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Putin, Holding a Weak Hand, Raises the Stakes
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In a Kremlin speech last week, President Vladimir Putin identified Russia’s real “enemy” in Ukraine as “the ruling circles of the so-called West” whose “hegemony has a pronounced character of totalitarianism, despotism and apartheid.”

In the West, Putin declaimed, “The repression of freedom is taking on the outlines of a reverse religion, of real Satanism,” which, on issues like gender identity, amounts to a “denial of man.”

Putin then formally annexed the occupied Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson and pledged to defend these new Russian territories with “all the forces and means at our disposal.”

He suggested that those means included nuclear weapons, for which the Americans “created a precedent” at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Reading Putin’s excoriation, it is hard to recall, in four decades of Cold War, or the three decades since, a speech of such relentless vitriol and hostility toward the West.

Beyond the rhetoric, though, what does this tell us about Putin’s policy?

Putin is drawing a red line at Russia’s annexation and absorption of the four occupied oblasts in the south and east of Ukraine, roughly 15% of that country, and declaring it to be sacred Russian soil.

He intends to conscript and commit thousands of fresh troops to defend these new Russian territories. He will not rule out the use of nuclear weapons to repel any who attack and attempt to detach these new lands from Mother Russia. While open to negotiations, he will fight it out on this line if it takes all winter.

This leaves Ukraine, NATO and the U.S. with some difficult calculations and hard decisions.

Are they willing to engage the Russian army in the four oblasts to drive them out, if the Russians, rather than quit these territories, use a tactical nuclear weapon to repel the attacking Ukrainians?

After Putin’s speech, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked for the accelerated admission of Ukraine to the NATO alliance.

Were such an accession process to be expedited and Ukraine admitted to NATO, the U.S. would be obligated under Article 5 to go to war against Russia in Ukraine, on Kyiv’s side.

This could mean a U.S.-Russia war, which could escalate to World War III and nuclear war, and was something that every U.S. president from Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan saw as his highest priority to avoid.

Fortunately, membership in NATO, and extension of an Article 5 war guarantee for the new member, requires a unanimous vote of all 30 member nations in the alliance.

And the requisite enthusiasm, inside NATO, to fight the world’s largest nuclear power over who rules Luhansk is nonexistent.

Which brings us to the sabotage of the Nord Stream I and Nord Stream II pipelines built to carry Russian natural gas across the Baltic Sea to Germany, and from there on to Central and Western Europe.

Late last month, explosions blew holes in both pipelines, preventing any renewal of Russian gas exports to Germany through the pipelines, even if Moscow decided to turn on the taps.

NATO Europe is blaming the Russians for blowing up their own pipelines. But these pipelines are a strategic asset that gives Moscow leverage over the economies of much of NATO Europe.

Putin blames the Americans and Brits for the sabotage and has called for the UN Security Council to investigate the act of “terrorism.”

Said Putin, “The sanctions were not enough for the Anglo-Saxons: They moved onto sabotage.”

But, again, though Europeans are pointing the finger at Moscow, why would Russia sabotage two pipelines it helped to construct, which give it lasting leverage over the prosperity of NATO Europe?

Why would Putin sabotage his own strategic assets?

What sense would that make?

As of today, the respective goals of the principal participants in the Ukraine war are becoming as clear as they are irreconcilable.

ORDER IT NOW

Putin has annexed and seeks to hold Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, attach them to Crimea, declare victory, and end a war he is not winning. This weekend, Russian forces were driven out of the city of Lyman they captured in the early days of this war.

Zelenskyy wants to defeat the Russian invaders, drive them out of his country, humiliate Putin and achieve a victory for Ukraine that would put him in its history books as the Winston Churchill of his nation.

However, it appears today that Ukraine will not be allowed to achieve these goals by Putin’s regime, even if preventing it requires the use of tactical nuclear weapons.

And the Americans, what do they want?

Given the Russian losses of troops, tanks, aircraft, armor, artillery, along with the perception that Putin and the Russian army launched a war of aggression against a smaller power and were defeated, America, which provided the weaponry to produce this outcome, is already perceived as a winner.

America should be looking to ending this war before it expands into a nuclear war, which this country has sought to avoid since the atomic age began.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”

 
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  1. TGD says:

    I wonder if the USA has a secret stockpile of tactical nuclear weapons? They were supposed to have been dismantled but who really knows? Below is a 1950s photo of a small tactical US plutonium bomb mounted on a jeep.

  2. bert33 says:

    Ukraine got a good pounding today for their troubles, maybe it will inspire them to cease and desist with attacks against Russia lest they get another round, this time even more debilitating.

