Russian Partial Mobilization: And Then There Were None

Yves here. John Helmer provides commentary from Russian military experts on the partial mobilization.  It appears that Russian conventional wisdom is that something like this was overdue.

By John Helmer who has been the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to have directed his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. Originally published at Dances with Bears

Agatha Christie’s whodunit entitled And Then There Were None – the concluding words of the    children’s counting rhyme — is reputed to be the world’s best-selling mystery story.

There’s no mystery now about the war of Europe and North America against Russia; it is the continuation of Germany’s war of 1939-45 and the war aims of the General Staff in Washington since 1943. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (left) and President Vladimir Putin (right) both said it plainly enough this week.

There is also no mystery in the decision-making in Moscow of the President and the Defense Minister, the General Staff, and the others; it is the continuation of the Stavka of 1941-45.

Just because there is no mystery about this, it doesn’t follow that it should be reported publicly, debated in the State Duma, speculated and advertised by bloggers, podcasters, and twitterers.  In war what should not be said cannot be said. When the war ends, then there will be none.

Counting down is what must be done in the meantime to distinguish between the phony war and the world war, between the propaganda and the truth of the matter.

Watch and listen to Shoigu’s interview, sub-titled in English and broadcast on national television on Wednesday.

Click to watch Putin’s speech broadcast the same morning.   Read the Kremlin translation into English by clicking.

Putin was replying to earlier nuclear weapons threats by British Prime Minister Elizabeth Truss in February and August of this year; and to German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock last December and again in May of this year.

Here are translations into English from published assessments this week by Yevgeny Krutikov, a former GRU officer and strategy analyst in Vzglyad; and Yury Podolyaka, a Sevastopol military analyst in Tsargrad.  Their texts are reproduced here without editing or comment. Captioned illustrations and references have been added.

Left: Yevgeny Krutikov; follow his reporting here.   Right, the cover design of the British edition of Agatha Christie’s story, November 1939.  “I wrote the book after a tremendous amount of planning.” Christie said later. “It was clear, straightforward, baffling, and yet had a perfectly reasonable explanation; in fact, it had to have an epilogue in order to explain it…. it is a better piece of craftsmanship than anything else I have written.”

The partial mobilization will change the essence of the entire Special Military Operation

By Evgeny Krutikov

“What tasks will be assigned to those hundreds of thousands of new servicemen who will be mobilized to conduct a special military operation in Ukraine? There are several of these tasks; some of them are of fundamental importance. The force replenishment should change the very nature of the ongoing military operations in Ukraine.

In connection with the partial mobilization, first of all, one can find statements that its main task is to establish reliable control over the territories already liberated in Ukraine by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. Roughly speaking, this is a front-line echelon.

This implies a transition to defensive actions in the Nikolaev-Krivoy Rog and Zaporozhye  directions and in the general Kharkov vector.  To be sure, that  is somewhat at odds with the plan  of referendums in the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, since they imply the entry into the Russian Federation of the entire ‘designated’ territory of the regions in the geopolitical form in which they are drawn on the maps of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Earlier, the same story happened with the DPR [Donetsk People’s Republic] and the LPR [Lugansk People’s Republic], which were recognized as states exactly within the old borders.

But right now it is very necessary to saturate the front with personnel. According to rough calculations, speaking purely quantitatively, the Russian Armed Forces and the [DPR and LPR] allies are lagging behind the standards accepted in military science — that is, the number of soldiers per kilometre of the front — by about four times.

Moreover, there is even more lagging in a number of areas, since in those zones where offensive actions are being conducted, the concentration of troops and means should be greater. Operational reserves are being pulled back there, and so in turn other sections of the front, where there has been a long operational lull, are weakening. At the operational staff level, something like the Japanese game of Go is starting;  in this strategy game,  one of the forms of offence is to numerically crush the enemy’s line by transferring all the stones there and surrounding him.

Google’s artificial intelligence programme  has been winning its Go games against the Korean and Chinese Go champions.  During the Vietnam War the Pentagon employed Scott Boorman, a Harvard student,  to write an analysis of Vietcong and North Vietnamese Army strategy in terms of the Go board.   Boorman won a Harvard prize for that;  the US Army lost the war.

The enemy has long switched to the principles of total war and does not take into account its  losses and the number of mobilized. The Ukrainian side has an almost limitless (for this theatre) mobilization resource, since they have no restrictions on conscription. The mobilization in Ukraine is total —  the VSU [Ukrainian Armed Forces] is already taking the elderly, the seriously ill, even the disabled. In such conditions, the enemy can form what he calls operational reserves and throw manpower at the front line in endless attempts at counter-offensives.

This was one of the worst tactics of the wars of the mid-twentieth century, but the enemy is now using it, which means that it is necessary to react to it. Consequently, a significant part of the mobilized Russians should simply fill the front line with themselves, thereby eliminating the potentially dangerous numerical advantage of the VSU.

In the southern sector of the front, the front line goes straight across the steppe. There are far  fewer settled points where you can be positioned than in the industrial and densely populated Donbass, where any settlement easily turns into a fortress. And now it is very difficult to create a full-fledged line of cover in this direction quantitatively. We have to take our positions in every locality in the same way as we have in the Donbass.

On the other hand, it is in the Donbass that we have to face the multi-layered defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine; for cutting through that,  the available [Russian] forces are also insufficient. The standards for the number of personnel required during the offensive and defensive operations were not invented at the top; they have been written in blood on the battlefield.

Earlier, some experts have talked about the possibility of forming an entire army corps in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation from scratch. However, it is not customary to deploy and disperse  the forces of such a large military formation. Therefore, this corps could only be used in concentration in one place. In other words, the new army corps was supposed to prepare for a major offensive operation, and not on the Donetsk sector of the front. Now is not the time to guess where exactly this could happen. The concept has changed, and most likely, it makes no sense to form any new large military units from scratch from the newly mobilized ones.

On the other hand, it is already clear that before being sent to the front, all the mobilized troops will undergo retraining. Since it is assumed that these are already experienced and pre-trained people, this will not take much time. The preparatory time will be spent on combat coordination. That is, ready-made crews (tanks, infantry fighting vehicles), calculations (artillery, MLRS [multiple-launch rocket systems], air defense) and vanguard units [разведчиков, literally ‘scouts’] will be deployed to the zone of the Special Military Operation. And such elements can easily be integrated into the already operational units, and thus they can be ‘sprayed’ all over the front.  Especially where reinforcement is required in connection with the tasks set.

Specifically, the tasks assigned to the grouping will determine where and by what forces such reinforcement will be carried out. A group of about half a million people with modern weapons cannot stand still. Almost certainly, we should expect offensive activity from the Russian Armed Forces — much more intensively than has been seen in the past few months.

Consequently, another part of the mobilized forces, after training in combat coordination, should strengthen those units which will be included primarily in offensive groups. Such an increase in their numbers will pass unnoticed by the enemy, since there will be no change of units on the front line. The units will simply have new battalion groups. Such increase in numbers is almost impossible to determine visually and even electronically.

It is difficult to foresee which directions will be reinforced by the new territorial line of cover, and which ones will be prepared for the attack operations. Of course, there are obvious points — the steppe sections of the front must be strengthened unambiguously, as well as the areas of the north of the LPR and the Ugledar direction in the DPR). At the same time, no one has canceled the opportunity to continue the southern offensive on Nikolaev and Odessa, or north to Krivoy Rog. map based on the daily Russian Defence Ministry operations bulletin.  For identification and enlargement of locations and reports, click on the link and scroll magnifier across the map.

There is another nuance, however. Given the tactics of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, it is vital to ‘turn off’ all long-range artillery systems and MLRS supplied to the Ukraine by the West, as well as all Ukrainian tactical air defense. These weapons are hitting civilian targets. This entire  orchestra should be silenced. And for such counter-battery warfare, experienced gunners, drone operators, and special forces [разведчики] are required.

