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A Lone Voice of Sanity on Ukraine

Written By: - Date published: 6:28 pm, February 26th, 2023 - 76 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, history, Peace, Peace, Russia, Ukraine, war - Tags:

Historian Malcolm McKinnon in Thursday’s DominionPost states that “caution is needed when crafting victory over Russia as the primary war aim in Ukraine.” Truer words were never spoken, as western hysteria rejects calls for peace and escalates to wider war.

McKinnon outlines the dangers when conflict is framed in purely moral terms. Only one party is guilty, and “total victory is the only acceptable outcome.”  CID’s Josie Pagani writing in Stuff gives one example of this approach, stating “that while all illegal wars should be opposed, the moral  way to end the war in Ukarine is to support Ukraine to win.” On Friday at an official mini-demonstration Defence Minister Andrew Little also framed the issue in moral terms “Because countries like ours cannot stand by while a force like Russia illegally invades a neighbour and encroaches on their land. This is a fight for freedom, it is a fight for democracy, and we must be at that fight.”

But of course we are not at that fight. What we are doing is providing five weeks training to Ukrainian civilians press-ganged off the streets to be returned to certain death in the ‘meat-grinder’ at Bakhmut in conditions worse than the trenches of the Somme. I consider that sort of so-called ‘assistance’ to be immoral. It is no fight for freedom, or democracy.

Speaking to Radio New Zealand after the Friday demonstration, the EU High Representative to New Zealand Nina Obermaier stated the European position the Ukraine must prevail. Asked what that would mean and whether it was realistic for Russia to withdraw from Crimea she said “Russia needs to withdraw its troops form all Ukrainian territory.” That is simply never going to happen as it would represent an existential threat of hostile encirclement to Russia and risk the danger of nuclear war. We cannot say we have not been warned.

A remarkable feature of the narrative discourse on Ukraine is the assumption that history began on the 24th of February 2022. The only issue is Russia’s border crossing, and anything prior to that is irrelevant, particularly the loss if Russian-speakers rights and lives over that border post the 2014 coup. It is not surprising that it is an historian who is asking the relevant questions.

What I find remarkable in New Zealand’s political leadership, academic punditry and media, is the total absence of any call for a stop to the killing, and the commencement of negotiations towards a practical outcome for peace. That at least would be a truly independent approach. The moralists should remember that advanced negotiations for ceasefire conducted in Turkey in April 2022 were torpedoed by the intervention of Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister.

McKinnon is the author of the major work on New Zealand’s foreign policy development, titled ‘Independence and Foreign Policy.’ He offers some lessons in the way hostilities have ended in the past, perhaps the most useful of which is the outcome of the Korean war.

The Korean War of 1950-53 was triggered by the invasion of the formerly US-occupied South Korea by Communist North Korea on June 25, 1950 (perhaps the closest historical parallel to Russia’s February 24, 2022, invasion of Ukraine).

But that war did not end in victory for the UN and the US but in an armistice and ceasefire. An immense amount of suffering, and perhaps 2.5 million deaths, produced a boundary not significantly different from that in place when the war broke out.

McKinnon concludes:

In sum, the orthodoxy of complete victory, justified in moral terms, can shut down discussion and analysis of whether victory and peace must be yoked together or can be disaggregated.

A peace without outright victory need not mean the abandonment of the quest for a global law-based world order. It should energise, not demoralise.

A recent success in the UN General Assembly’s Sixth Committee on advancing an international treaty on crimes against humanity has been an instructive lesson in the art of the possible.

The war in Ukraine will not be ended just by challenging the orthodoxy that outright victory is the only acceptable goal. But such questioning is indispensable. As the ill-fated Syme put it in George Orwell’s 1984, ‘’orthodoxy means not thinking, not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness’’.

In my opinion the truly moral position on Ukraine is to bend every effort to put stop to the killing and begin to negotiate an acceptable outcome for peace. That is what New Zealand should be calling for.




76 comments on “A Lone Voice of Sanity on Ukraine ”

  1. Stephen D 1

    That is all well and good. But from memory Russia invaded Ukraine. So what sort of “peace” is acceptable. One that rewards Russian aggression and gives them 20% of Ukraine, plus Crimea. Or one that deters Russia from trying to recreate the Soviet Bloc?

    • SPC 1.1

      And to confirm what you said, Putin has now claimed that NATO has an agenda of breaking up the Soviet Union (something that has not existed for 30 years). Which is Putin speak for the restoration of Kremlin control over the former republics as a Russian "security" project.

      Tsarist Russia formed its empire as a defence. In all directions north, west, south and east – thus the meme that the Russian bear was always testing the borders of others for weakness.

      And should any do, with help – such as NATO, this is then posed as an existential threat to the survival of Russia to mobilise its people for war.

      The man is a fool and has led Russia to the abyss because of his own vanity.

      • Ghostwhowalksnz 1.1.1

        Amazing how you are able to impersonate Putin and speak his exact words

        Maybe you should find the quotes

        '"Above all, we should acknowledge that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century. As for the Russian nation, it became a genuine drama. Tens of millions of our co-citizens and co-patriots found themselves outside Russian territory. Moreover, the epidemic of disintegration infected Russia itself."

        note also this interpretation

        'Gaddy elaborated in an interview with PunditFact, saying Putin is not eager to re-establish the USSR, partly because it would be costly for Russia, which subsidized many Soviet countries during that era. He does, however, want to make sure surrounding countries are not used against Russia.'


        Nato of course promised Gorbachev that they wouldnt expand eastwards ( this is according to reliable academic research involving the senior officials who were present and gave advice and took notes at the summit meetings)

        • SPC

          Yeah nah.

          President Vladimir Putin cast the confrontation with the West over the Ukraine war as an existential battle for the survival of Russia and the Russian people – and said he was forced to take into account NATO's nuclear capabilities.

          A year since ordering the invasion of Ukraine, Putin is increasingly presenting the war as a make-or-break moment in Russian history – and saying that he believes the very future of Russia and its people is in peril.

          "They have one goal: to disband the former Soviet Union and its fundamental part – the Russian Federation," Putin told Rossiya 1 state television in an interview recorded on Wednesday but released on Sunday.