    • Replies: @meamjojo
  3. Article 5 does not require any declaration of war.

    • Agree: Verymuchalive
    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
  4. pyrrhus says:

    Delusional in every respect..back to the nursing home Buchanan!

    • Replies: @Poupon Marx
  5. Note that Pat never uses the word “referendum”. Which puts “annexation” into context.
    As for this “America, which provided the weaponry to produce this outcome, is already perceived as a winner.”
    Where does he get these “ideas” ? At the very least it’s highly debatable….

    • Agree: JR Foley
    • Replies: @Wokechoke
  6. meamjojo says:
    @bert33

    I think it should motivate them to attack Russia proper more. Once Russia runs out of missiles (and they are reportedly close to that) the Ukrainians can easily overrun the Russian troops.

  7. @anonymouseperson

    Buchanan himself has written articles making this very point. It is no war guarantee.

    Article 5
    The key section of the treaty is Article 5. Its commitment clause defines the casus foederis. It commits each member state to consider an armed attack against one member state, in Europe or North America, to be an armed attack against them all. Upon such attack, each member state is to assist by taking “such action as [the member state] deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.”

    Buchanan’s ghostwriters don’t understand this point, or that Buchanan has written previous articles pointing this out.

  8. Buchanan and his ghostwriters don’t understand what’s happening in this Conflict because they rely totally on Western MSM sources for their information. Nearly everything from these sources is distortion, misinformation and downright lies.

    So the article claims that Putin is holding a weak hand and that Russian forces have been driven out of Lyman. Neither is true. The latter was a strategic withdrawal to shorten Russian lines. Putin, by contrast, holds a very strong hand. The mobilisation of 300,000 reservists is to end this war quickly. The talk is that 31st January has been set as the date to complete the war.

    Be that as it may, Buchanan or his ghostwriters make no mention of the reservists. The pre-War strength of the Ukraine military was less than 250.000. Last month Shoigu said that over 60,000 Ukrainian military had been killed and 48,000 injured. Given Russian artillery and air dominance this seems plausible. Once the Russian counter-offensive starts, the end for Ukraine will come quickly.

    • Agree: JR Foley
  9. Wokechoke says:

    I’ve reread articles about the two wars in Chechnya. This war may not go very differently. Yeltsin fumbled the first one and then the Russians regrouped and flattened the Chechens a few years later. The stakes now include a hollowed out German industrial base this time though.

  10. miha says:
    @Verymuchalive

    > ‘Nearly everything from these sources is distortion, misinformation and downright lies. ‘.

    Where’s your reason for us or indeed any impartial observer to believe that this description does not apply to your supposedly impeccable sources?

    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
  11. @Verymuchalive

    Why do you keep playing wingman

    Buchanan’s ghostwriters don’t understand this point, or that Buchanan has written previous articles pointing this out.

    to obscure Mr. Buchanan’s warmongering lies?

    Let’s lay this out and clear it up – again.* No one writing or authorizing these columns misapprehends Article 5.

    Consider. In “Where Does NATO Enlargement End?” published January 11, 2022, Mr. Buchanan misleadingly quoted a truncated portion of the document, as demonstrated there in comment #5. (For the second time: please, go look for yourself.)

    He has since propagandized about the purported “war guarantee” without quoting any of the text. That’s apparent, indisputable, and willful misrepresentation.

    When pressed the last time, you claimed that Mr. Buchanan’s “previous articles” pointing out that Article 5 wasn’t a “war guarantee” were published in American Conservative. But even if that was the case, people here should understand this columnist for what he’s since become: the Right jamb of the Overton window, obscuring dissident views of Uncle Sam. The Establishment is not threatened when a supposed “Mr. Paleoconservative” helps to sell war to gullible Americans as “our” legal obligation.

    ——

    We discussed this under Mr. Buchanan’s “What Makes Biden So Pugnacious?” (July 22, 2022).

    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
  12. Rurik says:

    And the Americans, what do they want?

    exactly

    the “Americans”

    no longer are we pummeled with the grotesquely offensive ‘we, our, us’

    It’s no longer ‘As for us, what do we want?’

    It’s now the Americans

    or ‘the Americans’

    Or, more precisely, (((the Americans)))

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  13. @pyrrhus

    And incoherent. One sentence paragraphs, blithe statements with no support or cause and effect relations. Past expiration date.

    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
  14. @Verymuchalive

    Thanks. Also, the Ukraine is nowhere near the “north Atlantic area”.

