Is Russia’s Least Bad Option Now the Maximalist Stance of Taking Control of Western Ukraine?

Posted on by

Russia is living out a risk that’s even made its way into pop culture. In the movie Elizabeth, Cate Blanchette as the queen intones, “I do not like wars. They have uncertain outcomes.”

Despite Western efforts to claim otherwise, Putin is risk averse. He seemed agitated when he announced the launch of the Special Military Operation, an underpowered attack which some non-neocon US military experts argue was meant to show Russia would no longer tolerate attacks on its border and the West continuing to arm Ukraine. The invasion initially did achieve the desired outcome of bringing Ukraine to the negotiating table. But after the initial talks showed progress, Boris Johnson visited Zelensky and scuppered the peace initiative.

European leaders no doubt read Putin’s cautiousness since the start of the conflict in 2014 and may also have seen it as an admission of military weakness. They snookered him into the Minsk Accords, which the Russian side took seriously. Since then, gloating Western leaders have revealed it was a sham to buy time to better arm Ukraine.

The comparatively small group of Westerners who are militarily/intelligence savvy and opposed to US adventurism have generally called the trajectory of this conflict correctly, even if they clearly thought or hoped it would be closer to resolution by now. Russia, after realizing the US and NATO would not stomach Plan A of a negotiated settlement, geared up for a war of attrition along an already extended line of contact. That took some time, but despite the bad optics of Russian pullbacks in Kharkiv and Kherson, Ukraine didn’t profit from Russia having to take time to train newly mobilized men and restructure operations. Russia was aided in this by its overwhelming advantage in artillery, superiority in air defense, and missile and drone capabilities, which have only increased over the course of this still comparatively short conflict. In fact, as many have pointed out, Russia has essentially gone through the original Ukraine armed forces and a second army constituted by the West, and has been grinding through what is effectively a third set of forces.

Conventional wisdom in these circles (and I generally subscribed to it) was Russia would wait for the Great Overlydiscussed Ukraine Counteroffensive, and at most cede some territory for a bit while further chewing up Ukraine men and materiel, and then see what to do next, as in, say, whether to engage in further comparatively localized operations to further bleed Ukraine, like taking some important towns and cities in Donbass (actually not a small task given the natural fortifications of sturdy old Soviet-era buildings) or whether the Ukraine would be so degraded at that point that a big offensive might finally be in order.

But again, consensus views in this cohort have been along the lines of Russia needing to take at least its four annexed oblasts in full and probably now Kharkiv to better protect the Russian border. The next mission objective might be to march up to the west bank of the Dnieper and issue some sort of ultimatum, more for appearances’ sake that out of an expectation than a belief it might be entertained. These experts then posit that Russia’s next objective is Odessa; Colonel Douglas Macgregor pointed out that Russia recently destroyed a bridge near Moldova that would have been essential for any NATO ground defense of Odessa. Macgregor’s conclusion: “Odessa is now on the menu.”

There was an implicit optimists’ case in term of the war ending on an equilibrium where what was left of Ukraine would be so weak that it would not be able to threaten Russia on its own. If Russia controlled the Black Sea coast, the industrial production in the East, and a fair bit of the best agricultural land, what was left of Ukraine would be very poor and dependent. And if Russia could keep up its slow grind, it would drain Western weapons stocks to the degree that rearmament woudld be very costly and take a very long time.

Western rearmament is further complicated by many EU members having their own weapons systems, which makes it hard to work out joint logistics, as Ukraine is showing in real time now. National arms makers will not want to cede power and prestige to Airbus-style joint design and manufacturing initiatives, even before getting to the long time it would take to sort out what to do assuming agreement. And that’s before getting to the fact that Project Ukraine is becoming increasingly unpopular among the European public. It will become more so as structurally higher energy costs mean more de-industrialization, which means higher arms spending would eat even more into social safety nets and other services.

Or shorter, there was a conceivable, if narrow path, to Russia being able to conclude the war at least reasonably to its satisfaction without occupying or otherwise neutralizing western Ukraine. One option was the Medvedev map: of Ukraine windup up as Greater Kiev, with the rest of western Ukraine eaten up by Poland, Romania, and Hungary.

The events of this week point in another direction. Even though Ukraine’s first moves towards its counteroffensive are by many accounts going not at all well despite much more use of high end Western armaments (see Alexander Mercouris, Dima, and Simplicius the Thinker, among others, for details), the big infrastructure attacks suggest Ukraine will salt the earth rather than let Russia have it.

While there are many, starting with Ukraine president Zelensky, who blame the catastrophic failure of the Kakhovka dam on Russia, circumstantial evidence and cui bono point strongly the other way.

First, let’s consider another major infrastructure hit, 24 hours before the dam breach, to an ammonia pipeline. The pipeline, the subject of dispute in the grain deal. Despite the popular label. Russia had treated being able to resume fertilizer deliveries as integral to that pact. Some backstory via a John Helmer post yesterday:

The Russian government has repeatedly accused the UN and the Ukrainians of refusing to honour the reciprocal export provisions of the food export initiative, so that Russian grain and fertilizers will not be blocked in the European ports,  or at sea where vessels carrying the Russian cargoes have been denied Anglo-American insurance. The UN publications, statements and press releases published by Guterres’s staff have reported the full 26-paragraph text of the grain agreement;   they have omitted the text of the fertilizer agreement.  The combination of the two makes the difference between the grain deal and the real deal:  for the Russians the latter was the precondition for their agreement to the former.

[UN Secretary-General] Guterres’s office has acknowledged that the real deal was more than the grain deal, and that compliance also required the US, the UK and the European Union (EU) states to lift the sanctions they have imposed on Russian shipping, port access, vessel insurance, and commodity exports….

Of the 43 releases which have followed from Guterres’s office since last July,    not a single statement, press release, report,  or update identifies the terms of agreement on Russian grain and fertilizer exports, or acknowledges Russian protests against Ukrainian, UN, EU,  and US  non-compliance.

On March 23, [British lawyer Martin] Griffiths announced he had met Russian officials, and claimed:  “The discussions focused on the implementation of the two agreements signed on 22 July 2022: the Black Sea Grain Initiative between the Russian Federation, Türkiye, Ukraine and the United Nations; and the Memorandum of Understanding between the Russian Federation and the UN, to facilitate unimpeded exports of food and fertilizer. The UN Secretary-General expressed today that the UN remains fully committed to the Black Sea Grain Initiative, as well as to efforts to facilitate the export of Russian food and fertilizer.”

Griffith’s last sentence was lying. The Russians had told him they would agree to extend the grain deal until July on condition Guterres and Griffiths did what they promised they were doing. They didn’t….

Because Guterres and Griffiths refused, Russian officials have announced that the current 120-day extension of the grain deal to July 17 will be the last. In the meantime, because Russian ammonia exports are still stopped, Ukrainian grain cargoes have been blocked from Odessa and Chernomorsk, and restricted to Yuzhny (aka Pivdennyi).   In retaliation, the Ukrainians have attacked the  new ammonia and LPG export terminals at Taman with drones.

Now for the update. Be sure to click through to read the full text:

As with the Nord Stream pipeline, Russia had no incentive to blow up infrastructure that delivers its exports. It can simply, as it had, turn off the tap. Dima reported that the ammonia release seems to have done a lot of damage in the area, and troops have pulled out for now.

As for the dam, Russia did not need to destroy or damage it to open the floodgates and send a surge downstream to impede a Ukraine crossing or amphibious operation, were one to get going (the Dnieper is very wide near Kherson city, and Ukraine attempts to ford the river so far have all failed). Again, Russia had more options, and therefore more power, with the dam intact.

Similarly, despite teary-eyed depictions of harm to Ukraine civilians, the Russian-held areas have suffered more damage. Russia also had mines and fortifications flooded out, but experts believe Russia has additional defense lines behind them. Ilargi tartly noted:

The best comment on Kakhovka I’ve seen perhaps comes from @CheburekiMan on Twitter: “Restoring water flow to the North Crimean Canal was top priority for Russia, the very first act of the SMO. Before Kiev shut off the flow in 2014, the canal was supplying 85% of Crimea’s water. So much depended on it, from crops to industry to drinking water, that’s how important it is. Now the pro-Ukraine bleating sheep want people to believe that Russia would wreck the dam, empty the reservoir and cause serious harm to its own people by running the canal dry. It’s so bonkers that one has to seriously consider such ideas are the result of brain damage, or perhaps fetal alcohol syndrome.”

Recall also that Ukraine has been threatening the dam for at least the better part of a year; Surovkin was willing to rattle the confidence of ordinary Russians by pulling troops out of Kherson as a cautionary measure. Ukraine has been regularly shelling it, including with HIMARS, which means with Western help in targeting. Both the New York Times and Washington Post published separate accounts of Ukraine plans to destroy the dam.

Simplicius provided a key bit of information in the “whoduit” category:

First, let’s start with a small update on the Kakhovka dam. Earlier today, Twitter “community notes” attempted to debunk the narrative that Ukraine was playing with the water levels of the Kakhovka reservoir. But soon after, their own ‘fact check’ was destroyed when new footage was released from residents upriver showing that Ukraine’s hydro-electric plants had in fact massively opened up their sluice gates. Here are both of the videos compiled:

The man recording even says, “I’ve never seen this in my life.”

⚡️⚡️⚡️Meanwhile, at the moment, the locks are still open in DneproGES (Ukrainian controlled), which means that the Ukrainian leadership is not interested in stopping the flood…and the Western media is silent⚡️⚡️⚡️

Vladimir Rogov appears to believe that the lowering of the Kakhovka Basin water levels will actually increase the risk of Ukraine landing to try to seize the ZNPP nuclear plant at Energodar:

💥💥💥⚡️ The lowering of the water level in the Kakhovka Basin due to the weakening of the dam of the hydroelectric power plant of the same name located downstream of the Dnieper increases the risk of landings by militants of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to capture the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant.

