I don’t know what’s going on in Ukraine


This is symbolic of the conflict: Citizens of the Russian Federation from the Free Russia Legion fighting for Ukraine captured Ukrainian citizens from the LDNR formations fighting for Russia.

In other words, the guys with the guns are Russians fighting on the Ukrainian side, and the two prisoners looking hangdog are Ukrainians fighting on the Russian side. It’s all very confusing.

I read the newspapers, and the impression I get is that Ukraine is getting desperate with serious ammunition shortages, while Russians are getting desperate over increasingly heavy casualties, as are the Ukrainians. Ukraine wants to join the EU, but France and Germany are dragging it out, saying it might take decades to negotiate. I don’t think they have decades. No one is going to win this war, are they?

Comments

  1. wzrd1 says

    I am firmly of the belief that the only true purpose of diplomacy is for the continuance of any and all emergencies.

    Putin will find the entire war effort successful if he can shatter EU resolve, which is thusfar successful, shake NATO resolve, again, successful or Ukraine, Finland and Sweden would already be members and undermine US credibility (an odd goal, given how thoroughly we do that ourselves) and a bonus of a warm water port.

  2. ziroonderel says

    From Polish/German point of view, Ukraine is very brave, holding out much longer than anyone thought, but the devastation visited upon them by the Russians is slowly becoming too much to overcome. Russia is, in many ways, winning this war, which is utterly horrifying, because they will stop at nothing to eradicate Ukrainian national identity (and a lot of actual Ukrainian people too, there has been a lot of genocide-level war crimes already). France and Germany are afraid of getting into an actual whole-continent war with Russia (which would happen if Ukraine joined the EU), that’s why they are stalling. It is cowardice, of course, but I don’t really see any way Ukraine can win without an all-Europe war (which would be likely to escalate into a world war). And everyone is afraid of that.

    Russia is winning, which is horrifying, and it looks like they will win in the end.

  3. markgisleson says

    You’re confused because you’re reading Western propaganda which ain’t been right once yet.

    Your continued support for this war is driven by the same neconservative jerks who gave us Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria is undermining your credibility.

    Oh wait. Russiagate also undermined your credibility and you’ve never walked that one back either.

    Your commentariat will denounce me as a Trumpie for pointing out that you forgot to wear pants today, but I think you know me better than that. Do your due diligence instead of sucking on long newspaper spoons.

  4. =8)-DX says

    From what we’ve seen in Bucha, Mariupol and Kherson, the Ukrainians are only “winning” by comparison in that Putin expected to roll into Kiev with his invasion, reduce Ukraine to a landlocked remnant and carry out widespread political and cultural genocide in the occupied territories, deporting, torturing and murdering any resistance and stamping out any sense of independent Ukrainian language, culture or national identity. That’s been stopped for most of the country.

    If they’d just surrendered without a fight, perhaps less people would be dead. The question of are the casualties “worth it”, only makes sense to ask the Ukrainians, their answer seems to be “yes and we owe it to the territories still occupied to keep fighting, since they’ve been paying the highest price.”

    And the Russians aren’t winning: since all they’ll ever have to show for this war is a mound of corpses and a jingoistical sense of pride, no material benefits to regular Russians.
    =8)-DX

  5. KG says

    You’re confused because you’re reading Western propaganda which ain’t been right once yet.

    Well, there was the Western (specifically, American) propaganda insisting Russia was about to invade Ukraine, while your heroes in the Kremlin and your fellow-stooges were insisting it wasn’t.

    Your commentariat will denounce me as a Trumpie for pointing out that you forgot to wear pants today

    Er… no. It’s because that’s what you very obviously are. We know this because there is of course no such thing as “Russiagate” except in the imagination of Trumpies.

  6. says

    I scarcely know what “Russiagate” was; it seems to be an obsession of right-wing media, and I don’t think I’ve ever endorsed that conspiracy theory.
    My “support” for the war consists of occasionally commenting on it, and favoring the underdog. I do think Russia is being grossly imperialist in the same way the US was in Afghanistan and Iraq.
    You are correct that I am confused because I’m following Western news sites, and I don’t trust them. They seem to have been broadly accurate in their assessment of how the war is going, unless you’re trying to tell me that Russia didn’t fumble and mess up their execution of the war, or that somehow the current chaos isn’t happening.
    Like you, I’m an American in the Midwest reliant on information from often unreliable sources. I try to get different perspectives, but I don’t know what “due diligence” you expect of me. Instead of reading Western propaganda and national newspapers, I should read Russian propaganda?

  7. ziroonderel says

    And the Russians aren’t winning: since all they’ll ever have to show for this war is a mound of corpses and a jingoistical sense of pride, no material benefits to regular Russians.

    Well, they are winning in the “taking over Ukrainian territory” category. Yeah, the human cost is horrific, but it’s never been much of a problem from Russia, be it Tsarist Russia, Soviet one or the current neo-tsarist one. And if they do manage to take over Ukraine, they will have some of the most fertile land in Europe and a good position for future attacks. It’s so fucking scary.

  8. KG says

    #4 was a response to markgisleson@2.

    Putin will find the entire war effort successful if he can shatter EU resolve, which is thusfar successful, shake NATO resolve, again, successful or Ukraine, Finland and Sweden would already be members and undermine US credibility (an odd goal, given how thoroughly we do that ourselves) and a bonus of a warm water port. – wzrd1@1

    Really?
    1) EU: What’s been surprising so far w.r.t the EU is how much it has managed to do in the way of sanctions and arms supplies. We’ll see if anything more comes out of the joint visit of the three most important EU government leaders to Kyev. Putin has managed to persuade Denmark to drop its opt-out from EU defence policy. He’s also managed to split the far-right alliance of Poland and Hungary within the EU.
    2) NATO: A state with disputed borders cannot join NATO, so Ukraine could not be admitted without a change in the rules, and NATO leaders appear unanimous in wanting to avoid direct Russia-NATO fighting (even the Baltic states and Poland are keen to avoid it, or they could have sent their own troops to Ukraine). Putin has managed to persuade Sweden and Finland to apply for membership. Admittedly this may not happen, because Turkey’s price is for them to agree to help it in genociding the Kurds, but closer military collaboration looks certain.
    3) US credibility has been increased abroad by Biden’s ability to get large amounts of military aid through Congress.
    4) Russia already controlled Sevastopol de facto, as it does now, and indeed, did so (leasing it from Ukraine) even before the 2014 Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea.

  9. Rob Grigjanis says

    markgisleson @2:

    You’re confused because you’re reading Western propaganda which ain’t been right once yet.

    Prominent pro-Russian propagandist “unbiased journalist” Pepe Escobar wrote, shortly after the invasion, that Russia had totally defeated the Ukraine in one hour!

    https://thecradle.co/Article/columns/7266

    Is this the sort of honest journalism we should be reading?

    No, you’re not a Trumpie. You’re a tankie.

  10. KG says

    PZ, markgisleson,

    Actually, I think the overall picture in Ukraine is reasonably clear. The complex background to the war (which includes wrongdoing by the Ukranian authorities and far-right paramilitaries, and Russian revanchist intervention) explains why some Ukranians are fighting for Russia. The fact that some Russians are decent people and able to see through Kremlin lies explains why they are fighting for Ukraine. Putin grossly underestimated the willingness and ability of Ukranians to resist invasion, and grossly overestimated his own forces. Following those forces initial humiliating failure, many of Ukraine’s cheerleaders in the west wrongly assumed the war was effectively over, and the Russian forces would never achieve anything. But they have now reverted to the repulsive and criminal methods they used successfully in the second Chechen War, and in Syria in support of Assad: pulverise cities with artillery, missiles and airstrikes, forcing the defenders out or underground, then advance into the rubble. The Ukrananians continue to resist, but the Russians are slowly advancing through these methods. The Ukranians desperately need more and better weapons, but there are both political and logistical barriers in the way. The overall result of the war remains undecided.

  11. KG says

    No, you’re [markgisleson] not a Trumpie. You’re a tankie. – Rob Grigjanis@8

    I’d say both; there’s a very large overlap!

  12. raven says

    I don’t know what’s going on in Ukraine

    Yeah you do.
    It is attempted genocide of the Ukrainians by the Russians.

    No one is going to win this war, are they?

    If the Russians lay down their arms, the war ends.
    If the Ukrainians lay down their arms, they end up genocided and disappear as a nation and people.

    That is why the Ukrainians fight so hard.
    What choice do they have?
    They live there and have no where else to go.

  13. raven says

    Mark Gisleson is a Russian troll.
    He is probably not even Russian. Most of their trolls are low paid workers in Third World dumps. He might well be Macedonian, Serbian, Brazilian, Malaysian, etc..

  14. markgisleson says

    Third attempt at a response. First two eaten. Does your commenting software allow me to include links?

  15. submoron says

    Scholz and Macron now say that they support Ukraine’s EU application and Draghi wants Ukraine accepted as a ‘candidate’ member next week.
    I knew that there were pro-Putin Ukrainians so the picture isn’t that surprising, but suppose they’d been captured and told that if they didn’t fight for Russia their families would suffer? I wouldn’t surprised if Russia used particulate weapons as they seem to have done in Afghanistan.
    I don’t remember seeing markgisleson before: is he genuine?

  16. Rob Grigjanis says

    raven @12: There are plenty of tankies who are American, Canadian, British, etc. We have our own resident Canadian jrkrideau.

  17. submoron says

    raven@ 12. Thanks for answering my question on markgisleson before I posted it!

  18. says

    If you’re speculating on Gisleson’s identity, don’t. I know him personally. He’s a US citizen living in Minnesota (or maybe Iowa now?), and I ran into him several times at Drinking Liberally events in the Twin Cities.

    #9, KG: yes, I agree. That’s the general outline of events that I’ve read in US newspapers (or is it “propaganda”?), and I haven’t seen any evidence that contradicts your narrative.

    I still don’t know who is going to “win”.

  19. birgerjohansson says

    What Ukraine needs:
    Ammunition for their existing artillery.
    – long-range artillery in large numbers with the range to destroy Russian artillery.
    Even more cannons – their guns are outnumbered literary ten to one.
    .
    What the West needs: understand that Putin has been up to this the whole time he has been in power. He came out publicly about in 2009, or was it 2005?
    If he is not stopped in Ukraine he will go after other nearby countries.

  20. submoron says

    Thank you PZ. I’ve know one or two Tankies in the UK, including an individual who tried (unsuccessfully) to betray this country to the USSR.

  21. consciousness razor says

    My “support” for the war consists of occasionally commenting on it, and favoring the underdog.

    This is a proxy war between the US and Russia, and the US is not the underdog. Unfortunately, Ukraine has just been one of our pawns this whole time. It’s currently being sacrificed. We’re not making it a queen.

    They seem to have been broadly accurate in their assessment of how the war is going, unless you’re trying to tell me that Russia didn’t fumble and mess up their execution of the war, or that somehow the current chaos isn’t happening.

    Russia can afford to fumble a bit, and it can survive this clusterfuck much more easily than Ukraine can. Our “leaders” and “experts” don’t care, of course, as long as they get war. They never asked us, of course, but there’s still no reason to think it was a good idea that we should approve.

    Instead of reading Western propaganda and national newspapers, I should read Russian propaganda?

    Current events are just pure chaos anyway. It’s war, which is always a tragedy. What else do you need to know?

    Well, there is learning to do about our recent history, since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Here’s what we know, from our own perspective. As much as you may appreciate that it was gone, the aftermath was nothing to celebrate. If you’ll recall, they had already been making some progress with perestroika and glasnost. However, our stance has been to maintain the same attitudes and continue to treat them like an enemy. So when they told us that the Cold War was over, that wasn’t really true. They only meant that “we won” (something), but nobody actually won anything, with the exception of defense contractors who were already doing alright.

    We could have helped to make them a better country, like the one we always claimed to want for them every time we rightly criticized the USSR. They could’ve been an ally, like they were not long ago when they helped defeat the Nazis, but genuinely decent and fair and peaceful this time. (We would’ve need to work on ourselves too, obviously. We didn’t get very far with that.)

    We’ve been the only real superpower since then, but we chose not to use any of it for good. We decided that NATO would not only continue to exist, for no good reason, but also that it would expand more and more toward Russia. Instead of making Europe safe, we guaranteed that decades later it still has to rely on our constantly-growing military and its absurd budget “for defense,” but our military and the warmongers in DC have never understood what the word “defense” even means, much less how to actually do it.

    Besides the NATO shit, we also decided that we wanted to support the 2014 coup and install a Ukrainian regime that was more hostile to Russia and more friendly to us. You know: “democracy,” the usual style that we recklessly spread around the globe, then promptly forget about in order to do more shopping.

    We’ve been giving them weapons for years (with Russia doing the same), and now the obvious solution to that problem is to give them more weapons, then more weapons, then more, until finally … something happens. We don’t know what that’s supposed to be, because like usual, we have no plan other than “win, somehow.”

    So, if you do want to root for the underdog, I guess that would be the diplomats on all sides who are actually trying to push for peace as soon as possible, which is not something you ever do with weapons. They’re definitely outnumbered, but if they prevailed, that would be the best result for everyone that we could hope to get at this point. Still awful, but we can at least try to minimize the damage.

  22. numerobis says

    Russia has already lost, at least in the short term. Europe and NATO are more united than ever, whereas Russia was hoping to break up the EU and NATO.

    It’s also lost in the medium term because Europe is accelerating the move away from fossil fuels, which are the bulk of Russia’s exports and which drive its imperial ambitions (all the wars it’s started since WW2 have been when there’s high oil prices).

    Ukraine has also lost. Probably about 100k dead, millions displaced, several entire cities wiped off the map. That’s not a victory.

    As for what’s happening on the battlefield: Russia can probably take the remainder of Luhansk though it’s taken far longer than they expected. It’s not clear they can sustain the current level of fighting long enough to also take the remainder of Donetsk. It’s not clear they can keep Kherson city or any land on the West Bank of the Dnipr.

  23. numerobis says

    consciousness razor: maybe your wikipedia fu is better than mine but can you remind me the last time the US invaded Ukraine and annexed its territory?

  24. Rob Grigjanis says

    cr @22: Holy fuck, you just cannot bring yourself to ascribe any agency to Ukraine, can you (presumably that applies to the Baltic states, Poland, Czechia, etc)? Regarding the ‘coup’; have there, or have there not, been fair elections since then? Is Zelenskyy the legitimate elected President, or not?

  25. drew says

    No one is going to win this war, are they?

    The same people willl win this war as have won all other wars, the corporations providing arms and services and the corporations who will help rebuild afterward. War is always for profit.

  26. markgisleson says

    PZ, thanks for the reply. I emailed some links to you.

    And, as always, your commentariat has been a joy to read.

    I’ve tried to explain who I am before in your comments, but it just results in someone (like Raven) using my personal information to mock me. (What kind of genius can’t figure out who someone is when they post under their own name?)

    FYI: There is no USSR. If there still was a USSR, odds are good it would be run by a Ukrainian (Brehznev was Ukrainian, Khruschev was raised in Ukraine and married a Ukrainian.)

    Also FYI: Calling people who don’t xenophobically hate Russia “Tankies” is one of the more bewildering “Mary Poppins” moments of this war. No one who supported the Soviet Union under Stalin would ever support modern capitalist Russia. They aren’t socialists, they’re a tougher breed of capitalists (so don’t expect any oil revenue sharing).

    Last FYI: I do not support Putin or Russia other than when they are more in the right than the West. Which they currently are. This was a huge mistake by our neoconservatives who just handed the future to BRICS.

  27. Rob Grigjanis says

    Terminology clarification.

    cr: Do you consider the overturning (aka theft) of the last presidential election in Belarus a coup? You know, the one in which Putin helped Lukashenko hang on to power illegally.

  28. tacitus says

    I don’t remember seeing markgisleson before: is he genuine?

    Dunno, but tankies are real — I recently discovered I’m friends with one. Her husband is a photojournalist who has worked in multiple Latin American countries over the years, and has seen first hand the harm an aggressively self-interested US foreign policy has wrought to the region.

    But while I understand why she has developed an innate distrust of US foreign policy (we’re not miles apart on that issue), she’s convinced the Russia invasion of Ukraine was entirely America’s fault for interfering in Ukraine (the Euro-Maidan Revolution), expanding NATO and provoking Putin into an armed response. She also believes that it would be more dangerous for the US to be the sole superpower in the world, and that a successful Russian campaign in Ukraine would be a net benefit to the world in the long term. Even Putin’s declared and explicit intent to restore the Russian empire to its Soviet-era glory is blamed on US meddling in the region.