          Putin said the West wanted to divide up Russia and then control the world's biggest producer of raw materials, a step, he said, that could well lead to the destruction of many of the peoples of Russia including the ethnic Russian majority.

          "I do not even know if such an ethnic group as the Russian people will be able to survive in the form in which it exists today," Putin said. He said the West's plans had been put to paper, though did not specify where.
          Putin's existential framing of the war allows the 70-year-old Kremlin chief to gird the Russian people for a much more deeper conflict while it also allows him much greater freedom in the types of weapons he could one day use.

          Russia's official nuclear doctrine allows for the use of nuclear weapons if they – or other types of weapons of mass destruction – are used against it, or if conventional weapons are used, which endanger "the very existence of the state."

          Putin has signalled he is ready to rip up the architecture of nuclear arms control – including the big powers' moratorium on nuclear testing – unless the West backs off in Ukraine.
          "In today's conditions, when all the leading NATO countries have declared their main goal as inflicting a strategic defeat on us, so that our people suffer as they say, how can we ignore their nuclear capabilities in these conditions?" Putin said.

          Putin said the biggest result of the past year was the unity of the Russian people.


          • Ghostwhowalksnz

            Nuclear arms treatys have been ripped up by US – the INF most recently by Trump and also the Open Skies Treaty


            Your high couture made in Washington does suit you….hand crafted opinions from the State dept and Pentagon.

            But just rags really , its only you that think that it has any veracity

            The Nuclear treaty your mouthpiece refers to (New Start) Russia merely cancelling the US militarys site visits inside Russia, the nuclear arms limits part will remain

            • SPC

              Amazing how you are able to impersonate Putin and speak his exact words

              Maybe you should find the quotes

              Done it. Acknowledge it.

              President Vladimir Putin cast the confrontation with the West over the Ukraine war as an existential battle for the survival of Russia and the Russian people – and said he was forced to take into account NATO's nuclear capabilities.

              A year since ordering the invasion of Ukraine, Putin is increasingly presenting the war as a make-or-break moment in Russian history – and saying that he believes the very future of Russia and its people is in peril.

              "They have one goal: to disband the former Soviet Union and its fundamental part – the Russian Federation," Putin told Rossiya 1 state television in an interview recorded on Wednesday but released on Sunday.

              Putin said the West wanted to divide up Russia and then control the world's biggest producer of raw materials, a step, he said, that could well lead to the destruction of many of the peoples of Russia including the ethnic Russian majority.

              "I do not even know if such an ethnic group as the Russian people will be able to survive in the form in which it exists today," Putin said. He said the West's plans had been put to paper, though did not specify where.

              Putin's existential framing of the war allows the 70-year-old Kremlin chief to gird the Russian people for a much more deeper conflict while it also allows him much greater freedom in the types of weapons he could one day use.

    • Ghostwhowalksnz 1.2

      The same solution that rewards Israel for its occupation of Palestine

      And lest not pretend the previous solution (1947) of the division by international community of Palestine into Jewish and Arab areas ( with all but one jewish area had an arab majority) without consent of its majority people

      Apparently it was based on small nation entity destroyed by the Romans 2000 yrs ago.

      Ukraine of course only existed under the Soviet system- and its borders were extended by Lenin Stalin and Kruschev

      • Ghostwhowalksnz 1.2.1

        • UncookedSelachimorpha

          And that gives Russia the right to invade and subjugate modern-day Ukraine because…?

        • mikesh

          Presumably the green, yellow and muddy brown bits were not part of the Tsarist Russian empire. I'm not trying to make an argument; just seeking information.

  2. lprent 2

    What we are doing is providing five weeks training to Ukrainian civilians press-ganged off the streets to be returned ….

    That sounds like simple unsustantiated lying. Easy to check. Just ask the trainers from NZDF. But I guess that you can point to the statement by Major Josh Sullivan in the interview to substantiate your statement?

    The only issue is Russia’s border crossing, and anything prior to that is irrelevant, particularly the loss if Russian-speakers rights and lives over that border post the 2014 coup. t is not surprising that it is an historian who is asking the relevant questions.

    So what Russian speaker lives and [civil] rights were lost before the military coup that the Russian speaking separatists did in 2014 when they initiated a military and security coup against their government. Or the invasion that Russia did in Crimea. I don’t know of ANY reliably documented outside of unsupported propaganda from the Russian Federation and their Donbas minions.

    You're curiously one eyed on this. Perhaps your 'historian' can point to actual evidence by 3rd parties that shows deaths and removal of civil rights prior to the fleeing of the president? Or prior to the insurrection in the east. Or prior to the Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea. Because I don’t know of any that is documented.

    As far as I can see, there was a civil movement against the president that resulted in him fleeing impeachment proceedings after protesters got killed by security forces. The legislative branch – parliament – didn't get overthrown.

    There were no significant deaths or civil rights removed in the Ukrainian east before some idiots tried to secede with Russian support and military help. In other words, the only deaths and civil rights that appear to have been violated in the Donbas, etc were the citizens of that area who wished to remain in Ukraine.

    Looks to me like another stupid assertion with no supporting evidence.

    The moralists should remember that advanced negotiations for ceasefire conducted in Turkey in April 2022 were torpedoed by the intervention of Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister.

    As far as I can tell that is simple Russian propaganda. It doesn't tally with the timeline and has been denied by all parties (including what little the Turks have said) apart from the Russians. Stupid lie again.

    The obvious rejoinder to your McKinnon quotation of

    An immense amount of suffering, and perhaps 2.5 million deaths, produced a boundary not significantly different from that in place when the war broke out.

    Is that North Korea invaded South Korea. They took Seoul in the first few days, and most of South Korea within the first month.

    The end of it was when the borders moved back to where they were before North Korea invaded.

    Which is what the Ukrainians are looking for as well. Back to the borders before Russia starting invading and annexing territories.

    Like Korea is the only line that it likely to cause a last peace, even if it is a warm border. History is pretty clear including in Korea – that appears to be the only way to get a lasting peace. Since WW2, the number of invasions that that resulted in annexation and long term peace can be probably counted on one hand.