This was stated by Vladimir Rogov, leader of the “We are together with Russia” movement.💥💥💥

And on the note of the Dnipropetrovsk hydro-electric plant being opened up by Kiev prior to the Kakhovka event to raise water levels, we have the first truly high level Russian confirmation of this. Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev stated the following:

Patrushev: Kyiv released water to Dnipropetrovsk HPP a day before the attack on Kakhovka Secretary of the Security Council of Russia Nikolay Patrushev said today that, on the order of Kiev, water was released in the Dnipropetrovsk hydroelectric power plant, a day before the attack on the Kahovka HPP. “On the orders of Kyiv, 24 hours earlier there was a massive water release at the Dnipropetrovsk HPP, and then there was an attack on the Kahovka HPP, which led to terrible consequences,” said Patrushev, TASS reports.

Another recent event, which didn’t get the attention it warranted, perhaps because it was so cringe-makingly detached from reality, was a speech by Anthony Blinken in Helsinki on June 2. Blinken among other things argued Russia has failed comprehensively in the war, was becoming more isolated, and the US had been willing to negotiate but Putin kicked the table over. The last claim is probably the worst of the many howlers in the talk.

But what is signifies is dangerous: the hawks are absolutely not backing down and despite evidence, are convinced they will prevail. Blinken gave the usual bromides about US controlled freedom-loving Ukrainians and the US being committed to Ukraine for as long as it takes.

These new infrastructure strikes, which harm civilians and may do lasting environmental damage, seem likely to force Russia to pursue the war to the destruction of the Ukraine government, as opposed say to a mere dictating of terms of surrender. As Lambert put it, “Russia can’t permit a fascist state on its borders.”

The ever-careful Putin has even changed how he speaks about Ukraine. The Washington Post on May 31 quote Putin as referring to it as “hat territory known as Ukraine,” suggesting it has no standing as a government. That framing, particularly in connection with the two blasts, may lead Russia to cross the Rubicon and designate Ukraine as a terrorist state. That means among other things no negotiations. Simplicius set forth evidence of more hardening of attitudes among top officials, beyond the usual Medvedev bad-coppery. For instance, he hoisted this section from a post-Kakhovka disaster RIA Novosti interview with Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev:

The new goal of the SMO is the demolition of the Nazi regime in Kiev.

It seems that new specifics have been added to the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine as the goals of the SMO.

“Washington and London created the Kiev Nazi regime, which must be replaced, giving Ukraine the status of a neutral state in practice,” said Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev (pictured) in an interview with Belarusian Security Council Secretary Alexander Volfovich.

Now many have assumed that capturing and subjugating such a larger territory as Western Ukraine would be an incredibly costly and corrosive task. But yours truly has pointed out there are ways, albeit not at all nice, to square this circle, and if yours truly can come up with one, there are surely much better ideas being considered in Moscow.

As we pointed out, if Russia takes Ukraine west of the Dnieper and the Black Sea coast, what is left of Ukraine is not all that valuable, save perhaps some farming areas.

Russia gained a huge amount of knowledge about how the Ukraine grid works and repeatedly disabled it severely enough to force Ukraine to commit meaningful amounts of its dwindling air defenses to protect big cities, and also forced Ukraine to deplete its equipment reserves. Remember the West does not make any of this gear; it can only look to its spares and perhaps those of former Warsaw Pact states. If Russia were to fully de-electrify Western Ukraine, only Russia could restore it. And it could decide what to restore.

So one option for Russia would be to destroy the grid in areas of Ukraine it did not want to attempt to subdue. The result would be something like the unorganized territories of Maine, a land of prepper beardos. Remember that no electricity means no heated pipes and water pumping in the winter, so many would burst in the winter, further reducing the number of habitable structures.

Russia could even conceivably take out power in a way intended to herd the population into Europe. In Japan, the media carefully follows the so-called sakura line, where cherry blossoms are going into full bloom. Russia could march a de-electrification campaign across Ukraine, starting closest to the areas Russia wants to keep and rebuild, then moving gradually west and north, to give Poland and NATO time to get the message if they had not worked out what was in store,

Now making a huge part of a country largely uninhabitable is a very ugly end game. Aside from recognizing that punishing citizens, as opposed to decision makers, is to be avoided if at all possible, Russia also cares about its image around the world. So the idea of de-electrifying huge sections of western Ukraine would be a not-so-hot fallback to a costly and difficult occupation. But the fact that any such fallback exists suggests there might be less terrible ones. So the highest levels in Russia may be thinking hard about such possibilities.

Yours truly said from the very outset of the SMO that Russia could win the war but lose the peace. Even though it has repeatedly exercised restraint in the face of Ukraine provocations like the Kerch Bridge bombing and the strikes on Belgorod, which endanger civilians, the escalations, which also look intended to draw NATO in, are also forcing Russia to consider more comprehensive solutions.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. dandyandy

    Russsia may just as well have their hand forced on the matter.

    5th June – opening water flows from UA held hydro plants into Kakhovka reservoir.

    6th June – mass sabotage to RU infrastructure – Kakhovka Dam and Togliatti Amonia pipe.

    7th June – finally the UA Counter Offensive in Orekhov trying to move south (or rather stopping after severe man+gear losses),

    Yesterday all day on BBC ITV and C4 – Russia Russia Russia Bad Bad Bad, absolutely everyone from the UK Govt chanting the same chant. All papers as rabid as when Serbs were being mass murdered by Blair/Clinton.

    12th June (four days from now), start of biggest ever aerial NATO exercises over Germany – 200 planes, hundreds of choppers, tens of thousands of troops. Obviously getting ready to jump in as/when required.

    Watch this space.

    1. timbers

      The nuclear power plant may be on the menu. It’s the only reason I entertain a possibility that Russia damaged the bridge to weakened UAF near it. Causing it to explode is consistent with Ukraine scorched earth policy.

      1. The Rev Kev

        The Ukrainians would liked to have lobbed a few dozen British ‘Storm Shadow’ cruise missiles at that plant but then the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would not be able to pretend that they don’t know who launched them.

        1. vao

          the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would not be able to pretend that they don’t know who launched them.

          The main point is who is responsible for the damage to the atomic power plant — and of course it has to be Russia. Consider a possible argument:

          The Ukraine armed forces launched a handful of Storm Shadow missiles directed at the Russian military. However, the incredibly strong electronic warfare indiscriminately used by the inept Russians resulted in the missiles deviating from their course and then falling on the nuclear power plant.

          Corny? Well, not more than the idea that Russia would bomb its own prisoner camps, dynamite its own ideological pundits, blow up its own gas and ammonia pipelines…

  2. ambrit

    The destruction of the dam is classic “scorched earth” tactics. One subtle aspect of such a tactic is that it presupposes that those doing the scorching thus intend to eventually return. Denying the use of territory leaves it “up in the air.”
    When the dam is eventually rebuilt, the Russians will have to capture enough territory to the west of the dam so as to remove it from effective bombing and artillery range. With today’s weapons, I have read that that distance can be up to 300 kilometers. Lockheed Martin, state that they are working on extending the range of the HIMARS missile system to 500 kilometers. Thus, Russia going all the way to the Polish/Ukrainian border might be necessary after all.
    For the systems curious, I append below the Cookies Policy for the Lockheed Martin website. Do notice that there is no opt out function available on that page. The site requires one to “manage” their cookies through the individual’s personal OS cookie caches. Yet another case of privatizing the profits and socializing the losses.
    To see the information on the HIMARS system I am afraid that you are on your own. {You must do your own cookie dough risk analysis.}

  3. Samuel Conner

    Perhaps after occupying all of Ukraine (one speculates, not entirely tongue-in-cheek, that a precedent for this might be R2P the population from its own government), Russia could offer the bits it doesn’t want to Poland and Hungary, with, of course, conditions.

    The thought occurs that this might have “interesting” consequences for intra-NATO relations.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      That was contemplated a while ago in the Medvedev map, but I think he spoiled it by putting the idea forward, which then also looked more like trolling than serious. The states that eat Ukraine have to think it’s their idea, not Russia’s.

      1. Will

        Andres Rasmussen, a former NATO Secretary General and current Zelensky advisor, is saying there is a group of hard core Eastern Europe countries that may decide to go in if NATO doesn’t provide security guarantees at the next meeting in July. Name checks Poland as particularly keen. The article is from yesterday.

        Could of course be more Ukr PR, but if Russia advances far enough causing more refugees into Poland, would it matter whether Medvedev first floated the idea of a rump state occupied by Poland et al? The Western press can memory hole that aspect of it easily enough and Poland can be lauded as coming to the rescue. Especially if as suggested above Russia takes actions to render certain areas uninhabitable.

        Orban could maybe get into the act to ‘atone’ for Hungary’s earlier reluctance to stand up to Putin by putting troops into ‘harms way’. With some tsk tsk-ing about how he would have saved himself the trouble if only he’d been part of the fight from the start.

        Anyway, the narrative control is so complete that I’m not sure it really matters to eg Poland whether Medvedev published his map before they acted. Also, the frozen conflict idea has been put out there recently by western sources, so pieces are already in place.

        1. Ignacio

          One of the reasons Russia voiced the idea, and would possibly like it dearly, would exactly be those “interesting” consequences Conner mentions. There are now lots of noises about Polish troops already in Ukraine not just as mercenaries but complete military units, and many more troops waiting in the border ready to enter in Lvov and visited by some Prince from some country showing support for the support that Poland brings to Ukraine. Plus some news, fake or not, on Polish citizens having rights in Ukraine equal to those of Ukrainians. At least Poland leadership concur with Medvedev’s option possibly with some support from some part of the West. Would the UK also enjoy the potential mess?

