Ukraine Explainer - Part Four
Escalation, humiliation and the diplomatic failures of the West
This is the final part of my series on Ukraine. It combines background briefings on the diplomatic and military actions leading up to the war with analysis of more recent developments. My aim is to provide a broader informational picture to the reader of current events and their origins from sources in the public domain. Overall, this may help understanding of a palpable shift in the narrative over a war whose origins and effects have significant impact upon Western interests - including those of the President of the United States.
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My view is the war is likely to be a disaster for the US which will dwarf the Afghanistan debacle and permanently alter the geostrategic and economic realities we once took for granted.
Please feel free to add anything I have missed in the comments below.
This post has taken a very long time to research and write. If you find value in my analysis, please consider taking out a paid subscription. I am not paid by the war machine and nor do I write clickbait for likes. In fact, what I write is likely to permanently remove me from the labour force. It is for this reason I have taken to wearing a wig on camera in a recent interview, in order to repair my devastated employability.
In this very long post I will detail the following aspects of the War in Ukraine
A Brief History of Donbass
Two Types of War - Information and Kinetic Warfare
Two Types of War - Russia vs Ukraine and US Proxy War
German Tanks and Circumspection
Mrs Zelensky Appeals for More War
The Minsk Agreements
The EU and the roots of ‘Our values’
The Role of Humiliation - Gadaffi, Saddam, Struggle Sessions
Humiliation of Enemies
The Projection Problem
The Kosovo Precedent
The New Turkish Influence
Afterword - What I believe
A brief history of Donbass
The Donbass, or ‘Donetsk Basin’ is a region composed of the provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk. It is largely populated by Russian speakers. This is due to earlier settlement beginning in the 18th and 19th century and, following the discovery of coal deposits, by Russian workers. A late 19th century census put the Russian population of the region at 28%. The Holodomor did much to depopulate the region, as with wider Ukraine, following which the area was rapidly industrialised under Stalin.
Russification intensified after the end of World War Two. Most people in these regions now speak Russian, and many of these people consider themselves to be Russian. That is because they are ethnic Russians. Russia has issued over 700 000 passports at least to its inhabitants. For further background, this article gives a good overview of the ethnic and political history of Donbass.
Following the US backed coup in February 2014, parts of these two Donbass republics declared autonomy, effectively seceding from Ukraine and taking no further part in any elections.
The war in this region began shortly after this declaration in May 2014. The Western media has forgotten this fact, which was reported by the BBC as late as March 2022. The then eight year conflict was adduced as a footnote to the curious fact that Donetsk was founded by a Welsh miner. Initially called ‘Hugheskova’, after John Hughes, it was later renamed after his expulsion following the Russian Revolution.
This video provides a map based representation of the conflict from its inception to October 2022.
The infamous Debaltseve kotla (‘kettle’) resulted in the single biggest loss to the then Ukrainian Army. It was achieved by the intervention of the Russian Army to reverse Ukrainian gains against the Donetsk and Lugansk separatists. Cross border artillery, the use of eight Battalion Tactical Groups and the likely involvement of Spetsnaz special forces overwhelmed and overmatched the Ukrainians, who had effectively lost the war at this point.
Following the ceasefire under the First Minsk Agreement the front line was frozen. Despite this, shelling and skirmishes continued. It is estimated that up to 20 000 people have been killed in the Donbass conflict between 2014 and 2022 in an eight year campaign of largely indiscriminate shelling undertaken by both sides. Close reading of the sources available suggest the majority of civilian casualties were suffered on the pro-Russian separatist side.
NATO and the US has been heavily involved in training and arming Ukrainian personnel since the comprehensive defeat their army suffered in the notorious Debaltseve ‘kotla’ or kettled encirclement. The Ukrainian army became the largest and best equipped in Europe by late 2021 as a result, benefiting from 2.5 billion dollars in US investment in its military capability.
