Ukraine Update: Back of the Envelope Calculations, Digital Evidence, Maps, Scenarios

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Having become “kinetic,” the situation in Ukraine has also become overly dynamic; I hope readers will supply up-to-date and vetted information as events progress, because I feel that whatever detail I go into here will rapidly become obsolete (or turn out to have been based on bad data; see below)[1]. Meanwhile, here are a few back of the envelope calculations to help scope the matter.

First, kilometers. Search tells me that Kyiv, Ukraine is 327km from Gomel, Belarus, near the border. Converting to the imperial system of measurement — ironic name, that — for my own comprehension, that’s 203.188 miles. Assuming conservatively that a tank can move at 25 miles per hour, that’s about 8 hours for Russian tanks to reach Ukraine’s seat of government, assuming little resistance. In fact, the trip seems to have taken about 24 hours. From the Financial Times:

Russia’s onslaught breached the suburbs of Kyiv on Friday as armoured columns battled towards Ukraine’s two biggest cities in Europe’s largest military offensive since the second world war.

Kyiv residents woke to loud explosions shortly after 4am and reports of Russian armoured vehicles advancing into the northern Kyiv district of Obolon, bringing street fighting to the 3mn-strong capital.

Western officials said that stronger than expected Ukrainian resistance on Thursday slowed Russia’s two key objectives of encircling Kyiv and capturing Kharkiv in the north-east, Ukraine’s second-biggest city.

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky delivered an early morning address to his country as his army warned Russian troops were “moving at speed” towards central Kyiv followed by a column of military trucks.

(I’m assuing the troops heading toward Kyiv are coming South from Belarus, not West from the Donbas, or up from Crimea. I’m also assuming there won’t be a heroic last stand in Kyiv.)

Second, troops involved. Ukraine has an army nominally sized at 209,000. Russia’s troop count for the operation is opaque, but calculating from BBC figures, a little over 60,000 are involved. (60% of Russia’s troops are within 50km of the border, and half of those are “tactically deployed.”)

Third, casualties. From WikiPedia’s updating page:

Wars are bad, even small wars. At least that is the principle I think leadership should begin from. Of course, a small war can have large geopolitical effects, as this war doubtless will; the lightest touch can collapse a house of cards. And if you have a bet riding on that house of cards, a light touch can have enormous leverage. Nevertheless, as measured by the standards of our own wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, or our sponsored wars in Yemen or Syria, this is a mercifully small war, both in troops and casualties. And if a war ends when a combatant’s capital is captured, this war will end soon (although I’m not sure it will, for reasons I will briefly explain below).

Back of the envelope calculations complete, I want to look at three topics. First, an old favorite: Digital evidence. Second, maps. Third, scenarios for what happens next.

Digital Evidence

First, my standard for visuals in war reporting is something like this (By Flag on the Reichstag, Fair use):

I don’t know if the Russians will be crass enough to raise a Russian over Ukraine’s Parliament, but if they did, that would be excellent proof they had really captured Kyiv, as opposed to, say, a Tik Tok video of the event.

Much of the digital evidence you see online is faked by amateurs. From Gizmodo:

Gizmodo has found at least ten viral photos and videos currently being spread on social media that are completely fake. In some cases, the videos and photos are years old. In others, the images are clearly not from Ukraine. There are even two examples of videos on Twitter today that are actually from war-themed video games, something Russian state media has previously tried to do on multiple occasions.

I don’t know why anybody would Tweet out a picture of an old war for the current war, but apparently people do. (I mean, one would expect official fakery to be more adept, although when we think back to Colin Powell’s vial of white powder, perhaps not.)

Other digital evidence you see online can be staged:

At least we have the Reuters sigil, but from the commentary, these troops do not seem to have taken up actual combat positions.[2]

A second example:

The account (@brycewilsonAU) is real. Loading the photo into Google Image Search, I find the use in this tweet is the only example. So, interesting. However, I do think if a photographer had taken a wider angle shot of the Ukrainian National Guardsmen above, from farther away, the same theme would have emerged.

Then, quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Neiman Labs has a list of resources for following the war, but hilariously lists Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council’s cut-out to the Intertubes, which is a lot like putting the American Council of Pork Producers in charge of censoring fact-checking information on swine fever.

Finally, some common sense suggestions:

Be careful out there.


Of the several maps available, I will select the Financial Times, the BBC, and the New York Times.

First, the Financial Times:

You will note the lack of dynamism (no arrows) and the sketchy provenance of the data. Even a lowly site like PayDay report, when it puts a dot on their strike map, tells you where they got the data!

Second, the BBC:

Here we have arrows. It would be even nicer to have roads, so we could know if the tanks were moving by road or overland. The provenance is sketchy in the extreme, even worse than the FT.

Third, the New York Times:

Here we have both explosions for ground fighting and arrows (though the two seem to have little relation to each other). And the captions are handy. But the provenance is worst of all. We’re basing Times reporting on information from one of the combatants? Really?

These are not really maps. They’re graphics. designed to show what a child of six knows: That the Russians are attacking from the North, the East, and the South. (As with so much journalism, the point of these maps is not to convey information, but authority, or at least authoritativeness.)

Wtih relief, we turn to digital projects. Tnis is interesting:

Perhaps some readers would like to play around with the app. Of course, you should put your trust in digital evidence from these feeds as much as you would put your trust in any feed where war and peace are at stake; i.e., not at all. Fun, though!

And then there’s Google Maps. From Vice:

At 3:15 AM local time, Jeffrey Lewis, an open source intelligence (OSINT) expert and professor at Middlebury Institute, saw a traffic jam in Belgorod, Russia, using the traffic layer of Google Maps. “Someone’s on the move,” he tweeted…. Lewis said this wasn’t as simple as them loading up Google Maps and seeing a traffic jam, assuming it meant an invasion was occurring. They were also using optical and radar satellite imagery taken days before. On Tuesday, they had a radar picture taken by Capella Space, a company that provides satellite imagery, showing Russian armored and heavy vehicles lined up in columns ready to move.

“We all looked at the picture, and was like, oh shit, it’s coming,” he said. As they were monitoring this unit, they noticed the traffic jam. “So it’s the prior work of knowing that there’s a giant Russian armored unit sitting right there that allowed us to say, like, oh, I know what that traffic jam is, they’re getting on the road.”

Google Maps live traffic data works by incorporating location and speed information from Android phones. This led many commenters responding to his tweets to assume the Russian soldiers left their phones on—which would be horrendous cybersecurity hygiene—and Google was picking that up. But Lewis said that almost certainly was not the case, and the traffic data Google was showing was ordinary people who couldn’t get on the road because of Russian military movement.

“We have developed incredibly data rich definitions of what normal patterns of life look like,” Lewis said, “And any deviation is immediately caught.”

Interesting, but sadly not happening in real time. There is also this Google map:

Here, at least you get sourcing when you click on a dot — yay! — but the map authorship is incredibly dubious: “This map is put together by a group of friends seeking to map the conflict.”

For all I know, there’s a dynamic map with full provenance out there on the Intertubes, but if there is, I haven’t found it. Readers?


Finally, in no particular order, I present some threaded tweetstorms on future scenarios for Ukraine. I take no view on any of them, but you may find them interesting to read and assess:

Scenarios (1):

Scenarios (2):

Scenarios (3):

Scenarios (4):

I won’t venture to predict what the new “security model” for Europe will be, now that NATO”s house of cards has been shown to be wobbly, to say the least. However, I’m long stupid generally, and long stupid here, at least for the actions of the United States, which I know something about. I think we will fund and support an insurgency within Ukraine, no doubt using Azov Battalion types plus mercs and dupes, in an attempt to bleed Russia, dreaming of a Color Revolution. I doubt very much that will work even in its own terms, because we have form (losing) and Russia has form (winning)[2]. And if that means hardening the border with the EU, then (from Russia’s perspective) so be it. Notice this policy has continuity with previous US policy.


To fair, those who meme aren’t entirely good-for-nothings:

Idea: Swap out Zelensky, swap in Juan Guaidó?


[1] For example, as of this writing China’s Xi Urges Putin to Negotiate With Ukraine During Call. or Ukraine ready for talks with Russia on neutral status – official.

[2] Except in Afghanistan. We both lost there.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. Polar Socialist

      Three of those feeds seem to be from Sumy, 300 km east of Kiev and which, according to Russian MoD, has been encircled (circumvented?) by Russian forces this evening.

    2. urblintz

      correction – 2 of the cameras are looking at Sumy so it’s not just Kiev. What do you say to that Putin-apologists? Huh? Huh?!

        1. urblintz

          And I hope you’d have seen that I recognized my error within 10 minutes of posting.
          But you didn’t.
          The video feed is labeled Ukraine, Kiev.
          My bad… and your “gotcha!”
          so please, continue raising those eyebrows, helps keep me in line.

          1. Yves Smith

            You are totally out of line in demanding or expecting Lambert to closely monitor comments, and even more so on rapid response basis. We focus on the mod queue and only deal with posted comments on an “as available” basis, which = not often.

            You are rapidly accumulating troll points.

    3. Tom Stone

      Moving tanks 200 miles in 24 hours is impressively fast when you consider road conditions in a war zone and the need to refuel and feed the troops.
      Also consider the physical condition of the troops when they arrived in Kyiv, Russian tanks are not known for comfort and those troops have been awake and trying to stay alert for longer than 24 hours.
      They are undoubtedly flying on speed just to keep going, which does not improve one’s judgement.

      1. marku52

        I like to watch the Chieftain on utoob. He’s an US ex tanker. He climbs over tanks of various vintages and complains about how uncomfortable and difficult they are to operate. I recall one WWII US antitank vehicle he was evaluating, and commented that the force on the steering levers was about 100 pounds…..

    1. johnherbiehancock

      I’ve noticed the Liveuamap for Ukraine has been down the past couple days. I assume b/c of something to do with the Russian invasion?

      However, I found that the Liveumap for Europe has details on Ukraine though:

      Using the maps measuring feature, looks like the northern pincer of Russian forces is still about 40 miles from the outskirts of Kyiv.

  1. CG

    I’ve got to say, given that the Russians have only so far committed a force of 60,000 compared to the Ukrainian militaries 200,000, which in and of itself is between half to a quarter roughly of the estimates I have heard for Russian forces in the region, that leads me to two observations.

    First, the Kremlin appears to have at least a Paul Wolfowitz figure high up, telling the Russian leadership that Russian troops will find themselves welcomed as liberators, or whatever formula would result in little to no real Ukrainian opposition to Russia’s invasion. And two, especially with regards to the Russians seizing Hostomel with an air assault within hours of the beginning of the conflict, they’re using this as opportunity to show off rather than viewing it as a serious fight.

    Now it’s just a matter of seeing whether or not this deserves to be called Operation Ukrainian Freedom or not. And that won’t be known for at least several months to years after the “end of major combat operations”.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the Kremlin appears to have at least a Paul Wolfowitz figure high up, telling the Russian leadership that Russian troops will find themselves welcomed as liberators, or whatever formula would result in little to no real Ukrainian opposition to Russia’s invasion

      Could be. I’m seeing lots of pictures of Molotov cocktails being prepared in Kyiv. So I find an interesting tweet of a guy driving around Kyiv talking to people about that, and it turns out…. He’s from the Atlantic Council.