And, finally, another group of mobilized reservists may represent a possible logistical component. We are not talking about pure logistical [transport, supply] elements, but about new units which can carry out garrison service in the liberated territories. They should combine both police and security functions, and represent the same operational reserve of light infantry, which is usually missing just when it is needed.

This layering is, of course, provisional, since mobilization teams are to be formed for specific and designated targets.  The objective is to saturate the front not just with a cover for territory  but also to turn the grouping involved in its own kind of shock force – this is fundamental to the plan in which the share of the ‘specialists’ will increase significantly, if not exceed the number of ‘simple’ infantry. And this will change the very nature of the military operations.

First of all, the Russian Armed Forces will no longer be diverted by provisionally ‘weak’ – that is, less than quantitatively secured sections of the front. In addition, it will be possible to forget about the constant plugging of holes by transferring forces from one location to another. An operational reserve is about to materialize.

The planning of offensive operations will become regular, and several offensives can be carried out simultaneously on different sections of the front. And, finally, with the help of fresh reinforcements, the consequences of the use of western weapons, which in the last month began to prevail in the composition of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, can be stopped.”

Left, Yury Podolyaka; right, the cover of Christie’s novel. Podolyak was born in Sumy, Ukraine; he moved to Sevastopol after the Kiev putsch in 2014. In 2019, he created a Youtube channel specializing in political and military topics; by March of this year his subscription audience had reached 2.7 million.  For more, click to read.  


Mobilization in Russia is the first step, then the great purge
September 22, 2022
By Yury Podolyaka

“Yury Podolyaka gave his forecast of the special operation in the light of the beginning of mobilization in Russia. He is certain that big changes are waiting for us, and they are connected, among other things, with a large internal purge of the political elite.

Everyone has been waiting for Vladimir Putin’s address for a long time. Many have held their breath. And so we heard the words of the President, who supported the decision of the citizens of the republics of Donbass and the liberated territories of Ukraine to return to Russia. And this means that Ukrainian aggression is now directed, not only against the republics of Donbass, but against Russia and Russians. And the Russian Army must go into battle.

This is the reason for the partial mobilization announced in the country. Under the banners, they will gather not inexperienced boys, but those who have already served and have military specializations. There is another feature —  many of the restrictions imposed by the Special Military Operation will likely be lifted. And we will finally see how real blows will be delivered to the notorious ‘decision centers’ [Kiev, Lvov].

Question (Yury Pronko): How will the situation develop now, in your opinion?

Yury Podolyaka: As expected, partial mobilization was announced in Russia – there is no point in a general mobilization — such an army needs to be maintained, and now Russia is not physically capable of arming everyone. Thus, partial mobilization is somewhat different. New military units will be created. Here we can recall the recent decree of Vladimir Putin on increasing the size of the Russian Armed Forces from January 1, 2023.

Question: How would this happen?

YP: In accordance with the plans for the deployment of troops and replenishment of personnel, several hundred thousand conscripts will be called up for certain military registration specialties.  Unit elements must be formed,  not from just anyone, as they do in Kiev,  but from specific technical experts who are part of the regular structure of a particular unit. Naturally, it is impossible to quickly recruit the required number of these people from volunteers. Therefore, a decision was made in favour of  partial military mobilization and, accordingly, of the mobilization of industry.

Question:  Do you concede  that not only in the territory of the border regions of Russia – that’s to say, the Kursk, Belgorod, Voronezh, Rostov regions, and Crimea —  but martial law may be declared throughout the country?

YP: Very had to believe, but I cannot rule out this possibility. This is because, in my opinion, the question of creating the State Defense Committee is already overdue and even overready. We now live under the laws of peacetime. Accordingly, we can influence certain structures, including state power and elected power, only through the laws of peacetime. Holding referendums raises the stakes and already implies a war to the bitter end, because neither Kiev nor the West will agree to the outcomes of the referendums. Therefore, everything will depend on the military, there will be no negotiations. The essence of the special operation must change – this is inevitable.

Question: Does this mean that the Special Military Operation itself will change in its essence?

YP: I really hope for it. I think it’s inevitable. Because it makes no sense to announce even partial mobilization within the framework of the Special Military Operation [SMO] – and this cannot solve the problem of a referendum. It is clear that the status of the SMO should be changed; this has been under discussion for a long time. If, nevertheless, martial law is declared on the territory of Russia, then we can expect the termination of the transit of natural gas through the territory of Ukraine and many other negative economic consequences. Right now I believe that strikes against the critical infrastructure of Ukraine should simply be unavoidable. And this will quickly put Kiev in an uncomfortable position. Military operations must now proceed differently.

Question: But do I understand correctly that there will be an escalation?

YP: Of course, this is the next stage of escalation, and at the highest level. The next stage is the direct and open declaration of war. Although the war has in fact already been under way. You can call this a special military operation as much as you like, but the essence of it will now change.

Question: Let me come at this from another direction. Even before the news about the decisions of the State Duma on amendments to the Criminal Code began to appear, even before the statements from the LPR, DPR, Kherson and Zaporozhye regions became known, President Erdogan made a statement in an interview with the host of the American TV channel PBS News Hour,  Judy Woodruff. The Turkish leader said that President Putin allegedly wants to end the conflict in Ukraine as soon as possible. At the same time, Erdogan refers to a meeting with Putin in Samarkand. Is this just political rhetoric?

For the PBS transcript of the interview, click on source.

YP:  Recep Tayyip Erdogan cannot speak on behalf of Vladimir Putin. He expresses his personal private point of view.

Question: That is the impression he had after the meeting?

YP: For God’s sake, let him do whatever he wants. Erdogan can only be responsible for Turkey and for his government.

Question: How do you think the situation will develop? You have already said that this is an escalation, that these are quite tough measures. I have a certain suspicion that Russian society for the most part is not ready for such a development of the situation. How to convey to people that this is important? That this is necessary — partial mobilization and the introduction of martial law?

YP: We woke up on February 24 in a completely different country. It’s just that people still try not to notice it. But this is to be expected, really. After all, both at the beginning of the First World War and at the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, people also did not fully understand the essence of the events that took place at the beginning. And even the leadership of the Soviet Union finally designated the Great Patriotic War as the Great Patriotic War only on August 10–11, 1941, and not on June 22 at all. It’s the same with us now.  The war is already underway, and we have had another country since February 24.  In gradual steps our society should mature to understanding. And yet we are not going anywhere else.  The country will be different. The world will be different. And we, accordingly, must win our place under the sun in the new world for our country. There are no other options. If we do not do this, then we will be in the dustbin of history.

Question: What will this mean from the practical point of view of our compatriots, ordinary Russians?

YP: In fact, for the ordinary person, nothing fundamentally will change, not yet. But the rules of the game in the country will change. That is, many things that could still be done – to criticize the special military operation, to criticize the army, to express, as some say, ‘their personal opinion’ about these events which harm Russian society — all this will gradually be curtailed. It is clear that you cannot conduct military operations when a powerful fifth column is fighting against you in the rear. This, first of all, the ordinary Russian will have to understand.

There is one more problem. Many officials are waiting for everything to come back to where it was in the expectation that the Russian army will lose in Ukraine. I feel and see it when I communicate with people. And I really hope that after Vladimir Putin’s address, all this will stay  in the past. Each official will be subject to completely different requirements. They will either have to support what is happening, or they will be removed from their places.

Question: So you are convinced that the behaviour and thinking of the so-called elite will change?

YP:  Not right away. But things will change very quickly. However, the mobilization will affect a very small number of people. It will be no more than a few hundred thousand people.

