laid out in clear detail (not as if it wasn’t before), but one can have no more leverage over the US than over Russia or China, for the same reasons. And if the real subject of the discussion is a restored INF treaty, then the US line about needing China to join actually a logical one, even if the decision to break the treaty under Trump was unjustifiable.

    The problem is the use the tensions in Ukraine to kill the NS2 pipeline. It worked better than expected, and did so in exactly the wrong year. So now, taking into account the possible range of seasonal demand variation yet to come, EU is essentially drained of natgas reserves after the end of the winter. And that’s with baseline flows, even before the possibility that sanctioning Russia prevents payment and cuts off the amounts already contracted. Meanwhile, the Asia-Pacific countries (on both sides of cold war 2.0) would simply continue to buy up everything on the seaborne LNG market, and watch one of their principal high-end industrial competitors – EU – lose what used to be a small but significant energy-cost benefit vs the Asia-Pacific region.

    Again, I’m seeing no leverage whatsoever over US, Russia, or China at this point. The lowest common denominator may just be that they allow the course of events to continue, and knock down EU some more, in the form of probably 1.5 years of Asia-level natgas, which the continent is not used to — so a full blown inflationary energy crisis.

  6. David

    Helmer’s piece unfortunately plays into, and helps to reinforce, the apocalyptic coverage of this affair in the less responsible parts of the western media. Take a deep breath and repeat after me: Russia is not making “demands” or “threats,” or “ultimatums” (in site of the silly title of the Saker piece today) , nor is any kind of war, conventional, let alone nuclear, likely, short of the most amazing and unforeseen combination of circumstances. And by no stretch of the imagination is this a « non-aggression pact. » We are not in June 1941.

    A proper commentary on this would be as long as Helmer’s article, and I wouldn’t inflict that on the commentariat. Just two paragraphs then, one about what’s actually happening, and the other on what Helmer has got wrong. What the Russians have done is table two draft treaties, each of which combines some ingredients of arms control with some ingredients of confidence-building measures. There are two draft treaties, since some of the Russian proposals are specific to the US, and some are general to NATO. They have done this correctly, calling in ambassadors, presenting proposals direct to governments in the first instance, and expressing a willingness to negotiate. The texts are, of course, extremely one-sided, and place virtually no restrictions, in practice, on Russia. They are designed to get western forces as far away from the territory of Russia as possible. I don’t think the Russians expect for a moment that these proposals will be accepted, or even that the West will negotiate on them, but that’s not really the point. The objective is quite simple, and there’s no need to invoke complex geopolitical calculations here. This move gives the Russians an important propaganda weapon. It requires a response of some kind, and that response needs a consensus in NATO and (which is probably more difficult) a consensus in Washington. The drafts make the Russians seem reasonable, and interested in peace, and place both the US and NATO in a very difficult and divisive position. That’s the objective, and the Russians will now be hoping to take control, at least partly, of the discourse around Ukraine, and remind people that they have proposed a peaceful solution.

    Quite why Helmer has to send so much time talking about 1941, I have no idea, but if the suggestion is that we’re for a US-led repetition of Barbarossa, well, that operation kicked off with about 3 million soldiers. The US has around 30,000 combat troops in formed units in Europe, and the Europeans themselves scarcely any. The nuclear weapons that Helmer is so excited about are mostly tactical or short range, and their numbers and capacities are dwarfed by all the missiles (including SLBMs) which can target Russia already. I’ll believe most things of the US government, but not that they would be stupid enough to start a nuclear war by flying manned aircraft at border targets against one of the most fearsome air defence systems in the world.

    What’s going on in Washington isn’t hard to understand. Nobody much remembers the Cold War: everybody takes for granted that the US can do what it wants, threaten who it wants and attack who it wants, and there will be no consequences. This Russian initiative is a reminder that there can be. Back at the end of the Cold War, there was a lot of speculation about the future, if any, of NATO. Some people like me thought that if NATO started enlarging it would, after a measurable period of time, come up against an area where the Russians thought their security was engaged. To which the answer of those desperate to keep NATO in business was “we’ll worry about that later.” It’s later.

