Blog Feeds

Anti-Empire

Anti-Empire

offsite link The Russians Have Either Biden or Zelens... Sat Jan 29, 2022 07:30 | Marko Marjanovińá

offsite link Nuland Wants China to Talk Russia Out of... Fri Jan 28, 2022 16:13 | Gabriel Crossley

offsite link Ukrainians Add Croatian President to The... Fri Jan 28, 2022 13:48 | Anti-Empire

offsite link Ambassador Delivers US Response to Kreml... Fri Jan 28, 2022 10:25 | TASS

offsite link Stoltenberg Tells Russia to ‚ÄėLeave‚Äô ... Fri Jan 28, 2022 09:28 | Rick Rozoff

Anti-Empire >>

The Saker
A bird's eye view of the vineyard

offsite link Snipping away the tangled web of hype on the threat to submarine cables Fri Jan 28, 2022 23:00 | amarynth
By Nat South for the Saker Blog ?The hype that some dastardly Russian special operation could sever a number of critical underwater telecommunications cables in one go, is plain scaremongering?.†

offsite link Panic and chaos is clearly setting in as the West fears peace above all else Fri Jan 28, 2022 21:22 | The Saker
Fun headlines for CNN: US and Ukraine at odds over threat of Russian invasion US and UK embassy withdrawals were a “mistake,” says Ukrainian president What??† Is that really CNN?

offsite link Thinking about the Future Fri Jan 28, 2022 20:58 | amarynth
By Walt Garlington for the Saker Blog Whatever the outcome with the latest wars and rumors of wars, folks interested in creating a brighter future, wherever they are in the

offsite link Andrei Martyanov?s commentary on the US response to Russia Thu Jan 27, 2022 22:50 | The Saker
Please visit Andrei?s website: https://smoothiex12.blogspo... and support him here: https://www.patreon.com/beP...

offsite link Le Monde?s circus invite: ?France is a leftist country which votes right? Thu Jan 27, 2022 22:06 | amarynth
by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog In less than three months France will have a presidential vote, and I haven?t written much about it because I?ve been too occupied

The Saker >>

Voltaire Network
Voltaire, international edition

offsite link US Senate hearing of doctors who heal Covid patients Fri Jan 28, 2022 10:18 | en

offsite link Mukhtar Ablyazov organized Kazakh riots from Paris Fri Jan 28, 2022 07:43 | en

offsite link 55 Democrats urge president Biden to choose more dovish nuke policy Wed Jan 26, 2022 11:20 | en

offsite link Jens Stoltenberg Press Conference, by Jens Stoltenberg Wed Jan 26, 2022 10:05 | en

offsite link Fanaticisms at the service of the United States, by Thierry Meyssan Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:00 | en

Voltaire Network >>

Marko Marjanovińá - Sat Jan 29, 2022 07:30

Biden and Zelensky are irritated and annoyed with each other these days. Zelensky is accusing Biden of needlessly panicking and of spreading panic (possibly to bluff him into Minsk compliance). Biden's handlers meanwhile feel that Zelensky is sticking his head into the sand and refusing to see reality staring him in the face.

So whether you think the Russian redeployment westward is a feint or disguised preparation for the real thing it has worked incredibly well. If it's a feint it's one that Biden has bought hook, line and sinker and that has left him deluded. If it's a masked buildup for a live offensive then the masking has worked splendidly on Zelensky, leaving him paralyzed and in denial.

The fact that the White House alarm over the prospect of a Russian military move is causing a rift with Zelensky tells me that the US fear is genuine. The Americans have no reason to irritate Zelensky to this counterproductive extent in a propaganda op. They could be wrong, but they do seem sincere (if a little overenthusiastic).

So far the Russian buildup has had the positive effects for Moscow of:

‚ÄĒ causing a rift between the Biden and Zelensky administrations

‚ÄĒ of forcing the US and UK to admit that Russia would enjoy a free hand in Ukraine militarily

‚ÄĒ of highlighting differences within NATO

This has come at the price of:

‚ÄĒ some 30 maneuver battalions with support elements not being able to train because their equipment has been shipped to the self-deployment range of the Ukrainian border

‚ÄĒ a stock market decline (but that will likely be reversed if no offensive materializes)

‚ÄĒ a blow to the ruble (will likely be reversed)

If this is a feint then making the West and Kiev fear invasion could serve to make them appreciate just how lucky they are that Russia for the moment still doesn't want greater bloodshed. The shock of it could theoretically cause them to do some soul-searching but in reality within months the likely narrative that would win out was that "Putin was deterred" by sanctions threat, Javelins, "insurgency fears", and so on.

The Americans are, in a typical fashion, exaggerating how far into the preparations the Russians are which is hurting their overall case. (Possibly those talking to the media are embellishing what the CIA has actually told them.) Unlike what they claim an invasion is not "imminent". At the current pace, the Russians would still need a few more weeks of shifting material. Even then an offensive doesn't become imminent until troops are sent to fall on the prepositioned equipment and start making the 200-kilometer trek from the depots to the border.

At the same time, if the Russians really are considering expanding the war and launching an overwhelming counterstroke then Zelensky has very good psychological reasons to be in denial. If the Russians are coming then he is the person who provoked the destruction of Ukraine. He won an overwhelming election victory on a peace-leaning platform then almost immediately raced off to the right. If only he had kept his election promise of giving a peaceful resolution an honest shake we wouldn't be in this situation now. It is a helluva thing for anyone to admit he has blundered, especially when the repercussions are this great.

A bigger man than Zelensky would struggle to admit that because of his own cleverness a hammer may be falling down on him and everyone around him any time now. Something similar happened to Stalin who couldn't face the reality that the unexpected (and fluke) fall of France had made the 1939 pact with Hitler a blunder of mythical proportions and opted to deny the reality of what was now surely coming ‚ÄĒ a showdown years before he expected it and at least a year earlier than he could prepare for ‚ÄĒ opting to make himself blind to it rather than admit and adjust.

Also between Langley and Kiev it has to be said the latter has the poorer record of correctly predicting imminent Russian offensives in Ukraine. This is the first time the CIA has sounded such alarm, so if they are wrong it will be the first time, whereas Kiev has done it repeatedly over the years.

Last October Medvedev wrote an article on Ukraine saying Kiev was led by mercenary opportunists all too happy to sell Ukraine's sovereignty and interest to foreigners whose interest in Ukraine starts and ends with having an Anti-Russia on Russia's border. Medvedev's prescription on what to do about this is to wait:

"Then the eternal and main question arises: what to do in this situation? Nothing. Wait for the emergence of a sane leadership in Ukraine, which is aimed not at a total confrontation with Russia on the brink of war ... but at building equal and mutually beneficial relations with Russia. ... Russia knows how to wait. We are a patient people."

However, if Ukraine very clearly isn't a democracy, if politicians get elected on one platform and pursue another, if the opposition is being hounded by treason charges, house arrests, US sanctions, and the closures of their media, if the Russia-friendlies are working under such constraints and in such an unfair competition then what exactly is there to wait for? Waiting seems more like a code word for resigning oneself to the occupation of Ukraine by Anti-Russia. Is everyone in Kremlin as "patient" as Medvedev?

Biden and Zelensky are irritated and annoyed with each other these days. Zelensky is accusing Biden of needlessly panicking and of spreading panic (possibly to bluff him into Minsk compliance). Biden's handlers meanwhile feel that Zelensky is sticking his head into the sand and refusing to see reality staring him in the face.

So whether you think the Russian redeployment westward is a feint or disguised preparation for the real thing it has worked incredibly well. If it's a feint it's one that Biden has bought hook, line and sinker and that has left him deluded. If it's a masked buildup for a live offensive then the masking has worked splendidly on Zelensky, leaving him paralyzed and in denial.

The fact that the White House alarm over the prospect of a Russian military move is causing a rift with Zelensky tells me that the US fear is genuine. The Americans have no reason to irritate Zelensky to this counterproductive extent in a propaganda op. They could be wrong, but they do seem sincere (if a little overenthusiastic).

So far the Russian buildup has had the positive effects for Moscow of:

‚ÄĒ causing a rift between the Biden and Zelensky administrations

‚ÄĒ of forcing the US and UK to admit that Russia would enjoy a free hand in Ukraine militarily

‚ÄĒ of highlighting differences within NATO

This has come at the price of:

‚ÄĒ some 30 maneuver battalions with support elements not being able to train because their equipment has been shipped to the self-deployment range of the Ukrainian border

‚ÄĒ a stock market decline (but that will likely be reversed if no offensive materializes)

‚ÄĒ a blow to the ruble (will likely be reversed)

If this is a feint then making the West and Kiev fear invasion could serve to make them appreciate just how lucky they are that Russia for the moment still doesn't want greater bloodshed. The shock of it could theoretically cause them to do some soul-searching but in reality within months the likely narrative that would win out was that "Putin was deterred" by sanctions threat, Javelins, "insurgency fears", and so on.

The Americans are, in a typical fashion, exaggerating how far into the preparations the Russians are which is hurting their overall case. (Possibly those talking to the media are embellishing what the CIA has actually told them.) Unlike what they claim an invasion is not "imminent". At the current pace, the Russians would still need a few more weeks of shifting material. Even then an offensive doesn't become imminent until troops are sent to fall on the prepositioned equipment and start making the 200-kilometer trek from the depots to the border.

At the same time, if the Russians really are considering expanding the war and launching an overwhelming counterstroke then Zelensky has very good psychological reasons to be in denial. If the Russians are coming then he is the person who provoked the destruction of Ukraine. He won an overwhelming election victory on a peace-leaning platform then almost immediately raced off to the right. If only he had kept his election promise of giving a peaceful resolution an honest shake we wouldn't be in this situation now. It is a helluva thing for anyone to admit he has blundered, especially when the repercussions are this great.

A bigger man than Zelensky would struggle to admit that because of his own cleverness a hammer may be falling down on him and everyone around him any time now. Something similar happened to Stalin who couldn't face the reality that the unexpected (and fluke) fall of France had made the 1939 pact with Hitler a blunder of mythical proportions and opted to deny the reality of what was now surely coming ‚ÄĒ a showdown years before he expected it and at least a year earlier than he could prepare for ‚ÄĒ opting to make himself blind to it rather than admit and adjust.

Also between Langley and Kiev it has to be said the latter has the poorer record of correctly predicting imminent Russian offensives in Ukraine. This is the first time the CIA has sounded such alarm, so if they are wrong it will be the first time, whereas Kiev has done it repeatedly over the years.

Last October Medvedev wrote an article on Ukraine saying Kiev was led by mercenary opportunists all too happy to sell Ukraine's sovereignty and interest to foreigners whose interest in Ukraine starts and ends with having an Anti-Russia on Russia's border. Medvedev's prescription on what to do about this is to wait:

"Then the eternal and main question arises: what to do in this situation? Nothing. Wait for the emergence of a sane leadership in Ukraine, which is aimed not at a total confrontation with Russia on the brink of war ... but at building equal and mutually beneficial relations with Russia. ... Russia knows how to wait. We are a patient people."

However, if Ukraine very clearly isn't a democracy, if politicians get elected on one platform and pursue another, if the opposition is being hounded by treason charges, house arrests, US sanctions, and the closures of their media, if the Russia-friendlies are working under such constraints and in such an unfair competition then what exactly is there to wait for? Waiting seems more like a code word for resigning oneself to the occupation of Ukraine by Anti-Russia. Is everyone in Kremlin as "patient" as Medvedev?

Gabriel Crossley - Fri Jan 28, 2022 16:13

Editor's note: Nuland is a geopolitical genius. If only America's targets can police each other for Washington then everything will go swimmingly. If China contains Russia then the US can go back to containing China.

Nuland also says war would detract from building back better. Is she trying to make us pro-war?


The United States on Thursday called on China to use its influence with Russia to urge a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis, but policy experts doubted Beijing would back Washington in the standoff.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke by phone with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Beijing said it wanted all sides to remain calm and "refrain from doing things that agitate tensions and hype up the crisis."

Blinken stressed that tensions should be reduced and warned of the security and economic risks from any Russian aggression, the State Department said.

U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said U.S. messages to Beijing had been very clear.

"We are calling on Beijing to use its influence with Moscow to urge diplomacy, because if there is a conflict in the Ukraine it is not going to be good for China either," Nuland said at a regular State Department news conference. "There will be a significant impact on the global economy. There will be a significant impact in the energy sphere."

China's U.N. ambassador Zhang Jun said a "time-honored Olympic Truce" for the Beijing Winter Games that begin on Feb. 4 would start from Jan. 28.

"Let's take this opportunity to promote peace, solidarity, cooperation, and other common values shared by all humanity, to make our world a better place," Zhang tweeted.

Daniel Russel, the senior U.S. diplomat for Asia under former President Barack Obama, said that while China could not be happy about the possibility of an invasion of Ukraine on the eve of the Olympics, "Wang Yi chose to defend Russia's 'legitimate security concerns' rather than offer any support to Blinken."

Bonnie Glaser of the German Marshall Fund of the United States said Beijing could act as a spoiler to any attempts by the United States and its allies to impose costs on Russia.

"It is unlikely that the U.S. can get China on board over Ukraine. Beijing won't endorse use of force, but it is sympathetic with Russian views of NATO. And this is not just about the Olympics," Glaser said.

If the United States and the European Union imposed sanctions on Russia, "China is likely to take steps to mitigate their impact," she said.

Wang, apparently referring to NATO's expansion in eastern Europe, told Blinken that one country's security could not be at the expense of others and regional security could not be guaranteed by strengthening or even expanding military blocs, his ministry said.

Wang said the new Minsk agreement was "a fundamental political document recognized by all parties and should be effectively implemented." China will support efforts made in line with the "direction and spirit of the agreement," he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to visit China next week for the Winter Olympics.

Wang underscored the cool state of Beijing's ties with Washington, saying that the United States "continues to make mistakes in its words and deeds on China, causing new shocks to the relationship".

"The top priority at the moment is that the U.S. should stop interfering with the Beijing Winter Olympics, stop playing with fire on the Taiwan issue, and stop creating various anti-China cliques," he said.

The United States, Canada, Australia and Britain have said they will not send any state officials to the Games because of China's human rights record. China denies rights abuses and had rejected what it calls the politicization of sport.

Source: Reuters


Kofman:

The United States is materially constrained, seeking to focus on the Indo-Pacific and redress a deteriorating military balance vis-√†-vis¬†China. Washington‚Äôs dream of making the Russia relationship more predictable via a narrow strategic stability agenda appears to be dissipating. The United States will have to manage China and Russia, at the same time, for the foreseeable future. For U.S. strategy, it was never going to be China only, but it will prove exceedingly difficult to make it China mostly ‚ÄĒ not as long as Russia gets a vote.

Editor's note: Nuland is a geopolitical genius. If only America's targets can police each other for Washington then everything will go swimmingly. If China contains Russia then the US can go back to containing China.

Nuland also says war would detract from building back better. Is she trying to make us pro-war?


The United States on Thursday called on China to use its influence with Russia to urge a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis, but policy experts doubted Beijing would back Washington in the standoff.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke by phone with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Beijing said it wanted all sides to remain calm and "refrain from doing things that agitate tensions and hype up the crisis."

Blinken stressed that tensions should be reduced and warned of the security and economic risks from any Russian aggression, the State Department said.

U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said U.S. messages to Beijing had been very clear.

"We are calling on Beijing to use its influence with Moscow to urge diplomacy, because if there is a conflict in the Ukraine it is not going to be good for China either," Nuland said at a regular State Department news conference. "There will be a significant impact on the global economy. There will be a significant impact in the energy sphere."

