EUROPE: The Crisis in Ukraine Is Not About Ukraine. It is About Germany – opinion

By Mike Whitney | The Unz Review – 15 February 2022

“The primordial interest of the United States, over which for centuries we have fought wars – the First, the Second and Cold Wars – has been the relationship between Germany and Russia, because united there, they’re the only force that could threaten us. And to make sure that that doesn’t happen.” George Friedman, STRATFOR CEO at The Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs 

The Ukrainian crisis has nothing to do with Ukraine. It is about Germany and, in particular, a pipeline that connects Germany to Russia called Nord Stream 2. Washington sees the pipeline as a threat to its primacy in Europe and has tried to sabotage the project at every turn. Even so, Nord Stream has pushed ahead and is now fully-operational and ready-to-go. Once German regulators provide the final certification, the gas deliveries will begin. German homeowners and businesses will have a reliable source of clean and inexpensive energy while Russia will see a significant boost to their gas revenues. It’s a win-win situation for both parties.       

The US Foreign Policy establishment is not happy about these developments. They don’t want Germany to become more dependent on Russian gas because commerce builds trust and trust leads to the expansion of trade. As relations grow warmer, more trade barriers are lifted, regulations are eased, travel and tourism increase, and a new security architecture evolves. In a world where Germany and Russia are friends and trading partners, there is no need for US military bases, no need for expensive US-made weapons and missile systems, and no need for NATO. There’s also no need to transact energy deals in US Dollars or to stockpile US Treasuries to balance accounts. Transactions between business partners can be conducted in their own currencies which is bound to precipitate a sharp decline in the value of the dollar and a dramatic shift in economic power.

This is why the US administration opposes Nord Stream. It’s not just a pipeline, it’s a window into the future; a future in which Europe and Asia are drawn closer together into a massive free trade zone that increases their mutual power and prosperity while leaving the US on the outside looking in. Warmer relations between Germany and Russia signal an end to the “unipolar” world order the US has overseen for the last 75 years. A German-Russo alliance threatens to hasten the decline of the Superpower that is presently inching closer to the abyss. This is why Washington is determined to do everything it can to sabotage Nord Stream and keep Germany within its orbit. It is a matter of survival.

That is where Ukraine comes into the picture. Ukraine is Washington’s ‘weapon of choice’ for torpedoing Nord Stream and putting a wedge between Germany and Russia. The strategy is taken from page one of the US Foreign Policy Handbook under the rubric: Divide and Rule. Washington needs to create the perception that Russia poses a security threat to Europe. That is the goal. They need to show that Putin is a bloodthirsty aggressor with a hair-trigger temper who cannot be trusted. To that end, the media has been given the assignment of reiterating over and over again, “Russia is planning to invade Ukraine.”

All of the hysterical war propaganda is created with the intention of manufacturing a crisis that can be used to isolate, demonize and, ultimately, splinter Russia into smaller units. The real target, however, is NOT Russia, but GERMANY. 

Check out this excerpt from an article by Michael Hudson at The Unz Review: 

“The only way left for U.S. diplomats to block European purchases is to goad Russia into a military response and then claim that avenging this response outweighs any purely national economic interest. As hawkish Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, explained in a State Department press briefing on January 27: “If Russia invades Ukraine one way or another Nord Stream 2 will not move forward.”

There it is in black and white. The USA wants to “goad Russia into a military response” in order to sabotage Nord Stream. That implies there will be some kind of provocation designed to induce Putin to send his troops across the border to defend the ethnic Russians in the eastern part of the country. If Putin takes the bait, the response would be swift and harsh. The media will excoriate the action as a threat to all of Europe while leaders around the world will denounce Putin as the “new Hitler”. This is Washington’s strategy in a nutshell, and the whole production is being orchestrated with one goal in mind; to make it politically impossible for the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to wave Nord Stream through the final approval process.

Given what we know about Washington’s opposition to Nord Stream, readers may wonder why earlier in the year the Biden administration lobbied Congress NOT to impose more sanctions on the project. The answer to that question is simple: DOMESTIC POLITICS.

Germany is currently decommissioning its nuclear power plants and needs natural gas to make up for the energy shortfall. Also, the threat of economic sanctions is a “turn-off” for Germans who see them as a sign of foreign meddling. “Why is the United States interfering in our energy decisions,” asks the average German. “Washington should mind its own business and stay out of ours.” This is precisely the response one would expect from any reasonable person.

