A Paradigm Shift for the International Community

The News:

WaPo (“With almost all Russian forces inside Ukraine, Moscow and Kyiv explore limited cease-fire“):

Russia has sent nearly all its assembled combat power into Ukraine and on Thursday unleashed some of the most intense fighting since the invasion began, with local officials pleading for help as ground troops seized or encircled strategically important southern cities.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow’s mission was “going according to plan and in full compliance with the timetable,” despite widespread agreement among Western military analysts that the invasion had been slowed by unexpectedly fierce Ukrainian resistance.

Amid an ongoing exodus of people across the country, Ukraine and Russia said they had agreed to temporary local cease-fires to create “humanitarian corridors” so civilians can be evacuated and food and medicine can be delivered. But the cease-fires would not apply everywhere, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said — and logistical details remained unclear.

WSJ (“Russia’s Shelling of Ukrainian Nuclear Power Plant Sparks Alarm“):

Russian shelling in southern Ukraine caused a fire at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant before Russian troops moved into the facility, according to local authorities and international observers, highlighting the increasingly indiscriminate nature of Moscow’s war while raising fears that it could lead to a global environmental disaster.

The fire, extinguished Friday morning, erupted at the Zaporizhzhia power plant’s training facility which is adjacent to its six nuclear reactors in the town of Enerhodar, Ukraine’s emergency service said. None of the six reactors, one of which is currently operational, were affected by the fire and there was no radiation leak at present.

Advance Russian forces pushing from the south reached Enerhodar on Wednesday. After attempted surrender negotiations failed, a large column of Russian forces attacked the city on Thursday. Webcam footage showed a large fireball rising behind a church in the city, a short distance from the nuclear facilities, and then two munitions, possibly illumination rounds, landed on the compound itself.

WaPo (“After call with Putin, Macron convinced that ‘the worst is yet to come’ and that Russia wants to take all of Ukraine“):

Russian President Vladimir Putin called French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, in what appeared to have been a markedly more tense exchange than previous conversations between the two leaders.

The 90-minute call failed to deliver a diplomatic breakthrough, and a senior French official said it left Macron convinced that “the worst is yet to come” and that Putin aims to take control of all of Ukraine.

“Your country will pay dearly because it will end up as an isolated country, weakened and under sanctions for a very long time,” Macron told Putin, according to a French official, who added that Macron “called on Vladimir Putin to not lie to himself.”

Business Insider (“A Russian businessman has put a $1 million bounty on Vladimir Putin’s head, calling for military officers to arrest him as a war criminal“):

A Russian investor has put a $1 million bounty on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s head, asking for Russian military officers to arrest Putin as a war criminal.

“I promise to pay $1,000,000 to the officer(s) who, complying with their constitutional duty, arrest(s) Putin as a war criminal under Russian and international laws,” said crypto investor and California-based businessman Alex Konanykhin in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

Konanykhin claimed that Putin had violated the Russian constitution by “eliminating free elections” and “murdering his opponents.”

“As an ethnic Russian and a Russia citizen, I see it as my moral duty to facilitate the denazification of Russia. I will continue my assistance to Ukraine in its heroic efforts to withstand the onslaught of Putin’s Orda,” Konanykhin said, using the Russian word for “horde.”

WSJ (“China Declared Its Russia Friendship Had ‘No Limits.’ It’s Having Second Thoughts.“):

In the months leading up to Xi Jinping making common cause with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Chinese leader was focused on one country, and it wasn’t Ukraine.

His ambitions for alignment with Mr. Putin had one main purpose: presenting a united front against the U.S. The result, according to Chinese officials, foreign-policy advisers to Beijing and an analysis of public statements, was the Feb. 4 China-Russia declaration that the countries’ friendship had “no limits.”

Russia’s subsequent invasion of its neighbor is forcing Beijing into adjusting its foreign policy in a way that risks damaging relations with the U.S.-led West and undoing years of efforts to paint itself as a responsible world leader.

In Beijing, the ripple effects of a move that may cost China dearly are now sinking in, say the officials and advisers. Some officials say they are fearful of the consequences of getting so close to Russia at the expense of other relationships—especially when Russian aggression against Ukraine is isolating Moscow in much of the world.

Already, many politicians from Washington to Brussels have grouped Beijing together with Moscow as a new “axis”—a term giving Western alliances more reason to disengage from China and form closer ties among themselves.

“Elevating the partnership with Russia on the eve of its invasion of Ukraine was a massive foreign-policy blunder by Xi,” said Jude Blanchette, a China specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank focused on international relations. “The cost is very real for China and is exposing the limits of Xi’s policy.”

