Hungary Asks the War Questions and Probes Merkel’s Minsk Deception

Yves here. Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated in two recent interviews that she had supported the Minsk Agreement, designed to resolve the conflict in Donbass, merely to buy time for Ukraine to arm. Some commentators, like Alexander Mercouris and Bernhard at Moon of Alabama, take the view that Merkel was sincere at the outset but lacked the courage to arm-wrestle the US, and so came to fall in with the US/UK maximalist position. They further contend that Merkel is now claiming to have been duplicitous from the get-go so as to remove any taint within Germany as to have formerly been willing to accommodate Russia.

Below you will see John Helmer takes a much harsher position.

Note that Helmer also brings up an idea he discussed in a post, that of settling the conflict by establishing a very large demilitarized zone (which might be not too hard implement and maintain if Russia deprives it of all electricity). While that is a possible outcome, I suspect Russia’s end game for Ukraine has now become fluid and very path-dependent. For example, Scott Ritter argued in a recent talk that Russia is managing the conflict so as to avoid formal NATO participation. The concern is that NATO simply cannot tolerate losing to Russia, which seems like an inevitable result given Russia’s advantage in manpower and materiel, as well as having large battle-seasoned forces. But NATO cannot tolerate a defeat, so Russia believes NATO would escalate to tactical nukes, which = end of the world as we know it.

Having said that, at this juncture Ukraine tactics are favoring Russia’s desire to slowly bleed NATO. Ukraine is continuing to pour troops and weapons into Bakhmut to be destroyed. The leak that the US will be sending Patriot missiles to Ukraine is arguably another favorable development. Admittedly, foreign personnel will have to operate the air defense system, but that has been true with the HIMARS too (as in the US and NATO are escalating by not hiding their role). However, the Patriots are not expected to prove all that effective (see Brian Berletic for details) and they are in very short supply. The more the US and NATO deplete their weapons stockpiles while fighting can be presented to the Collective West as mired in Donbass, the better. However, once Russia has gotten the Ukraine military to the point of collapse, it presumably will start making advances in Ukraine. That will be undeniable on a map and will pressure Western leaders to Do Something.

Tamas Gergo Samu interviews John Helmer. Originally published at Dances with Bears

Tamas Gergo Samu conducted this interview by email earlier this month.  Samu, a journalist,  has been a Hungarian parliament deputy in Budapest; then an adviser to the head of the Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom), a key party in the parliamentary opposition bloc known as United for Hungary (EM). He left the Jobbik party two years ago, and is now an independent Bekes county councillor.  The interview is to appear in Erdélyi Napló (“Transylvanian Journal”), the leading Hungarian weekly published in Cluj-Napoca, capital of the Transylvanian region of Romania.

TGS:  People usually want to look at a problem in a simplified way. In this war most of the western countries blame Russia as an aggressor. Usually we want to see the world in black and white terms. But is this war the struggle of the good (Ukraine) and the bad (Russia)? 

JH: This war which Russia is fighting is a continuation of its defence against the war aim of Germany, the United States, and the British since 1939. That aim has been the destruction of Russia as a European power on a parity with the others, with regime change in the Kremlin and liquidation of the country’s military and economic resources as the methods. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s objectives are not different from Chancellor Adolph Hitler’s, but she has not made Hitler’s mistakes of fighting the British and Americans at the same time, nor of launching her military operation against Russia too soon. The race hatred against Russians which Merkel has stoked, along with the US and the NATO allies, is the substitute today, motivating and propagandizing the war in Europe, as race hatred for the Jews was in Hitler’s ideology.

When Merkel told the Germans a few days ago that she intended Germany’s agreement to the Minsk accords of 2015, in order to give time for the military preparation of the Ukraine, she was repeating the time-buying pieces of paper which Hitler agreed with Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain in 1938. The piece of paper Neville Chamberlain told British voters he had signed with Hitler to assure “peace in our time” proved to be false within a year. Merkel’s Minsk agreement she now acknowledges was false from the start on her side; she has admitted this only now, seven years later.

But Merkel has been following Hitler’s lead for longer. His Austrian Aschluss of March 1938 and takeover of Sudetenland six months later were shadowed by Merkel when she agreed to the February 21, 2014, agreement with Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovich – at the same time as Merkel also agreed to the US plan for the Maidan coup d’état replacing Yanukovich in Kiev and starting the plan to turn the Ukraine into a gun platform aimed squarely at Moscow.  The Maidan coup turned the Ukraine into Merkel’s lebensraum – membership of the European Union and of the NATO alliance is the contemporary name for it.

Merkel wasn’t as impatient as Hitler for an invasion like Operation Barbarossa of 1941. She refused to agree to the Dutch plan for military intervention in Donetsk after the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines MH17 in July 2014. Merkel thought that plan was premature and would trigger a Russian counter-attack risking the total destruction of the Ukrainian forces. She and US leaders weren’t as impulsive as the Dutch; they had all been surprised by the swift effectiveness  of the Russian takeover of Crimea. So they began to plan for the longer run. Merkel also didn’t agree to break off the lucrative economic ties with Russia on which German business and trade unions depended – and also the votes she required for her re-election in 2017; she won that despite an 8% swing against her. So Berlin didn’t stop the Nord Stream gas project; instead Merkel delayed its implementation and bought more time.

Merkel then paid a visit to the bedside in Berlin of Alexei Navalny in September 2020, revealing thereby the full engagement of the chancellery and the German secret services in the Novichok story. That’s an example of the fabrication of the good versus evil ideology you identify in your question, and at its centre, the epitome of the Russian evil, the demonization of President Vladimir Putin whom Merkel was as sworn to destroy as Navalny declared himself.

The clock for this war plan against Russia didn’t stop for Germany when Merkel was replaced in the Berlin chancellery by Olaf Scholz in December 2021.  It ended on February 24, 2022, when Russian forces began the special military operation.

What is special about this operation is that it was not quite the war for Europe which the Germans, the Americans, and the British have been planning. It is special because it is aimed by Russia to dismantle the Ukrainian gun platform and prevent it threatening to attack. However, if the Germans, Americans and their allies in Europe aim to fight to the last Ukrainian, and continue to run this war against Russia from the Ukrainian borderlands  — from Galicia on both sides of the Polish border,  from Transcarpathia on both sides of the Hungarian border, and from across the Romanian and Moldovan lines, then the special operation will have become a general operation. That’s to say, the resumption of war in Europe against Russia.

TGS: Is the bombing of the civil infrastructure acceptable? What is the difference between civil and military infrastructure?

JH: Siege warfare is as ancient and as moral as the Israelites around the walls of Jericho, the Masada defence of the Judaeans against the Romans, or the European Crusaders around Jerusalem. The objective is to persuade the targeted civilian population and military forces, no matter how hostile they may be, to give up their capacity to wage war. The lesson of the history is that the longer the city walls or the citadel barbicans hold out, the more destructive the result for the civilians – unless they are relieved or rescued by a force superior to the siege force.

In the history of the European wars, the crusaders’ campaign was first decided by a consensus of the European Christians meeting in France and summarized by Pope Urban II in November 1095. Hungarian forces joined in the crusades, first under Andrew II against Jerusalem and Damietta , and later against Bosnia, then Varna. You know much better than I do what ideological fabrications and race hatred were mobilized to motivate the troops and raise the money to pay for those campaigns.

The British and Americans introduced innovations like the Dam Busters attack on German dams in May 1943 and the firebombing of Dresden in February 1945. The special US innovation was the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. The US Air Force followed with the saturation and firebombing of North Korea, when the destruction orders included “every installation, facility, and village in North Korea [and] every means of communications and every installation, factory, city, and village.” As you all know, the saturation and fire (napalm) bombing by the US of Vietnam was more geographically extensive, more intensive in explosive power, and more prolonged over time than Germany, Japan or North Korea had experienced.

Left: Dresden, Germany, 1945; right, Pyongyang, Korea, 1953.  

In Europe, according to a US Air Force University thesis, “the USAF has long favoured attacking electrical power systems. Electric power has been considered a critical target in every war since World War II, and will likely be nominated in the future… The evidence shows that the only sound reason for attacking electrical power is to affect the production of war materiel in a war of attrition against a self-supporting nation-state without outside assistance.”   This was written in 1994. In May 1999 the USAF demonstrated its operational concept of the “future” in the bombing of Serbia and Belgrade.

There is a difference between that Anglo-American military approach and the Russian one in the Ukraine. The Russian aim is to persuade the Ukrainian cities and towns, as well as Ukrainian army units, to accept terms of settlement at least cost of casualty or physical destruction. This is how the Battle of Mariupol concluded.

It has not been the policy of Vladimir Zelensky’s regime, or of the US and NATO forward command centres in Lvov, Germany,  and Poland to accept these terms. Instead, they have attacked by long-range artillery, by missiles and mortars, as well as by commando operations, the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant and the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam. The first use of military force against water supplies was the Kiev operation cutting the North Crimean Canal in mid-2014.

This isn’t the time or place to investigate the evidence of the war crimes against civilians alleged to have been committed by Russian forces in the Ukraine, such as the so-called Bucha massacre. In the cases I have investigated thoroughly, such as the MH17 shoot-down, the evidence is of fabrication by the Ukrainian security service, the SBU, aided and abetted by the NATO allies.

TGS:  Is there a result which ends the war which is possible for the two sides?