      We know nothing, we really know nothing. Only events on the ground matter, and there we have no reliable info. At some point, the winner will emerge.

      1. OnceWereVirologist

        I would advise following some Russian and Ukrainian Telegram feeds. Lots of citizen journalists taking pictures and videos with their cellphones from their apartment windows.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Consider reading the post. Spooks are to citizen journalists as the cops are to the black bloc. Sad but true. Maybe in the US we could sus them out, but on the other side of the world, not speaking the language? Not a chance.

    2. jimmy cc

      Air Assault attack on an airport is a serious fight. It is also one of the opening tactics employed by the Soviet Union when they attacked Afghanistan.

      They flew Spetznaz forces in commercial airliners I believe which captured the airport for regular paratroopers who were flown in.

    3. John k

      We were welcomed as liberators – then we sacked their military and police instead of giving them all raises. They both knew how to use weapons and exactly where they were stored.
      In this case if the west is pissed at Russia they would first have to fight their way thru the East, I.e. the buffer.

    4. Skip Intro

      Perhaps they are aiming for something like ‘denazification in detail’ where officials and individuals are ‘arrested’ for various crimes of the regime, while most of the structure of the government remains. I was under the impression that Zelensky was already a step in the denazification direction taken by Ukrainian voters.

    5. cocomaan

      they’re using this as opportunity to show off rather than viewing it as a serious fight.

      that’s my perception as well. This is Russia showing off what they can do.

    6. christofay

      The ground army of whoever the U. S. government is backing is always over estimated, Afghanistan, Iraq, South Vietnam. In this case dive by a reality factor of 2 at least so 200,000 = 100,000. I grant that the notorious Azov Battalion will fight. How many more more in addition, I don’t know.

  2. polar donkey

    Zelensky must seem crazy or a fool to the Russians. 1) A comedian who wants to President of Ukraine. Who wants that job? 2) Zelensky believes NATO and the US will let Ukraine in NATO and help defend against Russian aggression. 3) Doesn’t follow Minsk Agreement, increasing tensions 4) Sends mixed messages about lessen tensions and getting nuclear weapons 5) Perhaps Ukraine and Russia negotiate neutrality, de-militarization, and de-nazification, then ghosts. (Maybe the Nazis caught up with him before the Red Army) This line of work doesn’t seem to fit Zelensky.

      1. Roland

        All that Memorandum says is that USA will seek UNSC action if Ukraine gets attacked. So what? Russia has a veto on UNSC.

        The USA honoured the Memorandum, but there wasn’t much there to get honoured.

        If Kuchma had wanted an express military guarantee, then he should have made sure to get one.

        1. Polar Socialist

          Actually 2013 USA argued that the memorandum is not legally binding when they violated it by sanctioning Belarus.

    1. johnherbiehancock

      I assume he’s the Ukrainian version of Mikheil Saakashvili.

      If this follows the same path the 2008 Russian invasion of Georgia did – presumably a little longer path since Ukraine is bigger than Georgia – we’ll see the Russians stop advancing at some point, after resistance has crumbled, a ceasefire be negotiated, and then Donetsk & Lugansk, and maybe more formally recognized as independent, or annexed to Russia… either way with Russian troops permanently stationed there.

      Zelensky may stay in power, along with the rest of the Ukrainian government, but it won’t matter because the NATO thing will have been quietly dropped, along with any talk of us arming them.

      1. Matt Green

        If the goal was to station Russian troops in the East I’m pretty certain that could have been arranged without anything like this much destruction. And that’s assuming a best possible outcome, which you won’t see.

  3. carbpow

    Call me simple but I do not understand why Russia invaded Ukraine. I have read all manner of theories about the relationship between Russia and Ukraine but have yet to digest what advantage Russia gains, At the end of the day it all comes down to money, always has. So, can someone enlighten us on the monetary advantage Russia hopes to gain?

    1. OnceWereVirologist

      There is no monetary advantage, so I think you’re premise is wrong. Not everything comes down to money.

      1. carbpow

        Respectfully disagree. All conflicts revolve around money interests. Otherwise it is ludicrous to expend a nations treasure to attack another country. If there are exceptions please enlighten me

        1. nippersdad

          They view a NATO, or even a NATO adjacent, Ukraine to be an existential threat. When that is the viewpoint then money is no object.

            1. LarryMotuz

              Absolutely! Money is no substitute for resources. MMT can only redirect how resources are being used or obtained.

          1. eg

            This is where I currently find myself — I can’t figure out the cost/benefit analysis that led to wholesale Russian invasion of Ukraine. So obviously I am missing something or several things.

        2. David May

          I think you are suffering from “America Brain” (the belief that everything has a monetary value).

          1. BrianC - PDX

            The US of A where we know the cost of “everything” down to the penny, and the value of absolutely nothing.

            Decades of worshiping Mammon by our elites. Any other motivation for an action is foreign to them.

          2. Henry Moon Pie

            And that’s why America’s elites are completely baffled by two things happening now: 1) China serious treatment of Covid rather than “let ‘er rip;” and 2) Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. All they can manage is outrage.

        3. KFritz

          Wars almost always contain an element of the ludicrous. Just think about the destruction of so much that people have labored to build and accumulate. The second aphorism from “The Art of War” is, ” ‘Weapons are tools of ill omen.’ War is a grave matter; one is apprehensive lest men embark upon it without due reflection.”

    2. Grebo

      It’s not about money, or Ukraine, it’s about Russia and America. Ukraine has become a pawn in the US game to subjugate Russia (again). A gun to the head. Russia does not want to be subjugated so it is removing the gun.

      1. carbpow

        No not new here, but have friends in Ukraine who ask the same questions I do. If the Ukrainian people wanted the Russians in Ukraine they would have invited them and an invasion would not be needed.

        1. Robert Dudek

          Your friends do not understand how an empire or wanna-be-empire operates? I think they should undertake a careful study of history.

        2. Pat

          Perhaps your friends would be better off asking if they really wanted America and Europe there? They should really understand that unless you have something American oligarchs really really want your country and its people are merely pawns and easily sacrificed.

          Tell them that they are Cuba in 1962, Russia is America, and America is Russia. Only this time Russia/America is insane and demented because they are run by bullying cookoo clocks who don’t want to avoid nuclear war. So they didn’t really negotiate and instead continued plans to install weapons in Cuba/Ukraine and that President even threatened to build their own nukes. Then let them know they are actually lucky it isn’t America who was being threatened, as they were willing to flatten Cuba AND all current history has them taking out hundreds of thousands civilians when they enter a country. From most current reports Russia has been relatively surgical. There is much less death and destruction then when we are in charge.

    3. Andrey Subbotin

      Ukraine was groomed to become an expendable attack dog that mauls Russia and probably dies in process. Attempts to wrestle it back into pre-2014 neutraity failed. That was what Minsk 2 was about. Maybe if we did not take Crimea back then, situation would have been different, but now we did what we did, and things are what they are. War is not a good choice, but all other options are worse and I unhappily support what Putin is doing. I am Russian citisen.
      I think there were hopes for crimea-like bloodless takeover, so first day there were no high-casualty strikes and attempts to present an overwhelming success, and call for surrender. They mostly failed, though we probably did accrue some credit for trying. Second day, we are shifting into proper war mode, with MRLS and airstrikes and tank columns.

      1. Robert Dudek

        If you thought it was going to be bloodless – I’d say that it was a foolish belief. Kiev regime didn’t even give in on the Donbas, areas that were clearly pro-Russia. Why would you think they wouldn’t fight against an invasion of the entire country?

        1. Andrey Subbotin

          On Donbass regular Ukraine army was extremely reluctant to fight initially, and had to be reinforced by nationalist battalions. Since then it was indoctrinated a lot, and feelings hardened under fire. On the other hand,
          * Kiev started banning Russian language and whitewashing SS veterans, which had to annoy Russian speakers
          * it can be argued that EU integration did not work well for Ukraine and life under Russia would not be worse (Crimean was definitely better),
          * Russia is (or at least tries to present itself as) an unstoppable force, unlike Donbass militias. People only need an excuse to avoid fighting unstoppable forces.

            1. Andrey Subbotin

              Is the country that forcibly reeducates children to not speak the language of their parents a homeland worth fighting for?

                1. The Rev Kev

                  He is referring to the Ukraine. After the coup, they appointed this woman in charge of education so she went to tour a school and was in a class of little kids. She was a real piece of work. She’d ask the kids their names and if it was a Ukrainian one, she would praise them but if they had a Russian name, she would shame them in front of their classmates.

                  1. FD

                    I know, but that reminded me of what your teacher or parent would tell you about pointing a finger at someone.

            2. Polar Socialist

              A quick look at the history books gives at least 7 times area of current Ukraine was conquered.

              To be frank, the same folks are still mostly there, so they didn’t actually “give up their homeland”, they just had new rulers.

      2. ex-PFC Chuck

        Also, Russia correctly saw the possibility (probability?) of a NATO member Ukraine basing offensive nuclear missiles near its borders as an existential threat. It’s an existential threat to the US and its allies also because the Bear would have to put both it’s offensive and defensive weapons on a permanent state of alert comparable to the USA’s DEFCON 2 – upon detection of an adversary’s missile launch shoot first and ask questions later. If there is a later. The problem with a DEFCON 2 type situation is $hit happens down the chain of command. During the week of the Cuban Missile crisis there were three such incidents we know of. Check them out here, here*, and here. Do we really want Russia to be put in that position? I think not, and that’s what the two treaties Russia proposed in December were all about. The neocons, who’ve pushed every other voice into oblivion beyond the Beltway, blew them off.

        * This Guardian piece has been altered since I first read it several years ago. A more recent account of this incident says the Russian officer was the boat’s executive officer (i.e 2nd in command under the captain), not the flotilla commander as that other piece stated. In the current Guardian piece is position is not clear.

    4. Stove Goblin

      Russia’s modus operandi for cultivating friendly political actors is through energy transactions: sell gas to companies at discount rates whose owners are friendly, then Russia purchases electricity generated by that company at above market rates at the expense of the Russian people. However, this is illegal in the EU where members pay the same market rate, protected by an independent judiciary. This is what’s holding up Nord 2, it’s operators must not be engaged in anti-competitive practices. To ensure this, the operator must be incorporated in an EU country, its assets under EU legal jurisdiction, subsidiaries playing fair. This is antithetical to everything for which Putin stands and negates his advantages.

      If Ukraine were to expand its free-trade zones with the EU, the flow of capital reverses, where capital will be invested securely within European banks and spent freely in the underdeveloped country, not the least of which is new energy infrastructure investment. New lenders undercut Russia’s cheap energy, where Ukraine could purchase gas for pennies more at German prices from more suppliers piped from the west. Then the Russian financial and talent exodus accelerates exponentially (the real issue). Kyiv becomes the next Dublin for Eurasian multinationals.

