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The Russian invasion of Ukraine – an act of aggression

Written By: - Date published: 8:44 pm, May 3rd, 2022 - 140 comments
Categories: Europe, International, Russia, Ukraine, war - Tags: , , , ,

Originally posted on Nick Kelly’s blog On February 24 2022 Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian military to invade Ukraine, a nation that declared independence from Russia on August 24 1991. This is not the first time in Ukraine’s 30 years of independence that the Russian Federation has attacked Ukraine, having annexed the Crimea region back in 2014. Vladimir Putin has made no secret of the fact that he believes Ukraine has been ruled by forces hostile to Russia. Whilst many were surprised by the Russian government’s decision to take this hostile action toward Ukraine, there were plenty of warning signs that this may happen. It is not my view that war is inevitable, be it in the Ukraine, Palestine, Syria or elsewhere. However, there are often only small windows of opportunity where a lasting peace can be built or negotiated. In the case of Russia and Ukraine, there have been plenty of warning signs over the last 30 years and potentially different responses to these may have produced a different result. What-if-isms are of little comfort or help to those now forced to flee Ukraine or those who are now staying to defend their homeland against Russian invasion.
Residents remove their belongings from a destroyed building in Kyiv after it was hit by artillery shelling. [Felipe Dana/AP Photo]
Russia is the aggressor in this conflict. The targeting of civilians and shelling during a so-called Cease-Fire are acts committed by the Russian forces, and the US President is correct to call President Putin a ‘war criminal’. Those who justify or use moral equivocation by citing the presence of the far-right in Ukraine or that this was in response to NATO expansion miss the point. Yes, the far-right does have a presence in Ukraine and yes they also have joined the resistance to the current invasion. But the logic that this somehow justifies the Russian invasion is incredibly warped. For one, the war gives the far right in Ukraine space to recruit and win support by being part of the resistance. Secondly, if the correct response is for Russia to invade every European country that has an active far-right then very few nations are not at risk of invasion. On the left, many are still influenced by the analysis of Lenin during the First World War and just before the 1917 Russian Revolution that in an inter-imperialist conflict socialists should be standing up to their own ruling class. During the First World War, there were strong arguments for working people not to align with the Tsar in Russia or other imperialist leaders in that conflict. It is dangerous to simply apply this idea to the current conflict without understanding that the context is different. There is a strong argument that people should be holding their own government or ‘ruling class’ to account during any situation like this. Ultimately, the decision to invade Ukraine was Russia’s, but there is still a question of what the governments and in particular NATO members could have done to help prevent this and what they can do now. Sadly, some on the left and drawn both bizarre and quite dangerous conclusions based on the premise that their role is to stick it to their own ruling class. Bizarrely, some socialists still mistake Russia to be some sort of socialist/anti-imperialist power, thinking that there is some residue influence of the 1917 revolution. In my late teens, a became involved with radical left politics largely influenced by opposing the invasion of Afghanistan and later Iraq. I began studying the history of US foreign policy in places like Chile in 1973 or Iran in 1953. In 2001, just before the attack on the Twin Towers in New York, Australian journalist John Pilger released a documentary called The New Rulers of the World, which clearly outlined the role played by the US in installing the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia. This in turn meant that country allowed western manufacturers to move production to that country where labour standards were very low and clothing and other items could be produced cheaply. Whilst Pilger has always been prone to being an evangelist for his cause and being a polarising figure, in the past, he has played an important role in highlighting the shortcomings of western governments. Pilger’s bizarre article written days before the Russian invasion is selective with which facts it includes and effectively paints President Putin and the Russian state as victims of Western propaganda. Pilger like many others on the left is so determined to expose their own ‘ruling class’ that they’ll downplay or ignore the countless human rights abuses committed by Russia under Putin’s leadership. Many on the left, and some on the right or centre focussed their attention on NATO. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is a Cold War military alliance designed to stand up to the Soviet Union. After the end of the Cold War, there is a legitimate question as to whether this alliance should have continued. Many continued to be nervous about Russia, a nation that is resource-rich and historically has been very influential. It also does not have a strong history of democracy and instead has had a brutal history of state control both under Tsarism and later when it was the USSR. Certainly for the nations like Lithuania and Ukraine which were ruled by Russia for many years this nervousness is justified. Whether retaining the NATO alliance was the best way to counter this is a fair question. However, to say that the threat of Ukraine joining NATO provoked or even justified the Russian invasion is just wrong. Kier Starmer’s threat to withdraw the whip from any UK Labour MP who supported the Stop the War coalition who is calling for No NATO Expansion is an overreaction. That said, the optics of the coalition’s slogan are really bad. Whatever faults there are with NATO, it is Russia that has just invaded a sovereign country resulting in death, destruction and people being displaced. Trying to deflect from this is not a credible position at all. The other argument put forward is moral equivalence, whereby people argue that the decision of the US and its allies to invade Iraq was just as bad so who are we to go criticising Russia. The decision to invade Iraq was wrong and few would still defend that action. That does not mean Britain or the US should not criticise Russia for what it is doing in Ukraine, if anything it places a greater responsibility on these governments to uphold human rights now. This is even more important when there is a real chance of forces more sympathetic to Russia taking power. Former US President Donald Trump continues to describe Vladimir Putin in glowing terms. Trump continues to exert considerable influence and control over the Republican Party, who currently stands a strong chance of gaining at least one house in the midterm elections later this year. In such a scenario there are no guarantees that the current pressure being applied to the Putin regime will hold up. One of the problems has been the inconsistent approach to Russia since the end of the Soviet Union. The recent pressure for Roman Abramovich to sell Chelsea Football Club has brought to light some of the corrupt practices he and others used to make their fortune including the purchase of an oil company from the Russian government in a rigged auction in 1995. The UK allowed these characters to invest this ill-gotten gain into its economy, right up till earlier this year. When the current Russian regime attacked Chechnya in 1999, invaded Georgia in 2008, invaded Crimea and parts of Donbas in Ukraine in 2014 and engaged in a proxy war in Syria it was met with only mild responses including limited sanctions against Russia or mealy-mouthed speeches. Meanwhile, the city of London continued to be awash with ill-gotten money from Russia. That the current UK Prime Minister gave a peerage to Lord Lebedev, owner of two major UK newspapers and friend of Boris Johnson and other senior Conservatives despite security concerns being raised at the time indicates the level of influence Russian money now has in the UK. Back when the Eastern block fell, the priority was to integrate them into global markets. This was of course at the end of the free market 80s where the naive view was that through economic liberalism democratic political reform would also occur. This maybe a generous view, for many, access to Russian markets and resources was an opportunity for profit. Whilst opportunistically making money from this new market, the political response was to leave NATO intact and treat Russia as a potential foe. Whilst trying to impose Western-style democracy into Russia rather than letting the people of that country decide on their own future would have been an error, to assume that a country with a history of little else than totalitarian regimes would be quick to embrace liberal democracy, free speech and human rights was foolish. What the best approach would have been in hindsight is still unclear, but it seems to profit from post-soviet Russia whilst at the same time treating it as a potential military and political threat has not led to a good outcome. The invasion that began just over two months ago will have a profound impact on global politics for many years. The conflict is unlikely to end quickly and will take a toll on everyone involved. In the end, it will likely result in a military defeat for Russia and humiliation for Putin. This could mean a much more volatile situation in dealing with a state that has a permanent seat on the UN security council and has nuclear weapons. Much of Europe currently relies on Russia for oil and gas and moving away from this will cause considerable economic upheaval. And Ukraine will take years to recover from this invasion even once the conflict has ceased.  