JH: Let’s be clear that the sides in this war are the US, Germany, and NATO versus Russia. The Americans are fighting to the last Ukrainian. There are German, French, Canadian, British and other military officers engaged in directing war operations; there are Polish combat troops on the ground.  The weapons supplies have come into the Ukraine from all over the US-allied world, from Greece to New Zealand. Zelensky in Kiev is no more capable of representing what he calls his side as Ngo Dinh Diem was in Saigon, Vietnam, or Ashraf Ghani in Kabul, Afghanistan. The US allies, by contrast, have also attacked the Nord Stream pipelines to prevent any German gas supply negotiation with Moscow. The recent Ukrainian missile attack in southeastern Poland is also a US warning to Warsaw not to contemplate any Polish accommodation with Moscow.

Once we are clear what the sides are, then what are the capacities of the US side to keep fighting in the present conditions along the front east of the Dnieper River – once resupply of troops, fuel, food, weapons and ammunition have been stopped moving eastward, and evacuation of casualties westward likewise? Within days or weeks to come, this cutoff may become clear.

What then become the fresh risks to Poland of the spillover of the war through the Galician and Belarus borders — and not only of refugees? And similarly, what will become the risks of spillover from Transcarpathia into Hungary? And of the war spilling over the Romanian and Moldovan borders?

The installation of US nuclear missile units at Deveselu, Romania, since 2018, and at Redzikowo, Poland, since earlier this year have been already been identified by Putin as “red lines” directly threatening Russian security. Romania and Moldova allow their airspace and airfields to be used by NATO reconnaissance and intelligence operations which provide targeting data to Ukrainian units on the ground. Accordingly, if the Poles and Romanians aim to fight against Russia to the last Ukrainian, they must begin to count the risk and the cost to themselves when the war against Russia runs out of Ukrainians willing or able to fight it.

Left: US Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work inaugurates the Aegis missile base at Deveselu, Romania, May 12, 2016. Right, the Redzikowo base, Poland, January 2022.

What terms of settlement are possible, you ask, at least in the period past the US presidential election in November 2024 and the German parliamentary election in September 2025?

The significance of Merkel’s admissions, and of Scholz’s attempt this month to destroy the only German opposition to the war, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, is that the Russian terms must now address the fact that the US is preparing to fight to the last German, and also to the last Pole. Many Polish sources believe the election for the Polish parliament scheduled for the autumn of next year will result in the replacement of the Law and Justice (PiS) government with the more pro-American Civic Platform (PO).

In these circumstances, what do the prospects look like from Budapest, if Hungary’s national interests are to be preserved?

The best outcome from this perspective coincides with a Russian plan for armistice and a demilitarized zone removing all offensive weapons and military formations westward.

But how far west of the Dnieper River? This depends on the course of military operations over this winter, and the readiness of cities to come to their own terms like Odessa and Nikolaev in the south; Sumy, Kharkov,  and Poltava in the north. If the Ukraine is to be partitioned by a Ukrainian Demilitarized Zone (UDZ) – which may meet the first of the Russian strategic objectives announced on February 24 —  what is to become of the Galician region around Lvov if it continues to be as nazified as Berlin and Warsaw have encouraged and financed to date?

For more discussion read: 

Scholz’s attack on the AfD of December 7 is not as lethal as Hitler’s Night of the Long Knives of June 30, 1934. However, the political objective is the same, and Scholz enjoys the propaganda advantage Hitler never had — Europe-wide and US endorsement and support. When race hatred for Russians extends all the way west to Berlin, what becomes of the denazification objective of  the war? This changes the way to look at the armistice map for the Ukraine

From the Russian point of view, Putin reacted to Merkel’s admissions: “The issue of trust is at stake. Trust as such is already close to zero, but after such statements, the issue of trust is coming to the fore. How can we negotiate anything? What can we agree upon? Is it possible to come to terms with anyone, and where are the guarantees? This is, of course, a problem.  But eventually we will have to come to terms all the same. I have already said many times that we are ready for these agreements, we are open. But, naturally, all this makes us wonder with whom we are dealing.”

Former president Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy secretary of the Security Council, has replied to the Scholz attack on the AfD:  “Germany does not have full sovereignty on its own territory.  Decisions on issues of German energy, industry and defence are made by the deep American state – and by no means by Scholz’s baloney or even by elderly Washington men who are in partial dementia.”

What then are the terms for Russia’s security to conclude this war? These were made clear in the texts of the two non-aggression treaties which the Russian Foreign Ministry presented to Washington and Brussels on December 17, last year. Note that Article 4 of the proposed pact says: “The Russian Federation and all the Parties that were member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as of 27 May 1997, respectively, shall not deploy military forces and weaponry on the territory of any of the other States in Europe in addition to the forces stationed on that territory as of 27 May 1997.”

Bear in mind that Hungary and Poland did not join NATO until March 1999; Romania in March 2004. The longer the US and Germany aim to wage their war against Russia, the less military value there will be in Ukrainian territory as a buffer zone,  in NATO membership, and in the NATO Treaty’s Article 5 provision. This modern reminder of the oath of the three musketeers —  one for all, all for one – will turn into a cartoon comedy if today’s Athos, Portos, Aramis and D’Artagnan  lose their swords.

TGS:  The Baltic states and Poland regard Russia with their bloodshot eyes. Is it possible for these states to expand the war?

JH: The old adage — sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but words will never hurt me —  hasn’t been translated into the Baltic languages or Polish. Their race hatred against Russia is talk and propaganda. The intention is murderous, as the Balts and Poles demonstrated when they thought the German Army would stay with them.  But the Wehrmacht didn’t, and the US Army won’t.

As the recent attempt by Lithuania to impose a rail and road blockade on Kaliningrad shows,  Baltic war talk turns into boomerangs against their own economies. The Ukrainian missile attack on Poland, and President Duda’s telephone call with the fake Emmanuel Macron demonstrate there is no Polish will to fight; there isn’t even a Polish fear that Russia will invade unless the Poles themselves provoke it.  For the time being, the Poles hate the Germans almost as much they hate the Russians. For Warsaw, the war against Russia is only worth pursuing if it increases US and European cash flowing into Polish pockets.

TGS: There are many articles and analyses about the Polish claim to Ukrainian territories; less common are discussions of the Hungarian claims. Is there a realistic chance of annexation of the western territories of Ukraine to Poland, Hungary or Romania?

JH: This depends on the course of the military operations; on the capacity of Lvov to function as Zelensky’s new headquarters; and on whether in their desperation Zelensky and his men turn punitively against the Hungarian population of Transcarpathia.

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  1. Divadab

    Thanks for this. It occurred to me that the Ukraine operation looked a lot like a continuation of the hitler project for Ukraine. With much more sophisticated and effective propaganda and a certain lack of physical courage by its leaders. Let us hope that the Russians put paid to the imperial overlords and their European comprador elites like the odious macron and the ridiculous scholtz. Time for the USA to experience what the USSR did in the nineties. No pain no gain and the current setup is disgraceful and corrupt as all get out.

    1. clarky90

      Growing up in the fifties, I learned that the Good/Bad Guys could be quickly delineated by the shape of their helmets. Roundish (USA) = Good. Squarish (German) = Bad.


      “After numerous trials during the Cold War, the M1 steel helmet (USA round helmet of WW2) was finally phased out in the early 1980s when the Army introduced the Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops (PASGT).”…….

      “…The PASGT system was first used in combat in 1983 during Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada. It was later used in Operation Just Cause, the 1989 invasion of Panama, and during the Gulf War in 1991 followed by operations in Somalia in 1993, as well as in various peacekeeping operations around the globe…..”

      Forty years ago, I noticed that the USA Army was now using the shape of helmet that I had always identified with WW2 Germany! Politics proceeds from culture and I recognized, at the time, that this was a profound cultural shift… in a bad direction.

  2. pjay

    I love Helmer’s Merkle = Hitler tactic. Very appropriate in my view, given (1) the apparent duplicity in the Minsk negotiations, (2) the incessant Putin = Hitler propaganda in the West, and (3) the fact that Ukrainian “nationalism” is fundamentally defined through the demonization of Russia and Russians (the New Jews, as Helmer points out).

    NATO’s steady march to Russia’s border began with the dismantling of Yugoslavia right after the collapse of the USSR. Germany was a central actor in that process early on. Somehow that seems relevant to this discussion as well.

    1. Robert Hahl

      I once saw a list of 900 foreign US military bases; about 230 of them were in Germany. Merkel was not just preserving the appearance of European unity regarding Minsk, whether a deception was planned at the outset or not, she was preserving the appearance of German sovereignty, an even bigger deception. Speaking of military occupations, IIRC there are about 745 US military bases in the USA. Perhaps American sovereignty is just another deception.

      1. Ashburn

        Thank you, especially for that last sentence. It’s long been clear that there is no US democracy, no citizen sovereignty, regarding our foreign policy. The Deep State and the Executive decide on war and our Congress dutifully rubber stamps it. Trillion$ have gone into our permanent war industry with no input from the voters. We are merely the spectators as our elites spread chaos, death, and destruction across the globe.

  3. fjallstrom

    I think it is relevant to understand that Jobbik is far right, and though it is now in opposition it previously provided street fighters for Orban. It sheds some light on the perspective of this currently independent politician. A perspective that seems to flow through the entire interview.

    Look for example at his arguments regarding Poland. He says that “The intention is murderous, as the Balts and Poles demonstrated when they thought the German Army would stay with them. But the Wehrmacht didn’t, and the US Army won’t.”

