Reader Apologies re Highlighting Out of Date Scott Ritter Video; Wall Street Buys Russian Bonds, MbS Snubs US Investments, Biden Tries to Arm-Twist India, and Putin Can Still Blow the Peace

I pulled down a post because the non-financial section, at the top, was based on a Scott Ritter post YouTube dated March 3 but was actually a repost of an earlier video I had missed. So I mistook his information as fresh when it was stale. That led me to reach inaccurate conclusions about the current situation and repeat them in the post.

I should have connected the dots because an on-the-ground and fresh video from the very rah rah Russell Bentley showed him and some buddies in a town outside Mariupol, not in Mariupol, when Ritter prematurely said it had fallen.

This major miscue also means I can no rely on Ritter as reporting accurately on a current basis, as opposed on the background, balance of forces, and incentives, where he presumably still has valid insights. This is disappointing, because what we have left are extremely partisan sources on both sides. The bias from anti-Russian sources has regularly been extreme, with extensive fabrications of narratives (the non-surrender after the famed “Fuck you,” admitted even by the BBC, the use of a video of a Palestinian girl defying Israeli troops as being Ukrainian v. Russian, and more recently, last night a fire at an outbuilding at a nuclear reactor complex that the Russians captured blown up into “nuclear terror“). It has hit the point that it’s hard to trust anything from Western sources, even though Russian aligned ones are clearly problematic too.

However, as I did indicate in the earlier piece, the key to whether Putin can take Ukraine without sowing the seeds of an insurgency is how the Russians deal with resistant cities, with Mariupol an exception due to it being in the hands of the Azov Battalion. The big question is whether Russia can largely encircle these cities and let residents either flee or stay to be starved out, or bombs them into submission. I have assumed Russia will need to use considerable force to subdue Mariupol and so what it does there was not necessarily dispositive of its tactics generally (as in you’d have to see destruction of civilian infrastructure elsewhere before you could determine that this was going to be the Russian approach to resistance generally). However, up to this date, the press has also taken to depicting so far isolated shellings of residential buildings as Russia trying to target civilians, when those cases haven’t yet added up to demonstrating intent, as opposed to “shit happens.”

And that gets back to video evidence. Lambert has seen such routine and extensive falsifications that his reflex has become to distrust anything that does not have someone holding a newspaper with a current date (and I failed to use something approaching the same standard with Ritter). So even if the innertubes starts to report on Russian destruction of civilian infrastructure, that’s not in Russia’s interest. One needs to vet evidence that makes claims like that.

Now back to the sections of the earlier post not based on the out of date and troublingly premature statements that turned out to be inaccurate by Ritter.

And again apologies. Lambert and I both find this is the worst informational environment either of us have faced, orders of magnitude worse than the war in Iraq, and I am distressed at having tried one-source shopping on the state of play and badly wrong-footed it.

* * *

The press reports that Macron and Putin had a heated 90 minute talk. Reuters said Putin is upping the ante. If Kiev does not come to the table soon, Russia will increase its demands. Oddly the report is based on a Kremlin account; apparently France has not yet provided its readout:

In a statement issued after the French and Russian presidents spoke by phone, the Kremlin made clear its goals included the demilitarisation and neutrality of Ukraine.

Any attempts by Kyiv to delay negotiations between Russian and Ukrainian officials would result in Moscow adding more items to a list of demands it has already set out, it said..

The statement said Russia’s “special operation” in Ukraine was going “according to plan”. It said reports that Russian forces were bombarding Kyiv were part of an “anti-Russia disinformation campaign”, and that Russian forces were doing all they could to protect civilians.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” that it says is not designed to occupy territory but to destroy its southern neighbour’s military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists.

A couple of days ago, Matt Levine reported no one wanted Russian assets. That’s changed. Bottom feeders are hoovering them up….although perhaps not yet enough to offset the selling pressure. From Bloomberg:

As the U.S. and allies tighten sanctions on Russia and choke off investor demand for its assets, parts of Wall Street are jumping on the buying opportunity that it’s creating.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have been purchasing beaten-down company bonds tied to Russia in recent days, as hedge funds that specialize in buying cheap credit look to load up on the assets, according to people with knowledge of the private transactions.

Bloomberg piously notes that trading Russian assets isn’t banned.

Blackrock is also increasing some Russian holdings. From Sharecast:

Private equity giant Blackrock has taken a punt on beleaguered Russian gold miner Polymetal, doubling its stake to just over 10% even as the stock takes a battering from sanctions imposed against Moscow.

Note here Blackrock is buying this stake when the giant Norwegian sovereign wealth fund is selling.

As we pointed out earlier this week, support of the US and NATO isn’t uniform once you get outside Europe. Saudi Arabia tartly rejected America’s request to pump more oil to help the West out. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman then decided to rub some salt into that wound by suggesting the kingdom might lighten up on its dollar assets. From Reuters:

Saudi Arabia has the option of decreasing its investments in the United States, state-run news agency SPA cited Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman as saying on Thursday.

“In the same way we have the possibility of boosting our interests, we have the possibility of reducing them,” he said, speaking about Saudi Arabian U.S. investments that SPA said amount to $800 billion

And as reader RobertC pointed out, Biden is trying to muscle India into line….by threatening sanctions, with India’s use of Russian military equipment as the pretext. Does the Administration not understand that fertilizer is in a global shortage, and India depends on Russian supplied fertilizer? With fuel inflation that will squeeze the poor and middle classes already baked in, the Indian government needs to do everything it can to limit additional hardship. From The Hill:

The Biden administration is weighing whether to impose sanctions against India over its stockpile of and reliance on Russian military equipment as part of the wide-ranging consequences the West is seeking to impose on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

Donald Lu, the assistant secretary of State for South Asian affairs, on Thursday told lawmakers in a hearing that the administration is weighing how threatening India’s historically close military relationship with Russia is to U.S. security.

Funny that this Administration has such a short memory that it forgets that its ham-handed AUKUS submarine deal not only outraged France, but also deeply offended Indian. Its foreign minister issued an unusually direct statement which amounted to: “We’ll keep this in mind in assessing who our friends are.”

But as to how things finally shake out, and whether Russia can succeed in achieving surgical goals like exercising the neo-Nazis and demilitarizing and turfing out the current regime without leaving so many Ukrainians dead and displaced as to facilitate an insurgency, David’s guess is as good as any. From comments yesterday:

Demilitarising Ukraine means effectively rendering useless (not necessarily destroying) major items of military equipment. At one extreme, you can destroy automatic rifles by putting the barrels in a hand-turned machine, as was done after some conflicts in Africa. At the other extreme, at end of the Cold War, tanks were disabled by a single carefully-placed plastic explosive charge, before being towed off for scrap. Aircraft and helicopters can be rendered useless fairly easily. That said, I doubt if the Russians are worried about small arms as such: indeed, the more there are, the more unstable the country will be. And finally, you can make air bases unusable by trashing the runways with explosives, and even booby-trap them to prevent repair.

Denazification is really two things. The people the Russians are principally interested in are the leaders, and I would assume that, as a matter of course the Russians have had SVR/GRU teams in Ukraine for a while, identifying and tracking them. Once the area is secure, they can be picked up and taken out by helicopter. For the rest, there’s some indication that extreme nationalist militias aren’t all ready to fight to the death when they’re out of food and completely surrounded. I expect the Russians will do their usual thing, and those who surrender first will get the best treatment, especially if they are a useful source of intelligence.

Assuming that those two things are accomplished, the Russians believe that they can turn back the clock to before 2014, and leave the country. At that point, it becomes extremely difficult,, if not impossible, for the West to continue with sanctions, especially when westerners are being hurt. Sanctions normally have an objective, and if the war is over and the Russians have left, there’s no objective. Biden will just have to like it, unless he really believes that he can mobilise his own country, and everybody else’s, for a suicidal economic war. And there’s no point in the West funding militia groups or mercenaries, because they won’t have any targets.

Needless to say, this would not be a good outcome for the US, but what is best for the US is less and less looking like what is sound for the world at large, particularly Europeans who have no appetite for large scale conflict. The US is resisting adapting to a multipolar world. Ironically, heavy-handed moves like over-reliance on dollar sanctions, will accelerate the loss of power it is fighting to retain.

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  1. rrennel

    I read the post and watched the video before your update. It did seem out of date but Ritter’s points do not seem wholly unfounded. He was right on Iraq and look where that got us!

  2. judy2shoes

    Thank you,Yves. I saw the link to the video in comments last night before I went to bed. I was going to comment on it because I had seen the video right after it came out. I wish I had because it might have prompted you to investigate further.

  3. diptherio

    Thanks for setting a good example of how to handle these (probably inevitable) missteps. The demonstration of how someone acting in good faith handles such a situation is quite valuable as a counterpoint to how the MSM press handles things when they get something badly wrong (which happens a heck of a lot more often than it does here on NC).

    1. Tutti

      Ritter makes a very important analysis on NATO and Europe. It is more than the Mariupol issue and it is bad that was dropped.

      It is clear that the US is dragging most part of the world to a localized conflict caused by its own actions in the last decades trying to defend a decaying hegemony against a more powerful competitor.

    2. anon y'mouse

      truth or falsehoods don’t matter to MSM, only spin.

      yet millions of eyeballs are still glued to those channels daily.

  4. lambert strether

    This is absolutely the worst informational environment ever. And I blogged through playing whack-a-mole with Bush the Younger’s disinformation operation on Iraqi WMDs (Yellowcake Uranium! Aluminum Tubes! White Powder!) Those operations were much simpler to debunk, and the embubbled hysteria — due, no doubt, to (anti-)social media, was far, far less pervasive.

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘This is absolutely the worst informational environment ever.’

      You won’t ever get an argument from me about that. The only time historically that I can think of that even resembles now was the hysteria against Germany at the beginning of WW1 – but this is on another level altogether.

      1. Pat

        My points of reference are still WMDs and Covid vaccines.

        I have been gobsmacked at the insane levels of misinformation. There is no steady ground.

        1. .Tom

          Russiagate was a disinformation campaign directly run by the Democratic Party. Now I feel I have to reconsider the purposes of that action relative to new Nato v .ru war in .ua. I just got an email from Discord saying that they have added misinformation and disinformation as forbidden content to their terms. infowars.

          1. anon y'mouse

            cognitive illusions.

            i mean, you take for granted the sun will rise tomorrow as well. some cultures supposedly didn’t.

