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An appeal to Putin’s Apologists

Written By: - Date published: 10:10 am, June 12th, 2022 - 121 comments
Categories: Culture wars, International, Left, Politics, progressives, Russia, Ukraine, vladimir putin, war - Tags:

With a life of anti-fascist and anti-war activism in my rear-view mirror, alarmingly I find myself at fifty staring at the green shoots of fascism in my headlights.

This is not where I expected to be. As with many ‘progressives’, I tend toward optimism when viewing our political future, but am hampered by pessimism when I recall history. This isn’t a an optimism in the sense that somehow, ‘it will all be fine’ but a necessary mental framework to engage with and promote better outcomes. You could call me an optimistic pessimist, I’ll wear it.

The recent invasion of Ukraine by card carrying fascist Vladimir Putin, has thrown the political left into utter disarray.

It’s not that we of the left of politics needed anymore disunity. Traditionally the ‘left’ fight each other for power and ideology as much as they fight the ‘right’ of politics for power and influence. However, recently orchestrated propaganda has further riven the left with ‘anti-establishment’ narratives surrounding the vexed Anti-Vax issues, mandate debates, New World Order conspiracies such as Agenda 21 and other compelling rabbit holes for the cynically minded. Thankfully as ‘living with covid’ (or dying from it if you are medically vulnerable) becomes our new normal, such absurd distractions have waned in importance and no longer suck all the air out of important debates about our political trajectory.

And then Putin invaded Ukraine – again

I was born in Dunedin in the early 1970’s during a mostly distant Cold War. I say mostly because of Bikini Atoll, Russian sailors at the port and Dad being friends with nice old Jim Moody (who was Dunner’s CIA rep for the area back then).

In the mid 70’s due to intimidation and threats from local reactionary forces (‘we know where your kids ride their bikes’), my leftist activist parents moved us to the London where my mother was born (on the day the UN was founded) and where many family members were based.

My late childhood and early teens were transfixed by a much more proximate Cold War in the UK of the 1980s. At 12 I opted to study Russian (as that was a language one might be required to speak one day) and even visited the USSR on a subsidised school trip. The trip was cheaper for us as a low-income household and also because Intourist – the branch of the KGB which handled visitors, provided cheap tickets to British state school kids.

By the time I was 16 I had burnt the US flag outside their embassy in Grosvenor Square, I’d been arrested inside Alconbury Airbase (then a US controlled NATO facility) and been involved in numerous actions with Youth CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) to blockade nuclear submarine bases amongst other things.

My activism shifted in these times to embrace anti-racist and anti-fascist action. Many of us in the mid 80’s in Britain had had enough of the overtly racist status quo. Movements like RAR (Rock Against Racism), conflicts like the Brixton riots and a number of other events converged on us young Brits to galvanise dissent and action. Being descended from a Polish-Jewish grandfather on my mother’s side may well have made me more prone to see anti-fascism and anti-racism as integral in striving for a better future.

Fast-forwarding to our present time. I find myself no longer arguing the obvious threat of ultra-nationalism, totalitarianism and racism with people on the extreme right of politics, but now with many of my friends on the left. This inversion begs the question’s ‘how did we get here?’ and ‘how do we counter this narrative?’

I can understand ‘dyed in the wool’ older Marxists that cling to fond memories of supposed Soviet Utopias. My dad is one at times – sorry Pop. He remains one of the 10,000 odd subscribers to The Morning Star (a British Marxist newspaper). Jeremy Corbyn is a great example of someone from this cohort who hasn’t had a new idea since the late 70’s. My younger self marched beside him on a few occasions as he remains my local MP in London. Great activist, crap leader.

The question is, why do soo many leftist see the US as the only empire worth opposing?

I believe the answer lies in the ubiquity of false historical narratives, lefty tribalism and a lack of understanding of contemporary events in context.

The Soviet collapse which began in 1989 heralded enormous changes to the geo-political landscape of Europe and latterly the rest of the world.

Freed nations sought to establish their identity, amongst them Ukraine who in exchange for security guarantees, surrendered it’s nuclear arsenal under assurances from Gorbachev that their new sovereignty would be respected by the emerging democratic Russian state. With an 83% turnout, 71.4% of Ukrainians voted for independence from Russia.

Transition was not an easy matter for the Russian economy and its much reduced sphere of direct influence. Kleptomaniacs ravaged the bones of the state in a frenzy of privatisation and this chaos led to the eventual appointment in 1999 of ‘strongman’ and present day Russian leader, Vladimir Putin.

Now let us get to those apologists that seem to preoccupy this jaded anti-fascist.

Central to the argument offered by those that seek to apportion blame for the attempted destruction of the sovereign state of Ukraine on variously ’NATO’, ‘The US Empire’ and indeed ‘corrupt Nazis supporting Ukrainian sovereignty ’ and that assurances were given to Gorbachev in 1996 that NATO would not expand and Russia would not be triggered into reflexive re-arming and become a oppositional monolith to Europe’s smaller states bordering the largest country on earth. Ie ‘NATO made him do it’

This argument is inherently flawed – Gorbachev premised the demand for NATO to remain static and received unwritten assurances, on the basis of a new and democratic Russia that would, like most democracies, be forever mired in incrementalism and the politics of centrism demanded by competing political entities fighting for the hearts and minds of their electorate every four or so years.

Putin had other ideas

With almost immediate collapse of Russia into disfunction under the permanently pissed Yeltsin, power was handed (not electorally) to Putin and his cronies drawn from the ’Siloviki’, otherwise known as the intelligence wing of the KGB/FSB. This event has had enormous implications.

The premised ‘democratic Russia’ vanished almost as soon as it was born and it would be anti-historical to suggest that Putin’s power grab was entirely a result of NATO expansion. Hungary, Poland and Czech Republic became NATO members in the same year, driven by the chaos on their doorstep and hawkish US zealots. Membership came to these nations immediately before Putin’s appointment. Russian-backing of Serbian ethno-nationalist aims set Europe on edge and only NATO bombing put an to Serbian ambiton.

Putin’s ascendency was mainly an act of internal stabilisation from Yeltsin with a view that Putin, ‘a tough guy’, would aggressively suppress Chechen independence and end the ongoing war that was bleeding the Kremlin’s coffers to avoid another Afghanistan. He didn’t waste time. Levelling Grozny and slaughtering tens of thousands of Chechens, he installed Ramsan Kadyrov and ended any hope for Chechens of self-determination. Russian Imperialism in ascendency.

Another misconception is that Putin pines for a renewed Soviet sphere of influence. Putin is a devotee of the Russia fascist philosopher Vladimir Ilyin. He is also an admirer of Tsar Vladimir the Great who conceived the Russian state (tragically for the Ukrainians in Kyiv). Vladimir eventually rejected paganism and became the founder of greater Russia via conquest to encompass Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. Putin is understood to loath the apparatchiks that in his view ‘sold out’ the USSR. My Polish Great grandfather’s father served in the Russian army in Tzarist Poland which may now be Putin’s sights.

The key ingredients of fascism can be described as an authoritarian regime defined by an ethnically supremacist society. Power is held by an elite ruling class that is entirely supported by capital interests and with divine sanction of the church that enforces ‘tradition’ and a regime that rejects any need for progressive rights usually subjugating women and minority interests. Russia under Putin has decriminalised domestic abuse, has banned LGBTQ+ participation in society, persecutes ethnic minorities and has crushed all dissent.

These policies are entirely consistent with Putin’s modern aide d’ camp Alexander Dugin. A former lecturer turned United Russia MP in the Duma, Dugin is often referred to as Putin’s Brain. This maybe be overestimating his direct influence but even a cursory look at Dugin’s writing would indicate that he is a fascist ideologue and his prestige in Putin’s Regime is clear.

Central to leftist apologists for Putinism/Russian Fascism, is the idea that the now notorious Azov Battalion is a ‘Nazi’ force and must be indicative of Kyiv’s slavish vassal status to US/NATO interests and therefore Ukraine poses an existential threat to Russia.

This is almost too absurd to discuss when considering 2% of Ukrainians voted for far-right parties in the last election, Russia has the 2nd largest standing army in the world and Azov is a small force within the much larger Ukrainian army. But let’s give it some air eh?