    This fits well into his narrative of a century long struggle between Germany and Russia, but ignores the realities of the Nazi occupation of Poland. Poland and Russia was in the Nazi planning designed for depopulation through genocide to create Lebensraum, with a small portion surviving as slaves.

    Given such obvious reality distortion, I would treat anything he has to say with a bucket of salt. He obviously has no problems with just straight up lying. I wouldn’t take anything he has to say as indicative of perspectives in Hungary either, or even Jobbik, as he has left (or been kicked out of) the party on whose ticket he was presumably elected

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I hate to tell you but you have completely misread the post. Helmer is the speaker and the statement you attributed to Jobbik is from Helmer.

      1. fjallstrom

        I did, yes.

        That is worse though. Does John Helmer believe that the Poles believed (and implicitly hoped) that the very same Wehrmacht that had conquered them would protect them against the evil Russians?

        Guess I have to add more salt to what I read from Helmer.

        1. PE Bird

          I believe that Helmer is referring to right-wing leaderships installed in both the Balts and Poland, who did support Germany during WWII. The comparison to current right-wing forces is clear.

          1. hk

            Except there was no “right wing leadership” installed by the Nazis in Poland. It was administered directly by the Nazis, essentially as a colony subject to brutal exploitation, as the “General Government.” The closest thing Poles had to open collaboration with the Nazis were the auxiliary policemen who were mostly working under duress (and, well, those who identified as Germans).

            Poles throughout World War 2, to their credit or to blame, kept the same attitude that got them into trouble in 1939: not very hidden hostility to both Germany and Russia. But while it meant that they were not “happy” to see the Soviets marching in, they weren’t eager for the Germans to stick around either.

            1. tevhatch

              The Polish Railroad Workers worked hard keeping the special trains running, even got commendations on their support of the final solution.

              1. Raymond Sim

                Yes, I took Helmer to be referring to participation by occupied populations in German persecution of ‘outsider’ groups.

                In other words there’s a precedent for willing participation in a murderous policy by people themselves destined for the status of farm animals, or perhaps merely fertilizer. It shouldn’t have been hard for a Pole, a Balt, or a Galician to work out what sort of future the Reich held out for them. Race hatred was key in blinding them to this.

                1. Polar Socialist

                  I don’t think there’s racial hatred towards Russia in Poland. In 1840’s a Polish statesman, prince Adam Czartoryski stated clearly that if Poles give up Catholism (and turn to Orthodoxy) they become Muscovites.

                  He was both a foreign minister to Alexander I and an emigre opposition leader during reign of Nicholas I, so we can assume he had some insight on the relations of the two people. As in, less than 200 years ago the only difference was religion and dialect, of which the former was more defining.

                  Oddly enough, many of the attributes assigned to Russia and Soviet Union resemble a lot the way the Polish emigrants described the Orthodox church (as compared to Catholicism) in mid 19th century. Coincidence?

                  1. hk

                    Czartorysky was also the product of strange times, when Mickiewicz/Mickevicius was writing about “Lithuania, my Homeland.” The trouble with “Poland” and modern Polish nationalism is that it aspires for both supposed glory and grandeur of the old Commonwealth and the ethnic chauvinism of modern Poles. No attempt at cosmopolitanism (with very heavy aristocratic bias) of the Commonwealth where a “Pole” was still a Moravian, Slovak, Lithuanian, Belorussian, etc, and vice versa without giving much up.

                    1. Polar Socialist

                      Indeed. I believe even Piłsudski still held to that Commonwealth-y understanding of Polishness. Although it was probably dying out already by then.

                  2. Raymond Sim

                    Oddly enough, many of the attributes assigned to Russia and Soviet Union resemble a lot the way the Polish emigrants described the Orthodox church (as compared to Catholicism) in mid 19th century. Coincidence?

                    This is actually why I think of Polish anti-Russian attitudes as being fundamentally racial attitudes. By chance last night I watched this:


                    which it occurs to me might provide useful context for readers not familiar with ‘Europe vs The Slavs’ type discussions.

                2. hk

                  That’s a fair point, and 4-5 way conflicts (and truces/understated collaboration) among opposed factions (complete with temporary, or longer, changes of sides) was commonplace in most of Eastern Europe. Still, Helmet’s characterization seemed a bit unfair, at least.

            2. ilpalazzo

              True that and a point of pride to Poles that there never was any colaboration movement towards Germans during the war (contrary to with Soviets). That’s not to say that in the years before the war broke and especially after the 1926 putch the Polish regime wasn’t quasi – fascist military authoritarian.

              Now as for sentiments among some of the right since the eighties and “historians” especially there always was popular a sentiment that we should have allied with the Nazis aganst the Soviet when we had a chance.

              Speaking of these kinds of sentiments among Polish people is a very complicated matter that is not well appreciated among foreigners I am afraid. There is a very deep divide going back hundreeds of years between Polish People and the Elites caused by the evolution of political system from XIV c. with its gradual erosion of peasants’ rights that turned them back into slaves practically and being a cause of deep distrust. I have a saying that the current elites, whose ideology is a continuation of western emigration intelligentsia transplanted back to the country after 1989 haven’t matured much beyound November Uprising of 1830-31, trying to win popular support for their policies and failing repeatedly.

  4. The Rev Kev

    ‘Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated in two recent interviews that she had supported the Minsk Agreement, designed to resolve the conflict in Donbass, merely to buy time for Ukraine to arm.’

    Actually it is even worse than this. Alexander Mercouris was saying that Putin talked with President Macron last year and when Macron more or less said that they could forget the Minsk treaty and that the Donbass had to be integrated back into the Ukraine, Putin hit the roof. So now Putin has proof that all the other major parties in the Minsk treaty were only using it to buy time for the Ukraine to build up their military to take back the Donbass – and Crimea. Remember too that both France and Germany were guarantors of this Treaty which had the stamp of the UN Security Council on it.

    But it is just not a matter of Russia feeling duped and betrayed. Apparently Merkle’s interviews have gone around the world and countries both large and small are now wondering how much worth there is in any agreement or treaty sign by EU powers. That is not something lightly to be dismissed. Yeah, Washington does this frequently but the EU does not have the clout to do this and just get away with it. More so, as the EU’s power and influence will be decreasing from now on this will come back to haunt them in any future negotiations with other countries. This will definitely not end up as just some footnote in a future history book.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      This is where the Borrell line about the jungle and garden is so important. He’s not an exception. EU elites simply don’t make honest deals with people they deem to be sub human.

    2. Jams O'Donnell

      It occurs to me that Merkel is not a stupid person. She would know exactly how her revelations would be received by both Russia and the non-western-world countries. Is it possible that these effects are what she is aiming for? Has she had a fit of conscience? Or a fit of reality? Or is it just senility?

      1. Kolyn

        I think the audience for Merkel is the German population and she is trying to justify to them why she was doing the deals with Putin. Because Putin is now portrayed as evil incarnate Merkel is pretending that: ‘oh I was playing 4D chess and stringing him along, see how smart your leaders are i.e. me and how stupid Russians are’
        Even though she obviously wanted to have normal economic relations with Russia as the build of Nord Stream proves, she forced to now rewrite history to align herself with the anti-Russian block as she sees this being the dominant force for years to come I believe.

  5. John Beech

    Oh how easy it is to back bite and criticize when you’re neither in the hot seat or at the point of the spear.

    You’ve seen in recent years how media divides us into team Blue and team Red, right? How hard would it be to do to Germany what’s being now done to China? To vilify them and by extension, their products? For a country that lives off exports, just a whiff of that threat would bring Angela Merkel to a halt of any possible opposition. Don’t you understand how economies can be wrecked, people thrown out of work, political instability arises, and change occurs.

    Me? I don’t blame her. Point being, all these critics should shut up.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Huh? Germany is being deindustrialized as we speak. Merkel being a “don’t rock the boat” type will produce a massive fall in living standards. By contrast, when Minsk was signed, Obama was president and had said publicly that Russia had escalation dominance in its ‘hood. If Merkel had pressed Obama, he could have make Ukraine adhere to Minsk. They would have cheated but that still would have been better than no Minsk.

      1. tevhatch

        Agree, and feel that she’s still holding on to the hope that she’s getting that directorship of the World Bank, probably her message wasn’t just to German PMC but to Washington’s too.

        1. tevhatch

          I should add, like the bombing of the NS2 pipeline, Merkel could have even instructed by Washington to make such a statement as a further attempt to spike Russia’s long term plans for a security settlement with the EU that defenestrates the USA.

  6. Klaus Kastner

    I love this propaganda article which could have come straight from the pen of Maria Zakharowa, the attractive spokeslady from Russia’s foreign ministry. Just a brief reminder: on February 23, 2014, the Winter Olympics in Sochi came to a close. A love fest presenting a peace-loving Russia (and Putin) to the world. Only four days later, that peace-loving country and President started the take-over of the Crimea. For all practical purposes, Russia and the Ukraine were at war since then because there was fighting in the Eastern provinces. To be sure, if Russia had not been the aggressor, the Ukraine would not have needed to be the defender. And in February 2022, one day after Putin – once again – promised to the world that he had no intention of invading the Ukraine, Putin did invade the Ukraine. They didn’t even bother to fake a context which would have justified the invasion; they just invaded. The list of treaties, declarations or contracts which Putin personal has violated is long. I am surprised that serious people would argue like they do above.