140 comments on “The Russian invasion of Ukraine – an act of aggression ”

  1. weston 1

    This war needs to end yesterday and never would have started but for the destructive tentacles of the USA .Negotiation not more weapons .Allowing america to add another notch to their failed state belt could be the last act of a doomed planet .

    • Populuxe1 1.1

      So basically your position is that Ukraine deserved it because her skirt was too short and she was flirting with other boys? Is that the gist?

      • GreenBus 1.1.1

        populuxe1 – wtf?

        But yes Ukraine is getting what they deserve. Zelenski and his war machine have had years to sort this out. Well they are getting sorted now and there's fuck all the yanks can actually do about it. I hope Bidens wardogs lose to Trump in the next election as a blowback for funding this madness.

        The Ukraine civilians are the big losers, and don't deserve any of this,

        I want NZ to send aid only to the civilians only. Zelenski and his army can go to hell, and they certainly are!

        • RedLogix 1.1.1.1

          Yup – her skirt was too short. Musta been gagging for it.

        • Populuxe1 1.1.1.2

          I guess aside from the tiny inconvenient fact that Ukraine did not attack Russian territory, and indeed gave up its nuclear arsenal to be less of a threat. We will probably also have to ignore the utter absurdity of any country casually attacking a country with a nuclear arsenal like Russia.
          I suppose you'd prefer it if the Russian forces just assaulted and murdered Ukrainian civilians while the Ukraine military did nothing? What a curious mind you have.

          • mikesh 1.1.1.2.1

            I think they were on the point of invading Crimea, which of course is part of Russia. There was also the matter of the attacks on Donbass etc. which was mostly populated by ethnic Russians.

            • higherstandard 1.1.1.2.1.1

              There is zero evidence that Ukraine was going to send troops to or attack the ukraine in any manner whatsoever.

              The fighting/skirmishes in the Donbas region of Ukraine has been going on for somet time why did Putin decide to attack now and why did he try to seize control of the entire country and murder thousands nowhere near the Donbas region ?

              • Blazer

                Ukraine is one of the most corrupt countries on earth.

                Zelensky an ex comic/actor is playing the biggest role in his life….the Pandora papers show his pockets are…bulging.

                There is no democracy in Ukraine,and the average wage is $400 a month..hardly nirvana.

                Ukraine has outlawed speaking Russian,1 of the top 10 spoken languages in…the world.

                This war is an avoidable..tragedy.

                • Gosman

                  Ukraine has not outlawed the speaking of Russians. Zelensky is a native Russian speaker so why would he outlaw it? You are making up facts.

                  • Blazer

                    This I found on Quora…

                    'They banned education in Russian.
                    They banned the ability to speak Russian at school (teachers can be fired for this).
                    They banned the ability to speak Russian at work (you can be fined or fired for this).
                    They banned the ability to speak Russian for politics (even politics like the president can’t speak Russian)
                    Also cinema, theater, excursions, etc, etc.
                    You can’t even sign in Russian in public in some cities like Lviv.

                    'It is allowed to speak Russian in private but illegal to provide services in Russian unless specifically asked by customer. So, people in absolutely russianspeaking cities obliged to address customers in ukrainian because they can be fined if some ukrainian from Western Ukraine complains.'