China's U.N. ambassador Zhang Jun said a "time-honored Olympic Truce" for the Beijing Winter Games that begin on Feb. 4 would start from Jan. 28.

"Let's take this opportunity to promote peace, solidarity, cooperation, and other common values shared by all humanity, to make our world a better place," Zhang tweeted.

Daniel Russel, the senior U.S. diplomat for Asia under former President Barack Obama, said that while China could not be happy about the possibility of an invasion of Ukraine on the eve of the Olympics, "Wang Yi chose to defend Russia's 'legitimate security concerns' rather than offer any support to Blinken."

Bonnie Glaser of the German Marshall Fund of the United States said Beijing could act as a spoiler to any attempts by the United States and its allies to impose costs on Russia.

"It is unlikely that the U.S. can get China on board over Ukraine. Beijing won't endorse use of force, but it is sympathetic with Russian views of NATO. And this is not just about the Olympics," Glaser said.

If the United States and the European Union imposed sanctions on Russia, "China is likely to take steps to mitigate their impact," she said.

Wang, apparently referring to NATO's expansion in eastern Europe, told Blinken that one country's security could not be at the expense of others and regional security could not be guaranteed by strengthening or even expanding military blocs, his ministry said.

Wang said the new Minsk agreement was "a fundamental political document recognized by all parties and should be effectively implemented." China will support efforts made in line with the "direction and spirit of the agreement," he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to visit China next week for the Winter Olympics.

Wang underscored the cool state of Beijing's ties with Washington, saying that the United States "continues to make mistakes in its words and deeds on China, causing new shocks to the relationship".

"The top priority at the moment is that the U.S. should stop interfering with the Beijing Winter Olympics, stop playing with fire on the Taiwan issue, and stop creating various anti-China cliques," he said.

The United States, Canada, Australia and Britain have said they will not send any state officials to the Games because of China's human rights record. China denies rights abuses and had rejected what it calls the politicization of sport.

Source: Reuters


Kofman:

The United States is materially constrained, seeking to focus on the Indo-Pacific and redress a deteriorating military balance vis-√†-vis¬†China. Washington‚Äôs dream of making the Russia relationship more predictable via a narrow strategic stability agenda appears to be dissipating. The United States will have to manage China and Russia, at the same time, for the foreseeable future. For U.S. strategy, it was never going to be China only, but it will prove exceedingly difficult to make it China mostly ‚ÄĒ not as long as Russia gets a vote.

Anti-Empire - Fri Jan 28, 2022 13:48

"Mirotvorets", the crowd-sourced online database of "enemies of Ukraine" launched by ex-SBU officers in 2014 has added the President of Croatia to its list of over 180,000 enemy personalities (mostly residents of Crimea and Donbass).

The Croat president Milanovińá said that he as the chief commander of the Croatian military guarantees that Croatia is not involved in any NATO moves around Russia-Ukraine and that he would withdraw every last Croatian soldier from any and all NATO missions (ie including African ones) the moment something flared up. He also characterized the 2014 Euromaidan as a "coup" against the "legally elected" Yanukovich who was also "a hustler who was sitting on three chairs".

He laid the blame for the crisis at the feet of the US, specifically "the dynamic of internal American politics". He said that he is seeing "inconsistent and dangerous" behavior from the Americans. He pointed out that "these events" were taking place in Moscow's "front yard" and that "an arrangement that will take into account the security interests of Russia has to be found, and will be found". He added ways existed to preserve Ukraine "as a whole state or 99% whole". He also chided the EU for enticing the Ukrainians into the 2014 coup which led to the loss of Crimea.

As a particular threat to peace he singled out hawkish US senators, often Republicans who did not mind lower tensions with Russia when Trump favored them, and wondered how was that an existential question "for Virginia, or Salt Lake City" and not for Russia (as well as for Ukraine).

He said there surely is a way to secure Ukraine in the same manner as are Sweden, Finland and Austria, and that "Ukraine's place is not in NATO". He then chided the EU for weaving a story that while a customs union with Russia was bad for Ukraine, a "move to the West" would instead result in a future of "milk and honey" then failing to provide economic assistance and hanging Ukraine out to dry in this economic respect.

He said there was a need to "calm the political scene and not allow extremists to exert pressure on daily politics" and that "this is a situation without a real culprit but with a very clear picture of who could benefit from it".

He characterized the EU-backed movement against Yanukovich as "bloody unrest, and terrorism on the streets of Kiev" and "a movement that was also many other things than just democratic" and that eight years later Ukraine "remains one of the most corrupt states in the world."

Official Ukraine demanded he retracts his "Russian propaganda narrative", he did not, and now he is on their ever-growing list of enemies together with 180,000 people they claim as their citizens.

Milanovińá is also a rare Croatian politician who is sticking up for Bosnian Croats against the Muslim-favoring EU colonial rule there, a fighter against the virus derangement cult, and a national treasure. He has an open offer to take up an AE columnist slot after he retires.


N1:

"Spies, priests, prosecutors and journalists; the innocent and the guilty alike are denounced as pro-Russian collaborators on Ukraine's online blacklist... Some of those on the 'Myrotvorets' database may have been involved in acts of propaganda or heinous war crimes in the country's east, but others have done nothing more than offend political or popular sensitivity, or simply use the 'wrong' vernacular'," The Times reported on Tuesday in an article about the infamous blacklist, which later also included Croatia's President, Zoran Milanovic.

‚ÄúIt matters not: one and all are judged by a hidden panel, accused of ‚Äėdeliberate acts against the national security of Ukraine‚Äô and have their personal data published alongside their supposed crimes for all to see,‚ÄĚ Croatia‚Äôs state agency Hina cited¬†the article, penned by the newspaper‚Äôs correspondent from Kyiv, Anthony Loyd.

‚ÄúAs the threat of Russian invasion mounts, antagonizing political schisms and stoking invective within Ukraine, neither rank nor reputation exempts individuals from accusation by Myrotvorets,‚ÄĚ Hina quoted the article as saying.

According to Hina, two days after the article was published, Croatian President Zoran Milanovic also ended up on it.

‚ÄúHe is accused of humanitarian aggression against Ukraine, of aiding the Russian aggression, disseminating Russian propaganda and supporting and justifying the Russian aggression against Ukraine,‚ÄĚ Hina reported.

‚ÄúMilanovic ended up on the list for saying that Croatia will not in any way get involved in the Ukraine crisis in case of its escalation and that it will not deploy its troops there. He has also said that Ukraine does not belong in NATO and that the European Union triggered a coup in Ukraine in 2014 when the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted,‚ÄĚ Hina explained.

In response, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday summoned Croatia‚Äôs ambassador to Ukraine protest against Milanovic‚Äôs statements, which. ‚ÄúMeanwhile, his statements were applauded in Russia,‚ÄĚ Hina said.

Milanovic’s inclusion on the Myrotvorets database blacklist was confirmed also by Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexei Zaitsev at a regular press conference on Thursday. The list contains as many as 187,000 names, including not only war criminals and Russian FSB secret service agents but also Pink Floyd founder Roger Waters, who three years ago said Russia had more rights to Crimea than Ukraine.

Belarusian writer, Nobel Prize winner and Kremlin critic Svetlana Alexievich has ended up on the list for mentioning that some ethnic Ukrainians had helped Nazis in the persecution of Jews during World War II.

The list also includes 500 Ukrainian civil servants, ethnic Hungarians, who have obtained Hungarian passports. The reason ‚Äď Ukraine prohibits dual citizenship, and Myrotvorets considers such an act an act of treason.

‚ÄúThe database was established in 2014 after a meeting of Ukrainian politician George Tuka and a former member of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), known only by his pseudonym Roman Zaitsev,‚ÄĚ Hina said,¬†citing The Times.

Tuka told The Times that former police officers, former soldiers and some political figures continued to have pro-Russian views and that lack of an official database with their names was the reason why Myrotvorets was created.

Several people were killed after their names and addresses ended up on the database. ‚ÄúTuka claims there is no connection between that and the database but notes that those were enemies of Ukraine and that he does not miss them,‚ÄĚ Hina said.

The list also includes data on around 4,500 Western, Ukrainian, and Russian journalists accredited by the separatist authorities of Donbas, a mandatory requirement for working in the area controlled by pro-Russian forces. Many of them later received threats.

‚ÄúThe list is very dangerous and should be removed immediately. The tension is already high and it only adds fuel to the fire,‚ÄĚ former Human Rights Watch official in Ukraine Yulia Gorbunova said. The removal of the list has been requested a number of times by the UN, G7 and EU ambassadors and human rights groups, but to no avail, Hina said.

"Mirotvorets", the crowd-sourced online database of "enemies of Ukraine" launched by ex-SBU officers in 2014 has added the President of Croatia to its list of over 180,000 enemy personalities (mostly residents of Crimea and Donbass).

The Croat president Milanovińá said that he as the chief commander of the Croatian military guarantees that Croatia is not involved in any NATO moves around Russia-Ukraine and that he would withdraw every last Croatian soldier from any and all NATO missions (ie including African ones) the moment something flared up. He also characterized the 2014 Euromaidan as a "coup" against the "legally elected" Yanukovich who was also "a hustler who was sitting on three chairs".

He laid the blame for the crisis at the feet of the US, specifically "the dynamic of internal American politics". He said that he is seeing "inconsistent and dangerous" behavior from the Americans. He pointed out that "these events" were taking place in Moscow's "front yard" and that "an arrangement that will take into account the security interests of Russia has to be found, and will be found". He added ways existed to preserve Ukraine "as a whole state or 99% whole". He also chided the EU for enticing the Ukrainians into the 2014 coup which led to the loss of Crimea.

As a particular threat to peace he singled out hawkish US senators, often Republicans who did not mind lower tensions with Russia when Trump favored them, and wondered how was that an existential question "for Virginia, or Salt Lake City" and not for Russia (as well as for Ukraine).

He said there surely is a way to secure Ukraine in the same manner as are Sweden, Finland and Austria, and that "Ukraine's place is not in NATO". He then chided the EU for weaving a story that while a customs union with Russia was bad for Ukraine, a "move to the West" would instead result in a future of "milk and honey" then failing to provide economic assistance and hanging Ukraine out to dry in this economic respect.

He said there was a need to "calm the political scene and not allow extremists to exert pressure on daily politics" and that "this is a situation without a real culprit but with a very clear picture of who could benefit from it".

He characterized the EU-backed movement against Yanukovich as "bloody unrest, and terrorism on the streets of Kiev" and "a movement that was also many other things than just democratic" and that eight years later Ukraine "remains one of the most corrupt states in the world."

Official Ukraine demanded he retracts his "Russian propaganda narrative", he did not, and now he is on their ever-growing list of enemies together with 180,000 people they claim as their citizens.

Milanovińá is also a rare Croatian politician who is sticking up for Bosnian Croats against the Muslim-favoring EU colonial rule there, a fighter against the virus derangement cult, and a national treasure. He has an open offer to take up an AE columnist slot after he retires.


N1:

"Spies, priests, prosecutors and journalists; the innocent and the guilty alike are denounced as pro-Russian collaborators on Ukraine's online blacklist... Some of those on the 'Myrotvorets' database may have been involved in acts of propaganda or heinous war crimes in the country's east, but others have done nothing more than offend political or popular sensitivity, or simply use the 'wrong' vernacular'," The Times reported on Tuesday in an article about the infamous blacklist, which later also included Croatia's President, Zoran Milanovic.

‚ÄúIt matters not: one and all are judged by a hidden panel, accused of ‚Äėdeliberate acts against the national security of Ukraine‚Äô and have their personal data published alongside their supposed crimes for all to see,‚ÄĚ Croatia‚Äôs state agency Hina cited¬†the article, penned by the newspaper‚Äôs correspondent from Kyiv, Anthony Loyd.

‚ÄúAs the threat of Russian invasion mounts, antagonizing political schisms and stoking invective within Ukraine, neither rank nor reputation exempts individuals from accusation by Myrotvorets,‚ÄĚ Hina quoted the article as saying.

According to Hina, two days after the article was published, Croatian President Zoran Milanovic also ended up on it.

‚ÄúHe is accused of humanitarian aggression against Ukraine, of aiding the Russian aggression, disseminating Russian propaganda and supporting and justifying the Russian aggression against Ukraine,‚ÄĚ Hina reported.

‚ÄúMilanovic ended up on the list for saying that Croatia will not in any way get involved in the Ukraine crisis in case of its escalation and that it will not deploy its troops there. He has also said that Ukraine does not belong in NATO and that the European Union triggered a coup in Ukraine in 2014 when the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted,‚ÄĚ Hina explained.

In response, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday summoned Croatia‚Äôs ambassador to Ukraine protest against Milanovic‚Äôs statements, which. ‚ÄúMeanwhile, his statements were applauded in Russia,‚ÄĚ Hina said.

Milanovic’s inclusion on the Myrotvorets database blacklist was confirmed also by Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexei Zaitsev at a regular press conference on Thursday. The list contains as many as 187,000 names, including not only war criminals and Russian FSB secret service agents but also Pink Floyd founder Roger Waters, who three years ago said Russia had more rights to Crimea than Ukraine.

Belarusian writer, Nobel Prize winner and Kremlin critic Svetlana Alexievich has ended up on the list for mentioning that some ethnic Ukrainians had helped Nazis in the persecution of Jews during World War II.

The list also includes 500 Ukrainian civil servants, ethnic Hungarians, who have obtained Hungarian passports. The reason ‚Äď Ukraine prohibits dual citizenship, and Myrotvorets considers such an act an act of treason.

‚ÄúThe database was established in 2014 after a meeting of Ukrainian politician George Tuka and a former member of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), known only by his pseudonym Roman Zaitsev,‚ÄĚ Hina said,¬†citing The Times.

Tuka told The Times that former police officers, former soldiers and some political figures continued to have pro-Russian views and that lack of an official database with their names was the reason why Myrotvorets was created.

Several people were killed after their names and addresses ended up on the database. ‚ÄúTuka claims there is no connection between that and the database but notes that those were enemies of Ukraine and that he does not miss them,‚ÄĚ Hina said.

The list also includes data on around 4,500 Western, Ukrainian, and Russian journalists accredited by the separatist authorities of Donbas, a mandatory requirement for working in the area controlled by pro-Russian forces. Many of them later received threats.

‚ÄúThe list is very dangerous and should be removed immediately. The tension is already high and it only adds fuel to the fire,‚ÄĚ former Human Rights Watch official in Ukraine Yulia Gorbunova said. The removal of the list has been requested a number of times by the UN, G7 and EU ambassadors and human rights groups, but to no avail, Hina said.

TASS - Fri Jan 28, 2022 10:25

US Ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan has left the building of the Russian Foreign Ministry on Smolenskaya Square, after being there for a little over 30 minutes, a TASS correspondent reported on Wednesday.

The diplomat declined to comment both upon his arrival and after visiting the Russian Foreign Ministry.

CNN reported earlier that the US intends to hand Moscow written responses to proposals on security guarantees as early as Wednesday.

On December 17, 2021, the Russian Foreign Ministry published draft agreements on security guarantees that Moscow expects from Washington and NATO. The two treaties ‚Äď one with the US and the other with NATO ‚Äď stipulate that NATO would halt its eastward expansion, deny membership to Ukraine, and introduce limits on the deployment of serious offensive weapons, including nuclear ones.

Source: TASS

US Ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan has left the building of the Russian Foreign Ministry on Smolenskaya Square, after being there for a little over 30 minutes, a TASS correspondent reported on Wednesday.

