Tag Archives: Vladimir Putin

Russia, Ukraine et al: What Next? By Patrick Armstrong

The overconfidence of people who have nothing to be confident about can be a recipe for travesty and/or tragedy. From Patrick Armstrong at unz.com:

To Moscow, Ukraine is not the problem, Washington is. Or, as Putin might put it: Tabaqui does what Shere Khan tells him to and there is no point in dealing with him, go straight to Shere Khan. That is what Moscow is trying to do with its treaty proposals.

For the same reason, Moscow is not much concerned with what the EU or NATO says; it assesses that they are Tabaquis too.

The current propaganda meme in Washington is that Russia is going to “invade Ukraine” and absorb it. It will not: Ukraine is a decaying, impoverished, de-industrialised, divided, corrupt and decaying mess; Moscow does not want to take responsibility for the package. Moscow is fully aware that while its troops will be welcomed in many parts of Ukraine they will not be in others. Indeed, in Moscow, they must be wishing that Stalin had returned Galicia to Poland rather than giving it to the Ukrainian SSR after the War and stuck Warsaw with the problem. This does not, however, rule out the eventual absorption of most of Novorossiya in ultimo.

The second delusion in Washington is that if Moscow did “invade Ukraine” it would start as far away from Kiev as possible and send tank after tank down a road so that the US-supplied PAWs could exact a heavy cost. That is absolutely not what Moscow would do as Scott Ritter explains. Moscow would use standoff weapons to obliterate Ukrainian troop positions, C3I assets, assembly areas, artillery positions, ammunition dumps, airfields, ports and the like. At its choice. It would all be over quite quickly and the Javelins would never be taken out of their boxes. But that is the extreme option as Ritter explains.

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Good for Putin for Exposing U.S. Hypocrisy, by Jacob G. Hornberger

If the U.S. stations troops and weapons in Ukraine, why can’t Putin do the same in Cuba and Venezuela? From Jacob G. Hornberger at fff.org:

At the risk of being accused of befriending one of the two premier enemies (or rivals, opponents, adversaries, or competitors) of the U.S. national-security establishment (the other one being China), I feel compelled to commend Russian President Vladimir Putin for exposing the rank hypocrisy of U.S. officials.

I must admit that I couldn’t help but smile when I read that Putin was threatening to send Russian troops to Cuba and Venezuela in response to U.S. attempts to absorb Ukraine into NATO, which would enable the Pentagon and the CIA to send U.S. troops, missiles, and tanks to Russia’s border.

When I read Putin’s statement, I knew immediately what the U.S. response would be  … and that it would not be a principled one. Not surprisingly, U.S. officials didn’t like Putin’s idea at all, as reflected by U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan exclaiming, “If Russia were to move in that direction, we would deal with it decisively.”

Whoa! Now just wait a minute. We keep hearing U.S. officials saying that Ukraine is an independent, sovereign country (despite the fact that the U.S. government helped foment the regime-change operation that installed a pro-U.S. puppet regime in the country). As such, U.S. officials maintain that Ukraine has the rightful authority to join NATO, that old Cold War dinosaur that should have gone out of existence decades ago.

But Cuba and Venezuela are independent sovereign countries too, aren’t they? As such, don’t they have the authority to invite foreign troops into their countries? And just as the U.S. government establishes military bases all over the world, including in countries that are located close to Russia, why doesn’t Russia have the authority to do the same in Cuba and Venezuela?

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Americans for War, by Technofog

Are we about to be bullshitted into another war? From Technofog at technofog.substack.com:

Is the Ukraine/Russia conflict a US foreign policy goal?

blue flag on pole during daytime

Dare I say a dangerous truth, but there are politicians and analysts and journalists who want Russia to invade Ukraine.

Not because these folks are “Putin apologists,” to quote a popular insult they use against the anti-war crowd. But because they see Russian actions as a pretext for U.S. intervention and perpetual U.S. presence in Ukraine, if not elsewhere. (Poke the bear and you’re the antagonist. Get attacked by the bear and you’re the victim.)

How can Russian aggression best be used? For some, it is the justification for more troops and more weapons in Eastern Europe. NATO sees the opportunity to “reinforce its troop presence in the Black Sea and the Baltics.”

Here in the States, former Obama Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Evelyn Farkas advocates “U.S. leaders should be marshalling an international coalition of the willing, readying military forces to deter Putin and, if necessary, prepare for war.” Others argue for an aggressive military response or suggest the option of “U.S. boots on the ground.” Max Boot, a delusional journalist with a large platform, a silly fedora, and an appetite for war, promotes an urgent airlift of U.S. weapons systems to Ukraine. Boot goes so far as to issue a silly warning that Putin is attempting to resurrect the “evil empire.” If Boot believes these words, then he will eventually advocate the most extreme measures to counter Russia. Dangerous rhetoric indeed.