Azov may or may not have purged neo-Nazis from its ranks (probably not) and indeed is an inheritor of a longstanding pro-fascist tradition in Ukraine that dates back to before WWII. During the war Ukrainian fascists collaborated enthusiastically with the SS, variously fighting Russians and killing Jews. For context, Ukrainian partisans fought Nazis and didn’t kill Jews.

Azov numbers around 2500 troops and grew from an early base of far-right football fans into a paramilitary force after the Russian invasion of Crimea. The important word in that sentence is ‘after’. In 2014 the Ukrainian military was described as decrepit by most analysts. After Russian invasion the armed forces expanded with US aid to around 200,000 troops making Azov around 1% of the armed force of Ukraine.

Bearing all of this in mind maybe it’s time to consider the wider question: who is the fascist group that matters here? Russia, vast economic and military power under the absolute control of a fundamentalist Orthodox leader who sees his destiny as aligned with a 9th Century warlord turned Tsar or a small convenient fascist faction in a country beset by fascist aggression historically and recently, that is in an existential struggle with its most notorious enemy (google ‘Holodomor’ for perspective).

Putin’s claims of victimhood clearly echo excuses offered by Israel in defence of its own oppressive militarism.

I.e.: ‘We are surrounded by enemies intent on our destruction’, ‘We have a right to establish an ethno-religious state that exclude the rights of others’, and crucially ‘we have a historical claim to territory now infested with people we wish to replace’. How can my leftist comrades oppose Israeli racist nationalism but offer the same excuses to explain Putin’s aggression? Baffling stuff.

The question of lack of global support is often raised in defence of Putin with many citing Indian and Chinese neutrality as an indication that half the world doesn’t support Ukraine – Chinese policy is determined by one person and can hardly be seen as ‘popular’ support, Modi’s India falls largely into the same category.

WW3! I hear you cry. Mutually assured destruction remains as much a compelling deterrent as it ever did and WWII was abetted by appeasing fascists not by immediately stopping them in their tracks.

Maybe the ‘fascist’ we need to consider is the invisible hand of US imperialism?

Opposing US imperialism doesn’t not require endorsing or excusing Russian fascist expansion.

Since the appalling illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the left has rightly in my view been preoccupied with opposing US Imperialism. Clearly these wars were unjust and largely waged to serve economic and political interests of the USA, Britain and others including Saudi Arabia Pakistan and some EU member states. These wars are now largely concluded and were both military and political failures for the invaders.

These wars can’t be seen in isolation, however, and any student of US history will tell you about the changed tack of the US that arrived at the end of what is often termed ‘The American Century’. Isolation and soft power is now the go-to for successive administrations – Obama, Trump and Biden all following the same trajectory. Sporadic airstrikes against perceived ’threats’ occasionally assassinating enemies but avoiding ‘boots on the ground’. Call it ‘imperialism lite’ if you like.

Not so for our boy Vlad!. Area bombardment of high-density cities is way beyond ‘lite’. The vacuum created by reduced US enthusiasm for direct intervention led to Russia leaping into the void as seen in Syria where Russian forces levelled Aleppo with the same tactics and vigour and disregard for ‘collateral’ damage that was seen in Grozny. Georgia and Azerbaijan can also testify to Russia’s differing attitude to ‘boots on the ground’ from that of a more sheepish US regime. I am in no way advocating for US intervention but military aid and supply for Ukraine is not the same thing as direct intervention. Would we on the left have opposed crucial Chinese arms supply to the Vietnamese resisting US invasion? In what that nation terms ‘The American War’, Vietnam arguably would not have successfully resisted the US without a constant supply of munitions and arms from friendly nations keen on seeing US imperialism stopped in its tracks.

The final question that remains is ‘is this a matter of the lesser of 2 evils?’

The short answer is an emphatic ‘Yes’.

The longer one is that when considering any armed conflict, realpolitik is the only currency that matters. Truth dies in war, propaganda is generated by both sides and must be considered and critiqued but also understood to be viable weapons in conflict. When fascism is on the rise across the globe as seen in the autocratic advances under Modi in India, the erosion of democracy in Hungary under Putin ally Orban, the strident authoritarianism of Xi in China who is rapidly establishing a neo-Maoist cult around himself and is committing genocide in the Xinjiang, the recent near miss in French elections for the Putin funded far-right candidate of Marine Le Pen and very likely re-election of Donald Trump in the next electoral US cycle that has even prompted a report from neighbouring Canadian Intelligence services advising their government to prepare for an authoritarian neighbour in the near future – Gilead awaits.

We on the left must not get bound up in whataboutism and consideration for Putin’s ‘mindset’. We must oppose, fight, and de-platform Putin and his active and tacit supporters. In war there is no neutral position when confronting the authoritarian advance. There is also no discounting fascist action by offering up the reasoning of the aggressor. There is no room for excusing an aggressive, expansionist, fascist and his armies on the march. There is only resistance. #NoPasaran

Tobi Muir

Soviet Red Army entering the Polish city of Wilno (Vilnius). 1939
The Moscow Times: “Russia Claims Soviet Army ’Liberated,’ Not Invaded, Poland During WWII

121 comments on “An appeal to Putin’s Apologists ”

  1. RedLogix 1

    An excellent post, well written and spoken from the heart.

    My explanation for this left wing support of fascism rests on two simple thoughts – the first is an absurdist yet lingering emotional attachment to the idea of Russia and China still being the spiritual home of marxist revolution.

    The other is an equally unhinged hatred of the US – to the point of sucking all other oxygen from their brains.

    • Jenny how to get there 1.1

      Well said, Red.

    • AB 1.2

      Pretty much. But it's hard for these people – they were correct in the past about American imperialism and were derided for it, they are wrong in the present about Russian imperialism, and are being derided for it.

      One derision feels just like the other, so it must be easy to see the present circumstance as being the same as the past, rather than an inversion of it.

      • RedLogix 1.2.1

        I am not so certain that those opposed to US interventions were always derided for it. I am old enough to have protested Vietnam and marched against the Iraq invasion.

        The US led post-WW2 order can rightly be called a hegemon and sometimes a quite ruthless one – but it was always qualitatively different to the millenia of empires that preceeded it. For a start it was always rather remarkably tolerant of criticism; protestors being usually met with media coverage rather than prison or worse.

        Secondly for all of it's failures and catastrophic errors – this post-WW2 era has nonetheless seen a dramatic and unprecedented expansion of relative peace, security and human development. Like all things human we can easily imagine how it might have been better – but compared to everything else before this period the outcomes have been miraculous. This reality is hard to reconcile with denigrating the USA as the Great Satan.

        The great flaw in the US system was that it was setup to create a global alliance to fight marxism – and while it succeeded remarkably in doing this – at the end of the Cold War the Americans failed comprehensively to update it's purpose. The result has been three decades of unravelling to the point where de-globalisation is now being openly talked about.

        For small nations like Aus and NZ this means the end of every geopolitical assumption around security, trade and sovereignty we have been making all our adult lives. There are no good options immediately on offer.

        • joe90 1.2.1.1

          I am not so certain that those opposed to US interventions were always derided for it.

          Yup. A trawl through TS's archives will show that those who oppose Putin's imperialist adventures today were opposed to US interventionism as it occured.

          • RedLogix 1.2.1.1.1

            Yes. Iraq was a terrible mistake – and arguably one that directly played into the hands of bin Laden. There was of course little to nothing about Saddam's regime worth defending, but the US invasion shorn of UN support effectively demolished any remnants of moral high ground the US still clung to – and nothing has gotten better for them since.

            Ukraine is their last chance to redeem themselves.

          • lprent 1.2.1.1.2

            …were opposed to US interventionism as it occured.

            TS didn't start until August 2007. So it could have only been after the interventions 🙂

            Everyone gets derided here. I don't think that I have ever seen a full agreement on almost anything on TS. About the only thing I have actually seen a degree of agreement on was disapproving of the arsehole shooter in ChCh. But no agreement about what should be done to limit the damage if it ever happened again.

        • AB 1.2.1.2

          I can recall opponents of the Iraq war in 2003 being belittled (not on TS for sure) as reflexively anti-American. If you have a historically grounded self-perception as a wronged and despised truth-teller, it can land you in trouble. I think this is definitely a large part of what we are observing.

