Ilargi: Ukraine Warheads

Yves here. Reader DLG, Reality Czar, suggested that we re-run this April 2021 post by Raúl Ilargi Meijer, which we had crossposted back then. It shows that what was to come as far as the West, Ukraine, and Russia were concerned was visible in broad contours…if you were paying attention.

Some additional detail: it was in 2008 that NATO made what amounted to an invitation to Ukraine and Georgia to join, despite the objections of France and Germany (mind you, I’m not up on the term of art for the NATO welcome mat, so informed readers are encouraged to provide that and other relevant details). The Russo-Georgia war in 2008 and the exile of former president Mikheil Saakashvili in 2013 put kibosh on Georgia following through. Note that Saakashvili resurfaced in Ukraine, sacrificing his Georgia citizenship to become a Ukrainian, as governor of the Odessa oblast in 2015 and 2016.

Note also that in 2019, Ukraine under president Petro Poroshenko amended its constitution to commit it to joining NATO.

By Raúl Ilargi Meijer, editor of Automatic Earth. Originally published at Automatic Earth on April 21, 2021

Joe Biden declares a “national emergency”, calls Putin a killer, slaps more sanctions on Russia, for which he has his Foreign Secretary Antony Blinken declare that “Today, we announced actions to hold the Russian Government to account for the SolarWinds intrusion, reports of bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, and attempts to interfere in the 2020 U.S. elections,” … and then “invites” Putin for a summit.

For the SolarWinds “intrusion”, the US has never provided any evidence at all, the Russian bounties story was -finally- fully debunked well before Blinken made his statement -which makes him look very incompetent-, and the election interference narrative is by now just too dumb to even get into. No evidence for it whatsoever after 2 years of the Mueller investigation, but now Putin’s at it again? Who did he want to win, then? Trump again, after apparently not even trying in 2016?

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky states that his country should urgently be made a full member of both NATO and the EU, and has his own proxy, Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, solemnly claim that not just “The only possibility for this [to prevent alleged invasion plans] is for Ukraine to finally become a NATO member”, but also that “Ukraine has no other choice: either we are part of an alliance such as NATO and are doing our part to make this Europe stronger, or we have the only option – to arm by ourselves, and maybe think about nuclear status again”.… And then Zelensky invites Putin for a summit. In the Donbass, no less.

These people are all as insincere as they possibly could be, but they trust that this doesn’t matter anymore. The western media have been planting the “Putin is a monster” seeds in their readers and viewers for many years now, and critical thought has long since left the building. Yes, that is the ultimate effect of what’s called propaganda, and as long as the sheeple “victims” don’t recognize it as such, it works like a charm.


I’ve been wondering for a long time why Boris Yeltsin appointed Putin as his successor in 1999, and I can’t find much information on it. Yeltsin was a US asset, and sold out his country to the CIA and a bunch of CIA-asset homegrown oligarchs. I’ve always suspected that when Yeltsin left, he felt a lot of regret for what he had done to Russia, and that maybe appointing Putin was his way to try and make up for that. I see people saying that Yeltsin thought Putin was pliable, but I think perhaps he knew exactly how Putin thought.

A “detail”: remember that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, male life expectancy for a period of time feel from a very steep cliff. And nothing Yeltsin did provided a solution to that crisis. Then, in August 1999, he appointed Putin as his prime minister, and didn’t leave a year later as planned, but 4 months later, in December. His chief of staff, Valentin Yumashev , who had hired Putin as his deputy in 1997, wrote his resignation speech:

Mr Yumashev was entrusted with writing Yeltsin’s resignation speech. “It was a hard speech to write. It was clear the text would go down in history. The message was important. That’s why I wrote the famous line ‘Forgive me’. “Russians had suffered such shock and stress during the 1990s. Yeltsin had to speak about this.”

Back to today. All economic -and other- sanctions against Russia since Putin first became president have led to one thing only: the country has dramatically increased its self-sufficiency. And in the process has upgraded its weapons arsenal to a level that no western country even comes close to, including the US, for maybe 10% of what the same US has spent on its own arsenal.

Russia’s latest generation of hypersonic missiles, against which no country has any defense, are far superior to what anybody else possesses. When they said recently they could take out a specific building in Kyiv if they wanted, they were not exaggerating. So yeah, look for Biden and Blinken and NATO et al to soon start using that superiority as a reason to incite more war vs Moscow.

A war they could never win, but that’s not the point any longer. One might argue of course that it never was after the advent of nuclear weapons. The whole point of NATO today, its raison d’être, is that it can create chaos wherever it goes and looks. It’s no longer capable of defending anyone from the Russian threat, but then that threat hasn’t been there for many years.


And NATO wants to continue existing, as does the Pentagon, and Boeing and Raytheon, it’s all about money, so they have to make up a threat, aided by their media brethren. That‘s why you see, from time to time, reports about Putin having yet another person “poisoned”, why governments in countries like the UK and Germany go along with the narrative, and why media in all other vassal states parrot these stories.

In that vein, the story this week out of Czechia, which expelled 18 Russian diplomats, kind of sets a new standard in absolute nonsense.

The Czech organised crime squad (NCOZ) said it was looking for two men using Russian passports in relation to the explosions. The passports bear the names of Alexander Petrov, born in 1979, and Ruslan Boshirov, born in 1978, and their holders are also wanted in Britain in connection with Skripal’s poisoning in Salisbury.

Mark Ames’ reaction to this on Twitter is so good, I’m not going to try to beat him to it: : “If I understand this right, apparently GRU thought it’d be smart to use the same 2 spies to carry out 2 separate deadly operations in NATOland – 2014 bombing in Czech Rep, 2018 Skripal poisoning – using exact same aliases & fake passports in both operations.”

Now that the west has lost its military superiority, all that’s left for it to claim is some sort of “intelligence superiority”, so it portrays Russians as really dumb people. Putin tries to poison one person after another, invariably people who are no threat to him at all, with the deadliest poisons on the planet, and fails time and again. Navalny is a US asset who gets 2% max of votes in a poll, Skripal is a former military intel officer who was allowed to go to the UK after being exposed as a double-agent (!), but they fit the 20+ year old narrative of Putin as Pol Pot. Stories. They are all that counts. Reality, not so much. Bernays and Goebbels are having a ton of fun in their own private hells.

So how will the Ukraine episode be resolved? Not easy. Making the world’s 2nd-most corrupt country a full member of NATO is out of the question, Russia will never accept that. Which is why the west is pushing it. Ukraine with nukes is even more preposterous, if that is possible (hard call). Dmitry Orlov suggested a “solution” the other day about which I have major question marks, but he’s Russian and I’m not, so take a look:

Putin’s Ukrainian Judo

The answer, I believe, is obvious: evacuation. There are around 3.2 million residents in Donetsk People’s Republic and 1.4 million in Lugansk People’s Republic, for a total of some 4.6 million residents. This may seem like a huge number, but it’s moderate by the scale of World War II evacuations. Keep in mind that Russia has already absorbed over a million Ukrainian migrants and refugees without much of a problem.

Also, Russia is currently experiencing a major labor shortage, and an infusion of able-bodied Russians would be most welcome. Domestically, the evacuation would likely be quite popular: Russia is doing right by its own people by pulling them out of harm’s way. The patriotic base would be energized and the already very active Russian volunteer movement would swing into action to assist the Emergencies Ministry in helping move and resettle the evacuees.