Then, there is this from Al Jazeera, “Nord Stream 2: Why Russia’s pipeline to Europe divides the West”: 

“Germans in the majority support the project, it is only parts of the elite and media who are against the pipeline…”

“The more the US talks about sanctioning or criticizes the project, the more it becomes popular in German society,” said Stefan Meister, a Russia and eastern Europe expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations.” 

So, public opinion is solidly behind Nord Stream which helps to explain why Washington settled on a new approach. Sanctions are not going to work, so Uncle Sam has flipped to Plan B: Create a big enough external threat that Germany will be forced to block the opening of the pipeline. Frankly, the strategy smacks of desperation, but you have to be impressed by Washington’s perseverance. They might be down by 5 runs in the bottom of the 9th, but they haven’t thrown in the towel just yet. They’re going to give it one last shot and see if they can make some headway.

When President Biden held his first joint-press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the White House, the ballyhoo surrounding the event was simply unprecedented. Everything was orchestrated to manufacture a “crisis atmosphere” that Biden used to pressure the chancellor in the direction of US policy. Earlier in the week, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki repeatedly said that a “Russian invasion was imminent.” Her comments were followed by State Department flak Nick Price opining that the Intel agencies had provided him with details of an alleged Russian-backed “false flag” operation they expected to take place in the near future in east Ukraine. Price’s warning was followed on Sunday morning by national security advisor Jake Sullivan claiming that a Russian invasion could happen at any time maybe “even tomorrow”.

Can you see the pattern here? Can you see how these baseless claims were all used to apply pressure to the unsuspecting German chancellor who seemed oblivious to the campaign that was aimed at him? 

As one might expect, the final blow was delivered by the American president himself. During the press conference Biden stated emphatically that:

“If Russia invades … there will no longer [be] a Nord Stream 2.. We will bring an end to it.” 

The German chancellor was taken aback by Biden’s comments which clearly were not part of the original script. Even so, Scholz never agreed to cancel Nord Stream and refused to even mention the pipeline by name. If Biden thought he could sandbag the leader of the world’s third biggest economy by cornering him in a public forum, he guessed wrong. Germany remains committed to launching Nord Stream regardless of potential flare-ups in far-flung Ukraine. But that could change at any time. After all, who knows what incitements Washington might be planning in the near future? Who knows how many lives they are prepared to sacrifice in order to put a wedge between Germany and Russia? Who knows what risks the USA is willing to take to slow America’s decline and prevent a new “polycentric” world order from emerging? Anything could happen in the weeks ahead. Anything.

For now, Germany is in the catbird seat. It’s up to Scholz to decide how the matter will be settled. Will he implement the policy that best serves the interests of the German people or will he cave in to Biden’s relentless arm twisting? Will he chart a new course that strengthens new alliances in the bustling Eurasian corridor or will he throw his support behind Washington’s crazed geopolitical ambitions? Will he accept Germany’s pivotal role in a new world order— in which many emerging centers of power share equally in global governance and where the leadership remains unflinchingly committed to multilateralism, peaceful development and security for all – or will he try to prop up the tattered post-War system that has clearly outlived its shelf-life?

One thing is certain; whatever Germany decides is bound to affect us all. 

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  • Clyde Duncan  On 02/18/2022 at 5:34 am

    What’s At Stake In Ukraine Is The Direction Of Human History

    Humanity’s greatest political achievement has been the decline of war. That is now in jeopardy

    By Yuval Noah Harari | The Economist

    At the heart of the Ukraine crisis lies a fundamental question about the nature of history and the nature of humanity: IS CHANGE POSSIBLE?

    Can humans change the way they behave, or does history repeat itself endlessly, with humans forever condemned to re-enact past tragedies without changing anything except the décor?

    ONE SCHOOL OF THOUGHT FIRMLY DENIES THE POSSIBILITY OF CHANGE. It argues that the world is a jungle, that the strong prey upon the weak and that the only thing preventing one country from wolfing down another is military force. This is how it always was, and this is how it always will be.

    Those who don’t believe in the law of the jungle are not just deluding themselves, but are putting their very existence at risk. They will not survive long.

