Russia’s Invasion Of Ukraine Highlights America’s Fading Geopolitical Influence

Yves here. This post is an important reminded that despite the rouble getting pummeled and Western investors stumbling over each other to exit Russian stocks, Russia is not as isolated as the Western media would have you believe. The fact that some key countries are trying to stand aside (see India, which needs Russian fertilizer) or are now even more aligned with Russia than the US (Saudi Arabia) is pointedly not mentioned in the US press.

By Simon Watkins, a former senior FX trader and salesman, financial journalist, and best-selling author. He was Head of Forex Institutional Sales and Trading for Credit Lyonnais, and later Director of Forex at Bank of Montreal. He was then Head of Weekly Publications and Chief Writer for Business Monitor International, Head of Fuel Oil Products for Platts, and Global Managing Editor of Research for Renaissance Capital in Moscow. He has written extensively on oil and gas, Forex, equities, bonds, economics and geopolitics for many leading publications, and has worked as a geopolitical risk consultant for a number of major hedge funds in London, Moscow, and Dubai. Originally published at OilPrice

  • While it was no surprise that China abstained when the UN Security Council voted to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the abstentions from the UAE and India were more surprising.
  • This vote highlights that Washington’s ability to counter the influence of China and Russia in the Middle East is limited.
  • The fading influence of the U.S. in the Middle East is a result of its withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, its withdrawal from Syria, and its failure in Afghanistan.

Last week’s failure of the UAE and India – along with just China – to vote in favor of the UN Security Council’s resolution to condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and to demand the immediate, complete, and unconditional withdrawal of Russian forces from the neighboring country earned all three countries the explicit thanks of Russia. It also highlights the broader shift in the once clear-cut global political alliances to the two principal power blocs in the world: the U.S. and its allies on the one hand, and China-Russia and its allies on the other.

Nowhere has this shift been more evident in recent months than in the cases of the UAE – which on 13 August 2020 became the first country to sign a U.S.-sponsored ‘relationship normalization’ deal with Israel – and of India. Saudi Arabia is on the same level, as is analyzed in-depth in my new book on the global oil markets, and reinforced this with the very recent statement that it is still committed to working alongside Russia in OPEC+. The clear and principal purpose of the U.S. in brokering these relationship normalization deals, and those that followed, was to counter the burgeoning influence of China and Russia in the Middle East. However, not only has the UAE in recent months been keen to distance itself from such a unipolar view of its global political allegiances but also now India – which had been intended by the U.S. as a replacement global bid for China in the oil market – has stepped back from fully committing the role envisaged for it by Washington.

Shortly after the concept of the relationship normalization deals between Israel and as many countries in the Middle East and North Africa as possible had been originated in the U.S., various high-level sources in Washington let it be known that its new oil and gas market world order would, as far as the Middle East was concerned, involve Gulf states selling oil and gas predominantly to U.S. allies, including India, and that India as well would be the big back-up global bid for the commodities. This meant that in times of crisis, such as is now occurring in Ukraine, energy supplies to Western powers would not be subject to the potentially devastating threats that could proceed from Russia simply cutting off its gas supplies to Europe or, as has more recently happened with widespread sanctions against Russia, leave many U.S. allies in Europe scrabbling around to find alternative energy supplies. It was thought, as also analyzed in-depth in my new book on the global oil markets, that the relationship normalization deals would allow the U.S. and its allies to, in effect, corner large elements of the oil and gas supply in the Middle East. It was also thought by Washington that, by positioning India as the global replacement buyer for oil and gas instead of China, China’s geopolitical position in its own backyard of Asia Pacific would be weakened over time.

There is every reason to expect this strategy to work, provided that the U.S. begins to ‘encourage’ the countries involved to understand that the new world order (as clearly heralded by the Russian invasion of Ukraine) is a zero-sum game, with one side ultimately winning at the other’s expense, and that all countries need to pick a side and be prepared to be judged by which side they pick. At the time that the U.S. made the decision to substitute China with India in the global oil and gas markets, military units of India and China had clashed on 15 June 2020 in the disputed territory of the Galwan Valley in the Himalayas. As also examined in my new book on the global oil markets, this clash reflected a much greater change in the core relationship between the two countries than the relatively small number of casualties might have implied. It marked a new ‘push back’ strategy from India against China’s policy of seeking to increase its economic and military alliances from Asia through the Middle East and into Southern Europe, in line with its multi-layered multi-generational project, ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR). Until China dramatically upped the tempo of this OBOR-related policy – at around the same time as the U.S. signaled its lack of interest in continuing its own large-scale activities in the Middle East through its withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran and its withdrawal from much of Syria – India had stuck to a policy of trying to contain China. With the announcement in August 2020 of the U.S.-brokered Israel-UAE ‘normalization deal’ it appeared that a new corridor of co-operation was being developed from the U.S. (and Israel), through the UAE (and Kuwait, Bahrain, and in part Saudi Arabia) to India, as a regional counterbalance to China’s growing sphere of influence.

Also around the same time, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released a report showing that India will make up the biggest share of energy demand growth at 25 percent over the next two decades, as it overtakes the European Union as the world’s third-biggest energy consumer by 2030. More specifically, India’s energy consumption is expected to nearly double as the nation’s GDP expands to an estimated US$8.6 trillion by 2040 under its current national policy scenario. This is underpinned by a rate of GDP growth that adds the equivalent of another Japan to the world economy by 2040, according to the IEA.

At that time, the U.S. believed that India’s then-willingness to play this role in the global oil and gas markets would allow it to retain influence over the UAE’s oil flows – set to move from around 4 million barrels per day (bpd) to 5 million bpd – given the Emirates’ already close links to India. Also around that time, the chief executive officer of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Sultan al-Jaber, stated that he looked forward to exploring partnerships with even more Indian companies across the energy giant’s hydrocarbon value chain. He added that he wants this to include expanding the commercial scale and scope of the strategic reserves partnership, in line with ADNOC being the only overseas company to hold and store India’s vitally-important strategic petroleum reserves (SPR). In keeping with the developing scope of this relationship, India’s government approved a proposal that allows ADNOC to export oil from the SPR if there is no domestic demand for it, in the first instance from the Mangalore strategic storage facility (the other major SPR pool being at Padur). This decision marked a major shift in the policy of India in the handling of these vital energy reserves, with the country having previously completely banned all oil exports from the SPR storage facilities.

This commitment to meeting India’s increasing energy demands was reiterated by the UAE last week – as the Brent oil price broke through US$100 per barrel – with its inclusion in the Joint UAE-India Vision Statement, which follows the signing of the India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement on 18 February 2022. The problem for the U.S. in this – and as has just been echoed as well in India’s unwillingness to ‘sync’ with the U.S. and its allies’ condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine last week – is that Russian President Vladimir Putin used the chaotic domestic political situation in the U.S. following its withdrawal from Afghanistan and then ‘end of combat mission’ in Iraq to sneak in and do a huge, wide-ranging deal with India, effectively scuppering Washington’s own vision for India and the UAE.