    There’s no weighing of the cost in Ukrainian lives and freedom, no taking account of the long history of Putin’s own brutal interference and repression in Syria and Chechnya, along with a growing list of crimes and political assassinations at home and abroad and turning Russia into an overtly fascist state, not to mention his bankrolling of the Wagner group of mercenaries he’s employed in multiple foreign nations to bolster repressive regimes in Africa and beyond. It also ignores the fact that China is far more of a geopolitical counterbalance than Russia is or is likely to be again.

    None of that matters to her. She believes everything bad in the world is America’s fault, and that we need to stop interfering in Russia’s affairs whatever the immediate and short-term consequences. It’s sad because she’s otherwise a well informed and robust supporter of progressive causes at home and abroad, and unlike many of the prominent tankies you see in the press, she has nothing to gain personally from it. I guess it shows the dangers of hide-bound black and white thinking — it makes it impossible to think in shades of grey even when the situation demands it.

  29. ardipithecus says

    @22

    Russia is an invader, they are not utilizing another entity as a proxy. A proxy war would be if, say, Belarus invaded Ukraine, with Russia supporting Belarus and NATO supporting Ukraine.

    The main reason NATO is supporting Ukraine instead of engaging the Russians directly is to keep nukes off the table.

  30. consciousness razor says

    numerobis:

    but can you remind me the last time the US invaded Ukraine and annexed its territory?

    Didn’t happen, obviously. I bet we would have, if the war machine thought it was important.

    Rob Grigjanis:

    Holy fuck, you just cannot bring yourself to ascribe any agency to Ukraine, can you (presumably that applies to the Baltic states, Poland, Czechia, etc)?

    I don’t know what you think their agency has to do with it, next to the US/NATO and Russia, but some Ukrainians certainly have been willing participants in this mess. That much is true, but I don’t see your point.

    Regarding the ‘coup’; have there, or have there not, been fair elections since then? Is Zelenskyy the legitimate elected President, or not?

    I doubt I know more than you do about it. What is clear is that it’s hardly been an ideal environment for democracy. That much seems like it should be uncontroversial. If that is the standard you accept, then so be it — it’s not like I’m saying we should’ve intervened or whatever anyway.

    In any case, I was focusing on what we can know about US actions over the last 30 or so years. I don’t understand why you would not want me to talk about that.

    Do you consider the overturning (aka theft) of the last presidential election in Belarus a coup? You know, the one in which Putin helped Lukashenko hang on to power illegally.

    Sure, but again, I don’t know much about it, certainly no first-hand knowledge.

    I fail to see how this could be relevant to anything that I said.

  31. tacitus says

    Besides the NATO shit, we also decided that we wanted to support the 2014 coup and install a Ukrainian regime that was more hostile to Russia and more friendly to us.

    That’s not what happened. Ukraine’s parliament voted 328 to 0 to remove Yanukovych out of office (over 72% of the full membership) after Yanukovych had fled to Russia and was deemed no longer able to act as president.

    “Given that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has restrained himself from performing his constitutional duties, which threatens the governance of the state, the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, large-scale violation of human rights and freedoms of citizens, and based on the circumstances of extreme urgency, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, by way of expressing the sovereign will of the Ukrainian people, has decided to remove Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych from office for neglecting his constitutional duties and scheduled an early presidential election in Ukraine for May 25, 2014,”

    You’re also ignoring the fact that however much “meddling” there was going on by the US behind the scenes, it wasn’t a patch on what Russia was doing to keep the undeniably corrupt and increasingly repressive Yanukovych in power.

    Despite what Trump and his acolytes would have you believe. There was no coup in Ukraine.

  32. raven says

    Russian rule, such as it is, has always been simple minded brutality and terror. This is just one example of millions of people who lived under Russian rule. Noteworthy because the worm turned and is now…the current Prime Minister of Estonia and a militant anti-Russia.

    Kaja Kallas is the daughter of Siim Kallas, who was the 14th prime minister of Estonia and later a European Commissioner.[2] During the Soviet deportations from Estonia, her mother Kristi, six months old at the time, was deported to Siberia with her mother and grandmother in a cattle car and lived there until she was ten years old.[3]

    Millions of people were rounded up and deported to the Russian Gulags in Siberia and many of those were never heard from again.

    Almost all the formerly captive peoples know or have heard of a family member or friend who was a victim of Russian rule. I’ve recently dealt with a few in the USA from Poland and the Baltics and more online from those places. They are scared and angry and they are going to fight any way they can. The Israelis have a saying for this. “Never again.”

    PS FWIW, the Russians haven’t changed their strategy at all. So far, they’ve deported 1.3 million Ukrainians, 240,000 of those being children. They have ended up at the ends of the earth, the high arctic and the Pacific coast. It’s likely many of those will just disappear and never be heard from again.

  33. consciousness razor says

    You’re also ignoring the fact that however much “meddling” there was going on by the US behind the scenes

    Much of it wasn’t behind the scenes at all….

    McCain’s relationship with the Ukrainian people blossomed in 2013, when McCain visited Kyiv at a volatile time when the government was violently cracking down on protesters.

    On Dec. 15, 2013, McCain spoke before a huge crowd of anti-government protesters in Kyiv’s Maidan Nezalezhnosti, or Independence Square…

    “People of Ukraine, this is your moment. This is about you — no one else. This is about the future you want for your country,” McCain told the protesters. “This is about the future you deserve. A future in Europe. A future of peace …

    “The free world is with you. America is with you. I am with you. And the destiny you seek lies in Europe. Ukraine will make Europe better, and Europe will make Ukraine better.”

    Around the same time, that asshole was also pushing for fun adventures in Syria, which had also been pumped up with arms and training and so forth, as we so often do. To him, I guess it was just another appetizer while we awaited the main course of Russia.

  34. says

    What is going on in Ukraine, is that we are fighting a proxy war with Russia where we hope to use the Ukrainian people instead of our people to destroy Russia as a viable large national entity which opposes our empire. Now the fact that Russia is run by nasty people doesn’t make that any different.

  35. raven says

    Troll

    What is going on in Ukraine, is that we are fighting a proxy war with Russia where we hope to use the Ukrainian people instead of our people to destroy Russia as a viable large national entity which opposes our empire

    Stupid and wrong.
    We aren’t marching through Russia, destroying their cities and stealing anything we can. I missed where we deported a million Russians to our Gulags in Alabama or Alaska.

    They are the aggressors in Ukraine.
    This whole war is one of the clearest cases of black and white we’ve seen in the last century.

    If the Russians lay down their arms, the war ends.
    If the Ukrainians lay down their arms, they end up genocided and disappear as a nation and people.

    I just recently ran into some of my old comrades from the Vietnam antiwar era. We’ve all been New Left antiwar SJWs for all our lives. It’s amusing that all of us are now Militant pro-Ukrainians.
    Anyone including Ukraine has the right and responsibility to defend themselves.

  36. raven says

    How common is fetal alcohol syndrome in Russia?
    According to published data, the prevalence of FASD in children from Russian orphanages is estimated to be between 30% and 66% [7]. A total of 90% of Russian women at fertile age consume alcohol and up to 20% continue to consume it during pregnancy.Feb 3, 2021

    Prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD … – NCBI

    Russia is a highly dysfunctional society even by the low standards of our current dystopian world. Putin is both a symptom and a cause.

    Listing all their problems would take pages.
    .1. Ethno-racism is ubiquitous.

    .2. Their school system isn’t very good. People in the area claim it collapsed about a decade ago from underinvestment and apathy. People in the area claim that the average Russian soldier can barely read and write. They are famous for digging trenches in the Red forest at Chernobyl, the radioactive wasteland. Most of them had never heard of Chernobyl and had no idea what a nuclear power plant meltdown is. Which most of the educated world knows about even if it is in an obscure place like Ukraine and happened thirty years ago.

    .3. The stereotype in the countries surrounding Russia is that they are all drunken orcs with low IQs. There is something to this.
    Alcohol use in Russia is very high and fetal alcohol syndrome is common. Studies have shown that 30-50% of their large orphan population suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome. This is a selected subset but it is likely that the prevalence of fetal alcohol syndrome in the general population is also quite high.

    I can’t blame them too much. If I was born in Russia, I’d probably drink a lot too.

  37. markgisleson says

    Raventroll:

    “I just recently ran into some of my old comrades from the Vietnam antiwar era. We’ve all been New Left antiwar SJWs for all our lives. It’s amusing that all of us are now Militant pro-Ukrainians.”

    While oddly all the Old Left, antiwar, Civil Rights protesters still alive in my crowd have been tsking about Maidan fascists for ten years, long before even Henry Kissinger’s hair caught on fire. But since we’re all socialists, I guess we should consider ourselves lucky that we’re still permitted to have opinions.

  38. Rob Grigjanis says

    markgisleson @38:

    I guess we should consider ourselves lucky that we’re still permitted to have opinions.

    What’s your opinion on the Pepe Escobar article I linked to in #10?

  39. whatmannerofloaf says

    @35
    “What is going on in Ukraine, is that we are fighting a proxy war with Russia where we hope to use the Ukrainian people instead of our people to destroy Russia as a viable large national entity which opposes our empire.”

    gross

    the ukrainians fighting against the russians may have stronger motives than ‘propping up us hegemony and making tankies look like idiots’, u know.

    also, all putin would have needed to do to make the us look like warmongering idiots would have been to keep his military on his own side of the border when our intelligence was sounding the alarm about an imminent invasion.

  40. markgisleson says

    I’ve read very little of Escobar although what I have read is mostly true if couched in very politicized and often deliberately antagonistic language.

    But if you are trying to learn more about a war, you have to read both sides, and you have to learn to filter the news. Everyone here does that, you have to. The news media is so wildly inconsistent (except when delivering propaganda) that you have to learn who you can trust and who you can’t. That’s hard work.

    The information being presented by the “pro-Russia” side (which is a weirdly loaded way of describing sources driven by the facts on the ground and not previous ideology) holds up. Almost all of them got the start of the war wrong, and almost all of them admitted it, upped their game, and have been cautiously accurately informative ever since despite the truly voluminous amount of anti-Russian propaganda Ukraine is cranking out.

    The Saker is a bit like Daily Kos for Europe (no link, my comments don’t show up when I use them but you can easily google this site). Andrei Martyanov is much testier, but in a genial old guy way and he’s very well informed about Russia, Ukraine and this war. For the anti-war Left, Moon of Alabama has always been a “go to” site for war and military news. Naked Capitalism has daily links to all kinds of good news stories. But with all these sites go in knowing in advance that these people have been reading the incredibly abusive “news” from the West and yes, you will have to suck it in and read some smack talk along with the news.

    Our conventional news sites stink. Corporations pick and choose our news and the opinions that get shared, and they are no longer worth having (much like the garbage products Corporate America loves to have China make for us).

    If you distrust mainstream news in any regard, think long and hard about whether you can trust them to tell you the truth about war. Especially a war involving a nation that many prominent American politicians (of both parties) have personally profited from.

  41. whatmannerofloaf says

    @41
    hahahahahaha, reading your stuff is like listening to ‘morpheus’ from ‘the matrix’ – only hes played by tommy wiseau

    also andrei matryanov blogs at unz – maybe u should rely on fewer holocaust deniers for world news?

  42. Rob Grigjanis says

    @41:

    I’ve read very little of Escobar although what I have read is mostly true if couched in very politicized and often deliberately antagonistic language.

    Very little? You seem quite admiring in this comment;

    https://thesaker.is/how-russia-will-counterpunch-the-u-s-eu-declaration-of-war/#comment-1033850

    Still, the bit about Russia totally defeating Ukraine in the first hour of the war (in the Cradle article) marked Escobar as a toadie who gets fed Russian bullshit and passes it on without question. That’s not “couched in very politicized and often deliberately antagonistic language”. It’s fucking dishonest crap.

  43. says

    @markgisleson you sound like you’re about a step away from calling the Russian invasion a “special military operation” to save Russia from a Nazi invasion.

  44. Rob Grigjanis says

    @41:

    If you distrust mainstream news in any regard, think long and hard about whether you can trust them to tell you the truth about war

    I’m guessing you’ve read very little of this blog. Mistrust of the mainstream media is a staple hereabouts. But if you think Escobar and his ilk (Gilbert Doctorow for one, and I’ve read many others) are any sort of remedy, you’re fooling yourself at least as much as you think we’re fooling ourselves.

  45. says

    You guys blaming this war on the USA make me want to puke. The USA is not perfect and deserves a fair share of criticism for what they have done, but this war is Russia’s doing, it is a genocidal war of conquest. Russian media has said so, for fuck’s sake! They are spouting bullshit about how Ukraine as a country should not even exist, how Ukrainians are not a nation with a right to self-determination and you motherfuckers have nothing better to do than to spout bullshit about how the Maidan Revolution was a USA-instigated coup or some similar. Whether or not the USA has played any role in the Maidan Revolution is only secondary to the fact that it was an uprising of the Ukrainian people against a tyrannical proto-dictator. Surely both the USA and Russia had secret services and moneyed interests in the region, and the Ukrainian people – using their own agency, something that both Russia and you, fuckers, are denying them – have decided that they do not want to be Russias vassals.

    Not everything in the world is the USA’s doing, People all around the world, including Ukrainians, are capable of deciding things for themselves. Blaming everything you do not like in the worls on the USA is just another form of American Exceptionalism.

    Even my little town, as far from Ukraine as possible and still being in CZ, has Ukrainian refugees. They are ubiquitous now.

    Shame on you, tankies, for finding excuses for a genocidal, fascist dictator..

  46. Rob Grigjanis says

    markgisleson: Regarding “the truth about war”. We’ll probably never know the full truth. Both sides use propaganda (duh!). But atrocities have been committed. Do you believe (as our esteemed commenter jrkrideau seems to) that Russia has been doing its best to avoid civilian casualties? That the atrocities which have been documented were false flag operations committed by Ukrainian forces (not sure what jrkrideau thinks about that)?

    Yes, wounded Russians have been murdered by Ukrainian soldiers. Yes, the Azov battalion has a very worrying history. But do your trusted sources also mention Bucha? The Wagner Group?

  47. markgisleson says

    Just laying down a marker here. A month from now remind me how crazy my sources are, and how wrong they’ve been.

    But if you can’t wait, Twitter froze my account almost three months ago. Feel free to see what I was tweeting then and then feel free to tell me how full of shit I was.

    It’s not even like I’m telling you what to believe. I’m just encouraging folks to read more but every time I do and on every site I do this, trolls come out and denounce my sources as unacceptable as if their approval is necessary for a news source to be valid.

    Well, at least the host has cleared me of the allegations of being a @#$! Macedonian.

  48. Rob Grigjanis says

    markgisleson @48: I like Macedonians (I think the correct term is now North Macedonian). They beat Germany (in Germany!) in the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup.

  49. KG says

    The most relevant questions for markgisleson, consciousness razor, Ronald Couch, are rather simple ones, which I very much doubt they will answer:
    1) Was the Russian invasion of Ukraine justified?
    2) Should Ukraine be provided with the weapons to resist that invasion.
    If the answer to (1) is “Yes”, or the answer to (2) is “No”, then whatever the justifications, obfuscations and distractions (Yes, I agree, NATO should have been disbanded when the USSR collapsed, Yes, I agree, Russia and the other successor states should have been helped not exploited, No, I agree, Ukraine is not a perfect, stainless, democratic victim), whatever their personal feelings, they are, objectively, supporters of Putin and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In short, Tankies. If as I suspect, they refuse to answer either question with a “Yes” or “No”, they are both Tankies and moral cowards.

  50. markgisleson says

    1) Was the Russian invasion of Ukraine justified?

    Yes. Wikipedia: “A casus belli (from Latin casus belli ‘occasion for war’; pl. casus belli) is an act or an event that either provokes or is used to justify a war.[1][2] A casus belli involves direct offenses or threats against the nation declaring the war, whereas a casus foederis involves offenses or threats against its ally—usually one bound by a mutual defense pact.[3][4] Either may be considered an act of war.[5] A declaration of war usually contains a description of the casus belli that has led the party in question to declare war on another party. ”

    This was casus foederis. The Azov battalion was shelling Russian-speaking parts of Ukraine (the breakaway republics), and the low estimate is 14,000 dead, including several hundred children.

    2) Should Ukraine be provided with the weapons to resist that invasion.

    Seems like Ukraine had all the arms they needed to start a war, and at this point in time the only thing more arms shipments will do is either force Russia to use more hypersonic missiles to destroy more arms depots or flood Europe and the Middle East with even more military grade weapons for terrorists to obtain.