    Victory over Russia would be if Ukraine and its allies proceeded to invade and conquer Russia, or force them to a peace table and claim reparations from them. Reverting to 1991 borders isn’t a victory. It is a reversion to the status quo prior to 2014.

    Basically no-one, and especially the Ukrainians trust the Russian Federation to abide by the terms of any peace short of that border.

    Ask the Georgians, Moldavians, or any of the other neighbours where Russia has grabbed territory supposedly in support of Russian speakers. or the Finns or Poles who dealt with Russian treachery and double dealing with the Nazis in WW2.

    In my opinion the truly moral position on Ukraine is to bend every effort to push Russia back to the 1991 borders and then begin to negotiate an acceptable outcome for peace. That is what New Zealand should be calling for.

    We don’t want to encourage any state into thinking that they can just roll over borders in an unprovoked attack to annex territory. It violates the primary basis of the UN Charter agreed over 70 years ago. That has provided the security against land-grabs and even aggression by larger states on smaller ones.

    That is the basic security that NZ requires to survive as a self-determining society. Just as does Ukraine, and about 140 other small states.

    I’d love you to explain your views on the morality of Aussie invading us, Indonesia invading Australia, China invading Indonesia…. Because your currently expressed views on morality seem to focus on the larger bully doing what they like.

    Doesn’t seem even remotely ‘moral’ to me.

    • Ghostwhowalksnz 2.1

      The armistice line isnt the border line before the Korean war ( 38th parallel)

    • mikesh 2.2

      I’d love you to explain your views on the morality of Aussie invading us, Indonesia invading Australia, China invading Indonesia…

      One cannot express views on these sorts of events when one looks at them in isolation. As in Ukraine, one would need to consider the issues involves, the reasons or such invasions b efore one can express a view. You seem to consider invasions "wrong" a priori.

      • lprent 2.2.1

        You seem to consider invasions "wrong" a priori.

        Not invasions per se – specifically annexations of territory after invasions.

        So does the UN charter, what there is of international law, and just about every military history and theory that there is. There is a pretty solid and well reasoned set of arguments behind that. This is also expressed in conventional war, as seen in Ukraine, where prepared defensive power out performs offensive power by at least an one order of magnitude.

        Annexation has a horrible history of causing prolonged and ever larger conflicts. This is especially the case since the late 19th as defensive technologies that can be put in the hands of partisans got steadily more lethal.
        Pacification of forcibly annexed territories got a lot harder, and seem to mostly wind up dropping into genocidal pacification campaigns.

        As we are seeing now in Ukraine – the actions of the Russian troops killing, deporting, raping, pillaging, and forced migrations of the civilian populations is absolutely characteristic. So is the widespread war crimes of bombardment of civilian populations. So were the same kinds of actions by the separatist governments after 2014.

        But we also see exactly the same kind of actions by Israeli in their occupation and annexations in Palestine against the local populations for the last 70 years.

        There are several reasons that we have had steadily reducing conflict and reduced casualties despite increasing populations since the end of WW2. But one of the major ones has been that intolerance of the international community to forced annexations.

        You also have to remember that the reason that the separatists insurrection and the Russia invasions happened was because they were having a great deal of difficulty in convincing the local populations in those areas for a change of allegiance. That is why there are the strongman warlords, invasions, and completely bogus sham referendums.

        It is also almost certain that is why the separatist regions kept breaking even the most basic threadbare provisions of the Minsk agreements – they didn't want any real say by the local and dispossessed populations of those areas.

        I have no particular wish to see Ukraine or the Donbas subjected to 70 years of misery because Putin and his government were just too lazy to work for a peaceful solution to whatever problems there were. But I also don't think that it was going to be possible for them to achieve what objectives they did have peaceably.

  3. aj 3

    A remarkable feature of the narrative discourse on Ukraine is the assumption that history began on the 24th of February 2022.

    NATO Chief Admits: “War Didn’t Start In February Last Year, The War Started In 2014”


    • lprent 3.1

      That is obvious. That was when the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea.

      What do you think happened? That a lot of curiously fit, well armed men in their 20s and 30s swelled the population of Crimea significantly. They just happened to seize the centres of regional power, and then invited the Russian Federation in. Then got back into Russian Federation uniforms.

      Are you a complete idiot, and want to deny that out of uniform Russian Spetnaz and other forces did a military invasion of Ukraine territory in 2014.

      • Ghostwhowalksnz 3.1.1

        Theres 20 mill Russians living outside the countries borders after the Soviet Union breakup

        I knew a Russian guy here in NZ who was born in Latvia but his parents arrived after 1945 , so he became a 3rd class citizen under the independent government.

        But that was no barrier to joining the EU – which wouldnt allow such discrimination against minorities in its other members

        Latvia: a law passes in Parliament to ban the use of the Russian language

        Spoken by 37 percent of the population, Russian would be banned in all public offices, businesses, public transport, energy and telecommunications services.


        • Scud

          You forgot this little bit of Latvian History & Uncle Joe mate.

          Uncle Joe & his mates after they booted out the Germans in 1944,

          Deported over 43k Rural Latvians to Siberia, followed by a further 136k to 200k Latvians to Siberia & some say more depending on who you read or source your information from.

          By 1959 the Native Latvian Population drop to 62% & has pretty much stayed there ever since incl after independence from Russia in 91.

          Russian migration to Latvia peaked at one stage 400k annually.

          Russia then decided to close of the minority schools (Jewish, Polish, Belarusian, Estonian, Lithuanian) were closed down leaving only two media of instructions in the schools: Latvian and Russian.

          Then Russia later started to phase out the Latvian Language altogether & replace it with the Russian language!

          Talk about how to shit, in one's own nest! And they wonder why they have no friends & why East Europe doesn't trust them either theses days!

          Or why Sweden & Finland have suddenly abandoned their respective policy of Neutrally!

          There is a quote of some description in Gorbachev's or in Shevardnadze's autobiography's,

          "who blame can Eastern Europe for joining the EU & NATO & not the CIS, after what we have done to them over the decades?

