The Peace Settlement Must Start

Written By: - Date published: 7:50 am, March 24th, 2022 - 172 comments
Categories: International, Peace, vladimir putin - Tags:

Pressure for a Ukraine war settlement starting with a ceasefire will continue to mount.

If this does drag out, there’s more chance of the conflict widening. Belarus could attack. NATO-allied supply convoys could be attacked. I’m trying not to go further.

As with all major wars since Vietnam, the media frenzy puts the highest cost on the most open societies; it is little threat to tyrants. This does mean that the pressure is going to tell on Europe and the United States to persuade Putin to bring this war to a close soon.

The first element is a ceasefire so negotiations can actually start. Putin may drag out in Ukraine the kind of war he pursued in Syria. Maybe. We have no idea what might bring Putin to the table if his oil contracts are secured to China and southern Asia, his people remain sufficiently on his side, and he has no major military reversals or gains. Sanctions are good at ensuring the costs to the aggressor go up, and they signal international unity, but don’t stop wars.

Then there will be the issue of President Zelinsky. Zelinsky is at higher risk of losing his job than Putin, and one of them is going to go.

They need to get to a negotiating table as fast as they can. There’s some issues to face in a settlement.

Next item will be NATO’s eastward expansion. Before the war NATO membership was a non-negotiable for the Ukrainian President. Had to happen. Zelinsky’s now putting neutrality back on the table. It is also hard to see Russia accepting anything other than a promise that no other former Soviet states will join. Equally hard to see the United States dropping anyone’s free right associate. There’s a dead rat to swallow for someone.

Then they will have to revisit the 1994 Budapest Memorandum in which Russia, the United States and the UK provided security assurances in exchange for Ukraine abandoning its nuclear arsenal. Ukraine is going to want to be stronger after this and will need more arms and training. It will seek NATO assistance to modernise its armaments, so that it can again provide for its self defence. It’s going to rule out Russia providing this. It may end up looking like a really large, well-armed version of Switzerland. Right on the border between the EU and Russia. Another rat to prepare the sauce for.

To make sure of Ukraine’s neutrality, the 1992 Open Skies treaty that President Trump revoked also needs to get back in action. First proposed by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1955 and negotiated under the G. W. Bush administration, it enables unarmed observation aircraft to fly over one another’s territory. This helped build a measure of transparency and trust regarding each countries’ military forces and activities, good for reducing the risk of conflict.

Then we come to the territory gained by Russia from Ukraine. Obviously the Minsk Agreement is dead. This is where the United Nations could have a very useful role. Crimea and the Donbas statelets will need a vote process internationally certified as free and fair. Crimea is likely lost to Russia with that vote. But Donbas is different. Since the separatist leaders have claimed that the entirety of the Donestsk and Luhansk provinces both wanted to leave, then the entirety of the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces should have a referendum that is conducted throughout the two provinces. That would almost certainly result in a defeat for the separatists and the liquidation of their strongholds. A whole deep line of UN peacekeepers on the border for several years.

To the bill. There’s a war reparations bill to settle, to rebuild Ukraine from this smashed mess. Putin will need to divvy up a share of a few of the state companies he controls to deal with that, with Europe and the UNDP, World Bank, and other international financial institutions picking up the rest. It will be the largest national recovery effort since Vietnam. Gulp that one down.

That’s a lot of unpalatable elements to swallow in there, but they are the essentials.

Can this reconstruction moment prize away more of the economic control from billionaires? Rentier control by replacement western oligarchies is likely not much better than rentier control by Russian or Ukrainian oligarchies.

Who will assist with re-settling the 5+ million refugees?

In the years to come  the question of European Union membership will emerge, but despite the speeches and ovations, Ukraine is in a queue for that. They will need to restabilise their entire legislative structure before they can entertain all the legislation from Brussels that membership, then member voting approvals, will require.

But first, weapons down.

172 comments on “The Peace Settlement Must Start ”

  1. barry 1

    Both sides want a peace agreement, but Russia wants Mariupol first. A ceasefire which leaves Russia holding nearly all the coast and a continuous territory linking the Donbass to Crimea would be enough of a victory for Putin now.

    What happens after a ceasefire is anybody's guess. A (free and fair) referendum in the Donbass is probably impossible, but now would be a forgone conclusion. Putin has turned the pro-russian population against him in large numbers.

    Longer term – Putin will not be around forever. Nobody knows who/what will replace him. The authoritarianism is not ideologically driven, and Putin has not built up a succession plan. Ukraine might have to put plans to join NATO and EU on hold, but what is NATO for without Russia as a bogeyman?

    The fact that Russia couldn't prevail quickly should be no surprise. Putin probably thought the Ukraine wouldn't fight back, and objectively speaking, fighting back has been a disaster (deaths and displacements and destruction). Ukraine have sacrificed themselves to stop Putin's authoritarian expansions.

    The narrative that Ukraine is outmanned and outgunned is not completely true. Russia certainly has more tanks, planes and long range weapons, but Ukraine has more soldiers and volunteers in Ukraine by a large margin. They also have a lot of anti-tank weapons and small arms. They are also more motivated. Basically Ukraine wins every battle on the ground, and it is only by dint of its superior firepower (and willingness to kill civilians and destroy housing) that Russia can wear them down.

    • RedLogix 1.1

      Longer term – Putin will not be around forever.

      Quite a few people are expecting Putin to have a slip in the shower and fall on a bullet anytime this year.

      It is very hard to know who is winning in Ukraine; there are arguments to be made both ways. But assuming the Russian military learns from it's early mistakes and continues to grind onward – then this is what Putin really wants:

      • tsmithfield 1.1.1

        Very interesting video thanks Red.

        I guess this is where sanctions come in. Will Russia be able to afford to go city to city and level them before they run out of the capacity to do so?

        Also, hopefully, the influence of China might be a hand break for them.

      • Blazer 1.1.2

        Biggest pile of drivel on the situation ,I have heard.

        • SPC

          You Don't Mess with the Zohan

          Troops who advanced beyond Kherson complained that because they did not destroy villages they passed by, they were now being attacked from everywhere.

        • RedLogix

          Zeihan accurately predicted the Ukraine invasion in his first book in 2014:

          Russia’s challenge is straightforward, if not simple: Its demographic decline is so steep, so far advanced, and so multivectored that for demographic reasons alone Russia is unlikely to survive as a state, and Russians are unlikely to survive as a people over the next couple of generations. Yet within Russia’s completely indefensible borders, it cannot possibly last even that long. Russia has at most eight years of relative strength to act. If it fails, it will have lost the capacity to man a military. To maintain a sizable missile fleet. To keep its roads and rail system in working order. To prevent its regional cities from collapsing. To monitor its frontier. To delay its national twilight. The most effective use of its time would be to attempt to reanchor in as many of Central Eurasia’s border regions as possible, allowing Russia to concentrate forces in the Hordelands’ access points. Success would doom Russia to a slow-motion demographic disintegration from within. Failure would leave Russia open to hostile forces along all of its borders while it is disintegrating from within. The first is a recipe for death over several decades. The second is a recipe for death over one or two. It is extremely likely that Russia lacks the strength to plug all of the gaps in its frontier, so it will have to prioritize. Here is the order I see Russia acting to attempt to preserve its existence. Russia’s single largest concern is Ukraine. …

          Zeihan, Peter. The Accidental Superpower: The Next Generation of American Preeminence and the Coming Global Disorder (p. 184). Grand Central Publishing.

          In 2014 I imagine your were still in nappies.

          • Blazer

            That last sentence was not necessary Red.

            Your debating m.o has deteriorated lately.

            Anyway this 'expert' gave Russia 8 years ,which is now up.

            He states its borders are indefensible.

            Maybe he is not aware of Russias nuclear capability.

            It is an acknowledged deterrent by most commentators.

            I am sure Russia has done very thorough due diligence on the cost/benefit of this operation.

            I still think they will achieve their goals.

            The influence of the U.S is in decline imo,and this situation will not endear its foreign anyone.

            • RedLogix

              The first sentence of your previous comment wasn't necessary either – but then you have very low expectations to exceed so I cannot claim to be disappointed.

