Some choice quotes:
“Ukraine, a new and important space on the Eurasian chessboard, is a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire.”
“However, if Moscow regains control over Ukraine, with its 52 million people and major resources as well as access to the Black Sea, Russia automatically again regains the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state, spanning Europe and Asia.”
Dugin serves as an adviser to State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin, a key member of the ruling United Russia party who has loudly supported Russian intervention in Ukraine, and has made widely viewed television appearances to discuss the Ukraine crisis alongside high-ranking members of the government. [Economist Sergei Glazyev] is also an associate of Dugin's.
Few books published in Russia during the post-communist period have exerted such an influence on Russian military, police, and foreign policy elites as Aleksandr Dugin’s 1997 neo-fascist treatise Osnovy geopolitiki: Geopoliticheskoe budushchee Rossii (Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geo-political Future of Russia).
The Foundations of Geopolitics sold out in four editions, and continues to be assigned as a textbook at the General Staff Academy and other military universities in Russia. “There has probably not been another book published in Russia during the post-communist period which has exerted a comparable influence on Russian military, police, and statist foreign policy elites,” writes historian John Dunlop, a Hoover Institution specialist on the Russian right.
The publication of The Foundations of Geopolitics in 1997 was received with great interest, and brought Dugin to the attention of powerful figures in the Russian government. He wisely befriended the oligarch Aleksandr Taranzev, who recommended him to the military general staff.
Dugin’s book was incorporated into the curriculum of the Russian military academy and became required reading for the next generation of officers. One year later, Dugin was appointed senior political adviser to Gennadiy Seleznyov, a former member of the Communist Party and chairman of the Russian parliament, who headed the Center for Geopolitical Analysis, a think tank dedicated to policy recommendations on internal security matters.
The radical intellectual’s stature reached new heights with the appointment of Vladimir Putin to the Russian presidency. Slowly but surely, Dugin succeeded in ingratiating himself with the new president’s inner circle. He forged strong ties with a hawkish, security-oriented clique of insiders, mostly composed of ex-members of the military and the security services. First and foremost among them was Igor Sechin, a former KGB official who has served as Putin’s closest adviser for the past fifteen years and is now deputy prime minister. Other members of this powerful faction include Security Council secretary and former head of the FSB Nikolai Patrushev; former deputy prime minister and Security Council member Sergei Ivanov; and Boris Gryzlov, the speaker of the lower house of parliament and chairman of Putin’s ruling United Russia party.
The activities of the copious and studious Eurasianist intellectual Alexander Dugin are making progress, and it is known that he has close relations with the Academy of the General Staff and once headed an advisory group in the office of Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov.
With "unofficial" translations you will never know if the translators didnt censor/change the meaning somehow.
With official translations, you don't know that, either. In fact, for the same reasons that politicians who speak in multiple languages often give speeches, on a given subject, with substantially different content in different languages, official translations of books that are designed as political propaganda or advocacy often shade the content to different anticipated audiences in different languages.
The United Kingdom, merely described as an "extraterritorial floating base of the U.S.", should be cut off from Europe.
Aaaand now Brexit is a thing. A long-term pseudo-thing, but still a thing.
*Reads the rest of the list*
He claims that without any proof. This maybe would have been true in the 19th century given the technologies for war and power at that time.
But we have the 21st century now. Why should the Ukraine be so important? Why could Russia not be an empire without Ukraine? Russia is the biggest country with the most sources of raw materials. It has the most nuclear weapons. It has a huge fleet. It is feared by all of its neighbors.
But that all doesn't matter nowadays. Because if you want to be a world power in 21st century what you need is a huge economy. And Russias GDP is as big as Italy. But invading Ukraine wouldn't help Russia to increase its GDP.
And that is why what Zbigniew Brzezinsk writes is outdated nonsense. Everyone who believes that still lives in the 19th century.
You could very well be correct, perhaps the leaders of these countries are living in the 19th century. But the fact that the current leaders of Ukraine, USA and Russia are acting in line with/on these older assumptions makes them relevant still today.
Also there’s plenty of information backing up his claims in the book, you’re welcome to go read it. It’s an excellent window into the way geopolics is rationalised, written by one of the people who have shaped it!
Anyway, it is not just one data point what matters. What comes after in his predictions and how adjusted is to what happens in reality (without creative accounting, like with Nostradamus predictions) may tell how right that was.
I somehow doubt that he made the range of varied and contradictory predictions necessary to make this hypothesis correct. I don't know what to call this muddled assertion that so many people seem to be making about hindsight bias or survivorship bias. It's like a bias towards claiming bias, which seems absurd to me. Is everyone just hunting for places where they can use some witty sounding assertion that they saw someone else use and so they're incorrectly applying it everywhere with little discrimination?
He wasn't hallucinating, pinning the tail on a donkey or trying to hit a piñata blindfolded.
It may not be for this case, I just point out that you should be aware of the possibility.
Your whole NATO core staff been voicing this in unison for 2 decades in a row, only for Western politicians to dismiss it. Lookup my other posts today, and especially this https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=30453790
This is not the modern-day version of USSR vs USA. It's the modern version of the Mongol Horde vs Civilization. (No offense to current Mongols; you guys are cool).
Modern Russia is not an unstoppable army of nomadic warriors with a strong martial culture arising from their making their living as herders. It's a badly run kleptocracy trying desperately to remain relevant.
Bad things (and increasingly belligerent, isolated psychopaths) on two sides.
Note that Putin has nothing to lose from all of this.
It's not just a threat; at this point it is a risk.
What happens next is anybody's guess and that's a very bad feeling to have in times like these, the fate of the world as we know it is in the balance.
Putin has long kept his narcissism under a kind of control.
A bit of bare-chest, bareback horseriding. A few ice hockey matches with opponents who comically offer little resistance.
A gigantic pseudosecret palatial residence that looks like a seat of power for a Bond villain, but is actually his safe space.
But even in Russia's nationally televised broadcasts Putin appears to be struggling to control his emotions and his temper.
It's not particularly difficult to see that loyalty to a psychopath loses its currency when that psychopath has no use for you, but also that using your loyalty as a constant mediating influence becomes impossible when the psychopath departs from reality.
The question for any kind of diplomacy, hardball or softball, is this: is Vladimir Putin still in full control of himself? Because he's behaving unusually on the basis of his prior record. Only a handful of years ago he was a very different figure on the world stage. If his narcissism has no supply, no moderation, things could get even uglier.
And yet again he is signposting it -- "all relevant decisions have been taken."
We kept pretending his signposts were diplomatic noise, when in fact he's just a psychopath telling people what he is going to do to them.
It took a minute for them to realize we have two feeble minded and weak kneed presidents in office currently. The cats outta the bag now.
Once one nuke flies, WW3
For some idea of this mentality, if you haven't seen it yet I highly recommend the movie Der Untergang, which is as historically accurate as they could make it, and which gives a unique perspective on how things could get so bad that parents would poison their children to avoid them having to live in a world where they weren't the victors.
Doesn't really matter which one he picks: NATO article 5 would ensure retaliation.
But yeah, I agree with the rest of your point.
And in case anyone didn't make the connection, is also the movie where the scene used in all those "Hitler hears about..." YouTube clips is taken from.
In addition, if Putin tried to launch nukes, I doubt the other oligarchs would go along with his mass suicide plan.
As he explained it, plutonium warheads break down over time. They create helium gas pockets and sometimes internal fractures that prevent detonation.
The solution is to reform the warhead every few years.
The problem here is that plutonium has over a dozen crystalline forms. If they don't achieve a uniform crystal, the warhead will fail to detonate due to the imperfections along the lines where the different crystals come together. This takes a ton of time and money (and often many, many attempts).
Together these mean that the warheads are getting very old and the upkeep to keep them working is huge. Russia can keep a few in working order, but not nearly what their previous arsenal would imply.
Welcome to the eighties...
Thinking of things in terms of raw GDP is what is getting the west into a total mess. For years now people have said Russia won't do anything and couldn't possibly be a threat because their GDP is so low. China will never be a major player because their GDP per capita is so low.
But that's, frankly, stupid. People in Switzerland pay $20 for a sandwich. People in Vietnam are paying $0.75 for a sandwich that tastes twice as good. People in China are getting locally made phones with the equivalent of US pocket change and riding high speed trains for the cost of a slow and janky NY subway trip. GDP means absolutely nothing outside of international trade within the global sphere. GDP didn't help America beat Afghanistan, one of the absolute poorest countries on earth. It didn't help them beat North Korea or Vietnam either. They still haven't succeeded in removing communism from poverty-stricken, bottom of the barrel GDP Cuba. If Russia decides to keep moving into western Europe, their GDPs mean nothing. Seizing that land just means Russia gets all of what those countries have, forever, without the high price tag.
GDP isn't motivating angry dictators to invade. They're doing it because they can.
When I look at numbers, for example, which China spends on military spending, and research? Then try to equate it not in USD, but in local buying power?
And also consider many Chinese companies are state owned, including resources (mining), refining, and producing weapons...
Compared to almost everything the US GOV and the West do, being for profit...
It seems to me that China's military budget dwarfs all of NATO, in terms of buying power.
Yet most seem to not consider this. Even in planning.
US air superiority means little, if each US plane costs 40x a Chinese plane, and each US plane is swarmed by 100 planes at once...
(Just an example, viable or not)
There is, it's called GDP PPP (Purchasing Power Parity). It adjusts for local prices, so countries like Russia and China rank higher than they would at a nominal level. Keep in mind though global commodities are typically priced the same (or similar) worldwide; PPP only applies to goods produced internally.
Even then, some places like Afghanistan don't change much--and they're still completely unbeaten by modern militaries.
Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan all lacked coherent political goals. "Destroy military forces supported by half the country" is not a valid strategy.
Side note: you've used the old-fashioned (and Putin-favoured) english nomenclature for Ukraine as "the Ukraine" in the first sentence, and the Ukraine-preferred nomenclature in the second.
This is actually the crux of the issue in two sentences. Ukraine is a sovereign state, but Putin politically asserts it is merely a territory they control, harking back to a pre-WWII time; Ukraine was a territory regularly divided up and under the control of different neighbouring states as a bargaining chip, gift, settlement, or conquest.
This is I guess why Brzezinski talked about it as it was and as it is. Ukraine used to be passed around and fought over as a set of territories without a home. Post WWII, it is a nation state and its existence as a nation state historically perturbs its neighbours, most notably Russia.
Ukraine still has all the geographical significance it had. It's the second-largest country by land mass in Europe, it is fertile (a nearby breadbasket, geopolitically), it is also mineral rich, etc.
So Brzezinski wasn't wrong to say it was still a source of conflict, a prize, but now being an independent nation state it has the right to defend itself and enter alliances. That makes it a risk strategic point -- even perhaps a pivot -- in a future conflict.
> Why could Russia not be an empire without Ukraine?
If Russia is to (re)build an "empire", it needs Ukraine to do it, for all the reasons above.
Bold to say Brzezinski wrote nonsense, though. Good for you: put yourself out there as an international statesman.
In fact the part of the problem is precisely because it is not a nation state.
But there is a funny thing going on right now at great speed. For a while in Europe it has been Putin's world and we just live in it -- he's been the most sophisticated single backer/instigator of discontent across the continent. But it looks like there is a chance, right now, that this bubble could burst for him, and burst domestically. It's going to be a turbulent fortnight.
I'm not entirely sure I agree with you, but I certainly should have used sovereign the second time instead of nation.
Russia’s GDP is 25% smaller than the U.S. State of Texas.
It sounds like a joke but it isn’t.
Texas GDP is $2.0 trillion.
Russia GDP is $1.48 trillion.
Most of Russia’s GDP is selling oil and gas which is one of the reasons Putin is able to do this now. Through higher oil prices he’s amassed a war chest of $631 billion in foreign currency reserves that will enable him to weather sanctions. That along with the friendship treaty with China giving them a market to sell their oil and gas and sanctions will prove fairly toothless.
Also those petrodollars will slow if Russia has a single buyer.
Not to mention, carbohydrates’ days are counter. Gulf countries are diversifying like crazy, Russia not so much.
But yes, pre coffee booboo.
Putin's move here is like what you do when your character is about to die in CK3 so you just throw all your armies at a neighboring territory while you still have a claim you can press, even if your casus belli isn't accepted by the neighbors.
The strongest reason for me to believe his thinking is rational in terms of the Russian interest is that there is very little that could make Russia worse after his rule, and there are many reasons to suspect he's facing his own mortality. So here he's making a high-price choice which will dent his bank account and possibly his short-term popularity. As the richest man in the world and the most popular man in Russia, he must be dying and trying to make one last push. Otherwise there's no reason for him not to rest on his laurels: His massive wealth and the total ownership of Russia he has already. The man should retire. But he wants to make himself Peter the Great or Ivan the Terrible; to put himself into the annals of the Orthodox Church, he must conquer the cradle of the Rus'.
My theory on Putin is that he may be suffering from cancer. It would explain his terror of close contact with people, and this extreme move --
My fear about him is that he may want to take the rest of the world with him when he dies, including Russia.
I kinda feel bad for him, he must live a rather unhappy life.
I've met little "non-political" Russians like Putin playing guitar, working illegally at restaurants; accidentally overstayed a visa, have to go home to visit Moscow; you know because there's a soviet pin inside the jacket. Yuri Gagarin, or something. He's one of a type that exists and travels around Europe now.
[Edit: I saw this article had never been posted on HN so I just put it up... but it's been immediately deleted, for reasons I don't know].
Wasn't it hilarious how in 2008-2012 (? or thereabouts) the Prime Minister was suddenly more important than the President, when before and after it's been the other way around?
Lol being a world power was never about the economy, it had always been about military strength. Americans might think that they are a superpower because they have one of the largest economies in the world, but that’s being totally small-minded and missing the fact that the reason why their economy is that big in the first place is that the purpose of economies is to power the military with networks, talent, and money.
First, you need to understand values of a person, then their goals, then their methods to achieve the goals. 90s in post-USSR countries were a relatively free environment (from state prosecution) and it naturally selected for individuals which wanted as much power as possible and were willing to take it. For these individuals power is given only to those, who are powerful enough to have it, and must be taken from those, who are not powerful enough to keep it. If you are having your power, than it is moral for you to keep it until you don't.