      2. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit

        Hungary moves troops in to protect the ethnic Hungarian minority that the Ukrainians are abusing. Poland seizes Galatia to act as a buffer and “protect” Greater Kiev. That gets them their excuses to dismember the area known as the Ukraine.

        Of course, Russia still ends up bumped up against NATO, which was something it didn’t want to have in the first place…

  4. digi_owl

    There is a whole litany of NATO standards known as STANAG, including some that cover tank shells for smooth and rifled tank guns. Oddly though, artillery is the one thing they have not standardized, and instead seem to have a document for determining interchangeability of shells.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Artillery is a surprising and prominent example. There’s also the multiplicity of tanks and armored personnel carriers, each with distinct interfaces (as in personnel training requiremets), parts, and due to the latter, logistical tails.

        1. KLG

          What happens when “the people” wake up and realize that the trillion dollars a year the US spends on “Defense” is mostly a complete waste of money; I can dream. The equivalent of Ferrari and Lamborghini and Jaguar (you need two of the latter, one to drive and one for the repair shop) for unpaved mud…Speaking of Jaguar, a former colleague was unnaturally proud of his Jaguar S-Type. I damn near told him it was a souped-up Ford with leather seats and a cute hood ornament, but I digress.

          1. ChrisFromGA

            I am guessing that this war has already resulted in the largest amount of NATO weapon destruction since WWII.

            Now, a lot of that was old kit that was destined to rust away in some huge warehouse outside of Berlin or Reston, VA. Or end up as an expensive ornament on the front lawn of a local VFW post. So, net win for the MIC.

            But, just in terms of sheer monetary waste and entropy acceleration, I suspect that there is a nasty consequence. Exposing the utter waste of resources that our MIC friends engage in, and how low-tech drones make things like Leopard tanks and Patriot missile batteries big fat sitting ducks, just waiting to be turned into scrap metal by even relatively unsophisticated adversaries (see, Houthis vs. Saudi oil refinery)

    2. ilsm

      they got small arms standards right.

      artillery shells require engineering and design, as well as very specific materials specs and manufacturing directives.

      when us army was considering a whole new class of lighter armored chassis the subject arose of can we/how to do a 155 mm gun carrying chassis. the initial evaluation of the physics: you cannot handle that recoil on the lighter chassis.

      then they studied the life costs of a 120 mm version of all the shells fired by 155mm.

      there are no light chassis today in part bc the new family of shells costed out too much, among many other technical issues with other uses of the chassis!

      1. scott s.

        Remember, Gen Shinseki was fired by Rumsfeld for pursuing the Crusader 155 which was deemed “obsolete” rather than Rumsfeld’s “transformation” which instead gave us crap like the littoral ships.

        1. Rip Van Winkle

          Rumsfeld presided over the press conferences like a conductor over a symphony of trained seals.

        2. ex-PFC Chuck

          Gen. Shinseki’s other sin was to testify to Congress that the occupation in Iraq after “Mission Accomplished” would require the something north of 350K soldiers indefinitely.

    3. vao

      Oh yes, plenty of interesting “NATO interoperability” snags.

      1) The Challenger II tank uses a 120mm cannon — which is a standard NATO calibre. Except that it uses a rifled barrel, requiring its own very special kind of shell — that the British ceased manufacturing years ago.

      2) The AMX-10 reconnaissance vehicle sports a 105mm cannon — quite a hefty piece of gun for a vehicle of that category. 105mm is a standard NATO calibre — except that the AMX-10 only works with a proprietary form of shell that is useless elsewhere.

      3) The Gepard has a dual 35mm anti-aircraft cannon — again, a very standard NATO calibre. Except that it is very particular about what kind of 35mm shells can be fed to it, as the Germans realized when they tried to use the 35mm anti-aircraft ammunition provided by the Norwegians. Since the Swiss, who manufacture the required ammunition (Oerlikon guns), refused to supply it because of legal export restriction, Rheinmetall had to bite the bullet, dust off some machines, set up a production line, and re-launch the production of the specific 35mm ammunition for the Gepards donated to Ukraine (and which Germany took out of service long ago).

      And all these are now in Ukrainian service…

      1. TimH

        1. AMX-10 RC uses Baudouin Diesel Model 6F11 SRX
        2. In April 2009, Chinese manufacturer Weichai Power acquired Baudouin

        So much for EU military independence from the dreaded East…

      2. JBird4049

        >>>The Challenger II tank uses a 120mm cannon — which is a standard NATO calibre. Except that it uses a rifled barrel, requiring its own very special kind of shell — that the British ceased manufacturing years ago.

        Pardon my incredulity, but wtf would anyone remove the ability to make more of the ammunition needed for their weapons to work?

        1. The Rev Kev

          Exclusive contracts for the corporation that makes those rounds as in you have them buy it from them and them only?

        2. vao

          Because the production of Challenger II tanks themselves stopped 20 years ago?

          When it comes to heavy armour, the British have been simply drawing on their reserves for quite some time (and so have most other European countries).

        3. R.S.

          …and yesterday I’ve read in the news that “the UK may need to cannibalise stored Challenger tanks and AS90 howitzers”. Because in that orgy of acquisitions and mergers that created BAE Systems the plants and equipment capable of making large-caliber rifled barrels were somehow optimized. I guess it’s properly called “optimized” in the PMC-speak, amirite?

        4. Louis Fyne

          1. “end of history,” bruh.
          2. the future is shooting up part-time goat herders.
          3. Those gullible Americans who bail us out whenever we get in over our heads. “Presidents Putin and Xi to the courtesy phone, please.”

  5. Jessica

    Russia could offer Poland all of Russia up to the Urals and Poland would still hate Russia.
    The trick about western Ukraine (the part that was in Poland between the wars and in Austria before that) is that there are basically no Poles there anymore. They were all sent to Poland after WW2. So Poland would be taking on a population of just Ukrainians with a track record of killing Poles (WW2) and glorifying that murder since 2014.
    Why would Poland want to take on that headache?

    1. Lex

      Because there are elements in the Polish political elite who dream of the Intermarium and the reconstitution of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The idea is also popular among the most hardcore of the western Ukrainian nationalists, though it always runs into the issue of who gets to be in charge of this organization. Elements of NATO and the US national security state are on board with it too, under the umbrella of “new Europe”.

      It’s a good point about the bad blood from the 30’s and 40’s, and most people forget that the OUN was formed not against the Soviets but the Poles. But the history of some of those territories being Polish goes back to before they were part of the Austrio-Hungarian Empire. In 1667 the Truce of Andrusovo included the Russian Empire “purchasing” Kiev since it was on the right bank of the Dnieper and the rest of the truce/treaty split what we now call Ukraine between Russia and Poland along the Dnieper. A replay of that truce may well end up being a model to end the current conflict.

      1. Raymond Sim

        Ignoring the ‘crazy’ ideas of Ukrainian, Hungarian, and Polish rightwingers has been, to my mind, a key element of Westerners’ failure to comprehend political realities in the region.

        I think those realities dictate that either Poland or Russia will have to crush the Banderists and their political infrastructure in western Ukraine, and I think the Poles would much rather tackle it themselves than have the Russians there. This will be a very, very ugly business.

  6. Stephen

    “Russia could even conceivably take out power in a way intended to herd the population into Europe.”

    This happened on a mega scale at the end of WW2, of course. I think that Lemberg / Lviv / Lvov in Galicia / western Ukraine, for example, was mixed Polish / Ukrainian / Jewish but is now overwhelmingly Ukrainian. I realize that the evils of the Holocaust destroyed the Jewish population and in part the Poles but then there was seemingly also people movement after 1945 too. Much of modern day Poland was also very “German” pre 1945 too. That was changed through forced migration too, I seem also to recall.

    Such movements of people are not nice (as the article recognizes) but when countries think they face existential threats then they do bad things. After all, the RAF sees the destruction of German dams as one of its greatest achievements about which there is even a march. War crimes are very much in the eye of the beholder. People such as Anthony Blinken are not exactly pouring water on the fire of escalation.

    1. Robert Gray

      “ … herd the population into Europe.”

      > This happened on a mega scale at the end of WW2, of course.
      > Such movements of people are not nice …

      For a masterful treatment of this too-conveniently overlooked topic, see R. M. Douglas, Orderly and Humane: The Expulsion of the Germans after the Second World War (2012).

      1. JBird4049

        What was done to the ethnic German population, then consisting of women, children, and old men, outside of the borders of modern German was borderline genocidal. I mean this literally as in the deaths or disappearances of over a million people as they tried to reach German proper. Keep in mind that the criteria for the expulsions was if they were ethnically German, and not on anything else with some of the populations having lived in an area for centuries.

        As is normal, it was the innocent, the weak, the old, the young, and the most vulnerable that suffered the most while the leadership escaped. Reading history tends to make one a cynic if not a misanthrope.

        1. Daniil Adamov

          Agreed. Same with removals of surviving Poles etc. All sorts of population transfers were used to create nice and homogenous ethnic regions. Well, maybe not so nice as it turned out, and not fully homogenous either… yet. Between this and the Holocaust, the Axis and the Allies have bulldozed a centuries-old ethnically-diverse and culturally dynamic Central European milieu. Not something I should hope to see repeated by either side of this conflict, though I see little reason to doubt that it would be Ukraine’s preferred outcome.