    1. The Rev Kev

      You do know that there was a coup carried out in the Ukraine in 2014 sponsored by both Washington and Brussels, don’t you. And that this was carried out by far-right extremists that were into Nazis big time. And that Nuland at the time admitted that the US had spent over $5 billion dollars to finance that coup over the years. And that those Maiden fighters had been trained in Poland and were being paid $100 a day. And that the Ukraine has been carrying out a vicious war against the people in the Donbass and have killed about 14,000 people since that coup as well as all Russian speakers in the Ukraine.

      And since you mentioned the Olympics, how about this. Wasn’t it when Putin was at the 2008 Olympics that Georgia did their invasion which included the deliberate killing of Russian peacekeepers. And it seems that the Winter Olympics were also part cover for that coup in 2014. And as far as the Russian invasion this February, wasn’t that just after Zelensky said that the Ukraine should totally get nukes? And that a massive NATO-trained army was concentrated opposite the Donbass ready for their invasion. And that the Ukrainians had launched a massive artillery barrage on the Donbass in preparation for this invasion. All this information is there online. You just have to look for it.

      1. Carla

        I was not aware that Zelensky had killed all Russian speakers in Ukraine. Although I guess that was a claim of Putin.

        Not believing US officials, the Blob and NATO personnel about foreign policy does not mean I necessarily believe everything Putin says, either.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I missed a word there last night. I meant to say ‘as well as attacking all Russian speakers in the Ukraine.’ such as when dozen of Russian-speakers were burnt to death at the Trades Union House in Odessa. And most of what I said was sourced from our very own western media and not Russian such as when Victoria Nuland was recorded saying that the US had spent over $5 billion on flipping the Ukraine.

    2. pjay

      – “They didn’t even bother to fake a context which would have justified the invasion; they just invaded.”

      You need to read Putin’s two February speeches recognizing the Donbass and justifying the invasion. They are packed with “context,” including a long list of historical reasons why Russia took this action. You may not agree with them, but to make such a statement suggests your intent is itself to push propaganda rather than evaluate any objective facts.

      – “The list of treaties, declarations or contracts which Putin personal has violated is long. I am surprised that serious people would argue like they do above.”

      Could you list a few of these please? Given the topic of this article – the Minsk agreements – I think my evaluation of your comment is accurate.

    3. reprobate

      Are you kidding? Zakharova versus Karine Jean-Pierre? It’s a no brainer who is more credible.

      Russia being more truthful than the ‘collective West’ (a low bar) is one reason why it has the support of the Global South.

    4. anon in so cal

      After the US orchestrated the overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically-elected president in 2014, all indications were that the US was about to take Russia’s strategically-crucial warm-water Black Sea naval base at Sevastopol.

      BTW, Crimea was historically part of Russia.

      BTW, corporate media failed to report that US-armed Ukraine troops were massed on the Donbas border preparing another massacre. Putin had to intervene to prevent this. The US co-planned this, which is why US intel “got it right” for once.

    5. Jams O'Donnell

      You have it precisely backwards – If NATO/The Ukraine had not been the aggressor, Russia would not have needed to be the defender.

      Did you not actually read what Merkel has quite clearly said?

      Be ignorant if you wish, but don’t expose it needlessly by writing from a clearly biased and wilfully uneducated position.

    6. Klaus Kastner

      I am overwhelmed – 8 people commented on my brief criticism of Putin/Russia and not a single commentator had anything critical to say about Putin/Russia. On the contrary, the Putin-defenses could have come straight out of the mouth of Maria Zakharowa. Well, perhaps they have…

      1. The Rev Kev

        Hey, Maria Zakharowa is a babe! Show some respect man. I’d take her comments over that of someone like Annalena Baerbock any day of the week.

      2. ambrit

        Well “Klaus,” (any relation to Kringle?) One of the main purposes of this blog is the encouragement of logical and facts based thinking. So, using those standards, your assertions fall flat, being, upon investigation, ludicrously delusional claims. Adding One and Two here we end up with the observation that your incredulity at this cohort’s unwillingness to follow your lead suggests two possibilities. One, you are incapable of logical facts based thinking; and or Two, you are here with malice aforethought.
        Stay safe.
        The “official” narrative says that ‘The Pandemic is Over.’ The virus family behind all the present carnage begs to differ. Thus, if you should happen to catch the coronavirus, may I suggest that you chant the Centre for Disease Control “Health Mantra” and twirl about widdershins five times when the moon rises every night and take solace in the ‘knowledge’ that The Magic Vaccine will save you.
        As True Believers the world over know, those who follow The Proper Faith will triumph over the Evil Ones, whether viruses or Unbelievers, while the very fact of one’s succumbing to the coronavirus proves one to have always been a Corona Heretic. Otherwise one would not have succumbed.
        Be Ye of good cheer.

      1. hunkerdown

        You’re not missing much. It’s the usual high moralistic whining from a psychologically abusive, untenured PMC in London, full of the customary moral arrogance and idealistic delusion that attends such a position. The Tweet and its originator can therefore be dismissed as void of all meaning or relevance except as sausage.

  7. What Do I Know

    “… Scott Ritter argued in a recent talk that Russia is managing the conflict so as to avoid formal NATO participation. The concern is that NATO simply cannot tolerate losing to Russia, which seems like an inevitable result given Russia’s advantage in manpower and materiel, as well as having large battle-seasoned forces. But NATO cannot tolerate a defeat, so Russia believes NATO would escalate to tactical nukes, which = end of the world as we know it.”

    This is just too horrifying. It looks like none of the two rivals, US foreign policy hawks, and Russia would want to lose because the loser will not emerge in the shape as before the war. It would be browbeaten, mauled, or fatally emaciated. So, it is an existential battle. Problem is, in order not to lose, either of the rivals may use ultimate weapons. And this would endanger the existence also of the rest of the innocent, bystander world.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      In fairness, I overegged a bit due to AM drafting and also Ritter, who made his name as a nuke control guy, liking to paint in overly bright colors on his favorite topic.

      So more accurate to say “so Russia is concerned NATO would escalate to tactical nukes.” This is still a big deal, since the postcard version of Taleb is risk is overrated and ruin is underrated. Even if I overstated the odds, this is a ruin scenario, to be avoided at all costs.

      1. Raymond Sim

        So more accurate to say “so Russia is concerned NATO would escalate to tactical nukes.” This is still a big deal, since the postcard version of Taleb is risk is overrated and ruin is underrated. Even if I overstated the odds, this is a ruin scenario, to be avoided at all costs.

        On the other hand, the supply of Western cannon fodder is finite. Continuing the hot war at anything like current levels will eventually require not only deniable NATO boots on the ground, however implausible denial may become, but also mobilization. This is just one of many factors* that will produce crises large and small forcing unhappy decisions on our war party. The Russians will likely be in a position to shape these crises so as to influence, if not compel, Washington to hop one way or another. And there are unlikely to be many cases where decision makers get to feel good about what’s going on.

        All of which is to say, one can see how the Russians might have a reasonable expectation of being able to maneuver the NATO effort into ending with a whimper. I wouldn’t think that necessarily rules out large-scale offensives to seize territory though. Personally I can’t see how it happens without them.

        The lack of Russian operations on the scale many anticipated continues to elicit a lot searching for explanatory circumstances, but the two which I see as staring us all in the face: Covid, and the power of defense in depth aren’t discussed much that I see. The latter has special relevance in the current discussion, because a DMZ per Helmer would have to be seemingly extraordinarily deep, as he posits, not only because of the range of modern weapons, but also because of the need to have enemy fortified zones kept much further away than one might naively expect.

        *logistics generally, the ongoing ruination of European economies, the ever-worsening refugee crisis, the ongoing financial crisis, etc

      2. Alex Cox

        During the Cold War it was NATO policy to resort to nukes in the event that their forces were ‘overwhelmed’ by Russian aggressors. That’s what the cruise and pershing missiles and the gravity bombs were for.

        Fundamentally nothing has changed…

    2. Karl

      …Ritter argued in a recent talk that Russia is managing the conflict so as to avoid formal NATO participation.

      What Ritter calls “escalation management” may explain a lot about how Russia is conducting this war. It is, it seems to me, part of “end game management” from letting attrition doing its work.

      I’m speculating here, but I wonder if Russia’s seeming slow-walking the advance (e.g. into Bahkmut) is a sort of “frog in the warming pot” approach to keep the West from getting too aroused. This is in addition to other oft-mentioned advantages of “General Patience”, i.e. attrition of Europe’s morale and of Ukraine’s ability to resist militarily.

      The risk of Western intervention with troops to actually fight Russia seems very low to me, if Putin’s “escalation management” is successful. Biden has absolutely no support for sending U.S. troops to serve in a combat role, and he is not even hinting at this possibility in his public statements (that I’m aware). This leaves front-line nations to offer up their troops, e.g. Poland or Romania. I think, as time passes, the willingness countries to send troops into that meat grinder gets more remote. All those images of how badly Ukrainians are faring in the grinder will work wonders for General Patience.

      This leaves pre-emptive use of nukes by the West. This is a bigger worry to me, because the West has shown itself to be stupid beyond belief. Avoiding this is also a big part of “escalation management” and so far, Putin is playing a very smart game. It will be hard for NATO to find a sufficiently “dramatic” pretext for such a reckless escalation. Putin won’t give them one. Ukraine will fall after a slow, undramatic, grind, IMHO, and all the West can do is watch and do stupid PR stunts like sending in Patriots, which Ritter says is worse than useless.