    ANOTHER SCHOOL OF THOUGHT ARGUES THAT THE SO-CALLED LAW OF THE JUNGLE ISN’T A NATURAL LAW AT ALL. Humans made it, and humans can change it. Contrary to popular misconceptions, the first clear evidence for organised warfare appears in the archaeological record only 13,000 years ago.

    Even after that date there have been many periods devoid of archaeological evidence for war. Unlike gravity, war isn’t a fundamental force of nature. Its intensity and existence depend on underlying technological, economic and cultural factors. As these factors change, so does war.

    Evidence of such change is all around us. Over the past few generations, nuclear weapons have turned war between superpowers into a mad act of collective suicide, forcing the most powerful nations on Earth to find less violent ways to resolve conflict. Whereas great-power wars, such as the second Punic war or the second world war, have been a salient feature for much of history, in the past seven decades there has been no direct war between superpowers.

    DURING THE SAME PERIOD, THE GLOBAL ECONOMY HAS BEEN TRANSFORMED FROM ONE BASED ON MATERIALS TO ONE BASED ON KNOWLEDGE. Where once the main sources of wealth were material assets such as gold mines, wheat fields and oil wells, today the main source of wealth is knowledge.

    WHEREAS YOU CAN SEIZE OIL FIELDS BY FORCE, YOU CANNOT ACQUIRE KNOWLEDGE THAT WAY. THE PROFITABILITY OF CONQUEST HAS DECLINED AS A RESULT.

    FINALLY, A TECTONIC SHIFT HAS TAKEN PLACE IN GLOBAL CULTURE. Many elites in history — Hun chieftains, Viking jarls and Roman patricians, for example — viewed war positively. Rulers from Sargon the Great to Benito Mussolini sought to immortalise themselves by conquest and artists such as Homer and Shakespeare happily obliged such fancies. Other elites, such as the Christian church, viewed war as evil but inevitable.

    IN THE PAST FEW GENERATIONS, HOWEVER, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY THE WORLD BECAME DOMINATED BY ELITES WHO SEE WAR AS BOTH EVIL AND AVOIDABLE.

    Even the likes of George W. Bush and Donald Trump, not to mention the Merkels and Arderns of the world, are very different types of politicians than Attila the Hun or Alaric the Goth. They usually come to power with dreams of domestic reforms rather than foreign conquests. While in the realm of art and thought, most of the leading lights — from Pablo Picasso to Stanley Kubrick — are better known for depicting the senseless horrors of combat than for glorifying its architects.

    As a result of all these changes, most governments stopped seeing wars of aggression as an acceptable tool to advance their interests, and most nations stopped fantasising about conquering and annexing their neighbours. IT IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE THAT MILITARY FORCE ALONE PREVENTS BRAZIL FROM CONQUERING URUGUAY OR PREVENTS SPAIN FROM INVADING MOROCCO.

    THE PARAMETERS OF PEACE

    THE DECLINE OF WAR IS EVIDENT IN NUMEROUS STATISTICS. Since 1945, it has become relatively rare for international borders to be redrawn by foreign invasion, and not a single internationally recognised country has been completely wiped off the map by external conquest. But even when taking all types of conflict into account, in the first two decades of the 21st century human violence has killed fewer people than suicide, car accidents or obesity-related diseases. GUNPOWDER HAS BECOME LESS LETHAL THAN DEMERARA SUGAR.

    In recent decades “peace” has come to mean “the implausibility of war”. For many countries, being invaded and conquered by the neighbours has become almost inconceivable. I live in the Middle East, so I know perfectly well that there are exceptions to these trends. But recognising the trends is at least as important as being able to point out the exceptions.

    THE “NEW PEACE” HASN’T BEEN A STATISTICAL FLUKE OR HIPPIE FANTASY. It has been reflected most clearly in coldly-calculated budgets. In recent decades governments around the world have felt safe enough to spend an average of only about 6.5% of their budgets on their armed forces, while spending far more on education, health care and welfare.

    We tend to take it for granted, but it is an astonishing novelty in human history. For thousands of years, military expenditure was by far the biggest item on the budget of every prince, khan, sultan and emperor. They hardly spent a penny on education or medical help for the masses.