      1. Andrey Subbotin

        Russian electricity prices are way below EU ones. What “expense of the Russian people”?
        You seem to be implying that Ukraine could consistently get cheaper natgas from Europe. Seriously? What would be the source of that cheaper natgas?

      2. LawnDart

        Ukraine could purchase gas for pennies more at German prices from more suppliers piped from the west…”

        Seriously? WTF? Are you really that ignorant or did you forget the /s-tag on your post?

      3. The Rev Kev

        Over the years the Ukraine has been sourcing gas from the west. So where did the west get that gas from? Why Russia of course. Those countries would buy it from Russia and sell & pipe it back across the borders to the Ukraine. If they had not done that, then the Ukraine would do what they had done in the past – divert European supplies to themselves. Re-selling gas was actually illegal in the contracts signed but Russia let it slide back then.

    5. NotTimothyGeithner

      This is an oversimplification. You have to consider the perspective.

      -NATO expansion
      -Russia has to respond which means money has to be spent at some point.
      -the US is agreement incapable. Libya, Iraq, Iran, etc.
      -attacks on Russia and China through proxies. Georgia, Armenia, and Syria.
      -they could go tit for tat where they put everything on a trip wire, or they could wreck the place now.
      -we aren’t talking about new people. We are talking about Joe Biden. noted proponent of destroying countries.
      -Biden is explicitly a stay the course guy. He can’t claim the mantle that Obama tried of being a new and different America.
      -At this moment, NATO and the US don’t really have the firepower or resources to actually respond within these regions, but they were delivering weapons and building bases. Now is the time.

      The basic problem is every Russian demand/request in the last eight years has been more than reasonable. The US and the West simply failed to live up to their side of bargains, most notably Minsk.

      Its like the Oslo Accords from 1993. The Israelis started reneging and the Palestinians moved to the next step to show good faith, and then the Israeils said they didn’t care. Bill shrugged his shoulders despite his promise of guaranteeing the agreement negotiated by Norway and the UK. The Palestinians tried again, and Ehud Barak said, his cabinet won’t agree, and Bill shrugged his shoulders.

      This is a fun read if you’ve never read it. Don’t watch it. People love the greatest orator of our day when they see him on tv.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Netanyahu and Likud worked hard to achieve the assassination of Rabin which allowed Rabin’s place to be taken by non-Rabins who would do the reneging that Netanyahu and Likud wanted. ( And possibly also whatever parts of the Israeli security system also wanted a non-Rabin in place to start reneging).

    6. XXYY

      I don’t think there’s any big secret about it. The Russians have been talking about it for decades. We just haven’t been paying attention.

      The overriding imperial project for the US and NATO since WWII has been to roll back the Russian territories that they gained during the war, and then, if possible beyond that into Russia itself. You can see how NATO has been expanding (map here) little by little, inch by inch since the 1950s.

      Ukraine since the 2014 US-sponsored coup (overseen by Victoria Nuland, who is now in Biden’s State Department) was just the latest step in this process, and obviously Putin and Russia felt the time had come to try to stop this in its tracks. Elements in the timing were probably Russian millitary strength, military weakness of EU countries, corruption and incompetence of Western leaders, “sanctions-proofing” by Russia, degenerating US/China relations, recent proclamations by the former comedian-turned-Ukranian leader, and a ton of other things.

      You can imagine the US reaction if Russia had gradually overthrown the various states of Mexico and Canada (Quebec first!), installed pro-Russia puppets, and was building military bases, missile launching sites, and doing coordinated training with the Russian army. There would be no mystery about why the US leadership was running around with it’s hair on fire. The Russians, at least to external indications, have been fairly restrained by comparison. This was probably forced upon them by economic and military weakness in the 80’s and after the collapse of the USSR, which has now been repaired to an extent. Putin actually went through a lot of this history in his long speech (invariably described in the US press as “meandering” or “disjointed”) last week.

      So I think the Russians are signaling that they have put their house in order and that enough is enough, as I would hope our leadership would do in a similar situation.

      1. Acacia

        Thanks for the link to that map. Good summary of how we got here — and @NotTimothyGeithner’s (above), too. NATO has been looking for a war in the Ukraine since the 2014 coup, and now they’ve got one. Stoltenberg is now apparently saying NATO members will provide weapons, though not NATO itself. I guess that was to be expected and the Russians have presumably gamed it out.

        Putin’s presentation is actually not that long (less than 30 mins) and lays out the rationale for this military operation quite clearly. Unlike pretty much all of our leaders, he’s a good speaker, so it’s not difficult to watch:

        Vladimir Putin’s Speech on Ukraine and US Foreign Policy and NATO – 24 February 2022, ENG Subtitles

        Regarding data sources, I see that some people on social media are now using geolocation software to figure out where photos were taken. At first, I thought “4chan autists working overtime!” but apparently there are apps to do this now, e.g.:

        Unfortunately, I tend to agree with Lambert’s overall assessment that this conflict may not end anytime soon.

        1. Yves Smith

          The long speech was the Feb 22 speech, nearly an hour. Oddly I can’t get to the translation on the Kremlin site, not just on Google but also on Qwant, a European search engine. The YouTube simultaneous translation is horrible. May not be inaccurate but is painful and halting.

            1. Yves Smith

              Yes, I have read it, twice, as well as his speech on the launch of the invasion. However, I went to look for it again and the site could not be accessed. I had contacts in two completely different areas of the world confirm, one using a VPN. John Helmer also confirmed and said it had been down for about 10 hours (this as of 4 hours ago). I still cannot access it. Lambert says it is being blocked at the DNS level which takes sophistication.

              1. Sibiryak

                Yves, thanks for the info. I’m sometimes blocked from sites. This is the first time I’ve enjoyed access to a site blocked to others!

                And let me take this opportunity to thank you for the uncompromising NC coverage of this and so many other important issues.

              2. Mike

                I VPN’d into the 1st link successfully through Brazil. i copied and pasted it into microsoft word if you want it.

              3. PDC

                The message of the 24 is available from TASS agency. It is crystal clear: the main motivation of Putin´s decision is to do a preemptive strike against USA-NATO “before it´s too late” i.e. in self-defense. Ukraine plays a comparatively marginal role.
                To me, this points to a paranoid disorder, to be expected in a dictator that has been 22 years in power. I would even guess that he might be on drugs (again, only but natural to face the stress of his position).
                Many of the “weird” personal remarks can be also interpreted as mirroring of Putin´s personal actions, intentions, delusions and fears. Examples:
                “the paralysis of power and will is the first step towards complete degradation and oblivion”
                “Dissenters are broken through the knee”
                “this is ultimately a matter of life and death, a matter of our historical future as a people. And this is not an exaggeration – it is true”
                “The policy of the “empire of lies” […] is based primarily on brute, straightforward force”
                One might almost smile to the psychological implications of contemptuous remarks as:
                “pseudo-values ​​that would corrode us, our people from the inside, those attitudes that they are already aggressively planting in their countries and which directly lead to degradation and degeneration, because they contradict the very nature of man”. After all, he has always tried to pose as a “macho”.

                For the rest, a comparatively smart mixtures of (sadly) true accusations to USA&C (e.g. Iraq war 2003), rhetoric, revisionist history (esp. about WW2) and pathetic assurances concerning his benevolence and good intentions.
                I think we should all be scared. I am.

      2. JCDenton

        The only controversial country might be Ukraine by some measures, but none of the other countries which have joined NATO in last 20 years have been overthrown by US. And I’m not some random dude in the middle of US, I actually happen to live in one of these countries.

        I have no delusions that US is doing it out of altruism, but I’ll take US hegemony over the shit that Russia tries to peddle me any day.

    7. Henry Moon Pie

      My personal theory is that the remaining sane countries in the world got together and agreed that something had to be done to begin bringing the Empire to an end. Putin drew the short straw or the long one depending on how high feelings were running.

      Seriously, at times the lectures coming from Lavrov and Putin have seemed like a team attempting an intervention or even deprogramming.

      1. XXYY

        I actually like this theory better than any others I have heard. I hope the history gets written this way.

    8. Chromex

      Not sure about this but Greg Palast, in an interview by Scott Horton ( said that religion was involved. I am not sure of the details as I was listening only intermittently but apparently some Russian orthodox muck-a-muck ( who has Putin’s ear) is angry at how the church was treated by the Ukrainian orthdoxers from2014 on.. this makes some sense to me but we are in trouble if it IS a religious conflict as they tend toward the highly irrational ( Crusades et al)

      1. LawnDart

        Minus de-Russiafication, 15k civilian casualties in Donbas, and the people burned alive in Odessa, of course. Religion also would seem to have little to do with NATO encroachment, bombardments of populated areas, and the revivement of nuclear programs, because as far as I know, we’re not marching East to the tune of “Onward Christian Soldiers.”

      2. The Rev Kev

        Before the coup, the Ukrainians were under the Russian Orthodox church but after the coup, the nationalists started to burn Russian Orthodox churches. They then set up a new Ukrainian orthodox church in the same way that Henry VIII on England split the church from Rome. So a religious hatred was added to this boiling pot to ensure that Russia and the Ukraine would be forever divided.

      3. the last D

        In today’s links, there’s a story from the India Times about a russian mp who says his vote for the recognition of the independence for the Donbass oblasts, didn’t mean that he would support the events now occurring in Ukraine. In that same edition of the India Times, there’s an interesting story concerning a possible religious impetus for the war in Ukraine. Worth noting, even reading. Not saying it’s true, but politics make strange bedfellows.

    9. aview

      Nuclear weapons on ballistic missiles, staged ~400miles from Moscow. My apple maps tells me Sumy to Moscow is 434miles by road. Some of Ukraine is within 400miles. I do not know the likely staging grounds.
      But 400miles is distance from Charlotte NC to Washington DC.
      The US reacted when there was a threat of ballistic missiles from Cuba, ~1,000miles from DC. Just read up on the Cuban missile crisis and how it came about.
      First strike capability is an existential threat. Is it really that complicated?
      If you want to know what Putin claims are, read his speech.

    10. Harold

      The “money” is the Caspian oil fields, possibly.

      Flashback to 2000:
      Oil and Caspian

    11. Roop Dogg

      Thucydides identifies three causes of war: fear, honour and interest. Usually some combination of the three at play, but one can imagine there being a big slice of honour motivating here.

      1. alcibiades

        If Thucydides were commenting today, he would say ” fear, status and greed”. Not much difference but it plays better in the media.

        1. The Rev Kev

          If Thucydides were commenting today, he would say ‘Idjuts! Didn’t you pay attention to anything that I wrote?’

    12. Altandmain

      The US would be able to place nuclear weapons within a few hundred kilometres of Moscow.

      Launching ICBMs has a 30 minute or so warning. IRBMs at that distance would be much harder.

      When the US placed missiles in Turkey and the USSR did in Cuba, that was enough to trigger the Cuban Missile Crisis

  4. nn

    So if Biden had the intelligence that Putin is going for full-scale invasion, can someone explain to me why he didn’t try to strike a deal with Putin, force Zelensky to implement Minsk 2, or do anything else than say he will do it and then just watch how he is doing it? I mean the last three months would make more sense if they were knowingly lying, but if they were knowingly telling the truth, then what was the point of all it?