                    So its not totally banned as you say.

                    • RedLogix

                      It looks very much like the Ukranians were looking to protect and promote their cultural language. If it was Te Reo we were talking about you would be all for it.

                    • Subliminal []

                      What an idiotic comparison! Te Reo is adding a language to include another culture. Ukraine deleted Russian to persecute a large sector of their population. Estimated native speakers of Russian in Ukraine are 40%!

                    • Gosman

                      It is not illegal to provide services in Russian. The law you are referring to states that the service must be made available in Ukrainian UNLESS the customer requests otherwise. In this regard it is similar to what happens in Quebec with French. I disagree with the policy but it is not the same as making speaking another language illegal as you suggest.

              • Subliminal

                Sorry, but you really are very wrong. There is ample evidence from the OSCE that artillery fire from the Ukraine side into Donbass increased by a factor of 30 in the days before the 24th starting on the 16th. Biden knew this barrage had begun when he asserted an imminent invasion and that Putin was already under pressure to take seriously the hell that was being created for Russian speakers in Ukraine

              • mikesh

                I understand Putin tried over and over again to get Zelenskyy to the negotiating table, but Zelenskyy refused. The invasion was probably the last straw.

                Apparently there were movements of crack troops towards Donbas just prior to the invasion. Those could have been preparation for a concerted attack on Donetsk, or possibly to support an invasion of Crimea; ie to cut off a possible counterattack from the East.

                Ukraine is known to have a policy of recovering Crimea

          • left for dead 1.1.1.2.2

            POP just a point of fact,they were never Ukraine's nukes.go sit in the corner.

            • Populuxe1 1.1.1.2.2.1

              They were Ukraine's nukes the moment the Soviet Union dissolved on 26 December 1991. Someone should have been more careful where they left their toys.

              • mikesh

                Given that nukes were supplied by the Soviets, there is no implication that Ukraine was entitled to hold on to them once the Soviet Union ceased to exist. The same would apply to Ukraine’s "ownership" of Crimea.

                • Populuxe1

                  This would be the same Crimea transferred to the Ukraine SSR on the authority of the Supreme Soviet on 19 February 1954 would it?
                  Now I'm no fancy book-learning diplomat or international lawyer, but given no agreement was ratified transferring either back to Russia with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and Ukraine wasn't a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, there is no case to answer.

                  • mikesh

                    When the assignment was made in 1954, I don't think it was envisaged that Crimea would ever fall into the hands of the West. One would suppose that that was never part of the deal. Clearly, with Ukraine moving Westwards, Crimea should have reverted to Russian control.

                    • Populuxe1

                      "Fall into the hands of the West"
                      It's fascinating watching someone condemning Western economic imperialism while quite brazenly defending Russian neo-imperial rechavism. It really is.

                    • mikesh

                      As "fascinating" as it may be to watch, I still consider it sensible for Russia to defend itself against Western Imperialism.

  2. The occasional paragraph would make this easier to read and digest!

  3. tsmithfield 3

    I echo the comment about paragraphs. Perhaps you could edit this and add a few appropriate paragraphs to make reading a bit easier.

    I think this conflict may not last as long as what people think.

    Firstly, Russia may well start running low on ammo soon. There have been a number of well publicised attacks on Russian ammo dumps, including in the major Russian staging area of Belgorod. But more importantly, there has just been a huge fire at a major weapons factory in Perm, Russia. This factory manufactures rockets, missiles, and shells used in the Russian war effort. I understand it is the second largest in Russia.

    Fires and other sabotage activity in the Belgorod region are relatively close to Ukraine, and are likely due to Ukrainian attacks. But there have been a lot of fires in other key industries well outside of Ukrainian artillery or missile range, and much deeper into Russia. So, it could potentially be that Russian dissidents themselves are attacking some of this infrastructure.

    So, this type of activity is going to have an effect on the ability for Russians to resupply their forces with ammunition. Compounding this are the effect of sanctions since many Russian complex military systems and weapons rely on electronics from the US and other western nations meaning the Russians are trying to find work-arounds to get these products.

    Secondly, however, on the Ukrainian side of the equation, the Ukrainians are already causing the Russians a lot of trouble before the heavy weapons on the field have even arrived. Once the Ukrainians have these heavy weapons, they will have an endless supply of western ammunition.

    Also, the western artillery being provided has longer range than the Russian artillery. That, combined with the counter-battery radar being supplied by the west, will help the Ukrainians accurately target the Russian artillery.

    So, there will soon likely be a situation where Russia is struggling for ammunition, and Ukraine is able to destroy the Russian artillery that is the cornerstone of the Russian military war method.

    Therefore, I expect within the next month or so that the Ukrainians will be able to start pushing the Russians back out of Ukraine.

  4. Blazer 4

    Well Nancy Pelosi and her esteemed delegation were/are in the Ukraine.

    They have inspiring messages…'we're in it to…win….it'!…and we'll be here til the ..end.

    Not seen much dialogue about a negotiated peace settlement from…the U.S.

    They are ramping up the supply of 'bullets' for the Ukraine to fire amid the death and…destruction however.

    • tsmithfield 4.1

      I think the Russians scuppered any hope of a peace deal due to all the war crimes they committed in Bucha, and the fact that they seem intent on erasing the Ukrainian nation.

      Why would Ukraine be interested in a peace deal at all, especially when they see they have the chance to push the Russians right out of Ukraine.