    1. Polar Socialist

      The Russians actually do expect USA to negotiate. They announced today that their negotiation team has been nominated and is ready to start.

      The main point, according to Russian The View journal (which Helmer thinks is close to Russian security apparatus) is that Russia will be negotiating with only USA. No talks with NATO or EU are planned, since Russians know that USA calls all the shots. They already told Barrel that this is a military issue and since EU is a political and economical union it will not be involved. They also messaged to Stoltenberg that NATO opinion is of no interest to Russia, since only USA can decide to deploy or remove US weapons in Eastern Europe. And only US has weapons that can threaten Russia.

      To the Russian analysts of The View Europe is a natural economic competitor to USA, but very suitable as a battlefield for US purposes. And they think now is a good time to rethink this and redesign the European security arrangement trough OSCE.

      1. David

        Naming the negotiating team and saying you’re ready, doesn’t mean you actually expect the other side to negotiate. It is a way of piling on the pressure and making yourself look more reasonable. You win either way: if the US says yes, then they are negotiating on your agenda, and if they say no they look unreasonable. In any case, for talks of such complexity you generally have preparatory negotiations first, that can take some years. Nobody agrees to negotiate on the basis of a text like this without talking about what should be included first. If the US are smart, they’ll table a counter-proposal.

        I agree that this is essentially a US/Russia dynamic, insofar as it’s about conventional and tactical nuclear forces, and US forces stationed in Europe. The UK and France do, of course, have their own strategic nuclear systems.

        1. Stephen T Johnson

          The UK does not have its own stratefic nuclear systems, it has US missiles it leases. Not the same thing at all, really. France’s nukes are at least homebrewed. However, that’s a detail

    2. ptb

      Yes, Helmer would do well to leave out the WWII comparisons. Tensions are high enough already, there is no to dramatize it further.

    3. Tom Pfotzer

      David, that’s a nice summary, as are many of the other commenter’s work.

      My slant on the Russian’s public presentation of the two treaties is:

      a. The relative military strengths of US and Russia have changed a great deal in the past few decades. There seems to be general agreement across national lines that Russia can harm any adversary at least as much as it gets harmed, and this applies at nearly every aspect of military engagement

      b. The encroachment into Russia’s immediate surrounds has reached an intolerable level. Russia has decided to actively engage the next major incursion. Some very significant escalation in force or diplomacy (alliance-fracturing) will happen soon. Costs are about to rise, and by a lot.

      c. Russia is telling the world what its rules are, and is telling the world that those rules will be enforced. Not nice, and “not sorry”. China is backing Russia on this, the out-of-central-Asia track and on the de-dollarization track.

      d. There is certainly a major propaganda aspect to the public release of the “treaties”. The goal is to explain to the world, in advance of action, what the basis of the prospective action(s) is/are. “Here’s why the punishment must be administered”. The response by the U.S. and its current allies will make our intent and our inter-ally commitment, quite clear for all to see.

      Given the slow, systematic, deliberate, careful ratcheting up of pressure by China and Russia on the U.S., I think the U.S.’ bluff is about to get called.

      For many of us, Europeans and Americans alike, the time has come to choose fates.

      To reinforce what others have said very well, the U.S. policy isn’t being made by the general run of citizens. These policies are not the general run of any part of our government, elite, rich or otherwise.

      This policy of territorial theft and national looting is coming from a small group of neocons and MIC players and a few very rich people who are positioned to loot those resources which are “liberated” by military or economic depredation.

      That policy is about to get squashed. This is no longer a matter to be decided by the “club”; the initiative is now in others’ hands.

      Initiative has indeed changed hands, and by Golly, good riddance. We couldn’t handle it. We had it, we squandered it, we put our fine ideals into the hands of crooks and fools.

      Remember the names and provenance of the families that ruin your future, all you quiet, obedient, trusting Americans. This is what it means to be a “young country”.

      You get duped.

    4. Douglas

      Very good, David, and forget-not to add the Russians are earning themselves a bit of a reputation in Earth orbit, satellites-wise.