    1. Grebo

      Russia was asking for more than the US was willing to concede. This way they lose Ukraine but they still have all the other pawns. And Russia gets to look bad.

      1. redleg

        Events have shown that the US was never going to concede anything at all. Look at how Blinken and co. responded to the Russian proposal in December and that’s really all you need to know about whether the US was capable of negotiating.

        1. LawnDart

          Russia issued ‘impossible” demands after many years of trying to get the Minsk Accords implemented– the December demands were a telegraphed warning, as a bear growls or snake hisses. But the warnings were ignored.

    2. praxis

      I think the Biden administration was lying and was caught flatfooted at an actual significant Russian response. They figured they could wag the dog and there would be no retaliation. I think Russia initial negotiation demands where similarly not anticipated (as well as the recognition of the rebel regions).

      Maybe some of the hawks in the state department knew what was up (significant rhetoric and escalation with Russia over Ukraine will/might provoke invasion) but the brain rot in the white house looks blustering and clueless.

      1. Tom Stone

        Joe Biden is both stupid and extremely arrogant as well as corrupt and he may well be deranged based on his behavior..

        1. LawnDart

          Putin hit it right with his “Empire of Lies” statement: it’s not just our government and it’s enablers– it’s our whole damn culture that’s been drowning in bullshit. Narcissism and bullshitting are encouraged: Westerners cannot distinguish between thoughts and feelings, or even conceive of the idea or greater purpose in life than one’s own immediate pleasures or gratifications– it’s all about “me, now, what future?” and zero-responsibility towards others.

          Biden is our face to the world.

          1. judy2shoes

            “Biden is our face to the world.”

            I saw a photo recently of Biden and Putin after some meeting (don’t know how recent), and Biden had a smirk on his world-facing mug, while Putin seemed as if he were either resigned or sad or both.

            Biden’s smirk…sickening… and representative of the U.S. disdain for other countries and their interests.

    3. Darthbobber

      Either A: He expected bellicose posturing and the threat of sanctions to ultimately be a sufficient deterrent,
      B. He actively PREFERRED a Russian invasion to a diplomatic resolurion, or
      C. (really a variant of B), the Blob’s inertia, and the kinetic energy still moving from a decade of relentless Russophobic propaganda are so powerful as to politically preclude any meaningful diplomacy.

    4. David

      A judgement like this falls into two parts: capability and intention. Capability is relatively easy to judge, because it’s mostly quantitative and geographical. It was clear a week ago that forces were positioned near the border such that they could intervene if ordered to do so. It could be assumed that the Russians had plans for an invasion, and would have rehearsed them, at least at the command level. The question was, though, were they actually going to move, or were they just there to intimidate and extract concessions? I suspect that the Russians actually hadn’t decided until just before the button was pressed. So the intelligence analysts would have said that an invasion was possible, but in the absence of a political decision, they couldn’t say it was definitely going to happen. Even then, the political leadership has to believe you.

      This is difficult for political leaders who have predicted four of the last one invasions. The temptation was therefore to hold off, and wait for better information. The trouble is that, whenever the decision was taken, it would have been taken by a small number of people in secrecy. The first signs of actual movement, in addition, could have indicated just going into the Donbass. Unless your intelligence organisations actually have someone listening in to the decision and taking notes, you’re basically obliged to use intelligent guesswork. This is why when people talk of failures to anticipate some great event, it’s usually not the event itself, but the timing, which they got wrong.

    5. johnherbiehancock

      My thinking still is:

      1) regardless of what happens to Ukraine, we got to sell them bombs and guns for a while

      2) we wanted the EU as a market for our own gas, and this has been a way to stop or tie up Nord Stream2.

      But I’m of the opinion that our foreign policy is almost entirely driven by the short term profit goals of our arms and oil industries, to the exclusion of all else.

      Otherwise, I can’t really think of “Ukraine as a member of NATO” being a means to an end of anything other than nuclear war with Russia, which presumably no one in our government or military, actually wants to have happen, right?

      1. Robert Dudek

        The US expanded NATO eastward without signifcant pushback, so they thought why not try a bit farther. It was a strategy that was bound to fail eventually.

      2. Pate

        Petroleum is the lifeblood of an economy.

        The strategy is larger than preventing Russia from selling oil/nat gas to Europe. It is about controlling the energy market full stop. Period.

        Thus explains everything from how artificial boundaries were used to carve up the Middle East after WWI as well as the insertion of Israel as a wedge/colony after WWII to the petro dollar Saudi arrangement, the more recent Middle East interventions as well as Venezuela policy. It also helps to explain fracking and shale and global warming science denial. Drill baby drill. It’s about preserving the petro dollar empire- as long as the world runs on oil and as long as we control the spigot …

        1. Pate

          Iran – world’s largest nat gas reserves (Venezuela for oil), Afghanistan and Syria are pipeline venues. Etc.

    6. Robert Dudek

      I think Biden was saying Russia would invade, not knowing it as a fact. He thought that by saying Russia would, Putin would be dissuaded from doing it, as his actions would be at odds with (Putin’s) earlier statements. When you only hold the NATO card and are unwilling to use it (as Biden), you try to bluff your opponent. Biden tried and failed.

      1. Hickory

        The opposite seems more likely – US has been goading Russia. I think Biden wanted the invasion, since it gives the excuse to cut off Nordstream 2 and generally keep Germany/Europe and Russia separate. Hence sending billions in weapons and loans after the coup, and hence the US and Ukrainian escalations – esp the Ukraine president talking about making nukes last week. Hard to imagine a more incendiary comment.

      2. FD

        I will disagree. I believe the US knew they were going to invade given the Russian stance and degree of preparation, so they started saying it early and often; literally every day or two for a few weeks now saying invasion was imminent and that Putin would lay the blame on someone else. The purpose being to show that he (Biden) wasn’t caught off guard when it happened. It was also to remove the ability for Putin to blame it on a false provocation by the Ukrainians. The goal here, I think, was to expose the Russian action for what it really is: an invasion to create the buffer state and force neutrality, as has been repeated innumerable times on NC. Otherwise, Putin would have used the excuse of being forced to protect the separatist regions or that Ukraine fired the first shot, which in turn would have provided Putin some cover from the baseness of invading an independent country.

        Also, I can’t believe there was ever any intention or threat of putting NATO forces into action. No one is going to send troops to fight Russia head-to-head over eastern Ukraine; no one. There is no direct interest and the repercussions would be devastating. Most, on this site, label those calling the shots for NATO and the US as stupid but that’s just intellectually lazy. They knew exactly what they were doing pushing Putin’s buttons, while also ignoring him, and they also knew that this might be a potential outcome. Whether they care or not about the outcome is another question.

        And this is the same as Putin, who knows full-well that NATO won’t engage troops so long as he contains the action geo-politically.

        I have to believe that he’s not going to extend his invasion eastward, which would start making Poland and NATO actually nervous. Maybe there’s nothing strategic in western Ukraine and so no reason for troops to be there, but the lack of activity towards the Polish border would seem to be a definitive signal. There’s certainly a lack of Russian historical interest in western Ukraine, so I’m assuming there’s some sort of imaginary line he won’t cross to avoid transforming his version of nation-building into something much worse.

        1. Yves Smith

          The problem with your thesis is the numbers that the experts kept pointing to as signs of a buildup were actually #s that Russia routinely has near the border. Moreover, Russia had apparently not moved in medical support units (by contrast, our moving hospital ships 9 months before the 2003 Iraq War was the first serious sign we were intent on going in).

          Recall I believe the AP reporter asking why this wasn’t another WMD in Iraq. The US even then did offer proof.

          I am not saying that there were not signs of Russian intent. But the troops business the Biden Administration kept screeching about was not it. It might very well be that what some have suggested is correct, that Russia told the US to evacuate its embassies as a courtesy and we didn’t want to admit that that was a key tell.

          I do agree that this may have been a last minute decision. Lambert and I were both struck by the big difference in tone between Putin’s Feb 22 and Feb 24 speeches. Putin has been doing this long enough that he has control of his register. In the Feb 24 speech, he was exasperated. I don’t think this was entirely for show. He may have hoped that the West would get the message from the Feb 22 speech that Russia was going to Do Something and the US needed to take heed. So he and I suspect the full scale invasion was not set in stone but a Plan B. If Putin though the West would finally get the message from Feb 22 speech, he was way too optimistic. Or on a more mundane level, he could have been annoyed that the sort of brutally candid speech he gave on Feb 24 (ex the actually invading part) would have been a better “last chance” message on Feb 22.

          And the # of personnel that Russia has moved in is small by invasion standards for a country that big, reported at 60,000 so far. They have at least as many, if not more, held back, based on “normal” levels near the border of 120,000 or so.

          I think the only reason for Putin going after Kiev is to take the heart of the government. I don’t think he needs to control or even have friendly puppet “republics” in addition to Donbass in the east as long as he gets what is left of Ukraine to commit to being neutral. No point as you indicate in annoying the neighbors.

    7. Leftist Mole

      Good point. Probably because our hawks WANTED the invasion, to stop Nordstream II and run up the patriotic jingoism, Russia demonizing, arms sales, LNG sales to Europe. As our media & pols all scream in hypocritical or ignorant horror at those evil rooskies, our own thoroughly evil foreign policy establishment must be very happy. They got their true objectives. It remains to be seen what the fall out will be, but everyone needs to remember our oligarchy doesn’t really care about Ukraine or Ukrainians. They don’t give a s#*t about Americans (900,000 COVID deaths but let it rip) so why on earth should they be trusted to have any foreigners’ best interests at heart? Now they’re shedding crocodile tears for Ukraine.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        If that was the plan, it was pretty stupid, short-term thinking.

        I think the job of peddling the next color revolution (“There’ll be a Disneyworld in YOUR country within 5 years!”) will be a lot tougher when the promise to the Gaidos and the rest of the collaborators that they need never fear because American airpower reigns supreme has now been proven to be a hollow lie.

      2. LawnDart

        They don’t give a s#*t about Americans (900,000 COVID deaths but let it rip) so why on earth should they be trusted to have any foreigners’ best interests at heart?


    8. NotTimothyGeithner

      Its always 1997 in elite Democrat land.

      Russia is simultaneously running tanks through Paris and falling apart. This is where the White House is, and it lives on nostalgia. Rationally, the Russian Federation should always be able to knock out a country like the Ukraine on its border, given sizes and force distribution with plans to seize or destroy key transit nodes to keep forward bases that could reach Russia. Planes based in Kiev can run more missions than planes based in Berlin, allowing Russia to control its airspace and keep its missile systems intact.

      I’m not entirely certain Biden or Imperial elites get this. They are used to a fallen USSR, and the propaganda around Iraq and Libya likely affected their views. They very likely have never made an honest assessment about Iraq. We invaded Iraq because it would be easy. Yes, they had all these “salute the troop” propaganda events, and I think it addled their minds. It became about invincible soldiers and wonder weapons instead of planning, opponent, and logistics.