According to Russian reports, the Ukrainian Army was preparing an offensive in Spring of 2022 to which the Russian mobilisation and invasion was a pre-emptive response. Denis Pushilin, leader of the separatist militia in Donbass, said
"According to our intelligence and the testimony of Ukrainian prisoners, the offensive operation was supposed to begin on March 8 this year," the head of the DPR said in his Telegram channel. “Facts indicate that a one-time invasion was planned both on the territory of the Republics of Donbass and on the Russian Federation in Crimea.”". "Today, the journalists were presented with evidence of the aggressive plans of the Ukrainian regime and those behind it," he added.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov protested on 18th February, 2022, that shelling from Ukrainian forces had intensified - using weapons prohibited by the second Minsk Agreement. Six days later the Russians would invade, following years of frustration over the continued failure of the West to implement the Minsk Agreements of 2014 and 2015.
The claim that the Russians are tired of betrayal, lies and the silent murder of ethnic Russians must be taken seriously to understand some of the motives for this war.
Two Types of War
There are two types of war. One is the one you know, the other is the one you don’t. It is the goal of the second type of warfare to keep things this way.
Information warfare sounds like a dramatic phrase. Warfare itself is sensationalised in film when it is in practice boredom punctuated by unpredictable horror.
The war being fought in your mind is the one being won by the West. The war in Ukraine - the kinetic war as it is now called, is not. The reason this is not widely known is due to the success of a coordinated campaign in the Western media to tell you that Russia is losing. This began roughly in August of 2022.
By that time the war in Ukraine had been going on for months. The number of months it had been ongoing can be a matter for contention. If we mean a war between Ukraine and Russia alone, that was over by March. Lasting a month, it ended in a round of negotiations for peace, since the Ukrainians realised they could not win.
The war between the United States, its allies and Russia began in April 2022. The peace negotiations were coincidentally abandoned following repeated visits and conferences between the then UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and the Servant of the People, President Zelensky. The result was the offer of unlimited and unwavering backing from the United States and the United Kingdom. The European Union quickly followed suit. In the space of a week, the game had changed. Now the West Stood With Ukraine.
This proxy war, dating from April 2022 to January 2023 at the time of writing, has been going on for nine months. It has its memes, its badges of virtue. It has cost the United States over a hundred billion dollars. Tens of billions more have come from Britain and the EU. Armour, missiles, heavy weapons, HIMARS systems and ‘military advisers’ have swept into Ukraine. Various local and national charitable efforts have sprung up to help a country into which more money has been poured in less than one year than into Afghanistan in a decade.
No one is counting this money. No one is checking where any of the money is going. In one notable report it was revealed that two thirds of the weapons and ammunition have disappeared, with the black market the most likely destination. I expect 2023 will be the first year in which we see better armed terror attacks in Europe.
We have been consistently informed that the Russian Army is in disarray. That Putin is dying and his soldiers are deserting. That his generals are close to mutiny. We were told that the sanctions would weaken the Russian economy to the point of regime change. We were told that there would be no negotiation with Putin. Of course, we are told that Putin is Hitler. He is mad. He is dangerous. He both wishes to conquer all of Europe and must be stopped, and is at the same time insane and incompetent with a terminal illness.
His forces have been reported - mainly by former Ukrainian propaganda chief Alexei Arestovich - to be shelling themselves at the Zaporozhie nuclear plant, to be demoralised, and to have been slaughtered in great number. Putin is also alleged to have blown up his own pipelines, masterfully destroying his own leverage over Europe’s gas supply.
Let us first look at the World Hitler Champion 2023, to see what we may find.
Vladimir Putin is a former intelligence agent and completed a thesis on the geopolitical power to be leveraged from mineral resources. With the cooperation of two German chancellors, Gerhard Schroder and Angela Merkel, he oversaw construction of the NordStream 1 and 2 pipelines to supply Russian gas to Europe on long term, fixed price contracts.