      Some-many attempts on U.S. satellites, mysterious malfunctions, etc.

    5. Bricky

      Your viewpoint makes sense, but from the Russian perspective, what happens when America rejects or just ignores the draft treaties? What happens when it steps up deliveries of weapons to Ukraine?

      These draft treaties were presented as ultimatums, “don’t mess with us anymore” documents. But what if the other side calls your bluff?

      I’m not really seeing the way out here. Does Russia go ahead and launch military operations in Ukraine if America keeps doing what it’s doing? Then what? Will Russia really get cut off from Swift? How will Europe pay for its gas? Putin has tried to be scrupulous about being a responsible energy provider to Europe. That means in practice fulfilling contracts no matter background geopolitical events. If Russia gets cut off, then what? Russia doesn’t have the pipeline capacity to ship that gas east. And East means China, not Japan, not South Korea. Having only one customer is likely to get you bad prices, since you have no leverage.

      Will Europe go along with really serious sanctions that can get their gas supplies stopped? What will that mean in practice for Europe? Do they have the infrastructure to import and use LNG to make up the difference? How much extra can they get from Norway or elsewhere?

      And if Russia does get serious sanctions, what would be their countermeasures, apart from stopping gas? Back in 2014 I heard stuff like ban commercial overflights for European carriers, create a space for consequence-free pirating of American software and entertainment, sell advanced air defense to Iran. But that was just stuff from their versions of Hannity, who knows what the people in power were or are considering. I think just parking a rusty Russian naval vessel 250km away from Washington DC, to be surrounded by 5 times more American vessels at all times, isn’t going to have the deterrent effect people at the Saker think.

      And if Russia intervenes in Ukraine, to what effect? Even occupying just the formerly Russified eastern half of Ukraine will get them giant never ending protests in Kharkov, Dnipropetrovsk, probably some partisan fighting. If there’s one thing Ukrainians learned to do over the past 10 years, it’s energetically protesting. And those territories bring nothing of value economically. Just an extra demographic reservoir of like 15 million people. Maybe it’s worth taking pain for 10-20 years for that, from Putin’s point of view?

      If Russia just punches the Ukrainians in the face with missiles so to speak, and takes a tiny bit more territory around the breakaway provinces or even a land link to Crimea, is that worth the sanctions and the break in relations with Europe?

      I don’t understand what the Russian end game is, if these treaties go nowhere, which is where it looks they are going.

      1. Kouros

        Russia will only need to kill consistently the Ukrainian leadership willing to align with the US, one after the other. As Stalin said, no man, no problem. While the US has tried something like that recently with the Iranian general – nice precedent, thank you Uncle Sam, the Russians can show how it is done effectively. No need to occupy Ukraine. But Russians can still blockade the Black Sea littoral of Ukraine.

      2. David

        Looking at the texts, it’s fairly clear that the Russians don’t expect this particular game, or move in the chess match, to go very far. They wouldn’t have taken such a maximalist position if they really wanted to negotiate on this text, although I think they are also signalling that they would like a treaty of some kind, and would be ready to negotiate on another text.

        I think what we’re seeing is a Russian decision to move to a post-post Cold War relationship with the West, and to stop trying to accommodate the US, in particular. These sorts of tactics were very common during the Cold War and, whilst the specific ideological dimension is lacking, I think we’re moving back into a relationship more like, say, 1950-85. I don’t think there’s an “end-game” as such: I think the Russians are thumping the table, albeit not too hard, and saying that things are going to be different. I think they also believe that it would do no harm if western elites had something of a scare. In the Cold War, most western leaders (with the exception of psychopaths like Thatcher) were actually worried about the consequences of a nuclear war, and did their best to avoid one. In the meantime, the Russians have the propaganda advantage, and it’s not clear what NATO/the US is going to do about it.

      3. ptb

        “I don’t understand what the Russian end game is”

        In my uneducated opinion, the endgame is Russia turns East all the way.