As exclusively highlighted by, mid-December 2021 saw Russia’s state-owned oil giant, Rosneft, sign a deal with Indian Oil to supply it with almost 15 million barrels of crude by the end of this year. The deal takes on even more significance as it was just one part of 28 investment deals between Russia and India signed during the very recent visit of Putin himself to Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. These covered a broad range of subjects, including not just oil, gas, petrochemicals, steel, and shipbuilding, but also military matters. Specifically, said Modi: “We have set a target of US$30 billion in trade and US$50 billion in investment by 2025.”

A joint statement from Russia and India said: “[We have] reiterated their intention to strengthen defense cooperation, including in the joint development of production of military equipment.” Specifically, according to further official statements from one or both sides, India will produce at least 600,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles – the weapon of choice for terrorists and militias across the Middle East and elsewhere – and, even more disturbing for the U.S., India’s Foreign Secretary, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, said that a 2018 contract for Russia’s S-400 air defense missile systems is now being implemented.

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  1. .Tom

    Pepe Escobar was interviewed by Richard Medhurst yesterday. Escobar paints a broad picture of international relations in which it seems Russia was well prepared for these sanctions. He believes the sanctions will end up hurting Germany more than Russia. One way of looking at the future is that a new Iron Curtain will be drawn around Natostan by Eurasia and the global south (BRICS).

    Sorry, I couldn’t find a transcript or an audio-only version for use in podcast apps.

    1. Brian Beijer

      Thanks for the tip! One thing about this war that has been clarifying for me is how the US and EU are acting in unison. As I’ve stated before on NC, until now, I had no idea that all EU countries are essentially part of NATO. I live in the EU, in a supposedly “neutral” country, but apparently Sweden is now a shadow member of NATO by being a member of the EU. I guess I missed the vote on that one.
      Here’s the language of the EU resolution that passed yesterday.

      However, the resolution also includes a measure that “welcomes the unity” between the EU and NATO, “encourages the strengthening of NATO’s enhanced forward presence” and “calls for common military exercises to be launched.”

      The other thing that was surprising is the immediate unified corporate response to this war. As someone pointed out on NC recently, the West have essentially weaponized the marketplace. I wonder how long that lasts before a real war starts.
      It’s been interesting to see all the players come out into the open, and what tricks the West have been hiding up their sleeves.

    2. Andrey Subbotin

      Germany still buys $200 gas from Russia on long term contracts while the market price approaches $2000. Hm…

    3. JustSomeone

      Well Pepe Escobar. Is that his twitter?
      He said the Russians destroyed 9 US biolabs in ukraine. But don’t be afraid. They didn’t destroy the other 4 labs.
      He also said that mariupol was liberated on 24 february (if you wanna call that liberation).
      Also in that interview he is talking about denazification. In Germany. In the ’60s.
      Hint: the german state was full of nazis in 1960s. And it’s not that these problems have (ever) disappeared.
      But – to make the whole thing even more funny: the far right AfD (a party in the german parliament) is the only party in the parliament defending Putins invasion of Ukraine. And yes, AfD = nazis.

      I understand that you people are searching for sources not pushing the prevalent narratives. But those guys… they are just selling nonsense to gullible people.

      To that article: it doesn’t even mention that a lot of Indian military hardware comes from Russia (e. g. Migs and Sukhois). But makes a lot of advertising for his new book.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Escobar discredited himself with the Mariupol claim. A Texan who went to Donbass to fight, Russell Blakey, and has been reporting occasionally from there, said on Day 4 that the Azov Battalion had mined fields outside Mariupol. That is not consistent with liberation on Feb 24. Blakey’s tone was “outcome is inevitable but this is gonna be nasty before it is over”.

    4. Sibiryak

      Escobar paints a broad picture…in which it seems Russia was well prepared for these sanctions.

      Escobar is worth reading, but he’s not exactly a sober-minded realist. He’s a cheerleader for his anti-Western multi-polar world vision, often wildly over-optimistic, even flippant.

      In any case, there are a lot of folks here in Russia now questioning the government’s preparations for extreme sanctions. The Communist Party, for example, is apparently demanding an investigation into why so much of the Central Bank’s reserves were left in vulnerable locations.

      1. ChuckTurds

        I’ve been hearing speculation that Russia may be close to going to a gold backed ruble, not sure if that is likely or just goldbugs being goldbugs.

    1. timbers

      Mexico, Latin America, Africa, India, China. Nope none of them are part of “The whole world” which is USA, some of Europe and Australia.

      1. Sausage Factory

        I call it the delusional 12% bubble that makes up the West. The other 88% – 6.5 billion people of the world – are watching China, Russia, Iran with much interest and as the west continues to be unreliable partners and run away from military confrontations and be generally ‘unagreement capable’ they will stagnate, lose business and fewer countries will want to work with them, especially the way they use sanctions, why would you do business with someone who could at any moment seize your central bank assets or your gold etc. The clock is ticking and I can see ruinous decline after these sanctions backfire and Russian counter sanctions take their toll.

  2. The Rev Kev

    Well I don’t see the surprise with India wanting good relations with Russia. Maybe Indians remember that time during the Indo-Pak war of 1971 when an American & British Fleet sailed against India with the hope that China would attack them but a Russian fleet stood in their way and forced them to back down. Maybe the Indians think about that from time to time-

    And I fail to see why the author labels Kalashnikovs ‘the weapon of choice for terrorists and militias’ as people buy them because they are rugged and reliable. As well, Russia’s S-400 air defense missile systems are far superior to what the west has to offer and when you live next door to China, second best gets you zip.

    But maybe the Indians also think about what a Ron Paul Institute academic advisor once wrote – ‘It is better to be an enemy of the Americans than their friend. If you are their enemy, they might try to buy you; but if you are their friend they will definitely sell you.’

    If I were an Indian, I would think that Washington would be quite happy to see China and India fight a catastrophic war together for their own benefit as well as cripple two competitor nations. That would be one thought to ponder about.

    1. Rohit

      “And I fail to see why the author labels Kalashnikovs ‘the weapon of choice for terrorists and militias’ as people buy them because they are rugged and reliable.”

      Exactly. By that same logic, Stinger missiles and Lee-Enfield rifles (made by US & UK respectively, and supplied to the Afghan Mujahideen in 1980s) should also be called “weapons of choice for terrorists”.

      US did not really consider India as someone to actively engage with till at least the late 1990s, when Indian domination of the IT services industry, and it’s growing consumer market made them sit up and take notice.