The diplomat declined to comment both upon his arrival and after visiting the Russian Foreign Ministry.

CNN reported earlier that the US intends to hand Moscow written responses to proposals on security guarantees as early as Wednesday.

On December 17, 2021, the Russian Foreign Ministry published draft agreements on security guarantees that Moscow expects from Washington and NATO. The two treaties ‚Äď one with the US and the other with NATO ‚Äď stipulate that NATO would halt its eastward expansion, deny membership to Ukraine, and introduce limits on the deployment of serious offensive weapons, including nuclear ones.

Source: TASS

Rick Rozoff - Fri Jan 28, 2022 09:28

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has just finished an address and virtual press conference on NATO and the U.S. State Department separately presenting their written responses to Russia’s security demands of the past couple months.

The Russian demands include a pledge for NATO not to admit Georgia and Ukraine, both which border Russia, into the military alliance, to guarantee that the U.S. and NATO not base missiles in Ukraine within a few minutes’ striking distance of Moscow, and to withdraw forces and military equipment from some of the fourteen Eastern European nations brought into NATO since 1999. Those are reported to have been Russia’s demands. But there has been a disturbing lack of transparency on both sides.

The State Department has insisted that Russia not release or divulge the contents of the response it delivered to Russia within the past two hours, and today Russian government news media report that Russia has agreed to that stipulation.

It is highly significant that the American ambassador to Russia delivered the U.S. response to the Kremlin late at night Russian time (the delivery wasn’t confirmed until that time at least), as it is that the NATO secretary general was the first Western official to publicly speak about the U.S. and NATO responses, although he spoke at night Belgium time, whereas it was the middle of the workday for Secretary of State Antony Blinken and President Joe Biden.

Stoltenberg began his talk by, rather than addressing Russia’s concerns over the steady U.S. and military buildup all along its western flank, increasing by the day (the U.S. has just delivered 300 more Javelin missile systems to Ukraine), insisting Russia withdraw its forces from Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. What he was referring to was Crimea (and possibly the Donbass), the independent political entities of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and Transnistria. There are 1,500 Russian peacekeepers in Transnistria and Russian troops in Abkhazia and South Ossetia (reinforced since the Georgian-Russian war of 2008). Crimea has been part of Russia since 2014.

What Stoltenberg did by not mentioning them but the NATO partners who claim them as ‚Äúoccupied territories‚ÄĚ (the exact terms used by the U.S. and NATO), is to cast Russia as the aggressor in all four cases, a military occupier. In plain language he, on behalf of the collective West, gave Russia an ultimatum to retreat from the above four locations. Most ominously, he laid stress on NATO‚Äôs Article 5 collective military response mechanism. He also highlighted the fact that President Biden recently announced the activation of the first tranche of 8,500 U.S. troops for service with the 40,000-troop NATO Response Force, a combat-ready, rapidly deployable strike force.

The sole consolation he offered was more talk in several formats. Not a single compromise on anything specific. Far from attempting to even symbolically assuage any of Russia’s concrete security concerns, the U.S. and NATO are issuing diktats to Russia as above.

By delivering the two responses to the Russian government at night, the West has assured its narrative reaches the world several hours before Russia can respond.

The prognosis for peace is as dire as it can be.

Source: Anti-Bellum

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has just finished an address and virtual press conference on NATO and the U.S. State Department separately presenting their written responses to Russia’s security demands of the past couple months.

The Russian demands include a pledge for NATO not to admit Georgia and Ukraine, both which border Russia, into the military alliance, to guarantee that the U.S. and NATO not base missiles in Ukraine within a few minutes’ striking distance of Moscow, and to withdraw forces and military equipment from some of the fourteen Eastern European nations brought into NATO since 1999. Those are reported to have been Russia’s demands. But there has been a disturbing lack of transparency on both sides.

The State Department has insisted that Russia not release or divulge the contents of the response it delivered to Russia within the past two hours, and today Russian government news media report that Russia has agreed to that stipulation.

It is highly significant that the American ambassador to Russia delivered the U.S. response to the Kremlin late at night Russian time (the delivery wasn’t confirmed until that time at least), as it is that the NATO secretary general was the first Western official to publicly speak about the U.S. and NATO responses, although he spoke at night Belgium time, whereas it was the middle of the workday for Secretary of State Antony Blinken and President Joe Biden.

Stoltenberg began his talk by, rather than addressing Russia’s concerns over the steady U.S. and military buildup all along its western flank, increasing by the day (the U.S. has just delivered 300 more Javelin missile systems to Ukraine), insisting Russia withdraw its forces from Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. What he was referring to was Crimea (and possibly the Donbass), the independent political entities of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and Transnistria. There are 1,500 Russian peacekeepers in Transnistria and Russian troops in Abkhazia and South Ossetia (reinforced since the Georgian-Russian war of 2008). Crimea has been part of Russia since 2014.

What Stoltenberg did by not mentioning them but the NATO partners who claim them as ‚Äúoccupied territories‚ÄĚ (the exact terms used by the U.S. and NATO), is to cast Russia as the aggressor in all four cases, a military occupier. In plain language he, on behalf of the collective West, gave Russia an ultimatum to retreat from the above four locations. Most ominously, he laid stress on NATO‚Äôs Article 5 collective military response mechanism. He also highlighted the fact that President Biden recently announced the activation of the first tranche of 8,500 U.S. troops for service with the 40,000-troop NATO Response Force, a combat-ready, rapidly deployable strike force.

The sole consolation he offered was more talk in several formats. Not a single compromise on anything specific. Far from attempting to even symbolically assuage any of Russia’s concrete security concerns, the U.S. and NATO are issuing diktats to Russia as above.

By delivering the two responses to the Russian government at night, the West has assured its narrative reaches the world several hours before Russia can respond.

The prognosis for peace is as dire as it can be.

Source: Anti-Bellum

Marko Marjanovińá - Thu Jan 27, 2022 12:36

In early 1979 the Soviet politburo sat down and listed all the reasons why going into Afghanistan was an extremely bad, terrible idea. Then in late 1979, that very same politburo ordered the Soviet military into Afghanistan.

The 2003 neocons went into Iraq with enthusiasm expecting a cakewalk, convinced that soon they would be overseeing pro-Israeli regimes in Baghdad, Damascus and Tehran. The Soviet leadership by contrast went into Afghanistan believing there was a decent likelihood they were making a terrible mistake. It isn't that they loved the idea of going into Afghanistan, it is merely that they came to hate the idea of living with the consequences of doing nothing even more.

The Russian government of Vladimir Putin absolutely detests the idea of adding East Ukraine or any significant part of it to Russia. The Russians calculate they would need to be reinvesting 15-20% of their GDP into economic modernization if they are to truly develop to Western levels but are managing only a little over 10%. To deepen this problem by adding the responsibility for dilapidated East Ukraine is not an attractive proposition. Developing East Ukraine and being on the hook for paying off its retirees isn't a challenge Putin wants on his plate. He proved as much in 2014 when he rebuked Donbass' application to join Russia and instead forced it into the two Minsk Ukraine-reintegration plans.

But just because Moscow doesn't want East Ukraine doesn't mean that it can afford not to take it. Winning large swathes of Ukraine would to Moscow equal a defeat that would cost it huge riches it doesn't have. But it may be that leaving Ukraine in the hands of worshippers of America and of Nazi collaborators may come to be seen as even worse.

What have the Russians been saying recently? What does Putin mean when he says that Russia has nowhere further to retreat and yet still more threats are popping up? He means that the status quo for Russia is already just about intolerable yet it continues to deteriorate.

To believe that the current war scare has a 0% chance of progressing into a Russian military offensive you would have to believe that for Moscow there is a very clear winner between war and peace. But for several months the Russians have been saying just the opposite. That for them seeing things continue to develop along the current path is an intolerable state of affairs. One worse than having to take unspecified dramatic and desperate action. It's not that Moscow wants what's coming next but that it's becoming a coin toss between two equally undesirable alternatives.

Official Kiev makes zero concessions to the fact it is towered over by a huge and powerful Russia. But that is okay, neither does Estonia and Moscow ultimately doesn't care. But Kiev's orientation also makes zero concessions to its own large Russia-friendly constituency.

Nearly half of the country is still very Russia-friendly yet this doesn't move the needle for Kiev even a little bit. Ukrainians overwhelmingly voted for negotiations and for putting the economy before the war, a slim majority favors neutrality over NATO, 55% speak Russian, 40% consider Ukrainians and Russians to be one and the same people or something like it, 30% even now admit openly to wanting military ties to Russia. And what is the government in Kiev doing? Begging for NATO membership and presence, rehabilitating Nazi collaborators, demonizing the USSR and Russia, mandating linguistic de-Russification, and locking up pro-peace politicians and shuttering down their media. Praise Ukraine's existing ties to the CIA and the Pentagon and you're a patriot, call for better hypothetical relations with the Russians and you end up in house arrest.

To be fair Estonia similarly disenfranchises its large Russian-speaking minority, but then Estonia is small and unimportant and doesn't lie on former ethnic Russian territory.

I don't want to see war because I think there is a danger that East Ukrainians will come out of it even worse off than they are now, especially if they are denied direct incorporation and are turned into a Donbass-style protectorate instead. Certainly any mothers who lose a child to a stray Iskander are going to be way worse off.

But when the Russians are A) saying that status quo has grown intolerable and B) are shipping large quantities of military equipment west I do think there is reason to fear (wider) war. That reason is that the argument for (escalating the) war is also a compelling one. And it's one the Kremlin has been making in 2021. Putin:

"Do they really think we do not see these threats? Or do they think that we will just stand idly watching threats to Russia emerge? This is the problem: we simply have no room to retreat. That is the question."

Putin hasn't revealed if he's going to order Russia to war, but he has already revealed that absent other solutions war would now make sense for Russia. The Kremlin Stooge put it well in a different context: "where peace is impossible, violence is inevitable." Or perhaps: where inaction is intolerable, action is inevitable.

What is that action going to be?

Does he have an ace up his sleeve, or it's going to be blood and guts?

In early 1979 the Soviet politburo sat down and listed all the reasons why going into Afghanistan was an extremely bad, terrible idea. Then in late 1979, that very same politburo ordered the Soviet military into Afghanistan.

The 2003 neocons went into Iraq with enthusiasm expecting a cakewalk, convinced that soon they would be overseeing pro-Israeli regimes in Baghdad, Damascus and Tehran. The Soviet leadership by contrast went into Afghanistan believing there was a decent likelihood they were making a terrible mistake. It isn't that they loved the idea of going into Afghanistan, it is merely that they came to hate the idea of living with the consequences of doing nothing even more.

The Russian government of Vladimir Putin absolutely detests the idea of adding East Ukraine or any significant part of it to Russia. The Russians calculate they would need to be reinvesting 15-20% of their GDP into economic modernization if they are to truly develop to Western levels but are managing only a little over 10%. To deepen this problem by adding the responsibility for dilapidated East Ukraine is not an attractive proposition. Developing East Ukraine and being on the hook for paying off its retirees isn't a challenge Putin wants on his plate. He proved as much in 2014 when he rebuked Donbass' application to join Russia and instead forced it into the two Minsk Ukraine-reintegration plans.

But just because Moscow doesn't want East Ukraine doesn't mean that it can afford not to take it. Winning large swathes of Ukraine would to Moscow equal a defeat that would cost it huge riches it doesn't have. But it may be that leaving Ukraine in the hands of worshippers of America and of Nazi collaborators may come to be seen as even worse.

What have the Russians been saying recently? What does Putin mean when he says that Russia has nowhere further to retreat and yet still more threats are popping up? He means that the status quo for Russia is already just about intolerable yet it continues to deteriorate.

To believe that the current war scare has a 0% chance of progressing into a Russian military offensive you would have to believe that for Moscow there is a very clear winner between war and peace. But for several months the Russians have been saying just the opposite. That for them seeing things continue to develop along the current path is an intolerable state of affairs. One worse than having to take unspecified dramatic and desperate action. It's not that Moscow wants what's coming next but that it's becoming a coin toss between two equally undesirable alternatives.

Official Kiev makes zero concessions to the fact it is towered over by a huge and powerful Russia. But that is okay, neither does Estonia and Moscow ultimately doesn't care. But Kiev's orientation also makes zero concessions to its own large Russia-friendly constituency.

Nearly half of the country is still very Russia-friendly yet this doesn't move the needle for Kiev even a little bit. Ukrainians overwhelmingly voted for negotiations and for putting the economy before the war, a slim majority favors neutrality over NATO, 55% speak Russian, 40% consider Ukrainians and Russians to be one and the same people or something like it, 30% even now admit openly to wanting military ties to Russia. And what is the government in Kiev doing? Begging for NATO membership and presence, rehabilitating Nazi collaborators, demonizing the USSR and Russia, mandating linguistic de-Russification, and locking up pro-peace politicians and shuttering down their media. Praise Ukraine's existing ties to the CIA and the Pentagon and you're a patriot, call for better hypothetical relations with the Russians and you end up in house arrest.

To be fair Estonia similarly disenfranchises its large Russian-speaking minority, but then Estonia is small and unimportant and doesn't lie on former ethnic Russian territory.

I don't want to see war because I think there is a danger that East Ukrainians will come out of it even worse off than they are now, especially if they are denied direct incorporation and are turned into a Donbass-style protectorate instead. Certainly any mothers who lose a child to a stray Iskander are going to be way worse off.

But when the Russians are A) saying that status quo has grown intolerable and B) are shipping large quantities of military equipment west I do think there is reason to fear (wider) war. That reason is that the argument for (escalating the) war is also a compelling one. And it's one the Kremlin has been making in 2021. Putin:

"Do they really think we do not see these threats? Or do they think that we will just stand idly watching threats to Russia emerge? This is the problem: we simply have no room to retreat. That is the question."

Putin hasn't revealed if he's going to order Russia to war, but he has already revealed that absent other solutions war would now make sense for Russia. The Kremlin Stooge put it well in a different context: "where peace is impossible, violence is inevitable." Or perhaps: where inaction is intolerable, action is inevitable.

What is that action going to be?

Does he have an ace up his sleeve, or it's going to be blood and guts?

Marko Marjanovińá - Wed Jan 26, 2022 16:26

On the diplomatic front Russia has adopted a posture that is most un-Russian. One thing Moscow always had in abundance was patience, especially for Putin's "Western partners". Never has it opened negotiations by declaring that the window for them to succeed was extremely brief. Never has it opened negotiations by making its opening demands public. And never has it openly and repeatedly threatened that if its far-reaching demands aren't met almost immediately it would promptly take matters into its own hands.

Can we please take a moment and appreciate just how wildly uncharacteristic this is?

Russia is acting like a power that is annoyed it even has to sit through these talks. It gives off the air of a power that would much rather be at home implementing the threatened "military-technical means" than having to sit through another meeting with the Americans. It is using the talks as little more than a stage from which to make sure the globe knows of American vow-breaking and encroachment.

Perhaps this is all an elaborate new negotiating technique. Salesmen will tell you that appending a tight expiration date to an offer is an effective way of forcing a decision. Opening with an exhaustive list of demands that you know you're not going to get is also not unheard of, but why the move of making them public? The public nature of Russia's opening demands makes it that much more difficult for the US to accept them and for Moscow to climb down from them.