        It is not expected that the US gives up its most potent form of power projection, nor that it binds itself with global obligations that prevent it from using nukes to counter universally expected Chinese conventional superiority. Last but certainly not least, post the early abandonment of JCPOA, the value of a US president’s signature has taken a big hit, bringing any negotiated agreement into question anyhow.

        IMO the US is expected to refuses to make a counteroffer. That outcome is still status quo. More s##t talk, and so forth. The long-shot upside for Russia, is that US enters into negotiations on INF or something along those lines. The very real downside scenario, or at least high-risk scenario, was Ukraine attempting to reconquer the breakaway provinces. Prior to a few months ago, it looked like that move would be made for the purpose of scuttling the NS2 pipeline. But that outcome just about been locked in now anyway. IMO NS2, as a bargaining chip, was worth vastly more alive than dead.

        So now the question now is how would Russia respond to reignited conflict in Donbass. The answer, as I’m reading it, is they would call the bluff — by going ahead to provide support to the breakaway republics. How much is unclear, but based on recent history, the amount of support would probably be just the minimum necessary to defeat whatever forces Ukraine is willing to commit there (could be just the nationalist militia, for instance, which would keep it relatively low intensity). Annexation isn’t a must, because the provinces are already de-facto integrated in to Russia, with dual citizenship, currency, and free movement of goods across the border to Russia.

        As for the threatened EU response of cutting off economic ties to Russia as a counter-response to that, the message appears to be “so be it ; your move”.

    6. Kouros

      Good dose of salts so to speak.

      One qualm here: “They are designed to get western forces as far away from the territory of Russia as possible.” What is wrong with that? Remember, Russia cannot move its forces other than in Russia. And a new INF would alleviate fears for western Europeans.

      1. David

        I didn’t say anything was wrong with that. I was just describing what the natural consequences of the text were, and thus also presumably Russian objectives.

  7. Bart Hansen

    Re: Helmer’s mention of our attempt to take over Russia’s bases in Crimea.

    Here is an article written by Eric Zuesse two years ago:

    Here is what appears to be some kind of preliminary to a RFP, request for proposal, to do work for the government:

    I’m surprised this is still out there.

  8. Balt

    The author is making a lot of claims I’d like to see substantiated with reliable sources — can please that happen? Also, as a Lithuanian citizen, I know many of my fellow citizens are very happy to host a NATO presence and would like to see even more cooperation, as Lithuanians don’t want to be invaded by Russia and want maximum deterrence. Framing this conflict as being only a great power struggle with US vs. Russia ignores the agency & desires of the Lithuanias of the world, who have no desire to return to the Russian yoke.

    “the war won’t start because it has already started, and has been in active use-of-force mode since February 2014 when the US overthrew the Kiev government of President Victor Yanukovich; attempted to take Russian bases in Crimea; and followed in July of that year with the plot to down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and trigger a NATO invasion of the Donbass.”

    1. Kouros

      Why do Lithuanians fear of being invaded by Russia?

      You have a very short memory here and forget that when that happened last was because Germany agreed to it. Also, you forget that presently there is no ideology fuelling a Russian expansion and that the world itself has completely moved out of that paradigm. You will cry but Crimea! without for a second considering the will of Crimeans that since 1991 wanted to be part of Russia.

      ANd while you talk about Crimea, I can point you to other actual occupations: Israel occupation of Golan Heights, US occupation of western Syria.

      1. Risteard

        the Lithuanians would remember the time before that was to do with events in Petrograd around 1917-18, and that outside German military (Freikorps) support was essential in forestalling that Red Army invasion.

        Maybe the borders of what and where just needs to be drawn clearly

  9. Carolinian

    Sounds like the neocons are still around but snarling Cheney has been replaced with nice polite neocons that NPR can get cozy with. Useful to know that Blinken and Nuland have a Ukrainian connection. Perhaps a media borg obsessed with hidden foreign influences should talk about this.