The elections that are to take place later this year would turn into a nationwide welcoming party for several million new voters. The Donbass evacuation could pave the way for other waves of repatriation that are likely to follow. There are some 20 million Russians scattered throughout the world, and as the world outside Russia plunges deeper and deeper into resource scarcity they too will want to come home.

While they may presently be reluctant to do so, seeing the positive example of how the Donbass evacuees are treated could help change their minds. The negative optics of surrendering territory can be countered by not surrendering any territory. As a guarantor of the Minsk Agreements, Russia must refuse to surrender the Donbass to the Ukrainian government until it fulfills the terms of these agreements, which it has shown no intention of doing for seven years now and which it has recently repudiated altogether.

[..] The West would be left with the following status quo. The Donbass is empty of residents but off-limits to them or to the Ukrainians. The evacuation would in no sense change the standing or the negotiating position of the evacuees and their representatives vis-à-vis the Minsk agreements, locking this situation in place until Kiev undertakes constitutional reform, becomes a federation and grants full autonomy to Donbass, or until the Ukrainian state ceases to exist and is partitioned. The Ukraine would be unable to join NATO (a pipe dream which it has stupidly voted into its constitution) since this would violate the NATO charter, given that it does not control its own territory.

Further sanctions against Russia would become even more difficult to justify, since it would be untenable to accuse it of aggression for undertaking a humanitarian mission to protect its own citizens or for carrying out its responsibilities as a guarantor of the Minsk agreements. The Donbass would remain as a stalker zone roamed by Russian battlefield robots sniping Ukrainian marauders, with the odd busload of schoolchildren there on a field trip to lay flowers on the graves of their ancestors. Its ruined Soviet-era buildings, not made any newer by three decades of Ukrainian abuse and neglect, will bear silent witness to the perpetual ignominy of the failed Ukrainian state.

Dmitry suggests 4.6 million people leave the Donbass so peace may be restored. But most of those people grew up there, and so did their families. And largely peacefully so, until the US and NATO, John McCain and Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt, tried to take over Ukraine. Why should Russia, instead of protecting these people where they live, migrate them and protect them in Russia? Anyone ask for their own opinion?

There would be a giant empty piece of land where they once lived, in a kind of demilitarized zone? And what then? Nobody in Ukraine would come up with the idea to move into the empty land? And if they did, Russia would have to shoot them from Russian territory? I sort of see the reasoning of course, but not all of it. It only seems to work if you see Russia, and the Russians in the Donbass, as the aggressors.

Were they? Are they? Russia only sprung into action when the west tried to take away their sole warm water port, Sevastopol in Crimea. An election was held, and 97% of mostly Russians voted to be part of Russia. Yeah, that upset NATO and the other usual suspects, but that doesn’t make Russia an aggressor.

Russia has no reason to “invade” Ukraine. They don’t need even more territory, they’re already by far the largest nation on earth. Moreover, they don’t have the military to occupy large swaths of land. They only have the capacity to protect their own.

Thing is, they really got that down. So the only thing NATO can do, in its quest to prove it has reason to exist, is to create chaos, as I said before. But there is a problem with consciously creating chaos between nuclear powers, instead of maintaining communication channels, as the US and USSR always did during the Cold War. Do we all understand this means we are in a worse situation today than back then? That all those expulsions of diplomats only make the situation worse?

And that some fool could actually fire a nuclear missile because of that? Me, I’m not so sure anymore. Between the Covid virus and the US cancel culture, there are not that many western people paying attention to warmongers and NATO aka warheads. Not a good idea.

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  1. MrBrokenRecord

    Now that the west has lost its military superiority

    Really? Does the author think hypersonic missiles have totally changed the balance? If the Russians are struggling this much with Ukraine, how do you think they would fare against M1 Abrams, Leopard 2, Apache attack helicopters, etc., all protected by a superior, first world air force. GLWT

    I get that we’ve given Russia little reason to trust us ever since the fall of the USSR. I’m sad it’s the Ukrainian people who are suffering. But if we’re such bad guys, and Putin is just misunderstood, don’t you think Finland and Sweden are smart enough to see that? They seem to have a different opinion.

    1. britzklieg

      LOL – when was the last time the “superior first world” prevailed in its wars of choice and aggression? Granada?

      Do you think Finland or Sweden have a chance against Russia if their masters in the west poke that bear too hard?

      As for their smarts and “opinion”…

      “Mein Führer, I can walk!”

    2. The Rev Kev

      Ummm. The distance from New York to Kiev is about 4,664 miles so that is the length of the supply lines between the US and the Ukrainian borders. You want to know the distance between the Ukrainian and Russian border? It is 0 miles. Something to think about. And that you beaut air force? Would the Pentagon actually risk it? If the Russians shot down a whole bunch of F-35s, what would be the effect on all future sales of this turkey? As for the M1 Abrams, that is a gas-guzzling forty year old design and the US Army should have been thinking about a replacement years ago but keeps fobbing it off.

      1. warpig

        I doubt the Russian air defense can even see an F-35 clearly let alone hit one. And how are those T-72’s doin now? I don’t think we would even NEED to bring in M1’s.

        1. The Rev Kev

          You do know that the Russians are using their B Team to take out the Ukraine, don’t you? And their gear is consequently older. But they are getting the job done nonetheless. I hope too that you haven’t been listening to all those stories of Javelin missiles wiping out Russian tanks have you? It has been mostly Ukrainian artillery that got a lot of those tank hits. But listen to this brief video by a former Marine explaining this topic-

 (2:03 mins)

          1. Telee

            I’ve been listening to Scott Ritter and Col. Douglas MacGregor to hear what their take is on the Ukrainian situation. Their overall politics are definitely not the same as mine but they are experts on the military and their analysis is directly opposite of what I hear from corporate news. Yesterday, NPR gave former Russian ambassador about 15 minutes to tell how the Ukrainians were beating the Russians and the end result will be an uprising by the Russian people which will remove Putin. Then listen to MacGregor who sees that Russia is clearly winning. When asked what the US objective is he flatly says regime change. He recognizes that NATO in Ukraine is an existential threat to Russia just as US would not tolerate missiles in Cuba or China training anti-American troops and running military excercises in Mexico. Ritter says giving Ukrainian weapons’ to fight against such odds as certain death. Both acknowledge that the US supported the coup in 2014. Both recognize the danger to the world in prolonging the war which Ukraine can’t win. Both think Zelensky is a US puppet who, by following the US lead, are destroying Ukraine. Both despise Tony Blinken, Victoria Nuland, Lindsey Graham, all those who are feeding this war and the Russian haters who think regime change. Both have been interviewed by Napolitano on Fox news and by the leftist Greyzone. Both never appear on NPR, ABC, CBS, MSNBC etc. In fact MSNBC is interviewing pundits who advocate sending US troops and starting WW3. The Young Turks are also all in with mainstream propaganda. Go to YouTube and listen to what they have to say before jumping on the bandwagon.

