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Playing with Fire in Ukraine
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Having been a soldier and correspondent in 14 wars, I’m trying to see through the inevitable fog of war that beclouds the current conflict in Ukraine.

This is no easy task. Moscow has done a poor job of explaining its position and scared the hell out of everyone with its nuclear alert.

Western media has championed the cause of Ukraine in a totally one-sided manner. So, we have plucky David v. evil Goliath. Never mind that civil war between Ukrainian nationalists, militant rightists and the Kiev regime has been flaring for 14 years.

Russia, which ruled Ukraine with a few pauses since the 1700’s, sought to rapidly overthrow the western-backed Ukrainian nationalist government in Kiev by launching what the French calls ‘un coup de main’, a lightening attack to seize Ukraine’s centers of power.

But this effort did not work out. Ukrainian government forces, secretly armed with the latest antitank and anti-aircraft weapons by the Western powers, blunted Moscow’s initial attacks. I strongly suspect the presence of US and/or British Special Forces. More heavy offensives appear to be on the way. An initial attack on the key port of Odessa quickly petered out.

Did the Russian soldiers lack enthusiasm? Hard to say at this point. Many were reportedly loathe to attack their Ukrainian ‘brothers.’ This conflict was not popular in Mother Russia.

We have not yet seen any eruption of ever-mighty Russian nationalism that was so powerful in World War II. Nor the pure racial-religious hatred seen in the crushing of Chechen independence in 1990. In that gruesome conflict, Russia destroyed the Chechen capitol and many towns across Chechnya. But the fierce Chechen were Muslims, not fellow Orthodox Slavs.

So far, Russian forces, whose doctrine calls for massive artillery use, have been sparing in their use of big guns and rocket batteries. Much more is very likely to come. The Russian Air Force and Black Sea Fleet have also been notably absent. Perhaps President Vladimir Putin has sought to keep the Ukraine conflict to a low-key punitive action.

But many other dangers are evident. Turkey says it will adhere to the important 1936 Montreux Convention that limits the entry of warships into the Black Sea. The US Navy plans a very aggressive campaign against Russia in the Black Sea – and around Vladivostok in the North Pacific. Will Turkey bar the US Navy from that inland sea?

Regarding the nuclear scare. President Putin has previously stated that because of Russia’s reductions in its conventional forces it would henceforth rely increasingly on tactical and strategic nuclear weapons. Anyone who attacked Russia could expect at least a limited nuclear riposte.


Western politicians have had a field day denouncing the ‘barbarity” (Boris Johnson’s words) of Russian attacks on Ukrainian civilian targets. This is shameless bunkum. British pilots and mechanics have kept the Saudi air forces pounding Yemen’s cities and villages. The US Air Force and Navy have destroyed many of Iraq, Libya’s and Syria’s urban areas, notably Falluja, Aleppo and Mosul. Israel’s US-supplied air force flattened parts of Gaza.

Our side is not without sin.

The western powers need to abate their righteous jeremiads against Russia and work to find a face-saving way for Russia out of this dangerous morass. France has made a good start. By contrast, Germany has again shown its total lack of independent policy.

As much as we feel sympathy for Ukraine, we must also remember that Russia remains a great power of sorts and needs to be shown a clear exit from this mess. America must not be carried away by glee at Russia’s discomfort and try to complete the destruction of the once mighty Soviet Union into an eastern Yugoslavia.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: NATO, Russia, Ukraine, Vladimir Putin 
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  1. If Putin really did use nuclear weapons, even smaller ones limited to tactical use on a battlefield, that would open his entire nation (cities, military bases) to reprisals, and than turns into WWIII.

  2. Notsofast says:

    ……and scared the hell out of everyone with it’s nuclear alert…. i believe that was the point they were trying to make.

    • Agree: ProfessorChops
  3. ruh…roh ….I don’t know how this slipped under the radar, but late last night Turkey – a NATO member – did indeed close the Straits to “all (i.e., Russian) warships”; this from a generally reliable source:

    said closure – and Blockade is an Act of War – traps 2 Russian cruisers in the Med, and cuts off Russia from its naval base on the Syrian coast.

    if Putin decides to send a ship(s) thru and the Turks attempt to stop it, this will be the European War. And we will then be one short step away from atomic armageddon.

    • Replies: @SafeNow
  4. BuelahMan says:

    I don’t trust the jewish appointed leadership of Ukraine. And I don’t trust the jew Putin or the jews that control Putin.

    I couldn’t care less if they blow each other away into oblivion, as long as we have nothing to do with it.

    I want every leader and mouthpiece that pushed the covid bullshit to hang, and I am not forgetting what they did to us over the past two years. Everyone else appears to have simply forgotten and moved on to the next act of the Kabuki.

    Its all connected and I ain’t forgetting.