Question: I understand what the transition to the mobilization model of the economy means. However, I have very significant doubts, taking into account the structure of the domestic economy, taking into account those owners who control the assets. I am skeptical that this entire group will begin to change. What do you think the mobilization economy means?

YP: The mobilization economy can be different – ​​full, partial, and so on. I do not think that the same emphasis will be placed on this now as it was in the Soviet Union in 1941. That is, everything for victory, and nothing else for anything. However, the production of weapons will be increased; we will see some changes in priorities. We urgently need to make ourselves independent now, including in the information space, in the computer business. And if earlier we tried persuading the asset owners to do this, now we must compel them by state order.

Question: Why didn’t we switch to domestic software?

YP: Because, frankly, it was inferior and more expensive. But now I am waiting for solutions that will make it easier for us to make the transition to an independent economy.

Question: Do we have enough strength, do we have the resources, in your opinion? If you understand that backing the Kiev regime is the entire West. And here we are, how many of us are there? There are just so many of us, and no more than that.

YP: In point of fact, it’s not the whole West. The West shows that Kiev is just a tool for manipulation. But the West is not going to fight for Kiev to the end. That’s already obvious. Yes, the West is helping Kiev.  But, firstly, not everyone is helping, so the West is quite disunited. And not everything they do is as fine as some of our propagandists paint the picture.

Question: Where is the line after which we can say that we have won?

YP: The state of Ukraine should disappear from the map. That’s when it will be a victory. I think two-thirds of Ukraine should be ours. This is somewhere along a line to be drawn between Zaporozhye and Vinnitsa.

“The Medvedev Map” was posted by former Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, currently deputy head of the Security council, on July 30, 2022.

Question: When can this happen?

YP: I believe that hostilities will last the whole of 2023. Before then this war will not end. ”

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  1. Taurus

    The article starts with

    There’s no mystery now about the war of Europe and North America against Russia; it is the continuation of Germany’s war of 1939-45

    and ends with the map of Ukraine in which its former territory is divided by its neighbors.

    What happened in 1939?

    On September 29, 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union agree to divide control of occupied Poland roughly along the Bug River—the Germans taking everything west, the Soviets taking everything east.

    Perhaps the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was not what the author had in mind? The irony is palpable.

    1. YankeeFrank

      I find it funny how westerners paint the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact as some kind of shameful and cowardly event for the Soviets/Russia. As any large historical event, it had many currents flowing into it. The western states were not ready or willing, for whatever reasons, to pressure Germany from the west and the Soviets needed time in the east. They bought it with this pact. Russians see the west’s refusal to aid them against Germany at the time of the pact as proof of their hope that the Nazis would direct all against the east and take out those pesky commies (and leave the west alone). The shame of the pact was nothing short of realpolitik at work. And as it worked out the Nazis would have won handily if they hadn’t had to fight the Soviets, who paid far more in blood than the French or British did.

      And let’s forget ancient history for a moment and ask who the Nazis are now: they are in Ukraine, Poland, the Baltics, Germany, Britain and the USA. Neoliberalism is a somewhat different flavor of fascism but its deeply influenced by the brutal colonial and military mindset: there is no alternative indeed. I could go on about this last but do I really have to? We’ve all been here watching from a front row seat at NC for a decade or more now how “freedom” now works, and how dissent is being handled in the “democratic” west.

      1. Samuel Conner

        I think it was in the 2nd volume (“Nemesis”) of Ian Kershaw’s 2-volume biography of Hitler that I read that in Summer ’39 Russia was invited into the England/France/Poland alliance, but the Poles were unwilling to grant the Russians permission to send troops onto Polish territory to help repel the Germans. The Poles were concerned that the Rs might not leave; the Russians, for their part, were unwilling to wait, to begin defending themselves, until the Germans were at their Western border.

        The sensitivity to “enemies at the Western border” resonates a great deal with the 2014-present situation.

        1. Taurus

          Samuel –

          History looks different from the Polish perspective (see Katyn )

          Please keep in mind that this is all part of what the author refers to “Germany’s war of 1939-1945”.

          1. Kouros

            Katyn happened after the Poles said no. They might have been afraid given that they were holding some Belarusian lands there, after they defeated the Soviets in 1919…?

          2. OIFVet

            Poland, much like Ukraine, loves to play the eternal victim card. Never mind that it was only too happy to join Germany in the partition of Czechoslovakia in 1938 and to spurn Soviet overtures to form a defensive alliance against Germany. A position that the UK had more than a little hand in BTW, which convinced Stalin that the West was hoping that Germany would attack East. Well, Molotov-Ribbentrop served to keep Germany busy out West and thus bought the Soviets time and distance while showing what happens when a buffer Eastern European state does the West’s bidding. Funny how that history is repeating itself right now.

        2. DAve in Austin

          Yankee Frank and Conner sum up the 1939 situation. But I’ll add that both the USSR and France/Germany were slow to mobilize economically so 1938 Munich and 1939 German-Soviet agreement were designed to buy time. If the Germans had occupied all of Poland in 1939 the July 1941 offensive would have started 200-300 miles closer to Moscow and the German offensive would have gained Moscow and possibly all the land west of the Caspian Sea, with potentially. WWII was a close call.

        3. Keith Newman

          Here’s an explanation of the Nazi-Soviet pact, related by WInston Churchill in 1942 who asked Stalin directly why, in August 1939, he had come to that decision: “Some of the reasons” Stalin gave for his move resulted from his discussions with Britain and France regarding their military commitment to counter Germany:
          “…How many divisions” Stalin asked “will France send against Germany on mobilization?” The answer was “About a hundred.” He then asked : “How many will England send?” Te answer was “Two, and two more later” “Ah, two and two more later,” Stalin had repeated. “Do you know,” he asked, “how many divisions we shall have to put on the Russian front if we go to war with Germany?” There was a pause. “More than three hundred.”*
          Keith comment: Britain and France were the two main European countries that had military forces capable of opposing the Germans. In 1939 it is clear the British government had no intention of joining the fight against Germany. So Stalin made a deal with the Germans to buy the Soviets some time.

          *The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”, by William Sheerer, Fawcett Publications, 1962; p. 702.

          1. hk

            The West, who? The French and British, as I understand it, had somewhat different views–the French wanted the Russians in more than the British, but the Brits dragged their heels. But neither was really that enthusiastic.

            1. Cristobal

              The Spanish journalist, Manuel Chaves Nogales explains in his book, the Agony of France, that as the war started France was divided between pro and anti- fascist blocks. Much of the military was pro-fascist. They had no desire to fight the Germans.

    2. anon in so cal

      The Soviets tried to create a united anti-fascist front in Europe against Germany. Britain & France declined.

      Faced with isolation, and given that Poland (after partitioning Czechoslovakia) planned to invade and dismember Russia, SR agreed to sign a Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact.

      1. Keith Newman

        anon@ 12:11pm
        Yes, exactly. First Stalin went to Britain and France. After they turned him down, especially Britain, he made an non-aggression pact with the Germans. This is clear from Sheerer’s seminal book.
        There is also stuff about Poland not being interested in an anti-fascist alliance either but I have not looked at the book recently and don’t remember any details.