Putin is not a nationalist. The dissident Alexei Navalny, often touted in the Western media as a Liberal, has had strong ties to ethnonationalists in the past. Putin’s Russia is multicultural, with Moscow having a high population of what Russians impolitely refer to as ‘churkas’ - people from Central Asia.
Putin is a managerialist. His role is to balance, in a typically Russian idiom, powers in the state and business sector which without antagonism may rise to usurp him. This method of the consolidation of power predates Stalin, who was famous for playing potential rivals off against one another. Before communism, the Ohkrana or secret police of the Tsars would infiltrate and connive with groups which could threaten the Kremlin, often leading them to dissipate their energies in mutual frustration.
His hands on attitude - some might say weakness to micromanage - is likely responsible for the initial limitations on the Russian invasion. The nature of the SMO - Special Military Operation - placed constraints on the military which led to bitter complaints from the generals. This was changed, mainly in October last year, in a reorganisation of the SMO in its organisation, direction and objectives. Beginning with the appointment of a supreme field commander in Gen Surovikin, summarised here, and involving high concentrations of mobilised troops, emergency legislation and and an intense missile barrage of Ukrainian energy infrastructure, it has placed the generals in charge. More recently, the command structure changed again, with Surovikin deputised under General Gerasimov earlier in January 2023.
The powers which Putin balances are those of the oligarchs, of the state bureaucracy, of the regional governments and the many peoples of the Russian Federation. This is done by means of a managed democracy. Putin’s legitimacy derives less from his appeal as a dictator and more as a safe pair of hands whose leadership has steered Russia out of the chaos of the 1990s into an era of renewal, prosperity and power.
For many Russians outside the urban centres life has scarcely changed materially since that time, when it seemed likely that Russia would simply collapse. Yet even the rural poor feel the effects of a stable nation, rather than those of a worthless currency and a vanishing state replaced by widespread gangsterism.
The RAND corporation assessment of 2019 pictured a fragile and paranoid Russia on the verge of disintegration.
Today’s Russia suffers from many vulnerabilities—oil and gas prices well below peak that have caused a drop in living standards, economic sanctions that have furthered that decline, an aging and soon-to-be-declining population, and increasing authoritarianism under Vladimir Putin’s now-continued rule. Such vulnerabilities are coupled with deep-seated (if exaggerated) anxieties about the possibility of Western-inspired regime change, loss of great power status, and even military attack.
RAND was formed in the USA in 1948 to “connect military planning with Research And Development decisions” . R&D - RAND. It in addition to this, it offers geostrategic assessments which inform policy making in foreign relations and defence.
The picture it presented of Russia is one which is consistent with the policies enacted by the US, UK and EU in their military assistance, training, proxy war support and diplomatic and economic sanctions.
The West has staked everything on the collapse of Russia. The Ukrainians, knowing they cannot win, agreed to peace talks in March 2022. These talks came to an abrupt end, despite early indications of progress, with the personal intervention of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Following this came the announcement of massive military and financial aid to Ukraine, being the effective declaration of a proxy US war with Russia.
The West, whether the US, UK or the EU, has repeatedly claimed they are in it to win it, and will stay the course. It is only this week which has brought some of the cracks in these cast iron guarantess to public consideration.
German Tanks and Circumspection
Since the interview in Newsweek given last December (2022), the position of the Ukrainian army has been clear. It no longer has the armour to mount a meaningful offensive, and the packages announced in the US Senate that month did not include any tanks. Gen Zaluzhny, the head of the Ukrainian army, requested 3-400 tanks.
This is the reason for the recent interest in the donation of German Leopard-2 tanks to Ukraine. Under the agreement signed at their sale, any European nation which operates them must gain German government approval before sending them beyond their own borders.
The Germans have been approached this week by the US, to whom they rejoined that the US must match any German offer of tanks with a delivery of similar generation US Abrams tanks. The United States is unwilling to do this, and continued to pressure the Germans. Appeals were made, including that of Mrs Zelensky to the WEF, to shame those countries ‘who could do more’ to send their inventories to Ukraine without a thought to the consequences. This is likely aimed at the Germans, whose new defence minister has not, as expected, caved into these demands. He has refused to commit Germany to the export of its own tanks to Ukraine, and has not granted the necessary permission for other EU nations to do so.