      There was no equivalent of the 1972 Nixon thaw until Bush Junior. If we look up the list of equipment used by India’s armed forces in Wikipedia, we see that almost none of it is supplied by US. No fighters, capital ships, submarines, or heavy artillery, except a few transports and helos. UK, France and Israel have supplied much more. Soviet Union/Russia supplied most of it. And it’s not for want of India asking. If Russia sold India S-400, who stopped US from offering THAAD?

      The problem is nobody bothered to remove the cold war color filter from USA’s foreign policy thinking. India is of zero utility to US in that aspect. But India has it’s own security concerns to consider. It is surrounded by security threats from all sides. So anyone who gives protection is a friend. If the US cannot understand that, it’s their problem.

      And the “But Democracy!” argument does not hold water either. If USA can put up with Anwar Sadat, Hosni Mubarak, Gaddafi, House of Saud in it’s political interests, why shouldn’t India do the same realpolitik?

    2. Tom Stone

      India may well be able to build workable AK47’s if they get significant technical and management support from Russia.
      It is a 1940’s design and pretty simple, there’s a video on youtube of a guy making the reciever out of a shovel.
      .However India tried to design and build their own rifle, the INSAS and it was a POS.
      Unreliable,inaccurate and lots of parts breakage.
      A tleast it was expensive.

    3. Kouros

      Never mind all the diversity existent in India from an ethnic perspective. One can foment not one civil war there, but ten civil wars…

  3. Ignacio

    There are other questions not treated in this article related with food that are being overlooked. Ukraine supplies a lot of grain to the Middle East, North Africa and some to Europe, particularly to Spain where it is used for feed in a somehow oversized poultry and pork industry that needs lots of imports. The other day, visiting the Aljazeera newsroom saw an article (sorry no links) about countries concerned with food supply that feel they have been totally ignored in all this grand game about energy. Their concerns are more immediate than those on energy supply when now starts the most important season for cereal production in Ukraine.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      They will be nervously looking to see if the war keeps going until planting season, in April. If it does, there will be big trouble later in the year. The Indians are also very dependent on Russian fertiliser. And this, at a time when there are also major problems with supplies of nitrates and potash. If I was a farmer, I’d be busy planting legumes.

      1. johnherbiehancock

        I recall on a visit to Ukraine in December 2014, being surprised to see some green fields, amidst the snow.

        I learned this was “winter wheat” which is apparently planted late and matures early (and there was a lot of it throughout the countryside, if my view from the train from Kyiv was representative of more of the country.

        That particular harvest might already be screwed.

      2. fajensen

        If another one of those 15 remaining RBMK reactors lose cooling power and decides to cook off over it, there might not be much point in having a planting season in Ukraine.

      1. juno mas

        …and gas prices/fuel shortages cause lines of cars to back-up onto the freeways in the US. As they say, “this could get ugly”.

  4. DJG, Reality Czar

    There are two shadows in this piece that could use more details, although I understand that the author doesn’t want to have to explain deep background here.

    They are
    –withdrawal from Syria.
    I submit that what weakened the U.S. position was involvement in Syria, rather than withdrawal. The ineptitude of the U.S. misadventure in Syria led to strengthening Erdogan’s authoritarian measures, hollowing out any U.S. claims to moral superiority because of the strange involvement with Muslim-fundamentalist militias, the millions of refugees that place stresses on the economies of Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, and the horror of the Arab world watching the U.S. go into Syria simply to make a mess of things. (Like Libya.)

    –withdrawal from Iran + nuclear deal.
    Here, I submit that the U.S. has lost any leverage in Iran at all after 70 years of supporting the wrong side. The U.S. could have resolved differences with Iran a long time ago, but the U.S. business class doesn’t want to deal with Iranian control over its own oil.

    Otherwise: What this piece points to is that Ukraine is a proxy war. Other countries recognize it as a proxy war. It’s Syria with “white people.” Hmmm. Who are now being welcomed into Europe after years of Erdogan using refugees as a bargaining chip.

    Medea Benjamin’s proposal (in the link posted yesterday by Yves Smith) is about the only way out of this. It won’t be implemented, though, because for U.S. domestic purposes, she’s dirtbag left and a Bernie sistah.

    1. Polar Socialist

      If U.S. has withdrawn from Syria, maybe somebody should tell that to Syrians, too. Somebody’s still preventing them from attacking the ISIS at al-Tanf area and somebody is still preventing them accessing their oil in North-Eastern fields.

      1. ChrisFromGeorgia

        Right on, let us not forget about the troops still roaming around the far eastern part of Syria, doing nothing but acting as muscle to keep those oil fields away from Assad.

        1. Kouros

          It is the US Air Force that does that to greater extent. This is why staying in Iraq is soo important.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    From earliest written history the leaders of small nations have always realised that their best strategy to thrive/survive was to play off bigger neighbours against each other. Let them all think that you are either cowed/bribed into submission, or just their best friend. But just as big powers like to play big power games, smaller powers like to extract what they can when the major powers are distracted. You can see this play out at multiple levels all the time, but its particularly obvious during times of flux, especially when the big powers are distracted. The US has been very distracted the past couple of decades as it chases various chimera.

    So expect small to medium sized powers to see what they can win from the current situation. If they possibly can, they will posture as the friends of the US/Russia/China simultaneously. If its not possible to play all against each other, they’ll get behind one parade or another for as long as that parade is advancing. Right now, most smallers powers can see that the US is too distracted to enforce its aims. They can also see that Russia is desperate for trade and military deals. So its a good time to cement in longer term deals for energy and resources or access to markets. Its also a good time to grab as much Chinese cash for investment if you can, while the Chinese are still throwing it around somewhat naively. So, times are good if you are a small player with something that the US/Russia/China really wants. Others (in particular the mid sized Asian powers) are stepping back, arming up, and watching to see which way the wind blows.

    1. Eustachedesaintpierre

      I suppose that certain countries that could once fit that bracket of states who could play that game, now have their hands tied by bureaucrats & of course the crumbling hegemon.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I think its true that a whole variety of international agreements have tied many countries into bureaucratic knots. And of course some countries are just very badly led – often exacerbated by being under the US umbrella, meaning they’ve never had to make any hard foreign policy decisions (this can apply to a range of countries from Ireland to the Philippines). But bubbling under the surface there are always government agencies simply doing their thing – which is (at least in theory) pursuing their own countries interest. Bureaucracies can be barriers to progress, but they can also be like submarines, ploughing away in one direction (for good or ill) under the surface unobserved. Lots of government agencies act like this.

        1. Oh

          A very good point. The first rule that bureaucracies observe is survival and growth. They will do what it takes to abide by this rule. When you look at USG bureaucracies, you notice that they have overlapping missions and keep overstepping their stated purposes, many times working at cross purposes.