This way of thinking is not something new or unique to post-USSR 90s - we as humanity have lived with this way of thinking for millennia and our thinking gave birth to countless empires and kingdoms. Those, who were powerful enough to be emperors, also had a right to be. Those, who challenged them in their power, would be new emperors, if proven powerful enough, otherwise would be painfully killed, their property and wives taken and their name forgotten. Let's call this mentality a "Cult of a Warrior". When you are living in this mentality, nothing is worse than feeling shame of abandoning your ideals or friends; you must be a truthful Warrior of the Cult until you die. But in the same time you can freely take anything you like which does not already belong to any of your friends, because if somebody is not powerful enough to fight you, than this person is not worthy of keeping this thing in the first place.
Some of us (humans) during a course of time have countlessly discovered and rediscovered that people can be treated as equal in principle, independent on their physical/economic/political power. This arrangement led to a more productive economic environment where zero-sum-game of Cult of a Warrior changed to a positive sum game of "Everybody Must Be Soft Cult". Also less overall human suffering is kind of cool, but economy thing is always first. In Everybody Must Be Soft Cult power over people can be used only with great care, everything is governed by a bureaucracy and no-one is unwilling to take too much responsibility for any action. This Cult uses a strong moral system to prohibit each of its members from using too much power on the others and those, who do not accept this system, are gradually punished with worse and worse strikes of punishment each time to learn their lesson. At the end, those individuals, who do not understand the reason for given punishment (its always abuse of power over others), are brought to death or exiled. Welcome to the Western civilization as we know it.
So let's go back to Putin and Ukraine. If we accept as an axiom that Putin is an adept of the Cult of a Warrior, then we can make the following conclusions:
1. Putin sees himself as a Chief Warrior of his tribe and therefore has factual and moral power to make any decisions for his tribe as he likes it. I will call him the "Chief Warrior" from now on.
2. The Chief Warrior sees that as time goes on, more and more fellow members of his tribe are turning from Cult of a Warrior to the Cult of Everybody Must Be Soft. From a point of view of a Warrior nothing is worse than to convert yourself to an Everybody Must Be Soft person. Worse is only when your children convert to Everybody Must Be Soft Cult and become all PC and LGBTQ drug loving hippies. No Warrior wants that to their children.
3. So from the Chief Warrior point of view he (in the Warrior cult its always he) does not have any choices at all regarding what to do with his life and how to guide his tribe next. First of all, he must save the tribe from this fucking Everybody Must Be Soft epidemy which is happening right now and must do so ASAP.
4. To save the tribe from Everybody Must Be Soft epidemy it must be separated from the source of the illness in the first place. That means economic and information blockade. All key technologies and industries must be developed in house, all external communication must be ceased, the nation must be quarantined until it find its Warrior soul again. Also its awesome if some of the most active bad blood from the Everybody Must Be Soft movement emigrates in the process.
5. So how to turn a course of a nation of 100+ million people, rapidly integrating from 1990s into Western economy and system of values? It is not so easy. You nee some help from your opponent in doing so. Remember Eastern martial arts - it takes less power to use your opponent against himself, then to do everything all by yourself? So you need to use Everybody Must Be Soft system of punishment to get yourself excluded and expulsed from its system. Economic sanctions is the name for it. For all sanctions the national economy will get a strong hit in the short term, but will become independent from the Everybody Must Be Soft economic system in the long term. Everything, which does not kill us, makes us stronger - said a fellow Warrior (or something like that) once.
6. How to get economic sanctions from the West? Everybody Must Be Soft always punishes for abuse of power, so we must show it to them. Crimea in 2014 was a nice start and we also reminded our fellow Warriors that our soul of the Warrior is not lost yet to the illness, that the times are turning. Also have to make internal reforms regarding freedom of speech, independent news media and political parties to smoke out all the Everybody Must Be Soft elite, so that this liberal pus comes out of an ill body of the Warrior which always has been and always will be Russian Empire, or Russia as it is simply called right now.
So what can people from Everybody Must Be Soft Cult can do to gain advantage in this fight? First of all, get their heads out of their arses and imagine that some people from another culture living on another continent might think differently than they are regarding fundamental ways of living and morality. Take some LSD and watch Chinese martial arts movies for Christs sake if you have so limited imagination.
Second, launch a program of giving free Western university education to Russians with a condition of returning back to their shitty dictatorial country as it is right now and starting improving something in this regard. Subsidize creation of Russian voice-over for all Western movies, give free English language classes to people over 30 and overall increase cultural transfer to people living currently in Russia. To kill Putin you have to convert all these people into the Everybody Must Be Soft mentality.
Third, in NO CASE create any new economic sanctions to Russia and repel all the old ones. Going the sanctions route would be like giving the Chief Warrior exactly what he wants on a silver plate. Give large amounts of aid to Ukraine to compensate for inconvenience of having a bully neighbor at the same time.
Fourth, either Everybody Must Be Soft Cult wins by converting everyone over, or it dies from hands of the Great Russian and Chinese Warriors who are getting stronger in the meantime.
PS. Sorry for my grammar and typos, not a native speaker.
Also slightly edited regarding grammar/typos.
China also bent. But in a way that is very different from what people expected. There was this idea that economic freedom must lead to political freedom. It was the cornerstone of political calculations for a century in the west. But it turns out China bent on the economic side without bending on the political side. This wasn't preordained, if hardliners in China had won their battle against reformers China would still be trapped. But by the time that it became clear that this was the greatest miscalculation of the last half century, it was too late. China became too entrenched economically in the global order for any sanctions to be possible.
But sanctions have worked. Iran doesn't have nuclear weapons because of sanctions.
What sanctions don't do is they don't lead to regime change. But they absolutely lead to massive behavioral changes.
There are sanctions on the NK leadership and you have to convert them and their children into the Western way of thinking before they can even give open information to regular people. Right now Russia just started to censor its internet and Western values together with Western media cat still freely flow to Russia's people. This window of opportunity is closing rapidly, over though.
> Compare that to China for whom we gladly swept the Tiananman Massacre under the rug, respected their sovereignty, made them a top trading partner and they have also not bent an inch.
Because China has ~ 1B people and it heavily censors its media from the start. You cannot change mentality of so many people so fast.
I have traveled to Ukraine and Russia several times, dated a Russian briefly, then a Ukrainian, worked with Ukrainians in DC for several years, learned a bit of Russian and Ukrainian along the way... One of the things that I did not anticipate at first was the shared philosophical heritage with the west - my Russian ex-girlfriend's favorite book was Seneca's Letters to Lucilius, for one random example. For another, take a visit (in better times) to the Hermitage in St Petersburg and notice how the museum honors greek/roman philosophy and empire as much as any western museum.
The philosophical position upon which this country was founded - the rise of what recon517 is calling the "Everybody Must Be Soft" philosophy - has only been a dominant force recently, really only coming onto stage in the 20th century. It is not what has ruled the world for the majority of our 6,000 years of civilization and there is no guarantee that it will continue to do so. The idea that those who take and keep power by whatever means have a moral right to it is not new. I recently finished reading Xenophon's Anabasis (aka The Persian Expedition), and this philosophy seeps through just about every page as the Greek army lays waste to anyone not deemed of benefit to them, even fellow Greeks. Xenophon was a close friend of Socrates, remember.
Xenophon addressing the army, Anabasis book 6:
"As long as you stay together united as to-day, you will command respect and procure provisions; for might certainly exercises a right over what belongs to the weaker."
My point with all of this is 1) we have more shared history than you might think, and 2) that if you enjoy the fruits of an equality mindset over the fruits of a winner-takes-all mindset, then do not take it for granted. Its dominance in politics is not guaranteed, at home or abroad.
Live it, understand it, be it, calmly share it, never force it. We cannot win this war of ideas by treating it like a war. The irony is that in the end it is far more powerful to cooperate than to take, but the success rests upon preventing individuals from concentrating and exercising that power.
My two cents, another imperfect model for consideration.
The Americans had their noses rubbed in it for 20 years in Afghanistan, only to see the warrior Taliban spring right back up overnight. I can’t imagine a more effective wake-up call than that.
It would have been better if they had just called Gorbachev and asked if invading Afghanistan could ever work or they should just drop it. He has the experience and I’m sure he would have been happy to share it.
I've tried to map this model onto Afghanistan but I think that's a bit of a different beast. America was 100% foolish to invade, I agree. But an equality mentality and a warrior mentality are not the only cultural philosophies. Religion alters the picture in yet another way.
Also, you could choose more neutral labels. The point of the egalitarians isn't that people should be soft but that people have rights even if they can't defend them. And really Putin believes this too, he just ignores this when convenient. He isn't okay with harms done to Russia when it was weak. If he really accepted this warrior ethos, he would think they were perfectly fine. Russia couldn't defend its interests, so it deserved whatever it got.
A neutral term for might makes right is kraterocracy. "Democracy" doesn't quite capture the alternative, but will do. Perhaps "egalitarianism" is better.
Except currently Europe desperately needs oil and gas from Russia.
> Also, you could choose more neutral labels. The point of the egalitarians isn't that people should be soft but that people have rights even if they can't defend them.
It was partly irony, partly an attempt to show how we (West) could be seen from their (Warrior) side. Because Warrior clan's people deeply despise the other ones.
> And really Putin believes this too, he just ignores this when convenient. He isn't okay with harms done to Russia when it was weak. If he really accepted this warrior ethos, he would think they were perfectly fine. Russia couldn't defend its interests, so it deserved whatever it got.
If your friend is badly beaten physically, you do not leave this friend behind to die because he is a weakling, you help him heal his wounds and make revenge later. If your friend has became weak emotionally, than it is time to dump or even kill him because of mercy. Because true strength of the Warrior lies in his spirit first and in its body second.
Russia in 90s was very weak economically, but spiritually was at its peak of Warrior (or bidlo/gopnik) ethos.
> A neutral term for might makes right is kraterocracy.
Kudos for the right terms!)
Ten Minute Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDSK_Lb7xxI
Long Lecture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESwIVY2oimI
Russia is outclassed by NATO both economically and militarily.
If NATO intervenes economically, Russia will lose much.
If NATO intervenes militarily, Russia will lose much (but at great cost to NATO).
The risk of NATO intervention is high, right? Russia understood this before invading, right? So it seems Russia is accepting a high risk of loss.
But it doesn't make sense that a nation as sophisticated as Russia would accept such a high risk of loss. Which means that they might actually believe the risk of NATO intervention is low.
How could the risk be low without some kind of collusion or hidden knowledge (hidden from us common folk)? Are "they" ("the global elite", "the military industrial complex") all "in it" (profiting) together? Is Russia just suicidal? If (when?) Russia loses out, how do they react?
"I think also that we need to realize that Ukraine is a highly valued partner. We support them with military support, with political support, with the cyber defences, with equipment. Different Allies provide different types of support.
But when it comes to NATO Allies, we provide absolute security guarantees. Meaning that we make it absolutely clear that an attack on one Ally will trigger a response from the whole Alliance. One-for-all. All-for-one."
The West however cannot be seen to do nothing, so sanctions are the logical next step.
A part of me thinks that Putin at 69 years old, senses that he have to create a great legacy for himself and invading Ukraine seems like a perfect opportunity.
I sincerely hope that the sanctions will include removing Russia from all sports and excluded from as much trade as possible.
That said, I'm worried that the sanctions will be weak/ineffectual as I doubt NATO countries will want to risk economic harm, especially in Europe where they've allowed themselves to become so dependent on Russian natural gas. Personally I think Ukrainian lives are worth an increase in energy prices.
And now gas and oil prices seem to be rising, triggering Biden to state that these increases will be dealt with.
So no, I'm not optimistic about sanctions even though I also think Ukraine must come first.
I agree the military intervention risk seems low, but what about economic intervention? Isn't this going to have some serious economic repercussions for Russia?
I'd say they've anticipated those serious economic repercussions to some extent. But I also suspect Russians may be more willing to tolerate things such as a weak economy if it helps achieve other goals. I kind of see it like a parallel with Russia shooting a bullet at its own economy, while the Soviet Union in the 20th century shot plenty of bullets at its own people...for various reasons.
She said, they are now in a state, where they can't be pressured trough gas deliveries from Russia. Whether this is true, I have no idea.
You can't build LNG transfer depots to replace half of your pipeline deliveries in years, let alone weeks.
Looking at this, Russian LNG imports makes up 20%. Doesn't seem to be completly impossible for the other countries on that list to cover for it at maybe a higher price.
It looks like Putin is making the correct calculation that the west would suffer more.
Look at the Chinese reaction, it is very unlikely he would be making this move without at least tacit Chinese support. He has an outlet for all of that energy and grain.
Where will Europe recover that supply from?
Oil is fungible to a significant degree, but oil politics are not.
The key balance here is with the Iranians and the saudis. In all likelihood the nato response hinges on how much support they can count in the Middle East.
What worries me is the idea that some ex-soviet apparatchik (someone like Vladimir himself) might want to take eye-for-eye, and reduce western infrastructure to the same level of ruin of the Soviet’s, after ‘89.
Their industry and economy was struggling and fell apart overnight but the West wasn’t happy to just win, it wanted to Win Big. We rubbed the unproductivity of it in their face, kicked the market wide open to fire sales and mass demobilization… these humiliations create resentment, and you never know who’s the more spitefully determined.
I'm not familiar with this; can you elaborate or link me to something?
Russia's been sanctioned for nearly a decade. They're probably the most resource-rich nation on earth and have a nearly fully self-sufficient economy. What little they need they can get from China.
Also, when people look at Russia's GDP, they need to look at REAL numbers (ie. Adjusted for PPP). Russia's real GDP is ~3x higher than their nominal GDP (because sanctions drive down currency trade and make the nominal number basically useless).
It might look so like we have a self-sufficient economy, but it's not true. We have lots of resources, but to mine them and produce things you need technology. We're mostly importing needed technology and it's not something that can be changed fast. And things didn't change much for the last 10 years. China is a good partner, they can produce and export all needed tech things, but I doubt that in the current world is a good option to depend on one partner.