And where is the build-up to this? For example, the Russian demand that America withdraws from all NATO members that have been added since 1997 is perhaps eminently reasonable and just. However, why drop it like a bomb? Yes, Russia has been grumbling about American eastward advance since forever, but why did it take until 2021 for Russia's position to crystalize as a return to 1997 and not an inch less? And why is the biggest publicly-expressed Russian worry that the Americans will try to bog them down in endless talks that go nowhere? How uncharacteristic of Moscow to complain that Americans are scheming to keep them at the green table. It wasn't so long ago that making it so that Americans would have no choice but to engage Russia was a goal in of itself for Moscow. (A big reason for why it went into Syria.)

All of these questions perhaps have very good explanations. But the explanations do not change the observable reality that Russia has broken with its past way of doing things and is now acting in ways that for Moscow are totally unprecedented. Putin has gone from someone who Russian nationalists and half of Russophile internet commentators have been accusing of being a perennial pushover to someone dropping ultimatum bombs on his former "Western partners".

And can we appreciate just how unprecedented the Empire's reaction has been? America does sometimes hold security talks. These are talks in which the other side is invited to appease American security concerns by ridding itself of WMDs, uranium enrichment, or nuclear missiles in return for trade or just not to be invaded. They are *not* talks on the security fears of the other side.

America holding a summit to discuss how it may appease Russia's security concerns is wholly unprecedented and hugely humiliating for what is supposed to be the unipolar superpower. The position of the Empire is that only the Empire can have security concerns. Everybody else is insignificant enough that their fears don't warrant so much as a meeting. Until now.

After 30 years of lording it over the world, why is America humbling itself in this way? What do they know and what are they afraid of? What do the Russians have over them? Specifically, what do the Russians have over them that they didn't have even a year ago?

Another state of affairs that is unprecedented is that Russia has 60 battalion tactical groups close enough to the Russian-Ukrainian border that they could deploy there in 2-3 days. 60 battalion tactical groups isn't necessarily so big a number that it screams immediate danger. But it is a number that is wholly unprecedented. With the exception of March-April 2021 Russia has never assembled this much military potential in the theater.  Before 2014 it barely had troops there and since 2014 the normal state of affairs would have been a force capable of generating no more than 30 BTGs. Actually, it is worse than that. The 30 extra BTGs aren't manned. The equipment from far-away units has been assembled but the men are still behind. This means that some of the crack units of the Russian land army aren't able to train and maintain their combat readiness.

If Belarus is included in the equation then the number of Russian BTGs in theater rises to at least 70. This Russian presence can be explained away as Russians arriving for the two waves of Russian-Belarusian drills planned to run from early next month to February 20. However, the two just wrapped up the biennial Zapad exercise in September. To hold a yet another huge war game so soon after Zapad is also unprecedented in of itself. Moreover, many of the Russian units now assembled in Belarus are from the Far Eastern Military District, including the naval infantry of the Pacific Fleet. If you wanted to transfer military assets 7,000 kilometers without raising too many eyebrows this would probably be the way to do it. Likewise, many of the 30 additional BTGs within reach of the Russian-Ukrainian border are from the Northern (Western Arctic) and Central (Siberia) Military Districts and normally wouldn't be anywhere near Ukraine.

70 BTGs, with 30 of them unmanned isn't cause for immediate alarm. But it is also anything but business as usual. So why is Russia doing this? Why has Russia taken this never-before-seen military posture? Is it to back up its diplomacy? I would be inclined to believe this if Russia hadn't made it abundantly clear that its expectations for talks with the Americans to produce anything are equal to nill. Whatever the Russian deployment is for, it isn't to aid diplomacy that Moscow has explained represents little more than the danger of falling for American stalling tactics.

I will say one thing, in 2022 in the era of satellites and smartphones it has never been more impossible to assemble a sizable military force in secrecy and fall upon a totally unsuspecting enemy. That is a thing of the past. So if total surprise is impossible, what is the next best thing? The next best thing is a successful maskirovka or masking effort. Luckily for the Russians stealth is only one aspect of maskirovka, and not the most important one. The idea is to confuse your enemy into failing to prepare despite what could be seen as ample warning. Your preparations are going to create certain signals for the opponent to pick up on so your job is to create a cacophony of numerous other signals to drown out the genuine ones. The objective is to fatigue the enemy, to shake his confidence, and to leave him ample room to interpret the situation in numerous ways. When you leave the enemy with evidence for numerous interpretations the chance of him guessing correctly diminishes, especially if you've managed to confirm some bias of his.

So maybe the 70 BTGs are nothing, or maybe the Russians are pretty competent at this maskirovka thing they have been perfecting for one hundred years. If you examine the otherwise bewildering Russian build-up through the prism of a maskirovka operation it fits to a tee. If you needed to assemble a large force but without triggering enemy preparations how would you go about it?

Would you have units shipped into theater for drills, then have them leave behind their equipment when the drills concluded and they returned into the interior? Would you be evacuating some units from the theater even as you were bringing many more in? Would you repeatedly have theater units leave their barracks for drills so you could make a show of their going back in? Might you transfer the equipment into theater only very slowly over several months, while still holding personnel back? Might you even stage a very overt buildup a year earlier that ultimately leads to nothing and creates the expectation that sometimes Russian buildups just happen for no real reason at all and disappear as mysteriously as they appeared? The Russians have done all of this. That doesn't mean that they're going to invade. But it does mean that someone is performing a maskirovka on us. Just as they would if they were going to invade.

Rather than think about what the Russians still haven't done, think about what they have already accomplished. They have managed to assemble 70 percent of the assets they would need for the initial offensive without triggering any change in Kiev's mobilization level. They have gone from 30 to 70 BTGs yet they've done it in such a way that leaves Ukraine struggling for answers but no closer to knowing if an answer is warranted or what it should be. Pretty darn impressive. Zelensky has been screaming lately that imminent panic is unwarranted because the current crisis has actually been ongoing since the spring of 2021. He is correct. The Russians put things in motion last March and the CIA didn't catch on and sound the alarm until late November. Pretty darn impressive if you ask me.

Yes, much of the success of the Russian buildup in generating confusion and avoiding a reply has been down to just how incredibly stretched out it has been. It is fatiguing to observe Russian forces grow by the tiniest of drips while nothing ever really happens. It is the kind of thing that makes you question your sanity. Your mind tells you that a buildup like this could serve only a very limited number of purposes, but since nothing happens for so long you start to feel like nothing ever will. Everything feels normal and the feeling of normalcy starts to undermine and eat away at the logical conclusions that are staring you in the face. This is how CIA and Ukrainian military officers must feel right now. The Russians have been downright sadistic in their patience and deliberateness. Of course, mentally exhausting the enemy in this way ‚ÄĒ if you have the time in which to do it ‚ÄĒ is also maskirovka 101.

The Russians clearly aren't launch-ready, but they also aren't super far. If they bump up their in-theater BTGs to 80-100, ship in the personnel of the unmanned 30 BTGs, and constitute more stockpiles and rear services then it would be the time to sound imminent danger. The moment to watch may be when the Belarus drills conclude. If all those forces start their journey back to the Pacific then the danger is perhaps subsiding, but if a significant portion of them stays somewhere in the west then the danger is still growing.

A recent analysis from Ukraine concluded that imminent danger won't become reality unless Russia assembles several hundred thousand troops on the border. This is wrong. It is wrong for two reasons. First of all, if Russia prepositions eg 300K troops on the border then Ukraine will obviously mobilize, and then where is the advantage for Russia in that? It would just make the opening battles that much bigger and costlier for both the Russian and the Ukrainian sides. (Russia has to minimize Russian but also Ukrainian losses.)

Even if eventually hundreds of thousands would be required Russia doesn't need to initiate the offensive with so many. It is far more advantageous for Russia to launch with a smaller force and get initial battles and advances out of the way before Ukraine has had the chance to mobilize. (By the time it mobilizes much of its standing army may already be crushed.)

The second reason that a 300,000 minimum for an invasion is wrong is that the nature of warfare has changed. Drone, radar, laser, and GLONASS have transformed the accuracy of artillery to where it is now properly thought of as a smart, guided weapon. Indirect artillery fire has been transformed from a tool of suppression to a tool of annihilation. Kiev imagines fending off Russian massed tank charges with Javelins. But Russians don't need to charge anyone. Upon encountering resistance they can just as easily disengage and do like the Americans and pick up a phone and order a guided-munitions strike ‚ÄĒ in their case the plentiful, capable, and now highly-accurate, Russian artillery. It isn't about troop levels, it is about firepower on target. Warfare has become far more lethal. 80 reinforced Russian battalions represent a far greater quantity of accurate firepower than they would have in WWII or the 1960s. Concentrated, 80 BTGs is enough to severely maul the tiny Ukrainian standing army of not more than 150,000 first-rate troops enveloped from three sides and spread out over 1,500 kilometers.

When the CIA says one thing and Moscow says the opposite it is tempting to go with the Russians and leave it at that. They certainly have a better record than the Empire. But obviously, if they were building up for an offensive they wouldn't tell us. That would be extremely shoddy maskirovka. The Russians have been less than forthright before. In 2014 it took them days to acknowledge that the insignia-less "polite men" were Russian troops. The imminent nature of the Russian foray into Syria in 2015 was broken by the Western press on the basis of satellite images, upon which various "Russia experts" fell over each other to explain this was Western propaganda. Days later when Moscow's intervention commenced the same experts turned around to give us a hundred reasons why it was a righteous undertaking and a 5D masterstroke. What Putin has already told us though is that Russia's back is now up against a wall:

"Do they really think we do not see these threats? Or do they think that we will just stand idly watching threats to Russia emerge? This is the problem: we simply have no room to retreat. That is the question."

What do you do when you can't take another step back, but even more new threats are emerging? Join a yoga class? Putin's formulation is that there is a "tough response" coming that will be "military-technical" in nature. "Military-technical" implies a response short of a war. Of course, if Putin was considering one he would tell the whole world, right?

If we can't trust the Russians can we trust the CIA? I've seen some approach this from the point of view that Americans have an interest in hurling outrageous accusations at Russia and thus can not be trusted. That is true, but do the Americans have an interest in following up the accusations with a series of hurried summits where the Russians thunder and the Americans squeak? That's a little elaborate, wouldn't you say? What has followed since the late-November panic has not been a good look for the Americans. They have gone from shopping for European navies that would sail into Russian waters around Crimea to having to publicly admit that they wouldn't defend Kiev from Moscow with a single drop of American blood. American friendship and encouragement has again been exposed as a liability ‚ÄĒ sooner to get you into trouble than get you out of it. They then followed it up by launching unprecedented talks for the Global Hegemon to explore if Nigeria With Snow could be somehow appeased and prevailed upon not to take what the Unipolar Superpower can not deny it. It has been a miserable and pathetic two months for the US that have severely hurt its prestige. Since on the whole the US has not at all profited from the accusations I think that the publicly-stated CIA-White House fears of a potential Russian military offensive are genuine.

Perhaps they too have read Putin's article on Ukraine? Four months after setting the current events into motion on March 2021, in July 2021 Putin published an 8,000-worder on Ukraine and made it mandatory reading for every last soldier in the Russian army. In it he clearly explains:

"The path of forced assimilation, the formation of an ethnically pure Ukrainian state, aggressive towards Russia, is comparable in its consequences to the use of weapons of mass destruction against us."

...

"All the subterfuges associated with the anti-Russia project are clear to us. And we will never allow our historical territories and people close to us living there to be used against Russia."

In the essay, Putin states that if Russia's historical territories and 40 million ex-Russians are pressed into the service of an "anti-Russia project" this equals a nuclear attack on Russia, and is something that will not be allowed, period. An anti-Russia having control of Russian cities like Kiev and Kharkov and willing to make itself a battering ram for the Americans will not be tolerated.

I don't think it can be overstated just how offensive Kiev's post-2014 turn toward celebrating Nazi collaborators is to Russians. Just how intensely revolting it is for them to see Soviet generals lose their streets so that Banderites can get theirs. How wrong it feels for them that the Banderite UPA flag should fly in Slavyansk or Kramatorsk. It is one thing if Latvians (or Lviv) celebrate the SS, but for that to be brought into Little Russia is a different matter entirely. Ukraine's turn toward UPA worship makes it as if the Russians lost WW2. As if the Nazis broke through to Kharkov and never left. As if Barbarosa had never been overturned. As we speak Mariupol is under occupation by troops who sport SS runes. Here is a short origin of the UPA by Timothy Snyder, no lover of the Russians or Putin:

Ukrainians in the German auxiliary police in Volhynia collaborated in the Final Solution throughout November 1942. In March and April 1943, they provided the bulk of the recruits for the OUN-B's new partisan army, the UPA. The OUN-B had directed its men to the police in 1941, as its task forces followed the Wehrmacht through Ukraine. ... In 1943, the OUN-B was able to extract its men, and bring many of the police along with them. They had been taught how to kill. Former policemen brought not only their SS training and their weapons, but the irreplaceabl experience of co-ordinated murder of designated populations."

A Russian offensive wouldn't even be about missiles and NATO. Not exclusively. It wouldn't just be about forming an East Slav bloc of 170-190 million that would be a harder nut to crack than Russia alone. It would be just as much about cleaning up historic Russian lands and cities of UPA pollution. Of refusing to allow a revision of how WW2 is told in Ukraine. It may sound crazy to be moved to war over such symbolic issues, but then there are others who would say that after food and shelter the symbolic stuff is the *only* thing worth fighting for. It is just that until July 2021 we didn't know that Vladimir Putin may be one of them. Remember this is a religious issue for Russians. Russia's real cult is not Orthodoxy, it's WW2.

I know that the alarm of a Russian invasion has been sounded many times. But tell me how many times have you seen AE bite? The only other time AE even acknowledged the alarm bells was in Spring 2021. That is because that was the only other time that there was an actually elevated Russian military presence to go along with the alarm. At all other times, they were transparently self-serving Ukrainian accusations to try and get more weapons and to draw attention to themselves. This time it is different once again in the sense that there actually is beefed up Russian military capacity to go with the panic.

It's very simple really. The number of BTGs in theater has grown from 30 to 70 and this is A) an observable reality and B) an abnormal state of affairs.

Do with that what you will.

Personally, I'll be watching closely to see if the 70 number is going down or up. Moving down is good news, moving up is bad. If we get down to 40 or 30 then the war scare is over. If we get to 100 ‚ÄĒ buckle up.

For the record, the entire Russian military can generate 200 BTGs. 170 by the land army and another 30 by the airborne and naval infantry. A force of 200 BTGs would count 160,000 men plus rear services.

On the diplomatic front Russia has adopted a posture that is most un-Russian. One thing Moscow always had in abundance was patience, especially for Putin's "Western partners". Never has it opened negotiations by declaring that the window for them to succeed was extremely brief. Never has it opened negotiations by making its opening demands public. And never has it openly and repeatedly threatened that if its far-reaching demands aren't met almost immediately it would promptly take matters into its own hands.

Can we please take a moment and appreciate just how wildly uncharacteristic this is?

Russia is acting like a power that is annoyed it even has to sit through these talks. It gives off the air of a power that would much rather be at home implementing the threatened "military-technical means" than having to sit through another meeting with the Americans. It is using the talks as little more than a stage from which to make sure the globe knows of American vow-breaking and encroachment.

Perhaps this is all an elaborate new negotiating technique. Salesmen will tell you that appending a tight expiration date to an offer is an effective way of forcing a decision. Opening with an exhaustive list of demands that you know you're not going to get is also not unheard of, but why the move of making them public? The public nature of Russia's opening demands makes it that much more difficult for the US to accept them and for Moscow to climb down from them.