    2. Cat Burglar

      During the Cold War, the non-aligned nations were viewed with suspicion by the US for exactly this reason — they could not be controlled. The “you’re with us or against us” trope is an attempt to delegitimize nations that do not get in line, and round them up. In the past, some neutral countries — Indonesia is the poster child — were coup’d for their independence.

  6. David

    I don’t know why the author is surprised by Russian-Indian defence cooperation, nor why he thinks the US would be. It’s been going on since the 1970s, and much equipment labelled “made in India” is actually based on Russian designs. Indian nuclear capability is based entirely on Russian technology. He’s also deliberately or accidentally confusing two different weapons. The 600,000 Kalshnikovs are of a new and very modern design, the AK-203. Other than the name and the calibre, they have nothing in common with the ubiquitous AK-47, which equips military forces all over the world.

    More importantly, I think countries around the world are just becoming less frightened of the US, and more sceptical about the advantages of cooperation. Iraq and Afghanistan weren’t just technical or political failures, they were a failure of the US to impose its will on small and weak countries. Already, the US could not intervene effectively in any war between China and Taiwan; now, it is clear that the US has been obliged to hand Eastern Europe over to Russia as a sphere of influence. And it’s getting worse.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I think the key point as you say is that many countries just aren’t as frightened of the US as they were. Even such reliable ‘allies’ like ROK and Japan have been unafraid in recent years to openly contradict US policy. Sometimes it goes back to specific incidents. I think, for example, the US failure to back ROK up in the Thaad controversy a few years back has had much deeper implications than anyone realised. The US has forgotten that even a hegemon must sometimes make an effort to show support for its ‘allies’ and at least pretend not to be entirely self interested.

      1. OnceWereVirologist

        It’s an interesting question : “How much support amongst its allies does the US really have ?” I often wonder if it’s a mile wide but an inch deep. If I were the leader of my country, a staunch US ally, I’d be mouthing all the correct platitudes, and I’d do the minimum required of me by the empire. But only because I’ve seen how keen the US is to throw small countries against the wall and show them who’s boss, my genuine heart-felt loyalty would be essentially non-existent.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The question is less the “allies” than the relative declining economic power of the US and allies. Lula is likely the next President of Brazil in less than 10 months. That is going to be quite the seismic shift especially if Lula is intent on mirroring the deal the Russians have with China as he has deeply held personal reasons not to trust the US.

          Then the 3rd world countries at large have PMC and wannabe types who aren’t worried about a people’s vanguard. Keeping a European style socialist or even leftier isn’t a threat it once was. Higher taxes to the government versus private security is a fine tradeoff. The dynamics that made coups work have changed especially with the US over extended for no apparent reason other than forcing purchases of F-35s.

          And people who might think the US is going to turn a country into Germany 2 because of confusion over the Marshall Plan have a number of wrecked countries as more recent examples of US behavior. If you make a deal with the US, you want a down payment.

        2. Susan the other

          I was surprised to see India align with Russia at the UN. But only momentarily because India still harbors resentment against the British and we are now very close with the UK. And most recently India took action at the ICC against Gates and Fauci and others for genocide. I don’t know how reliable that factoid is as it has not been made public in the US. My feeling is that India is fed up with us.

    2. Dave in Austin

      I don’t know about now, but in the old days both the US and Russia seemed to be using the 7.62 mm rounds in their rifles with one interesting difference, the Russian rifles were a small fraction over 7.62 mm. Than meant that their rifles could fire captured NATO 7.62 mm rounds but the slightly oversized Russian 7.62 mm rounds would not fit in NATO 7.62 breeches. Not only would they not fit properly but if mixed in with the standard NATO rounds they would jam the breech.

        1. Greg

          7.62mm is back in vogue now, because even iraqis could afford flak vests and the 5.56mm wasnt cutting it. See the US special forces moving to the HK417 over the HK416 by preference.

      1. marku52

        I know that was planned for 81 and 82mm mortars by design. “You go 81? We’ll go 82!”

        Same reasoning.

    3. Tom Stone

      The AK203 is a significant upgrade from the original AK47, both in effectiveness as a weapon and in ease of manufacture.

    4. marku52

      Your comment the other day “This is the first day of the post-post-cold war era” was brilliant.

      What has happened is that the US FP elite were thinking that by forcing the issue in Ukraine, the status quo with the US on top could be continued.

      Instead they shattered the status quo into a million pieces.

  7. NotThePilot

    I’ve been too busy to comment much recently, but this is just one of several things that makes me believe the current narrative in mainstream Western press is largely made-up. It’s crazy the number of times I’ve heard that “the globe” has united against Putin, when all the diplomatic details show clearly most of the planet is genuinely neutral or quietly sympathetic to anybody willing to finally put NATO in its place.

    I was surprised the Russians went all-in to the point they have, but all of the sensational military reporting we’re getting is really sketchy too. As overwhelming and hysterical as the mainstream, Western media blitz may be, the “actually the Russians are winning pretty thoroughly and cleanly” narrative is a lot more coherent.

    The one thing that seems totally Twitter / West-Wing-brained is this idea that at-least the Ukrainian government is winning the information war? Like what does that even mean? I’m pretty sure having the moral support of Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook is maybe the last thing that matters in a war. The entire point of weaponized media control is to deceive your opponent, not yourself.

    As for my thoughts on everything, I do feel bad for the average Ukrainian, but I’m a weird contrarian about Zelensky. Before I felt bad for him because he seemed to be genuinely trying to run a very dysfunctional country in a tug-of-war between nuclear powers. Now though, instead of trying everything to work something out with the Russians, the one thing that will end this, he’s essentially calling for grandmothers to zerg-rush Russian tanks & NATO to take another step towards the brink of nuclear war. I realize he might very well have a gun to his head just off camera, but it still hasn’t done his people any favors.

    And while I know we’re rapidly approaching a point where one has to be careful what one says, I have to say this: if there’s one official I think should be absolutely ashamed of themselves in all of this, it’s neither Zelensky nor Putin. It’s Anthony Blinken. You had 1 job called diplomacy, Tony! And now the Russians are going to take everything they asked to negotiate back in Dec and then some, on top of all the chaos. Even if you agree entirely with the Atlanticist Blob (obviously I don’t), it’s a galactic, de-facto failure. Then again, Biden should have fired that guy the moment he advised trying to squeeze the Iranians instead of re-entering the JCPOA.

    1. albrt

      Agree on Blinken, but it’s pretty obvious that all of Biden’s Europe advisers are cut from the same cloth. And Biden himself has family and party connections at the top of the corrupt Ukrainian power structure.