          2. Flywheel

            You and many other video game warriors keep bringing up unsubstantiated claims based upon dubious sources. The fact is that we are living through the “fog of war” right now and too many people are trying to invent the “news of the day” and attribute too much importance to military hardware of one kind or the other. Scott Ritter has not been in active military service for a very long time. In fact, his has more recent experience serving time in prison as sex predator, than relevant military experience (see:

            Regarding superiority or quantity of military hardware versus quality and dedication of fighting personnel, you may want to pay attention to what happened in October 1973 when the Syrian army attacked Israel in the Golan Heights with 1100 tanks and 3000 artillery pieces, while Israel had about 170 tanks defending the confrontation line. In one day alone (October 9th 1973) the Syrian army lost close to half of its armored vehicles in what is known as the “Battle of the Valley of Tears”. And yes, I was there!

            The notion that the Russians have used their “B Team” to attack Ukraine and consequently, their lack of progress on military objectives, is nonsense. In reality, most armies have very few “A Teams” and most of the armed forces (at least 95%) are less competent.

            The fact is that weak country cannot have a “strong army” in real terms. There was no such case in the history of the world, if you study history very closely. Russia is a very large however, weak country and thereby its military is weak. The strength of every organization and particularly the military depends on the motivation and initiatives of its personnel. Russia of today, is still a remnant of the Soviet Union, with all the dysfunctional behavioral patterns of mistrust and corruption that kept the USSR from becoming a leading economy that bring welfare to its population at large.

            1. Basil Pesto

              yes, the people of Ukraine and the countries backing her are mistrust-and-corruption-free zones that are clearly drowning in the welfare that economic abundance brings in the year 2022

            2. kriptid

              Just a question:

              Can you rationally explain why Mr. Ritter’s alleged pedophilia had anything to do with his analysis of this conflict? I fail to see the relevance, although it is the go-to response to anyone seeking to discredit him.

              Were he a child psychologist and analyzing something about children, then fair play. But he is commenting on military matters and his area of expertise. And for the record, most of the weapons in heavy use in Ukraine were invented in the 20th century. It’s not as if ground warfare has changed much since Ritter was actively serving.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                Yes, Flywheel has engaged in big time ad hom and also Making Shit Up (Russia = weak country). For starters, it has 27 weapons systems where we have nothing comparable, so the list goes beyond its hypersonic missiles.

                I hate having to discuss this but there is zero evidence that Ritter ever had sex with a minor. He had one sealed judgement where he’d settled where in a sting operation, someone got him to send dick pix to a supposed underage person he never met. That was leaked….one wonders why and how.

                The second was also a sting operation, where he was sexting with a supposed 15 year old that Ritter said he though was faking her age. Never met her in the flesh either. He insisted on going to trial. I strongly suspect that if the prior case has not been leaked, he might have prevailed. But juries are gonna look very unfavorably on what can be presented as a pattern.

        2. tindrum

          Luckily for Russia (or whomever the USA is fighting this week) F35’s dont actually seem to be able to spend much time in the air hence making it unnecessary to shoot them down.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Rummy went looking for sure wins at the end of the day. He’s a thug but much smarter than the current crop. Iraq had stuff he could blow up without blow back and run on CNN. I figure he would have tried Syria next to get into the election.

          1. digi_owl

            That was as much operational hubris as flaws with the plane itself.

            They kept being given the same ingress route mission after mission.

            Thus the commander of the SAM batteries could place them in the path beforehand, and when told something was coming pretty much fire blind.

            The thing about “stealth” it is not some Hollywood invisibility cloak. It uses careful engineering to reduce the radar echo of the plane to something akin to a large bird (the B-2 for example is something akin to an albatross last i read). But that is dependent on things like frequency used for the radar, and distance.

            So it may well be that the SAMs fired were set to seek a target during their flight, and once they got large enough echo they would go after it. A massive gamble, but one that payed off and gave Pentagon a solid black eye.

        3. Kouros

          They might not see the F-35s but definitely they will hear them…

          And bringing the M1s would involve putting them on ships and send them across the ocean. In an open war, those ships are free for being shot at, and the Russian subs have become quite silent lately and have these missiles…

        4. Yves Smith Post author

          We don’t have much tolerance for those who peddle debunked Ukraine propaganda. A lot of people in the West know that Ukraine has been passing off its dead tanks as Russian, and that those oh so game changing Javelins and magic drone have been largely ineffective against them.

    3. Pat

      If we weren’t depleting our weapons supply sending massive amounts of armory to Ukraine, you could use that as an advantage. Sure we haven’t sent in the supposed best of our Air Force, but otherwise we have been emptying the bunkers only to find so much of it vanished.

      Now Ukraine is notably corrupt, which is rich considering the condition of the US today. But since our brain trust obviously thinks any war with Russia will be another long distance one, you might consider not just the creation of weapons (which would have to get us into supply chains, materials , and yes our sorry manufacturing capability) but the transport of not just those weapons and the fuel for them.

      I bring up the latter, because fuel is rapidly becoming the breaking point not just for Ukraine but for our allies. Guess who has superior access to that.

      Now tell me who is going to man those weapons and transport vehicles, the under 35 crowd has already figured out who the 50+ war mongers consider to be war chum and they aren’t buying it.

      So you have some supposedly better weapons in need of transport, fuel and people to man them…or you have some expensive heavy pieces of metal that you may not be able to deploy in the numbers necessary for enough time to seal the victory, something that we haven’t seen in decades.

      Or more succinctly, I don’t think you have considered all the factors that are necessary for our superiority to be real.

    4. OnceWereVirologist

      The logistical issues in prosecuting an attack become very problematic when the opponent can land 500 kg of high explosive on a 5 m circle from 1000 km away and there’s nothing you can do about it. What do you do when the enemy can blow away bridges, ammo dumps, and aircraft hangers with a missile that you can’t intercept ? And no, your superior first world air force does not have the combat range to fly the width of Ukraine and prevent the air launch of ballistic missiles from within the borders of Russia.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I’ve decided many Americans simply believe tanks run on “freedom!”. Logistics and so forth are just simply magic. To a large extent, they don’t want to admit Iraq and Libya invasions were the result of they were easy to do and we could get away with it as opposed to actual national security interests.

        There were something like 1500 fighters used by the coalition in the Persian Gulf War. We had bases on the border and could surround the whole country. With the distances between air bases, even if we brought up 1500 fighters, the distance is almost 3x as much as the distance between the air bases and targets in the Persian Gulf War.

        The weird thing is they see movies like Saving Private Ryan and can’t follow the plot. They were fighting over a bridge because tanks can’t cross rivers.

        1. Pat

          Some of the problem is the propaganda/fantasy/video game culture we now live in. But one other is we, royal usage, have spent decades making sure that people have to go outside our education system to think logically. We see a whole lot of emotional or ideological thought but logic seems in short supply for most of our society. It isn’t just for a movie that a whole of people ignore the “why”, I also find the question “how” to be sadly neglected, forget even getting to if/then.

          Don’t get me wrong, experience changes things. There are a whole lot of people in various places who can tell our vaunted brain trust/adults in the room where their theoretical plans have/can/will go haywire on subjects from trade to health to yes war. But in general what used to be called common sense is in short supply because we have actively devalued it.

          We believe things because they have been told us over and over and we do not question them. We have the best military in the world, look at how expensive it is. But how many people have gone what did we really get for that?

          Change of subject, but not really, news in NYC of former cop/law and order is vital Mayor Adams meeting with top police officials today. We have the most expensive police department in the country and despite being handed almost everything they want the news is crime! of all sorts and in all neighborhoods. And now it isn’t about hero cops being overwhelmed, but kids being shot and elderly women being assaulted. False expectations that were used to get elected are now biting Adams.