And where is the build-up to this? For example, the Russian demand that America withdraws from all NATO members that have been added since 1997 is perhaps eminently reasonable and just. However, why drop it like a bomb? Yes, Russia has been grumbling about American eastward advance since forever, but why did it take until 2021 for Russia's position to crystalize as a return to 1997 and not an inch less? And why is the biggest publicly-expressed Russian worry that the Americans will try to bog them down in endless talks that go nowhere? How uncharacteristic of Moscow to complain that Americans are scheming to keep them at the green table. It wasn't so long ago that making it so that Americans would have no choice but to engage Russia was a goal in of itself for Moscow. (A big reason for why it went into Syria.)

All of these questions perhaps have very good explanations. But the explanations do not change the observable reality that Russia has broken with its past way of doing things and is now acting in ways that for Moscow are totally unprecedented. Putin has gone from someone who Russian nationalists and half of Russophile internet commentators have been accusing of being a perennial pushover to someone dropping ultimatum bombs on his former "Western partners".

And can we appreciate just how unprecedented the Empire's reaction has been? America does sometimes hold security talks. These are talks in which the other side is invited to appease American security concerns by ridding itself of WMDs, uranium enrichment, or nuclear missiles in return for trade or just not to be invaded. They are *not* talks on the security fears of the other side.

America holding a summit to discuss how it may appease Russia's security concerns is wholly unprecedented and hugely humiliating for what is supposed to be the unipolar superpower. The position of the Empire is that only the Empire can have security concerns. Everybody else is insignificant enough that their fears don't warrant so much as a meeting. Until now.

After 30 years of lording it over the world, why is America humbling itself in this way? What do they know and what are they afraid of? What do the Russians have over them? Specifically, what do the Russians have over them that they didn't have even a year ago?

Another state of affairs that is unprecedented is that Russia has 60 battalion tactical groups close enough to the Russian-Ukrainian border that they could deploy there in 2-3 days. 60 battalion tactical groups isn't necessarily so big a number that it screams immediate danger. But it is a number that is wholly unprecedented. With the exception of March-April 2021 Russia has never assembled this much military potential in the theater.  Before 2014 it barely had troops there and since 2014 the normal state of affairs would have been a force capable of generating no more than 30 BTGs. Actually, it is worse than that. The 30 extra BTGs aren't manned. The equipment from far-away units has been assembled but the men are still behind. This means that some of the crack units of the Russian land army aren't able to train and maintain their combat readiness.

If Belarus is included in the equation then the number of Russian BTGs in theater rises to at least 70. This Russian presence can be explained away as Russians arriving for the two waves of Russian-Belarusian drills planned to run from early next month to February 20. However, the two just wrapped up the biennial Zapad exercise in September. To hold a yet another huge war game so soon after Zapad is also unprecedented in of itself. Moreover, many of the Russian units now assembled in Belarus are from the Far Eastern Military District, including the naval infantry of the Pacific Fleet. If you wanted to transfer military assets 7,000 kilometers without raising too many eyebrows this would probably be the way to do it. Likewise, many of the 30 additional BTGs within reach of the Russian-Ukrainian border are from the Northern (Western Arctic) and Central (Siberia) Military Districts and normally wouldn't be anywhere near Ukraine.

70 BTGs, with 30 of them unmanned isn't cause for immediate alarm. But it is also anything but business as usual. So why is Russia doing this? Why has Russia taken this never-before-seen military posture? Is it to back up its diplomacy? I would be inclined to believe this if Russia hadn't made it abundantly clear that its expectations for talks with the Americans to produce anything are equal to nill. Whatever the Russian deployment is for, it isn't to aid diplomacy that Moscow has explained represents little more than the danger of falling for American stalling tactics.

I will say one thing, in 2022 in the era of satellites and smartphones it has never been more impossible to assemble a sizable military force in secrecy and fall upon a totally unsuspecting enemy. That is a thing of the past. So if total surprise is impossible, what is the next best thing? The next best thing is a successful maskirovka or masking effort. Luckily for the Russians stealth is only one aspect of maskirovka, and not the most important one. The idea is to confuse your enemy into failing to prepare despite what could be seen as ample warning. Your preparations are going to create certain signals for the opponent to pick up on so your job is to create a cacophony of numerous other signals to drown out the genuine ones. The objective is to fatigue the enemy, to shake his confidence, and to leave him ample room to interpret the situation in numerous ways. When you leave the enemy with evidence for numerous interpretations the chance of him guessing correctly diminishes, especially if you've managed to confirm some bias of his.

So maybe the 70 BTGs are nothing, or maybe the Russians are pretty competent at this maskirovka thing they have been perfecting for one hundred years. If you examine the otherwise bewildering Russian build-up through the prism of a maskirovka operation it fits to a tee. If you needed to assemble a large force but without triggering enemy preparations how would you go about it?

Would you have units shipped into theater for drills, then have them leave behind their equipment when the drills concluded and they returned into the interior? Would you be evacuating some units from the theater even as you were bringing many more in? Would you repeatedly have theater units leave their barracks for drills so you could make a show of their going back in? Might you transfer the equipment into theater only very slowly over several months, while still holding personnel back? Might you even stage a very overt buildup a year earlier that ultimately leads to nothing and creates the expectation that sometimes Russian buildups just happen for no real reason at all and disappear as mysteriously as they appeared? The Russians have done all of this. That doesn't mean that they're going to invade. But it does mean that someone is performing a maskirovka on us. Just as they would if they were going to invade.

Rather than think about what the Russians still haven't done, think about what they have already accomplished. They have managed to assemble 70 percent of the assets they would need for the initial offensive without triggering any change in Kiev's mobilization level. They have gone from 30 to 70 BTGs yet they've done it in such a way that leaves Ukraine struggling for answers but no closer to knowing if an answer is warranted or what it should be. Pretty darn impressive. Zelensky has been screaming lately that imminent panic is unwarranted because the current crisis has actually been ongoing since the spring of 2021. He is correct. The Russians put things in motion last March and the CIA didn't catch on and sound the alarm until late November. Pretty darn impressive if you ask me.

Yes, much of the success of the Russian buildup in generating confusion and avoiding a reply has been down to just how incredibly stretched out it has been. It is fatiguing to observe Russian forces grow by the tiniest of drips while nothing ever really happens. It is the kind of thing that makes you question your sanity. Your mind tells you that a buildup like this could serve only a very limited number of purposes, but since nothing happens for so long you start to feel like nothing ever will. Everything feels normal and the feeling of normalcy starts to undermine and eat away at the logical conclusions that are staring you in the face. This is how CIA and Ukrainian military officers must feel right now. The Russians have been downright sadistic in their patience and deliberateness. Of course, mentally exhausting the enemy in this way ‚ÄĒ if you have the time in which to do it ‚ÄĒ is also maskirovka 101.

The Russians clearly aren't launch-ready, but they also aren't super far. If they bump up their in-theater BTGs to 80-100, ship in the personnel of the unmanned 30 BTGs, and constitute more stockpiles and rear services then it would be the time to sound imminent danger. The moment to watch may be when the Belarus drills conclude. If all those forces start their journey back to the Pacific then the danger is perhaps subsiding, but if a significant portion of them stays somewhere in the west then the danger is still growing.

A recent analysis from Ukraine concluded that imminent danger won't become reality unless Russia assembles several hundred thousand troops on the border. This is wrong. It is wrong for two reasons. First of all, if Russia prepositions eg 300K troops on the border then Ukraine will obviously mobilize, and then where is the advantage for Russia in that? It would just make the opening battles that much bigger and costlier for both the Russian and the Ukrainian sides. (Russia has to minimize Russian but also Ukrainian losses.)

Even if eventually hundreds of thousands would be required Russia doesn't need to initiate the offensive with so many. It is far more advantageous for Russia to launch with a smaller force and get initial battles and advances out of the way before Ukraine has had the chance to mobilize. (By the time it mobilizes much of its standing army may already be crushed.)

The second reason that a 300,000 minimum for an invasion is wrong is that the nature of warfare has changed. Drone, radar, laser, and GLONASS have transformed the accuracy of artillery to where it is now properly thought of as a smart, guided weapon. Indirect artillery fire has been transformed from a tool of suppression to a tool of annihilation. Kiev imagines fending off Russian massed tank charges with Javelins. But Russians don't need to charge anyone. Upon encountering resistance they can just as easily disengage and do like the Americans and pick up a phone and order a guided-munitions strike ‚ÄĒ in their case the plentiful, capable, and now highly-accurate, Russian artillery. It isn't about troop levels, it is about firepower on target. Warfare has become far more lethal. 80 reinforced Russian battalions represent a far greater quantity of accurate firepower than they would have in WWII or the 1960s. Concentrated, 80 BTGs is enough to severely maul the tiny Ukrainian standing army of not more than 150,000 first-rate troops enveloped from three sides and spread out over 1,500 kilometers.

When the CIA says one thing and Moscow says the opposite it is tempting to go with the Russians and leave it at that. They certainly have a better record than the Empire. But obviously, if they were building up for an offensive they wouldn't tell us. That would be extremely shoddy maskirovka. The Russians have been less than forthright before. In 2014 it took them days to acknowledge that the insignia-less "polite men" were Russian troops. The imminent nature of the Russian foray into Syria in 2015 was broken by the Western press on the basis of satellite images, upon which various "Russia experts" fell over each other to explain this was Western propaganda. Days later when Moscow's intervention commenced the same experts turned around to give us a hundred reasons why it was a righteous undertaking and a 5D masterstroke. What Putin has already told us though is that Russia's back is now up against a wall:

"Do they really think we do not see these threats? Or do they think that we will just stand idly watching threats to Russia emerge? This is the problem: we simply have no room to retreat. That is the question."

What do you do when you can't take another step back, but even more new threats are emerging? Join a yoga class? Putin's formulation is that there is a "tough response" coming that will be "military-technical" in nature. "Military-technical" implies a response short of a war. Of course, if Putin was considering one he would tell the whole world, right?

If we can't trust the Russians can we trust the CIA? I've seen some approach this from the point of view that Americans have an interest in hurling outrageous accusations at Russia and thus can not be trusted. That is true, but do the Americans have an interest in following up the accusations with a series of hurried summits where the Russians thunder and the Americans squeak? That's a little elaborate, wouldn't you say? What has followed since the late-November panic has not been a good look for the Americans. They have gone from shopping for European navies that would sail into Russian waters around Crimea to having to publicly admit that they wouldn't defend Kiev from Moscow with a single drop of American blood. American friendship and encouragement has again been exposed as a liability ‚ÄĒ sooner to get you into trouble than get you out of it. They then followed it up by launching unprecedented talks for the Global Hegemon to explore if Nigeria With Snow could be somehow appeased and prevailed upon not to take what the Unipolar Superpower can not deny it. It has been a miserable and pathetic two months for the US that have severely hurt its prestige. Since on the whole the US has not at all profited from the accusations I think that the publicly-stated CIA-White House fears of a potential Russian military offensive are genuine.

Perhaps they too have read Putin's article on Ukraine? Four months after setting the current events into motion on March 2021, in July 2021 Putin published an 8,000-worder on Ukraine and made it mandatory reading for every last soldier in the Russian army. In it he clearly explains:

"The path of forced assimilation, the formation of an ethnically pure Ukrainian state, aggressive towards Russia, is comparable in its consequences to the use of weapons of mass destruction against us."

...

"All the subterfuges associated with the anti-Russia project are clear to us. And we will never allow our historical territories and people close to us living there to be used against Russia."

In the essay, Putin states that if Russia's historical territories and 40 million ex-Russians are pressed into the service of an "anti-Russia project" this equals a nuclear attack on Russia, and is something that will not be allowed, period. An anti-Russia having control of Russian cities like Kiev and Kharkov and willing to make itself a battering ram for the Americans will not be tolerated.

I don't think it can be overstated just how offensive Kiev's post-2014 turn toward celebrating Nazi collaborators is to Russians. Just how intensely revolting it is for them to see Soviet generals lose their streets so that Banderites can get theirs. How wrong it feels for them that the Banderite UPA flag should fly in Slavyansk or Kramatorsk. It is one thing if Latvians (or Lviv) celebrate the SS, but for that to be brought into Little Russia is a different matter entirely. Ukraine's turn toward UPA worship makes it as if the Russians lost WW2. As if the Nazis broke through to Kharkov and never left. As if Barbarosa had never been overturned. As we speak Mariupol is under occupation by troops who sport SS runes. Here is a short origin of the UPA by Timothy Snyder, no lover of the Russians or Putin:

Ukrainians in the German auxiliary police in Volhynia collaborated in the Final Solution throughout November 1942. In March and April 1943, they provided the bulk of the recruits for the OUN-B's new partisan army, the UPA. The OUN-B had directed its men to the police in 1941, as its task forces followed the Wehrmacht through Ukraine. ... In 1943, the OUN-B was able to extract its men, and bring many of the police along with them. They had been taught how to kill. Former policemen brought not only their SS training and their weapons, but the irreplaceabl experience of co-ordinated murder of designated populations."

A Russian offensive wouldn't even be about missiles and NATO. Not exclusively. It wouldn't just be about forming an East Slav bloc of 170-190 million that would be a harder nut to crack than Russia alone. It would be just as much about cleaning up historic Russian lands and cities of UPA pollution. Of refusing to allow a revision of how WW2 is told in Ukraine. It may sound crazy to be moved to war over such symbolic issues, but then there are others who would say that after food and shelter the symbolic stuff is the *only* thing worth fighting for. It is just that until July 2021 we didn't know that Vladimir Putin may be one of them. Remember this is a religious issue for Russians. Russia's real cult is not Orthodoxy, it's WW2.

I know that the alarm of a Russian invasion has been sounded many times. But tell me how many times have you seen AE bite? The only other time AE even acknowledged the alarm bells was in Spring 2021. That is because that was the only other time that there was an actually elevated Russian military presence to go along with the alarm. At all other times, they were transparently self-serving Ukrainian accusations to try and get more weapons and to draw attention to themselves. This time it is different once again in the sense that there actually is beefed up Russian military capacity to go with the panic.

It's very simple really. The number of BTGs in theater has grown from 30 to 70 and this is A) an observable reality and B) an abnormal state of affairs.

Do with that what you will.

Personally, I'll be watching closely to see if the 70 number is going down or up. Moving down is good news, moving up is bad. If we get down to 40 or 30 then the war scare is over. If we get to 100 ‚ÄĒ buckle up.

For the record, the entire Russian military can generate 200 BTGs. 170 by the land army and another 30 by the airborne and naval infantry. A force of 200 BTGs would count 160,000 men plus rear services.

Anti-Empire - Tue Jan 25, 2022 15:09

This site does aggregation and curation because I think that is how I can be most useful to you and how I can stretch myself the farthest. As much as we all love the sound of our keyboards, I think this site is more valuable to the internet as a polished "aggregator" than as yet another blog.

I think the service of Anti-Empire, namely:

  • monitoring numerous sites and finding and picking out worthwhile stuff (tons of stuff that I read doesn't quite make the cut),
  • reproducing the selections with reworked headlines that get to the core of what the story is about (numerous authors write horrendous headlines nobody would ever open)
  • equipping them with informative subheadlines that frontload a ton of information to the index page serving even¬†those who will never open the article
  • bolding the key parts of the text for faster skim reading in this busy age
  • providing the all-important context, and tone-setting graphic, as well as the odd quip, or additional commentary...

...is more valuable than what I (or anyone) could do as one writer. Especially since in this way I can bring you 35 to 50 weekly headlines as opposed to just 6 or 7 if I was writing.