      If the reports are accurate that 20% of the forward forces have been used of 60,000 men. Yikes, that is nothing. Its a small operation. The question would be what kind of force readiness do they have. Are they classic NATO grade soldiers, a drafted army (US Army before the shooting started in WW2), conscripts? All of that goes into this.

      My guess is if 20% have been committed, there is a second major round of operations before a pull back to positions determined based on goals achieved in the first round.

      Its pretty certain the Russians have knocked out: major logistical operations, control the air space, and defeated the Kiev navy. What does that leave? A heckuva lot of artillery. It can’t be resupplied, but it can still hurt. The goal would be to disarm it without facing it.

      No, I don’t think foreign policy elites think so clearly. They farm it out to the Pentagon when they find the Pentagon useful. The Pentagon is a go along to get along crowd, so they don’t consider this until they have to.

      1. meadows

        Good analysis. I think the neocon gang that runs DC foreign policy for the MICC (Military Industrial Congressional Complex) believes it’s own hype. I am impressed by their obligerence… that would be a nasty combo of oblivious and belligerent.

    9. Acacia

      Well, “Biden’s” actions make perfect sense if you consider them in view of the fact that the Blob has been looking for war in the Ukraine since the 2014 coup. See @XXYY’s comment above.

    10. XXYY

      Don’t forget, for the last 60 years at least, from the Cuban “missile crisis” on, whenever the US and the Russians were staring each other down, the Russians always blinked first.

      That’s one of the things that makes the present situation so interesting, and makes Putin such an unusual Russian leader, at least in recent history. The guy has obviously decided that this is the moment to turn that history around, and accelerate the downward trajectory of the US Empire in the process. You can see the fury and hysteria it’s causing in US elites and their media organs; this isn’t the way the story is supposed to go.

      Putting national allegiances and everything else aside for a moment, this call operation strikes me as a remarkably courageous step, certainly up there with George Washington’s refusal to submit to the British Empire. When you go up against the big dog, you almost never win outside the pages of comic books.

      1. c_heale

        I have read the Cuban missile crisis ended with the USSR removing missiles from Cuba and the USA removing missiles from Turkey.

        The Russians didn’t blink in places like Georgia.

        I also don’t see this is a courageous step. Russia has been forced into a corner by the USA and Western Europe. It sees their actions as an existential threat. It is in their eyes self defence.

        1. Yves Smith

          The dirty secret is those Turkish missiles had already been promised to go. The better histories of the criss make sure to include this factoid.

          The USSR did blink. Kennedy just publicized a concession already made to give the USSR the appearance of a quid pro quo.

            1. Acacia

              Maybe also worth mentioning that while the Americans were being outraged about Soviet missiles coming to Cuba, the US had not only the missiles in Turkey, Italy, etc., but also seven different installations of Mace B nuclear cruise missiles in Okinawa. I believe all of the targets remain classified to this day, but Shanghai, Beijing, Hanoi, Pyongyang, and Vladivostok were all within range, and it is known that 3 out of 4 targets at one of the launch sites were not in the Soviet Union.

              The following story should probably be more widely known:

              [A]at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Air Force crews on Okinawa were ordered to launch 32 missiles, each carrying a large nuclear warhead. Only caution and the common sense and decisive action of the line personnel receiving those orders prevented the launches—and averted the nuclear war that most likely would have ensued.

              I.e., the go code was actually given to launch.

              The Japanese forbade the Americans to bring nuclear weapons into Japanese territory, but of course this rule has been flouted for the main Japanese islands (e.g. at Yokosuka) and the rule could be bent for Okinawa as it remained under control of the US military until 1972.

              For a more detailed account, see: The Okinawa missiles of October | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

          1. Polar Socialist

            According to the existing documents USA indeed wanted to get rid of the Jupiters, but the Turks did not. They saw them as integral part of their security arrangement. So the Turkish were kept in the dark and USA lost a lot of goodwill in Turkey after they learned that Turkish missiles (except for the payload) and Turkish bases were promised to be destroyed without Turkish consent.

  5. Daryl

    I find it fascinating that in the era of 24-hour news, “our intelligence community” and livestreaming of wars, we still have little better idea of what’s going on than if we were getting telegrams and heavily censored letters from the front. And of course people are taking the news as gospel, the same news media that told us about WMDs in Iraq, in some cases literally the same people.

    I guess we’ll have to wait for the Russians to finish whatever they’re doing to understand the full extent of it.

  6. jimmy cc

    perhaps make Europe more of America’s poodle?

    more weapons sales for GD?

    The PR campaign of saying :look, Hillary’s crew was right about Putin.”

    lots of silver linings for all the right people.

  7. OnceWereVirologist

    That’s an angle that I hadn’t thought of. It appears now that the Americans really did have genuine intelligence that the Russians were planning to invade. They must have also known that they weren’t going to offer Ukraine any military support against Russia. So it looks like they let their faithful allies walk straight into this, presumably on the theory that whether Russia attacks or it doesn’t, it’s not American hair that’s going to get mussed.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      “So it looks like they let their faithful allies walk straight into this, presumably on the theory that whether Russia attacks or it doesn’t, it’s not American hair that’s going to get mussed.”

      see:the Rescript of Honorius:
      An appeal for help by the British communities was, according to Zosimus, rejected by the Emperor Honorius in 410 AD. In the text called the Rescript of Honorius of 411, the Western Emperor Honorius tells the British civitates to look to their own defence as his regime was still fighting usurpers in the south of Gaul and trying to deal with the Visigoths who were in the very south of Italy.

    2. deplorado

      Prof. John Mearsheimer predicted this in 2015, there is a video on YouTube and circulating on Twitter and is probably on his site.
      He basically said that the US policy will lead to the Ukraine being wrecked, and it is being used against Putin with full knowledge that it is going to be wrecked.

      His solution was for the US to guarantee Ukr neutrality, and make it a strong and prosperous country as an example to Russia, which would have been a positive for all sides.
      Makes sense. But, as Lambert pointed out, we are long stupid.

  8. fresno dan

    My understanding of the situation is that cable news ratings were perilously low, so a war was needed to increase the ROE of the news business. What if a war started and nobody covered it?
    And why is the war in Myanamar mentioned about a 100X less?

    1. Pat

      Not to mention ongoing Israeli and Saudi military attacks. I believe I heard we bombed Somalia as well. One might have to think there is some list out there that says you can cover “war” but only if we approve the bad guy in your scenario, but never if the good guy are clearly bullying another nation…

      1. Synoia

        The US is agreement incapable, and has a long history of conquest.

        Form promises to the Indians, through, Mexico (Texas and California), The Philippines, Korea, Iran, Vietnam, Iraq, Libya and Syria, and other engagements.

    2. XXYY

      A professor named Edward Hermann came up with a semi-serious theory that he called worthy and unworthy victims. If a group’s victimhood could be used to advance the approved narrative, then that group consists of worthy victims, and their story is told far and wide in the official media. If a group’s victimization tells the wrong story then that whole travail is pushed to the margins or eliminated entirely from the discourse.

      Starving kids in Yemen being bombed to smithereens by the Saudis are obviously unworthy victims, as are starving kids inside the US itself. Azov Battalion Nazis in Ukraine OTOH are suddenly worthy victims, and we are hearing all about how terrible they have it.

      It’s a very useful tool for media analysis.

      1. fresno dan

        February 25, 2022 at 6:16 pm
        My only quibble is why Edward Hermann would characterise his theory as sem-serious it seems to me it is remarkably accurate of reality now a days.
        Why am I to be more concerned about Ukrainians than I am about uninsured Americans???
        Well, because if all Americans had access to health care, somebody is gonna make less money. And dollars to donuts, somebody is getting much more money because we are supporting Ukraine….

  9. TroyIA

    I can make no claims as to the accuracy of this report but Russia seems to be meeting stronger than expected resistance.

    Summary of Ukrainian issues from the ground

    Summary: Russians are taking heavier than expected losses, so they are bringing in crack airborne troops and Chechens, things are about to get a lot bloodier. I suspect that the Skull division is being used as a sabotage group in and around Kiev. Apparently those sabotage groups have been easily located by Ukrainian forces and successfully eliminated.

    Kiev: Yesterday I spoke with contacts in Kiev. They said that they are very motivated to defend Kiev. At the present time, local civilian population is also very motivated. At least for the next few days. Traditionally, if citizens are more or less secure, they more or less support the government. However if they start seeing civilian casualties, they will not support the war and cal for an end to the war. Because, if you are a military guy you expect death as a possible outcome of combat and are ready to die. Civilians on the other hand are mentally unprepared for that, if the Russians start bombing the urban areas and start seeing hundreds of dead. Trust me, if this happens, they will start an anti- Zelinsky movement. You may be president, and may be a nice president, but we are ordinary citizens and no wish to die in the bombings. Its a problem for the Ukrainians and Putin knows this very well.

    Chernobyl: Why did they go there? North and east of Kiev, due to radiation problems the are is abandoned. No real resistance will be encountered there. Easiest way to cut a road from Belarus to Kiev with minimal resistance. Also, that reactor complex is being looked after by specialists. That job is not finished.If no one is looking after it, after a month or so it can explode. No idea why the Russians are taking the plant. Makes no sense, it’s enriched uranium but impossible to get at safely. The only logical reason is to find the easiest route to Kiev. No Ukrainians within 30km of it, very few within 60km, including Pryp’yat’ (its a dead city, unused buildings).

      1. The Historian

        It’s not an ‘explosion’ at Chernobyl #4 that is the problem – it is if the containment system fails and releases a large amount of radioactive material that can get airborne that is the problem. There have to be people there who understand the systems and can keep the radioactive material contained inside the sarcophagus. It cannot be just abandoned, or for that matter, bombed. Rev Kev had a good link that said that the Russians AND the Ukranians are working together to ensure that Chernobyl #4 remains safe. As Rev Kev stated, no one wants that plant to go south.

        Last I heard they were putting the spent fuel from the other 3 shut down Chernobyl reactors into temporary dry storage. I don’t know how far along they are with that process.

        1. Skip Intro

          Not only… apparently the forests around the place have enough cesium et al. incorporated into themselves that a big forest fire could have serious consequences for the downwinders. It is in everyone’s interest to keep the various maintenance routines going.

          1. truly

            I believe prevailing winds blow north west from Chernobyl. Any radiation and fall out heads towards Belarus and eventually towards Stockholm. My neighbor was sent (years ago) to document environmental degradation around Stockholm. He was sent out with a Geiger (sp?) counter and a camera. At a recent photo exhibit at The Swedish Museum (Minneapolis) he talked about the plume of radiation going high and then drifting northwest.
            It should be considered that Putin possibly put Chernobyl on lockdown because he actually wants to do the least amount of damage and cause the least amount of suffering, while still accomplishing his strategic goals. Anything that puts Sweden and Norway at risk draws way too many actors into the theater.

            1. fjallstrom

              I took a class in meteorology at university, and the Chernobyl disaster was used as an example. According to the professor the prevailing winds in Europe is from the West to the East, and it is only on about one day out of ten thousand that it blows from Chernobyl to Stockholm. But on the day of the Chernobyl disaster, it did.