If recent history is any indication, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy certainly sees the current crisis, if you can call it that, as an opportunity. Last June, he tweeted “NATO leaders confirmed that Ukraine” will become a member of the Alliance.” This announcement came days before Biden’s scheduled meeting with President Vladimir Putin. In other words, it was planned. And while Biden’s response last summer was ambivalent on Ukraine joining NATO, more recently he assured Zelenskiy that “Kyiv’s bid to join the NATO military alliance was in its own hands.” This comment came after Putin’s warning that Ukraine’s admission to NATO is a “red line” for Moscow.

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Dialogue of the Deaf in Geneva, by Alastair Crooke

We’ll do as we want and you’ll do as we say isn’t much of a negotiating position. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:

Western politics today are no more about considered strategy: It is pretty evident that the U.S. team arrived at Geneva strategy-less.

A curious event occurred on Monday in Geneva. It seems that the only substantive outcome from the U.S.–Russia talks is that the U.S. has promised to provide a formal response to the earlier Russian demand for security guarantees within a week. The Russian counterparts outlined their own position unambiguously, and in full detail. This, however, was wholly disdained by the Biden Team, who, according to the Russians, were “diehard/stubborn”. The Russian delegation was told that its key request of ‘no more NATO eastward expansion’ was simply “a non-starter”.

It plainly was not then ‘a negotiation’. The U.S. is discussing only missile deployment issues and mutual limitations on military exercises, but avoiding the crux of Russian demands (the roll-back of NATO from its near abroad, to be achieved either through diplomacy or a by ‘a strategy of tension’, i.e. escalating pain). And the U.S. has neither a negotiating strategy tied to realisable objectives, nor real options, beyond the symbolical assertion of NATO ‘openness’.

NATO’s door must remain ‘open’ is the U.S.’ meme-narrative – yet it is an assertion that lacks substance. Washington has already conceded that neither it, nor NATO, will fight (at least overtly), over Ukraine – whereas Russia has said that it will so do, were Ukraine to be subsumed into NATO.

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Vladimir Putin Is Not the Neville Chamberlain the US/NATO Is Looking For, by Thomas Knapp

Don’t expect Vladimir Putin to back off Russia’s demands concerning NATO membership or where the U.S. and NATO put their weapons. From Thomas Knapp at antiwar.com:

“I think one lesson in recent history,” US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on January 7, referring to the entry of Russian troops into Kazakhstan to save that country’s allied regime from an uprising of dissatisfied serfs, “is that once Russians are in your house, it’s sometimes very difficult to get them to leave.”

That’s the pot calling the kettle black. More than 30 years after the Warsaw Pact’s dissolution, 77 years after the end of World War Two, the US still keeps 40,000 troops in Germany.

For 45 years, the justification was to defend Germany from the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. As Germany moved toward reunification, US Secretary of State James Baker assured Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization wouldn’t expand so much as “one inch eastward” into the former Soviet sphere of influence it was created to contain.

That assurance, codified in various negotiations and subsequently declassified documents, was far from “informal” as supporters of an expanding NATO pretend. It may well have kept eastern Europe’s transition toward independence from devolving into the third general European war in a century.

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Dog Gone, by James Howard Kunstler

It’s a radical thought, but we could just leave Ukraine and Russia alone. Who knows what might happen. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

So much chatter in the news media these days about who will be “Joe Biden’s” running mate in 2024 — not that there’s anything wrong with his current sidekick — but I’ve got half a mind to throw my own hat in the ring. That’d make two of us with half a mind and a shot at the so-far elusive ideal to govern least… and therefore govern best!

Alas, I lack the connections and the ground-game of a seasoned pol such as Liz Cheney, the current favorite, who dragged her esteemed old daddy, Dick Cheney (“George W. Bush’s brain”) up to Capitol Hill this week, for to schmooze up the Progressive caucus and raise morale among the walking dead. Where Dick Cheney treads, you know war can’t be far behind. That must be what America really needs to pep her up in these days of sagging poll numbers and inflating dollars. War, the ivermectin of politics!

But shall it be a foreign war or a civil war? Isn’t that the question? From the looks of things around “Joe Biden’s” White House, where a weird concrete fortification is being hoisted up on the north lawn as I write, it looks like they’re planning for action on the home front, perhaps a full-out assault by the lurking forces of white supremacy — painted savages in horned head-dresses screaming MAGA-MAGA-MAGA as they loot Dr. Jill’s walk-in closet.

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What the West gets wrong about Putin, by Harald Malmgren

Vladimir Putin is an extraordinary character. From Harald Malmgren at unherd.com:

When we first met, he already knew the power of terrifying adversaries

In 1999, Vladimir Putin suddenly sprang from bureaucratic obscurity to the office of Prime Minister. When, a few months later, Yeltsin unexpectedly resigned and Putin was voted in as President, governments around the world were taken by surprise yet again. How could this unknown figure have amassed national voter support with so little media attention?

I had first met Putin seven years before and was not surprised by his rapid domination of the new Russia. We were introduced by Yevgeny Primakov, widely known as “Russia’s Kissinger”, who I had met in Moscow multiple times during the Cold War years when I advised Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford. Primakov was a no-nonsense thinker and writer. He was also a special emissary for the Kremlin in conducting secret discussions with national leaders around the world.