[…]

This year, during which Mr. Xi is expected to break with precedent and seek a third term in power, he is facing an economic downturn at home that is largely a result of his own policies—and a geopolitical shift in which China has placed itself on one side of a gulf that has almost all of the rest of the world on the other side.

NYT (“Washington’s Newest Worry: The Dangers of Cornering Putin“):

Senior White House officials designing the strategy to confront Russia have begun quietly debating a new concern: that the avalanche of sanctions directed at Moscow, which have gained speed faster than they imagined, is cornering President Vladimir V. Putin and may prompt him to lash out, perhaps expanding the conflict beyond Ukraine.

In Situation Room meetings in recent days, the issue has come up repeatedly, according to three officials. Mr. Putin’s tendency, American intelligence officials have told the White House and Congress, is to double down when he feels trapped by his own overreach. So they have described a series of possible reactions, ranging from indiscriminate shelling of Ukrainian cities to compensate for the early mistakes made by his invading force, to cyberattacks directed at the American financial system, to more nuclear threats and perhaps moves to take the war beyond Ukraine’s borders.

The debate over Mr. Putin’s next moves is linked to an urgent re-examination by intelligence agencies of the Russian leader’s mental state, and whether his ambitions and appetite for risk have been altered by two years of Covid isolation.

[…]

It suggested that Mr. Putin’s effort to “sanctions-proof” his economy had largely failed. And at least for now, there is no discernible off-ramp for the Russian leader short of declaring a cease-fire or pulling back his forces — steps he has so far shown no interest in taking.

At a news briefing at the White House on Thursday afternoon, Jen Psaki, the press secretary, said that she knew of no efforts to show Mr. Putin a way out. “I think right in this moment, they are marching toward Kyiv with a convoy and continuing to take reportedly barbaric steps against the people of Ukraine. So now is not the moment where we are offering options for reducing sanctions.”

Yet a senior State Department official, asked about the debates inside the administration on the risks ahead, said there were nuances in the administration’s approach that point to possible outs for the Russian leader.

NYT (“How Ukraine’s Military Has Resisted Russia So Far“):

Ukraine’s soldiers have blown up bridges to halt advancing Russian ground troops. Its pilots and air defenses have prevented Russian fighter jets from conquering the skies. And a band of savvy Ukrainian cyberwarriors are so far beating Moscow in an information war, inspiring support at home and abroad.

To the surprise of many military analysts, Ukrainian troops are mounting a stiffer-than-expected resistance to Russian forces up and down battle lines across a country the size of Texas, fighting with a resourcefulness and creativity that U.S. analysts said could trip up Russian troops for weeks or months to come.

The Ukrainians are also exploiting a bungled beginning to Russia’s all-out assault. Armed with shoulder-fired anti-tank weapons, they have attacked a mileslong Russian armored convoy bearing down on Kyiv, the capital, helping stall an advance plagued by fuel and food shortages, and stretching a march that was expected to take a handful of days into possibly weeks.

To be sure, Russia’s invasion is only a week old. The strategic southern city of Kherson fell on Wednesday; the Kremlin’s army has intensified its bombardment of Kyiv and other cities; and, despite a flow of fresh arms pouring in from the West, Ukrainian leaders say they desperately need more weapons to destroy Russian tanks and down Russian warplanes.

And while the Ukrainian government has publicized its victories and Russian attacks that killed civilians, it has said far less about battlefield losses of its mechanized units. For their part, Russian officials are keen not to present the operation as a war, and so they have not put out information about the engagements their forces have won.

The result, in these early days of the invasion, is that the Ukrainians are turning the tables on the Russians in the information campaign.

On the battlefield, the Ukrainian military is conducting a hugely effective and mobile defense, using their knowledge of their home turf to stymie Russian forces on multiple fronts, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Thursday.

General Milley said some of the tactics employed by Ukrainian troops included using mobile weapons systems to bedevil the Russians wherever they could. Ukraine’s forces, he told reporters traveling with him in Europe, are “fighting with extraordinary skill and courage against Russian forces.”

U.S. officials have been impressed with the fighting prowess of the Ukrainians, but their assessment that Russia has the superior military has not changed.

WSJ (“Putin Thought Ukraine Would Fall Quickly. An Airport Battle Proved Him Wrong.“):

[…]

Russia’s bid to seize the airport embodied its military planners’ ambitious assumptions that Ukrainian defense would collapse under overwhelming firepower. Russian officials and propagandists have for years boasted that Moscow’s forces could overrun its smaller neighbor in days.

But the resistance by Ukraine’s army and soldiers such as Lt. Kharchenko, backed by volunteer fighters, has slowed the Russian advance, halting it entirely in the area around Hostomel Airport after a day of back-and-forth fighting. The airport standoff has emerged as the key to Ukrainian resistance and one big reason Russian forces have become bogged down so far. On Thursday, the Russian military made gains in the south, penetrating the city of Kherson and pushing toward Zaporizhya.