          • lprent 1.2.1.2.1

            Oh they were belittled here as well…. Of course it got harder over time as the full extent of the screwup and misinformation became apparent.

            We try to moderate rather than stifle debate.

          • mikesh 1.2.1.2.2

            There were also the sanctions imposed upon Iraq after that war, and which were said to have killed millions. Madelaine Albright apparently said it was "worth it".

            • RedLogix 1.2.1.2.2.1

              The rest of us were appalled by her callous statement – and said so in no uncertain terms. At least we had the freedom to do so.

              But Albright was a few decades in the past. How about we see you start openly condemning Putin? Who is right at this moment the one person who could absolutely bring to an end the unbridled evil his military is inflicting.

              By constantly resorting to whataboutism you are simply saying that the evil my side is conducting now is justified by the evil the other guys did years, decades or centuries ago. You are merely justifying more violence, more suffering, more evil – to satisfy your deep hunger for revenge.

              • mikesh

                What about your own "whataboutism". Like what about Russia stopping this war right now.

                Ukraine could end this war by acknowledging Russia's concerns and surrendering. It ain't gonna happen though with the fascists in charge. There us nothing a fascist likes more than a "spot of stoush."

                • RedLogix

                  Ukraine could end this war by acknowledging Russia's concerns and surrendering.

                  Right there – you have sided with evil and are neck deep in it. This is nothing different to saying that a woman being raped should acknowledge the rapist's lust, lie back and enjoy it.

                  Contemptible.

                  • mikesh

                    What matters is not whether it's "contemptible", but whether it's true.

                    But, of course, truth to you is not as important as the emotional response. "Contemptible" etc.

    • Anne 1.3

      My sentiments too RL. I have acquired a better understanding of the state of play from this post than all the MSM material put together. There's still a lot to get my head around, but the final passage says it in a nutshell:

      Truth dies in war, propaganda is generated by both sides…. When fascism is on the rise across the globe as seen in the autocratic advances under Modi in India, the erosion of democracy in Hungary under Putin ally Orban, the strident authoritarianism of Xi in China who is rapidly establishing a neo-Maoist cult around himself and is committing genocide in the Xinjiang, the recent near miss in French elections for the Putin funded far-right candidate of Marine Le Pen and very likely re-election of Donald Trump in the next electoral US cycle that has even prompted a report from neighbouring Canadian Intelligence services advising their government to prepare for an authoritarian neighbour in the near future – Gilead awaits.

      Given the revelations about the insurrection on Capitol Hill, it is horrifying to think that more than half the US population are planning to vote for a Trump regime again.

      • RedLogix 1.3.1

        Yes. In war all sides will control information to their best advantage. This is a reality that will not change and must be understood. But there is no question that Ukraine is the victim of fascist aggression here and I for one will give precedence – although not uncritical acceptance – of their version of events.

  2. joe90 2

    Hear, hear!

  3. Stephen D 3

    What is likely to happen if Ukraine ceded sovereignty to the Donetsk and Luhansk regions to Russia. put in place formal borders, then joined the EU and NATO?

    • Tobi Muir 3.1

      It appears Ukraine ceding the Donbas will leave the nation bereft of an economic base and both Ukraine and the EU with a deadly line of control confronting Russia. The process of becoming an EU member takes up to 10 years and NATO is unlikely to agree on gaining a member that would force the organisation into an immediate war footing. This outcome however undesirable is looking increasingly likely as consensus on advanced munitions and long range weapon support supply from allies diminishes.

  4. Janet 4

    Thankyou for this dissertation on Putin and his fixation on the “borderlands” of Russia. I found your clarity very helpful and expanded on and reinforced what I had already partially pieced together. I thought the photo and caption at the end very revealing. Our family has been joined in the last couple of weeks by a recent arrival, from Russia, a Russian who supports Putin, so I think it especially important that we carefully try and inform ourselves well before engaging in any debate with this person.

    • Populuxe1 4.1

      You don't have to let them in the house

    • lprent 4.2

      The photo was my addition when I put the guest post up. I thought it was apposite as a previous example. The link leads to a article that points to Putin arguing that the unprovoked USSR invasion of Poland in 1939 was all Poland, and western powers fault for not appeasing dictators.

  5. Just Saying 5

    I think you are making a whole lot of assumptions about leftists, that might hold, but for a very small minority.

    Here is how I see it. Ukraine is losing and it is not surprising. Their numbers are too small. They have a huge nation on their border and were encouraged to provoke it. And yes, I am saying I believe this is a proxy war. And that Ukraine was manipulated. But not because I support Russia.

    I believe Ukraine is simply out-powered, and always were.

    I think one of your false (but not overt) assumptions is equating disbelief of the narrative about Ukraine as a soon-to-be victorious underdog, as equaling support for Russia. Another is that not believing the rhetoric is related to sides, and that people 'should' get behind the belief because it is somehow morally right to do so.

    I respect your knowledge. It is clearly strong. But there is so much that is entangled in this piece. I have to look up agenda 21 because I have no idea what it is, or how it relates to ''conspiracy theories'' or how any of it relates to attitudes about this war.

    I'm finding the personalising of politics really worrying. To be left or right is about issues not particular personalities. I get that you are saying Putin is a fascist, but to me fascism is about regimes and peoples not particular individuals. For example it strikes me as a cop-out to over-emphasise Hitler in Nazi Germany. As an infantalisation of the German people and a failure to take responsibility.

    As for it being a responsibility for us to take a strong stand and fight, I disagree. There are many pressing global issues and I see this issue as extremely hyped and propagandised. There seems to be an assumption that this the beginning of an expansionist Russian agenda. I see no sign of that, but if this does extend into such an agenda, I think that it is only with actual evidence that we should consider becoming involved.

    • Populuxe1 5.1

      I'm finding the personalising of politics really worrying.

      As the feminist movement said, the personal is political. People are inclined to have strong feelings when civilians are getting massacred – this almost certainly the first time in decades there's a conflict of global impact that has a fairly clear right and wrong side of history. For people from that part of the world it's not just abstract politics, it is deeply personal at the level of friends and family. To quibble about it looks like moral ambiguity.

      to me fascism is about regimes and peoples not particular individuals.

      How about the regime Putin has built about himself. The oligarchs, the kleptocrats and the brutish thugs running his military, the way he runs his country. He silences opposition and persecutes minorities, all the while feeding a cult of personality. Sounds pretty unequivocally fascist to me. Sounds very like Mussolini actually. Not all Germans supported the Nazi regime out of choice just as not all Russians support Putin's regime out of choice.

      As for it being a responsibility for us to take a strong stand and fight, I disagree. There are many pressing global issues and I see this issue as extremely hyped and propagandised.

      According to the 2018 census there are 1281 people from Ukraine living in New Zealand. I know some Ukrainian New Zealanders and I know quite a few people in Eastern and Central Europe. They are all deeply distressed and worried. I believe we, as a country, have certain values regarding fairness, justice, and standing for the underdog. We are relatively safe and secure in our part of the world, if we do not stand in solidarity with the victims of a brutal and largely unprovoked military invasion, who are we and what good is our security?

    • RedLogix 5.2

      I believe Ukraine is simply out-powered, and always were.

      You might have said that about any number of wars – starting with Vietnam. There is no question that the Ukrainian military have out-performed all expectations and that Russia is paying an absurdly high price to slowly grind their way into a wasteland. At this point the outcome will be determined by whether NATO or Russia run out of resources first – and that nowhere near as clear-cut as you suggest.

    • Jenny how to get there 5.3

      Let me help you.

      'Woz Nato dunnit Guv'na'

  6. Jenny how to get there 6

    An appeal to Putin’s Apologists?

    I wonder? Could it be working?

    None of the usual regular vociferous apologists for Putin's invasion of Ukraine at this site, who usually jump in at the slightest criticism of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, have yet taken this opportunity to put up a counter argument, defending Russia's invasion and war.

    I mean I don't expect them to be making public mea culpas, (Nor should they have to, after all, to err is human). But their unusual silence is signaling to me that they are having a serious re think about their previous pro-invasion position.

    So, good work Tobi Muir.

  7. barry 7

    First a bit of pedantry – "card carrying fascist Vladimir Putin" – Putin certainly has never enrolled as a fascist. I agree that his actions are indicative of fascism. It is a bit like people saying "literally" when they literally mean "figuratively".

