The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Tag: Ukraine War Page 1 of 6

Russia Begins To Systematically Destroy The Ukrainian Power Grid

Doesn’t seem to be much question: they’re hitting dams (not to destroy the dam, I suspect, to take out the hydropower and the river crossing point) and various other power infrastructure, night after night.

This is something they hadn’t done before: there had been some attacks, but nothing systematic.

This isn’t a new tactic: in the 90s Gulf War, the US took out nineteen of twenty power plants, which led to water treatment and supply issues, which lead to c. one million deaths from cholera. To this day Iraq doesn’t have enough power. They also directly hit water infrastructure, and they used similar tactics in the 2000s Iraq war.

One of the “good” things about the Ukraine war until now is Putin’s refusal to get down into the mud with such tactics, and I’m disappointed he’s now done so. There is some military case: the railroads are electrified, for example, and Russia is getting ready for a huge offensive, probably starting in May.

Of course, after what the US and the EU have condoned in Palestine, they are in no position to complain about such “relatively” mild actions. Putin isn’t trying to cause a famine and commit genocide and the profile of deaths is far different: the Israelis killed more children in a month than both sides in the Ukraine war have killed in years.

An effect of this is going to be another huge wave of refugees to Europe. Pragmatically, though not ethically, this puts more pressure on the Europeans and I’m sure Putin knows that and wants it to happen.

The war is reaching its endgame. Russia is going to crush Ukraine then enforce the peace they want. I would assume they’ll take Odessa and the entire coast, and otherwise just the Russian majority regions and the land bridge, but they’ll conquer far more of that to force Ukraine and the US to the table.

Ukraine will be a complete basket case after the war, and rebuilding will be done on standard neoliberal debt and looting terms. Meanwhile, there will be far more women than men.

The war should have ended a couple months after it started. Ukraine would have ended in far better shape and hundreds of thousand of soldiers would be alive.

But that’s not what the West wanted, and why should they care, after all. They were, and are, fighting to the last Ukrainian.

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The Most Likely “War” With Russia Scenario

Russian troops are now advancing across almost the entire front. It’s slow, but steady. There are no defensive lines built to stop them, the best they’re likely to get is the use of rivers.

Ukraine clearly no longer has enough men or ammunition.

Macron and some other European leaders have discussed sending troops, but sending them to fight Russia is insanity, and hopefully they can see that, since WWIII will suck.

But there’s one play they may feel they can get away with.

Send in “Peacekeepers”. Have them advance to the borders of Russian areas, and use them to secure Odessa and say “we are just separating the combatants.” It’s a way to limit Ukrainian geographical losses and avoid it becoming a land-locked country and the Europeans just bet that Putin isn’t willing to risk or start a war with Europe and/or NATO.

How likely is this? I don’t know. But of the various insane options, it seems the most likely.


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Macron & Many European Leaders Call For WWIII?

So, French leader Macron thinks Europe should send troops to Ukraine to fight Russia. (This is colloquially known as “declaring war on Russia.”)

rench President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that sending Western troops to Ukraine should not be ruled out, as European leaders concluded a summit on supporting Kyiv.

“There is no consensus today to send ground troops officially but … nothing is ruled out,” Macron said at a press conference in Paris, where the meeting had just wrapped up. “We will do whatever it takes to ensure that Russia cannot win this war.”

“The defeat of Russia is indispensable to the security and stability of Europe,” the French president added.

The subject was first raised publicly by Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who said a “restricted document” ahead of the summit had implied “that a number of NATO and EU member states were considering sending troops to Ukraine on a bilateral basis.”

Macron also announced that leaders agreed to set up a ninth capability coalition on deep strikes that will focus on medium- and long-range missiles. Other coalitions include artillery, air defense and de-mining.

This is, in effect, an acknowledgment that Europe knows Ukraine is losing.

So, there are two main possibilities here. First, it’s a negotiating ploy, to get a better deal for Ukraine. Second, they’re serious.

Let’s point out a couple things: Russia is outproducing the entire West in artillery shells and ammunition and Western armories are bare: they’ll run out in two weeks to a month of real war, at most. Second, China is not going to let Russia really lose a war, because they know who’s next and Europe has mostly been very willing to follow the US in anti-Chinese actions.