          I don’t know what is going to happen when Americans recognize that the narrative doesn’t match the reality on Ukraine, Russia,our military superiority, Covid being under control, the economy, and on and on. So far distraction has worked, but at some point the tanks need fuel gets through.

        2. chris

          You are absolutely correct. And it’s not just tanks that are magic. It’s chicken, beef, paper, pencils, laptops, phones, batteries, lumber, frozen goods, generic medicine, etc.

          The concept of has ruined any sense people had of where the things they purchase come from. Years of insulting rednecks have made the middle class uninterested (to borrow a phrase from Anne Applebaum) in where their food comes from. Decades of shunning the armed services and believing that it was patriotic to shop has divorced many American citizens from what it means to deploy people or materiel. And no one knows what we really spend money on for military budgets anyway. We’re a nation of people who by circumstance or choice are largely ignorant of what our government is doing in our name. Just like we have no control over the means of production our overlords have foisted on us we have no ability to tell the government to stop what it’s doing. So is it any surprise that in this situation even our supposed leaders are stupid and have no idea what it takes execute on any of these suggestions for increasing military support to Ukraine?

        3. digi_owl

          Because so few these days works industry at the tool end, or farming.

          Thus they are have come accustomed to the Amazon next day delivery of everything on the site. When you think about it, Amazon and like is borderline absurd opulent decadence.

          I’m old enough that i am accustomed to thinking in terms of seasonal good. Oranges and certain types of nuts are associated with Christmas and winter in general.

          You would not need to go back far to find where a young girl demanding fresh strawberries mid winter would be decried as decadent. Yet these days a strawberry smoothie is a everyday enjoyment for many, completely detached from any season or similar.

          1. wilroncanada

            And as for content, those monster strawberries are balloons filled with water, minus any but simulated taste, and virtually no nutrition remaining. Kool Aid in a soft shell.

    5. NotTimothyGeithner

      How did the Taliban do against those weapons?

      How would you get the Abrams to the front? They are designed for defense and to be transported on flatbed. Their use in Iraq was cooked up by Schwarzkopf where the flat Iraqi desert was tailored made for the tanks to be raced.

      Do you know how fuel works? I have to ask. Do you think tanks run on freedom?

      1. MrBrokenRecord

        It’s actually not that difficult to ship tanks to Europe (we got them to the Middle East 30 years ago didn’t we?), load them on rail cars (I’ve participated in loading M60A3s at railheads in Germany in my youth), and get them reasonably close to where they are needed. Oddly, I also am keenly aware they don’t run on freedom – an M1 burns almost 2 gallons per mile IIRC.

        It’s 1400 miles, give or take, from Berlin to Volgograd. The Germans, with incredible logistical challenges, and making about half their oil out of coal (and most of their aviation fuel IIRC), managed to cover that in 1941-42. They had no access to oil from the US or Venezuela (the 2 biggest non-Russian oil suppliers at that time if memory serves) nor the Middle East. NATO does.

        But I’m only talking about moving units to defend NATO countries, not go outside those friendly borders. I am in NO WAY suggesting that NATO should attack Russian forces, not even in Ukraine. I’m simply stating that it is more than capable of defending its member countries should the need arise.

        1. Jacob Hatch

          Russian weapons are designed to defeat NATO. USA ( & NATO) weapons are designed to defeat Congress and the American people.

        2. redleg

          Weapons systems are one thing, but US and NATO are tactically and strategically unprepared to fight a peer. A peer that had spent the last 2 decades observing how US and NATO weapons systems work in combat, how large and small unit tactics (there is no strategy to speak of, unless one considers sales a strategy) are used in combat, and devising weapons, tactics , and strategy to defeat what they have observed.
          In addition, modern weapons systems do not get produced quickly (e.g. current supply of Stingers), so the ability to transport becomes irrelevant when the material doesn’t exist.

        3. Kouros

          You forget that Russians have submarines that can sink the ships carrying the tanks to Europe. And have strategic bombers that can hit the railway system of Europe on essential nodes and bridges (over Rhine and Danube, Oder, etc.). Russia is neither Iraq nor Afghanistan.

          And if push come to shove, the Chinese will also help in a pinch. The strategic depth of Russia now is bottomless. What is the strategic depth of US and Europe?

          1. MrBrokenRecord

            You forget that Russians have submarines that can sink the ships carrying the tanks to Europe.

            No, I just have more faith in our Navy than you do

            And have strategic bombers that can hit the railway system of Europe on essential nodes and bridges (over Rhine and Danube, Oder, etc.). Russia is neither Iraq nor Afghanistan.

            I have serious doubts that Russia could defeat Sweden’s air force, much less bomb NATO at will

            And if push come to shove, the Chinese will also help in a pinch.

            How? If you think we would have trouble projecting force in Europe, how would China do it? And do you have any idea how easy it would be to cut off the oil China gets from everywhere that isn’t Russia?

            Again, there are serious reasons that no one wants to go down that road. Let’s hope we never do.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              And if push come to shove, the Chinese will also help in a pinch.

              How? If you think we would have trouble projecting force in Europe, how would China do it? And do you have any idea how easy it would be to cut off the oil China gets from everywhere that isn’t Russia?

              This is the orientalist mindset on full display. He can’t even conceive the Chinese would react. On one hand, we can get weapons there because “Iraq” (I’m sure he hasn’t a clue about pre-positioned equipment), but the Chinese can’t or wouldn’t use the opportunity to seize certain areas. Then there is Iran.

            2. Yves Smith Post author

              Russia if it wanted to could flatten Sweden from afar with its missiles. It could have prostrated Ukraine in a few days but it wanted to negotiate a settlement. Ukraine went a considerable way in Istanbul and then the US pulled the choke chain.

              You don’t begin to understand Russian military doctrine. They’ve invested in and have the world’s best missile and missile defense capability. They use that for long distance strikes, with great precision and effectiveness. Their airforce is used solely as part of a combined arms operation, to protect and perfect a land based assault.

              1. Science Officer Smirnoff

                You don’t begin to understand Russian military doctrine. They’ve invested in and have the world’s best missile and missile defense capability.

                \Readers need references on that.

        4. NotTimothyGeithner

          Iraq had crummy scuds and no satellites or air superiority. Try again.

          Do you think the Russians couldn’t figure out the roads they would take to get those tanks in?

      2. digi_owl

        Last time i looked, the C-7 Galaxy is the shape and size it is in order to be able to air lift at least one tank pr plane.

        They would likely be airlifted to Ramstein airbase and then trucked overland by road or rail. It is pretty much the scenario that NATO et al have been training for since their inception. A “glorious” tank battle in Europe, only this time the western “knights” will win against the eastern “mongol” horde.

    6. Susan the other

      I think the question should be: Now that the West has spread neoliberal trade, pollution and finance all over the world making sustainability too fragile and war unthinkable, has the West inadvertently managed to make its own military power useless? If the answer is yes, then it is the one, and only, good thing to come from neoliberalism. A peculiar peace that really was, itself, forced by the threat of war and economic sanctions.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Nothe really. Both Iraq wars were oddities. Most of the war on terror involved major cooperation where countries didn’t fear blow back. Guys would get airlifted from Afghanistan to hospitals in Germany or Israel where before the would die.

        The NATO defense structure is based around a Soviet invasion. Bases are away from the front, so we can hit the supply lines and then fight the Soviets when the run out of gas, not before. That would be stupid.