  2. ambrit

    If this is even close to the sentiment of the Russian public, we are in for a long war.
    Who says the “average” Russian cannot be a patriot for his or her own country? This is where I see the Globalist Agenda failing. There is no “popular” global ‘tribe.’ Neo-liberalism, by it’s own definition, is a Burkean struggle of “…all against all.” Nations and ethnicities in contrast are smaller and much more cohesive. One can ‘belong’ to a Country. Certain items define that; language, customs, physical appearance even. As of yet, I do not see any large scale tribal group consisting of “everyone who lives on the Earth.” How many people speak Esperanto? How many people put down on forms under “Place of birth”: Terra.
    Someone once wrote that people will generally fight for a flag, and what that flag stands for. No one, so far, has fought for a ‘Standard of Living.’
    As the debacle of the Indochina War should have taught the “leaders” of the West, the most important item in any arsenal is Will. The most advanced weapons are only good if the troops, and the polity they represent, want to win.
    If I were to venture a guess as to why the Russians began this war as they did, I would say that Putin and his advisors entertained the illusion that they were dealing with rational adversaries. Now they know better and are adjusting their strategy appropriately.
    What scares me is that the Western leadership cadres have demonstrated their adherence to an extreme ideology. Are they crazy enough to act on the delusion that an atomic war is winnable? From the warnings being broadcast by the Russian officials, Russia takes that threat seriously. Russia has given notice to the West that it is unilaterally resurrecting the Cold War doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD).
    The Gods help us all.

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘If this is even close to the sentiment of the Russian public, we are in for a long war.’

      About ten thousand Russians did not even bother waiting to be summoned but turned up at recruitment offices to join up in the fight. Maybe not such a long war anymore as those numbers mean that the Russians will be able to take the fight to the Ukrainians-

      As you pointed out, Russia thought that they could deal with rational adversaries at the beginning of the year but now they know that these people are beyond demented. In order to try to destroy Russia, they will willingly see their own countries impoverished to do so, even when all evidence shows that all the damage is on their own side. And it is not like Russia will ever, ever trust any negotiated peace with the west. The whole west has now become negotiation-incapable and can never be trusted to keep their agreements. Said before that Russia recognized that for them this war was existential. Looks like for the west it has become the same because if the west does not win, then the entire idea of the west is toast.

      1. ambrit

        Well, if the West does not win here, the concept of a Hegemonic West is toast. That is what bothers me. When one’s collective ego is bound up in a myth of exceptionalism, one will do anything, not only to protect that myth, but because you believe the myth.
        We’ve got our potassium iodide tablets close to hand.
        Now to search for my copy of Dean Ing’s “Pulling Through.” the second half of that tome is a pretty good survival manual for after an atomic war.

        1. Pat

          The thing that terrifies me is that the people who are making the decisions for the West are not just delusional about their position in regards to damage to their countries, they truly believe they will pay no cost for this. And so far nothing has proven them wrong in this. They aren’t tightening their belts or even giving up their steaks. Their homes and workplaces aren’t too hot or too cold. And their children have essentially the same future they had six months ago. And if, god forbid (*spits…*crosses herself…*knocks on wood) a nuclear weapon is deployed they believe they will be in a well stocked bunker. Hell Britain, one of the biggest 800 lb gorillas in this, are on the tax cut bandwagon so they will pay even less for their wanton destruction.

          The smartest thing TPTB ever did was to go to the all volunteer army. It was yet another way of separating the PMC from the classes below, they no longer had to worry about their kids. I might want the donor class to have been paying an automatic 50z off the gross tax of all income above 1million since we invaded Afghanistan and the nearest military age relative of elected officials and cabinet level officials to be conscripted into the infantry since Iraq because that would level some cost at their door. But with a looming draft all elected officials would face deep scrutiny of their bellicose foreign policy when the majority of the voters had to worry about low draft numbers for themselves or their children and grandchildren. How popular do you think Ukraine would be then?

          1. John Wright

            I remember how US “patriotism” seemed proportional to the draft number during the Vietnam war.

            If one had a high draft lottery number (greater than 200) it was MUCH easier to encourage lower draft number holders to enlist.

            Making USA citizens economically desperate so that they will feel the need to join the US military is a cynical practice.

            I suspect one will never see the avian breed “USA Chicken Hawk” on the endangered species list.

          2. Expat2Uruguay

            It strikes me how ironic the term “donor class” is. They donate nothing to the citizens of the United States. It is in fact the common people of the United States who are the donor class. Once again up Is down!

          3. drumlin woodchuckles

            The DoD itself and the Army itself (I don’t know about the Navy or Air Force) wanted an all volunteer army after enough years of fraggings and mutinies, from what I have read.

            I doubt the DoD or the Services would want a return to any kind of draft.

        2. JBird4049

          Honestly, I really do not care about a hegemonic West especially one of empire supported by the lives of the many for the benefit of the very few; it can go and just die. The United States itself only really started on the path of empire with the Spanish-American War of 1898 and it only started to blossom into the corpse flower that it is only after 1948.

          Meaning that the country did not have a permanent, large standing army for over a hundred and sixty years. Nor did it have a truly permanent national intelligence and security state until 1948 aside from the small ones of the army and the navy. Really, for most people, including the average American, the empire has been a poisoned chalice. Even if I was a conservative, I would only call winning the Cold War a very marginal victory as it let the worst people an opportunity to steal and destroy everything. Actually, parts of the Cold War were covers for economic pillage by both the West and the Soviet Union. (Just look at who had the heavy industries and who supplied the raw materials for them.)

          As for the Russian-Ukrainian War, all the talk about who is going to win is stupid. The Allies “won” the First World War and got the Second World War, which only really ended because Germany simply ran out of male bodies to burn through with the Soviets not that much better in manpower. I do not know who is going to have a Pyrrhic victory this time, but I wish them the best with that poison.

          And we can blame the Western powers for this as well.

    2. Altandmain

      If the Russians have the artillery and other manufacturing industries that can supply their munitions consumption, as the RUSI report suggests, it may not be nearly as long as you might think.

      This will be a big blow to the Western neoliberal and neoconservative ideology. That’s where the danger is right now, which is when the US senior leadership gets desperate to hold power no matter what. To give an example, Gonzola Lira seems to be concerned about the possible use of nuclear weapons by the Western (mis)leadership in such a scenario.

      1. Alan Roxdale

        This will be a big blow to the Western neoliberal and neoconservative ideology.

        Not in the slightest. Even if Ukraine is mulched by Russia over the next few years, and a puppet regime installed over what remains, fro the point of view of US hegemony it will be a long term victory. Europe will once again be beholden to the US from a security standpoint. Ukraine’s destruction re-awakens the old spectre of Red/Russian terror that the neocons have longed for their entire careers.

        The snag in this plan is whether the US has the industrial capacity to even be seen to guarantee that security. This is the real weakness for neoliberals, who can only use crises for looting, not for true reconstruction. The danger for them is a rejection of neoliberalism as an ideology capable of supporting security. I fully expect them to ignore this outright until jumping ship becomes unavoidable. And jump ship they will.

        1. Jams O'Donnell

          The US is a country where nearly one in 10 adults have medical debts and a broken bone can boot you into bankruptcy. A country where a city of more than 160,000 residents recently had no safe drinking water for weeks. A country where life expectancy has dropped for the second year in a row and poor people sell their blood plasma in order to make ends meet. A country where the maternal mortality rate of black women in the capital is nearly twice as high as for women in Syria. Yet this is supposedly one of the richest countries in the world!

          The UN recently demoted the US to 41st, down from 32nd, in a global ranking based on its sustainable development goals. This index is focused on the quality of life of ordinary people rather than the creation of wealth. And, on this measure, the US comes just behind Cuba and just above Bulgaria. The US is “becoming a ‘developing country’,” one MIT economist said last week, based on this index. An example: in Chicago, a lack of funding at the city, state, and federal levels means that toxically high levels of lead in the water supply will not be dealt with.

          On an A to F grading scale, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the U.S.’ infrastructure condition a dreadful D+ and described investment in it’s improvement as “woefully inadequate.” 

