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Russia says Ukraine talks hit 'dead end', Poland warns of risk of war (reuters.com)
103 points by Schroedingers2c 14 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 233 comments



I fully support the sovereignty of Ukraine, but I understand the Russian position from watching Prof. John Mearsheimer lectures, particularly this one:

Why is Ukraine the West's Fault?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrMiSQAGOS4

John Mearsheimer

John Mearsheimer is an American political scientist and international relations scholar, who belongs to the realist school of thought. He is the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. He has been described as the most influential realist of his generation.

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


Thanks for sharing the video. I think the downvotes you got are unfair, as you're just linking to a talk from a, from the looks of it, very distinguished professor, so I upvoted you.

However, I would like to inform you that there's a good article that was written in response to Mearsheimer's talk: https://archive.is/6vdRf


That's a very interesting article that I encourage interested observers to read. I always like hearing from McFaul.

It includes a rebuttal by John J. Mearsheimer at the end:

It is not surprising that Michael McFaul and Stephen Sestanovich disagree with my account of what caused the Ukraine crisis. Both the policies they helped frame and execute while in the U.S. government and their responses to my article exemplify the liberal foreign policy consensus that helped cause the crisis in the first place...


You can't support the sovereignty of Ukraine while also supporting Russia's hegemony over Ukraine. Ukraine has the right to defend itself against Russian aggression and to seek alliances which can help to that end. The Russian autocracy views democracy as a threat. This is really no different than Germany, prior to WW2, seeking to dominate the countries around it. Some of those countries had ethnic Germans living there, and that was part of the justification used at that time, as it is by Putin today.

Russian security assurances aren't about trying to defend the country against an encroaching NATO, but rather trying to restore as much as possible the domination of Russia over former USSR states.


Mearsheimer doesn’t even recognize the sovereignty of Ukraine, it’s realist vs liberal schools of thought (with realism having been sidelined for decades in the west).

There’s a Foreign Affairs article version instead of the hour long random YouTube lecture version: https://www.mearsheimer.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Why-t...

In a nutshell of what it’s like: One also hears the claim that Ukraine has the right to determine whom it wants to ally with and the Russians have no right to prevent Kiev from joining the West. This is a dangerous way for Ukraine to think about its foreign policy choices. The sad truth is that might often makes right when great-power politics are at play. Abstract rights such as self-determination are largely meaningless when powerful states get into brawls with weaker states. … Even if one rejects this analysis, however, and believes that Ukraine has the right to petition to join the EU and NATO, the fact remains that the United States and its European allies have the right to reject these requests.

Guy did argue for Ukraine to keep nukes in the 90s though, it’s just a much more mechanistic type of thinking.


That is true but there is a history. While it is a prominent Kremlin talking point, there is a civil conflict in Ukraine. The initial reason was that some wanted free trade agreements with the EU while others did not, because it would mean their industry breaking down due to more competitive European alternatives and investors buying their infrastructure.

But this is not an ethnic or cultural conflict. You have Russians and Ukrainians on both fronts of this conflict.

While most Ukrainians are nationalists, it is very true though that the Maidan factions is vastly more interested in democracy and the Anti-Maidan one, or whatever they call themselves now.

More info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_in_Donbas

Ukraine is complicated. You have to read up a lot. Probably begin with the orange revolution but even the time before and the relation to the EU and US is important.

To take sides here until the internal conflicts are resolved basically means supporting another proxy war. If it isn't already one because the factions are dependent on outside help to keep up the fight. The south-eastern Russia associated group certainly more so than Kiev and co.

The conflict also hits innocents, the MH17 to Malaysia with a lot of Dutch people got shot down by the Russian associated group.


the first part of the video by that professor, explains that ukraine is a very divided country, it's made up by two different groups of people, ukrainian-speakers and russian-speakers. So you gotta take this into account when considering what "Ukraine" wants.

> Russian security assurances aren't about trying to defend the country against an encroaching NATO, but rather trying to restore as much as possible the domination of Russia over former USSR states.

well, the video explains better than I could in one comment why this is nonsense. It 100% is all about Russian preventing a rival military base in a border country.


> So you gotta take this into account when considering what "Ukraine" wants.

Ukraine is a sovereign state with internationally recognized borders.

Whether Russia thinks that Russia is “anywhere Russian is spoken” or “Anywhere Russians live” isn’t really relevant. “Ethnic Russians” living in Ukraine are Ukrainians, and no amount of unrest or even mistreatment of those citizens would be legal a cause for military action.

Either Russia recognizes the borders and sovereignty of Ukraine or it doesn’t. And to be honest, if Russia doesn’t which appears to be the case, then it should probably expect any smaller neighbors to join defense alliances.


Which works democratically, there's people in Ukraine who will support Russia and people who will support "the west"

The point is also that it's borders are badly drawn, there's an air of civil war to this conflict within Ukraine.

...then again, this is just rando interent opinion and I have no stakes in any of this.


> Which works democratically, there's people in Ukraine who will support Russia and people who will support "the west" The point is also that it's borders are badly drawn, there's an air of civil war to this conflict within Ukraine

Absolutely. And a civil war (which you can argue has been a thing for many years now) is a tragedy. But of course - and this is the whole point - no one crosses a sovereign nations borders to aid a side in a civil war, without a UN resolution to do so. And Russia not only actively supports separatists in eastern ukraine, it also more or less started this conflict AND annexed Crimea.


> It 100% is all about Russian preventing a rival military base in a border country.

Not so sure about that. To me this looks more like a diversion from internal political problems, "Wag the dog" style.


It's slightly more than that. Russia (Putin) can't stand a successful democracy on his border, especially one that used to be in the USSR. For some reason, he ignores Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. But Ukraine? It's a direct threat to Putin's power if it is successful as a real democracy, if it turns toward the west. Not just because it diminishes Russia's sphere of influence, but because it shows a path that Russians could take - a path that leaves Putin not at the top of "the vertical of power".

Just to add - Putin defers action on the other neighbors rather than ignores. He'd be happy to weaken them internally or via disinfo campaigns.

Bigger fish to fry at the moment in his USSR2.0 drive.


The bigger question is "why now". Ukraine is not joining NATO or the EU any time soon. Russia has de facto annexed Crimea and its ongoing support for separatists in Donbas keeps the region unstable to its advantage.

I suspect two reasons: Putin's flagging domestic support and Russia's (and to be honest, the world's) perception that America is currently so divided and weak it will be unable to offer much resistance than token sanctions (nor will the EU, given Germany's self-flaggelating energy policy). The danger is that this might snowball into a larger conflict - if Russia thinks the US is no longer a threat, what's stopping the Chinese from going into Taiwan, or the North Koreans causing mischief?


Difference, at least with regard to China/Taiwan, is timeline. Russia could likely steamroll much of Ukraine in a short period of time, and the US/NATO has few assets available for immediate response to hundreds of thousands of Russian troops. The conflict could potentially be over before any meaningful military response could be mounted outside of what Ukraine can muster (which compared to the Russians only goes so far).

Taiwan on the other hand could likely hold out for some time, IIRC their entire defense strategy is "be a tough nut to crack until the US shows up", and amphibious assaults are a very different animal from land invasions. It would primarily be a naval/air battle, and the US has plentiful and superior naval and air assets within striking distance of Taiwan, and just by the numbers the US Navy would annihilate the Chinese Navy in an open conflict. Not that the US/Taiwan would take no casualties, it would be the bloodiest US conflict since Vietnam. But if it happened tomorrow it would end in a decisive US/Taiwan victory assuming things stay conventional.

Also China's a special case, as thanks to their one child policy almost all of their soldiers/sailors/pilots/marines are only children, and arguably more importantly (in China) only sons. The officers/pilots in particular are often the only sons of party officials/the societal elite. So any war China starts could have major domestic ramifications as thousands of relatively important Chinese families see their family trees start to wither.

We also have strategic interests in Taiwan thanks to semiconductors, the same can't be said for Ukraine.

That said, just because it wouldn't make any rational sense doesn't mean it won't happen, or that the narrative you describe wouldn't exists. Let's hope Xi's relative pragmatism continues.


US has 2x more troops forward deployed in East Europe for Russian contingency and decades worth of equipment stocked piled as result of cold war. There's also all of NATO. Versus TW where PRC concentration of forces overwhelm US air/naval assets and reinforcement is far away in time and logistics and there's no US allies in region willing to credibly contribute to TW defense.

The entire current TW defense strategy is to line up on the beach to be blown up based off 90s PLA invasion plans not 2020 PLA plans based off US stomping Iraq with high tech weapons and complete air supremacy. The "tough nut to crack" / porcupine strategy are asymmetric doctrine US think tanks want TW to adopt so US can respond it time. It's not reality, currently PRC can stomp TW before US help arrives. And it's questionable US has any supremacy within 1st island chain for TW defense. Also PLA isn't filled elites, certainly not combat roles, and what few there are will have strings pulled not to be deployed anyway. The entire one-child will disincentivize TW war meme is also nonsensical, PLA wants martyrs after decades of relative peace and frankly having a dead hero is going to come with a golden parachute for the family.

The real answer is PRC still prioritizes peaceful reunion because time is on their side.

Where as time is not on side of Russia, simultaneously because force balance could shift away for Russian favor and Putin has actually managed to credibly modernize Russian military that it's at peak power to pursue/restore it's security environment that has been devolving for the last 20 years. Ultimately, Russia is currently powerful enough to fight for her interests, because on balance capability is in RU favor. US isn't going to intervene, EU underinvested in defense while Russia invested enough despite how poor they are.


2x what? The total US deployments in Europe are < 70,000 personnel, let alone Eastern Europe in particular. The combat troops that are stationed in Eastern Europe are there as deterrents, intended to force the Russians to fire on US/NATO forced should they attempt to invade a NATO member. There are no such forces in Ukraine. As for the rest of NATO, it's questionable how much they could readily activate and deploy to Ukraine on short notice. If NATO goes to open war with Russia, that means mobilizing enough to deal with a full scale Russian invasion, which includes defending the Eastern European allies from Russian retaliation. Token forces trickling in won't do it. Air power alone won't do it.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/9/10/infographic-us-mili...