      2. JBird4049

        The Creel Commission’s efforts can be suggested; it could be called the start of the campaign to eliminate the socialist and communist parties as well as any organizations or individuals who were not actively hostile to both, ultimately anything left of center, in the United States that lasted into the 1980s. This could likely be the start of another such seventy year campaign.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          ie: the Machine’s response to Bernie Sanders 1.0 and 2.0
          can’t have that….

    2. Michaelmas

      Lambert Strether: This is absolutely the worst informational environment ever.

      This is the real Fog of War, not the Mayberry Mafia Bush Two version. Maskirova and morons bloviating globally 360 degrees, 24 hours. Still, the Israel-Lebanon war of 2006 was also that to a lesser extent and 6-18 months later plenty of useful intelligence emerged. My reservation this time is that major tectonic geopolitical shifts will still be ongoing 6-18 months from now — will accelerate, actually — that could continue to obscure what’s going on. Clearly, however, the End of the End of History.

      And as Schrodinger’s Sanctions —

      Without even mentioning the recalcitrance of big players like Modi’s India in refusing to comply with the US and the EU’s “rules-based international order”™, in less than 3 days we have:-

      * South Korea secured an exemption on selling passenger cars to Russia (to dissuade Russia from restarting trade with North Korea).

      * UAE has announced that they will be accepting Russia’s MIR card (their homegrown VISA competitor), and will re-start tourist flights to Russia (the royal family is covering insurance)

      *Cyprus is demanding their own exemption for tourism (i.e. offshore banking)

      * Apple has re-started sales in Moscow

      I’m sure there’s more.

    3. Ignacio

      It is impossible not to agree with this. I´ve never seen something like this. When the terrorist attack in Madrid in 2003 our government tried forcefully to assign the blame to ETA and all the media were forced in the early moments to this vision in Spain. It was then relieving for me to find a different vision at, for instance, The New York Times. Now it is infinitely worse. Nobody, no media, (almost) no politician wants to be seen out of the official narrative.

      1. Paula

        How like public health and big Pharma is that? The official narrative is the only one allowed.

    4. DJG, Reality Czar

      Lambert Strether: I have been thinking about why the propaganda is so thick, why people are lapping it up, why conformity is being enforced, and why sources are so bad.

      Some things exceptional (or are they the future?)
      –This is the first crowd-sourced war. I’m seeing twitter posts reposted all over Fbk, no matter how absurd the premise. And recommendations to use AirBnB to subsidize Ukrainians.
      –The politicization of COVID led to enforced conformity, now being extended to the war. The enforced conformity was among the antivaxxers as well as among the herd immunity peeps and among the Only Vax Works crowd. People are testifying to their faith and their tribe. QAnon + BlueAnon = Too bad for the Slavs.
      –Bombs on white people! Blond kids. Hey, this is a real war!
      –The war is the wish fulfillment of Hillary “Want to Hear My Victory Speech?” Clinton, Clinton die-hards, and the McCarthyism of Russia Russia Russia. They have been working very hard at igniting a war. This war is five years of lying unleashed to do its work.
      –That “Putin’s Masculinity” tweet you posted the other day reminded me just how toxic U.S. ideas about sexuality and gender are. Let alone grim and not so sexy. But one must testify to one’s moral purity, because this is The War for Hillary’s Virtue.
      –This is a proxy war that the U.S. military-industrial-congressional complex wants to deny and to manage, both at the same time. So you have denial and threats mixed together. It’s that kneeling-with-kente-cloth-stoles moment, but with bombs.

      As above: Is this the future of war?

    5. JohnnyGL

      Re: disinfo

      My god, that completely trash story about the Ukrainian “ace” fighter pilot is still all over the youtubes.

      Algo’s letting it fly like Alex Jones 10 years ago.

    6. Eclair

      ” …. the worst informational environment ever.” Amen!

      I now have a Ukraine-rule: no current news after lunch (2 PM, Pacific Time). I broke the rule last night because, earlier, I had seen a tweet about the Russian army bombing the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe. Really, I thought, the Russians may be aggressive, but they are not stupid.

      I kept checking in, and the hysteria went nuclear: 10 times bigger disaster than Chernobyl! Millions of Ukrainians freezing to death due to no heat!!! We’re all gonna Die!!!!

      Finally, some saner minds intervened. But, the headlines and news casts and tweets are still out there, convincing the uncritical that the Russians are evil monsters.

      And, thank you Yves, for your apologia. No harm in getting becoming caught in the whirlpool of hysterical news out there. You and the NC crew are, I am sure, operating with minimum rest.

    7. Lambert Strether

      > This is absolutely the worst informational environment ever.

      Not to mention a completely different and highly consequential story: The conversion of CDC into a machine for, well, social murder.

  5. Pat

    Now this is how you do a correction. I wish our more mainstream press would be so straightforward, when we get a correction there it is meant to be overlooked, and even that doesn’t happen unless they are backed into a corner. Kudos.

    Sadly I think the financial reports make one of our two major justifications for inciting this and our scorched earth strategy to destroy huge aspects of Russian finances regardless of events and outcome. Our oligarchs weren’t making enough and decided there was too much profit in looting Russian assets not to demand a government hold up.

    We can discuss the US scramble to remain both relevant and the big man on earth campus as the other in different threads.

    1. fresno dan

      March 4, 2022 at 10:10 am
      I think the paucity of corrections in the MSM is because of agendas – there is simply no interest (or profit) in reporting disspasionate, objective reality – the business model doesn’t support it.
      Something is going on in Ukraine – and I believe the non stop reporting, while ignoring the other supposed 40 wars going on, is because it is in somebody’s financial interest to MAKE ME interested in Ukraine (?pipelines?)
      Will Ukraine lead to WWIII? I doubt it (just ratings fodder – that business model again), but I can’t do anything about it irregardless (yeah, I know* irregardless is not a word) so I choose to ignore Ukraine because bad people are TOO interested in making me interested…


      1. Paula

        I know, right? When they start spouting fear as Fauci did in AIDS epidemic and again during COVID, is when I know someone is trying to drive me. Catch your interests, play to your audiences’ bias and emotions and fears. Any wanna be writer knows that. Did no one watch AFFLUENZA? (no, not spelled wrong). I forbid my children television for as long as I could. They needed a long lasting connection to where they came from, and it wasn’t tv., but that’s where we are at. I tend to glaze over the last remaining independent newspaper I know of in the PNW, The Seattle Times, when it comes to Ukraine for precisely the same reasons. “What am I to do?” Hound my local airport manager to get the wheels started on unleaded fuel? May or may not be more productive. But I would never sit out the only game in town. :)

  6. CoryP

    It’s really disappointing because I’ve enjoyed reading Ritter and yet while watching that video I kept thinking “where is he getting his info?” and his obvious glee was kind of disconcerting. Ugh….

    And yeah. Agree the info space is poison. I try to restrict myself to text or dry academic lectures otherwise I get sucked in on either (or many) sides. But generally I have no confidence i know what the hell is going on outside of my own city block, and even then….

    1. OnceWereVirologist

      I believe that video was recorded on Day 1 or Day 2 of the invasion at which stage there was more rumour than confirmed information available.

    2. juno mas

      Scott Ritter seems to have a handle on broad brush issues with which he is familiar. But the “glee” in his voice is reason for pause.

      This military action is disruptive and dangerous—I imagine the US capitol or theirs could be smithereens any day. Pushing a power like Russia to the edge has been more than unwise. Not only do they have the materiel and skill to fight this land war, they probably have the fortitude to see their objectives. Their society can likely endure more pain than ours.

      1. Anon

        The “glee” may well be in being able to witness what he trained his whole life for, unfolding before his eyes. Like a botanist encountering an undocumented species of fern. He is nerding out.

        Is anyone reliable about what’s happening on the ground in Ukraine rn? Ritter is useful, in that he represents the locker-room intelligentsia, that we never get to hear from. You can’t take what he says to the bank; rather, you’ll have to wait for those checks to clear, but in the meantime he is very thought provoking.

        1. judy2shoes

          This is a very useful perspective to me. It reminds me that there are other views worth considering rather than my own, sometimes knee-jerk ones. Thank you for sharing.

        2. CoryP

          Yeah I think that’s a valid perspective. I admit to sharing his enthusiasm for denazification, but it did cause me to wonder how objective his analysis was.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Listening to some of his other vids, he seems often to use that voice. It may be how he pretties up being agitated. He uses the exact same inflections when he’s disapproving of how NATO isn’t up to the task of defending Ukraine and how the US/West need to set clear red lines with respect to the Baltics.

    3. Paula

      I hear you. Too easy to get sucked in. I love this entire conversation because it is about perception and created perception and reality and these kinds of discussions need to happen not just here. People really should speak up even if unpopular the voice, to dare question the “official” narrative. I haven’t the education most likely of those commenting here, but I have a great respect for my inherent intelligence and no fear of “authorities” whom I always dare to question, do not mind being wrong, as long as no one takes my right to question, unless they are carrying a gun and I am black. Then I could be dead wrong.

  7. super extra

    re: informational environment

    Something I’ve been wondering is, how much of the outright hysteria ongoing in the west now is due to the rampant social media manipulation business models – all the various sites/grifts/think tanks/whatever whose biz model operates on clicks and eyes which are not politics/news focused per se, but care more about directing flows of clicks/eyes to whatever target – how much of what is happening (and spinning out of control) because so much of what constitutes the online information environment now is composed of those entities? They don’t care about truth or even the narrative, it’s just about getting that massive flow of clicks somewhere. How do you even counter that without making some massive sector of online interaction regulated in some finer way?

    ETA: also, thank you for the retraction and correction, once again a reminder of what a valuable service you provide here in these insane and awful times.

    1. Michaelmas

      super extra: how much of what is happening (and spinning out of control) because so much of what constitutes the online information environment now is composed of those entities? They don’t care about truth or even the narrative, it’s just about getting that massive flow of clicks somewhere.

      Honestly, it was the same in William Randolph Hearst’s day. What is different is that we have instantaneous global electronic networks to be filled 24 hours.

    2. PHLDenizen

      I read Propaganda by Bernays a couple of weeks ago and remember this passage:

      The important point to the propagandist is that the relative value of the various instruments of propaganda, and their relation to the masses, are constantly changing. If he is to get full reach for his message he must take advantage of these shifts of value the instant they occur. Fifty years ago, the public meeting was a propaganda instrument par excellence. Today it is difficult to get more than a handful of people to attend a public meeting unless extraordinary attractions are part of the program. The automobile takes them away from home, the radio keeps them in the home, the successive daily editions of the newspaper bring information to them in office or subway, and also they are sick of the ballyhoo of the rally.