    1. MichaelSF

      If Chernobyl is on the way to the Russians destination it makes sense to me to secure the area to prevent some idiots trying to sabotage the containment system to create a radiation/terror event. Just as there seems to be no shortage of idiots who think “sure, we can do limited nuclear war”, there are probably some Ukranians who could see making Chernobyl into a distraction as being a worthwhile project.

    2. Paradan

      So 2(?) of Chernobyls reactors are still functioning and generating power, it’s still an active power plant. The Russians were afraid that Ukraine/NATO would sabotage the reactor and then blame it on Russia. So they captured it, and worked out a deal with the Plant’s engineers to keep it safe.

    1. Glen

      That sounds sorta crazy, but does raise some questions:

      Exactly what energy payments stop if Russia is taken out of SWIFT?
      What would happen to Germany this winter if Nord Stream 1 was shut down?
      How much energy is Russia exporting to the rest of the EU?

      And the logical follow ups:

      Could Russia export enough oil to offset China’s coal shortages?
      And how long would it take to build the pipeline with China’s help?
      And could China pay for the oil with American T-bills?

      Russia has resources to sell, and China has a growing industrial base. Not exactly the best long term strategy to push them into a partnership, but the guys running America’s foreign policy don’t think beyond about a quarter or two of profit.

      1. Yves Smith

        The US has said it is not sanctioning Russian oil exports, so this is moot. Russia supplies about 8% of US oil:

        And with prices where they are, I infer the impact at the margin would be meaningful. The Biden Administration is apparently not willing to inflict more price pain on consumers, particularly in an election year. So much for our willingness to sacrifice to help Ukraine (my inbox has several appeals to send money, which I find bizarre).

      1. Glen

        “…To be clear, our sanctions are not designed to cause any disruption to the current flow of energy from Russia to the world…”

      2. The Rev Kev

        @ skippy. The guy was saying that the sanctions were not designed to cause any disruption to the flow of energy from Russia to the world.

        i.e. Biden is afraid that if he does, that it will cause a recession which he does not want – not in an election year.

  10. Brian Beijer

    There’s lots of chatter on RT about secret US biolabs in Ukraine and that their locatuons matches up with the bombings. I tried searching for biolabs in Ukraine and the only non-sus site I found was Veterans Today which only briefly mentions US biolabs in Ukraine in one of their articles. Normally I wouldn’t pay much heed to CTs, but after 2 years of Covid, my instinct is to give some credibility to them until they can be discounted. Anyone else have better more legit sources on this?

    1. Brian Beijer

      Also, I would like to add a brief comment on Zelensky’s speech about asking the Euopean leaders if Ukraine could be a member of NATO. Accrording to RT he says, “I’ve asked 27 leaders of Europe if Ukraine will be in NATO.” Since when are ALL 27 countries in the EU are also in NATO? Last I checked, Sweden was not in NATO. At least, not according to the Swedish parliament and Prime Minister.

      Doing a Google search, it says that 6 EU countries are NOT a member of NATO: Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland, Malta, and Sweden. I just thought it’s interesting that Zelensky inadvertently implies that 6 countries are secretly members of NATO and their citizens don’t seem to know. Otherwise, why would he contact a non-NATO country to ask if his cojntry could be a member?

    2. Paradan

      Here’s an article from a few years ago. Dilyana

      Also during the Olympics, Russia and China released a joint statement in which they voiced their concern over the U.S. bioweapons program.

  11. Andrew Watts

    This honestly reminds me of all the social media reactions during the collapse of Afghanistan. A massive sea of propaganda and the glorification of heroic resistance. Which probably didn’t happen as much as people were led to believe. Where footage from video games is being used to substitute for non-existent combat videos. The balance of forces isn’t close to being even so the outcome is swiftly becoming an inevitable one.

    It’s a bad sign for Ukraine when Russia hasn’t felt compelled to commit the bulk of it’s forces which doesn’t seem to currently be the case. In terms of Russian military progress it’s about what I expected, I think I’ve previously guessed that they’d be in Kiev in 24-48 hours in previous comments from 2014/15. If I had to guess how long Ukraine could hold out I’d say 2-3 weeks at the absolute maximum. The fact of the matter is that flooding the country with weapons didn’t do anything to prevent the attack and it’s not going to affect the outcome. The sooner that negotiations happen the better for all concerned.

    If the US, or NATO countries, choose to fund and arm an insurgency in Ukraine after the conclusion of hostilities then Russia might resort to what the Israelis do in Syria. Specifically bomb the airports where the arms are being stored and transferred. I doubt that Moscow will distinguish between what individual countries do and what NATO has done so this could be a very unstable situation that will unfold very quickly.

    1. RobertC

      Thank you solarjay for the opening.

      As Irina Slav observed, Russian minerals (oil, gas, metals) are not being sanctioned: “First, there are a lot of big, important Western companies working in Russia oil and gas and metals. Second, Russia is a major global commodity supplier and sanctions would disrupt an already shaken global economy.”

      She further observed: “Yet besides metals–and oil and gas, which are the most obvious and problematic sanction targets–Russia is also the major producer of fertilizers, accounting for 13% of the global total. It is also, critically, the world’s largest producer of wheat.”

      1. A few months ago, Russia halted exports of ammonium nitrate fertilizer (natural gas feedstock) until April and has not announced plans beyond that.
      2. Recently Britain stopped production of ammonium nitrate fertilizer due to unaffordable natural gas prices.
      3. Earlier this week China signed a $100M wheat deal with Russia.
      4. Russia’s seizure of Ukraine’s Zmiyiniy Ostriv (Snake Island) which along with Crimea, enables access control to the major Ukrainian port cities Odesa, Mykolaiv, and Kherson. This Black Sea access is crucial to Ukraine’s grain and metals exports, as well as consumer goods imports from China.

      Ukraine is the cat’s paw for Putin’s and Xi’s weakening of the Atlantic Alliance. And by redirecting wheat (and corn) exports to China, Europe will be faced with feeding MENA or masses of starving refugees. There will be political repercussions throughout Europe this summer.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Either our brilliant television commentators (like Haas or Ignatius) can’t figure out what you figured out, or they weren’t willing to put much effort into their cover lies. They appear completely clueless, and on-air talent like Chuck Todd is visibly shaken–and shaking–from experiencing the collapse of his worldview.

        Typically, they’re all looking for a hall monitor, a teacher, a principal, an FBI agent to whom they can report the dastardly Putin. This kind of behavior must not be tolerated. (Don’t misunderstand the satire. It’s not Putin’s killing that bothers them. It’s that he dared to flip them the bird.)

  12. marku52

    BTW, much of the worlds titanium comes from Russia. Could be some challenging times at Boeing and Airbus.

    “Michaels said that titanium is manufactured either from titanium scraps or a sponge. He said that the last US producer of sponges shut down during the COVID crisis.

    “We now have no domestic titanium sponge supply,” Michaels said. Japan stepped into the breach, he said but the other sponge suppliers are China, Kazakhstan, and Russia.”

    1. Paradan

      Boeing can just reprogram the autopilot software so they don’t need Titanium, probably won’t even have to retrain/recertify the pilots.

  13. Raymond Sim

    Check out Hostomel on Google Maps. On the satellite view the runway at Antonov Airport is visible, as is the road network of the greater Kiev area.

    That is one long and, due to the association with the Antonov establishment, presumably very strong runway.

    I don’t know what the current situation is, but there’s been heavy fighting there, well documented on video. The Russians appear to have undertaken an honest-to-God vertical envelopment of the airfield. And the Ukrainians look to have mounted a maximum effort defense.

    Bearing in mind the short flight times involved, I think the satellite picture shows why. I’ll go out on a limb and say that if Russian transports start operating in and out of that airfield unmolested, then it’s all over east of the Dnieper, except for the destruction in detail.

  14. Raymond Sim

    Personally I would anticipate that the Russians would attempt the establishment of defenses along both sides of the course of the Dnieper, with much depth to the west, and simulatneous envelopment of major population centers to the east.

    After that we find out what they mean by “denazification”.

    I can’t see why they would initiate operations in urban settings with any urgency, outside of Donbas proper that is, where I see they’re sending in the Chechens with some fanfare.

    I don’t know much about the ‘human terrain’ of the oblasts east of the Dnieper, but it ain’t Lviv, I know that much. If the Russians can make a credible pitch that they’ll go home once they’ve completed their Nazimon collection, maybe it will fly?

  15. Randy

    Zelensky talked about reviving Ukraine’s nuclear weapons deterrent a couple of days ago. In Putin’s news conferences prior to that he seemed calm. After Zelensky talked about nukes, in Putin’s next press conference he had a different tone. He was VERY angry. A day later he launched the invasion.

    Ukraine has the missiles and the infrastructure, all they needed was the warheads. IMO that was Putin’s last straw.

    1. Judith

      I imagine the then Soviet government kept very detailed records of their nuclear weapons and auxiliary equipment. So when it came time for the Russian government to retrieve their nuclear weapons from Ukraine, they knew exactly what they left behind. Putin is probably well aware just what would be necessary for Ukraine to acquire nuclear weapon capability.
      My speculations entirely, but could explain Putin’s reaction.

  16. Gulag

    Latest observation from Michael Kofman, who in my opinion has been amazingly prescient on Russian military strategy and tactics over the past year.

    Feb. 25.

    “…I think here’s the basic thing. People don’t realize there’s a tremendous amount of Russian military power and its taken quite a while just to get it into the fight. You’re only seeing a fraction of the Russian military forces still fighting in this.”

  17. Anthony G Stegman

    Why is there so much handwringing in the West when Russian forces entered Ukraine and attacked (primarily) military infrastructure, yet when the US invades countries and kills tens of thousands hardly a peep out of London, Paris, Berlin, Brussels, etc…? CBS showed a clip this morning of night show host James Corden nearly coming to tears over the Ukraine situation. I have no recollection of seeing him coming to tears when the United States drones civilians. Is this because Ukrainians are caucasian? The racial element is hard to ignore.

    1. redleg

      Perhaps the handwringing is because any kinetic encounter between the US and Russian militaries would inevitably and quickly result in a nuclear exchange?
      That the US oligarchs seem to revel in bombing non- white people is obvious, but I don’t think that race is the cause of hand wringing. Unless of course they are mourning the casualties among the Azov Abteilung battalion.

    2. Grebo

      My guess would be that James Corden only watches CNN or the like so has been saturated in “poor Ukraine” but is barely aware of US drone strikes. If he was aware he would not be allowed to comment on it.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Corden is the host for people who fell asleep waiting for Colbert. He’s there to not offend and let them know its time to go to bed.

  18. RobertC

    Some analysts have observed that Putin seemed shaky in a recent appearance and speculated if he might be removed, especially if the Ukraine conflict does not go well. And that perhaps NATO might use that opportunity to push into Russia.

    Over two decades ago, at its request, China resolved all boundary differences with Russia. In most cases, China accepted Russia’s position. And now that 2,600 mile border is mutually secure with a “better than an alliance” relationship.

    Last winter, Russia and China held one of the largest joint exercises ever involving not only the full range of conventional forces but also strategic forces. Two items of note:

    1. Overall command and control was provided by China.
    2. Russian soldiers operated Chinese sensors and weapons.

    Two observations:

    1. China will not allow NATO to move into Ukraine or Russia.
    2. China will not allow Russia to exercise military force beyond Ukraine.