    But I apologize for answering your question since I now see you’ve provided all the correct answers as well as the questions, and are now busy assessing my personal moral compass for having the effrontery to have a different and more factually based opinion on a matter neither of us are experts on.

    And if you disagree you’re a poopy head. /the end

  51. unclefrogy says

    does anyone really “win a war”? The war stops because one side or both stop fighting or agree to stop fighting. From my perspective it appears that winners and losers is more often determined in the “peace” that follows. In the decades that followed WWII it looks both Germany and Japan have achieved in large part the results they were seeking by starting a war except of course the political power of some small % of their elites some of the survivors how ever became very wealthy in the subsequent years.
    This war is as has been said above an imperial war promulgated by a self styled “New Peter The Great”. The russian people of course do the fighting and dying they mostly come as they have always have from the lower classes the poorer classes the peasants.
    In this case they only have naked ambition and greed as motivation
    and food for thought The U.S. forces took Fallujah and Saigon as well but do not hold them now. it turns out that taking and holding are different though if you kill all the inhabitants it is easier to hold the dirt

  52. Rob Grigjanis says

    @51:

    …busy assessing my personal moral compass for having the effrontery to have a different and more factually based opinion on a matter neither of us are experts on

    So, you’re not an expert, but you have more facts? Depends where you get your ‘facts’ from. Zelenskyy won the 2019 election. In Donetsk and Luhansk, he only got about 25% of the vote. Some people didn’t like that outcome, and protested. Russia responded by backing militant groups. Did you take these facts into account?

    In the prairie provinces of Canada, there is a movement to separate from Canada. They hate the Liberals, and Justin Trudeau especally. They are also “US English speakers”, pretty much. If the US provided military support to these groups, you would approve?

  53. KG says

    The Azov battalion was shelling Russian-speaking parts of Ukraine (the breakaway republics), and the low estimate is 14,000 dead, including several hundred children. – Tankie markgisleson

    You of course give no source for the “low estimate” “of 14,000 dead, including several hundred children.” The only source I have found with an estimate near that is Conflict-related civilian casualties in Ukraine issued by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on 20 January 2022. Despite the title, its “14,200-14,400” estimate includes military as well as civilian casualties. It covers both sides of the de facto frontier between Ukranian government-controlled and separatist/Russian controlled territory. It lists 4,400 members of Ukranian forces, and 6,500 members of “armed groups” (presumably “DNR” and “LNR” forces). A majority of civilian casualties in the most recent years (the ones for which a breakdown is given) were in the separatist territories. But what is most striking is the way civilian casualties have decreased over time. Of the 3404 recorded civilian deaths, 2084 occurred in 2014, 955 in 2015, 112 in 2016, 117 in 2017, 58 in 2018, 27 in 2019, 26 in 2020, 25 in 2021. There were 11 civilian deaths in the 6 months up to the end of January 2022. So from this evidence, while any fighting and particularly civilian deaths are unacceptable, the scale of the ongoing violence had greatly decreased, and at the point of the invasion came nowhere near justifying the huge slaughter and destruction that has resulted from the invasion.

    Seems like Ukraine had all the arms they needed to start a war

    But you have provided absolutely no evidence that they did so. Nor, to the best of my knowledge, has anyone else. With Russian forces on the frontier superior in numbers and weaponry to Ukranian forces – as clearly demonstrated by their ability to cross the frontier in several areas, and gain and hold significant territory in the south and east – they would clearly have been insane to do so. If you have sources for your 14,000 estimate that give a different breakdown (preferably between military and civilian, between the two sides, and over time), with evidence of how that breakdown was arrived at, or any actual evidence at all that Ukraine “started a war” in February 2022, you should provide it (in neither case will simple assertions do and nor, in the latter case, will the transfer of a large number of people from the DNR and LNR to Russia, since this could obviously be a mere ruse to cast the blame for a planned invasion on those being invaded). But I’d bet a considerable amount that you won’t, because you can’t.

  54. markgisleson says

    KG: But I’d bet a considerable amount that you won’t, because you can’t.

    Before I reply, can you give me a hint where the goal posts will be moved to after I respond? Or is this full on, no holds barred Calvinball?

  55. KG says

    Interestingly, even Sergei Lavrov (you know, the guy who thinks Hitler was part-Jewish), does not seem to be claiming that Ukraine “started a war” – and not just because the absurd official Russian line denies there is a war at all:

    “We’re not ashamed of showing who we are,” said Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in a new interview with the BBC. “We didn’t invade Ukraine, we declared a special military operation because we had absolutely no other way of explaining to the West that dragging Ukraine into NATO was a criminal act,” Lavrov said.

    So Lavrov’s excuse is the false claim that “the West” was “dragging Ukraine into NATO” – there was no near-term possibility of Ukraine becoming a NATO member, whether its government wanted it to or not. But we must give Lavrov credit for originality: I’ll bet no invader has ever previously described and justified invading a neighbour as “explaining” somethnig to a third party.

  56. KG says

    markgisleson@55,

    I did not move any goalposts. I asked you to justify specific factual claims that you made. If you can do so, go ahead and stop pissing about. If you can’t, be honest enough to admit it.

  57. John Morales says

    I think it’s pretty obvious what’s going on in Ukraine.

    Russia has tried to invade it, and worried neighbours and allies are providing support to Ukraine to resist the invasion.

    It’s not complicated.

    Russia started the war, Russia is prosecuting the war, Ukraine is resisting and surely appreciates the help being given.

    Again: Russia invaded Ukraine, not the other way around.
    Russia can continue its war of aggression, or it could stop.
    Ukraine could stop resisting the invasion (and stop existing, basically) or it can keep defending itself.

    Those are the evident and demonstrable facts.
    No matter how they’re spun, they tell their own story to anyone who cares to get it.

  58. jrkrideau says

    @ 3 markgisleson
    Clearly you must be wrong and a Putin puppet. You do not worship St. Zelenski.

    jrkrideau
    Rob Grigjanis’ favourite Canadian tankie

  59. John Morales says

    jrkrideau:

    Essentially the author is arguing that a lot of US retired generals who natter on are misunderstanding Russian tactics and approaches.

    Because US retired generals are prosecuting the war?

    The relevant consideration would be whether the Ukranian generals (not retired) are misunderstanding Russian tactics and approaches. Because, you know, they’re the ones actually fighting the war.

    (Duh)

  60. John Morales says

    Oh, right.

    Clearly you must be wrong and a Putin puppet. You do not worship St. Zelenski.

    Um, you forgot that it was supposed to be the USA that provoked and is continuing this war. Zelenski is just a puppet, in that narrative.

    (That’s the trouble with stupid contrafactual confabulations — all the incoherence)

  61. consciousness razor says

    #50:

    1) Was the Russian invasion of Ukraine justified?
    2) Should Ukraine be provided with the weapons to resist that invasion.

    No and no.

    Regarding #1, they were justified in seeing it (and our actions) as a serious threat, much like the US was during the Cuban missile crisis. We lost our fucking minds about it, and some of us still haven’t gotten over it 60 years later. Fortunately JFK found a different way that didn’t mean war (i.e., not a massive fucking failure, which wars are, including this one). Beyond that, our Cuba policy has otherwise been garbage, so please nobody think that I’m supporting any of that.

    whatever their personal feelings, they are, objectively, supporters of Putin and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In short, Tankies.

    A ridiculous assertion. I’m on whichever side it is that wants peace as soon as possible — the anti-war side or the diplomatic side, if you have to give it a name.

    That’s not the side of Putin, Biden, Zelenskyy, or any fucking tankie.

    I can tell you that my side has been losing. Part of the reason we’re so fucked is because people act like you could only support either the US or Russia. The sooner we all realize that they’re both shit and don’t need our fucking support, the better.

  62. John Morales says

    CR:

    I’m on whichever side it is that wants peace as soon as possible — the anti-war side or the diplomatic side, if you have to give it a name.

    Again:
    The only way Ukraine has of stopping the war is to yield and suffer the consequences of conquest.

    Russia, of course, could just stop attacking.

    (Notice the asymmetry?)

  63. John Morales says

    PS

    Part of the reason we’re so fucked is because people act like you could only support either the US or Russia.

    Well, at least you stick to the narrative. No St. Zelenski for you.

    Nevermind the actual reality that Russia is invading Ukraine, and perforce the two sides of the conflict are Russia and Ukraine.

    The USA is helping Ukraine, and you try to spin that as the USA is fighting Russia.

    Again again: If Russia’s forces stopped invading and went back home, the fighting would stop. So simple!

    Instead, you write as if the Ukraine should give up, become a province of Russia, so that the war would stop.

    (BTW, is that your advice for assault victims? Just give up and stop the struggle? Just submit?)

  64. consciousness razor says

    (Notice the asymmetry?)

    I do. I didn’t want my country fucking around with any of this in the first place. You’ll have to talk to somebody who actually supports that nonsense, which got us all into this mess. But that’s not me.

  65. John Morales says

    … and, to pre-empt another stupid claim, yes, the USA is seeking to benefit from this. Of course. If Russia wants to keep grinding Ukraine’s major cities to rubble as the only way to advance and conquer territory at the cost of much (but apparently not excessive) blood and treasure.

    A benefit that the USA could not be leveraging were it not that Russia invaded Ukraine, and keeps the attempted conquest going, to the detriment of not just its own people, but that of the entire world — with particular effect on some of the world’s poorest.

    Entirely due to Russia’s invasion and conduct.

    Where the blame lies is evident; who has the easiest path to peace is also evident.

    So far, Putin’s grandiose goal of expanding Russia as an empire again is the basic reason why this is happening. But that’s what dictatorships are like, so…

  66. John Morales says

    I didn’t want my country fucking around with any of this in the first place.

    Sure. Isolationism has been a thing in your country for a long time now, waning and fading.

    But sure, you didn’t want the USA to help Ukraine defend itself from invasion.

    Got it.

  67. consciousness razor says

    Instead, you write as if the Ukraine should give up, become a province of Russia, so that the war would stop.

    It’s none of my business what Ukraine does. That’s the point of the whole “stop meddling, the US shouldn’t act like the global police force” position, which you don’t seem to fully understand.

    And if you support that kind of thing, then why shouldn’t the US be intervening all the time in all sorts of other places too? When and where does it ever end?

    (BTW, is that your advice for assault victims? Just give up and stop the struggle? Just submit?)

    I’ve been one, so please shut the fuck up, John.

    Is it your advice that everyone should arm themselves to the teeth? How do you think that’s been going in my country?

    Or is it true that, when somebody is assaulted, then I have to send them my weapons? I mean, I don’t fucking have any weapons to send, but just suppose that I did.

  68. John Morales says

    It’s none of my business what Ukraine does. That’s the point of the whole “stop meddling, the US shouldn’t act like the global police force” position, which you don’t seem to fully understand.

    But the US isn’t acting like a global police force, is it?

    It’s acting like a friend, giving a heck of a lot of aid to help Ukraine defend itself.

    (If a cop sees a mugging, I very much doubt giving the victim a cosh with which to defend themself is what counts as “policing”)

    Boils down to this: whatever the past history, do you or do you not support the USA supporting Ukraine — not actually fighting, just providing military and humanitarian aid. Yes or no?

    (Also, have you forgotten the NATO treaty? I assure you Europeans haven’t)

    And if you support that kind of thing, then why shouldn’t the US be intervening all the time in all sorts of other places too?

    Ah, I see. This is the camel’s nose for you.

    If it helps defend Ukraine from invasion (and enrich the coffers of the military-industrial complex) this time around, who knows what other countries might it defend from invasion?

    So, the merits of the applicable circumstances are of no weight to your considerations, only that it might signal some sort of general policy henceforth.

    Right.

    When and where does it ever end?

    Yeah, help one person, help another, and before you know it everyone wants help. Got it.

    Point being, it would not have begun had not Russia invaded so rashly.

    (Which is vaguely amusing in that its salami tactics had worked hitherto)

    I’ve been one, so please shut the fuck up, John.

    Way to evade the import of the question with indignance.

    Not a ‘yes’, not a ‘no’, not a ‘depends’.

    Just indignance.

    Thing is, Ukraine is being assaulted right now, and the USA is giving it military aid right now.

    So (again), you think the USA should stop helping Ukraine defend itself?
    Right now?

  69. numerobis says

    Consciousness razor, like jrkrideau, clearly believes that genocide is totally OK as long as it’s not the US doing it.

  70. StevoR says

    @3. markgisleson : You’re confused because you’re reading Western propaganda which ain’t been right once yet

    Really? .

    Did youmis the whole Moskva warship sinking story and how each side initially put that? See :

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/?s=Moskva

    Also, out of curiousity, does AlJazeera count as Western propagnda / media inyour view?

  71. lasius says

    @ numerobis, John Morales and KG

    This is really pathetic. Yes, markgisleson’s take is generally stupid. But consciousness razor made some very good points and observations and all you can do is accuse him of condoning genocide and putting words in his mouth he never said. If you’re not with us you’re against us? Are you incapable of seeing nuance?

    Yes, it was Russia started this invasion. Yes, Putin is a shitheel. Yes, the casus belli is a sham, but when has that ever not been the case in the past 60 years? This is clearly a proxy war that is not only the result of Putin’s imperialist ambitions but also the desire of the American arms industry to keep a perceived enemy around after the cold war “ended” and the continued existance of NATO. Another sacrifice for the war industry.

    I am not rooting for any country, this isn’t a fucking game. I want this war to end as soon as possible, with as little casualties as possible. I support any humanitarian aid that can be sent to the people of Ukraine or the refugees, but as a pacifist I am and always was opposed to sending or selling weapons anywhere. The best solution is almost always a diplomatic one. But now this makes people who think like me believers in genocide and tankies.

    @birgerjohansson
    “If he is not stopped in Ukraine he will go after other nearby countries.”

    I aknowledge that I might eat my words in a few years, but what countries? Except for Moldova and Georgia all other countries in the vicinity are either in the EU, NATO or are already stooges of Putin.

  72. Rob Grigjanis says

    lasius @73:

    Except for Moldova and Georgia…

    Right. So if Putin at some point moves on those two countries, well, sucks to be them, I guess?

  73. says

    Hey Raven, I myself am a vet from SE Asia and anti war after I came back. I do not buy into the Just War Porn that is everywhere right now. Sorry.
    History: First in 2014 we instituted a coup that overthrew the possibly corrupt government in Ukraine that was a Russian ally and replaced it with our people in an election that did not permit certain parties to run. Second, they have been agreements negotiated that the West and NATO refused to live up to. Third, that doesn’t give Russia the right to invade, but it does give you a little background. So no I am not a troll, but I do recognize “Great State Politics” and how this is playing out again.

  74. KG says

    whatever their personal feelings, they are, objectively, supporters of Putin and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In short, Tankies. – Me

    A ridiculous assertion. I’m on whichever side it is that wants peace as soon as possible — the anti-war side or the diplomatic side, if you have to give it a name.

    That’s not the side of Putin, Biden, Zelenskyy, or any fucking tankie.

    I can tell you that my side has been losing. Part of the reason we’re so fucked is because people act like you could only support either the US or Russia. The sooner we all realize that they’re both shit and don’t need our fucking support, the better. – consciousness razor@63

    Typically dishonest garbage from a Tankie. There is not the slightest evidence that Putin is interested in any peace other than one that enables him to dominate Ukraine completely – remember that aside from the absurd lie that “denazification” of Ukraine is a war aim, the other is its “demilitarization” – meaning that if a rump Ukraine continued to exist, it would have no way to defend itself the next time Putin wants to extend his empire. Putin’s belief that Ukraine has no right to exist as an independent state, or Ukranians as members of an independent culture not under russian tutelage, is no secret: he announced it to the world in his pseudo-historical essay last year. So the only actually available quick way to peace is for Ukraine to surrender. Now if Ukranians had decided to do that, as Putin clearly expected (and I admit I thought they would have no chance if they resisted), that would have been entirely understandable, given the huge cost in lives and destruction Putin is imposing on them. (Just to remind you, it is Putin’s forces, not American ones, that are flattening Ukranian cities.) However, they didn’t; collectively, they decided to resist (we know this decision has clear majority support, because if it didn’t, resistance would quickly have collapsed). But you want to deny Ukranians any agency, pretending that they are mere puppets of the USA. Contrary to your lie, I don’t support the USA, I support the Ukranians, and in particular, progressive forces within Ukraine such as the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign, which has been working for years for Ukranian trade union and labour rights, and Ukranian anarchists. Both are fully behind the struggle against the invaders, and the calls for arms to resist them. I suppose you think they are just NATO’s and Biden’s stooges as well.