    Generally I agree with the article. Putin's adventurism and the misery that is being inflicted on Ukraine (and Russia) is not supportable in any way and needs to be opposed. There are limits to what opposition is achievable given Putin's access to nuclear weapons (and the damage to the world economy causing collateral damage all over the world).

    One thing I would say:

    "The question is, why do soo many leftist see the US as the only empire worth opposing?"

    The reason why I (I can't speak for anybody else) have opposed American hegemony, oppression and adventurism is because they are OUR empire. Our government supports them through 5 eyes, and other military links. We look to their protection and we join in with support in the UN and sometimes with boots on the ground. We can't speak up with conviction against "enemies" unless we first raise our voices against the crimes committed by our "friends".

    I see some people in Russia bravely standing up to their government and opposing the war. In them I see what I profess to be (whether they be "leftists" or however they describe themselves), and I would hope that I would be brave enough to similarly stand up to our government if it were behaving similarly.

  8. Subliminal 8

    Whataboutism is really a red herring. To say that this issue must be observed and decided upon with no context or history is childish in the same vein as Bush's "either for or against". To demand the immediate trial of Putin for the crime of instigating a war of aggression with no attempt to do the same with regard to Bush and Blair just throws all your venom against Putin into an extremely distasteful cultural superiority. We are exceptional but how dare Russia believe the same of itself!

    Putin was careful to follow the exact same playbook and invoke the exact same UN articles as the US in its destruction of Yugoslavia. Russia took more then a month to deliver the same number of missiles that shock and awe delivered to Iraq in it's first two days. You think you can talk about Ukraine in a vacuum. Well, sorry bud, there are a lot of us sick to death being told whose horrors count and whose don't.

    If the media had focused on the continuing slaughter of Yemenis with anything like the intensity we get from the idiot Zelenski, if Bojo and Truss and Blinken and all the EU hoipoloi flew in a constant stream to Sanaa, then you can be sure that American made missiles would cease to be fired from Saudi flown US supplied planes. And that the US and UK supported blockade would be broken. The death and destruction in Yemen is an order of magnitude greater than Ukraine. So excuse me for not jumping on your bandwagon.

    It is a fact that Russia was rejected from any advances it made to jouining the EU or NATO. It is a fact that all attempts by Russia to have the UNSC Minsk agreements put in place by the guarantors, France and Germany, were rejected. It is also a fact that between 2014 and 2022 , 14000 citizens died in the standoff created by the failure to implement Minsk. Indivisible security is written into European security archetecture. It means that security for one state cannot be granted at the expense of another. All attempts to negotiate were rejected in favour of the principle of individual choices. This is where dialogue stopped.

    In your rant above you have pretty much stood Putin up as Hitler incarnate, perhaps without actually saying so. This has been the trash in the MSM for so long now that it is very tedious to attempt to untangle any of it. It has been repeated in so may absurd situations for so long that in the west it is pretty much accepted. For those of us that have been interested enough to search out other journalism such as Aaron Mate or Naked Capitalism or Caitlin Johnstone or Consortium News to just name a very few, the bullshit has been obvious. Your caricature of Putin above shows that you and all people who support your view have held the view of Putin as Hitler for a long time. The upshot of this view is that when dialogue stops, the only available next step is war because otherwise you and people like you will without hesitation jump to screaming Munich.

    At the point when Biden started screaming war, I for one didnt believe him. However he was right. We can only now assume that he knew he was right even if some of us didn't believe him. Yet even then, he refused to talk about Ukrainian neutrality or the limits of NATOS eastward march. War was preferable to Biden because what? He thought NATO would kick their ass?

    • RedLogix 8.1

      Longer than usual – you should get a whole dollar for that.

    • Tobi Muir 8.2

      Whataboutism indeed a red herring and you seem to be using it as the basis of your arguments. Yemen is a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran but it is also a sectarian conflict with roots in popular rebellion. Ignorance of Yemen i would suggest is more indicative of the lack of geo-strategic importance of that nation and a degree of western orientalism that we see in all conflicts between non-European nations precluding popular interest or indeed support for Yemeni.

      "US in its destruction of Yugoslavia" is a confusing statement and would need some explaining to tally with history. Russia never made any formal attempt to join either the EU or NATO. You may be referencing Putin's reported conversation with then British (Labour Party) Foreign minister George Robertson that was never followed up and at best can be described as 'banter'.

      At no point do i describe Putin as Hitler and frankly – this is a straw man argument. Hitler is distinguished in history by the extent and and scope of his fascist vision and action. Putin is someone i like to think of as 'Vladimir the Not So Great' ie he is less a visionary strategic savant than Hitler and lacks the ideological vigour.

      • Subliminal 8.2.1

        If you really want to understand why so many people around the world, especially outside the EU and five eyes, are so nonplussed by your "Russian Fascism" geeing up of the troops then you could do worse than reading the latest from Glenn Greenwald.

        Biden is now on his knees to get Saudi to pump more oil. But even before that and before Ukraine he was doing huge deals to sell more weaponry to Saudi to explode in Yemen.

        And of course it matters not the colour of your stripes. Whether its Trump "because they have the most oil" or Obama leaving India midtrip to attend the funeral of King Abdullah, just the night after lecturing Indians on religious tolerence. And of course it is Obama that launched US involvement and critical support for the destruction of Yemen.

        If you get to the end and you still think that the US fights for human rights and democracy or if your main comment is "whataboutery" or "straw man" then I suggest that you may have consumed more than a lethal dose of kool aid

    • Jenny how to get there 8.3

      Subliminal

      12 June 2022 at 8:09 pm

      Whataboutism is really a red herring……

      ….Well, sorry bud, there are a lot of us sick to death being told whose horrors count and whose don't.

      But that's what you do Subliminal, you only count one side. – You are telling us whose horrors to count, and whose not to count.

      In your list of imperialist war crime and genocide you conveniently left out Chechnya and Syria.

      You think these horrors don't count?

      I have marched and protested against American imperialism since I was a teenager, during the Vietnam war, and ever since. Against the obscenity of Nuclear armed warships in our harbours and against US led invasion and aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      You have chosen to gloss over the crimes of your chosen imperialist. Proving yourself to be a partisan supporter of imperialist war as long as it is being waged by your side.

      I am opposed to all imperialism and war. But you are not.

      Let me remind you of what you have left out.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Grozny_(1999%E2%80%932000)

      https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/12/01/russia/syria-war-crimes-month-bombing-aleppo

      • mikesh 8.3.1

        Chechnya and Russia fought many times during Tsarist times. The trouble was that Chechnya represented a pathway through the Caucasus mountains, one through which any power who wished to attack Russia from the South, the Ottomans for example, would have to pass, so control of the territory was important for Russia's defense. The recent conflict came about because ISIS terrorists had moved into Chechnya and Putin saw this as a threat. It should be noted, I think, that Chechnya is Islamic.

        Balancing the rights of civilians with the safety of the state seems to be a very real problem in some of these countries these days. However, I don't think much of the puppet ruler Putin has installed in Chechnya. I don't remember his name but he seems pretty corrupt.

    • Psycho Milt 8.4

      Whataboutism is really a red herring.

      Immediately followed by a torrent of whataboutism. Was your intent satirical? If, the comment is much too long.

  9. Stuart Munro 9

    There is a tradition, among European leaders of imagining that they are Napoleon when they lose their mental equilibrium. Perhaps Napoleon is not esteemed in Russia however, for Putin (modestly) imagines himself a retread of Peter the Great.

    I am reminded of Solzhenitsyn's book We never Make Mistakes, and I believe the conflict has escalated to the point that the West cannot readily back down at this point either.

    The US has made many false moves since WWII, but in opposing the tyranny of Stalin and his successors they chose well.

    One of the issues that divides the contemporary Left is the extent of Russian penetration of social and alternative media. Putin's support of Trumpism likely went well beyond arranging the release of Hilary Clinton's email cache. Trump is not so much a catspaw for Russia, as a dirty bomb, calculated to damage democracy, and his attempted coup, the capital invasion, came close enough to cause lasting damage. We are not unscathed – our occupy movement is an offshoot of that same bullshit.