Iran, obviously, will support Russia as well. They know they’re on the list.

It’s actually not clear that the West would win this war: Russia is out-producing the West in terms of war materials, China is the undisputed largest industrial power in the world and it’s not clear that if other powers step in, China and maybe Iran won’t step in on Russia’s side. They really, really don’t want to: but the defeat of Russia, as already noted, is an existential threat to them.

Next, if either side starts losing, there will be a strong temptation to reach for the nukes.

On a smaller note, if Europe supplies long range missiles and those missiles hit something that matters (say the Kremlin, or the Bolshoi) things could get ugly fast. Seeking to expand the war further into Russia is certainly “legal” but it’s not wise. It won’t change the outcome of the war, it will merely make the war more likely to expand, which is why the German Scholz is correct to oppose it.

All my life, the charge against people outside elite circles has been that we are “un-serious”.

This is extremely un-serious behaviour.

I will note, further, that the reason Europe and the US can’t compete with China and Russia is that they simply refuse to reduce economic rents, lower living costs and make their rich less rich in order to reduce operating costs and oligopolies and monopolies sufficiently to ramp up production, both of war materials and, well, everything else.

They want to live like Kings, our elites, having the South send them materials and the Chinese and other nations send them manufactured goods, while using their populations for rent extraction so they can become richer and richer.

They have confused money with power. Money is only power when it can buy power. And increasingly, in the West, it can only buy power domestically, not internationally.

This is a grave mistake, and the graveyard of Empires.

Fools. And worse than fools.

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The Carlson/Putin Interview

I think this is worth listening to. I’ve put notes below. It’s not in essay format, just what I found significant as I was listening.

Whatever you think of Putin, at least he’s educated and speak in complete sentences and has a historical understanding (whether you agree with it or not.) He makes Trump and Biden look like the idiots they are.

In fact, Putin makes almost every Western leader look like an ill-educated moron. Orban is an exception. This isn’t a political judgment. I don’t much like Putin, but I can respect him. I can’t respect Biden, Trump, Sunak, Scholz, Macron, Von Der Leyen or my own PM, Trudeau.

Fuck, I’m loving this history lesson from Putin “oh, and here are copies of the historical documents, showing I’m not making this up.”

And Tucker’s expression, looking at Putin is hilarious. Absolutely “WTF, why is he giving me this history lesson.” How many politicians has he interviewed over the years, and this erudite (though really very much a skim) disquisition is alien to him.

Tucker’s kind of stupid, “but we have a strong China the West isn’t very afraid of”. I mean, WTF?

Putin’s point that Russia in 90s and much of the 00s wanted to be part of the West, desperately so, is entirely accurate by my memory and I was around.

Russia /should/ have been turned into a Western ally, and if it had been, China would be /much/ less of a threat. But our politicians (I won’t call them statesman, the last US statesman was James Baker) were fools.

And yes, the war against Serbia was the first great break in Russia’s trust of the West and that the West would obey international law. If Serbia can be broken up, well, why not other countries?

And yes, I remember that Russia asked to join NATO. What a different world that would be.

Pointing out that the US exerts pressure and Western countries obey, which is usually true, and has become more true.

Under Bush, the CIA confirms they are working to support the Chechen rebellion. Of course, Putin and Russia don’t like that.

And then the missile defense system, Putin offers to make it a multilateral defense system which is supposedly against Iran. America refuses.

Russia points out that if they aren’t in the missile defense system, they’ll have to find a way to overwhelm the new defense system–which they did: hypersonic missiles.

And, of course, NATO expansion makes the Russians feel unsafe, which, of course it does, when they won’t let Russia join NATO.

And the point that you can’t make a deal with Europeans, because they will bow to American pressure. But you can’t make a deal with America, because they won’t keep their word.

And Georgia and Ukraine joining NATO is a no go for Russia.

Talking about the coup-d’etas in Ukraine. Which, of course, there was and I said so at the time.

