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Ukraine as a Multi-Year war

Written By: - Date published: 9:05 am, June 12th, 2022 - 20 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, International, war - Tags:

The Russian war of aggression against the Ukraine is now three months old. Prepare for a very long grind.

Russian forces are now more successful having concentrated in much narrower areas. The idea of Ukraine pushing back Russia to original borders is now unthinkable.

But neither side are going to give up, neither side will stop, neither side want peace talks.

The United States isn’t going to achieve regime change in Russia because it doesn’t have the power to, and Europe is staying remarkably resolute too.

So this is going to go on for a long time.

Nor will the United States put boots on the ground, or enforce a No Fly Zone, or directly break Russia’s port blockade of Ukraine, when it would mean going up against a nuclear armed power.

Even if the two sides grind out to a stalemate with slowly shifting borders as appears to be happening, it isn’t going to end up like World War 1 in which either side completely collapses from exhaustion. Russia is doing great out of oil prices and has strong customers, and Ukraine will keep getting propped up by the United States and other military contributors.

So the multi-year long view needs talking about.

It is still likely that Finland and Sweden will be on the path to join NATO and Turkey’s objections are hammered into something the Swedes and Finns can live with and implement.

It is likely that global production of wheat, sunflower oil, and coal will be deeply lowered from Ukraine.

It is likely that the intelligence the United States and allies provided to Ukraine will enable effective aggressive defence by the Ukraine, but the cost in military and civilian lives will rise into the hundreds of thousands.

It is a strong opportunity for President Biden and others to re-state that international borders cannot be altered by force. With the war likely to drag all through this year, Biden will be turning himself more a more to his foreign affairs and Commander in Chief role since the Democrats are not likely to have control of the Senate or Congress from mid-November.

Biden would then be free to focus on China at both a trade and geostrategic level in particular reinforcing common ground with China of also sustaining internal territorial integrity. Biden has an opportunity to persuade China that they must agree at the United Nations to denounce Russia since it is altering international boundaries by force. Biden must change Xi’s mind and neither must be seen to do so. Biden needs to do a Nixon and front to China direct.

The EU’s willing cutoff of much Russian gas and most oil is a singularly powerful goal and one of the most important climate change moments we will ever have. Blunting the weapons of a future Russian economic war while continuing to enforce sanctions will continue to diminish the economy of Russia. Sure hope their energy systems can cope with another winter’s load come November, because on that rides much political support.

The EU and United States and allies like New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, will need to continue massive financial support for the Ukraine to keep their society intact with basic goods and subsidies. Every one of those countries needs to accept more Ukrainian displaced refugees into their countries.

NATO could at least provide Ukraine with aircraft or heavy drones to sink the Russian blockade of its ports, protect merchant ships, and get the grain exports flowing again.

Russia is shortly going to start looking like an occupying force with a stable but hostile “boundary”. Something like the boundary to North Korea, with no actual peace settlement.

The long term test is for the EU to show how prosperous bordering members can be even if they are not members. Everything must be done to ensure Ukraine doesn’t give up.

Every one of the current supporter countries of Ukraine must forcefully make the case on every platform they can find that grisly and unprovoked invasions make the entire world  less prosperous, often beset by famine and blackouts, and if you want a world framed by rules not tanks, here’s all the trade and grants and aid and prosperity you can handle: make the case for a multilateral and cooperative world once more.

For the Ukraine itself there is nothing but pitiless grind with lots of outside help.

But as a long term human morality tale in the use and benefit of international unity, I actually have a lot of confidence in current world leaders – including our own –  that support for Ukraine can turn the long term view to good.

20 comments on “Ukraine as a Multi-Year war ”

  1. Ad 1

    Empty strollers left on a train station in Poland waiting for Ukraine families to arrive. This one got me this morning.

    Photographer Called Viral Photo of Strollers in Poland 'Surreal'

  2. lprent 2

    The founding principle of the UN and the second half of the 20th century has been to stop the mindless imperial fallacies that caused the wars of the early 20th century. That is what the principles of national soveignty are based on.

    Russia's aggression and clear goal of annexation are a direct reversion to the stupidities of force and imperialism. So to prevent the kinds of dumbarse wars that littered the last few centuries it needs to be dealt with early.

    The rather creepy apologists for the behaviour of the Russian Federation rather than focusing on easily refuted and facile misinformation about Ukraine should really look at recent actions of Russia in surrounding nations and the stated justifications that go with it. They directly challenge the ideas of sovereignty and self detirmination.

    Just as the idiotic invasion of Iraq did in 2003. Rather than concentrate on bashing the US, concentrate on what in the hell you're implicitly supporting. Imperial ethnic and religious aspirations to attack the populations of neighbouring nations and steal their resources. Is that the type of world you want to support?

    • RedLogix 2.1

      You are absolutely correct in pointing to the UN as the core of the matter. If the UN cannot handle this crisis – then what justification remains for it's continued existence in its current form?