              Contrary to your amateur ideological obsessions, Zeihan makes his living as a professional geopolitical analyst. In this view the fate of nations has much less to do with ideologies and personalities – which are short term actors – than the core realities of geography, demography, transport, trade and security. From these will fall out secondary concerns like agriculture, capital formation and political continuity.

              Looked at through this lens it is obvious that the US will remain the pre-eminent nation for the foreseeable future, no matter how hard they try to fuck it up. While China and Russia are on a terminally downward trajectory – both unable to sustain themselves when the global order crashes, and both led by increasingly paranoid, isolated strong man leaders.

              US influence is no so much declining as simply becoming more focused on it's own interests. It is poorly understood that as a percentage of GDP the US does relatively little trade outside of NAFTA, and is both food and energy independent for all intents and purposes. All the other continents could sink below the waves tomorrow and it would make page 3 of their news as long as the Super Bowl wasn't on that weekend.

              And unlike China or Russia, the US has no drive to expand territory to ensure their security. They will act to ruthlessly crush actors they regard as threats to that security – but there will never be US boots on the ground in China or Russia. The idea that NATO represents any kind existential threat to Russia was always a paranoid delusion.

              At the same time if you have followed Zeihan, when he does stray onto politics, he is vociferously critical of US politics and the whole Trump debacle in particular. He sees the US as successful in spite of its politics, rather than because of them. And in their unplanned role as 'world policeman' post-WW2 the outcomes became increasingly inept and poorly executed after the end of the Cold War in the 80's.

              Indeed if it were not for the nuclear weapons that Russia and China continue to point at them, the US political instincts right now would be to tell the rest of the world to go fuck itself sideways to Sunday.

    • lprent 1.2

      A ceasefire which leaves Russia holding nearly all the coast and a continuous territory linking the Donbass to Crimea would be enough of a victory for Putin now.

      Russia won't get widespread sanctions lifted for holding that area, and Russia won't be able to win a fair referendum in those areas regardless what he does.

      Remember that it isn’t just Ukraine and Russia involved any settlement. Invading another country and annexing it carries large and persistent costs from parts of the global community.

      There will be a lot of pressure to really hurt the Russian economy to prevent this kind of military adventurism by anyone.

      • tsmithfield 1.2.1

        This is a really good video looking at the nature and impact of sanctions. Well worth a watch.

        Looking at this, I am more convinced than ever that Russia is simply not going to be able to afford to continue this war for much longer.

        • DB Brown

          This is all good and well but don't they just play the cup game with ships? Where's the oil, which tanker's it in, guess the tanker win a prize.

          Ships change their names and country affiliations and hey presto we don't know where that oil came from.

          Then there's the matter of the EU NEEDING Russian energy supplies. It's lucky they're going into spring.

          While I'd like to believe all this matters, I ponder if it's not simply more grandstanding BS where the right players cash in on a grand scale as markets swing about. There's money to be made betting for and against companies.

          It's not like the price of oil's gone down and Russia's hurt in that manner. And Russia still has all that oil sanctions can't touch that real asset base. They have the minerals, fertile soils, nuclear deterrents.

          We (the planet) could have avoided a huge amount of nonsense and kowtowing to assholes if we actually weaned ourselves off the oily stuff – stating the obvious here for the dolts in the room.

          Are the sanctions really hurting Putin, or we poor plebs, once again, caught up by the actions of those who still think cash is king. Sure we can hurt Russia for a very long time, but Russia is a country of people like you and I.

          It seems like a very blunt instrument. Callous, imprecise, smacking of PR.

      • barry 1.2.2

        Yes, but a ceasefire is a necessary first step in the process.

        Russia has a powerful incentive to stop the war, based on the military costs, and the fact that they could still lose.

        Once the killing has stopped the pressure to expand sanctions to really hurt Russia (oil/gas exports) will dissipate. Putin may think he can outlast the current sanctions. He probably also doesn't believe that the west will stay united against him.

        • tsmithfield

          Did you actually watch that video?

          I think this is going to affect Russia for a very long time. And I doubt the West will have much interest in dropping sanctions while Putin is still in power.

          • lprent

            It was a painful lesson from WW2.

            It'd take a political idiot who was only interested in domestic politics to not recognise it (eg Trump or Cruz)

    • Obtrectator 1.3

      "Putin will not be around forever. Nobody knows who/what will replace him."

      Putin himself is a throwback, analogous in some ways to those old British generals who rued the "loss" of India, or the French reactionaries who saw De Gaulle as a traitor for "abandoning" Algeria and unsuccessfully plotted his assassination.

      Putin's successors might or might not continue his irredentist policies – it's hard to be sure. But what I think all but certain, once he goes, is that after a period of chaos, possibly featuring some short-lived experiments with other forms of governance, a new strong-man type will emerge and reimpose an authoritarian regime. It's what Russians tend to prefer; the smack (sometimes literally) of firm government, the sense that there's a guy at the top who knows what he's doing and he'd better be left to get on with it for fear of worse.

      Democracy? Forget it. Most of them regard it as an alien culture, all right perhaps for the decadent West, but not in their tradition. The idea of having to think for themselves is somewhere on the spectrum between disconcerting and downright scary. Leave all that to the boss while they concentrate on looking after number one as best they can.

      Organised crime will also continue to be a major component of the Russian fabric, just as it pretty much always has, even under Communism. (It was zeki from the underworld who virtually ran the gulags, just as the kapos recruited from among the prisoners were responsible for much of the day-to-day brutality in Hitler's camps). The level of corruption in Russia is such that it's hard to see this lamentable state of affairs ever being corrected by ordinary means. The country will continue to be basically crooked, always liable to takeover by unscrupulous chancers, and definitely never to be relied on.

  2. Dennis Frank 2

    Still waiting for Xi to make his move. He's best placed to be the peacemaker. The time for him to announce the process is now. Leave it any longer & he'll look weak.

    • Mike the Lefty 2.1

      It would be an irony indeed if China, who is currently committing near genocide in Western China against the Uighurs and constantly threatening Taiwan, acted as a peacemaker.

      • Dennis Frank 2.1.1

        Geopolitical players don't do irony. It's remotely possible that the UN Secretary General could convene a peace conference. The players do have a mutual interest in preserving the delusion that the UN does peacekeeping well.

    • Gosman 2.2

      Xi doesn't know which way to turn. He can't force Putin to come to terms because Putin won't listen and if he comes down harder on Russia it makes his own aims around Taiwan more difficult to achieve. He can't double down in support for Russia because as much as Russia and China have developed a beneficial trading relationship the West is still far more important to the Chinese economy.

      • tsmithfield 2.2.1

        I think China is definitely part of the answer here, if they can work out a diplomatic path that tip-toes around all their contradictory positions.

        In the end, China is interested in what is best for China. They have to balance up their strategic relationship with Russia against the long-term impact of this conflict on the world economy, which is definitely problematic for them.

        • McFlock

          What use is a strategic partner whom you have to prop up to get a peace deal?

          Best case for China is that Russia goes broke under long term sanctions so China can "help it out" with longer term loans, while keeping Russia as a buffer against Europe.

          Russia's relegated to a regional power without superpower pretensions, even a vassal state. And China's north is secure, so it can concentrate on India and USA and generally increasing its sphere of influence.

          As for Russia/Ukraine, Russia is losing resources it can't replace. A lot of the tech they're losing is SU legacy tech, but it bolstered what little spending they could do on the new shit and acted as platforms for upgrades rather than completely new systems.

          The question won't be so much whether the Ukrainians solidify the lines in a cease fire, but whether they decide to take back Donbass and Crimea while Russia is fucked.

          • tsmithfield

            Yes, that has been my thoughts as well.

            Russia doesn't come out well from this and will be much weaker, whatever the outcome in Ukraine.

            That is why I think Russia is already lost in this situation.

    • See my post below. The interview on ZB this morning with Rudd after 8.00 is well worth a listen.

  3. Mike the Lefty 3

    It would be just like Lukashenko to go marching into Ukraine once the Ukranians have been all but beaten. He is a Putin clone but smart enough to get others to do all the dirty work for him so he can march in virtually unopposed and cash in on the spoils.


    Just like Mussolini in World War II.