      One of the first things I think the Ukrainians will do once they have the right equipment from the west is to hit the Crimean bridge that connects Russia to Crimea. This would create a huge problem for the Russians, and as you can see from the article, not something they would be very happy about.

      • mikesh 4.1.1

        Why would Ukraine be interested in a peace deal at all, especially when they see they have the chance to push the Russians right out of Ukraine.

        I think it is the Americans who are trying to push the Russians out of Ukraine, using the Ukranians as dupes. They have been trying since around 2014.

        • higherstandard 4.1.1.1

          Portraying the Ukrainian people as unwilling dupes of the west is errant nonsense.

          Their remembered history of russian/soviet behaviour over the last century combined with they fierce resistance to the russian invasion overwhelming supported by the majority of their population combined with the exodus of millions of civilians to western aligned countries suggests you are the dupe not the ukrainian people.

          • Subliminal 4.1.1.1.1

            Mikesh has it about right. It has taken huge amounts of money thrown at extremists by the US in their usual way to create the current situation. 2014 was a US manufactured coup that gave Nato access to fanatics that could be trained and nurtured. Even at the point of the election of Zelenski, the people of Ukraine rejected the obvious extremism of Poroshenko. Zelenski was elected as the outsider that pledged to act on the minsk accords which would have ended hostilities in Donbass and Luhansk

            • Populuxe1 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Sure, Yanukovych's blatant corruption couldn't possibly have had anything to do with Euromaidan gaining popularity. Yes, they had money from Washington. Yanukovych was in the pocket of Moscow, but apparently that's OK, and we'll just ignore those inconvenient democratic elections since then.

              • Subliminal

                Well, if corruption is the only metric, Zelenski has quite a large footprint in the pandora papers. As for the elections, he had overwhelming support from the Russian speaking LDNR on the promise of following through on the Minsk agreements. As the link shows, he sold out.

                • Populuxe1

                  It's not the only metric. There's always good old blood on the ground and civilian death tolls. You just really hate the idea of Ukrainians having any agency.

              • mikesh

                I'm pretty sure the issue with the Euromaidan was the desire to "do a deal with Europe. Hence the name Euromaidan. the illegal coup which ousted Yanukovich was occasioned by his accepting an economics assistance deal from Russia, when Europe appeared to dragging the chain.

                • Populuxe1

                  Rather amusing given Russia was hardly in a position to give economic assistance to anyone. Why is it that you can't condemn US militarism without playing apologist for Putin. I can. It's easy. US and Russian imperialism are both bad. See? Easy.

          • mikesh 4.1.1.1.2

            Not unwilling dupes. Just dupes. Though I suspect they may have been less willing had Trump been reelected.

    • Gosman 5.1

      The Ukrainian military still has a large pool of military aged and trained personnel to draw reinforcements from as a result of the mobilisation orders issued at the start of the war and is receiving massive amounts of military equipment from Western nations. Russia on the other hand is depleting it's professional military wing and is restricted from replenishing the troops in Ukraine with the decision not to declare this a war. The Russians advances in the areas they are attacking on are measured in a few kilometers per day if that and they are losing the momentum and initiative.

      • Subliminal 5.1.1

        From commenter Dave from Austin at the naked capitalism website:

        The recent decision to send 40 155 mm track-mounted howitzers to the Ukraine has led to the delivery of the same howitzers to Taiwan to be delayed from 2023 to 2026. And this is just 40 howitzers; in WW II we were producing 1,000/month. De-industrialization has come home to roost

        So maybe its Nato thats a little short on weaponry? I mean, a lot is getting blown up as soon as it arrives. Might have to delay the plan of lighting another fire in Taiwan by a few years. Not to mention Israel. They are used to cargo planes arriving on call to resupply missiles rained down on pesky Palestinians but are they now going to have to get in behind first Ukraine, then Taiwan?

        • tsmithfield 5.1.1.1

          The age of the howitzers isn't the point. The point is they are being supplied with counter-battery radar that ups the effectiveness of the artillery to modern standards. The radar allows the Ukrainians to identify the source of incoming artillery fire then target the source and take it out.

          I have seen no reports to suggest that large quantities of supplied military aid is being successfully targeted, and how could the Russians possibly validate such a claim?

          Do you really think the Ukrainians are so stupid not to realise that the Russians are targeting their stuff, and therefore don't take countermeasures such as splitting their gear into many smaller, distributed locations, setting up decoy warehouses and the like?

        • Populuxe1 5.1.1.2

          Aside from Javelins and Turkish-made drones, little weaponry from NATO states has been deployed yet. Ukraine is still on its old Soviet era MiGs and tanks.

          • Blazer 5.1.1.2.1

            Don't you know that the U.S.A is a member of NATO..or are you just complete meathead?

            • Populuxe1 5.1.1.2.1.1

              Sigh. Irrespective of your childish name calling, of the equipment NATO states are funneling into Ukraine, most hasn't been deployed yet because the Ukraine forces prefer to use the old Soviet hardware they're familiar with. More to the point, why do you take such pleasure in Putin's butchery of Ukraine?

              • Blazer

                If you don't accept that U.S weaponery is being used by Ukraine on a major scale in this conflict,you are not up to date.

                I take no pleasure in this tragic conflict.

                The U.S don't appear to want to negotiate.

                Their strategy appears to be to weaken Russia as it deploys its military resources and ramp up…sanctions.

    • tsmithfield 5.2

      Actually, they are fighting for themselves and their freedom, and would likely be fighting still regardless of help from the West.