Ukraine can’t have a free trade agreement with both Russia and the EU at the same time since Russian market would be flooded. (Yeah, 100%. Would have been a disaster for Russia. Plus a route for operatives to infiltrate Russia easily though Putin doesn’t say that.)

Russia tells Yanukovich not to use armed force, because US agrees to calm down Maidan. But US doesn’t keep their deal, force is used by Maidan, and the coup happens.

The Ukrainian attacks on Donetsk are the main break point to Putin.

But also, gaurantees against the coup were ignored by the European countries. Again, a loss of trust. Can’t make a deal with the West, especially Europe.

NATO in Ukraine is the red line. (Which is what I always said.)

Then breaking the Minsk agreements. Again, the West and Ukraine won’t keep agreements with Russia.

From Putin’s POV he didn’t start the war in 2022. The war was ongoing, Minsk agreement broken, Donetsk under constant attack. He intervened, yes, but the war was already ongoing.

(Not unreasonable. I warned at the time and indeed for decades that this would happen.)

This Putin/Carlson interview is super embarassing to the West. I literally can’t think of a Western leader today who could lay out a case like this, coherently and intelligently. We are ruled by imbeciles.

I mean, I don’t agree with a lot of Russian policy, or how they’re going social conservative. But goddamn, Putin makes our leaders look like incompetents.

Putin claims that he withdrew from Kiev at western request, as a requirement for making a peace deal. As soon as the Russians did, the West ended the peace talks.

Nasty if true and yet another, never trust these fucks and impose a peace by winning the war.

Unfortunately, I find this credible. I don’t know if it’s true, but I believe Putin more than UK PM Johnson or Biden.

Putin: Ukraine’s national identity is based around glorification of Nazi collaborators as heroes, and de-Nazification means ending this national identity.

De-Nazification would be done by making Nazi and Neo-Nazism illegal in Ukraine, in the peace treaty, per Putin.

Putin hasn’t talked directly to Biden since the start of the war and sees no reason to do so.

Putin: US blew up Nord Stream: motive and ability.

Putin: Germany’s leaders are not looking after Germany’s interests primarily.

World should be safe for everyone, not just the “golden billion”.

Using dollar as weapon is one the biggest strategic mistakes of the US. (Putin)

US dollar as trade/reserve dollar, allows US inflation under control, and damaging it by using it as sanctions is a grave mistake. Even US allies are downsizing dollar reserves.

Until 2022, 80% of Russian trade was in US dollars. Now 13%.

Denies fear of Chinese economic power. China’s foreign policy is not aggressive, but looks for compromise. China/Europe economic cooperation is growing faster than China/Russia cooperation.

Bilateral trade with China is 230 billion, and is well balanced. 1992 G7 – 47% of trade, now a little over 30%. Brics only 16%, now higher than G7.

US does not understand the world is changing and does not adapt because of conceit. Trying to resist with force is failing and will fail.

President does not matter, what matters is the elite mindset. As long as American elites believe in domination at any costs the US cannot adapt.

Largest number of sanctions in the world are against Europe and at the same time Russia became 5th largest world economy and the 1st largest in Europe.

Russia can’t really understand the power centers and elections in the US.

US never seems to cooperate, but always to use pressure. In relation to US, cold war elites just kept doing the same thing, and assuming they could win the same way against China as they had against the USSR.

Definitely thinks the US deliberately provoked the Russian invasion. They controlled Ukraine and Ukraine ignore Minsk, talking about joining NATO and attacking Russians in Donetsk/Luhansk and discriminating against Russians in Ukraine.

Believes Zelensky was scared of neo-Nazis when he took charge, and realized the West supported the Neo-Nazis.

Weird series of questions on religion, like “do you see God in human history today”.

Putin: history has its laws and rhythms. Rise and fall.

Some talk on genetic sciences and AI as a threat.

Musk and others involved in AI and genetics need to be regulated.

This should be done by an international treaty.

Russia is willing to negotiate, it is the West who is refusing to negotiation: Ukraine is under US control.

Ukraine cannot defeat Russia strategically, even with NATO support, so it only makes sense to negotiate.