As for Taiwan, barring immediate Taiwanese surrender China will have to suppress Taiwanese naval and air defenses and then put substantial boots on the ground. The Chinese airborne is not large enough to do the latter on its own, that means amphibious assaults and contested landings. Though they would ultimately succeed were Taiwan left to defend itself, it would take time. Realistically they'd have to do that while dealing with the immediately deployable US carrier groups and air/naval/marine forces from land bases in Guam/Japan/etc.

I agree the whole "losing large amounts of only sons" bit is speculation in terms of what impact it would have. Golden parachutes might go a long way.

I would say time isn't on China's side at all. It's making more enemies in the world while losing former would-be friends, and is in severe demographic decline, much like Russia. Plus dealing with China is the one thing that currently unites Americans politically, and has lead to the creation of and near universal support for AUKUS, as well as the current trade war. If China keeps upping the confrontation it will only provoke a more severe response from the rest of the world, and if it dials down the confrontation it will eventually be hobbled by demographic decline and other factors. Realistically there's no good option for China to take Taiwan, but the CCP can't admit that. So one way or another there's going to be a show.


>2x what?

Sorry hastily constructed reply. Typo for 1/2x and instead of "in" East Europe I meant "for" East Europe. Was trying to convey is Russia has built superior posture relative to NATO considering US and EU (lack) of commitment.

>The Chinese airborne is not large enough to do the latter on its own, that means amphibious assaults and contested landings

PLA war planners have assumed to be able to secure air supremacy and (relatively) uncontested landing within few days with current force balance. Air supremacy + PLA airborne + helicopter transports is assumed to be sufficient to establish mass uncontested landing using civilian transport ships built to military standards. Many US war games seems comport, but even excluding wargames = worst case scenario for show argument, most new western think tank reports have similar conclusions, hence hard press for TW to adopt asymmetric doctrine = currently TW can't buy enough time.

Hard to say what actual US involvement will be, but IMO nothing substantial out of Japan (or within 1st island chain), and it takes time for other forces to break into SCS in detail considering SCS bases there to hinder.

> making more enemies in the world while losing former would-be friends,

I would say PRC has mostly successfully dismantled US political containment plans. Wolf warrior scared ASEAN, SK, perhaps JP into neutrality outside of military theater. AU too far to be relevant except for blockade. AUKUS is basically the weakest minilateral arrangement for PRC containment versus what think tanks thought possible. EU isn't commitmented to pick sides in TW contingency. They're not even pressing further sanctions after PRC counter sanctioned EU sanctions. PRC isn't making friends, but it's eliminating committed enemies. Which is more important for PRC goals. PRC has secured more impunity to pursue security goals than USSR at height of power. Of course USN remains the massive challenge.

> is in severe demographic decline, much like Russia.

Demographic decline works in PRC favor for security considerations. Less people = less resource = more security = more flexibility to actually pursue security objectives. And even with depressed >10M birth rate, Navy/Air war simply don't require much personnel, there's no shortage of bodies. Also consider PRC is currently only spending 2% on military, 6% is not uncustomary in times of extreme security competition. Even a demographically declining PRC can allocate resources to support military multiple times current size.

> Realistically there's no good option for China to take Taiwan, but the CCP can't admit that.

Military options for taking TW is largely forgone in PLA literature from last few years. The challenge is still aftermath with US, which CCP readily admits capability gap is large. But if/when PRC accumulates sufficient capabilities to deter US or establish PRC regional hegemony, taking TW is an afterthought. Last year was first time analysis from both US and PRC side is trending towards conclusion force balance will only favor PRC with time, unless tech develops can manifestly shift balance. Realistically no amount of US + co spending and acquisitions is going to match PRC concentrating force in one region. IMO, TW is a sideshow, setting for actual Sino-US security competition. PRC has options for taking TW at anytime, some for deterring US, and very little for defeating US.


>Difference, at least with regard to China/Taiwan, is timeline. Russia could likely steamroll much of Ukraine in a short period of time, and the US/NATO has few assets available for immediate response to hundreds of thousands of Russian troops. The conflict could potentially be over before any meaningful military response could be mounted outside of what Ukraine can muster (which compared to the Russians only goes so far).

It takes, what, 12-20 hours to get a bunch of planes in the air - at that point the Russian soldiers will be smashed unless they can keep control of the air. You can't win a air power immediately, but if it comes to a NATO fight Poland is right next to Ukraine and has some pretty nice equipment and no love for Russia.


The Russians have a bunch of planes as well, not to mention sophisticated land based air defenses already in Eastern Ukraine.

Poland recently ran a bunch of military exercises simulating a Russian invasion through Belarus, and in the words of one Polish general the results were "worse than 1939" https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2021/11/09/pola-n09.html

If NATO declares war on Russia, that also immediately expands the front line from Norway, down into the Baltics, all of which would have to be defended from Russian retaliation. Doing that and fighting a full scale invasion of Ukraine would be the largest European Conflict since WWII.


> If NATO declares war on Russia, that also immediately expands the front line from Norway, down into the Baltics, all of which would have to be defended from Russian retaliation. Doing that and fighting a full scale invasion of Ukraine would be the largest European Conflict since WWII.

Well, that obviously goes both ways. Russia will also have to defend itself all the way from the north to the south.


Because Russia is failing apart. People living in post Soviet sphere see how other countries are developing. Ukraine had higher GDP per capita than Poland - now it's 4x lower. It's true for every single place from Kaliningrad, Caucasus to Vladivostok. They are worse off they their neighbours for purely political reasons.

Only thing that holds everything together is the authoritarian regime with strong military and natural resources. The problem is the world will become less dependant on fossil fuels and mining in Siberia is more expensive than pretty much everywhere. Russia won't be able to pay for the army.

This is an existential treat to the Russian state, hence the war is very likely.


"Why now?" is also a question I was wondering about.

But also, "What's the goal?". They obviously can't occupy the whole country (Ukraine is large and populous, that would be way too expensive). Do they want the eastern part (with a big Russian minority), land bridge to Crimea, or just extend Donbas/Luhansk or just reheat the conflict, destabilize the Ukraine?

It has to be something worthy. Ukrainian army is in a much better state than in 2014 and a full scale invasion could become very expensive and politically risky.

Or maybe it really is just sabre rattling and Putin wants something completely different (lifting of existing sanctions, NS2 completion...).


> "What's the goal?"

Reinstate a pliant dictator, like the one who was removed in 2014 [1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktor_Yanukovych


This wouldn't work without military occupation, since such dictator wouldn't have support of Ukrainian military/population.


> This wouldn't work without military occupation, since such dictator wouldn't have support of Ukrainian military/population

Not necessarily a permanent presence. Belarus and Kazakhstan's rulers aren't popular and don't require permanent support. Parachuting in soldiers lets Moscow amplify its strength. (America does this too.)


Belarus and Kazakhstan dictators have support of local military.

Ukrainian military these days is pretty built up and indoctrinated. It's not doing 180-degree turn-around just like that.

Russia won't be able to control the situation remotely with just a threat of a parachute operation.


I'm wondering if Putin is becoming paranoid of a possibly military coup and this is a way to keep the Russian military away from Moscow or some other related internal crisis. I'm honestly surprised that hasn't happened yet.


I'm wondering if this all about the NordStream 2 pipeline, though I'm not sure how threatening Ukraine helps Russia's case... maybe just to show that you don't want pipelines through an unstable region.

Also, who benefits when natural gas prices go higher?


No, Nord Stream is a small part of this and is politicized. Although Ukraine doesn't want to loose its position as a transit country. The western part of Ukraine is dependent on outside help and gas trade is an essential part. The south-eastern part is even more dependent on Russia for that matter.

Russia doesn't need Nord Stream 2 as much because they could sell it to China just as well. For such ventures long term stability is important, but the EU already announced they will move away from fossil fuels which adds insecurity.

Countries with a lot of resources profit the most from high prices, but Russia might not want them too high because then the US could viably support the EU with gas too.


Many reasons!

Internationally; Merkel is out and the Greens (staunch anti-Russians) have the foreign affairs meanwhile Nord Stream still stuck, Ukraine is getting increasingly armed with Turkish drones and anti-tank missile systems plus its clamp down on pro-Russia politicians and oligarchs, Biden is probably the last democrat (or non-Trump Republican) willing to sit down with Putin

Domestically; inflation is soaring, purchasing power dwindling, and Kremlin popularity so low after continuous unpopular measures that the government is having second/third thoughts in passing vaccine passes.


> The bigger question is "why now".

Because the energy crisis in Europe creates a good opportunity


> "why now"

Armenia just lost a war [1]. Minsk is swallowed by protests [2]. Kazakhstan is now facing protests [3]. That's half the CSTO members [4]. Meanwhile, Georgia and Ukraine are reminders to disheveled Russians that democracy for former Soviet members can work. (Also Nord Stream [5].)

The cause for action begins and ends with domestic politics vis-a-vis Putin, who has created a system where losing power means loss of property, freedom and potentially life.

[1] https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R46651

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020–2021_Belarusian_protests

[3] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/05/world/asia/kazakhstan-pro...

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collective_Security_Treaty_Org...

[5] https://news.yahoo.com/u-senate-vote-cruzs-nord-011608935.ht...


Eh, Armenia losing its war wasn't particularly detrimental to the Russian interests in the Transcaucasia - if anything it helped bring Pashinyan back into the fold, as evidenced by him embracing CSTO during the Kazakh unrest.

Minsk is also hardly "swallowed by protests" right now, they've succeeded in driving all resistance back underground.

I agree that the post-Soviet world is in a bit of a crisis but it's not particularly more crisisy than normal. Putin's just getting older.


Fair enough. I do think taken together, and the observation that absent Moscow's military support Minsk and new Almaty could have gone quite differently, they would be worrying to someone in Putin's shoes.

Deploying the Russian army to Kazakhstan is much less risky than deploying it in Moscow. A small shift in the balance of power and the guns are aimed at you.