BuzzFeed (“Biden Will Allow Ukrainian Immigrants In The US To Obtain Temporary Protected Status“):

The Biden administration will allow Ukrainians in the US to apply for temporary protected status, shielding them from deportation and allowing them to obtain work permits as Russia continues to invade and bombard their home country, officials announced Thursday.

Immigrant advocates and Democratic politicians have been pushing for the TPS grant since the full-scale invasion launched last week. Since then, Russian forces have attacked by air, land, and sea, sending missiles over major cities across Ukraine, including in residential areas, and threatening the lives of millions. More than a million Ukrainians have fled the country, while those who remained have sought safety in bomb shelters and subway systems or taken up arms to help defend their country.

The designation of temporary protected status will apply to Ukrainians who were in the US as of March 1. The protections will last for 18 months. More than 75,000 Ukrainians in the US are expected to be eligible for the protections.

Some Opinions:

Jon Sindreu, WSJ (“If Russian Currency Reserves Aren’t Really Money, the World Is in for a Shock“):

“What is money?” is a question that economists have pondered for centuries, but the blocking of Russia’s central-bank reserves has revived its relevance for the world’s biggest nations—particularly China. In a world in which accumulating foreign assets is seen as risky, military and economic blocs are set to drift farther apart.

After Moscow attacked Ukraine last week, the U.S. and its allies shut off the Russian central bank’s access to most of its $630 billion of foreign reserves. Weaponizing the monetary system against a Group-of-20 country will have lasting repercussions.

[…]

Yet the entire artifice of “money” as a universal store of value risks being eroded by the banning of key exports to Russia and boycotts of the kind corporations like Apple and Nike announced this week. If currency balances were to become worthless computer entries and didn’t guarantee buying essential stuff, Moscow would be rational to stop accumulating them and stockpile physical wealth in oil barrels, rather than sell them to the West. At the very least, more of Russia’s money will likely shift into gold and Chinese assets.

Indeed, the case levied against China’s attempts to internationalize the renminbi has been that, unlike the dollar, access to it is always at risk of being revoked by political considerations. It is now apparent that, to a point, this is true of all currencies.

Aaron Rhodes, WSJ (“Ukraine War May Prove Clarifying for the West“):

Russia’s war against Ukraine could restore Western societies’ appreciation for freedom and democracy. These principles have been eroded for decades by leftist ideologies and illiberal philosophical fads.

Vladimir Putin’s invasion has exposed the reality of power politics, in which competing blocs of free and despotic states are again driving history. Multilateral groups like the United Nations Human Rights Council have been co-opted by malign actors. Such organizations had little influence on Mr. Putin’s decision to proceed.

The war in Ukraine also has begun to unite the West. Fence-sitters, in particular Germany, have abandoned passive policies of moral equivalence and joined the American- and British-led effort to help Ukraine defend itself. The anti-American left’s reflexive habit of blaming the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for Russian paranoia and aggression isn’t working this time. NATO, which offers members collective defense and guarantees citizens of member states that their militaries will remain under civilian control, has new love around the world. Divisions between Western and Eastern Europe are yielding to a more unified identity that has long eluded the Continent.

Anthony Faiola, WaPo (“Europe awakens to the Russian threat“):

For decades, Russian money, energy and military strength held Europe in thrall. But as the rockets of Russian President Vladimir Putin rain down on Ukrainian cities, a clarion call is echoing through the halls of power, boardrooms and cultural spheres of a continent: No more.

Western Europe saw Putin for years the way much of the globe still sees climate change: As an intangible threat, worth serious debate, but not yet real or existential enough to warrant society-altering action. Now that the danger is lapping at Europe’s doorstep, the continent has begun to awaken.

In Germany, a nation that shrunk from confrontation with Moscow after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the evidence is a historic military buildup announced in response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Berlin also suspended a new pipeline set to power German factories with Russian gas for generations. But just as telling of the tectonic shift is the way Gerhard Schröder — a former German chancellor who’d cozied up to Putin — is now becoming a national pariah.

[…]

Eastern European countries — Poland and the Baltic states — rang the alarm bells on Russia for years. Now, western portions of the continent are not only listening — but leading on punishing sanctions against Putin and a regional defense rethink to rise to the Russian threat.

In France, where President Emmanuel Macron sought a meeting of the minds with Putin before the invasion, a new poll showed 84 percent of respondents believe you can’t “negotiate” with Putin and 7 out of 10 backed arms deliveries to Ukraine. Surprisingly, a majority — 53 percent — even backed a step ruled out by leaders in Washington and the capitals of Europe: the intervention of NATO’s armed forces in Ukraine.