      So, what would you recommend them do? Lay down their weapons and be slaughtered like those in Bucha or Maruipal?

      Have you ever wondered why people would rather fight to the death than be under Russian control? It doesn't say much about life under Russia if death is preferable, does it?

    • Scud 5.3

      Well given the violent history that Russia has inflicted on Ukraine under Imperial Russia rulei& then during its 1st independence from in the from 1917 to the early 20 with the Bolsheviks. Then later with Stalin with Holodomor in the 30's through to the death of Stalin & then 80"s with Chernobyl.

      The Ukranians have never trusted Russia & even when it give up it's WMD's & other Strategic Wpns. It sought guarantees from Russia under the Lisbon Protocol & the Budapest Memorandum that Russia won't interfere with it security or it's economic development to make its own decisions as a sovereign country.

      But that all changed when Tsar Poot's managed to install his Toady President which to the lead to the 2014 uprising & old mate fled to Russia.

      Poland, the Baltic States, Finland & Sweden are in the same boat as Ukraine atm & they would rather die than live back under a Russia Jackboot again. Thence they ended choosing to join NATO & the EU when they got the opportunity.

      Unlike Ukraine who tried to give Neutrality a chance, but it wasn't going to work long term when Tsar Poot's is running Russia. So Ukranie tired to join NATO & the EU, but was blocked by Germany's use of its veto vote in NATO & EU by Merkel's German Government. Who was in Poot's back pocket as it wanted cheap Russia Gas IOT shut down its Nuclear & Coal powered power stations.

      • In Vino 5.3.1

        Yes, Scud – that part of the world has always operated that way.

        Don't imagine for one minute that the Ukrainian propagandists or soldiers are any less prone to misbehavior than the Russians are. There are no innocents among the military and politicians making up the news.

        Others say that the USA were behind that evil coup d'état of 2014.

        My fear is that we are being fed lies from the Ukrainians that are approved of by our 5-eyes masters, and then dispersed to us in our mass media.

        That would be a terrible situation if we fear escalation by either major party, because if we believe what we are being fed, we could well provoke that escalation.

        And I fear that those patriots who approve of every report of innocent Ukranians being butchered and tortured by evil Russians – well, those ignorant idiots are silly people being duped by their own side's propaganda.

        One aspect of Orwell's 1984 has come true: We have always been at war with….

        • Gosman 5.3.1.1

          Paranoid much?

          Are you claiming the Russian Military hasn't carried out War crimes in Ukraine?

          • In Vino 5.3.1.1.1

            No, I am claiming that it is likely that some could be faked, and it is highly likely that both sides have carried out atrocities.

    • Populuxe1 5.4

      Except, you know, it's not American territory being invaded and American civilians being abused and murdered. You do understand that Ukraine is, in fact, a sovereign nation with most of the skin in this conflict, yeah? Does it occur to you that a substantial number of the population don't want to have their existence dictated to them by Moscow? I mean, you'd have to be the worst kind of unempathetic nihilist not to understand Ukraine is fighting for its very existence. They've done the Russian client state thing before and they don't like it. The Holodomor is very much in the cultural memory.

      • mikesh 5.4.1

        The Ukraine was not being "dictated to by Russia". However, that was not the point, as far as the Ukranian Neo Nazis were concerned. They just seemed to hate everything Russian. Zelenskyy was elected as the “peace” candidate, which would seem to indicate that the majority of Ukrainians wanted peace with Russia. It was a pity their government thought otherwise.

        • higherstandard 5.4.1.1

          The majority of Ukrainians no doubt did want peace with Russia … pity Putin chose to invade and try to take the country over, murder civilians and cause the largest refugee crisis in Europe since the WW2.

          • mikesh 5.4.1.1.1

            Yes. It was a pity the Ukranians gave him reason to believe he had to.

            • Populuxe1 5.4.1.1.1.1

              Riiiiiight. So by your logic an ANZAC invasion of the Solomon Islands would be completely justified because their defense agreement with China puts us in range of a Julang-3 in a few years.

              • mikesh

                A false equivalence. China could probably bomb us with something or other, even without a base on the Solomons. Besides, I doubt whether we represent any sort of threat to China.

                • Populuxe1

                  How is it a false equivalence? The US has ICBMs and stealth bombers. They don't even need the NATO bases they already have had on or near the Russian border for decades. You can't even explain how a strictly defensive alliance is a threat to a major nuclear power.
                  And then there's the little issue of Kaliningrad, which NATO has never so much as made a peep about.

                  • mikesh

                    Clearly, Putin saw Ukraine's as a threat. I doubt whether china sees us as a threat.

                    • Populuxe1

                      I see pink elephants as a threat. Can I pre-emptively invade them?

                    • mikesh

                      I see pink elephants as a threat. Can I pre-emptively invade them?

                      Sure. Why not. However, most of us don't see pink elephants. Perhaps our alcohol intake is insufficient.

        • Populuxe1 5.4.1.2

          You're funny. You're also historically ignorant. There are still Ukrainians alive who remember the Holodomor – can't imagine why that might make them anti-Russian – maybe something happened in 2014 to upset them? As for the old "Nazi" line, maybe actually look at the make-up of the Ukraine Parliament before uttering such profound absurdities. Of course the majority of Ukrainians wanted peace with Russia – they also wanted their sovereignty. Apparently Putin thought otherwise.