That said, we in the West have a long history of overcomplicating the Kremlin's thinking. Perhaps he is just going senile.


> The cause for action begins and ends with domestic politics vis-a-vis Putin

Realizing this has been very important in my attempts at understanding Russian behavior. However, even after years of attempting to internalize this knowledge I still have a reactionary response at first... then I remember this.


are the rest of the US allies in the world so powerless? Isn't this why we have the UN? Without the US, does the world just go back to war, death, and destruction everywhere? That seems crazy to me.


> Without the US, does the world just go back to war, death, and destruction everywhere?

We're in a uniquely, some argue unnaturally, peaceful period [1]. For most of human history, lords spilled blood bickering over borders.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pax_Americana


Yes pretty much. Look at Kazakhstan dictator getting military support from Russia. Where is international support? (((


Go back to? The war, death, and destruction never stopped… we just exported it to others.


That's a ridiculous twisting of history. The last decades have been extremely peaceful, and you could argue that even since WW2 its been pretty peaceful. If you think because the US invaded a few countries over the last 100 years that qualifies as anything like what the world was like before, go read a bit more history.

Your post is especially insensitive to anyone outside of US history, like myself, in a country that was repeatedly invaded, and raped, and pillaged throughout history. I'm extremely glad for the last 30-40 years.



Maybe Putin wants that "We are sending the immigrants card" by having a big border with EU; one way (ukraine as russia) or another (ukraine as a swiftly welcomed eu member)

I feel that these articles rarely give any perspective on Russia's issue which is that Ukraine joining NATO would be a violation of prior agreements and would result in armaments being placed at their boarder which they view as a risk and security breach. The US is basically saying we don't care and we are going to do it despite your objections and then pretending Russia threatening military action is unilateral hostility.


> Ukraine joining NATO would be a violation of prior agreements

This purported promise is a myth, see my comments here [1].

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=29924836


Calling it a "myth" misses the forest for the trees.

What possible benefit to existing NATO members does Ukraine joining serve? I can't think of any, unless you define "benefit" as "intentionally antagonizing the former Cold War adversary".

From the former Ambassador to Soviet Union[1]:

>When the Budapest memorandum was signed in 1994 there was no plan to expand NATO to the east and Gorbachev had been assured in 1990 that the alliance would not expand. When in fact it did expand right up to Russia’s borders, Russia was confronted with a radically different strategic situation than existed when the Budapest agreement was signed.

Now, while it's true that there wasn't a treaty or a document that said "Ukraine will never join NATO", there was a good-faith understanding that NATO would not expand like it has. Gentlemen can disagree that this was or was not a realistic understanding of the security and geopolitical situation at that time, but it's genuinely odd that everyone acts like Russia is the sole aggressor in this.

[1] https://www.krasnoevents.com/uploads/1/1/6/6/116679777/krasn...


> while it's true that there wasn't a treaty or a document that said "Ukraine will never join NATO", there was a good-faith understanding that NATO would not expand like it has

Between whom? Gorbachev has no memory of it, based on his public statements. The supposed agreement was made in the context of Germany's reunification, something the Soviets not only agreed to but memorialized in various written agreements, none of which mention this supposed understanding.

Also, wasn't the motivation for the 2014 invasion Ukraine's potential membership in the EU?


>Between whom? Gorbachev has no memory of it, based on his public statements.

I'm going to go ahead and take the word of the former ambassador to Soviet Union at face value. You can reject it based on your own analysis as you see fit. I'm not necessarily trying to take a particular side here, but one thing I have a problem with is that the "Status Quo" of "America runs security for Europe" isn't really a relevant or wise way to view things anymore. That perspective seems to drive the vast majority of discussion on this topic and it portends a level of competency and reach that I don't think the US military has anymore. So some realism is needed.


> The US is basically saying we don't care and we are going to do it despite your objections

By framing this whole thing as a hostility by the US towards Russia, you're saying that Ukraine isn't a sovereign nation, which can choose to ally with whomever and join whichever organization they want. So yeah that's Putin's narrative: Ukraine is a part of Russia and doesn't get to make those choices. That's the Russian perspective.


Yes Ukraine is a sovereign nation but NATO is not. The US and Russia have an agreement that NATO will not encroach onto Russias border which allowing Ukraine to join (a US decision) would be a violation of.

It's akin to arguing that Cuba joining a Russian military alliance and re-installing ICBMs on their territory is totally fine because Cuba is a sovereign nation and can do whatever they want.


There is no such agreement. Produce the documents.

Also the Russian demands (per their 2 'treaty' proposals) is for restoration of geopolitical map to 1997. It is true (and interesting) that Western press tries to formulate this as "about Ukraine" but the documents (which are plain English) clearly demand a strategic retreat and restoration of spheres of influence between great powers.

From the Russian perspective, it is certainly true that having forward nuclear capable installations bordering Russia renders Russian options for nuclear retaliation null and void. This is something Putin spent a great deal of time explaining a few years ago: it disrupts the Russia MAD protocols and thus is "dangerous" (per Putin) in that Russians seeing (nuclear capable) stuff flying over from across the border have no way to determine if the attack is conventional or nuclear. So what Russians want is really a long enough window for the MAD protocols to be meaningful. TLDR: Russia believes these installations create the opportunity for decapitating Nuclear First Strike by NATO on Russia.

I think this is the biggest failing of the reporting class regarding this (imho fairly serious) development: framing this as about Ukraine whereas it is strictly about great power balance. The subtext here is that our chattering classes no longer consider Russia a "great power" and thus dismiss those concerns. The most sensible approach for Russians is to place equivalent hardware in Cuba and Venezuela, and equalize the "first strike" insecurities. If West then smashes the Russian installations, then I suppose Russians can go ahead and do the same to everything NATO "post 1997" in "former Warsaw Pact" nations.


Great analysis, I agree with your points.

>So yeah that's Putin's narrative: Ukraine is a part of Russia and doesn't get to make those choices. That's the Russian perspective.

Ukraine choose Yanukovych and what it got in return was a western-backed revolution to oust him. If we're keeping score, only one side has actually done a color revolution in this country and it isn't Russia.


Yes, it was Ukraine doing the revolution. Yanukovich lost elections in 2004, and his win in 2010 was marginal. His corruption and brutality made him quite unpopular with the people by 2014. His attempts to consolidate power made him quite unpopular with half of Ukrainian oligarchs as well.

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

This is what this is all about. It's not so much the money but also militaristic strategic assets. Moldova and Georgia doesnt have Russian war to deal with.

Which really comes down to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sevastopol_Naval_Base

Russia has lots of land all over the black sea. They could build a gigantic base near rostov-on-don. So why dont they? To strike from and base at Rostov would be foolish. So many tight bottlenecks to get in and out. Maybe Novorossiysk instead? but no crimea is obviously important to them. Except novo is happening. They are building a naval base there. It will take time. In probably about 10-15 years crimea will go back to ukraine and this will be all over.

What's unsaid here. Why is it so important for russia to maintain such a huge naval presence in the black sea? This fleet isn't going past istanbul. Navy isn't even useful in war anymore really. An F35 from 40,000ft is practically untouchable by the russian navy and could probably sink their entire fleet from 300km away.

So what is it? Romania? Bulgaria? Turkey? Who on the black sea is Russia so afraid of?


Putin doesn't want to lose power. All these propaganda, military moves are to give poor people something to take their eyes and minds off the reality - him robbing the country for 30 years. If you have absolute power for long time you know what happens.


>Putin doesn't want to lose power. All these propaganda, military moves are to give poor people something to take their eyes and minds off the reality - him robbing the country for 30 years. If you have absolute power for long time you know what happens.

I dont see this as the answer. If it's really power, march to Kyiv and take it all. They could do it. Crimea is more or less the only annexation because that's all they want.

Even the syrian conflict and russia is the same story. They are really just preserving their military base.

So just on the other side of Turkey they have military base as well they are preserving. You also have: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_Russian_Sukhoi_Su-24_shoo...

Then also look at Turkey's financial woes and it sure does look like Russia doing it.

Turkey seems to understand this and has been making diplomatic efforts to repair relations. The irony is that it seems they are coming back together more recently because they hate the USA.


I mean his only goal is to stay in power. If you "match to Kyiv" - you are guaranteed casualties and it's not going to help him with his ratings - now you have poor people with dead relatives. Russian army/people can fight well - but so can Ukrainians and Chechens - but there is zero motivation for the ordinary Russians to fight at the moment. He will always send private military groups but there is only that much you can do. There is no ideology to fight for, no grand ideas, no grand leader - a bunch of crooks living in palaces with their offspring living in London/Paris/Florida mansions.

Syria was easy - fighting against people with no modern weapons. But when Turkey shot down Russian jet - what was the reaction? It was a joke. How about helping Armenia recently with all "Collective Security Treaty" agreements? Nothing, again!

So Russia backs down against Turkey's aggression on a fair "casus belli" but is going against NATO on Ukraine? Please.

A strong leader has a strong country behind him - Putin's Russia is not, it is mostly frustrated population with weak economy and not much hope for the bright future. And whatever Putin is doing is not good for Russia, not improving its economy and not improving lives of ordinary people but doing exactly the opposite.

Putin is all about propaganda, illusions, dreams and nightmares - he knows propaganda works and he pumps billions into it. The reality will hit hard if he believes (or will believe) in his own picture of the world.

Putin, Lukashenko, Nazarbaev - their only agenda is to stay in power. There is no crime they will not do for this. If it means gas chambers - we are going to get gas chambers. Unfortunately this is the new reality of this era. But the good news is - they are old and don't understand or appeal to the younger generations. There is still a chance.


Nazarbaev... and he’s gone! Ousted in a coup by his own protege, Tokaev during the recent Kazakh uprisings!

Here is an interesting lecture Vladimir Pozner (Russian journalist) gave at the Yale University about Putin, the Unites States and Ukraine - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8X7Ng75e5gQ

It's 3 years old, but relevant up until today, imho.


Regardless of the content, it should be noted that Pozner had (and probably still has) a very nice broadcast time on one of the most popular Russia's channels. He is smart enough not to look like an obvious regime proponent, but he is far from being very critical, AFAIK. He is like a figure made for all those "liberal" conformists, who think they are very progressive.