    Are you incapable of seeing nuance? – lasius@73

    Maybe you should ask that question of the inhabitants of the cities Russian artillery has flattened since 24th February (those still alive, that is). Insofar as consciousness razor has pointed out the USA’s and NATO’s part in bringing about the “underlying conditions” for the war (to borrow a term from Covid-19 discourse), I already agreed with him in my comment @50. Insofar as he wants to use this to deny the Ukranians any agency – and hence the weapons they need to resist the invasion – I’ve made my contempt clear.

    I want this war to end as soon as possible, with as little casualties as possible. I support any humanitarian aid that can be sent to the people of Ukraine or the refugees, but as a pacifist I am and always was opposed to sending or selling weapons anywhere. The best solution is almost always a diplomatic one. But now this makes people who think like me believers in genocide and tankies. – lasius@73

    Putin could end the war any day by withdrawing his troops. He almost certainly wouldn’t even have to evacuate the parts of Ukraine illegally annexed or occupied before 24th February. The Ukranians could end the war quickly by surrendering – although not the deaths, since it’s been made absolutely obvious in Russian propaganda that Ukranian culture would be suppressed and large numbers of Ukranians killed following such a surrender. You are apparently indifferent as to which of those ways the war ends – at least, you haven’t expressed any preference. I’d be very much in favour of Putin ending the war immediately; but the Ukranians must be the ones to decide whether to surrender, and as long as they decide not to, they need and deserve the arms necessary to resist. As a pacifist, you are in practice – whatever you may think – siding with Putin and Russian fascism. You are, objectively, pro-fascist.

    I notice that markgisleson has not responded to my #54 and #57. Presumably still looking for some actual evidence for the claims he made @51. I note, BTW, that in contrast to consciousness razor, markgisleson considers the Russian invasion justified. Any comment on that, consciousness razor, jrkrideau, Ronald Couch, lasius? Would you, for example, agree with me that markgisleson merits the designation “Tankie”?

  75. Rob Grigjanis says

    Ronald Couch @76: Some missing bits:

    Feb 2013: Ukrainian parliament overwhelmingly votes for an agreement with the EU.
    Nov 2013: President Yanukovych declines to sign the agreement.
    Protests follow.
    Feb 2014: Ukrainian parliament overwhelmingly votes to remove Yanukovych from office.

    It’s funny how some folk write as though Ukrainians don’t even exist (not even the MPs), or have agency (strangely agreeing with Putin, which I’m sure is just a coincidence). It’s all US skullduggery! Of course! The Ukrainians voting in Parliament simply must be US puppets, which translates into ‘coup’ (again, strangely agreeing with Putin).

  76. lasius says

    @KG

    “You are apparently indifferent as to which of those ways the war ends – at least, you haven’t expressed any preference.”

    I think my preference should be pretty apparent from what I have written.

  77. raven says

    Anastasiia Lapatina
    @lapatina_

    Russian occupants in #Mariupol prohibit children from speaking Ukrainian in schools, threatening that “there will be consequences” for them and their parents if they hear someone speak Ukrainian. That’s on top of removing all Ukrainian books, and introducing a Russian curriculum
    4:42 AM · Jun 16, 2022·Twitter for iPhone

    This is what genocide looks like up close.

    Already, most of the population of Mariupol have been deported to Russia, fled as refugees to the west, or been killed (estimated 20,000 dead civilians). They are now going to prohibit the Ukrainian language in schools and teach only in Russian using Russian textbooks.

    The Russians are imposing their language and culture on Ukrainians by force.
    Which shows well just how attractive Russian culture is.
    All the former captive nations around Russia hate them for good reasons and ran to the EU and NATO as fast as they could.

  78. lasius says

    @KG

    “As a pacifist, you are in practice – whatever you may think – siding with Putin and Russian fascism. You are, objectively, pro-fascist.”

    What a ridiculous notion. Every side in any war could claim that. I am against selling weapons to Turkey in ther war against the Kurds, so that makes me anti-fascist.

  79. KG says

    I think my preference should be pretty apparent from what I have written. – lasius@79,

    It isn’t.

    I am against selling weapons to Turkey in ther war against the Kurds, so that makes me anti-fascist.

    To be anti-fascist, you’d need to be in favour of arming the Kurds to defend themselves against Turkish fascism. Are you?

  80. lasius says

    “It isn’t.”

    You are dishonest. In my post, within the part you quoted even, I said I’d prefer that path of the fewest casualties.

    “To be anti-fascist, you’d need to be in favour of arming the Kurds to defend themselves against Turkish fascism. ”

    Says who?

  81. StevoR says

    @73. lasius :

    This is clearly a proxy war that is not only the result of Putin’s imperialist ambitions but also the desire of the American arms industry to keep a perceived enemy around after the cold war “ended” and the continued existance of NATO.

    As people upthread have already noted here; I don’t think “proxy war” is the correct term based on the fact that one side – Russia – is actively officially involved. A proxy war is when two sides use indirect proxies rather than being involved in a conflict directly. Russia is involved directly here therefore making this NOT a proxy war. It’s a Russian invasion with Ukraine being supported by the USA plus many others esp Europe and also OZ even including famously neutral Switzerland.

    See : https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-61320132

    Has Russia invaded Ukraine? Yes.
    Did Putin have a choice over whether or not to invade Ukraine? Yes.
    Could Ukraine have avoided being invaded by Putin’s Russia? Probly not – without giving up well, their existence as an independent nation & then being genocided and losing their identity.
    Did Ukraine & NATO do some things that annoyed Russia like choose have the Ukrainian people choose their own President and expand fuuncomfortably close? Yes.
    Could Putin have drawn back, not invaded, kept the status quo and been fine? Yes.
    Could Zelensky have given up, rolled over and just surrendered and then what would have happened? The end of Ukraine and its culture and people? Probly. That okay and ethical / acceptable? No. I don’t think so. Do you? Really?
    Is Putin’s justification for the horrendous invasion and all the war crimes and destruction and carnage that has come with it sufficient? No.
    Who wins? Nobody really.
    Have tens of thousands of people died and whole cities been destroyed because Putin disliked Ukraine’s independence and culture and democracy and refusal to not just do as he demanded? Yeah.
    Are Ukraine’s independence and even NATO’s expansion so much of a threat to Russia & its people’s as to justify what Putin ahs chosen to do here? No.
    Is Putin and his capitalist oligarchic, kakistocratic, neo-Tsarist comrades to blame here? Yeah.

    To those who say otherwise – and this one they can answer themselves – what would you have Zelensky & the Ukrainians do exactly? Oh & is it fair to ask it of them that they do what you might have them do?

    Am I belabouring this here and stating the obvs too much? Maybe but there still seem to be folks who don’t get it so how exactly can i put it so they do?

    @41. markgisleson : .”..my comments don’t show up when I use them but you can easily google this site.”

    That’s very odd. Links work for me and many others here. You should be able to add them so I wonder why not?

    @ 49. Rob Grigjanis : I like Macedonians (I think the correct term is now North Macedonian).

    Gather its controversial and depend s who youask but officially yes :

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Macedonia

  82. says

    Hay Rob,How would you react if the US congress would in 2025 vote to remove Biden from office? Cause that is going to be the way things can happen when the Republicans win a super majority. Look I understand that War Porn is just wonderful, but hey, try to be a little reserved.

  83. StevoR says

    @ ^ Incidentally, if folks want to answer any or all of the questions I put above differently please do – and please explain why with evidence too if you can. Could I be mistaken? Of course. Am I mistaken?

    @83. lasius :

    “To be anti-fascist, you’d need to be in favour of arming the Kurds to defend themselves against Turkish fascism.” (KG – ed)

    Says who?

    Said KG in comment #82. Can’t you read nymns here or something?

    Plus, y’know, most people who look at reality here.

    I mean I guess we can quibble about exactly how well and closely Erdogan’s Turkey meets the precise definition of “fascist” and how much fighting fascism depends on / requires physical violence ie war but really? We’d do that why and you are tying to change the topic exactly why?

  84. StevoR says

    @ 85. Ronald Couch : Huh. And to think I thought lasius was trying to change the topic here!

    Masturbatory unjustified, irrelevant and context dependent hypotheticals for the lose.

  85. Rob Grigjanis says

    Ronald Couch @85: I’m British/Canadian. My reaction would be irrelevant, and I’m not sure why you’re asking.

  86. StevoR says

    @79. lasius : “I think my preference should be pretty apparent from what I have written.”

    Well, yes, but then we did & are giving you a chance to write for yourself and you very likely won’t like the results if you leave it to some of us to conclude that on the basis of, well, what you’ve typed & what you are seemingly defending so far.

    I.e. Er, your preference is for Putin to win and Ukrainans to be genocided and lose their independence and separate identity and for Putin to be empowered to keep reconquering the old Tsarist empire & expanding brutal, murderous Russian totlitarianism? Is that your preference? If not, maybe say so, provide your ideal solution here and explain how that happens given things are what they now are.

  87. Tethys says

    The Azov Battalion is a strange example to use to justify the Russian invasion. Whatever they may have been in the past (which is not clear cut except for some of their tough guy/ scary Nazi symbolism), they are now the group that dug in and defended Mariupol against Russia.

    I’m still waiting for a reputable source to support the claims made about them. There is plenty of rumor, and propaganda, but not much in the way of evidence about Azov pre-invasion.

    If markgliesons links aren’t posting, it may be because the source itself is on a block list.

  88. lasius says

    @StevoR
    You too are dishonest. Obviously the version with the least casualties would be an immediate Russian withdrawal, how unlikely that may be.

    I am not trying to defend Russia, this war is indefensible. I don’t know why people here always claim things nobody has said. I’ve just learned that pacifism equates faschism. Well if that is your opinion there’s nothing left to argue.

  89. says

    If Trump gets into office in 2025 he’ll throw the Ukrainians to the wolves. He’s also likely to pretty much do the same thing to any Baltic country the Russians might decide to threaten. Will someone like DeSantis do the same thing? I haven’t got a clue.

  90. lasius says

    “A proxy war is when two sides use indirect proxies rather than being involved in a conflict directly. Russia is involved directly here therefore making this NOT a proxy war.”

    It’s enough if one side is a proxy. The Vietnam war was a proxy war, the Soviet–Afghan War was a proxy war.

  91. Rob Grigjanis says

    timgueguen @92: The worst Trump could do is pull the US out of NATO. Believe it or not, the remaining NATO countries (even excluding Turkey) are quite capable of defending their territory.

  92. says

    @lasious, you say you are a pacifist and both against genocide and against giving people being subjected to genocide to be given the only available help.

    In other words, you are either a coward, or an idiot, or both. Because this form of pacifism does not work when faced with an aggressive enemy who does not respect it. Putin has made it abundantly clear that diplomatic solution is not possible. His idea of dialogue is “agree with me” and his idea of compromise is “give me what I want or else”.

    The only way to help the Ukrainians that does not involve third party getting involved in the war is to give them the weapons they need to defend themselves. I get the kind of pacifism that does not want western armies to get directly involved since it would escalate the conflict greatly.

    But a conscious decision to not give Ukrainians the arms they need is not just a lack of action, it is an active choice not to help them and thus it supports the genocide. You are supporting the genocide, no matter how much you squirm and turn. Sending humanitarian help only is useless to people who are being shelled by artillery with no means to stop it.

  93. lasius says

    @Charly
    Now this is an actual argument, instead of just falsely assuming my position. Well, call me a coward then if you must.

  94. jack lecou says

    CR @22:

    We’ve been the only real superpower since then, but we chose not to use any of it for good. We decided that NATO would not only continue to exist, for no good reason, but also that it would expand more and more toward Russia. Instead of making Europe safe, we guaranteed that decades later it still has to rely on our constantly-growing military and its absurd budget “for defense,” but our military and the warmongers in DC have never understood what the word “defense” even means, much less how to actually do it.

    This is some ahistorical nonsense. Ignorant bordering on dishonest. Simply declaring that these events occurred “for no good reason” (implying, really, not ‘no reason’, but rather that it was all just reflexive anti-Russian bullying and/or a conspiracy of western arms manufacturers or something) does not make it so.

    If one were actually interested in understanding the reasons that member nations found it convenient for the NATO alliance to continue to exist, or why additional countries, especially from the former Soviet sphere, might have desired to join it… well, the answers are actually readily available.

    One might reflect, for example, on why countries with a decades long history of cooperation might wish to continue with a productive alliance rather than simply dissolve the partnership overnight. That far from “not knowing how to defense”, NATO represented (and still represents) one of the most successful defensive alliances ever recorded. Or we might consider how leaders at the time might have thought that the kind of inter-force standardization (on e.g., ammunition and communications) that NATO facilitated might continue to be useful in an (anticipated) coming era of cooperation on regional peacekeeping and the like.

    One might also want to ponder more deeply about what the somewhat misleading phrase “NATO expansion” actually entails — noting that it is not some kind of process of unilateral conquest where territory is expanded, but rather a voluntary alliance to which prospective members must actively petition for membership, and to which existing members tend to only reluctantly acquiesce.

    That might then lead one to ask why, to take just one example, Hungarian citizens would be voting so overwhelmingly in favor of NATO membership in 1997, given that there was “no good reason” for it anymore. One might be forced to concede that declaring all such demonstrations of democratic will to be a “CIA plot” or whatever — as Putin might — is probably not really an adequate explanation. An honest inquiry into the question might even lead one to ask what, e.g., the Hungarians themselves might have had to say about the matter, which might in turn lead one to some uncomfortable questions about, among other things, Russian activities around that time in, oh, say, Chechnya, and why those activities might have been a matter of some slight concern to populations with a living memory of tanks rolling into their capitals in order to impose Moscow’s will.

    In short: the pretense that this sequence of events was all just somehow about the United States unilaterally expanding NATO for “no good reason” (or just to be mean to poor old Russia) is absolutely insupportable. Learn some goddamn history.

    Besides the NATO shit, we also decided that we wanted to support the 2014 coup and install a Ukrainian regime that was more hostile to Russia and more friendly to us. You know: “democracy,” the usual style that we recklessly spread around the globe, then promptly forget about in order to do more shopping.

    I urge you to consider the remote possibility that Ukrainians themselves might actually have their own opinions about what they’d like their relationships to Russia and the West to be, as well as the right to express those opinions, even to the extent of choosing their own leaders if necessary. Also that the concept of democracy — notwithstanding the indignities it oftens suffer at the hands of the powerful — is a real thing we should aspire to foster and recognize, however and wherever it manifests.

  95. jack lecou says

    Ronald Couch @85:

    Hay Rob,How would you react if the US congress would in 2025 vote to remove Biden from office? Cause that is going to be the way things can happen when the Republicans win a super majority. Look I understand that War Porn is just wonderful, but hey, try to be a little reserved.

    I’m assuming this is an allusion to the removal of Yanukovych in 2014, with the implication being that removing a leader is never legitimate somehow.

    But that’s obviously silly. Congress does indeed have the power to remove a President from office, more or less anytime it wants. As the people’s representatives should do. The only thing that should give us any pause there is that in this particular case, the institution of the US Congress is not particularly (small d) democratic. A party line vote to remove Biden could conceivably leave the majority of actual Americans on the wrong side of it (given how many votes Republicans wield based on empty prairie and oddly drawn congressional districts).

    I don’t think similar concerns really apply in the Euromaidan — that a popular majority of Ukrainians were/are in favor of closer ties to the EU is barely disputed, even by tankies and the Kremlin. (Instead, it is simply insinuated that the majority are foolish dupes of the State Department or something, and their big brothers in Moscow actually know what’s best for them.)

  96. unclefrogy says

    @97
    you know the active critics the “true pacifists” and all the others who want peace at all costs are not going to do any of that looking at history and real circumstances they have the beliefs about the bad USA is the cause of all the evil or their patronage to consider.
    “turn the other cheek” is fine it gives you the higher moral position and makes a short message on your head stone

  97. Tethys says

    Disney films are clearly one of those pernicious Western influences that Putin keeps ranting about. Never mind that it’s a modern day reworking created from mixing and matching bits of ancient folk tales that are found across the whole region from Europe to the Russian steppe.

    I am sure everyone in that bunker would prefer peace, but it’s a moot point if the invader prefers attempting to reduce you to bloody rubble.

  98. John Morales says

    DanDare, alas!

    World-wide supply chain disruptions. Right now.
    World-wide price spikes in coal, gas, fuel oil, edible oil, grains. Right now.
    Countries going under, millions starving. Right now.

    All because Russia is beholden to Putin, and Putin feels grandiose.

    Reality.