  4. Excellent article Advantage.

    I think the main impediment to peace talks is Putin who is in his own echo chamber and has put himself in a position where he can't afford to be seen to lose.

    Here is one of the best commentaries I have seen on the strategic direction of the war:

    One of the main points in this discussion is that for Putin to be forced to the negotiating table in a meaningful way he needs to be seen to be losing and losing badly. This would probably require the West to provide more weapons such as anti-ship missiles that would enable the Ukranians to take on the Russian ships that are bombarding them at the moment.

    There has been some commentary that this could lead to nuclear war as Putin becomes more desperate. But, one of the points made in the discussion above is that Putin's behaviour in the way he sits on a huge table separated from others in the room suggests he wants to survive all of this.

    Also, there is the complex relationship with China. China has two faces. One it's relationship with Russia which it sees as strategic. But also, it's relationship with the West which it sees as an economic priority.

    I just heard a very good interview with Kevin Rudd on ZB. Rudd has just written a book: "The Avoidable War: The Dangers of a Catastrophic Conflict between the US and Xi Jinping's China"

    According to Rudd, the Chinese would probably not get involved in mediating this solution unless they could see that Russia was in danger of losing badly.

    It is definitely not in China's interests to see this situation to descend into nuclear war.

    So, it would seem that the first step to to peace negotiations is for Russia to be losing the war. I don't think Putin will back down otherwise. Putin may escalate things further by using chemical weapons or similar. But he needs to consider the affect that may have on the support of his main ally, China.

    What ever happens here, I think Russia has lost. I know there are some here who fail to grasp what is meant by "lost". But they are lost to the extent that they will never be a super power to the same level for a long time, if ever. Especially while Putin is in power. They are destined to be a vasal state to China, and will be all the poorer for it.

    • Gosman 4.1

      I'm not sure it would help much if the Ukrainians were able to use anti-ship missiles against Russian ships. They would need to get within range of them for a start and unless the Russian ships approach Odesa and Mykolaiv the rest of the Black sea and Sea of Azov coast is under Russian control. Also the Russian ships are essentially just another launch platform for missiles. The missiles themselves could be launched via other platforms just as easily.

      The key to the Ukrainian victory is currently in the north around Kiev and Chernihiv. The Russian military advanced has not just stalled here but it has started to be counter-attacked in a major way by the Ukrainian military. The logistics of the Russians here are stretched to the maximum, They rely on a single highway to supply most of their troops north west of Kiev and the ones across the Dnieper river to the east are hundreds of kilometres from their logistic centers in Russia and do not have enough troops to protect their extended supply lines. If these two fronts are eliminated by the Ukrainians then they will be able to send experienced troops down to the south to take the initiative there as well.

      • tsmithfield 4.1.1

        And a lot of them have frost-bite apparently because they weren't prepared for the cold weather.

        I saw a video showing the Ukranians taking out a patrol boat with a Javelin missile. The boat must have come too close to shore.

        But some of those anti-ship missiles are very long range. So distance shouldn't be a problem. Whether it is even possible to set that sort of thing up is probably more of an issue.

        Russians could view Maruipol as a victory when they eventually take that because that secures a land bridge for them. But they would also need to take Odessa to cut Ukraine right off from the sea.

        I can’t see that happening any time soon.

        • Gosman

          There is no way they are going to be able to take Odesa with the current troop deployments. They have already expended considerable effort trying to reduce Maruipol and that is a smaller and less easily defended city than Mykolaiv which they have to capture before they can even reach Odesa. They have already attempted to take Mykolaiv and were badly mauled in the process.

  5. Joe90 5

    Always supposing the Orthodox Jihadi rathers peace than his eternal memory and equivalent 72 virgins.

    "December 01, 2018

    In October 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke about the consequences of a nuclear war. According to Putin, “As martyrs, we will go to heaven.” He added, “And they [the West] will just croak because they won’t even have time to repent.” The Kremlin changed “croak” to “perish” and “heaven” to “paradise,” but otherwise retained the rest of what Putin said. President Putin’s statement is not about theology. It represents a flippant attitude toward the consequences of nuclear war and a new form of nuclear threat from a regime that frequently makes them. Putin has personally made six nuclear missile targeting threats (originally coined by the Commander of the Strategic Missile Force Colonel General Nikolai Solovtsov in 2007 who said, “the Strategic Missile Forces [the nuclear ICBM force] will be capable of carrying out this task [targeting sites in the Czech Republic and Poland].” . Putin’s threats involved the targeting of missile defense sites in Europe and, most recently, targeting U.S. missile deployments in response to Russian INF Treaty violations. In 2007, Putin personally announced the start of the provocative Russian nuclear-capable bomber “combat patrols” which are now common.


    Today, President Putin not only threatens to kill his enemies with nuclear weapons but asserts that he is doing so in a way that results in their eternal damnation. Putin sees the Moscow-based Russian Orthodox Church as one of the pillars of his claim of the legitimacy of Russian imperial domination. The Russian Orthodox Church aligns itself with his nuclear policies. It creates Patron Saints for the Strategic Nuclear Forces, blesses Russian nuclear missiles and, “Patriarch Kirill, head of Russian Orthodox Church, endorsed nuclear weapons and nuclear de­terrence.” Indeed, Patriarch Kirill once declared that nuclear weapons “while securely protecting the Fatherland and the nations historically close to us in spirit, at the same time serves the cause of peace, maintaining most important balances, which deny others the right and the opportunity to go unpunished when using lethal nuclear weapons.” In 1996, Father Konstantin Tatarintsev (a member of the Moscow Patriarchate's department on relations with the military forces and security agencies) said that that “there is an internal falsehood in pacifism” and that nuclear weapons bear the sign of original sin only when they have been manufactured without prayers."

  6. Blazer 6

    This whole conflict is shameful.

    A negotiated detente is overdue.

    As for reparations,the West has been generous with supplies to wage a futile war,perhaps they can be as generous in rebuilding the Ukraine.

    Russia seems to have been quite strategic in not targeting vital utilities ,which will help when things settle down.

    This conflict has been compared to the U.S financed Muhadjadeen war in Afghanistan against the Soviets.i.e a proxy war.

    Zelenksky 'we've been left to fight alone'…seemed very disappointed when things escalated.

    Those who say all decisions have been left for the Ukraine alone to decide,can ponder on the U.S president declaring he would 'stop' Nordstream2-an agreement between 2 sovereign nations.

    • "Russia seems to have been quite strategic in not targeting vital utilities ,which will help when things settle down."

      They have targeted quite a bit of important stuff in Mariupol, which is a key strategic port city, including factories etc. See this drone footage:

      Apparently 90% of buildings in Mariupol are now destroyed or badly damaged. This is destruction on the scale of, if not greater than, Leningrad. Given there are hundreds of thousands of civilians still there, if this does not qualify as a war crime, I don't know what would.

      This damage looks similar to what would be achieved with a nuke.

      • weston 6.1.1

        Destruction on a scale of Leningrad ??!! Miles off the mark mate for starters there was somewhere between 600 000 and a million people killed and the siege went on for nearly three years !!

        This tells the story reasonably well

      • grumpy 6.1.2

        "..This damage looks similar to what would be achieved with a nuke.."

        My father served in J Force at the end of WWII. He was an engineer stationed at Nagasaki. He had a camera. Have you even seen photos of the aftermath of a nuke?

  7. Here is one of the best sites I have found so far as a daily commentary goes on what is happening on the ground in Ukraine.

    The name "speak the truth" sounds a bit conspiratorial, and the American flag in the background, and that he is probably a republican not a democrat could be a bit hard for some to stomach here.

    But I judge this by the quality of what is presented. He gets great intelligence and has some good videos.

    I read one comment from someone who said they were able to use the information he presents to find a way out for some relatives from Ukraine.

  8. joe90 8

    Next up, an Enabling Act.

    Governors may not face elections

    As it became known to Kommersant, the Kremlin may consider the possibility of refusing direct elections of governors in September this year in some regions where they are planned.

    google translate

  9. Subliminal 9

    Russia at present holds all the cards. Sanctions have made Putin stronger and now impossible to dislodge internally. He is able to now completely close the door on the west and ignore all the whinging from the Eurocentric upper classes. He is able to demand rubles for all future energy payments from "unfriendly" countries. The ruble will now have reached the bottom of its downward trajectory.