      Interestingly, the Biden administration won kudos for being right that Russia would invade, after goading Russia into invading. I wonder if Biden will also get credit for browbeating Russia into pulling back after Russia accomplishes its limited objectives.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      As someone (it might have been here) observed – someone is about to find out that winning a war on twitter is not the same thing as winning a war.

      The big danger I think is that the collective establishments of NATO are starting to believe their own propaganda. Its one thing to spin a narrative, its quite another to lose touch with reality on the ground. This is extremely dangerous.

      1. flora

        I wonder if the small eastern European countries who joined NATO when it looked like a cost-free entanglement will rethink their NATO membership as the RU gas embargo and fertilizer embargo starts to bite.

        1. OIFVet

          Little hope of that in the short term. Long term, we will see. Yesterday the BG defense minister was replaced because he wasn’t sufficiently in line with “NATO unity.” And that’s in the most russophile NATO member. Long term, TBD.

        2. OnceWereVirologist

          NATO, after it expanded to the east, was in many ways a bluff and now that bluff has been called. If its countries are prepared to pay the financial costs to actually build an army that could defend the Baltics in the event of a Russian invasion, then perhaps it will endure. Otherwise, Eastern European countries are probably going to find it much more appealing to find an accommodation with Russia.

        3. PlutoniumKun

          There are mixed messages on this. Most of those countries had direct experience of Russian occupation, and they were not happy memories. They were extremely enthusiastic about joining up. Imperialistic nations always look more attractive when they are an ocean away, especially compared to the one on your doorstep.

          Russia thinking seems to be that giving Ukraine a sound slap will put manners on the Baltic States and others on its doorsteps and maybe force them out of NATO. But it might just have the opposite effect, with those countries directly requesting nuclear weapons from the US (as some NATO members already have) in order to protect themselves. Certainly the short term impact is to bind those countries much closer to NATO. What the long term impact will be is anyones guess.

          1. David

            The Russians are thinking perhaps 10-15 years ahead. Since about 2000, NATO has been an essentially Potemkin organisation, as its major governments have abandoned conscription and radically downsized their forces, and as most US forces have left. NATO collectively does not have anything like the capability of Russia in central and eastern Europe, and a war there would be a home match for the Russians. In the Cold War, NATO forces were configured for territorial defence. Here, they would have to be capable of rapid deployment perhaps a thousand kilometres from home, or, failing that, tens of thousands of Italian and German troops would have to be permanently stationed in Poland and Rumania, which would go down really well, I should think.

            Which is to say that NATO isn’t and hasn’t been for a while, a serious defence organisation. However, the politics haven’t changed that much. NATO forces in crisis and war would be commanded by an American General, taking his orders from the White House. In the Cold War, there was a lot of (unspoken) worry that the US would use the escape clause in Art 5 of the Treaty to not take part in a war, or impose a peace settlement with the Soviet Union by just telling NATO units to stop fighting. So the solution was to make sure US troops were deployed well forward, and would be among the first to die. That’s not an option now. It’s one thing to have a dysfunctional military alliance. It’s another to have dysfunctional alliance controlled by a dysfunctional superpower an ocean away, especially when the political thermometer has dropped a few degrees.

            Given all that, it’s hard to see what the utility of NATO is for many of these countries. Ironically, most of those who know it would say that NATO was always an organisation that only worked effectively in peacetime. In times of crisis, it was unmanageable. It’s now also semi-impotent. It won’t break up quickly, nor do I think members will leave quickly, but I think it’s mortally ill.

      2. David

        I think that was me, though I’m sure others made the same point. I’m irresistibly reminded of Tom Lehrer, who, in 1965, seems to have anticipated everything before hanging up his satirist’s pen:

        Remember the war against Franco?
        That’s the kind where each of us belongs.
        He may have won all the battles
        But we had all the good songs.

        Nothing to add, really.

        1. Keith Newman

          Tom Lehrer, whom I liked very much, got that one wrong. Franco’s forces were well armed by Nazi Germany and fascist Italy. The Republicans were poorly armed. They did receive weapons from abroad but they were very slow to arrive, held up at the French border, and mostly too late to matter.
          Tom Lehrer abandoned his musical-comedy career in the 1970s, and went back to being a math prof, saying politicians had become parodies of themselves so it was no longer possible to do parody.
          I would add that in today’s world politicians have become Monty Python comedians: the German chancellor lecturing the Russians on genocide! the GERMAN chancellor!, the Ukrainian president telling Russia that if it didn’t like US nuclear missiles on its borders Ukraine would produce its own! Amazing!

      3. Thuto

        As the comedian Dave Chappell said when casually brushing off the cancellation mob that tried coming after him for “transphobia”: “twitter is not a real place”.

        But try telling that to politicians who increasingly conduct government policy via twitter sentiment. Here in SA the department of education wants to institute a “gender neutral” school uniform policy because a few vocal lgbqt activists took to twitter to peddle the ” school children have the right to gender expression” meme. We are seeing wartime foreign policy as well being twitterized on the fly as politicians pander to a thoroughly indoctrinated twitter mob demanding something be done to help the poor people of Ukraine (aka escalating the situation) while Zelensky wants to ride the social media propaganda blitz all the way to a fast-tracked EU and Nato membership, and zero sovereign debt for Ukraine.

      4. MarkT

        Re believing one’s own propaganda and its dangers: I couldn’t agree more. Very very concerning. But I suppose this is what happens when the show is increasingly run by people with a commercial background of some sort, who are great believers in propaganda sorry I meant marketing. I see it happening all over the place: increasing levels of self delusion.

        1. chuck roast

          Read two days of the pink paper today. It was like listening to a symphony with nothing but drums. And woe betide any who disagree with the aesthetic.

          1. MarkT

            RT appears to have been cancelled on our source (we get audio but no picture). CGTN still around but we never watch it. Best geopolitical discussion I’ve heard in ages is on China Radio International on shortwave. How long until it’s jammed? Joke. The technology has long been lost in the west.

            1. The Rev Kev

              The Saker was saying ‘I know for fact that some US colleges have banned their computers from accessing any .ru or .su websites’

              1. MarkT

                There are ways and means to hear things. China has been sensible. It involves physics, the ionosphere and a radio.

      5. Kouros

        Folks, don’t go on the various subreddits. The stench of hate towards Russia and the triumphalism is as thick as the ashen smoke of the Nazi crematoria from Auschwitz.

        And ideas that only the French and the Brits with one arm tied at the back could beat the Russians (or Germans alone) is very popular. Likely none of them read that the 5000 strong French military had to leave Mali with the tail between their legs. Mali!

        I think the Metaverse is specially designed for such people. Cognitive dis-asociation from reality is making many folks think that Superheroes are real and that ultimately they are Superheroes. 80% of Americans polled think they can beat a male gorilla with bare arms…

    3. flora

      Three things:
      1994 Ukraine gives up its nuclear weapons in exchange for protection from ‘both sides’, as recorded in the Budapest Accord, and the promise of neutrality.