    I expect Russia will be defeated with horrific losses, in part because their early successes in propaganda and hybrid warfare were largely due to a naive belief on the part of the world at large, in his rationality and goodwill. That naivety has mostly been dispelled.

    People who have been paying attention will have noticed a series of autocratic vices like summary executions, reeducation camps, forced relocation, forced labour and forced conscription that will disillusion all but Putin's most uncritical supporters.

  10. Just Saying 10

    Reply to Populux. Apologies. This jumped to the bottom. Maybe a problem with windows 10

    The saying 'the personal is political' was the other way around, ie about the concerns within the lives of everyday people, not the personification of a nation into the personality of a particular leader.

    This 'personalising' seems to be a dumbing down into something, well… personal. A single personality. This seems to better fit the days when citizens swore obedience to a monarch (with actual power). A step backwards into simpler times historically, and also psychologically – a return to the simplicity of childhood and taking sides or turning a blind eye according to feelings about or popularity of other children. Who they are friends with and whether onlookers like (or identify with) those kids.

    My concern is about this appearing to feel to many as being at the level of family and friends but it's not and knowing Ukrainian people (as I also do) doesn't explain this uprush of feeling, and nor does the black and white, cowboy-esque media coverage.

    What I find unnerving is the strangeness of the reaction, both the bizarre insistence that Ukraine is winning or can win – egging them on with no attempt at bringing the parties to the table to stop the bloodshed, and the idea that this really is big mean kid picking on the small plucky kid with glasses. (which might make sense of believing nonsensical propaganda)

    The reality of bullying is bystanders turning a blind eye unless the weaker somehow prevails. The idea that this is simple and fairy-tale like, and not the latest bloody debacle courtesy (in a large part) of the US. To me it is just crazy.

    There have been so many world aggressions and so much suffering. And suddenly, out of the blue this particular tragedy captures the passions and the desire to fight. In the context of a massive nation armed to the gunnels with nuclear weapons.

    If Australia invaded Fiji I'd expect stern words internationally and an insistence on negotiation, not pumping Fiji with weapons and insisting that they were kicking Australia's arse. I'd think the west had lost its mind if it insisted on Fiji's superior military prowess bringing them victory (against Australia ffs), and claimed to be caring for the plight of the Fijians in doing so.

    Back to Nazism, the regime was supported by the majority and could not have proceeded if the majority hadn't been on board. Yes it became increasingly repressive. Yes the people became infantalised – returned to fearful childhood with the promise of greatness and and false nonsense about the inherent superiority of the Aryan race etc. And most of them bought it, voted for it, and in war, participated. There were dissenters but nowhere near as many as those who claimed opposition after defeat and with German atrocities revealed to the world.

    • RedLogix 10.1

      What I find unnerving is the strangeness of the reaction, both the bizarre insistence that Ukraine is winning or can win

      We now know that the Kremlin hawks believe that a resurgent Russia 'cannot be fenced in' and have set their eyes on 'decolonising Europe'. According to your logic the whole of Europe should meekly surrender and hope to negotiate terms.

      If Australia invaded Fiji I'd expect stern words internationally and an insistence on negotiation

      What if Australia invaded NZ? What terms of surrender would you be happy with?

      • Just Saying 10.1.1

        I didn't say ''happy with'' I said ''expect.''

        What I would expect, if Aus invaded NZ would be the same. I would not expect NZ to be armed with $billions in weapons and cheered on as we inevitably lost anyway. I would not expect people in nations thousands of miles away, with nothing to do with the situation to express deep concern and declare 'This is war to all of us. It would be unconscionable to keep desist. We must fight.''. I would not expect it to erupt into ww111 through international jingoism.

        I would expect and want the world to pressure for peace talks. To deescalate. To not cheer us on as we lost with mass bloodshed and destruction. I would hope and pray for peace and sanity to prevail, as I do for the Russia-Ukraine.

        • RedLogix 10.1.1.1

          You can only have peace talks with someone willing to have them and more importantly, abide by their terms. Poots ticks neither of these boxes.

          So in short if another larger power was to invade NZ – your plan is to surrender.

          • mikesh 10.1.1.1.1

            So in short if another larger power was to invade NZ – your plan is to surrender.

            If the US offered to help us, I would tell them to fuck off rather than see our cities rubble-ised, and civilians killed.

            I would hope that the Taiwanese would do the same if China attempted to annex them.

            • Jenny how to get there 10.1.1.1.1.1

              So let me get this right Mickesh. According to you, Taiwan and Ukraine should surrender to tyranny. And if they don't surrender, it's their fault if their cities are rubble-ised, and civilians killed. ?

              This was the exact same line the so called Russian negotiators took to the peace talks. We will stop the killing if you surrender. The Russian negotiators refused to even agree to a temporary ceasefire during the talks.

              Both Ukraine and Taiwan know full well what to expect if they surrender to occupation by Russian or Chinese imperialists, they are already seeing it.

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

              https://www.vox.com/23012456/ukraine-russia-war-disappearances-kidnappings

              • RedLogix

                Our resident marxists and associated anti-western trogs understand all of this implicitly. They are more than willing to embrace genocide if it might smash the capitalism they hate so much.

              • mikesh

                Jenny, I wish you post links that actually supported the claims that you were making. You accuse Russia of making certain demands as part of peace talks which should have gone ahead well before things got to the point of necessitating an invasion, but didn't. Yet your post is about events during the invasion.

                We just cannot take you seriously.

                • Jenny how to get there

                  mikesh…

                  13 June 2022 at 2:42 pm

                  …..You accuse Russia of making certain demands as part of peace talks which should have gone ahead well before things got to the point of necessitating an invasion,

                  Peace talks should have gone ahead before the Russian invasion?

                  Russia has been invading Ukraine since 2014. Russia never showed any interest in peace talks then, and no serious interest now.

                  • mikesh

                    Russia has been invading Ukraine since 2014. Russia never showed any interest in peace talks then, and no serious interest now.

                    Russia has not been invading Ukraine since 2014, though I believe they may have lent some unofficial assistance to the separatists. As far as peace talks are concerned Putin has been asking for them since Zelensky breached the Minsk agreement. This seems to be well known, but if you think otherwise I'd suggest you provide evidence.

                    • RedLogix

                      Poots has had the UN Sec General, the French, German. Turkish and Israeli leaders, no doubt others, all in constant and urgent contact with him from the outset with no observable outcome. If he was in the slightest bit sincere about ending this war there has been no lack of opportunity for him to do so.

                      But even then – why the fuck would anyone be fool enough to place any value in any agreement he made?

                    • Jenny how to get there

                      mikesh…

                      14 June 2022 at 8:42 am

                      ….As far as peace talks are concerned Putin has been asking for them since Zelensky breached the Minsk agreement. This seems to be well known, but if you think otherwise I'd suggest you provide evidence.

                      Really?

                      You want me to show you evidence of something that doesn't exist?

                      Wow! When it comes to stupid comments this must be at the top of the list.

                      How about this, Mikesh. Instead of asking me to prove a nullity. (which is a logical impossibility).You provide evidence that Putin has been asking for peace talks.

              • mikesh

                The damaged cities and dead civilians happened because Ukraine didn't surrender, or didn't you realise that.

        • Subliminal 10.1.1.2

          Thankyou for putting that so well and so calmly JS

          • RedLogix 10.1.1.2.1

            The direct implication of your plan is for Ukraine to surrender and let Poots run over them. Yup – another fascist monkey complicit with evil.

            • mikesh 10.1.1.2.1.1

              I think Russia would be satisfied with Donetsk, Luhansk and Mariupol, together with a corridor to the Crimean peninsula.

              • RedLogix

                Nah. Poots most recent speeches reveal a much larger ambition. Like all spooks he speaks in ambiguous riddles, but the meaning is plain enough anyone who has been paying attention.

                • Professor Longhair

                  Repeating that puerile nickname only makes you look puerile.

                  • RedLogix

                    Normally I don't make play on people's names Prof LittleDick – but in this instance I am prepared to make an exception.

              • Stuart Munro

                Not only would that be unlikely, but Putin wants Moldova & Poland next.

                U.S., NATO in for a 'Long Haul' Conflict with Russia, Says Polish PM – USNI News

                One does not deter a ravening wolf by feeding it.

                • mikesh

                  Not only would that be unlikely, but Putin wants Moldova & Poland next.