I'm Russian and I don't understand the reasons for the invasion of Ukraine. And I don't agree with our country leaders' decisions. It doesn't look the peace could be brought by war and aggression. And I'm feeling that we already lost. We lost opportunities to partner with Ukraine and other countries. We lost momentum to grow our own economy.
When you talk with people around you in Russia, does support for the invasion feel like a wedge issue? No pressure to respond if you feel like it's not easy to talk about.
For a bit of context, where I live there's some controversy of whether or not the federal government needed use certain reserve powers.  I personally felt the government's actions were pretty measured, but I understand (at least on a theoretical or emotional level) why other people might not have been comfortable with it. I sometimes wonder if support for Russia's invasion is very polarizing internally. That said, I don't speak Russian or know much about the public consciousness there.
I think I do.
It seems to be the same as the reason for invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Ukraine also started a transformation, slipping away from Russia's influence and opening to West. Russia's rulers (whether that is Putin or whomever) understandably got pissed by this loss of influence "in their backyard" and they decided they have to do something.
It was clear to Russians for a long time now that NATO was fractured on Ukraine and that even the hawkish Western powers won't go into direct war with Russians because of Ukraine. It's not that important to anybody in the West.
Considering the fact West won't fight in Ukraine, and it did not provide any real concessions to Russia's demands, it is not surprising that Russia has taken initiative. It makes perfect sense, for Russians it is the only way to make sure NATO/EU won't happen and also win control and resources in Ukraine at the same time (which may be a substantial reason as well, despite the fact Putin does not talk about it).
Considering the disproportion in military powers, I think now it would be best for Ukrainians to capitulate, admit defeat and avoid unnecessary deaths. Also, the West bears some responsibility for this misery in Ukraine. Even from western point of view, West should have never started this overture process with false promises and predictable bad results. Unless the Russian invasion was actually a desired result in some secret mastermind plan made in the West... which does not seem likely.
Russian economy is in decline since 2014. COVID-19 pandemic has increased its decline even further.
So it seems that the upcoming EU + US economic sanctions will be used by propaganda as the ultimate explanation of the decline. I mean Kremlin actually looks forward to more sanctions in order to have plausible explanation ("we are at war and our enemies made your life worse; we need to stay strong around our leader mr. Putin" shit).
The vast, vast majority of the growth in US and EU economies since 2014 (really, much earlier than that, though) has been in fundamentally non-productive sectors like finance, real estate, entertainment, social media, and hospitality.
This is all well and good in peacetime, but the GDP calculation changes dramatically when you're on a war footing and need to produce actual tangible things. Russia looks much, much, much better economically than GDP suggests in the context of its ability to produce theater materiel, power that materiel, and man that materiel.
It's going to be a fun day for us when our pathetic "service-based economy" workforce of ad spent optimizers, real estate agents, attorneys, starbucks baristas, ReactJS programmers, UI designers, Buffalo Wild Wings servers, twitch streamers, instagram influencers, and "hustlers" of all kinds get drafted to fight hardened alcoholic roughnecks who've spent the last 20 years actually building things, backed up by Chinese rangefinders, optics, and target acquisition systems.
Good luck to us.
Military intervention is the best solution Russia has a large army but its old and would be unable to deal with western military, but there is no real path for that to happen.
No something I welcome, but the calculations you are making don’t match up with reality.
How would you have it? Just let any nuclear armed state invade any country it wants? There has to be a place where the line is drawn.
Russia has agency in this scenario. If they drop nukes first they are starting a nuclear war.
Of course, Putin may have hoped that the Ukrainian public would "see the light" and realize that they are really Russian people (as Putin seems to think they ought to) and align themselves accordingly, but that would have been a pipe dream.
The west doesn’t really hold the cards at the moment.
- If Nato had put a memorandum on Ukraine membership: Russia would have less of a reason to attack but Nato wouldn’t be able to help defend Ukraine in case of an attack
- Nato stays ambivalent about eventual membership: Russia is more likely to attack and, as stated by the Nato general secretary and the US president, Nato won’t help defend Ukraine in case of an attack
I assume you mean "moratorium"?
You claimed that this wasn’t inevitable. From today’s vantage point, it seems pretty clear that this was Putin’s intent all along.
You know of what Ukrainians are even sicker than this conflict? Russian imperialism. Each instance of sabre rattling brings them closer to the West.
Remember how the Russian government was recently talking about how what goes on inside of their borders is only their business? That they may move their troops anywhere they like inside of their borders (the obvious lie by Putin & Co that was obvious at the time)? Yeah, that's the same principle.
And you don't have to imagine, just remember Cuban missile crisis (in response to US deploying missiles in Turkey, Italy)
I've heard this "analogy" brought up several times in the last couple days, but I just don't find it persuasive or similar, or really actually matter.
If Mexico decided to invite the Russian army in for whatever reason, that is their choice as a sovereign nation. I (as an American) would be super worried about that, but I would also think that the US should probably be asking itself why Mexico had chosen to do this instead of allying itself with the US.
And that's really the heart of this for me: despite Ukraine's history with Russia, they seem to feel that joining NATO is better for their security and safety. Russia should take a hard look at themselves and ask why that's the case, and maybe adjust their behavior so they'd be considered a more trustworthy partner.
But of course that would never happen; instead we have a dictator who believes Russia has some natural right to Ukraine's lands, and will take it by force if necessary. If the US were behaving that way toward Mexico, I absolutely wouldn't blame them for looking for outside help. It would be irresponsible for them not to.
When Ukraine was flirting with the idea of a relationship with the EU in 2013-2014 the Crimean invasion happened. It was absolutely predictable even at that time and in fact many EU officials I have spoken to (including high ranking ones) agreed as much since back then. The signs of a regime which doesn't stand any proximity of a threat to their rule was obvious.
> The reason for the conflict is entirely in Putin's head
I have never been in Putin's head, nor met or talked to him. But to my pride I do forget more history every day than most people will learn in their lifetime and can't think of similar example of a superpower happily accepting adversaries at their border.
In recent history look no further than when the US ordered a naval blockade on Cuba after Cuba's request for Russian missiles to be placed on the island to defend in the event of another US invasion attempt. Putin is literally taking a page from that book.
I don't need to be in Putin's head because he's not some brilliant tactician doing something unheard of, he's just playing an old song to a new audience. If it's the first time you hear it you just have to pay more attention to what came before today.
Not to burst your bubble, but the USSR accepted Turkey with nukes on their border, and before them, Japan. China accepts being essentially surrounded by hostile powers, many of whom are part of NATO.
(Of course “Turkiye” becoming a member of Nato in these times would have been a joke considering Erdoğan. But maybe I’m just showing my naivete.)
Georgia, Syria, Libya, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan are all places Russia and Turkey banged heads one way or another. Just like Russia is taunting NATO to bang heads in Ukraine. China, US, India, Pakistan, Israel, Russia, Turkey are other powerful countries constantly putting out a fire and starting another one. The single larger difference being that the sphere of influence of most of those countries expands far less than US' so their conflicts are generally closer to their actual geographic border rather than on the other side of the world. Otherwise they're all fighting to maintain that buffer in all possible ways.
And at a completely different scale, people in rich neighborhoods rarely accept inconvenient buildings or neighbors right next to them as long as they can do something about it. It's not an indictment on either the people or the countries named above. Just the state of things.
Perhaps the only place with nukes and no sabre rattling today is Western Europe. Then again they have the US to do the rattling for them and pay for the service. The picture will be a lot clearer when this too becomes history.
However, the idea that all superpowers inevitably go to war to preserve this state is just wrong. If you consider superpowers starting from antiquity to today, the only state that has achieved this situation (at any point?) is the USA. Every other has had at least one significant land border with an adversary.
(PS: Probably the biggest one is, of course, between the USSR and China, which was a very hot border since the sino-soviet split).
PS: it was nice while it lasted... https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/russia-and-chin...
Well, except for the fact that the US never actually invaded Cuba.
It was a grave mistake for Ukraine to give up the nuclear weapons they inherited from the USSR.
And in 2014 forces which were definitely just pro-Russian militias as they clearly had no Russian insignia invaded Crimea the moment Ukraine started contemplating a relationship with the West/EU.
This kind of rationalization or nit-picking in order to reach the conclusion you had already settled on has no value, just because there are sides doesn't mean you have to blindly take one. Education and critical thinking help.
Don't compare an authoritarian regime sending militias to conquer the territory of a democratic country to a democratic country training and supporting exiles to get rid of their tormentor. Intent matters.
When you do a good job you don't need to explain your intentions. It's a lesson you learn the very first time you do a good job.
Near term impacts of climate change will very likely leads to crop failures in many of the EU's largest producing regions.
When you don't have enough food to feed your people, politics and economic sanctions become extremely flexible.
When resources run low controlling food and oil will be a very big deal.
Russian and Ukraine combined account for 29% of global wheat exports, much of that to the EU.
Near term climate change will most certainly lead to massive crop failures, particularly in currently bountiful parts of the EU.
Countries like the UK (I know not EU) already cannot feed their people without imports, something like 50% of the UKs food supply is imported.
It is nearly certain that within a few decades, perhaps even sooner, we will be at a point where there is not enough food. We've already see notable crop failures in the EU.
Most of us have grown up in a time of plenty, but that time is running short.
All of this is fairly well established, so is my "delusion" in that Putin is aware of this and acting on it?
After some conversion through various bad units of measure (bushels->pounds->calories), and assuming ~2250 calories a day average), it looks to me like current US corn production could feed somewhere around 1.6 billion people their entire yearly caloric needs, if it was actually directed entirely at feeding people as efficiently as possible.
And that is rather obviously not the only crop or source of food originating in the US.
https://www.nass.usda.gov/Newsroom/2022/01-12-2022.php - corn output.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/in-defense-of-... - bushel/pound/calorie conversion
In short, I don't think it's very realistic to think that Europe is going to face a literal inability to get enough food even if the entirety of Ukraine never grew another plant again.
France exports 15,228,664 tonnes of wheat, not far behind the Ukraine with 17,314,278.
Other significant wheat producers in the EU include Germany, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland and Lithuania.
What climate change would let crops fail in all corners of the EU, but not Ukraine and Russia?
Links to actual expert analyses, on the other hand, would be much appreciated.
The world's police has abdicated a while ago. This is the kind of thing that happens in the vacuum left behind.
"Asked twice during CNN's town hall whether the US would protect Taiwan if China attacked, Biden said it would." 
Contrast that to the stance on Ukraine:
"We have no intention of fighting Russia."
From other statements, it seems clear the administration thinks Taiwan is a critical national interest while Ukraine is not.
This is true. And it is the main driver behind the United States' renewed interest in domestic fab capability:
Taiwan isn't explicitly mentioned but it plays a large role in the reasoning behind this.
Semi is the most globalised industry spanning 28 countries, with USA, China, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, SK, Japan, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands being able to singlehandedly stop the whole of it.
It's a naive thinking "once TSMC will complete Arizona megafab, we can abandon Taiwan." There, are as I said, hundreds of critical single supplier globally pieces of equipment, services, and materials that most of the world had zero idea about. How about nanoneedle probes capable of testing M0 the entire industry depends on, for which there is 1 small company for the entire world.
The DoD has identified the loss of manufacturing capability as a national security risk. Maybe lower labor costs were the impetus of off-shoring manufacturing, but nearly 40 years since globalization took hold there's also a lot of manufacturing that has to go overseas simply because America is no longer able or willing to do it. Could the US bring back that capability? As you said, even if there was the will it wouldn't happen overnight.
US semiconductor equipment from LAM, and Applied Materials are more than half imported parts. US semi industry never used OSATs, until it had to ship their chips to Asia for that, and thus missed out on most of new packaging, and test tech which evolved outside of the US. Similarly for almost everything else.
Replacing Asian material suppliers for the US will be as hard as for China to develop a domestic photolithography stepper.
Ok, then we'll stop talking.
"We will betray our allies, and they will leave us alone" is a form of defeatism, and entertaining others into this way of thinking is not what a citizen of NATO country should do, let alone a public figure.
For their pro-Putler colleagues, one of those phrases is "Ukrainian coup of 2014".
This was already the case though this does make it clear to me that Taiwan will likely fall in short order.
There have been unsubstantiated rumors for years that the Taiwanese military has outfitted TSMC fabs with explosives that can be rigged to go off in the event of a mainland invasion in order to deny China access to TSMC capabilities. Even physical destruction may be unnecessary. Due to the complexity of the semiconductor supply chain, many say that an embargo of materials and the removal of experts are enough to paralyze the fabs for many years.
Never mind various economic measures from all parts of the West. The developed world is already doing things about China's Taiwan ambitions, and have motivations far stronger than altruism to continue doing so. Ukraine by contrast is not as well integrated as Taiwan, and it's their desire to be integrated that set Putin off in the first place. If said integration meant nothing, Putin wouldn't be invading.
> Taiwan has semiconductors western industry depends on.
For once it isn't about oil.
> And the primary reason for AUKUS and giving the Aussies nuclear sub tech is precisely so their subs will have the range to help counter China.
I'm sure the Chinese are most impressed. But Australia too will stand by when the Chinese invade Taiwan.
> China just "sanctioned" (largely performative) Lockheed and Boeing over a $100 million arms sale to Taiwan.
You need to separate out the economic incentives from the political ones there to get a clearer picture of what is happening.
> Never mind various economic measures from all parts of the West. The developed world is already doing things about China's Taiwan ambitions, and have motivations far stronger than altruism to continue doing so.
China doesn't care about any of that: they care about the United States and them alone because that is the only country that can credibly put up enough force projected into that region to put a stop to it if they decide to move.
> Ukraine by contrast is not as well integrated as Taiwan, and it's their desire to be integrated that set Putin off in the first place.
You could Swap Ukraine and Taiwan and substitute Xi and you have a winner at some point in the future, provided Taiwan would express a desire to join NATO.
> If said integration meant nothing, Putin wouldn't be invading.
Put would invade regardless, and this is the mistake that everybody is making: the NATO approach is a figleaf, that only happened after things had already started to slide inside Ukraine. But I'm pretty sure that only a very small fraction of HN is aware of that.
Was placed to serve as a Russian puppet to keep Ukraine out of the influence of the West, which the country overwhelmingly wanted. After being tossed out (he's since moved to Russia) the whole separatism affair started fueled by Russia. Ukraine had every right to do so, and the occupation and subsequent invasion are proof positive that Ukraine was right about Russia's intentions, not the other way around.