Putin: I know they want to negotiate, but they don’t know how to do so. But it will happen sooner or later.

The war is particular tragic, because to Putin, Ukraine and Russia are still a single civilization with a single soul.

Final Commentary: As I said at the start, Putin makes most Western leaders look like dunces. He can discuss history, economy and politics fluently. He has numbers and dates and analogies at his fingertips.

And yes, as far as I’m concerned, Russia was treated incompetently by the West. They could easily have been made into Western allies, effectively a part of Europe. Moving NATO forward was obviously a threat to Russia when Russia had been promised it wouldn’t happen and when Russia even offered to join NATO.

(Transcript of interview.)

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Ukraine Update Feb 6, 2024

The bottom line here is that Ukraine appears to be running out of both infantry and ammunition and Russia has plenty of both, plus air superiority. Ukraine is now bringing in more women, and is trying to convince EU countries to return Ukrainian refugee men so they can be conscripted.

There isn’t much map movement, but that doesn’t matter, what will happen is that the Russians will keep depleting Ukrainian forces until there simply aren’t enough, then they will leap forward and take a vast amount of terrain unless Ukraine gives them what they wants before then.

With the Ukrainian military broken, and the Russian army able to advance as it pleases, Russia will be able to dictate surrender terms, and that is what they will be. At the least: all Russian speaking areas, the coast, Crimea and the land bridge and Austrian style neutrality.

It should be pointed out that unless NATO is willing to declare war, the US has no leverage.

There’s nothing America (the EU will just do what the US tells it to) can give Russia that matters: Russia doesn’t need sanctions relief and is better off without it: their economy is doing better because of the sanctions forcing internal development than it did before the sanctions. (Yes, folks, despite what you’ve been told all you lives, free trade with everyone is stupid and always has been.)

Russia is winning, Russia will win, this was always obviously going to be the case.

May 16, 2022 I wrote who would win and lose from the Ukraine war. Re-read the article. For all intents and purposes I got everything right, except that Russia has benefited even more economically and my “marginal victory” was wrong: Russia is winning a significant victory, strategically speaking.

Sanctions will force more import substitution and help overcome the “resource curse”, making it cost-effective to make more things in Russia

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The Conditions For Peace In Ukraine

I recently listened to a long podcast with Mearsheimer. One of the hosts discusses Putin floating the principles of a possible peace deal.

I don’t see how it can happen. The US and Europe have admitted that they went into the Minsk agreements intending not to keep them, and that is after the US betrayed Russia over Libya, getting their vote based on telling them that it was not intended to be a regime change operation.

Putin is said to have spent a couple days watching the video of Gaddafi being raped with a knife, then killed. Focuses the mind on what happens if you trust the wrong people and what the West wants done to its enemies. (People wonder why Putin hates Hilary, this is why.)

So, there can be no deal, because Russia and Putin don’t believe that the West in general and the US in particular (they have contempt for EU leaders who the know simply follow US orders) can’t be trusted to keep it.

That means there’s really on one way to have a peace deal: hostages.

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It’s an old idea. If there’s no trust, in the old days you had people the other side cared about, usually family members, live with you. Break the deal and they get it in the neck.

So if there’s to be a deal with Ukraine, there have to be hostages, and they have to be given to Russia. Not people, in this age, but something the US cares about. Perhaps the contents of Fort Knox? Perhaps something else? (Suggest possibilities in the comments.)

I personally can’t think of anything that would be enough, so I can’t see a peace deal now.

The deal will happen when it’s a surrender deal. When the Ukrainians firmly admit they are losing and losing badly. And world war I style deal, where the victor sets the terms.

As such, I don’t see Ukraine keeping Odessa, for example. The deal will be ugly.

Ukraine Has Lost

It’s all over but the shooting, as the saying goes.

Avdiivka is being encircled in record time. The US is transferring its attention to Israel and Palestine. The Russians now have the largest armaments industry in the world for the stuff that matters, and North Korea and Iran are supplying them massively (though Iran may be about to be distracted.)

Back in March 2022 Ukraine could have negotiated peace terms. My guess is that the next negotiations will be surrender terms.