The Germans appear to be stepping back from the brink. The donation of advanced heavy armour to Ukraine would be a move the Russians would not take lightly. It is understandable, since the unsolved and enigmatic detonation of the Russo-German Nordstream pipelines, that a nation whose strategic energy supply has been destroyed by its allies has doubts about the urgent demands it now hears from them. With friends like these, Germany has decided to hit the pause button.
Mrs Zelensky Makes an Emotional Appeal for More War
Mrs Zelensky appeared at the WEF this week, making a heartfelt appeal to think of the Ukrainian children in order to drum up support for an escalation of the war.
Citing the Russian adoption of war orphans as an attempt to erase the people of Ukraine, she made an emotional appeal inflected by genocide and framed in the heartbreaking severance of the bond between motherland and child.
This from a nation which had become the world’s leading destination for people wishing to buy a baby from a mother who would never see it again.
The example once more of moral inversion is present here. Whilst war banalises the obscene, it being the business of killing, there is no excuse to attempt to frame the adoption of orphans as a form of genocide. These children are likely Russian speakers from ethnic Russian families themselves, the fact being that most of the population of Eastern and Southern Ukraine contain people who would consider themselves in some way Russian. This is a fact which has been erased. The presence of ethnic Russians in Ukraine in great number is simply deleted from the record. How would Mrs Zelensky describe this?
There would be no moral equivalence between the actions and definitions justified by the West and its allies, and those of its enemies. The Euston Manifesto argues that we superior Liberals may simply ignore the sovereignty and rights of nations we can characterise as evil.
This is what was done in the Minsk Agreements.
Minsk 1 (2014), Minsk 2 (2015) and The Normandy format of 2019
The war in Donbass was frozen along lines of contact following a ceasefire arranged to broker talks to end the conflict. Ukraine and the separatists agreed a 12 point deal to cease fire in Minsk, Belarus, in September 2014. Following the breakdown of this arrangement came Minsk 2 in February 2015. An agreement supported by France and Germany saw Russia and Ukraine sign a 13 point settlement which remained unimplemented.
The Russians have objected to the fact that the French and Germans did little to encourage Ukraine’s compliance. Russia’s complaints were of course dismissed, until the dramatic revelations of then German chancellor Angela Merkel. In a December 2022 statement echoing that of June 2022 by the former Ukrainian President Poroshenko, Merkel revealed that the agreements were indeed signed with no intention to observe them. They were undertaken by the West with the sole intention of buying time for Ukraine to rearm for an invasion to retake the Donbass, and to prepare for confrontation with Russia.
Merkel described the Minsk agreements as “an attempt to give Ukraine time” to build up its own military capacities. “[Ukraine] used this time to get stronger, as you can see today”:
“The Ukraine of 2014-15 is not the Ukraine of today. As you saw in the battle for Debaltsevo in early 2015, Putin could easily have overrun them at the time. And I very much doubt that the NATO countries could have done as much then as they do now to help Ukraine.”
- Angela Merkel, speaking to Die Zeit
Footage emerged this week of President Zelensky laughing at the 2019 ‘Normandy Format’ meeting with Angela Merkel and French President Macron, whilst Vladimir Putin repeats Russian concerns over the non-implementation of the Minsk agreements. This was a renewed attempt to find a diplomatic solution to the Donbass conflict. It is evident that there is substance to the Russian claim that these negotiations were not taken seriously at all.