    Putin’s and Xi’s objective is to weaken* the Atlantic Alliance using Ukraine as their cat’s paw and commodity prices as their lever. Xi will not allow Putin to deviate from this objective.

    Just to clarify, I am stunned and horrified by the immensity of their efforts.

    *weaken rather than breaking because the wounded require more attention and care than the dead.

      1. RobertC

        tegnost — I was being generous. Commentators at The War Zone. And I think maybe an opinion at The Hill. Apologies from not providing citation. Let me keep looking.

    1. tindrum

      China and Russia will just get together and trade, Aisa and half of Africa included. Who gives a f*#k what the Americans or Europeans think or do.

  19. Tom Stone

    The racial element is always there.
    Remember when the US DOJ conspired to sell guns to the cartels?
    We don’t know how many thousands of guns because “National Security”, however we do know that they were used in thousands of murders of Police, Mayors and Journalists as well as ordinary citizens.

    Substitute Canada for Mexico and consider the uproar if a few dozen Mounties and the Mayor of Ottawa were murdered by criminal gangs armed by the US DOJ.

  20. Anthony G Stegman

    If Russia doesn’t withdraw from Ukraine after achieving a few military objectives it likely will become bogged down the same way they were bogged down in Afghanistan back in the day. The Ukrainians will use tactics similar to those used by the mujahideen in Afghanistan. Images of downed helicopters and destroyed tanks will be widespread. The numbers of Russian widows will mount. It isn’t just the United States that fails to win wars. Putin will regret if he over-steps.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Unless Putin has lost his mind, he knows this. The reports are they have 60,000 guys involved in this. That is nothing. Lavrov wouldn’t sign off on anything like that. Unless, they have all lost their minds, the plan is to knock up things and fall back to the new republics with possibly some changes north of the Crimea, maybe a few defensive positions.

      We hear this cry from tv pundits about being in a morass. Its now the third day, maybe in a few hours. The response to the Georgian attacks took 12 days. The US shock and awe lasted 14 days. I suspect they are in the wishful thinking side of things. The Russian Federation has very likely just knocked out a NATO trained and supplied army. This alone is a major event. The Tomahawk Cruise missiles of the Persian Gulf War aren’t cutting edge, and our drones can be hijacked and largely require forward operating bases which would be threatened. The carriers aren’t being put to sea, and the 7th fleet is doubling as the new Polish Navy.

      Its day 2, and Putin’s listed objectives are basically correct me if I’m off:
      -pushing Kiev troops out of the new republics territory along the lines of the old oblasts
      -destroying the Kiev regime’s ability to run offensive operations or be a base for operations
      -and denazification, a vague concept.

      One thing that jumps out is the move up the Crimea and reconnecting the old water supply. I don’t think they’ve brought that up in the diplomatic talk in recent days.

      Remember before the 2003 Iraq invasion, Bush touted shock and awe before ground troops would go in mimicking the Persian Gulf War. The ground troops went in almost immediately. To a certain extent, it was a masterful stroke. If the Iraqis had any intention of fighting back, they were shocked and found US soldiers on top of them before fortress Baghdad could be formed.

      What I do know is there aren’t enough troops for invasion talk.

      1. RobertC

        I believe the relevant parts of Putin’s speech yesterday are:

        “Its goal is to protect people who have been subjected to abuse and genocide by the regime in Kyiv for eight years. And for this we will pursue the demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine, as well as bringing to justice those who committed numerous bloody crimes against civilians, including citizens of the Russian Federation.

        “Our plans do not include the occupation of Ukrainian territories. We are not going to impose anything on anyone by force. …”

        demilitarisation — (1) demobilization of most of the military officer and enlisted personnel, perhaps by integrating them with Russian National Guard or Police (certainly better than L Paul Bremer); and (2) removal to Russia of all weapons above a personal or squad level and all explosive weapons at all levels.

        denazification — (1) arrests, trials and punishment for all militia personnel at all levels; (2) extensive search for, including family homes, businesses, etc and destruction of all militia and militia-associated weapons, banners, pamphlets, etc materials of any type and size.

        bringing to justice — this activity is being performed by the Russian FSB, et al. As Putin said “we know their names.”

        do not include the occupation — this is subtle. No occupation…starting when? No occupation…by Russian Armed Forces but maybe National Guard? Lots of diplomatic maneuver room here.

        impose anything on anyone by force — again this is subtle. Russia will create laws and regulations, then have the Ukrainian police enforce them.

        The Republic of Crimea is a de facto federal subject of the Russian Federation and therefore I expect Snake Island will be annexed and organizationally integrated with Sevastopol thereby enabling access control to the Odesa, Kherson and Mykolaiv ports (it already has control of the Sea of Azov).

        Putin does not want to expend Russian military lives and money on insurgencies. I believe he will implement a corruption and competency campaign of relevant Ukrainian businesses whereupon he will invite Russian, Chinese, and yes European and American businesses to invest and manage them. And he will use police forces and Ukrainian self-interest to marginalize the insurgents. As Deng Xiaoping said “Poverty is not socialism. To be rich is glorious.”

  21. jimmy cc

    We wont sanction Russian gas or wheat.

    What happens if Russia refuses to sell? Sanctions work both ways, no?

    1. RobertC

      jimmy cc — Russia has been refusing to sell, specifically enter the natural gas spot market (it is fulfilling its long-term contracts).

      The EU jammed itself up with consensus decision making and green transition that prevented it from entering into long-term contracts with either pipeline or liquid natural gas suppliers.

      And last summer when it should have been filling its storage tanks, the EU bet that the winter spot market prices would be lower. And instead the prices were some of the highest ever. And remember when the EU was whining about Russia not delivering gas? The actuality is Russia refused to enter the spot market so the EU was stuck searching for gas elsewhere. Except the Asians had already bought all the LNG on long-term contracts. Biden tried to jawbone sellers like Qatar to reroute an Asian shipment to the EU but Qatar politely said ask our customer.

      To my knowledge (I am far far from an expert), Russia has temporarily deferred signing any long-term pipeline or liquid natural gas contracts. It is building the Power of Siberia 2 pipeline to China which I believe will be coming online in 2024. But I believe it has capacity beyond that.

      And here’s an interesting wrinkle for you: Nordstream 2 was designed and constructed to carry Russian hydrogen to support the EU’s green transition a decade from now. So if the pipeline is cancelled then the EU’s green hydrogen will be very very expensive if it’s even available.

      The EU is rapidly losing competitiveness due, among several causes, the high cost of energy and feedstocks. And the Germans are furious about this.

      Wheat is another matter. Wheat is people. For instance, lookup Egyptian Bread Subsidy. Governments have been overthrown by starving people.

      1. Michaelmas

        is building the Power of Siberia 2 pipeline to China which I believe will be coming online in 2024.

        No. Power of Siberia 2 is scheduled to come online in September, 2022 currently– this year, six months from now.

  22. Acacia

    Moscow’s Ukraine invasion further frays U.S.-Russia space relations

    Roscosmos director general Dmitry Rogozin notes that the ISS is controlled by Russian engines.

    “If you block cooperation with us, who will save the International Space Station from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States or Europe?”

    “There is also the possibility of a 500-ton structure falling on India and China. Do you want to threaten them with such a prospect? The ISS does not fly over Russia, therefore all the risks are yours. Are you ready for them?”

  23. The Rev Kev

    Zelensky has posted a video of himself saying that he is staying. But he is also handing out guns to anybody that wants them. Will it change the military equation? No, but it will get a lot of people killed unnecessarily-

    Meanwhile Stoltenberg is saying that NATO is trying to push more weapons into the Ukraine, including air defence systems. Again, will it change the military equation? No, but the idea is to kill as many Russians as possible while as a side benefit, it gets many more Ukrainians killed which keeps the hatred going. These people are real psychpaths-

    1. Skip Intro

      Cha-ching! Man it was gonna take forever for all that old ordnance in Ukraine to breakdown. Now they’re gonna want a whole new fleet. F35s are 20% off on orders over 50, with very easy credit.

    1. Polar Socialist

      Russian troops (from Crimea?) apparently landed on a small town of Azovske on the northern shore of the Sea of Azov, and then advanced 70 km to Melitopol without any resistance. According to Russian MoD some of the population came to streets to greet the advancing Russians. At some point today the leading elements were proceeding to east, in the village of Priazovske. Which is 150 km west of Mariupol so the Russian have cut the city off from that direction.
      Meanwhile the DNR militia managed to break trough the Ukrainian positions and advance 12 kilometers to capture Volnovakha 50 km north of Mariupol. So there’s only way to north-west open for the Azov battalion. If they dare to take on the roads. DNR is saying Azov is preventing people leaving Mariupol, planning to use them as human shields.
      But who knows, there so much maskirovka around that basically nothing is certain. Even if you see the pictures.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Just now started to listen to a video from Russell Bentley (nickname “Texas”) who has been fighting with the Rebels for donkey’s years now. He says that Spetnaz troops have advanced from the Crimea to Mariupol where they will be dealing with the Azoz battalion. Yeah, I bet they will- (12:40 mins)

        1. AnArchitect

          Who is this guy? Lots of American-esque “our enemies our terrorists therefore we are good” underpinning his words. And why do we put any weight on an American ex-pat volunteering for a dubious Russian battalion? He says his sources are “official”. Bonkers. There’s nothing true in the Fog of War, least of all “official sources”.

          “Russia is not occupying or invading…it is liberating” says the Texan. Bonkers. That rationale was insane with Iraq, it was insane in Georgia, and it’s insane in Ukraine.

  24. lance ringquist

    good overview, but the real villain here is nafta billy clinton, he broke international law, then got it rewrote. putin is just using nafta billlys own law, its called “BLOWBACK”.

    Putin Pulls a Kosovo
    by Gary Leupp

    Kosovo. noun: a part of a sovereign state where a separatist movement is supported by a superpower and pronounced a sovereign state itself.

    The Russians protested this recognition, noting especially the conditions of Serbian Orthodox communities in northern Kosovo, whose medieval monasteries had been destroyed by Kosovar vandals. They protested the U.S support for a government drawn from the Kosovo Liberation Army, who had been described by the U.S. State Department as “terrorists,” and whose chief sources of foreign earnings were human trafficking, organ trafficking, and heroin trafficking. But the U.S. brushed such protests aside. Condi Rice, U.S. Secretary of State, mindful that international law bans such behavior, explained with a dismissive smile that this was a sui generis thing…

  25. The Rev Kev

    Well this should work out fine. What could possibly go wrong?

    Does she realize that in actual battle, that soldiers not only get killed or wounded but go crazy? In WW2 GIs called them “blow tops.” Has she heard of PTSD for when this is all over? This is what I meant when I said that Zelensky was recklessly handing out guns to anybody that wanted them. And just wait till a lot of those military weapons end up on the black market in Europe.

  26. VietnamVet

    Some things in the fog of war are fairly clear.