      2014 coup backed by western govts is a clear step away from that accord, imo.

      Zelensky goes to Munich and reportedly makes an off-hand remark about there being no reason Ukraine shouldn’t have nuclear weapons.

      Followed by: Russia invasion taking out military capacity, and Zelensky calls for EU membership and a timeframe for NATO membership.

      Zelensky seems like a bit of a naif. A weak country caught between two great powers, he doesn’t play both sides off against the other in order to keep neutrality in place. He picks a side (or lets one be picked for him). My 2 cents.

      1. ChrisFromGeorgia

        Nice observations. As far as Zelensky, I too have been wondering why he did not play both sides off each other.

        For a contrast, see how Erdogan (Turkey) has skillfully played the two sides off each other, sometimes infuriating the US, and sometimes Russia. For example, by buying S-400 anti-aircraft defense systems from Russia, and on the other hand making life miserable for Syria (pretty much a Russian client state) by sending Jihadis into Idlib province and building Turkish observation posts there.

        The latter is certainly an illegal occupation of a sovereign country. Don’t hold your breath waiting for any of the media to make that point.

        1. Skip Intro

          I guess his career in comedy hasn’t really prepared him for white-knuckle geopolitics. It seems clear that somebody put the gun to his head, getting him to first repudiate Minsk, then muse about nukes… clearly escalating provocations.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          Big powerful countries have the luxury of electing the odd dimwit or crackpot or Trump or Yeltsin in charge. Small countries with big neighbours don’t have that luxury. Literally, one mistake in foreign affairs can lead to the countries extinction – old maps of Europe are littered with those former nations. If you are in charge and you not smart, then you at least have to be cunning, or know enough when to keep your mouth shut. Zelensky seems smart enough and may be genuine in his intentions, but he’s made fatal mistakes and his country is paying the cost for it.

          Erdogan to me seems a good example of a leader who is not particularly smart, but he is cunning and knows how to use power. That may well be enough, at least in the short term.

          Sometimes though, I almost feel a longing for the days when the major countries of the West were run for the most part by vicious, but highly intelligent psychopaths. Nowadays we are overrun by leaders who aren’t even clever or ruthless enough to realise their own limitations. To use Kurt von Hammerstein-Eduards typology, the hard working stupid ones are in charge.

          1. flora

            I agree entirely. Adding my edit to this phrase of yours, (pace):

            “Small (in military power) countries with (a geographically important land mass and) big neighbors don’t have that luxury.” Turkey’s western border ends at the ocean (except for the choke point of the crossing), whereas Ukraine’s western border is a gateway to western Europe. Ukraine’s geography is its tragedy. My 2 cents.

            About longing for the days of highly intelligent * foreign policy civil servants, yes, I agree absolutely.

            All the more reason from Ukraine’s presidents to insist on neutrality.

            1. flora

              adding: Elizabethan England cleverly played imperial Spain against imperial France.

              Might be time for me to tackle the, as the Duke of Gloucester reportedly then said:

              “Another damn’d thick, square book! Always, scribble, scribble, scribble! Eh! Mr. Gibbon?

              (On publication of Vol. 1 of The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire”)

              ― Duke of Gloucester

        3. Yves Smith Post author

          Key fact I didn’t know until recently:

          Zelensky make his nukes remark with Kamala Harris in the frame. Implicit US endorsement.

          And as we know no one in the US or Ze himself staged a partial retreat afterwards.

          1. The Rev Kev

            I’m not sure I like the implications of that. Back in what was it – 1990? – Saddam thought that the US gave him a green light to invade Kuwait by April Glaspie, the US Ambassador to Iraq . But then the US marshaled the world against him and crushed him in the First Gulf War. This sounds like the same playbook but with Zelensky in place of Saddam.

    4. Jack

      Ditto for everything you said. But I wouldn’t blame Blinken. I lay the blame squarely on Biden. The guy is just not with it. IMO his SOU speech last night was terrible. He seemed to be so out of it. I think it is highly likely that he is suffering from early stage dementia and the reason the WH response to almost everything is so scattered is because the old Clintonistas and Obamites are in fact in charge and pulling Biden in a dozen different directions.

    5. Susan the other

      I agree about Blinken. That little coward. He has proven himself to be as incompetent as Victoria Nuland. After Biden’s SOTU last nite the camera caught Blinken standing alone while others mingled. He had an anguished look on his face as if he’d rather be dead. My first thought was that he should have resigned the minute Russia “invaded”. It’s not that there was an imminent NATO membership being offered for Ukraine, but there could have been various negotiations that put Ukraine on an affiliated level and that could have been the excuse to invoke some NATO protection. So it’s possible that if Russia had not acted quickly it would have given NATO an edge. As it is now, NATO does not exist beyond the western border of Ukraine. So it was interesting to hear Biden say last nite that NATO stands firm and will not tolerate any incursions from Ukraine’s “western border.” And then he quickly changed the subject. I’m thinking either he misspoke, which I doubt, or he was saying that NATO would not enter Ukraine unless Ukraine posed a threat to the NATO members to the west. I believe the fake patriotism in the tone of his statement was his way of saving face while he clearly backed down with his words.

      1. Susan the other

        That would make Ukraine just the latest example of our perfidiousness – our feckless confusion.

      2. RobertC

        After Biden’s SOTU last nite the camera caught Blinken standing alone while others mingled. He had an anguished look on his face as if he’d rather be dead.

        He had an anguished look because he realized he’s handed the Republicans the trifecta for the next decade: Executive, Legislative and Judicial.

    6. Grebo

      Blinken did his job perfectly, it just wasn’t the job we thought he had. The plan to goad Russia into invading Ukraine was made by 2008. They took their sweet time about it and the outcome now may not be the outcome the US expected back then.

        1. Grebo

          From here:

          “Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all redlines for the Russian elite (not just Putin),” he [William Burns, now DCI] wrote in a 2008 memo to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. “In more than two and a half years of conversations with key Russian players, from knuckle-draggers in the dark recesses of the Kremlin to Putin’s sharpest liberal critics, I have yet to find anyone who views Ukraine in NATO as anything other than a direct challenge to Russian interests.”

          So what did they do? At the Bucharest Summit in 2008 they declared Ukraine will become a member of NATO.

    7. Michaelmas

      If there’s one official I think should be absolutely ashamed of themselves in all of this, it’s neither Zelensky nor Putin. It’s Anthony Blinken.

      Pfft. Psychopaths are incapable of feeling shame.

      Also, from the point of view of Pine Island Capitol, the military-industrial PE firm that Blinken and Lloyd Austin are both partners in under the chairmanship of John Thain — yes, that John Thain — the more conflict, chaos, and ruptured international relations the better it is for business in the short-term.