                  I note that it was the Polish PM who said that, not Putin. Well, fair enough. Politicians say these sorts of things; one doesn't have to take the seriously.

                  • Stuart Munro

                    Certainly the link between Putin's promises and his actions is at most circumstantial.

                    But the Poles have a long and visceral acquaintance with Russian geopolitical ambitions – there is no secret about them.

                    • RedLogix

                      Many years back I knew a Polish woman as a social acquaintance – it was a toss up between whether she loathed Germans or Russians more. As she put it 'the Germans they mass murdered going one way, the Russians mass raped going back the other – hard to tell which was worse'.

        • lprent 10.1.1.3

          What I would expect, if Aus invaded NZ would be the same. I would not expect NZ to be armed with $billions in weapons and cheered on as we inevitably lost anyway.

          Speak for yourself.

          Personally, I would be extremely unhappy if Aus invaded NZ. I wouldn't be looking for a peace deal, I'd be looking to cause as much damage on the invaders as possible, and also on anyone assisting them. It was, after all, one of the reasons that I joined the army 40 odd years ago. If anyone is going to screw around with my society, then it will me me – not some idiots from another society.

          But as anyone with a brain and a knowledge of history will be aware, invading and holding are two completely different issues.

          Look at places like Vietnam, Russia during several invasions, even places like Spain or the UK. Now Ukraine.

          Invaders or coup forces often find that they can conquer territory, sometimes at a terrible cost. But it costs even more to try to hold it.

          This is the basis of just about every nations defence forces, including ours. It'd be particularly hard to conquer and quell in NZ because of the terrain and the low density countryside and high density cities. Not to mention the numbers of weapons available.

          Throughout most of history defence has had a much stronger strategic advantage over attack. People with minimal weapons, but good organisation have repelled foreign forces time and time again.

          Right now that is what is happening in Ukraine.

          The reason that other nations are supporting Ukraine is because of the clear intention of the current Russian government to keep doing this kind of economic and military aggression against other neighbours. Since the nations bordering Ukraine are mostly NATO members, it is logical to support Ukraine militarily to keep such aggression away from NATOs borders.

          I would hope and pray for peace and sanity to prevail, as I do for the Russia-Ukraine.

          Your concept of sanity is idiotic. Presumably it is because of the Russia has nuclear weapons, because there is virtually no other way for Russia to control large parts of Ukraine against a strong defence.

          Assuming that is your unstated case, then all that this conflict is likely to do is to cause proliferation of nuclear weapons as a deterrent. Because that appears to be the only advantage Russia actually has in the event of a near stalemate.

          Many nations from Ukraine to NZ have the capability to create nuclear weapons. In the event of a international rules based regime of respecting national sovereignty falls apart because Russia succeeds under a nuclear blanket – then that will change. Certainly I'd be pushing for it – just in case Australia or anyone else gets ideas about doing the same aggression against my society.

          So your idea of sanity is one that is more likely to make the world more insane rather than less insane.

          • RedLogix 10.1.1.3.1

            Thank you for expressing this so clearly. I have been thinking along much the same lines but not able to form such a coherent case.

          • Just Saying 10.1.1.3.2

            LPrent and everyone.

            There is more than one way to fight. Up against even Aus NZ would lose in battle. That's not surrender-talk it is facing the facts about pointless killing maiming and destruction. And if in the process NZ was prepared to risk escalation involving taking the battle to other countries, and nuclear war rather than trying to reach an agreement, that would just be more dangerously and insanely destructive.

            But hammering out an agreement is just the first stage. It would require genuine soul searching and preparedness to compromise, but if we found ourselves with, say, some occupied territory there are numerous ways of sabotaging occupation. This is not about cowardice, such actions are as dangerous to individuals as warfare. And there are ways the international community could think (for a change) and plan and pay close attention to Australia and tailoring cunning and effective consequences. Maximal suffering, squeezing where it hurts. (It's just weird to think of Aus this way)

            But a pointless, bloody war we were guaranteed to lose, and risking world, nuclear war?

            Madness.

            • mikesh 10.1.1.3.2.1

              I agree. Wars should not be happening at this stage of Homo Sapiens' development. But when they do we should be standing back and making objective appraisals: asking ourselves, how did these things happen; who, if anybody, is to blame, and how might such conflicts be avoided in future.

              • mikesh

                PS: But this requires we look at the actual facts, not burble on about how horrible it all us, or whether or not Putin can be called a "fascist".

    • Psycho Milt 10.2

      And suddenly, out of the blue this particular tragedy captures the passions and the desire to fight.

      There's something about a fascist dictatorship invading a democracy with the intent of genocide that has that effect, yes. This is a good thing.

      …the bizarre insistence that Ukraine is winning or can win – egging them on with no attempt at bringing the parties to the table to stop the bloodshed…

      Evidence of people insisting that Ukraine is winning? Beyond the sense in which holding back the invasion forces of a great power is a kind of win, that is? And, out of curiosity, is "bringing both parties to the table to stop the bloodshed" the approach you would have recommended in Sept 1939?

  11. weston 11

    Putin apologists etc

    An observable fact of human behavior is that we love to form and join clubs .Makes us feel secure i guess , and safe within an 'acceptable ' belief system . The more people in the club the more it is perceived to be " right ' and so the group will grow until inevitably disagreements will occur and the cell will divide .

    So imo here we have what i will call the Ukrainian Fantasy Club whose only membership requirements are that one believes everything MSM says about the Ukraine war and hate all things Russian especially Putin .

    Badges of honor can be earned in this club by parroting propaganda phrases like Putin apologists , Russian asset ,useful idiot etc as many times as you can fit them into a sentence and of course these badges are blue and yellow .

    One of many odd things about this club is that its leader mr Zelensky is funded directly afaik by a very rich oligarch who helped him transition from a make believe president to a real one ! golly you couldnt make it up !Anyway luckily Ukranian oligarchs have magic powers of invisibility so club members dont hve to struggle with reality issues in this regard !

    Mr Zelensky an actor by profession makes a very good job of casting an heroic pose for the cameras and seemingly has few clothes other than battle fatigues although its hardly surprising since hes the star in a movie called " Weakening Russia " and the yanks love that sort of thing as do UFC members .

    One of the many 'blind spots ' that characterize UFC participants is the belief that 'the war' started on 24 feb and the considerable pile of corpses already stacked up by then somehow had nothing to do with fervent Ukrainian nationalism but could be handily blamed on ' Russian backed ' separatists !Yep some ten thousand of them became invisible in a memory blank spot lasting eight years .

    The truth is Ukraine shelled its own citizens indiscriminately for years while a motley crew of neo natzis harassed and brutalized round the edges till eventually those civilians developed the ability to defend themselves .What did the hero Zelensky do to protect his citizens ?well to be fair the military did eventually imprison the worst offenders but only the ones whose deeds were so repulsive even theycouldnt ignore them .{find the details on a site called donbass insider }but apart from that fuck all and although elected by majority on a platform of peace failed miserably when it came down to it and has failed ever since in my view .

    So now the body count grows ever higher and Ukraine gets more destroyed every day but still the clown Borris Johnson cries" dont give up" an Blinken bleats "your cause is just "and the EU goes along with the crowd .the weapons keep coming in, the arms manufacturers get richer and the UFC clap like seals at a marina .

    Call me a Putin apologist but i think you're all fucking insane !!

    • Jenny how to get there 11.1

      weston11

      12 June 2022 at 11:02 pm

      Putin apologists etc….

      The truth is Ukraine shelled its own citizens indiscriminately for years……

      And your proofs and evidence of this?

      Weston just because you state it doesn't make it so.

      There is a mountain of evidence of smashed apartment buildings and other civilian infrastructure, town halls, supermarkets, schools, destroyed by Russian shelling and rockets.

      Weston I challenge you to provide even a shred of evidence to back up your claim that 'Ukraine shelled its own civilians for years.'

      Anything, photos, video, printed testimony, news reports. Links.

      Without proof of your claims, that Ukraine shelled its own civilians for years, is proof of just one thing, that you are just what you claim you are not, a Putin apologist.

      And we are not “fucking insane” to say so.

      Weston, If you can’t provide any proof to back up your claim that Ukraine has been shelling its own citizens for years, maybe it’s your mental health you need to look into.

