Russia Moves Troops into Donbass [Updated]

It takes courage to stick your neck out on Russia at a time like this:

Gabbard is correct: the West did not have to wind up at this juncture with Russia over Ukraine. But surprisingly, some key press outlets are kinda-sorta acknowledging that the quick Russian movement of soldiers and equipment into the Donbass falls into “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” terrain. This is the lead item from the New York Times’ daily e-mail summary:

This is remarkably measured for a house organ of the military-intel state. We’ll turn to Putin’s statements on Russia’s intentions soon, since some of the more, erm, ambitious ones seem to have been overlooked. However, the flip side is that that if you accept the precedent that the US used in Kosovo, it’s hard to depict Russia sending its military into Donbass as an invasion when it was invited in.1

Mind you, additional actions by Russia beyond what are very narrowly necessary to defend and assist the people of Donbass can be depicted as aggression against Ukraine. Here Putin appears to be trying to tread a fine line. As we have said repeatedly, Putin does not have any interest in conquering Ukraine. However, he also wants Ukraine no longer to serve as a staging ground for US/NATO operations against Russia. How to achieve the latter end is not at all obvious.

From Putin’s speech of February 24:

Those who aspire to global dominance have publicly designated Russia as their enemy. They did so with impunity. Make no mistake, they had no reason to act this way..

Even now, with NATO’s eastward expansion the situation for Russia has been becoming worse and more dangerous by the year. Moreover, these past days NATO leadership has been blunt in its statements that they need to accelerate and step up efforts to bring the alliance’s infrastructure closer to Russia’s borders. In other words, they have been toughening their position. We cannot stay idle and passively observe these developments. This would be an absolutely irresponsible thing to do for us….

The purpose of this operation is to protect people who, for eight years now, have been facing humiliation and genocide perpetrated by the Kiev regime. To this end, we will seek to demilitarise and denazify Ukraine, as well as bring to trial those who perpetrated numerous bloody crimes against civilians, including against citizens of the Russian Federation.

It is not our plan to occupy the Ukrainian territory. We do not intend to impose anything on anyone by force.

If you read the address, it is far more sharp-edged than Putin’s speech when he recognized the breakaway republics and the press conference shortly afterwards. It also confirmed our reading that the immediate trigger was Ukrainian president Zelensky rejecting the Minsk Protocol. That was the template that Russia had pressured the Donbass to accept and Germany and France had also signed.

Putin was caustic about the US dismissiveness about Russia’s concerns and interests. He also gave a warning:

However, let’s return to the issue that we’ve flagged repeatedly. Putin made clear that he regards the West hardening its line about arming Ukraine as an existential threat to Russia. Zelensky threatened to develop nuclear weapons:

And as Putin set forth in some detail, Ukraine already has so many of the necessary nuclear capabilities that the last steps are within reach.2

But how does Putin square the circle? It’s one thing to send men and materiel into Donbass, rout the members of the Ukrainian military that are there, and engage in border operations (sorties, back and forth shelling, and so forth). This could be very nasty but would fall within the confines of being asked to assist Donbass.

But then we have Putin’s intent to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine. I presume for the latter he means the removal of the neo-Nazis from the government. This sounds a lot like “regime change” Russia style.

On Tuesday, after recognizing the separatist republics but before moving troops in, Putin in his press conference said he hoped to resolve the conflict via negotiations and presented Minsk again as a solution. But his “demilitarize and denazify” alternative at a very minimum require strikes on Ukraine bases and equipment installations. There’s plenty of precedent for trying to damage a country’s war-making capacity without an occupation. For instance, our napalming of Vietnam and Cambodia was partly as a weapon of terror but also to defoliate, so as to expose movements of North Vietnamese units.

For instance, this is what John Helmer though “denazify” could amount to:

A limited denazification campaign would involve the roundup of everyone who was involved in the burning of the House of Unions in Odessa and several war crimes of the so-called Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) of 2014.Then Russian redeployment to the DPR and LPR, and war crimes trials there. Even guessing about that arouses more questions than it solves.

While this sounds like a bridge way too far, it also appears there isn’t a great deal of European enthusiasm even for the wet-noodle-lashing level sanctions the US proposed as of the day before the um, incursion. From Colonel Smithers via e-mail:

A former colleague now at the European Banking Federation in Brussels advised the following this morning on sanctions:

Banking: Opposed by Austria, France, Germany and Italy. France exposed directly and via Italy.

Energy: Opposed by most member states.

Luxury goods: Opposed by France and Italy. France exposed directly and via Italy.

Diamonds: Opposed by Belgium and the Netherlands.

Railway infrastructure: Opposed by France and Italy.

And this is simply remarkable:

Having said that, the US is really really really unhappy about Crimea now being part of Russia. The US might attempt to Do Something about that. Ukraine has already asked Turkey to close the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus straits to Russian warships. It’s not clear if Turkey will comply.

The Saker continues to be too triumphal in his tone, but he did make the correct call in predicting hostilities would escalate quickly. His observations about Western options:

I have been saying it for a long while already: there is no “US policy” left, all that’s left is chaos, corruption, gross incompetence, maniacal delusion of still being the planet’s Sheriff combined with a rather comical belief that the US can scare Russia into submission…

In fact, the US has announced that there will be no Putin Biden meeting and no Lavrov Blinken meeting either. I am sure that both Putin and Lavrov are sobbing in abject fear and total despair…

There is a good chance that all this will end up with a full severance of diplomatic relations between Russia and the USA (along with a few EU Tabakis à la UK).

Furthermore, to show the “determination of the US led free West” the US is sending a few hundred extra troops to the Latvia. And some helicopters from Italy to Poland. And if that was not terrifying enough, Canada’s Trudeau is also sending a few hundred extra Canadian troops to the Baltics.

At this pace, in a few weeks NATO might have a “combined regiment” safely tucked away somewhere in Poland or the Baltics, while knowing full well that Russia will never use any force against the 3B simply because Russia has exactly zero interest in, or desire for, them or their lands.

In fact, these statlets are as much in freefall as Banderastan, why should Russia want them? As for Poland, the more neutral ground between them and Russia, the better for Russia. In history both Russia and Germany have tried to manage Poland, now it is the time for the USA to give it a shot. I wish both the Poles and the US Americans a lot of fun – amusez-vous bien! (though it is still better to have to administer the Polish colony than the Ukie one.

The truth is that even if all the Ukraine’s neighbors simply and magically were allowed to take all the Ukrainian territory they want, a lot would be left unclaimed (most of the central and northern part).

That how bad a shithole country 404 has become… Maybe somebody will just fence them in and feed them like in a zoo?…

Again, Putin said that he fully intends to disarm the Ukraine, at least from all her heavy weapons. Since the Ukies won’t give them up, I see only one way to achieve this: disarm them by force.

As former British civil servant David wrote:

I really think it’s NATO that’s going to suffer the most: indeed, I think that is probably the wider strategic objective. Who, after all, wants to be a member of a military alliance that is reduced to hand-waving and threatening economic sanctions? What’s it even for?

The CEE nations never, I think, realistically, expected NATO partners to commit suicide for them, but they must have hoped that some actual reaction to Russian threats in the future was possible, beyond banning the export of Louis Vuitton handbags, or whatever is finally decided.

Some of us have been talking about the military decline of NATO for years, but most people were stuck in the Cold War mindset, and didn’t listen. if you think about it, this might be Bin Laden’s final revenge.

So here are the Russians, who have a serious conventional land-based military capability, saying, OK, that’s our backyard, and if you don’t like it, eff off. I rather think we’ll have little choice but to eff off. What this is going to do to the Policy Blob in Washington I can’t even begin to imagine. Heads must be exploding.

I wonder if what I just said about NATO doesn’t equally apply to the EU.

I can imagine a common political position of horrified hand-waving in the short term. But what comes afterwards? Time passes quickly for some of us, and I just realised it’s more than thirty years now since the Common Foreign and Security Policy was established, as well as some kind of a common security policy and the distant perspective of common defence. So little has actually happened that it’s hardly worth mentioning, and the problem remains what it always was: the lack of a common strategic understanding and strategic priorities.

So what have the last thirty years actually accomplished? What have small states in eastern Europe actually gained? Might they not have been better advised to join the Russian sphere of influence? At least the Russians have a serious military capability.

I rather think this is the first day of the Post-Post-Cold War era.

Update 9:00 AM EST: Russia is taking the aggressive version of its promise to demilitarize Ukraine, and quickly too. It has moved men and troops in on three fronts. I have to admit I thought Russia be more surgical and rely more on an air war, but Putin did make a warning in his speech yesterday that Lambert picked up on and I should have too:

Of course, this situation begs a question: what next, what are we to expect? If history is any guide, we know that in 1940 and early 1941 the Soviet Union went to great lengths to prevent war or at least delay its outbreak. To this end, the USSR sought not to provoke the potential aggressor until the very end by refraining or postponing the most urgent and obvious preparations it had to make to defend itself from an imminent attack. When it finally acted, it was too late.

As a result, the country was not prepared to counter the invasion by Nazi Germany, which attacked our Motherland on June 22, 1941, without declaring war. The country stopped the enemy and went on to defeat it, but this came at a tremendous cost. The attempt to appease the aggressor ahead of the Great Patriotic War proved to be a mistake which came at a high cost for our people. In the first months after the hostilities broke out, we lost vast territories of strategic importance, as well as millions of lives. We will not make this mistake the second time. We have no right to do so.

Now the question is what will Russia do? I still don’t think Russia intends to occupy Ukraine. Being an occupier is costly and earns you the hatred of the subject population, which also creates risks back at home. And Ukraine is a mess, poor governance structures, tons of corruption. Nation building isn’t a great project either in general and in particular in countries that were pre-existing basket cases.

The least bad outcome would be to get Ukraine to sue for peace. Another option might be for referenda (some territories in the east would probably follow Donbass and want to be independent). But what becomes of the more European West? Putin wants a denazified government, which I believe would require the exodus of 10-15% of current officials.

Best take so far, hoisted from comments below:

February 24, 2022 at 8:41 am
The Telegram channel of “colonelcassad” is in Russian and is comprised of real time updates.

Google Translate does a good job.

It looks to me the intent is to seize most of Ukraine, disarm it, throw the luckier members of the Azov battalion in a gulag, and then carve the territory up on a regional basis via referenda leaving a rump Galician state centered on Lviv for the EU to handle.

Size of army notwithstanding the Ukrainian armed forces are disintegrating and especially Eastern and Southern Regions see the 2014 Kyiv regime as illegitimate.

In fact I highly doubt most Ukrainians want to fight for a puppet state run by and for oligarchs.

It appears that the credible threat by Zelensky to develop nuclear weapons was the deciding factor; hope all the back slaps from Munich were worth such tough talk.

A German chancellor making light of genocide claims in the Donbas was also clarifying for any waverers in the Russian leadership.

The major risk now is one of the mentally deficient NATO leaders deciding to activate some real military support.

Praying this does not happen but especially the British establishment seems deranged. Special forces are no doubt on the move and aim to interfere and sow chaos in some manner.

The Western public opinion seems to be either “not our fight” – if blue collar – or “exterminate the Russian untermenschen” – if PMC.

Domino theory is the spectre animating concern in elite circles.

Gorbachev and Yeltsin have a lot to answer for.

Remember the citizens of the USSR were not in favour of its dissolution- by a supermajority in nearly all Republics.


1 From Putin’s speech of February 24:

The people’s republics of Donbass have asked Russia for help.

In this context, in accordance with Article 51 (Chapter VII) of the UN Charter, with permission of Russia’s Federation Council, and in execution of the treaties of friendship and mutual assistance with the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic, ratified by the Federal Assembly on February 22, I made a decision to carry out a special military operation.

2 From Putin’s February 22 press conference:

Alexander Yunashev: Alexander Yunashev, Life.

Mr President, yesterday, in your address to the Russian people you cited Zelensky, and it seems to be not for the first time, as saying that Ukraine might get nuclear weapons again and Ukraine might join the nuclear club.

Vladimir Putin: I have just mentioned it. We take it that these words were primarily addressed to us. I want to say that we have heard them. Ever since Soviet times, Ukraine has had fairly broad nuclear competencies, they have several nuclear power units and the nuclear industry is fairly well developed, they have dedicated schools, there is everything there to solve this issue much faster than in those countries which are solving matters from scratch. I will not enumerate them, you know all about it anyway. This is number one.

They only lack one thing – uranium enrichment systems. But this is a matter of technology, it is not unsolvable for Ukraine, it can be remedied quite easily. As to delivery vehicles, I think I already said in yesterday’s address that they have old Soviet-made Tochka-U missiles with a range of 100 plus kilometres, 110 kilometres. This is also not a problem in view of the competencies, say, at Yuzhmash, which used to manufacture intercontinental ballistic missiles for the Soviet Union.

What is the threat to us? The appearance of tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine is a strategic threat to us. Because the range can be extended from 110 kilometres to 300, to 500 – and that is it, Moscow will be in the strike zone. This is a strategic threat to us. And that is how we took it. We definitely must and will take it very seriously.

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  1. Amfortas the hippie

    yah…i’ve been tending fires since 2am-lima.
    and wandering all over ukraine/russia relevant twitterworld.
    from atlantic council to the twitter of the guy in front of the (one of the new “babystans”) citizen militia.
    been a very busy morning over yonder.

    of course, i can’t confirm a dern bit of it,lol.
    ie:” here’s some ukie nazis waving the white flag”…but that could be in Missouri.
    or: here’s some evil russian choppers doing evil things”…could be filmed right outside my back door on some days, when there’s an “exercise”(tr. “lets terrify some sheep”)

    and while i can sort of read cyrillic, i dont read russian, ukrainian, or any of the rest of them around there, and find slavic in general akin to klingon(which i am far more familiar with anyways–altho i’m about 1/4 Czech)
    nevertheless, very interesting.
    i patiently await Doctorow, et alia.

    the worst part of my twitwanders/newsgathering has been applying the “walk a mile in their shoes”/”there, but for the grace of god…” principle to all the pics and vids…”what if that was the view from the front porch?”