          Here’s a breakdown of ASCE’s rating:
          Levees: D
          Roads: D
          Inland Waterways: D
          Dams: D
          Aviation: D
          Bridges: C+
          Drinking Water: D+ 
          Energy: D+
          Hazardous Waste Management: D+
          Transit: D-
          Rail: B
          Port: C+

          The only thing the US manufactures now is arms, and they are designed not for use, but for optimum profit. Hence the next to useless F-35, the F-22 which can only operate for one day per week and is now being scrapped, the ‘Littoral Combat’ ships which are literally falling apart, and the new carrier which has unending problems.

          1. Telee

            I might add that over 1/2 year ago it was reported that baby food had very high levels of toxic mercury, arsenic, lead and cadmium. One would think that they would be taken off the market but just a few weeks ago it was reported that nothing has changed except the government will have a study and report in so many years. Again profit is more important than lives.

    3. timbers

      “If this is even close to the sentiment of the Russian public, we are in for a long war.”

      Only if Russia holds back and makes it be long – such as she has been doing up until now, with self imposed constraints of the SMO.

      The above article makes clear Russia knows it will have to provide the resources to protect her newly acquired area. That should be a given in all possible outcomes (even the negotiated settlement Putin sought w/Ukraine and Zelensky was forced to reverse course on) for one simple reason: The West will never, ever back down. Negotiated settlement, or not.

      Once her new territory is protected in Ukraine, Russia can end the immediate conflict swiftly if she wants: target decision making centers and infrastructure supplies to the frontlines (this can be targeted it does not have to be nation wide and immiserate civilians unduly but some will definitely be affected) in response to any attack by Ukraine on her people and territory. If necessary, take additional territories to provide natural geographical borders of safety like the river just beyond Lugansk official territorial line, that actually flows in the Kharkiv Oblast. I’m sure the Russians know these sort of tactics they have lots of practice. The purpose being not to hold part of Kharkiv territory but only to protect Lugansk

      But Russia will always have to expend to protect herself, just as she has been doing since Yeltsin was replaced.

    4. Exiled_in_Boston

      ‘…the most important item in any arsenal is Will..,’
      Sounds vaguely like the French Army of 1914 and Triumph of the Will 1934

      1. ambrit

        Ah ha! The counter example. You forgot the Emperor Mao’s “Little Red Book” and the numerous iterations of “Holy Scripture” down the ages.
        I considered typing in “Political Will” when I wrote that line, but decided not to include the ‘Political’ part because we are dealing with a close to purely military phenomenon in this case. Troops who refuse to fight end up being more of a problem when enforcing their ‘participation’ in the hostilities is policy than just letting them fall back to the rear echelons and do logistics. (Real soldiers correct me if I err.)
        The old saying; “What if they gave a war and nobody came?” is easily falsified. Why? Because someone will always ‘come’ to the Party. The question becomes, will enough warm bodies answer the call? That is where Will comes in. Either a nation wants to fight or it does not. Then we move on to the Political aspects of international conflict. but I can see by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists clock on the wall that it is time to go.

  3. Old Sovietologist

    So since the Maidan coup Ukraine has lost Crimea and part of the Donbass,

    Now its about to lose the entire Donbass, Kherson and Zaporozhye regions. The country is ruins and winter will see a total collapse.

    The Yanukovych era looks like a golden age for the modern Ukrainian State.

    1. Exiled_in_Boston

      And since Russia started its SMO, numerous European nations that were traditionally neutral have begun reevaluating their position. That is not a positive outcome for Russia.

      1. OnceWereVirologist

        If a “neutrality” that existed when there was no active conflict between NATO and Russia is abandoned essentially immediately based on the desires of the US then that “neutrality” never really existed in any practical sense and never had any real practical benefit for Russia.

        1. Tempestteacup

          Agreed. This has been what Lambert calls a “clarifying moment” for the Russian political class. I have no doubt their expectations of European probity, independence, diplomatic nous, or sense of responsibility to their own citizens was never great. But even then, the by now incessant drivel produced by the flower of European bourgeois democracy must have been a bit of a shock.

          Not only are they facing a Western ruling class that has abandoned all restraint, all sense of diplomatic norms, historical perspective or responsibility for the future. They are confronting a Western ideological environment in which any and all divergence from rigid imperialist dogma is being purged, silenced or shut out.

          The dissonance is startling. The Western media gleefully reports anti war demonstrations in the Russian fascist autocracy while in the UK protesters are arrested for holding up signs questioning the monarchy and in Australia a mural artist is forced to wipe out a work depicting Russian and Ukrainian soldiers embracing as a symbol of peace because he is drawing a ‘false equivalence’ and ‘harming’ Ukrainians.

          I would add one thing to the many excellent comments already posted. Once again, at an absolutely critical moment, we see the desperate deficiency of what passes for the left in the Western world. It is now the overriding characteristic of those leaders still mind numbingly feted by groups like the DSA or pseudo left YouTube personalities – to shut their mouths and toe the line whenever the stakes are of any significance or they feel threatened with excommunication from the bourgeois state.

          In the US, has Bernie or AOC offered anything at all in opposition to the US headlong rush to escalate at every opportunity and to decimate Ukraine because they insanely believe they can eventually carve up Russia like a Thanksgiving turkey? Have they alerted their supporters or workers to the enormous risks being run and the conspiracies taking place entirely behind the backs of the electorate? Has Jeremy Corbyn with his Peace and Justice project made any effort at all to publicise the real origins of this conflict – or did he burst like a soap bubble the moment it became clear that the bourgeoisie was totally united in its war fever?

          Opposition and dissent aren’t effective or important when they are easy. They matter when it’s hard, when it is done in the teeth of the exact brand of hysteria and propaganda blitz currently deluging us. The performance of the Western left since Feb 24 tells us that we need a new left.

      2. Skip Intro

        It will be interesting to see which countries get regime-changed first. Democracy for thee, not for me!

      3. TimmyB

        If you are referring to NATO nations, those nations were never neutral. If you are referring to non-NATO nations in Europe, their position concerning Russia is irrelevant.

  4. Cristobal

    What concerns me is the position of turkey (the imbeded interview) and india. Both are surely under extreme pressure from uncle sugar. The US has a multitude of ‘offers you can’t refuse’. Hopefully they can.

    1. timbers

      Same here, but at least in India’s case I’ve grown less concerned now that India is making big $$$ rebranding Russian energy and selling it to the West. India will follow her profits, all along insisting that she is merely taking a principled stand of just being “neutral” and her culture of “not causing trouble” (have you chatted with Indians at work? They use that term “not cause trouble” a lot in their daily affairs).

      And as long as Putin has India neutral, (at this point China is forgone conclusion now that it has connected the long row of dots of similarities between Ukraine to Taiwan, thankyou very much Nancy Pelosi) Western sanctions are a mere annoyance to Russia and will bite the West 10x harder that it does Russia.

    2. SocalJimObjects

      Offers you can’t refuse like the Fed’s incessant interest rate increase? The Indian Rupee has lost 10% against the USD since the start of the year.

  5. David

    If Helmer is really correct that Putin and Shoigu think that the present struggle is a continuation of WW2, then we are in a much worse situation than I, or anyone else, I think, had imagined. Soviet paranoia during the Cold War where (as we know from published documents) the Kremlin believed that the Nazis were literally back in power in Germany, contributed to nearly pushing the world into a catastrophic war. We can really do without that again.

    That said, this is a struggle the West cannot win, and the Russians must know it. Russia has massive reserves, a large defence industrial complex and huge stocks of weapons and equipment. Th Ukrainians have limited stocks of all of these things, and are running out. The West for its part is running out of weapons and ammunition to send. Wars of attrition are inevitably won by those with the deepest pockets, and that’s the Russians. As I have pointed out many times, here and elsewhere, the West does not have the capability, even in principle, to do what the Russians have done: we no longer have the infrastructure, the technological base, the real estate or the human resources to do so.