      Instead there are numerous other media of communication, some new, others old but so transformed that they have become virtually new. The newspaper, of course, remains always a primary medium for the transmission of opinions and ideas — in other words, for propaganda.


      …But men do not need to be actually gathered in a public meeting or in a street riot, to be subject to the influences of mass psychology. Because man is by nature gregarious he feels himself to be member of a herd, even when he is alone in his rom with the curtains drawn. His mind retains the patterns which have been stamped on it by the group influences…

      Influences = “influencers” captured by the blob and its acolytes. The internet has become the new radio with a much lower barrier to entry. One person on Twitter acts as radio station and that station gets picked up by anyone afflicted with confirmation bias. So hypothetically you have millions and millions of propagandists. Point-to-point propaganda on an industrial scale. Social media is touted as “organic” and “decentralized”, but that’s bullshit. It also allows point-to-point bullying to the degree that people are cancelled and exiled from their herd. Even their own families a la TDS.

      What makes social media different is the bidirectionality and immediacy, IMHO. Group inclusion seems to happen minute-by-minute, as does ostracization. Alliances have a half-life of a couple of hours. And you can Tweet your way back into the good graces of the authoritarians. When the blob holds your agency hostage through fear of losing your paycheck or health insurance, people are more susceptible, I suppose. If you’ve attached yourself to enough capital or the means to scoop some up, you can afford to be inured to the whole thing. Better to be rich and alone than broke and desperate to belong.

      1. djrichard

        I’ve noticed Yahoo News is opening up their comments section again. It’s been open for a while on news items that would not be contentious. But now Yahoo is opening the comments up on news about Ukrained/Russia. I have to assume the crowd seeing the crowd is “functional” again in the comments section when there’s few voices expressing dissent. Afterall, who’s going to stand up for the evil doers?

    3. Brian Beijer

      how much of the outright hysteria ongoing in the west now is due to the rampant social media manipulation business models

      I agree with your assessment but would like to add to it a bit. Please forgive my indulgence of speculating here. My theory is that the hysteria is being ginned-up in order to push through goals that TPTB have wanted to implement for years but never could find the opportunity to. For example, the EU has been wanting a common defense force but has been met with opposition from some countries as well as scepticism in the EU public-at-large. NOW though, you can bet the EU will get their army. One step closer to the grand unification. Second, the EU has been wanting to fly their NATO colors for years but needed an oppotunity to come out of the closet without looking like they were US’s poodle from the get go. This gives them that opportunity. The US has wanted to sanction Russia off the planet Earth. Of course, weapons manufacturers see cha-ching everywhere they look. And now, Black Rock and the other usual suspects get to buy up all the dumped Russian stocks for pennies, consolidating part-ownership in quite a few Russian companies. The US’s financial finger penetrates a little deeper into Russia.

      In other words, all of this hysteria is allowing the players to finally make big moves across the board with their agendas. Since all the social media companies are US owned and have lots of PPPs with the alphabet agencies, not to mention contracts with EU governments, are they gonna play referee when da playas gotta play? The social media companies certainly showed no willingness to be objective when US and other Western governments started harrassing critics during the pandemic. It’s much more profitable for them to play ball rather than referee the game. Just my two cents, but I freely admit I would be hard pressed to find links to back-up my speculations.

  8. curlydan

    To David’s point at the end of the post, even if the Russians achieve their goals of de-militarization and de-Nazification and then largely leave Ukraine, I still think the whole country remains a hot zone. The West will still put Putin on notice, make him and his nation a pariah, and likely pour weapons back into the nation. I see a scenario where anytime the West and weapons get “too close” to Russia’s border, the Russian army comes back in for operations or Russian missile strikes are launched to keep the West back and re-flex Russian power.

    That’s why neutrality is the only answer to preventing long-term destruction of the nation. Unfortunately, we had to have a disastrous war to get to the obvious end result.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      That depends on how successful Russia is. The ultimate goal is to break NATO, which should have been dissolved 30 years ago anyway. If Russia does manage to achieve the goals you mentioned, creates a neutral country and goes home, it may cause some of the key NATO members to reconsider their participation. It isn’t doing Europe any good to be flooded with refugees every time they go along with US warmongering. And I’m sure Germany would much rather have Russian energy delivered cheaply and peacefully, rather than having to pay a premium from the US as a “reward” for supporting the US’ own imperial ambitions.

      Putin has said that the US needs to understand it’s a multipolar world now. Despite all the feverish propaganda, the US must see that the countries containing the vast majority of the world’s population have not signed on to the blanket condemnation of Russia that the US would have liked. The one that has surprised the hell out of me is Israel.

      In a sane world, it’s quite clear who the real pariah state is and Medea Benjamin lays it out quite clearly here-

      The hypocrisy of the West is clear for everyone to see and I do think it’s only a matter of time until the US’ traditional allies will no longer want to be associated with this kind of warmongering, especially as it’s often the US that reaps any benefits while they deal with the messy aftermath.

      1. praxis

        Europe is cowed. They have refused to push back against USA empire posturing/propaganda and while some of the leadership may be wiser, there is no political future in blazing an independent security framework. Any sovereign EU politician will quickly succumb to the mindless media hive mind and become electoral poison.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          If Europe can’t stand up and continues to be the US’ poodle dog, they may find themselves relegated to being a 21st century backwater along with the US depending on how things go with the BRIC countries. Pretty sure the US can’t take them all down militarily. Or they could break free from NATO and be the beneficiaries of China’s Belt and Road initiative. Here’s a map of proposed trade routes – notice that there are routes going through Eurasia and near Ukraine, and also notice what country is not included whatsoever – The US retaining Ukraine as a compliant client state would really throw a wrench into the works for China’s plans, which is the real reason the US has been meddling in Ukraine’s affairs. It sure isn’t because of “freedom” and “democracy”. The US can see its influence waning and is lashing out trying to hold on to it, rather that simply cooperating peacefully with the rest if the world.

          And yes I’m being a little flip, but what does the US even have to trade with the rest of the world any more besides extremely expensive weaponry of dubious reliability? The US doesn’t make much in the way of physical goods and I’m pretty sure the rest of the world had their fill of corrupt grift-laden arcane financial instruments back in 2008.

          1. tegnost

            The US can see its influence waning and is lashing out trying to hold on to it,

            This is definitely what the TPP was about. I recall that once a country was “in”, they couldn’t get out.

            1. Greg

              In a roundabout sort of way, this answers the question of what the US has to trade.

              The US acquires (through various means) the intellectual property rights to innovations from around the world, and then controls access to those. This is the major US trade good when financial chicanery is discounted.

              TPP was a means of ensuring that market continued to perform the way the US would prefer.

              **plus GM crops, at least until dustbowl2.0 (GM seeds fall in the gamut of IP above)

          2. PHLDenizen

            …but what does the US even have to trade with the rest of the world any more besides extremely expensive weaponry of dubious reliability?

            Access to capital markets and mutual corruption. The US is the wealthiest country in the world and offers a prosperity pipeline for those willing to carry its water. Foreign leaders who send their kids to be educated here, predatory investment opportunities, zero regulatory frameworks, zero criminal prosecution. And all while offering a high standard of living for the stewards of hegemony without obvious third world nation signifiers.

            EU countries are superficially dissimilar, e.g. native language, social norms, etc., but are vassal states of the US at their core. English is the lingua franca and neoliberalism finds common cause across political leaders and the wealthy. I’d argue that the Davos summit is itself the only country, with everywhere else being a vassal state to IT.

          3. KD

            NATO is a good deal for Europe. They only pay a fraction of their actual cost of their national defense, their security is backstopped by Godzilla/America, and they don’t have to worry about all those old contests between Germany and France which tied them up not-so-long ago. I suppose if America is reckless enough, they could drive Europe out but NATO is a pretty good deal warts-and-all, where else can you get paid for being a vassal?

            1. K.k

              I beg to differ. Nato is an offensive alliance of one gangster bloc. Who exactly is Godzilla protecting the main Nato members from for the past thirty years which they could not have down themselves. Were they worried about Japan, China , or the Russia invading France? Its seems to me they were paying Americans for protection from the US. And now they will make even more sacrifices to keep Godzilla satiated. On the other hand they got the privilege to join in military adventurism around the world which helps to capture markets and resources for their own national corporations.

          4. Anthony G Stegman

            The US still has cards to play. One that resonates well is the race card. It’s not a coincidence that all of the “Five Eyes” countries are caucasian countries. The refugees from the Russia-Ukraine conflict are being warmly received by various NATO countries – principally because the refugees are mostly caucasian. Refugees from the various Middle East wars at least partially enabled by various NATO countries are not so well received. As far as China goes much of the vitriol directed towards them is also due to thinly veiled racism. Trump voiced it loud and clear, but he is not alone when it comes to the West racial superiority complex. Most Europeans think of themselves as superior to peoples from the “Global South”. It is not likely that they will align themselves with China, no matter what benefits may be derived from doing so.

        2. Tor User

          At the moment, unless those opinion polls are wrong, in Finland and Sweden, a lot of people want into NATO.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            It would not surprise me one bit if those polls were nothing but propaganda and/or about as accurate as the polls leading up to the 2016 US election. Obviously the US wants people to think the world is united against the “evil” Putin, but the only ones I see coming out strongly against Russia are NATO and five eyes, which comprise a small minority of total world population, and therefore world markets, which is the only thing the US really cares about – dominating markets.

            We’ll see how it plays out…

          2. Brian Beijer

            Living in Sweden, I would say those polls are absolutely correct. In every newspaper and every news channel, it’s been Russia! Russia! Russia! for years now. Considering that the state owned TV/news channel SVT has been one of the main sources of this hysteria, I would say that the government + intelligence agencies have had a heavy hand in keeping the anti-Putin/ Russia invasion anxiety dialed up to 11 for years, possibly decades now (I’ve only lived here for 10 years).
            Sitting at lunch with co-workers the other day, several mentioned that they were worried Russia would invade Poland and then Sweden. As if conquering Sweden was Putin’s ultimate goal in all of this. Sometimes it’s hard not to laugh in people’s faces here. Unfortunately, MANY people here believe EVERYTHING the government tells them, especially if it is “news” on SVT. I rarely meet a Swede who has ever in their lives contemplated that their government might be lying to them. It’s simply inconceivable to vast majority of them. Strangely though, most Swedes will readily tell you that their local government is corrupt, but that suspicion toward their local government doesn’t lead them to questioning the state’s motives/ actions. It’s not that the press doesn’t ever report on corruption and lies at the state level. They do at least one major “holy sh1t” story once or twice a year. It’s just that nothing seems to stick. Ever. The Swedish government is like the Ronald Reagan of bureaucracies.