When Yeltsin tasked his advisor Anatoly Sobchak with identifying and recruiting Russia’s best and brightest, Putin, then a local politician in his hometown of St Petersburg, was top of his list — so Primakov took Putin under his wing to tutor him in global power and security issues. Eventually, Primakov introduced Kissinger to Putin, and they became close. That both Primakov and Kissinger took time to coach Putin on geopolitics and geosecurity was a clear demonstration that they saw in him the characteristics of a powerful leader. It also showed Putin’s capacity for listening to lengthy lessons on geopolitics — as I was soon to learn.

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Where Are the Realists? By Philip Giraldi

Hoping for realists in the Biden administration is hoping for too much. Settle for someone who has even a nodding acquaintance with reality. From Philip Giraldi at unz.com:

US foreign policy endangers Americans without delivering any benefits

Sometimes it seems that when it comes to international relations Russian president Vladimir Putin might be the only head of state who is capable of any rational proposals. His recent negotiating positions conveyed initially by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Rybakov to step back from the brink of war between his country and the United States over Ukraine are largely eminently sensible and would defuse the possibility that Eastern Europe might become a future Sarajevo incident that would ignite a nuclear war. Per Putin, “We need long-term legally binding guarantees even if we know they cannot be trusted, as the US frequently withdraws from treaties that become uninteresting to them. But…something [more is needed], not just verbal assurances.”

Putin and President Biden discussed the Russian proposals and other issues in a phone conversation on December 30th, in which Biden called for diplomacy, and both he and Putin reportedly took steps to defuse the possible confrontation. In the phone call the two presidents agreed to initiate bilateral negotiations described as “strategic stability dialogue” relating to “mutual security guarantees” which have now begun on Sunday, January 9th, in Geneva. That will be followed by an exploratory meeting of the NATO-Russia Council on Wednesday and another meeting with the Organization for Security and Cooperation on Thursday.

Pat Buchanan, who is somewhat skeptical about Russian overreach, has summed up the Putin position, which he refers to as an ultimatum, as “Get off our front porch. Get out of our front yard. And stay out of our backyard.” Putin has demanded that NATO cease expansion into Eastern Europe, which threatens only Russia, while also scaling back planned missile emplacements in those former Warsaw Pact states that are already members of the alliance. He also has called on the US to reduce harassing incursions by warships and strategic bombers along the Russian border and to cease efforts to insert military bases in the five ‘Stans along the Russian federation’s southern border. In other words, Russia believes that it should not have hostile military forces gathering along its borders, that it should have some kind of legally guaranteed and internationally endorsed strategic security zone such as the United States enjoys behind two oceans with friendly governments to north and south.

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Putin’s Quid: No Offensive Missiles in ‘ABM’ Sites, by Ray McGovern

Negotiation and a settlement between the U.S. and Russia is not an impossibility. From Ray McGovern at antiwar.com:

Take heart, most of you who fear war rather than profit from it. You would not know it amid the gloom and doom about “another Russian invasion” of Ukraine, but diplomacy – not war – is about to break out this month.

As senior U.S. and Russian negotiators begin talks early next week in Geneva, the makings of a first-step-in-the-right-direction deal are already at hand. And for this we can thank Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin for serious, attentive, one-to-one conversations in the past several weeks.

You don’t need a degree in Kremlinology or tea leaves to understand how this came about and what led to the Biden-Putin talks: in one key respect the second (Dec. 7, virtual) was a carbon copy of the first (June 16 in Geneva).

Both came at Biden’s initiative, after Russia moved tens of thousands of troops near the border with Ukraine ready to stave off, or respond to, Ukrainian government threats to take back the Donbass and Crimea. By April 2021, things had come to a head, culminating in President Biden’s strange call to President Putin on April 13. (It is a safe guess that it was Putin who called first and left a “voicemail” saying: “Your unleashed Ukrainians and the American crazies abetting them are playing with fire; please call me – and quickly“).

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Six Things the Media Won’t Tell You About Ukraine, by Ted Snider

Why should the American people know anything about the wars the government chooses to fight? From Ted Snider at antiwar.com:

On January 10, American and Russian officials will meet to discuss Putin’s proposal on mutual security guarantees. Western media and political analysts have cast Putin’s demands that NATO not expand further east to Ukraine and that NATO not establish military bases in former Soviet states nor use them to carry out military activity as bold and impossible.

Here are six crucial pieces of background that the western media will not tell you.

The NATO Promise

Putin’s demands are only bold if it is bold to ask NATO to keep its promises; his demands are only impossible if it is impossible for NATO to keep its promises.

On February 9, 1990, Secretary of State James Baker assured Gorbachev that if NATO got Germany – a huge concession – NATO would not expand one inch east of Germany. The next day, West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher made the same promise to his Soviet counterpart, Eduard Shevardnadz. Earlier, on January 31, 1990, Genscher had already publicly declared in a major speech that there would not be “an expansion of NATO territory to the east, in other words, closer to the borders of the Soviet Union.”

Recently declassified documents make it clear that all the western powers, including not only the US and Germany but also the UK and France, repeatedly made Russia the same promise.

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