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      and…not only is Tulsi superhot in my book, she’s got big brass balls, too.
      the responses, as far as i could stomach, were all true believers in the sanctity of usa empiire, and our sovereign right to abrogate deals…because the ussr doesn’t exist, so “not one inch eastward” is no longer in force.
      similarly, here(linked in the Tulsi thread by her only tweeting supporter, it seems):

      as a breakaway republic myself(still as yet unannounced), i like to look at all of this…news, vids, comments on twitstatements…from outside the respective countries…similar to the “veil of ignorance”/socratic perplexity.
      from that standpoint, just about everything out of the usa…MSM and Twitterdom…looks a lot like Pravda…which is ironic and sad.
      expecting me to just not remember things in their own pages from even a few years ago.

      1. Susan the other

        “(US reports) expecting me to just not remember things…” I’m pretty sure that little weasel Blinkin sent the US State Department “answer” to Putin’s concerns off to Spain to be published so he, Blinkin, could have some deniability. But chickenshit aside, it was such a hostile, arrogant piece of USBS, it read like a unilateral, unequivocal letter of demand that made it obvious that Russia’s concerns didn’t matter in the least And then yesterday Biden didn’t bother to even call Zelensky? Hard to think that this has anything to do with Ukraine at all; it is just the pretext, like Mexican avocados. My only thought that has any coherence is that we/NATO have decided that the only way to solve the EU’s energy problems is to take the oil/gas at the source, one way or another. We do know that Russia was once willing to fight to the death over it. And Putin’s grim message is just a polite reminder. Glad you’re back Amfortas.

      1. DJG, Reality Czar


        Thanks. Bracing. Highly recommended.

        Putin on who Americans now are: “The euphoria from absolute superiority, a sort of contemporary form of absolutism, rose in the context of the low level of general culture and arrogance of those who prepared, undertook and promoted solutions that were advantageous only for themselves.’’

        Not pretty.

        1. Sausage Factory

          ‘The Empire of Lies’ – even less prettier.

          The gloves are off for real and the NATO/US Russophobes are in melt down. Ukraine is bigger than France, 40 million people and Russia has subdued it in 12 hours. The US military will be bricking it. This is how you conduct war in semi urban environments without causing mass casualties. Missile systems, cruise missiles which are genuinely pin point accurate (as opposed to the oops we hit a school US version) Options have narrowed massively for the West. If they don’t come to the table I see Syria being the next humiliation for the US. Idlib with its bought and paid for western proxy jihadis has been a thorn in the side. How does Biden feel about being ejected from the oil fields they are currently stealing oil from? These are real options for the Russians.
          Ultimately Aegis Ashore sites in Poland & Romania will be the party piece. A hypersonic extravaganza to illustrate finally to the Americans just how impotent they are in Europe. Until then, delusional jingoistic idiocy and butt hurt seem to be the primary emotions on display.

  2. fresno dan
    In Ukraine’s case, the country is viewed as the front line in Putin’s bid to reclaim power over former Soviet states and weaken Western alliances like NATO. Many officials warn that if Putin takes Ukraine, he won’t stop there; he’ll continue to push into eastern Europe and threaten NATO allies, whom the U.S. and other alliance members are treaty-bound to defend from a foreign attack.

    GOP lawmakers argue that supporting Ukraine now and working to deter a Russian invasion reduces the likelihood that U.S. troops would need to engage in combat with Russian forces down the line. GOP lawmakers have emphasized that they agree with Carlson that U.S. troops should not be sent to Ukraine.
    Everything old is new again…
    50 years ago it was the domino theory – and here it is again.
    20 years ago it was we have to fight them there so we don’t have to fight them here.

  3. OnceWereVirologist

    It is not our plan to occupy the Ukrainian territory. We do not intend to impose anything on anyone by force.

    If they don’t intend to occupy Ukraine, it sure looks like they intend to do more than just defend the Donbass (perhaps establish a new Novorussian state that encompasses the whole of Southern and Eastern Ukraine). I’ve been following “Intel Slava” for the last few hours and there are a lot of videos and pictures that purport to show Russian armour and aviation operating in such widely separated places as Karkhiv, Kiev and Kherson. This is an entirely pro-Russian source so weigh its viewpoint and reliability accordingly.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Looks like you commented before the post was complete. Putin want to demilitarize Ukraine, which means at a minimum removing or destroying its heavy weapons. That could be a very bloody operation but that is not the same as occupation. Russia has zero interest in making the military commitment to hold Ukraine.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        and “denazify” it.
        i’ve seen many tweets saying that1. azov battalion has been destroyed. and 2. their leader(i guess) killed in action.
        unconfirmed, so far.

      2. Alex

        I see some pretty credible-looking videos with Russian soldiers near Kharkov and Kherson oblasts (in the latter case taking over the canal taking water to Crimea which had been blocked by Ukraine). We shall see. We shall see if they go back to Russia any time soon.

        Btw the occupation is not the only option. We may still see Kharkov and Odessa People’s Republics in the Russian-speaking areas.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Oh, duh! That was what Putin was getting at with his “We are not going to force anyone to do anything” business. I knew it was significant but didn’t put together why.

          So another aim is to get more parts of the east to announce their intent to follow the two initial separatist areas. That makes a ton of sense. It’s another way to destabilize Ukraine while following the Kosovo precedent.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Using the Kosov precedent, maybe NATO could declare Galicia to be an independent country. Two things I will add. When Russia acts, they always take care to follow international law from what I have seen over the years. So they had to wait until they recognized the Donbass republics who would then be legally be able to negotiate a treaty with them as well as to invite Russian forces onto their territory. The second thing is a saying that the Russians have about themselves which I heard at the time of the Syrian intervention. They say that they are slow to mount – but are then very fast riders. From what I see, this seems to still hold true.

        2. Andrey Subbotin

          The fact that we started restoring water supply to Crimea sort of indicates we expect that area to be permanently friendly to us when we leave. So I expect either all Russian speaking areas in the east and south, probably up to and including Odessa to become Novorossia, or a lot of oblast-sized peoples republics.

          Ukrainian speaking part then ends landlocked and up to its own (non-nuclear) devices. They probably get Kiev.. and maybe end with Ukrainian debts?

      3. OnceWereVirologist

        I think we’re arguing past each other. A partition of Ukraine in which the newly recognized Donbass republics are expanded north to Kharkiv and west to Crimea would not be a permanent occupation but would establish a new buffer state between NATO Europe and Russia much as Byelorussia serves as a buffer. I only raise the possibility insofar as I don’t understand why Russian ground forces would move beyond the Donbass for such a nebulous objective as “demilitarization” when whatever remains of Ukraine after this crisis is almost certainly going to have a priority pipeline to as much free Western military hardware as they can absorb.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          You are assuming ground forces would do the work. I am assuming Russia instead uses air operations to take out bases and installations. Maybe troops do cleanup work too but air strikes could do most of the heavy lifting. I haven’t been able to confirm but an interlocutor says Russia has already established a no fly zone over Ukraine, I assume only the eastern part but don’t know for sure. My understanding is nearly all of the men and materiel are in or near Donbass, so to your point, Russian forces might not have to stray far to get a lot of that. What they do with stores that are more remote is over my pay grade.

          1. Louis Fyne

            Ukrainian military infrastructure has already been wiped out: weapons depots, ships, airfields, radar, Ukrainian intelligence service HQ.

            Total Russian full spectrum dominance.

            If Zelensky and DC had any humanity, they would surrender immediately to prevent further suffering, particularly of conscripts

            not holding my breath

            1. The Rev Kev

              I read that they are handing out weapons left, right and center to people to defend the country with. What is the bet that a lot of those weapons will end up being sold and into the hands of criminal gangs in the rest of Europe by next year?

          2. OnceWereVirologist

            At first it seemed that the Russian attack consisted only of surprise cruise missile attacks on Ukrainian military sites which was consistent with a limited operation to establish a no-fly zone, and at least in the short-term to wreck the Ukrainians military capability. Now it seems that Russian armoured columns and aviation are turning up throughout south and east Ukraine which is less consistent with the simple establishment of a no-fly zone.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Yes, they are being more aggressive on the ground than I had thought. Taking out airfields, bases, any missile launchers, and any known munitions dumps ought to go a long way, but we’ll see what the tanks rolling is about. Cleanup? More thorough inspection and destruction of military supplies and logistics support, like trucks and barracks? Or maybe even just psychological, a raw show of power. So annoying I can’t figure out how to embed this cheesy classic:

              1. juno mas

                The Russian tanks are needed to provide”protection” for the ground troops that are likely doing surgical tasks (like rounding up those suspected neo-nazis). Nothing like a tank rolling through town to convince the populace that serious harm will come to those resisting.

                See: Shock and Awe in Iraq (2003). Video shows a tank rolling through Baghdad and a US tank gunner summarily spraying a truck with heavy lead; instant death to the driver. Was that an invasion or not? ;)

      4. russell1200

        How exactly do you demilitarize a country without occupying it?

        You leave – weapons come back in.

        The obvious answer is you install a government that you like in place. In a way, that is what was done with Germany after WW1. And that really didn’t work very well. Germany was rearming even before Hitler came into the picture.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Please see David’s comment. It would take 10 years to rearm Ukraine since the soldiers would need to be trained on entirely unfamiliar and fussy US equipment. But if your timeframe is longer than 10 years, that could be a problem.

          The reason the Great War led to a bad outcome was not installing the German government per se but the extremely punitive terms of the peace. See Keynes’ The Economic Consequence of the Peace. Keynes was at the negotiations on behalf of the UK Treasury and resigned in protest.

          1. MarkT

            The later South African prime minister Jan Smuts initially refused to sign the treaty at Versailles, saying it was too harsh. Something along the lines of “this is not a treaty for peace but a treaty for war.”

            1. Jonhoops

              I believe Michael Hudson points out that it was the US insisting on being repaid by its ostensible allies that forced them to impose those conditions on Germany. Up until that time after a war allies would forgive each other’s debts.

    2. Michaelmas

      OnceWereVirologist: If they don’t intend to occupy Ukraine, it sure looks like they intend to do more than just defend the Donbass

      They’d want to destroy or degrade all nuclear-enrichment capability and related infrastructure at the least, wouldn’t they?

      Yves Smith: Maybe troops do cleanup work too but air strikes could do most of the heavy lifting.

      See above. That’s maybe not something that could be done with stand-off weaponry without release and drift of radioactive materials into the environment.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Aha, that would explain the need for more soldiers on foot. Good point.

        Note that Putin said they did not yet have enrichment, that was the one thing they were missing. He contended they could get that quickly. But the Russians may want to grab all the fissionable material they can find and they are securing Chernobyl.

    3. Sausage Factory

      its accurate. The Nazis are fighting outside Mariupol and have refused to allow civilians to leave, a human shield of sorts. Some talk of Odessa being taken by Russian troops also. Taking the east and south up to the dnieper makes sense, especially as per Crimea. We’ll see. De- nazification will hopefully be continued by the locals, but pretty sure rump western Ukraine will be handed back to US/EU with a ‘you broke it you pay for it’ post it attached. Any further militarization will incur the same penalties. This has all the hallmarks of ritual humiliation for the US. Happy to see it. Of course the foaming at the mouth russophobe brigade who started this mess in 2014 and who are still, somewhat unbelievably in power (nuland, kagan blinken etc) may jump the shark and do something stupid (big false flag to make Russia look bad?) At this point anyone stupid enough to fall for it will be the propagandised fools and the russia hating zealots who are a lost cause.

  4. Sardonia

    Ukraine has 250,000 active military members, plus another 900,000 reservists that have been called up. I’m at a loss wondering how Putin can expect to maintain an occupation there – and I see no exit strategy.

    Nor can I see a negotiated settlement. If Putin does that and leaves without installing (and maintaining) a puppet government, I’d assume the US and EU would arm an independent government to the teeth immediately, negating any advantages Putin may have gained by an all-out invasion like this.

    I’m not seeing wisdom in this move. I’ve got to wonder what else is afoot that I’m totally in the dark on.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Please read the post, which was not complete when you weighed in.

      Putin does not want to occupy Ukraine. You’ve had your ability to process information jangled by non-stop Western press messaging.

      Russia want to end or severely dent Ukraine’s ability to threaten Russia. That does not require occupation, in fact occupation winds up being somewhat inconsistent with that end because it entails devoting a lot of capacity to conquering and holding non-military targets. All Putin wants to do is do enough harm to Urkaine’s war-making capacity so as to render it impotent or force it to sue for peace.

      1. Sardonia

        So I read the updated post. My question still remains:

        Assume that Russia can completely disarm Ukraine, but does not occupy it (which would be real hard anyway). If they leave Ukraine as an independent nation (as Putin says is his intent), wouldn’t the US and EU from immediately re-arm it – possibly with even more advanced and lethal weapons, in the hands of a now very angry Ukraine?

        If Putin withdraws, having destroyed Ukraine’s heavy weaponry, avoiding a very messy occupation, and allowing it to remain independent and self-governing, I’d think a new independent Ukrainian government would be10 times more anti-Russian, and heavily re-armed by the West. Wouldn’t he soon be facing an even stronger and more hostile Ukraine?

        I suppose that even if that was the end result, maybe he might think that exposing NATO as a bit of a paper tiger will have been worth the cost?