            When I lived in the US, I always felt like a stanger in a strange land. Now that I live in Sweden… I feel like a stranger in a strange land. I’m starting to think that the problem isn’t nationality. It’s just people.

            1. Oh

              Sounds like what the general US population is like. Most people don’t have/take the time to seek out different sources of information. The tune in to major networks that spew out the govt. point of view which is mostly misinformation and is against the people’s best interest.

      2. Anthony G Stegman

        I’m not at all optimistic that the Europeans will see the United States for what it is – a global hegemon that uses Europe to achieve its own ends which includes the global domination of finance capital. Europe has its own dark history that includes empire, colonization, war crimes, genocide. Most of Europe is a reflection of the United States, just as the United States is a creation of Europe. Two peas in a pod.

        1. Michaelmas

          Anthony G Stegman: Any sovereign EU politician will quickly succumb to the mindless media hive mind and become electoral poison.

          Who are these sovereign EU politicians?

          Tony Blair is now worth $60 million — a man who didn’t know how to use a computer to send an email when I last heard — because he took the UK into Iraq Two against the expressed will and opposition of much of the UK’s population.

          Gerhard Schröder, conversely, settled for a net worth of a mere $20 million because, having opposed that same US-led war, he got his payday from the Russians by being chairman of Russian energy company Rosneft since 2017– and was set to become a director of the Russia’s Gazprom as of last month.

          The point being: even as the US becomes clearly a collapsing hegemon — and maybe a collapsing state — while it can still print dollars, it will still be able to buy the Liz Trusses, Jens Stoltenbergs and Ursula von der Leyens with the promise of post-office paydays. After all, these are not very bright people even if they see that the hegemon is collapsing. So what else do they have going for themselves?

      3. fringe element

        Israel’s reluctance to sign on to the condemnation of Russia is intriguing. It seems to me that Israel played a significant role in keeping left-wing governments out of power in the UK and the US. So now they see the governments they supported being comfortable deploying Nazi-wannabes against Russia and they worry. Has their strategic thinking been as foolish as what we see from the US, or am I missing something?

        1. Tom Pfotzer

          I think you may be missing something.

          Many of Russia’s oligarchs are Israelis. During the great Russian yard-sale post-Yelsin, a lot of assets were scooped up by Israelis. They had the money, they knew the language and culture, they were perfectly positioned to buy up those assets. Note that many Israelis are from Russia.

          And with those stakes in mining, materials, oil, etc. there’s a lot of cash-flow to worry about / protect.

          If Russia gets rent asunder, there will be many new contestants for those big “concessions” currently held by Israelis.

          And Russia has massive resources. That’s what the Great Game is all about: control of resources and the rents to be extracted.

          What I find interesting here is whether Russia will continue to find Israel useful.

          By my calcs, Russia found Israel useful to the degree Russia could influence the U.S. through Israel’s political influence here. Israel was selling “influence”.

          All the while many of the leading NeoCons, who are major contributing authors of our current foreign-policy brilliance, are also actual / quasi- Israelis. Curious, indeed. That paradox is intriguing to me, because I can’t yet explain it.

          But – possibly – the calculus changes to the degree Russia turns away from the West. If that turn completes, Israel’s influence significantly declines in utility.

          Furthermore, if Asian integration continues on its current track, the West isn’t where the money will get made. It’ll be in Asia.

          Israel, because of its political influence in the U.S., can afford to play both sides, and see where the wind blows.

          Which members of Congress are going to dare call them out on it?

          1. Science Officer Smirnoff

            More explicitly, there is the storyline that Israeli-Russian communication in their separate combat operations in Syria has contributed.

    2. djrichard

      If the war ends with Ukrainians thinking it was worth it, then yes, it will continue. If not, then I could see the Ukrainians declining to be the cat’s paw for the West.

      1. Polar Socialist

        A few hours ago Zelensky lashed out at NATO very bitterly. Something along the lines that NATO is useless in solving Ukraine’s problems, it’s weak and the blood of the Ukrainians will be in NATO’s hands.
        And that the ridiculous amount of diesel NATO managed to supply to Ukraine today is only enough to burn the Minsk Agreement with.

        It may be he’s in the stage 4 of grief, so the next one would be acceptance (that Ukraine has but one way out of this). Which would be nice since the truce negotiations are supposed to continue on Saturday.

        Putin told Schulz that there will be more demands on each round of negotiations.

        1. Foy

          In this interview from a couple of days ago he was acting a bit strangely. Not sure what he was saying but the face eyes and body language looked a bit weird to me. No doubt he’s super stressed but also sounded like he was slurring his words a bit

          1. Tom Pfotzer

            I’ve heard from several sources that Zelensky was “drugged” or otherwise not in command of his faculties during some recent interviews.

            That video you linked, even though he’s speaking in a language I don’t understand, does not show physical or intellectual impairment, in my opinion.

            He’s surely stressed – who wouldn’t be…but he seems to be holding it together pretty well at this juncture.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Demanding a no-fly zone which would result in a Russia/NATO shooting war which would be held over the rubble and bodies of his country is not a sign of sanity. He should be evacuated to that mansion & bank account that he has waiting for him in Florida and get some down time.

              1. K.k

                I think people have been too easy on Zelensky. The man is a fool being advised by bigger fools. Biden admin while pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into Ukraine at the same time was icing out Zelensky until he took harder line against Russia. Biden had been refusing to get on the phone with Zelensky well over a year after he came into office.

                From the following wsws article from last march…
                “Speaking to Politico, a former US official close to the Biden administration was quoted as saying, “There is merit to having Zelensky sit and wait his turn for a call. He is not struggling with all his might to fight corruption. In fact, pro-Russian oligarchs in Ukraine have gained immense power since Zelensky took over. So there needs to be tough love with Zelensky when that one-on-one conversation does happen.”

                Ukraine approves strategy to “recover” Crimea, threatening all-out war with Russia

                It was in March 2021 when the Ukrainian State backed by Zelensky made the gambit to get Bidens attention by approving a plan to take back Crimea. A major provocation that led to immediate military deployment by Russia in Crimea and and the eastern border of Ukraine. This seems to have really got the ball rolling.

                Less than two weeks later Zelensky got his first phone call with Biden.

  9. oledeadmeat

    A fine and fair correction of your original post. Kudos.

    That said, I must still disagree with the assumption that Russia can win to the extent of replacing Ukranian leadership with leadership Putin would accept and also that the Ukraine will be successfully demilitarized.

    Ukranain leadership is in Kyiv. I have posted on another article (pending moderation) on this site news links vis a vis morale, logistics (the stuck convoy north of Kyiv) and bombardment, so I will not repost them here. I agree with Yves that, to this point, Mariupol is undergoing heavier bombardment than other cities have seen to date. Yet if Ukranian leadership refuses to capitulate, I fear such bombardment will be seen in Kyiv soon.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Patrick Armstrong depicts the “stuck convoy” meme as naive:

      So far the Russian military operation in Ukraine has been a reconnaissance in force preceded by the destruction of the supplies and headquarters of the Ukrainian Armed Forces by standoff weapons. The object being to suss out where the Ukrainian forces are, to surround them, to check existing Russian intelligence against reality and, at the same time, destroy known headquarters, air and naval assets, supplies and ammunition depots. And, perhaps, there was the hope that the speed and success (Russian/LDPR forces dominated an area of Ukraine about the size of the United Kingdom in the first week) would force an early end (aka recognition of reality).

      At the moment they are readying for the next phase. The long column that so obsessed the “experts” on CNN is the preparation for the next phase. And that is this: “You didn’t get the hint, so now we have to hit you”. The fact that the column has been sitting there indicates that the Russians know they have complete air superiority. Secondly it is a message to the Ukrainian armed forces that it’s over, give up. (And one should never forget that the Russians/Soviets have always been the best at strategic deception, so who knows what’s actually there versus what the images show?)

      1. jrkrideau

        I must admit even before I read Patrick’s column it was obvious that it was not “stuck”. It seemed it was there to to flaunt the fact that Russia had obliterated the Ukrainian air force though it also might make parking easier. I had not thought of it as a threat.

      2. Paula

        You know what else is a message? How about the countries who are not standing behind the USA who are mostly white EU nations? Do you think these other nations might decipher how easy it would be, to be the next dissenter, and threatened by US military by the lead filled brains of the US military industrial complex. As someone said, US economy is war economy. We cannot thrive in a nation whose economy is run on war, much less in a world. Diplomacy seems long missing in US dealings. The stronger might here is muscle and we bear bait so we can use it, so we can have an excuse for using it. If people only knew how much their lifestyle was dependent on all this killing, do you think they’d demand we find a way out of it? How much blood, I asked at a women’s march, is in your portfolio. One guy said he dared not look. Hmmmm.

  10. oledeadmeat

    On a separate point, the Hill article Yves’ references points to India – the end of the article is interesting:

    “The secretary said India’s abstention at the United Nations and its commitment to provide Ukraine with humanitarian assistance are promising steps in a shift in its public position and that he expects an even greater shift in the aftermath of outrage at the death of an Indian student killed in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, by Russian bombing in recent days.

    “I have had several conversations with Indian officials in the last 24 hours,” Lu said. “What we can see, already, very quickly is that action has begun to turn public opinion in India against a country that they perceived as a partner, undeniably, that partner has killed a young person who was an innocent victim in Ukraine.”

    That does not suggest that India is siding with Russia, but rather that support of the European position vis a vis this war is still in flux and more likely to shift away from Russia, albeit not necessarily to extent Biden might wish.

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        Yes! OMG!

        Count me as another “believer in the recalibration of the world order” …

      2. lyman alpha blob

        Wow, he’s not mincing any words. Do you know who the speaker is and the where they are speaking? All I could get was that he was replying to a “Sean”. Pretty sure it wasn’t Hannity, as nice as that would have been to see!

  11. Thuto

    Thank you Yves for the correction.

    To PK: I happened to see your response to my comment about the existence of Nato being all but obviated had post-Yeltsin Russia become one of the vassal states orbiting the geopolitical centre of the universe that the US still thinks it is despite the tectonic plates shifting as evidenced by current events.

    I should have been explicit that what I meant was not that military spending in the EU would dry up, but that the marketshare for military hardware suppliers would perhaps be more distributed instead of the bulk of EU defense spending being funneled almost exclusively to the MIC as normally defined here (what I referred to earlier as the gravy train transferring 2% of nato members gdp to the MIC). In other words, if Russia was considered a friendly state, a couple of things would, in theory, result from that:

    1. The narrative that justifies Nato’s continued existence l.e. Russia as an enemy that needs to be contained, would have the proverbial wind knocked out of it to a degree.