      • weston 11.1.1

        Graham Phillips has had boots on the ground in the Donbass region since the war began in 2014 and has compiled quite a trove of the evidence you claim is lacking .Here's one for a teaser

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtozHiO8J5k

        He and others such as Patrick Lancaster ,Gonzo Lira, Texas Bentley,and quite a few others whose names escape me atm have been actually living and reporting from Ukraine so to me their testimony and their interviews with civilians living there carry a lot more weight than CNN MSNBC syndicated sensationalised MSM type BBC bullshit , but each to their own !

        You might also like to check out a US state dept report of 2021 detailing gross human rights abuses by agencies such as the SBU in Ukraine detailing unlawfull and exrtajudicial killings cases of cruel and degrading treatment etc etc

        Perhaps worry about your own mental health before worrying about anyone elses !!

        • Jenny how to get there 11.1.1.1

          Is that it?

          You have to be kidding?

          I watched the short jittery outtake of video, contained in your link. It did not show one shell landing. It did not show one shell crater, or any other evidence of an artillery impact. None of the apartment buildings or cars were damaged. the windows in the apartment buildings had glass in the window frames. Nothing like the devastation resulting from Russian shelling and rocket attacks.

          Only one printed three word line, reading, "Ukrainian Shelling Hits".

          But we didn't see even one shell hit. Or any sign of resulting damage from these phantom "Ukraine Shelling Hits".

          There were some people lying on the ground.

          But with no witness testimony as to what is going on, and completely lacking in any context this video revealed exactly nothing.

          Weston, for your continuing ad hominem accusation that we are "fucking insane", for not taking your word, that "Ukraine shelled its own citizens indiscriminately for years". On such flimsy evidence, we would be insane to do so.

          Is this all you have got?
          As Carl Sagan said, “extraordinary claims require, extraordinary proof” This video is about as compelling as jerky video of UFOs.

          You are going to have to do much better than that if you want to be taken seriously.

          So come on, Weston, do you have any other proof apart from this video that, "Ukraine shelled its own citizens indiscriminately for years".

          Signs of damage, witness testimony, wrecked buildings, maybe just at least one broken window pane. That sort of thing.

          C’mon Weston. To make your case. What else have you got?

        • joe90 11.1.1.2

          Graham Phillips has had boots on the ground in the Donbass region

          Telling that your go-to for unbiased commentary is a sex tourist, war criminal, and Russian tool.

          https://web.archive.org/web/20140627060619/http://grahamwphillips.com/2014/01/07/prostitutes-and-me-part-1-of-2/

          • weston 11.1.1.2.1

            Holy crap thats a lot of material did you read it all ?

            He must be seriously pissing off the Ukrainians to merit that amount of attention , i dont think ive ever seen such a long hit piece on anyone !Its pretty much all heavily biased propagandaized info of course but still it told me heaps i didnt know so thanks once again joe !!

            What did you make of the article about prostitution ?Did you get to part two ?

  12. Pierre 12

    It's very possible to take an anti-fascist position against the Ukrainian nationalist militias, while also criticising Putin's government. Through all the muttering about 'Putin apologists' this post makes no reference to the actual positions of the left in both Russia and Ukraine.

    • lprent 12.1

      Through all the muttering about 'Putin apologists' this post makes no reference to the actual positions of the left in both Russia and Ukraine.

      Probably that was because the post wasn't directed to the 'left' in either of those two countries.

      Since this site has something like 95% of readership in NZ once you remove the bots, it would seem pretty obvious which 'left' community was being referred to.

      Mind you looking at the overnight comments, it may be that this particular post has a more international readership.

  13. Tiger Mountain 13

    Tobi…it is possible via dialectic methods to take on and examine opposing views, to find a way through these questions.

    Putin has to be stopped. And…so does US Imperialism; with its publicly acknowledged 750 plus offshore military bases and facilities, a number of which butt up against Russia.

    Neither Washington, Moscow or Bejing. Working class internationalism!

    • Tobi Muir 13.1

      Well said and agreed!

    • RedLogix 13.2

      so does US Imperialism; with its publicly acknowledged 750 plus offshore military bases and facilities, a number of which butt up against Russia.

      Usually quoted with without any context and somewhat misleading. The vast majority of these facilities are relatively small and the larger ones are located with major allies such as Britain, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Australia – all of whom have been happy to host such bases since the end of WW2.

      Nor does this number reflect a US territorial expansion of any kind or the repudiation of any nations sovereignty – indeed a very odd kind of imperialism which since the end of WW2 has seen the number of sovereign nations sitting at the UN rise from it's 51 founding members to close to the 200 odd it is today. The post WW2 era has been remarkable for the collapse of empires, the relative reduction in warfare, increased security in most places, freedom of navigation and trade everywhere and an astonishing rise in human development overall.

      The problem marxists have with the US is not that has been the dominant hegemony for the past 70 years, but that it largely defeated their failed dream of world-wide marxism – and for this they will forever hate the Americans.

      • mikesh 13.2.1

        Usually quoted with without any context and somewhat misleading. The vast majority of these facilities are relatively small and the larger ones are located with major allies such as Britain, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Australia – all of whom have been happy to host such bases since the end of WW2.

        You seem to have forgotten about Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

        • lprent 13.2.1.1

          I believe that was based on a long-term lease in the wake of the 1901 (and 1903 reoccupation) war with Spain.

          Umm..

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guantanamo_Bay_Naval_Base#Permanent_lease

          I believe that the American intransigence about relinquishing the lease is probably related to the attitude of the Cuban government in a position just off the coast of US.

          Treaties between nations tend to be renegotiated when there is a degree of trust between the nations.

          There are no courts that can deal with a issue from 1901 between nations.

          • Tiger Mountain 13.2.1.1.1

            Cuba is one long standing matter that grinds my gears. How is socialism to be established anywhere with the hostile attitude of the Seppos? An unjustified 60 year blockade.

      • Tiger Mountain 13.2.2

        Well the US working class has stirred in some workplaces despite incredible odds and resources pitched against them, and may well bite the American capitalist class yet.

  14. mikesh 14

    but military aid and supply for Ukraine is not the same thing as direct intervention.

    Oh, really?? It's clearly intervention however one characterises it. The US is as much to blame for this catastrophe as the actual participants.

    • RedLogix 14.1

      The US is as much to blame for this catastrophe as the actual participants.

      If you are going to demand that no nation is allowed to import arms in order to defend itself – then absent a global power with the mandate and capacity to prevent all warfare – the only logical conclusion is that all the smaller nations will be rapidly subsumed by all the larger more aggressive ones. Who in their own turn are expanding in order to protect themselves.

      Right back into the age of empires you profess so much distaste for.

      • mikesh 14.1.1

        If you are going to demand that no nation is allowed to import arms in order to defend itself –

        Disingenuous! There is a difference between simply purchasing what you can afford and being offered it unconditionally regardless of whether one can afford it. For venal, ideological reasons, the US would gift arms to Ukraine in this instance if necessary. They are, in effect, pouring arms into Ukraine. (Accompanied by anti Russian propaganda.)

        • RedLogix 14.1.1.1

          Really? No US Lend Lease program in WW2 to both Britain and Russia essential to the defeat of Hitler?

          • mikesh 14.1.1.1.1

            If Russia runs short of armaments, could it, perhaps, place an order for some more from the US?

            • lprent 14.1.1.1.1.1

              Weapons tend to sold, let alone semi-donated, only when there is a pretty serious check that they won't get used against the country exporting or its allies and friends.

              I don't think Russia could argue that. They could try the Chinese or North Koreans. However I don't think that either are really that degree of friendly to Russia.

              • mikesh

                I was being sarcastic, as RL's merited.

                • lprent

                  I have always felt that the best way to deal with incompetent sarcastic argument is to treat it as if it was made seriously.

                  That tends to make most of such sarcasm look pretty stupid, petulant and ill-informed.

                  In this case I suspect that your 'sarcasm' was mostly petulance because there are probably few good retorts to the question that RL asked.

            • Ad 14.1.1.1.1.2

              US armament exports to Russia are banned.

              They are also banned from the EU as well. Even the minor loopholes have been closed now.

          • mikesh 14.1.1.1.2

            More "whataboutism" I see. I thought you were opposed to "whataboutisms".