    THE DECLINE OF WAR DIDN’T RESULT FROM A DIVINE MIRACLE OR FROM A CHANGE IN THE LAWS OF NATURE. It resulted from humans making better choices. It is arguably the greatest political and moral achievement of modern civilisation. UNFORTUNATELY, THE FACT THAT IT STEMS FROM HUMAN CHOICE ALSO MEANS THAT IT IS REVERSIBLE.

    Technology, economics and culture continue to change. The rise of cyber weapons, AI-driven economies and newly militaristic cultures could result in a new era of war, worse than anything we have seen before. To enjoy peace, we need almost everyone to make good choices. By contrast, a poor choice by just one side can lead to war.

    THIS IS WHY THE RUSSIAN THREAT TO INVADE UKRAINE SHOULD CONCERN EVERY PERSON ON EARTH. If it again becomes normative for powerful countries to wolf down their weaker neighbours, it would affect the way people all over the world feel and behave. The first and most obvious result of a return to the law of the jungle would be a sharp increase in military spending at the expense of everything else. The money that should go to teachers, nurses and social workers would instead go to tanks, missiles and cyber weapons.

    A return to the jungle would also undermine global co-operation on problems such as preventing catastrophic climate change or regulating disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence and genetic engineering. IT ISN’T EASY TO WORK ALONGSIDE COUNTRIES THAT ARE PREPARING TO ELIMINATE YOU.

    HISTORY’S DIRECTION

    IF YOU BELIEVE THAT HISTORIC CHANGE IS IMPOSSIBLE, AND THAT HUMANITY NEVER LEFT THE JUNGLE AND NEVER WILL, THE ONLY CHOICE LEFT IS WHETHER TO PLAY THE PART OF PREDATOR OR PREY.

    BUT MAYBE CHANGE IS POSSIBLE? MAYBE THE LAW OF THE JUNGLE IS A CHOICE RATHER THAN AN INEVITABILITY?

    If so, any leader who chooses to conquer a neighbour will get a special place in humanity’s memory, far worse than your run-of-the-mill Tamerlane. He will go down in history as the man who ruined our greatest achievement. JUST WHEN WE THOUGHT WE WERE OUT OF THE JUNGLE, HE PULLED US BACK IN. With alpha predators adding their names to the grim list of conquerors that unfortunate pupils are condemned to memorize for their history exams.

    I DON’T KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN UKRAINE. But as a historian I do believe in the possibility of change. I don’t think this is naivety — it’s realism. The only constant of human history is change. And that’s something that perhaps we can learn from the Ukrainians.

    For many generations, Ukrainians knew little but tyranny and violence. They endured two centuries of tsarist autocracy, which finally collapsed amidst the cataclysm of the first world war. A brief attempt at independence was quickly crushed by the Red Army that re-established Russian rule. Ukrainians then lived through the terrible man-made famine of the Holodomor, Stalinist terror, Nazi occupation and decades of soul-crushing Communist dictatorship. When the Soviet Union collapsed, history seemed to guarantee that Ukrainians would again go down the path of brutal tyranny – what else did they know?

    But they chose differently. Despite history, despite grinding poverty and despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Ukrainians established a democracy. In Ukraine, unlike in Russia and Belarus, opposition candidates repeatedly replaced incumbents. When faced with the threat of autocracy in 2004 and 2013, Ukrainians twice rose in revolt to defend their freedom. Their democracy is a new thing. So is the “new peace”. Both are fragile, and may not last long. But both are possible, and may strike deep roots. EVERY OLD THING WAS ONCE NEW. IT ALL COMES DOWN TO HUMAN CHOICES. ■

    Copyright © Yuval Noah Harari 2022.

  • Peggy  On 02/18/2022 at 11:18 am

    Politics is a dirty game. Don’t believe a word a politician says. Pay attention to varying points of view. Be informed. Vote those out who want to send other people’s children to die or be maimed in a war. I honestly don’t know how some of these people sleep at night. They sell their souls for a vote. Never is the greater good of humanity at the forefront.

  • Dennis Albert  On 02/19/2022 at 7:23 pm

    They got a few Guyanese here who tell me that they should be glad that Russia and Ukraine are going to war because that means “mo oil money for we”.
    But what happens when Russia and China start dropping nuclear weapons?

  • fadipeb  On 02/23/2022 at 6:54 pm

    One thing is certsin apart from the horse trading implied in this piece ; Russia does not want a neighbour as physically close to it as Ukraine to be so cosy with the US/ NATO that the latter can install weapons ( offensive or defensive ) or listening posts inside Ukraine.