          • mikesh 5.4.1.2.1

            They already had their sovereignty. They just didn't realize that their Nazi dominated government was about to give it away.

            I'm inclined to think that, given the obvious hostility that exists between West and East, there ought to be well defined spheres of influence attributed to each. I believe a line of demarkation should extend from the Baltic sea in the North to the Black sea in the South. That would place Ukraine, as well as the Baltic states and Finland within the Russian sphere of influence. there are some who sneer at "Finlandization", but I think the Finns have it about right for the circumstances in which they find themselves.

            • Populuxe1 5.4.1.2.1.1

              Sovereignty includes the ability to decide your own defense and economic partnerships without seeking the permission of the neighbours, so clearly Putin was under the impression that Ukraine didn't have sovereignty and said so on more than one occasion.

              Also maybe show some evidence of this "Nazi dominated government" – In the last election Svoboda and the other far-right parties only won 2.15% of the vote combined and didn't get seats in the Parliament.

              As for "Finlandization", you might think the Finns had it about right, but they've clearly changed their mind on that front thanks to Putin. You know, seeing as they're rushing to join NATO.

              • mikesh

                Sovereignty includes the ability to decide your own defense and economic partnerships without seeking the permission of the neighbours,

                Gaining and maintaining sovereignty can sometime entail taking care not to antagonise one's neighbours. The hoops that Finland had to jump through, after WWII, in order to restore friendly relations with Russia, and ensure its own sovereignty, after siding with Germany during the war, should perhaps be lesson of which all countries should all take heed.

                As for "Finlandization", you might think the Finns had it about right, but they've clearly changed their mind on that front thanks to Putin. You know, seeing as they're rushing to join NATO.

                Finland was both smart and successful after WWII; they would be fools to now away that success by joining NATO.

                • Populuxe1

                  Gaining and maintaining sovereignty can sometime entail taking care not to antagonise one's neighbours.

                  Oh just stop it. The bootlicking is unseemly.

                  • mikesh

                    Oh just stop it. The bootlicking is unseemly.

                    Right. Leave Uncle Sam's boots alone.

                    • Populuxe1

                      Perhaps you should stop conflating all western nations with the US and we might get somewhere.

                    • mikesh

                      Perhaps you should stop conflating all western nations with the US and we might get somewhere.

                      US citizens, Joe Biden, Victoria Nuland, and the late John McCain, were in Kyiv around 2014, stirring things up. They are as much to blame as anybody for the current mess in Ukraine.

              • mikesh

                There some who have suggested that if Russia is allowed to "get away with" its invasion of Ukraine then the three gulf states will be the next to fall, and perhaps they will. It would certainly be in Russia's interest to extend its defensive position to the shores of the Baltic sea. The question is whether NATO would intervene and risk a nuclear war with Russia.

                • Populuxe1

                  I hardly think NATO would welch on Article 5, especially now that Russia is so thoughtfully justifying their continued existence right now.

                  • mikesh

                    I don't think the US would want to see Washington, and perhaps New York, become the 21st century's Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Russia, I think, would be less squeamish. The US chickened out when Ukraine asked for a “no-fly” zone.

                    NATO obligations would become irrelevant if nuclear war was in the offing.

                    • Populuxe1

                      Nuclear war is in the offing, in case you hadn't been paying attention to Putin's sabre rattling.

                    • mikesh

                      I hadn't noticed. It's probably been drowned out by 100 years of US chauvanism.

          • Subliminal 5.4.1.2.2

            Parliamentary representation is irrelevant if you are integrated through the military and trained, funded, supplied weapons by Nato and the US. This is pretty much standard for controling US vassal states world wide.

            • Populuxe1 5.4.1.2.2.1

              The Cold War is over, my dude. Everyone out of the pool.

              • Subliminal

                Yes but the US still believes it has exceptional status and therefore is able to make and break the rules in the rules based world. The easiest way to enforce this is to train extremists that have no compunction taking lives to be the armed forces of client states. This mode of operating is entirely independent of the cold war and has become orders of manitude greater since the fall of the Soviet Union as has been demonstrated in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Honduras… Unsurprisingly, Russia has no intention of joining this list. Nor China nor Iran. At some point, the formation of Contra like and Al Quaida like armies must be resisted. Russia has reached the point where they no longer can tolerate extremists concentrating on their border and pounding Russian speaking civilians with artillery until invasion is the only option.

                • Populuxe1

                  So does Russia. That's rather the point. You're so obsessed with the sins of the pot that you're blind to the butchery of the kettle.

  5. Gosman 6

    My prediction that the War would end after about a month with a peace deal involving greater autonomy in the Donbas and likely the pre-war status quo in Crimea was incorrect. Putin seems to be in it for the long haul now and looks to be aiming to annex most of the East and South of Ukraine. This is obviously unacceptable to the Ukrainian government and given the current Western support for them I expect a majore counter-attack effort from them in the next 2 weeks which could decide the outcome of the war. It is either stalemate or the Russians will be pushed out from territory gained since the start of the war in Feb and possibly more.

  6. mikesh 7

    Russia is the aggressor in this conflict.

    I think I would regard it as a preemptive defensive strike, though I can see how such an act might be regarded as "aggressive" on technical grounds.

    • tsmithfield 7.1

      "I think I would regard it as a preemptive defensive strike,"

      Riiiigth….. So if the goal of this "preemptive defensive strike" was to guard against future NATO expansion, then that hasn't worked out so well has it, with both Finland and Sweden keen to join up now, and all the extra NATO forces in existing NATO regions, and NATO more enthusiastic and united than ever.