    (If only Russia had been opposed back when its salami tactics were working!)

  99. StevoR says

    @91. lasius : How am I being dishonest? My point in #89 was that you not stating your preference in #79 means that others will then assume it based on what you’ve written and that could likely be the assumption you’d least want people making. Also what Charly #95 wrote.

    Obviously the version with the least casualties would be an immediate Russian withdrawal, how unlikely that may be.

    Putin could end this war – his invasion of Ukraine – any time. Putting him and Russia under economic and diplomatic pressure to do so may well speed that up.

    Ukraine is fighting for its survival and defending their own territory so they don’t really get that choice. Surrender and they face genocide as Russian war crimes and tactics already make clear along with Putins refusal to accept Ukraine’s separate political and cultural identity.

    Its also possible that other Russians could end the war by ending Putin’s regime from within then having the new regime end the war and hold Putin and his cronies accountable. That would perhaps be the most ideal solution.

    It could also be that the rumours – which may be just wishful thinking – that Putin is seriously or terminally ill are correct and he dies of natural causes. Whether Putin’s successor would then see sense and end the war or be keen to carry on where Putin left off I don’t know.

    @93. lasius : “It’s enough if one side is a proxy. The Vietnam war was a proxy war, the Soviet–Afghan War was a proxy war.”

    Okay. That’s true and a fair point.

  100. John Morales says

    StevoR, I do get the intent of your inadvertent weak rally, but let me address it briefly:

    @93. lasius : “It’s enough if one side is a proxy. The Vietnam war was a proxy war, the Soviet–Afghan War was a proxy war.”
    Okay. That’s true and a fair point.

    One that Russia also started — oh, sorry, the Soviet Union, not Russia.

    This particluar war is not between Russia and Ukraine, it’s between Russia and the USA. Which to people of your caliber is a fair point, stupid as it may be.

    Gotcha.

    In short, you concede that you think that Ukraine is a proxy for the USA.

    (So feeble!)

  101. Silentbob says

    Just to give all the geopolitical geniuses in this thread some perspective, the distance from Moscow to Ukraine is less than the distance from Tampa, Florida to Cuba.

    But sure, only a moustache twirling villain would be concerned about the proximity of a hostile nuclear power to their nation’s capital, right?

    Not defending Putin people, saying pot meet kettle.

  102. John Morales says

    Silentbob:

    … the distance from Moscow to Ukraine is less than the distance from Tampa, Florida to Cuba.

    In terms of physical displacement, sounds plausible; on the other hand, after this invasion, I reckon the distance from Moscow to Ukraine (in terms of amicability) has become far greater. Justified hatred has been engendered.

    Kinda like the Great Patriotic War was to Russia is this war to Ukraine.

    It will finish forging and cementing their national identity.

    But sure, only a moustache twirling villain would be concerned about the proximity of a hostile nuclear power to their nation’s capital, right?

    Not defending Putin people, saying pot meet kettle.

    Actually, Ukraine used to be a nearby nuclear power.

    Signed all their nukes away for a promise from Russia that it would be left alone.

    (As we’ve seen, that was naive)

  103. John Morales says

    <clickety-click>

    Yup. I have not misremembered.

    “In February 2016, Sergey Lavrov claimed, “Russia never violated Budapest memorandum. It contained only one obligation, not to attack Ukraine with nukes.”[37] However, Canadian journalist Michael Colborne pointed out that “there are actually six obligations in the Budapest Memorandum, and the first of them is ‘to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine'”. Colborne also pointed out that a broadcast of Lavrov’s claim on the Twitter account of Russia’s embassy in the United Kingdom actually “provided a link to the text of the Budapest Memorandum itself with all six obligations, including the ones Russia has clearly violated – right there for everyone to see.” Steven Pifer, an American diplomat who was involved in drafting the Budapest Memorandum, later commented on “the mendacity of Russian diplomacy and its contempt for international opinion when the foreign minister says something that can be proven wrong with less than 30 seconds of Google fact-checking?”[38] Russia argued that the United States broke the third point of the agreement by introducing and threatening further sanctions against the Yanukovych government.”

    (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budapest_Memorandum_on_Security_Assurances#History)

  104. jack lecou says

    @107:

    Just to give all the geopolitical geniuses in this thread some perspective, the distance from Moscow to Ukraine is less than the distance from Tampa, Florida to Cuba.
    But sure, only a moustache twirling villain would be concerned about the proximity of a hostile nuclear power to their nation’s capital, right?

    I suspect Russia has the ability to position its nuclear weapons much closer to Kyiv than all the way up in Moscow. Or is that not what you meant?

    (Also, apropos of nothing, just idling looking at a map, it looks like the range from Kaliningrad to capitals such as Berlin, Riga, Warsaw or Copenhagen appears to be rather shorter than the distance between Kyiv and Moscow. Lots of NATO territory inside a range of about 500km, even. Funny how that doesn’t seem have to been a casus belli, eh? Or even much of a fuss? Golly. geopolitics is just such a gosh darned mystery.)

  105. lotharloo says

    @consciousness razor

    This is a proxy war between the US and Russia, and the US is not the underdog. Unfortunately, Ukraine has just been one of our pawns this whole time. It’s currently being sacrificed. We’re not making it a queen.

    Man arriving at such a stupid opinion is honestly an accomplishment. You do realize that Russia started the war, it is the Ukrainians fighting the war, it is the Ukrainians planning, leading and executing their side of the war, and that US is giving them a fraction of the equipment Ukrainians are asking for, right?

  106. jack lecou says

    @93. lasius : “It’s enough if one side is a proxy. The Vietnam war was a proxy war, the Soviet–Afghan War was a proxy war.”

    I’d agree that only one side needs to be a proxy. The problem is that to be a “proxy”, a party has to be acting at the instigation of</> the external party. Merely receiving aid and assistance doesn’t qualify.

    For example, nobody calls the hostilities between Germany and Britain from 1939 to 1941 a “US proxy war”, even though the US was providing Britain with significant material assistance. That’s because it was a fight that would have been happening regardless — the US was obviously just providing aid to an ally that needed it, not asking them to initiate conflict on its behalf.

    AFAICT, that’s a pretty accurate description of what’s happening in Ukraine as well: A war where one side has asked the US (and others!) for help. Not a proxy war.

  107. jack lecou says

    (Whoops. Must have f’ed the /i tag up. Sorry. Hopefully the point is still clear.)

  108. StevoR says

    FWIW. Wikipedia lists the current Russian invasion of Ukriane as a proxy war here :

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_proxy_wars#Modern_proxy_wars

    Plus defines Proxy war thus :

    A proxy war is defined to be “a war fought between groups of smaller countries that each represent the interests of other larger powers, and may have help and support from these”.

    At the top of that linked wikipage.

    @106. John Morales : Well, when it comes to defining a proxy war and it NOT meaning both parties need to be acting through proxies #93. lasius was correct and my #84 wasn’t. Guess that was ambiguous.

    @107.Silentbob : “Just to give all the geopolitical geniuses in this thread some perspective, ..”

    Sarcastically, implying the rest of us aren’t geopolitical genii I gather yet can we ask what particular expertise or authority you have in the field here to supposedly know so much better than us other commenters?

    But sure, only a moustache twirling villain would be concerned about the proximity of a hostile nuclear power to their nation’s capital, right?

    As already noted by John Morales, Ukraine explictly wasn’t a nuclear power having surrendered its nuclear WMDs to Russia in exchange for a peace treaty. I also don’t think its fair to call Ukraine “hostile” here implying Russia feared Ukaine would attack it given the ir comparative military strengths and forces and well, geoplotical reality.

    If you meant NATO, well, Ukraine isn’t a NATO member and even if it became one that isn’t sufficient in my view to justify a military invasion in response. Is it your view that it would be sufficient jutification for war Silentbob?

    Vladimir Putin is no moustache twirling villian obvs. He lacks the moustache. He does, however, act awfully like a real life, much nastier evil dictator type villain who murders political opponents, seeks power and conquest, is a homophobic bigot and, oh yes, invades neighbouring countries seeking to take them over and make them part of his authoritarian empire. Georgia as well as Ukraine plus turning Belarus into a client puppet state.

    Not defending Putin people, saying pot meet kettle.

    If you have to pre-emptively say that you’re not defending Putin because you think people think you have been and are defending Putin, maybe, here’s a thought, you should reconsider whether you actually are defending Putin?

    Also “pot meet kettle” implying that there’s some sort of comparable parity between Ukraine being a pro-Western independent democratic natio rather than run by a corrupt Russian puppet dictator
    ( https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/25/viktor-yanukovych-ukraine-corruption-mikheil-saakashvili ) and an actuall brutal miltary invasion including warcrimes and arguably genocide. Seriously?

  109. lotharloo says

    @StevoR:

    FWIW. Wikipedia lists the current Russian invasion of Ukriane as a proxy war here

    Wow, such authority.

    Plus defines Proxy war thus :

    Did you actually fucking read the definition? Or did you just miss the obvious fact that it contradicts how Ukraine-Russia war is progressing?

    a war fought between groups of *smaller* countries that each represent the interests of other *larger powers*, and may have help and support from these

    Unless you think Russia is fighting Ukraine on behest of the bigger “Interstellar Trade Federation”, the definition does not clearly apply to Russia-Ukraine conflict.

  110. John Morales says

    StevoR:

    @106. John Morales : Well, when it comes to defining a proxy war and it NOT meaning both parties need to be acting through proxies #93. lasius was correct and my #84 wasn’t. Guess that was ambiguous.

    It’s worse than ambiguous; it’s irrelevant.

    The two combatants at hand are Russia and Ukraine.

    (Trust me, it would be evident if NATO and/or the USA actually became combatants)

    Anyway, I take this opportunity to adduce this video from mid-April: History Summarized: Ukraine by Overly Sarcastic Productions. Informative.

    (A rather good channel, IMO)

  111. John Morales says

    It’s bleeding obvious.

    Russia could use its nukes and fuck everything up (itself worst, of course), or it could lose any conventional war against NATO or against the USA. Either or both would be more than enough.

    It ain’t a superpower, it can’t even invade its small neighbouring state.

    Such stupidity! Russia gains absolutely nothing from this, and it fucks up its economy and its relationship with developed countries big-time. And fucks up the economies of multiple countries (e.g. Sri Lanka) in the process. And causes starvation around the world.

    (Pretty obvious Russia could do itself a big favour, and stop this madness.
    Still, Putin abides. To Russia’s detriment)

    Basically, there can be no clearer example of a ‘baddie’ than Russia right now.

    All for an ageing man’s ego.

  112. otranreg says

    Putin may have imagined nazis in Ukraine (even though no one somehow remembers Poroshenko and his 2015 tightening of the screws on ethnic minorities anymore), but hoo boy has his invasion made your typical russophobes and Nazi ‘ganda parrots really, really happy (though, ironically, most of them would’ve been considered Untermenschen themselves). Of course it’s hordes or orcs from the east! Uncle Joseph would’ve been so proud!

    One shining example that’s shown up on Pharyngula is the clueless nobody called Adam Something. Remember his ‘let’s nuke ’em it’s all gonna be alright’ nonsense? It’s all to punish the ‘orcs’, and nothing else, and he’s much less mask-off in his more recent oeuvre.

    It’s really disappointing to see ethnic bigots like Raven here, of all places, getting a full platform without so much as a callout (give another read to #37. Replace ‘Russians’ with any other people and squint as necessary, if biased).

  113. otranreg says

    Re: OP. Ukraine wants to join the EU, because it’ll let its citizens emigrate easily to places with higher salaries (up until recently, Russia was the biggest target for Ukraininan migration. Moldova even more so), and give its bureaucrats juicy 85%/15% grants for them to largely pocket through various schemes. All for a few neolib reforms, essentially nothing.

    As an EU citizen, I really hope the Scholz/Macron Ukrainian visits and promises are just that, a smoke screen to calm some of the lib middle-class frothing at the shrine that Ukraine has become in their countries. I wish Ukraine the best, and as much peace as it can muster, but the country is a horrible mess even without the war, and its joining the EU would mean the EU getting another Poland (which apparently is building its national identity around a fucking brown coal plant), except bigger, poorer, more corrupt and chaotic. And then add the war, which EU (or Nato, for that matter) membership wouldn’t stop, and would just drag more countries in.

    Some of the Balkan nations, like Albania or North Macedonia (which have been candidates for almost two decades), are far more deserving and manageable as members of the Union. Heck, kick out Erdogan, and Turkey (also a candidate, for a while now) would be a far better choice.

    Thankfully, the candidate status is no more than a diplomatic carrot to dangle in front of people’s faces, and the EU leadership aren’t complete idiots.

    Plus, the EU should be reformed before it ever expands again in the first place, like changing the way the European Commission is formed, and dropping some of the neolib economic horseshit from the Maastricht Treaty.

  114. raven says

    Stupid Russian troll:

    It’s really disappointing to see ethnic bigots like Raven here, of all places, getting a full platform without so much as a callout (give another read to #37.

    Yeah, the current Russian government are the inheritors of the Nazi crown.
    And by all accounts Russia is a seriously dysfunctional place with a seriously warped culture.
    I have absolute contempt for Russian trolls like you as well.

    So what.
    You and Russia have earned it by slaughtering tens of millions over the last century, mostly because they weren’t Russians.
    A list of Russian atrocities would take pages and pages.
    But we don’t need to bother.
    The last 115 days of the current invasion and occupation of Ukraine shows Russian culture at its worst.
    The invading army is mostly of horde of raping looters committing war crimes on a routine basis. Wherever the occupiers have been, there are mass graves of civilians.
    1.3 million Ukrainians have been deported to the Russian Gulags, including 240,000 children.

    It’s not just myself that has pure contempt for Russia. It’s almost the whole civilized world.

  115. raven says

    Stupid Russian troll:

    (give another read to #37.

    By all means, please do so.
    It is based on well known facts, some of them from Russian sources themselves.

    Indoor Plumbing Still a Pipe Dream for 20% of Russian …https://www.themoscowtimes.com › News

    Apr 2, 2019 — After gradually climbing to 78 percent in 2017, the latest data indicates that the share of Russian households with indoor plumbing slightly …

    Outside of the two cities, Moscow and Saint Petersburg, Russia is decidely Third World. 20% of the people don’t even have indoor plumbing.

    The soldiers they are sending to Ukraine are the bottom of their society. Nearly illiterate poor kids from the hinterlands, and not from the imperial cities. They are also despised minorities, mostly Dagestanis, Mongolians (Buryats), and Chechens.

    5 Million Russian Citizens Left Russia Under Putin – The …https://www.themoscowtimes.com › News

    Oct 13, 2021 — “Sausage emigration” is a term often used to describe the Soviet migrants of the late 1980s and early 1990s who moved to the West to escape …

    Not all Russians are drunken orcs, dreaming a looting a washing machine from Ukraine after raping a few kids.
    The educated are fleeing Russia by the millions.
    “Following the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, more than 300,000 Russian citizens and residents are estimated to have left Russia by mid-March 2022 as …”
    The young and educated also mostly despise Putin and think the Ukraine invasion is both a horrible mistake and an atrocity.

    In the dysfunctional, murderous kleptocracy that is Russia, these are your choices.
    If you are smart and lucky, get out and go anywhere you can.
    Or stay in Russia, shut up, wave the flag, and numb your mind with vodka and drugs.

  116. Rob Grigjanis says

    otanreg @119:

    no one somehow remembers Poroshenko and his 2015 tightening of the screws on ethnic minorities anymore

    That has actually come up in previous threads. Should it be mentioned in every Ukraine thread? Please provide a list topics which you think “no-one remembers any more”.

    One important detail that I think might be stressed a bit more is the number of Russian-speakers who identify and resist/fight as Ukrainians.

  117. Tethys says

    Ethnic bigots? I think it’s obvious that people can despise the man who wants to be Czar for his fascism, and generally being a POS.

    NOBODY likes Russia, because of very good reasons like history, and genocides (plural), and rattling their nukes at the world if they don’t get to invade and colonize their neighbors.

  118. jack lecou says

    StevoR @115:

    FWIW. Wikipedia lists the current Russian invasion of Ukriane as a proxy war here :
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_proxy_wars#Modern_proxy_wars
    Plus defines Proxy war thus :
    A proxy war is defined to be “a war fought between groups of smaller countries that each represent the interests of other larger powers, and may have help and support from these”.A proxy war is an armed conflict between two states or non-state actors which act on the instigation or on behalf of other parties that are not directly involved in the hostilities.