You will find a lively corresponding sentiment in lots of other former USSR states.
Regardless, when I say "western integration" I don't mean hard NATO membership. Taiwan is a greater economic player than Ukraine, and a very defensible island, with a very different set of political entanglements. The situations may look similar in the abstract, but it's comparing oranges to lemons.
I'm also not sure why you think the Aussies would stand by. They're already in their own economic war with China and by joining AUKUS have made their position abundantly clear. New Zealand would probably stand by, but honestly they don't matter that much militarily.
China is making enemy after enemy on the assumption that their enemies are fundamentally weak/corrupt and can be rolled over, while uniting under an ethno-nationalist/cult of personality leadership. They aren't the first in history to make that mistake. And if they continue down that road it ends in bloody defeat.
Could some trouble have been avoided if Yanukovych had left office via election rather than via coup? How many Ukrainians really considered his negotiation tactics with EU so unbecoming that he should have been summarily removed via "extralegal" means?
Either way, the reason it can't have a simple answer is that it's an invalid question, since it presupposes something which isn't true. (As further explained in https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=30539775 .)
And IMO it's a bit suspicious that so many of the "simple questions" on this subject just happen to be couched in Putlin propaganda terms.
I'm not really sure what you are trying to argue here, this is pretty much settled history.
You mean 'under the Russian boot'. They already know what that is like, hence their resistance to a repeat performance.
The rest of the alternative reality stuff I'll not respond to, feel free to take that any way you want.
One guess how I'm inclined to take that...
The vast majority of Ukrainians are not responsible for their misfortunes over the last decade. Certainly they have my sympathy. Violent coups usually harm the societies in which they occur, so the tiny minority of Ukrainians who took part in that coup have harmed their nation and their fellow Ukrainians. That harm has taken the form of a Russian invasion, but if it had happened somewhere else at some other time (e.g. Iran, in 1953) the harm would have come anyway.
Eventually, if we survive long enough, humans will learn to organize (and re-organize!) ourselves without large-scale violence. Some had imagined that democracy might be a part of that, but few today seem to agree.
Ukrainians (and Georgians, and elderly Hungarians) are already well aware...
USA has gone on record saying it will fall on the sword for Taiwan. 
USA never said any such thing for Ukraine. The closest commitment is Biden saying "we will defend every inch of NATO territory." 
The US made their commitments when their opponents were at their nadir neglecting that they'd be challenged when the opponents were at their strongest. Walking back those commitments to what the US is willing and able to defend will continue to be the challenge of the 21st century. There needs to be a strategic re-evaluation of what the US should defend and what they can defend.
IMHO, ultimately the either should not or can not defend Eastern Europe bordering Russia, The Caucasus, Saudi Arabia, and Taiwan. How to wiggle out of those commitments without giving Russia, China, & Iran ideas is the tough part.
The possible what-if scenarios arising from unchecked expansion of superpowers is disturbing.
I'll believe that when I see it, under Biden, maybe. But that may also just be posturing and probably won't last longer than the moment that the USA can become independent of Taiwanese manufacturing capabilities at which point it would actually be in the US' interest if Taiwan would no longer be able to produce.
Because Joe Alzheimer is the weakest dictator in the US history.
EU has also supported Ukraine with words recently.
I've seen ads on the telly making an emotional statement that "Ukraine is Europe".
Europe as a continent does not exist: it is a small corner of Asia. Eurocentricism needs to stop. This us-vs-them game needs to stop.
This invasion is terrible for normal people, Ukrainian (bombs), Russian (sanctions) and everyone else (instability, high prices). It could have been prevented if the "west"/NATO was not "pulling on" (arming) Ukraine. The NATO already have plenty places to make bases on Russian border.
See what happened to Cuba. The US/NATO also do not like bases on their border. They should have understood Russia also does not like that.
But then I believe NATO is more into the business of war then the business of peace.
According to Wikipedia, many NATO members are either Arms or non-lethal aid suppliers.
Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States
Non-lethal military aid:
Germany, Italy, Slovakia, Sweden, European Union, Belarusian opposition
The US alone provided $2.5 Billion of aid . That doesn't include Biden's $200 Million military aid package in 2022 .
Or they see it like Poker as an "all in" move. Either lose now on their own terms in Ukraine or eventually they lose anyway as Ukraine joins NATO and Russia's nuclear advantages are "neutralized". Meanwhile there's the chance NATO may not intervene so take the risk...
Which is probably why the US doesn't want to split efforts across two theaters again.
So far China didn't threaten nuclear war for anybody helping out Taiwan, the way Putin did just today.
The “all in” move was when they suggested they NATO not meeting their demands to permanently commit to excluding Ukraine and withdraw allied forces from Eastern European members of NATO was an aggressive act pushing them to war in Ukraine. When NATO didn't fold, they either had to invade or show the Putin regime as a paper tiger, which is a mortal blow for an authoritarian regime.
They spent many years on efforts to weaken governments of the West and relations between them for the purpose of doing something like that and having Western unity collapse. Maybe they misjudged and thought that would pay off.
Let's not pretend we can just torment Russia until a "good Russian leader" emerges to attend to our every desire. No politician who would ever receive 1% of the vote in Russia would support Ukraine joining NATO. NATO was formed to impoverish Russia and its allies, and that is still its obvious and declared purpose. Likewise, USA has relatively few politicians who would support China installing missile batteries along the Mexico border.
Let's not invent ridiculous strawmen to argue against. Pointing out that Putin was politically all-in long before the invasion began doesn't even remotely imply what you are arguing against.
Perhaps I misunderstood because the idea that Russia has no options remaining is goofy. Putin wasn't "all-in" years ago, not least because he isn't "all-in" even now. He hasn't even turned off the existing pipeline yet, and it's still February.
You agree that tormenting Russia is unlikely to bring about the political changes many claim to desire. That being the case, why do we persist in tormenting Russia?
Snide comments insinuating that penalties on HN are based on particular views are always a dumb idea, but not nearly as bad as characterizing your apologia for Russian aggression as “excessive pacifism.”
> Perhaps I misunderstood because the idea that Russia has no options remaining is goofy.
I never said Russia has no options remaining. I said that Putin, having setup the propaganda position he did of framing NATO failure to accede to his withdrawal demands as a provocation of war I Ukraine, had no good option to avoid showing weakness from the standpoint of his domestic political position within Russia except invading Ukraine when the threat of force failed to get the West to capitulate.
> You agree that tormenting Russia is unlikely to bring about the political changes many claim to desire
I have neither agreed with that, nor agreed with your ridiculous characterization of Western actions as “tormenting Russia”.
. . . .
Let's not invent ridiculous strawmen to argue against.
You agree that tormenting Russia is unlikely to bring about the political changes...
I have neither agreed with that, nor...
Either you agree with it or you don't? Perhaps I should leave this argument, as you seem capable of continuing it all by yourself. Anyway, those who have a clue about sanctions agree that they harm innocents most of all. 
>> I have neither agreed with that, nor...
> Either you agree with it or you don't?
No, an invalid statement requires neither agreement nor disagreement. And statements of the form "You agree that [premise] is likely / unlikely to bring about [consequence]" are invalid if the premise is invalid. I can't answer either "yes" or "no" to "You agree that the Moon being made out of green cheese is likely to bring about an oversupply crisis in the dairy industry once it comes crashing down"; the only valid answer is "Mu".
Likewise nobody here knows whether "tormenting" Russia would be likely or unlikely to bring about political changes there, since nobody in this world is doing that. You'll have to pop back over to your alternate reality and check how it works out there.
I don't understand how the west didn't see that they should at least accept to exclude Ukraine from NATO. Why, giving in to Russia's demand (even partially) would be a loss for NATO?
Probably not, in the long term, and the ability to prevent similar coercive efforts against other nations near Russia would be far less.
What would the world have got in return from Russia? A solemn promise, a ratified agreement in writing and everything, that Russia would make no demands or incursions on Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity?
Yeah, something like that would be great.
Except that's what the world already got from Russia, in exchange for Ukraine giving up its nukes back in the 1990s. And look how much that piece of paper was worth.
"In my 41st year of peacetime service, I would not have believed that I would have to experience another war.
And the Bundeswehr, the army that I am allowed to lead, is more or less blank. The policy options we can offer in support of the Alliance are extremely limited.
We all saw it coming and were unable to get our arguments through to draw and implement the conclusions of the Crimean annexation. That doesn't feel good! I'm eaten!
NATO territory is not yet under direct threat, even if our partners in the East feel the constantly growing pressure.
When, if not now, is the time to put the Afghanistan mission behind us structurally and materially and to reposition ourselves, otherwise we will not be able to implement our constitutional mandate and our alliance obligations with any prospect of success."
Yeah, the German military is in an abysmal state:
> Among the failures: none of Germany’s submarines is operational, only four of its 128 Eurofighter jets are combat-ready and the army is short dozens of tanks and armored vehicles needed for NATO missions.
> In addition, troops are short on the basics: body armor, night vision gear and cold-weather clothing.
> The situation is so dire that 19 helicopter pilots from Germany’s Bundeswehr were forced to turn in their flight licenses because of a lack of training time.
> The reason: not enough helicopters for the pilots to fly.
No country with nuclear weapons is ever going to give them up again. No security assurances will be seen as sufficiently reliable.
The risk of NATO direct military intervention barring an attack on NATO is very close to zero. (Increased material support for Ukraine could happen, but that doesn’t have the same impact.)
Economic response by the Western powers (not through NATO, but independently and through the EU and other institutions) is already happening and certain to escalate.
> But it doesn't make sense that a nation as sophisticated as Russia would accept such a high risk of loss.
Anthropomorphizing nations can be misleading. The risks born by the nation are largely not born by the people committing the nation to a particular course. “Some of you may die, but it's a sacrifice I’m willing to make.”
1. Tactical - chokepoints are a major element of military tactics, and I guess there's a spot that leaves Russia completely defenseless with wide-open spaces if it doesn't own Poland and Ukraine.
2. Wheat - apparently, Russia owns quite a bit of the market, and Ukraine would carry another minority.
With that in mind, I see this entire thing as a coercive and brutal M&A, but with people's lives being destroyed instead of just their long-term career plans.
But how would the nuclear option play out?
Here I am, a Russian oligarch. I ordered the Ukrainian invasion because I bet that NATO wouldn't intervene because of my nukes. But it turns out I was wrong and NATO is pushing back my invasion.
So I fire some nukes.
But then they fire nukes back at me.
Did I profit?
I think the mistake here is to assume that the invasion is dictated by economic interests (be they oligarch interests). I don't think what's happening is driven by oligarchs, but by other geopolitical ideas (insane as they are).
As far as I can see it there's no bet. Russia pretty much knows the US will not react, and the US has no interest to start WW3 over Ukraine.
I don't believe this, unless you define "significance" as nothing more than having your name in the world newspapers, even if it's for the wrong reasons.
Look at where they sit strategically. The amount of resources they supply to an increasingly resource hungry world. The amount of math and science talent. The possession of advanced nuclear weaponry.
Look at what they are doing militarily right now and how effectively they are doing it.
They are an extremely significant country. This is true no matter how you feel about their government.
Russia's economy is dependent on fossil fuels. While the decrease in Europe's use of nuclear power has been a gift to Russia, the future for fossil fuels is not bright and Russia's kleptocratic government has starved the nation of economic innovation.
I don't know what "extremely significant country" means here, but Russia is objectively a country in decline both in terms of economic and cultural power.
But that's the only thing they supply. At least in Europe (I hope) they'll start decoupling from Russian fossil resources asap.
> The amount of math and science talent
Pales in comparison to the US, China or the EU (taken as a block) and possibly even in comparison to the UK or Japan.
> The possession of advanced nuclear weaponry
This insures that MAD still works, but not much more I think.
Which is the last thing anyone should want because it will simply deepen ties between Russia and China.
Overpriced healthcare, insurance and banking services might not be as valuable as oil, minerals and manufacturing going forward.
I just feel it's a huge conceptual mistake to underestimate the relative weights of forces.
Russia in 2022 has a GDP of $1.5T, and NATO has a combined GDP of $42T (2). Even if you make the case that Russia's current economic activity translates more effectively into wartime industry, I don't believe you can possibly make the case that it is 28x more effective.
Germany also had military technology and strategy advantages (see France in 1940) over its (early war) opponents. As good as Russia's "math and science talent" is, I would be shocked if it was even a quarter of the capability that the US alone has.
So no, Putin in 2022 is not comparable to Hitler in 1939.
(1) - http://www.zuljan.info/articles/0302wwiigdp.html.
(2) - https://countryeconomy.com/countries/groups/nato
China is taking Russian engineers and cheap resources. In the meantime, Putin complained that they didn't invest enough back.
Total GDP ain't big either. Military is 6% of their gdp with a lot of older material too ( = maintenance cost)
Very low vaccination rates, means very low trust in the governement.
Russia is doing this because of a weak position. Not from a strong one.
China is giving something to give Russia confidence, but really not much.
Does NATO intervene when Russia starts (or really continues) courting pro-Russian politicians?
Does it intervene if that minority starts protesting?
Does it when that minority starts resisting?
Does it when Russia smuggles them arms?
Does it when little green men show up?
Does it when the rebels (now mostly little green men) advance West?
This go around the West tried sanctions and it obviously didn't work. Estonia is far more Western and fewer historic ties to Russia than Ukraine did. So it might not progress past step 1 in the playbook. Almost certain that Putin is going to try and likely will try for at least a couple decades to come.
For instance, we've seen it dramatised in season 3 of Berlin Station: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5191110/episodes?season=3
My imagination says: as soon as new facts are established (let's say blitz invation of a city), you are tempted to not respond because you don't want to start a world war. Of course this fails the overarching theory (MAD, tit for tat etc), but I wouldn't think it's impossible. Maybe for example USA would say it wants to respond with sanctions to avoid a larger war.
* Use subversive tactics to destabilize countries
* Use natural resource control to pressure countries
* Use military as a last resort when influence fails
Basically, make energy deals with Germany, ignore the US and UK and install puppet governments in Eastern Europe through bribery and propaganda until they can be annexed or granted “special status”.