        The ability of the US to invade a country is and was overrated. We didn’t attack Iran for a reason. They would curb stomp up or blow up the world economy first as we tried to build up. Africa still has problems, but we aren’t anywhere there without host government approval. Without that support, we have to leave.

        Can the Russians get to the Polish border? Maybe, but after that, they would run into the range of the
        big air bases. Logistics would be a mess. In the case of World War 2, Berlin and Paris aren’t that far apart. Europe isn’t big, and the Soviets were in short a mess. The UK had forces deployed to keep colonies in line. Gandhi wanted to use the war as an opportunity. Fortunately, Nehru knew the score.

        1. Kouros

          Russians are already at the Polish border (Belarus and Kaliningrad). Kaliningrad Iskander missiles can easily hit Berlin or Warsaw. No need of tanks. And their S-400 and S-500 can hit NATO fighter jets within NATO borders. No need of tanks.

          And I don’t think people between Russian/Belarus border and France’s border will really want to become the play thing and sacrificial lamb for American interests… Europeans can and do protest (see Yellow Vests in France for instance).

          1. digi_owl

            Protest, sure. But the yellow vests etc have the problem that they, much like occupy etc, do not have a credible alternative to the status quo. So instead they throw what may as well be temper tantrums, and then get spanked by the uniforms until they shut up.

            The post war social democracies came about thanks to having the USSR over there as a threat to the monied people. Unless they agreed to certain demands, their holdings would be collectivized. Now there is no such threat, and so whoever pay the biggest muscle gets to dictate terms.

    7. GM

      Does the author think hypersonic missiles have totally changed the balance?

      They do though. As someone else said in this thread, they now have the ability to strike with the precision of an individual house from a very long distance. It’s actually claimed to be 3,000 km for Kinzhals carried by a Tu-22M3, it’s quite possible it is even more than that in reality. That means every major city in Eurasia is a target.

      It cannot be intercepted, and it will arrive at the address in minutes, giving no time for reaction.

      And with this precision it may mean you don’t absolutely have to go nuclear. Putin very often talks about how “we will strike decision-making centers”. This is always taken to mean “we will nuke and vaporize DC, Brussels, and London”, but it doesn’t have to be that — if you can take out the political and military leadership with decapitating conventional strikes, leaving mostly everything else intact, perhaps whatever is left does not go for a nuclear answer. It’s a long shot, but the Russians do like to talk about “escalate to deescalate” so maybe they are thinking about something like that.

      BTW, hypersonic missiles are also an excellent bunker buster, because of the kinetic energy at that speed (that’s 1/2mv^2, i.e. it goes up exponentially with speed). The one time a Kinzhal was used in Ukraine was reportedly for such an application — to penetrate and destroy a deeply buried underground structure.

      The US is possibly out of range for Kinzhals for now, depending on the exact possible launch methods. But then there is the other game changer — the Zircon anti-ship missiles (those are a lot faster than the Kinzhal). The main tool for US power projection around the globe is the Navy, and especially the aircraft carriers. Without that even the numerous bases around the world will be quickly turned into stranded encircled assets if their logistics are disrupted — you need to be able to bomb the surrounding countries. But with the Zircons those aircraft carriers are sitting ducks — they will be turned either into floating islands useless for military purposes, if the Zircons are conventionally armed, or sent straight to the bottom if they are hit with nukes. And there is nothing that can be done about it — the claim is that you cannot intercept missiles at that speed, which gets into very complicated arguments about maneuverability at such speeds, radar detection, plasma stealth, etc. I am not a physicist by trade, but from what I read it does look like whatever poor aircraft carrier captain has this targeted at him will indeed have less than two minutes to realize what is happening, and try to deploy air defenses and turn the ship around (but a 350-meter ship does not change direction easily), i.e. it is a rather hopeless situation with current technology.

      Now take out the aircraft carriers (and most of the other major battleships) what do you have left of US power? Other than launching the nukes, of course…

      If the Russians are struggling this much with Ukraine, how do you think they would fare against M1 Abrams, Leopard 2, Apache attack helicopters, etc., all protected by a superior, first world air force. GLWT

      The Russians are struggling because they are fighting with a very limited force and with the major constraint that civilian casualties are to be minimized (while Ukrainians are using civilians as human shields). That constraint would not be there if fighting anywhere outside the former USSR. How they will perform against NATO is not known, and we have to only hope we will never find out…

      1. digi_owl

        The carrier have been known floating bullseyes since at least the Falklands war.

        There is no need for hypersonics for that, just fire off enough conventional missiles from aircraft and light boats to saturate the fleet defenses.

      2. Soredemos

        Russia has already demonstrated in Ukraine that a single (relatively) lightweight Kinzhal, without a nuclear warhead, can penetrate down to the lowest level of a Soviet-era nuclear bunker. And technically the Kinzhal supposedly isn’t even fully operational yet, so the one used was a still in development and possibly buggy near-prototype.

        Our media can pretend that Russia is on its last ropes and running out of missiles and whatever, but I guarantee you that within the depths of the Pentagon that Russian demonstration strike caused a lot of officers to shit themselves.

    8. Chris A

      Respectfully,you are so deluded by the bs being fed to the west about Russian military failures. Read or listen to people with real combat and military knowledge like Col Douglas MacGregor, Scott Ritter, Larry c Johnson.
      Russia is doing so poorly that they are destroying the Ukraine military and taking territory and Ukraine is unable to stop them.

    9. Soredemos

      It’s impossible to have a productive conversation when one side is operating from such a place of profound misinformation. Russia isn’t struggling against Ukraine. The last couple weeks especially have shown what happens when Russia starts to take the gloves off and just decides to wipe enemy units out wholesale.

      What’s likely going to happen in the near future is that Russia will decide the ‘softening up’ phase is over and finally launch their main offensive (and Russia is operating entirely on its own timetable and at its own leisure), at which point whatever is left of the Ukrainian Donbass front shatters completely, probably in shockingly short order (maybe even at ‘Afghanistan in 2021’ speed, though I suspect it won’t be quite that fast as the most fanatical Ukrainian units try to make bloody final stands). And then where will Kiev and its useful idiots be?

      1. digi_owl

        Setting up shop in Lviv, negotiating with Putin about turning the land east of the Dnieper into the independent federation of Novorussia perhaps?

    10. SocalJimObjects

      I bet there are a lot of people in the general population who think like MrBrokenRecord here i.e. the Russians are incompetent. In the next war between Russia and the USA, these people will be used as cannon fodder.

  2. Carolinian

    What is there to say other than that humans in general are not very rational and that goes double for our “elites.” At their level competition is everything and so they have no problem with seeing Putin as yet another competitor to be vanquished. It’s all terribly personal.

    Our political system was supposed to solve the problem of the rulers versus the ruled but perhaps it was really the safety valve of having a continent to conquer that kept the thing going. As our material circumstances start to deteriorate things are looking grim. In that sense it’s no wonder young people want to turn inward.

  3. caloba

    I think I’d prefer to be “poisoned”, rather than poisoned – tho I’m not sure what the distinction is. I live quite near “Salisbury”, where the “Skripals” were “poisoned”…

      1. drbopperthp

        Old, poorly stored, and degraded nerve agents don’t work as well as the fresh off the shelf stuff.