      1. Malik

        The Russia/China axis has both material and manufacturing advantages. ATTRITION is the strategy. I submit that’s why Putin readily acknowledged a long war. A slow but deliberate grind achieves most if not all of Russian military, political (domestic & international) and economic objectives at minimal costs and maximum punishment to it’s adversaries. We soon forget consensus forecasts that 2023 is when the EU energy crisis will exacerbate. 2022 is mitigated to some extent by expending reserve energy sources.

        Everyone should read : the ..Return of Industrial Warfare to appreciate the Western challenges that lie ahead. Matters not how much money printing or fiat currency exists, its about mineral mining/resource extraction, processing, smelting, forging, connected to industrial assets that produce things. It’s about the willingness of Western or Multi-National corporations to invest in fighting a fixed land war.. the vision or political will remains to be seen or understood in this regard.

        Most if not all factors, micro and macro-favor, Russia, China, the BRICS, the SCO, and Belt and Road ascendancy and the advent of multi-polarity. Russia has UNlimited PAIN POINT options for US and NATO like OPEC+ replacing the Dollar with the Yuan and a basket of currencies or simply sitting back and applying (ironically to the Milton Friedman acolytes clamoring for ‘Price Controls’ lol) principles of supply and demand.

        No one has incentives to purchase US Treasuries as Central Bank deposits for fear of impetuous and hegemonic sanctioning for not cavalierly subverting their national interests to that of the Neo-Con’s dreams of US Empires.

        In support of this premise, the Political Unrest in the EU Zone will be legion and increasingly exacerbated by economic hardships unabated.

  8. The Lonely Voice

    This is Helmer, the last Soviet Union fanboi. Merkel continuing Hitler’s war — being a German I can tell you, Hitler and Merkel have nothing in common.
    I am resorting to polemics because there are so many statements and speculations which are ridiculous. Helmer is not in any way a reliable source. When does the commentariat apply the same scrutiny to Helmer’s posts which it applies to traditional new sources?
    Helmer is so full of glee — the strong and smart state of Russia (nee Soviet Union) with the holy stavka, which let the 30 m Nazis in Ukraine rightfully freeze. Ridiculous.
    Yves, I love you und your fearless reporting about financial industry (it is true — I am in the financial industry myself), but East – West politics, no. This is mostly an echo chamber on this topic — and everyone calling that out is likely to get banned.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      This is ad hominem. Helmer is engaging in the literary device called a conceit, of pointing out commonalities in cases that superficially seem to be wildly different. As Helmer demonstrated, Merkel is (certainly unwittingly) perpetuating some important elements of Hitler’s policies towards Russia. Yes, this is a provocative claim, but the effect should be for you to consider and argue it on the merits, rather than reject it out of hand due to the extreme difference in temperaments and ambitions.

      Helmer was accurate and alone on the electrical grid strikes where he continues to be far and away the best source. He was also relentless on MH17 (with extensive documentation) and l’afaire Srkipals. He was early to have Russian investigation detail on the Dugina murder. also gets permission to translate and post stories in Russia (and Poland) from experts that are perceived to be important, as in be good syntheses and/or analysis.

      Russia is winning the war and the Western press is nearly always reporting abject fabrications. And you get exercised about Helmer occasionally getting out over his skis rather than the “all propaganda all the time” mainstream news environment? I suggest you consider Matthew 7:3-5:

      Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

      And we do not moderate on views (save extreme ones that might get us demonetized) but on adherence to the rules of the game, as in debating in good faith. Commentors who encounter well-supported objections from other readers on issues in which they have a emotional investment typically will double down to try to win, rather than simply stop fighting. When they are angry and losing, they often engage in a bad faith, such as getting abusive, Making Shit Up, broken record, misrepresenting sources, or ad hominem. It is the conduct that gets their comment privileges restricted or revoked, not their position.

      1. The Lonely Voice

        Dear Yves,
        thank you for the thoughtful (and combative, of course) reply. I think I earned the bible saying (;-)).
        Now, less emotional indignation and more arguments:
        My thesis is that NC including the commentariat does not scrutinize alternative sources enough.
        Longer version:
        Due to mistrust of traditional news sources (which is reasonable!) NC tends to look for alternative sources. But, these sources are often problematic (in terms of propaganda, bias, etc.). In the discussions I observe that such positions are not challenged enough (too few posts challenging it). This makes NC sort of an echo chamber of group think which is ironic and — perhaps — also human.

        More details (mix of arguments, extensions, long-term observations) in the next post:

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Oh, the “oh so reasonable” attack. You smear us by accusing us of having bias against conventional sources, when we rely on them heavily, in our Covid analysis, on FTX, and earlier for Brexit, the 2015 Greece bailout, the foreclosure/chain of title crisis, and the global financial crisis.

          Here we are not relying on them because it has quickly become evident that “Western reporting” overwhelmingly consists of running unadulterated Ukraine propaganda.

          And you vastly overestimate your capabilities for discernment and information vetting, starting with your bogus belief that Helmer is acting as a Russian mouthpiece when he was ordered out of Russia in 2010 and has not been back since then.

          Helmer was exiled from Russia in 2010 and is not allowed to enter the country for having done reporting deemed hostile to state interest.

    2. pjay

      Could you be *specific* on which of Helmer’s statements and speculations are “ridiculous”? This is a serious question. I’d also be interested in your own interpretation of the Ukrainian conflict in historical perspective, and “East-West” politics in general, as a German with, I assume, some progressive views. In what ways is the NC position incorrect? Do you accept the NATO framing? Do you believe the Russian invasion was “unprovoked”? Do you really see Russian “imperialism” as a threat? Again, these are sincere questions.

      1. The Lonely Voice

        Try this one: “

        Their [Balts and Poles] race hatred against Russia is talk and propaganda. The intention is murderous, as the Balts and Poles demonstrated when they thought the German Army would stay with them.

        Tell me, can this be a serious position in an argument? That is dirty uncle Harry talking and everyone else is embarrassed at the family table.

        1. Raymond Sim

          It’s also pretty much every Jew of my parents’ generation (The Greatest) I ever heard discussing the Balts and Poles.

          My family (We’re gentiles.) was less than ideal in many ways, but we were able to discuss varieties of bigotry, racism, and crimes against humanity without embarassment. I guess we just didn’t take those things personally.

        2. upstater

          I have Lithuanian relatives; my 13 yo mom and her family immigrated to Nazi Germany in January 1941. My grandmother was recognized as Volksdeutsche, as she was originally Lutheran and had Baltic German ancestors. I grew up being inculcated with a virulent hatred of Russians. Frankly, it was more rabid than any KKK type racism I saw when going to high school in New Orleans 50 years ago.

          Make no mistake about it, during the first republic there were many, many supporters of Nazism. If it wasn’t for the Freikorps, the Baltic states probably wouldn’t exist. When Germans invaded, they plowed onwards and left virtually no occupation forces. In 6 months virtually all Jews, communists, disabled were murdered, with Lithuanians often doing the dirty work.

          And today my relatives in Lithuania ooze with the same virulent hatred of Russians i grew up with, only worse because some are active in the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union (read about their storied history).

          Many people in the Baltics are Nazis. Who else would have annual parades commemorating the SS or bulldozing the gravestones of Red Army soldiers that died driving the Nazis out?

          Like the Afghan “freedom fighters”, there will be consequences for the US and its NATO poodles for supporting overt Nazis.

          1. anon in so cal

            You mention Lithuanian ancestry and early inculcation into hatred of Russia. I think this also pertains to Adam Schiff, who is also apparently of Lithuanian ancestry. Many of the most virulent contemporary Russophobes–those who appear to be leading the anti-Russia crusade–were probably socialized into this hatred as young children and these distal triggers shape their mindset. Helmer reasoned along similar lines regarding Antony Blinken and Victoria Nuland, who, as children, were socialized to hate Soviet Russia.

          2. DZhMM

            I live in Lithuania. The idea that hatred of Russia/Russians is characteristic of Lithuanians is simply incorrect. Lithuania and our people worked hard to help those Russians who found themselves here when we left the USSR and who wanted to, to become part of us. For at least much of the 90s and 2000s, we were recognized generally in Russia as by far the friendliest of the baltic people.
            Even once the outside hands had started to get their grip in changing our country’s course, we showed even final flash of our real sense of our neighbors in electing to a majority a brand new party on the strength of their desires to break the new course and maintain good relations with our eastern-and-western neighbor.
            That this party was hastily invaded, seized, and turned also against us is not indicative of our minds changing. Outside the propaganda, the People don’t have a issue against Russians at all.

            1. hk

              I always thought Lithuanian Americans were always much more overtly hostile to Russia than actual Lithuanians, fwiw.

              1. DZhMM

                Well, the nazis and like-minded did tend to be relatively over-represented among the ones who retreated west as the red army advanced. Even had they not been deliberately cultivated for decades by the US and satellites, I imagine that the initial self-selection would still have led to the trend you observe.

              2. Synoia

                The US Catholic Irish certainly appeared more aggressive than the Southern the Irish in the long period of the Irish Struggles from the 70s to the 90s.

                It may be that the people who fled the troubles, harbored more resentment that the ones who did not emigrate.

                I avoided that sentient a few times by pointing out the while English did treat the Irish , I personally hand no hand in the Irish treatment by the British, and no desire to deny or argue points on which I had no knowledge.

          3. The Lonely Voice

            I doubt that labelling people nazis (even if you are saying that with the qualifier “many people in the baltics are Nazis” but in the end you say “overt Nazis”) makes for a intelligent discussion.
            Are all Russians imperalists and facists (because they love the violence of the war)? Surely, all the Germans were / are Nazis? All Southern Americans being members in the KKK?