          Even I would do the same, if I was in their position"

          • Ghostwhowalksnz

            Many latvians and other Baltics were German collaborators, even some locals who didnt join the military were partners in the Holocaust


            certainly the soviet occupation has some terrible consequences, but dont forget it was WW2 and after and appalling things happened in Europe in those countries fought over

            Have you forgotten the polish occupation of eastern Ukraine ( ignoring the Curzon line decided by Versailles 1919) which supressed Ukrainaian peasantry and retained the Austrians system of rule by polish minor nobility or Szclachta

            'As individuals, all citizens of Poland enjoyed equal rights under the 1921 constitution; in practice, discrimination on the basis of nationality and religion greatly limited the Ukrainians’ opportunities. Although the Allied powers in 1923 accepted the Polish annexation of Galicia on the basis of its regional autonomy, the government in the early 1920s proceeded to dismantle the institutions of local self-government inherited from Habsburg times. Ukrainian Galicia, officially termed “Eastern Little Poland,” was administered by governors and local prefects appointed by Warsaw. A special administrative frontier, the so-called Sokal border, was established between Galicia and Volhynia to prevent the spread of Ukrainian publications and institutions from Galicia to the northeast. In 1924 the Ukrainian language was eliminated from use in state institutions and government agencies. In the face of economic stagnation, scant industrial development, and vast rural overpopulation, the government promoted Polish agricultural settlement, further exacerbating ethnic tensions."


          • Ghostwhowalksnz

            Of course russians have been settling in Latvia since Catherine the Great times, when it was fought over by Swedish and Russians

            Should paheka , recent arrivals especially be treated as 3rd class citizens of NZ because of what was done to Maori previously and thus pakeha 'deserve it'

            • Scud

              Poland & the Baltic States are Europes door mat or Europes bastard children that everyone treats like shit & the same could be said of Russia's former states be it Imperial or USSR Occupied. Expect for Poland the Baltic States in WW2 preferred Germany over Russia given its Historical Links to Prussia anyway. Especially after what Uncle Joe did in between 39-41.

              Again, you are probably one of these clowns that have an alternative view of Holodomor that happened under Uncle Joe as well?

              They all have a right to self-determination & free from inference from Russia!

              Thence why Ukraine signed the Lisbon Protocol & Budapest Memorandum when it give up its Strategic Wpns. Ukraine blood made dammed sure it stipulated those security guarantees that Russia will respect Ukraine's Sovereignty and it's rights to make its own decisions IRT it's security, economic development & well being.

              Russia needs to understand, that Eastern Europe incl Ukraine & Moldova will not & doesn't want to be under Russia control of any kind again!!

              They are even willing to die than live under Russia Occupation again regardless who is running the shit show called Russia!

              I'm typing this out as I'm listening to Finlandia ABC's Classic FM, shit even the Fin's don't trust Russia nowadays.

              • Ghostwhowalksnz

                Ask the Canadians and especially the mexicans what its like next door to a gorilla ?

                I hear the Scots and Irish can have a dim view of their bigger English neighbour too and want out of their living arrangements

                The Finns were occupied by the Swedes before coming under the Russian empire and have been independent since -even being Nazi allies at one stage, luckily their air force already used the (blue) swastika before joining Hitler.

                Explain how Nato has a long term occupation of Kosovo and does non Un sanctioned invasions , border changes and military interventions that arent defensive

                Libya , Afghanistan come to mind .

    • joe90 3.2

      NATO Chief Admits

      Quite the scoop there, sport.


      Nato foreign ministers are to meet to discuss the military alliance's response to the Ukraine crisis amid continued fears over Russia's territorial ambitions.

      Training for Ukrainian forces and a more formal suspension of co-operation with Moscow are expected to be discussed at the Brussels meeting on Tuesday.


      The 75 British trainers bound for Ukraine in the coming days will provide instruction in command procedures, tactical intelligence, battlefield first aid and logistics, and assess the national army’s infantry training needs.


  4. Stuart Munro 4

    Your MacKinnon seems to be another vagrant academic looking for a cause.

    In sum, the orthodoxy of complete victory, justified in moral terms, can shut down discussion and analysis of whether victory and peace must be yoked together or can be disaggregated.

    Complete victory for Ukraine, which is barely discussed, would involve dragging the malefactor, Putin, before the Hague in chains, and emplacing a nascent democracy in place of Russia's current kleptocrats.

    Almost no-one is talking about such an outcome, in spite of the fact that Ukraine's long term security, and a decent quality of life for Russian citizens going forward, demands it.

    It's rather like climate interventions – the international community favour minimal and incremental action, in spite of the fact that scientific estimates of the scale of the problem are known to have been conservative. What is required on climate is rather like what is needed when vessels are at risk of collision, to ' take early and substantial action' to avoid it.

    In this military context that does not include humoring the Kremlin's misguided nationalist fantasies by allowing them to profit from war crimes and shitting all over the agreements they signed guaranteeing Ukrainian sovereignty.

    • Macro 4.1

      Walter, his dad, would be turning in his grave! It was he, as Chief of General Staff, who persuaded Holyoake to send the Artillery Battery to Vietnam.

      in 1965, he was appointed Chief of the General Staff. In this role he persuaded the government to send an artillery battery to serve in the Vietnam War.

      He is a younger brother of Don

      • Ghostwhowalksnz 4.1.1

        Persuaded ?

        It was a series of 'firm' requests from the US government.

        NZ Journal of History 1981

        NZ just mostly repeated its Korean war military contingent

        'The idea was opposed initially by the Chief of the General Staff, Major General Keith Stewart, who did not believe the force would be large enough to be self-sufficient. His opposition was ignored and the government raised what was known as Kayforce, a total of 1,044 men selected from among volunteers. 16th Field Regiment, Royal New Zealand Artillery and support elements arrived later during the conflict from New Zealand"

    • Ghostwhowalksnz 4.2

      The Hague ?

      You mean the same court which had US sanctions of its prosecutors for daring to investigate US military atrocity’s in its* invasions* of Iraq and Afghanistan

      On September 2, 2020, the United States government imposed sanctions on the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, and another senior prosecution official, Phakiso Mochochoko. In addition, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced that the United States had restricted the issuance of visas for certain unnamed individuals “involved in the ICC’s efforts to investigate US personnel.”