I found Adam Tooze's overview very interesting: https://adamtooze.substack.com/p/chartbook-68-putins-challen...


Finding this tough to read, the author writes poorly. I’m not saying the meaning is bad though, just that the writer should read more classics.

Kremlin File is an excellent podcast primarily about Russia's use of hybrid warfare to advance its agenda.

https://kremlinfile.com/


That sounds great, thanks I subscribed to it! Do you listen to any other similar podcasts you could recommend?


This book seems to be very good, although I've only just started it.

Putin's People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took On the West by Catherine Belton

https://www.amazon.com/Putins-People-Took-Back-Russia/dp/037...


I don't blame Russia's stance. I blame the cold war and the US's two pronged approach to most diplomacy matters. NATO was formed to halt the power of the soviet union. once the soviet union fell. NATO should've been disbanded. anyone with a pea of a brain would've seen the consequences of not abandoning nato, and now we're about to pay for those mistakes.


Remember that we were in a similar situation in 2014. And at that point it was about the EU, not NATO.

Since then Russia has invaded annexed part of Ukraine.

So no one observing this should be fooled to think that NATO is really relevant at all. The NATO talk from Russia now is chosen as an impossible demand because they know it’s impossible. It’s used to be able to point fingers and say “look, they are being unreasonable”. The audience is domestic.

Whether NATO should be disbanded or not isn’t exactly a point on the agenda, nor is it fair to say that Ukraine (not a NATO member) has any responsibility in it.

What should Ukraine do here? promise to never join NATO? At gunpoint? In what way does that respect the sovereignty of Ukraine? (The same way it’s borders are respected apparently).


>I don't blame Russia's stance.

As a Russian I say you are completely wrong. The current crisis is entirely manufactured by Putin and his authoritarian needs, which are contrary to the actual needs of the Russian people. The Baltic states joined NATO in 2004, and there isn't much difference in nuke flight time between a launch from Latvia or from Kharkiv, so the entire premise that Ukraine potentially joining NATO somehow threatens Russia is a ruse. What's really going on is that Putin's popularity is falling, and he needs a) distractions b) to fullfill the imperialistic need that has been propagandized out of every hole for the last 15+ years (I.e the need Putin himself created), and through that increase his popularity. For some time the conflict in the eastern Ukraine served that purpose, but people's eyes and ears got tired of that, so he has to up the stakes. Also an endless conflict with a great adversary is a good justification to further limit the scraps of freedom that remain, and justify the poor state of the economy, arrest people for being "foreign agents" etc etc -- something that the North Korean monarchy has perfected.

>NATO should've been disbanded.

If that happened the Baltic states would have already been occupied by Russia, to protect the Russian minority of course. Nobody forced east European countries to join NATO, it's in their interest, it preserves their sovereignty.

America is imperialist too, but it's much more benign imperialism, focused on furthering globalism, democratic rule, and capitalists' profits. Russian imperialism only brings submission and authoritarianism -- the main narrative is sacrificing oneself for the imperialist rodina like the деды.


> The Baltic states joined NATO in 2004, and there isn't much difference in nuke flight time between a launch from Latvia or from Kharkiv, so the entire premise that Ukraine potentially joining NATO somehow threatens Russia is a ruse.

This is true and Russia demands include ALL such installations after "1997". It is the Western press that has been formulating this as "about Ukraine". The documents btw are publicly published, in English, and very straight forwrd.

Russia is demanding a strategic retreat to "1997". (See "already deployed" below)

"Article 7: The Parties shall refrain from deploying nuclear weapons outside their national territories and return such weapons already deployed outside their national territories at the time of the entry into force of the Treaty to their national territories. The Parties shall eliminate all existing infrastructure for deployment of nuclear weapons outside their national territories."

https://mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/rso/nato/1790818/?lang=en


But we are free people now. We do not want to be Russian colony again.

Is there any reliable (international) source for Russian internal affairs that is not tainted by state propaganda? Can you give a recommendation?


Understanding a country without knowing the language/culture is an endeavor fraught with failure in my opinion. The only way is to learn the language, learn the cultural differences(preferably at least partially from "field experience", not that it's advisable as of late), and read the same things a curious Russian would.


Or you may someone who live in Russia :)

I can share a worldview many Russians hold. Of course I'm influenced by a state propaganda to some extent, but at least I read both, Russian and Western media.


Thanks for your honest opinion.

I guess there's quite some truth to that, especially with regards to the cultural differences.


> b) to fullfill the imperialistic need that has been propagandized out of every hole for the last 15+ years

I honestly cannot grasp where does this narrative come from. I live in Russia and read local media and I don't see the idea being pushed. Putin himself once considered USSR disbanding as catastrophic but nothng beyond that.


So the idea of "Russkiy mir", USSR falling apart being a "_geopolitical_ catastrophe" (only an imperialist would say something like that), USSR in general being viewed positively by the media, its every act of imperialism like Prague Spring, or the attempt to keep Latvia in the USSR viewed exclusively positively in "documentaries", even positive coverage of the imperialism of the Russian empire (the Great Game) and so on, propagandists saying things from that point of view, and attacking the "straw-men" propagandists who said something against, Putin insisting that Russians and Ukrainians are one and the same ( https://apnews.com/article/entertainment-oliver-stone-europe... ), Medvedev denying the legitimacy of the Ukrainian state ( https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2021/10/11/russia-shouldnt-ne... ) are not all imperialistic narrative for you?

In general if you turn on Russian news, almost every sentence said reeks of imperialism, imperialistic assumptions one way or another. If you don't notice that, I can't help you. Sorry.


The reason why any state tries to present its history in a positive light is a different question. Good things are exaggerated, bad things are smoothed over. The states doing the opposite just doesn't live long.

Being positive about USSR and Russian empire and pushing the idea of restoring it are pretty different things. There are no ideas such as rebuilding USSR (or Russian empire) pushed by local media.

> even positive coverage of the imperialism of the Russian empire (the Great Game)

What is wrong with empires by then? This was the way thing worked in 19th century. Are we supposed to condemn that? If yes, was, for instance, feudalism any better?


> The reason why any state tries to present its history in a positive light is a different question. Good things are exaggerated, bad things are smoothed over. The states doing the opposite just doesn't live long.

But this is not really present in many countries.


>Good things are exaggerated, bad things are smoothed over.

They present bad things(imperialism) as good things. Today.

>What is wrong with empires by then?

It's like asking what's wrong with slavery or serfdom in the 19th century.

>Are we supposed to condemn that?

Maybe not present it at prime time on TV, in a way that tells the audience that Russian/Soviet imperialism was a great thing, was sorely needed, and today's actions are a continuation of these great deeds, right before the "news" segment with its usual "these westerners are out to get our poor "Russki Mir"?


> Maybe not present it at prime time on TV, in a way that tells the audience that Russian/Soviet imperialism was a great thing, was sorely needed, and today's actions are a continuation of these great deeds, right before the "news" segment with its usual "these westerners are out to get our poor "Russki Mir"?

Could you share an example of "today's actions are a continuation of these great deeds"? I do see USSR and even empire times nostalgy, but it is just a nostalgy, nothing else.

> They present bad things(imperialism) as good things. Today.

I don't see that happening. Since you state that this is a part of the state propaganda these ideas must be pretty widespread, but I cannot confirm that.

> It's like asking what's wrong with slavery or serfdom in the 19th century.

AFAIK in 19th century British empire dominated the world. So what? I don't quite get your idea of labeling 19th century imperialism bad. They could do better? Probably. It is meaninless to discuss this from a 21th century man's perspective.

> in a way that tells the audience that Russian/Soviet imperialism was a great thing

I would disagree. Soviet "imperialism" was always backwards, everybody was tooking advantage of it, except russians themselves.


As Ukrainian I DO blame Russia's stance here. Ukraine is a free independent democratic country. It is free to join any alliances it wishes. This is not the reason to pre-emptively attack it. Also it is totally unprovoked. It is not like Ukraine is joining or welcomed to NATO anytime soon. The real reason is that Putin afraid of Ukraine: https://medium.com/@krokodil42/why-is-russia-afraid-of-ukrai...


as a follow up, I should add that I'm not advocating for Ukraine to be invaded. War is a racket. I'm advocating for things military alliances like Nato etc to be abandoned in times of peace.


Imagine if Ukraine was in NATO. We would not have this discussion because there will be no tanks surrounding Ukraine like they are today.

These aren't times of peace. These are times of teetering on the knife-edge of open war.

And we learned a while ago about being unprepared when the shooting starts. It's not fun.


Absolutely. and this is a view shared by prominent US national security officials, that it is the United States that has caused this crisis.

https://theanalysis.news/is-nato-for-security-or-aggression-...

Remember, it was the United States that broke the promise to not expand NATO after the fall of the Soviet Union.

> Paul Jay

>Crazy! Larry, how much of this is driven essentially, really by what domestic politics, that you get this saber-rattle and look all huff and puff on both sides, not just the American and west side, but the same thing goes for Putin, satisfying the nationalist fervor in Russia. And two, and maybe this is the most important thing, continuing this rationale of enormous arms purchases, and NATO helps keep all these countries within at least the Western arms market and mostly the American arms market, but they can’t be serious about actually fighting? They know what a shitstorm that leads to.

> Larry Wilkerson

>I hope you’re right. The history of warfare, especially major warfare in the last 200 years or so, doesn’t support that logic. Let me go back to something Yves said. I think one of the greatest travesties of US foreign policy in the last 25-30 years, and that’s a lot of things, including the invasion of Iraq, was the violation of Jim Bakker and Eduard Shevardnadze, and ultimately Reagan and Herbert Walker Bush, and Gorbachev’s promise that NATO would not go one step further East if Germany were allowed to reunify and remain in NATO.


> it was the United States that broke the promise to not expand NATO after the fall of the Soviet Union

This promise is a myth [1]. At best, it was an informal statement by some guy in the U.S. government [2]. This has been blown out of proportion beyond any semblance to reality by Putin's propaganda.