    1. timbers

      “Soviet paranoia during the Cold War where (as we know from published documents) the Kremlin believed that the Nazis were literally back in power in Germany, contributed to nearly pushing the world into a catastrophic war. We can really do without that again.”

      That’s an interesting thought. But…can you really say that what Germany – and the collective West – is supporting right now in Ukraine is NOT basically Nazism, just rebranded and softened? The “filtering” we keep hearing about especially when Kharkov war reacquired by Ukraine?

      I don’t see signs of paranoia, just a bear slow to the fight finally being aroused enough to strike back hard to protect her cubs.

      1. David

        Different point, I think. Yes, there are openly Nazi groups in Ukraine and the Russians are understandably worried about them. But that’s a rather different issue. During the Cold war, the Soviet leadership believed that the Nazis were literally back in power in Germany, and that NATIO would attack them in a final, desperate attempt to wipe them out. There are historical reasons why such a belief was held so fervently, but that doesn’t mean it was any less dangerous.

        1. Cristobal

          I agree with the assement that the current ukraine crisis is a continuationn of WW II, especially for the Germans. Princess Ursela is a product of the German class that was most invested in that war, and probably felt the humiliating defeat most deeply. For them it is payback time – comments by Princess Ursela reminiscing about her grandfather in the war make that clear. As to the West German nazification, Victor Grossman, an American who has lived for 70 years in Germany (the first decades in the old GDR) makes it clear that the Nazis in the GDR fled to the weest and did very well. I am attaching a link, but if it doesn´t work (due to my ineptitude in posting it) the article can be found in the August 23 edition of Counterpunch (from time to time they publish something good). The article is very personal and subjective, but very revealing.

          1. YankeeFrank

            Grossman’s story is fascinating. I get his newsletter and read the piece you refer to recently. His portayal of East Germany and the Cold War era helped me realize how propagandized we in the US have been about that era.

            And yes, the Nazis are alive and well right now. Klaus Schwab telling us we’re all going to have brain implants and be constantly surveilled, nutty as it all is, gives you the temperature of these elites that control us quite well.

        2. Kouros

          Was it just paranoia or was in fact based in reality. Remember, NATO was established in 1949, just four years after WWII…?
          Germany joined NATO on 6 May 1955.
          Warsaw Pact founded on 14 May 1955.


          1. YankeeFrank

            I frame it like this: with FDR gone before the end of the war, the Dulles faction, for want of a better term, shifted into high gear and maneuvered around Truman quite well with Operation Paperclip and other Nazi infiltration into western power structures. Remember the Nazis had plenty of supporters in the US, and not just the low level Bund types but those who attempted the coup against FDR in the 30’s (see General Smedley Butler, unknown hero of American history, and Prescott Bush, one instigator of the coup) and Alan Dulles was their point man in Switzerland during the war. He had extensive connections to Germany industrial and other power bases during the war.

            It was this group that seeded the CIA and in less than 20 years after the end of WWII had routed the opposition to their neoliberal fascist agenda with the assassination of JFK (and then RFK, who would have exposed their plot against his brother and reversed the coup if he had been elected).

            And this brings us into the neoliberal era which for those who haven’t caught on yet, is deeply fascist in nature. Those who didn’t see it earlier, in its softer phases, are certainly seeing it now as the gloves come off. Some of us here at NC might even agree with parts of the project such as vaccine mandates. Or the surveilling, oppression and abuse of essential workers like truckers that is ongoing. Well, congrats for supporting neoliberal fascism.

            1. Expat2Uruguay

              And this brings us into the neoliberal era which for those who haven’t caught on yet, is deeply fascist in nature.

              This is exactly the light bulb that went off in my head when I read this article. I was stunned to read the list of countries composing the modern version of Nazi run states included the US and suddenly realized that it was true. The final embedded article really opened my eyes and scared this s*** out of me

            2. CoryP

              I don’t recall you commenting much on here but thanks so much for contributing. You’re perfectly expressing my view of the world much more eloquently than I ever could.

          2. Skip Intro

            I wonder if they felt targeted by Wernher von Braun (who aimed for the stars and hit London instead) continuously from the 40s to the 60s. Perhaps it was more the infiltration of European governments and military by ‘stay-behind’ nazis a la Operation Gladio.

        3. cfraenkel

          How was that Soviet belief much different than the endless western hysteria about how fast the Soviet tanks would roll up to the Atlantic any day now? Or the ‘bomber gap’? Or the ‘missile gap’? Or needing to station the Pershing missiles in Germany to ‘defend’ against the impending Soviet invasion? Or…. the list goes on and on.

        4. NotTimothyGeithner

          Hans Spiedel was head of NATO. Kurt Waldheim was the UN Secretary General. These were just public accomplices. The Nazis were really pure evil. Their backers were the same even if they wore slightly different outcomes. DeGalle and Stalin were right about what to do with these people.

        5. britzklieg

 Hitler’s Generals in the West German Army

          Hans Speidel, Kurt Waldheim

          …maybe they were just ex-Nazis

          of course, The Russians had a lot to worry about after WWII:

    2. The Rev Kev

      I don’t know how the Russians can get the impression that this is a continuation of WW2. Well, maybe when they saw those German-built & supplied heavy vehicles going into battle with them carrying the Balkenkreuz – the white cross – painted on the sides. Oh yeah, and all those Nazi insignia and Nazi salutes-

      1. YankeeFrank

        The over-developed ability of western elites to avert their gaze from the blaringly obvious is truly a sight to behold. I feel I’m living amongst antebellum French aristos or something.

    3. Ignacio

      My only problem is that one can never underestimate the ability of humans in serious trouble doing the most stupid actions. It comes with that we call intelligence. Yeah we may think the odds are minimal, and I do, but this might turn to be our latest underestimation of possibilities. The only thing that is not in short supply is bad luck.

    4. Carolinian

      If we concede that Russian leadership hasn’t always been rational then it was mutual paranoia, fed by the CIA and a ruling class in the West that saw any threat to the capitalist system as an existential threat. In the fifties the Pentagon and Curtis LeMay had actual plans to wipe out the Soviet Union with nuclear weapons before the Russians were strong enough to retaliate.

      So none of this is new. Biden just protested that he isn’t trying to restart the Cold War but that’s exactly what he is doing. Ultimately the source is the refusal of Western governments to reform themselves. They needed that Cold War to distract their publics from their many failures and ongoing corruption.

      However polls are showing that the general public is not on board and particularly if it means a threat to their lifestyle through shortages and higher prices.It’s really the West that has a limited time window which may be why Putin is dragging things out.

      1. spud

        benjamin studebaker was correct.

        Trump, for all his faults, poses no existential
        threat to the republic. dupes deeply underestimating the damage a
        Biden presidency will cause. The Republican Party has become what it
        is because of Democrats like Joe Biden. These Democrats are pushing
        the Republican Party further and further right, and a Biden presidency
        will make the Republican Party even more dangerous going forward. Let
        me show you how it works.

        When Americans vote for Republicans, they’re often voting against the
        consequences of the right wing policies of Democrats.”

        “Republicans WON’T Fund Ukraine War! Dem Senator Threatens
        85,313 views Sep 24, 2022 Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut is worried that if the GOP takes over either house of Congress in the midterm elections, that will spell the end for funding the war in Ukraine. Journalistic servants of empire Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent dutifully repeat Murphy’s words in the pages of the Washington Post, raising the alarm and fearmongering about the calamitous lack of war that might ensue if Republicans win an electoral victory.”