            1. upstater

              Who is in charge of the Baltics? Are the elites defending Nazism? How can the annual memorial parade of the SS Latvian division be sanctioned, particularly when one third of Latvia and half of Riga are ethnic Russians? How can bulldozing graves of Red Army soldiers, many of which were non-Russian and some certainly a percentage ethnic Baltics, be sanctioned by government? Isn’t that “overt” Nazism? If not, how do you define “overt” for Nazism or racism?

              Have you ever been to the Lithuanian genocide museum? When I visited, there was scant mention of the holocaust, it was almost strictly about the USSR. What does renaming of schools, streets and buildings after known Nazis imply? How can Lithuania actually defend this in the current century, and then deny the crimes (cf Slyvia Foti, “The Nazi’s Granddaughter”)?

              What would happen or what might be said if the US government sanctioned bulldozing the graves of the confederacy in 2022? We’re not talking about removing statues of slave owners or renaming Army bases. We’re talking about the desereation of graves of people that died driving out the Nazis and destroying Nazism.

              Are all Baltic peoples Nazis? Of course not. Dissent is not tolerated, censorship reins. Needless to say given the post 1991 climate and 3 decades of “education” and propaganda, little is different from what my mother grew up with as a child in the interwar Republic or as a high school student in Berlin after 1941.

              Denial isn’t a river in Egypt.

              1. DZhMM

                Who is in charge of the Baltics? Uncle Sam.

                His foremen, from among whom he allows us to pick which to stand above us, are absolutely irrelevant.

          4. Karl

            It’s my impression, from reading the history of WW I and II about this region that there is a lot of hatred of the “other”. This region was the “Eastern Front” and we westerners don’t fully appreciate what went on in this time. It was often the scene of Poles, Jews, Hungarians, Czechs, Germans, Russians and Ukrainians hating eachother, at different points of history, in every conceivable permutation. They all had experience of ethnic cleansings of one sort or another as territory shifted to inspire such hatreds, and subsequent retributions kept those fires burning.

            Territorial control in Central Europe is likely to shift once again, soon, big time. Therefore, the West is able to strum hatred of Russia like a harp, and because of (recent and ancient) animosities there is lots of resonance. This is how the cycle of violence and hatred works.

            One value of living through this moment is that it helps us to understand how easily manipulated we are to hate and start the next war. Every war the USA has been in started with our normally sane, peaceful people having their buttons pushed against commies, terrorists, socialists….Now it’s the Russians. We good. They evil. Will we never learn?

        3. pjay

          I appreciate that you did respond to my first question, at least with one example. I even partially agree with it. If Helmer is implying that the Poles willingly collaborated with the Nazi’s to the extent of, say, Ukraine or Lithuania (see Upstater above), then I think he is historically inaccurate (though they didn’t do much to help the Jews and some other out-groups; see the discussion of Poland above). Helmer is not neutral in this conflict, nor does he pretend to be. He often uses sarcasm, satire, and yes, hyperbole. As Yves says, he sometimes leans too far over his skis. Is Merkel “Hitler”? Of course not. But for the reasons I mentioned in an earlier comment, I think his Merkel = Hitler comparison is very useful in today’s propaganda war, as it underscores the complete hypocrisy of the Western narrative.

          On that topic, I would really be interested in your response to my other questions.

          1. The Lonely Voice

            Dear pjay,
            then you kind of agree that Helmer is partial. Well, honestly — the only reason to listen to Helmer is then to get a “feeling” of the discussion atmosphere in Moscow. Yes, listening to propaganda has its value (what topics is FoxNews pushing and why) but I am missing the scrutiny of Helmer in general. There are some points which Helmer got right (e.g. the visit of the Western politicians to Kiev in March), but one has to endure a lot of poisoneous language and propaganda reading Helmer.
            Now, another one of your questions: “Do you accept the NATO framing?” For me there is a problem in the question: “the” NATO framing, considering there are nearly 30 states with clearly different agendas (Hunguary, Turkey, Greece, …) and different positions (in 2008, a lot of countries resisted any Ukraine membership). I remember that — only two years ago — Macron called NATO moribund, an organization without purpose. So, talking about “the” NATO framing is clearly wrong. It is no monolith and has never be. For Russia, having a propaganda enemy in “NATO”, of course, worked in the last years.

            1. pjay

              Again, I appreciate the reply. For me, Helmer has more than “propaganda” value. I admit that for me there is a certain catharsis in reading the “Merkel = Hitler” comparison, and yes I am as susceptible to confirmation bias as anyone else. But Helmer also has some good connections, in Russia and Britain among other places, and he has many times provided information or evidence from important sources before they appear elsewhere. I take Helmer’s own biases – including whatever poisonous language or propaganda in which they might be embedded — into consideration when evaluating such information, as I would for any author. I have found him useful in the past, as I have found other “biased” authors from a wide variety of perspectives.

              Regarding “NATO framing” – by this I mean *US* framing. Here I readily admit my bias. I understand that there are multiple member states with different agendas. I just don’t think most of these are that influential. While it is true that occasionally a Hungary or Turkey can block specific moves, in general I believe NATO was created as a tool to “keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down.” That certainly seems to be its current task. I see very little resistance from most of those members. Am I wrong?

            2. Yves Smith Post author

              You continue to dig your hole deep, confirming that you are sorely wanting in your self-proclaimed powers of discernment.

              Helmer has not been in Moscow since 2010. He was expelled by Medvedev. You are playing a Procrustean bed game of making him fit your factually false conception of him. See:

              In my case I’ve been driven into exile more than once. The current one is lasting the longest. This is the one from Moscow, which began with my expulsion by the Foreign Ministry on September 28, 2010.  The official sentence is Article 27(1) of the law No. 114-FZ — “necessary for the purposes of defence capability or security of the state, or public order, or protection of health of the population.” The reason, a foreign ministry official told an immigration service official when they didn’t know they were being overheard, was: “Helmer writes bad things about Russia.”


              Before he was booted, his byline was “John Helmer in Moscow.” It is not “John Helmer, Moscow.” He has maintained contacts there, and recall they were the sort that got him in trouble with the government. He also has researchers but the only one I know of is in the EU but is fluent in at least a couple of Eastern European languages.

            3. Yves Smith Post author

              To add: you are telling me there is no NATO? Seriously? NATO is an independent organization with over 4,000 people at its HQ alone. Member states allow NATO to operate bases under NATO control on their soil. NATO has its own policy staff, policy positions, PR operations, etc.

              Your position is akin to pretending that the EU and UN do not have policies because they are collective organizations. Help me.

              Yes, individual member states can constrain NATO on key decisions like the admission of new members, and are not obligated to commit their country’s troops when Article 5 is triggered.

        4. Yves Smith Post author

          I’ve been in Estonia. The Estonians hate Russians. They make a point of letting Americans know that when there was no reason to volunteer that information.

  9. eg

    I’m struggling to square this assertion of Merkel’s regarding the Minsk Accords and her behaviour with respect to the construction of Nordstream 2.

    There is something either missing or duplicitous here that I am unable to identify.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, that is why I buy the Mercouris/Moon of Alabama view. Posting does not imply agreement but that a piece is grist for thought.

      But if you believe the US was going to get regime change or break up Russia, Merkel was arguably helping Germany in the near term and putting Germany in the catbird seat for benefitting from resource looting later.

    2. Polar Socialist

      If there’s a chance of a future war in the area your gas-pipelines are going trough, it would be a good idea to have a plan B; a pipeline that doesn’t go trough those possibly contested areas.

      Also, if you plan to hog resources from the natives, it also helps if the means of delivering them cheaply to home already exist. Even better if nobody else controls those means.

      Nordstream is was a strategic asset to Germany regardless of the entity in the other end of the pipeline – be it Gazprom or Siemens Ost. Neither Poland, Ukraine or US would have Germany by the short and curlies. Oops.

    3. anon in so cal

      Helmer addresses Merkel’s stance toward Nordstream, and, if I read it correctly, he attributes it to political expediency.

      “She and US leaders weren’t as impulsive as the Dutch; they had all been surprised by the swift effectiveness of the Russian takeover of Crimea. So they began to plan for the longer run. Merkel also didn’t agree to break off the lucrative economic ties with Russia on which German business and trade unions depended – and also the votes she required for her re-election in 2017; she won that despite an 8% swing against her. So Berlin didn’t stop the Nord Stream gas project; instead Merkel delayed its implementation and bought more time.”

      1. The Rev Kev

        It also helped that that pipeline landed in Germany in Merkel’s own political seat so provided jobs and revenue.

  10. Ignacio

    I don’t buy this piece. There is of course, as in any war, an element of chaos for whatever is to come but I side with Mercouris and Moon of Alabama on their analysis of Merkel interview. Particularly, I found the discussion in Moon of Alabama very good, equilibrated and well reasoned. Merkel was just accommodating previous actions with present Western winds. If anything this demonstrates that politicians are accommodative animals, ready to change with the direction of the currents. Equating Merkel with Hitler is… excessive. Mind you, I really cannot see the Germans going to fight for the US to the last of themselves, moreover seeing how “well” is it going for Ukrainians if there was any chance. IMO, that was silly. Even the Polish… though I don’t have insider

    Then the move against AfD is more of a parody as much of what the current German government is doing and it would be a big mistake to consider the AfD as the last resort of sanity in Germany or the West. A big mistake or a very much biased view, IMO.