Actually, in this day and age, I don't think there is any lack of news or good commentary and good writing. On the contrary, there is a flood of both. What *is* difficult due to time and energy constraints is keeping track of it all, separating the grain from the chaff, and appreciating the full significance and the context of individual stories and bits of information and news. That is where Anti-Empire comes in.

So to get to the point, albeit I normally prioritize reproduction and write only very rarely ‚ÄĒ usually only if something important isn't already being said by someone else, lately so many potential stories that I need to get off my chest have accumulated in my mind that their jumping around in my brain is starting to distract me and is having a negative effect on AE's republishing output. (You may have noticed the output dropping to 25 headlines weekly.) Rather than trying to juggle between curation and writing, and accomplishing neither, I will take a 7-day republishing "vacation". I'll write up these stories (a few I've had in my head for a year) so as to declutter my mind, and then I can get back to aggregation at full speed, and with a respectable number of weekly headlines.¬†

So for the next 7 (to 10) days, there'll just be one original headline per day (except for any urgent Russia-Ukraine stuff) after which normal republishing service will return. 

In the meantime supplement by reading Edward Slavsquat, and visit Fourth World by another fellow reader of Anti-Empire.

This site does aggregation and curation because I think that is how I can be most useful to you and how I can stretch myself the farthest. As much as we all love the sound of our keyboards, I think this site is more valuable to the internet as a polished "aggregator" than as yet another blog.

I think the service of Anti-Empire, namely:

  • monitoring numerous sites and finding and picking out worthwhile stuff (tons of stuff that I read doesn't quite make the cut),
  • reproducing the selections with reworked headlines that get to the core of what the story is about (numerous authors write horrendous headlines nobody would ever open)
  • equipping them with informative subheadlines that frontload a ton of information to the index page serving even¬†those who will never open the article
  • bolding the key parts of the text for faster skim reading in this busy age
  • providing the all-important context, and tone-setting graphic, as well as the odd quip, or additional commentary...

...is more valuable than what I (or anyone) could do as one writer. Especially since in this way I can bring you 35 to 50 weekly headlines as opposed to just 6 or 7 if I was writing.

Actually, in this day and age, I don't think there is any lack of news or good commentary and good writing. On the contrary, there is a flood of both. What *is* difficult due to time and energy constraints is keeping track of it all, separating the grain from the chaff, and appreciating the full significance and the context of individual stories and bits of information and news. That is where Anti-Empire comes in.

So to get to the point, albeit I normally prioritize reproduction and write only very rarely ‚ÄĒ usually only if something important isn't already being said by someone else, lately so many potential stories that I need to get off my chest have accumulated in my mind that their jumping around in my brain is starting to distract me and is having a negative effect on AE's republishing output. (You may have noticed the output dropping to 25 headlines weekly.) Rather than trying to juggle between curation and writing, and accomplishing neither, I will take a 7-day republishing "vacation". I'll write up these stories (a few I've had in my head for a year) so as to declutter my mind, and then I can get back to aggregation at full speed, and with a respectable number of weekly headlines.¬†

So for the next 7 (to 10) days, there'll just be one original headline per day (except for any urgent Russia-Ukraine stuff) after which normal republishing service will return. 

In the meantime supplement by reading Edward Slavsquat, and visit Fourth World by another fellow reader of Anti-Empire.

Michael Kofman - Tue Jan 25, 2022 08:20

A large war in Europe is likely in the coming weeks. The current security architecture of the continent, the future of NATO, and America’s role in shaping security outcomes there are all at stake. Beyond Europe, this conflict would have profound implications for U.S. defense strategy, and may upset America’s best-laid plans to focus on the eroding military balance with China. Ukraine, whose fate hangs in the balance, may be at the center of the crisis, but Moscow has a greater goal in mind: the revision of Europe’s security order. The Russian armed forces have conducted a substantial buildup around Ukraine, with Moscow threatening unilateral military measures if it is not able to achieve its goals at the negotiating table. President Vladimir Putin has been coy, but the threat is use of force on a large scale against Ukraine, including the possibility of regime change. Even if force does not get Moscow any closer to the wide-reaching concessions that it seeks from the West, Russia’s leadership likely judges that it will secure its influence in the country, deny Ukraine any hope of getting into NATO, and end NATO’s defense cooperation with Ukraine.

The unfolding events of the past year and the crescendo of the current crisis have been widely interpreted as a classic case of coercive diplomacy: threats, signals, and demands backed by a show of capability and resolve. However, it is more likely that Moscow was leaning towards a military solution. Russia’s diplomatic overture offered few prospects for success at the negotiating table. There is an eerie calm as Russian forces continue to position equipment and units around Ukraine. At this stage, Russia’s military retains operational surprise and could launch an assault on short notice. There will not be further strategic warning ahead of an offensive.

Prediction is always a fraught business, but it seems plausible that Russian forces would seize Ukraine’s eastern regions, as well as the southern port city of Odessa, and encircle Kyiv. The Russian goal would be regime change, perhaps via constitutional reform, and a settlement that would secure Russian influence over Ukraine. From a position of leverage, Russia would try to attain a U.S. commitment to give it a free hand in this part of eastern Europe. With Belarus firmly in Russia’s orbit, Moscow is eyeing using force to change Ukraine’s strategic orientation in an effort to create its own cordon against Western influence. An expanded invasion of Ukraine may not herald a prolonged occupation, but Russia appears prepared for that contingency. Russian force posture can enable a range of choices, but it is difficult to see how Moscow accomplishes any lasting political gains without having to resort to maximalist options.

How to Interpret Russian Demands

This crisis is not about NATO or Ukraine, but about NATO and Ukraine. Russia wants Washington to agree to a revised European order in which Russia has a veto over security arrangements and in decisions over security outcomes. By closing NATO’s open door, and halting defense cooperation with non-members, Washington would be acknowledging that Moscow’s security considerations supersede the right of its neighbors to choose their strategic orientation, and that security in Europe must be negotiated with Moscow.

Yet Russian demands for legally binding guarantees raise questions. On the one hand, Putin has railed against successive rounds of NATO expansion, encroaching military infrastructure, military exercises, and defense cooperation with countries like Ukraine. But he has also said that he does not believe in U.S. security assurances, and according to him Washington easily withdraws from treaties with or without explanation. So, why pursue such agreements with urgency when he believes that Washington may just bin them one day anyway?

There is also the nagging problem that no U.S. Congress, or any legislature in Europe, is likely to ratify a legally binding agreement with Russia based on such demands. Perhaps Moscow still assesses that the United States and its European allies might sign politically binding agreements that fall short of a treaty. While not legally binding, such agreements would hold strategic implications for European countries that are not NATO members. Those states would find their room for maneuver shrinking and would seek to hedge or to pursue a foreign policy that includes balancing relations between Europe and Russia.

Russia‚Äôs demands for a halt to NATO expansion, a rollback of defense cooperation with non-NATO members, and a return to force posture prior to 1997 (essentially a ‚Äúgo back to Germany‚ÄĚ clause) seem to have little relationship to the deadlock over¬†Minsk II implementation. These demands won‚Äôt secure a say over Ukraine‚Äôs domestic policy, or even get Russia out of the current sanctions regime. Furthermore, why didn‚Äôt Moscow make any of these demands during the spring buildup? The timing was no less auspicious. Why wait until the end of 2021 to come up with rushed proposals and demand rapid progress?

The diplomatic effort appears improvised, while the central demands were obvious non-starters for the West. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, often the last to know what is happening, was unsurprisingly surprised to find out it that was supposed to be coming up with these draft treaties in late December. Moscow has not only been asking for things that it knows it cannot attain, but it has been doing so in a manner that will ensure that it cannot attain them. Serious negotiations are usually done behind closed doors. By publicizing its demands and refusing to unbundle them in ways that might achieve compromise, Russia has made its diplomatic effort appear more performative than genuine.

Perhaps Moscow is just fishing for what it can get, but the political demands do not align with the military side of the equation. Settling for minor modifications to the already existing¬†strategic stability agenda¬†would appear to be a political retreat after releasing such ostentatious demands. Persistent¬†references¬†to internal time constraints, demanding ‚Äúanswers urgently,‚ÄĚ suggest that Putin has been leaning towards using force all along. At Geneva, it became clear that Moscow views U.S. counteroffers for an expanded strategic stability agenda with much lower significance than its irreconcilable demands.

A dramatic expansion of the war is now the most probable outcome. In the spring the Russian leadership issued red lines, but if they really were interested in deterring an expansion of U.S. defense cooperation then such a demand would have been made at the June presidential summit, and they would have given the effort a bit longer than a few months to produce results.

Putin may see diplomacy as a last-ditch effort to avert war, but Russia’s posture suggests that he is leaning towards a unilateral solution. While some commentators may view this as a bluff, it is hard to see how Putin imagined bluffing his way to a wholesale revision of Europe’s security architecture.

Why Now?

There are two overlapping issues: The first is Ukraine, where Russia desires to have a firm say over its foreign policy as well as aspects of its internal governance. [It wants the country's Russian speakers be given the weight they deserve.] The second is to block further NATO expansion and to roll back Ukrainian defense cooperation with NATO members. Moscow perceives its strategy in Ukraine as having generally failed, with diplomacy over the Minsk ceasefire agreement at a deadlock, while Ukraine is increasingly treated as a de facto¬†NATO member. In¬†statements,¬†essays, and¬†articles, Russian leaders have made clear over the course of 2021 that they believe that Ukraine and its territory are being used as an instrument against Russia by the United States, and if they cannot compel a policy reversal, they will¬†seek military solutions.¬†As Putin said in December, ‚Äúif our Western colleagues continue their obviously aggressive line, we will take appropriate military-technical reciprocal measures and will have a tough response to their unfriendly steps.‚ÄĚ What is remarkable about this crisis is how well it has been signposted over the course of 2021, with Russian political statements and military activity in close alignment.

Although the crisis has structural roots in the post-Cold War settlement, the proximate cause of this standoff is a series of political turns in 2020 and early 2021. After initially being open to dialogue, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky‚Äôs administration took a¬†hard turn away¬†from pursuing compromises with Moscow. Zelensky arrested Putin‚Äôs¬†ally Viktor Medvedchuk¬†and¬†banned¬†three pro-Russian television channels in the country. Putin has also railed against a¬†discriminatory language law¬†passed in 2019, which has just entered into force. Not only has Ukraine continued on a westward trajectory, but Zelensky has also chosen to take a hard line, and has begun to actively eliminate Russian influence in Ukraine. This turnabout dashed any hopes that Russia had of achieving a desirable political settlement and removed a path for Russia to get out from under Western sanctions. Russian officials have publicly made clear that they see no further point to negotiating with Zelensky, viewing his administration as a marionette of the United States, and have instead approached his patron ‚ÄĒ Washington.

European capitals and Washington have backed Ukraine‚Äôs position. Moscow is thus faced with a choice between accepting that Ukraine is slipping away, or escalation. Moscow judges that it has to act in order to prevent a fixed reorientation of the country and the destruction of the key pillars of its influence. Among Putin‚Äôs grievances¬†is the belief¬†that Ukraine will become a platform for U.S. power projection along Russia‚Äôs southwestern flank and he cannot tolerate this prospect (recalling Moscow‚Äôs¬†fears¬†that led it to invade Afghanistan). Last fall he remarked ‚Äúwhat if tomorrow there are missiles near Kharkov ‚ÄĒ what should we do then? We do not go there with our missiles ‚ÄĒ but missiles are being brought to our doorstep. Of course, we have a problem here.‚ÄĚ Whether genuine, or instrumental, Russia‚Äôs leadership have often used this threat to link Ukraine to broader grievances on European security.

Washington‚Äôs effort to launch a¬†strategic stability dialogue¬†has also played a role. The Biden administration¬†sought predictability¬†in the relationship, perhaps so it could focus on China and pressing domestic concerns. The administration was right to launch this initiative and see if Moscow was willing to engage, but as Oscar Wilde quipped, ‚ÄúThere are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.‚ÄĚ Moscow has now made clear what the price of predictability in relations is, and it is clearly one that the United States is unwilling to pay. Given that Washington has signaled that it sees Europe as a secondary theater, the price Russia would ask was inevitably going to be high.

Russia’s elite may believe that they are in a good position to conduct a military operation and weather the storm of Western economic punishment. Having stabilized the Russian economy, established a war chest of reserves (over $620 billion), and tightened the screws on its opposition, the regime is more confident economically and politically. Moscow has greater leverage over Europe due to surging gas prices and energy supply shortages. Putin might also judge that the Biden administration is reticent about enacting the most severe financial sanctions in its arsenal because these would cause ripples in the global financial system, a rise in U.S. gasoline prices, not to mention the impact on energy prices in Europe.

It also merits considering that Russian assumptions may be colored by war optimism.  Moscow might believe that much of the Ukrainian public quietly holds pro-Russian attitudes and Russian forces might be greeted as liberators. Russian elites see Ukraine as a manipulable oligarchy with corrupt elites. Such assumptions and narratives run deep in Putin’s statements and writings. The Russian elite is deeply chauvinistic and has little regard for Ukrainian military capabilities. Moscow may judge the use of force to be preferable relative to the mounting costs of inaction, and the potential risks of having to use force later. Leaders talk themselves into war, imagining that the situation is imposed upon them and rationalizing that a conflict is inevitable so it is better to fight now than later. Russia would not be the first country to invade another, misjudging the socio-political dynamics, and the costs of occupation.

Can Putin Back Down?

The United States and its allies have made clear that while they are willing to discuss an expanded strategic stability agenda, they will not shut NATO’s open door, constrain military cooperation with non-member states, remove military forces and infrastructure from the territory of NATO members who have joined since 1997, or compel Ukraine to accept a form of neutrality. While a discussion on future missile placement, mutual reductions in military activity, and other measures might count as a diplomatic success for Moscow, it is unlikely that this is enough to satisfy Putin. If it were, why has he not pocketed the deal already?

After the meeting in Geneva, the United States was unable to determine if the Russian diplomatic effort was genuine or cover for a planned military operation. The head of Russia’s delegation, Sergey Ryabkov, didn’t appear to know either.

It is doubtful that the Russian leadership can back down without external and internal audience costs. Over the past month, the West has also been¬†arming Ukraine in anticipation of a Russian attack, hardly a policy success for Moscow. If Putin backs down with nothing, the domestic and international perception will be that he was either bluffing or, even worse, was successfully deterred. Putin will end up with the worst of both worlds, seen as simultaneously aggressive and resistible. Also, while an authoritarian state may care less about domestic audience perceptions, the elites, or the so-called ‚Äúselectorate,‚ÄĚ are another matter. Authoritarian leaders like Putin¬†can find their ability to manage political coalitions diminished if elites perceive them as reckless, incompetent, and increasingly unfit to rule. Putin certainly has options, but this is not a contest in which he can afford to back down cost-free.

A More Dangerous Mobilization

While the military deployment may appear overly visible, lacking in initiative or surprise, in fact the opposite is true. Russia is indeed assembling this force in a manner designed to conceal its operational aims. To some extent it retains surprise and initiative. The Russian military is deploying a large force slowly, and deliberately, with equipment that can be parked in the field for months. Troops can be quickly sent to these encampments, fall in on equipment, and begin dispersing. This conceals the final disposition of forces, and the timing and scope of an operation. With large numbers of Russian forces having arrived in Belarus, and more on the way, a large-scale military operation in the coming weeks seems probable.