But how can you establish facts, when you have to kill hundreds or thousands of US soldiers in NATO country first? Do you think that the US will say "shit happens" lets do some financial sanctions? Biden already said that as soon as russians shoot US troops we have WW3. And I think no other conclusion could be drawn here.
Of course, I don't believe there is such a system, or if there is it's very local; if it comes to nukes, they will come from anywhere (e.g. nuclear submarines) and can end up anywhere. If there was an effective anti-nuke system, we'd see launchers pop up everywhere, or if it's a space based one, see many launches of those to get enough coverage (like starlink).
This is just a slightly different version of a Cuban Missile Crisis. It has nothing to do with economy.
I am a NATO Commander, I order the attack on Russian Troops in Ukraine. Russia retaliates with Nukes and I fire mine back and they fire theirs back on my Home Nation.
Or the war could turn into a route against Russia and defeat would mean the end of Putin's life. Why would he not draw a red line of threatening nukes, and mean it, in that situation?
This is a classic game of "chicken", and NATO has basically told everyone they wouldn't get directly involved.
All your arguments happen to apply to NATO commanders too.
Here I am, head of a NATO member. I see Russia invade a country that we don't really care that much about. If we intervene there's a chance the world might end (and I will die). If we don't do anything except say some stern words online we'll lose some face but our money and lives are safe.
Do I intervene?
In a game of "chicken" the side with the most to lose and the side that believes they are most "rational" will lose. That losing side seems to be NATO now. Putin's image of being an irrational dictator willing to win at all costs is why he's winning this "chicken" game easily.
After all, Putin told 2 days ago he wants NATO out of Romania and Bulgaria:
But Russia doesn't need to fight those countries. They are hundreds of kilometers away from the Russian border. Ukraine on the other hand is hundreds of meters away. Having Ukraine in NATO or in the EU is a threat to Russia and its leadership today. So Russia will look to poison Ukraine for these 2 organizations and make it an unattractive member.
When EU got too close in 2013-2014 Russia responded in exactly the same way. Both the US and Russia have reacted in the same manner when the enemy tried to reach their borders in any way (via Cuba or via Ukraine). So in 2022 pursuing any relationship particularly between NATO and Ukraine could not have had any other result. It is absolutely inconceivable that this was unexpected given the obviousness, so it's a safe assumption that the goal is to keep Russia fighting and draining the little they have left, with Ukraine paying the (biggest) price. "Buffer" countries always do.
My view is that this is about maintaining a fading colonial empire. Ukraine has been drifting away from Russian influence at least since 2014 and since Russia does not have the economy to re-assert its influence through trade it has to do so by military means.
I have no facts to base it on other than news propaganda, but I think they are too late to re-capture Ukraine and this rather desperate move will only bolster the Ukrainian nationalism. The Russian forces also will not be able to hold the Ukraine well enough to extract any sort of economic benefit from it. 45 million is a lot of people.
Putin has stated that he views Ukrainian membership in NATO and the presence of NATO forces on their border as an existential threat to Russia so that is at least the public reason that they are doing this. If we take that at face value then the objective is to destabilize Ukraine to the point where they are ineligible to join NATO for a long time. That doesn't bode well for the Ukrainian people.
Any intent with Donetsk and Lugansk -- such as "protecting their borders"; which "borders", the ones with Ukraine? -- is an intent with Ukraine. Donetsk and Lugansk are "countries" only in the eyes of Russia and Belarus; in the world the rest of us live in, they're parts of Ukraine. (Like Crimea.)
> Putin has stated that he views Ukrainian membership in NATO and the presence of NATO forces on their border as an existential threat to Russia so that is at least the public reason that they are doing this. If we take that at face value...
Here's a better idea: Let's not.
And yet no single (super)power in the world would accept this assurance and allow adversaries to take positions at their borders. The US didn't allow Russian missiles in Cuba, and most definitely wouldn't allow China to set up base there today despite any assurances that China would never preemptively invade the US.
There may be many reasons behind this war that we'll never know but the one you don't have to guess. It's been tested and proven accurate over our entire history.
This seems a leap, or am I misunderstanding your comment?
An attack on Moldova is not beyond conceivable. Bulgaria and Romania however are NATO members with US troops stationed there - Russia will not risk WW3 over those countries.
Serbia is a bit far to be invaded without a lot of other things happening before that.
No way do the hawks win that argument.
In a hot war where multiple countries are involved you can't expect the fighting to just stop once you hit a border. Even when you have the upper hand, the temptation to carry through once you are already engaged in a conflict is real.
Imagine you're the engineer involved with launching a nuke. In times of peace even if you get a phishing call to launch a nuke, you'd have second thoughts and probably take a couple more steps to confirm. In war time, you're already primed for the possibility of the nuke being used and it takes far less for a malicious actor to end the world as we know it.
Same for all levels of decision makers. It really just takes one trigger-happy maniac to make a wrong decision somewhere.
One reason I think this to be true is exactly the risks that you mentioned - the more hot the war gets, the more bodies, the more likely mistakes are made.
I agree that NATO would be very reluctant to so much as fire an artillery shell over the Russian border, but Russia might well forfeit a great deal of personnel and equipment in such a move, anyway. Having troops & equipment abroad is a major liability if you pick a fight with a country (or coalition) that badly outclasses you.
Let's say afterwards Russia nukes Western Europe/the US. What then? That's the thing with MAD, you have to be mad to toy with the possibility.
What would make him desperate enough to sacrifice the entire current and future of Russia? Losing an invasion of Estonia?
When you are 70 years old, spending half your life revered as a great leader of a nation, you would be desperate not have your historical legacy ruined by losing a war and possibly your status and pride in your final years.
I'm definitely of the opinion that this would be an unlikely scenario, but then, are you willing to bet the future of the planet on a hunch that a single person that you don't know personally is actually not unhinged and desperate?
I don't know about you, but I'm personally going to avoid betting on anything that has a mere 1% chance of resulting in nuclear winter.
The scenario that we have been discussing is NATO's response to a Russian invasion of a NATO member such as Estonia. What are NATO's options?
1. Full scale (offensive) war. They attacked us, we will end this in Moscow
2. Repel the attack, take no aggressive action beyond what is required to come to a stalemate
3. Do nothing
I have argued elsewhere with you that I don't see 1. as being at all likely due to NATO's goals, defensive posture, and military superiority.
Doing nothing would only embolden Russia and destroy any pretense of an alliance at all. If not in Estonia, when would NATO intervene? Poland? Germany?
Thus, repel the attack and take no aggressive action. De-escalate and give options for Russia to save face.
We don't have to bet that a single person is not unhinged enough to press the button. There are command and control limitations purpose-built into even Russia's nuclear arsenal. Putin also wouldn't want his historical legacy ruined by the thorough destruction of the present and future of Russia. I'd go further to say that he knows all this, and wouldn't invade a NATO member in the first place.
I hope this is not how nuclear strategy and tactics is prepared. If sane people are in charge, retaliations will be proportional and exchange will be limited.
Russia obliterates Katowice, one of several countries obliterates Volgograd. What is the next move? You just ended the lives of a million of your citizens. You just stop there?
This is a very good question.
My guess is there will be a period of consolidation (one year, maybe two) and then the next target will be set, either Belarus will be pulled back in or Kaliningrad will be re-connected to the mothership. The fact that it isn't is a serious issue for Russia, they have to cross NATO controlled territory to get to one of their more important bases.
For instance, I think it's not one but two separate Citizen's Initiatives for joining that have each gathered enough signatures to qualify for debate in Eduskunta, the Finnish Parliament. (Not that it was all that far below that before this either.)
look at the US: Trump is Putin's buddy, and he pushed the 'America First' tagline.
Look at the UK, they broke away from the EU.
Look at the eastern countries, Poland and Hungary; they have right-leaning governments that broke the rule of law and the separation of legislative branches, which caused them to get sanctioned by the EU, which fuels anti-EU sentiments. And in eastern Europe, anti-EU is pretty much equivalent to pro-Russia.
I haven't heard about it myself, but I'm sure anti-NATO sentiments will increase as well. It's only a matter of time before they get people to leave NATO. Especially if NATO does not come to the defense of a NATO country, they will lose their trustworthiness then.
But if anything, Eastern European countries will cling to NATO more than ever, they most certainly won't leave it.
Just look at the most recent speech of the Czech president, who is generally pro-Russian (the president, not the whole country). In the speech he absolutely condemned Russia's aggression and expressed support to Ukraine. Moreover, he urged to kick Russian Federation out of the SWIFT system as soon as possible.
Without centralised command issuing computerised targeting info, it will be for missile officers own initiative to launch them, fully knowing from what they learned in the military academy that an uncoordinated launch will likely be futile.
USA missile defences in Arctic, and North Pacific can guarantee intercept a dozen uncoordinated launches, if what Raytheon says is true.
This is very dangerous nonsense.
Russia has >6000 Nukes. If most were launched and missile defense systems have a 99% success rate that is still 10s of Nuclear strikes on the US Mainland. This would be the end of the US and likely irradiates large parts of North America...
32 Bulavas on 2 Yasens in Pacific
46 R36, 6 with 20MT warheads, 40 with 10 1MT MIRV. 406 warheads total.
The Russian airforce doesn't have serious nukes, the land force don't have megaton scale weapons either.
R36, and UR100 in silos are the only genuine first strike option, everything else is a retaliation weapon. Only a coordinated first strike gives Russia a chance on victory, it's impossible with military C3 beheaded. The surviving military officers in bunkers in far reaches of the country would know that each of them don't have enough forces under their command to continue the war.
> Only a coordinated first strike gives Russia a chance on victory
The idea that a nuclear war can be won died a while ago too.
The “Finlandization of Europe”.
The idea is to use bribery and propaganda to destabilize Eastern Europe countries until puppet governments rise to power or can be installed, while holding Central Europe at bay through leverage on natural resources. Make deals with Germany and ignore the US and UK.
Basically, take over Europe and break up NATO. Military action is the backup plan when the above coercion fails.
Even Finland itself came out of Finlandization beginning thirty-plus years ago, so it's doubly ironic that Putler at least partly succededed in bending much of the rest of Europe to something similar since. The main culprit in falling for this is, AFAICS, Germany; from about the Schröder administration and onwards.
I think that it's a mistake to assume there must be an endgame.
What was Andropov endgame in invading Afghanistan. If you read the planning strategy sessions that lead to Afghanistan, it is clear there was no endgame. First it was Afghanistan is not strategically important let it fall. Then it was Afghanistan appears to be important to the US so we should involved. Then finally Afghanistan is strategically critical the Soviet union must invade and do anything it takes to ensure they remain pro-Soviet.
What was the US endgame in Afghanistan after Al Qaeda was defeated? What was Bernie Madoff's or Pol Pot's endgame?
I think in case of someone who attacks there is always an endgame (something they want to gain/achieve/posses ...) and reasons are post action justifications.
I could actually say this in general: everybody is doing something (or choose not to) to gain something. What is true is that sometimes the final stage is not consciously expressed. But in my view se are an organism that is spending energy to gain something at the final of the exchange. In this inaction is also a form of exchange.
I do think we are using the term endgame to mean different things. I'm thinking about it not as a mere end they wish to achieve them like a chess endgame.
I agree people have reasons for the things that they do, but endgame implies that they have a longer term plan that wraps up the follow on consequences of that decision. For instance someone might rob a bank for the reason that they want lots of money, but they might not have fully considered how they are going spend that money without getting caught or how they will evade capture by law enforcement over the next twenty years if they are exposed.
Or consider the American Civil War, the South did not have an endgame. They had a bad plan to break away from the US by aggressively attacking the US, but they didn't have a good strategy for winning the war and even if they did, the what would their post-war state look like? Given their internal factions and divisions the CSA would almost immediately have had another civil war within themselves. The north could then play the warring factions against each other. It was remarked at the time by people in the know that the Confederations didn't really have a workable long term plan and their short term one was bad. They had reasons but no real endgame.
What was Bernie Madoff's endgame? Die of old age before the house of cards came down?
Putin is Slobodan Milošević with less hair and a nuclear arsenal. Milošević was clearly a clever man but what was Milošević's end game? Did Milošević expect to die in a cell in the Hague?
In essence Russia has chosen a Ukrainian hill to fight on, and that hill is no more eastward expansion of western powers/alliances or unions.
The more direct initiation of this conflict was the EU which was to enter into an Association agreement with Ukraine in 2013.
When the signing of this agreement didn't go through you had the Euro Maidan protest in Ukraine and the Russian puppet government where thrown out as a result. In response to this Russia backed 2 break out regions in the east of Ukraine and annexed/claimed Crimea with sevastopol(navy base).
So the endgame here, no matter the cost it seems is that Russia defines Ukraine to be in its sphere of influence and will not accept any encroachment by western powers - so Putin is basically saying back off.
Georgia also tried to align itself more towards the west and agreed to become a NATO member and the Russian response was resolute back in 2008 as well.
Obviously there might be a number of other reasons, this is just what I have gathered over the years and I am by no means a expert.
In short, I suspect this may be Putin's way of applying pressure to Russian elites. The actions proceeding from him appear desperate (i.e. the brazen assassination attempt of Nalvany) and suggest that Putin feels much less secure than his strongman portrayal suggests.
This war achieves something Putin lacks hegemony over, restricting the lifestyles and wealth of Russia's nomadic elite (and especially their assets). Elite members of Russian society will almost surely be targets of Western sanctions. This may secure Putin and his cronies and ensure a desirable transition of power by kneecapping potential contenders of the Russian throne (for lack of a better word). No doubt western sanctions will be leaky and allow some elites through relatively unscathed, but it may restrict their latitude of choice sufficiently.
I think this is Putin versus the elites. Elites who may be feeling comfortable usurping Putin and installing someone pliant to their interests. Putin may be simply reminding them of what he is capable of.
I suspect Ukraine was selected due to the presence of a large minority of citizens neutral or proponents of Russian rule. Other former Soviet states seem much more reluctant to be Russian subjects. I think Russia is simply conquering territory of peoples who will not oppose its rule.
Perhaps Putin is insane, or delusional, but evaluating public actions without knowing what went on behind closed doors feels too rash.