    This is not to say that the West is not plagued with rogue actors in high positions ready to escalate to the moon and unable to consider a defeat in the proxy war. That is a real risk and I still believe that, for instance, the NS sabotage was planned by neocon extremists executed by some that believed it was official and only green-lighted after the event by officialdom silence. Old Joe saw it on TV and reacted, “what is done is done” and “I didn’t order it so nobody can blame me, even if we did it” “just let’s make sure this is investigated with the proper conclusions”. The leadership in the collective West is behind the curve and just digesting/accepting what is presented thereafter as unavoidable.

    Besides, the NATO is not, IMO, the cohesive block that is presented in this article and further escalation risks breaking it into pieces. Indeed the Baltic states and Poland are in a different league regarding the conflict while the rest are only playing the fool with eyes wide shut while they slowly realise how badly have they been dragged to this idiocy. This said, it is so easy to miss the facts in the fog of war…

    1. Dida

      ‘Equating Merkel with Hitler is… excessive.’

      Unless one nurtures starry-eyed dreams about western democracies and such, Hitler and Merkel were sock puppets who provided the nation with the illusion of political agency. Ultimately it is the German oligarchy who runs the economy and decides the geopolitics of the German state.

      So to me what Helmer’s analogy makes explicit is not that Merkel and Hitler are equally evil on a psychological level, but that the German overlords who own the political class adopted repeatedly similar predatory strategies towards Russia over the last century.

      Of course, now that they are acting jointly with the entire pack of hyenas that is the Atlantic Alliance, things are going to go splendidly well, unlike last time.

      1. Karl

        Ultimately it is the German oligarchy who runs the economy and decides the geopolitics of the German state.

        I thought this way, too, about Germany until I read Gunter Reiman’s “The Vampire Economy” (a memoir by a German economist in 1939 about Nazi management of the Germany economy) and Adam Tooze’s The Wages of Destruction. To put it simply: German business was thoroughly dominated and coerced into total obedience in the Nazi state. In return, the Nazi’s assured them of high profits. But it was a Faustian bargain. Over time, the Nazi’s micro-managed every aspect of the German economy, and the oligarchs came to hate the Nazi’s. Any failure to follow Nazi edicts were punishable as sabotage. Many were arrested. Goering, who ran much of the economy before Speer, always emphasized that the obedience of business was a patriotic duty, when rearmament started in earnest in 1936-7, i.e. well before the war started.

        This helps explain the behavior of the business class in Germany today: they are being obedient as a matter of patriotic duty. I suspect German business sees this crisis as being existential in nature, requiring such deference. Therefore they are following the direction of the political leadership, even though it’s against their own business interests to do so. My guess is they are being assured “this will be over soon.”

        There is embedded in U.S. regulatory frameworks serious power that can also exact similar obedience to the Federal government in a US national emergency. I think this power was on vivid display during the Covid pandemic. It was also on display in the Federal Government’s tight control over business and the macro economy (wage and price controls) during WW II.

        So, in peacetime business has lots of political power, as you say. In national emergencies, not so much, imho.

        1. Acacia

          Over time, the Nazi’s micro-managed every aspect of the German economy, and the oligarchs came to hate the Nazi’s.

          Expanding on this a little, Alexander Kluge noted: “Nazism was not only a mass movement; it was an industrial movement that brought with it a society based on forced exchange [Zwangstauschgesellschaft].” The term comes from Max Horkheimer. Kluge defines it like this:

          The expression for a market society is Tauschgesellschaft. In it everything can be exchanged for everything else. If this principle became compulsory, if you had to buy, if you had to work, if you could not sell to a Jew but only to Aryans, then you have a Zwangstauschgesellschaft. At the end of the twentieth century these fascist forms will be very different than those of the ’30s. They will not be directed against Jews, but they will always need a minority to torture or kill or exclude.
          October 46 (Autumn 1988): 44–45.

          Or perhaps in the present case: the Russians.

  11. Edmund De Bleuville

    How long are we going to hear about the collapsing Ukrainian army before actually seeing any evidence? Hospitals full of injured soldiers is probably par for the course in any serious hot conflict and not evidence of a collapse. Has the Ukrainian military been collapsing so hard that they somehow fell on the Russian advance and accidentally pushed it back hundreds of kilometers?
    This is the same line that was pushed in the Spring with talk of collapsing cauldrons and deserting Ukrainians running out of ammunition. And yet here we are with the Russian forces depleted, unable to move forward, and impaling themselves on Ukrainian defenses. If the Russians are so intent on grinding down Ukrainian combat power why pray are they building defensive trenches in Crimea which is ostensibly 100km from the front? I’ve no doubt both sides are doing their upmost to control the information space but the constant refrain about how Russia’s strategy is to grind down the Ukrainians sounds hollow at this point.

    1. Divadab

      “Russian forces depleted, unable to move forward, and impaling themselves on Ukrainian defenses”

      This is a good description of where the Ukrainians are – you clearly get your information from western sources who are projecting their fantasies like mad. Yes the Russians are in no hurry but they are taking casualties at about one seventh the rate of the Ukrainians- who are thoughtfully throwing conscripts into the killing fields of Russian artillery at sickening rates.

      Also you fail to mention that the Russians have already taken over 20 percent of Ukraine’s territory even after subtracting territory in Kharkov and Kherson they retreated from strategically. Wouldn’t you build defense works for solidify your gains?

      We shall see how far the Russians go with this until the Ukrainians cry uncle. It’s horrific and unnecessary and entirely the fault of nato which provoked the Russians into a war they had been avoiding with diplomacy with as it turns out bad faith actors as helmer points out.

      1. Edmund De Bleuville

        Sources? Evidence? I’ll wait.
        Russia has occupied Ukraine since 2014. Eight years seems a long time to wait before building defenses to solidify gains don’t y’a think?

        1. nippersdad

          “Russia has occupied Ukraine since 2014.”

          Someone just threw you into the deep end, didn’t they?

        2. hk

          “Russia has occupied Ukraine since 2014.”.

          Such a strange statement, akin to saying United States has occupied West Virginia since 1861.

          1. Polar Socialist

            Actually, Russia has occupied Crimea since 1774, when it gained the control of the ports. The peninsula was annexed formally in 1783.

            I guess Russia has better claim to Crimea than US has to West Virginia, then.

            1. hk

              Eh, that was in reference to how WV was created from the pro Union parts of Virginia who decided to join the Union rather than go with the Confederacy. So the point of reference would be when various parts of Ukraine wanted to join Russia, rather than go with Ukraine, after USSR broke up.

              1. Polar Socialist

                My bad. Although my comment was more to De Bleuville and only building on your point.

                (And also to my defense, I’m not particularly well educated on the US Civil War)

                1. hk

                  Sorry about the cryptic reference. It is easy to forget that there are readers and posters here from all over the world!

        3. Yves Smith Post author

          This is nonsense. Putin pushed the separatists to accept Minsk 1 and 2 which had them stay in Ukraine, when they wanted either to be independent or join Russia from the get-go.

          1. hk

            Which, given Russia’s diplomatic strategy, made better sense than having them join Russia. Russia’s goal, stated time and again, was to maintain Ukraine as a friendly neutral with a government whose legitimacy was generally recognized and that meant there had to be a lot of Russia-friendly Ukrainians. Having them join Russia would make an unfriendly government in Kiev more likely. This, of course, presumes that the selection of government would follow democratic procedures….

        4. Karl

          Edmund–You remind me of a very well informed and intelligent friend who takes your position. We argue. He presents his facts, I present mine. We argue some more. It always ends in stalemate.

          One thing we agree on: time will dispel this fog of this war. Eventually we will KNOW who’s sources of information have been right, and whose were wrong. Good information, analysis, and outright misinformation by all sides undoubtedly abounds. We live in epistemologically challenged times.

          I have to concede, you and my friend might be right. I consider the history of our mistaken, manipulated convictions in the past. We thought we would win in Vietnam and Afghanistan, and that Iraq would be a cakewalk. The Afghanistan papers were very clear that the American people were systematically lied to about that war for a decade. So, you have to admit that those (like me) who disbelieve the mainstream narrative that “Russia is on the ropes, Ukraine will win” may actually be right.

          But we all have to admit we are all in a fog. We can’t speak in certainties, only probabilities. Being a good Bayesian, I give the “Russians will ultimately win” case an 80% probability of being right. I factor this probability into my thinking when I read the news. I am particularly attentive to news from so-called “reliable” MSM sources that contradict my priors. I adjust these priors constantly. Six months ago it was 70%. In other words, based on everything I’ve learned from second-hand sources on both sides, for me the likelihood Russia ultimately winning is going up.

          This likelihood goes down to 10% if it goes nuclear. I.e. there’s a 90% chance we all lose, 10% chance it will be contained and someone wins. I doubt it will be Ukraine. In this case, both sides will have irradiated one of the breadbaskets of the world. Farmers in Russia and the US will win with much higher prices for all foodstuffs in a hungry world!

          1. Synoia

            “Eventually we will KNOW who’s sources of information have been right, and whose were wrong.”

            I’m not so sure of that. The winners control the perception for some time, and it appears the a balanced assessment takes a many years to emerge.”

            Sanctions on Japan and Perl Harbor come to mind.

            As do the treatment of the Indigenous people who inhabited the US buy the European settlers.

    2. Raymond Sim

      If the Russians are so intent on grinding down Ukrainian combat power why pray are they building defensive trenches in Crimea which is ostensibly 100km from the front?