    Wikipedia elsewhere defines a proxy war as “an armed conflict between two states or non-state actors which act on the instigation or on behalf of other parties that are not directly involved in the hostilities,” which is a formulation that I think is more useful.

    The issue is that the phrase “proxy war” often has a pejorative or dismissive connotation. It evokes, e.g., the nasty little civil conflicts provoked or perpetuated by great powers in the colonial period, or during the Cold War. Certainly that’s how consciousness razor was originally trying to employ it @22 in reference to Ukraine — the implication is that the current Ukrainian conflict is purely a creature of US foreign policy, that everything would be rainbows and unicorns if it were not for US foreign policy, and perhaps the self-interest of some local elites.

    But — as has been exhaustively pointed out here and elsewhere — the facts needed to properly support the pejorative implication are not in evidence, or even contradicted by evidence of, e.g., Ukrainian public opinion.The basic outline is really only that Russia invaded Ukraine (with a revolving array of incoherent justifications and excuses) and that the US, Europe (and Argentina, Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, Vatican City, and…) are providing aid to the latter. There is some alignment of interests between those parties and Ukraine, of course, but that’s what we must expect in any alliance, proxy or otherwise. (And it’s worth noting that least some of this alignment is post facto — there’s a nigh universal interest in crippling Russia’s ability to project military power now, but that has cohered so firmly only because of its demonstrated recklessness in Ukraine.)

    In short, if we want to define the Ukraine conflict as a “proxy war” we certainly can, but it can only be so in a much broader sense which necessarily robs the phrase of most of the pejorative sting.

  119. raven says

    Russians set up 20 filtration camps and prisons in the occupied territories
    Ivan Boyko 05:58, 06/17/22 Unian.net
    The head of the Ukrainian mission to the OSCE also spoke about cases of torture, gender-based violence, and kidnapping.

    The Russian invaders created at least 20 filtration camps and prisons in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.

    According to Ukrinform , this was stated by Ukraine’s Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna Yevhen Tsymbalyuk at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council.

    “There are still many places where crimes do not stop. At least 20 filtration camps and prisons have been identified in the occupied territories,” he said.

    The Ukrainian ambassador recalled the Izolyatsia prison in occupied Donetsk – “we are very well aware of the horrors that are happening there.”

    “And so we must stop Russia from spreading this prison throughout Ukraine,” Tsymbalyuk stressed.

    The head of the Ukrainian mission to the OSCE also spoke about cases of torture, gender violence, kidnapping, which became “part of the Russian policy of mockery of the inhabitants of the occupied territories of Ukraine.”

    “So far, Kherson and Zaporozhye regions, according to human rights activists, are among the leaders in terms of the number of abductions by the Russian military in Ukraine,” the ambassador said, citing a number of examples.

    Earlier it was reported that in Energodar, Russians abducted 20 people in a week, half of them were employees of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant.

    Here is yet again, another reason why Russia is a dysfunctional failed nation.

    They’ve been setting up concentration camps that they call “Filtration camps” in both Russia and occupied Ukraine.
    In the ones in Russia, the people who failed filtration were simply taken out and killed.

    Putin’s playbooks aren’t very original.
    He wants to recreate the USSR. Because it was such a successful and pleasant place to live. So great that they had fences to keep the people from leaving, the Iron Curtain. They’ve got the Gulags and the knock on the door at 2:00 AM, you disappear, and nobody ever sees you again.
    The other one is straight from the Nazis. Genocide, concentration camps, mass graves, the Gestapo, slave laborers.

  120. KG says

    In my post, within the part you quoted even, I said I’d prefer that path of the fewest casualties. – lasius@83

    True, you did. I concede that you implied a preference for Putin simply withdrawing. But you could have made it a lot clearler by simply stating that preference. And since it’s not going to happen, your opposition to supplying the Ukranians with arms to resist the fascist invasion amounts to siding with Putin and the invaders.

    I don’t know why people here always claim things nobody has said. I’ve just learned that pacifism equates faschism [sic]. – lasius@91

    Which, of course, nobody has said. What I have said, and repeat, is that in this situation, a pacifism that refuses arms to the victims of fascism is objectively pro-fascist, i.e., is enabling, siding with, fascism. And in case anyone thinks “fascism” is over-stating things, they should read this translated article from Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti. (I can’t read Russian, but there is a link to the original, so anyone who can will be able to check that the translation is accurate.)

  121. StevoR says

    @116. lotharloo – 18 June 2022 at 6:07 am

    @StevoR: FWIW. Wikipedia lists the current Russian invasion of Ukriane as a proxy war here

    Wow, such authority.

    Huh. I do actually really like Wikipedia at least as a good first port of call for stuff. I know it has its flaws and detractors but I’ve usually found it to be pretty good – useful and informative. I’m not going to turn my nose up at it even if it isn’t exactly the most academically superior of sources. I’m not going to rely on it 100% and I do accept that it can be wrong at times too tho’. Like all sources it has its biases and strengths and weaknesses. It does also generally show what the broad consensus of opinion is I think?

    Did you actually fucking read the definition? Or did you just miss the obvious fact that it contradicts how Ukraine-Russia war is progressing?

    I did read the definition, yes. Maybe I should have thought about it more..

    ‘”.. a war fought between groups of *smaller* countries that each represent the interests of other *larger powers*, and may have help and support from these

    Unless you think Russia is fighting Ukraine on behest of the bigger “Interstellar Trade Federation”, the definition does not clearly apply to Russia-Ukraine conflict.

    But Russia is only one of tehparties here ..anyhow at this stage, theone thing that seems clear to me is that this isn’t as clear as I first thought and now I don’t really know what to think. So you’ve got me reconsidering this and a lot less certain about this particular point for which I guess I owe you thanks.

    I do however, see this as Putin’s war of choice here and see him especially as the man most responsible for it and villain here.

  122. jack lecou says

    @128:

    I don’t think it needs to be confusing. There’s more than one definition of “proxy war”, so we need to track which definition is in use in a given argument, and then adjust our evaluation of whether Ukraine fits — and of whether that’s an indictment of anything — accordingly.

    For example, if we use a very broad “interested larger power assists smaller power”, than, sure, Ukraine is trivially a “proxy war”. But also, so what? There’s nothing inherently negative about that definition.

    OTOH, if we use a narrower definition, one that implies the larger power is insidiously instigating or controlling the smaller one, for example — which IMO is usually what people mean when they deploy the phrase pejoratively — then, sure, that’s bad, but suddenly it’s also quite a bit harder to argue that Ukraine fits.

    The only danger or source of confusion here is the potential for someone to create a motte-and-bailey by swapping definitions back and forth at will: if someone wants to argue that Ukraine is a US proxy war, they need to be clear about what they mean by that, use the same definition throughout, and provide evidence that all the necessary elements are present.

  123. consciousness razor says

    jack lecou:
    The US has been trying to get Ukraine into NATO and the EU for well over a decade. We’ve also been training Ukrainian forces and arming them, which has of course ramped up in the years since 2014. However you want to describe our various interventions (maybe that term is neutral enough to satisfy everyone), we have been strongly encouraging a less friendly stance toward Russia and a more friendly one toward NATO, Europe and the US. It’s either out of ignorance or dishonesty that people would suggest the US has merely taken action, after the fact and just in the last few months, to help them defend against an aggressor. That is simply false.

    Over the same period of time, Russia has not taken kindly to any of that. It has also supported other (separatist) Ukrainians, at least since 2014 if not earlier. Everybody is a fucking bad guy in this story, other than the ordinary people in all of these places who just want to live their lives without their militaristic governments fucking things up for them. So we can’t very well use that as our way to sort any of this out.

    The question posed to the Ukrainian government has been whether it wants to be more aligned with the US on one side or Russia on the other. This has been made extremely clear, even formal you could say. But whether it comes with a carrot or a stick from a good guy or a bad guy, whether or not any Ukrainians like the options presented to them, that is a question which puts them between those two much more powerful countries (the saner elements of which would like to avoid direct confrontation).

    It is not a sensible question that someone would ever ask themselves: “how can I make my big belligerent neighbor more of an enemy than it already is? Or will it have to be the other neighbor?” It doesn’t sound like much of a choice to me. If you think it is, that’s probably going to be one of the main things that needs an explanation for me.

    The US and Russia could have both worked on a way to let them remain neutral and enjoy the benefits of that arrangement, rather than being greedy about it. That was a totally viable option, not so long ago. Instead, we’ve got a war. And I certainly don’t blame the Ukrainians for it, because when you step back and take a look at the whole thing, they didn’t have much say in the matter, and I think it’s ridiculous to ignore those very obvious power dynamics, in order to hold onto the idea this is some other kind of war. (What is the motivation for that supposed to be, anyway? It would make you feel better about it, or what is that about?)

    I think that fits rather well with the concept of a “proxy war,” one which isn’t too markedly different from other such examples. That seems to be the kind of thing people have in mind when they use the term. I hope you just understand that I don’t care about some very brief definition, coming from wikipedia or wherever, purporting to give necessary and sufficient conditions or anything like that. Just explain what you think is wrong with it, and we can try to work from there.

  124. John Morales says

    CR:

    The US has been trying to get Ukraine into NATO and the EU for well over a decade. We’ve also been training Ukrainian forces and arming them, which has of course ramped up in the years since 2014. However you want to describe our various interventions (maybe that term is neutral enough to satisfy everyone), we have been strongly encouraging a less friendly stance toward Russia and a more friendly one toward NATO, Europe and the US. It’s either out of ignorance or dishonesty that people would suggest the US has merely taken action, after the fact and just in the last few months, to help them defend against an aggressor. That is simply false.

    Nobody has made that claim, though that’s the claim you attempt to attack.

    Fact is, Russia invaded Ukraine.
    Question at hand is, should or should not the USA help Ukraine defend itself?
    Should it — right now — help Ukraine withstand the barbaric strategy and tactics of Russia?

    I know, I know. You think the USA should stop helping Ukraine.

    Over the same period of time, Russia has not taken kindly to any of that. It has also supported other (separatist) Ukrainians, at least since 2014 if not earlier.

    Around the time Trump (your preferred choice of president) tried to blackmail Ukraine using the already-mandated military aid as leverage. Yeah, I remember.

    It is not a sensible question that someone would ever ask themselves: “how can I make my big belligerent neighbor more of an enemy than it already is?

    Fuckity-fuck fuck!

    Here: Russia invaded Ukraine. Russia could not possibly be any more of an enemy to Ukraine. This is not merely a war of conquest, this is a war of eradication of Ukraine and its cultural identity, of extermination and assimilation.

    (Don’t you follow the news?)

    The US and Russia could have both worked on a way to let them remain neutral and enjoy the benefits of that arrangement, rather than being greedy about it.

    No.

    Russia invaded Ukraine.

    The fighting (you know, the bombs and razed cities and bullets flying) is in Ukraine. The antagonists are the Russians in Ukraine, and Ukranians in Ukraine.

    Again (you always, unfailingly evade this point), Putin could at any time he chose to withdraw and declare victory. And, as far as Russia and its subject populations went, it would indeed be victory. He’d have won!

    Not exactly Zelinski’s position, is it? All he gets to do is surrender — as if his people would obey that order, at this juncture.

    No, you think it’s entirely up to the USA.
    They can also just stop it at a whim, right?

    After all, in your estimation, the two protagonists of your “proxy war” are the USA and Russia.

    So, since you assert that it’s a proxy war between Russia and the USA, and since it’s bleedingly obvious Putin could just declare victory whenever he chooses, it follows you must think that Biden could do what Putin can do — that is, stop the war by a mere declaration.

    (Thing is, far as I know, only one is a dictator)

    I think that fits rather well with the concept of a “proxy war,”

    It’s alright, you can’t help it. You’re committed now, can’t back down.

    So, the war is between Russia and Ukraine — well, according to the actual facts.

    But you think it’s between Russia and the USA, being a proxy war and all.

    So… you think the USA is using Ukraine as a proxy.
    And Russia is using Russia as a proxy.

    Right.

    But hey, keep advocating that the USA stop helping Ukraine resist an invasion.

    (Such a pacifist, you!)

  125. John Morales says

    [such silence!]

    C’mon, CR.

    Surely, since a proxy war between the USA and Russia, and since Russia could stop any time it wanted, and since (in your estimation) the USA is not the underdog (#22), it follows that the USA could also unilaterally stop the war.

    In your estimation. Given what you’ve written, just here alone.

    Why you keep making these comments which deny Ukraine any agency (and, incidentally, also the EU and other countries that help Ukraine (including, to my satisfaction, Australia)) is left to the imagination.

    (I do have imagination)

  126. tuatara says

    This can be defined as a proxy war as much as Rissia can be presently defined as a democracy. As in, only if ones view is rather opaque.

    AFAIK, Ukrainians kicked Yanukovych out because he decided to go against the wishes of his people.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revolution_of_Dignity

    In November 2013, a wave of large-scale protests (known as Euromaidan) erupted in response to President Yanukovych’s sudden decision not to sign a political association and free trade agreement with the European Union (EU), instead choosing closer ties to Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union.

    Something there that stands out to me is that the USA has no authority to negotiate trade deals on behalf of the EU, nor admit Ukraine into EU membership. Neither can the USA unilaterally admit Ukraine into NATO.

    Admittedly, some Ukrainians wanted to tie themselves to mother Russia’s apron stings and suckle from her wizened teat. But here’s the thing. Most Ukranians did not!

    So is this really a proxy war between the USA and Russia? I for one do not think so.

    The only way this war can be ended peacefully is if Russia (the only aggressor here, make no mistake) ceases all hosilities and withdraws to their side of the border. Anything else is unacceptable. We should absolutely support Ukrainian efforts to repel this illegal invasion. I actually think we should call putin’s bluff and send in European and US tanks, artilery, and personel just to go and stand around and chat. No actual fighting, just ‘flood the zone with shit’ enough to freak the dumb fucker out and make him think more deeply about his choices.

    You know, be passive-aggressive.

  127. consciousness razor says

    John Morales:

    Fuckity-fuck fuck!

    So far, this is your most cogent point….

    Here: Russia invaded Ukraine. Russia could not possibly be any more of an enemy to Ukraine. This is not merely a war of conquest, this is a war of eradication of Ukraine and its cultural identity, of extermination and assimilation.

    (Don’t you follow the news?)

    I’m not even asking you to follow the news, because I laid it out for you. We’re talking about events before February. Are you incapable of thinking about that? Do you just not want to think about it? If you can somehow get rid of this YEC-sized blindspot, then we could have a useful discussion. If not, then not.

    No.

    Russia invaded Ukraine.

    Are you actually stupid enough to think I’m unaware of that, or are you being deliberately obtuse?

    My next two sentences after the one you quoted: “That was a totally viable option, not so long ago. Instead, we’ve got a war.”

    They can also just stop it at a whim, right?

    Not on a whim, no. It would take work. However, we also wouldn’t have to throw tens of billions of dollars at the State Dept. for them to help negotiate a peace deal. (Unless they’d have to be bribed to do it, I guess.)

    As a bonus, we also wouldn’t be facing millions of people around the world starving and probably additional conflict resulting from that, due to disruptions to the food supply (and fuel, fertilizer, etc.). I consider that more effective that any humanitarian aid delivered after the fact, when it’s too late. Nonetheless, we need to do what we can about that too, since we’re not aiming for peace any time soon. Plenty of things that won’t just happen on a whim.

    So… you think the USA is using Ukraine as a proxy.
    And Russia is using Russia as a proxy.

    Remove the second part, which is independent of the first so that can be done, then you’re finally getting it. Congratulations.

    Why you keep making these comments which deny Ukraine any agency (and, incidentally, also the EU and other countries that help Ukraine (including, to my satisfaction, Australia)) is left to the imagination.

    They certainly do have agency, and I’ve never denied it. When there’s a much more powerful agent like the US behind the wheels, I consider those other agents less responsible for the disastrous outcome, which a war like this certainly is. I don’t think we should just give a pass to European governments, but it is important to recognize that the US is the one driving this clown car. The US is also the country where I live, where I’m a citizen who can vote, and so forth, so I think it’s appropriate for me to focus on what it does or doesn’t do. I leave it to Europeans to fix their end of things, since they have the agency to do it if they so choose.

  128. jack lecou says

    CR @130

    The US has been trying to get Ukraine into NATO and the EU for well over a decade. We’ve also been training Ukrainian forces and arming them, which has of course ramped up in the years since 2014. However you want to describe our various interventions (maybe that term is neutral enough to satisfy everyone), we have been strongly encouraging a less friendly stance toward Russia and a more friendly one toward NATO, Europe and the US. It’s either out of ignorance or dishonesty that people would suggest the US has merely taken action, after the fact and just in the last few months, to help them defend against an aggressor. That is simply false.