      Rather than a “preemptive defensive strike”, it looks more like an own-goal to me.

      • In Vino 7.1.1

        I think you are a wishful thinker. You want the world to be the way your inclinations dictate.

      • mikesh 7.1.2

        It was not only NATO expansion, despite the West's broken promise made to Gorbachev not to expand NATO. There was also the threatened invasion of Crimea.

        • higherstandard 7.1.2.1

          no

        • tsmithfield 7.1.2.2

          Factcheck. NATO never promised not to expand to other countries. According to the article, any comments in that respect were in the context of German re-unification, and that claimed promise couldn't have related to current expansion because it simply wasn't a possibility at the time due to the Warsaw pact was in existence then. Also, there was never any formal agreement with respect to non-expansion of NATO.

          The fact check article rates the claims as mostly false.

          • mikesh 7.1.2.2.1

            It is my understanding that the dissolution of the Warsaw pact was the quid pro quo for the promise, so the implication would be that NATO would not extend into the Warsaw pact countries.

            • tsmithfield 7.1.2.2.1.1

              If it were such a fundamental change as dissolving the Warsaw pact, then this would have been based on a formal agreement, that would have been formally documented. In which case, I look forward to you linking your source to such a formal agreement between the parties (if it exists).

              • mikesh

                "Formal" or "informal" would be irrelevant in the world of realpolitik. In that world an agreement is an agreement.

              • mikesh

                Besides, you have already admitted that an agreement was made. Only you claim it only applied to East Germany. Which of course doesn't make sense because (1) the Warsaw pact was dissolved and (2) East Germany would be part of NATO anyway, once the two Germanies were unified.

    • Populuxe1 7.2

      So basically if I pre-emptively punched you in the balls because I believe I am psychic and can read minds, that would be completely justified and not the act of an aggressor? Okaaayyyy. Well that's… Interesting? Special?

      • mikesh 7.2.1

        It wasn't a question of clairvoyance. Happenings in Ukraine spoke for themselves.

        • Populuxe1 7.2.1.1

          More like the voices in Putin's head. How dare Ukraine seek closer ties with better economic and security benefits!

          • mikesh 7.2.1.1.1

            I don't think Western prospects were better. I think the Europeans didn't want them, but were reluctant to admit that because Uncle Sam wanted Ukraine away from Russia.

            • Populuxe1 7.2.1.1.1.1

              That didn't stop Germany and France blocking Ukraine from NATO membership. So much for the all powerful Uncle Sam.

          • mikesh 7.2.1.1.2

            15,000 dead in Ukraines's Eastern provinces, at the hands of the Ukrainian militia, can hardly be considered voices in Putin's head.

            • Populuxe1 7.2.1.1.2.1

              Ahem. Looking at the UN breakdown it was 3,403 civilian deaths caused by both sides, which is of course appalling. The rest of that number is around 4400 Ukraine forces, 6517 DPR and LPR militias, and the US State Department throws in an unconfirmed 400-500 Russian military personnel.

      • Populuxe1 7.3.1

        Hmmmm. It's going on for a lot longer than a "strike". From the same article:

        Critics said the speech skirted some uncomfortable realities that Putin is facing: With the campaign in Ukraine faltering, he has not asked Russians to accept sacrifices to weather the sanctions and diplomatic isolation.

        He also left unanswered the question of whether and how Russia will marshal more forces in the face of significant losses.

        • mikesh 7.3.1.1

          Perhaps he should nuke Washington. Slimy Joe's gun running activities would make the US a legitimate target.

          • Populuxe1 7.3.1.1.1

            Maybe you should stop playing apologist for a slimy, genocidal, kleptocrat petro-oligarch would-be Tsar like you're making some big ideological statement.

  7. Populuxe1 8

    Respectfully, paragraphs are your friend.

    • Incognito 8.1

      If it is of any help, the original post on Nick Kelly’s blog is nicely formatted with paragraphs.

      • In Vino 8.1.1

        Poor old Nick! How did the paragraphs get unformatted?

        • Incognito 8.1.1.1

          No idea. Either he copied & pasted unformatted text straight into TS or he somehow lost the paragraph marks. If I had had more time and had seen it in time I could have re-formatted the Post here.

  8. Stuart Munro 9

    I don't think there is any serious dispute that Russia is the aggressor. If the invasion and civilian death toll, and rapes and tortures performed by Russian troops were not enough to establish this, the relocation of captured civilians ought to ring alarm bells – a number of minorities were exterminated in this way under the Soviets, and it was the method employed in the Armenian Genocide. The US had their own version, the Trail of Tears.

    • RedLogix 9.1

      Yet the hard left who – many of whom still seem to secretly admire Stalin – still wants us to believe that the 'Great Satan' is the sole source of all the world's evils.

      • Stuart Munro 9.1.1

        I'm not sure I'd call them "hard left", maybe republicans manque. But most of the atrocities they damn the US for, are presently being performed by their world leader of choice. We cannot really call them hypocrites – there's no thought happening there – they merely repeat the cant of their team.

        • mikesh 9.1.1.1

          there's no thought happening there – they merely repeat the cant of their team.

          I don't think the is any doubt about Ukraine's aggression directed at the Donbas region. That's not just the 'cant of anybody's team'. Nor is Ukraine's desire to repossess Crimea, which could only be achieved through an invasion.