        1. Soredemos

          Then why use them? The Skripal case was already profoundly stupid, but the one that puts it over the edge for me and convinces me that all the supposed Novichok cases are a lie (or should at least be assumed to be a lie until convincing evidence otherwise is provided) is the supposed Navalny poisoning, where not only did Russia manage to not kill guy within Russia itself, but let him go to Germany for treatment.

          Pull the other one; it’s got bells on.

  4. super extra

    So if you scope back to ~2014 (maidan) or ~2008 (georgia) and have a general understanding of the main events and players, and then you replay the events from that time up until now knowing what was to come, it is very clear that plans that were made over a decade ago by the US State dept regarding Russia were wildly disrupted by the Trump interregnum. Unelected officials in a US government organization in one administration created plans, implemented them, and then over a 4 year period when they were not in power, maintained enough control to keep the main elements of the plan available to be reactivated later by feeding information to the media and possibly other government departments (DoJ). Those same people (Nuland and Sullivan, Pyatt is the ambassador to Greece now) were re-appointed after Biden was elected, and within 4 months of returning to their old roles, had resumed where they left off in 2016.

    How is any resolution of events possible without facing this directly and at bare minimum removing these people and massive reform of the state department? Does anyone even believe that is possible with things the way they are now?

    1. juno mas

      Yes, it appears the “Deep State” is real. And it includes more than just the CIA, but a tag team of both it and State Dept. (if not more). American democracy is a charade. Gimmee Sheltah!

      1. Milton

        I’m feeling that the Pentagon is the one area within the Mic and/or the Entrenched (Deep) State that has retained any semblance of sanity. I can imagine a scenario where orders are given for a pre-emptive nuke attack against Russia and the military brass instead, instituting a coup–deposing the executive branch and placing State dept higher-ups under arrest. And I also can imagine that this action would have wide support among the America people, at least the non-PMC.

        1. digi_owl

          Because pentagon is the people that end up at the pointy end and have to explain the C-7s unloading body bags.

          Never mind that they just had to do a humiliating retreat that had eerie similarities to Vietnam.

          The last thing they want to do is pick a fight with an enemy that is using more than 80s leftovers, and the drive to go all in.

    2. Chris a

      I believe Russia blames US/NATO for the Chechnya war as well. US has spoken of breaking Russia into smaller, weaker pieces. Essentially, it seems our ‘leaders’ believe their own propaganda and have no value for human life.

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        > US has spoken of breaking Russia into smaller, weaker pieces

        #This – I have begun to see as a real longer term play, because a scattered and divided Russia becomes the ultimate way to encircle the real quarry: China. So today: proxy war with Russia via Ukraine; in ten years, maybe a proxy war with China via cast-off southern republics like Altai, Tuva and Buryatia. Gonna go back an re-read bits of Tony Wood’s “Russia Without Putin”. I can’t recall where he leaves this topic …

        1. digi_owl

          The one thing i don’t get about going after China is the economics of it.

          Without China the likes of Amazon is basically a empty shell. We already see how fucked up things have gotten as the containers has gotten clogged up on the west coast.

          Are they really hoping that China will cave, because they will be without access to the US (and maybe EU) market?

          Fuck that, China will happily trade with Africa and lot. And much like Putin indicated recently, patent and copyright law can fuck right off if that is what is needed to keep the economy going.

          If you want someone to respect contracts etc, you need to demonstrate that you are holding up your end. and DC have done a sorry job at doing that these recent decades.

          1. ChrisRUEcon

            > The one thing i don’t get about going after China is the economics of it.

            It boggles the mind until you understand two things:
            • How absolutely greedy and unrelenting in their avarice western capitalists are.
            • How the west built up its advantage through resource extraction, and trade advantage, which methods China have largely prevented the west from executing.

            One of my favourite expressions is “ladder kicking”, which economist Ha Joon Chang used to describe how western (developed) countries used all manner of protections and tariffs to attain their supremacy (the ladder), and then promptly switched to “free trade” mode to prevent developing countries from doing the same (the kicking of the ladder).

            China has largely prevented the west from running its standard “development” playbook. China doesn’t need to buy cars, networking equipment and other technology from the West. China didn’t get duped or forced into killing its own industries and just importing everything it needed from the west. But western capitalists keep drooling about China’s billion-people-population as a market for western wares. It’s like a carrot that keeps the jackass moving. China has a the most USD FX reserves and American companies would like nothing more than for China to spend that money right back into US products and services. This is another thing that keeps sanctions at bay when it comes to China. Although the lunatics currently in charge probably think foolishly that if they freeze China’s USD FX Reserves, the Chinese will be forced to relent … LOL … every family-blog Fortune100 CEO would be on speed dial to the WH stat if someone in government were ever stupid enough to do that.

            I think China has already won. It’s a matter to whether or not China brings the Global South on board with a separate monetary system/currency that supplants USD and EUR.

        2. ChrisRUEcon

          How Wood sums up the specter of Soviet/Russian-Federation dissolution:

          “Yet the very character of the system – a predatory, authoritarian elite presiding over a vastly unequal society – will inevitably generate further social tensions, sparking recurrent crises which cannot all be resolved by patriotic mobilizations or military adventures abroad. ‘Imitation democracy’, and the post-Soviet capitalism it was built to defend, will no doubt be able to survive many upheavals. But it seems unwise to bet on its indefinite continuation, given the speed with which the USSR unravelled over the course of 1991, and the Romanov empire before it a century ago. These twin spectres of disintegration have haunted the imagination of Russia’s rulers since the fall of Communism, and they stalk the corridors of the Kremlin still, waiting for another of those rare, history-shattering moments when they can take on solid form.”

          He seems to think that the fear of it is real within the corridors of power, and that if the current kleptocrat-oligarch path is maintained, further breakdown is a possibility.

          PS: This was before the war, obviously. If I read Wood correctly, I suspect he thinks that the war firms up some of the nationalist glue that holds Russia together. However, what the war means for oligarchy, given Putin’s indictment of the expat-riche as traitors and the west’s confiscation of oligarch assets, remains to be seen.

    3. digi_owl

      Shows how cocksure they were about letting Hillary run on the platform she did.

      It is not only flyover states they don’t care about, anyone without a “creative” or management job are also sub-humans even if they live on the coasts.

  5. Susan the other

    Dimitri Orlov’s view of Russian expats is interesting. They will all want to repatriate now that they can see that Russia is a good place to be, with plenty of resources, in a world “plunging deeper into resource scarcity.” And Ilargi’s comment/question about how inept NATO has been, causing nothing more than international chaos but without the ability to defeat the Russian (no mention of China) military: “And NATO wants to continue existing?” That might prove to be the best question of all because NATO looks to be a disastrous pollution machine and a total waste of resources at this point. Talk about a clown car.

    1. dftbs

      You see a lot of this sentiment with the Russian analyst that reside in the West, obviously Orlov amongst them. But Martyanov and the Saker too. They are trying to synthesize the contradiction of their anti-communist inclinations with the present reality that a significant part of Russia’s strengths are salvaged from the communist past.

      The Russian character which they identify as morally distinct from the West is as much a creation of Peter Alekséyevich as Joseph Vissarionovich, of Saint Vladimir as Vladimir Ulyanov; and the Russian martial glory they revere is as much Kutazov as Zhukov.

      I think Orlov is right, and the future will see large demographic Russian repatriation to go along with their spirit of Risorgimento.