      Dont you love how the 'international rules' keep getting broken by US -UK etc, woe betide anyone giving them consequences.

      International Rules is now merely a high couture label, its fashion only crafted in Washington , London Paris, and worn by the most slavish fashion victims- many write comments here touting their glad rags

      In the next few weeks the 'international rules' ( an actual Treaty too) will be broken and bent again regarding transfers of highly enriched uranium (90%- HEU) to non nuclear weapons states. Australia will have a technology transfer and HEU fuel for its proposed UK or US versions of nuclear submarines. It seems they arent interested in the low enrichment version made by France

      • Stuart Munro 4.2.1

        The attempt to prosecute Americans tends to support the validity of the Hague, notwithstanding the corruption of the neocons that sanctioned it.

        • Ghostwhowalksnz

          So there was a prosecution of US generals /soldiers etc ?

          (uncontrollable giggles)

          theres no validity when its only used on the little people with no clout.

          The War Crimes Tribunal has learnt that lesson well.

          • Stuart Munro

            Oh, you imagine that laws anywhere universally succeed against the powerful? How naive – Anarcharsis identified the problem millenia ago:

            Written laws are like spiders' webs; they will catch, it is true, the weak and poor, but would be torn in pieces by the rich and powerful.

            Thus it is that Roger Douglas remains at large, while Peter Ellis expired in prison.

            • Ghostwhowalksnz

              Hardly a valid comparison

              Bush paints landscapes at home in Houston while Milosevic died in prison

              • Stuart Munro

                Neither seem to have been innocent. Do you imagine our courts capture a greater proportion of domestic malefactors?

                The Hague remains one option for seeking justice against the worst of men. But perhaps you prefer that there are no avenues for redress.

                • Ghostwhowalksnz

                  If I prefer something Ill say so.

                  The reality is the US and Russia arent part of the ICC system and in practice might is right is the only rule they follow.

                  Im a realist about these things and dont have your 'Miss World ' pagent type World Peace delusions.

  5. UncookedSelachimorpha 5

    "In my opinion the truly moral position on Ukraine is to bend every effort to put stop to the killing and begin to negotiate an acceptable outcome for peace."

    Absolutely. Achieved by robust international support for Ukraine, complete defeat of all Russian forces therein, and driving Russia's murdering, raping and looting horde out to the 1991 borders.

    • roblogic 5.1

      Yes. Ukraine tried appeasement for the last 20 years and all it got them was more stolen land and Russian hate, capped by an unprovoked invasion.

      Weird how all the tough on crime RWNJ's want to make a deal with Putler.

  6. lprent 6

    The curious thing is that I agree with Malcolm McKinnon.But he is pushing a straw target up for firing upon.

    I don't know of anyone seeking "total victory" over the Russian Federation. There are few calls to dismember the Russian Federation as happened to Germany in WW2 (and those that did mostly came from Russia). Outside of Ukraine there ware few if any calls to demand massive reparations as happened to Germany in WW1.

    What there is a strong agreement on is that Europe is rather sick of Russia trying to overrun its borders to build a fragile empire yet again.

    The demonisation and depersonalisation of Putin and Russia – the bully, the criminal, the enemy – does not in theory forgo analysis of Russian thinking and decision-making but in practice has that effect.

    If the only way forward is the complete defeat of Russia, such an abdication has a logic, if a dubious one. For anyone prepared to consider other outcomes it is a massive disadvantage.

    I don't think that I have really heard anyone calling for Putin to get shafted. The fool is hitting 70. I'm sure that he can be propped up at parades until he is as old as some of the soviet union leaders in the era of stagnation. But until he goes over the borders in some fit of pique (that he is not the head of a European empire) – he really isn't a concern of Europe or us. No-one is seriously trying to hem him or the Russian Federation in.

    I’m sure that there are still a few nutbars who’d like to dismember the Russian Federation. Mostly countries, leaders, and citizens of Europe and here just want them to get their obnoxious and ineffective military back behind their borders.

    They simply aren't that important unless they invade neighbours, start throwing WMD around, train terrorists aimed outside their borders, or start selling off WMD. Before this last year, the most interetsing things about Russia for me were Kaspersky Lab, kotlin, and some of their citizens working on FOSS projects. But I have some quite narrow focuses.

    New Zealand has gotten pulled into several wars of European empire. They are the worst type of war. This we can see again in the trench slaughter in Ukraine just as well as I got by talking to kiwi veterans from Europe. It is best to nip these stupid conflicts in the bud before they start pulling in our soldiers.

    The best way forward for us is to constrain Russia Federation endeavours to revive this way of military life is to support with training, with what materials we can, and as I said at the start of this conflict – kicking the Russian embassy out of our country. No appeasement with Russia over invasion.

    Russian atrocity time. Absolutely none of what Russia did and how their troops acted was a surprise to anyone who'd looked at their military staffing models over several centuries. In that last link I on March 2nd, a week after the start of the invasion, I wrote.

    Putin and the Russian Federation government have now worked themselves into a cleft stick. Invading a country that wasn’t ready to fall into the hands of Mother Russia, getting an unprecedented unity of response from most other major nations with the exception of China, and with a economy now under a lot more strain. Rather than withdrawing, I’d expect that they will just go for more stupidity.

    I’d expect that the next stage will be urban bombardment using artillery, missiles, and air attacks of the cities to try to break resistance before committing the main body of the surrounding forces. So far it sounds like, in most cities, that only ground scouting and reconnaissance troops have been probing and getting thrown back.

    Given the known inaccuracies and lack of precision of usage of the Russian weaponry that has been displayed in this conflict as well as in the past. I’d expect that deliberately or not, the Russians will wind up hitting civilian areas massively. That is before they start trying to send armour and troops in.

    Urban warfare favours defence even with offence by trained professional troops. Conscript troops really aren’t very good at it. So I’d expect that the usual response to any resistance will be to waste whole areas of civilian buildings with artillery, tank fire, rockets, cluster bombs, fuel-air weapons and only as a last resort – troops.