      Reform has become urgent and essential. Discussions around the modification of the Security Council veto have been mooted but progression to action appears to have been blocked. This is not a happy outlook – the complete humiliation and disintegration of the Security Council is entirely possible, heralding a return to unconstrained pre-WW2 imperialism.

      • lprent 2.1.1

        Overall the UN has been doing what it is meant to do. Provide a place to discuss, argue, to disagree, a centre for organising multilateral support, and to help clean up the mess of idiots. Especially imperialist ones.

        It presided over the slow disintegration of a number of empires from 51 founding states that initiated it to the 193 member states of today. That was because most of the world states in 1946 were ruled or occupied by other nations. There are about 5 reasonably recognised (Vatican, Palestine) and not fully recognised (Taiwan, Western Sahara, Kosovo) states outside. Plus a few other sustained only by the support of the old empires of Russia or Turkey.

        The UN was intended primarily for the purpose of decolonisation and the disintegration of empires, plus the collective support of national sovereignty. It has been successful in that limited purpose compared to the Treaty of Vienna or the League of Nations (and others), which were designed to reduce dangerous levels of conflict.

        It wasn't designed to unilaterally intervene and act as the worlds police. It shows few signs of evolving towards that – and it'd be hard to find member nations who'd actually support that.

        It makes it clumsy with dealing with anything outside of its design in the conflict resolution sphere. I can't imagine that the security council is likely to disintegrate – that has been postulated even since the Korean war 70 odd years ago. What you're looking at now is exactly what was discussed back then.

        Besides, the UN is far bigger than the security council or the assembly. Most of the work is done with sub-organisations like WHO, UNHCR, IMO, ITU, ICJ, UNDP, IAEA, ICAO and others which support international efforts at a actionable level. Members join and usually support those to deal with the day to day minutiae of a connected world. It is too damn expensive to try to do those tasks independently at a national level.

        That is the inherent strength of the UN

        • RedLogix

          Again a good explanation. I have to agree with you at a pragmatic level – nonetheless I retain a sense that if the UN Security Council remains powerless to prevent these neo-imperial conflicts then it needs to adapt. Otherwise it will forever fall short of its vision and continue to loose credibility in the eyes of many.

          In particular I think it realistic to demand that the General Assembly should have the opportunity to review and challenge any use of the Permanent Five veto.

  3. Sanctuary 3

    Putin has dropped all pretence at NATO provocation as an excuse – this is an out and out war of imperial aggression and the guy has clearly gone completely troppo, imagining himself as a modern day Peter the Great expanding the Russian Empire.


    • joe90 3.1

      If this thread's to be believed, he went troppo a decade or more ago.



  4. Belladonna 5

    A Russian member of parliament wants Alaska back.


    “Let’s think about reparations. The harm these sanctions caused us cost money. Return of possessions, including possessions of the Russian Empire, Soviet Union and even parts of Russia that are now occupied by the United States,” Matveychev said in the interview.

    “What about the return of Alaska and Fort Ross?” the host asked, a reference to a former Russian outpost on the California coast north of San Francisco.

    “This is my next point – recognizing Alaska, Fort Ross and Antarctica,” he said. “We actually discovered it, so it rightfully belongs to us.”

    Now, I know that the rest of the world won't take this seriously, but it seems to be another example of the desire to re-write history to restore a Russian empire….

    • joe90 5.1

      Well, if they want to restore mum Russia to her former glory…

      • mikesh 5.1.1

        If we go back far enough Russia wouldn't exist. 2500 years ago I think the territory Scythia.

        • joe90

          It's a start..

          • mikesh

            I don't read Russian, but I assume the gist of it, as stated, is correct. I take it Moscow vanished as a result. Or are they intending an appeal to a higher court.

  5. mikesh 6

    Everything must be done to ensure Ukraine doesn’t give up.

    Why? Surely that's for Ukraine to decide; though no doubt Uncle Sam doesn't agree. He would say “That’s my decision.”

  6. mikesh 7

    Every one of the current supporter countries of Ukraine must forcefully make the case on every platform they can find that grisly and unprovoked invasions make the entire world less prosperous,

    Which seems to beg the question: was it an unprovoked invasion?

    I suppose any invasion, whether provoked or unprovoked, might make the world less prosperous.

    • RedLogix 7.1

      Well let me make this simple for you – if for the sake of your argument we accept this Russian atrocity is fully justified by Ukranian provocation, then I guess by the law of whataboutism that you are so keen on – you have to fully embrace the US invasion of Iraq, or Vietnam or whatever as fully justified as well.

      Or is it that you are just here to cheer on your partisan imperial power?

      • mikesh 7.1.1

        What a weird rejoinder. I have never, on this website, or any other, expressed an opinion on the war in Vietnam. If you think I'm wrong about provocation by Ukraine, why find a legitimate rebuttal instead of rabitting on about some 50 year old war.

        But of course I would not expect a rational argument from you anyway.

        • RedLogix

          Are you being sarcastic or petulant again?

          • mikesh

            Neither. I'm simply calling you for the rubbish you seem to insist on spouting.

            What does it matter what I think about the Vietnam war. But for what it's worth, I was opposed to it at the time.

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