    Russia invaded Ukraine with a force no larger than 150 000. They were outnumbered at least 2 to 1 and probably 3 to 1. They were fighting a largely Nato trained and equipped force. This is unprecedented and was the reason that many commentators thought there would be no invasion. And yet they now have control of the country and have decimated the Ukraine military with only Mariupol sustaining extensive structural damage. Being the site of the azov battalion this was always going to be the case.

    So any terms for peace will be according to Russian demands on security architecture. To change this in favour of western demands will require escalation of the war either through one of the neighbouring states or something horrendous "attributable" to Russia. Can anyone see Biden agreeing to Russian demands? Unlikely I would say. So probably, the war goes on.

    • You sure sound like a bestie with the Kremlin.

      You actually need to do some research on what is happening on the ground.


      Russia is losing this war badly at the moment. They weren't prepared for a long war. A lot of their troops are getting frost-bite for goodness sake.

      And the west is upping the ante in terms of supplying lethal aid.

      This is a war that the West can't allow Russia to win, and they won't.

      • aom 9.1.1

        Far more interesting stuff happening around the Ukraine situation than on the ground. The gas is still flowing to Europe through the Ukraine pipeline but now has to be paid in rubles and Ukraine is still collecting the transmission income. Renault are still producing vehicles in Russia. The ruble has gone up in value. India, much of Africa, China, over half the world and even Israel aren't siding with NATO despite Biden's threats bullshit and bluster. While it looks as though Russia may cope with the sanctions imposed thanks to having restructured their economy when the US last played the sanctions card and could well avoid the intended reneging on its debts despite being being frozen out of the usual financial arrangements buy paying in roubles. The US is trying to cozy up to yesterday's enemies for cheap oil. It looks like Europe will go a bit hungry with limited, if any, grain from Russia or Ukraine. Now Poland, having a major refugee influx, wants to put 'peacekeepers' into the mix which is causing the alliance to shit bricks. All too amusing, if it wasn't for the fact that the Ukrainian people have been proxy-wared at the behest of the world's self appointed policeman, it would be an hilarious comedy.

        How long will it take before the suckers that are singing the US song lines realise that they are being played for suckers while the US and its military industrial complex are minting it?

        • tsmithfield

          You obviously didn't watch the link I provided above:

          One of the likely sanctions coming according to that video is a blockade of Russian ports so they can't export their oil.

          It may not require anything so aggressive to achieve that end though, because insurance companies are starting to get very wary of insuring ships going to Russia:

          So, it may be soon that insurers refuse to insure ships going to Russia, achieving the same effect as a blockade.

          • Subliminal

            Well that blockade of ports will be the same as a declaration of war which is the sort of thing covered under "Nato going all in"

        • tsmithfield

          Russia demanding payment for gas in roubles is a desperate move unlikely to achieve its intended goal of supporting the rouble, and hasn't even been enacted yet anyway.

          • lprent

            No-one wants to hold roubles because their value decreased so fast and it remains volatile. Holding roubles to pay for anything has a major risk of losing value. Getting roubles at all will be difficult once any junk paper has been ditched from treasuries – which they probably did immediately after invasion and before sanctions in most places.

            All he is going to do is to encourage development of alternate sources of supply that carry less risk and the development of an indirect markets that carry a risk of getting keelhauled for sanction busting.

            We probably should thank Putin for his basic misunderstanding of markets. It will help increase carbon fuel prices and make non-carbon energy sources look more viable.


            • tsmithfield

              I agree. I expect the Europeans will just say they are paying in Euros. Take it or leave it.

              It is well into spring in Europe now, and things are starting to warm up. So, gas isn't such an immediate problem as it was in winter. I think Europe will outlast Russia in this game.

              • weston

                Your so right smith people in europe wont need to cook or wash until next winter so sky high prices for gas not a prob !

                • tsmithfield

                  But the period of heavy energy load is is nearly over. From my reading, most countries in Europe have sufficient reserves to get them through the coming year.

            • aom

              It is a bit puzzling for a non-capitalist Lprent, but aren't the facts a bit different?

              Highest: 142.64 RUB on 07 Mar 2022

              Average: 79.975 RUB over this period.

              Lowest: 69.518 RUB on 26 Oct 2021.

              Even 23 March doesn't appear disastrous in view of the drastic sanctions at 1 USD = 96.741 RUB


              • lprent

                Volatile risk happens when you can't be reasonably sure what the value of the currency will be in a given day of settlement.

                That is why looking at averages and single points in time is rather useless in making a point. It mostly demonstrates your inability with basic maths. You really need to look at how to measures of volatility for currency and other financial measures are calculated.

                The only way to be sure of the exact cost for a highly volatile exchange rate would be to buy and pay for the currency on the same day or hour and take delivery at the same time for goods. If there are delays anywhere through the transaction (and there always are), then the risk probabilities of losing increase.

                This isn't exactly rocket science. It also has nothing particularly to do with capitalism. The only real difference is that the floating currency in a fully capitalistic economy tends to be more fluid and faster at reacting to changes.

                Exactly the same thing happens in fully planned economies and in barter economies. Sometimes it is concealed by having pegged currencies relative to other currency zones, but then the risk is carried by the fixed currency reserves. Which inevitability leads to massive revaluations of the currency relative to pegged at points in time.

                • aom

                  Thank you for your reply Lprent. The link I provided was for six months, most of it indicating that the rate was very much southward of where it has been more recently and even post 'crippling sanctions'. Even yesterday, the rate was 1 USD = 102.24 RUB. Doesn't this suggest that it may be premature to conclude that,"No-one wants to hold roubles because their value decreased so fast and it remains volatile."

                  We live in increasingly strange times.

                  • lprent

                    Doesn't this suggest that it may be premature to conclude that ,"No-one wants to hold roubles because their value decreased so fast and it remains volatile."

                    No. Risk is risk, and risk translates directly into premiums required to hold anything in 'stock' including as a security. Quite simply it will cost more to have roubles or to pay in roubles regardless of a point in time value.

                    This is the basis of the markets as diverse currency forward cover, insurance, and a multitude of other ways to arbitrage risk at a personal level (theft cover) through to central banks holding reserve currencies or to one of the reasons why famines due to poor crops happen so seldom outside of war zones.

                    The mere fact that the rouble cross-value shifted after Putin stating that roubles will be required for unfriendly nations to pay for oil and gas shipments is just a indication of how volatile that currency is. The response was after a political statement and before anything had been legislated.

                    The effect was that people holding stocks of roubles outside of Russia who'd been dumping roubles started to get takers willing to pay a premium so that they could bet that they could make more money later. There were going to be countries with less volatile currencies who might have to buy roubles. That is a classic risk taking profile.

                    Volatile shifts in value == risk.

        • aom

          Update – Renault have ceased production and are exploring options for selling its majority stake in the Russia-based AvtoVAZ conglomerate.

      • Subliminal 9.1.2

        If all your info comes from the same echo chamber then you will find the realuty hard to face up to. Russia is meeting all of her objectives. On top of that Russia is able to completely neutralise all attempts by Nato to funnel weapons and personnel into the conflict zone. Unless Nato can force an escalation, the outcome is settled.

        On top of this is the coming resource crunch. This will be felt in diesel since Russian heavier oil is the ideal starting material but from energy will also move to food first in the form of wheat.

        So do a deal with Russia now? Or let them keep dialing up the pain? At some point Nato either capitulates or goes all in.

        • tsmithfield

          So how do you square this rather glib and callous statement you made (as it comes across to me):

          "with only Mariupol sustaining extensive structural damage. Being the site of the azov battalion this was always going to be the case."

          with this sort of damage. Take another good look now:

          It appears to me that you are saying that because the Azov battalion was in Mariupol, the people of Mariupol deserved what they got. Even though there are still many thousands of civilians surviving there.