I don't understand this. Putin and his cronies are the elite. And by extension the children and other extended family of those cronies are the elite. That's what the oligarchy system is.
Yes, but within that elite, he may have felt that his cronies and minions had too much freedom: They have homes, bank accounts, and yachts abroad to retreat to whenever they need a break from him, and worst case -- if any one of them starts to to fear he's made Putler too angry with him, or suspicious of his loyalties -- they could just stay abroad indefinitely. Sure, at some risk from FSB assassins, if they've really annoyed him, but they can afford high walls around their mansions, CCTV to monitor those walls, and security services / mercenaries of their own to patrol them.
The GP's thesis (as I understood it) was that by more or less deliberately provoking the West into targeting the oligarchs, he'd weaken that option for them and thereby at least partly confining them to Russia, where he has more direct power over them.
(Dunno if I buy that this was his main goal with the whole thing, but certainly not claiming that it can't have occurred -- and counted as a plus -- to him.)
Regarding economic sanctions: yes Russia will suffer from them, but the thing is that it is impossible to know how high Putin values the prospect of dissolving Ukraine into Russia, so it's pointless to try to reason about it (not that I'm saying you shouldn't).
Putin is 70 years old. He might just feel like he hasn't done enough with his life and decides to go all in, who knows?
People on HN tend to be in denial about the current state of the world, but I don't think Putin is.
We're already starting to see some food shortages across the globe due to climate change, this will only intensify. Together Russia and Ukraine produce 29% of the worlds wheat exports. As climate change worsens food will become as big of a concern as oil.
We are also running out of oil, and not for the naively optimistic reasons most people hope. We're not getting "greener" we're depleting resources and oil still runs economies.
If Russia secures Ukraine they will also secure a place in the end game of civilization, radically altering the power dynamics of the EU.
The point of all this is there is a lot more at stake here than people realize (or are willing to admit). Russia has a lot to gain by control of Ukraine, and therefore can also justify tremendous risk. They have a powerful nuclear arsenal, and are likely more willing to use it than ever before.
MAD only works if you have a future that nuclear war risks throwing away. People that understand energy and climate understand that these things are going to very rapidly change the world stage. All of our futures are at risk, and the time to secure a spot is now. People on HN might be deluded in to thinking "this is fine" but I very much doubt Putin shares this naivete.
On the other end of all this, NATO countries have lived in relative security for a long time. They are still largely terrified of nuclear threat and I believe many of them don't fully realize the situation we're in. Liberal democracies likely have plenty of people in power that really believe Germany is near a truly green future.
I absolutely believe Putin is willing to go nuclear if necessary and I do not believe NATO is really ready to go nuclear in return. I don't believe the US would immediately attack Russia even if Russia wiped Paris off the map, because doing so would guarantee we are all wiped off the map. There is a risk asymmetry here which weakens MAD and give Putin a lot of power, especially if his immediate goal is simply to take Ukraine.
France also has nuclear weapons, estimated as the fourth largest stockpile in the world. Even if the rest of NATO were to hesitate Moscow would already have been hit unilaterally by the french in retaliation. No one is going to fold here.
Also his reference to the german green party hits home because I'm from there. And I can see my electricity prices right now go to 90 Cent/kWh _before_ the war.
I think it is obvious that FRANCE would retaliate with nukes.
I don't think they saw the risk as high. Crimea was their 'soft-launch' to test the waters and find out what would happen. Answer - not very much. Effectively they invaded and took over a country and everyone tut-tutted and did nothing about it. Given that, I'm assuming that they didn't think the international reaction would be as strong as it is.
Obviously they miscalculated, but if the whole thing had been over in 48 hours with little resistance would it have been as strong as it is now or would there have been an effective shoulder shrug like there was about Crimea? I don't think it would be the same, but I believe the conflict being dragged out has made the reaction worse (well done Ukraine).
You also have to think that this plan was started in 2014 with the annexation of Crimea. There was no going back from that point on. Ukraine was only growing stronger and angrier at Russia. You either assimilate them, or withdraw. The latter is not very Russian. So it is possible that the Russian gov also saw this move as inevitable not to lose face after what they started 8 years ago, and they will now suffer the consequence of western sanctions.
What is sad really, is that China doesn’t give a fuck.
They give loads. They are watching from the sidelines, committing to nothing but learning a lot, and thinking about how they will proceed with Taiwan and the bits they like in South-East Asia.
Mussolini certainly didn't expect to be hanging by his toes either. Stalin didn't expect someone close to him to dose him with warfarin. Hitler didn't expect to be cowering in his bunker, ending with blowing his brains out. Gaddafi didn't expect the rebels to capture and shoot him. Saddam didn't think he'd end up hiding in a rat infested spider hole and then hung by his adversaries. And so on.
It is better this way, instead of China openly supporting Putin and following suit with its own territorial expansions.
I don’t know where you’re drawing such an assumption from.
Russia has repeatedly invaded its non nato neighbors for years (including Ukraine!) with zero military response from NATO.
Would NATO have the upper hand militarily? Yes, sure. Does NATO have the political will to incur that level of cost? No.
This isn’t “globalist” conspiracy, there is just no appetite for it at any level of society in nato countries. Not in France, not in Germany, not in the US.
Putin sees the west as weak. Germany has a new leader. France is about to have elections. The UK is still dealing with Brexit. The EU is fractured with Poland and Hungary and has no out. The US is so divided that a previous president is encouraging Putin to invade and the current president is likely to lose the House and the Senate very shortly.
This is the perfect time if you believe the west is weak. The problem is that what's next on the menu (maybe after Moldova? But that's not very tasty, sorry friends!) Are all NATO members.
And.. Putin lives in the echo chamber you create when you're a dictator who regularly throws people out of windows to their death. He might decide it's time to test NATO. And that's world war territory.
But you'll always be lost if you assume there is a them. There's no them. There's Putin. Read his speech from last night, this thinking and desires are very clear.
I've started hearing this a lot this morning and I don't see where Trump actually said this. From what I can tell he's blaming the current administration for allowing this to happen and saying that Putin is brilliant for taking advantage of Biden and outsmarting him. Seems like he's primarily calling Biden inept rather than encouraging Putin to go further.
A selection of quotes: https://edition.cnn.com/2016/07/28/politics/donald-trump-vla...
Crimea was invaded under Obama. Russia made no expansionist moves under Trump. The current conflict was started under Biden. Hate Trump all you want, but to say that he would have been worse under these circumstances is a hard argument to swallow.
> would destabilize NATO
Trump is also hostile to NATO. For him, win/win.
> “Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine — of Ukraine — Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful. ‘I said, ‘How smart is that?’ And he’s gonna go in and be a peacekeeper. ... We could use that on our southern border. That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen. There were more army tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re gonna keep peace all right. No, but think of it. Here’s a guy who’s very savvy.”
I suspect "Oh that's wonderful" is not meant to be literally interpreted as him thinking it's wonderful. I also don't think he actually sees those military forces as true peacekeepers either. "That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen. There were more army tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re gonna keep peace all right." To me that sounds like he's mocking the idea that the force is actually for peacekeeping because it is the size and composition of an army.
Yes he abso-fucking-lutely means it's "wonderful", only not in the way you apparently misinterpreted it.
> I also don't think he actually sees those military forces as true peacekeepers either.
No, of course not. Where on Earth do you even get such an idea from? You're literally the first person I've seen even entertaining that hypothesis.
> To me that sounds like he's mocking the idea that the force is actually for peacekeeping because it is the size and composition of an army.
Yes, of course he's mocking that -- in admiration of the sheer audacity of using such a transparent lie. That is what's so "wonderful" about it, in his world -- it's exactly his own MO, but on a scale he has never got close to himself. He's (possibly literally) pissing his pants with glee over Putler's chutzpah.
And that's why you can clearly hear from his voice that "We should do that on the Mexican border" was not sarcasm: It's a 100% serious recommendation that the USA should do the same, unilaterally declare some piece of Mexico "independent" and then go in and "peacekeep" it for themselves.
Exactly what Putin's always maintained: that Ukraine joining NATO is a red line, so they're preventing Ukraine joining NATO.
> The risk of NATO intervention is high, right? Russia understood this before invading, right? So it seems Russia is accepting a high risk of loss.
The risk of NATO intervention is exactly zero. NATO hasn't done shit except attack random non-NATO countries (Serbia, Libya, Syria, etc...). What did they do when Turkey invaded Cyprus? Nothing.
US-led NATO is sacrificing Ukraine in order to get at Russia, the real question is why getting at Russia is so important? Ukraine could have joined NATO in the 1990's, or 2008, or NATO could have given them a guarantee of security. But no, instead the EU and NATO rolled out some long road-map and antagonized Russia along the way.
Hell, why didn't the west try to integrate Russia when Gorbachev and Yeltsin were amenable to the idea? Or when Putin was trying to increase cooperation with GWB's US government before the Color Revolutions?
Edit - for those downvoting me, it's obvious the west sold-out Ukraine. They forced Ukraine to leave an economic cooperation union with Russia in order to have more European integration (Yanukovych wanted both FYI) but didn't provide a road-map to join the EU, they sold them on NATO membership but without any actual guarantees, etc... Why isn't the west defending Ukraine?
Edit2 - also Joe Biden is useless. What was the point of all his warnings? What was the point of every western country pledging to "support" Ukraine? Now the news is talking about Biden announcing "sanctions". No real support. What's the point?
It already was the case since 2014, NATO wouldn't accept a country which isn't at peace because they'd be forced to intervene and that would mean a war between Russia and NATO, Russia didn't need further intervention for that
Ukraine got played by the West... Even Zelenskiy realised it... Where did any of this lead? The West didn't give any actual guarantees but kept forcing Ukraine to choose between the two...
> "Moreover, I will say something I have never said publicly, I will say it now for the first time. When then outgoing US President Bill Clinton visited Moscow in 2000, I asked him how America would feel about admitting Russia to NATO.
> I will not reveal all the details of that conversation, but the reaction to my question was, let us say, quite restrained, and the Americans’ true attitude to that possibility can actually be seen from their subsequent steps with regard to our country. I am referring to the overt support for terrorists in the North Caucasus, the disregard for our security demands and concerns, NATO’s continued expansion, withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, and so on. It raises the question: why? What is all this about, what is the purpose? All right, you do not want to see us as friends or allies, but why make us an enemy?"
But the west was more concerned with encircling them and "winning" the Cold War than actually having good relations...
Being of Ukrainian descent and interested in where I come from, I've followed the politics there (Russia and Ukraine) since the late 90's... I remember when Putin and Bush cooperated after 9/11 too. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2021/09/08/t...
Getting to where we are today was a long road where the US chose to antagonize Russia many times...
These are the sections of the address that back up this view:
"they are trying to convince us over and over again that NATO is a peace-loving and purely defensive alliance that poses no threat to Russia. Again, they want us to take their word for it. But we are well aware of the real value of these words. In 1990, when German unification was discussed, the United States promised the Soviet leadership that NATO jurisdiction or military presence will not expand one inch to the east and that the unification of Germany will not lead to the spread of NATO's military organisation to the east. This is a quote."
The quote referenced is by U.S. Secretary of State James Baker speaking to Mikhail Gorbachev on February 9, 1990
"There can be only one answer – this is not about our political regime or anything like that. They just do not need a big and independent country like Russia around."
"its military infrastructure has reached Russia’s borders."
"positioning areas for interceptor missiles are being established in Romania and Poland as part of the US project to create a global missile defence system. It is common knowledge that the launchers deployed there can be used for Tomahawk cruise missiles – offensive strike systems."
He is referring to the Aegis system https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aegis_Ballistic_Missile_Defens...
He is correct that Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles can be part of that system https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aegis_Combat_System
"It is like a knife to the throat."
No one can know if history would have played out differently after that meeting in 2000 if he had been assured that Russia could join NATO if it worked towards meeting the requirements. We also cannot know his true motivations, perhaps all of this talk of the West as a threat to Russia is simply a ploy to justify their actions. His statements are consistent with reality though and so this could actually be the way he feels about the relationship between Russia and NATO. If that is true, then his actions in Ukraine would be motivated by a now or never viewpoint. If he does nothing and Ukraine eventually joins NATO, they will have two fronts placed very close to Moscow and Belarus will be held in a pincer rendering it next to useless. His gambit seems to be to secure the breakaway republics as a buffer and perhaps extend them to the Dnieper or even further creating a more advantageous position when Crimea, Moldova, and Belarus are considered.
One benefit is that China (supposedly) approves of this invasion. So it's possible that the sanctions won't have as much of an impact as they otherwise might've.
As others have pointed out, there is no risk of NATO retaliation due to Russia's nuclear arsenal. If China also reduced the risk of sanctions, then the net result is that there's very little downside for Russia to invade.
If we want to make a difference, we need to think of ways to make it a net loss for Putin to invade. Right now it's a net benefit.
Maybe he views it as a price tag but in a different way - it has a cost, but what use is resources/money if you can't use it to do what you want? I.e it has a big cost but it's how we wants to use the resources he has at hand, no matter the bottom line.
We're talking about a guy who thought that Lenin and Stalin were too soft.
His speech a couple days ago was unhinged and offering justification to invade almost all of Eastern Europe.
This is extraordinarily unlikely. Nuclear Weapons are in the mix which in my opinion closes the possibility of any actual confrontations between Nuclear Armed nations. I don't think any of the involved partied are actually suicidal so this doesn't seem a possible endgame.
Wrt economic reprisals, Putin probably did the math and found it acceptable. They might be kicked out of SWIFT, they will probably get closer to China.
I assume military belligerence, aggression is about domestic political power moves. Meaning, in this case, Putin's calculus gives more weight to tightening his grip on Russia than any economic impacts.
IIRC, studies have shown that economic sanctions empowers the hardliners. The hardships impacting the citizens drives them to embrace the hardliners more. Also, the sanctions expand their internal domestic inequity.
So while I totally understand the European and US response to Russia -- what else are they gonna do? -- the cynic in me knows it'll prove counter productive long term.
Nor do I support military involvement. That option is even worse.
There really are no good options.