And if it had happened, it would have been an agreement with the Soviet Union. Which does not exist. Russia, in 1994, formally agreed to "respect...Ukrainian independence and sovereignty in the existing borders" and "refrain from the threat or the use of force against...Ukraine," among other things. It has flagrantly broken these agreements.

[1] https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2014/11/06/did-nato-...

[2] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057%2Fs41311-020-00224...


> some guy in the U.S. government

With "some guy in the government" being the US secretary of state.


> With "some guy in the government" being the US secretary of state

Maybe. The person to whom Baker supposedly made these comments doesn't remember them. The treaty regarding the reunification of Germany, in the context of which these statements were supposedly made, is devoid of any reference to them, as is any other official or public record.


Citing a blog post by the Brookings Institution is very funny to me. They were one of many think tanks in Washington that built the intellectual groundwork to justify the expansion of NATO in the first place.


> Citing a blog post by the Brookings Institution is very funny to me

There is no shortage of sources on the ambiguity of this alleged promise [1][2]. More critically, there is a total absence of sources from Putin. Because he doesn't have any. Because when nations agree to things, they do so by issuing public declarations and/or signing treaties.

[1] https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/briefing-book/russia-programs/2017...

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/09/us/politics/russia-ukrain...


Absolutely, also that's Russia who doesn't respect even signed agreements. E.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian%E2%80%93Ukrainian_Frie...

.. signed in 1997, which fixed the principle of strategic partnership, the recognition of the inviolability of existing borders, and respect for territorial integrity and mutual commitment not to use its territory to harm the security of each other.


Posted elsewhere, but there seems to be good discussion going on here:

I hate to say it, but the US is clearly the provocateur here. There is no real reason that the US needs Ukraine, a state that has historically been part of Russia, in NATO. Having Ukraine in NATO does approximately jack shit to benefit a person like me, a regular peasant in the US. Imagine if the US lost the cold war and the USSR decided to invite Canada and Mexico into the Warsaw Pact - that's pretty much what is going on here.

The propaganda machine is in full swing at this point, I think the rulers of the US are actively hoping for war. Why else would they be so provocative? If someone has an answer to this I'd love to hear it, but it really seems to me like this is just classic US empire building, disguised under a thick coat of media propaganda and misinformation.

Would love to hear your thoughts, I'm no foreign policy expert.


> the US is clearly the provocateur here

In what sense exactly? What is the provocation? Remember - Ukraine isn’t offered a NATO membership.

Also remember, in 2014 the same story unfolded but then the boogeyman was the EU.


Ukraine's defense is about helping people who are being actively invaded by bigger foreign powers. Of course it doesn't directly benefit you. By your logic, donating to charity "does approximately jack shit to benefit a person like me."

Also the US has done literally nothing to "provocate" anything. Euromaidan happened in 2014, Crimea was annexed, and Donbass separatists supported by Russia. Status quo is changing in favor of Ukraine being able to secure it's separatist territory again, so now it's time for Russia to further invade.


See, I think this is just wrong. I think that we specifically shouldn't be getting involved in costly international conflicts to "help people". I think charity is pretty different, as there isn't a risk of a huge pushback when donating to charity. Whereas getting involved with this Ukraine situation could potentially result in a war.

I don't think the US should be willing to go to war over this country that has historically been a part of Russia and is so far from our borders that it practically is geopolitically insignificant.


It depends on how you look at it - what if Russia is historically part of Ukraine? Once Kiev was the capital of Russia )))

Can UK attack USA because once USA was owned by England? How about Russia claiming part of California or Alaska? Same for France and Louisiana?

Geopolitically it is very significant, it threatens Europe and as with another example from the last century, if you don't stop the evil early - you will pay with millions of lives later.


This is the same isolationist indifference by the US and Chamberlain's UK precipitating WW2. No is better off when the world gives free rein for authoritarians to exploit other peoples. The US and NATO isn't going to war over Ukraine. They will slap Russia with harsher sanctions (still won't cut off gas though!), cut them from SWIFT financial transactions, at which point Russian banks will switch to Russian SPFS which China and Europe, reluctantly, will implement to keep gas flowing. Only thing that changed is the Ukrainian people keep becoming worse off.

OK, that's fair. I am actually curious though about your take on the sanctions. Do you have any resources to recommend for reading up on this SWIFT system and the SPFS alternative? And does this imply that Europe and China will side with Russia against the US?

Here's some good context from Alperovitch, Russian-American founder of CrowdStrike that now does international cybersecurity policy: https://twitter.com/DAlperovitch/status/1478353987480997897

The wiki for SWIFT is a good start, imagine SPFS as SWIFT just under Russian gov. control. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society_for_Worldwide_Interban...

It's not so much that Europe and China will "side" against the US, as they will not care enough about Russia's actions to deter them from trading with Russia. Europe will obviously care a lot more about Russia's aggression, but they are going through major energy price pains right now and they likely won't stomach further supply decreases by stopping gas trade with Russia.


Fuck it. Just announce that the rest of Ukraine is now under NATO protection and then let Russia choose the first move.


Sounds like a really good way to end up embroiled in another pointless war which ruins yet another country

The pride of the Russian navy is at all times accompanied by a tugboat.

Their forces are a joke and we need to stop them before they do something stupid.


That line of thinking worked well in Iraq and Afghanistan. Let's hope we have a nice quick, clean war like we did there

Yes, we are going to have that. We should just not be stupid enough to ever attempt to build democracy or any such nonsense. Go in, lay waste, get out, just like we should have done in Afghanistan.

> Go in, lay waste, get out

Lay waste to what? Ukraine? They're the country we're supposed to be worried about Russia invading here...


This article was behind a paywall for me ("you have reached your article limit").

Archived copy: http://archive.today/IeVtE


I for one am excited to die for the Dear and Duly Elected Massively Popular Joe Biden's prudent and rational Foreign Policy.

If the USA is to maintain its competitive fiat advantage, it must occasionally flatten the industrial capacities of competing world powers. Otherwise the world would be unsafe for democracy. We voters owe a great debt to the imminent sacrifices of the Ukrainian and Taiwanese peoples!


Highly recommend "The Tragedy of Great Power Politics" by John Mearsheimer.

For Russia, annexing (all or part of) Ukraine now is too good a deal to pass. Russia knows that invading with an overwhelming force will result in a virtually bloodless annexation, just like the Taliban took over Afghanistan in a matter of weeks, and just like they themselves took over Crimea. Ukraine claims they'll fight to the last drop of blood, but theory and practice are a bit disconnected when you are a garrison in a city that's being approached by a few tens of thousands of soldiers and a few thousand tanks. Thinks looks different still if 50 other cities surrendered without a fight by the time it's your turn.

Russia is a country in the middle of a population collapse. They are less than 145 MM now, projected to get to 125 MM by 2050. Their great power aspirations dwindle by the day. But adding Ukraine, Belarus, Khazakstan and Uzbekistan brings an immediate boost of more than 100 MM. Every night Putin puts his head on the pillow, these things swirl in his head, "one hundred million more Russians", "Mother Russia great again", "they disrespect us now, we'll show them who's the boss", "enough is enough", etc, etc.


>Ukraine claims they'll fight to the last drop of blood, but theory and practice are a bit disconnected when you are a garrison in a city that's being approached by a few tens of thousands of soldiers and a few thousand tanks. Thinks looks different still if 50 other cities surrendered without a fight by the time it's your turn.

You have to be really insane. Poles did it at the start of WW2 resisting for a month https://origins.osu.edu/milestones/september-2014-nazis-take... https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/14/books/review/poland-1939-...

and again in 1944 for over two months https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warsaw_Uprising

Twice with no direct outside help. So much for international security guarantees.

Btw Ukraine also had a toilet paper full of UK/US promises https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budapest_Memorandum_on_Securit... how much good did that accomplish?


I'm not sure if you're agreeing with me or not. I think you are, but I simply can't say for sure.

Me neither. If they resist like Poles did they will die like Poles. Either in Ukraine, or in Russian concentration camps https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katyn_massacre No one will help, not UN, not NATO, and especially not US.

The Poles were attacked from both sides by Germany and Russia. They had treaties with the UK and France, and France had a large land army and they could have attacked Germany with a legitimate casus beli. The UK had very little capability to actually defend Poland. Once France did not attack Germany, there was indeed not much that Poland could do.

The situation is a bit different now. The US can't help with boots on the ground, or with any type of "kinetic response", but it can help Ukraine with intelligence, and maybe a bit of deniable cyber warfare.

The US has all the incentives to help Ukraine. Not to the extend of putting soldiers in harm's way, but the US doesn't like Russia becoming 30% larger in terms of population (and therefore military manpower). Moreover, if Ukraine falls, Belarus and Kazakhstan will "voluntarily join the union" in no time.

That's not something the US is keen to see happening on the global security chessboard.

But still, Putin knows all these things, and he likes his chances. We can only watch and see a grandmaster at play.


why is NATO a threat? Has NATO ever started a conflict, seized territory, or imposed sanctions? Genuinely asking, I pretty ignorant here.


It's for internal consumption. The average life quality is dropping both in Russia and the West, so the governments need to divert attention and redirect the frustration to external targets. The "NATO being a threat to the whole world" is the Russian version of "Climate Change will kill us all, so don't even think of starting a family (and wondering why your current salary makes it rather challenging)".


NATO bombed Yugoslavia in 1999 without UN authorization under the pretext of "humanitarian intervention". See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NATO_bombing_of_Yugoslavia

NATO is a sticky situation with the Russians. The one thing the Russians fear more than anything else is encirclement, so any organization of potentially hostile nations is immediately looked upon with suspicion.

Also, they're still sore that some negotiators in 1990 promised more on NATO than the USA was willing to deliver. This is oft-repeated in the upper circles of the Kremlin, and regardless of its validity it's still a strong sentiment.


NATO is a threat because NATO is enemy. there is kind of circular logic over there.


Russia has always in been conflict with Western powers, and has been invaded on several occasions.


Can you name an example of one of these invasions?