      As for the long term, psychopaths don’t do that.

    8. Tom Pfotzer

      And while I know we’re rapidly approaching a point where one has to be careful what one says…

      That is a crucial issue to address head-on.

      Remember when George W said “you have to watch what you say”, and “you’re either with us or agin’ us”.

      Boy was that expensive. Did any of you resent that? I resented the hell out of that attitude, and I resolved then and there not be bullied by make-believe “leaders” ever again.

      Every time I see a flag-pin on a lapel it makes me want to hurl. “flag-waving is the last refuge of the scoundrel”.

      I am going to continue to ridicule our “leaders” so long as they continue to fritter away our national standing, our self-respect, our wealth and our people’s competency and self-confidence.

      Our foreign policy, economic policy and environmental policy is really bad. We are controlled by fools (note I didn’t say “led by fools”, as we’re assuredly _not_ led).

      Yes, we are at the beginning of another multi-year hurricane from the Mighty Wurlitzer. The attempt at intimidation is going to come, no question.

      Just remember W. Bush, and how all that turned out for us.

      1. flora

        Thank you. A great uncle of mine lies buried in France, a casualty of a mustard gas attack on the trenches in WWI.

        1. flora

          adding: my great uncle and his brother, my grandfather, believed ardently in the ideal that “all men are created equal”, and they were white guys. Go figure. Gosh, how can that be? (you get my point.) They also ardently believed in democracy. That’s why they both enlisted to “fight the Hun”. I hold dear their ideals and their sacrifices.

    9. Oh

      Zellensky is not asking for much – he wants Ukraine to be admitted into the EU and the west to forgive all Ukaraine’s debts, that’s all.

    10. fajensen

      The entire point of weaponized media control is to deceive your opponent, not yourself.

      Based on my experience working for a narcissistic organisation for quite some time, I would say that the point is exactly to deceive yourself and continuously validating the organisational narrative.

  8. Otis B Driftwood

    And here we all thought it was the Trump administration that was incomparably and unprecidentedly incompetent.

    1. jsn

      Oh come on!

      We’ve been compounding the interest on incompetence since Gore bailed out on the recount in 2000.

      9/11, Katrina, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, even the Mexico avocado trade has turned into chaos. I know the asset strippers in the empire of chaos thrive off this, but I can’t really see it as sustainable unless viewed from the perspective The Jackpot is the desired outcome.

      1. Pat

        I think you have to take it earlier than that. Oh sure there were some seeming moments of competence prior to Bush2, but not at a level that deserves admiration. Especially if you consider PATCO, media consolidation and deregulation, NAFTA, bank deregulation, pension reform, bankruptcy reform, welfare reform. And those are the items I can come up with off the top of my head, there were also continuing bipartisan stripping and attacks on public education, higher education grants and support, food stamps, etc…
        My line has been when a continuing line of Democratic presidents make me nostalgic for Nixon you know things are bad, but truth is that once Reagan was elected the public interest became a campaign promise to be left at the door as soon as they were elected, they jettisoned all concern no matter how minor then.

        The last thing the majority of our elected officials, or their donors want, is an informed, educated and thinking populace with opportunities outside of financial swindles, who have and demand the government services they deserve. And the major successful government actions of the last fifty years have been about making that rare to impossible.

        1. jsn

          Fair enough!

          When I think about it, which I try to avoid, I think it really all went off the rails when Truman got substituted for Henry Wallace and FDR died before incarcerating the Dulles brothers…

          In this view, the Reagan election was the Mob going legit by taking over the executive branch. It’s been Mob rule since then with occasional legitimating window dressing.

          1. the last D

            I still think that the constitution was written by the elites of that day, and was drawn up and approved to insure the powerful and wealthy that it would remain ever so. And it has. Think of the three branches of government as something that can hold a rope, and that the poor and powerless can swing from.

  9. Anthony G Stegman

    One would think that governments in the West would applaud Russia’s efforts to de-Nazify Ukraine. Apparently, these countries (including the US) are deeply influenced by the Nazis within their own governments.

    1. OIFVet

      US & Ukraine at UN Refuse to Condemn Nazism.

      The United States claims that its vote against was motivated by concern for freedom of speech. We have the Explanation of Vote that the United States gave at the committee stage:

      “The United States Supreme Court has consistently affirmed the constitutional right to freedom of speech and the rights of peaceful assembly and association, including by avowed Nazis”

      Nazis have rights too! Or to paraphrase FDR, “They may be nazis, but they are our nazis”.

          1. britzklieg

            can you clarify? are you suggesting that “protecting a parade” diminishes the ACLU freedom of speech argument in that instance. or perhaps it’s snark – that “protecting a parade” is exactly what the UN vote is ultimately about?

            there are other interpretations possible too, so I’m reticent to respond any differently.

            1. the last D

              What the federal court did in Skokie, in 1977, was to permit a march of american nazis to proceed in an area inhabited by a large group of men and women who suffered immensely, many of whom lost family members, in a racist, horrendous war instigated by German nazis. American nazis argued it as a free speech event for white americans. That court’s ruling was ominous, as it has proven to be a successful strategy, in all the years following, for the carcinogenic growth of right-wing racist views.

              I also think that it illustrates the US government’s tolerance of facist, capitalist ideologies. Nazis represent no threat to the rich and powerful capitalists who rule this nation. German businesses helped the nazis obtain power, and it’s not out of the question that billionaire capitalists in this country might see them as historic models. Socialists are excluded from participation in the economy, because the two main political parties are both capitalist and anti-socialist.

              The US government’s rejection of a UN resolution condemning nazism speaks for itself. It lays to rest the notion of american values. The only real american value is making profit to increase capital. Other than that, the cupboard is bare. The country is ripe for the picking,

              What americans once recoiled from are drawing closer and closer. What were once vices, are now habits. As far-right groups strengthen in the face of no real opposition, the best are exhausted, and facism settles down like snow across the cities and countyside. Nazis march more openly now, protected by god’s help and the police, and evil, well, it’s as banal as hell.

    2. Kouros

      From M. Bhandrakumar:

      “Curiously, Germany’s former defence minister from CDU, Ursula von der Leyen had a Nazi ancestry to claim both on her side and her husband’s side. But that hardly mattered when Angela Merkel assigned to her the job of running the Bundeswehr for seven years.

      By the way, von der Leyen’s grandfather was a Nazi who volunteered to fight in 1940, became a staff sergeant in the Wehrmacht and led a so-called “anti-partisan” unit on the eastern Soviet front hunting down resistance groups, participated in the capture of Ukraine’s capital Kiev and took part in the barbaric September 1941 Babi Yar massacre, in which more than 33,000 Jewish inhabitants of Kiev were shot in cold blood. It’s said that “Until his death he would rant about Jews, the French and the perfidious Albion. He never left the country again and he’d be in a near panic when coming close to a border.””