You can in fact strangle these regimes and it's very effective. We did it to the USSR, we did it to Cuba, we did it to Venezuela, we did it to North Korea. The outcomes were excellent in fact: those regimes were largely held in check and their ability to maneuver was made far more difficult. Crippling regimes like Putin's and making it difficult for them to function at max power, is a very reasonable outcome. Putin isn't going away whether we make it hard or easy on Russia most likely, so the rational choice is very obvious. Containment and strangulation is just fine.
The best options are what should have occurred over the prior eight years, for which it is now too late.
The good options going forward are to topple Lukashenko in Belarus (civil war, flood the nation with weapons, arm the resistance at any cost), aggressively move on Moldova and Russia's interest there (immmediately; as in eight years ago), and generally take Russia's few proxies away from them to weaken Putin's dreams of a new empire, that includes declaring a proxy war on Russia's off the books military activities in Africa and elsewhere. We have drastically more resources and reach than they do, we should kill their proxies anywhere we find them by funding it appropriately.
Very aggressively target Russia's currency and any international use of it. Attempt to destroy their economy. That includes by working with Western Europe to build nuclear energy and move away from Russian energy. This isn't solved in a day, but it can be solved over 10 and 20 years.
Cyber attack Russia's interest anywhere and everywhere they can be reached. They do the same to us, stop pretending we can be their friends. Russia isn't interested in being a liberal democracy or a pal to the civilized world, Putin's Russia is interested in power and conquest.
Blockade Russia off from the global Internet, which would be relatively easy for the US to accomplish. Enhancing their isolation that much more.
Remove them from Swift and make them a global pariah economically ex China and select few others.
Return the people of Russia to the conditions they enjoyed under the Soviet Union economically by strangling the nation, until or unless they get rid of Putin and return to the civilized fold and give up their ambitions to conquer more of Europe. It's probable that only the people of Russia can stop Putin, that includes people nearest to him (which is always an outsized threat to dictators; I assume Putin will do some purges if the pressure gets too great). Russia is well acquained with revolutions, our task now is to squeeze Russia until another one occurs. We outlasted the USSR trivially, the next task is to end the Russia that exists today (prompt revolution and see it broken into numerous smaller nations).
Now that the project is suspended, the EU is importing very expensive Gas from the US.
So basically: the USA gets money for gas, and Russia gets the eastern Ukraine. They both get what they want.
Enjoy the show.
Doesn't look like US is a significant supplier of natural gas to Europe. Not sure how much capacity the US has at its LNG export terminals either.
Putin is delusional about history and his place in it.
But he's not about to literally destroy everything he owns and then some by triggering art 5.
Assuming Putin is rational is a dangerous thing.
Putin just wants to move domestic attention away from all the misery that people will hold him reponsible for. Now war will dominate the agenda. And if someone complains about life getting worse, it's the war, not the incapable president.
However not all of these nations are within their grasp because many have joined NATO since the fall of the iron curtain. The ones that haven't have mostly been for the most part brought back within Russian influence through political manipulation. Belarus is a good example. The leadership there a little more than proxies for the Kremlin. Ukraine was like that until 2014 when its people chose self determination and overthrew their Russian puppet. This invasion is the result. If Russia can't have its puppet states through non-violent means then it will take them by force.
TL/DR: Putin and the exKGB elites are dissentful of the cold war lost to the US, see NATO as a direct threat (even though military generals don't think it is), and the internal dissent with Putin seems to them inspired from abroad. They were shocked by Libyan rebel and by the Ukrainian in 2014. Of course, the only thing they do is brute force, and every step they make only makes the conflict more real.
Regarding the common folk, here's a survey from December or January. TL/DR: they accepted the propaganda's POV that it's all the West's fault. When shown evidence of earlier military build-up, they'd suggest it was fake news.
War means higher oil prices due to decreased supply, lifting the Russian economy (60% of its exports), while if the US intervenes it will mean further supply chain disruptions and higher inflation - as seen in 1980s: oil price spike, gov. overspending.
Putin is testing the new administration, while China is watching on the sidelines over Taiwan.
bypass paywall https://archive.is/xDqsY
Putin's playing a long game here and on an economic front he's likely betting most of the sanctions won't stick. With 2024 looming large I wouldn't be surprised to a gradual reset in US-Russia relations depending on the election result.
He already got high-score as a billionaire dictator of Russia with gigantic palaces and whatnot. He already did some 'small' wars and expanded Russia's territory.
Now he wants to play big and defeat a major country and be considered a major player like USSR was.
There's no profit in it.
1. Putin is a dictator. He is able to change Russian constitution to stay in power, etc.
2. He murders people in a very cynical way. Polonium tea, novichok, etc.
3. He is filthy rich, owns billions of dollars worth of assets, possibly hundreds of billions.
Do you have doubts that a dictator can have an ambition to get more fame after he got all the money he wanted? Or that dictator can send troops?
Look, I know about game theory, microeconomics and such. I was a co-author of a paper submitted to NetEcon conference, for example.
But in this case, you need to understand that money, or prosperity, or safety, is not the only metric people optimize for. Many people optimize for fame. This is what a lot of people on hackernews are missing.
This isn't a 1-dimensional scale (NATO > Russia). China can always weigh in. Europe can have mixed reactions. etc. That's how world wars start, which would be catastrophic for everyone. Nukes are also on the table if Putin really feels cornered.
Economic sanctions won't deter Putin. Europe still has to deal with them for energy, and a pro-west Ukraine is an existential threat to Russia. (Imagine if Mexico were to join the Russian Federation.) This is Russia's sphere of influence, which has historical precedent. Stalin's post WWII foreign policy was to maintain a buffer zone in eastern Europe.
Further, Ukraine has little real geopolitical value to the west. They're not a major trade partner, they don't have strategic resources, or control strategic ports. The west only wants Ukraine in order to gain leverage against Russia.
If you're wondering what the catalyst was, this is basically retaliation for 2014.  Russia believes the west is responsible for the revolution that ousted their puppet.
February 22nd, 2014 - protesters control Kyiv and Yanukovych has fled to Russia. 
Almost exactly 8 years later (Feb 23rd) this happens.
We have to assume Russia has been unable to "counter coup" Ukraine and regain a foothold, thus leading to this drastic action.
Putin has threatened severe consequences if any other nation meddles in the war, but he's not out for conquest. His mentality is simply: "I'd rather wreck Ukraine before letting it fall into the hands of the west." 
Putin will likely stop once the message is received.
How is this not the case for Latvia and Lithuania (not to mention Estonia), which are both NATO members directly bordering Russia, and in fact separating them from their Kaliningrad exclave? On the other hand, if those countries _are_ an existential threat to Russia, then why is Russia "starting" with Ukraine?
More to the point, who gets to decide what makes for an existential threat? Doesn't "existential" mean "at risk of destruction from"? Does anybody really suppose that a Ukraine that is pro-west, or even belongs to NATO, poses a direct threat of invading/destroying Russia? This sort of language frustrates me, because it seems to carry more heat than light. To your specific hypothetical, I would not welcome a pro-Russia Mexico, but I would not consider it to be an existential threat to the US for precisely the reasons I suggest here - a pro-Russia Mexico does not mean a Mexico that is even somewhat likely to invade the US.
Latvia et al are not slavic. They don't share the language, they don't share the culture, and never were "Russia proper". Their success is easy to write off the same way americans argue that socialized healthcare would never work in the US due to cultural differences.
Belarus and Ukraine, in contrast, are very similar. Their threat to Putin's power is not physical, but cultural - if they became successful as free countries, they would set a blueprint for Russia (without Putin) to follow.
The discussion about NATO and nuclear weapons is a distraction. Putin is not playing a grand game, that's intellectualizing him too much. He is a paranoid thug who is afraid of getting overthrown and executed like Gaddafi. It's a very real possibility and almost happened to Lukashenko during the recent wave of protests.
Maybe it has to do with pipelines or ports.
Maybe it has to do with a critical mass of bordering NATO states.
Maybe Putin is just short bald and angry and wants to flex on the west.
Foreign policy often seems more art than science. More poker than chess.
W.R.T Mexico, consider the Cuban missile crisis. It's not always about invasion.
W.R.T destruction, consider that the Axis lost WWII but Germany and Japan still "exist". It might be more correct to say "a pro-west Ukraine is an existential threat to the Russian Empire and their ability to project power beyond their borders, but Russia itself will always exist."
This move by Russia is intentionally timed because countries themselves struggle to act with a unified voice, much less transnational alliances.
Trump might admire Putin as a leader, but he actually shored up the eastern flank of NATO and banned the NS2 pipeline, which Biden rushed to open back up.
Poland is in NATO since 1999.
You contrast this with the knowledge and memory of 1931 (when Germany was in no shape to fight a war) and 1941 (we all know), Russia does indeed have much to fear from NATO, even though NATO doesn't seem capable of threatening it today.
So on one hand, Russia does not want to coalesce a threat to it in Western Europe. On the other hand, Western Europe has already come to its doorstep. I think there's a lot of people who are legitimately asking, why are they doing this, and why now? I think you should listen to what Putin says (without reading the media commentary on it), and read between the lines. It should also be considered that Macron forced Biden to offer direct talks with Putin. That seemed rather telling. Consider the domestic situation in the U.S. Put two and two together, and also that Obama mis-stepped when he said that chemical weapons were a red line in Syria. There isn't really so much a "global elite" or just "military industrial complex" as there are heads of state, their diplomacy and spy corps, diplomatic backchannels, and then the human element. Something happened, we don't know what, but from the effect, it seems obvious enough.
Ultimately, Putin knows that the nuclear card is time-limited. Originally, they were the U.S./NATO's bulwark against the USSR. Now they are Russia's card vs the West.
Nukes are only useful if they can be delivered to their target. We've been living in a world where they have made major wars too dangerous to be waged, and the state of technology has been like that for the entirety of our lifetimes, and we don't remember it any other way. But history shows that the balance between offensive weapons and defensive weapons swings back and forth. Indeed in Israel they are steadily gaining credible (and cheaper) ABM. When that nuclear card is undone, I think we will see some terrible wars recurring through the world because a whole lot of geopolitical tension will be released.
Putin is calculating for that. Russia's only reliable defense is strategic depth. Something has pushed him to err on the side of possibly uniting Western Europe. There again, he may be ironically counting on the U.S./U.K., which have historically not been too favorable to a solid Franco/German-led EU. But the influence of the U.S./U.K. may further wane in this matter, and we are seeing a real gambit. Putin cannot possibly know. He is making a decision based on imperfect knowledge.
Maybe the interesting bits are the other players here. What will be the ultimate effect on France/Germany/EU? And what about China? This puts them in a tough spot and they seem to be caught a tad flat-footed. I bet that underneath all the official rhetoric and alliances talk, the rest of the world is pretty "annoyed" at the dynamic between the U.S. and Russia, both of them troubled/declining empires whose "traditional" power structures are stirring for legitimacy. It's been some interesting times.
The reasoning here is pretty sound, and the more I think about it the more I come to believe that NATO should be fighting Russia right now - at least deny them air superiority. Russia wants a war, whether NATO wants one or not, so you might as well give it to em' with the other consideration being letting the Russian military get ground down in Ukraine and seeing how that plays out.
What will happen is that if Putin wins Ukraine and invades, say, Latvia, he'll invade and then when NATO responds he will use one or more tactical nuclear weapons on the military bases that forces are responding from. So if NATO is launching air assets from a Polish airbase, he'll nuke that. And then he'll say - let me have what I want or I'll use more. Now what? Will NATO nuke a Russian base in exchange? Will it be a base in Belarus? Ukraine? Russia itself? It's easy to see this spiraling out of control. But if you believe Putin will use nuclear weapons (and I do) the endgame is that he destroys NATO and pushes "western" influence out of continental Europe.
Putin believes there are 3 pillars: US, China, Russia. He does respect the US, but thinks he can win. His goal is to create an ethnostate, similar to China, centered around Russian culture. Taking Kiev is super important to that because despite his rhetoric that Ukraine isn't a state or whatever, it is the historical cultural home of the Russian people. So he's going to want that to create a new shared ideology around the glory of the Russian people. He'll then look to cut out the US, UK, and any "liberal" sympathies.
> What about sanctions?
He doesn't care. He doesn't want to integrate with the US or the west. Russia has plenty of natural resources. Ukraine gives them plenty of farmland. Why would he need western money?
Currently we're playing along just like he planned. We tried negotiating, he went through the motions. We enacted sanctions, which he knew would happen. They shut down Nordstream 2, which he knew would happen (and leave Europeans with higher energy prices). And now he's just executing his plan and NATO is saber rattling about defending NATO territory, which... goes back to the Baltic question. Will NATO go to nuclear war over those countries? I think conventional war absolutely. But when Putin nukes a Polish air base or a Romanian one. Now what?
So we need(ed) to do something unsuspected. And I think the only option was to immediately go to war and force the issue on NATO's term. Unfortunately I think NATO is in a bad position.
Oh... and that's without literal traitors like Tucker Carlson, Donald Trump, Tulsi Gabbard, and others who are "pro-russia" while we're about to be in a war with Russia. So now we have to figure out how to deal with those people too.
MAD is dead.
Hell the German military might do some actual fighting for once if their Polish buffer state is threatened.
My take is basically he has gigantic ambitions, because otherwise everything he is doing makes no sense whatsoever and I can't help but think he's a rational actor.
If he's willing to risk that level of escalation then we're beyond rationality. The world is not going to let Putin dictate international politics of entire continents at the point of a nuclear gun. Even the Chinese wouldn't be on board with that. I'm not sure what the best course would be in such an event, but if Russian forces can be otherwise conventionally defeated nuclear retaliation may not even be necessary.
If nuclear retaliation is deemed necessary, it would likely be of similar magnitude (targeting invading Russian military formations or something). To turn the question around, is Putin willing to launch ICBMs because NATO won't let him take Estonia?
I'm also not sure about the Chinese. I don't think they care. I think they love this.
> To turn the question around, is Putin willing to launch ICBMs because NATO won't let him take Estonia?
My take is yes. I don't think he's nuking New York and London... but military bases in central and Eastern Europe? I mean will NATO nuke Moscow and then actually trigger MAD over that? If we're being honest what are our actual red lines? For America probably US, UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany. I honestly don't know about any other country in Europe.
What do you think?
-edit- (really sad to see people have downvoted you for having an interesting discussion and different point of view. I'm sorry to see that has occured at this point.