Ukraine finds itself in a mobilization trap. Kyiv might be reluctant to conduct large force shifts ‚ÄĒ if Moscow is spoiling for a fight, then a mobilization order could be used as a pretext by the Russian leadership, claiming that Ukraine intends to retake the Donbas by force. It is also expensive and economically disruptive. Yet on the brink of all-out war, the calm among Ukrainian elites is jarring. Rumors swirl that Zelensky thinks that this is a bluff, and even believes that the United States is exaggerating the threat intentionally to force him into concessions. Ukraine‚Äôs leadership appears to be more worried about the impact that this threat has on the economy and public sentiments, than about preparing the nation for the war.¬†

Since 2014, the Russian military has shifted formations to Ukraine’s borders, resulting in roughly 55,000 to 60,000 ground troops permanently stationed in the region (a 250 to 300-kilometer range). The forces normally stationed on Ukraine’s border can generate about 25 to 30 battalion tactical groups and the forces that have been mobilized in recent months to join them represent another 35 to 40 battalion tactical groups. Recently arrived forces from the Eastern Military District might bring this figure to a total of 65 to 70. A battalion tactical group is a task-organized combined-arms maneuver formation, averaging 800 personnel per unit (though it can be as small as 600 and as large as 1,000). It is essentially a battalion plus enablers such as artillery, logistics, and air defense. These formations are an imprecise but useful unit of measurement when talking about Russian offensive maneuver potential.

Total estimated end strength is therefore already north of 90,000 personnel. These figures do not include airpower, naval units, or additional logistical components that are likely to support this force. Russian-led forces in Ukraine’s Donbas region might account for another 15,000 troops, but they have considerably lower combat effectiveness than Russian regulars.

The force gathered from other Russian regions largely consists of prepositioned equipment, but it is already sufficient for a military operation. There are indications that Russia has begun sending personnel. The current force is largely within the self-deployment range, which means they can move to the border in a matter of days once personnel arrive. Russia retains considerable force-generation potential and can surge units to the area on relatively short notice. Publicly available estimates suggest Moscow might gather a force of 90 to 100 battalion tactical groups, together with reserves, and auxiliary forces for a total of 150,000 to 175,000 troops. The Russian military is not yet in position for such a largescale operation, but it could have the requisite forces and elements placed in the coming weeks.

What are Russia’s Options?

A Russian military campaign could range from standoff strikes to a largescale invasion of Ukraine’s eastern regions, the encirclement of Kyiv, and the taking of Odessa along the coast. The question is not what Russia can do militarily in Ukraine, since the answer is almost anything, but what kind of operation might attain lasting political gains. Consequently, most scenarios seem illogical and politically counterproductive.

Given the stakes, and likely costs, any Russian military operation would have to attain political gains that give Moscow the ability to enforce implementation. In short, just hurting Ukraine is not enough to achieve anything that Russia wants. While some believe that Russia intends to compel Ukraine into a new Minsk-like agreement, the reality is that nobody in Moscow thinks that a Ukrainian government can be made to implement any document they sign. Such a settlement would be political suicide for the Zelensky administration, or any other. Russia has no way to enforce compliance with its preferences once the operation is over. This is, at least, the lesson that Moscow seems to have taken from Minsk I and Minsk II. Why would Minsk III prove any different? Russia has not struggled in getting Ukraine to sign deals at gunpoint, but all of these have resulted in Ukraine’s continued westward march and a decline of Russian influence in the country. It’s not clear how Moscow achieves its goals without conducting regime change, or a partitioning of the state, and committing to some form of occupation to retain leverage.

Those who think that Russia might simply conduct an airstrike campaign have an even bigger problem in explaining what possible political aims Moscow could attain via this type of operation. Most likely, the initial war effort will involve the use of artillery, precision fires, and airpower. Then ground forces would conduct a multi-axis attack from Belarus, Russia, the Donbas, and Crimea. A ground operation would entail the occupation of Ukrainian territory for some time to secure lines of communication and critical infrastructure, which requires follow-on forces and potentially reserves. The Russian military has been developing a sizable reserve and conducting partial callups to test it.

Russia could leverage the offer of an eventual withdrawal from Ukraine in exchange for a deal, figuring that the United States might prefer a broken Ukraine to a hard redrawing of the map of Europe. But this arrangement would undoubtedly combine current demands made to NATO with sovereignty impositions on Ukraine, including federalization to increase regional autonomy, and a rollback of defense ties with NATO members along with promises that NATO will never admit Ukraine. It is possible that Putin believes he can get such a deal, to be enforced externally by the United States, but only if he holds the bulk of Ukraine’s territory in his hands.

The increasingly likely scenario is that Moscow intends to install a pro-Russian government backed by its forces, which aligns with recently released claims by the United Kingdom. [To be fair the content of the British report is bunk. Russia is supposed to want to install a guy who is bankrolled by Akhmetov and who acts as a spoiler to dilute the vote of the pro-peace Opposition Platform party.] Alternatively, Russia may consider a partitioning of Ukraine. This would not be a total occupation of the country, but would include most of the country sans the Western regions. It would be terribly risky, and costly, but it would make Putin the Russian leader who restored much of historical Russia, and established a new buffer against NATO. A de facto occupation of most of Ukraine may be the only way that Russia can impose its will on the country if it cannot install a pro-Russian government. In launching an offensive, one of Moscow’s riskiest decisions will be whether to stay largely east, or to venture west of the Dnieper river.

Whether Russia intends to partition Ukraine or not, war is highly contingent. Russian forces may end up controlling large parts of Ukraine for a prolonged period either way. Indeed, this is how Russia originally ended up with the Donbas in the first place, having never sought to hold it indefinitely. Similarly, the Russian operation to seize Crimea shows little evidence that annexation was a premediated outcome. Consequently, once an operation is launched, beyond the initial move it is difficult to predict how it might end.

Why not something lesser in scope? A smaller campaign, perhaps seizing the rest of the Donbas, would have high costs and risks. What does this gain Moscow in Ukraine, or in terms of revising its position in Europe? If anything, it worsens Russia’s current predicament. Russian leaders have acknowledged that their strategy of trying to leverage the Donbas has failed to deliver and are unlikely to double down or repeat something that they concede won’t work. The logic of a Russian military operation suggests that the best way in which Moscow could attain lasting political gains is to use force on a large scale and commit to an occupation for some period of time.

The Unfinished Business of Europe

If Putin’s aim is to see what he can get, then he may well take the low-hanging fruit of an expanded strategic stability agenda, pocket the win, and close out this gambit. Europeans would breathe a sigh of relief and U.S.-Russian relations would stagger on until the next crisis. This looks terribly unlikely. Alternatively, if Russia uses force on a large scale, Washington would have to make major shifts in force posture, reinforce deterrence on NATO’s flank, and reinvest in its ability to defend European allies, likely to the detriment of its aim to focus on the Indo-Pacific. The ensuing cycle of sanctions, diplomatic expulsions, and various forms of retaliation might escalate to the use of larger-scale economic and political instruments.

If Ukraine is unfinished business for Russia’s leader, then European security should be unfinished business for the United States. This is a defining moment. Russia may be able to temporarily set the agenda, but it has thus far not shown itself strong enough to make the United States and its allies in Europe restructure the current order to accommodate Russian preferences. There are fundamental disagreements in outlooks on international relations and which principles should govern them. Despite periods of cooperation, Moscow has long interpreted this as an order of exclusion, created and expanded during a time of Russian weakness. This not just a phenomenon under Putin. Missed opportunities, choices made and not made, cast a long shadow over European security.

This crisis reveals a problem in U.S. strategy. European security remains much more unsettled than it appears. The most militarily powerful state on the continent does not see itself as a stakeholder in Europe‚Äôs security architecture. There‚Äôs little evidence that without the United States, European powers can deter Moscow or lead their way out of a major crisis. The European Union is nonexistent in the conversation, begging for relevance. Yet the United States is materially constrained, seeking to focus on the Indo-Pacific and redress a deteriorating military balance¬†vis-√†-vis¬†China. Washington‚Äôs dream of making the Russia relationship more predictable via a narrow strategic stability agenda appears to be dissipating. The United States will have to manage China and Russia, at the same time, for the foreseeable future. For U.S. strategy, it was never going to be China only, but it will prove exceedingly difficult to make it China mostly ‚ÄĒ not as long as Russia gets a vote.

Source: War on the Rocks

A large war in Europe is likely in the coming weeks. The current security architecture of the continent, the future of NATO, and America’s role in shaping security outcomes there are all at stake. Beyond Europe, this conflict would have profound implications for U.S. defense strategy, and may upset America’s best-laid plans to focus on the eroding military balance with China. Ukraine, whose fate hangs in the balance, may be at the center of the crisis, but Moscow has a greater goal in mind: the revision of Europe’s security order. The Russian armed forces have conducted a substantial buildup around Ukraine, with Moscow threatening unilateral military measures if it is not able to achieve its goals at the negotiating table. President Vladimir Putin has been coy, but the threat is use of force on a large scale against Ukraine, including the possibility of regime change. Even if force does not get Moscow any closer to the wide-reaching concessions that it seeks from the West, Russia’s leadership likely judges that it will secure its influence in the country, deny Ukraine any hope of getting into NATO, and end NATO’s defense cooperation with Ukraine.

The unfolding events of the past year and the crescendo of the current crisis have been widely interpreted as a classic case of coercive diplomacy: threats, signals, and demands backed by a show of capability and resolve. However, it is more likely that Moscow was leaning towards a military solution. Russia’s diplomatic overture offered few prospects for success at the negotiating table. There is an eerie calm as Russian forces continue to position equipment and units around Ukraine. At this stage, Russia’s military retains operational surprise and could launch an assault on short notice. There will not be further strategic warning ahead of an offensive.

Prediction is always a fraught business, but it seems plausible that Russian forces would seize Ukraine’s eastern regions, as well as the southern port city of Odessa, and encircle Kyiv. The Russian goal would be regime change, perhaps via constitutional reform, and a settlement that would secure Russian influence over Ukraine. From a position of leverage, Russia would try to attain a U.S. commitment to give it a free hand in this part of eastern Europe. With Belarus firmly in Russia’s orbit, Moscow is eyeing using force to change Ukraine’s strategic orientation in an effort to create its own cordon against Western influence. An expanded invasion of Ukraine may not herald a prolonged occupation, but Russia appears prepared for that contingency. Russian force posture can enable a range of choices, but it is difficult to see how Moscow accomplishes any lasting political gains without having to resort to maximalist options.

How to Interpret Russian Demands

This crisis is not about NATO or Ukraine, but about NATO and Ukraine. Russia wants Washington to agree to a revised European order in which Russia has a veto over security arrangements and in decisions over security outcomes. By closing NATO’s open door, and halting defense cooperation with non-members, Washington would be acknowledging that Moscow’s security considerations supersede the right of its neighbors to choose their strategic orientation, and that security in Europe must be negotiated with Moscow.

Yet Russian demands for legally binding guarantees raise questions. On the one hand, Putin has railed against successive rounds of NATO expansion, encroaching military infrastructure, military exercises, and defense cooperation with countries like Ukraine. But he has also said that he does not believe in U.S. security assurances, and according to him Washington easily withdraws from treaties with or without explanation. So, why pursue such agreements with urgency when he believes that Washington may just bin them one day anyway?

There is also the nagging problem that no U.S. Congress, or any legislature in Europe, is likely to ratify a legally binding agreement with Russia based on such demands. Perhaps Moscow still assesses that the United States and its European allies might sign politically binding agreements that fall short of a treaty. While not legally binding, such agreements would hold strategic implications for European countries that are not NATO members. Those states would find their room for maneuver shrinking and would seek to hedge or to pursue a foreign policy that includes balancing relations between Europe and Russia.

Russia‚Äôs demands for a halt to NATO expansion, a rollback of defense cooperation with non-NATO members, and a return to force posture prior to 1997 (essentially a ‚Äúgo back to Germany‚ÄĚ clause) seem to have little relationship to the deadlock over¬†Minsk II implementation. These demands won‚Äôt secure a say over Ukraine‚Äôs domestic policy, or even get Russia out of the current sanctions regime. Furthermore, why didn‚Äôt Moscow make any of these demands during the spring buildup? The timing was no less auspicious. Why wait until the end of 2021 to come up with rushed proposals and demand rapid progress?

The diplomatic effort appears improvised, while the central demands were obvious non-starters for the West. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, often the last to know what is happening, was unsurprisingly surprised to find out it that was supposed to be coming up with these draft treaties in late December. Moscow has not only been asking for things that it knows it cannot attain, but it has been doing so in a manner that will ensure that it cannot attain them. Serious negotiations are usually done behind closed doors. By publicizing its demands and refusing to unbundle them in ways that might achieve compromise, Russia has made its diplomatic effort appear more performative than genuine.

Perhaps Moscow is just fishing for what it can get, but the political demands do not align with the military side of the equation. Settling for minor modifications to the already existing¬†strategic stability agenda¬†would appear to be a political retreat after releasing such ostentatious demands. Persistent¬†references¬†to internal time constraints, demanding ‚Äúanswers urgently,‚ÄĚ suggest that Putin has been leaning towards using force all along. At Geneva, it became clear that Moscow views U.S. counteroffers for an expanded strategic stability agenda with much lower significance than its irreconcilable demands.

A dramatic expansion of the war is now the most probable outcome. In the spring the Russian leadership issued red lines, but if they really were interested in deterring an expansion of U.S. defense cooperation then such a demand would have been made at the June presidential summit, and they would have given the effort a bit longer than a few months to produce results.

Putin may see diplomacy as a last-ditch effort to avert war, but Russia’s posture suggests that he is leaning towards a unilateral solution. While some commentators may view this as a bluff, it is hard to see how Putin imagined bluffing his way to a wholesale revision of Europe’s security architecture.

Why Now?

There are two overlapping issues: The first is Ukraine, where Russia desires to have a firm say over its foreign policy as well as aspects of its internal governance. [It wants the country's Russian speakers be given the weight they deserve.] The second is to block further NATO expansion and to roll back Ukrainian defense cooperation with NATO members. Moscow perceives its strategy in Ukraine as having generally failed, with diplomacy over the Minsk ceasefire agreement at a deadlock, while Ukraine is increasingly treated as a de facto¬†NATO member. In¬†statements,¬†essays, and¬†articles, Russian leaders have made clear over the course of 2021 that they believe that Ukraine and its territory are being used as an instrument against Russia by the United States, and if they cannot compel a policy reversal, they will¬†seek military solutions.¬†As Putin said in December, ‚Äúif our Western colleagues continue their obviously aggressive line, we will take appropriate military-technical reciprocal measures and will have a tough response to their unfriendly steps.‚ÄĚ What is remarkable about this crisis is how well it has been signposted over the course of 2021, with Russian political statements and military activity in close alignment.

Although the crisis has structural roots in the post-Cold War settlement, the proximate cause of this standoff is a series of political turns in 2020 and early 2021. After initially being open to dialogue, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky‚Äôs administration took a¬†hard turn away¬†from pursuing compromises with Moscow. Zelensky arrested Putin‚Äôs¬†ally Viktor Medvedchuk¬†and¬†banned¬†three pro-Russian television channels in the country. Putin has also railed against a¬†discriminatory language law¬†passed in 2019, which has just entered into force. Not only has Ukraine continued on a westward trajectory, but Zelensky has also chosen to take a hard line, and has begun to actively eliminate Russian influence in Ukraine. This turnabout dashed any hopes that Russia had of achieving a desirable political settlement and removed a path for Russia to get out from under Western sanctions. Russian officials have publicly made clear that they see no further point to negotiating with Zelensky, viewing his administration as a marionette of the United States, and have instead approached his patron ‚ÄĒ Washington.