  10. Tom67

    I think this is either the last hurrah of the Neocons or the end of the world. I believe in the first. Why? The new German goverment needs Russia desperately. Desperately! Three atomic power plants will be decomissioned in a few days and there´s no way Germany can prevent brown outs or black outs without Russian gas. Even considering that the new governemt puts his head in the sand – reality will rear its ugly head already this winter. No German government can survive wide spread electricity outages. Its either they accept reality and give the middle finger to the US now or this government will fall and the next goverment will finally enact Nord Stream 2. Over US objections. Russia only needs to wait and therefore I am confident.

    1. LowellHighlander

      With nuclear war hanging in the balance, we should look for optimism wherever we can find it.

      Thanks for posting, and let’s pray you’re right.

    2. Selling Out

      That Germany needs Russian gas desperately is completely unknown to the current foreign minister and they have delayed the approval with at least 6 months.
      You are also underestimating the level of perfidity among the EU ruling people. They are thoroughlt unconcerned with the prosperity of their people. They get money from the US, they have a career in politics thanks to US. Baerbock wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near the pie unless she was indoctrinated and reliable traitor to EU interests.

      1. drugstoreblonde

        The Green Party becoming a part of the Ampel-Koalition was a sure sign that issues between the US/EU/NATO and Russia we’re going to come to a head sooner than later. It was just a few short months ago in a year that feels like a century that Habeck was LARPing as a soldier on the Ukranian-Russian border, and the Green Party was the most outspoken against Nordstream 2, using it is virtually the entire focus of its Außenpolitik during the run up to the election. And just when it looked like all of the approvals are in order to start delivery of gas to Germany in the imminent future: Do Not Pass Go; try again in two years and with some new certifications.

        But, vis-a-vis the pipeline and US/NATO/EU contra Russia: Russia sitzt auf dem längeren Hebel (has more leverage). The pressure mounting on Northern European governments to mitigate energy cost inflation is growing by the hour. Unless the US can manage a water bridge of LNG deliveries for the foreseeable future, this pipeline is inevitable.

  11. HH

    The DC Blob desperately wants a Russian incursion into Ukraine, and I suspect they are trying to bribe the Ukrainian “leadership” to make a suitable provocation. Since the Blob controls the Congress and the US mass media, there is no domestic opposition. The Europeans, however, will come to understand that they are intended as sacrificial pawns, and this will awaken their instincts for self-preservation. For the UK, delusions of grandeur ended with the Suez crisis in 1956. For the US, a similar fate awaits; if not in Ukraine, then in Taiwan.

    1. Synoia

      For the UK, delusions of grandeur ended with the Suez crisis in 1956. For the US, a similar fate awaits; if not in Ukraine, then in Taiwan.

      True, And it was the US that knifed the UK in 1956.

      As Palmerston said: Nations have no permanent friends or allies; they only have permanent interest.

  12. Susan the other

    Speaking of friends on pins and needles – just what have we Americans accomplished since 2001 in the Middle East? We have kept Iran from prospering as a country; we have sold way too many jets and tanks to the idiot Saudis; we have financed a holocaust in Yemen; we have turned Syria into rubble and now Lebanon; we have turned a blind eye to the suffering of the Palestinians; we aided and abetted France and the UK as they swooped in like flying cave trolls and murdered Gaddafi and caused civil war in Lybia; we have messed around in Sudan, etc… but what have we accomplished. On the fringes of this chaos we have also messed around in Dagestan and Georgia; Byelarus; and maybe Uzbekistan. We started a coup in Ukraine and almost went off the rails when Russia said ‘Enough’ and took back Crimea. We did Iraq and Afghanistan. Is there any end to this mess? Was our goal really Russia all along? But it’s like going shopping for a nice hat: the one you want is really, really expensive, so you buy one you really don’t like; then you wait until the disappointment wears off and you go out and look for that nice hat you really want, and again it is too expensive (it would cause a devastating nuclear end-of-the-world to buy that hat) so once again you buy a crappy hat and go home. Can’t we just stop this nonsense. Stop with all the crappy hats. Do good global citizenship and make our friendship worth other countries’ time? Which “friends” do we have to kick out of our lives to accomplish this?

    1. Tom Pfotzer

      Run for office, Susan the Other.

      You won’t get elected, but you’ll get a platform to communicate with the many others that want sensible solutions. I theorize that such people could exist.