    The problem is that doing this invariably kills civilians in mass lots, often by accident, also often as deliberate state terror policy. It always produces a free-fire zone mentality amongst poorly trained troops – and the consequent atrocities as poorly trained troops murder or rape civilians trying to shelter.

    It also produces rubble to assist snipers and anti-tank missiles, IADs, and invading troops running into a meat-grinder. The rate of attrition on military stockpiles is also also intense.

    This isn’t exactly a mystery. It has happened in just about every urban conflict for the last two centuries.

    The fault always lies with the invaders. In this case the Russians don’t have the moral high ground of responding to an invasion of their country as they had in WW2. This time they are clearly the aggressor and no amount of propaganda can conceal that. But I am sure we will have some of their local idiotic apologists try.

    But I suspect that atrocities and state terrorism will be the deliberate choice that Putin and his Russian regime will take. So far it seems like that have had no interest in leaving a nation to make its own decisions about its future.

    The rest of the world needs to start escalating sanctions up, supporting Ukraine with more weapons, and moving troops towards the borders of Ukraine, Belarus, and the pocket of Kaliningrad. Because when the atrocities start and start showing up, there will be immense internal pressure from citizens to make damn sure that Putin’s style of military adventurism doesn’t get rewarded – or come to their countries.

    Better to deal with aggression now rather than suffer the effects of yet another damn general European war.

    It is bad enough that the US has a horrible tendency to always start fighting the next war with the strategies and political objectives of the last conflict. But at least they are only decades out of place.

    It gets really stupid when you see a place like Russia trying to fight wars with the political objectives and a lot of the military strategies from their 19th century conflicts with the Austro-Hungarian empire. Stupid heavy handed internal repression that quells the expression of dissent – but doesn't convince people that they should not dissent. Conscript armies from the provinces. Really dumb propaganda and attempts to create maskirovka. Vast levels of corruption that sap the ability of military to achieve anything substantive. Bombastic claims of new weapons and strategies. Warlords with the own personal armies and security forces.

    These are are all straight out of the period of Imperial Russia in the later 19th century and early 20th. No more successful now than they were then.

    • mikesh 6.1

      In that part of the world the way they do politics seems to be different from the way we do politics.

      • lprent 6.1.1

        Not that different if you spend time closely reading history of parliamentary systems.

        If you substitute governers for president, and then have a look at the hurried departures of state governors in aussie and nz in the 19th century, you will find some close analogies.

        And I won't even get onto the shenanigns of the fall of state governments in aussie.

        It is the same in the US in the state governments and even in the federal government over the last two and a half centuries.

        I suspect that I'd see the exactly the same patterns if I looked at somewhere like Canada.

        Ukraine's parliamentary system just looks like a pretty standard system that is busy shaking out. It is in the influence peddling stage with the money having an undue influence. Messy but not that different to here at various times in our australasian colonial history.

        How do you think the New Zealand wars started?

  7. weston 7

    I hav,nt seen any evidence that Russia has any" territorial ambitions "beyond protecting the regions of the donbass and establishing a suitable buffer zone between them and the Ukrainian nationalists all this rubbish about re'establishing the soviet state is just complete crap imo .Eight years ago they were happy enough to secure Crimea and leave it at that but the nationalist's were'nt .They had to step up attacks on the donbass peoples whom they labeled 'terrorists ' and terror was what began to be practised on them .As soon as the so called 'terrorists ' proved they could defend themselves the nationalists began to build their army in earnest with lots of help from America/Nato .For eight years Russia tried not to get involved while observing all the goings on from the sidelines instead they tryed repeatedly to get changes by peacefull means such as the Minsk accords etc but in the end it was all to no avail since as we have learnt recently from Merkle and others that the peace accords were just a means to buy time for the war mongers specifically Ukrainian nationalists with the 'big dog'Uncle Sam by their side they wanted war .Well now they have it and as far as i can see they only have themselves and the 'big dog 'to blame and everything not already lost ,to lose .

    • lprent 7.1

      They had to step up attacks on the donbass peoples whom they labeled 'terrorists ' and terror was what began to be practised on them

      You mean after all of the hundreds of thousands of refugees from the heroic Donbas warlords started coming through – some because they insisted in speaking their native Ukrainian tongue? Sure there were hundreds of thousands who fled into Russia (it was easier with the Russian support services in the Donbas after all).

      Or are you trying to say that Ukraine was not allowed to try to defend their borders or upgrade their armed forces after they got trounced?

      Or that the Minsk protocols weren't imposed upon Ukraine, were effectively non-binding as the two governments of the Donbas proved as they broke them multiple times when it came to observed referendums? But basically the Minsk protocols were never intended to be a peace protocol. They were intended to stop the fighting log enough to ask the citizens in the seceding territories if they wanted to be part or Ukraine or run by what appeared to be piss-ant warlords.

      Or are you arguing that Ukraine wasn't really a state?

      Any sort of rational state after having their 15% or more of their territory grabbed by a neighbour and their minions should, in my opinion, lift their defence forces so tat couldn't happen again. It appears that you don't think that was 'fair'.

      Are you 12? Or a citizen of Russia? They appear to be much the same thing these days according to the official policy.

    • SPC 7.2

      Putin claims that the West is trying to dismantle the Soviet Union – which has not existed for 30 years.

      It's a direct claim of Russian hegemony over all former USSR territory as the basis of his "security" project. The guy has some eastern empire Tsar pretensions – its fantasy akin to Barbarossa and "Aryan" Teutonic knights of the little corporal.

      Power not only corrupts …

      His Duginite side-kick his own little gobbleshite.

      • Ghostwhowalksnz 7.2.1

        If that was the case , how come Russia hasnt invaded Belarus

        Former Soviet state …check

        Never existed as a nation state …check

        Could it be that Belarus hadnt yet become an EU/Nato acolyte

        • SPC

          It's got no oil, it’s got no gas, it's got no port and it's no democratic exampler and it's a basket case.

          It’s leader’s tyranny is dependent on Russian protection.

          • Ghostwhowalksnz

            Thats not the point.

            Remember Kosovo ( most of above) and its current occupation by Nato – specfically 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Regiment US Army

            The international rules say its still part of Serbia , does invasion not sanctioned by UN or for self defence mean Nato/EU gets to keep this territory ?