          • Stuart Munro 9.1.1.1.1

            Q.E.D.

            • mikesh 9.1.1.1.1.1

              Q.E.D.

              Quite! I'm glad you agree.

              • Stuart Munro

                Oh no, we don't agree Mikesh. You have merely demonstrated my point – you are incapable of forming an argument, and simply bleat RT talking points like the sheep from Animal Farm. "Four legs good" and so forth.

                Were you capable of debate, rather than talking about the casualties of the Donbas insurgency in isolation, you would produce some plausible scheme whereby the Ukrainian victims of Russian imperialism in the Donbas differed from those you have mentioned. There are quite a few of them, and while you fail to account for them you give every appearance of being a bigot.

                • mikesh

                  Oh no, we don't agree Mikesh. You have merely demonstrated my point – you are incapable of forming an argument, and simply bleat RT talking points like the sheep from Animal Farm. "Four legs good" and so forth.

                  I think if you look back over my comments you will find plenty of arguments, arguments which bear no resemblance to the ad hominem nonsense above.

                • mikesh

                  Were you capable of debate, rather than talking about the casualties of the Donbas insurgency in isolation, you would produce some plausible scheme whereby the Ukrainian victims of Russian imperialism in the Donbas differed from those you have mentioned.

                  The Eastern Ukranians wanted a level of autonomy, after the illegal ousting of Yanukovich in 2014, and the fascist coup; and for that purpose wanted to set up a federal system within the Ukraine. That was the reason for the government attacks on their region. Russia came to their defense , which was natural enough given Eastern Ukraine was mostly ethnically Russian. I suspect that the Russians may have had ulterior motives – they wanted to forestall Ukraine's entry into NATO – but the Ukrainians’ barbaric attacks were probably reason enough.

                  • Stuart Munro

                    The Eastern Ukranians wanted a level of autonomy, after the illegal ousting of Yanukovich in 2014, and the fascist coup;

                    Putin wanted an invasion platform and a destabilizing insurgency. The Eastern Ukrainians were not consulted, because Putin is an authoritarian – democracy has no value for him, he considers it a vice. The fascist coup was the Russian occupation, and Donbas residents have been forced to join the Russian invasion as cannon meat. (https://mg.co.za/opinion/2022-04-12-cannon-meat-the-men-of-combat-age-stuck-in-ukraine/)

                    • mikesh

                      Dream on. I don't believe any of that. You will need to provide some evidence.

                      “Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has declared it illegal for any adult male to leave the country.”
                      (extracted from your link)

                    • joe90

                      Donbas residents have been forced to join the Russian invasion as cannon meat.

                      Sociologist Kamil Galeev details Russian press-ganging of Ukrainians.

                      https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1522196119589171202.html

                  • Stuart Munro

                    And of course you have not accounted for the victims.

                    Every Syrian the Russians killed posthumously became an ISIS fighter, and every Ukrainian a Nazi.

                    No moral distinctions to draw.

                    • joe90

                      From the above thread.

                  • Stuart Munro

                    You will need to provide some evidence.

                    Yes we know – you only believe Der Moskvafurhrer.

                    Not much point in debating with fascists really – you can spin lies as fast as I can debunk them.

                    But you should be ashamed mikesh, to be fanboying a murderous genocide on NZ's only real Left site. We are ashamed of you – you belong on 8Chan.

                    • mikesh

                      I'm still waiting to see some evidence from you. Ad hominems just don't cut it. Not that I’m expecting any evidence, since it was all bullshit.

                      I get my information from news reports, radio, tv, newspapers. etc., but some knowledge of history also helps.

                  • Stuart Munro

                    I'm still waiting to see some evidence from you.

                    Nonsense – you just cited one of my links.

                    It's not an ad hom either, merely an accurate description – the lackeys of a murderous despot have no business pretending to be progressives – away with you!

                  • Stuart Munro

                    If you insist on supporting a fascist regime you cannot complain about ad homs when you are called out as a fascist.

                    • mikesh

                      If you insist in employing ad hominems instead rational arguments, you cannot blame me for calling you out as an ignoramus who doesn't know what he is talking about.

                      [Please check & correct your user name in the next comment, thanks]

                    • Incognito []

                      Mod note

      • Blazer 9.1.2

        Replace 'sole' with…'main'.

        The Ukraine is fighting a valiant fight for the ….yankee dollar.

    • Subliminal 9.2

      Oh right. Radio Free Europe. I could supply numerous Russian video interviews of very grateful Mariupol citizens rescued from Azov. Also eye wilness accounts of civilians being shot by Azov as they attempt to escape the city. Your Radio Free Europe anonymous accounts only serve to bolster propaganda. They are substantially funded by NED, an acknowledged arm of the CIA.

      • Stuart Munro 9.2.1

        RFE has a fairly good reputation for the integrity of its material. Certainly they select stories that favour certain views, but they are not keen on publishing fabricated material – nor do they need to, as Russia is not at all averse to outraging world opinion.

  9. ra 10

    Disagree with much of this article but wish to focus on a common western trope which I think is delusional , namely ,

    " In the end, it will likely result in a military defeat for Russia and humiliation for Putin."

    If Russia were to take their gloves off and engage in total war i.e total destruction of infrastructure , power , fuel , water , communications , sewerage , & food distribution which they can do at will with stand off missiles , and were they to change their R.O.E to disregard civilian casualties then how can any rational thinking adult believe that Ukraine is going to win this war ?

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