        1. Dftbs

          Although I’m sympathetic, it’s less my opinion and more my interpretation of what I see happening in their analysis and commentary.

          Here’s a recent missive from Martyanov about semiotics and “spirituality”. I think it’s hard for these guys that reside in the West to be in full embrace of the Soviet legacy; but those Russians in Russia seem to be less shy about it.

      1. ex-PFC Chuck

        IIRC, Orlov himself is already one of the returnees. He emigrated to the USA as a young teenager in the ’70s and moved back a year or two before the pandemic began.

  6. Steven

    You can trace the etiology of US involvement in Ukraine back to WWI and Woodrow Wilson’s campaign to ‘make the world safe for managed consent’. Having plundered the continent of its once abundant supplies of natural resources , America’s 60 Families faced the prospect of either a comfortable retirement or finding something else to do with their money. Instead of sharing the wealth, they chose a now century-long game of Risk (i.e. world conquest). The opening shot was picking the winner in the conflict between European imperial powers, AKA WWI. To get the nation on board and willing to sacrifice its children, Wilson had to use the Mighty Wurlitzer to spout a string of Noble Lies. America’s proletariat proved all to willing to overlook the moral opprobrium associated with killing their peers in exchange for continuing high-paid employment.

    But America’s Great Game of Risk came at a cost, arguably higher than necessary because the country’s elite confused the goals of their own continuing enrichment with a cost-effective program of imperial military conquest. When the bill came due it 1971, much to their own surprise the elites in the US and other Western nations discovered the world needed money so badly it was willing to continue exchanging real wealth for promises to pay what has become unpayable debt in the place of what was once considered the only ‘real money’.

    The rest, as they say, is history.

  7. Quentin

    Russia was given no choice but to defend itself from Western aggression. Russian forces heroically defend Mother Russia.

  8. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: why Yeltsin picked Putin

    My memory is the general narrative was Yeltsin needed to pick an anti-Yeltsin voice. For the most part, those were the Communists and the Nationalists. Putin was anti-Yeltsin but had no party backing. He couldn’t assassinate Yeltsin and take power.

  9. GM

    Russia has no reason to “invade” Ukraine. They don’t need even more territory, they’re already by far the largest nation on earth. Moreover, they don’t have the military to occupy large swaths of land. They only have the capacity to protect their own.

    Actually they do. These arguments:

    Thing is, they really got that down. So the only thing NATO can do, in its quest to prove it has reason to exist, is to create chaos, as I said before.

    The whole point of NATO today, its raison d’être, is that it can create chaos wherever it goes and looks. It’s no longer capable of defending anyone from the Russian threat, but then that threat hasn’t been there for many years.

    And NATO wants to continue existing, as does the Pentagon, and Boeing and Raytheon, it’s all about money, so they have to make up a threat, aided by their media brethren.

    Undoubtedly have merit, there is a lot of that going on. But this is about a lot more than mere MIC enrichment.

    Climate change and resource depletion are going to hit really hard in the coming decades. And the one place that will still have a lot of resources while being affected the least by climate change agriculturally (it might even benefit) will be Russia.

    It has always been the objective of the West to place Russian resources under its control, which was blocked first by the Tsars, then by the Bolsheviks. But now with climate change added it becomes doubly urgent, and the land itself may well be wanted too.

    Best way to do it is to break up the country and then rule the pieces much more easily. It will help with subsequently going after China too.

    Thus encouraging Ukraine nationalism (this is really an internal Russian civil war if you look at it from a certain perspective), which will then sow the seeds of destruction of Russia itself too.

    The military encirclement is also part of that — the strategic depth that saved the day in 1812 and 1941 would be reduced by some 1,500 km if Ukraine was to be a NATO base. And yeah, there are nukes now, so the argument is often made that it doesn’t really matter, but it actually does — everyone loses in a nuclear war, but strategic depth still matters for a conventional conflict, which can have a winner. So reducing strategic depth, and in the most strategically important for the Russians region too, means a war will have to go nuclear. Which, again, everyone then loses. Including the Russians.

    1. RobertC

      GM — Best way to do it is to break up the country and then rule the pieces much more easily. It will help with subsequently going after China too.

      Yep RobertC March 20, 2022 at 12:01 pm

      GM — Climate change and resource depletion are going to hit really hard in the coming decades. And the one place that will still have a lot of resources while being affected the least by climate change agriculturally (it might even benefit) will be Russia.

      Yep RobertC March 6, 2022 at 7:29 pm

      Except Russia may be facing significant infrastructure rebuilding due to the loss of the permafrost foundation base.

  10. David in Santa Cruz

    So insightful. I just re-read the comments from April 2021 — I didn’t leave one at the time because there was nothing to add to the discussion.

    It is horrifying that most of the neocons running U.S. policy are strivers descended from emigrés who seem to want to resolve their “daddy issues” by relitigating the 20th century wars discussed at the grown-up table on holidays. In the intellectual vacuum of Foggy Bottom and Langley, this clique quite evidently believed that sowing chaos in the former Soviet Union would make “the Russians” weak, without having a grasp beyond overheard rants from grandpa of how Stalinism, Nazism, the Khmer Rouge, or ISIS/Daesh arose from such chaos.

    What is clear: these idiots thought they could bluff the Russian government out of intervening in a region where many of its leaders had been born and raised, and where “Ukrainian” shelling had killed 14,000 people since 2014 — in order for the U.S. Military-Industrial Complex to sell weapons, oil, and gas.

    Foreign Secretary Lavrov is quite correct: in a conventional war between nuclear powers (make no mistake: this is such a war), the risk of nuclear retaliation if one side gets the upper hand is chillingly real. Thanks for the re-post.

    1. veronius

      Scott Ritter has mentioned how in the old Cold War days the US State Dept. had bona fide “Russia hands” who actually knew and understood the USSR and Russian history, and could look at things from the Russian point of view when they needed to understand and anticipate their adversary. Whereas today all those people are gone and a thoroughgoing hatred of Russia and Putin is all you need to qualify as an expert.

      1. veronius

        In the current intellectual monoculture, trying to understand Russia’s point of view – or merely suggesting that making the effort to do so is worthwhile – gets you cancelled and denounced as being pro-Putin. Suggesting that there may be understandable reasons for what Russia has done instead of defaulting to the line that “there’s nothing to understand – Putin is just an irrational, bad man,” is a career- and friend-limiting move. What we have here is an orchestrated mass hysteria event, where we’re all expected to lose our minds on command.

      2. David in Santa Cruz

        German F-M Annalena Baerbock was also part of the problem. After her understated income, inflated resumé, and plagiarism cratered Green Party support from 28% to 14.8% in the recent election, she laid claim to a Foreign Ministry that she was unqualified and unprepared to lead. The Russians and the French probably did think that there would be a European negotiated solution, but Baerbock seems to have been more interested in “feminist” posturing against Lavrov and failed to grasp the seriousness of the situation. She appears to know nothing of either history or diplomacy.

        As it became evident that the “Ukrainians” were going to take advantage of Blinken and Baerbock’s rigid refusal to engage in the diplomacy that Putin and Macron were attempting and were about to liquidate the DPR, the Russians only choice was whether to take up defensive positions in Donbass or to go all-in on destroying the “Ukrainian” army. Since maximum sanctions would be imposed in either event, they appear to have chosen the latter course.

