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

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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  1. bruce wilder

    Like Hillary’s Syrian No-Fly-Zone from the 2016 campaign. That seemed like a good idea to Clinton, a self-righteous, virtue-dripping mediocrity and the people around her. Victoria Nuland was talked of as her likely Secretary of State.

    And, yet, there were others in the Obama Administration or the permanent establishment who could see the insanity and made sure someone asked the question on national television so we could all see her answer.

    But, how many could see that display for the frightening, pathetic display of psychopathology it was?

    Admittedly, there was hardly a contrast available. No highlighting of differences to give high dimensionality to the picture presented.

    “What’s your alternative?” (To which the expected answer is always apparently, “let us close our eyes and pray . . .”)

    The previous post featured the mercurial light-weight Macron, who loves flying around or phoning to lecture Xi or Putin (who treat him like an annoying child). Macron was mouthing the crazy words, seeming in public to be unable to compute the simplest equation or consider the obvious contradiction. (“We cannot let Russia ‘win’!” . . . well, why not? would negotiating an agreement that you would have to keep be worse than, say, the personal experience of a root canal?) Macron, whose Prime Minister and Foreign Minister are divorced gay lovers still on Grindr. (Nothing against gays in high office, but questioning whether very young, inexperienced, arrogant and privileged fresh from the disco are good qualifications for statesmen.)

    Who are these people? Where do they come from? Why are they selected? Why do We the People in democratic polities accept them as normal? Justin Trudeau. Genocide Joe Biden, senile and corrupt. And, personalities in the Media go along with this nonsense. Ian reminds us that “the adults in the room” were considered “serious” in contrast to the hippies, that is before the hippies were infected with a fatal case of TDS.

    Stupid is nothing new in history. I certainly know that. But, the folly of hubris requires some foregoing greatness to qualify the fall, doesn’t it?

    It is indeed a strange moment in history when the Right is speaking sense. Putin. Orban.

    Tucker Carlson for the love of gad! But it is up to the likes of him to call attention to the emperor’s nakedness.

    I know there are still moral, sane people out there. But, so few!? Are there always so few? The Russiagate gaslighting bothers me deeply as does the fact so many have never regained a sense of reality. It is a factor here. Russian arms are advancing slowly and steadily on the Ukrainian battlefront and in tandem Media acknowledgment that maybe, possibly Russia’s invasion was NOT unprovoked penetrates the collective consciousness. What is that collective consciousness, that mass formation psychosis that in my youth was called Public Opinion or common sense? That consent of the governed to be governed by people responsible enough to steer clear of nuclear war? That consensus that underlay, for example, the belief that peace in the Middle East with Israel and Palestine both still standing was the only legitimate goal — a consensus so strong (albeit naive)that hateful bigots hid from it in hypocrisy and pretense?

    It is disorienting, this breakdown of the ability to reason on matters of global public concern. Hello, if Israel has the right to defend itself, so does Palestine. Is that logic really such a leap that angry Zionists cannot make it? Cannot game out three steps ahead? See where this goes?

    My mind isn’t wandering in this rant, disconnected though my reasoning may seem. I see European statesmen (sic) entertaining risk of nuclear war with this Russia (the real one, not the one they imagine in propaganda) and it seems of one piece with so much else going terribly wrong and with a lot of shouting about irrelevancies and even more not paying critical attention at all. A propaganda-soaked media environment where most people are paying little attention and leaders and their pundit sycophants are unable to reason above the level of middle-schoolers. I feel like the deliberate undermining of a sense of shared reality is a big, big factor across politics.

  2. j

    much appreciated

  3. Ian Welsh

    Welcome, I guess. I really miss my corvids. Hard to find a good picture which fits this theme’s header.

  4. Mark Level

    I do think the new opener image is more relevant to the historical moment, as the West is clearly collapsing as a Hegemon– EUrope first (though they were always just wheels on the machine & haven’t been the Driver since the end of WW II.) But the US will get there, following the reasoning that Bruce lays out. I can only add to his “rant” (which all seems sensible to me) that the main central point is strong & clear to anyone who isn’t duped by the 24/7 Hasbara & MSM Mighty Wurlitzer narratives. Everyone in the former US institutions who was actually sane or “adult”, the people like Jeffrey Sachs, John Mearsheimer, even Colonel MacGregor (who early on I thought was a Trump extremist & nutcase genocider, I was clearly wrong), etc. has been forced out of the Narrative & into samizdat media comms, suppressed on YouTube despite solid, well-sourced content that proves correct.

    But your point is valid: I never could’ve imagined myself watching Judge Andrew Napolitano until 4-5 months ago (he used to be on NewsMax, a sub-Fox right wing troll farm) but he’s clearly grown as a human being, sympathizes with the Palestinians, has had Max Blumenthal, Larry Johnson, Ray McGovern & others also forced out of the Official Narrative.