The US invaded Russia in 1918, fighting the Russian army in Arkhangelsk and surrounding areas.

Is that a serious question? World War 2 for starters...

I guess I hadn't considered Nazi Germany as a "western power".

I'm a code monkey, not a political scientist. The question was as genuine as could be. I figured I didn't know the history of the former soviet union very well and was missing something.


on 17 September of 1939, right?

You mean like bombing Libya?


In 2011? That was a UN sanctioned operation after United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.


Exactly and Russia (then Medvedev the “president” and Putin PM) abstained, hoping the intervention to have been circumscript. The aftermath of the intervention for the Kremlin was betrayal, which lead the “military tower” taking back control of the Kremlin from the “business tower”.

It's funny when the aggressor is "negotiating" to attack or not. The biggest bully in the region feeling "threatened" by its neighbours seeking any possible way to protect themselves from it.

Like a government-level "Why are you hitting yourself?"


It's one of the oldest tricks in the book. Remember that Russia invaded and annexed Crimea "to save Russian citizens".


To be fair Crimea does have a majority ethnic Russian inhabitants. Wikipedia lists Crimea's demographics as 65% while others were lower at 58% or thereabout. Given many of those Russians were there from the Soviet era or direct descendants, it doesn't seem too crazy of a claim. The US and NATO countries have done worse for less. Now invading Ukraine? Thats another thing altogether.


> To be fair Crimea does have a majority ethnic Russian inhabitants. Wikipedia lists Crimea's demographics as 65% while others were lower at 58% or thereabout

There's a whole lot of the Southwestern US you are agreeing that Mexico can and should invade and occupy, with a much stronger case, if you claim that this justifies Russia in Crimea.


My comment wasn’t to condone invasions, per se. But it’s unfair to say Russia had/has _no_ legitimate stake in Crimea. Texas came about almost exactly by the method you describe. If in the future Mexico has the military might to retake Texas, they might decide to do it. Who knows future Texans might welcome it. I mean the USA invaded two sovereign nations states in recent decades with dubious international legal basis.

In the end Crimea people did voted to rejoin Russia. Though not really legal, the people there have spoken their will. I would let that to rest. Invading Ukraine on the other hand is a big no. But, given we are now administer by old forgetful Biden, and Xi on the other side determine to get Taiwan, can we manage a 2-front war by 2 of the world superpower? EU is mostly headed by weak leadership (see Germany, Macron, and recent Boris debacle). Coming spring we might even enter a property crash with high inflation. American got the appetite to save Ukraine? Taiwan maybe given we addicted to chips and general Sino-phobia.

> In the end Crimea people did voted to rejoin Russia.

Cool, any invasion and occupation and annexation is justified if you stage a vote to retroactively justify it after the fact.


There was no imminent danger to those inhabitans when Russia annexed. They just seized the opportunity to take back important xUSSR territory. The inhabitants are mostly happy, though, as they were promised new horizons and no mandatory Ukrainian language, which they never spoken. All these regional problems are mainly due to the language. If Ukraine allowed Russian as it's second official (or at least regional) language, Donbas would return back in a blink. And Crimea might follow.


Russia has controlled Crimea since the 18th century. It's not an artifact of Soviet Union.

>All these regional problems are mainly due to the language. If Ukraine allowed Russian as it's second official (or at least regional) language, Donbas would return back in a blink. And Crimea might follow.

What? History goes back farther than the 20th century.


> Russia has controlled Crimea since the 18th century. It's not an artifact of Soviet Union

So Moscow should be handed back to Ukraine, the late seat of the Kievan Rus' [1]? Or perhaps the whole thing goes to Mongolia.

Originalist interpretations of border disputes are infinitely flexible, and justification for constant warfare.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kievan_Rus%27



> History goes back farther than the 20th century.

And much farther than 18th century. Crimea has a long and rich history, Russian power is relatively young and not justified in the modern world. Wasn't one of the ideas of Helsinki's agreements to agree on non pursuing historical territorial disputes?


History counts. Otherwise you wont have territorial issue especially pushed by China and Israel. Helsinki has no gun power to enforce anything. It is based on mutual respect and adherence. At this moment, Crimean people wants Russia whether it is legal or not. Russia has bigger guns than Ukraine and at least on par with Americans at their home ground. What is Ukraine worth to you than the smartphone in your hand? Should you worry about a brilliant tactician that make Obama like a pigeon or a Sino leader hell-bent to acquire back their territory at half the population life cost (read Mao's history on theorectical US invasion)? The bear will most likely make a few slight of hand moves to acquire their objectives with minimal lost of lives. The dragon-snake on other side is and will be very blunt.

But don't they have the right of self-determination if they want to join Russia?


They can move to Russia. They have as much right to move Crimea to Russia as citizens of Maine do to leave the US and join Canada - e.g. not much.

This is all hypothetical though. What happened in reality is that Russia rolled tanks into a neighboring sovereign country, invading it, and stole a part of it. It's a blatant and egregious act of war.


Someone should tell that to the Kosovans who broke off from Serbia 14 years ago, to jubilation in the US and western Europe.


That was a different context though, with ongoing civil war and strife and no foreign takeover but rather a local independence movement. And there is no point debating this here but your summary is very one sided.

> That was a different context though, with ongoing civil war and strife and no foreign takeover

Not quite a take over but NATO bombing of Serbia does count as foreign interference.


I was just about to say: The vast majority of northern maine, including most of my family, is "French Canadian", some of them even having French as a first language. Go ahead and try telling them they should belong to Canada and it wouldn't be a big deal if Canada invaded and annexed them. You won't have many friends


I'm not sure how you can get that sentiment from my comment.


I was agreeing, not disagreeing


> There was no imminent danger to those inhabitans when Russia annexed.

Please tell this to many thousands of people who moved out and never looked back. Also, hundreds of Crimean Tatar and various active citizens were imprisoned during these years. The danger is very real if you are not willing to keep your mouth shut there.


> To be fair Crimea does have a majority ethnic Russian inhabitants. Wikipedia lists Crimea's demographics as 65% while others were lower at 58% or thereabout. Given many of those Russians were there from the Soviet era or direct descendants, it doesn't seem too crazy of a claim. The US and NATO countries have done worse for less. Now invading Ukraine? Thats another thing altogether.

What do you mean "now invading Ukraine"? Russia already did that, when they invaded Crimea, which is Ukraine.


Without defending russia: the same argument does apply for selected parts of ukraine that still have not been yet annexed by russia.

I wonder how long it will take for russia to get tired of subsidizing crimea and they will beg to go back to the ukraine.


Not going to happen, major reason for annexation was to keep Sebastopol as the major/only Russia navy base in the Black Sea. That reason will never vanish as there are no other suitable locations to relocate that base.

> I wonder how long it will take for russia to get tired of subsidizing crimea and they will beg to go back to the ukraine.

Starting already. I mean, more than before. I found Crimeans not very understanding Russia's realities, so now even thought money go to Crimea from the rest of Russia, the people in Crimea start to compare unfavorably to the alternative.

History moves slowly. However, Ukraine going closer to Europe would be a good illustration.


> The US and NATO countries have done worse for less.

Care to provide examples? Crimea annexation was almost bloodless, right, but annexation nevertheless - ?


The obvious answer is Kosovo.

Stopping the terrorization of differently-religious people and preventing repetition of Rwanda-like genocide is worse and for less?

> Russia invaded and annexed Crimea

Russia invaded Crimea back when British red coats were stationed in New York City. The Russian military has been there ever since.

When did the US invade the Guantanamo section of Cuba?


> When did the US invade the Guantanamo section of Cuba?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guant%C3%A1namo#United_States_...

About 15 km away from the city lies the Guantánamo Bay, a superior natural harbor which has been utilized by the United States since 1898, when it was captured from Spain in the Battle of Guantánamo Bay. In 1903 Cuba leased it to the U.S. as it had committed to in the Cuban–American Treaty of Relations, and remains the site of a US Navy base, as well as the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.


Russia has signed https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian%E2%80%93Ukrainian_Frie... in 1999

As mentioned in article 2, the High Contracting Parties shall respect each other′s territorial integrity and reaffirm the inviolability of the borders existing between them


>> 6 month old account, 90% comments some sort of Russian great state content.

Does YCombinator ban trolls, these days?


It is indeed an annexation. But it is also true that the majority of the inhabitants of Crimea are Russians and wanted to return to join Russia. But all the consequences, not the cause. The reason, in my opinion, is the global conflict between the West and Russia. And, obviously, the fall of Russia is just a matter of time. Despite the fact that they have weapons, in everyday life, all residents use technologies and products made in the west. Everyone has an iPhone, Laptop, Internet, car, etc. How can you win a conflict if every inhabitant of your country is completely dependent on technology, software, products and money created by a conditional "enemy"?


I have not seen any data on the crimeans actually bring a majority ethnic Russians and eager to 'return' to Russia (which one? USSR ? Catherine's Russian empire? ...?). They just did a very questionable referendum once Crimea was occupied to annex the territory.

Crimea being majority Russian ethnicity is not disputed like the referendum is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crimea#Demographics

>It's one of the oldest tricks in the book.

I mean, isn't this also the tactic used in the late 1800s in the western U.S. to give a reason to pacify Native Americans? Promote U.S. citizens into frontier homesteads and then use the military to protect them/annex land?


Yes, and we did the same thing to mexico in order to grab texas. How the heck does this change how bad it is?

What's the point of saying "America bad too"? So? America HAS done awful things in the past, that's not valid justification for a hostile annexation of another country's land.

Topics on Russia ALWAYS have whataboutism nonsense. It seems supporters of Russian actions so badly want the rest of the world to be shitty too, as if that would justify their actions instead of condemn them as well as everyone else


Being HN, I may have given too much credit that a comment would be taken at face value and not focused through a nationalistic lens or viewed as some sort of attack.

I made no claims that it changes whether the practice is morally or ethically correct. I also didn't claim "America bad too."

I merely pointed out another data point relevant to the GP comment about it being an old tactic to annex land.