  11. WOP

    Hard not to chuckle at the paras describing how Russian missiles ‘are far superior to what anybody else possesses’.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Violation of our overarching comments rule:

      You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.

      -Harlan Ellison

      Compounded by unwarranted smugness.

    2. GM

      Currently in service:

      Being deployed now:

      But presumably there are a few already made and a single one of these can sterilize the whole of the UK; as, very ominously, publicly discussed on mainstream TV in Russia yesterday:

      There is no Western equivalent to any of these and there will not be until the end of the decade the earliest.

      In development:

      Which will be a game changer too. And not even purely because of its military implications — if they have been able to work the propulsion in this context, this will revolutionize all sorts of nuclear power applications in other areas.

      BTW, China and India seem to be well ahead of the US in hypersonic missiles and HGVs too.

      This is what neoliberalism does.

      The Russians had a really rough decade in the 1990s but then seem to have pulled it together. Although it remains to be seen how their R&D will do in the future — most of the fancy doomsday weaponry that gives them a major advantage right now actually seems to be resurrected late-Soviet projects (so much for the USSR having collapsed due to being technologically backward), The foundation of the advances of the 2040s and 2050s (if there is still anyone alive then) will have to be modern Russia, which is not the USSR. We will see, there are both reasons to be skeptical and optimistic about that. The Avangard development was still headed by this guy:

      Who is 89 now. Whether have have people in their 30s and 40s on the same level taking over we don’t know.

      The US on the other hand should have no problem attracting top talent, but it voluntarily killed its own space program (because it had a trillion a year for Pentagon grifters but somehow did not have a measly ten-twenty billion a year to directly support R&D) then handed it to the “private sector”. And these are the results — it fell behind dramatically and mow it has to plat catch up. Let nobody fool you into believing that the fact that for a decade the US had to rely on the Russians to get stuff and astronauts in space and the fact that the US fell behind on advanced missile tech are completely unelated to each other.

  12. Anthony G Stegman

    If either side feels that they are losing badly the nukes will fly. All this talk about who has the advantage in weaponry, tactics, etc…is largely irrelevant in the nuclear age. The US and NATO know full well that they cannot engage directly with Russia militarily. The proxy war exists for that purpose. The US and NATO are pinning their hopes on grinding down Russia to the point it will withdraw from Ukraine and lick its wounds. The game they are playing is very dangerous, but arrogance often overcomes wisdom. Bullies will always be bullies, at least up until their jaws are broken. Great Britain entered WWII with an empire, and exited without one. The US has an empire now, but for how much longer?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The US is not grinding down Russia. It’s if anything the reverse: Russia is depleting limited and dated weapons supplies that might have done (forgive me for sounding prejudiced, but this is how these guys think) for insurgent war with towelheads, but not a lean and mean land power that has been anticipating this war since 2015, when Minsk failed. See Oliver Stone’s Putin Interviews. Putin then talked about this sort of war as a worst case outcome, but Russians generally and Putin in particular plan for possibilities like this. And the odds of that war only kept going up, and one assumes along with it, Russian preparedness.

  13. veronius

    I’m intrigued by the mention of what Russia has done up to this point to take in refugees from Ukraine, I’m assuming from 2014-15 when the post-coup Ukraine regime codified anti-Russian discrimination into policy. Anyone know of some good sources on this?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Please use a search engine. I’ve done it tons of times. It’s easily found. I’m not enabling reader failure to do the basics.

      Russia took about 1 million refugees from Donbas and Belarus around half that.

  14. MichaelSF

    I think one of the recent Sitreps at The Saker by Nightvision gave some numbers indicating that the SMO is using 10-15% of the Russian military personnel and armaments. The author seems to have contacts in the RU military as well as first-hand experience so the argument/numbers sounded reasonable to me.

    If that is indeed the case it appears they are in a far better state of preparation than the USA bloc, especially when I see comments that Germany and the UK might be able to field 10K battle ready troops each. Russia also seems to be in a better place for resupply, with factories focused on churning out replacement munitions instead of fattening the portfolios of the 1%.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      And comparatively very short supply lines. It took us 9 months lead time to land in Iraq. Hospital ships being repositioned then was the tell.

  15. VietnamVet

    Despite the full-bore propaganda from all sides, facts remain facts, and the problem remains human emotions, experience, education, and need for things like a living salary conflict with one’s seeing the truth.

    The West provoked the Kremlin. Why? — To instigate a regime-change favorable to western corporations. Russia has yet to deplete its energy and mineral resources that are needed in the West. Conflict is inevitable.

    How? Outsiders exploit the ancient ethnic hatred between Russians and Ukrainians exacerbated when the Soviets after the collapse of the Austria-Hungarian Empire seized most of Ukraine in the 1917-1922 Russian Civil War and the rest including the city of Lviv with the partition of Poland in 1939. By not implementing the Minsk II agreements to end the civil war on Russia’s border, after eight years, the Kremlin snapped.

    Japan and the EU are energy importers. The Western Empire appears not to have Plan B only regime change. Just as there is no Plan B for the Coronavirus Pandemic. The West is in dire straits if Russia partitions Ukraine, and if the Kremlin Beijing Alliance becomes the global powerhouse. The EU and Japan face hyperinflation and food shortages. Nation-wide freezes are coming next winter in Europe like the Texas Freeze in 2021 when a total of 6,484 persons died during the seven-day period.

    The current war is just like WWI. Currently here is no effective Close Air Support due to anti-aircraft missiles and reluctance to use air power. The Russian Tank Army may not be able to break through the entrenched Ukrainian positions. But, if they do, and Russia advances on Poland, the only way to stop them is with tactical nuclear weapons. On the other hand, if indeed, the neo-liberal rot has broken the Russian Army (the war already has gone on months longer than planned), the Kremlin will use tactical nuclear weapons to avoid a defeat by Ukraine and the loss of Crimea.

    Only peace now, can avoid a nuclear holocaust.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Please start listening to Alexander Mercouris on YouTube. He broadcasts pretty much daily and sanity checks Western and Russian accounts (he’s fluent enough in Russian to read and listen to Russian source material). Russia does not need to “break through” Ukraine positions. They are encircled and have no where to go. The outcome is inevitable.

      The entire country is out of gas. We linked to a UKRAINE business site over two weeks ago that said 2/3 of gas stations had shut. Now consumers are being told not to fill up their tanks to save gas for the war. The men in Donbass can’t be resupplied and are rationing ammo. This is why Russia is going slowly. Longer time = more surrenders, which saves Ukraine and Russian lives. There are tons of videos of Ukraine surrenders and dead bodies where the Russians have shelled.

  16. The Rev Kev

    Been researching the Crimean war from the 1850s lately as part of family history research and just stumbled on the following-

    ‘The veteran former Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston became prime minister. Palmerston took a hard line and wanted to expand the war, foment unrest inside the Russian Empire and reduce the Russian threat to Europe permanently. Sweden–Norway and Prussia were willing to join Britain and France, and Russia was isolated.’

    Somehow this really sounds familiar. As if I have heard it before.

    1. Polar Socialist

      Ever since Peter the Great (or so) it’s been the nightmare scenario of the Albion that Russia would ally with any or all of the continental powers. A global powerhouse from Brest to Vladivostok would surely spell the end of the anglo-saxon world dominance.

      Of course, with the minor exception of needing Russia to save the anglo-saxon world dominance from Napoleon or Hitler.

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