          1. Daniil Adamov

            Nothing happens in a vacuum. As you say, those were the actions of SOME of these ethnic Germans, plus a government claiming to act on their behalf; but the retaliation fell on everyone. As it does.

            1. Adam

              Yes. Collective punishment is never justified , it never works and the survivors never forget.

    2. Daniil Adamov

      That happened under conditions when all of Europe was under control of a coalition willing to coordinate such measures. It would be harder to actually remove Ukrainians from Ukraine without total control over both Ukraine and the territory they are being removed into. Syria would be a more precise analogy, but of course far from every anti-Assad Syrian left Syria.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I did not say remove. I said herd. In this context, create conditions where the overwhelming majority will choose to leave.

        How many Ukrainians will stay in an area with no electricity? Remember that means pipes bursting in many buildings in the winter, so great loss of housing.

    3. Via Deception

      I realize that the evils of the Holocaust destroyed the Jewish population

      The Jewish population was in fact never close to being destroyed and is currently one of the most powerful religious/ethnic/cultural groups in the world.

      We need to be talking about “the good Israelis” and what they’ve done to Palestine and its people.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Holocaust minimization is not on. Eighty plus years later, the Jewish population is still below its pre WWII levels, while the global population has increased nearly 3.5x.

  7. The Rev Kev

    Realistically this war is only over when some sort of agreement is made with Washington. The Europeans do not matter as they will do what Washington tells them to do, even if they grumble about it. But Washington is refusing to hear a word about shutting this war down and wants it to continue. I guess that they base this idea on the map showing how the lines have not moved much since last year. Of course this is a mistake as the Ukrainians will be running on empty soon and there will come a point when they will collapse. You can’t predict it but it will happen. And then? I suppose that Russia will take over all the Russian-speaking oblasts which means that the Ukraine – or what is left of it – becomes a land locked country. There is no point going all the way through Galicia to the Polish border to round up the real Nazis as they would have long ago fled to the EU to hide among the Ukrainian Diaspora.

    So perhaps it would be best to halt at the border of Galicia Oblast and call it quits. It will be a much smaller border to patrol but the place would be so small demographically that it would be a manageable threat. It would hardly even have an economy. If Poland wants to absorb it, then let them have that hand-grenade without a pin. It may be that both Hungary and Romania may take over those territories that have their people there. The EU may bluster but if they let Poland do it, they can hardly stop Hungary and Romania do the same. At this point, if Russia does not have an absolute crushing victory that ends the threat from the Ukraine once and for all, it will only mean that the US/NATO will keep on coming. So perhaps this is why Putin recently called it the territory known as the Ukraine.

    1. Navile

      “At this point, if Russia does not have an absolute crushing victory that ends the threat from the Ukraine once and for all, it will only mean that the US/NATO will keep on coming.”

      True, especially because West is not agreement-capable. Total Russian occupation of Ukraine removes the need for agreements :) It would be nice if that’s enough to trigger regime change in the US, major European nations and/or NATO.

      IMO the Russians should keep the pressure on. Assuming the Russians will continue to abide by international rules, the size and cohesion of the multi-polar bloc will continue growing for awhile at least. Steady as she goes!

      1. James

        UK & EU member States are sending arms & mercenaries to attack Russia. They have now become co-beligerants & Russia is well within its rights to attack them on their own territory. I hope Russia does pick specifice targets with a warning that any retaliation whatsoever will be met with a devastating reply.
        The uS also needs a hard reply as they are materially responsible. So hit them where they’re weak -like in Syria by supplying weapons that will encourage uS to retreat ( They know how to do that ) totally from Syria. Also get all the sleepers to sabotage everything possible. Why not ?

    2. Susan the other

      It would make sense to leave Ukraine a territory without sovereignty for NATO to hide behind. In order to expose NATO Ukraine must be shown to have no sovereign control of the situation. So it makes tactical sense for Russia not to rebuild the infrastructure, including the infra destroyed by NATO. Do not rebuild the dam, or the power plant – force NATO to rebuild the infra it can claim – which will amount to the private interest that recently purchased every state enterprise left standing. That will create a political dead zone, the utility of which is hard to imagine. But then so is this very unusual war, beyond the West drawing a red line economically against the EAEU. And none of this explains the hyper-hatred of Russia by the UK, the US, NATO and etc.

  8. Lex

    Marching on Odessa likely doesn’t originate from a crossing of the Dnieper at Kherson, at least not if there’s any significant Ukrainian resistance remaining. Going that way requires several other water crossings with the Black Sea on your left. Dangerous business. In WWII (and I think the constant comparisons are overwrought except that Ukraine is cosplaying as the Wehrmacht) Odessa was taken from the north not a march along the coast.

    I don’t think the Kremlin has a “plan” if we define that as a single plan. I think it has many contingencies that can be implemented depending on how the situation(s) develop. That said, the attitudes are hardening and the acceptable outcomes narrowing.

    We’re also entering a period in the conflict where predictability is decreasing. Between the counter offensive and the NATO exercises the month of June will be very unpredictable and I expect Russia won’t do much besides continue its current actions and defend against the counter offensive. There’s a real chance that a bloody failure of the Ukrainian offensive triggers the first slowly, then all at once collapse of the Zelensky regime and/or the VSU along the front. If that happens, we’ll enter the most dangerous moment of the conflict – assuming NATO doesn’t do something stupid with its exercise. In that scenario even the relatively limited Russian forces could push quickly towards the Dnieper all along the front. But it would be in this scenario that DC (and especially Poland) would be most likely to attempt an insertion of foreign troops under foreign flags to stabilize the situation.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I looked at the rail lines a while back and saw how far inland they went relative to the Black Sea from the east to Odessa. Douglas Macgregor has suggested a big arrow assault (Americas do love them) behind current Ukraine lines and across Ukraine way to the north of Kherson.

      This map shows only rail trunks and not relative to the Dnieper. The direct route has Russia crossing the Dnieper way north, at Cherkasy.

      I may be hallucinating, but I though I heard Macgregor suggest something bolder, cutting off Kiev from Western resupply by striking south west from IIRC Sumy. An even more threatening approach would be south from Minsk if Belarus would play ball. Perhaps he was not discussing this as a real campaign but a pinning operation. But if that were intended to be a real assault, not a feint, Russia could also strike to Odessa that way. Anyone who remembers what exactly Macgregor said re a big arrow to the south, please pipe up.

      1. nippersdad

        “Anyone who remembers what exactly Macgregor said re a big arrow to the south.”

        I can confirm that. He had said that Russian troops in Belarus were presently there to pin down Polish troops from entering Ukraine, but that they could equally be useful for a big arrow operation South to come in behind the Ukrainian troops presently engaged in the East. That they could be used in an encircling operation.

        I think that was in an interview with Judge Napolitano.

        1. Stephen

          He did say that.

          To be fair, my recollection too is that he saw that as something that would happen once the Ukrainian army / air defences and so forth were sufficiently degraded.

          It did not seem to me as if he was implying some form of Blitzkrieg to smash through extant non degraded defences. I do fully agree though with Yves point. American and wider western militaries do seem obsessed with these big arrow offensives. The Russians do not seem to be.

          I think it comes from allowing Guderian and Manstein to heavily influence the history of the Eastern Front. Emulating the perceived success of the Wehrmacht seems to be the mantra, not copying the Red Army or even Montgomery’s meticulous attritional “crumbling” approaches.

          1. redleg

            The context of his statement, IIRC, was to cut off NATO supplies once and for all (as michael99 states below) and by having the axis of advance parallel to the border it would be more difficult for NATO to claim that they’re invading Poland or Lithuania.

        2. Louis Fyne

          “…but that they could equally be useful for a big arrow operation South to come in behind the Ukrainian troops presently engaged in the East. …”

          This option would be uncharacteristically “high-risk for high-reward” for the Russians as the Russians do not have enough bodies to enact this move, police the new territories, fight in the southeast, and have reserve troops to deter an outside intervention (despite their mobilization).

      2. jrkrideau

        Interesting map and looks accurate enough but may I suggest for what appears to be better and more detailed coverage (of the whole world).

        I suspect some of the Ukrainian details are a bit out of date since the beginning of the SMO and the arrival of Russian railway troops. In particular your map shows the Nicolaiev — Kerch open while the open railway map does not and I suspect yours in correct.

      3. michael99

        Back in December Macgregor discussed the possibility of a Russian offensive from Belarus, west of Kyiv, going south all the way to Moldova, in discussion with Michael Vlahos, the purpose being to sever supply lines between Ukraine and Poland.

        Here is the link. That specific part starts at around 32:30.

        I believe in this same converstion Macgregor mentions another option: a Russian offensive that comes south from Russia west of Kharkiv, then bends back to the east to join up with Russian forces in the Donbas.

        Above link is to part 1 of the discussion.

        Part 2:
        Part 3:

  9. Victor Moses

    This is getting well ahead of the demonstrated Russian military capability thus far. Let’s see if they are able to take full control of the Donbass first. Subduing western Ukraine is much more complicated.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Do you remember reading about the Phoney War at the beginning of WW2? The British/French just faced the Germans for about eight months after war was declared. There were minor actions but basically the troops got bored. But then the Wehrmacht went on the move in a form of warfare not seen before and in weeks the war on the continent was over. I am not saying that the Russians will do the same but we have not really seen them on the move much in this war except at the beginning when they took all those southern territories. So I guess that we will have to wait and see what they will do-

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I disagree. Chewing though lines built and fortified since 2014, in a Ruhr-like area (many closely spaced cities and towns, most with factories, hence highly defendable buildings) is a very difficult proposition if you are trying to spare lives. Russia’s very artillery-heavy approach is effective but takes time. Clearing them also takes time.