        I guess we’ll know more as things unfold – which they probably will, quite rapidly….

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I don’t know what success Ukraine would have in manning an army if it took a lot of losses to Russia and new recruits faced the risk of more harm. Even if the West continues to send arms in, they also need cannon fodder.

        2. David

          The simple answer is that Ukrainian equipment (as you can see from sources like this) is largely of Soviet or Russian manufacture, or local variants thereof. This is not surprising because much of the old Soviet defence industry was located in Ukraine, and, until 2014, there seems to have been military cooperation at various levels. Ukraine has been trying to diversify its sources, but of course it doesn’t have any money.

          Re-equipping with western equipment would take years to agree, would be mind-numbingly expensive, and probably take a good decade carry through, assuming the Russians allowed it to happen. It would also mean large numbers of western personnel based in Ukraine, which few governments are going to be enthusiastic about. The new equipment inventories would also be extremely expensive and complicated to run, and to keep at anything like operational readiness, as well as being designed for professional armies rather than conscripts.

          1. Librarian Guy

            Excellent clarification! My sense was along these lines but glad to hear it from someone who’s obviously researched the facts.

        3. NotTimothyGeithner

          Rearm it with what? What kind of soldiers are we talking about? Professinal, draftees, conscripts, random groups of thugs, ,basically what the Ukraine had? Then of course, this isn’t a case of the French dropping off muskets to the American colonies. Modern weapon systems employed by the US are fairly complicated. The simpler weapons supplied to various “freedom fighters” aren’t meant for fighting advancing forces but hit and run attacks. If the transit depot is knocked out, there is a problem.

          If there is no occupation, the average Kievian rump state learned the US doesn’t do hard work. It sounds like there already have been mass desertions.

          The Kiev soldiers have had American advisors through out this whole period. Americans expect total air superiority and full spectrum dominance. If this is denied…

        4. OnceWereVirologist

          My question still remains : If Putin withdraws, having destroyed Ukraine’s heavy weaponry, avoiding a very messy occupation, and allowing it to remain independent and self-governing, I’d think a new independent Ukrainian government would be10 times more anti-Russian.

          Set up a new independent Ukrainian government with a new constitution that offers the regional autonomy and veto-power envisaged in the Minsk accords. Leave. Easy-peasy.

          1. Kouros

            Not necessarily. With Americans out of the country, the small number of ultra nationalists will have little purchase, and any future politicians will thread much more carefully. Population wanted better relations with Russia when they voted Z. Didn’t get that.

        5. Bart Hansen

          Russia must have a plan to stop the entry of yet more weapons into Ukraine.

          No fly zone, EW, GPS mischief, destroying newly unloaded cargos, etc. On the latter, they could give, say, five minute warnings to those doing the unloading.

        6. Sausage Factory

          Russia will simply return and destroy any new armaments. They are today demonstrating their reach and technical prowess and they haven’t even broke out the good stuff yet (S400, hypersonics) Of course negotiations will have to take place but … Its a fait a complis for NATO. After this Ukraines will be much more amenable to slavic brotherhood vis a vis Russians having freed them from the Nazi yoke. Russia does not fear an independent Ukraine it just doesn’t want them in NATO. neutral would be perfect.

    2. Andrew Watts

      You’re assuming that the regular Ukrainian forces will put up much resistance which doesn’t appear to be the case. Numbers don’t matter in war at any rate. A few hastily organized reservists and some poorly trained Volkssturm equipped with small arms won’t pose much of a threat to the Russian forces in Ukraine.

  5. Pat

    Let’s see, here we have CBS saying “Crimea, which they also took by force” in their introduction to retired Trump NSA General McMasters. Who then with great emotion decried Russia’s actions and called on unity and resolve to do everything that can be done to stop this action which is only about making a failing Russia a great country again…

    Wandering over to RT, there is of course unacknowledged support but their report on international reactions include press conferences from working not retired officials.

    Next up Aljazeera and France 24…

    1. Pat

      Both France 24 and Aljazeera running press conference of European Commission including Von der Leyden.

      Apparently the big weapon is sanctions limiting Russian access to technology…

      1. Michaelmas

        Apparently the big weapon is sanctions limiting Russian access to technology…

        And then what? They better hope Russia doesn’t hit them back with sanctions on palladium.

        Colonel Smithers’s scuttlebutt above sounds like the probable scenario to me. I thank him and Yves for it.

      2. Librarian Guy

        Isn’t China a Russian ally? Won’t Russia continue to have access to Chinese tech? Maybe (?) the Genie of Western tech could be blocked from Russia temporarily (but maybe not given the “free market” & profit motive) . . . but not Eastern Tech’s genie. So, a nothing-burger in the long run. Listening to Democracy Now currently, and Amy Goodman’s guest notes the EU as “an appendage of NATO” will be the biggest Loser of this invasion, politically & economically. Hallelujah!! About time. Any governments that would play US subordinates after Bush’s GWoT aggression, torture, etc. clearly have horrible leadership.

        1. cocomaan

          This is my critique of limiting Russian access to tech.

          Export controls across the USA had already limited Russian access to tech. Most of the tech is built in China in the first place.


        2. Pat

          That was my first thought as I heard Von Der Leyen say it. And when she started outlining a preliminary it will have this effect statement.

          I also thought of Colonel Smithers and wondered if this was all that was left.

        3. SteveW

          The main difficulty for Russia will be In trading financing (i.e. bank letters of credit). Russia has cash but still needs trade financing for much of their trades as it is difficult to do cash and carry for major imports or exports. Some of these trades will likey be processed via pre-established 2 way accounts settlement mechanism as Russia has had much experience given the long sanctions. Russia is also self sufficient in most essentials other than precision machinery and parts from Germany and France. But Germany needs their gas so cannot do a true sanction. Consumer goods, pharmaceuticals and basic machinery and parts can be purchased from China. So Russia will be hurting somewhat but sanctions will not stop them from trying to achieve their objectives.

        4. Sausage Factory

          yes, this whole scenario would not have been attempted without tacit Chinese approval on future support. Read the Joint Russia China statement from Feb 4th. China like to be in the background but they will support Russia in anyway but militarily at the moment. Russia doesn’t need it anyway, theyve just rolled up a country the size of France with a 40million population in 12 hours.

  6. The Rev Kev

    To match that Tweet from Tulsi Gabbard here is one from Aaron Maté

    ‘Aaron Maté
    “Sorry I’ve used your country as cannon fodder for a proxy war against your neighbor and as a family piggy bank over the last eight years. Still not going to let you into NATO — hope you now can see why.”’

    Zelensky has been saying that he has been trying to negotiate with Putin but he has a strange way of doing it. Every time he is speaking the past few days, instead of the flag of the Ukraine behind him, he has a colourful map of the Ukraine instead. And he stands well to the left of that map so that everybody can see it. Thing is, at the bottom you can see the Crime so what sort of message is that? As I type this, NATO Secretary Stoltenberg is giving a speech about how terrible it is that war is coming to Europe. Obviously he has forgotten NATO’s role in Yugoslavia and Libya.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      The Rev Kev: What I don’t understand is this, reported above twice, by Escobar and by our commenter colleague who translates the Russian:

      “It appears that the credible threat by Zelensky to develop nuclear weapons was the deciding factor; hope all the back slaps from Munich were worth such tough talk.”

      I know that in the U S of A, freedom means no consequences, but someone should be contemplating mass firings at the Department of State and the Department of Bloated Defense.

      What we are seeing is warmongers who know nothing of war–what a tactic, threatening with non-existent nuclear weapons.

      I’m glad that I voted Green in the past three presidential elections. (I know, small potatoes.)

      1. Eclair

        ” ….. warmongers who know nothing of war ….”

        Discussion at family dinner the other night, about the worrisome Ukrainian thing and I ended it with memories of that time in our kids’ march towards responsible adulthood, when life was a series of constant skirmishes:

        “I get to sit in the front seat!” “No, I’m older and I get to sit there!” “You sat there last time!”

        Both relegated to the back seat and a period of calm ensues, a break in the internecine warfare, then:

        “Mom, he’s looking at me!” “Did not!” “Did too!” (Mom: Stop looking at her! Now!)

        “Mom, she touched me!” “He moved into my space!” “Did not! She moved first!” “But he looked at me!”

        Move one child to front seat. From the rear, petulantly: “How come she gets to sit in the front seat all the time!”

        Humanity obviously needs an all-powerful Planetary Parent, who can adjudicate these exhausting disputes.

      2. The Rev Kev

        There may be another factor at play here. The grand strategy seems to be over time to pick off and overthrow any of Russia’s allies. So there was an attempted colour revolution in Belarus not long ago and a more recent one in Kazakhstan. Russia, of course was supposed to just sit back and take it. So what Russia is doing – is it a case of killing the chicken to scare the monkeys? NATO has now proved itself ineffective and the UK plan is to push the Russian economy into recession. Wow. All these countries launching sanctions against Russia may be standing in solidarity with the Ukraine but that may be all. Will Europe welcome all those Ukrainians fleeing the country? I doubt it. Of course Russia has not launched counter-sanctions yet. So as an example, the UK is banning Aeroflot from the UK. Russia may ban all British airlines flying over Russia forcing them to take much longer routes. Meanwhile the Hurley Gurley machine still cranks its propaganda out non-top.

  7. Louis Fyne

    some of the Russian blogs that o read argue that Scholz’s dismissive and condescending public remarks at the Putin-scholz summit re. the deaths of ethnic Russians in Donbas (essentially called it fake news) was the final straw.

    Why Zelensky and DC didn’t just follow Tulsi’s advice? a Star Trek Picard viewer might say: “Sheer f——–,, hubris”

    Don’t cry for Zelensky, he will get a US taxpayer funded retirement like Afghan president Ghani. And Bill Kristol’s career survived Iraq 2002, he’k still stick around MSNBC.

    roaches always survive. Same can’t be said of the Ukrainian conscripts just doing their duty.

    1. juliania

      I’d say the final straw was after Putin ended his long speech by saying in effect directly to the Kiev regime “Stop hostilities [against the Donbass] or the regime will be responsible for the blood which shall be spilt” , the regime did not do that.

      Me, I would have.

  8. Louis Fyne

    When the loudest, most reasonable anti-war voice in the US is Tucker Carlson, the Left/liberals/progressives have a problem.

    Paging NPR

    1. petal

      Walked into the lab a few minutes ago and a women from another lab that is an obnoxious, hardcore team blue liberal greeted me with “Heil, Comrade”. She knows I’m very unaffiliated party-wise and usually argue against her talking points(which makes her think I’m an extreme right wing stereotypical Trump person). A friend has put up a “praying for Ukraine” meme on fb and how “it’s a terrible act of war”, etc. Here we go. sigh.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The early 19th socialists borrowed the idea of “comrade” from the US practice of Mr/Mrs/Ms. Comrade is just updated. It was an egalitarian thing, every man a king kind of thing. Even Washington would call every white person he met Mr X and do all the things we call manners because they used to be reserved for lords.

      2. DJG, Reality Czar



        You may want to remind your “geographically minded” colleague (who enjoys being far away from the front, indeed) that Russia has certain foreign-policy goals. If it was going to be splatter theater plus Empire, Russia would have had Estonia and Latvia already as snacks.

      3. Jeff

        “A friend has put up a “praying for Ukraine” meme on fb”

        Well how else are you supposed to virtue signal? Go march? C’mon man. Her shoulder must be killing her with all that patting herself on the back.

      4. Dr. John Carpenter

        Well, in my social circle, I’m seeing new “Trump and Putin are gay lovers” memes among the other memes impugning Putin’s sexual characteristics and the ones simply parroting the US government line. I still love my friends, but I have to say, since 2015, it’s been illuminating (and disappointing) what I’ve learned about the people around me.

        1. Bill Carson

          I’ve lost friends over this already. Didn’t lose friends when Trump was in office. Didn’t lose friends over COVID or vaccines. But suggest that the West might bear some responsibility or that, yes, there are nazis in Ukraine and it’s curtains.

      1. juno mas

        Yes. And this morning they suspenred regular programming to take listeners to—the BBC!

        The BBC is even more unintelligible than National Propaganda Radio.

        (I am enjoying today’s commentary.)

    2. Andy

      Carlson is hardly anti-war. Have you heard his rhetoric about China? Do you know his position in 2001 and 2003 when the US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq? Is he against massive “defense” spending?

      It would be great if Americans didn’t constantly look to elite media and political figures to tell them what to believe and think. This goes for both the right and the left.

  9. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Yves, including for the shout out.

    In addition to US big oil and gas mobilising in Brussels this morning, frackers are mobilising in London. This is an opportunity not to be missed. One is reminded of what was said by a famous banker two centuries ago, “Sell at the sound of trumpets. Buy at the sound of cannons.”

    The City and Wall Street are waiting for Stoltenberg to become governor of the Bank Norway and, thus, head of the sovereign wealth fund. If his tenure at the bank is anything as disastrous as his tenure at NATO, there’s money to be made.

    One wonders what Erdogan’s price will be. Fast track admission into the EU? All’s fair in love and war!

    1. Alex Cox

      Turkish admission to the EU will give all 85 million turks the right to reside in Europe. Likelihood of this occurring?

    2. Young

      Putin should offer Erdogan 2 for 1 deal:

      You recognize two republics and I recognize Northern Cyprus.

      Win, win for both sides.