    2. This would potentially exert a downward pressure on EU military spending.

    3. Decisions on spending would be decentralized with individual country defense ministries gaining autonomy to spend based on national security needs and actual threat assessments, and to procure from a wider pool of suppliers (including Russia).

    With Russia as a friendly state, I wonder how inertia alone and the laziness of the EU to work out how a post-Nato Europe would look would be enough to sustain a narrative that would justify the alliance’s continued existence.

  12. KD

    Sanctions are not going away. America can not “reward” Russia for a naked act of aggression and regime change (that is only the prerogative of the “exceptional” children). Also, thumbs screws to all who won’t play ball with economic isolation of Russia like India. They should know better than to get in the way of Murica.

    It is going to take an enormous amount of economic pain, experienced directly by the Americans, before they seek some face-saving way out. The way this is looking, Europe will pay the cost, and US Oil and Gas will turn record profits. Its not clear that this is the best long-term strategy, but we are dealing with exceptional children who only care about the next election cycle and “looking tough” for the MSM.

    Besides, we need a permanent enemy in Europe for NATO. By the time dollar supremacy ends and the US/NATO block is diplomatically isolated and China moves on Taiwan and there are outbreaks of anti-Americanism in the Western Hemisphere supported by all our new enemies, well, you won’t witness a moral inventory, probably just double down on hubris.

  13. Stove Goblin

    “Special Operation” is why Russia has yet to secure a city. It is Putin’s epitaph. Putin mistakenly believed he was fighting an insurrection and could decapitate his opponent with flashy blue beret-ed paratroops substituting for infantry in what was essentially a psyop. (Russia has not done a mass combat drop since Czech 68. Nobody has. Until 2022. You die before you hit the ground.) Putin should have prepared to fight battle-hardened veterans who rotated through Donbass every year regardless of how under-equipped they seemed. Chasing Neo-Nazi’s? Psyop. No second wave of infantry sweeping after the first? Because it was theatre. They were there to merely sit around and fly colors while Z was captured.

    Now instead of decisive battles, Russia is resorting to flattening dormitories and apartments as he did for years in Syria. Shelling an office next to a reactor is provocative but the reactor doesn’t fight back. If Putin intends to enlist radioactivity to buffer himself, then he’s already lost. (“Go home UA, the core melting *wink*”) Pretending Z is a gangster terrorist for a casus belli doesn’t actually make it so.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Let me play contrarian, since your comment is full of assumptions that you take as fact.

      The first is that the Russian invasion is going “slowly”. Russia never indicated anything about a timetable. As Scott Ritter explained in the video we took down for getting the state of play wrong, the Russians are using the term “special operation” to try to maintain a fig leaf of justification of international law and to signal that Russia does not intend to occupy Ukraine. BTW Ritter made clear that the Russian attack is an invasion, but also that international law has no means for dealing with the sort of aggression that the US and NATO were engaged in towards Russia. Ritter explained in detail how Ukraine was already a de facto member of NATO, with NATO trained troops and NATO-provided weapons (and more weapons coming in), and that NATO (and Ukrainian) troops had participated in operation that were not defensive.

      Russia has set specific but pretty difficult objectives: denazifying and demilitarizing Ukraine, and having it become a neutral state. We and many others pointed out from the beginning that Russia also needed to minimize civilian casualties and destruction of infrastructure so as to not to create undue resentment. That need would slow any timetable.

      As for “flattening dormitories and apartments” please provide evidence. Gilbert Doctorow disagrees with your characterization of how Russia operates:

      As I understood, casualties of the Russian incursion in Ukraine on Day One numbered 141 Ukrainian combatants, zero civilians. If true, these numbers are miniscule compared to what the United States and Europeans were projecting from the beginning. Why is that so? There is a reason for everything.

      I will use the interview with retired General David Petraeus on the BBC which I watched last night to explain. Wearing a well tailored suit, he looked very much like a corporate Board member as he delivered his professional assessment of the Russian “invasion” of Ukraine at the end of Day One. He said he wasn’t impressed, that the Russians were advancing very slowly, presumably because they encountered unexpected resistance from Ukrainian forces. He added that their coordination of air and ground forces was poor compared to the American war-making machine. In conclusion, he observed that on Day One of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, in which he took part as commander of the 101st Airborne Division in the drive to Baghdad, they traveled much farther and faster than the Russians are doing now.

      The smart looking BBC interviewer did not dig deeper. Let’s do that now: the U.S. onslaught on Baghdad was savage, causing perhaps hundreds of thousands of deaths. Iraqi lives, civilian and combatant alike, counted for nothing. By contrast, as I noted in my news analysis yesterday, the Russian armed forces have been given strict instructions by Putin, through Minister of Defense Shoigu, to treat the Ukrainian servicemen with respect and to allow all those who lay down their weapons to leave the field of battle and go home through a corridor that will be opened for them. In addition, the Russians have been instructed to stay clear of cities and to avoid shelling residential blocks, all with the aim of avoiding civilian casualties to the extent possible. These various constraints of course slow down the progress of the Russian forces.

      Let us assume that what the Russians are now saying about themselves has a grain of truth: namely that this show of humanity goes back to their traditional gallantry at war. In this regard, they cite Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Unfortunately the reference is not entirely convincing, because in 1812 the Russian peasantry and other irregular bands of fighters had no qualms about murdering captured soldiers of the Grande Armée. In my view, something else is operative and explains both the commands and the resulting miniscule casualty figures so far: good political sense, the understanding that the Ukrainians, both civilians and men in arms, must not be unduly antagonized if there is going to be a durable settlement when the military victory comes. It does not serve Russian interests to stoke fires of revanchism.


      As regards the “news” released by the Ukrainian authorities, its propagandistic nature is evident both in inflated and fake reports and videos of Russia-caused devastation and death and in reports on the extraordinary bravery and successes of their own forces.

      Russia clearly has hit some civilian buildings. But they have not been carpet bombing cities the way the US does. Russell Bentley, an American operating with the Ukrainian separatists for years (he’s wildly pro Russia in his spin but actually corrects interlocutors on both Ukrainian and Russian propaganda) contends the Ukrainians have been moving truck-based rocket launchers and equipment into cities, to force Russians to have to harm civilians to get it out. This makes sense tactically so I don’t see this as a big claim. And if true, it poses a very big problem for Russian operations.

      Doctorow also indicates in a later post that Russia has had to reconsider its operations with respect to the Ukrainian army:

      Secondly, at the strategic level, the Russians from the beginning said they planned to separate the professional Ukrainian army from the radical nationalist battalions who were the main aggressors in the conflict at the line of demarcation between the breakaway Donbas republics and Ukraine proper, and who have been the ‘force behind the throne’ in Kiev ever since 2014 as presidents of Ukraine come and go. Indeed, the Kremlin’s stated ambition was to do a deal with the senior command of the Ukrainian army establishing a period of martial law during which the denazification could proceed.

      The opening days of this military campaign have put in serious doubt the validity of the assumptions underlying that strategy. It is now becoming fairly obvious that the past 8 years of military reorganization in Ukraine under the tutorship of the USA and other NATO powers has established discipline within the armed forces, while the political indoctrination from radical nationalists embedded within the military ensures that defection, raising the white flag is not easy any more.

      By bringing up reinforcements to the initial 80,000 troops that Russia committed to operations within Ukraine, the Kremlin has indicated that it is about to change its game. Today, we understand that the ‘cauldron’ has been closed around Mariupol, the port and Ukrainian naval base on the Azov Sea, which has a substantial radical nationalist force defending it, the infamous Azov Battalion, in the environs. We will see in the coming days how the Russian command deals with these worst of the Ukrainian elements and whether ordinary Ukrainian army forces in their midst are treated any differently. How this plays out will indicate the further conduct of the Russian troops throughout Ukraine.

      I think it is an overstatement to say that the cauldron has been closed, but the Russians do appear to have moved well into Ukraine north and south of the main line of fighting in Donbass, where the Ukrainians are well dug in. If they were to flee, their path out would be through largely agricultural terrain with no major cities. They’ve be easy prey for an air attack.

  14. David in Santa Cruz

    The above retraction/correction is the precise reason I read this site daily.

    The level of propaganda, misinformation, and outright lying about the Russian Federation’s move to suppress (and apparently to ethnically-cleanse) a lawless secessionist region; the comprehensive string of diplomatic failures by the West since the collapse of the USSR; and the manipulation of events by the MIC to boost weapons sales, Big Oil to inflate oil and gas prices, and FIRE to hoover-up Russian foreign assets, is making my head spin.

    Our mis-leadership are now hell-bent on making sure that China, India, and Our Friends the Saudis are firmly in the Russian camp. Not to minimize the suffering of the million already displaced in “Ukraine,” but ordinary Americans are going to pay a huge economic price for these foreign policy blunders — we are already.

  15. Mark Gisleson

    NC and Twitter have been invaluable to me during this conflict. Unfortunately, Twitter just locked me out for interfering in an election.

    I have no clue what they’re talking about as I didn’t follow the Texas elections this week. The previous time they locked my account was for sharing the safe for work version of Katie Hill’s tattoo.

    My problem is that I am fifteen months into my no phone zone. I haven’t had a phone since 2020 (it’s been wonderful, thanks for asking) and Twitter won’t let me back in without a phone number. (Last time they relented after a week when they finally saw my Help Desk query.)

    Between this and not being able to access online bank records (ELAN is text-only verification), not having a phone is proving to be a real challenge. It really is our unofficial national ID number.

    Anyhow, absent my presence Twitter is now a safer no-fly zone for avoiding Putinists.

    1. Mesquite

      Thanks to liam, who posted about this yesterday. Use to replace in a twitter link, then no need to sign up.

      Example: instead of

      I took a month off twitter for similar reasons- I had spent too much time on it anyways. Glad I was off for a while, Ukraine war would have driven me crazy seeing universal unjustified condemnation instead of justified criticism, nuanced approval. At least the folks I’d look over mostly aren’t the hysterical types.

      The linked thread shows a Pantsir with it’s shoes off. Goes into detail about automatic air filling systems on military trucks and how they are needed for mud, and if not maintained can cause problems when lowering pressure for mud. Even if pic a fake, could explain massive roadway convoys and slowish progression of kettling in East.