      “Defensive trenches” eh? How evocative.

      Do the Ukrainians deploy weapons with greater than 100 km range? Have they been successful in sabotage attacks?

      1. Polar Socialist

        Or maybe there are, say, between 150,000 and 350,000 Russian mobilized men in Ukraine training for the kind of warfare currently on offer in those parts of the world?

        If you are a noobie positioned on a relatively safe distance from the front and yet need to learn the ways of the trench warfare, what would be the best way to learn it, I wonder?

        1. Raymond Sim

          Good point. If the kind of stuff that gets on Twitter is any guide they really do seem to have moved a lot of stuff into Crimea don’t they?

          I wonder what the modern equivalent of building hidden causeways in the Syvash might be?

  12. Judith

    Stephen Wertheim, an academic associated with the Quincy Institute and the Carnegie Endowment (for context), wrote a dissertation, later published as a book, arguing that the U.S. made a conscious decision during WW II to pursue global hegemony using military means. And here we are today, having caused so much suffering in the world through our wars of imperialism.

  13. Dida

    I have to say that having read the title ‘Hungary asks the war questions’, I proceeded to read the text with some trepidation, imagining that Orban publicly asked some daring questions. I certainly did not expect an interview with John Helmer by a far-right low-level politician.

    Yves, I don’t see how this small fry can stand for Hungary: it is a metonymy of gigantic proportions. But thank you for the interview and your commentary too, both were very enlightening.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Fair point, I kept the first “Hungary” clause from Helmer’s original headline and re-wrote the rest. I should have composed a full new one instead.

  14. V V Gerasimov

    There was a very insightful comment on Moon of Alabama recently re the Nordstream pipelines. It posited that they were built for the purpose of having the means in place to immediately facilitate the looting of Russia once the US/NATO plan to break up Russia had succeeded. When that plan — the economic destruction of Russia, “ruble to rubble”, etc. — utterly failed and the sanctions plan completely backfired, the pipelines became a liability instead as Germany could use them to try and break from US control and negotiate a separate peace with Russia to try and save their own economy from total destruction.

    That analysis makes such obvious sense that I’m chagrined I hadn’t figured it out myself.

      1. V V Gerasimov


        Merkel was no mere puppet of the US. The nazis were never rooted out of Germany after WW II — over half of the national judiciary and the Bundeswehr leadership in the 1950s had been party members prior to 1945 — and comprised the German Deep State that still runs affairs there today (look into the family background of Olaf Scholz and Ursula van der Leyen).

        Germany was the driving force for the breakup of Yugoslavia, its desire to control and exploit the mineral resources of the Balkans a national aim antedating WW II. And Merkel was a key (and very willing!) player in the current exploitation of Ukraine.

        The Duran duo was very critical of Merkel in the past, calling out her deviousness and ruthlessness over the events mentioned above. Why Mercouris has reversed himself and is trying to whitewash her now is a mystery — though he is somewhat of a squeamish and naive Pollyanna when it comes to confronting the reality of brutal geopolitical realities in this world….

        1. Soredemos

          The idea that Yugoslavia was fundamentally anything more than a suicide is one of the more frustrating memes I constantly see parroted in certain quarters. Yugoslavia wasn’t broken up; it killed itself through insipid nationalism. It was a strange mutant country that was probably not long for the world once the capable leadership holding together was gone.

          It’s actually sort of ridiculous to see people who often correctly point out the strange hybrid nature of modern Ukraine, that historically there really was no such place and that it’s a welded together mutant of different ethnic and historical identies, then turn around and go “Yugoslavia though, yeah, totally natural country that could only have been killed by outside interference”.

    1. Karl

      I’ve always thought America got itself into these foreign quagmires mostly out of hubris, stupidity, political expediency and a bit of idealism. And a dash of profit. This could fit the whole post WW II pattern: we are just a big bumbling well-intentioned hegemon in a china shop.

      As a long-time reader of NC, I have always read the “America = Death Star” big picture view with (what I always considered) healthy skepticism and healthy “yeah, it could be true”.

      But if you’re right, the cat’s finally out of the bag. And our leaders are self-consciously acting in a lawless, malignant way.

      Caveat: I thought the invasion of Iraq let the cat out of the bag. I guess I went into denial mode when Barack Obama got elected by a landslide in 2008, which seemed to give the country a chance for redemption….

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I alluded to that in comments above….but yes, the thought occurred to me when I tried to work out if Merkel was actually fully truthful in saying she’d deceived Putin from the outset. How to make sense of the Nord Stream deal if so? At a minimum, you can argue it put Germany in the catbird seat. They profit from cheap Russian gas now and are in an advantaged position to loot if the US/NATO plan succeeds.

  15. anon in so cal

    Merkel and Scholz are obviously operating within the wider historical and institutional context that was shaped in no small manner by Nazis, who were integrated into NATO, the CIA, and the BND. So, it is not merely a case of individual agency.

    This article reminds that:

    “Germany’s foreign intelligence service, officially called the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND)….

    …. was created in the post-WWII years by former Nazis and SS officers as a private intelligence organization. Control over the service was entirely in the hands of the United States, and major intelligence operations were carried out in the US interest. Numerous journalistic investigations allow us to conclude that the situation has not changed much to this day.”

    1. The Lonely Voice

      Well linking to RT is like linking to FoxNews. Both are paid for by a state (Russia) or a man (Murdoch). Please, try again with a more trustworthy source.

      1. Don

        Just curious: Did you read the RT article? Personally, I skipped it, but I am interested in what you thought of it, and whether you think it is worth reading.

        I read and evaluate just about every source I can find on this war and the background to it. True, not Fox News too much, as I don’t consider it to be particularly relevant, or representative of the US point of view. (It’s actually astonishing how little press coverage this war gets in the US media, including on Fox — I suspect that there is a considerable percentage of the adult US population that could not identify Ukraine on a map and is not aware of this war at all.) CNN wouldn’t carry any coverage, but for their legacy obsession with Trump.

        I usually start out by reading the appalling coverage in the Globe and Mail, which is just slightly less fantasy-based and batty than the BBC. I also read RT and listen to Mercouris, and so on… I had never heard of The American Conservative until I read a piece that was linked on this site. I now have this publication bookmarked, in spite of the fact that the vast bulk of its content could not be further from my point of view, because this article, and their other coverage on the war in Ukraine is brilliant and insightful.

        My point is, you have to cast a wide net to have any hope of understanding — anything.

        My dad — otherwise an **shole — taught me this when I was about seven.

      2. anon in so cal

        RT is a reliable source of information, unlike most of US/UK/EU corporate media.

        The RT article cited above aligns with information in US gov archives. One of many examples:

        “Washington D.C., February 4, 2005 – Today the National Security Archive posted the CIA’s secret documentary history of the U.S government’s relationship with General Reinhard Gehlen, the German army’s intelligence chief for the Eastern Front during World War II. At the end of the war, Gehlen established a close relationship with the U.S. and successfully maintained his intelligence network (it ultimately became the West German BND) even though he employed numerous former Nazis and known war criminals.”

      3. Yves Smith Post author

        Full of yourself, aren’t we?

        Ad hominem, a violation of site Policies. Plus acting as if you can sit in judgment of other readers and tell them what to do. That authority is limited to site writers and admins.

  16. Willow

    Problem for US is that the plan was to hobble Russia first, mop things up, and then focus on the primary adversary which is China. The way things are going the US will end up being hobbled and China having free reign. Pentagon/DIA are likely much less enthused about Ukraine than State Dept/CIA. Which means US using tactical nukes is unlikely. UK however, may be unhinged enough to go there to escalate things.

    Flipping of voter sentiment in Taiwan to less pro-US Kuomintang may be a warning that European voters may not follow through for pro-US parties or leaders. Even with promises of support. Especially if men start getting drafted as is (will) happen in Poland.

    1. anon in so cal

      Speaking of getting drafted in Poland:

      Not sure what, if anything, this video of traffic out of Poland signifies:

      “This is the border of #Poland and #Germany, People are leaving from #Poland. they got alarmed after the news that 200 thousand people would be called up for “exercises”. So Ukrainians run to Poland, Poles to Germany, where will the Germans run?”–z22Q

    2. Michaelmas

      Willow: Pentagon/DIA are likely much less enthused about Ukraine than State Dept/CIA.

      Pentagon/DIA has more brains and sense than State/CIA.

      Willow: UK, however, may be unhinged enough to go there to escalate things.

      But is the UK really unhinged? Recently, an acquaintance moving to London from the US went to Coutt’s, a bank which caters to high net worth individuals such as the Windsors. He was told Coutts could help him, but could have done a lot more for him immediately if he was Russian.

      In other words, when this current stage of things in Ukraine has settled down into the next phase — likely featuring a large DMZ separating two international blocs — business will continue to be done between London and Russia, as it was done during Cold War 1, when in 1957 the City of London created the eurodollar market by letting Russia’s Narodny Bank shift dollars from the US and deposit them in in London, beyond the range of US interest rate caps or regulations.

      So I ask again: is the UK really unhinged? Or does it have another aim besides an unhinged hatred of Russia and Russians? Could it even be the same foreign policy aim as Britain has had for at least the last five-hundred years?

      1. Willow

        Yes Minister nails it. UK became unhinged with Brexit. UK went from a country with global outlook and confidence to play the subtle game to an inward looking parochial country electing clowns like Boris Johnson & Liz Truss.

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