It is therefore understandable for the Russians to claim there was no alternative to military action to secure their interests. These are not merely territorial, but include legitimate claims of responsibility to defend the ethnic Russian population of Eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainisation policies have seen the elimination of the Russian language from schools and public administration in Ukraine. Faced with the social and political marginalisation of people they consider their own, and with the prospect of a full scale invasion of Donbass to compound eight years of shelling, the Russians decided to act outside a diplomatic system which had consistently misled them. The invasion of Ukraine was a vote of no confidence in the diplomacy of the West.
The European Union and the roots of Our Values
The Ukrainians were surprised at the levels of European support, throwing their full weight behind the US led initiative to ‘bleed Russia’ through a proxy war in April 2022. By July, Ursula von der Leyen was addressing the Ukrainian Parliament, referring to the Ukrainians’ brave choices in favour of democracy eight years previously in the Maidan coup.
Von der Leyen is referring to the choice of the Ukrainian government by the United States, which led to punishing neoliberal economic ‘reforms’ and no notable reduction in the notorious corruption of the state. It elevated hardline Ukrainian nationalists to power and of course followed the violent overthrow of the previous government.
It is astonishing that such people have the sheer brass neck to pontificate about freedom and democracy, given their long documented sponsorship of regime change through military force and orchestrated coups. The doctrine of Liberal Intervention - the use of bombs to spread democracy - is openly espoused and has been a central plank of European political managerialism since the signing of the Euston Manifesto on 25th of May 2006.
This document set out the basis for a global managerialism described in terms designed to appeal to the casual reader. It is on closer examination a strictly narrow interpretation of a desired ordering of human affairs which endorses the use of warfare to remove its opponents. Here is a reasonable summary of the doctrine, which attracted criticism at the time for its ‘handing of a blank cheque’ to the military adventures of GW Bush and Tony Blair.
Why does this old website matter? If you find yourself asking what people like Ursula von der Leyen profess to believe, or if you would like to know what is meant by ‘our values’, the Euston Manifesto is a fair guide. It indicates the nature of the rules behind our championed ‘rules-based order’. In brief, you are free to agree or be crushed.
It is this type of thinking - a combination of staggering hubris and of righteous strategic bombing campaigns - which made the RAND assessment of Russia so appealing.
Russia has always been interesting to the neoconservative - or ‘Liberal Interventionist’. Why are they so obsessed with Russia?
It has a lot of high quality sweet crude oil
It has a lot of natural gas
It does not entertain Rainbow Flag Parades
It was humiliated in the 1990s
The policies of the factions which direct our foreign affairs often mirror the habits of the factions which plague our personal interactions. A case in point is the significance of humiliation. It is not enough for these people to win - they must also humiliate.
Gaddafi, Saddam and Modern Struggle Sessions
The desire to humiliate is first a kind of fantasy. Its presence invalidates any claim to any act undertaken nominally for the purpose of justice. This means if you pretend to be taking down some bad guy to do good, but are in fact motivated by vengeful fantasies of humiliating them, your motives are suspect and cannot be judged as entirely righteous.
The British Prime Minister, David Cameron , French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the State Department of Hillary Clinton determined to replace the Libya of Col Gaddafi with nightmarish anarchy.
On hearing of his horrifically brutal murder, Hillary Clinton laughed and quipped,
We came, we saw, he died
The Libya of Col Gaddafi was one which led its people to unparalleled levels of development and prosperity. Gaddafi had proposed the creation of a Libyan oil-back gold dinar to secure future interest-free development loans to African states, taking both them and the trade of his oil out of dollar-debt system. This was the reason he was killed. Not to promote ‘democracy’, but to preserve the lucrative debt slavery of Africa and the dominance of the petrodollar.
French intelligence “discovered” a Libyan initiative to freely compete with European currency through a local alternative, and this had to be subverted through military aggression.
There was no noble humanitarian ideal served by Gaddafi’s removal and televised humiliation. This was an act of savagery, of spiteful perversion garlanded in fine words, to preserve a system which indentures the poor and enriches the powerful.
Saddam Hussein’s execution followed a similar campaign in his formerly stable country of Iraq, which was likewise reduced to an internecine bloodbath where atrocities on all sides became depressingly routine.