      1. OnceWereVirologist

        People love to draw the most far-reaching of consequences from the flimsiest of evidence. At the end of the day it’s a single piece of equipment, bogged and abandoned when one of its tires failed. See a hundred of them with the same problem and maybe you can draw some conclusions about Russian maintenance standards and military readiness. See one and unless you already have priors, the obvious conclusion, that ‘s**t happens, sometimes tires blow’, is probably the right one.

  16. William Beyer

    Yves: You’ve confirmed my choice of NC as my main source of information on the world in general for the past decade and in the future.

  17. Matthew G. Saroff

    I still think that Russia will partition the Ukraine in addition to any demilitarization of the country.

    I think that there are some infrastructure items, rail cars that can carry tanks, early warning radars, military transports, and military port facilities, that might be destroyed as a part of the demilitarization process as well.

    1. ambrit

      Russia has ‘form’ in this. After WW-2 ended, Russia basically took back to Russia anything that was not chained down in the former German Reich. Things that were chained down were also taken, chains and all. So, if the Russians come into posession of usable military hardware, they’ll probably ‘take it home’ and use it themselves. Any American or NATO style munitions found intact in the Ukraine will probably be sent on to “assist” the brave freedom fighters of the Quebec Liberation Front and the Free Idaho Cooperatives.
      This debacle is far from over, for all involved. It will have a long ‘tail.’

      1. K.k

        The fact the US and other NATO forces are supplying weapons and even recruits from around the world to enter Ukraine and kill Russian soldiers will have serious consequences down the line for American and Nato military personnel around the world as they plunder and feast on smaller nations as a matter of course. As far as I can tell that story about Russians paying bounties on Americana soldiers in Afghanistan was a fabrication and part of the information warfare leading up to this conflict . Neither the Russians nor the Chinese have armed any kind of resistance forces fighting the US or Nato in recent decades. On the contrary they assisted us. Curious to know if I’m wrong about this. I wonder if and how this will change in the not too distant future.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Russell Bentley (remember super duper gung ho Russia even said that was the plan, to not take Ukraine from a line just above Kiev to give a win to the West. Plus that part is pretty much all ethnic European, would be hard to convert to a Russia-friendly even if Russia captured it with minimal harm to civilians.

  18. Charlie Sheldon

    Your correction was a blessing. You can tell who the serious news people are these days – look at who fessed up they were wrong about the invasion intelligence. Not many, and all on the independent essentially You Tube media, and a number of bloggers, but not many, I am afraid to say. In my opinion we own all of this, in that the day we started expanding NATO east (instead of either abandoning NATO or asking Russia to join) we set in place the seeds of this current growing disaster. We used NATO in Kosovo and Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq (I think) which totally blew away the “defensive alliance” argument. I hope Putin does what he said he would do – make Ukraine neutral, no NATO, take over the eastern provinces, and then withdraw. I fear he will be provoked into a wider war, because he may feel he must, and because there are lots of people here aching for the full bore “thing” to bury him for good. We have declared economic war on him and his 144 million people. Now it seems there is a large group in Russia as dead certain of untruth (ie that Ukraine is the aggressor) as there is here in the US believing Covid is a plot. The wave of proud noble belief in your “own” facts seems everywhere there are disaffected groups angry because they aren’t getting exactly what they want. This is a hundred times worse than Iraq because of the level of fakery and social media and mainstream media lies everyone knows are lies, so why not just believe what you want?

    What we Americans and the West forget, but are about to learn very soon, is that the Russians (and the Chinese) know how to suffer, have suffered in memory, and will survive whatever we throw at them because they have plains to grow food, energy, and a lot of land. Europe can grow food but doesn’t have enough energy. America can grow food and we have enough energy if we reduce use but we are almost a century away from suffering. It is hard to see how a country that considers wearing a mask tyranny will deal with ten dollar a gallon gas.

    We should have declared Ukraine never a member of NATO and we should have insisted Ukraine meet their Minsk accords in 2015 and since. The great irony here is how blind we are to seeing that to Russia, Ukraine’s joining NATO is exactly what the Cuban missile crisis was to the U.S. Imagine if Russia placed troops or missiles in Mexico or Canada.

    This is not going to end well, because as said above, after Putin leaves he will demand the sanctions be lifted, and I just don;’t see our frothing PMC and neocon class climbing back down…..I fear there is a growing number of people who believe, fuck it, let’s go for it, the no fly zone, the works, we can beat Russia because their military has shown its weakness, and even if tactical nukes are used nobody will press the big button. I am sure of it, actually.

    It is damn sobering to realize we may all be living in the latest Tom Clancy novel….

    1. TimmyB

      We should have either disbanded NATO or allowed Russia to join once the USSR broke up and the communists were out of office. We really blew that one.

      While I would be very happy to be wrong, I don’t see Russia stopping with disarming Ukraine. If we look at the list of demands Russia made, removing US missile bases from Poland and Romania were high on the list. If they don’t get removed by agreement, I can see Russia using force.

      Instead of integrating Russia into the West, we (the US) have treated Russia as an enemy. We have sanctioned them for make believe reasons. The Russians know something many of us did not, that the West has been at war for them for decades.

      Russia today is like Japan in the 1940s in some regards. Japan knew that its empire and the US would collide. Their plans were not to challenge the US in a war until the 1960s because they knew they would not be strong enough until then. But because of the imposition of US sanctions, they realized they needed to attack before they got weaker, instead of waiting to the 1960s as planned.

      Russia, like Japan in 1940, knows its very survival is at stake. It realized that the US cannot be trusted and that we will not stop trying to destroy them. So, believing they were cornered and had no choice, Russia threw the first punch. We will see what happens next.

      Concerning a wider war, Europe has a serious, crippling weakness that most everyone ignores-its complete dependence on imported oil. In a shooting war with Europe or any Western nation, an observant and rational enemy would first launch barrages of conventional missiles at every Mideast oil producer. How can NATO fly planes or roll tanks if it has no oil??? Answer: It can’t. Russia has oil. The US has oil. Europe has none. No country can fight a modern war without huge amounts of oil.

      Today’s spot price of oil is $115 per barrel. Bombing Saudi Arabia and its neighbors would send it up so high that our oil dependent economies would collapse. That the weapon Iran threatens to use. And that’s the weapon Russia will use if NATO gets involved. As a result, if there were a war between Russia and NATO, I’d place my bets on Russia winning.

      1. RobertC

        TimmyB — consider my alternative to your

        While I would be very happy to be wrong, I don’t see Russia stopping with disarming Ukraine. If we look at the list of demands Russia made, removing US missile bases from Poland and Romania were high on the list. If they don’t get removed by agreement, I can see Russia using force.

        I believe Putin and Xi gamed out and are executing a confrontation with Biden in Europe, weakening the Atlantic Alliance, using Ukraine as their cat’s paw and commodity prices as their lever.

        If I am not wrong, then Putin won’t need to extend his military outside Ukraine’s territory because the EU and US will be too busy dealing with the unintended consequences of their sanctions while ignoring the rapid climate change effects that Putin and Xi are preparing for.

        A readable and I believe credible example consequence is The Russia-Ukraine War has Turned Egypt’s Food Crisis into an Existential Threat to the Economy.

      2. PDC

        Sorry, I cannot avoid making the following remarks:
        1) Japan 1940 was “forced” to war by sanctions… because they did not want to give up their plan to build an empire at the expense of their neighbors (and they were already fighting against the Chinese since 1937, or 1931 if one counts the invasion of Manchuria).
        2) “Russia, like Japan in 1940, knows its very survival is at stake”.
        Yes, here again the kind of “imperialistic survival” envisaged by Mr. Putin.

  19. Fazal Majid

    I’m finding the pro-Putin apologetics on this site quite puzzling. Just because US imperialism is bad does not make Russian revanchism any better. As to portrayals of Europe as puppets of the US, apart from the reliably obedient English poodle, they just don’t stand up to scrutiny. NATO is reinforced and revitalized by this war, likely will gain Sweden and Finland, with Germany rearming, even reliably pro-Russian Bulgaria switching to hostility and possibly even Orban losing power in Hungary due to memories of 1956. The sight of EU countries that applied harsh measures against Syrian, Iraqi, Eritrean or Ethiopian refugees opening their arms wide to white European Ukrainians, while unedifying in its implicit racism, does show a genuine wave of pan-European solidarity, even in England.

    One thing I haven’t seen any serious commentary on is the Russian’s seizure of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Coming after the seizure of Chernobyl, which at least has a plausible explanation that it is on the most straightforward invasion route from Belarus, this suggests there is a concerted Russian effort to secure nuclear plants. I’d read somewhere Ukrainians suggested they were interested in regaining nuclear weapons, but that is not listed in the official Russian rationale for the war (unless you count it as part of “demilitarization”, but that would be a pretty major understatement not to list it as its own point, not to mention the waste of a perfectly good PR argument).

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      We and readers are trying to understand what is actually happening and I do not appreciate you smearing this site and our readers. We have repeatedly pointed readers to Western experts who were describing years ago how the US was threatening Russia with NATO expansion. George Kennan, preeminent cold warrior, said in the 1990s that moving NATO east would prove to be the worst geopolitical mistake the US ever made. Henry Kissinger criticized the Maidan coup. Are you charging them and Scott Ritter with being Russian stooges?

      More recent examples:

      There was a King’s College talk by Mearshimer in February 2022 that has been somehow de-indexed at YouTube. Its first 20 minutes are a must watch. Fortunately one site appears to have downloaded it and it was from that that I was able to find the original video (trust me, I had searched multiple times in search engines and on YouTube directly; the first link is peculiarly what comes up on searches: and

      What has actually happened in the polarization means that anyone who tries to be a realist (which entails trying to understand what is propaganda and what is information, as well as what the other side’s objective and resources are) is smeared as pro Putin for not falling in with the party line. And you’re participating in that. This is no different than accusing us of being anti-vax for pointing out that the vaccines have been oversold, are not sterilizing, and that there is no durable immunity to Covid from either a vaccine or contracting Covid.

      As for the nuclear material, Putin was very clear about that in his February 21 speech, which we posted because access to the English version on the Kremlin site has been blocked. Putin set forth what capabilities and materiel Ukraine already had, including missiles. The only one missing was nuclear enrichment, and it’s not hard to infer the US would provide that. This was an explicit concern discussed in his speech and again in the press conference that immediately followed and then mentioned in passing in his February 24 speech.

      1. Basil Pesto

        Rather than disappeared, it looks like the Cambridge student group edited the video title and cover image. I had it saved in my yt ‘watch later’ list and when I looked at this list I saw an unfamiliar video “NO TO WAR IN UKRAINE” with a cover pic of a Ukrainian flag. Clicking through confirmed it was the King’s College video.