      Western Ukraine, unlike Donbass, is not a fortress. But holding, as opposed to defeating Ukraine in such a big area IMHO is the real challenge, as the US experience in Iraq showed.

      And contrary to your assertion, Russia has demonstrated it has the ability to de-electrify big swathes of Ukraine. That alone would enable Russia to subdue it. But that’s well short of being able to govern it for any length of time. And Russia seems well aware of how high cost that would be.

      1. James

        Yves writes:
        “But holding, as opposed to defeating Ukraine in such a big area IMHO is the real challenge, as the US experience in Iraq showed.”

        I agree 100%.

        1. James

          The people in Western Ukraine hate the Russians even more than the Iraqis hate their American invaders. Eastern Ukrainians quite like the Russians. Trying to hold anything west of Zhytomyr would be madness in my opinion.

          1. nippersdad

            Used as a bargaining chip W Ukraine would be priceless, though. How long would they really need to hold it?

          2. Polar Socialist

            Iraqis and Americans have never been brotherly nations, and neither have their self-identification stemmed from the same root. Most of the Ukrainian nationalist since 1840’s (when the whole question of Ukrainian identity was first raised) have always accepted that being an Ukrainian is also either very close or overlapping with being a Russian.

            The part that holds Ukrainians as “überslavic” and totally different from Polish and Russians is a minority, and was fought almost out of existence by Poland and Soviet Ukraine in 1920’s. And again in 1940’s (when Poland moved remaining German population from new areas in the west to east, and remaining Ukrainian population in the east to west within her new borders).

            Now, unfortunately, Nuland et al. have allowed this particular portion of the Ukrainians to enforce their interpretation of Ukraine upon the Ukrainians since 2014. Considering the amount of people that voted with their feet (now ~50% of the population?) the re-education of Ukrainians hasn’t been that successful. Maybe because the Banderistas don’t have that much to offer for people – hate, death-cult and delusions of superiority are poor substitutes for pursuit of happiness.

            After the war, and some day it will be over, part of the reconstruction will be reinstituting Ukrainian identity that accepts multicultural nation with good relations to Russia. Which, I assume, is Patrushev’s aim. It will take some time to get the school kids to forget all the songs about killing moscals, but it has been done before.

            1. Daniil Adamov

              Relevant to this, one simple shift to consider is that “Russian” once meant the same thing as “East Slavic”: a group of related “Russian” peoples including Great Russians (Velikorossy living in the larger part of Russia, i.e. what is called “Russians” now), Little Russians (Ukrainians in the smaller part of Russian) and White Russians (Belarusians living in the western part of Russia, most likely based on old Mongol direction-colour associations). And the Rusyns, whom everyone forgets. Each ethnicity naturally considered itself to be more Russian than the others. At some point, though, “Russianness” gradually drifted to the politically dominant group, while anti-Russian nationalisms slowly began to develop among White and Little Russians. And indeed, even then, those anti-Russian nationalisms were pretty marginal until the destruction of the Russian Empire.

              It has been argued that the Soviets encouraged them as well, as part of a divide-and-conquer strategy (see: setting up distinct SSRs in the first place, extending their borders to include majority Great Russian regions, and promoting westernmost, least-Russian dialects).

      2. tevhatch

        The real problem might be holding back factions of Hungarian, Roma, and Russian speakers from taking revenge and turning the area into a bloody civil war.

  10. Synoia

    I do not see, or conceive, how tanks delivered in the west of Ukraine can be transported to the eastern battle front without becoming slow moving targets for guided misses. Some tanks may survive the journey, others will not. How will the roads be cleared of damaged tanks and tank transporters?

    War is about logistics. WW 2 was a pushover logistically compared to this war. The distance from Belgium and Holland to Berlin is about 400 miles, the length of Ukraine about 1,200 miles, and 1,200 miles is a very long supply line.

    I recall one tank consumed fuel at 15 Gallons per mile.
    Magic wands are in short supply

    This war is now about “Face” – The US’ face.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I am pretty sure tanks go to the front (when not fighting their way in) on trains, not roads when at all possible.. I’ve seen them delivered to Ukraine from Russia that way. But yes, how to hide that?

      1. The Rev Kev

        I have seen videos over the course of the war where fighting vehicles were on the trailers of civilian trucks and hidden by tarpaulin sheets. Not sure if they can do the same with tanks due to the weight issue but Russian designed tanks tend not to be as heavy as western designed tanks so I guess that it is doable. But truth be told, the Russians probably are cool with this as it is far easier to kill a tank at the front than if it was back in western Ukraine.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Haha, good point plus I was unclear! I meant driving them in, as in chewing up their nice treads and otherwise creating some wear and tear.

          1. redleg

            As well as chewing up the roads, bridges, culverts, etc that makes travel difficult for all other vehicles following the tanks.

        2. tevhatch

          Yes, it’s best to kill them where it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to recover them. Then you can kill the engineering crews, which are even harder to replace than the tank crews.

          1. juno mas

            Yes, it doesn’t appear that Russia has any problem locating the amo dumps and newly arrived mechanized systems once it comes near the fighting front.

      2. Aurelien

        Modern NATO tanks are too heavy to move on conventional roads without destroying them. They go short(ish) distances, or where no railways are available on tank transporters like this one which itself weighs as much as most Second World War tanks, and is wheeled, so limiting its mobility. .

        1. R.S.

          Besides that, tanks, heavy SPGs and the like have a pretty limited engine life. Several thousand hours or so, and after that the engine has to be replaced or completely overhauled.

          1. Polar Socialist

            This reminds of the different design choices made between Soviet and NATO tanks: with proper equipment it takes about 3 hours to replace the engine of T-72/T-90 but without proper equipment it takes about 3 hours. Whereas with proper equipment you can change the whole power pack of Leopard 2 in 20-30 minutes – and without proper equipment in 20-30 hours.

            1. R.S.

              That’s provided you don’t meet that very kind and benevolent fairy. No idea who she is, but it’s an almost obligatory tankers’ joke it seems…

  11. hk

    I suspect that taking Low and Ternopol probably won’t be maximalist enough. Even if the fighting is in Ukraine, the real “war” is over Western Europe and NATO. It cannot end unless Germany and France “surrender” in some form and NATO is permanently broken (with the maps turned back to 1815). Can Russia pull this off without expanding the war beyond Ukraine? Will the West escalate by attempting to send in F16’s (and others) with paper-thin disguise next week (using the big exercise as the cover) which will force Russians to make decisions earlier than later? If things deteriorate like that, I wonder if Russia will have the luxury of not having to strike West from Belarus, towards Berlin and Paris.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Russia so far has been lucky in that Ukraine has kept pouring men and materiel into places like Bakhmut, and it now looks like Avdiivka, so the intense conflict as been near Russia’s borders, hence short supply lines. Russia has also been able to get NATO and the US to drain their weapons stock without much in the way of territorial acquisition.

      I think if Russia merely gets to the Dnieper, there will be a huge freakout and an effort to throw all of what is left at Russia.

      Again remember Clausewitz: the aim is to destroy armies, not take cities.

        1. The Rev Kev

          There might be a problem with Kiev as the Dneiper river flows through it. A divided city then?

          1. James

            That is what I am thinking. The Russians could try to hold onto the west bank of just this small area because if you control the capitol you can claim to be the “legitimate rulers of Ukraine” but … I think that the CIA wants to be able stage from Western Ukraine into Eastern Ukraine the same way they staged from Turkey into Syria (until Erdogan stopped cooperating with them).

          2. Lex

            The precedent of 1667 when “Ukraine” was divided between the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Russian Empire. I suppose one might be able to argue that Russia still owns Kiev since it bought city from the Poles then to handle the issue of Kiev relative to the Dnieper.

      1. hk

        I’d say that the real Clausewitzian problem facing Russia is that its larger political goals are only tangentially connected to Ukraine: it seeks to break NATO, at least as a meaningful hostile military alliance. In order to achieve this, France and Germany must be convinced to change their orientation. Even “winning decisively” in Ukraine does not accomplish this. In fact, having Ukraine bleed NATO resources slowly is a better “use” of Ukraine for Russia for this purpose.

        In this sense, the impending Ukrainian collapse, after its “offensive” fizzles out, forces Russia into a conundrum. Russia is forced to deal with the remnants of Ukraine in some fashion, including the areas that it does not want to take over. It loses leverage over the Europeans, in that their resources will no longer be wasted on Ukraine. There is little sign that French and German public opinion is swinging towards reconciliation with Moscow coupled with alienation from Washington (a necessary step for breaking NATO as a real alliance), even if their governments might be tottering on the brink of crisis due to unpopularity and, for what it’s worth, total collapse of Ukraine followed by Russian occupation would not serve to turn them towards Moscow. So what is Russia to do?

        I don’t think, if the NATO air intervention that I suspect does take place (which I think is quite likely, incidentally–I’ve thought from the beginning that the whole F16 scheme has to be a cover for this.), it’ll have been a well-thought out scheme, but more of a big PR scheme even if it might involve hundreds of NATO planes in Ukrainian “disguise.” It does, however, represent a political game changer and could just be what tips the Russian attitude towards a bigger game, especially when coupled with Ukrainian collapse (and subsequent loss of Russia’s leverage vis-a-vis Europeans). I am not saying that it will be necessarily wise if the Russians do respond to such provocation by marching on NATO territories from which the attacks are launched directly, but that seems a “logical” path of escalation unless Europeans give up on NATO. The catch is that, if Russians advance into Poland from Belarus (not sure how they could take on Romania directly, except with missiles, unless all of Ukraine is under control, i.e. not until a good while later), then the stopping points lie increasingly to the west: the Oder? the Rhine? the English Channel? Even then (i.e. war expands outside Ukraine), would regimes in Berlin and Paris negotiate with the Russians in earnest (as in, “surrender” and expel US, UK, and Canada from NATO)? Marching all the way to the Pyrenees or even Lisbon would have to be potentially within the realm of possibilities that Russia would need to consider.