My Two Cents:

Nothing that’s happened since yesterday’s roundup has altered my basic take on the situation. The two most interesting bits from above are the suggestion that China is finding itself increasingly isolated from the global community and the musings about what the massive sanctions regime imposed on Russia means for the future of “money” as a construct. They’re ultimately related, showing how quickly change can come once people change their perspective.

It’s been obviously corrupt for some time to hold international sporting events in Russia, China, and other authoritarian states. But international organizing committees have turned a blind eye in exchange for higher payouts and fewer of the pesky regulations imposed by democratic governments. Overnight, the invasion of Ukraine seems to have changed this. In the first emergency session of the UN General Assembly in four decades, the only countries voting against censuring Russia were Eritrea, North Korea, and Syria. China, naturally, abstained.

I’ve remarked many times about how stunning the European turnaround, particularly, Germany’s, has been. Another excerpt from Faiola’s piece illustrates how stunning it has been:

In Germany, a nation that shrunk from confrontation with Moscow after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the evidence is a historic military buildup announced in response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Berlin also suspended a new pipeline set to power German factories with Russian gas for generations. But just as telling of the tectonic shift is the way Gerhard Schröder — a former German chancellor who’d cozied up to Putin — is now becoming a national pariah.

The former leader who secured lucrative posts with Russian companies has watched allies dump him, and outraged staffers quit in the wake of his failure to denounce the invasion. Even his favorite German soccer club, Borussia Dortmund, fired him from an honorary post.

When Moscow annexed Crimea and Russian-backed forces seized parts of eastern Ukraine in 2014, the German titans of industry demurred, urging then-Chancellor Angela Merkel to tread lightly. In contrast, they’re now standing up to be counted. Munich-based industrial giant Siemens — whose chief executive even traveled to Moscow to court Putin in March 2014 — has suspended most operations in Russia. BMW and Mercedes-Benz have halted exports and production in Russia. Bavaria-based Adidas pulled a commercial deal with the Russian Football Union.

[…]

To understand the sea change, you need to grasp the German mind-set: There’s a craving for stability and peace in Europe after the horrors of Adolf Hitler, and a certain acquiescence to Moscow as an acceptable price for peace. Since reunification, Germany coexisted as both NATO member and sympathetic interlocutor between the West and Russia. When Merkel sought to impose sanctions on Russia following its initial aggression in Ukraine in 2014, polls showed a majority of Germans against them.

Fast forward to now. Germany — which embraced pacifism in the wake of World War II — dropped its long resistance to sending arms to conflict zones and has dispatched weapons to Ukraine. More importantly, new Chancellor Olaf Scholz, once a word-parsing waffler on Moscow, announced a historic ramp up in military spending to meet the Russian threat. The nature of German “remilitarization” will require serious domestic debate and will be deeply opposed by some. But in a bracing recognition of the new Russian threat, a recent poll showed 78 percent of the Germans backed Scholz’s plan.

“Germans don’t want war, they don’t want nuclear weapons, and there will be a discussion on how to react right without provoking more action by Russia,” Stefan Meister, a policy expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations, told me. “It’s still not clear where opinion will go in the next weeks. But [the invasion of Ukraine] is a shock to society. If Russia wins this war, which is very likely, the question is, what’s next?”

I don’t think Germany will be going back to its old ways once the Ukraine crisis is over. Nothing in politics is permanent but the events of the past week has yielded a paradigm shift. Eritrea, North Korea and Syria

FILED UNDER: National Security, Russia, Ukraine, World Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Argon says:

    Let’s see how London’s finance & banking adapt too. They’re deeply entangled with Russian wealth.

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  2. Kathy says:

    This is just to reminiscent of late 1990 to 1991, when a new era of international cooperation and UN involvement was dawning.

    We know how that worked out.

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  3. grumpy realist says:

    Dr. Richard North has been doing in-depth analysis of the Russian/Ukrainian military movements and strategy over at Turbulent Times, if anyone’s interested. (North is a bit of a crank, but he’s brilliant at analysis. His son is also a crank, but not so brilliant. At anything.)

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  4. The photo of the UN makes me wonder if there is any way to oust Russia from its Security Council seat. I know it is technically impossible, but their actions are so recklessly criminal and inhumane that it makes one wonder if the rest of the world can tolerate them in that position.

    Ultimately, nothing is impossible in a human-made institution if enough of the right humans decide to make a change. (And I say this without even having a full understanding of what it might take, and also knowing that whatever the specific are, they are potentially UN-breaking, and hence why they may not happen).

    Russia’s attack on Ukraine is for conquest and acquisition of territory in a way that simply should not be acceptable (and hence the truly remarkable response by Germany and other European states).