  5. Alistair says:

    What a shameful double standard; the US and Israel have been doing the same to Arabs without any consequences to them or any Western outrage. In fact, Israel is being openly supported by NATO and praised by the US along with the entire Western Governments.

    Other than “Race”; the Western love affair with Ukraine, which is a “Nordic, White Christian Race” — one can not see how different this conflict is from the US invasion of Iraq or Panama – or Israel’s bombing of residential buildings in the Palestinian territories.

    Over the last 70 years, the West had shamefully failed to impose any significant sanctions on Israel, which’s openly practicing apartheid, ethnic cleansing and annexation of the Palestinians land — so how the Russian invasion of Ukraine is any different ??? at least Russia has some legitimate security concerns stemming from Ukraine joining the NATO, which is essentially a Western military alliance against Russia. But what justification Israel has, other than bogus historical claims, but yearning aspiration of grandiosity to the detriment of the Arabs by stealing the Palestinian lands – or what about the US invasion of Iraq which was totally based on lies and deceptions.

    Beside Western double standard, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is no different than the US Invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Panama – or Israel’s invasions but also annexation of Palestinian’s territories over the last 70 years. What a shameful double standard !

  6. Altai says:

    As much as we feel sympathy for Ukraine, we must also remember that Russia remains a great power of sorts and needs to be shown a clear exit from this mess. America must not be carried away by glee at Russia’s discomfort and try to complete the destruction of the once mighty Soviet Union into an eastern Yugoslavia.

    What scares me is the ‘Putin derangement syndrome’ means vast numbers of upper middle classes and up in the West and the US particularly really do believe he is insane and evil and who may never accept backing off or adjusting to the new demonstration of will from Russia. (Something something appeasement will always be spoken despite the military power of Russia in 2022 hardly being comparable to Nazi Germany in 1939) Many of those people are highly influential and are key in the media and Biden admin. Even if they don’t cause those around them to become deranged too, they still create an atmosphere and floor for maneuvering or looking at events that is dangerous. Meanwhile Putin is watching CNN and the looking at the Anglosphere internet and seeing all this demonisation of him to hysterical levels and sees no chance of a rethink anytime soon.

    When two sides misunderstand each other, the possibilities for miscalculation is great. Along with all these sanctions that just keep going to unprecedented lengths (And which I’m sure the Russians look on in disbelief never being lumped on any other invading country, even Azerbaijan) the Russians may think they will lose more than face if they fail to achieve their primary objectives (Neutral Ukraine, either in writing or defacto from showing their will to go to war) with conventional military.

  7. SafeNow says:
    @Haxo Angmark

    In your link, the main commenter about the naval aspects is Adm. Stavridis, who co-wrote the recent novel “2034.” That novel details a chillingly plausible escalation, US vs. China, that begins with a sea confrontation and leads to a strategic nuclear exchange. A few days ago, a French small warship seized a Russian cargo ship in the English Channel, citing suspicion that it might be connected to sanction aspects. Most people think sanctions involve esoteric entries in bank ledgers, and do not think of sea confrontations. So off we go, 2034 in 2022? I will add that the novel did not even include, as cofactors, an impaired, impetuous President, and contentious-mindset advisors.

  8. Anonymous[165] • Disclaimer says:

    Coup de main? Isn’t it too optimistic to think that Russia could pull this off in a country as large as Ukraine? I suspect Putin has some other endgame in mind, something that could offset the huge costs that the sanctions will impose. If he did expect a quick win, why mass so many troops at the border? Even if Ukraine is entirely annexed, Russia’s economic losses will far outweigh anything it might gain.

    The biggest winner is the U.S., which will bleed Russia dry without firing a shot. I guess that’s the whole point of Nuland & Co.’s little demarche in 2014, viz. play Ukraine against Russia while providing covert aid to ensure that the conflict remains hot (or at least lukewarm).

    At the same time, Germany’s ramped up defense spending will relieve American defense budgets in NATO. This asset will more than compensate for a few billion dollars’ worth of outlays.

    • Replies: @Alistair
  9. Alistair says:

    Since the annexation of Crimea, Russia understood that it has to become economically independent, and that’s what the Putin Administration has been working on for the last eight years, and they have mainly achieved those objectives.

    Today Russia is the world top exporter of Natural Gas, and second world Exporter of Oil, and third top producer of Gold, with huge land mass for food production, and independent home grown technology.
    Russia can sustain itself for decades; Russian Oil and Gas with Gold will certainly offset the currency risk of the Rouble, so no need for the US dollar or SWIFT transactions; Barter trade with China will offset all international sanctions that US is planning to impose, Russia has all it needs and the rest can be imported from China and other friendly nations from around the world.

    Russian Gold, Oil, and Natural Gas, the homegrown Food, and independent technology are Russian unique assets. they will sustain it for decades.

  10. JR Foley says:

    USA and NATO have never faced war crimes—–for Afghanistan- Libya- Iraq – Somalia Serbia Yemen ???

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