He too was humiliated. His hanging was ‘leaked’, as was the murder of Gaddafi, as a warning to the enemies of the rules based order. It is their means of ‘sending a message’, as television mafiosi do. It is this message which Putin, Lukashenko, Vucic are intended to understand, as their
deep-seated (if exaggerated) anxieties about the possibility of Western-inspired regime change
are framed as the fantasies of isolated and paranoid dictators.
The term struggle session originated in Maoist china, wherein anyone supposed to resemble a threat to communism was made to apologise in a contrived display of insincere but hysterical self accusation. The aim is to break the victim through enforced cooperation in their own betrayal. It is a technique used also by the Bolshevik show trials, and it survives today in a sublimated fashion with every insistence that you describe a man in a dress as a woman.
The practice of humiliation as a function of political power is a means of demoralising your enemies. It has been widely practised in Ukraine since at least last March, with countless pictures and videos detailing women and men taped to lamp-posts, their faces painted green and their trousers removed to invite degrading treatment from passers by.
Described as ‘marauders’ initially, it has later emerged that these are commonly Russian speaking Ukrainians who are singled out for public humiliation and a form of democratised torture. These abhorrent images are numberless, readily found, and have seldom appeared in the Western media. Do not seek them out if you are easily upset.
The goal of Ukraine’s appearance at the WEF was to shame the West into further escalation. Together with assurances from Ursula von der Leyen about billions more in funding to rebuild Ukraine, Senator Lindsey Graham has amplified calls for the Russian President to face trial for war crimes at the Hague, after calling for his assassination last year.
The aims and demands of the West, inspired by the RAND assessment, have been as follows since April 2022
The collapse of the Russian economy
The bleeding of the Russian army
Regime change in Russia arising from defeat and economic collapse
Access to Russia’s resources following a new regime
The breakup of the Russian federation
The humiliation of Putin in a show trial
The problem with these aims is the plan is not working. Russia is not even close to collapse. Public support for Putin and for the war is strong. People understand and share the anger over negotiations and assurances which turned out to be a practical joke played on the Russian government and its people. New alliances are forming, with the alignment of the Saudis and BRICS moving away from the US. No countries outside the anglosphere have joined the nine rounds of EU sanctions, whose effect has been to deindustrialise Europe and precipitate a severe economic crisis with no end in sight.
The answer to failure, as per afghan, is to pour in more money and weapons. What is more, people such as Van der Leyen and Graham talk past the defeat of Russia on the battlefield as if it were a matter of time. The hubris typical of our self intoxicated managerial class is unmistakable. They seem ebullient about goading the Russians into a war they are now going to win, leaving the escalationists with the only realistic recourse in the nuclear option. This is madness.
Josep Borrell, EU foreign policy commissioner, recalling the defeat of both Napoleon and Hitler remarked on 11 January 2023 that
Russia fights to the end…
He went on to call for escalation in defence contributions to Ukraine - presumably to bring this end about. Yet the unity which the EU enjoyed over its Ukraine policy is coming apart. There are voices now which see a better outcome than this end.
Until his resignation last week, Alexei Arestovich was the propaganda chief for President Zelenksy. He resigned over the misreporting of a missile strike on an apartment complex in Dniproptetrovsk, which he had falsely attributed to the Russians. His admission that Ukraine had bombed its own civilians was deemed incompatible with his continued employment, and so he had to go.
How far he will have to ‘go’ is an open question, as the following day this photograph appeared on the notorious Ukrainian “Peacemaker” site ‘Myrotvorets’. Often described a ‘kill list’, it is a live database of persons deemed enemies of Ukraine.
Despite having received many awards such as
Commemorative badge of the Chief Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine (July 2014)
Commemorative award of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs “Yevhen Berezniyak”
Medal of the Commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces “For Special Service” (July 2019),
Distinction of the President of Ukraine “For participation in the anti-terrorist operation”,
Breastplate “Badge of Honor” (May 2019)
Arestovich has transitioned from chief propagandist to enemy of the state for once telling the truth. Here is a reasonable biography of this curious man.