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  5. JohnSF says:

    @Kathy:
    Lasted for a decade, roughly.
    Arguably two, depending on how you define “co-operation”
    Not that bad, as these things go historically.

    More like 1947 (or maybe 1803) IMO.

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  6. Michael Reynolds says:

    It’s been an amazing thing to watch. It’s a revulsion, like a physical reaction. Like a magic spell was broken and people woke up and realized they were eating cow manure not ice cream after all.

    I think, believe, hope the era of phony equivalencies and whataboutism and general moral fuzziness is ending. There is evil in the world. Our duty as humans is to fight that evil.

    Credit where it’s due, I believe our own ludicrous tin pot wannabe dictator has acted like a vaccine. He triggered the immune system of the West. We caught a glimpse of the nasty, lawless world he believed in and people didn’t like it.

    The world is now split into two camps. Neither side is pure, all are shades of gray, but the lighter shades of gray in North America, Europe and Japan, have categorically rejected the near-black of Putin, Xi, Modi and Trump. We have a new axis of evil: Russia, China, India and the Republican Party.

    This is a crucial moment for China and India in particular. Time to pick a side. Are we born with unalienable rights? Or are we nothing but cogs in a machine devised by vile men? Are we to live our own lives, or have our lives defined by corrupt, violent thugs?

    Thank the God I don’t believe in for Joe Biden, Emmanuel Macron, Olaf Scholz and above all for a Ukrainian comedian named Volodymyr Zelensky, the hero of free people everywhere.

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  7. Sleeping Dog says:

    The Times this AM has an article on how China has embraced Russia’s propaganda and pretty much it has become the only reporting on the war shown in the Chinese press.

    Buried in the bottom is a note that some nationalistic Chinese, outside of government, have noticed this and are questioning whether China is best served by seeing only the Russian POV. Xi is maybe getting ahead of his supporters?

    Domestically, beyond some R’s in the Senate and a few in the House, national R’s stumble on, assuming positions between, nothing has changed and Putin is justified. Trump, DeSantis and a number of want-to-be senators seem the most tone death.

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  8. JohnSF says:

    @Argon:
    Russian money is significant in London finance, but not enormously so.
    Figures are sketchy; but Transparency International estimate £82 billion in funds.

    Sounds (is) a lot; but next to the £11 trillion of UK managed assets, it’s small potatoes.
    It can be purged.

    Russian money is, though, very important to certain people in the London ecosystem.
    Donation chasing Tory politicians, reputation managers, shady lobbyists, libel lawyers, young ladies of negotiable affection…
    Hmm, may have repeated myself there.

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  9. JohnSF says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    I wonder if anything could be made out of a legalistic technicality.
    That the USSR aka Soviet Union was the state give a Security Council seat.

    It was accepted that it was “inherited” by Russia.
    IIRC it was agreed by the successor states (with Russia glaring hard at them) that Russia was the inheritor.
    But is that subject to revision if another signatory ie Ukraine, declared it to be voided?

    A legal challenge on those lines that might be amusing, if only for Putin-tweaking.

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  10. Scott F. says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Credit where it’s due, I believe our own ludicrous tin pot wannabe dictator has acted like a vaccine. He triggered the immune system of the West. We caught a glimpse of the nasty, lawless world he believed in and people didn’t like it.

    Hoo boy, while I wish this were true, but until we start to see the GOP lose governorships and legislatures, I think it is premature to say that people have rejected that part of your new axis of evil that holds power in the US.

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  11. Stormy Dragon says:

    The anti-American left’s reflexive habit of blaming the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for Russian paranoia and aggression isn’t working this time.

    Really?

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  12. Kathy says:

    @JohnSF:

    Kind of.

    When the US finally decided to intervene in the Balkans, Clinton didn’t go to the UN because Russia wouldn’t support such a thing. Instead it was a multinational, very much NATO if not officially NATO, operation.

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  13. Modulo Myself says:

    Who knows? After 9/11, I remember some Hollywood guy going on about how things are going to be so different. Three years later, he was producing Wife Swap (I think).

    Here’s an interesting fact: the top 3 institutional holders in Sberbank (one being a teachers’ retirement fund) are all from Kentucky.

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  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Scott F.:
    I’ll take a while. Reality is a lagging indicator of mental, spiritual paradigm shifts.

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  15. Jay L Gischer says:

    When I read the excerpt from the piece about money which said, “oh no, money isn’t sacred any more!” I thought to myself, “So apparently this Jon Sindreau person is in Putin’s pocket, I wonder how much Bitcoin he’s getting for this?”

    Yeah, I can be cynical, but come on. This kind of thing has always been a possibility. It is completely, bleedingly obvious how to avoid this kind of issue: Don’t invade other sovereign nations.