      1. wild west

        Kurt Waldheim, UN Secretary General from 1972 – 1971 and president of Austria from 1976 – 1992 was intelligence officer in Nazi Germany Wehrmacht according to his Wikipedia page. Not bad accomplishment.

  10. lance ringquist

    i think the wars for free trade starting with yugoslavia alarmed the world. after that one so called win, if the russians had not stepped in, we would have had to send troops, meant that in reality we were a paper tiger being hollowed out by free trade which has left industry in tatters, controlled by wall street parasites.

    it was more than just the debacles like iraq, libya, and syria, it was the world watching as covid exposed that the u.s. has to rely on just about everyone everywhere to be re-supplied.

    this opened the eyes of the world further. we were no longer a super power, china builds part of the f-35, which can barely fly.

    the littoral ships that will not sail, were obviously not for american waters, but the waters of the caspian sea, the volga, and any major river feeding into the black sea.

    the newest target, err, air craft carrier is so bug ridden, its embarrassing.

    we lost our industries, skilled labor by a dim wit free trader nafta billy clinton. all we have left is the dollar, war, which is getting very shaky for us, because we are supplied by others, and seizing bank accounts and terrorizing the deplorable.

    hardly the stuff that makes up a super power.

  11. Eclair

    Oil, gas, grain. India and other smaller nations want (need) them. Went down a Twitter rabbit hole this morning, looking for more info on a report of Russia and China collaborating on a Black Sea (?) grain export facility. Now, after reading an interesting 2019 Matt Stoller report on how Clinton helped arm China, I went back to looking for more info on the Russia-China grain deal and found this.

    Who knew (well, maybe the rest of the NC’ers) that Cargill owns a majority stake in a deep sea port near Odessa, as well as hundreds of workers in processing plants? And, Archer-Daniels-Midland, has a port in Odessa and hundreds of workers in near-by oil-seed plants. Everything is connected.

    1. RobertC

      As I’ve said before, Russia is either going to occupy the major Ukrainian port cities Odesa, Mykolaiv, and Kherson or else inflict costly but repairable damage that prevents their use this year.

      Europe will be left rescuing the MENA nations from starvation or facing another mass migration into its cities.

      And Olaf Scholz will be needing to explain his 100 Euro defense budget to skeptical furloughed workers soon: “VW, BMW to idle plants on parts shortages from Ukraine” at Detroit News.

      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. And so far everything is moving according to their plans.

    2. Ames Gilbert

      A great deal of Ukraines industry and infrastructure has been sold off to outsiders during the last thirty years. Including the very earth itself. Looting on a gigantic scale. Ukraine has been continuously ‘ruled’ by a series of totally corrupt oligarchs or puppets installed by oligarchs who are only interested in further looting. There has been little or no investment in infrastructure such as the nuclear power plants or anything else. The oligarchs and the entire western establishments, EU and NATO and the U.S., have less than zero interest in the actual welfare of the ordinary citizens of Ukraine.

      1. Kouros

        In his book, The Selfish Gene, the author claims that in certain circumstances, in simulations, “societies” with psychopathic tendencies can emerge and be stable…

      2. RobertC

        Thank you Ames. I wondered about the outrage of Germany, France and Britain over Russia’s actions so I did more research. Apparently after the 2014 overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych, their major businesses along with American businesses, quietly acquired Ukraine’s assets at low cost from the corrupt government. And now those assets are at risk of confiscation or destruction by Russia. Which explains why BMW, Porsche and VW are suspending production for lack of Ukraine-sourced components. And explains Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s furious demand for the 100B Euro defense budget. He wants those assets back.

  12. Matthew G. Saroff

    It should be noted that last weeks decision by the UAE to buy a Chinese jet trainer was driven by a desire to diversify from US equipment. (Here is a paywalled article going into the diversity desire)

    Here is the money quote from the paywalled article:

    Emirati officials said their pivot to the Chinese aircraft was part of a framework aimed at “diversifying [the UAE’s] sources of armament.”

    Some observers suggest the purchase is a message directed at the U.S., which has called upon the Gulf state to distance its ties with China.

    It’s more than just a UN Security Council vote.

  13. marku52

    Kim Iversen has a good take on the “end of US hegemony’. Making some of the same points as the article but with clearer explanations. Especially interesting was that Israel is not joining the “West” either. Apparently they remember the Ukrainians aiding the Nazi massacres in WWII, and the fact that real honest-to-god Nazis are running part of Ukraine today.

    Also, Biden asked Saudis to raise oil outputs? Saudis told him to pound sand. Of course, maybe they can’t even if they wanted to, but still they could politely say “we’ll try.” But no.

    This is the time it all fell apart for the US. Brace for impact.

  14. RobertC

    I expect to see this at OilPrice soon:

    Yesterday in Vienna, European negotiators told Iran they will walk away from JCPOA if Iran doesn’t sign by this coming Monday. State Department’s Ned Price: “[The US is] prepared to walk away if Iran displays an intransigence to making progress.”

    Today in Vienna, Iranian FM tweeted “Iran is willing but will not wait forever. A deal is at hand if WH makes its mind.”

    Today in Israel, German Chancellor said “Now is the time to make a decision. This must not be postponed any longer and cannot be postponed any longer.”

    I think we’re approaching “All options are on the table.” territory.

  15. Skippy

    I mean what was the whole deal with the de-Nazification back in WWII for only to allow it back into acceptable social discourse like a mold hiding behind the paint of freedoms and liberties of speech …

    1. Keith McClary

      The West wanted the rocket scientists, the chemical warfare experts, the network of spies in eastern Europe, … .

      1. skippy

        Aware of the historical back drop to strategic and industry IP rights that greased the rails on that one, but, the recent actions of Congress and the U.N. on the matter is so broad daylight its a slap in the face to decades of rhetoric contra. Almost a matter of with us or not[.]

  16. Dyathink

    Lost in the conversation about Antony Blinken is his role in WestExec. He made a small fortune with this consulting firm that he co-founded after serving in the Obama administration. The firm has ties to the arms and security industries.

    Wonder who’ll make the most money from the Ukraine conflict?

    Think he’ll rejoin the firm when he leaves government again?

  17. Hemanth

    A) Profit motive rules everything in the US (look at healthcare) including military supplies. Therefore, countries resent USA offering arms at higher prices and USA being open to supplying to adversaries of the buyers if those adversaries give even higher prices. Just supply anything to anybody if profit is more.
    B) USA even now has not even tried to understand why even allies do not trust the Americans.
    C) USA has very short term outlook in every thing.

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