        1. Polar Socialist

          What if, after Ukraine (in one way or the other) ceases to be a war fighting nation, Russia again ask NATO for negotiations of Common European Security, and after being (again) given a cold shoulder send and ultimatum to the Baltic countries: ban all foreign troops and military installations in your area (while remaining in NATO, if you so please), or face military-technical consequences.

          How would NATO deal with such clear and present declaration of imminent war? There certainly would be article 4 consultations a plenty. But would NATO members really be ready to go to war for Balts that have certainly been poking the bear at every chance or would it be revealed as a mere bureaucracy it is and rip itself apart?

          I believe that somehow the Russian proposals from end the of 2021 will be part of the bigger peace process when this war eventually comes to an end.

          1. hk

            I’d make a few more demands: the Baltics are, after all, home to millions of Russian speakers who are denied civil rights. Demand constitutional reforms that grant them rights, on top of military-political demands, and see how NATO respond (Baltic reactions are irrelevant.) Of course, the benefit, on top of actual demilitarization, would be the discrediting of NATO (i.e. it won’t face war with Russia to protect bunch of obnoxious Lilliputians).

            I don’t think this will be quite enough to satisfy Russian security needs (and it will be a remarkably light demand for the Russians to make after all that has happened–but also something that can spun negatively by the Western warmongers–Russia is again bullying little countries!–even if they know the reality and back down in practice.) I’d consider, if I were a Russian leader, neutralization of Poland to be the critical piece to the puzzle. But as long as NATO exists in its current form, Poland will never be neutralized. Breaking Germany and France (and, in so doing, breaking NATO) seems both wiser and easier course of action.

            The necessary piece of the security guarantee that Russia seeks ultimately, I think, is the assurance that there will be no great military force in Europe that can physically threaten it (per Aurelien’s observation below). NATO has to be broken for this to be true and the core of NATO power is US power projection in Europe (especially in Poland, but I’d figure Russians will find the French and Germans more cooperative than the Poles, and if Germany and France go, US forces in Poland would be caught high and dry.).

        2. Grebo

          Russia’s demands in the ‘draft treaties’ were for NATO weapons to be withdrawn to 1997 borders, not that those countries leave NATO or NATO disband.

          So once Russia has destroyed all NATO’s ‘spare’ arms and taken all of Ukraine I would expect them to resubmit those draft treaties and, if still met with intransigence, to start attacking Aegis batteries and so forth in Romania, the Baltics, etc. They will not be marching on Berlin.

          1. hk

            The terms of Russian draft treaties in 2021 represented considerable retreat given their previous terms–no NATO expansion east of the former inter-German boundary at the end of Cold War. Russia is facing much bigger potential danger now (at least of military provocations against them), after the shenanigans in Georgia and Ukraine. I’d at least demand that Finland, Sweden, and Poland, in addition to the Baltic states be demilitarized and neutralized if I were going to add to 2021 terms to further reassure security.

            BUT I don’t think Russia can get Poland, at least, to demilitarize easily, especially if NATO still exists with the same political orientation as it still does–basically, as an extension of US power in Europe and Poland is eager to draw in US power as part of its own agenda as long as the means exist–in form of the NATO that still has the same political structure. So it stands that in order to secure Poland, from the Russian perspective, extension of US power in Europe has to be removed. If so, US and Canada may well have been expelled and NATO fundamentally restructured.

            1. Grebo

              While Russia would welcome a US withdrawal from Europe I think they realise that that is the kind of thing where the harder you push the stiffer it gets.

              By demanding only the removal of offensive American weapons from their borders they have an easier job which deals with their most pressing concern.

              Once that happens the US will have lost some of its incentive to prop up NATO, which will then be inclined to collapse from its own internal tensions.

        3. tevhatch

          Yes, and economic collapse may be the way to bring it about. The attempt to crush Russia via sanctions has played out very well for Uncle Sam, and horribly for the EU. It’s going to get much, much worse. Inertia is a terrible thing; trying to correct any over action can easily lead to even more instability.

        4. Daniil Adamov

          Do you think that a military invasion of Europe west of Ukraine is practically feasible? One would think that we would need a much larger army with much stronger logistics for that. Theoretically possible to develop such, perhaps, but then I would also not assume that the West would sit by and do nothing while we do that. It may not be ready for a war now – what about a decade later, if they get scared enough?

          1. hk

            To be honest, I think that is the fundamental Russian dilemma. Defeating Ukraine militarily, however completely, is irrelevant to the larger goal. But there seems to be little movement in Western Europe towards reconciling with Russia and distancing from US. Yes, the governments are unpopular and the economy is tanking, but, even now, I get the sense that openly advocating reorienting diplomacy towards Russia and reconsidering NATO, at least as currently structured, is taboo. I can’t see an obvious solution for the Russians that does not involve invading Western Europe, unless the orientation of domestic politics in France and Germany change a lot more than they have so far.

            1. Grebo

              We can’t expect European leaders to express any scepticism while the shooting continues. I am optimistic that some of them are realising that their economies have been trashed and their countries dragged towards a disastrous war by the US for entirely selfish reasons.

              If Russia stops at the Polish border and is magnanimous in victory, and Europe can resist US plans to push it into WW3, I think we will be surprised at the agility of our leaders in switching allegiance.

              If Russia doesn’t stop then WW3 it will be.

            2. Daniil Adamov

              I find a Cold War stalemate with a Europe that is impoverished, disgruntled and held down by pro-Western elites for lack of alternatives (any “alternative” party that comes close to victory will be quickly compromised or else thrashed by various technically legal means) to be the most likely outcome by far. In which case, Europe loses, but Russia doesn’t establish dominance either. But a military attack on European countries? I don’t think anyone short of the late Zhirinovsky or perhaps the late Limonov would’ve gone that far.

          2. Greg

            I don’t think it’s likely beyond the rail gauge changes, which means not much further than Ukraine. Russia can hiff missiles a long way, and that’s about it. Not hold ground beyond their supply lines, just make a mess of things.

      2. animalogic

        Destroy armies — & sometimes the regimes that employ them.
        Here Russia needs to destroy the (fascist) Zelensky regime (even self collapse would work), stabilise the situation, de-nazify, & prepare for a new constitution & elections.
        Ukrainians need to know the truth — for nearly 10 years they have been brutally exploited by the West. The truth will hopefully open Ukrainian eyes.
        Any final land settlements must be secondary to political action by Russia in Ukraine.
        That is the SMO – demilitarise & de-nazify.
        Russia needs a stable, friendly Ukraine on its border. This is elementary. All its actions, military or not must seek to achieve this goal.
        Not suggesting assassination, but how much better things would be with the head of this hydra cut off.

  12. James

    I’ve been to Lviv and talked to those western Ukrainians face to face. Yes they hate the Russians with a passion – but they hate the Eastern Ukrainians as well. The western news media keep telling us “the Ukrainians are but one people” but that is complete nonsense … they are completely different peoples with completely different values. The Western Ukrainians don’t want to control eastern Ukraine – they want nothing to do with the Russified Ukrainians. The western political leadership is a different matter.

    The Dneiper is a defensible border. It would be madness for Putin to go west of it. And once the North Korea/ South Korea type split is put in place the western Ukrainians should be happy that they are finally part of Europe proper and they don’t have to have anything to do with the Russians.

  13. nippersdad

    “Blinken among other things argued Russia has failed comprehensively in the war, was becoming more isolated, and the US had been willing to negotiate but Putin kicked the table over. The last claim is probably the worst of the many howlers in the talk.

    But what is signifies is dangerous: the hawks are absolutely not backing down and despite evidence, are convinced they will prevail.”

    OTOH, they have been telegraphing for months that things like the “Spring Offensive”tm were meant to weaken Russia at some inevitable bargaining table envisioned only by themselves, wherein they would then bring out the stone tablets upon which they had graven the DMZ they so frantically want to implement. That is not so much “prevailing” over Russia as it is cutting losses to gain time for a runup to yet another Debaltsevo, in which the third time will be the charm. They may just be trying to get past the election cycle by avoiding yet another Afghanistan pull out and live to fight another day.

    They aren’t giving anything away, but they are certainly giving off distress signals at a rapid rate. That seems like something.

    That Blinken speech was something else. The part about where he wants the Russian people to know that he is their friend was particularly cringeworthy. A lot of those people remember starving in the Nineties, and such statements have decades of countervailing evidence that they will need to get beyond before anyone will be willing to believe them.

    1. Will

      >>wants the Russian people to know that he is their friend

      Brings to mind standard line of how the US loves the Chinese people and it’s only the CCP that’s the problem. Implication always being that they should blow their own brains out instead of *forcing* the US to decapitate them.

  14. David in Friday Harbor

    Good discussion. I think that the Russian leadership saw their Special Military Operation as a way to force the implementation of the Minsk Accords, which included constitutional reform in “Ukraine.” This was in their view a civil war in a secessionist region of the country that they had all grown up in. They were just showing that they were serious. They failed to predict that the U.S. President was “on the take” from the oligarch in control of Kiev or that the U.S. Secretary of State was a maximalist Russophobe with no interest in or comprehension of traditional diplomacy.

    The Russian strategy must be to grind things out in hopes of a new regime in Washington DC amenable to a diplomatic settlement — à-la 1980 in Iran. Meanwhile the Kiev regime will continue to engage in scorched-earth provocations in order to ensure that Western arms keep flowing, that the eastern oblasts will be worthless to Russia, and that their press-ganged ethnic Russian draftees keep dying.