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  16. just nutha says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    (one being a teachers’ retirement fund)

    Ouch! That’s gonna put a dent in someone’s outflow. That’s gotta be the worst investment decision (I hope) since TIAA-CREF loaned money to FG for his Atlantic City casinos. They lost most of a billion if I recall correctly.

    (I was a fund client at the time. The theory was “how bad can this be? who loses money running a gambling operation?” but hadn’t accounted for FG’s legendary ability to spin gold into straw.)

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  17. Sleeping Dog says:

    @JohnSF:

    If the case were to be heard in the USSC, Putin would win.

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  18. Lounsbury says:

    From the extract shared, I am puzzled as to why you think such musing are interesting

    nd the musings about what the massive sanctions regime imposed on Russia means for the future of “money” as a construct.

    The freezing of the Russian central bank reserves say literally nothing about money as a construct. There is nothing particularly innovative nor new, nor restricted to mere entries. Physical Russian gold if held in a sanctioning country is equally frozen. The ostensible value of Russian currency reserves of any kind is not invalidted, it is inaccessible. Which is not new. If your gold reserve was stored in London and you went to war with the English kingdom, well you knew you were not getting that gold out.

    The Russians have reason to look at alternative payments systems and forgoing the convenience of keeping reserves in Western Central Bank’s depositories (electronic or not), but this is about the secureness of your means of a payment and storage, which really again says absolutely nothing new and says nothing about the meaning of money.

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  19. JohnSF says:

    @Jay L Gischer:
    Yeah, Jon Sindreu discovers fiat currency is fiat.
    Fainting ensues.

    “Currency grows out of the barrel of a gun” as Mao Zedong didn’t say. 🙂

    It’s about a shocking as would have been German inability to access gold deposits with the Bank of England in 1939

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  20. JohnSF says:

    Speaking of pundits who could really do with knowing a bit more, Mark Hannahin an article cited in a previous post by Dr Joyner

    …Ukraine is a flat country unsuited to guerrilla warfare.

    Has he never heard of the Carpathian Mountains?
    There is an area of Ukraine not far off the size of Belgium and rather non-flat.

    And also might care to look up even some basic information on the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.

    I suspect some Russian commanders are thinking about what may happen in the Carpathians this summer, and wondering if there are any openings in Arctic garrison duty.

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  21. Jay L Gischer says:

    @JohnSF:

    “Currency grows out of the barrel of a gun” as Mao Zedong didn’t say.

    +100

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  22. Jay L Gischer says:

    @JohnSF: Even the flat part of Ukraine is really big and sparsely populated, as best I know.

    It will take a lot of troops to patrol that effectively, I think. This is the land where partisans gave the German Army such a hard time.

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  23. Gustopher says:

    If the almost all of the Russian army is in Ukraine why are the Chechens so quiet? Opportunities like these don’t come along every day.

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  24. JohnSF says:

    @Kathy:
    Good point; I was thinking of lack of direct Great Power confrontation, but you are correct.
    Positive co-operation proved elusive.

    And it was Russia’s growing stroppiness about it’s interest in the Balkans”, along with their imposition of a “right of Russian intervention” on the CIS that was a significant driver in the growing determination of former Warsaw Pact and Soviet countries to seek the protection of NATO.

    An aspect of the history that those peddling the “poor Russia, so persecuted” line tend to forget

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  25. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Gustopher: I have read that there are Chechen troops in Uktraine and that they have higher morale than most Russian troops.

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  26. Kathy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I recall a great deal of talk in the 80s about removing the USSR from the security council, mostly from the GOP, as it pretty much rendered any serious action moot.

    These days we’d have to kick China out as well as Russia.

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  27. Gustopher says:

    As far as paradigm shifts go, I think this is the first time we have seen sanctions actually have a significant effect on anything other than a tiny country — is that a paradigm shift or a sudden surprise that the old paradigm is working?

    I’m thinking a little bit of both — which is admittedly the most useless answer.

    It’s too soon to say, but we may have found an effective way to confront a nuclear armed superpower without triggering a hot war. An economic warfare.

    But, it’s also something that has not forced regime change in North Korea, or Cuba, so I’m skeptical that it will work force Russia out of Ukraine. Medium hope, large skepticism.

    (I think it will be losing an insurgency that forces Russia out of Ukraine — and the sanctions and isolation might speed the realization of that loss along)

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  28. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Kathy:

    I sometimes wonder if it would be useful to set up an alternative to the UN based around the OECD. That is, leave the UN as a forum for all countries, but have a second more selective body that’s just the modern democracies.