    • Agree: Verymuchalive
    • Replies: @Anymike
  15. @Poupon Marx

    And incoherent. One sentence paragraphs, blithe statements with no support or cause and effect relations. Past expiration date.

    Spot on, PM. This is so obviously the work of a very poor ghostwriter – someone who can’t be bothered to write a properly constructed article. For Buchanan, there are now only two options – retire or expire. However, someone finds Buchanan too profitable – even in his advanced state of decay – to retire him. So it looks like these articles will only end when he expires.

    • Replies: @JR Foley
  16. @miha

    You write.
    Where’s your reason for us or indeed any impartial observer to believe that this description does not apply to your supposedly impeccable sources?

    Firstly, I made no claim that any source is impeccable, nor indeed that they were “my sources”.
    Secondly, apply critical thinking. Sift and evaluate as many sources and claims as is reasonable and then determine what you think is likely or plausible.

    In the case of the Ukraine Conflict, you can contrast the numerous claims the Western MSM has made right from the start with Russian, neutral and non-MSM sources. Even in March, the former were claiming that Russia was running out of ammunition, troops were deserting, the Russian economy would collapse due to Western sanctions etc. The list is very tedious and far too long for me to debunk here.

    Apply the same standards to Mr Buchanan’s article. He writes that Mr Putin has a weak hand. However, there are less than 200,00 Russian troops in the Ukraine ( 150,00 seems best estimate ). This out of a military of over a million. 300, 000 reservists – more than the pre-War Ukrainian military – have been called up and will be in service shortly. Bear in mind that Russia has over 20 million reservists. None of this Buchanan mentions. The counter argument is that Putin has a strong hand. Buchanan fails to deal with it.

    Likewise, Buchanan claims that Putin is “losing”. If you accept this – which I don’t – then the 300,000 reservists would likely result in Putin “winning”. Again Buchanan fails to deal with it.

    • Replies: @Wokechoke
    , @Minnesota Mary
  17. @Greta Handel

    We both agree that Patrick Buchanan is not the genuine palaeoconservative he was 20 years ago. You claim that he is now the ” Right jamb of the Overton window. ” My claim is he relies entirely on MSM sources for “news” and accepts as fact the distortion, propaganda and lies regaled by the latter. This makes any attempt by him to counter the MSM view fatally flawed. Also, his column is now written by ghostwriters.
    Maybe both views are correct. Only a future historian will tell – if we have a future.

    PS I’ve made considerable efforts to find the early Buchanan articles on Article 5. I believe they appeared in the late 1990s, early 2000s.

    Buchanan’s official website does not have an archive. The American Conservative, founded by him in 2002, does not have an archive of his articles. Unz Review has an archive going back to 2013, but his articles re Article 5 peddle the disingenuous line seen in this article.
    Vdare has an archive of his articles going back to 2006. Few specifically relate to NATO and none seem to contradict his present claims about Article 5.

    Buchanan rejoined the Republican Party in 2004. Apart from the books, all the articles before that date have been memory holed. Interesting, that.

  18. “it is hard to recall, in four decades of Cold War, or the three decades since, a speech of such relentless vitriol and hostility toward the West”

    To be fair, his hostility is towards Western elites. If his intelligence services are any good at all, they’ll be aware that a lot of the bad things he mentions about the west, the relentless vitriol towards family and religion, are also detested by normal Westies.

    And when it comes to Western elites, the relentless vitriol and hostility has been heading Russia’s way ever since they stopped allowing Western companies to loot their resources.

    • Agree: Verymuchalive
  19. Wokechoke says:
    @animalogic

    A list of words on an email. This essay was composed before the more sustained missile strikes that have done a lot of damage to the Ukie hierarchy.

  20. Wokechoke says:
    @Verymuchalive

    You could paraphrase Buchanan’s essay. Declare Ukraine victor then cede to Russia the Crimea, the losers.

  21. @Verymuchalive

    No doubt about it—Buchanan is not the same man he was years ago. I recently ran across a column titled “Why Are We Baiting the Bear?” It was dated 10/07/16 and is a wonderful piece that I recommend to everyone to read. He gives us some history leading up to the current crisis in Ukraine that most people never knew or forgot.

    • Replies: @JR Foley
    , @Verymuchalive
  22. JR Foley says:

    Innocent Ukrainians have died. There were 14,000 in East Ukraine who died 2014-2022 and many more in Western Ukraine since March 2022. Speaking Russian was no reason for their executions and ALL this nonsense could be stopped on a moment’s notice—a big thud in downtown Kiev next to the Garlic Palace where the Jew Comedian and purported KING of the UN and his mafia pals are holed up.