          • Subliminal

            Many in the world are now pretty sick of being told which civilians that dont deserve their fate should be rallied around. That would include the hundreds of thousands currently starving in Yemen or constantly under the barrage of bombs with made in USA on them. It would also include those whose national funds have been stolen so that they cant, in Venezuela or Afghanistan, afford to pay public servants or buy basic medicines or food. It would include the Palestinians who have been told that they may not bear arms against the invaders of their land only to watch as Ukraine is armed to the teeth and pushed in to battle. These are some of the many chickens that are now coming home to roost. These are some of the people who are far more likely to trust the Russian version of events since they, as well as Iraq. Syria and Iran, have felt the savagery behind the lies that the west has told to justify the bombs that have rained down on their heads

            • tsmithfield

              That comment is whataboutism in the sickest possible way.

              Whatever anyone has done in the past is absolutely no justification for what has happened in Mariupol.

            • Psycho Milt

              TL/DR: "Yes, I was lying when I said the Russians are only destroying Mariupol, but how about these other cases of civilians being targeted?"

        • tsmithfield

          You must have had to scratch around to find those links.

          The first claim about meeting Russian objectives is nonsensical.

          The second claim about a resource crunch is undoubtably true, but a price worth paying to put Putin back in his box.

          • Subliminal

            No actually. You could try following a few of the conversations at naked capitalism. Their comments section is much like at the standard with many varied links to follow up on. The big difference is that the default attitude is that Russia is winning and sanctions are the west shooting themselves not only in the foot but taking out a kneecap on the way. Also that the continual movement of Nato east has only one certain outcome and we are witnessing that now.

            • tsmithfield

              I couldn't help laughing when he was talking about Russia achieving all its objectives. That was enough for me.

              If Putin's main objective was to lose dismally, then I guess you could say he is achieving that quite well.

            • joe90

              conversations at naked capitalism.

              Tankie appeals to the authority of a site run by a Harvard elitist whose day job entails enabling the vampire-squid activities of the one percent.


              • Subliminal

                A search on the naked capitalism web site for Susan Webber. Her blog is referenced in some posted articles, I guess because she has some financial expertise? but why you think she has anything to do with them?…

                • Joe90

                  It's her blog.

                  • Subliminal

                    Oh. Well people work in many areas before their eyes are opened. Michael Hudson also worked many years in the vampire squid factory. Ditto Edward Snowden. Someone has to get inside their bowels to understand what is going on. Chelsea Manning was part of the illegal war on Iraq before the complete diregard for the lives of others became to sickening. Like wise Ana Belèn Montes, a senior analyst at the DIA with regard to the complete disregard for Cuban lives by the US establishment

      • Incognito 9.1.3

        You sure sound like a bestie with the Kremlin.

        What a great way to start a reply in a discussion thread. You sure sound like a wind-up artist with no intention and/or capability of holding a debate in good faith.

        • tsmithfield

          So, was my comment untrue?

          Both Subliminal and Aon have been making lengthily statements without any supporting evidence that appear to be an awful lot like Russian propaganda.

          If people are going to take that sort of approach, I have no qualms whatsoever in calling a spade a spade.

          Perhaps it would be useful if they actually provided some evidence to support their case, of which I have seen none. If they did that I might be more inclined to be a bit more respectful in debating with them.

          • Subliminal

            Link provided in 9.1.2

          • Incognito

            I’m mostly interested here in keeping discussions on track and I’m always dreaming of high-quality discussions. Why do so many here try to pull me into their discussions and into their ways of seeing things (aka agreeing)? I refuse to take sides with commenters who want to play (these) games.

            If the topic of discussion is a spade then call it a spade. But that’s not how you started your comment, which showed little respect and more disdain towards the other and that was my ‘spade’.

          • aom

            OK – the bait is being taken. Forget about spades, call it for what it is that you are using – it is a shovel and there should be no trouble discerning what you are shovelling. Sure you put up links, mainly links of opinion rants from a US oriented soft propaganda bubble. You called out. "lengthily statements without any supporting evidence". Is it only you that has licence to rant on with your own guesses and assumptions without any solid foundation for your utterances. If you got your head out of war fever, hate Russia, Putin is a war criminal mode for five minutes, listened and read local and non-US 'news links' you would have come across everything that was mentioned in the comment you took exception too – with the exception of the Renault update. That came from ,,,,,RT. You know, that scandalous lying propagandist outfit that is banned by your mates.

            The thing that troubles me about your blood-lust and ejaculations over who is killing whom is that it is the lives of young Russians and Ukrainians that are being fed as gun-fodder to the US empire, with the support of European lackies. And in case you haven't noticed, NATO are now doing exactly what Russia did by loading troops along borders. No doubt you will give us an inane dissertation to justify this as well,

            Finally, it was noticed that you disdainfully dismissed an argument of moral equivalence as 'whataboutism' . That has to be the epitome of crassness. If you want a debate, it is suggested you stop playing by your own rules and personally criticising other who hold more humanitarian outlooks to your own.

            Here endith the sermon!

            • roblogic

              "Peace in our time" – Neville Chamberlain. Just ignore the war crimes being committed in full view of the world. Sing Kumbaya and the bad people will go away.


              • aom

                Question is, who are the bad guys?

                Are they the ones who were originally threatened? The ones who threatened their neighours? The ones who refused to comply with an agreement to not threaten neighbours who didn't want to be part of the country they were once part of? The countries that have readily supplied unlimited weapons to fight their proxy war? The arms length contributors who have perpetrated similar act numerous times before?

                Get the picture while you seem to be using monocular vision? The predictable result – everyone else loses while the only winner is physically oceans away from the the chaos.

    • Gosman 9.2

      The force Putin invaded was larger than 150,000. It has been estimated at between 175,000 and 195,000. It is made up of around 75% of the major combat ready Russian units which are the Battalion Tactical Groups (otherwise known by the acronym BTG) plus the support and logistics. The core fighting force is estimated to consist of 120 BTG's plus much of their Special forces and Airborne units. The Russians also have large elements of their Air force and Navy involved as well. There is not much in reserve to bolster the troops already committed without resorting to mobilisation at some level of conscript troops. This is something Putin would be loath to do as he has promised he wouldn't use conscripts (he has already lied about that admittedly) and it would be an acknowledgement this is a war not a special military operation any more.

      • Subliminal 9.2.1

        That still gives a minimum 2:1 advantage to Ukraine military. Conventuonal invasion requires a minimum of 3:1 in favour of the invader. Especially when Ukraine has had eight years of fortification time.

        • Gosman

          That just highlights the fact the Russians were crazy to invade and were relying on a quick victory to knock the Ukrainians out before they were able to get fully mobilised. You have just admitted the Russians will lose.

      • Subliminal 9.2.2

        According to this Newsweek article, the number is 150k

        • McFlock

          One reason the Russians are in the shit. But by definition a massive clusterfuck has many parents.

    • McFlock 9.3

      And yet they now have control of the country and have decimated the Ukraine military with only Mariupol sustaining extensive structural damage. Being the site of the azov battalion this was always going to be the case

      Russia has control of the Ukraine? Don't tell Zelensky that.

    • Macro 9.4

      Sanctions have made Putin stronger and now impossible to dislodge internally.

      And yet..

      Risk of coup against Putin 'growing every week', whistleblower says

      The risk of coup by Russia’s federal security service (FSB) against President Putin is growing every week that the war in Ukraine continues, a whistleblower at the heart of Russian intelligence has said.

      The whistleblower claims that chaos and discontent have engulfed the security services after Russia’s botched invasion of Ukraine.

      Letters written by an anonymous Russian intelligence analyst to Vladimir Osechkin, an exiled Russian activist and founder of the human rights group, have since been published online.

    • lprent 9.5

      They were fighting a largely Nato trained and equipped force.

      Not according to anything that I have read. The vast bulk of the heavy equipment and even the infantry arms were ex-USSR, Russian, or old weaponry from the eastern bloc.

      There has been in influx of western arms since the maniac dictator started a buildup, lied about his intentions, and then invaded. But most of those (probably virtually all) are light weapons and vehicles.

      There is a decent ground-force list in wikipedia that seems close to being up to date with the pre-threat details.

      The buildup prior to the invasion was limited – this is a good summary.

      The influx since invasions has largely been in consumables. Trying to train people on new equipment that they haven't previously trained on in the middle of an invasion is a daft idea.

      Basically you sound like a non-military fool who has swallowed the kool-aid without bothering to engage your brain first.