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  29. JohnSF says:

    @Gustopher:
    Because Kadyrov is de facto a semi-independent satrap of Moscow.
    He keeps the “peace” there, by whatever means he deems fit, in return for the rights of plunder.
    Standard mafiya, just on a larger scale.
    Also supplies troops to Russia; whether for money or as part of the baronial deal?

    Some of whom, including Kadyrov’s lieutenant Magomed Tushayev, came to a sticky end at Hostomel recently.
    What a shame. Never mind.
    “The best of you died fighting Putin. The worst, who come to Ukraine to fight us – we are going to play football with your heads”

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  30. Gustopher says:

    From the quoted block of the Wall Street Journal:

    The anti-American left’s reflexive habit of blaming the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for Russian paranoia and aggression isn’t working this time.

    I don’t think the WSJ author has ever met someone on the left, and their entire article should be viewed with something akin to skepticism and disgust, or just ignored.

    (I hadn’t noticed until @Stormy Dragon quoted this part, because I already skip over everything by the Wall Street Journal because they are just trash.

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  31. Michael Reynolds says:

    I hope the world is learning that autocrats are not good investments.

    I have a Nietzche-ite view in that I look first at underlying power. A few years ago China was destined to replace the US, India was on the rise, Putin was a genius, and the consensus of the punditocracy was that Europe was an aging system destined for further decline. But if you looked at actual power you saw a very different picture. What was lacking in the West was not power, but will.

    China has not only failed to supplant the US, China has troubles ranging from demographics to economic mismanagement, to geography. Russia is being knocked back by at least a decade economically even as they subvert the myth of Russian military prowess. There is only one superpower in the world. That’s one take-away: the United States is still top dog.

    But a second superpower may be forming: the European Union. They have the money, they have the population – the power – all they’ve needed is the will.

    Early days yet, but one thing is certain: the Tories were fucking idiots to bail out of the EU. The UK really has no place in the emerging new world order. It’s looking like high-end money laundering is not going to be a good idea for Britain going forward.

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  32. Gustopher says:

    @JohnSF: That’s a situation where if you move some of the enforcers out, I would expect to see any low-level insurgency quickly take advantage of that.

    Did they actually end the insurgency rather than just push it down?

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  33. EddieInCA says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    My UK friends tell me that there is a burgeoning movement to get the Brits back into the EU. But I’ve heard nothing of it.

    Perhaps JohnSF or Lounsbury know more.

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  34. gVOR08 says:

    @JohnSF: I have no idea how or if the UN Charter or other rules can be amended but IIRC the Ukrainian ambassador made exactly your point a few days ago, asking in the General Assembly for any country that had voted to admit the Russian Federation to raise a hand. No hands. A technicality, but perhaps a sufficient technicality if there were the will. Declare the Security Council and General Assembly seats vacant and if they want in the Russian Federation must apply for membership.

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  35. JohnSF says:

    @Gustopher:
    I’m no expert.
    The little I’ve read is thw Russians slaughtered most of the jihadi and nationalist true believers, Kadyrov co-opted the remnants.
    And killed anyone who crossed him.
    Rules on combination of fear, the perception that “at least he’s not Russian”, and actually maintaining order.
    After the battles of Grozny, a lot of locals were inclined to opt for the quiet life, especially as militant rule was not necessarily a popular one.

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  36. Kathy says:

    @JohnSF:

    Formally, the last great power war was the Korean War, where US and allied troops fought Chinese and North Korean troops.

    The big problem I see with Russia, and this goes back to at least the XIX century Empire, is that it offers nothing to the states it wants to dominate.

    Europe offers free trade and economic integration with the EU, and a military defensive alliance through NATO. Russia’s pitch is “Do as I say, and no one gets hurt (much)”.

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  37. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Gustopher:

    While there’s certainly some far-left fever swamps where anti-NATO sentiment if a thing, they have no influence over actual left wing politics. In terms of actual political power, the locus of anti-NATOism in the US is the right, not the left, and the authors repeated attempts to shift the blame for the fallout of Trump’s foreign policy to the Democrats makes it impossible to take the WSJ article seriously.

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  38. JohnSF says:

    @EddieInCA:
    Most unlikely, to my regret.
    There is still a hard core of Leave adherents, probably a quarter of the population, and probably 40% who are “Leave inclined”.
    And they are not necessarily just nasty xenophobes and far-right types; that is about 10% IMO.
    (A lot of the rest are xenophobic and/or racist, certainly, but not eaten up by it)

    After the experience of the past few years, the EU will only accept a UK return if there is a genuine national consensus in favour (75%?)

    Not to mention the number of EU politicians who are rather relieved to have such an obstreperous party self-evicted.

    And issues of economic self-interest; transferring financial sector work from London to Paris or Frankfurt; edging UK out of pan-Euro development projects etc.