    Before leaving the Narrative, did people catch Linda Thomas-Greenfield explaining why she vetoed the Israel-Gaza Cease Fire resolution, 13 Security Council members supporting, even the Brits abstained & the US vetoed it, she promised a “final solution” to the problem? Brilliant! They pick someone that stupid because she is a black woman, it looks better if open support for genocide is not coming from a white male official. (And I am commenting on LTG as an individual, NOT making broad-brush assertions about race. Just imagine being in that position & you know nothing of WW II and the German’s Final Solution to “the Jewish Problem”.)

    As to Ian’s point, Russia will not allow “Peacekeepers” to dominate the Russian-speaking areas of Ukraine & continue the Azov style pogroms, lynching, killing & jailing of their people. And since the only “victories” (in narrative terms, not necessarily military terms) that Ukraine has had during 2023- early 2024 were random hits on Russian Ships near Crimea, & on Crimea itself, there is absolutely no way the Russians will end the war without advancing as far as Odessa & utterly denying the Ukranians Black Sea access. To do less means they would be vulnerable to a Western restart of the War in a year or two at the earliest.

    Otherwise I’ll agree with the current take of the experts at the Duran. Russia will grab everything East of the Dnieper & the majority of the Russian speaking areas & hold them. They will leave a depopulated Ukraine with millions abroad never returning and a demographic time bomb of reduced population under the thumb of the wonderful “Reconstruction” services provided by Black Rock, Cargill, JP Morgan, etc. in areas with the poorest soil & a land-locked, corrupt & devolving fascist state to fight among themselves. In 2 decades Ukraine (the remnant thereof) may resemble Afghanistan, only the ideology will be about their “Aryan” nature rather than radical Islam.

  5. Tallifer

    If France would just man up and give as many weapons’ and as much money as Germany has, Macron would not have to make irresponsible noises to magnify his self-importance. (Meanwhile, even the opposition Conservatives in Canada spout the same meaningless, unhelpful gibberish as the government Liberals who say “As long as it takes” while they cut $2 billion from the Canadian military and send a handful of this and a smidgeon of that.)

  6. Forecasting Intelligence

    Hi Ian,

    As a European I can confidently say there is ZERO interesting among the public to send troops to Ukraine.

    Its not going to happen.

  7. Kevin

    Since early in the smo, that is the scenario I’ve predicted as the western response to Ukraine collapse when it finally becomes evident (even to the most fervent and propagandized russophobe) that there is no stopping Russian forces.
    Look for Ukraine to declare a unilateral ceasefire, after which what will be framed as a peacekeeping force will enter the country to cordon off what the west still hopes to keep from Russia. I think it will be mostly polish, but could include smaller forces of other nato countries, and will essentially be a huge “we dare you” bluff in Russia’s face. It won’t work, I expect, but how much of a disaster it will be for the west is too chaotic to answer.

  8. Media propaganda 2016-2024: “Putin is a psychopathic, Hitler-Centaur hybrid. His rule is the most dangerous thing to life on planet earth.”

    Reality 2023: “To avoid nuclear war hope Putin has the mothering capabilities to calm the psychopathic man-children leading the western world.”

    The west thinking that Russia wants to blow their wealth and people occupying deindustrialized Europe which relies on resources from abroad to function is projection. It’s what the West has done for hundreds of years to the rest of the world.

  9. Purple Library Guy

    Peacekeepers, huh? I wonder how bad that would break the UN. I mean, obviously they wouldn’t be United Nations peacekeepers because there would be two Security Council vetoes and they might not even be able to get a majority vote in the Security Council, much less the General Assembly. So they wouldn’t even try, they would have to be NATO peacekeepers or “coalition of the willing” peacekeepers.

    And the thing is, such critters have no legal standing. It would be pure “rules-based international order where we write the unwritten rules” shit. There would probably shortly be a vote in the General Assembly condemning the idea–maybe if it weren’t for the whole Israel thing there wouldn’t have been, but a lot of countries are pretty pissed with the US these days. And OK, such a vote would be largely irrelevant in the short term and the US would contemptuously ignore it as usual. But it would once again erode both the United Nations and most of the world’s perception of US “leadership”.

    And, the Russians would be under no obligation to accept their designation as “peacekeepers”–they could, and likely would, simply say that these are not peacekeepers, peacekeepers are a United Nations thing, they are NATO troops being shipped to stand on the battle front with Ukrainian troops, and will be treated accordingly.

    Not saying it couldn’t happen. Groupthink is powerful. But there are a lot of reasons why it’s about as insane as the other insane options.