    5. anon in so cal

      A perspective:

      NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Almost in its entirety it was a Nazi enterprise. Nazi General Reinhard Gehlen, for example, who had headed the Russia Desk in the Oberkommando der Wermacht (OKW – Hitler’s Supreme Headquarters) and a consultant on the Final Solution, was secretly brought to the United States where he would deliver his vast storehouse of previously hidden files on the Soviet Union and then set up the Russia Desk for the soon-to-be-formed CIA. [6]

      Gehlen would then be returned to postwar Germany where he was put in position as head of Germany’s new Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the German Secret Intelligence Service. In essence, two Russia desks (at least) now functioned instead of just one; both with the same ultimate aim: destroy the Soviet Union and communism.

      Hundreds if not thousands of old Nazis found new life working for the US, Britain, and Canada as the Cold War was cranked up and now the mass murderers were brought into policy making for the same Lords of the Manor who had supported Hitler to begin with. And, with the same old Nazis back in charge, every foul means was employed against the Soviets to prevent any challenge of global capital’s right to dictate the terms of enslavement.

      West Germany, now being run by ex-Nazis under Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, joined NATO in 1954 and Gehlen liaised with his pro-Nazi mentor Allen Dulles who would become head of the CIA, with brother John Foster as Secretary of State. Soon NATO began appointing the old tried and true Nazis into high positions within the organization.


    6. kson onair

      >the Kremlin believed that the Nazis were literally back in power in Germany,
      What paranoia? That’s just a fact.

    7. Paul Damascene

      ‘The West … is running out of weapons and ammunition to send.’

      It is also running out of the energy required to make new weapons in a financialized economy that has been bled out of its (offshored) industrial capacity, and is weak in the areas of other critical strategic resources (titanium, enriched uranium, palladium, vanadium, noble gases, sapphire substrates, iron, aluminum, platinum) supplied in large part by Russia and by a Global South that is visibly, rapidly distancing itself from the West.

      Then there’s the financial and currency picture–and then we get to fertilizers and food…

  6. Oh

    The US and NATO have not thought things through. Even if they can make inroads into Russia (it does not appear that they can) how are they going to hold on to the captured territory? These neo-liberals think that they can loot Russia like the did in the Yeltsin years when things were in disarray and there was some romanticism about capitalism. Now that the Oligarchs have been reined in that is not gonna happen. People will fight any invasion by the neo-liberals who are driven by greed.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The Pentagon likely has. Capturing territory would require emptying out the 800 foreign bases and mobilization. We used close to 2000 fighters in 1991. The Russian airforce and air defense may not be equals, but… The Russian Fort Hood is next door to the theater. Th smo is like the US attacking the Baja Peninsula.

      I think the US Army Warrior propaganda has blinded many people in outfits like State to basic logistical concerns. The Madeline Albright line about what good the military is if it can’t do x is representative of a real and toxic attitude.

      1. Jams O'Donnell

        “The Russian airforce and air defense may not be equals,” This is US smugness and frankly, ignorance, talking.

        The Russian air defences are much more than equals. The S-300, S-400 and new S-500 are many times better than the US Patriot systems, as proved in Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Same goes for aeroplanes. The only weakness that Russia might have is total numbers, but not by a large margin.

    2. TimmyB

      The current war in Ukraine is the end result of a carefully thought out plan by the US government to install an anti-Russian government in Ukraine. This war is exactly what our government hoped for. They honestly believed this war would cause the Russian government/nation to collapse.


      1. Kouros

        “The choice that we faced in Ukraine — and I’m using the past tense there intentionally — was whether Russia exercised a veto over NATO involvement in Ukraine on the negotiating table or on the battlefield,” said George Beebe, a former director of Russia analysis at the CIA and special adviser on Russia to former Vice President Dick Cheney. “And we elected to make sure that the veto was exercised on the battlefield, hoping that either Putin would stay his hand or that the military operation would fail.”

  7. Lex

    The declaration of war idea has also been going around Russian telegram channels. I don’t see it, not without a serious escalation by the US on the level of major offensive into Russia itself (not the liberated oblasts), a nuclear strike or strategic bombing of Russian assets by US planes. Under the UN system, declarations of war prompt all sorts of international laws that would be incredibly damaging to both Russia and her alliances. It’s not going to happen, especially under Putin.

    More and more I can see a scenario where Russia takes the rest of Donetsk and offers a ceasefire to negotiate. Partly because it fits Putin’s style. But especially because it puts Kiev and the west in a significant bind. Zelensky has said he will not negotiate until all Ukrainian territory is returned. He’d be eaten alive by Ukrainian nationalists. His sponsors would be faced with the choice of forcing him to negotiate or showing the world they simply want more war. (We all know the answer, but it clarified that answer.)

    Even if there was a ceasefire, the chances of it holding are slim. That puts Russia in a position of not only trying to reach a peaceful resolution but also being attacked. The sanctions won’t be lifted so the economic war will continue, including the slow motion collapse of the Ukrainian state. There’s potential in this scenario for more southern and eastern Ukrainian oblasts to openly migrate towards Russia. The only real downside for Russia is in domestic politics because the right would howl.

    1. hk

      I don’t see Western leaders negotiating if Russia offers terms after taking all of Donbass, or Nikolaev, or Odessa, or Kiev, or Lwow. None of these are worth anything to them, but if they negotiate with presumption of concessions, they lose face.

      This is going to last a long time, at least until the Western leadership is replaced wholesale (or if there are Russian tanks rolling down the Champs d’Elysee.) A lot of bad things can happen until then–including most of Earth getting glassed.

    2. David

      I don’t see a declaration of war either, and indeed there’s no need. It could just as well be argued that any attack on the newly-assimilated territories by Ukraine is a de facto declaration of war.
      The problem with negotiations is that both sides need to have something that they want, and can’t get by military means, and something that they are prepared to give away. Neither Ukraine nor the West has anything that Russia wants (eg the end of sanctions) that won’t happen anyway. And the Russians have no incentive to give away anything. I continue to believe that the Russians will simply present us with a fait accompli, and that’s it.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Negotiations is a face saving term for surrender. Ukraine gets a beneficial grain export deal, gas transit fees, and to keep Odessa. This is what Moscow will pitch as Kiev grinds its own manpower into dust.. These aren’t parties walking away from a business deal. The Uke offensive was meant to capture Russian forces or surround them to be traded. The propaganda was sent out. It’s just Ukraine didn’t cut the Russians off and lost hideous amounts of men and material.

        The issue is what level of surrender. With the referendum, the terror shelling won’t be met with artillery suppression but real pain. My guess is the disparate prisoner exchange was meant to be a message that this outcome doesn’t need to happen. A few Azov guys might still bite it, but denazify was always a hard to nail down position.

        I remember a Julian Bond lecture breaking down an MLK speech. He drew our attention to the hidden message. It’s his way or the highway. What Putin isn’t saying is key.

        1. Skip Intro

          I don’t think Odessa is on the table anymore. With new districts added to the Russian federation, they will be supported by the full RF military, including conscripts. This was not previously in the SMO legal framework. That will put Nikolaev and Odessa very close to RF territory, and a hot threat, barring some DMZ type solution with UN peacekeepers. I think the prisoner exchange was a message to the Russian military and mobilized reservists that they would not be abandoned, possibly also to loyal apparatchiks like Medvedchuk.

    3. TimmyB

      Russia is not going to lose a land war in Europe, period. The US has no ability to escalate in a manner that would change that outcome. The US and its NATO vassals are high on their own supply if they believe otherwise.

      The reasons are many. Surface ships crossing the Atlantic will be sitting ducks, so we won’t be able to transport, supply and fuel an army in Europe large enough to beat Russia.

      Europe has little oil or gas and Russia can stop both from flowing to Europe by destroying the oil fields of any country selling fuel to Europe. Wanna beat NATO in a land war? Bomb Saudi Arabia. Better yet, use hypersonic missiles. Goodbye economy. Goodbye manufacturing. Goodbye fueling NATO tanks, planes, helicopters or other vehicles. Goodbye war fighting capability. All that talk about Russia being a gas station with an army is funny in a time when not having a gas station means you don’t have an army.