If he opened an attack on NATO with a tactical nuke he's just escalating things faster. After the shock wore off that would probably increase the odds of a tactical nuclear response in kind, at which point the Russian forces remain defeated. Or perhaps if the West remains restrained and no further nukes are launched, a conventional defeat in spite of Russian tactical nukes.
If his goal is to restore the Soviet Union's influence there are reasons to conquer Ukraine (food supply, gas line, black sea access, etc). Starting a war with NATO would be a quick end to those dreams, tactical nukes or not. The West has already proven less complacent than I think he anticipated. He was probably hoping for us to just collectively shrug our shoulders "oh well it's just Ukraine, something something human rights" and just let him have it. Instead we sent Javelins and canceled Nordstream 2, among other measures. On the spectrum of possible responses from "loud noises" to "all-out military intervention", we're closer to the latter than the former. Over a non-NATO country.
The West's institutions may be diminished, but they only diminished in the absence of a common adversary. If Putin wants to restore that adversary, the best he'll accomplish in the medium term is restoring our institutions.
Putin is attacking before Ukraine has this protection, I think no one wants hot conflict with NATO including NATO members.
Because Russia in general has always seen Europe as posing a threat of invasion, and with reason. In WWII, Germany invaded Russia. In the Crimean War a bunch of European countries invaded Russia. In the early 1800s Napoleon invaded Russia. Putin is taking advantage of this general Russian attitude towards Europe to improve his own political position.
I'm not the one you need to convince of all this (especially the "everyone in the West is cool just making money" part). Putin and the Russian people are. From where I sit, they aren't convinced.
> I just do not have sympathy for the point of view anymore
Considering that Russia's history for many centuries has been one of having to deal with external invasions (it took them three hundred years to learn how to deal with the Mongols, for example), and that Europe's history up until World War II has been filled with wars, I have a hard time having sympathy for a point of view that thinks that half a century of so of Europe apparently behaving itself must be sufficient to outweigh all that and convince Russia that they can chill because everyone else is ready to play nice.
I don't think so. I emphasize Russia's history in order to explain why it is entirely credible that Putin does not intend to continue invading country after country after the Ukraine. He is not trying to conquer countries just for the sake of conquering. He is trying to establish a buffer around Russia. And, in doing so, to consolidate his domestic political power.
In other words, your belief that Putin must be bent on invading country after country was based on your inability to see any other rational reason why he would be invading the Ukraine. I am giving you such a rational reason. The fact that the beliefs on which it is based appear to you to be out of sync with current reality in Europe is irrelevant because your beliefs about current reality in Europe are not driving Russia's actions; Russia's beliefs are. Rationality does not require that all of one's beliefs be correct, only that one's actions make sense in the light of one's beliefs.
If Putin wants to I guess further expand his buffer, then we'll have a nuclear war because there is no doubt that the United States will absolutely go to war with full force against Russia over any NATO country. There is no reconciliation to be had here. If Russia believes NATO is out to get it, despite a world of evidence to the contrary, then they can stop at Ukraine or keep going, but if they keep going, which is likely (because Ukraine isn't worth the devastation being caused to Russia) then we will just have nuclear war. If Russia believes this then we might as well just go ahead and have it out. I mean there isn't anything else to that. I'm not sure why you're suggesting that I'm "out of sync with the current reality in Europe". The reality is that the United States will go to war and fight Russia to defend NATO. That's why I'm concerned (OP) - it can easily spiral out of control.
Huh? It's right in between Russia and Europe. Right on the route by which previous invasions of Russia from Europe have come.
> He's also going to have to occupy a country
He doesn't have to permanently occupy it. He just has to prevent it from joining NATO.
> he's galvanized NATO
I think "galvanized" is a little strong. No NATO country is going to actually try to help Ukraine resist the invasion. The worst consequence is economic sanctions, and the historical track record of economic sanctions is not good. I expect Putin believes that his country can manage no matter what economic sanctions NATO nations throw at it.
> Finland and Sweden are going to join (in my view) by the end of the year
I think that's highly likely, yes. And it doesn't change Russia's threat environment in the least because no invasion of Russia is going to come via Sweden and Finland. If Russia intended to invade Finland and Sweden, them joining NATO would be a negative consequence, but I doubt Putin intends that.
> and people aren't going to associate with his country anymore.
I don't think Putin cares about that either.
> the devastation being caused to Russia
What devastation? If you mean economic sanctions, I think you are drastically overestimating their effects on Russia.
> The reality is that the United States will go to war and fight Russia to defend NATO.
So all Putin has to do to avoid that is to not attack a NATO member country. Which Ukraine is not. In fact, your argument here is an argument for the view I've been taking, that Putin does not intend to keep on invading country after country--because he knows invading a NATO country would bring consequences he doesn't want.
Well it's in Europe. But yea you can just keep on invading that same route. Not that an invasion is going to happen anyway.
> He doesn't have to permanently occupy it. He just has to prevent it from joining NATO.
???? What? Yes he does? If Russians leave than Ukraine goes back to what it was. Unless he tries and installs a puppet government, and then he might be facing some insurgency. Not fun.
pdonis 1 hour ago | parent | context | flag | on: Russian forces invade Ukraine after Putin orders a...
> It doesn't actually provide any buffer that makes sense from a geographic standpoint
Huh? It's right in between Russia and Europe. Right on the route by which previous invasions of Russia from Europe have come.
> He's also going to have to occupy a country
He doesn't have to permanently occupy it. He just has to prevent it from joining NATO.
> I think "galvanized" is a little strong. No NATO country is going to actually try to help Ukraine resist the invasion. The worst consequence is economic sanctions, and the historical track record of economic sanctions is not good. I expect Putin believes that his country can manage no matter what economic sanctions NATO nations throw at it.
I mean now all of a sudden we're about to add Finland and Sweden to NATO. NATO allies just got woken up to the fact that war can still break out in Europe, which means militaries that have been languishing are going to get beefed up. Etc. The sanctions may not "work" but it also doesn't matter. No reason to deal with Russia if they're going to be a bad actor.
> I think that's highly likely, yes. And it doesn't change Russia's threat environment in the least because no invasion of Russia is going to come via Sweden and Finland. If Russia intended to invade Finland and Sweden, them joining NATO would be a negative consequence, but I doubt Putin intends that.
> I don't think Putin cares about that either.
I agree - this was in my OP.
> What devastation? If you mean economic sanctions, I think you are drastically overestimating their effects on Russia.
> So all Putin has to do to avoid that is to not attack a NATO member country. Which Ukraine is not. In fact, your argument here is an argument for the view I've been taking, that Putin does not intend to keep on invading country after country--because he knows invading a NATO country would bring consequences he doesn't want.
But then his invasion of Ukraine doesn't make sense. All he did was cost himself a bunch of money to invade a country that definitely doesn't want him there and is now pissed off, he lost the Russian people a lot of money, and he's no more "safe" than he was before because the Baltics are still on his doorstep. What was gained?? If he believes that he gained security by attacking Ukraine than I do believe he's not a rational actor.
I'm not sure that's true. But that may be because I have a different view of Ukranian internal politics than you do. See below.
Because, first, I don't think Russia's economy is all that dependent on the products that Western sanctions would cut off, and second, I don't think the sanctions are going to be all that well enforced long term, since that is the way sanctions usually are. (And I expect Putin thinks that too.) For one thing, Europe is dependent on some key products from Russia, such as the natural gas that is now not flowing. Past experience suggests that European countries will find ways to route around the sanctions while publicly giving them lip service.
> a country that definitely doesn't want him there and is now pissed off
Some Ukranians are. I'm not so sure a majority of them are, at least not in any sense that matters for Russia. Eastern Ukraine, in particular, I think is generally sympathetic to Russia.
I agree that Russia isn't "dependent" on the west. Again going back to my OP I assert that this is a non-factor for Putin as he seeks to create a Russian-lead Slavic ethnostate in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Baltics, and more. Ukraine is a key piece not for security reasons - again Russia has 6,000 nuclear weapons and if you feel insecure than you are actually irrational - but because of the extensive amounts of resources which he'll need to feed the Russian people and create industry. Russia has all the resources it needs, they won't have iPhones but they'll build rockets and cars and stuff like that.
Since, as you point out, the consequence of invading the Ukraine has been to cause a lot more troops to be deployed in the Baltics and other places you say Putin wants to eventually conquer, I don't see how this "Slavic ethnostate" is a rational goal.
I agree that the resources in the Ukraine are a rational goal, but if that is Putin's goal, we would not expect him to invade other countries. The resources in the Ukraine might be worth what it will cost Russia to get them (or at least that might be how Putin has calculated it); the resources in other countries, particularly NATO countries, would not.
I just have such a hard time thinking he invaded Ukraine just to get resources. Or just for security.
The New York Times map  of the build up prior to invasion is enlightening and encouraging for Finland and Poland, less so for the Baltic states.
And... the US and allies and also Russia because if Russia attacks them we're 100% going to war with Russia to defend those allies. There's 0 question of that. It goes back to my OP which is what happens after that starts. Putin knows he can't take on NATO 1-1, so why would he attack those countries? Well he has nuclear weapons and can launch tactical nuclear strikes on NATO airbases and dare the west to risk nuclear war over these countries.
When Putin intends to use nuclear weapons against NATO members, then the one and only answer that NATO will come up with is nuclear. This brings us either back to a cold war scenario or doomsday.
Fight with what? The Bundeswehr has almost no tanks. https://www.dw.com/en/german-military-short-on-tanks-for-nat... https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/german-military-short-tanks-...
Diplomatically, it wouldn't be advisable to give an adversarial foreign power control over the membership of your alliance, so NATO can never give those guarantees. My belief is that Putin only sought those guarantees to fabricate a casus belli.
You are trying to justify Putin's actions by inventing a hypothetical while ignoring the fact that the NATO borders within 500 miles of Moscow is a reality for years.
Trump looked to increase NATO defenses and aggressively pump oil and gas to crash the global price of Russia's chief source of foreign exchange. That's hardly pro russian. Ironically, Biden comes in and kills oil production in the US, forcing us to then rely on external oil markets for our resources which gives Putin money to pull shit like this.
Trump also unilaterally left the assymetrical US-Russia missile accord. Hardly pro russian.
Trump ordered lethal force to be used against large numbers of Russian mercenaries who attacked a U.S. installation in Syria. He also sold offensive weapons to Ukraine.
Where is this pro russian Trump you speak of?
The oil and gas pumping you mention started under Obama, and responding to an attack on American forces with lethal force is an incredibly low bar. The other state department actions don't change that his administration was vocally pro-Russia.
What is paranoia and what isn't has just materially changed, the question now is not whether or not the poster is paranoid, but whether they are too paranoid or not paranoid enough.
I heard that the German president's speech mentioned Nordstream being done. He didn't specify Nordstream 2 as expected. I read somewhere that referring to both Nordstream 1 & 2 caught Putin by surprise.
Especially now, after NATO's quick and easy victory in Afghanistan it's clearly seen that Russia is far behind NATO militarily. Putin is just stupid and suicidal.
You outlined the severity of NATO intervention. That is to say, you only described half of the equation. It could very well be that Russia assumes the probability of NATO intervention is disproportionately low, meaning the risk calculation is also low. Maybe they think that balance outweighs the economic risk.
Russia has no other choice. When USSR in 1962  did something similar to USA, USA was not happy and it could end up really bad. How is this situation is different? National security is paramount.
No NATO country has ever invaded Russian soil and never will due to their massive nuclear arsenal.
I'm willing to admit Putin may have convinced himself and some Russians that there's a national security concern, but the evidence is severely lacking.
The comparison is that missiles in Cuba = "disturbs the Mutually Assured Destruction equation". Anti-Ballistic Missiles in Russia's near abroad....disturbs the MAD equation. That is the national security concern. It's the same thing Russia has been saying since....2007? http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6599647.stm
Do you think Putin wants to until US ABMs are already deployed in a NATO Ukraine to then voice his concerns? That would be too late. Consider this a very drastic preemptive action, but it's entirely in keeping with Russia's approach to security in their near abroad for the past ~15 years, for anyone who has been paying attention.
Regardless, the only thing Putin has to fear from NATO ABM systems, and NATO membership for Ukraine in general, is an end to their ability to conquer Eastern Europe militarily.
I'm sorry if that explanation doesn't suit Russian paranoia, but I see no upside to tolerating said paranoia either. And neither, apparently, does Ukraine, despite standing to lose the most in this situation.
Around 9/11, the Russians were focused on Chechen insurgents and terrorists, and our relations with them thawed significantly: https://carnegieendowment.org/2001/10/24/u.s.-russia-relatio...
Later in the 2000s, Russia discussed NATO and EU membership but had generally been rebuffed. Still, they tried to maintain dialogue with NATO, even after slapping down Georgia: https://euobserver.com/news/27890. I think they considered their point made about keeping NATO in check, but we didn't get the message.
For about 15 years, Putin ran Russia without even possessing the capability for a major nation-state offensive in Europe. That changed with the reformation of the 1st Guards Tank Army, stationed west of Moscow, in 2014. The question so few people are investigating is "What are the things WE ("the West", generally speaking) have done to trigger the changes in Russian foreign policy? This is the introspection that I find deeply lacking. Everyone just chalks it up to "clearly he's a megalomaniacal madman! Nothing else needs be said!"
Exactly this. The western world has this infallible belief that what they are doing if right and everyone else is wrong. They don't even stop to think the consequences. They are doing things which if reciprocated they won't accept and they say .. Oh we just want to spread democracy everywhere"
I never said it has to be nuclear missiles. Tomahawks will do for 800km range. And that's a threat for national security.
>I'm willing to admit Putin may have convinced himself and some Russians that there's a national security concern, but the evidence is severely lacking.
If your neighbor says your dog is a concern, you better listen to your neighbor and do not adopt 10 more.
If my irrational neighbor says my quiet, well-behaved dog is actually barking all day and night, growling at him as he walks by (even when the dog is inside), and if I don't stop it he'll break into my house and kill my dog: I keep my dog inside, put up some cameras, clean my gun and file a police report.
ps: the good thing the master is safe and fine. he will adopt another one just to annoy the neighbor again.