  23. JR Foley says:
    @Minnesota Mary

    Pat –years back I wanted Buchanan to WIN–I am sure it is either ghost writers or Pat is now suffering from dementia —–the OLD PAT was a good politician and unbiased.

  24. Republic says:
    @Verymuchalive

    Buchanan and his ghostwriters don’t understand what’s happening in this Conflict because they rely totally on Western MSM sources for their information. Nearly everything from these sources is distortion, misinformation and downright lies.

    Very True

  25. @Minnesota Mary

    He was even better before 2004 when he rejoined the Republican Party.
    See my reply #18.

  26. JR Foley says:
    @Verymuchalive

    Some little clown such as Liz Truss or some bimbo like Nikki Haley at VOA—trying their writing talents—KK will head to the USA and help “Amtrak Joe” get those trains rolling with subsidized tickets —-

  27. You are a lying sack of shit, Pat. You’ve lost your credibility with me. You’re too intelligent and experienced to not know you’re being consistently misleading.

    Putin holds a weak hand? We should be lucky to hold such a “weak hand.”

  28. @Rurik

    Right again, Rurik. We teach our children to call the government and military “the US”, never “America” and certainly never “we” and “us.” They know that the people ruling us view us with contempt and deserve neither trust nor loyalty.

    Let us have a binding national referendum on sending money to “the ukraine” (military contractors and corrupt officials) and everyone will see that the US is NOT “us.”

    Most of us, the actual American people, want no part of this.

    In fact, maybe we need to have a binding referendum in every State on whether to contribute any money or any men to any conflict or entity outside our territorial waters. Time to peacefully start winding down support of the federal thugs and reducing participation in its vicious and aggressive projects.

    • Replies: @Rurik
  29. eudion2 says:

    Below is a randomly chosen showcase video about cities in Russia. As you watch it, ask yourself if a nation this big and prosperous is going to lose against itty-bitty, ramshackle Ukraine. Also, as you watch it, think about the boarded-up storefronts and the sidewalks filled with homeless in the US ‘showcase’ cities of New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

    (Apparently, $650 a month buys a lot more in Russia than in the US, which suggests some hanky-panky with the currency exchange rates.)

  30. Rurik says:
    @RadicalCenter

    They know that the people ruling us view us with contempt and deserve neither trust nor loyalty.

    I’d go one further RadicalCenter, and say they hate our guts with a genocidal ferocity.

    US is NOT “us.”

    I remember once seeing a picture like this and being amazed at the incongruity. The slap-of-the-face dishonesty

    It would be as a Palestinian Arab waving a Star of David flag

    But for myself, (and I suspect others), it’s a conflicted kind of thing, because we were born and raised in this country and it didn’t used to be an insane goon on the world’s stage, bombing and murdering innocent people by the hundreds of thousands, running a torture camp while simultaneously declaring all working class white guys who don’t want to be transgender or kneel to BLM, are ‘domestic terrorists’.

    If we’re declared the enemies of America, simply due to our DNA or conservative views, then what does that do to our sense of patriotism?

    I remember a time when I had some affection for the patriotic songs, and Americana like the Hollywood of old, before it went woke, or the music of the 70s, and Detroit muscle and so much that I loved about America.

    And now, not only is it all gone, but those days are repudiated as a horrible time of ‘racism’ and ‘misogyny’.

    Now what we all need to be concentrated on is making any and every sacrifice we can, (even to the point of forcing a nuclear war) in order to win the war in Ukraine against the Adolf Hitler du jour, and affirming transgender ascendancy in the elementary schools, and promoting wokeness (anti-white hatred) in every sphere of our culture.

    The America of my youth is dead and gone. It’s been ((murdered)) and put in its grave.

    So now what?

  31. @Wokechoke

    https://thediplomat.com/2022/10/the-war-in-ukraine-is-decimating-russias-asian-minorities/

    Mobilizing Russia is based. Ethnic Minorities hardest hit.

    What exactly are you saying? It’s not so bad because they are using Asians to kill Ukrainian Whites?

    Anyways there was just a video posted today where recruiters were literally grabbing men in Moscow.

    There will be plenty of dead Russian White conscripts in fields when this is all over.

    Putin isn’t an ethno-nationalist and is only recruiting heavily from Asian areas because he knows they are less likely to protest.

    If he pulls too many men from Moscow or St Petersburg then the ruling classes will revolt.

  32. @Verymuchalive

    Once the Russian counter-offensive starts, the end for Ukraine will come quickly.