      1. ddt

        Lavrov already stated that the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” despite sanctions and countless UN decisions against the invasion and the declaration of independence is still afforded a seat at the negotiating table so he doesn’t see why the same cannot be afforded to the newly declared sovereign Donetsk and Luhansk. Clearly that’s giving Erdogan a nod…

  10. Boldizar

    Thanks for this write up Yves. It was nice to have some place to go to read some reality about this.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      Agreed. I’ll freely admit this is a situation I don’t know much about and am rapidly trying to bring myself up to speed on. To say the least, it’s a complicated situation and it seems like a real Rashomon type of deal with everyone pushing their version of the truth, not to mention I have to consider my own biases concerning the parties involved. I really appreciate the collation of information that the US media isn’t exactly sharing.

      1. Petter

        Two disputants go to see the Rabbi to settle their argument. The first disputant tells the Rabbi his side and the Rabbi replies “that’s right.” The second disputant then tells his side of the story and the Rabbi replies “that’s right.”
        “Wait a minute Rabbi, we both can’t be right,” says the first disputant.
        The Rabbi replies, “ that’s right”

  11. stefan

    Putin’s barely veiled threat of nuclear attack expresses the same logic he used now to justify attacking Ukraine.

    “If you say why not bomb them tomorrow, I say why not today?” the logic of “preventive war.”

    Is it only a matter of time before he takes out NATO’s nuclear arsenal with a surprise attack, or NATO takes out his?

    1. The Rev Kev

      You may have it back the front. It was the Ukraine’s Zelensky that was hinting a coupla days ago that they might develop nuclear weapon and use upgraded missiles as delivery platforms. No European country would be happy with the idea of a nuclear-armed Ukraine in their midst.

      1. JoeC100

        Russia has indicated that Ukraine probably has the capability to create some form of nuclear weapons. I suspect Zelensky’s claim that Ukraine would move to create nuclear weapons may have been the “last straw” – ensuring these moves.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Huh? Tell me where Putin said anything like that. You are quoting von Neumann, who mainly worked at Princeton.

      And it’s the US that makes that sort of threat all the time, although you seem inured to it.

      First, the US has not disavowed a first strike.

      Second, the US regularly says, “All options are on the table.”

      1. Basil Pesto

        I’ve seen this clip doing the rounds. Quoting Poutine:

        Whoever tries to interfere with us, and even more so to create threats for our country, our people should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and will lead you to such consequences that you have never experienced in your history

        Admittedly this is divorced of context from the rest of the speech, and it’s not as straightforward as stefan was describing it (if that is indeed the specific threat he was referring to), but still I found it rather chilling. It seems pretty clear to me what that alludes to, or at least what it’s intended to allude to. Of course, if the US makes this kind of threat all the time, it gets to a point where you do become inured to it. When VVP/RF says something like this, it kind of stands out. As David said:

        So here are the Russians, who have a serious conventional land-based military capability, saying, OK, that’s our backyard, and if you don’t like it, eff off. I rather think we’ll have little choice but to eff off. What this is going to do to the Policy Blob in Washington I can’t even begin to imagine. Heads must be exploding.

        The subtext of the above VVP quote I gave very much seems to be “back the eff off”. Is that what will happen though? You would hope so, but there are perhaps limitations to applying a rational analysis in a situation like this. I mean, if the last two years have shown us anything, it’s that we’re collectively really very stupid and irrational (and incidentally, for the cynics that were suggesting that the US sabre-rattling of the last two months was to take attention away from the Biden admin’s Covid cluster-eff, maybe, but I gather the RF has been doing a similarly atrocious job). And that’s in a fight against a few piddly little strands of RNA that behave predictably and according to the laws of physics.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Remember Russia has also said it has hypersonic weapons, including one that could hit the US by flying over the South Pole, and I also believe some that can evade detection by flying low. So he could be alluding to one of the new weapons systems too.

          1. Michaelmas

            he could be alluding to one of the new weapons systems too

            More than one. Poseidon is the one that creeps the sh*t out of me.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      The Bush doctrine revealed at West Point and reiterated by Obama at AIPAC is the US isn’t even limited to preemption but preventive wars. We are that special. Given the same cast of characters, it’s likely Biden believes the same. The US doesn’t even need pretexts. The only reason we haven’t hit the Russian nuclear arsenal is we can’t without the Hamptons getting nuked.

      1. redleg

        You’re too optimistic.
        The only reason that nukes aren’t falling from the sky is that the trigger hasn’t been tripped.
        The first US strike on Russia is the trigger, and within 72 hours it’ll all be over except the radioactive dust falling out of the sky.
        I’m not convinced that the US “leaderhip” cadre understands that Russia has nukes+delivery systems, or doesn’t actually want a nuclear apocalypse as some sort of rapture fantasy.

        1. The Rev Kev

          If they did that, I have just the theme song in mind. The same one that they played on the Titanic – “Nearer My God to Thee” which sounds very appropriate.

          1. shinola

            Perhaps an update of Country Joe & the Fish’s “Feel like I’m fixin’ to die rag”

            (and it’s) 1-2-3 what are we fightin’ for?
            ain’t no time to wonder why
            Whoopee! we all gonna die

            1. juno mas

              . . . for those too young to have experienced the 60’s, that was Joe’s Vietnam antiwar song. Nuclear war will probably wipe out the music industry.

          2. redleg

            My vote is “Bright Side of Life” from The Life of Brian.
            This situation is so absurd and nihilistic that the song should be a dark comedy.
            Thinking about it once more, maybe “Yakity Sax” might be better, but only in the soundtrack for the documentary about the (pending) thermonuclear apocalypse that is made some centuries from now.

          1. juno mas

            I believe Gaddafi was convinced to forego a nuclear weapon to end an embargo on Libyan oil. Then the US led NATO force attacked him, killed him while hiding in a culvert, and left the country for the warlords.

            North Korea was paying attention.

  12. analyticalobserver

    The Telegram channel of “colonelcassad” is in Russian and is comprised of real time updates.

    Google Translate does a good job.

    It looks to me the intent is to seize most of Ukraine, disarm it, throw the luckier members of the Azov battalion in a gulag, and then carve the territory up on a regional basis via referenda leaving a rump Galician state centered on Lviv for the EU to handle.

    Size of army notwithstanding the Ukrainian armed forces are disintegrating and especially Eastern and Southern Regions see the 2014 Kyiv regime as illegitimate.

    In fact I highly doubt most Ukrainians want to fight for a puppet state run by and for oligarchs.

    It appears that the credible threat by Zelensky to develop nuclear weapons was the deciding factor; hope all the back slaps from Munich were worth such tough talk.

    A German chancellor making light of genocide claims in the Donbas was also clarifying for any waverers in the Russian leadership.

    The major risk now is one of the mentally deficient NATO leaders deciding to activate some real military support.

    Praying this does not happen but especially the British establishment seems deranged. Special forces are no doubt on the move and aim to interfere and sow chaos in some manner.

    The Western public opinion seems to be either “not our fight” – if blue collar – or “exterminate the Russian untermenschen” – if PMC.

    Domino theory is the spectre animating concern in elite circles.

    Gorbachev and Yeltsin have a lot to answer for.

    Remember the citizens of the USSR were not in favour of its dissolution- by a supermajority in nearly all Republics.

      1. Analyticobserver

        I meant the Referendum of March 17, 1991.

        In Ukraine, 70% were in favour of retaining a “renewed USSR”. Compared to 75% in Russia.

        The Baltic states abstained. They were the most separatist at the time.

        Due to various reasons this result was ignored or gotten around; seven months later the USSR was history.

        According to Twitter Zelensky is now making a vague threat to do something with Chernobyl – he struck me as somewhat unstable.

        Hopefully the military operation proceeds smoothly and with minimal loss of life.

        Everywhere the PMC are virtue signaling on social media and shedding crocodile tears for civilian victims.

        It is striking how disconnected people are from alternative analysis. And how infantilised discourse in the West is. Algorithms at work.

        1. The Rev Kev

          ‘According to Twitter Zelensky is now making a vague threat to do something with Chernobyl’

          Thanks. That explains why I heard on the news not long ago that the Russians have secured this site.

    1. bwilli123

      “…It looks to me the intent is to seize most of Ukraine, disarm it, throw the luckier members of the Azov battalion in a gulag, and then carve the territory up on a regional basis via referenda leaving a rump Galician state centered on Lviv for the EU to handle…”

      Leaving a landlocked shrunken Ukraine to be coveted by the Poles and Hungary.

  13. TomDority

    Something bad is going to happen – bad things happen usually for bad reasons.
    Either Biden is trying to lose the midterms for the DEMS or trying to unite the country Bush JR style… which of course is another defeat for USA USA. Still..some think endless war is a good thing …a success IMHO they can %$#k themselves.
    Of course all this mess is being paid by the little guys here and abroad and to the great benefit of the uber rich.

    1. Skip Intro

      But Biden already lost the midterms for the dems. I stand by the generic headline trope: “President’s poll numbers plummet, war imminent”

    2. Librarian Guy

      You are possibly correct, Biden badly needed a polling bump up and possibly overplayed the war-patriotism card . . . I despise the Dems, subs for the Republican Daddies, & the R.D’s equally as both serve the Corporate Oligarchy, FIRE, Big Pharma and VC sectors. If Biden gets his mid-term “success” so be it!! It will be at the cost of NATO’s irrelevance, a stronger Russia and unaffordable energy prices for both USA and especially Europe. So overall it will be a win for humanity and a defeat for the shambling US Empire (who has the perfect representative in pathetic, one-foot-in-the-grave senile Joe Biden). Where else could the current corrupt & looting US political class lead this country except “the dustbin of history”?

      1. the last D

        God Almighty, can you tell me where Joe Biden’s other foot might be? And please don’t tell me it’s on the throat of what’s left of the working class, man.

    3. curlydan

      In 2020, I held my nose and voted for Biden, but the one thing I knew for sure was that our chances of war increased with him in office. Trump is a salesman and actually disliked war since war kills a possible client/sale. Sorry to use a worn out metaphor, but Putin/Lavrov are playing chess while Biden/Blinken are playing checkers.

  14. .Tom

    The US paid Kiev to buy arms shipped from UK to fight the Donbass republics, who invited Russia to defend them against Kiev. Most EU states want (something like) the détente that Russia has offered. The USA and UK want a fight to make them look tough and virtuous in their domestic political markets, but not to use ground forces or nukes. Kiev pols want to keep their jobs.

    Is this a fair read of the status?

    1. wsa

      There are large segments of the PMC population in both the US and the UK who have yet to manage an adult way to process their Trump/Brexit trauma. They have convinced themselves, and many others, that they cannot have failed, but Putin [[family blog]]ged everything up for them. It took a bit of a nudge from The Blob to get people to accept this, but it seems pretty firmly entrenched now.

      I do not know how successfully Biden can pursue diplomacy, given all his handlers and his major base of support want very badly to punish Russia for their electoral loss to a clown.

      I do not know what, if anything, the US can effectively do, apart from yelling and some more sanctions. This is going to derange US politics for years, if not decades. The Russiagate foundation can only support the construction of more lunacy.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, WSA.

        One notices the debate over Ukraine / Russia dividing along Brexit and zero covid lines in terms of participants, PMC echo chamber and fans, and “it woz RUSSIA / POOT’N wot won (i.e. bought) Brexit”. It extends across the pond as Eric Feigl Ding has joined battle.

        There’s money to be made in screaming RUSSIA as Catherine Belton and Carole Cadwalladr (aka Carole Codswallop and with expensive tastes in Italian designer leather jackets to fund) demonstrate.

        1. Basil Pesto

          It is interesting and a bit disappointing but not entirely surprising, that having had a taste of what acute official bullshit looks, and understanding better than most that the world is not as simple or as straightforward as those in charge would like us us to think it is (“covid is mild”, “vax and done”, “herd immunity”, “muh T cells”), that such scepticism is suspended by prominent fellow anti-coviders in the realm of foreign affairs.

          I doubt it, but perhaps they will now understand the overwhelming desire that people have for simplicity even if it is a simplistic lie (a common meme is people lining up at a booth marked ‘comforting lies’ while a bored attendant starves for attention at a booth marked ‘uncomfortable truths’) – the twitter anti-covid movement has kicked a number of own goals over the past couple of years, and messaging that turns away from simplicity is one of them: the swiss cheese model of protections is a good one, but it’s a lot for a layman to take in – and going from “not these masks, these masks”, “these vaccines are better than these vaccines but also only for a certain amount of time and even then it’s not a sure thing”, “yeah ventilation is good but also we need to fit buildings with HEPA filters, UV Cleaning, (big list of highly technical engineering requirements)”. Meanwhile, they have pretty much all (except I think Bar-Yam) turned away from the solution that is the most simple and definitive because it is politically ‘unpalatable’ (and it is so because those in power in the west very obviously do not want it), yet it is exactly as GM has been telling us for two years: intensely directed TTIQ over a period of 4-6 weeks with a concomitant downward redistribution of wealth in order to temporarily pay people not to work. The disease runs out of hosts and dies out; subsequent outbreaks become much more manageable. This is known to work, and leads to far more favourable outcomes than pretending we’re in control. Alas. And in a similar fashion, while it’s clearly overly reductive to divide this conflict into goodies v baddies, it’s certainly an effective way of shaping public opinion.

          Of course when it comes to the official lies re: Covid, many of these people calling them out are scientists without careerist ambitions so can tell the bullshit when they see it and decry it as such; the same is presumably true of historians without careerist ambitions in the realm of trying to understand foreign affairs as they happen as best they can. And so, even accounting for inevitable biases, the latter will surely understand that there’s plenty of scorn to go around for everyone in the current situation. But the rah rah cheerleading – and, conversely, the indulgent ABW Russian apologism – is insufferable. Everything is dumb and bad.

          That said, I thought it was pretty chucklesome that Feigl-Ding outperformed, say, Ames and Levine (they both mocked the former) on Russia analysis, even if it was by accident. A stopped blob is right twice a day?