    And Putin treats this as a gravely existential issue he is willing to sacrifice assets like nord stream 11 and possibly even lives to forestall any prospects of rival or enemies nesting so close to Russian border.

    Ukraine should have foreseen this and for the sake of peace chosen to be nonaligned.
    To cast your lot with nato is to lose your lot with Russia.

    And beyond this, Ukraine should not be fooled. Cast your lot with the US is penny wise pound foolish choice.

    US will use Ukraine as “ weapon of choice “ against Russia and when the exigencies are right , will walk away from Ukraine, dropping her as you do a hot potato. The US has only permanent interests not permanent friends

  • Clyde Duncan  On 02/24/2022 at 7:19 am

    The rest of the world let Ukraine down – Big Time! Canada trains our troops over there and they should have helped Ukraine build up their defenses ….

    Portugal and the Palestinians could have helped with the design and installation of tunnels, for example – as for the USA, the arsenal of war – they could have armed Ukraine to the teeth with small arms in those tunnels ….

    As the Principle of Surprise goes:

    The enemy must not be unaware of your intent – but, aware too late to react.

    Putin caught the rest of the world napping in a Big Way!

  • Clyde Duncan  On 02/24/2022 at 8:01 am

    Putin’s Three Choices On Ukraine

    By Zbigniew Brzezinski | The Washington Post – July 8, 2014

    Zbigniew Brzezinski was national security adviser from 1977 to 1981. This commentary was adapted from testimony he is scheduled to deliver to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday.

    More than three months have passed since Vladimir Putin’s triumphalist speech to the Russian parliament. In it, he exulted in his military seizure of Crimea while basking in an orgy of chauvinistic sentiment. Putin clearly relished the enthusiasm and apparently gave little thought to the larger, longer-term strategic consequences of what he unleashed.

    Three months later, amid continuing uncertainty regarding the future of Russo-Ukrainian relations, as well as growing international costs for Russia, Putin faces three basic choices:

    1. PUTIN COULD PURSUE AN ACCOMMODATION WITH UKRAINE BY TERMINATING THE ASSAULT ON ITS SOVEREIGNTY AND ECONOMIC WELL-BEING. This would require wisdom and persistence from Russia as well as Ukraine and the West. Such an accommodation should involve the termination of Russian efforts to destabilize Ukraine from within, ending any threat of a larger invasion, and some sort of East-West understanding that entails Russia’s tacit acceptance of Ukraine’s prolonged journey toward eventual European Union membership. At the same time, it should be made clear that Ukraine does not seek, and the West does not contemplate, Ukrainian membership in NATO. It is reasonable for Russia to feel uncomfortable about that prospect.

    Additionally, it would likewise be made clear that Russia no longer expects Ukraine to become part of the “Eurasian Union”, which is a transparent cover for the recreation of something approximating the former Soviet Union or tsarist empire. This should not preclude, however, a Russian-Ukrainian trade deal, since both countries can benefit from increasingly cooperative trade as well as financial relations.

    The international community could reiterate its support for that outcome and the resumption of more normal relations with Russia itself, including the lifting of sanctions.

    2. PUTIN COULD CONTINUE TO SPONSOR A THINLY VEILED MILITARY INTERVENTION DESIGNED TO DISRUPT LIFE IN PORTIONS OF UKRAINE. Should Russia continue on this course, obviously the West would have to undertake a prolonged and truly punishing application of sanctions designed to convey to Russia the painful consequences of its violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty. This unfortunate outcome would likely yield two basket cases in Eastern Europe:

    Ukraine, because of destructive Russian actions, and Russia itself.

    3. PUTIN COULD INVADE UKRAINE, EXPLOITING RUSSIA’S MUCH LARGER MILITARY POTENTIAL. Such an action, however, would not only prompt retaliation by the West but also could provoke Ukrainian resistance. If such resistance were sustained and intense, there would be growing pressure on the members of NATO to support the Ukrainians in a variety of forms, making the conflict much costlier to the aggressor.

    For the Kremlin, the consequence of this third option would be not only a permanently hostile Ukrainian population of more than 40 million but also an economically and politically isolated Russia facing the growing possibility of internal unrest.