      {I wonder where you came from…. (starts to read logs). Despite what they sound like – they are local and probably a human. Just somewhat deluded. }


      Anyone care to bet that this propaganda dildo only mentions the insult to Putin and themselves? or makes assertions without links? or just doesn't answer…

      • Subliminal 9.5.1

        Scott Ritter is a pretty good source of information. I would bet that he has slightly more knowledge than yourself on matters military even though I know you do rate yourself. He has also demonstrated integrity with his involvement in searching for WMD in Iraq. He is avowedly pro USA but is completely nonplussed by the idiot neocons that now seem to rule the roost and decide on even matters of a military nature. I for sure would listen to him before someone so prostrate to US hegemony as yourself

      • RedLogix 9.5.2

        This subliminal character has been around a few years now. It's apparent they are local, but whoever they are they reliably parrot CCP lines and almost nothing else.

        • lprent

          Yeah. They sounded so much like mindless spam I had to look. To see if a bot was getting through.

          The attack rates on the site are pretty phenomenal at present. About 32k per day in the more complex attacks and that is only the ones who aren’t on their automatic hour long breaks.

          And that doesn’t even compare to the botnets trying my special ssh honey traps.

          • Anne

            Do you think the heightened rates are a response to the Ukraine invasion? In other words a sustained cyber attack on online western forums generally or are they selecting who they target? I know nothing about such things but it does sound intriguing at this point in time.

            • lprent

              There has been a rising rate over the years. But you get peaks for certain things. Election times. Policy announcements. Conflicts. New techniques in spamming. New botnets.

              The current one is definitely related to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Even the direct attacks from Russia nets increased by at least 10-fold. It is dropping back now, and we now have a surge from India – which looks like a campaign by large numbers of computers in botnets – which is unusual.

              But the individual IP nuisances are definitely coming from Russia at present. Certainly they’re the most common IPs getting complaints against them according to the whereis complaints lists.

        • SPC

          Not really, standard left wing – both anti-National and anti-western imperial capitalist/security leadership.

  10. Stan 10

    On a separate note, it was great to hear that Fonterra pull out of Russia, but to date I've heard nothing from Synlait.

    Being Chinese owned, will they be making a similar move or not?

  11. Ad 11

    Next week the Parliament of Finland starts the debate about whether to join NATO.

    There's two initiatives: a referendum proposal and the other an accession proposal.

    Any initiative will be viewed at this time by Russia as highly aggressive.

    But this is no longer a time for neutrality.

    The Finns are figuring it fast: pick a side.

    • Talking about Finland, here is a really good interview with Alexander Stubb, former prime minister of Finland, about Ukraine and wider implications including Finland joining Nato:

      • joe90 11.1.1

        I knew a little bit about the Finland Russia relationship when I first met my friend's Finnish wife. I wasn't prepared for the visceral reaction at the very mention of Russia. Loathing is an understatement.

        • Obtrectator

          A one-word explanation of that "visceral" reaction – KARELIA. In 1940 they had 40,000 sq km of territory nicked off them (that's about one-sixth of NZ) and the whole population of 420,000 expelled. Small wonder they justifiably detest the Russians.

  12. I would love it if the Ukranians managed to capture one of the Russian generals controlling Russian forces in Ukraine, and then sent him off to the Hague to be tried on war crimes. It would send a sobering message to the likes of Putin.

    • Obtrectator 12.1

      I very much doubt that, TS – more likely he'd regard it as the cost of doing business and press on regardless.

  13. aj 13

    It looks like there are still some rational people in important positions, if this story is anything to go by. I hope they prevail and the talks going on in the background inch their way to a resolution.

    Pentagon Drops Truth Bombs to Stave Off War With Russia

    Two leaked stories from the Pentagon have exposed the lies of mainstream media about how Russia is conducting the Ukraine war in a bid to counter propaganda intended to get NATO into the conflict, writes Joe Lauria.

    Biden has bought into this part of the story, calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal.” He has also said that Russia is planning a “false flag” chemical attack to pin on Ukraine.

    But on Tuesday, the Pentagon took the bold step of leaking two stories to reporters that contradict those tales. “Russia’s conduct in the brutal war tells a different story than the widely accepted view that Vladimir Putin is intent on demolishing Ukraine and inflicting maximum civilian damage—and it reveals the Russian leader’s strategic balancing act,” reported Newsweek in an article entitled, “Putin’s Bombers Could Devastate Ukraine But He’s Holding Back. Here’s Why.”

    The piece quotes an unnamed analyst at the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) saying, “The heart of Kyiv has barely been touched. And almost all of the long-range strikes have been aimed at military targets.”

    A retired U.S. Air Force officer now working as an analyst for a Pentagon contractor, added: “We need to understand Russia’s actual conduct. If we merely convince ourselves that Russia is bombing indiscriminately, or [that] it is failing to inflict more harm because its personnel are not up to the task or because it is technically inept, then we are not seeing the real conflict.”

    • SPC 13.1

      Not just civilian areas of Mariupol (except for the port which Russia wants) also Chernihiv …

      Officials in Ukraine say Russia has destroyed a key bridge over the Desna river, cutting off a vital route between the northern city of Chernihiv and the capital Kyiv.

      Ukraine's ombudsman for human rights, Lyudmyla Denisov, said the bridge had been used to bring humanitarian aid to the city and evacuate civilians.

      "The city has no electricity, water, heat and practically no gas, and the infrastructure has been destroyed," she said.

      The head of the regional administration, Viacheslav Chaus, said in a video statement that aid would still be delivered, and a new bridge would be built "after our victory".


      Yeah Kiev …

  14. tsmithfield 14

    The reason the Russians are finding themselves stalled and in some cases, being pushed back, is all down to the strategy they started with.

    They simply pushed on too many fronts at once, expecting little resistance. However, this has resulted in a very complex logistics problem that the Ukranians are exploiting beautifully. A great video below on this:

    They would have been much better to have concentrated their forces on the South in the first instance. Then they could have quickly overwhelmed cities such as Mariupol and probably Odessa as well. This would have cut Ukraine off from the sea, crippling their export industry. Russia would have also been well positioned to link up with forces they have in Georgia, and be well positioned to take over that country as well.

    It would have been nigh on impossible to dislodge Russia from that position. If Russia had stopped there, they could have forced Ukraine to pay a levy to move their exports through the sea ports Russia then would have controlled. Essentially, Ukraine would have become a vasal state for Russia.

    The speed with which all this could have been achieved would have given the West less time and inclination to get involved.

    Once well established, if Russia wanted to progress further, could have moved forward systematically through Ukraine, establishing their logistics supply lines and ensuring there was no risk of being attacked from behind.

    I think the war would be close to over now if they had taken that approach.

    However, now it is very difficult for Russia to unwind what they have done, and they are in a real mess.

    • SPC 14.1

      The tip of their army sieging Kiev is at risk of being cut off and having to surrender, if it is unable to make a tactical retreat.

      This may cause a political crisis in Moscow.

      It looks like Russia will be left with defending Kherson (water to Crimea) and the taking of the Mariupol for its port and to connect Crimea to the east, but as yet still no move to take the rest of Luhansk and Donetsk (the Russians there lay claim to all of these two regions).

      Putin had two choices go directly for Novorussia (and impose a peace on Kiev where it is neutral, as per Finland 1940, and in the EU if the West end sanctions on Russia) or conquer and annex all Ukraine. It seems Dugin got inside his head and the fate of all imperialists will emerge – hubris will win in the end.

      • tsmithfield 14.1.1

        Excellent blog, and along the lines of other content I have seen.

        As the blog points out, Putin is in a bit of a tough spot. He could definitely use the various WMDs he possesses. But I think the downsides of that are too great in terms of provoking NATO and pissing off China.

        Russia really doesn't want a war with NATO despite all his bluster about nuclear weapons. I don’t think Putin is suicidal, judged by the way he sits at his monstrous table designed to prevent Covid and assassination. So, I don’t think Putin would attack NATO with nukes if NATO were to intervene specifically in Ukraine in the event that Russia crosses the WMD line.

        Russia is way outgunned in terms of conventional weapons, and as we can see, their military isn't very good.