    My fear is that there will be no dramatic ending any time soon, only more suffering in the eastern oblasts of “Ukraine” while much of the population of the western oblasts get to live well as “refugees” in the EU.

  15. JustTheFacts

    The traditional Russian way of solving this type of problem is to move the offending population to an uninhabited remote part of Siberia, and tell them to build their own settlements there. Given that the Bandaristas were given 80 years to get over Nazism and have yet to do so, forcing them to concentrate on survival alone might cut their bullshit. It’s been done before: e.g. it’s why there are so many Tartars near the Urals. They seem to have gotten over themselves after a couple of generations, and are now good Russian citizens.

    1. Polar Socialist

      The Tatars near Urals are descendants of Volga Bulgars who entered the area sometimes around 8th century and Kipchaks who came with the Mongol invasion in 12th century.

      But yes, there are plenty of examples of creating “security” by moving tens of thousands of people to somewhere where they can’t cause trouble to anybody else (or government). While they also turn “unproductive” land to “productive”.

        1. Daniil Adamov

          The original Tatars came to both Crimea and the Volga region (hardly the Urals… but then I say that because I am in the Urals) from Mongolia, if I am not much mistaken. Like many other migratory peoples, they then gave their names to existing residents, like the descendants of the Volga Bulgars. Crimean Tatars were indeed deported eastwards under Stalin, and then allowed to return, as were most others who were deported under Stalin, more to prevent them from siding with the Germans (as many people of all ethnicities did at the time; though I suppose it is fair to note that the Germans were very big on courting ethnic minorities with national pretensions and promoting nationalist leaders among them) than in punishment for any actual misbehaviour. Those deportations did not last very long, though they did kill a fair amount of people. That is nothing particularly new or unique in history by itself, of course, although I would not exaggerate the extent to which this was historical Russian practice as opposed to Stalin’s innovation.

          The most prominent deliberate pre-Soviet example was the expulsion of the Circassians, also catastrophic, but expelling them outside of the Empire’s borders to become Ottoman subjects after decades of rebellion backed by foreign powers was not quite the same thing. There were also less deliberate flights of nomadic peoples after failed rebellions.

          I do think it is worth emphasising that those resettlements were always enormously costly to ordinary people that largely had nothing to do with any decisions to rebel or support foreign enemies – let alone to support a long-standing separate government under which they happened to live. I, for one, cannot see how any “gain” could possibly be worth the price.

          1. hk

            I think the original “Tatars” were a tribe of Mongols (or, at least, a tribe that became part of the Mongols–a name that sounds like “Tatar” (“da-dan” or “dan-dan”) first appears in Chinese records around 10th century or so, as an alternate name for the nomadic tribes that are known from earlier Chinese history., but after the Mongol conquests, the terminology came to be associated with both the Mongols themselves and the allied nomadic tribes like Kipchaks. My understanding is that the term “Tatar” does not apply to other nomadic tribes that arrived from Mongolia later, like the Kalmuks.

            1. Daniil Adamov

              The term Tatar has drifted around a lot in meaning. Maybe more than any other ethnonym. Nonetheless it seems fair to assume a Mongol-related component in the roots of today’s various Tatar ethnicities. After all, their political existence dates back to the Mongol Golden Horde – most Tatar ethnicities map more or less neatly to breakaway Turko-Mongol states in western Siberia, along the Volga and in Crimea. But they will have absorbed the locals as well.

              1. Polar Socialist

                A good friend of mine, a Mishar Tatar with family connections to Kazan, says the Mishar have “cross-appropriated” a lot with the neighboring Fenno-Ugric tribes (Mari and Udmurts). They also call themselves Mishar rather than Tatar.

                I’ve kinda assumed that Turkic tribes (“Tatars” among them) sort of spread along the Silk Road in both directions from Central Asia, Uyghurs being the easternmost expansion and Bulgars the westernmost.

                1. Daniil Adamov

                  Yes, there are many smaller groups. Someone from my university (UrSU/UrFU) studied and made a documentary about the Nagaybaks – generally considered Tatar, but not by themselves, likely separated over being Christian and counting as Cossacks. No one is quite sure where they came from, apart from some likely Kazan’ connections.

              2. Piotr Berman

                The “original” ethnic group with name Tatar was a Mongol speaking tribe in what is North East China today. When Temujin was fighting to unite the Mongols, those Tatars rebelled and were “exterminated”, probably just the ruling group, and simple tribesmen became members Gingis Khan (as Temujin styled himself) Orda, i.e. people organized not by family, clan, tribe by as tens, hundreds, thousands and so on, military style (and practice). And Golden Orda given to a grandson of Temujin was somehow identified with Tatars.

                In turn, tribes in regions of Black Sea, Volga and Kazakhstan were being reorganized as parts of the Orda, and middle-rank leaders were either Tatars, or newcomers who joined them. That created a new although not homogenous nation. The largest Tatar group was where Volga Bulgaria was before, so presumably, their language and origin was inherited from them, but other Turkic speaking tribes were included too. So a large number of people accepted new ethnic name, new leadership. But after Black Death, Golden Orda lost its might and started to fragment and eventually a number of smaller Tatar Ordas emerged. Russia (Muscovite Rus) conquered all of them in 16-17th century except Crimean Orda and small ordas that were Crimean dependents. Because of separation and infuence of other languages, there are several Tatar languages today.

                By the way, ruling families of conquered Tatars joined Russian aristocracy, so some princely houses in Russia would have Gingis Khan ancestry, like Yusupovs.

                Not all tribes Turkic steppe tribes joined Mongol ordas, they became ancestors of Bashkirs, Kazakhs and some smaller groups.

          2. ChrisPacific

            On your last point, it concerns me that the narrative on the Russian side is now that Ukraine is a Nazi regime that needs to be dismantled. Nuance seems very much lacking and it would be easy to paint all Ukrainians with the same broad brush, just as the West has done with Russians.

            I don’t see this leading anywhere good. If Russia really does think they are all Nazis then it might prefer to leave them where they are, rather than import them to become a Russian problem. They’re likely to end up with a kind of Israel/Palestine dynamic if they do that, though (not a situation that anybody should be eager to emulate).

            1. Michael Fiorillo

              I hope you’re mistaken, but think it’s more likely that Putin & Co. see Ukraine as a weak state where the Nazis, with US backing, have veto power on military, intelligence and major political decisions, rather than a weak state with a Nazified populace. I assume it was easy for Johnson to scuttle the tentative deal worked out in the early days of the war, because the Nazis would have been agitating against it from inside.

  16. Rod

    Great write up Yves, along with your first.
    You are so clear eyed, and clear headed on this matter–imo.
    A Public Service.
    Thanks again.

  17. Aurelien

    The West still seems to be obsessed with the idea of military conquest and occupation or nothing. But I doubt if that ever figured in Russian plans, and I doubt that it does even now. Occupation of territory is, after all, only a means to an end, not an end in itself. The Soviet Union occupied the territory it occupied after 1945 because, broadly, that’s where Soviet troops stopped. But the continued occupation was not about territorial conquest, but about the construction of a glacis hundreds of kilometres wide to ensure that any future attack would have to fight its way through a lot of non-Soviet territory first.

    Same here, I think. The Russian objective is a demilitarised etc. Ukraine, but that’s only one stage. The rest of the game is a weak, mostly disarmed, Europe, roughly in the position of Finland or Austria in the Cold War, and a US which no longer has much, if any, influence. Much of this can be accomplished simply by attrition, as Ukraine’s combat power is exhausted, and NATO has nothing left to send, and no capacity to intervene. At that point Russia will be able to dictate terms, and there’s nothing that Brussels or Washington will be able to do about it.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      Aurelien: Astute. Agreed.

      It occurs to me that your perspective may stem from living in France, just as my agreement comes from living in Italy.

      I am on a visit in the U S of A. I have seen plenty of flags and too many Ukrainian flags. The U.S. government now has to give the bad news: “We induced a proxy war and all of its horrors. We survived domestically on propaganda and group think. We have abused your trust again.”

      And how will that go over?

      1. Adam

        This is assuming the NATO/USA leadership has an off switch. I’m not sure they do or care.

    2. Kouros

      Yes indeed. Romanians convinced the Soviets that no security threats would emerge from Romania if the Red Army left and in 1956 that removal of troops happened and they never came back. The Poles convinced USSR that they will keep a lid on Solidarity, etc., and the Russians stayed put.

      1. Polar Socialist

        I think it’s rather well documented that Soviets wanted to withdraw and demobilize as many men as they could, provided that there was neutral/pro-Soviet buffer zone and de-industrialized, de-militarized Germany. Then USA divided Germany and NATO came to existence and started rearming Germany.

        Also Korean War demonstrated that USA was more than willing to wage war against “socialist camp”, which kinda sealed the faith of the eastern Europe for decades.

        1. JBird4049

          On Korea, Kim Il Sung flat out tried to conquer the south with Stalin’s support, which it almost did. IIRC, one of the reasons for the armistice happening when it did was Stalin’s death.

          During the Cold War, the United States did many, many horrible things, including its conduct during the Korean War, but not all of the horribleness was that country’s fault.

          1. dommage

            First paragraph, the materially incomplete and therefore false official U.S. account . See Izzy Stone’s Hidden History.

            Second paragraph, yes, not all. Same reference.

      2. hk

        Finland after World War 2 also. Alas, Finns seem to think that experience was humiliating and that their pride demands that they antagonize Russia….

    3. tevhatch

      The CIA’s drug business will continue to hobble America, and the elite class is international and will split once the exorbitant privilege is gone. There is a long way down to the bounce… no, I mean splat.