The assurances given the Russians around the end of the Soviet Union featured once more in the news last March, with the idea that the US had promised not to expand NATO eastwards framed as Russian propaganda.
This document lays to rest that manufactured controversy.
Declassified documents show security assurances against NATO expansion to Soviet leaders from Baker, Bush, Genscher, Kohl, Gates, Mitterrand, Thatcher, Hurd, Major, and Woerner
Using US State Department documents, transcripts of onversations between world leaders and citing their correspondence, the above link provides an abundance of proof to support the claim that NATO promised not to expand towards Russia, but went on to do so. Since 1990
The issue of assurances given to then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was covered by the Los Angeles Times as late as 2016.
Indeed, by March 1990, State Department officials were advising Baker that NATO could help organize Eastern Europe in the U.S. orbit; by October, U.S. policymakers were contemplating whether and when (as a National Security Council memo put it) to “signal to the new democracies of Eastern Europe NATO’s readiness to contemplate their future membership.”
At the same time, however, it appears the Americans still were trying to convince the Russians that their concerns about NATO would be respected. Baker pledged in Moscow on May 18, 1990, that the United States would cooperate with the Soviet Union in the “development of a new Europe.” And in June, per talking points prepared by the NSC, Bush was telling Soviet leaders that the United States sought “a new, inclusive Europe.”
It’s therefore not surprising that Russia was incensed when Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, the Baltic states and others were ushered into NATO membership starting in the mid-1990s. Boris Yeltsin, Dmitry Medvedev and Gorbachev himself protested through both public and private channels that U.S. leaders had violated the non-expansion arrangement. As NATO began looking even further eastward, to Ukraine and Georgia, protests turned to outright aggression and saber-rattling.
It is not ‘Russian propaganda’ to concede the Russians have a point about NATO expansion. It is impossible to understand the diplomatic breakdown without this information, which, when considered alongside negotiations to end the Donbass conflict, do much to explain the complete breakdown of trust which precipitated the outbreak of war.
The Projection Problem
Many of the points made about this conflict in the Western media appear to be simple projection. The news that Russia is running out of rockets has been current since March 2022. Meanwhile, the US is seeking artillery shell stocks from South Korea and Israel to replenish its arsenal. The UK has estimated last June it would take up to ten years to replace that which had been donated to Ukraine, and this with the caveat that supply chains offering vital semiconductors remain open to Taiwan.
Rather than causing the collapse of Russia, Europe is rapidly deindustrialising and is experiencing the worst cost of living crisis since the Second World War. Strikes are spreading throughout the region, notably in the UK and in France.
A speech by Spanish Premier Sanchez reinforces a growing sense of unease over the war escalation narrative amongst European leaders. In a speech to WEF he suggested it was time to end the war and negotiate with Putin. With the German government still unwilling to send German tanks to fight the Russians, the Poles have doubled down in proposing to lead a ‘coalition of the willing’ to arm Ukraine
If Germany does not agree to [provide] Leopards, we will build a smaller coalition of states willing to share their modern tanks with Ukraine
The Poles of course have a lot of history in north western Ukraine, having ruled the region known then as Western Galicia themselves. Perhaps they see an opportunity to retake this territory following Ukrainian partition.
The Germans’ hesitancy to escalate a war which has already seen the destruction of their gas supply and the resultant crisis in heavy industry is understandable. That the war, nor the sanctions, appear to be producing the results desired is likely to be the reason for their reluctance to further antagonise a Russia with whom rapprochement is vital for any hope of economic recovery in Europe.
The Kosovo Precedent
Most countries do not recognise Kosovo, a Moslem state carved out of Russian ally Serbia following a 77 day aerial bombing campaign by NATO.