        • UncookedSelachimorpha

          Belarus has a Russian-backed dictator and is firmly under the control of the Kremlin, so Russia is satisfied for now.

          In the long term they intend to take over Belarus by other means, complete with the usual Russian plans to russify the nation and destroy Belarusian identity and language.

          Leaked document reveals alleged Kremlin plan to take over Belarus by 2030

          • Ghostwhowalksnz

            Leaked ? You mean your mouthpiece in Kyiv has invented it.

            keep up the good work, your handlers will be most impressed

            Hows your investigations going into US regime change in Cuba or Venezuela going. The aim would to bring those countries back into the US sphere of Influence


            Notice recently how all those leftish Presidents elected in south America , by some coincidence , keep getting turfed out of office in soft coups

            • Scud

              For god shakes, Lukashenko is Tsar Poot's back pocket & has been receiving direct & indirect support from Poot's in return for favours ie allowing Tsar Poot's to invade Ukrane from Belarus.

              Handing over Anti Poot's protesters or allowing FSB to operate freelance to remove those anti Poot's & those anti Lukashenko. Who have move to Poland or to Baltic States.

              • Ghostwhowalksnz

                So ?

                Do you not know how alliances of countries work. russian troops are in Armenia and other soviet states ( plus Syria or course where US also has troops )

                Nato has a similar system of troop movements in each other countries.

                Indeed nato is still in military occupation of its invaded subject 'province' Kosovo . remember that changing of the borders ? I guess not as you only follow the UK-USA official line

                Save us the childish names its infantile

        • Stuart Munro

          Could it be that Belarus hadnt yet become an EU/Nato acolyte

          It's more that Belarus had become a dependency of Russia – Lukaschenko, who had been an inside runner for Russian president, only retaining power through Kremlin supplied military support.

          • Ghostwhowalksnz

            Nato also is like the Hotel California.

            Even the French stayed a member but withdrew for some decades from only the military command structure and then returned.

      • mikesh 7.2.2

        Putin claims that the West is trying to dismantle the Soviet Union – which has not existed for 30 years.

        Perhaps someone should inform Joe Biden of the fact that the Soviet system no longer exists. Like that chap in The Fight Club, he is fighting a battle that exists only in his imagination

  8. UncookedSelachimorpha 8

    "That is simply never going to happen as it would represent an existential threat of hostile encirclement to Russia"

    Bullshit. No one wants to invade Russia. The expansion of defensive alliances around her borders is driven by nations previously subjugated by Russia, not wanting the same again.

    Russia has a track record of invading peaceful neighbours and unleashing brutal atrocities and supression. I can even think of a recent example.

    • lprent 8.1

      Bullshit. No one wants to invade Russia.

      It keeps dropping in and out of being a nearly failed state. Who’d want to try to administer it?

      FFS Russia’s military, with all of the material advantages that it has, is completely failing to advance against a state that is way smaller in every possible respect. They’ve been resorting to human wave attacks against fortified positions and the associated levels of WW1 death and injury rates. It speaks to a level of corruption and lack of interest by soldiers that is reminiscent of the tactics that were used before the Russian revolutions in 1917.

      All the Russian military can apparently do effectively is stand-off bombardment of civilians. At least that way they can’t be shot back at. Not very courageous. Also not very effective as has been proven many times before.

      • Stuart Munro 8.1.1

        Who’d want to try to administer it?

        The US might – not from imperialist ambitions so much as preventing parts of the nuclear arsenal from falling into the hands of the weird & desperate.

        They did fund the decommissioning of chemical weapons after the Soviet collapse.

    • mikesh 8.2

      No one wants to invade Russia.

      Joe Biden would like to, but he cannot at the moment because of MAD. However he figures that if he can get closer to Russia's borders by bringing Ukraine over to his side he may be able to find some pretext for invading without engaging MAD.

  9. SPC 9

    Who will buy Putin's posing Russia as a "cornered rat".


    PS Putin has always used the story of watching cornered rat as a warning to others not to mess with him.

  10. UncookedSelachimorpha 10

    And is it really a "lone" voice of sanity?

    There are others – Marjorie Taylor Greene, Alex Jones, Tucker Carlson, Donald Trump – all express similar hopes and sentiments.

    • Mike Smith 10.2

      I should have said "in New Zealand."

      But I agree his is not a lone voice. In my opinion the best of those are found among former analysts from all sides, and former diplomats particularly Asian voices.

      I count Bernhard of Moonofalabama among the former. He has just produced a detailed exposition of the events leading up to the events of February 24 2022 in "The Buildup to the War in Ukraine" here.

      Singaporean diplomat and Professor Khishore Mahbubani in the South China Morning Post makes the same point as Malcolm McKinnon: "Time for the West to rethink goal of total defeat for Russia in Ukraine"

      • Scud 10.2.1

        The reason for Ukraine's Military build up post 2014,

        Was to rebuild it's Military Capabilities that were allowed to fall into disrepair due to Tsar Poot's Toady President & sacking of countless Professional Officers & SNCO's who were deem too Anti Russian / Pro Ukrainian etc.

        After 2014, the Ukrainian Military had a massive restructure & a part of this process was to look at how to defend Ukraine from further Russia aggression from Cyber to all out war & everything in between.

        The Ukrainian Chief of Staff (Army) after visiting Sweden, Finland & Norway who have a Whole of Country Defence Doctrine called "Territorial Defence". Decided to presented a plan for Territorial Defence, which had approved of both the Navy & Airforce Chiefs of Staff & later from the Ukrainian Government.

        This resulted in a massive change in Doctrine, the re-enlistment of those sacked by the Poot's Toady President, the asking of NATO & EU to provide Military, Civil Defence, Economic Planning Training Teams to assist the Whole of Government Doctrine of Territorial Defence. But more importantly the Tactical Evaluation Teams to validate everything as everyone know time was against Ukraine.

        The concept of operations for Territorial Defence is complex, but does requires a massive investment in the military & to the untrained eye may seem a massive military up.