    The obviously correct choice is to find a formula for accommodation, which must involve the abandonment of the use of force against Ukraine by Russia. The issue of Crimea will remain unresolved for now, but it will serve as an enduring reminder that chauvinistic fanaticism is not the best point of departure for resolving complex issues. This is why Putin’s actions are a threat not only to the West but, ultimately, also to Russia itself.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 02/24/2022 at 8:05 am

    “There is no purgatory for war criminals. They go straight to hell ambassador.”

  • Clyde Duncan  On 02/24/2022 at 10:29 am

    Analysis | Putin’s Miscalculation: Ukraine Could Become His Afghanistan

    WITHIN RUSSIA ITSELF, THE MEDIA IS STILL REFERRING TO THE INVASION AS A “SPECIAL FORCES OPERATION IN DONBAS.”

    Anshel Pfeffer | Haaretz

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has made it abundantly clear – in his televised address on Monday night, in a lengthy essay he published last July and in his policies over the past two decades – that he does not regard Ukraine as a legitimate independent nation. On Thursday morning, with the wide-scale attack the Russian army launched on Ukraine, he has finally shown any lingering skeptics that he plans to end Ukraine’s 30 years of independence.

    But despite Russia’s overwhelming military superiority, this will not be as easy as Putin seems to assume.

    Putin’s message to his armed forces that Ukraine is “run by neo-Nazis” isn’t just a ridiculous assertion – especially since Ukraine’s democratically elected president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is himself Jewish. It is also an insight into Putin’s war strategy.

    It is based on his expectation that once Russian forces are within Ukraine, cutting off its vital supply routes and encircling the main cities, Zelenskyy’s government will crumble, the Ukrainian soldiers will put down their arms and the “liberating” Russian troops will be greeted with flowers, as if they were the victorious Red Army 80 years ago.

    IN THE SHORT-TERM, PARTS OF THIS SCENARIO MAY MATERIALIZE. Russia’s massive propaganda machine will certainly work overtime to create the impression that it is. But Ukraine’s history strongly suggests this will not be the outcome in the long run.

    IT MAY NOT HAVE ENJOYED MORE THAN BRIEF PERIODS OF INDEPENDENCE, BUT UKRAINE’S NATIONAL IDENTITY GOES BACK MANY CENTURIES, BOTH ENTWINED WITH THAT OF RUSSIA BUT ALSO DISTINCT FROM IT. It emerged as a sovereign state in 1991, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, despite all its suffering throughout the preceding century. The millions of dead in two world wars, civil war, famines – including one that was intentionally orchestrated – and the years of Russian czarist, Soviet and Nazi German rule failed to eliminate Ukraine as a nation. Ukrainians have survived and seen off worse enemies than Russia’s current dictator.

    Even if Russia’s army, as now seems to be the intention, makes it all the way to Kyiv, topples the government and occupies much of Ukraine’s territory, significant pockets of resistance will remain and extensive networks of Ukrainian fighters will continue the war behind enemy lines.

    Russia’s armed forces are currently taking out Ukraine’s air defenses and beginning the invasion at multiple points on its borders and Black Sea coastline – but even they don’t have the capacity for a long and dirty war of occupation and attrition in such a large country.

    If Russia does go all the way, it could be facing a scenario far worse than its costly and ultimately failed Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.

    Putin has spent much of his adult life studying the downfall of the Soviet Union and pinpointing the mistakes he believes the Soviet leadership made. The Afghanistan campaign played a part in eroding the public’s trust in the Kremlin, and Putin obviously feels this will not be the case with Ukraine. THIS IS LIKELY TO BE HIS MOST CRUCIAL MISTAKE.

    Unlike Afghanistan, where the fighting and slow bleeding of the Russian occupier was happening in a remote country and, for the most part, far from the world’s view, UKRAINE IS IN EUROPE.

    This is the high speed, interconnected 21st century, where every event is immediately captured by smartphone cameras and streamed online. Every ambush of a Russian patrol. Every time a Javelin rocket sets a Russian tank alight and a Stinger missile shoots down a Russian helicopter. Every graphic detail, including the faces of the dead and the wounded, will be brought home to the Russian public.

    THE EROSION OF PUBLIC TRUST AND SUPPORT OF THIS CAMPAIGN WILL BE MUCH FASTER THAN IN THE LONG DECADE OF RUSSIA’S PRESENCE IN AFGHANISTAN.