        Here it is:

        1. Basil Pesto

          oops, see you mentioned this in your post above but wordpress wouldn’t let me delete the above comment.

          But yes I suspect the students themselves have tried to make the video hard to find

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          Except that cover page ALSO shows it as only a four minute video. I did correct the comment above but when you go looking for an hour+ video (independent of also looking for the Mearsheimer or King’s College description, and you instead see that new image and a 4 min time, the normal response is to think it’s just a short excerpt.

          And try searching for “mearsheimer ukraine February 2022” on YouTube. Even with my having just looked at it, which should result in it appearing higher in the search results, it’s number 6, with only a big Ukraine flag and no mention of Mearsheimer in the tag line:

          1. Bugs

            Probably because I use tons of privacy extensions, VPN and modded Chrome, but when I run a Google search with just “mearsheimer” and click the video tab, it’s the very first result. No Ukraine flag, just the title as it was before. No change. I’ve also noticed that Google results in the US are very different from here, even with the mods.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Useful to know. I haven’t bothered using a VPN, I am too time stressed to do anything tech-wise that involves complexity and requires learning, but I may be forced to rethink that.

              1. lyman alpha blob

                The Opera browser comes with a free VPN and all you need to do is click it on – no learning required. If you’re looking for complete security in your browsing, it may not be the best since you get what you pay for, but it does seem to work in getting around the interwebs better in times like this.

        3. CoryP

          This is hilarious. I can’t believe they didn’t just take it down… Though I appreciate the fact that they didn’t.

    2. Lambert Strether

      > I’m finding the pro-Putin apologetics on this site quite puzzling. Just because US imperialism is bad does not make Russian revanchism any better.

      Starts out with a straw-man and promptly introduces a worse one, good job.

      It’s like you’re a patient with cancer and your doctor (you’re one of the lucky ones) wants to do some tests instead of just starting to cut: “What are you? Pro-cancer?”

      I’m long stupid, and comments like this reinforce my view.

    1. judy2shoes

      Thank you for the link, upstater.

      From the article: “I also see the realisation creeping up on the American side [that Ukranian negotiators will have to agree to neutrality].” I wonder what Armstrong is seeing.


      “Judo is about deception and using the opponent’s strength against him. Putin, the judoka, has judoed the West into suicide. Put your money in our banks, we can confiscate it; put your assets in our territory, we can steal them; use our money and we can cancel it; put your yacht in our harbour, we can pirate it; put your gold in our vault, we can grab it. That is a lesson that will resound around the world. A naked illustration that the “rules-based international order” is simply that we make the rules and order you to obey them. In 2 or 3 weeks everybody in the world who is on the potential Western hit list will have moved his assets out of the reach of the West. Xi will permit himself a small smile.”

      I’ve been surprised that U.S. NATO “allies,” after some squawking, seemingly brushed under the rug the U.S. abandonment of them in the dead of night in Afghanistan, not to the mention the Snowden disclosures that led to European leaders finding out they were the subjects of U.S. spying. It just boggles my mind that Europe would have any kind of trust in the U.S.

      1. Lambert Strether

        > It just boggles my mind that Europe would have any kind of trust in the U.S.

        Not to mention the Ukrainians. It seems that from the perspective of The Blob, the best outcome — the outcome they’ve wanted and planned for all along (see Clinton video) — is a continuing insurgency to bleed Russia.

        So who wants that? Of course, all the Ukraine leadership, certainly including Zelensky but also including many “Friends of Chrystia,” want it. They will no doubt decamp to the Miami or New York condos they have already purchased, and be given plenty of air time on cable. The #Resistance, meanwhile, cheering them on, is gradually eased into supporting the open fascism their authoritarian followership prepared them for. So everybody’s a winner!

        1. PlutoniumKun

          First off, I’m not really sure that Europe does, or every has trusted the US. We are looking at a situation where for decades the status quo suited politicians and voters, so there was never enough momentum behind any policy that would face up to contemporary realities. So we are less looking at a situation of ‘trust’, than ‘we can’t think of anything better right now’. For countries small and large across Europe, a US dominated Nato was the least worst of the viable options on the table. Nobody liked it, but nobody could come up with something better and achievable (and this includes lefty anti-Nato types).

          Just as an example, I know its slightly lengthy, but there is a 25 minute analysis here of the current political/military situation in Germany presented by an Austrian military history analyst. Note that he hardly mentions the US at all. Its all about the internal political difficulties in Germany and its relationship with the smaller states to its east.

          On a related topic, I’m coming to the conclusion that you are right that the US ‘blob’ always wanted to turn Ukraine into a quagmire for Russia. The reason? I’ve been wondering why, if the US was convinced Russia was going to invade Ukraine that they didn’t do the obvious thing to stop it. The obvious policy would have been to concoct a reason to put lightly armed Nato troops onto the front lines. It could just have been labeled a friendly exercise. It would have involved ‘liaison’ troops in eastern Ukraine barracks and putting some low level German or Polish military aircraft (for example, transport aircraft) in airbases, and maybe have some small craft ‘visit’ Black Sea ports. If they had done so, Russia would have found it impossible to invade without killing German/Polish/UK/US troops or support staff. This may not have stopped the invasion, but it would certainly have massively complicated things for Putin. That this was never contemplated leaves me to the conclusion that either they didn’t think Putin would invade, or that they wanted him to invade.

          1. judy2shoes

            My thanks to Lambert and PlutoniumKun. These kinds of responses are the reason why I come to NC every single day.

          2. ChrisPacific

            …either they didn’t think Putin would invade, or that they wanted him to invade.

            On the first point, this was of course that rare occasion when the US intelligence that they were trumpeting to the world actually turned out to be correct. It’s hard to imagine they didn’t think an invasion was possible when they were loudly and publicly stating the opposite. There are possible explanations (it was some kind of complicated double bluff, the intelligence was fabricated and just happened to align with reality this once, the US somehow thought that calling it out publicly would prevent it from happening…) but none strike me as all that plausible.

            That leaves point two. It’s not hard to see advantages for the US in how all this has turned out. For one thing, the role of NATO and the US military in Europe seems assured for the foreseeable future. Public opinion in most of the world has turned firmly against Russia to a degree I’ve never seen before (with a few notable exceptions like China and India). The risk of nuclear war has risen substantially, but even that will benefit certain US factions, as we saw in the Cold War.

  20. Mesquite

    If you’re looking for news sources, I recommend Igor Strelkov’s Telegram channel. It gives you machine translated Russian, but the accuracy seems higher than other Russian/ Russian sympathists’ sites. For instance he continues to lament that the eastern cauldron is not very closed on the west, but does list the towns conquered so far. Other sites have been far too optimistic, saying it was all but closed days ago. He also issues daily corrections, but they are more about one town on the edge than major oopsies or days long silence after saying it’s all but over.

    Strelkov and hit translate in browser.

    He doesn’t give maps, but does report info like the southern advance going northwest and over to Odessa is limited by the number of men. Also he reported maybe 3 days ago that Russia had finally called up its reserves, I haven’t seen that elsewhere. Perhaps Colonel Cassads telegram gives more information, but I haven’t checked.

    On media in general, I think the NYT is better than before/ at start of Iraq war. I remember Krugman being a lone voice against, everyone else whooped and hollered “more war.” Now I can’t open half the articles from the screaming headlines, and I have to usually discount the perspective on the other half, but there appears to be genuine information in them, and useful considerations. All the facts: no way.

    I don’t spend as much time sourcing media as y’all, so grain of salt. Maybe I was so disgusted in Iraq war time at having my eyes blinded by the extreme disinformation prior to war and resulting disillusionment that I missed the few useful nuggets. But the internets did provide a useful counterbalance, which is much harder to find now.

  21. RobertC

    Reading the multiple accusations against Putin for war crimes and the ICC initiating investigations, I wondered why I haven’t seen any mention of Just War Theory.

    Bush cited Preemptive War under Just War Theory for our illegal invasion of Iraq.

    It seemed to me Putin had better rationale for Preemptive War than Bush.

    So I searched the Web. And was disappointed with the results.

    A Jesuit falsified facts, ignored facts and used ad hominem attacks to claim the Preemptive War rationale did not apply.

    A professor acknowledged some aspects of Preemptive War were met but then falsified facts, ignored facts and used ad hominem attacks to claim the Preemptive War rationale did not apply.

    Notes from Wikipedia Just war theory

    Russian Orthodox Church and just war

    The War and Peace section in the Basis of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church is crucial for understanding the Russian Orthodox Church’s attitude towards war. The document offers criteria of distinguishing between an aggressive war, which is unacceptable, and a justified war, attributing the highest moral and sacred value of military acts of bravery to a true believer who participates in a justified war. Additionally, the document considers the just war criteria as developed in Western Christianity eligible for Russian Orthodoxy, so the justified war theory in Western theology is also applicable to the Russian Orthodox Church.

    In the same document, it is stated that wars have accompanied human history since the fall of man; according to the gospel, they will continue to accompany it. While recognizing war as evil, the Russian Orthodox Church does not prohibit her members from participating in hostilities if there is the security of their neighbors and the restoration of trampled justice at stake. War is considered to be necessary but undesirable. It is also stated that the Russian Orthodox Church has had profound respect for soldiers who gave their lives to protect the life and security of their neighbors.

    Notes from IEP Just War Theory

    The principles of the justice of war (Jus Ad Bellum) are commonly held to be:

    1. Having just cause
    2. Being a last resort
    3. Being declared by a proper authority
    4. Possessing right intention
    5. Having a reasonable chance of success
    6. The end being proportional to the means used

    With regard to Preemptive War

    Self-defense against physical aggression, therefore, is putatively the only sufficient reason for just cause. Nonetheless, the principle of self-defense can be extrapolated to anticipate probable acts of aggression, as well as in assisting others against an oppressive government or from another external threat (interventionism). Therefore, it is commonly held that aggressive war is only permissible if its purpose is to retaliate against a wrong already committed (for example, to pursue and punish an aggressor), or to pre-empt an anticipated attack. In recent years, the argument for preemption has gained supporters in the West: surely, the argument goes, it is right on consequentialist grounds to strike the first blow if a future war is to be avoided? By acting decisively against a probable aggressor, a powerful message is sent that a nation will defend itself with armed force; thus preemption may provide a deterrent and a more peaceful world.

    Jus Ad Bellum is not international law. But my hope is that both President Putin and President Biden are provided the opportunity for their actions to be publicly and honestly examined according to its principles.