    4. Paul Damascene

      False flag use of a mini-nuke ascribed to Russia & Ukraine’s destruction of its own nuclear plants as a sort of ‘dirty bomb’ to permanently poison Russia’s territorial acquisitions will also have to be factored into the analysis.

    5. Anon

      Are we still having conversations about laws and the United Nations? Wake up. It is most obvious that the West is seeking a ‘final solution’, and has no gloves on.

  8. Bruno

    “And Then There Were None” is NOT the original title of Christie’s novel.
    That title, “Ten Little N……”, an ideal illustration of British Imperial culture, was later cancelled for obvious commercial reasons.
    It is, however, perfectly explicit in the cover illustration included in the article.

    1. Keith Newman

      @Bruno, 10:18
      Oh! And I had always thought the title was Ten Little Indians”, which would not be acceptable today either.

      1. ambrit

        Back when the book in question came out, the term “N——” also referred to India Indians. So, the switch to “Indians” in the title is almost an “in joke” for the time.

  9. Jack

    There will not be a declaration of war and the West will not do anything. This current situation reminds me of the first Gulf War. All my acquaintances were going on about how it was going to be a big war with lots of casualties on our side (US). I said no way. I explained to them that you have no idea about the firepower that a nation like the US can exert when the gloves are off. Turns out I was right. Same thing here applies. Russian has been fighting with two hands tied behind their back. Ukraine has nothing left to fight with and neither does NATO. Russia will unleash their firepower on Ukraine. Any troops in Ukraine, NATO or otherwise will be taken out. Satellites will be taken out. Shoigu explicitly said that Russia was at war with the collective West and he clearly mentioned the satellites. Ukraine, NATO, and the US has poked the bear one too many times. When all this comes down the US will abandon Europe and come up with an excuse or false flag that explains their inaction.

  10. HH

    Because the U.S. Neocons have gone unpunished for their blunders, they continue to act with impunity. That is the great danger. If they persuade Biden to escalate, they may get most of us killed. The notion of riding out a nuclear war is ridiculous. The quantity and power of modern warheads is such that nobody within 50 miles of a major city will survive. New York, for example, would be hit by multiple half-megaton warheads, each of which is 10 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. Then will come the nuclear winter, which will kill most of the survivors,

    1. Expat2Uruguay

      When I came to Uruguay 6 years ago the idea that there could be a nuclear Holocaust sounded beyond incredible. Today I am considering my chances far more seriously.

      How many bombs will come to South America? I imagine there could be some… But I am very far down the continent and Uruguay is always considered insignificant.

    2. Acacia

      Indeed. The Soviet “Dead Hand” system is still operational, and apparently the Russians have newer goodies like nuclear torpedoes that could raise tsunami to swamp the eastern US. It is impossible to “win” a nuclear conflict with them.

  11. David in Santa Cruz

    The analytical problem for the West is the failure to see the SMO as a Civl War that resulted from the disorderly break-up of the USSR in the “Ukrainian SSR” — an occupation zone cobbled together by Stalin and Khruschev’s “Dniepropetrovsk Mafia.” Most in the West who believe that there is such a thing as “Ukraine” have been paid by the post-Soviet oligarchs of Kiev and Lviv to think so (Paul Manafort and Hunter Biden come to mind here). Texas and California have more legitimate historical claims to independent statehood than the Ukrainian SSR ever did.

    In this way the current Russian leadership are correct in seeing this conflict as a “continuation of WW2” in the many parts of the western USSR that were depopulated occupation zones settled by Russians during 1945-55. They are also correct that many in the West were (and remain) unable to re-frame their anti-Bolshevism after the collapse of the Soviet Union and are “stuck” in the struggles of the previous century.

    The arming of “Ukraine” by the West and literally directing its military operations is an act of war against the Russian Federation — Full Stop. Putin and Shoigu have been the “moderates” until now. Medvedev is giving voice to those in Russia who don’t want to repeat the “appeasement” of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

    Like all Civil Wars in which the U.S. has meddled this can’t end well for anyone. Post-Soviet “Ukraine” needs to be sorted and pumping more missiles and bombs into the situation will only delay the inevitable and result in the deaths of tens of thousands of innocents.

  12. Socal Rhino

    I think this is one of those times when the near future is unknowable. And as much as many hope that the outcome will somehow be an improvement, well I don’t remember where this comes from but it seems appropriate: When two elephants fight, the grass is trampled.

  13. Revenant

    Since this is today’s Russian Studies seminar, here is a repost of my comment in links. I nearly passed over this article because the headline was shrieking Dr Strangelove but the pay-off was unexpected….

    Here is an interesting article from the Guardian, now that is all spooks and warmongers, with the catchy title “Yes, Putin might use nuclear weapons…”.

    However, beyond the title it gets interesting. “Western capitals should at least point out to Ukrainian leaders that their prospects of retaking all their territory may not be as bright as they hope. There is a very long way to go – their operation in Kharkiv was dramatic, but only bought them back a fraction of their territory. Whether it can be replicated for the remainder is uncertain. At a minimum, now is not the time to offer the Ukrainians advanced new weapons systems.
    “Putin has presented the world with impossible choices. Russia must emerge from this crisis chastened for its recklessness. But in the next few weeks, leaders need to find offramps to prevent the worst. This will take maximum flexibility and creativity from all sides.”

    Is this a trial balloon for peace, now that Russia is adopting a defensive posture with a clear retaliatory redline?

    1. Pat

      My cheap seat view is that whoever wrote that is saying that it wasn’t just Ukraine’s illusions that were busted with Kharkiv. That the supporting nations trained their troops, gave them weaponry and even discretely supplied people to direct operations and it bought them a victory at a cost that made it clear if Russia stopped playing nice, which anyone with real data knew they were, the Ukraine could never win without NATO, the US and The UK taking over the actual fighting and escalating this. Ukraine lost too many men and too many arms to be able to keep things up for any length of time any other way. And with Russia’s announcement the proxy war is lost. Find the best off-ramp you can.

      But that is what scares so many of us. The people making the decisions appear not just to be agreement incapable but unable to face unpleasant realities, and so will try everything to extend this and might even fool themselves that they really can go to war with Russia directly. They might not look for an off-ramp.

      1. Abi

        I was watching some YouTuber’s comment on the war last night and the only thing I could think of was who sponsored all of the European parliamentary elections. So bizarre how not one European is thinking about themselves, what is this allegiance to an ideology the average European will toss out the minute you x10 energy prices? So so bizarre.

  14. Tom Bradford

    In their arrogance, ignorance and stupidity the leaders of the ‘Collective West’ (an oddly Soviet-sounding self-appellation), led by the US waving the bright sword ‘Freedumb’ and yelling the charge, have boxed themselves into a ‘give me victory or give me death’ corner.

    Now they are becoming aware of the freight-train bearing down on them, and it ain’t gonna’ be victory. Indeed death, economic if not actual, is staring them in the face. In such circumstances few people find themselves to be the heros they thought they’d turn out to be. Unfortunately that mindset of self-delusion is particularly strong in the US psych, but the time may fast be approaching when it will turn to find the ranks behind it significantly thinned, or looking far less enthusiastic to be there.

    Will Putin offer them a way out of the box? He holds most of the aces, but the danger that a few lunatics in the US – all it will take – who do see themselves as heros, and more dangerously might even believe Armageddon is nigh (I understand an appallingly high %age of USAians do take that nonsense seriously) might actually start a nuclear war. I hope and have to believe that he won’t risk that and won’t go as far as Medvedev is pushing for, perhaps by stopping before he needs to and taking less than he could in order to allow the West to claim a draw at least, and with relief turn the gas on again.

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