The precedent set by the creation by fiat and force of this state, which remains the site of high tensions, is one which is likely to be invoked by Russia should it ever return to diplomatic negotiations with the West.
To compare the nations who do not sanction Russia with those who do not recognise Kosovo is to witness some of the topography of the multipolar world emerging from the diplomatic deficit of the West.
The New Turkish Influence
Cyprus is markedly absent from discussions concerning the legitimacy of seizing land through military intervention. There is good reason to overlook the behaviour of the Turks, and not only concerning their invasion of Cyprus in 1974. Undertaken to ostensibly prevent the unification of the island with Greece, the Turks still occupy part of the island and have no plans to withdraw.
This crisis followed the independence of Cyprus from the British Empire, underlining the argument that such conflicts over borders and strategic possessions naturally follow the collapse of empires. The fall of the Soviet Union has seen other conflicts break out than the one we currently witness.
The Turks hold many other controversial cards. They have leveraged their control of Syrian migrant flows into Europe, and with the completion of Turkstream - a black sea pipeline to Russia - will have a strategic role to play in the future energy security of Central Europe and the Balkans.
Finally the Turks are entering a Russian and Chinese-backed peace deal to end the conflict in Syria. This move, which isolates the US and its proxies in the Kurds, has so incensed John Bolton that he has effectively called for Turkey’s expulsion from NATO.
Turkey has skilfully leveraged its strategic positions and there seems to be little appetite for further jeopoardising their questionable allegiance to NATO at present.
Afterword - What I Believe
I love my country and I would fight to defend it. It is for this reason I oppose the plunder of my nation by factions who serve the dirty business model of war as a racket. I am not a traitor. I do not work for any foreign or domestic power. I aim to provide the information, most of which exists already in the public domain, to allow for a factual appraisal of the state of world affairs. A free polity cannot function without informed consent. I do not think that a fully informed public would consent to the destruction of their way of life given the facts above.
This information is deliberately marginalised in a concerted effort to malinform the citizens of the democracies of the West, whose consent in their own destruction is presumed on the basis of the manufacture of opinion. This is also a war, and it is one over the freedom to disagree with wickedness, insanity and greed. I am for a human scale society based on human flourishing. I seek an end to Forever War. It is time we learned again how to live with people with whom we disagree.
There is no place for hatred in a sane world. Even, and perhaps especially, when you are required to kill the enemy there is no reason to hate him. Hatred is poison. It rots the heart and inflames the mind. It will make you less effective in combat. If there is just cause for the grave business of killing there is no need to demonise the adversary. Narratives of hatred should make you suspicious of their motives. The manufacture of outrage which fuels it is a means of mobilising noble instincts in the service of base and wicked ends.
If you seek a role in this battle do not succumb to hatred. See yourself as a social missionary in your own small world. It is that world, and not the screen based simulation of reality with its dishonest moralising and rapacity which provides the blueprint for a better world. Hold it dear, and invite your would be enemies to share it.
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It has always saddened me that the West refused to embrace Putin back when he first came to power. It was clear he wanted Russia to be part of the modern western world, that he wanted his country to be "part of the club" and taken seriously. It was such a wasted opportunity, especially now that China is flexing its muscles on the world stage.
The Americans have been fighting everyone who dares disagree with them since 1945 when they should have been looking at the mess in their own country. They are the scary ones, not the Russians.
We here in the UK should not be involved in any of these American led fights - our days of ruling the waves are behind us and we should keep our heads down and mind our own business, like the other former empires of Spain or Portugal.
I don't see how this current war is going to end. Do we simply wait for the Ukrainians to run out of men? What will the West do then?
Murderous psychos on the lose. They infested every corner of our existence, our reality. Peeling away our sanity and our humanity. They are turning the world into the reflection of their sick minds.
Do we have a chance to withstand the madness unleashed on us? Do we have an antidote to hold the chaos and fix the order(whatever that order is)?
Perhaps we must walk through the darkness they are setting upon us, perhaps.
Thank you, Frank.