    2. Michaelmas

      The USA and UK want a fight to make them look tough and virtuous in their domestic political markets, but not to use ground forces or nukes. Kiev pols want to keep their jobs. Is this a fair read of the status?

      Not entirely. The UK also wants to destabilize and in the long term break up the EU.

      1. .Tom


        I’m fascinated by the proposition “there’s no such thing as foreign policy”. It seems to mean that any domestic public discussion of foreign policy is better understood as domestic politics. I can buy that so long as we also use it to define the foreign policy that’s excluded from the domestic public discussion. Yours seems like a fair statement of that part.

      1. Raymond Sim

        So definitely a heavy runway. Given the short flight times I would imagine that, unless the Ukrainians hold that airfield, Russian and Belorussian forces advancing towards Kiev are effectively attacking towards their resupply and reinforcement.

  15. Safety First

    Quick hits from Russian sources, both official and unofficial.

    Per the MoD, the operation began at 0600 Moscow time with strikes against 74 targets, including 11 airfields. Map shows strikes across the entire territory of Ukraine. Columns of Russian troops are moving into Ukraine proper from at least three directions, including Crimea.

    Within a couple of hours of the Russians making their move, LDNR began an all out assault along the line. Their official spokesmen report “liberation” of new places no-one’s ever heard of roughly once every hour.

    Columns of Russian troops are reported to include a) units of the National Guard (to actually administer the captured areas), and b) units of the FSB to conduct arrests of…well, you figure it out. Russian Investigative Committee had put out a 10-minute video about the type of people they’re after about 24 hours before, though I haven’t watched it. Expect some public trials, however.

    Combat vs. the Russians has been sparse. Social media reports some fighting near Kharkov around 1000 Moscow time, there is a video of one abandoned Russian “Tiger” armoured car with a hole in the engine block, and of several knocked-out Ukrainian tanks. From other places there are videos showing blown up Ukrainian trucks and BMPs obviously trying to flee, presumably hit from the air, and a Russian Ka-52 helo that was force-landed and abandoned somewhere. MoD also reported a crashed Su-25 due to a “technical error”. Some sporadic shooting and vehicles burning near Kherson. But mostly, no heavy fighting yet.

    LDNR, however, is reporting HEAVY fighting, with claims of 360+ Ukrainian soldiers killed (no mention of wounded) in just one spot. So I guess the LDNR are Russia’s Kurds now…

    By the way, there are a TON of Ukrainian civilians filming everything on their mobile phones. The Russians are ignoring them, at least for now. Very different from the wars of even 10-20 years ago.

    Russian television is on full-on pro-Putin mode, as can be expected. There are reports of three alternatives for Ukraine: friendly regime change; break-up into multiple federal units; partial or full annexation. Some combination of the first two probably makes the most sense.

    Understand – this is a sea change for Russian policy. Remember, in 2008 they had a clear shot at regime change in Georgia, and pulled back, defaulting to “extant international security architecture”. Now they have openly declared that they have a sphere of influence, are willing to fight for it, and effectively the old security arrangements are null and void. Which, of course, raises the question – after Ukraine, what next? The government in Georgia must be losing its mind right about now…

    1. The Rev Kev

      The Baltic States that have been discriminating against their Russian-speaking citizens must also be nervous.

  16. KD

    As we have said repeatedly, Putin does not have any interest in conquering Ukraine.

    It would seem to be in Russia’s interest to control the territory north and west of the Black Sea, and the further West Russia could shift the border, the less threat NATO expansion holds. Plus, I would expect a puppet government in Kiev, and then break away Republics on the West (which America will recognize Kosovo-style, in the manner of the “rules” based order) and I would be skeptical that Russia would care about taking the West.

    Yes, this whole thing could have been avoided but for our geniuses in the Blob, but the mistake was made in 2008/2009, and while there has been 13-14 years to fix it, it would require acknowledging error and tacking in a different direction. Biden will get the blame, despite being left in a unwinnable position due to the stupidity of his predecessors, but the majority of it should be on W.

    It looks like Europe is screwed, and the interesting development is that India AND China are supporting the Russians. India just did a deal with Russia for arms, so this could be huge.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Russia has said it wants Ukraine to be not a threat. Controlling territory directly is overkill compared to what it needs. Having “independent republics” that are not hostile would be sufficient. But lighter-touch remedies may not be achievable.

      How governing the parts of Ukraine that don’t go that route is over my pay grade. I agree that a puppet government is one solution.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Maybe a Federation style government would be better. That is what the Russians were pressing for over the years so that the Donbass Republics could be integrated back into the Ukraine. No hope of the latter now. And maybe regions like the Odessa may be worth watching for developments now to see if they side with the Donbass. As for the Azoz units, well, like they said in JoJo Rabbit – ‘It’s definitely not a good time to be a Nasty’

        1. MILLER

          Yes, this was the ultimate aim of the Minsk II agreements. And the federalist solution? It was endorsed during a speech before the Ukrainian parliament by none other than Joe Biden (somewhere in 2016, don’t have a link).

      2. KD

        I think that is correct, it comes down to what you mean by “conquer” which is likely to find new definitions as this plays out. The Maidan Revolution did not “conquer” Ukraine, but it captured it into the US orbit and they have been playing their part per the Yankee script. It is likely that Putin would be happy with a puppet government, but I would think they would want at least basing rights and de facto military control around the Black Sea, and a bigger buffer from Moscow if possible, as what can be done can also be undone, but its harder if you have ground troops stationed there.

  17. Carolinian

    Adding to your roundup: the ghost of Stephen Cohen speaks (via Larry Johnson)

    “the demonization of Putin has its own history. When he first appeared on the world scene as Boris Yeltsin’s anointed successor, in 1999–2000, Putin was welcomed by leading representatives of the US political-media establishment. The New York Times’ chief Moscow correspondent and other verifiers reported that Russia’s new leader had an “emotional commitment to building a strong democracy.” Two years later, President George W. Bush lauded his summit with Putin and “the beginning of a very constructive relationship.”9

    But the Putin-friendly narrative soon gave away to unrelenting Putin-bashing. In 2004, Times columnist Nicholas Kristof inadvertently explained why, at least partially. Kristof complained bitterly of having been “suckered by Mr. Putin. He is not a sober version of Boris Yeltsin.” By 2006, a Wall Street Journal editor, expressing the establishment’s revised opinion, declared it “time we start thinking of Vladimir Putin’s Russia as an enemy of the United States

    1. Skippy

      Those Harvard boyz and – sacrosanct serious monies people – really have a propensity for creating their own failures and then have the cheek to extenuate their outcomes on everyone else save themselves. They were in ***Rapture*** over all the squillions they were going to make looting the planned collapse of the USSR and now compound error by gaslighting vast swaths of their populations. Ugh all the liberal PMC wanting a Qaddafi moment for Putin for stealing Hillary’s ascension to the throne with a side of old neocon war inc cold warriors thrown in for good measure.

  18. Jake Dickens

    Isn’t this invasion also about US weakness. The US withdrawal from Afghanistan showed incredibly poor planning and the weakness of US intelligence. Depending on how the US, NATO and allies deal with Ukraine, it seems to me that China will increase its attacks on Taiwan and, if the US appears weak enough, may make a full scale assault to take over Taiwan. I read that it will be five years before China is militarily able to take Taiwan, but this may provide an early opportunity to strike.

    1. IMOR

      “…showed incredibly poor planning and the weakness of US intelligence.”

      Yes, but/and no secret to any but our own media and true believers for 20 years or more.
      And weakest segment of all, playing into the two you identify, has been or diplomatic/communications language and learning center. THAT self inflicted wound has been bleeding more like 40 years.

  19. Carolinian

    Re denazification

    Ideally, Ukraine should be liberated, cleaned from neo-Nazis, from people sharing pro-Nazi sentiment and ideas,” Peskov pointed out, when asked to explain remarks about the need to denazify Ukraine.[…]

    At the same time, Peskov declined to comment on whether efforts to denazify Ukraine would lead to a change of government in the country. “I won’t comment on that, I won’t be able to answer this question at the moment,” he said.

    Peskov also declined to say if Moscow believed that Ukraine’s president and other senior officials shared pro-Nazi ideas. “I will refrain from further clarification,” the Russian presidential spokesman said.

    I remember an interview that PBS News Hour Margaret Warner conducted with a member of Ukraine’s new government back in 2014. It started out (paraphrasing from memory) “what’s this crazy talk about Nazis?”

    Or to sum up: even then our “news” liked to see Nazis everywhere except for where they actually exist. This goes for Israel as well which has buddied up with Ukraine despite the country’s large population of raving anti-semites.

    1. RabidGandhi

      I lived there for years and I can tell you from personal experience the word ‘Nazi’ in the US just means ‘Official Enemy’, nothing more; cf messrs Noriega, Hussein, Minh, Milosevic…

      That said, Vladimir Vladimirovich, bless his heart, wants to ‘denazify’ Ukraine–home to true honest to Bog swastika brandishing Nazis–by force. Since he’s so into history of late he may want to look into the success of using a military to stomp out extremist factions, something that his CCCP frenemy predecessors tried for decades. Well good luck with that VVP says I.

      1. Roger Smith

        Would you mind elaborating on the nazi presence there? I am interested in knowing more about this faction and what/how large of a presence they have in the country.

        1. Carolinian

          I don’t know how many, but Western Ukraine was a hotbed of German sympathizers during WW2 and even conducted their own pogroms in Lviv (then part of Poland). Being a movie guy I can report that there’s even a movie about it called In Darkness. It tells how Jews would hide in the city’s sewers for months or even years to escape the roundups, with sympathizers bringing them food.

          And descendants of these Polish/Western Ukraine Nazi recruits are still around and were part of the coup that installed an anti Russian government. That’s where all the trouble started and it was under Obama. Regime change for us but not for thee is only the tip of the hypocrisy iceberg.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          To add, I have seen it claimed but I have no way of verifying that the Nazis are about 1% of the populations but represented 15% of the officials in the Ukraine gov’t post the 2014 coup.

          Oh, and Canada’s Chrystia Freeland is a descendant.

        3. Basil Pesto

          Defending History is a website dedicated to drawing attention to attempted Holocaust revisionism and resurgent anti-semitic nazism in Eastern Europe generally. They’ve been doing it for a while, their Ukraine page is here.

          I don’t know how strong exactly the faction is, but I’m sure it’s a real phenomenon (conversely, some of the twitter hot takes I’ve seen have been along the lines of: “Zelensky is Jewish, so how could there be neo-nazis in Ukraine?!?!11”)

  20. chris wardell

    The Battle of Paris was fought on March 30–31, 1814 between the Sixth Coalition, consisting of Russia, Austria, and Prussia, against the French Empire. After a day of fighting in the suburbs of Paris, the French surrendered on March 31, ending the War of the Sixth Coalition and forcing Emperor Napoleon to abdicate and go into exile.

  21. farmboy

    “…Chicago wholesale prices rose by 77% between June 1914 and February 1915, when prices peaked. Of that 77% rise, 22% occurred prior to the closing of the Dardanelles Strait in October 1914. The remaining 45% increase occurred once the Dardanelles Strait was closed…Russia and Ukraine account for ~30% of global wheat exports at present. Between 1905/6 and 1909/10 Russia accounted for only 22% of wheat exports. It can be argued that due to an increased global reliance on Black Sea wheat, a price rise could now be larger. Further, wheat stocks excluding Russia are currently lower compared to the average versus 1914/15.”

  22. Tom Stone

    Russia has no need to attack the USA with nukes.
    Russians are actually competent strategists, something alien to US culture.
    1) Take down the power grid, it’s still as vulnerable as it has ever been if not more so.
    2) really want to fuck the USA up?
    Take out the old river control structure and redirect the course of the Mississippi River, stranding 1/3 of US heavy industry.
    Do it on the cheap, two ocean going tugs towing a string of barges loaded with cement or pig iron makes for a really big hammer.
    Asymmetric warfare is not rocket surgery I could come up with half a dozen more non nuke alternatives given ten minutes and a cold beer.

    And the Saker is right, the USA does not have a policy, it is chaos.

    1. tegnost

      To be honest, the US elite are busy deconstructing the “homeland”, so all putin has to do is not stop them…

    2. MT_Wild

      They don’t even have to go that far. I read somewhere, maybe here, that that the Russians had managed to send out some kind of push message text alert to the Ukrainians telling them to lay down their weapons and they would be allowed to surrender retreat.

      If the rusky’s managed to send out some kind of similarly worded text alert to every American, our own panic would probably rip apart the country.

      1. Jason Boxman

        You mean like this?

        2018 Hawaii false missile alert

        On the morning of Saturday, January 13, 2018, a ballistic missile alert was accidentally issued via the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alert System over television, radio, and cellphones in the U.S. state of Hawaii.


    3. Glossolalia

      Even easier, just start spreading misinformation on Facebook that Biden is going to issue a national vaccine and mask mandate.

  23. Michaelismoe

    “And if that was not terrifying enough, Canada’s Trudeau is also sending a few hundred extra Canadian troops to the Baltics.”

    Shouldn’t Trudeau keep these forces in his own country? What if a half dozen truckers decide to block an intersection? Weak men leading weak countries. “Guns of August 2”

  24. pjay

    Like Amfortas, I spent much of the night trying to get information. MSM and social media coverage is insane. Discussion on most of the decent alternative sites is all over the place. Thank you very much for your coverage of an event that I think will prove to be historically important — perhaps the “first day of the Post-Post Cold War Era,” as David says.