    Alternative formulation: Ukraine has been trying to join NATO and the EU for over a decade.

    This has the advantage actually putting Ukraine, an independent nation of 41 million people, into the active voice, and also being substantially more accurate. If you want to tack on, “…which has been encouraged by the US and European powers,” fine. But to erase Ukrainian agency and interests from the formulation completely, as you did, is, at best, a very misleading omission. At worst, it’s shading into straight up “Ukraine-isn’t-a-real-country” Kremlin propaganda. And you’ve been called on this multiple times now, so you can’t say it’s not deliberate.

    There’s also some bizarre assumptions — or at least simplifications — embedded in there: what interest does the US have in making the EU larger, for example? Interests in getting favorable oil deals or whatever, sure, absolutely. Generally closer ties to the West, maybe. But EU membership? That’s a weird goal to attribute to US foreign policy. Indeed, prior to the invasion, even major EU states like Germany and France were being pretty cautious and skeptical about a (still hypothetical) Ukrainian membership bid.

    Ditto NATO. AFAICT, US policymakers as a whole (and other NATO member states) have been quite ambivalent about Ukraine joining NATO. There are arguments both ways. Pros: it probably checks Russian aggression in that direction, it’s what Ukraine itself wants. Cons: it’s a major new defense commitment for US and other NATO members, and (again, pre-invasion) it wasn’t clear that Ukraine would really have the military strength or wherewithal to reciprocate those obligations if called upon (NATO is not a one-way partnership). I have no doubt there there were/are some pro-NATO hawks in the US establishment, but equally, there were lots skeptics, and lots of “don’t poke the bear/Russian reset” types.

    Overall, to assert that coaxing [a reluctant] Ukraine into NATO (or the EU!) has been some kind of unified covert US policy project for 20 years is [citation needed] in big blinking red lights — you’re going to require an absolute fuck ton more concrete evidence than you’ve provided so far. Or at least, you know, some.

    And that’s all just the first sentence. The rest of that para doesn’t get better.

    Yes, the US and Europe have been assisting with training and arms, at Ukraine’s request, after 2014 (which, you might recall, is when Russia originally invaded). So nobody here is denying that the US is (now) assisting, or that that means you can technically call that a “proxy war” in the looser sense, if you insist. But tossing that factoid in is otherwise entirely irrelevant to the stronger kind of “proxy war” you appear to be trying to argue for, the one where there is some more insidious manipulation at work.

    The reference to “various interventions” which have been “strongly encouraging a less friendly stance” is also super vague. Which interventions — prior to 2014 — do you mean, specifically?

    Other than general “hey, you can be friends with us if you like” overtures — which is only an insidious prelude to proxy war if you pretend that being friends is an act of war, or that Russia has some legitimate role to play in picking Ukraine’s friends for it — I’m not actually aware of any efforts by the US to manipulate Ukrainian policy or public opinion against Russia, let alone military intervention.

    The fact is, Russia has done a perfectly fine job of making itself feared on its own. That is, you know, why Ukraine, and previous to that, the Baltics, Hungary, Poland, etc. want to get in NATO so bad in the first place. Even Belarusians aren’t exactly super hot on Big Brother Russia — it’s not sinister Western manipulation, it’s just looking across the borders and seeing more to like about the direction of things on one side or the other.

    Everybody is a fucking bad guy in this story, other than the ordinary people in all of these places who just want to live their lives without their militaristic governments fucking things up for them. So we can’t very well use that as our way to sort any of this out.

    Which would be the ordinary Ukrainian people, presumably. Who just want to live their lives, yes, but who have also clearly expressed a strong desire do that while living in a real democracy — not under a puppet dictator signed off on by Moscow — and to revive historically close cultural and economic ties to their neighbors in Europe — relations which long predate the last couple of centuries spent suffering under a Russian/Soviet imperial yoke, incidentally.

    So the question I think you need to reckon with better is: exactly which militaristic government has been fucking that up for them?

    Bringing us to this other point:

    It is not a sensible question that someone would ever ask themselves: “how can I make my big belligerent neighbor more of an enemy than it already is? Or will it have to be the other neighbor?” It doesn’t sound like much of a choice to me. If you think it is, that’s probably going to be one of the main things that needs an explanation for me.

    Which is presenting some kind of false dichotomy. In your formulation, Ukraine is being forced under duress — by the US and Russia, equally, I guess — to pick a side, and thus to make an enemy of either Europe or Russia.

    But that’s just nonsense. Look at Belarus again. It is, at the moment, on team Russia. And yet, even now, it is hardly under some imminent threat of US or NATO invasion. Indeed, prior to the war (and Lukashenka’s support of the Russian invasion), it had reasonably cordial cultural and economic relations with its EU/NATO neighbors, like Poland and Lithuania. I’m sure there is/was some additional wariness because of its ties to Russia, and economic integration could of course never be as close as it would be under a single EU umbrella, but there were no enemies there.

    So we know the US and Europe’s reaction to a Belarus friendly to Russia. Could we say the same about Russia’s reaction if Belarus decided next week — purely on its own initiative — to get friendlier with the EU? I think we both know the answer to that. It would thus appear that the duress and belligerence is coming from exactly one direction. This “both sides bad”/”rock and a hard place” card you’re trying to play is utter bullshit.

    The US and Russia could have both worked on a way to let them remain neutral and enjoy the benefits of that arrangement, rather than being greedy about it. That was a totally viable option, not so long ago.

    Was it, though? Prior to the war, some kind of neutrality was in fact official Western policy. There were absolutely no plans for Ukrainian accession to NATO or the EU. Sure, the US was providing small arms and training support post-2014 (at Ukraine’s request), but not heavy weapons, or ballistic missiles pointed at Moscow, or any other such paranoid nonsense. And even that would have stopped, if Russia had wanted it to, pending some kind of negotiated deal that would have secured Ukraine’s borders and resolved the status of the breakaway provinces and Crimea one way or another.

    The now all-to-self-evident fact is that neutrality alone was never going to be enough for Russia or Putin. This is partly because it was simply unacceptable for Ukraine not to be a part of Putin’s vision of a new Russian Empire — a fact which is more or less plain from his own statements, if not from the theories of Dugin which appear to have inspired them. (In addition, IMO the real threat posed by Ukraine to Russia — and to Putin specifically — never had anything to do with missiles or NATO. The threat was having such a big, nearby population — with close familial, cultural and linguistic ties going right into the heart of Russia — experimenting not only with friendlier relations with Europe, but also something approximating genuine democracy. The big problem for Putin is that either or both of those experiments might have worked, and Russians might notice. Mere neutrality would never have prevented that.)

    I think that fits rather well with the concept of a “proxy war,”

    I don’t think it actually fits very well at all. What I see is a country being bullied by a larger, nearby imperial power (for centuries, in fact), and begging for help.

    You can sorta, kinda, technically call that a “proxy war” if you squint, but it’s certainly not the bad kind. And as a descriptor, the phrase doesn’t otherwise shed any additional light on the situation. Indeed, it rather tends to obfuscate most of the important underlying dynamics and historical complexity (much like your repeated attempts to erase Ukrainian agency. hmm…). Why would would anyone want to do that? Why are you trying so hard to do that?

  129. jack lecou says

    @136

    They certainly do have agency, and I’ve never denied it. When there’s a much more powerful agent like the US behind the wheels, I consider those other agents less responsible for the disastrous outcome, which a war like this certainly is.

    But this is the whole problem with your narrative.

    Just for the sake of argument, assume there’s a completely genuine and implacable Ukrainian desire to both get closer to Europe and nurture their new democracy.

    There’s also an implacable Russian desire for Ukraine to, you know, NOT do that. Indeed, for Ukraine to get back in the Russian nest where it belongs.

    Where does the US fit in this picture? How, even as “more powerful agent” (whatever that means) is it supposed to prevent that collision of wills?

    I mean, sure, it’s easy in your formulation, but only because you’ve conveniently just completely omitted one entire side of the actual conflict — Ukraine doesn’t have any interests, so why not let Russia have what it wants, eh?

    Out in the real world, it’s not so tidy.

  130. consciousness razor says

    jack lecou:

    There’s also some bizarre assumptions — or at least simplifications — embedded in there: what interest does the US have in making the EU larger, for example? Interests in getting favorable oil deals or whatever, sure, absolutely. Generally closer ties to the West, maybe. But EU membership? That’s a weird goal to attribute to US foreign policy. Indeed, prior to the invasion, even major EU states like Germany and France were being pretty cautious and skeptical about a (still hypothetical) Ukrainian membership bid.

    The EU is an economic and political institution that’s meant to support the same set of goals as a military alliance like NATO.

    But first I should say that it’s not as if this is my idea. If you’re looking for a defense of US foreign policy, ask someone else. It’s also not an “assumption,” and there is nothing for you to be skeptical about here. That has just been part of our foreign policy for a long time, although as you say we’ve known there’s been a lot of opposition to it in Europe. Also some within Ukraine. And indeed, some in the US have been opposed to it as well. We’ve still pushed for those things as much as we could.

    Leaving aside all manner of think tanks, you can take it, for example, from our Ukraine embassy or the same stuff from the US State Department (both in 2008).

    If you think that the existence of some degree of opposition somehow negates that point, you are incorrect. That is the administration’s official line, straight from the horse’s mouth. And there are numerous other statements and so forth to point at, from people who are actually in power at any given time and actually making the relevant decisions.

    Here is a Congressional Research Service report from early 2005 (PDF, 18 pages). The US policy section comes in the second half, but it’s all worth reading.

    Of course, the more immediate steps were to get various domestic policy changes (“reforms”) in Ukraine that would allow it to become integrated. It’s a real process, obviously, but this is how such plans are carried out.

  131. consciousness razor says

    Was it, though? Prior to the war, some kind of neutrality was in fact official Western policy. There were absolutely no plans for Ukrainian accession to NATO or the EU.

    NATO declaration, April 3, 2008, at its Bucharest Summit:

    NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO. We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO.

    You can thank the US especially for this (or George W. Bush if you like), as well as Poland. It came after objections and more reluctant agreement from other big NATO countries like France, Germany, and the UK. The apparently thought that at least stalling it for a long time would not constitute a problem. (They were mistaken.) Not long after, Georgia got no help from its new friends. This time, we’re doing things quite differently, but I still don’t see it as helping.

  132. jack lecou says

    @138:

    The EU is an economic and political institution that’s meant to support the same set of goals as a military alliance like NATO.

    But first I should say that it’s not as if this is my idea. If you’re looking for a defense of US foreign policy, ask someone else. It’s also not an “assumption,” and there is nothing for you to be skeptical about here. That has just been part of our foreign policy for a long time, although as you say we’ve known there’s been a lot of opposition to it in Europe. Also some within Ukraine. And indeed, some in the US have been opposed to it as well. We’ve still pushed for those things as much as we could.

    Leaving aside all manner of think tanks, you can take it, for example, from our Ukraine embassy or the same stuff from the US State Department (both in 2008).

    If you think that the existence of some degree of opposition somehow negates that point, you are incorrect. That is the administration’s official line, straight from the horse’s mouth. And there are numerous other statements and so forth to point at, from people who are actually in power at any given time and actually making the relevant decisions.

    This is basically non-responsive. None of those links remotely touch on Ukrainian EU accession as an official US policy goal. No shortage of places to drop a bullet point about it in there, but while there’s mention of WTO, NATO cooperation, a bilateral energy group, a trilateral working group, etc, EU membership simply isn’t on any of those lists. Closest you get is a general “deepening Ukraine’s integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions is a mutual priority”, but if that actually meant EU membership, it’d be easy enough to say so.

    To be clear, I certainly agree that the US and EU are (more or less) allies. And as such I’m quite certain the US would not be in any way opposed to Ukrainian EU accession, even welcome it — if and when both parties are agreeable (all of which is more or less what your links show).

    But what you said is “The US has been trying to get Ukraine into…the EU for well over a decade,” and, since I assume you’re trying to actually say something there, I read that as implying some level of active intervention, toward that specific goal. If all you meant is that the US would probably be down for it if it happened, you’re really not saying anything in particular, are you? And yet these documents only proclaim some fairly passive signals of diplomatic receptivity. A collection of bland statements to the effect “the United States values our Ukrainian allies and welcomes their cooperation on various matters of mutual concern” is hardly very sinister is it?

    Basically, this all looks to me like a classic motte and bailey:
    You: “(paraphrasing) The US has been manipulating Ukraine to try to join the EU for years”; me: “Elaborate.”; you: “Well they said they’d be happy to be friends if Ukraine wanted to and made a list of friend stuff they could do”; me: …

    Here is a Congressional Research Service report from early 2005 (PDF, 18 pages). The US policy section comes in the second half, but it’s all worth reading.

    Of course, the more immediate steps were to get various domestic policy changes (“reforms”) in Ukraine that would allow it to become integrated. It’s a real process, obviously, but this is how such plans are carried out.

    That’s a comically inept reading of that document, which is largely just a straightforward summary of the events surrounding the Orange Revolution, such as the international consensus that the first election round was rigged. There are no hints in here of hidden sinister US spy plans to manipulate Ukrainian policy.

    The absolute closest thing I can find in there about “reforms” is:

    The Kuchma regime, at least until the recent election campaign, also said that it sought membership in the Alliance, and the United States expressed support for Ukraine’s aspirations. However, Ukraine’s lack of progress on reforms made such statements largely moot. The emergence of a Western-oriented regime in Kiev may make this issue more important. If the United States decided to strongly support Ukraine’s NATO aspirations, it will likely also have to cope with Moscow’s strident opposition to Ukraine’s NATO membership, as well as tension with European NATO allies more eager to accommodate Moscow on the issue.

    The “reforms” in question obviously not being anything sinister, but, roughly, “if Ukraine is serious about this, it’s going going to need to get its act together and demonstrate that it’s not a corrupt oligarchic shithole”. Which seems like a pretty reasonable thing to want another country to demonstrate before you’ll consider entering a major military alliance with them. The general tone here is, again, “hey, if that happens, it’d be a very welcome development, and we might support”, very much not, “we’re sending in Seal Team 6 to blackmail some PMs and make it happen.”

    The other “intervention” revealed here, which I guess you could try to make insinuations about, is a whole whopping $14 mil from the State Department to support independent journalists and election observers. Again, that doesn’t actually strike me as very sinister, and is probably exactly what it says it is, not black funding for some secret, “How do you do fellow kidsUkrainians, I hear NATO is pretty great” campaign.

    For one thing, such a campaign was just never necessary. What that document (and the 2004 election) shows — yet again — is that it was the Ukrainians who wanted to get closer to Europe, and EU and NATO membership, all along. That’s one of the things the the Orange Revolution was all about. Even if we suppose that getting Ukraine into NATO/EU was unambiguously a major goal for US policymakers, manipulation was never necessary. It was an endogenous Ukrainian policy goal. That document is just so not helpful to your case here.

    @139

    NATO declaration, April 3, 2008, at its Bucharest Summit:…You can thank the US especially for this (or George W. Bush if you like), as well as Poland. It came after objections and more reluctant agreement from other big NATO countries like France, Germany, and the UK. The apparently thought that at least stalling it for a long time would not constitute a problem. (They were mistaken.) Not long after, Georgia got no help from its new friends. This time, we’re doing things quite differently, but I still don’t see it as helping.

    One might almost conclude that letting Georgia and Ukraine into NATO immediately would have resulted in a lot less bloodshed, but I digress.

    And, to clarify, by “prior to the war” I was talking about 2022, not 2008. At which time there was certainly no active movement being made to let Ukraine into NATO anytime in the foreseeable future.

    That doesn’t mean that it was off the table — indeed, joining NATO and the EU is part of the current Ukrainian constitution — but there was no “imminent threat” of it happening (not that I think we should credit the Russian propaganda that joining a defensive alliance is a “threat”) and the possibility space around neutrality was wide open, if Russia could have provided credible security guarantees to Ukraine. Obviously the latter did not and probably could not have happened.

    As to the declaration, I expect you can find a lot of stuff over the years expressing this kind of support — in principle — for a Ukrainian application to NATO. Like this one. From, you’ll notice, 2008. What’s odd about all of them is that, somehow, for some mysterious reason, despite being a big old sinister US and European foreign policy goal, it still hadn’t happened after 14 years. (Probably going on 20, if you count from Kuchma.) And in February of 2022, it wasn’t any closer to happening than 2008 — indeed, possibly further away than ever. I would humbly submit that this fact somewhat undermines your general thesis.