    1. Science Officer Smirnoff

      Your quote ends by omitting the article’s immediate continuation, a rejoinder,

      However, critics complain that preemptive strikes are based on conjectured rather than impending aggression and in effect denounce the moral principle that an agent is presumed innocent – posturing and the building up of armaments do not in themselves constitute aggression, just a man carrying a weapon

      1. juno mas

        When those armaments have been shelling civilians for the last eight years you can presume the’ agent is not innocent. If those armaments have been supplied by others then you can presume they, also, are not innocent.

      2. RobertC

        Smirnoff–thank you for sharing more of the article.

        Like everyone selecting quotes from a long article, where does one start and stop?

        I hope other readers go beyond your and my quotes to read the entire article.

      3. Lambert Strether

        > preemptive strikes are based on conjectured rather than impending aggression and in effect denounce the moral principle that an agent is presumed innocent

        Putin urged that this is what Stalin presumed Hitler/s aggression was not impending, with unhappy results he does not intend to repeat.

  22. Alex Cox

    Thank you very much for this.

    I just spent a few days camping in Eastern Oregon, which meant no internet. So my only source of info was the radio — NPR has been non-stop propaganda: no attempt at any balance, just a series of interviews with Washington Post and NYT “reporters”, representatives of the “International Rescue Committee” and people weeping, who we were told were Ukranian victims of Russian aggression. NPR ran one story which told us the Russians had bombed the Holocaust Museum in Kiev.

    It’s usually refreshing to avoid the internet, but there really is no alternative to NC and a few other web-based resources now. Thank you again!

  23. Susan the other

    The MSM is still pure propaganda but its monopoly has failed. So that’s the good news. You, Yves, are meticulous and you catch what slips past you – which hardly ever happens – so with the Ritter dates it seems (to me) like a very minor misreading. Kinda like a football game from one minute to the next. For me, born at the birth of the UN; raised through the Korean War; came of age in the Vietnam War, in desperation to understand the world, I began reading history and biography. Because I couldn’t understand the mess and disinformation surrounding the 1960s on, I relied on my own interpretations. Which are often still fed by stereotypes. The good thing today is that the BS gets called. Whether it is inadvertent, or deliberate propaganda. We have access to information far and wide. And having lived through a lifetime with complete distrust of the media and any other deceptive information, your interpretations and straight talk are the best thing I have ever read. Anywhere. I’m glad I lived to see it. :-)

  24. Andy

    If Russia wants to avoid an insurgency and a quagmire it has to keep Western-supplied weapons and volunteer fighters out of Ukraine and achieve its military objectives as quickly as possible. In his speech from 2015 that was posted here earlier this week, John Mearsheimer said if the West really wants to hurt Russia it will try to goad Putin into invading and occupying all of Ukraine.

    It remains to be seen what Russia’s endgame is but so far they have kept most of their troops and resources east of Kiev. The most virulent anti-Russian sentiment is in western Ukraine and fighting a protracted insurgency there is not in Russia’s interests.

    OTOH I follow some very patriotic Russian nationalists on Twitter and they have been expressing frustration at the Russian army’s mediocre combat readiness. According to them rebels from the breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine are far better fighters than Russia’s regular soldiers. They are even making memes about it so IDK…

  25. Risteard

    “The US is resisting adapting to a multipolar world.”

    Was once true, but dissimulation and debate is fostered by our enemy in Moscow. He wants us to think and argue exactly the matters we are talking about here, which could broadly be classed under 1) uncertain events inside Ukraine and 2) hundreds of niggledy points about his war aims and the history of these nice parts of the world.

    His war aims are simple, lots of dosh forever.

    Thats why he introduces so much extra to think about, as he did today with Macron. Hes not just a ranter, it’s also a big act.

    Even if he stopped fighting and asked some neonazis to be nice too, and helicoptered their leaders out to visit his dacha in Siberia, he will find someone else inside Ukraine or in Europe to bother. He has said so. Nuclear plants, Moldova, the Balts etc. You got real nice kids, is what Putin is saying.

    He is playing this right down to the monetary wire, of course he may be offered or take a pause, he may need to gather and marshall his allies at times, it might take him a few years to reveal the rest of this. China is laughing.

    It’s not like Japan or Nazi Germany breaking out and eating up countries after they were embargoed. Putin has the oil, which USA had in 1939. He has ICBMs. As USA even now is still self sufficient in most materials and technologies, it may seem “The US is resisting adapting to a multipolar world.” But in fact it’s utterly different, it’s went past multipolar decades ago and shrunk right down to tiny.

    It’s goes all the way right to who is the global banker and that’s all. Its a total heist and it cannot be stopped by gradualist thought or ideas of compromise, not because they are wrong ideas but because they aren’t remotely relevant. The articles and our commentary about factions and history and lines on the map are, I feel, being called up and misdirected by the main protagonist. Putin already knows exactly what he is going to do in the various circumstances that arise, and is unlikely to lose momentum on any front.

    The world’s money flow is being very substantially re-directed. It’s not at all about the details we are being encouraged to study and consider, from the distance we think that we are separated. We’re getting tied up in knots. We need to back up and re-think this situation.

    1. reprobate

      Your opening line is a cheap shot and an insult to this website and the people who comment here.

      You can cherry pick all you want, but where have you been for the near-daily Biden Administration making moves against China at the same time as it was refusing to negotiate with Russia? The US and NATO never responded, after a period of many weeks, to Russia’s request for a written reply to its “red lines” document/proposal. It dissed MbS who is admittedly a thug but the US has a long history of trucking with thugs, particularly ones we think we need. And we found out we did need him when we asked for his help in lowering oil prices and he thumbed his nose back. Many many more examples like that…

      This is the behavior of a country that still thinks it is the world’s sole superpower. All of your name calling does not change American statements and actions that confirm that.

    2. Lambert Strether

      > dissimulation and debate is fostered by our enemy in Moscow

      Gentlemen, gentlemen, I won’t take anymore credit for this victory than is absolutely necessary. Now, gentlemen, Lord Kitchener did not – nay, will not – die in vain, grid willing. Gentlemen, I as leader will use power like a drum and leadership like a violin. Gentlemen, to make life whole, it’s as easy as a bridge! Now that we have obtained control, we must pull together as one – like a twin! All for one! And all for one!

  26. VietnamVet

    I have never seen/heard propaganda like now, on both sides, that contradicts each other. I remember from the 1950s on. Last night I thought that if Joseph Goebbels could see this, he would weep with joy.

    This is a flat-out full-throated invasion by Russia. Yes, it is the same as the 2003 Iraq invasion. But the USA is on the verge of leaving Syria and Iraq. Once again, spending trillions of dollars, decades fighting, killing millions and maiming more, all for nothing. Since Korea, a series of pointless lost wars that must be unrivaled in human history for their stupidity.

    Russia for some ungodly reason has decided to follow the same path. The West is intentionally drawing it into a quagmire to destabilize the Kremlin and privatize their resources. Kiev, Odessa, and Mariupol will be destroyed like Aleppo and Raqqa but the war will drag on. War Profits will be made despite the risk of hyperinflation, shortages and a western economic collapse.

    What is being ignored is the appalling Neo-Nazi propaganda. The Russo-Ukraine War is as much an ethnic conflict as the wars between Serbs and Bosnians, Sunnis and Kurds, or Rohingya and Burmese. Western Ukraine is a distinct ethnic minority with its own language and religion that have been invaded by the Poles, Germans and Russians in the last 100 years and each case they fought back. They will fight against an occupation once again, this time. There is no quick victory. Maybe a peace treaty and partition of Ukraine would end it but both sides would have to give up a lot and agree to get along.

    What makes this very deadly and dangerous for mankind are the superpowers on opposing sides. NATO and the Russian Federation each are armed with 1600 deployed nuclear weapons and if they start shooting at each other, a nuclear apocalypse is guaranteed.

    1. Skippy

      I would not worry to much about nukes because no one involved is an anti property communist zealot. The real problems are when people that don’t live or come from there fund and flame old hatreds to further their agendas, regardless of the situation for the common people.

      Personally I don’t see Russia engaging in the western style of warfare where you obliterate your opponent and lord over them because it was just and right. Maybe if they start using WP on a whole city to get a few bad guys or sprinkle depleted uranium across vast regions and Halliburton trucks lined up before invasion I would see thing differently.

      It was very much discussed in the early NC years with the ME situation that the idea U.S. lives were more important metric in media whilst white washing the civilian casualties know as collateral damage was vindicated on moral reasons. Which IMO is being now peddled as civilized people vs uncivilized in this conflict.

    2. RobertC

      What makes this very deadly and dangerous for mankind are the superpowers on opposing sides. NATO and the Russian Federation each are armed with 1600 deployed nuclear weapons and if they start shooting at each other, a nuclear apocalypse is guaranteed.

      What makes this very deadly and dangerous for civilization is the turning away from mitigating the effects of rapid climate change.

      Like cockroaches some portion of mankind can survive a nuclear apocalypse and rapid climate change. Our civilization won’t.

  27. Skippy

    Here is a clip of a much watched show in Australia on our ABC that delves into critical social and economic issues and what happened when a member of the audience dared to question the official narrative.

    Stan Grant (ASPI fellow and schill) boots Q and A audience member over “rogue question”. Be sure to read the response by Sascha Gillies-Lekakis pinned in the comments. –

    I don’t know what else to say …

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Grant gives the kid the boot because his mere presence in the audience made him “uncomfortable”. Another wokie who needs his “safe space”.

      That was truly disgusting and exactly why I can’t stomach watching any mainstream news anymore. Just truly astounding hypocrisy. Maybe after Putin pacifies Ukraine, he can mail all these Western snowflake news anchors some binkies to make the feel better.

    2. judy2shoes

      Wow. That was shocking. At the end, the “moderator” says that the offending question was not a “vetted” question while at the same time saying the forum was for an open discussion of the Russia/Ukraine situation.

  28. none

    Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have been purchasing beaten-down company bonds tied to Russia in recent days, as hedge funds that specialize in buying cheap credit look to load up on the assets, according to people with knowledge of the private transactions.

    Bloomberg piously notes that trading Russian assets isn’t banned.

    If it isn’t banned and traders are only encouraged not to do it, that amounts to saying “all together, on the count of three: I want all the non-assholes in the room to take out their money and give it to the assholes”.

    Do I have that right?

  29. Anonymous2

    The fog of war is indeed making it incredibly difficult to establish clearly what is happening. FWIW I use Aljazeera as my main source. Richard North is also producing analyses which, whether right or wrong, appear to be serious efforts to go deeper than the MSM.

Comments are closed.