European capitals and Washington have backed Ukraine‚Äôs position. Moscow is thus faced with a choice between accepting that Ukraine is slipping away, or escalation. Moscow judges that it has to act in order to prevent a fixed reorientation of the country and the destruction of the key pillars of its influence. Among Putin‚Äôs grievances¬†is the belief¬†that Ukraine will become a platform for U.S. power projection along Russia‚Äôs southwestern flank and he cannot tolerate this prospect (recalling Moscow‚Äôs¬†fears¬†that led it to invade Afghanistan). Last fall he remarked ‚Äúwhat if tomorrow there are missiles near Kharkov ‚ÄĒ what should we do then? We do not go there with our missiles ‚ÄĒ but missiles are being brought to our doorstep. Of course, we have a problem here.‚ÄĚ Whether genuine, or instrumental, Russia‚Äôs leadership have often used this threat to link Ukraine to broader grievances on European security.

Washington‚Äôs effort to launch a¬†strategic stability dialogue¬†has also played a role. The Biden administration¬†sought predictability¬†in the relationship, perhaps so it could focus on China and pressing domestic concerns. The administration was right to launch this initiative and see if Moscow was willing to engage, but as Oscar Wilde quipped, ‚ÄúThere are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.‚ÄĚ Moscow has now made clear what the price of predictability in relations is, and it is clearly one that the United States is unwilling to pay. Given that Washington has signaled that it sees Europe as a secondary theater, the price Russia would ask was inevitably going to be high.

Russia’s elite may believe that they are in a good position to conduct a military operation and weather the storm of Western economic punishment. Having stabilized the Russian economy, established a war chest of reserves (over $620 billion), and tightened the screws on its opposition, the regime is more confident economically and politically. Moscow has greater leverage over Europe due to surging gas prices and energy supply shortages. Putin might also judge that the Biden administration is reticent about enacting the most severe financial sanctions in its arsenal because these would cause ripples in the global financial system, a rise in U.S. gasoline prices, not to mention the impact on energy prices in Europe.

It also merits considering that Russian assumptions may be colored by war optimism.  Moscow might believe that much of the Ukrainian public quietly holds pro-Russian attitudes and Russian forces might be greeted as liberators. Russian elites see Ukraine as a manipulable oligarchy with corrupt elites. Such assumptions and narratives run deep in Putin’s statements and writings. The Russian elite is deeply chauvinistic and has little regard for Ukrainian military capabilities. Moscow may judge the use of force to be preferable relative to the mounting costs of inaction, and the potential risks of having to use force later. Leaders talk themselves into war, imagining that the situation is imposed upon them and rationalizing that a conflict is inevitable so it is better to fight now than later. Russia would not be the first country to invade another, misjudging the socio-political dynamics, and the costs of occupation.

Can Putin Back Down?

The United States and its allies have made clear that while they are willing to discuss an expanded strategic stability agenda, they will not shut NATO’s open door, constrain military cooperation with non-member states, remove military forces and infrastructure from the territory of NATO members who have joined since 1997, or compel Ukraine to accept a form of neutrality. While a discussion on future missile placement, mutual reductions in military activity, and other measures might count as a diplomatic success for Moscow, it is unlikely that this is enough to satisfy Putin. If it were, why has he not pocketed the deal already?

After the meeting in Geneva, the United States was unable to determine if the Russian diplomatic effort was genuine or cover for a planned military operation. The head of Russia’s delegation, Sergey Ryabkov, didn’t appear to know either.

It is doubtful that the Russian leadership can back down without external and internal audience costs. Over the past month, the West has also been¬†arming Ukraine in anticipation of a Russian attack, hardly a policy success for Moscow. If Putin backs down with nothing, the domestic and international perception will be that he was either bluffing or, even worse, was successfully deterred. Putin will end up with the worst of both worlds, seen as simultaneously aggressive and resistible. Also, while an authoritarian state may care less about domestic audience perceptions, the elites, or the so-called ‚Äúselectorate,‚ÄĚ are another matter. Authoritarian leaders like Putin¬†can find their ability to manage political coalitions diminished if elites perceive them as reckless, incompetent, and increasingly unfit to rule. Putin certainly has options, but this is not a contest in which he can afford to back down cost-free.

A More Dangerous Mobilization

While the military deployment may appear overly visible, lacking in initiative or surprise, in fact the opposite is true. Russia is indeed assembling this force in a manner designed to conceal its operational aims. To some extent it retains surprise and initiative. The Russian military is deploying a large force slowly, and deliberately, with equipment that can be parked in the field for months. Troops can be quickly sent to these encampments, fall in on equipment, and begin dispersing. This conceals the final disposition of forces, and the timing and scope of an operation. With large numbers of Russian forces having arrived in Belarus, and more on the way, a large-scale military operation in the coming weeks seems probable.

Ukraine finds itself in a mobilization trap. Kyiv might be reluctant to conduct large force shifts ‚ÄĒ if Moscow is spoiling for a fight, then a mobilization order could be used as a pretext by the Russian leadership, claiming that Ukraine intends to retake the Donbas by force. It is also expensive and economically disruptive. Yet on the brink of all-out war, the calm among Ukrainian elites is jarring. Rumors swirl that Zelensky thinks that this is a bluff, and even believes that the United States is exaggerating the threat intentionally to force him into concessions. Ukraine‚Äôs leadership appears to be more worried about the impact that this threat has on the economy and public sentiments, than about preparing the nation for the war.¬†

Since 2014, the Russian military has shifted formations to Ukraine’s borders, resulting in roughly 55,000 to 60,000 ground troops permanently stationed in the region (a 250 to 300-kilometer range). The forces normally stationed on Ukraine’s border can generate about 25 to 30 battalion tactical groups and the forces that have been mobilized in recent months to join them represent another 35 to 40 battalion tactical groups. Recently arrived forces from the Eastern Military District might bring this figure to a total of 65 to 70. A battalion tactical group is a task-organized combined-arms maneuver formation, averaging 800 personnel per unit (though it can be as small as 600 and as large as 1,000). It is essentially a battalion plus enablers such as artillery, logistics, and air defense. These formations are an imprecise but useful unit of measurement when talking about Russian offensive maneuver potential.

Total estimated end strength is therefore already north of 90,000 personnel. These figures do not include airpower, naval units, or additional logistical components that are likely to support this force. Russian-led forces in Ukraine’s Donbas region might account for another 15,000 troops, but they have considerably lower combat effectiveness than Russian regulars.

The force gathered from other Russian regions largely consists of prepositioned equipment, but it is already sufficient for a military operation. There are indications that Russia has begun sending personnel. The current force is largely within the self-deployment range, which means they can move to the border in a matter of days once personnel arrive. Russia retains considerable force-generation potential and can surge units to the area on relatively short notice. Publicly available estimates suggest Moscow might gather a force of 90 to 100 battalion tactical groups, together with reserves, and auxiliary forces for a total of 150,000 to 175,000 troops. The Russian military is not yet in position for such a largescale operation, but it could have the requisite forces and elements placed in the coming weeks.

What are Russia’s Options?

A Russian military campaign could range from standoff strikes to a largescale invasion of Ukraine’s eastern regions, the encirclement of Kyiv, and the taking of Odessa along the coast. The question is not what Russia can do militarily in Ukraine, since the answer is almost anything, but what kind of operation might attain lasting political gains. Consequently, most scenarios seem illogical and politically counterproductive.

Given the stakes, and likely costs, any Russian military operation would have to attain political gains that give Moscow the ability to enforce implementation. In short, just hurting Ukraine is not enough to achieve anything that Russia wants. While some believe that Russia intends to compel Ukraine into a new Minsk-like agreement, the reality is that nobody in Moscow thinks that a Ukrainian government can be made to implement any document they sign. Such a settlement would be political suicide for the Zelensky administration, or any other. Russia has no way to enforce compliance with its preferences once the operation is over. This is, at least, the lesson that Moscow seems to have taken from Minsk I and Minsk II. Why would Minsk III prove any different? Russia has not struggled in getting Ukraine to sign deals at gunpoint, but all of these have resulted in Ukraine’s continued westward march and a decline of Russian influence in the country. It’s not clear how Moscow achieves its goals without conducting regime change, or a partitioning of the state, and committing to some form of occupation to retain leverage.

Those who think that Russia might simply conduct an airstrike campaign have an even bigger problem in explaining what possible political aims Moscow could attain via this type of operation. Most likely, the initial war effort will involve the use of artillery, precision fires, and airpower. Then ground forces would conduct a multi-axis attack from Belarus, Russia, the Donbas, and Crimea. A ground operation would entail the occupation of Ukrainian territory for some time to secure lines of communication and critical infrastructure, which requires follow-on forces and potentially reserves. The Russian military has been developing a sizable reserve and conducting partial callups to test it.

Russia could leverage the offer of an eventual withdrawal from Ukraine in exchange for a deal, figuring that the United States might prefer a broken Ukraine to a hard redrawing of the map of Europe. But this arrangement would undoubtedly combine current demands made to NATO with sovereignty impositions on Ukraine, including federalization to increase regional autonomy, and a rollback of defense ties with NATO members along with promises that NATO will never admit Ukraine. It is possible that Putin believes he can get such a deal, to be enforced externally by the United States, but only if he holds the bulk of Ukraine’s territory in his hands.

The increasingly likely scenario is that Moscow intends to install a pro-Russian government backed by its forces, which aligns with recently released claims by the United Kingdom. [To be fair the content of the British report is bunk. Russia is supposed to want to install a guy who is bankrolled by Akhmetov and who acts as a spoiler to dilute the vote of the pro-peace Opposition Platform party.] Alternatively, Russia may consider a partitioning of Ukraine. This would not be a total occupation of the country, but would include most of the country sans the Western regions. It would be terribly risky, and costly, but it would make Putin the Russian leader who restored much of historical Russia, and established a new buffer against NATO. A de facto occupation of most of Ukraine may be the only way that Russia can impose its will on the country if it cannot install a pro-Russian government. In launching an offensive, one of Moscow’s riskiest decisions will be whether to stay largely east, or to venture west of the Dnieper river.

Whether Russia intends to partition Ukraine or not, war is highly contingent. Russian forces may end up controlling large parts of Ukraine for a prolonged period either way. Indeed, this is how Russia originally ended up with the Donbas in the first place, having never sought to hold it indefinitely. Similarly, the Russian operation to seize Crimea shows little evidence that annexation was a premediated outcome. Consequently, once an operation is launched, beyond the initial move it is difficult to predict how it might end.

Why not something lesser in scope? A smaller campaign, perhaps seizing the rest of the Donbas, would have high costs and risks. What does this gain Moscow in Ukraine, or in terms of revising its position in Europe? If anything, it worsens Russia’s current predicament. Russian leaders have acknowledged that their strategy of trying to leverage the Donbas has failed to deliver and are unlikely to double down or repeat something that they concede won’t work. The logic of a Russian military operation suggests that the best way in which Moscow could attain lasting political gains is to use force on a large scale and commit to an occupation for some period of time.

The Unfinished Business of Europe

If Putin’s aim is to see what he can get, then he may well take the low-hanging fruit of an expanded strategic stability agenda, pocket the win, and close out this gambit. Europeans would breathe a sigh of relief and U.S.-Russian relations would stagger on until the next crisis. This looks terribly unlikely. Alternatively, if Russia uses force on a large scale, Washington would have to make major shifts in force posture, reinforce deterrence on NATO’s flank, and reinvest in its ability to defend European allies, likely to the detriment of its aim to focus on the Indo-Pacific. The ensuing cycle of sanctions, diplomatic expulsions, and various forms of retaliation might escalate to the use of larger-scale economic and political instruments.

If Ukraine is unfinished business for Russia’s leader, then European security should be unfinished business for the United States. This is a defining moment. Russia may be able to temporarily set the agenda, but it has thus far not shown itself strong enough to make the United States and its allies in Europe restructure the current order to accommodate Russian preferences. There are fundamental disagreements in outlooks on international relations and which principles should govern them. Despite periods of cooperation, Moscow has long interpreted this as an order of exclusion, created and expanded during a time of Russian weakness. This not just a phenomenon under Putin. Missed opportunities, choices made and not made, cast a long shadow over European security.

This crisis reveals a problem in U.S. strategy. European security remains much more unsettled than it appears. The most militarily powerful state on the continent does not see itself as a stakeholder in Europe‚Äôs security architecture. There‚Äôs little evidence that without the United States, European powers can deter Moscow or lead their way out of a major crisis. The European Union is nonexistent in the conversation, begging for relevance. Yet the United States is materially constrained, seeking to focus on the Indo-Pacific and redress a deteriorating military balance¬†vis-√†-vis¬†China. Washington‚Äôs dream of making the Russia relationship more predictable via a narrow strategic stability agenda appears to be dissipating. The United States will have to manage China and Russia, at the same time, for the foreseeable future. For U.S. strategy, it was never going to be China only, but it will prove exceedingly difficult to make it China mostly ‚ÄĒ not as long as Russia gets a vote.

Source: War on the Rocks

Edward Slavsquat - Tue Jan 25, 2022 06:40

We must protect him at all costs:

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko advised people not to worry too much if they were diagnosed with coronavirus, and called on ‚Äúinternational crooks‚ÄĚ to end the pandemic.

‚ÄúI advise you to not sweat it. I¬†told you a long time ago, from the very beginning: our disease is here, in the head. As soon as you start to groan, gasp and run to God knows where, it‚Äôs a disaster. Young people have nothing to worry about,‚Ä̬†Lukashenka told reporters on Friday, his words are quoted by the presidential press service.

At the same time, he turned to international organizations: ‚ÄúI want to tell all these international crooks: enough already. They have already turned out our pockets so that there is nothing left.‚ÄĚ

The President added that he is observing how the situation with the coronavirus is developing in the world and what various experts say about it. ‚ÄúOne either American or Western expert said: ‚ÄėIf omicron is such a mild virus, let us all catch it, and it will become a vaccine for us.‚Äô From my point of view, an ideal proposal,‚ÄĚ Lukashenko said.

The rumors are true. Belarus really¬†is¬†the ‚Äúreal‚ÄĚ Russia:

Belarus: Like Russia but If Schwab Didn’t Have Putin Neutered

See you guys in Minsk.

Source: Edward Slavsquat

We must protect him at all costs:

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko advised people not to worry too much if they were diagnosed with coronavirus, and called on ‚Äúinternational crooks‚ÄĚ to end the pandemic.

‚ÄúI advise you to not sweat it. I¬†told you a long time ago, from the very beginning: our disease is here, in the head. As soon as you start to groan, gasp and run to God knows where, it‚Äôs a disaster. Young people have nothing to worry about,‚Ä̬†Lukashenka told reporters on Friday, his words are quoted by the presidential press service.

At the same time, he turned to international organizations: ‚ÄúI want to tell all these international crooks: enough already. They have already turned out our pockets so that there is nothing left.‚ÄĚ

The President added that he is observing how the situation with the coronavirus is developing in the world and what various experts say about it. ‚ÄúOne either American or Western expert said: ‚ÄėIf omicron is such a mild virus, let us all catch it, and it will become a vaccine for us.‚Äô From my point of view, an ideal proposal,‚ÄĚ Lukashenko said.

The rumors are true. Belarus really¬†is¬†the ‚Äúreal‚ÄĚ Russia:

Belarus: Like Russia but If Schwab Didn’t Have Putin Neutered

See you guys in Minsk.

Source: Edward Slavsquat

Anti-Empire >>

© 2001-2022 Independent Media Centre Ireland. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by Independent Media Centre Ireland. Disclaimer | Privacy