        But the object of Territorial Defence is all about Defence which includes the following- Guerrilla Warfare, Long Ranges Fires (Artillery to Long Range Missiles up to 250km) incl UAV's, ISR Capabilities, every man & his dog knowing how to defend their patch of ground aka Citizen Army, Combat Engineers and a Professional Force Military to Counter strike to repel the invaders or at least bog them down where the Invader lose combat power where you can strike back at your time & place of choosing.

        The other two massive investments for Territorial Defence are in Civil Defence & Economic Development this includes State Infrastructure which to most on the left shouldn't require an explanation.

        I hope this explains why Ukraine built up military post 2014.

        To me, it was a sound Doctrine for Ukraine to adopt, but like all military plans time wasn't on Ukraine's side.

        • Ghostwhowalksnz

          Were you one of the kiwi mercenaries who went to Ukraine and picked up all the gossip on military minutiae ?

          Ukraine’s presidents, including the current one have one thing in common , were puppets of the oligarchs.

          You seem to forget that maybe 25%-35% of the Ukraine population was Russian, stranded inside Ukraine by Soviet split up ( or were in areas that were always Russian,… Donbass, Crimea, Odessa etc. Those voters voted for Russian leaning Presidents

          Theres more similarities between russian and ukrainian language then there is between Low and High german ( who cant understand each other)

          • Scud

            Beg your pardon, you f****** cunt you've just crossed your Rubicon! I haven't set foot in Ukraine & I'm highly unlikely to do as I complex Mental health issues, osteoarthritis, stomach, kidney & lungs issues after 20yrs plus in uniform serving in 2 countries including 3 Peacekeeping tours & Afghanistan.

            I suggest you remove your comment & apologise.

            I was explaining Territorial Defence Doctrine & the reasons why Ukraine rapidly built up its Military again after a period neglect.

            When time permits, I will be logging a complaint to the moderators. Because quite frankly I've had a complete gutful of your lack of decorum & respect another posters in this thread is bloody disgusting!

            • Ghostwhowalksnz

              Swallowed a bee did you. If you were a mercenary I would have thought it a compliment ….the military gibberish not at all.

              calm down and carry on

              [Your comments with personal insults have descended into the territory occupied by wind-up trolls and the likes. In addition, as you have been around here for a long time, you should have known Scud’s history, which he’s been quite open about on this forum, and not made those especially hurtful snide remarks. You didn’t even offer an apology, which just shows what kind of commenter you are. Take a month off – Incognito]

              • Scud

                So you rather attack someone's integrity & character now with fasle accusations that I'm a mercenary & some stooge for NATO given my Military background because I'm not supporting your Tsar Poot's?

              • Incognito

                Mod note

            • weka

              Incognito has now moderated 👍

          • UncookedSelachimorpha

            "Theres more similarities between russian and ukrainian language then there is between Low and High german ( who cant understand each other)"

            One of the oddities of Putin's ethnostate dreams is he uses language to suggest people are Russian (and therefore should be within his empire). Imagine doing that with other languages.

            Putin fixates on "ethnic Russians" – which is just belief in racial supremacy.

            Putin Pledges To Protect All Ethnic Russians Anywhere.

            Russian imperialists create more "Russians" everywhere they go (albeit second class if they aren’t white and slavic), by suppressing local languages and forcing the use of Russian (e.g. compulsory in schools throughout the USSR). Russification.

        • Sanctuary

          As a Ukrainian officer observed after the Crimea – a very corrupt, small Soviet style army will always lose to a very corrupt very large Soviet style army. So they had to reinvent their army to a western style one that could allow for a smaller, better army to defeat a very corrupt, very large Soviet style one.

  11. Sanctuary 11

    Cutting through all this, one one hand you've got the vast majority of right thinking people on the left who are aghast at an unprovoked invasion of a fledgling democracy by it's Fascist neighbour, and see the simply moral clarity of resisting wars of aggression.

    On the other you've got an odious assortment of Quislings, Putin tankies, a moldy deitritis of ex-SUP cheerleaders for the Kremlin who are to old and stupid to work out Russia isn't the USSR, craven appeasers, simple cowards, reflexive pacifists and Manichean anti-Americans dancing on the head of pin to find justifications for their support for a dictator and his awful, genocidal war.

    If you want this war to end, then call Putin. He started the war and he could end it tomorrow by withdrawing his brutish army and his barbarian mercenaries from the Ukraine.

    • Ghostwhowalksnz 11.1

      Oh my, you are the Grima Wormtongue today arent you

      [If you have nothing to add to the discourse then don’t resort to making snide remarks at other commenters. This is your warning – Incognito]

      • Incognito 11.1.1

        Mod note

      • Sanctuary 11.1.2

        Your post doesn't actually make sense, Wormtongue counselled against taking action against the clear and present threat of a great evil.

      • Ghostwhowalksnz 11.1.3

        It was in the vein of Sanctuary, who had no fresh ideas or old ones in their comment , just a litany of insults

        Which were : Quote "Quislings, Putin tankies, a moldy deitritis of ex-SUP cheerleaders for the Kremlin who are to old and stupid ….unquote.

        is that OK is it ?

        [You’ve got the wrong end of the stick; you aren’t a Moderator, you are being moderated.

        Your comment @ 11.1 was nothing but a personal insult. If/when you consider a comment poor from another commenter, e.g., because they didn’t contribute ‘fresh ideas or old ones’ to your liking, then you either say nothing or you challenge them on the content/substance of their comment without personal insults. Of course, sometimes, in robust debate, things can get a little heated, but your comment @ 11.1 wasn’t part of robust debate, it was a personal insult to a new comment thread, pure and simple.

        In this Election Year moderation will be tightened to enable robust debate but without increasing the workload of the Mods. I hope your current educational ban will serve you well – Incognito]

    • UncookedSelachimorpha 11.2

      Thanks, good summary!

  12. Regarding GWW's forays into history in this discussion:

    Like a good many Pakeha New Zealanders, my ancestors come from troubled parts of Europe: Northern Ireland (where the Poms dumped annoying Scots), Czech Republic, and Yugoslavia (the word "slave" comes from "Slav").

    The descendants of these people should understand and abhor empires crushing the powerless

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