*btw, it's Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and parts of California. The book Blood and Thunder is a great read about the history of expansion of the West


I believe the reason is that russians often perceive western worldview as a voice from the ivory tower of free world implying some kind of moral superiority. The whataboutism is just an awkward attempt to decline this very moral superiority.

Sure, so if you're a big fan of one you'll be a big fan of the other.


Not sure why’re your bringing the U.S. into this right now to bash it. If anything increased U.S. military presence in Poland is sorely needed.


I don't think GP is trying to bash the US: they're just pointing out it's "the oldest trick in the book." Obviously that doesn't mean it's OK that Russia is doing it.


Correct, I was merely underscoring the historic use of the tactic and not "bashing" any country


>If anything increased U.S. military presence in Poland is sorely needed.

Why? What purpose does this serve?


I agree that Russia is the bully in this case, but there is historical precedent for the bully to be the country that feels threatened. Before WW2 some Germans thought the that Germany would have to ally itself-- and become a client state-- to either the USSR or western powers in order to maintain its security. Going to war was insane, but the concern that Germany would become more of a client state than an independent power was not insane with historical hindsight.

A Russian strategist might feel threatened because down the line Russia may have depend on its security from either China or a European alliance. In either case it could have less independence and influence in the world.

It sounds insane to risk the disaster of war because your country may lose influence or small amounts of autonomy. But if you think about things like Brexit or some economically undermining policies of MAGA, it seems possible that people -- even in a democracy-- attach more psychic weight to the idea of their nation and its greatness than they do to changes in material prosperity. Also, the pain of bad economic choices (war being an extreme on that spectrum) may not be felt as much by top leaders as the pain of a loss of prestige, which could cost them their jobs or even lives.


Just wanted to chip in; great explanation. Often as a citizen of one country vs another it is tough to understand the logic behind some decisions but this actually made sense to me. Still think the costs of war is high but the logic behind entertaining such an idea is a little clearer.


> but there is historical precedent for the bully to be the country that feels threatened.

Not really. Napoleon invasion was a rather silly directed move for a battle, not a war - too much weight on one individual. Great Patriotic War was fought after failure to prevent Hitler from amassing power and nurturing plans to conquer Europe (by Russians) - USSR needn't to repeat Daladier and Chamberlain mistakes, but Stalin had other plans. And since WWII there weren't aggressions against USSR/RF.

> the concern that Germany would become more of a client state than an independent power was not insane with historical hindsight

And after badly failing at war, Germany now is a leading European nation, one of the world leaders. Surely Russia should be relieved regarding falling to client state?

> A Russian strategist might feel threatened because down the line Russia may have depend on its security from either China or a European alliance.

That's a bad strategist, especially if he seeks possibilities only in realm of realpolitik and dismisses long-term trends both in Russia and worldwide.

> But if you think about things like Brexit or some economically undermining policies of MAGA, it seems possible that people -- even in a democracy-- attach more psychic weight to the idea of their nation and its greatness than they do to changes in material prosperity.

It sounds insane to compare the Brexit or the MAGA disaster to a war in Europe. If people attach more psychic weight - which in Russia they don't - what explanations of the position the Russian powers did to deal with that?

How the Great Britain deals with the idea of their nation and its greatness?

How come Russian decision makers avoid straightforward approaches which helped so many others in recent and not so recent past - like in Eastern Europe or among the Asian-Pacific nations? Not wanting to understand the consequences of autocracy does hurt badly - maybe not directly to the autocrat, but to the people for sure.


Germany today is an important country but it has no major capability to attack or defend other nations. China, Russia and the US do.

Crazy idea of the day: why not offer NATO membership to both Ukraine and Russia? Then if either side attacks the other, all the other members are obligated to defend against the aggressor.

Entangling alliances are like abstraction. The only thing that solves it is more of it.



Putin also wanted to join NATO in 2000-2001, but it didn't work out.


> why not offer NATO membership to both Ukraine and Russia?

NATO is a mutual defence pact. Russia is the most militarily aggressive country in Europe. Agreeing to defend the bully when their chickens come home to roost is a tough sell.


Most of them are internal conflicts though.

It's not such a crazy idea really, but I'd rather we just abolished NATO entirely.

I'm no fan of Russia, but I don't want to go to war just because they shoot down a Turkish fighter plane in Syria, etc.


That’s not how NATO works. It’s a defense pact not a suicide pact. In any military action outside their territory, other countries are not obligated to help. Admittedly casus belli are often a bit of a stretch, but so far NATO has never joined an aggressive war. Various countries chose to join the American Crusade in Iraq but the war in Afghanistan was certainly started in defense.

NATO has ensured 70 years of peace in Western Europe. There hasn’t been a period this peaceful since the Pax Romana, which still had plenty of wars. Why mess up a good thing? Less people die in wars now. And while the value in trade and infrastructure compared to land is certainly a part of ensuring the peace, that was also true for the decades preceding the Great War. The modern international order is simply more peaceful.


The problem is that at that point the USA, Canada, France, Italy would be obligated to defend Russia if it was attacked by sending in its forces. This is already the problem we face in the Baltic States. In theory you can say you will go to war if Estonia is attacked. But if you are Italy or Canada how popular is a war in Estonia going to be if your citizens are dying? There would be a lot of pressure to pull out.

Once the guarantee of NATO becomes a maybe then you start having a lot of incentives for the members to make their own agreements that they can depend on. Then you would be back to regional alliances and from there rivalries. Germany's security agreement partners may not agree with Turkey's security agreement partners about what to do in Syria. Part of what made NATO work was the common interest and values of the members. As you spread it you loose that cohesion.


> But if you are Italy or Canada how popular is a war in Estonia going to be if your citizens are dying?

This is why all the baltic states have multi-country forces in them. Literally small Canadian and Italian forces are in those states, so if there is ever an invasion, those troops will the first casualties that will win the hearts and minds of the rest of NATO countries to defend because of the losses of their own countrymen.



>Then if either side attacks the other, all the other members are obligated to defend against the aggressor.

The reason Ukraine hasn't been allowed to join NATO already is because the rest of the alliance isn't willing to make that promise (that they'll go to war with Russia to protect Ukraine).


Russia's recent demonstrations, like Admiral Kuznetsov's problems, leaving Armenia faced with Turkey and Azerbaijan, weak drone program shows that in reality Russian military isn't that strong against serious opponent. Even more importantly, a serious military operations will undermine the power within the country.

It's doubtful Russia would go to fight Ukraine even now (it would be rather disastrous), but even more doubtful if Ukraine would join NATO.

Ukraine has its own internal problems for now.


A situation that could be considered disastrous, i.e. poverty that would result from the western sanctions/isolation, the strife against the occupied Ukrainian nationalists, against internal dissent/opposition is beneficial to the silovik class -- more people to crush/imprison/destroy, more space to advance their careers, more power to wield, and it's them who Putin relies on to keep himself in power, not the populace at large. (The effectiveness of such approach has been demonstrated by the Lukashenko regime) For Putin it's also much easier to keep his power till his death in a locked down curfewed country, with all the possible freedoms taken away due to the great war with the eternal enemy that's going on. Think of North Korea. So I would say it's much more probable than 'doubtful' considering that the key players are likely going to gain, if their plans go smoothly that is.

The problem for Putin here is that as long as economy continues to deteriorate, it's harder and harder to pay those siloviks (police, national guard, army etc.) to remain in power - he has to have good reasons for why they can't just replace them. Putin can't really recreate the Stalin's level of closeness - too hard. Getting money from natural resources - which admittedly requires much less people - can be iffy if the West will put sanctions (and also world moves away from fossil fuels).

Unfortunately it's still possible that Putin will cling to power for a rather long time.


>pay those siloviks (police, national guard, army etc.)

The fact that they (professionally) can't do anything else, and that a pro-democratic alternative to Putin would likely severely cut their numbers (Russia has one of the highest if not the highest number of siloviks per capita) or even conduct lustrations against them for protecting the autocracy, plays into Putin's hand. They are also not that demanding, higher ups known to "live of the land" (protection racket etc), and Russian economy even under sanctions still a capitalist economy, so it won't be as bad as in the 80ies.

Also Russia coming under isolating western sanctions would effectively make Russia a China's tributary state, since it's the only other power with manufacturing capability Russia would be able to trade with. So that adventure would be exchanging Putin's and silovik interests for Russian future BIG time.


Because then nothing protects members from Russia. If two NATO members go to war, there is no clear side to take.

Also, Russia does not want to join. They want the USSR back


>They want the USSR back

No, they don't, and I don't understand why people (Americans in particular?) seem to think this. Is it just nostalgia for the first Cold War?


Yes, there is clear and really big difference between autocratic ideas and the wishes of the population. Unfortunately Russians are weak to keep autocracy off their backs, so they have to suffer from it.


>Russians are weak to keep autocracy off their backs

And that weakness comes from the complete lack of the political culture needed for a functional democracy. The elite of the Russian empire that had a prototypical form of that culture had been eradicated by the communists, and about 10 years of relative lack of authoritarianism in the 90s and early 2000s wasn't nearly enough to form even a semblance of such culture. An ordinary Russian doesn't know what separation of powers is for, how freedom of speech/expression protects their interests, that it's their taxes that Putin spends, not government's money, the norms of civil debate, the individualist thinking etc etc.


Putin wants to recreate influence in ex USSR. He stated that in 2002. He tried with soft power, but failed, hence 2008 Georgia 2014 military action in Ukraine.

In his recent easy he claimed Ukrainians and Russians are the same nation


> If two NATO members go to war, there is no clear side to take.

In fact there was such a historical precedent. Turkey and Greece, both NATO members, fought a war in Northern Cyprus in 1974 [0].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_invasion_of_Cyprus


Brilliant comment if you talking about the country that sends troops around the world to protect itself.


from the Russian point of view, offering NATO membership to Ukraine is an act of agression and they've been wrecking Ukraine for this ever since.


A foreign country joining an alliance could be an act of aggression only if you believe that that foreign country is yours, and shouldn't have the freedom to decide its associations or the way it secures itself. The Russians are talking about "spheres of influence", which is an entirely imperialistic concept, and demand to have their's respected, which is imperialistic behavior.