    The folly of the Blob is long-standing, well-documented, and bi-partisan. But in considering this historically, it should be noted that this is yet another long-term policy disaster that has significant roots in the Clinton administration. I’ve seen a few postings of the aging George Kennan’s harsh and prescient critique of NATO expansion in the 1990s. They should be fired into internet hyperspace everywhere. So should Putin’s February 24 address that Yves quotes above.

    The neoliberal Dems did give us one thing, though: “Responsibility to Protect.” Strangely, I have seen neither Susan Rice nor Samantha Power defending Putin’s humanitarian intervention anywhere.

    Thanks again for this discussion. An island of sanity in a sea of lies and distortion.

    1. KD

      It cannot be argued that this is not due to Clinton-era stupidity of expanding NATO, but it was W. who proposed NATO expansion to include Ukraine and Georgia, the result being almost immediate Kremlin efforts to de-stabilize and wreck both countries (the better to prevent expansion) and a war in Georgia in 2008, and now a war in Ukraine in 2022. Not to mention, in both cases the US lead each country to expect some kind of support from the US/NATO, and in both cases, they are being left hung out to dry. Sanctions, whatever, maybe they will send some hardware and some military advisors to Ukraine, but my guess is they are mostly going to focus on deterring Putin from going into the Baltics. [The Russians are going to have air superiority and effective missile defenses and its hard to see how Ukraine forces will even be able to communicate, let alone coordinate defense. There is a relative numerical parity in forces, but most of the Ukrainian forces would be lucky to pass as a militia. There are a lot of speed bumps around urban combat, but Russia could roll all the way into the Baltics if they want. If they roll things up quickly, and then roll out a coup–goodness knows they have plenty of clandestine assets on the ground–this could be a done deal in a month.]

      1. pjay

        True about W. Plenty of bipartisan blame to go around. The neolibs and neocons are just two factions of our single War Party – sometimes competing, sometimes intertwined (as they are at the moment). But your comment about “almost immediate Kremlin efforts to de-stabilize and wreck” both Ukraine and Georgia leaves out just a tiny bit of the story. I’m not naive about Russian activity in these instances, but leaving out the main instigating events sounds too much like *all* the mainstream coverage I’ve been listening to for the past few weeks (well, actually the past few decades). Putin will not “roll into” the Baltics — then NATO might really be forced to do something. You are probably right that he could, but I don’t believe the Russians are as arrogantly incompetent as we are.

        1. KD

          I am not saying Putin is going into the Baltics–I am saying what the US and NATO are worrying about right now is not Ukraine but what to do if he does go into the Baltics. I do not want to see that happen, but why not go for broke if you are going to be a leper anyways? I realize such a move may strain any support from China or India but who knows, and anyone in the Deep State should be worried about that issue. Putin definitely seems to have gotten his testosterone injection this week.

          1. wilroncanada

            That’s why both the US and Canada have just announced sending small contingents of troops into the Baltics. Neither country wants to have a single soldier return in a body bag, so send them to where fighting isn’t. The Canadian troops are going well prepared: they all have helmets and face guards, and every sixth one has goalie pads. The US troops just have to get by with their drawl, courtesy of their John Wayne lessons..

      1. Basil Pesto

        Stoller was almost at a rate of 2 HTPM (Hot Takes Per Minute) yesterday, including my fave: that Putin got the green light from Xi. wild stuff

    1. MT_Wild

      I highly doubt this. If coyote hunters in MT have night vision, I’m sure the Russians have it. Beyond the old-timey night vision, consumer grade thermal scopes can be had from Cabelas in the 2-5k range. Hard to imagine it hasn’t made it down the line to frontline troops, or at least Russian special forces.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        The hilarious part is that the original tweeter keeps trying to claim that they were not, NOT, definitely NOT scammed by using screenshots as proof. PT Barnum was right.

        Even if it is legit, they are seriously going to try crowdfunding their resistance?!?!? Hunter S was right too – there is some serious pro level weirdness going on.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      “Closing replies because too many nation state actor fake bots in my replies”

      But I’m sure all the people in the response who tweeted “I’m from the Ukraine and this is legit” were, well, legit?

      A Patreon to fund a war…smdh.

  25. Michael C,

    Might the US plan be not unlike its plans in involving Russia moving into to Afghanistan to support the government there to keep it in a protracted war that drains resources. I think it is a mistake to believe that the US has stumbled into this blindly. The whole buildup over the last 6 months (and we might go back to 1997 if taking the long view) showed that the US had no interest whatsoever in addressing Russia’s concern for its security or its proposals. The US has a plan—a dangerous gambit–that might spin out of control.

    Personally, I am sick of US attempt to sustain a uni-polar, economic hegemony with itself as the head. A global capitalist elite ruling over the world does not strike me as a world humans should want. I never voted for it, but then again since we’ve never had a referendum on this maybe thinking we live in a real democracy is as delusional as US foreign policy.

    1. Jen

      “Might the US plan be not unlike its plans in involving Russia moving into to Afghanistan to support the government there to keep it in a protracted war that drains resources.”

      Yes, I’ve been thinking that as well, but our peerless leaders seem to think they’re the only ones who have plans. And they also seem to think nothing has changed since 1990.

    2. hamstak

      This may be a part of US/NATO reasoning, which I say because the comparison is, to say the least, wanting:

      1) Different relationships (geographical/political/ethnic) between the two sets of countries (USSR/Afghanistan and RF/Ukraine)

      2) Different development trajectories of the invader nation (USSR => descendant, RF => ascendant)

      3) Different objectives of the invader nation

      4) Improved military technology

      5) Different terrain

      Such nuance (which isn’t particularly nuanced) seems to evade the thinking of our hammer-headed “leaders”.

  26. Maxwell Johnston

    This is escalating much faster than I expected. Yikes. I predicted a war in East Ukraine, but not this soon. Something changed in the last few days; maybe the Ukraine’s hint at acquiring nukes. I think Putin has written off relations with the west and decided that since endless sanctions were inevitable anyway, he might as well just do as he likes. So Russia turns away from Europe and embraces Asia, and Putin (from St Pete, how ironic) reverses the policies of Peter the Great.

    They won’t stop at the Dnieper, they’re going all the way to the Polish border now. In for a kopeck, in for a ruble. Installation of friendly regime with elections and referendums (not internationally monitored), permanent anti-NATO cordon sanitaire (along with Belarus), land link established with Crimea and Transdniestra. NATO expansion TWEP.

    Expect a wave of refugees to Europe. Sanctions and counter-sanctions leading to inflation and more supply chain disruptions. Financial market chaos, forget any interest rate hikes. Massive increases in western military expenditures, lots of equipment deployed to Fortress Eastern Europe. No WW3, but a long period of tension. It really didn’t have to be this way. Sigh.

    The end result is clear to me, and I hope this goes down without too much bloodshed. Don’t quite understand yet to what extent the Ukrainian army is fighting back. Not much so far.

    Giving credit where it’s due: the much maligned USA intel services nailed this one pretty well, and they did get the USA’s diplomats out on time. I tip my hat.

  27. Louis Fyne

    seeing the western Establishment’s heads exploding, it looks like they’re going to double down v. Russia.

    Watch out: 10+% inflation incoming by July 4th!

  28. Anthony G Stegman

    Putin is taking a large gamble. A truly full scale invasion of Ukraine will impose heavy costs on Russia, both economically and militarily. Russia’s military capabilities may be exposed as being less than advertised. The United states loves proxy wars – they gleam very valuable intelligence, weaken their opponents while risking nothing, and gain various economic advantages.

  29. Andrew Watts

    If anybody is feeling bad about not being right about the war in Ukraine, don’t. It wasn’t until I read Putin’s speech on the 22nd that I was convinced a war was coming.The US hasn’t done much to inspire trust, or confidence, in their intelligence in both senses of the word. Although the Biden administration has been as open and honest as they could be regarding issues like the Afghanistan withdrawal and other issues. Similarly, Putin has been just as transparent about Moscow’s concerns ever since he gave that pivotal speech at Munich in 2007.

    “Nobody can feel safe. Because no one can feel that international law is like a stone wall that will protect them.”

    …and here we are.

    1. ChrisPacific

      US intelligence got it right for once. Who would have guessed? Given their propensity to mess up (Iraq WMD, Russiagate) and the propensity of US officials to outright lie about their findings (pretty much everybody) the signal to noise ratio has been very low for a long time.

      1. Late Introvert

        Broken clock all the way. It was finally right, by chance, and won’t be again for another 50 or 100 decades.

        You guys praising it, WTF?

  30. Sub-Boreal

    Counting my blessings that my Ukrainian grandparents had the prescience to come to Canada around 1910, so their descendants got to miss out on a pretty crappy century+ in the old country.

  31. David

    I don’t think we should get too excited about Ukraine as a potential nuclear power. Zelensky talking about it probably confirmed the suspicions of the Russians that he was stupid and dangerous, and may well have tipped the scales in favour of intervention, but it would not have been news.

    We can assume that the Russians, who are pretty competent at this kind of thing, have thoroughly infiltrated all levels of the Ukrainian government and military, and so they know very well the extent (or not) of any nuclear programme. If they wanted to stop it, or even just send a warning, they would carry out sabotage or assassination operations: there’s no need to start a war.

    In any event, a lot of countries have found that producing a serviceable nuclear weapon, as opposed to making something go more or less bang, is incredibly difficult. None of the recent nuclear arrivals (India, Israel, Pakistan) was able to do this without a lot of foreign help, and no government in the world would be insane enough to offer help with nuclear warhead design in that region of the world. Putin knows all this, of course, and his comments should not be taken at face value. They are essentially another political argument in favour of the intervention, but that’s all.

  32. Lena

    Interesting to me that this s***storm is occurring after the departure of Angela Merkel from the table. Would this be happening if she were still German Chancellor? How would she have played the Nord Stream card? Any thoughts from NC experts?

    1. Tom Bradford

      Would be interested, too, in the thoughts of NC’s experts on where you would be were Trump still in the White House. (I’m sitting this one out apart from the no-doubt temporary hit to my portfolio, tho’ it ain’t too bad as I’m signed up to some dividend reinvestment schemes and we’re just coming into final div. season!)

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      This is a hypothetical where we have limited information on what happened in Munich among other activities. I suspect Zelensky given his yoyoing saw the bright lights and ate up whatever garbage Harris was pushing, but I don’t know that. Merkel probably would not have let that happen.

  33. Dave in Austin

    (I heard about the attack last night and went to bed. I got up at 5:30 am and wrote the following from 5:30-7:00 am CST before looking at the news/twitter feeds. I’ll let it stand as-is, alone with a few other comments at the bottom).

    “Attention, Operation Noble Anvil. Please go to the cutesy desk; there is a message for you.”

    In 1999 NATO’s staged Operation Noble Anvil, 80 days of bombing Serbia to encourage the Serbs to leave Kosovo. Now another “humanitarian intervention” accompanied by “peacekeeping forces” and “air strikes”, is about to encourage the Ukraine to become the new, post-1945, Austria, neutral and peaceful. With luck there won’t be too many dead bodies.

    From Wikipedia:
    “The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) carried out an aerial bombing campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War. The air strikes lasted from 24 March 1999 to 10 June 1999. The bombings continued until an agreement was reached that led to the withdrawal of Yugoslav armed forces from Kosovo, and the establishment of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, a UN peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.”

    NATO flew 38,000 missions in less than 90 days. On June 10th the Russians suggested to the Serbs that they surrender. They did so the following day. But the terms of the Rambouillet Accords, which the Serbs had refused to sign, were quietly modified; the NATO-UN forces didn’t get freedom to roam in Serbia, only in Kosovo. When the NATO-UN peacekeepers arrived in Kosovo they were suddenly joined by a battalion of uninvited Russian “peacekeepers’ who had flown in to participate in the festivities.

    Human Rights Watch said that approximately 500 civilians were killed by the NATO airstrikes in Kosovo and the rest of Serbia. After the first three days of the aerial bombardment all of the Serbian fixed military assets were destroyed.

    They still refused to take the hint so the power plants, water treatment systems and eventually the bridges over the Danube were added to the target list. Apparently fearing that a misguided NATO cruise missile might leave behind some gory civilian bodies that would disturb European TV audiences, the next step was to cut off all the ways reporters could send out footage of any future accidental atrocities.

    So at 2 am on April 3rd the US fired a missile into the studios of Radio-Television Serbia, which was “Broadcasting Propaganda” according to the White House, and, more to the point, was providing studio space and uploading video for many outside news teams including CNN. Did the Serbs know the missile was coming? Who knows. See for the details on that. All I know is that when I visited Belgrade three years ago, there was a small stone monument nearby listing the names of the 16 civilians who’d died that morning with only one word other than the names and ages of the victims chiseled on it. “Why?”

    But the Noble Anvil video footage was still getting uploaded via the Chinese Embassy’s fiber-optic link to Athens. So on May 7th the US solved that problem by “accidentally” bombed the Chinese Embassy, killing three communications clerks four levels down in the basement. Wikipedia notes: “President Bill Clinton apologized for the bombing stating it was an accident.[3][4][5] Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director George Tenet testified before a congressional committee that the bombing was the only one in the campaign organized and directed by his agency,[6] and that the CIA had identified the wrong coordinates for a Yugoslav military target on the same street.” So the CIA gets to select only one target in 90 days and accidentally picks the Chinese Embassy. And the videos have nothing to do with it. In the US this incident is forgotten; in China it isn’t.

    What goes around comes around. I’ll save my predictions on how this will all work for another post.
    POSTSCRIPT 11:00 am CST

    The actual twitter feeds from the field look like a lot of people have decided not to kill each other. The extraordinary feeds from the dam on the Dneiper river: (, with Russian helicopters circling at 200 ft while Ukrainian AA trucks take up position under them, neither side firing, says it all. With luck this will be Prague 1968 and not Budapest 1956.