      • tsmithfield 14.2.1

        Yeah, that is still out of the game I think.

        From recent satellite pics I have seen, they have got most of it off the road now, which is better defensively. But I don't think it is going anywhere. There is a bridge blown out in front of it, so they would have to set up a pontoon bridge to get that across if any of it is still functional enough to move much further.

        But pontoons haven't worked out too well for them so far.

        Plus it looks like the Ukranians have deliberately flooded the Irpin river, effectively cutting off that avenue to assault Kiev and bring in supplies.

  15. joe90 15

    Poots consecrated his Ukrainian war to the memory of his ideal, Admiral Ushakov. A devout Orthodox patriot, warrior, and monk, Ushakov was sanctified two years into Poot's reign.

    Here Putin portrayed Russia’s high casualties in the Ukraine war – which must never be referred to in Russia as a war, rather as the Ukrainian “special operation” (спецоперация), a term with a distinctly Chekist flavor – as a positive, at least in a spiritual sense. Putin’s distinct brand of Stalinist nostalgia meets mystical Russian Orthodox nationalism was very much on display here. Still, he saved the best for last:

    It so happened that the beginning of the operation coincided – quite by chance coincided – with the birthday of one of our outstanding military leaders, canonized as saints, Fyodor Ushakov, who never lost a single battle in his entire brilliant military career. He once said that these thunderstorms will go to the glory of Russia. So it was then, so it is today, and so it will always be!

    • roblogic 16.1

      There are things worse than war. For example, the genocide of six million civilians. Some things are worth fighting for.

  16. tsmithfield 17


    The Ukrainians have taken out a Russian ship while in port:

    That was in the city of Berdyansk which is a port town the Russians captured fairly early on in the conflict.

    Obviously one ship is clearly on fire and probably destroyed. The one at the front though also seems to have smoke coming from the front of it.

    The message this sends to the Russians is that their shipping and other forces are not safe even in territory they hold. While the Ukranians have little capacity to hit Russian ships at sea, while they are in port is another matter.

    • tsmithfield 17.1

      The other thing is they set fire to the port, which is heavily depended on for supplying logistics for the Russian army. So, the strategy continues to target Russian logistics.

      Judging by all the explosions a lot of damage was done.

    • Blazer 17.2

      Do you think this is a football match?

      Why such glee for Russian deaths.

      The Russian militia are just pawns in this political tragedy…too.

      • tsmithfield 17.2.1

        As far as I know, there are know confirmed deaths from this. So you are just speculating.

        But it is "glee" from a strategic perspective, not the personal cost perspective. It is good to see the Ukrainians taking action that reduces the threat to them from the aggressors in this.

        Of course, all loss of life in conflicts is tragic and unnecessary.

        All war is stupid. But Putin has started this, so the cost of these lives is on his hands.

        • aom

          So, deliberately trashing legitimate red lines and using the Mafia 'offer you can't refuse' to pass on blame puts the lost lives in the hands of Putin? For fucks sake, even now, Ukraine's death toll is said to be less than the numbers killed in the Donbass region since the ignored accords were supposed to have been implemented.

          "All war is stupid" but it seems your keyboard war-warrior bloodlust still hasn't been sated.

          • tsmithfield

            Looks like the Russians themselves are to blame for this.

            The ship was featured being in port on a propaganda video on RT. Next day it exploded. So, the implication being that the Ukranians saw the footage and acted accordingly.


            • aom

              So what the fuck has this to do with the comment you ostensibly responded too?

              Did you check out comment

              • There are a lot of comments to keep up with here…

                The comment you made about me just referencing US sites is untrue. I also read and reference from time to time sites from Al jazeera and similar.

                And the comments about this ship are very relevant to the original topic, because it appears that Putin only respects force. So, the more losses he sustains, the more he is likely to be forced to the negotiating table and negotiate meaningfully.

                And I have no idea why you are referring to “blood lust”. There is no evidence that I am aware of that anyone was killed in this incident. All that I was happy about was that assets were out of play. Not that people were or were not killed.

                • aom

                  Stop your obfuscating! As said, "So what the fuck has this to do with the comment you ostensibly responded too?"

                  Very obviously nothing!

                  So consequently what is this diatribe, "And I have no idea why you are referring to “blood lust”. There is no evidence that I am aware of that anyone was killed in this incident. All that I was happy about was that assets were out of play. Not that people were or were not killed." about in the context of the original comment that you were responding to.

                • aom

                  Still at it eh, "Yes, you were completely wrong. The death toll from the Donbas conflict is going to be far lower than what is happening in Ukraine". Where is your conclusive proof. No one is wrong unless you have solid evidence and any one else's recons are just as valid as yours when it comes to absolute truths. Worth SFA!

                  Incidentally, graphics of war damage, especially when there are no bodies to count do not provide evidence of anything but war damage. Looks like more obfuscation!

                  • aom

                    Did you have a good nights sleep Tsmithfield? Perhaps you may be ready for a bit of logic.

                    1. Take your most extravagant Ukraine death toll.
                    2. Apply the ratio Donbass/Luhansk 400,000 : 44 million Ukraine,

                    Now reconsider, ""Yes, you were completely wrong. The death toll from the Donbas conflict is going to be far lower than what is happening in Ukraine".

                    While you are at it, have a think about how many refugees went to Russia from the Donbass region in proportion to the number of Ukrainian refugees dispersing through Europe. Again, probably no contest!

                    Finally, dry up your crocodile tears and consider this: If the leadership of Ukraine had agreed that its neighbour had a right to live in peace and that a 'red line' was reasonable, there would have been no problem. Instead, they rolled over to the machinations of NATO the most immoral and aggressive combined military force in the history of mankind which has been overseeing the killing fields of Ukraine. Now to add insult to injury, the aggressor puppeteers are doing exactly what Russia did only a few months ago by massing troops along the border of Ukraine, ready to attack no doubt. Hypocrisy writ large!!!!

                    Guess you are also up with the latest play, Yes. the US is going to supply oil and gas to Europe (no doubt at extortionate profit) to freeze Russia out. Pity the poor bastards they are going to steal it from by threat or force to do it!

      • Anne 17.2.2

        The Russian militia are just pawns in this political tragedy…too.

        And it sounds like a lot of them know it. Many are just teenagers. Poor kids.

        • tsmithfield

          Yes, it is an absolute tragedy for those who are there through no choice of their own. That is why I think the blood of these unfortunates is on the hands of Putin.

          They are just as much victims as the people of Ukraine in this.

          • roblogic

            Indeed. There's an enlightening thread on who exactly is the cannon fodder in Putin's war – it's not ethnic Russians. It is the impoverished peasants from the hinterlands.


          • aom

            Oh for fucks sake, get a grip! Stop the shit about Putin and lay the blame where it belongs. NATO, the most belligerent, threatening and aggressive massed military force in the history of civilisation has remotely played the whole game from the sidelines. Ukraine was just its pawn and now there is every chance it will keep going until it has appropriated all the mineral riches of the earth, with Russia being just the next asset on the shopping list.

          • Anne

            Tsmithfield @


  17. esoteric pineapples 18

    "Putin may drag out in Ukraine the kind of war he pursued in Syria." – What motive would Russia have for making the war in either Syria or Ukraine as long as possible?

  18. Ad 19

    Perhaps inevitably, Hitler realises that the war in Ukraine is not going to plan:

  19. Quite interesting.

    This video of the attack on the destroyed ship from various angles actually shows an angle where there are two other Russian warships on fire, one of them quite badly.

    This has been quite a major hit on the Russian ships that have likely been shelling costal cities. I understand the Ukrainians used ballistic missiles for this attack. So, they either have some of those already, or have been given some by NATO.

    • aom 21.1

      Boring – 4th bite of the same bone. Is that what some people need to get their gung-ho rocks off?

      • tsmithfield 21.1.1

        No. It is interesting to see what the effect of this attack was. It was a lot more serious than I first thought.

        Not only was one ship destroyed, but probably the dock also that the Russians need for their logistics. And those two warships are probably out of the game now, probably having to go back and get repaired.

        So, certainly has impacted on Russia's ability to wage war which might help force them to the table to negotiate meaningfully.