It was always clear, and I have said so consistently from the start, that Russia was going to win. Ukraine cannot win a war of attrition with Russia, especially when Russia has air superiority and far more artillery and artillery shells.

The West has been unable to ramp up weapon production, mainly due to the arms industry being a very small oligopoly who are interested in earning more per unit and maintaining bottlenecks.

Last year I read in an article that Medvedev, I recall, explained to Russian arms company execs, in excruciating detail, exactly what the Soviets did to plant managers who didn’t meet quotas in WWII. Since Putin has a record of dealing harshly with capitalists who cross him, this was taken seriously. The West isn’t really taking the war seriously, except maybe Poland and the Baltic republics, and Poland has essentially no arms industry of its own.

U.S. News now ranks Russia as the most powerful military in the world. I suspect they’re overstating the case, but Russia is certainly number two or three. My suspicion is that, as in the Cold War where USSR military strength was constantly overstated, this has to do with wanting more money for the military budget.

The sooner Ukraine negotiates, the better deal they’re going to get. Fortunately for them, Russia would be insane to take non-Russian majority areas anyway. The real risk is the coastline, while it isn’t all majority Russia, the urge to make Ukraine into a landlocked country will be immense. And certainly Russia wants Odessa.

In a larger sense the loss of Russia to Chinese alliance is the loss of any chance of defeating China. The biggest geopolitical blunder of the early 21st century, and the end of the oil and gas deals with Russia is the end of German/European energy intensive industry, which is a LOT of it.

Oh well.

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The Lost Chance For Peace In Ukraine & What It Will Cost

The great devastation of World War I for the combatants was a lost generation. A massive chunk of the fighting age men died. The established figure for France is somewhere around 1.5 million (the official figure is 1.3 million, but it is generally agreed that’s too low.)

Let’s take a look at what that meant. First the population pyramid in 1914.

Next, the population pyramid in 1920 (Both from Wikipedia.)


Similar charts for France before and after the Napoleonic wars would be even worse. Or Russia before and after WWII.

Anyway, at the beginning of the war and even before, I called for peace on the Austrian model. Well, it turns out that almost happened.

Gerhard Shroeder, the former chancellor of Germany, confirms.

At the peace negotiations in Istanbul in March 2022 with Rustem Umerov, the Ukrainians did not agree on peace because they were not allowed to. For everything they discussed, they first had to ask the Americans. I had two talks with Umerov, then a one-on-one meeting with Putin, and then with Putin’s envoy. Umerov opened the conversation with greetings from Zelensky. As a compromise for Ukraine’s security guarantees, the Austrian model or the 5+1 model was proposed. Umerow thought that was a good thing. He also showed willingness on the other points. He also said that Ukraine does not want NATO membership. He also said that Ukraine wants to reintroduce Russian in the Donbass. But in the end, nothing happened. My impression was that nothing could happen, because everything else was decided in Washington. That was fatal. Because the result will now be that Russia will be tied more closely to China, which the West should not want.

And the Europeans? They have failed. There would have been a window in March 2022. The Ukrainians were ready to talk about Crimea. This was even confirmed by the Bild newspaper at the time.

No NATO, Austrian style peace, they give up their claims on Crimea.

Instead what has happened is the loss of a generation of Ukrainian men. I suspect the overall population will turn out to be even worse than the French in WWI, especially since 6.2 million fled Ukraine out of a population of 43.79 million before the war. That’s about 14%. I’m guessing most of them won’t want to return, though some will be forced to by their host countries.

Ukraine will take generations to recover from this war. Eighty years from now it and climate change will be the major factors.

Ukraine is going to wind up without Crimea, Donbass, Luhansk, the Crimean land bridge and possibly a chunk more. It could even lose its entire coast.

The war is being determined on the battlefield. Russia is now, as best I can tell, actually taking ground faster than before. In the battle for Avdiivka the Russians have taken the local hill with the commanding view over the entire region, allowing them to interdict reinforcements and hit anything they want.

They did this quickly.

Ukraine is losing, the speed of its loss will increase, and they will wind up with less population and land than if they had just made peace two months into the war.

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