            • RedLogix 14.1.1.1.2.1

              Your moral compass is utterly fucked – you can no longer tell the difference between good and evil.

              WW2 Lend Lease was a tremendous accomplishment. If the same effort again helps defeat evil once again this will the kind of whattaboutism we need more of.

              I realise you hate it because you know this flow of arms is the biggest threat to your hero Poots ambition to crush and colonise Europe.

              • mikesh

                Your moral compass is utterly fucked – you can no longer tell the difference between good and evil.

                The trouble with you is that you rely too much on your emotions. You look at the Ukranian situation and say to yourself "this is horrible, therefor Russia's evil, Putin is a fascist, etc" . I would agree with you: the situation in Ukraine is horrible. But then I stand back and ask myself who's really to blame for all this. I look at the history from about 2014 onward, and it immediately becomes clear that there has been severe provocation, and that the fault does not lie entirely with Russia.

                You need to clear away your emotions and get at the existential reality that underlies them.

                • RedLogix

                  The good old reliable "look at what she was wearing, musta been gagging for it" provocation defense.

                  Besides all that is an irrelevant figleaf given Poots has now revealed his real ambition to "decolonise" Europe.

                • Stuart Munro

                  Oh you sweet summer child 🙂

                  We have been following Putin's atrocities for decades. That fellow has more form than the Kray brothers. The Ukraine is just the most recent, and, as the annexation of Poland was for the Allies, the last straw.

                  I look at the history from about 2014 onward, and it immediately becomes clear that there has been severe provocation, and that the fault does not lie entirely with Russia.

                  Quite – Ukraine has from time to time returned fire. Are you suggesting they were obliged to restrain Russian aggression bare handed?

                  • mikesh

                    As I have said previously I have no interest in Putin's character. He could be the Antichrist for all I care. I'm really only interested in the Ukrainian invasion issue.

                    • RedLogix

                      You are happy to repeatedly blame everyone else in the West for what is happening in Ukraine – so why the free pass to Poots?

                    • mikesh

                      so why the free pass to Poots?

                      The facts seem to indicate that. But you're not interested in the facts. You're only interest in putting out sob stories about the poor old Ukranians. Not that I disagree about the hardships being suffered by them, But nothing is achieved by going on and on about it.

  15. RedLogix 15

    Vlad Vexler – let us not tolerate evil with our back to it:

  16. Guest Post, if Russia is "fascist" and has "crushed all dissent", could you please explain how the Communists are the second largest party in the Duma?

    • Stuart Munro 16.1

      Let us take the counter factual for a moment – if Russia were not fascist, and routinely engaging in crushing and/or stifling dissent, why did they find it necessary to murder Politkovskaya, Magnitsky, and the Skripals?

      As for the KPRF, they have been assimilated by the kleptocracy. As Britannica puts it:

      the KPRF leadership has gradually been integrated into the post-Soviet political elite,

      They too are Soviet survivors, and generally support the Putin regime on major votes.

      • Pierre 16.1.1

        You could also compare the situation in Ukraine, where left-wing parties have been banned, the Communist Party has been forced underground, workers rights have been suspended, and the Kiev regime officially promotes a horrifying circus of armed ultranationalist groups.

        • Stuart Munro 16.1.1.1

          Ukraine is of course in somewhat dire straits at present. The political reliability of what should be a loyal opposition may be in question. Even the NZ government reserved the right to suspend and amend industrial awards in wartime – so nothing unusual there. And as for the ultranationalists – if they show up and fight against the malign aggression of Russia, they are heroes.

    • Tobi Muir 16.2

      I believe Putin is a fascist – i never said Russia is a fascist state but it may be well on its way to becoming one . Putin maintains authoritarian rule and the communists in the duma are his obedient stooges. If you need convincing that an artist facing 10 years for changing supermarket labels is an example of crushed dissent then you are beyond me

  17. aj 17

    In this thread the author takes to a logical conclusion that a very common and quite legitimate belief such as ''having a very healthy amount of mistrust towards institutions and elites as well as liberals' can lead to placing people in boxes such as this: you either trust the state, its elites, its institutions, its ideology or be branded, quite literally, an enemy combattant.

    We really are going down dangerous roads without realising it.

    • lprent 17.1

      My problem and obviously the post authors is the rather irritating and silly chorus that erupts whenever there are any posts written on this war and the reasons for it.

      We're perfectly aware of the past deficiencies of US foreign policy over many decades. Just as we're aware of the deficiencies of the Soviet, Russian, British, French, Chinese, and other large states. From what I have read by you, your knowledge is pretty poor about most of that IMHO.

      None that has much to do with pouring troops over a border with an avowed attempt at destabilising a neighbouring country and annexing some of its territory.

      Basically this was entirely unprovoked aggression against a neighbouring state regardless of the rationalisations.

      I've heard about Azov and a far right parties in Ukraine – both are tiny parts of the population by military numbers, and voting. And like the Russian propaganda it derives from – the case for their influencing Ukrainians military or governance is simply pathetic. Notably none of the fools raising it have managed to substantiate a case for actually influencing the Ukriainian government – it is a fantasy.

      Limits on NATO/EU expansion.

      There was no agreement in the 90s. Agreements between states are written down – usually as treaties or protocols. This appears some side comment at a diplomatic conference 20 years ago, and by the sound of it only related to East Germany anyway.

      Russia may not like it – but those are sovereign nation states. Russia doesn't have a say in their decisions, unless they come over the border. From what I can see, they joined NATO largely because of their past history with Russian imperialism from the early 19th century onwards, and struggled a lot to bring their militaries up to NATO standards. They joined EU because the economic benefits were worth the aggravation of conforming to euro policies.

      So what we are left with is what your comment is – vague hand-waving without bothering to mount an argument – and a army that massed on a border and then attacked without a declaration of intent or war.

      The sole apparent reason appears to have been to annex territory and to install a compliant Russian friendly government, regardless of what the Ukrainian citizens wanted.

      So why have you been supporting this? Otherwise I could just get a parrot and name them 'aj' – it'd be more intelligent.

  18. Mark 18

    Frankly the article is daft and I'm unsure what his arguments are.

    Is he saying that because Russia and China say have different political systems from ours, Maoist, fascist, theocratic, whatever that that means we should have bad relations with them?

    "of the church that enforces ‘tradition’ and a regime that rejects any need for progressive rights usually subjugating women and minority interests"

    Subjugating minority interests? How. Russia has republics that are basically run by the minorities who make up a majority in those republics. Both the defense minister and deputy minister of defense are from minorities, as is the major of moscow.

    And what does 'subjugating women' mean. Where does he get this bs from.

    Just because Russian women are way more feminine than the shrieking feminist harridans we have in the West that does not mean they are 'subjugated'. In fact they may be a darn sight more happy.

    The article is just neoconservative boilerplate – because we don't like the political systems of other sovereign countries lets undermine them and go to war with them – an unabashed promotion of the Wolfowitz doctrine, bomb the fuck out of people who don’t toe the US line.

    • Stuart Munro 18.1

      have different political systems from ours

      It's more to do with ethnic cleansing, rigid control of dissenting media voices, and invasive imperialist ambitions.

      To the extent that Russia and China exhibit these characters, first world nations cannot approve of them.

    • Tobi Muir 18.2

      Mark – you may be unaware of Russian domestic violence law but in short there is no legal protection of women from domestic abuse which is rife. The statute on battery was removed in 2017. Russia has an appalling record of violence against women and 'traditionalists' oppose any attempts to protect victims of abuse. Minority interest such as LGBt+ rights are virtually non-existent in Russia as are the rights of citizens to form any civil society organisations or political reform groups, NGO's are curtailed in the extreme. As a neo-marxist and a follower of Bookchin's Social Ecology ideas – i am not a neoconservative. I am an anti-fascist – you seem to support totalitarianism. Perhaps move to a nation where your preffered system of oppression exists?

  19. Mark 19

    Chicks in the West

    [Deleted]

    vs Russian women:

    [Deleted]

    I rest my case

    [lprent: Mark- indefinitely banned for really silly pornographic spam. I closed your case. ]

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It appears that the upgrade to Wordpress 6 is causing issues on the comment Reply feature. I'll look at that in a couple of hours lprent