  133. consciousness razor says

    But what you said is “The US has been trying to get Ukraine into…the EU for well over a decade,” and, since I assume you’re trying to actually say something there, I read that as implying some level of active intervention, toward that specific goal.

    To work toward that goal, the US was doing what it could to try to lay the groundwork for it, not merely with empty expressions of “support” or whatever. That is essentially to make them more palatable to the EU, since it would make that decision in the end and not the US. So, it’s not as if the US will officially declare “Ukraine will join the EU” or some such thing, if that’s the sort of thing you’re looking for in terms of evidence. But if you can find a statement like that, we shouldn’t have made it either.

    Anyway, there are things like the WTO, which you mentioned, and the NATO declaration you seemed to know nothing about (but even more remarkably, you apparently think it’s irrelevant somehow … see below). Also, a bunch of things that fall under the umbrella of getting Ukraine to adopt different domestic policies. You also have ambassadors and state department types, along with other influential politicians like McCain, etc., deciding who they want to back in their elections, because those officials may or may not make the policy choices the US wants them to make.

    Why is their domestic policy supposed to be our business? Well, you tell me. At this point, I’m trying to avoid terms like “meddling” as much as I can, since that doesn’t seem to be helpful. Call it what you will, but these kinds of interventions aren’t just the US government aimlessly wasting time and resources on nothing in particular. They do these things for reasons and with goals in mind, even if they’re stupid or harmful ones.

    So what exactly do you think that’s about in this case? Give me the non Sunday School version of it that I’m supposed to find remotely believable, in which you don’t pretend like the US is some good-natured country that simply wants peace and democracy and so forth. Because we all know better than that.

    That’s a comically inept reading of that document

    I guess that still has to be fairly impressive, since I didn’t even attempt to give a reading of that document. It’s just a link. It gives you a view about how our government was seeing things in 2005. That’s a valuable (if limited and distorted) perspective to have, since everybody seems to be coming down with amnesia about a lot of stuff from more than six months ago.

    And, to clarify, by “prior to the war” I was talking about 2022, not 2008. At which time there was certainly no active movement being made to let Ukraine into NATO anytime in the foreseeable future.

    For fuck’s sake, it never ends. I wasn’t talking about 2022, and you had to know that when you were responding to me. It was clear the first time, I corrected Morales on the same point, and now you’re still doing it. There was a world before 2022. Remember it? I think we get to talk about that. But this is just getting more pointless, and I have no idea why I bothered. I’ve said what I wanted. I thought you might be willing to listen, possibly change your mind, or that it could at least be productive in some way. I guess I was wrong.

  134. John Morales says

    CR:

    I wasn’t talking about 2022, and you had to know that when you were responding to me. It was clear the first time, I corrected Morales on the same point, and now you’re still doing it. There was a world before 2022. Remember it?

    @63, you answered “no” to the question “Should Ukraine be provided with the weapons to resist that invasion.”

    You were indeed talking about 2022.

    (“Fuck Ukraine, I’m American” is what I hear)

  135. consciousness razor says

    You were indeed talking about 2022.

    I said (in #130 which you were quoting, not #63) that the US and Russia could have cooperated and helped them remain neutral. The part you decided not to quote mentioned that instead of doing that (earlier), we (later) got the war.

    Likewise, jack lecou also knows that the point he was disputing had to do with what has been going on for a long time. It couldn’t both be about right now and about some other time in the more distant past. But anyway, it was definitely about the past. And in the most confusing way, the choice was still to reinterpret it as somehow being about now, as if that made any sense.

    (“Fuck Ukraine, I’m American” is what I hear)

    You should talk to a doctor about that.

  136. John Morales says

    CR:

    I said (in #130 which you were quoting, not #63) that the US and Russia could have cooperated and helped them remain neutral. The part you decided not to quote mentioned that instead of doing that (earlier), we (later) got the war.

    Yes #63.

    Here:

    #50:

    1) Was the Russian invasion of Ukraine justified?
    2) Should Ukraine be provided with the weapons to resist that invasion.

    No and no.

    The part you decided not to quote mentioned that instead of doing that (earlier), we (later) got the war.

    The part I decided to quote indicates you want to stop military aid right now.

    For the third time: do you or do you not want to the USA to cease military aid to Ukraine right now?

    You should talk to a doctor about that.

    “It’s none of my business what Ukraine does.”

  137. jack lecou says

    To work toward that goal, the US was doing what it could to try to lay the groundwork for it, not merely with empty expressions of “support” or whatever.

    Okay. But that’s the problem: you haven’t actually provided anything like proof that this ever happened. Just general expressions of support for Ukraine to have fair elections, make a bid for NATO, etc.

    What “groundwork”, specifically, was the US supposedly laying in Ukraine for NATO membership, back in the 90s or early 2000s?

    To clear, what I’m looking for here is some X, which fills in the blank in, “Ukraine wasn’t interested in joining NATO/EU. Then the US did __. Then they were.”

    Because that is the bar you need to clear. If Ukraine came into a desire to, e.g., join NATO on its own, endogenously, as is my contention, then they were on a collision course with Russia’s imperial designs in the region no matter what. This conflict wasn’t caused by US machinations, or proxy wars, but by a genuine conflict of interest between Ukraine and Russia.

    I guess you could argue at that point that the US should have somehow foreseen current events and rebuffed them, to protect them from this crisis, but that would be entering into very circular territory. “The US should have rebuffed them and refused to protect them, in order to protect them from a war with Russia, that they’re going to cause by wanting NATO protection from Russia.” But thence we descend into nonsense.

    Anyway, there are things like the WTO, which you mentioned, and…

    I assume you’re referring to something like this oh so very suspicious statement:

    Welcoming Ukraine’s accession to the World Trade Organization…the United States continues to support Ukraine’s efforts to implement its WTO commitments. [list of stuff they’re presumably supposed to be working on]

    Ahem. This is probably going to blow your mind, but Ukraine voluntarily joined the WTO. And having done so, it agreed to certain commitments, as a country might do with any treaty or international agreement.

    Are some of the WTO conditions neoliberal bullshit? Absolutely. But Ukraine doesn’t necessarily care about that, and membership comes with benefits, too. It joining — and subsequently getting an anodyne message of encouragement from the State Dept. — is not remotely evidence that it was forced into anything by the US.

    Also: Ukraine entering an agreement requiring it to harmonize it’s patent laws or whatever has nothing to do with NATO or conflict with Russia (who has itself been a WTO member since 2011). What’s the interference that forced them to want to join NATO starting at least as far back as 2004?

    Also, a bunch of things that fall under the umbrella of getting Ukraine to adopt different domestic policies.

    For pity’s sake..what “things? And don’t give me stuff like “the WTO made them adopt a new regulation on freon in refrigeration systems”. What things that have anything to do with NATO or conflict with Russia?

    You also have ambassadors and state department types, along with other influential politicians like McCain, etc., deciding who they want to back in their elections, because those officials may or may not make the policy choices the US wants them to make.

    Is that actually what you have? Or is it rather that you have events like, say, an obviously rigged election, which politicians like McCain subsequently sound off about it, while diplomats and officials express official support for free and fair elections.

    To be sure, legislators like McCain commenting about specific preferences foreign elections isn’t “good form”, but it’s not usually considered state policy either, or election interference. McCain was never President. Do you have any evidence that Ukrainian voters ever gave two shits about an endorsement from John McCain, one way or the other?

    Like, was it John McCain that convinced Ukrainians they wanted to join NATO and go down this road to eventual war with Russia, or was it, say, other things, like a centuries old cultural affinity with their western neighbors, resentment of Russian domination in their affairs, recognition of a looming Russian threat (there’d recently been another brutal Russian invasion of Chechnya), etc., etc., etc.

    Why is their domestic policy supposed to be our business? Well, you tell me. At this point, I’m trying to avoid terms like “meddling” as much as I can, since that doesn’t seem to be helpful. Call it what you will, but these kinds of interventions aren’t just the US government aimlessly wasting time and resources on nothing in particular. They do these things for reasons and with goals in mind, even if they’re stupid or harmful ones.

    Umm. To bring it down to the remedial level that is apparently called for here: Their domestic policy becomes others business when they enter into (or want to enter into) international agreements that make it our business — and usually makes our business theirs. For example, when someone joins the WTO, their domestic policies on things like copyright terms and farm subsidies become the WTOs business. When someone joins NATO, their policies on things like military conscription and arms exports will become NATOs business. When someone joins the EU, all kinds of internal policy become the EU’s business. When someone joins an anti-whaling charter or a GHG reduction agreement, they may be required to make laws about whaling and GHG emissions. Etc. Etc.

    Whether we agree with the specific agreements and policies or not, this is actually a pretty transparent process. If you want to argue that, e.g., Ukraine was forced to join the WTO, go for it. But it doesn’t look that way to me, and everything that happened after was pretty straightforward.

    And again WTF is your point here? Ukrainians certainly did not decide they wanted to join NATO in 2004 because the WTO told them in 2008 that they had to reform wheat subsidies or something. This is all just a big red herring. Again, what “interference” is it that you think coerced Ukraine into a conflict with Russia that it didn’t otherwise want?

    I guess that still has to be fairly impressive, since I didn’t even attempt to give a reading of that document. It’s just a link. It gives you a view about how our government was seeing things in 2005. That’s a valuable (if limited and distorted) perspective to have, since everybody seems to be coming down with amnesia about a lot of stuff from more than six months ago.

    Huh. Excuse me for presuming that you posted that because you though there was something in that document that supports your “US interfered in Ukraine to make them join NATO” narrative, I guess.

    There isn’t, of course. It’s a perfectly interesting document, of course. There’s a bunch of stuff in there that supports my position, because my position is based on that history (which I’m very familiar with, thanks) — but I don’t see anything good for you in there.

    For fuck’s sake, it never ends. I wasn’t talking about 2022, and you had to know that when you were responding to me. It was clear the first time, I corrected Morales on the same point, and now you’re still doing it. There was a world before 2022. Remember it? I think we get to talk about that. But this is just getting more pointless, and I have no idea why I bothered. I’ve said what I wanted. I thought you might be willing to listen, possibly change your mind, or that it could at least be productive in some way. I guess I was wrong.

    I was actually responding to this (my bold). I quoted it and everything:

    The US and Russia could have both worked on a way to let them remain neutral and enjoy the benefits of that arrangement, rather than being greedy about it. That was a totally viable option, not so long ago.

    Forgive me for taking that to be an abundantly clear reference to the recent and well publicized diplomatic efforts last year and early this year to reassure Russia by securing some kind of Ukrainian neutrality guarantee. That was indeed, in principle, still “a totally viable option”, since Ukraine had (still) moved any closer to joining NATO. In retrospect, though, it was always sadly irrelevant to Moscow’s actual aims.

    If you want to say it was too late by then, fine. But I don’t see how going back to 2008 or 2004 really helps things. Your bigger point there was that the the onus was on the “bigger power” — the US — to know all this was going to happen and prevent it. That makes some sense (not a lot, but some) if you were talking about alternative actions that could have been taken in 2022 or 2021, or 2020, maybe even 2014. But less and less the further you go back: even the US diplomatic corps is not prescient. If your magic happy path involves the US somehow knowing to take a hard line on Ukrainian NATO membership in 2004 or something to prevent a war 18 years later, a war that many experts still thought wasn’t going to happen right up until the day it started….well, you may be expecting too much.

    It might help if you could be a little more specific about this happy path.

    Don’t forget to lay out how Ukraine would have ever gotten what it wanted on that path. A response to #137 might be informative. At this point, it kind of seems like you think the best thing for Ukraine was just to remain under Russia’s thumb forever. I think they genuinely disagree.

  138. John Morales says

    Um, CR has been quite clear.

    If Ukraine came into a desire to, e.g., join NATO on its own, endogenously, as is my contention, then they were on a collision course with Russia’s imperial designs in the region no matter what. This conflict wasn’t caused by US machinations, or proxy wars, but by a genuine conflict of interest between Ukraine and Russia.

    From CR’s expressed perspective, the USA caused the war by being friendly to Ukraine, and is promoting the war (in which the USA and Russia are the actual combatants) by providing military aid to Ukraine.

    If no aid, Ukraine collapses and is erased as a nation, and the war is finished.
    If aid, Ukraine fights on so that it really is the USA prosecuting the war.

    So yeah, no point adducing actual historical facts. Their interpretation Trumps (ahem) all that bullshit reality stuff.

  139. logicalcat says

    The PM who fled to Russia, didnt he open fire om protesters? I remember reading that. Cant find it on google tho all searches give results of current war not related to the search or about Russia aresting protesters.

  140. KG says

    It’s still not clear to me why consciousness razor thinks the Ukranians should be denied arms to defend themselves against a fascist invasion now, in 2022, because of previous provocative actions by the USA and NATO (and I agree such have indeed happened, although the actual course of events is far less one-sided than he claims) over the past 30 years – unless he doesn’t think the wishes or interests of the Ukranians count at all, which is an obviously imperialist viewpoint. The course of recent events is, after all, clear: Putin launched a full-scale invasion of the parts of Ukraine Russia and its proxies were not already occupying on 2022/02/24; the Ukranians had the choice of submitting or resisting; they chose to resist. CR wants to deny them any agency in that decision, pretending that the decision was made in Washington.

    On a related topic, since markgisleson has not produced the slightest sliver of evidence for his claims @51 that Ukranian forces have killed at least 14,000 people by shelling the separatist “republics”, and that Ukraine started the current war, we can reasonably conclude (despite his attempt to pretend that he wasn’t giving suc evidence because I “moved the goalposts” when I asked for it @54), that he doesn’t have any, and is simply a liar as well as a Tankie.

  141. jack lecou says

    KG @150

    …because of previous provocative actions by the USA and NATO (and I agree such have indeed happened, although the actual course of events is far less one-sided than he claims) over the past 30 years.

    I’d be genuinely curious what you — or others with a reasonable take on this — would classify as ‘provocations’.

    For my part, and to dramatically cut down what was originally a really long post, I would say the top two are:
    1) Abandoning the Russian people to the neoliberal (and thence oligarchic) economic wolves after the Soviet collapse.
    2) The NATO-led bombing of Yugoslavia (following UNSC Resolution 1199).

    But it’s difficult for me to frame either of those as a “provocation”.

    (1) was certainly a grave mistake, which probably did more than anything else to sour the Russian people against the West (or at least provided a rhetorical space for leaders like Putin to do so). But for better or worse, it was a crime of neglect, not a geopolitical provocation. (And as always, a substantial portion of blame for the specific miseries of the ’90s must also fall on Russian leaders. For example, one Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, who is implicated in embezzling $100M early in his political career — money that was specifically earmarked to assist St Petersburg residents with food and other supplies.)

    (2) was also, at least arguably, a geopolitical mistake, and possibly legally and morally problematic, but was it a “provocation” to Russia? Certainly, Yugoslavia is cited by figures such as Putin as a key turning point in Russia’s estrangement from the West, but I don’t think we can take such statements at face value. For a variety of obvious reasons ([cough]), it would be naive to believe that Moscow’s concern was genuinely about international law or loss of life. The more sincere concern seems to have been that Russia’s sense of its own geopolitical importance was not flattered sufficiently. And, at least at the top, it’s hard to say if even that much was ever as grave an insult as Russian leaders have made it out to be. Ultimately the most we can say is that events in Yugoslavia have proved extremely useful in building the “Russia is a disrespected victim” narrative for domestic political purposes, helping serve as inspiration and rationalization (whether ante or post hoc is unclear) for the current project of ‘make Russia great again’ neo-imperial expansion.

    There are other events we can consider (e.g., NATO expansion, military action in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya) but I think the timing and causal arrows become even more difficult to sustain with those. And of course, the bottom line is that NONE of them would really even adequately explain — let alone morally or legally justify — these multiple invasions of Ukraine.

    Ultimately, none of the past 30 years really makes sense — not even a little bit — until you start putting independent Russian actions/provocations and domestic political events on the timeline (wars and war crimes, accessions to power, assassinations of political opposition and journalists, etc.), and factor in all the fantastical Russian propaganda narratives and paranoia (Ukraine = Russia, all political dissent = CIA subterfuge, etc.).

    The real story here isn’t about how “the West made poor old Russia do it”, it’s about the 30 year descent of Russia’s political system into hard fascism. Clinton, Bush and other Western leaders may have handed the fascists convenient propaganda ammunition at times, so shame on them for that, but mostly shame on the Russian fascists for picking up and firing the gun. I think to have actually prevented that descent — if it was ever possible — would have required a far greater level of Western interference in Russian affairs than we should countenance.

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