      As a compromise between ridiculous and less-ridiculous, write a book. Or an article.

      After that exhausting and unfulfilling action is done, come back here to NC to relax among friends.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Of course if you wreck a country and send it into chaos, then you do not have to worry about having a foreign policy for that country. Pepe Escobar says this is to also prevent a full economic integration of Eurasia that would leave the U.S. as a non-hegemon, or worse still, an outsider and wrote a book on this theme entitled “Empire of Chaos.”

  13. Bill Smith

    If the basic idea is to return to the location of forces in 1997, will the Russians pull their troops out of the Ukraine along with any NATO forces? And turn the Ukraine’s status to what Austria looked like? A neutral country? If so, sounds like a good idea.

    There is lots of junk thrown into that article.

    What is the point of the US loading nuclear missiles on their ships in Spain or Greece when the can load them in any US port? Anyone know what nuclear missiles they might be loading onto the ships in any of those places?

    I’m interested in more information on that secret NATO plan to invade Donbas. Given how NATO actually works, what NATO counties would have voted to do that?

    Why would the Germans be the country most likely to suffer the direct effects of war in the Ukraine? More so than countries that shares borders with the Ukraine? Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania for example?

    Why does the US require German approval to deploy nuclear weapons into a third country, say the Ukraine?

    Then throwing in the nuclear capable operations operating in the Black and Baltic Seas? What does that mean? And what other counties need to approve it?

    What nuclear capable missiles has the US deployed in Romina? Or is it that US has Mark 41 vertical launch system that could be used to fire nuclear tipped Tomahawk missiles, if any existed. The US retired them about a decade ago. Have the Russians been complaining about the US lying about that in the semi-annual exchange of the number of nuclear warheads, as part of the New Start Treaty?

    True, the US is talking about rebuilding that capability, to be available in a decade or so. Right now it is not clear that this submarine launched cruise missile will fit the Mark 41 VLS.

    There is a claim in the article that the US Defense Sectary has not talked with the Russian Minster of Defense since August. Does anyone know how often these two offices have talked to each other in the past?

    Given the mention of German forces were launching their Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, I noticed the article fails to mention the German-Soviet non-aggression pact, or the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact which divided up Poland and handed the Soviet Union, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and parts of Romania. Eighty years later turning them into US “lapdogs”.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      This is a reader assisted suicide note and we are only too happy to oblige.

      First, you start by Making Shit Up. No one but you is alleging that Russia has troops in Ukraine. Russia is supplying the East with small arms. It may even be sending in “advisers” as we do all the time. When the conflict in the East was hotter, a few years back, US propagandists, namely Bellingcat, claimed there were Russians troops in the East. Russia was pretty clearly providing more substantial materiel back then. And there are lots of Russian Ukrainians with family in Russia. Russia had adopted a wink and nod policy of allowing soldiers go into Ukraine to “help”. There may have even been formally assigned units but that’s never been well established.

      You spend the rest of your comment whining that you wanted Helmer to write another piece after a gratuitous and unsupported smear. The demanding another article is an assignment, a violation of our site Policies. Nastiness to a site author falls under “Being an asshole,” yet another violation.

      But while we are at it, from Helmer:

      As for the NATO invasion of Donbass, following the MH17 shootdown, I first reported that story in 2016: I repeated it with Saakashvili’s evidence last July:

      I trust you find your happiness on the Internet elsewhere.

  14. William Neil

    The hope that the average US citizen is going to assess the complexities outlined here is naive; I follow the outlines of history the work of the late Stephen Cohen of Princeton and NYU, and I’ll be damned if I can follow the complexities outlined here. Cohen’s take that the West was responsible for igniting Russian paranoia vis a vis its lost satellite countries now turned against it, esp the Ukraine, vs. the legitimate Ukrainian feelings against USSR dominance, is lost in recent events…is the US putting in nuclear deterrents to threaten russia or defend against russian aggression…impossible to tell unless you are a privy secret agent.
    Hopeless for the public to follow fairly if I can’t.

    So be it.

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