    This may be Zelenskiy’s finest hour. A comedian and a nobody elected because most Ukrainians were tired of the corruption, he hitched himself and the Ukraine up to the US “join NATO” wagon and is now about to suffer the consequences. He gave a strong and honorable public statement and I suspect he isn’t leaving town on a US-supplied helicopter. And even Putin can’t call him unpatriotic or a Nazi. He’s Jewish; his grandfather fought through the war on the Russian side and retired as a Colonel in the Ukraine. Granddad’s three brothers weren’t as lucky. They died in the Holocaust. And maybe turning into a neutral Austria isn’t such a bad fate. I notice Austria never joined NATO even after the Russians left. And Vienna, like Prague, got to keep all that nice architecture.

    With luck Zelenskiy will become like the Prague 1968ers, Dubcek and Vaclav Havel, and not like the Budapest 1956ers, Imre Nagy and General Pal Maleter, who now rest together in plot 301 at Budapest’s New Public Cemetery . If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by… and bring flowers. Everybody else does.

    1. lance ringquist

      thank you, it can almost all be traced back to guess who!

      Ever since Bush’s successor, President Bill Clinton, began the still ongoing process of NATO expansion, its promoters and apologists have repeatedly insisted there was no such promise, that it had all been “myth” or “misunderstanding,” and moreover that NATO’s vast expansion had been necessary and has been a great success

      Milosevic was absolved of all crimes, but bill clinton was not: bill clintons Kosovo war was in reality the model for future destruction of countries seen as potential threats to the hegemony of an “international community” currently being redefined to exclude or marginalize all but those who conform to the interests of the United States.

      read the comment section, it says it all.

      free trade is destroying the world: yugoslavia, free trade or else: Bill Clinton elaborated: If we’re going to have a strong economic relationship that includes our ability to sell around the world Europe has got to be the key; that’s what this Kosovo thing is all about… It’s globalism versus tribalism.

      Globalism’s First Victim. NATO’s War on Yugoslavia
      By David Orchard
      Global Research, March 27, 2018
      Region: Europe
      Theme: US NATO War Agenda
      In-depth Report: THE BALKANS

      bill clinton started the barbarism: NATO Bombings of Yugoslavia, Aggression Against Sovereign State – Lavrov: more than 2,000 civilians and 1,000 security personnel killed and thousands more wounded. most main bridges, 190 schools, 16 hospitals and the main RTS media outlet were damaged or destroyed during the NATO campaign

      are you sick of the endless wars? they can be traced to one person, and one person only, the man who single handily destroyed the u.n. mission to protect sovereignty, he broke international law, is a war criminal, bill clinton. today we are involved in so many wars, have so many military bases around the world, its mind boggling. anyone who would vote for these monsters again, needs their heads examined.

      NATO Bombings of Yugoslavia Aggression Against Sovereign State – Lavrov

      1. Soredemos

        Pro-Serbian propaganda is so tiresome. It is possible for both parties in a conflict to be villains. It’s simultaneously possible for the Serbs to have genuinely engaged in ethnic cleansing, and for NATO to have capitalized on Yugoslavia to provide justification for its continued existence.

        1. lance ringquist

          perhaps you are having trouble with the truth?

          “Milosevic was absolved of all crimes”

          “bill clintons Kosovo war was in reality the model for future destruction of countries seen as potential threats to the hegemony of an “international community” currently being redefined to exclude or marginalize all but those who conform to the interests of the United States.

          we’re going to have a strong economic relationship that includes our ability to sell around the world Europe has got to be the key; that’s what this Kosovo thing is all about… It’s globalism versus tribalism.”

          “The Clinton administration, including then U.N. ambassador Madeleine Albright, gave a green light to Croatia to ethnically cleanse a quarter of a million Serbs from the Krajina region. Years later, angry Czechs in solidarity with Serbs, confronted Albright at a book signing in Prague. She called them “disgusting Serbs.”

  34. timbers

    I wonder if Poland and Romania are having second thoughts on hosting USA!USA! Angus nuclear capable missiles. It’s not as if the awoken angry bear that’s been poked too many times hasn’t given fair warning she will not tolerate them so close to her den.

    I also wonder if Russia will include them in her current military actions, target, and destroy them.

    1. ChrisPacific

      Online comments from people I know in Poland are still along the lines of Putin as a dangerous megalomaniac, with only the valiant NATO and USA standing in the way of his goal to conquer all of Europe. Suggestions that they should abandon the US provocation strategy and seek security accommodations with Russia were dismissed as sucking up to Putin (only using a different and much more obscene term).

      Maybe it will cause those countries to rethink their relationships with so-called allies and start taking Russian security concerns seriously, but if this is representative of the kind of thinking at work then I’m not holding my breath.

      1. HotFlash

        That’s what I am hearing from my neighbours here in Roncesvalles, a *very* eastern European neighbourhood in Toronto ON. Many immigrated here after WWII, another wave when the USSR collapsed. A local church is Sts Casimir and Stanislaus, wonderful delis and bakeries in the ‘hood, we are so looking forward to Paczki Day – March 1, 2022, as we do every year. But to a person, the Poles, Ukie-Poles (borders change, ethnicities become sharpened), Gallicians, and even German neighbours I speak to are telling me that Putin is pushing this war, that bad, bad Putin. That is what their friends and relatives are saying overseas as well. Normally I value first-hand-ish reports over any ‘official channels’, but this Ottawa trucker thing has got me distrusting about everybody’s accounts of just about everything.

        Anecdote: I had a boss, lovely lady from Moscow, she Ukrainian, her husband Jewish. They got out of Russia to Israel in the ’70-s or ’80’s, did not feel welcome there (to put it mildly — she’s not Jewish and that was a Real Problem) and so came to Canada. News is a funny thing. When Chernobyl blew up she was up all night phoning relatives in Kiev and environs to relay our CBC news to them there. They knew something bad was going on but were getting nada from official channels. She did that for several weeks and then the news coverage faded, you know, that new cycle thing. She observed, “You know, there they don’t tell you anything so you don’t know anything. Here they tell you *everything* and more for two weeks, then nothing. The end result is the same.”

        All I can say is that I am so sad today.

  35. Jeotsu

    Thank you for the excellent article, and thanks to the many informed commenters.

    A few remarks: The last decade has shown that US trained and equipped forces tend to dissolve in the face of a committed enemy — Mosul in Iraq, and Afghanistan everywhere being the most striking examples. So it would not surprise me if the ‘western help’ these last few years has if anything accelerated the enervation of a Ukrainian military which was already hollowed out by being in a fantastically corrupt and broken state, along with the institutional problems of have been decisively defeated (chewed up in cauldrons) in their last war only 7-8 yers ago.

    NATO is in a real bind. Any small intervention would fail (and risk WW3), and that failure would make clear to everyone in the world what is clear to most of the readers here, that the western ‘security’ systems are just socialism for bureaucrats and arms dealers.

    Also, while the US has moved F-35’s in Romania and other nearby countries, they don’t dare use them. Both Russia and the US are probably very nervous about a F-35 vs S-400 duel. There are true-believers on both sides, but this fight has never been tested in combat for real. A one-sided outcome would utterly change the international arms market, costing one country or the other many many billions. Risk is probably higher for F-35 here, since they would be in small numbers trying to push into a deep air defense network with lots of sensors. Hopefully this reluctance keeps NATO from wanting to engage, since we know US-style military doctrine absolutely requires air dominance, and is incapable or operations in its absence.

  36. John Mc

    Not sure about the rest you of here at NC, but the deeper I research this topic, the more I see the fetid rotting institutions of American empire and exceptionalism, which is pungent with equal amounts of CIA mantra (admit nothing, deny everything, and make counter-accusations) and a diseased belief we can take on China/Russia and our allies an continue in this Unipolar delusion.

    Michael Parenti once said, US foreign policy is the epitome of rationalizing ‘the use of fascism to preserve capitalism while claiming to be saving democracy from Communism’. This really captures what has happened for me as we align Nazi’s in Ukraine in a corrupt ‘broken nation-state’, so that we can bring democracy (weapons, drugs, and debt) to the door of Ukrainians suffering at the hands of the big bad Rooskies. This song has been playing on the jukebox for the last 70 years.

    Bye bye miss American Pie – its been eaten and there is very little left except the crumbs of empire and egos of the PMC asking for more.

  37. Reaville

    The biggest dynamic at play regarding Ukraine is that the American public does not want a war and will punish Biden for taking us into one. Biden knows this. The USA has been bluffing Putin because there is zero interest in American self-sacrifice over Ukraine. No amount of media heavy breathing is going to change that. Likewise, NATO and the EU are not going to get dragged into a shooting war unless we have a Guns of August moment (which is within the range of probabilities, unfortunately).

    The weak thinking of American messing about in Ukraine with no appreciation for Russia’s security issues (understanding that the Russian red-line is real, even if not excusable) is what happens when there are no adults in the room. I can’t think of any adults at the moment. I can think of an array of public figures who are embarrassed by events and cannot be relied upon to provide good judgment.

    Biden’s weakness will be politically catastrophic for his party. Wonder if he’ll cut his losses or double down. The first would be prudent. The second beckons us into the fog of war.

  38. Wukchumni

    All that glitters used to be a fine way to figure out how things are going in tumultuous times such as this war* in the Ukraine, and today was the biggest move i’ve seen in decades-which is saying something, and yet the increase fizzled badly as the day has progressed, from up $65, to up a buck.

    Whether this age old indicator is still up to snuff in predicting, remains to be seen.

    * When Desert Storm happened in 1990, the spot price went up from $350 to $415 in a hurry

  39. Roger Smith

    I hear quite a bit about the “neo-nazi” regime currently running Ukraine. Where can I go for the basic history and details about this?

    1. KD

      Our “friends” in the Ukraine:

      The FBI filed a criminal complaint in Kansas district court on Monday, September 23, revealing that it had arrested US Army infantry soldier Jarrett William Smith for the alleged crime of “Distributing Information Relating to Explosives, Destructive Devices, and Weapons of Mass Destruction.”

      In online messages with an FBI informant, Smith discussed carrying out terrorist attacks inside the US, and said he was looking for fellow far-right “radicals.” He also talked about killing members of Antifa, a decentralized anti-fascist group.

      According to the filing, Smith had since at least 2016 been in regular communication with Craig Lang, an American far-right extremist who traveled to Ukraine to fight with the neo-fascist militia the Right Sector.

      Check out the arm patches on the right photo:

      In fairness though, who do you think fights in these kinds of struggles? Its not your prayer meeting.

    2. Raymond Sim

      The career of Yaroslav Stetsko provides something of an outline:

      Bear in mind while reading the article that some of the most monstrous atrocities of the whole war were committed by the OUN (against ethnic Poles in particular). Stetsko’s long postwar career, and indeed the forebearing tone of the Wikipedia article itself speak for themselves.

  40. Keith McClary

    Imagine if Russia had withdrawn the troops last night? What would these warmongering scum be saying today?:
    “Russia is weak”
    “Putin is a coward”
    “We stared him down”
    “Now is the time to double down on NATO expansion”

  41. Pookah Harvey

    In 1990, as the Cold War drew to a close, President Mikhail Gorbachev proposed the Soviet Union join NATO. At the time, Gorbachev was negotiating German reunification with the then U.S. Secretary of State James Baker. “You say that NATO is not directed against us that it is simply a security structure that is adapting to new realities. Therefore, we propose to join NATO.”
    In 1991 Boris Yeltsin, the first president of the new Russian state, wrote to NATO, reiterating Gorbachev’s proposal.
    In 2001 at his first major Kremlin news conference Russian President Vladimir Putin said that his country should be allowed to join NATO .
    All these entreaties were rebuffed, meanwhile Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania, Croatia, and North Macedonia have been allowed to join.

    If you treat someone as an enemy they will become one.

  42. Irrational

    Thanks for the excellent article and discussion – in particular the comments by David and Colonel Smithers. I did channel Lena earlier today, wondering if they would bring Merkel out of retirement since no one else seems to have a clue.
    At least it makes me feel less alone in my thinking when I look at/listen to the European MSM and listen to friends and colleagues!

  43. Pookah Harvey

    In 1990, as the Cold War drew to a close, President Mikhail Gorbachev proposed the Soviet Union join NATO. At the time, Gorbachev was negotiating German reunification with the then U.S. Secretary of State James Baker. “You say that NATO is not directed against us that it is simply a security structure that is adapting to new realities. Therefore, we propose to join NATO.”

    In 1991 Boris Yeltsin, the first president of the new Russian state, wrote to NATO, reiterating Gorbachev’s proposal.

    In 2001 at his first major Kremlin news conference Russian President Vladimir Putin said that his country should be allowed to join NATO.

    All these entreaties were rebuffed.

    Meanwhile Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro and North Macedonia have joined.

    If you treat someone as an enemy they will become one.

  44. Western Zombies

    Sidenote: again Putin is speaking freely for half an hour going through a lot of topics and keeping it together. He looks at the camera almost all the time so I believe he doesn’t use a prompter. You do get the feeling that this guy actually understands and believe what he says. I don’t see any of the Swedish politicians or German politicians being able to do this. Add this to Putin’s 3-4 hours phone-in marathons and you have a president whose intellectual ability you don’t have to doubt, even though you may doubt and not agree with intentions and goals.

    1. Late Introvert

      If the EU and US had such competent leadership, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

      Note I don’t agree with all of VVP’s policies, only that they aren’t corrupt to the core, which I can’t say the same about the former entities. Liars who endlessly lose wars while bankrupting their citizens. Now starting a new one to the same ends.