  10. bruce wilder

    UK Admiral Radakin: Russia doesn’t want a conflict with NATO as it would “lose quickly” the UK’s armed forces chief said.

    UK’s submarine-based nuclear missile failed a launch test a few weeks ago, again. And neither of its aircraft carriers is operational. But, nevermind.

  11. Ian is North America’s best spitballer. There are excellent complementary comments above too.
    What I am getting curious about is the $61 billion Ukrainian supplemental aid package. The savvy (in their eyes) politicians tell in hushed tones, “The money stays here for our defense industry.” Well, duh.
    But is the mix of weapons to be funded and manufactured really for Ukraine or are they more suited to reinforcing Taiwan?

  12. Feral Finster

    @Tallifer: more than weapons, Ukraine lacks warm live bodies. I suggest that you go, as the various neonazi paramilitaries fighting for the regime in Kiev gladly accept foreign volunteers. And spare me any talk of your fitness. They don’t care, as the regime has already press-ganged people with Down’s Syndrome, stroke victims, persons blind in one eye, etc.. The only qualification needed is that you can soak up Russian munitions, and I am sure that you are quite capable of that.

    n.b. France has sent long-range missiles, tanks and artillery, among other things. The idea that Macron would spare weapons but not French troops is absurd.

    @Forecasting intelligence: since when did european leaders start to give a rat’s ass what the public needed or wanted?

    The words of the european leader Hermann Goering come prominently to mind:

    “Why, of course, the people don’t want war,” Goering shrugged. “Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.”

    “There is one difference,” I pointed out. “In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.”

    “Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

  13. Soredemos


    The needed weapons don’t exist in sufficient quantities in NATO. And Ukraine doesn’t have enough meat left to operate them anyway. It’s over. Ukraine lost (not that they could ever have won to begin with). Europe either needs to accept this, or advance to openly starting WW3. But the proxy stage is over.

  14. VietnamVet

    The “peacekeepers” would have to be under the UN auspices preferably with Eastern European Troops manning the DMZ built along the line of contact since Russia is firmly convinced that the West (EU, USA & UK) are agreement incapable. Also. this would require a new American President since this would be another devastating military defeat for the Obama/Biden Administration.

    Once signed the UN Armistice would resurrect the Multi-polar World and a wane Cold War 2. This time it would be the West who could no longer afford to go war profiteering hither and there. MAD would again assure global peace except for revolts in states where theocratic neo-liberal remnants are still exploiting workers and the Earth’s natural resources for their personal gain.

  15. Mark Level

    I’ll agree with both Finster & Sorodemos; I knew the outcome of this on Feb. 24, 2022 & it’s nearly here.

    It’s tough to be a Cassandra, to be right yet everyone believes you are insane. But at least one can say “I told you so” after (at least to those one still talks to.) Here’s the thing– at this point the Biden Team has to choose between Israel & the Ukies, they don’t have nearly the resources to support both. I think which they will choose is obvious, so I won’t even write it here.

    Oh, heck, Golem can only have one “Precious” & we all know the Mideast is far more “strategic” than the Slavic Boondocks (a word we borrowed from the Filipinos when we “liberated” them via 200,000 dead & many more tortured in the late 19th century.) Also, even in the glory days when the MSM was cheering about Ukraine’s certain victory, building Zelensky up as a Churchillian figure & nominating him for the Nobel Peace Prize, the Ukraine Lobby never had 1/50th the power of the AIPAC & Zionist crowd, which own all but 2 or 3 major federal officials (Talib, & . . . ?) It’s over, the fat lady will sing soon.

  16. bruce wilder

    The emergence of reactionary conservatives as the sane, rational voices, even if marginalized from mainstream corporate media, is an interesting phenomenon.

    Jeffrey Sachs was pretty mainstream, even vaguely centre-left and John Mearshimer is well-established as an academic and credentialed. I would count those two as courageous, in that they have accepted alienation to a degree from the establishment and some degree of access has been sacrificed. But, they were neither one reactionary conservatives.

    Douglas MacGregor on the other hand served in the Trump Administration and is semi-famous for his minor but important role in the Gulf War. I would definitely peg him as a species of right-wing nut, with his belief that FDR had prior knowledge of Pearl Harbor and deliberately “let it happen”. Judge Napalitano seems pretty right-wing in his basic outlook and has been exiled from cable news, where his appeal was limited, for whatever reason.

    The Duran boys are also pretty far Right. Their Greek Russophile affiliations are curious, and their nostalgia for the Czarist regime is a tell at times. Mercouris was already marginalized as a disgraced barrister.

  17. mago

    The fat lady’s dead and gone, not singing no more.
    Russia’s been the bad man , the sad man, the straw man like forever in the European mindset.
    And the Ruskies keep on trying for acceptance in the midst of hate, suspicions and hostilities.