    And what will that counter-offensive look like? Conscripted men with AK-47s charging at seasoned Ukrainians? Conscripts are being told to buy their own body armor:
    https://ukranews.com/en/news/888247-british-military-intelligence-gives-its-assessment-to-level-of-equipment-of-mobilized-russian

    There will be mass desertions on the Russian side. Actual men on the frontlines are not as enthused about this war as Putin’s 32nd keyboard division.

    Given Russian artillery and air dominance this seems plausible

    And where has that happened? There are leaked calls from Russians talking about how their artillery is overrated and the air support rarely shows up.

    Buchanan isn’t afraid to call it like it is. Putin is lacking in conventional forces and that should have been obvious when they were recruiting from the prisons.

    They are actually taking T-62s out of storage:
    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/ukraine-is-capturing-russia-e2-80-99s-old-t-62-tanks-will-it-use-them/ar-AA12AgWZ

    Yes tanks from the 1960s. How many of them will even work?

    Some of you have a very hard time with nuanced thought. This isn’t a sport of US vs THEM. It’s actually possible to be against the US establishment and also conclude that Putin is a loser dictator with limited options.

    • LOL: Wade Hampton
    • Replies: @Wokechoke
  33. You write:
    It’s actually possible to be against the US establishment and also conclude that Putin is a loser dictator with limited options.

    It is impossible to be against the US establishment when you quote Western government and MSM sources as fact, which is what you invariably do, as here. Likewise Mr Putin’s position as President is described by the Russian Constitution. No one – not even Western Governments – have claimed that he has used malpractice to win his elections. By contrast, Biden obtained electoral victory by vote-rigging. Who then is the dictator ?

    The Russians will wrap up victory in Ukraine in the next few months. You, Barton Kaldian and other NATO Trolls had better get used to it.

  34. Wokechoke says:
    @John Johnson

    Ivan Ivanovich,

    The Russians are piling into the areas they’ve captured. Think of the new recruits from the prisons as Australians transported to the sunny south as Colonials.

  35. @Wokechoke

    I’ve not seen any independent evidence of Russia recruiting in prisons. But it may be true on a very limited scale. If you have to send people on suicide missions, then send convicts, not regular troops.
    Having said that, the Ukrainian policy of stand and fight really has been suicidal. When faced with an indefencible position and overwhelming numbers, Russian policy has been strategic withdrawal and preservation of the lives of their troops.

    So I’m wondering if it is actually the Ukrainians who are recruiting convicts. Of course, the Western MSM would never tell you this

    • Replies: @John Johnson
  36. @Verymuchalive

    “strategic withdrawal to shorten Russian lines”

    right. Like the Germans did on the Western Front in 1917,

    and when the Japs evacuated Guadalcanal in 1943…..

    oh, wait…..look who won those wars.

  37. @Wokechoke

    The Russians are piling into the areas they’ve captured. Think of the new recruits from the prisons as Australians transported to the sunny south as Colonials.

    Well that is probably the most honest assessment I have ever seen from you.

    The Russians are treating their own conscripts like Australian prisoners. What a country.

    So what is the plan then? Have them dig in and wait?

    The more conscripts you group together the easier it is to destroy them with artillery.

    Or does he charge them ahead even though they can’t even supply them with enough gear at the base?

    Putin has put himself into a corner. His best move is to quit before suffering further embarrassment.

  38. @Verymuchalive

    I’ve not seen any independent evidence of Russia recruiting in prisons. But it may be true on a very limited scale.

    They’ve already captured POWs that were recruited from prisons. They are offering even murderers parole if they serve for 6 months. Of course most won’t be coming back.

    There is also a smuggled cell phone video showing the recruiting. It isn’t merely a rumor.

    Having said that, the Ukrainian policy of stand and fight really has been suicidal.

    How has it been suicidal? They pushed Russia out of Kiev to the shock of everyone.

    Russian policy has been strategic withdrawal and preservation of the lives of their troops.

    Not anymore. They are being told to hold the line even if under artillery fire. They were routed in Lyman which is why so much working equipment was left. In an orderly retreat they will disable any working equipment that can’t be taken.

    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
  39. @John Johnson

    You produce no evidence for any of your claims. You are a deluded NATO Troll. When the end comes for Ukraine, as it will shortly, you will be completely stupified.

  40. Anymike says:
    @anonymouseperson

    I’ve wondered that exact thing. Admittedlyt, I haven’t traveled much in my life but I’m pretty good with maps, and I have often wondered, what part of the North Atlantic might Ukraine be found in anyway?

    Don’t argue with me. I got 65 of 65 on an online geography quiz just today.

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