    NATO deterrence of Russia failed. Once again, a 21st century neoliberal western institution is shown to be corrupt, incompetent, and unable to plan beyond this quarter’s profits. War baiting to lure Russia into another Afghanistan war worked and will sell lots of armament. Plus, it is a sure money maker for the American oil industry to replace Russian natural gas with American LNG. Except this is Europe and the West’s economy is going to take big hits from rising energy prices, shortages, and collateral damage. The death and maiming of little people is of no concern.

    The populations of Iraq (40 million) and Ukraine (44 million) are about the same. It has been more or less agreed that the USA needed a million troops to pacify Iraq twice the number that invaded and don’t disband the defeated military/police. Russia with only 150,000 invasion force is severely undermanned.

    The Kremlin believes its own propaganda that it is liberating ethnic Russians from Nazis. Except, being an invader is a force multiplier against them.

    Even southern plantation oligarchs convinced whites who spoke more or less the same language that Yankees were northern invaders. The Confederacy could have won war if they had fought for government by and for the people and ending all forms of slavery but they couldn’t – slaves and land were their wealth.

    If Russian forces get near Western Ukraine, I expect Catholic Polish volunteers and on the ground aid to enter the war. But only tactical nuclear weapons can protect Poland from invasion which will start WWIII. If the deployed 3200 Russian and US nukes are not ignited and if Ukraine is quickly pacified, Poland and Eastern Europe will be handed back to Moscow if Russia can take them.

    1. Yves Smith

      What you miss is the US was a hostile occupier and intended to hold Iraq (presumably for the oil, which in the we botched getting but that’s a long story). Russia just wants to do what is necessary to roll back to status quo 2008 or even 2014 pre Feb, Ukraine as neutral.

      Iraq also had a serious, battle hardened if tired out army, recall it had had a protracted war with Iran.

      Zelensky was voted in to improve relations with Russia and turned out to be a US puppet.

      The population of the east is largely ethnic Russian, and has been oppressed since 2014. Most of them won’t resist much save the Ukrainian military already in/near Donbass.

      In the western part, Russia needs to (for now) get control of Kiev to force negotiation, control all the reactor sites, and clear out the Azov Battalion. Doing more than is necessary there will rattle the Poles and they could get ugly.

      1. Skippy

        Ugh …. the Ukraine is a emerging ***free market*** economy

        On 27 October 2020, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine ruled that anti-corruption legislation, including the mandatory electronic declaration of income, was unconstitutional. Then one can go look at their IMF dealings and not to forget since December 2015, Ukraine has refused to pay and hence de facto defaults on a $3 billion debt payment to Russia that formed part of a December 2013 Ukrainian–Russian action plan.

        Its been a test tube galts gulch right on Russia’s door step for some time. Throw in the ferals and you have a party mix.

    1. Carolinian

      And to sum up a bit, he says no good maps are available to him either due to fakery and psyops; Ukrainian and Russian soldiers are cooperating to guard and secure Chernobyl, Mariupol will be a bloodbath unless the Russians can deal with the human shield problem (Azov puts their artillery pieces on top of buildings); it can be done American style with lots of civilian casualties but the Russians want to “turn” and enlist the Ukrainians (against the Nazis) rather than kill them; and especially that they are waiting outside cities for the same reason and of course to save the lives of their own soldiers. They may wait for awhile until the time is right.

      1. The Rev Kev

        He may be right. Several times over the years the Donbass militia would report to their headquarters firefights breaking out on the contact line. But not between them and the Ukrainians but between Azov & other nationalist formations and regular Ukrainian Army units in front of them. Meanwhile, the US is offering to evacuate Zelensky if he wants. I guess that NATO wants to set up a government-in-exile

  27. The Rev Kev

    An interesting development. It seems that Georgia is not signing up for all the sanctions going on at the moment and instead favouring de-escalation. This may really improve relations long-term between those two countries which would be a good thing after that 2008 war-

    Meanwhile Russia is banned from the Eurovision Song Contest, hosting some F1 car race, other sport fixtures and a Russian conductor in America was forced to step down for the crime of conducting while Russian.

  28. George Phillies

    “Assuming conservatively that a tank can move at 25 miles per hour, that’s about 8 hours for Russian tanks to reach Ukraine’s seat of government, assuming little resistance.”

    Real military advances are much slower. I can offhand think of all of two advances of 70 miles in a day, against little opposition, but 20 miles in a day is more realistic, assuming you do not want to charge at high speed into an ambush.

    In evaluating Ukrainian resistance: 1) Most men in their early 50s and older did their iirc two years in the Russian Army, so they have had military training.
    2) It seems that most Ukrainian boys and girls are taught to shoot before they finish High School.
    3) Kichinev, which is much closer to the border, apparently did not fall yet.
    1 and 2 mean that there are a lot of ill-trained opponents capable of sending lead down range.

    1. The Rev Kev

      20 miles in a day isn’t that much. Roman soldiers were expected to march 20 miles in a day while wearing their armour and equipment. Come to think of it, Zulu impis were expected to do the same as well. As for the Ukrainian resistance, it may depend on if they have regular military rifles while their Russian counterparts have an optical sight on theirs. That can make a difference that.

      I saw the remains of a place where the Ukrainians were handing out rifles to anybody who wanted one and there were empty cases strewn all over. Needless to say, criminal gangs have taken advantage to up-arm themselves and commit robberies while some Ukrainians are killing people who they think might be collaborates. Just imagine an American city where the US Army is handing out high-powered military rifles to random strangers on the streets with no questions asked off the back of a truck. How safe would that city be then?

  29. Skippy

    A Russian saying that covers most of this methinks ….

    Я бы вас послал, да вижу вы оттуда! (Ya by vas paslal, da vizhu vy ottuda!) — “I would send you there, but I see you came from there already!” Where is “there,” exactly? A place only an idiot would visit.

  30. Martin Davis

    The Russians will achieve the immediate objective, eliminating military capacity. But what then? If continued occupation and direct administration or a puppet government is viewed as counterproductive, as it surely would be, then some sort of political arrangement will be needed to ensure the country’s’ continued neutrality. If Donetsk and Luhansk (and Odessa?) are detached that would reduce the ethnic Russian portion of the population considerably, and commensurably strengthen the political forces based on the Ukrainian population. Thus the need for some sort of, albeit one-sided, political recognition by those political forces of the Ukraine’s continued neutrality – no military capacity, no membership of NATO, no membership of the EU. In Chechnia the Russians restored its sovereignty by allowing the establishment of an ethnically particularistic dictatorship, in a statelet which before 1989 had a large Russian minority, now vestigial. By analogy, perhaps the Russian envisage something similar for the Ukraine, albeit modified to take account of the need to at least superficially genuflect to democratic sensibilities, internally and externally.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      What then? Think Iraq in the 90’s. Moscow bombs convoys and supply depots periodically. They haven’t said it. but I wonder if Moscow thinks Stalin taking Churchill’s offer for much of the eastern bloc was a mistake. The USSR took on a lot of places they had to police and rebuild when they wouldn’t be a threat …well ever after the war.

      If planes won’t fly to Kiev…

      1. Martin Davis

        Iraq didn’t work out well in the end, to which we have not yet got. Admittedly, Putin appears to have a much more coherent grasp of realities than Bush et al ever had. But one of the exacerbating factors in the Ukraine is the lack of economic growth because of political failure. An ethnically particularist Ukraine under better and more stable leadership (possibly even a ‘strong man’, a la Belarus) would improve matters. The alternative is a moribund, unstable entity of around 35 million people, a danger to itself and perhaps to neighbouring states.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The RF has legitimate security concerns versus the hodge podge of motivation for Iraq in 2003. Given committed forces, they aren’t sticking around outside of the new republics and changes to the northeast area of Crimea.

          If they can’t have a neutral state they can leave a dead state. If you control the border, you can keep problems out. I doubt Moscow cares about Poland having to deal with refugees and other issues at this point.

          The primary read between the lines goal is not to allow forward US bases. The rest is noise.

  31. Bob

    Has anyone considered the historical background of Ukraine?

    In the not too distant past The Holodomor (see was horrific.
    Very very nasty. !!!

    The past leaves scabbed over wounds.

    The past gives the present Ukrainians real reason to fight. Even if vastly out matched.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The problem is armies march on their stomachs, and modern conflicts are about energy, airspace, food, etc.

      Its a nice story, but its meaningless unless RF goes for an occupation. Pat Lang described his decision to pursue a career in the special forces while at VMI and seeing artillery for the first time. He recognized being on the receiving end of artillery meant he was dead regardless of what he did, so he pursued a career where he wouldn’t be on the receiving end.

      The Kiev forces will fight on. Great. When they are out of artillery shells? When the roads are wrecked? German officers claimed they knew they were done when they saw the rations US forces had. If the Russians withdraw to manageable positions, what are they going to do?

      I actually suspect people to fight back, but fighting against actual, equipped soldiers isn’t easy and can’t be made up for by will especially borrowed willpower from the past.

      1. Bob

        History is replete with examples where will and perseverance made all of the difference.

        A few examples –

        Colonial America
        Karen States
        East Germany

        This is not to say that war is ever a good alternative but rather that nation states with a national identity generally want to settle their own affairs and are often willing to fight to do so.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Your examples are against occupiers. A different set of weapons. If the Russians withdraw and they don’t have the men to defensible borders, its not an issue.

          Since you mentioned colonial America, Cornwallis was in Yorktown because he lost too men when they foraged. If he had a better port option, he would have escaped. Its nice that you’ve listed them, but the Russians aren’t staying despite the dreams of DC.

            1. ambrit

              Crimea has the major Russian Navy port facilities and base for the Black Sea. That’s worth conniving for. Anyway, Russia looks to have held a legitimate plebescite there and a large majority of the population chose Russia over the Ukraine. Since the debacle that was the breakup of Yugoslavia, the American policy of recognizing breakaway mini-republics there has set a precedent. Russia just availed themselves of a political tool that America forged.

              1. Bob


                There is little or no difference between the two.

                Russia will occupy the Ukraine. Russia can and will go through the motions of creating a puppet state.

                Ukraine can, will, and is fighting. There is a better than even chance that Ukraine will prevail particularly if the Polish model of a prolonged struggle is used.
                God help those folks.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          The British weren’t bleeding troops in New York because they could supply the army there. Washington was preparing for a throw down, and by then the war was over in New England. They weren’t being bled there either. Evacuation Day was forced by the Continental Army fighting the Red Coats on near peer status. That isn’t the case when air power exists.

          1. ambrit

            From what I’ve read, the French success at the naval Battle of the Chesapeake (1781) kept the Royal Navy from supporting Cornwallis at Yorktown. The war was actually won in the salons of Paris. American agents, Franklin and Deane, convinced the French to back the Americans. The French then supplied a navy that could fight evenly against the Royal Navy. From then on, the British in North America had serious supply chain issues.

  32. farmboy

    Zelensky on Tw “I thank my friend Mr. President of ?? @RTErdogan and the people of ?? for their strong support. The ban on the passage of ?? warships to the Black Sea and significant military and humanitarian support for ?? are extremely important today. The people of ?? will never forget that!” like said before watching the straits

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