  45. judy2shoes

    I am sad to see that the Gravel Institute has gone off the rails with respect to the Russia/Ukraine crisis. I wonder what Mike Gravel would say about this:

    Gravel Institute
    Ordinary Russians and Ukrainians do not want war. Putin’s invasion is an evil act that will destroy the lives of innocent Ukrainians, will plunge Russia into economic desperation, and will bring the world closer to the brink of nuclear annihilation.
    9:52 AM · Feb 24, 2022·

    1. Donald

      I don’t see that as off the rails. It’s possible to see the US as arrogant and blameworthy here and still be horrified by the invasion. It really isn’t a step forward to have two nuclear superpowers thinking they have the right to engage in humanitarian interventions. Eventually someone is going to miscalculate and then the survivors are living in a post apocalyptic landscape.

      I am frankly ignorant about the details of who has been worse leading up to this invasion, but even if the Ukrainian side has been worse there is nothing to be pleased with here. We are now living in a more dangerous world and I don’t like the fact that people like Putin and Biden have nuclear weapons at their disposal.

  46. Gerd

    Tuned into CNN for 10 minutes today. A retired general was being interviewed (of course).

    He said that Russia would dominate for the next two days but he felt there were not enough Russian troops to manage Ukraine. After the next two days the insurgency would kick-in and troops could get picked off due to being spread too thin.

    I have no idea if this is true but its a repeat of the Afghanistan and Iraq stories. Unless Russia makes a speedy withdrawal from the non Russian speaking areas of Ukraine.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Its more wishful thinking at this point. Moscow is well aware of the costs of occupation. Besides the Ukraine is kind of a dump.

      1. RobertC

        kind of a dump — 600,000 emigrants last year out of a population of 40M due to their government’s corrupt mismanagement. Putin would like to change that if he gets the chance.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      aye. somewhere in my wandering through msm true believerland, there was a twitter feed where blue checks were saying that the russians would have to pull out soon because of the cold.
      meritocracy, my shiny white finger.

    3. HotFlash

      I should find out that retired general’s name so I will know what to call a two-day time unit in which the corner will be turned.

  47. Soredemos

    I’m having an extremely hard time accepting the supposed proximate justification for all this, that Ukraine was about to make a major push on Donbass. To accept that is to accept the idea that just a couple days ago the Ukrainian military was willing to advance into the teeth of the Russian military, but that now that same Donbass front has largely disintegrated. That doesn’t make any kind of sense. Smells like a total false flag to me. Russia needed an excuse, so they simply manufactured one.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      That was not proximate cause, although you forget the UK had just sent a ton of much better weapons to them.

      The proximate cause was Zelensky saying negotiations were over by repudiating the France-German effort to revive the Minsk Protocols and then saying a day or two later they were going to develop nuclear weapons.

      1. masshole

        Seems to me that with ~150,000 Russian troops massing on Ukraine’s borders over several months the decision to invade deep inside Ukraine had been made prior to anything Zelinsky said (and as predicted by U.S. intelligence over the last week, a prediction that was pooh-poohed in some quarters). Unlikely that Putin would have “triggered” by comments from Zelinsky, though that could be used as a pretext. It’s not like Putin has been shy about his intentions.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          The reports on troops by Western media sources are highly unreliable. Russia routinely has >100,00 troops near the border, with some sources counting personnel 150 miles away.

          Russia had increased the number near the border in March and reduced it back to the old normal in April. They increased numbers again in Oct-Nov, but not to as high a level in March, which led to much louder noises from the West than in March. Russia moved some away in late Jan. The claims about what Russia is or is not doing have come too often from sources who are so rabidly anti-Russian as to raise questions re their accuracy (as in the same sources exaggerated the buildup in Oct-Nov, as well as making it sound as the #s were all newly installed, as opposed to largely pre-existing manning levels).

          We reported on that Feb 22 speech, and that announced only his intent to move peacekeepers into Donbass on the invitation of the separatist governments, relying on the precedent we set in Kosovo.

    2. jimmy cc

      it was planned months ago. they gave an ultimatum in December.

      when we rejected it out of hand, it was on.

      even our intellegence community knew it was coming.

    3. Jessica

      If the Ukrainians increased attacks on the Donbass, it would have been in the hopes of gaining/maintaining Western support. You are correct that doing so in the hopes of military gains on their own would have been ridiculous. The Ukrainian leadership understood that too. It is also possible that whatever Ukraine did was at the behest of the US/NATO, either explicitly or implicitly.

    4. KD

      There are several factors at work in this diplomatic situation.

      It is clear that Russia had an operational plan for this campaign that had been developed over months if not years, and they clearly put it into place for the world to see, so military action was always on the table.

      Kissinger said “never make an offer that you believe will be accepted, never make a threat that you will not follow through on” or something similar. It is my estimation that the Russian ultimatum was intended to throw down the gauntlet in a way that was intended to cause NATO and the US to reject it, thereby giving them a green light to proceed. Like the chimp/spoiled brats that they are, NATO and the US rejected it, and put their hands in the monkey trap.

      Second, the Russians recognized the republics and only after recognition, did they take action to–from their standpoint–defend them. This was intended to provide legality to the operations, consistent with NATO’s conduct in Yugoslavia, which the Russians will dredge up any time their actions are questioned.

      Third, Zelensky repudiated the Minsk agreements and threatened to develop nukes, which gave them their justification. Once the US/NATO/Ukrainian monkeys true to form mindlessly behaved in predictable ways, they were able to proceed under the pretense of legality based on the conduct of NATO in Bosnia (to stop genocide of ethnic minorities) and, of course, Bush’s invasion of Iraq (to prevent the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction). Yes, that is probably B.S. but it was also B.S. in Yugoslavia and Iraq.

      My guess is that this has always been in the works, they set their diplomatic traps, and their adversaries, in monkey fashion, fell right into them, and gave them sufficient diplomatic cover to conduct this operation.

      This view is in contrast to the Western one–who speak and argue in the language of spoiled children and behave like chimps. It is also contrary to the Russians, who while being adults probably had every intention of following through on a military campaign at the beginning, and were just checking the diplomatic boxes–we aren’t dealing with poor victims here, they are cynical realists making sure that they have a legitimate diplomatic and legal justification for their actions before taking those actions.

      However, this situation has been frozen since 2008, and it appears that Putin would have accepted a neutral Ukraine, and so the West has had 14 years to reach a reasonable compromise, so it really is a failure of Western diplomacy and foreign policy. It is definitely the West’s fault, even though, of course, other people will get to pay the price for their stupidity and arrogance. However, I believe since January at least, Russia was fed up with waiting, and felt they needed to take matters into their own hands, and set up a military/diplomatic trap.

  48. someone

    Tulsi Gabbard is an idiot, and so is this Tucker Carlson/Vlad Putin propaganda piece.

    News flash, NATO is already on Russia’s border. If NATO-related “security issues” were really an issue, Putin would be mounting troops along the border of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and even possibly Finland.

    Sure, NATO is involved, but this is clearly more than about NATO. It is, in reality, a story of a jilted lover (Putin, not even Russia, just Putin) looking to exact revenge on his ex (post 2014-Ukraine) and her new boyfriend (Western democracy). This is a classic abusive-boyfriend-situation, using force and intimidation in a vain attempt to restore the relationship to time before it went all to shit.

    If you want to argue that sanctions are going to be waste of time…I can’t argue against that. Personally, I think US should either start blowing up shit rather than tell Ukraine to f-off. Pretending that financial sanctions will move the needle is utterly delusional, but so is thinking that Putin’s goal is anything but illegitmate regime change.

    1. Elsie

      This doesn’t make any sense. You think this is about one mans petty grievances?

      Nations are complex things that can’t be understood by amateur psychological profiling of one person in that nation no matter how powerful they are. Nations are the products of many different actors. What happening here is the results of many actions initiated by many individuals. This is not the result of a vengeful boy friend.

    2. KD

      Yes, and the even bigger idiot was President John F. Kennedy, who brought the world to the brink of nuclear war over some missiles in Cuba, which was a peaceful egalitarian society that only wanted to protect itself.

      In fact, it would be great if Cuba and Venezuela and even Mexico brought over some Russian military advisors and based a bunch of troops and nuclear weapons in the Western hemisphere. Even the Neocons would be down with it because we all recognize that you can not have one rule for the Anglos and another for the Slavs, so we can look forward to greater security as a result of Russian and Chinese troops and nuclear armaments in the Western Hemisphere.

  49. Gulag

    Summary of first 24 hours of Russian military activity:

    1) Full Scale invasion of Ukraine with maximal war aims
    2) Multi-Axis ground assault from North, East and South
    3) Large Air Assaults on air fields and air bases
    4) Tempo of Russian moves so far (Land and Air)– blitz-like (going in as fast as possible)
    5) Best future guess: Will be heavy fighting over next 2 to 3 days

  50. HotFlash

    I am trying to remember, didn’t something happen when the USSR had some missiles ’90 miles away’. That was back in the early 1960’s. I think there was some kerfluffle?

  51. ChrisRUEcon

    I love this Family blog …

    Thanks for all this. I have so much to say. Got into it online with a couple CTR/VBNMW trolls last night. Not proud of myself … but not entirely ashamed either … I hate #ShitLibs … LOL

    But I’ll start my thoughts with something that has occurred to me as I piece this all the way back to Gorbachev and Yeltsin …

    Ukraine is Putin’s “Grenada” …

    1. skippy

      Ukraine is Putin’s “Grenada” …

      I can’t agree with that proposition Chris. Grenada had no strategic or economic value and was still a clusterfk of an operation against a rabble which is closely followed by Panama. Don’t see Russia have any of those dramas.

      OTOH whilst partaking of a popular FPS game, which I use as a backdrop to a largely younger cohort and track player perspectives, today, I had the misfortune of listening in game to a bunch of Cobra Ki like young blokes talking about how the west should remove both Russia and China from the map for destroying Capitalism. Still under the impression they are communist, not that they ever were, but went nuts when informed of their error. Then after some too and fro about how things are going down hill in America blamed it all on the 60s and the welfare state introducing communism to the U.S.

      As they foot chewed and went full vulgar for lack of an informed argument I got vote kicked off the server at the height of their multi-person verbal spew with giggles of your gone~~~~

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        LOL … the kids are not gonna be alright

        … and my sympathies for you getting the boot.

        > “I can’t agree with that proposition Chris. Grenada had no strategic or economic value and was still a clusterfk of an operation against a rabble which is closely followed by Panama. Don’t see Russia have any of those dramas.”

        That’s a fair assessment, skip … I realize my meandering is somewhat odd … I would only say that the comparison is less meant as a apples-to-apples one based on strategy, events or outcomes, but rather better understood by the overarching philosophy of the invader. That philosophy is perhaps best summed up by the quote made famous by Heath Ledger’s Joker, which if I were to paraphrase, would be something like this:

        … it’s not about conquest, it’s about sending a message.

    2. ChrisRUEcon


      This entire set of events has got to be one of the greatest examples of Eff-Around-And-Find-Out … LOL

      Waiting for the memes to roll in … in the meantime, I have questions:

      What is NATO’s purpose post-Soviet-disolution?!

      I mean, it’s really just a market for arms makers, right? Russia isn’t communist anymore, so what pray tell is NATO defending against? The Chinese? North Korea?

      Trying to convince myself I’m not suffering PTSD from too much #Twitter doom-scrolling (via The Office of The Historian):

      “The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was created in 1949 by the United States, Canada, and several Western European nations to provide collective security against the Soviet Union.”

      ::Narrator:: … but there was no more Soviet Union

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        “We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Badges”

        I opined elsewhere last night that Putin’ invasion was essentially a giant middle finger to the West’s sanctions! Love the section in the article listing the “coalition of the unwilling” (to sanction) … ;-)

        It also made me remember China’s and Russia’s joint plan to circumvent SWIFT – which I personally heartily endorse as a counter to dollar/euro hegemony. I don’t think the Acela-South braintrust is reading the tea leaves in that cup at all. It’s going to be something else when Putin (or whoever else is leading Russia) really doesn’t give a family-blog about dollar reserves at the Fed.

        Bonus: not sure which class I slept through, but I only realized last night that Russia in not a member of OPEC. What another wonderful de-coupling …

  52. The Rev Kev

    One guy on Twitter nailed it-

    ‘Carlos Martinez
    The last day has witnessed 3 sets of airstrikes:

    1. Israeli strikes against the Syrian military
    2. Saudi strikes against Yemeni civilians
    3. Russian strikes against Ukrainian military installations

    Nobody’s talking about 1 or 2, because they’re business as usual for imperialism’

    One guy replied that he forgot to mention Somalia being bombed by the US too.

  53. Amfortas the hippie

    tending fires again, 2am-6am.
    some links for later:
    first, delusion:

    next, from folks i have learned to trust:

    and a little hypocrisy for good measure:
    and some msm background on the latter:

    like someone said yesterday…the gaslighting is making me lightheaded.
    like in every one of the usa instigated conflicts in my lifetime…rather, since i became aware enough(mid-80’s)…i find myself in potential “traitor” territory…because i prefer to think for myself, get all around an issue, and resist propaganda from people who have shown themselves again and again to be liars.
    oh, well.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I liked that Facebook article. Makes you wonder though. If Facebook was around during WW2, would they let you give likes to the the Banderits fighting the Soviets on behalf of the Wehrmacht? I guess that if you mentioned all the Banderite Ukrainian death squads that carried out pogroms and massacres that they had done against the Poles and those of a certain religion would have led to your account being suspended as being misinformation. Come to think of it – did Facebook let you give likes to ISIS when they were fighting the Syrian Army? :)

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