    And there is already reason to believe – though polling from within Russia is sketchy – that Putin’s subjects aren’t that enthusiastic about becoming the occupiers of a sister nation. That is one of the reasons Putin is trying so hard to make this look like he’s liberating Ukraine from a “neo-Nazi” regime rather than it being a hostile takeover. WITHIN RUSSIA ITSELF, THE MEDIA IS STILL REFERRING TO THE INVASION AS A “SPECIAL FORCES OPERATION IN DONBAS”.

    In 2014, the invasion and annexation of the small Crimean Peninsula, which took place within a matter of days and without casualties, was a PR boost for Putin at home. The much less successful attempt to carve off large parts of eastern Ukraine that has been ongoing ever since, at the price of hundreds of Russian – and thousands of Ukrainian – lives, has been largely hidden from the eyes of the Russian public. THIS WAR WILL NOT BE HIDDEN, AND THAT COULD UPEND ALL OF PUTIN’S CALCULATIONS.

    For Western leaders, there is now the stark and bleak realization that the structures they put their trust in to ensure peace and stability in Europe have been found to be insufficient. Diplomacy has failed. So too has the belief that the economic benefits of open trade with Russia would make war unthinkable.

    The conclusions are difficult but inescapable. Larger proportions of gross domestic product will have to be spent on defense, and energy policies overhauled. The Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany will not be the only casualty.

    Then-U.S. President Donald Trump toyed with the idea of the United States leaving NATO, and French President Emmanuel Macron proclaimed the military alliance “brain-dead” and dreamed of replacing it with a European security framework. Instead, NATO is now more essential than ever and its leaders are coordinating at their highest level for years, thanks to Putin – another factor Putin seems to have been wrong about.

    Western countries have made the understandable decision not to intervene militarily on the side of Ukraine, a non-NATO member, but they can be expected to move soon beyond economic sanctions and pursue other avenues of hitting Russia – including cyber-sabotage and damaging intelligence leaks. And, most importantly, by reinforcing their presence in the NATO member-countries that border on Russia and Ukraine.

  • walln  On 02/24/2022 at 11:22 am

    Everyday….Ukraine Ukraine Ukraine…Russia Russia Russia.. while Guyana slipping into the gutter, come on people focus focus.. Europeans at war …cyclic, ever think some people might be dragging you .. along the road of distraction?

  • Clyde Duncan  On 03/02/2022 at 4:59 pm

    Analysis | ‘Putin Has an Ultimate Goal, and It’s NOT Ukraine’

    Prof. Dima Adamsky, an expert on Russian strategic thinking, admits he was shocked by Putin’s speech and what the Russia-Ukraine war could mean for the Iran nuke deal

    Amos Harel | Haaretz

    In Putin’s eyes, the government in Kyiv has no independent right of existence; it is only a tool in the hands of the West. He has now moved to address both the symptom and the big problem:

    In the system of international relations. The goal is to restore Russia as an equal partner at the table of the great powers. For the Russians, this is not just propaganda – they really and truly believe in it.

    The question is how all of this is supposed to end from their point of view.

    BECAUSE THE RUSSIAN BUILD-UP BEFORE THE OFFENSIVE WAS SO LARGE, IT CAN’T END WITH A WHIMPER.

    When Putin talks about the West’s attempt to impose on Russia a way of life that does not suit it, he sounds almost messianic. On the other hand, the Americans can’t allow themselves to buckle under and display weakness either. They are in the midst of a strategic competition with China.

    Accordingly, the USA too will be ready to escalate some of their moves. Russia and the United States will have to find a way to exit from this collision. It’s only Ukraine that no one is taking into account.

    In the shorter term, the sharp confrontation between the world powers might disrupt the finalization of the renewed nuclear accord that is now under discussion with the Iranians in Vienna.

    Recent weeks have seen reports of considerable progress in the negotiations, but the view in Israel is that unresolved disparities remain between the sides. Now it will be difficult for the powers to work out a joint agreement.

    The war in Ukraine will certainly delay the signing of the new accord in Vienna. In fact, it might even bring about the collapse of the talks. From the viewpoint of Tehran, which apparently intended to sign the agreement in all seriousness, that could be disappointing news.

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