    Now the tide has shifted and the ankle biters are going wild as Macron and his frou frou cabinet demonstrate.

    Great comments, btw, with bruce wilder winning the race and Tallifer finishing last.

    Doesn’t matter about some banner/header issue given the reigning chaos, although I vote for corvids, just because they’re my friends.

    It’s looking like a Mad Max kinda movie though.

  18. Soredemos

    @Mark Level

    NATO never had the ability to keep Ukraine going in any scenario. It’s true it can’t support both, but it couldn’t support Ukraine amd prevent it from collapsing anyway. This just provides an excuse to drop aid.

  19. Mark Level

    To Bruce: Alexander Mercouris is anti-fascist, he lived in Greece as a child and his father was arrested for opposing the U.S.-installed Military junta. Just yesterday I was listening to one of his pieces & he mentioned his background in the Social Democrats and being skeptical about the uber-capitalist (Ayn Rand Neoliberalism) policies, when Social Democrats/ Labour still had some principles. (Now there is no Left in Britain, the Labour Party thinks considering Palestinians to be human beings is “anti-Semitic” and will hound out anyone like Jeremy Corbin who holds such a heretical view.) Mercouris is not as far left wing as I am, however the anti-Imperialism of both him & Alex Christoforou (whose name I misspelled earlier) is clearly sincere. Additionally the fact that people like John Mearsheimer, Jeffrey Sachs, Prof. Glenn Diesen (who has an interesting looking new book out about the Russia-Ukraine war in historical perspective) and others treat Mercouris as a peer when co-presenting with him says far more about his gravitas than any observation by a non-specialist like me would do. The 2 of them do have the occasional bad take– BDS, Biden Derangement Syndrome made them side with the racist Texas governor Abbot about putting up razor wire to injure and kill migrants crossing the border, e.g., despite Mercouris’ usual scrupulousness about legal matters. As to his time as a barrister ending in “disgrace”, this seems to be a smear like those directed at the very imperfect Russell Brand due to the kind of anti-Establishment content the Duran puts out. For this reason, I give these charges little if any credence. Mercouris does incredible amounts of research, admits his own shortcomings (e.g. map-reading) & both of them have kept me very much abreast of the war and been correct more than 90% of the time regarding future developments. I haven’t supported them to the extent I do this site & others, but do have a shirt which I wear. It takes tremendous courage to oppose your government & produce samizdat content, so I have great respect for both of them. And as to the Greek Orthodox stuff, it’s not my cup of tea (my personal culture is shaped mainly by my Spanish, Irish & French background) but I don’t have a negative take on it. Different strokes for different folks as the old saying goes.

    To Sorodemos– please read my post above more carefully. It opens with me stating I new the war’s outcome over 2 years ago. I never for a moment seriously thought Ukraine had a chance to beat the Russians, no matter how many billions the Collective West poured in, nor the mercenaries nor lawfare in the rigged “international courts” nor looting the Russian assets frozen in the West nor the pathetic Ukranian terrorist stunts like hitting Crimea or murdering Daria Dugina, etc. Yes, the “excuse to drop aid” is the final stab to Project Ukraine following the death by a thousand cuts that Russia’s “Aggressive Attrition” of Ukranian forces (Mercouris’ term) slowly & patiently achieved.

    After 2 years I am well & truly sick of having to hear the absurd propaganda from the limited time I am exposed to the MSM, or stupid acquaintances being shocked & angry that I don’t share their idiotic, blind hatred for “Putin/ Russia” an imaginary villain that has not harmed me in any way. (Though the US gov’t. stealing my taxes to flush down the Ukranian toilet has harmed me.) The psychopaths of the Ruling Class will learn nothing from this failure, likely 80% of the Shit Lib followers who supported it won’t either. But it is a serious wound to the Blind Idiot Hegemon so it consoles me. Since my teens during the Vietnam War, I have hated the Empire and wanted to see it die painfully. I’m over 60 & it’s happening now, & I’m still healthy enough to see it go to smash. So at least one of my youthful idealistic dreams is coming to fruition, which makes me very happy, because not everyone gets such a gift in their lifetime.

  20. Raad

    mago, I miss the corvids!! I’ve come to love crows and always had a habit of messing/playing with magpies!

  21. Altandmain

    Peacekeepers are only permitted when both sides agree to them.

    Russia has made it clear that they will treat any Western military force as an opposing force and respond accordingly.

    Most of the world outside of the Western world isn’t going to be fooled. I’m sure the Western media will try to portray this as “evil Putin attacking innocent peacekeepers” or some other propaganda, but it isn’t going to work.

    Not to mention, the Western military-industrial complex has fallen well short of the Russians in being able to sustain a long war.

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