        • aom

          "No. It is interesting to see what the effect of this attack was. It was a lot more serious than I first thought."

          Might have been interesting the first time but four fucking times should be over the top over the top, for even the most slathering keyboard warrior to jerk off to to.

  20. tsmithfield 22

    Moving away from ships, since aom is getting bored,

    Here is an interesting clip from the NY Times "Visual Investigations".

    Here they go into intercepted Russian communications and how they validate they are genuine. It shows how poor the Russian communications are, and how that in part explains why the Ukrainians are doing so well, as they too are able to intercept these.

    Trigger warning: There is some distressing stuff in this clip including recordings of Russian commanders calling for troops to shell civilian areas, and security camera footage of a Russian tank firing on a civilian car with elderly people in it absolutely unprovoked and killing them instantly.

    Some of this would be evidence of war crimes I expect.

    • Blazer 22.1

      Who has been prosecuted for 'war crimes' in the last 30 years that you are aware of?

      • tsmithfield 22.1.1

        Luckily, I have the answer for you:

        The last was Bosnian Serb Radovan Karadžić in 2016. I thought you would have remembered that. It is fairly recent history.

        Could Putin be tried for war crimes? A plausible scenario for that could be if he was arrested in a Coup and offered up as part of a deal to have sanctions removed. So, it isn't impossible for that to happen.

        • Blazer

          Well you didn't remember it!

          Pretty sure there may be others guilty of ..war crimes.

          The judge and jury are deciding factors…of course.blush

          • tsmithfield

            I couldn't remember exactly when he was found guilty. I knew he had been tried and found guilty. But I am surprised it was so recent. I thought it was a bit further "back in the day".

  21. Stuart Munro 24

    Russia has lost the war in the North. It lost it when it failed to decapitate the Zelensky regime in the first days of the invasion. It wasn't equipped, and failed to build a logistics tail to support an extended operation. It is now being mopped up – and moving to a defensive stance that is punishing in unfriendly territory.

    Ukrainian forces are also prospering in the stolen lands – the eastern territories, so much so that they have begun to divert forces southwards to the only theatre Russia is enjoying any success in.

    In the south, Russian forces have met less opposition, and are reasonably consistently supplied. They have naval missile and artillery support that is momentarily out of reach of Ukrainian retaliation. The brute stupidity of their tactical approach has left them with no options but comprehensive bombardment however – So Mariupol remains out of their hands. In the long term however, a naval blockade can damage Ukraine badly – they need ports to export grain. Africa needs that grain not to starve.

    It is well established that Nato have dropped the ball repeatedly in respect of this war. Putin has been given a free run that Stalin would not have got, with the memory of WWII fresh in everyone's minds. Not supplying the Polish fighters was epic stupidity. The current generation of Nato leadership are invertebrate – and Putin, though a disgusting piece of subhuman filth, does seem to have a spine.

    It is too soon to be talking of peace. For Ukraine to enjoy even a modicum of security, it needs the return of its southern ports and the Crimea. In the long term this is the best outcome for Nato as well. It doesn't want to have a ceasefire that breaks in two years, lets Putin collapse Ukraine by shutting off their grain exports, and driving 10 million more refugees westward into Europe.

    Nato need to look ahead, and plan for a stable peace – and a stable peace will not be built by rewarding Putin's illegal acquisitions.

    • RedLogix 24.1

      Yes I think everyone in NATO was initially stunned at Putin's blatant first strike nuclear threat – but it's clear that at some point it's a gambit that will have to be called on. The world cannot be cowed into inaction indefinitely.

      Because Putin has been the aggressor, the initiative lay with Russia – but the longer this drags on the more the tables will turn. The only strategy left to them now is a genocidal bombing of Ukraine into rubble – town by town, city by city. At some point public sentiment in the EU will reach a tipping point at the horror of it.

      Not to mention the wider global consequences.

      • Stuart Munro 24.1.1

        Putin has been putting his pieces on the board for decades.

        The Transnistrian insurgency is no more organic than the Donbas – obviously part of the same plan.

      • tsmithfield 24.2.1

        A great video Red thank you. As a (mediocre-average) chess player myself, I have a lot of respect for Kasparov. Obviously a very intelligent guy.

        I think the west needs to think about what we are doing now, and how that is perceived by Russia. All the sanctions etc are effectively an act of war now. If Russia hasn't gone nuclear over that. Then the addition of say a no fly zone is not going to make a lot of difference in terms of that risk. And, as Kasparov says, the Russian pilots don't want to die, which will surely be the case if they come against the Nato planes. So, there probably would be very little combat between Nato and Russian forces.

        I think that Nato needs to show some courage and make that the next step in response to what Russia is doing.

  22. aom 25

    Still at it eh, "Yes, you were completely wrong. The death toll from the Donbas conflict is going to be far lower than what is happening in Ukraine". Where is your conclusive proof. No one is wrong unless you have solid evidence and any one else's recons are just as valid as yours when it comes to absolute truths. Worth SFA!

    Incidentally, graphics of war damage, especially when there are no bodies to count do not provide evidence of anything but war damage. Looks like more obfuscation!

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    This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article. Misinformation is debated everywhere and has justifiably sparked concerns. It can polarise the public, reduce health-protective behaviours such as mask wearing and vaccination, and erode trust in science. Much of misinformation is spread not ...
    6 days ago
  • Peters as Minister
    A previous column looked at Winston Peters biographically. This one takes a closer look at his record as a minister, especially his policy record.1990-1991: Minister of Māori Affairs. Few remember Ka Awatea as a major document on the future of Māori policy; there is not even an entry in Wikipedia. ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    7 days ago
  • The New Government: 2023 Edition
    So New Zealand has a brand-spanking new right-wing government. Not just any new government either. A formal majority coalition, of the sort last seen in 1996-1998 (our governmental arrangements for the past quarter of a century have been varying flavours of minority coalition or single-party minority, with great emphasis ...
    7 days ago
  • The unboxing
    And so this is Friday and what have we gone and done to ourselves?In the same way that a Christmas present can look lovely under the tree with its gold ribbon but can turn out to be nothing more than a big box holding a voucher for socks, so it ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    7 days ago
  • A cruel, vicious, nasty government
    So, after weeks of negotiations, we finally have a government, with a three-party cabinet and a time-sharing deputy PM arrangement. Newsroom's Marc Daalder has put the various coalition documents online, and I've been reading through them. A few things stand out: Luxon doesn't want to do any work, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Hurrah – we have a new government (National, ACT and New Zealand First commit “to deliver for al...
    Buzz from the Beehive Sorry, there has been  no fresh news on the government’s official website since the caretaker trade minister’s press statement about the European Parliament vote on the NZ-EU Free Trade Agreement. But the capital is abuzz with news – and media comment is quickly flowing – after ...
    Point of OrderBy Bob Edlin
    1 week ago
  • Christopher Luxon – NZ PM #42.
    Nothing says strong and stable like having your government announcement delayed by a day because one of your deputies wants to remind everyone, but mostly you, who wears the trousers. It was all a bit embarrassing yesterday with the parties descending on Wellington before pulling out of proceedings. There are ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago
  • Coalition Government details policies & ministers
    Winston Peters will be Deputy PM for the first half of the Coalition Government’s three-year term, with David Seymour being Deputy PM for the second half. Photo montage by Lynn Grieveson for The KākāTL;DR: PM-Elect Christopher Luxon has announced the formation of a joint National-ACT-NZ First coalition Government with a ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • “Old Coat” by Peter, Paul & Mary.
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    1 week ago

  • New Zealand welcomes European Parliament vote on the NZ-EU Free Trade Agreement
    A significant milestone in ratifying the NZ-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was reached last night, with 524 of the 705 member European Parliament voting in favour to approve the agreement. “I’m delighted to hear of the successful vote to approve the NZ-EU FTA in the European Parliament overnight. This is ...
    1 week ago
  • Further humanitarian support for Gaza, the West Bank and Israel
    The Government is contributing a further $5 million to support the response to urgent humanitarian needs in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel, bringing New Zealand’s total contribution to the humanitarian response so far to $10 million. “New Zealand is deeply saddened by the loss of civilian life and the ...
    2 weeks ago

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