While I agree with your point, it's not quite that simple. Putin remembers history, specifically WWII. The Germans launched their invasion from the middle of Poland, and they nearly broke the USSR. Being able to launch it from the eastern edge of Ukraine is a terrifying thought to him.

Now, there is exactly zero appetite anywhere in NATO for invading Russia. But Putin doesn't understand that - doesn't understand that, when the leaders have to answer to the voters in elections that they could lose, the leaders have to be very wary of body counts. So Putin is terrified of a fantasy, but his terror is still at least somewhat real. It's not all bullying.


>it's not quite that simple.

It is.

>launched their invasion

You are reproducing Russian propaganda planted all over the English speaking internet. About Russia's desire to secure itself through buffer zones, when in reality it's just plain old imperialism.

Geographical buffer zones and natural borders like mountains are mostly irrelevant for modern air-superiority dominated warfare. It's not 1940s anymore. US expeditionary force is delivered by the sea. An attack could already be launched from the Baltic states, since about 2004. And Putin perfectly knows that nobody would attack a state that has the highest number nuclear warheads in the world.

Ascribing some level of care for Russian interests and security to someone like Putin is the height of naivete. Putin will leave Russia much much weaker and thus less secure after his death, than the 99 other timelines, where it isn't ruled by an egotistical wannabe tsar. He only cares about himself, his family and his friends, and that's it.

If he truly cared about Russian future he wouldn't have started the current conflict with Ukraine that's been going on since 2014, because the economic losses from that over 2-3 decades are tremendous. A difference in 2-3 percentage points of GDP growth results in several times the economy size of losses. And further escalation would cripple the economy even more.


How is it propaganda that the Nazis invaded Russia? That the jumping-off point was the middle of Poland? That's straight-up fact.

Or are you saying that it's propaganda the Putin is worrying about that? I've never heard them say so, so I don't think it's a common theme of their propaganda.


>Or are you saying that it's propaganda the Putin is worrying about that?

The propaganda insists that that kind of thinking is still relevant in 2022 and that Russian elite truly believes that, and not using it as an excuse for imperialistic/revanchist expansion.


How is this reconciled with the US not allowing Cuba to receive armaments from the USSR or goods from other countries due to sanctions? Is country A violating country B and C's sovereignty when A imposes sanctions on C preventing free trade between B and C?


Nothing asks for it to be reconciled. The US can be a bad guy too. One's crimes do not justify another's criminal actions


It is easily reconciled, both cases where wrong.


How is it an act of aggression? Aren’t Ukraine sovereign in the sense that they are free to choose freely any alliance they please?

Besides - Ukraine haven’t been offered NATO membership have they?


> from the Russian point of view, offering NATO membership to Ukraine is an act of agression and they've been wrecking Ukraine for this ever since

One, Ukraine hasn't been invited to join NATO. Two, even if NATO had never entertained the idea, I'm sure Putin would pitch the existence of hats and teacups as clear evidence of Western aggression against Russia.


See I listen to people who know what they are talking about on this topic, people like Ray McGovern the former head of the soviet desk for the CIA, and I find their comments refreshingly nuanced, explaining things like how we promised Russia we wouldnt do an eastward expansion of nato, etc.

...and then I see comments like yours that just seem to want to make Russia into this mustache twirling always evil villian and to me its people like you destroying hopes for good conversation that seem like the real villians.


> how we promised Russia we wouldnt do an eastward expansion of nato

This purported promise is a myth, see my comments here [1]. (TL; DR No treaty or public comments. Russia, on the other hand, signed a treaty promising not to invade Ukraine when she denuclearised. Talk of broken promises is a red herring.)

Russia has a realpolitik interest in creating buffer nations between it and the West. What it's doing--invading Crimea and now threatening to take the rest--doesn't further that goal. It does, however, serve Putin's political agenda.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=29924836


> we promised Russia we wouldnt do an eastward expansion of nato, etc.

This is what Russia is promoting but it's a gross exaggeration. When the Berlin Wall fell, The Secretary of State at the time, James Baker, threw this out there to Gorbachev in early treaty talks as a "what if?", but others in US gov. said absolutely not, it never made it in the treaty, and Gorbachev never pushed for it. Gorbachev himself said that no promise or treaty was violated, but it was against the "spirit" of the assurances.

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2014/11/06/did-nato-...


Yeah maybe you should try listen to the people who lived in the countries under Russian influence and you'll find thing are a lot less nuanced here. We know exactly who the real villains were since we had friends and relatives who died at their hands. The scars are still here, the memories still alive, the monstrosity still visits us in our nightmares. We would do anything to prevent that from happening to us again.

Sorry if I am destroying your good, nuanced conversation.


Ok. But reverse positions. Mexico and Canada join Russian federation and Russia start building bases there. And this is despite Russia promising not to do that.

I can't imagine USA acting in cool and peaceful manner when sword of Damocles hangs near them.


> Mexico and Canada join Russian federation and Russia start building bases there. And this is despite Russia promising not to do that.

NATO members are not annexed by America. Ukraine isn't part of NATO, and has had no realistic path to membership for some time. And a good way to get American bases in Ukraine is to threaten to invade it.


From Russian POV there isn't much of a difference. You basically see your enemy build installation just outside of your backyard.

Sure analogy, ain't perfect, and it's too late to edit. But say they join Russian led pact and Russian build basses there. I'm pretty sure America would throw as big hissy fit as Russia did.

> And a good way to get American bases in Ukraine is to threaten to invade it.

It's a great deterrent as well. NATO members have a policy, attack one, you attack us all, yes. But they also prohibit members that have problematic borders with non-NATO powers.

Adding a member like Ukraine means essentially getting ready for (nuclear) war with Russia. And NATO is, and probably won't be ready.

Seeing list of NATO's recent "victories" seems like a compilation of US greatest fails (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya). So Russia is calling NATO/US bluff.


But NATO already has land borders to Russia! In five (more?) countries.

NATO has never made a formal “promise” or agreement not to expand. This is a myth that refuses to die it seems.

But this is beside the point. Ukraine isn’t a member so can hardly be responsible for what NATO does. Nor is it offered membership. And they were invaded preemptively? This whole line of reasoning that NATO has anything to do with the invasion of Ukraine years ago is a fabrication.


US made deal with Russia in wake of German unification, not to expand NATO/US into Russia's (USSR) sphere of influence. They violated that treaty repeatedly. Now Russia is betting stirring shit in Ukraine is enough for US to decline.

> or is it offered membership. And they were invaded preemptively?

Kinda. A member with existing border dispute has little chance of being admitted.


No such promise was made to not expand. That’s a myth.

> Kinda

Has it been formally invited to join, or formally applied? Otherwise they have not.


> Like a government-level "Why are you hitting yourself?"

Putin has been a steady hand over Russia, but it's been at the cost of standards of living [1]. That's threatening neighboring regimes, which are only standing thanks to Moscow's support.

Putin isn't dumb. He sees the writing on the wall. The bet is likely that the wave of nationalism that would accompany a war will outweigh its massive costs, directly and indirectly, for long enough for Putin and his cronies to ride out the decade.

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-05-17/russian-r...


He needs a crisis to enact emergency powers and cancel the two term limit. Otherwise he has to burn six years as PM.


> It's funny when the aggressor is "negotiating" to attack or not.

"funny", but standard

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


There was a time in the 90s when the West promised Russia not to expand the NATO closer towards its borders. Later the West forgot about it. As much as I’m critical about most things Russia, I believe it’s understandable and legitimate for Russia to push back. In my eyes, there should be room for an agreement which indeed maintains some kind a “buffer zone” between both blocks. And the West needs to stop pretending it’s only Russia who’s the faulty one here, in this specific issue.

There wasn't. It's a lie spread by Russian propaganda.

USA annexes Hawaii, no one bats an eye. Russia annexes Crimea, everyone loses their minds.


I guess that's sarcasm? Because I honestly cannot tell.

Yes, the U.S used its imperialist power to annex Hawai'i in 1897. That was before most of the modern foundations of international law - in particular article 2(4) of Chapter 1 of the United Nations Articles[0] - were put in place. No excuse, but still - different times.

There are many aspects of U.S. foreign policy I positively abhor. But I'm not alone; the coups and the assassinations and the fiscal bullying and the straight out illegal wars waged against foreign nations have put quite a dent into the U.S.' lady-liberty image.

Despite all that, the U.S. - at least since the end of WW2nd - hasn't seriously meddled in territorial growth or annexations. That's Russia's game and - given the assurances given to Ukraine after the collapse of the SU - especially perfidious.

All in all, I'm quite happy not to live in the Russian sphere of influence.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapter_I_of_the_United_Nation...


While you're technically correct in that the age of colonialism is over, I'm not so sure if the US covertly and overtly overthrowing governments they don't like is much better than the plain and simple invasion Russia executed in Ukraine.

Either would be worse for the victims if Russia did it, but I'd much rather "just" become American or Russian than have foreign sponsors set up religious extremists to stage a rebellion and overthrow the government.


> I'm not so sure if the US covertly and overtly overthrowing governments they don't like is much better than the plain and simple invasion Russia executed in Ukraine.

Neither am I and I detest what the U.S. did to South America. The pain and suffering cause by the US's actions there will continue to reverberate for decades to come.


> Despite all that, the U.S. - at least since the end of WW2nd - hasn't seriously meddled in territorial growth or annexations.

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


All of these are sovereign nations and joined NATO quite willingly. None of these nations were annexed.

How do I sign up to get paid to shill for Russian interests on the internet? I have no convictions and would like to get money doing what you do.


Colonialism went out of style a century ago and this whole discussion is based on the fact that Russia didn’t get that memo.


Someone should tell that to the Iraqis, Afghans, Palestine etc.


You pretend these are equal:

Well, they are not. There is a good deal over a century between those two events and a whole lot has changed since then - even though I should admit not as much as I want.

Russias aggression against Ukraine however is at a completely different level than anything anyone has seen in Europe since a long time ago (and then it was the Sovjet, and before that Nazi-Germany.)




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