    4. Daniil Adamov

      Does NATO also lack the ability to build up capacity over several years, if suitably motivated? Even if it somehow cannot, which suggests an even greater failure than anything I would be comfortable assuming, I am not sure what we can do to them to beat them into line. Deny them the resources they already denied themselves? Clearly they have been willing to absorb those losses. Start hitting their cities? But modern elites seem happy enough to tolerate attacks on their civilians. Try to occupy their territory? Even with a full mobilisation, seizing and holding large chunks of Europe would suck up a lot of resources without guaranteed success.

      I am sorry, but I would really like to understand – how do you see us enforcing a Finlandised Europe? In other words – if their elites remain determined to oppose us, no matter the cost to their constituents – what can we do about it?

    5. Jams O'Donnell

      There is also the fact that completely apart from NATO itself, the European economies are being forced to de-industrialise themselves because of self inflicted energy limitations, and external (US) economic regulations. Hence the desperate begging missions to China from France and Germany.

      It could turn out that finance from China to Europe may be conditional on cutting ties with US inspired economic attacks on China, and, as NATO will as part of that process be discredited in Europe, subsequently EU/NATO threats to Russia will also disappear.

  18. DJG, Reality Czar

    Excellent post, as always, and thought-provoking as always.

    Some observations:

    Destruction of the dam(s) on the Dniepr and of the ammonia pipeline is nihilism. As ever, I will encourage people to read Kaputt by Curzio Malaparte, which is page after page of lyrically written descriptions of cruelty. It’s like slaps on the face, one after another.

    A detail that explains the Italian resistance to the war: Togliatti. Togliatti is mentioned in the tweet as the origin of the ammonia gas-line. Togliatti was built by the Italians as an automaking city. The city is named after a prominent Italian communist. So the unwillingness of Italians to take part in the war goes back to long-standing ties to Russia and a good deal of respect for Russian culture. (I was recently at an opera by Mussorgsky in the Chocolate City, and nobody in the Chocolate City cares about temper tantrums from the Ukrainian consulate.) I saw a fairly recent poll, which may no longer be accurate: A plurality of Italians is not in favor of EU membership or NATO membership for Ukraine.

    End of the war? It occurs to me that Russia may take some areas as bargaining chips.

    I guess my question to Yves Smith would be: Odessa, too? Leaving Ukraine landlocked brings back memories of Danzig and the causes of WWII. And Ukraine, wildly corrupt and irrationally nationalistic, will become a melodramatic cauldron for revanchistes with piles of resentments.

    I am in the U S of A on a visit. Like our colleague, Bugs, who lives in France, I may have some observations later. But that’s a separate thread.

    1. Ignacio

      While this post focuses on the difficulties Russia might or will face in Ukraine little is said about the potential can of worms that the Collective West can turn to be when things go sour(er) in Ukraine.

  19. Maxwell Johnston

    I doubt that RU will allow an independent rump western UKR state to exist, if such existence allows it to re-arm and prepare for a second Punic war. Maybe RU will render western UKR uninhabitable (except for small-scale agriculture, etc), or perhaps physically conquer the whole territory (will take a lot of time) and then install a friendly regime that will be responsible for maintaining security. FWIW: on the morning of 24-2-22, I was in Moscow and chatted with an old RU acquaintance who has spent his career in one of RU’s 3-letter agencies. Both of us were caught flat-footed by what was happening. But he told me that morning that, based on his conversations with colleagues, that RU planned to go all the way to the Polish border. Just sayin’.

    The upcoming NATO exercises probably have nothing to do with the present UKR situation. These events are planned out long in advance (budgeting, logistics, etc). In any case, observers smarter than me have already pointed out in detail that NATO isn’t capable of intervening in any meaningful way in the UKR conflict, barring a sudden shift to a war economy (conscription, national control of industrial production, and so forth). Which I just don’t see happening.

    There will be no negotiations with the west (EU or USA). RU will continue with its gradual (and frustrating to watch) war of grinding attrition, and then eventually establish facts on the ground (just like 1945). This might take quite some time and provoke a range of irrational responses from UKR and western leadership, so keep those seatbelts fastened. Quite possibly we’re just getting started.

  20. LawnDart

    “…the territory known as the Ukraine” isn’t so much a state as a vehicle that delivers massive amounts of revenues to MIC and potentially to the resource-hungry multinationals like Monsanto who’ll gladly devour the remains in that region: there will be no peace as that is a condition fundamentally contrary to MIC’s business-model– peace would eliminate their reason for being and their ability to reap obscene profit.

    The entity that was known as Ukraine cannot be recognized in its prior form, as its former self; that no longer exists. But what units will take shape after the present restructuring is complete? TBD– I think Putin is simply acknowledging this.

  21. Cristobal

    Agreed. Very interesting discussion. The question now seems to be how can the Russian Federation win the peace. I am not especially familiar with all the ancient hatreds and rivalries that exist in the eastern Europian countries, but I am all too familiar with the pathological evil that infects the oligarcic, kleptocratic, murderous government in Washington DC. I´ve been watching it with increasing horror for sixty years. For that reason I am not hopeful about a possible end of hostilities. The American regime needs to feel pain, real pain, before it cedes what it still believes is its power. How that can be done I do not know. I do not believe that it is a task that can be done by the Russians, the Chinese, or anyone but the Americans – by us. Unfortunately most Americans spend their time lost in the deep deep sleep of the American dream (to paraphrase Orwell´s last paragraph of ´Homage to Cataluña´.

  22. Jim Kavanagh

    Nice analysis.

    It’s true that events “likely to force Russia to pursue the war to the destruction of the Ukrainian government,… “Russia can’t permit a fascist state on its borders.” That’s going to be a very difficult task.

    But it’s also true that the U.S. will have to “de-Nazify” the Ukrainian government to get any settlement short of Russian capitulation (which won’t happen), No government in Kiev will be able to make and keep any agreement short of complete Russian withdrawal unless the armed fascist forces are purged.

    Ukrainian fascists will be in no mood to accept any long-term deferral of fighting. They are at least as eager as Russia to resolve this promptly, and must by now be as doubtful as Russia of America’s long-term reliability. They have seen how the Americans upend a country and then go home. They can also see the growing antiwar pressure on European governments.

    Besides, their main objective (like the neocons’) is to destroy Russia.

    The fascists will kill Zelensky or any leader that accedes to an extended de facto concession of territory in a “compromise” plan unless the U.S. assures them it’s another ploy to build up for a future assault quickly (which are unlikely to believe). If there is no purging of the fascists in Kiev (which will take a battle), the Russians will know that’s exactly what the U.S. has done.

    So, if Russia doesn’t force “de-Nazifying” regime change in Kiev, the U.S. will have to—for either’s plan to succeed. It’s an enormous problem that the U.S. has created by nurturing the fascist regime since 2014. Russia and the U.S. know this. Russia is facing it. The U.S. is not. Which is one major reason why Russia cannot trust any U.S. ceasefire agreement (which the U.S. will be proposing.).

    As I said in my Zombie War: Plan B for Ukraine

    1. Cristobal

      In order to de-Nazify Kiev, it will be neccessary to de-Nazify Washington. Sorry to say.

  23. TomW

    WASHINGTON—China and Cuba have reached a secret agreement for China to establish an electronic eavesdropping facility on the island, in a brash new geopolitical challenge by Beijing to the U.S., according to U.S. officials familiar with highly classified intelligence.

    An eavesdropping facility in Cuba, roughly 100 miles from Florida, would allow Chinese intelligence services to scoop up electronic communications throughout the southeastern U.S., where many military bases are located, and monitor U.S. ship traffic.

    From WSJ

    Good that the US can worry about something other Taiwan.

    1. The Rev Kev

      It would be funny if the Chinese said that they had modeled their agreement with Cuba on the US agreements with South Korea and Japan.

    2. digi_owl

      Lets to forget that USA still has a certain infamous naval base on Cuban soil…

  24. HH

    If escalation continues with the introduction of Western troops, Russia will fully mobilize and use the biggest conventional weapons in its inventory (massive fuel-air bombs). If that isn’t sufficient to take Ukraine, it will use neutron bombs. The Washington neocons just don’t understand what they are facing.

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      In the event of escalations. a few Kinzels making social calls on LNG unloading facilities in Atlantic European ports would also concentrate more than a few minds there.

  25. ChrisPacific

    The lock release seems big if it’s true. I don’t think the video is sufficient evidence though as it could have been taken on any date.

    Surely this would be relatively easy to verify via local contacts or satellite photos? Hopefully we’ll hear more.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Alexander Mercouris yesterday and today said Ukraine has opened the sluices upstream and is sending lots of water now.

  26. Isla White

    Obviously the old maxim still holds true – that the first casualty of war is the Truth.

    But our US cousins (and OK some of those claiming to be out in the Commonwealth) – if they are genuinely natives of those countries – do seem to have a preference viz a viz Ukraine vs Russia for justifying an invasion of an apparently weaker territory by an apparently stronger one; that Right is Might – as being OK. Presumably to justify their own ‘history’.

    Obviously us British – an island race; secure in our own borders for a thousand years see real or potential invaders differently.

    What, after all, were those twats doing roaming round Salisbury, Wiltshire? Even if we leave out the radioactive doorknobs – its a bit feeble to be making a 1 day visit just to see ‘the famous Cathedral spire’.

    What is wrong with everything else Wiltshire has to offer?

    1. DannyD

      Thank you, this comment really got a good laugh out of me.
      A person from the nation that spreads the most lies and disinformation, and objectively the worst press in the world lecturing others on the Truth.
      And still managing to repeat a lie at the end to reinforce the point.

Comments are closed.