    And a return might raise issues re. Euro currency etc.

    I think it will be at very least a decade, more likely two, before it becomes a serious prospect.
    Due to the Leavers likely demographic decline: they are heavily skewed to over-50.

    In the meantime, the best hope is the decline of Brexiteers and Johnson’s power in the Conservative Party.
    The two not being the same: Brexit was only ever a means for Johnson, not an end.

    And the prospect of a Labour Party government, now Corbyn is evicted and the hard-left faction on the ropes.
    The realistic policy, to which Starmer appears to be inclined, is co-operation with the EU as a friendly external partner. Accepting EU goods certification for instance, and phytosanitary regs, ECJ dispute resolution, etc.
    Moving to a Customs Equivalence parnership (Customs Union in effect, but avoiding the legal troubles)
    And also EEA/EFTA type Single Market alignment, moving to full Single Market membership (including free movement of labour).

    More than than that must await a new generation.

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  39. @JohnSF:

    I wonder if anything could be made out of a legalistic technicality.
    That the USSR aka Soviet Union was the state give a Security Council seat.

    How about we retroactively decide that that USSR seat is shared on a rotating basis with all the constituent states of the former USSR?

    I nominate Ukraine for the next turn 🙂

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  40. dazedandconfused says:

    @grumpy realist:

    His Wages of Vanity is definitely worth a read.

    I suspect the Russians may have made the same mistake we did in Iraq II. We too fell into the trap of believing our own BS. They believed that inside every Ukrainian is a Russian waiting to be liberated.

    The first thrust into Kyiv was just a few fairly isolated units, the really thought the Ukes wouldn’t put up much of a fight.

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  41. JohnSF says:

    The intersting thing is that most of the encounters between Russian soldiers and Ukrainian civilians we have seen are will be in majority-Russophone areas. Only the area north of Kyiv is a predominatly Ukranophone area of Russian military advance.
    And the reception has been decidedly unfriendly.
    Russian media would pretty certainly be making much of crowds of enthusiastic “liberated” civilians.
    Video I saw on Twitter, as I recall the translation:
    Ukrainian civilian:
    “Who are you, are you Russian troops? What the hell are you doing here?”
    …unclear reply, apparently, yes…
    “You are Russian are you? I am Russian! Why don’t you fuck off back home, you’re not wanted here!”

    As I’ve said before, according to Ukrainians I have spoken to:
    Rusophone ≠ Russian “ethnic”
    Russian ethnic ≠ Russian separatist

    There is a major missing element in a lot of outside analysis of political and national sentiments, based on plausible but misjudged analysis of their mapping to linguistic maps and pre-2014 election returns.
    Which misses a big part of the reality of Ukrainian post-independence political economy and the events of 2014.

    I wonder if anyone can guess?

    Also there is also a BIG factor in “Ukrainian-ness” as relates to Ukrainian language use and cultural/political identity, dating back to the mid-19th century, which most outsiders do not get.
    Though it has become less important since 2014, possibly.

    Another “can you guess?” for the time being.

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  42. JohnSF says:

    @dazedandconfused:
    The Wages of Vanity is Pete North, the son, not Richard, the father.
    And Pete, is to be blunt, a git.

    Got booted from Twitter for some very unpleasant racial/ethnic comments. And they both have a rep. in former “moderate Leaver” circles for stretching facts a long way.
    Google his “Wokeness: Echoes of East Germany”; or “Asylum: the left is playing a dangerous game”. Cause I ain’t linking.
    A nasty piece of work

    I’d check twice if the North’s told me it tends to be dark at midnight.

    Father Richard is a bit more careful of what he says in public than junior is.

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  43. charon says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    His Wages of Vanity is definitely worth a read.

    Seriously??

    We have only a sham democracy, and the social values they seek to export, born of critical race theory and gender theory, aren’t even wanted in their own countries.

    I know that I would still die in a ditch for my country and my freedom if invaded, but I would not put my life at risk to serve the narcissism and arrogance of our rulers abroad – not least when every one of their military adventures ends up with Britain having to absorb tens of thousands of immigrants who contribute little and have no intention of integrating. I will not participate in my own destruction.

    What next? Jews will not replace us?

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  44. charon says:

    @JohnSF:

    Even for Russophones and ethnic Russians, wouldn’t the obvious corruption and crummy economy of the Russian kleptocracy be unattractive?

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  45. charon says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    The first thrust into Kyiv was just a few fairly isolated units, the really thought the Ukes wouldn’t put up much of a fight.

    Read down through this thread for an explanation of how that created problems.

    https://twitter.com/kamilkazani/status/1499377671855292423

    How is the war in Ukraine going? Today they confirmed the death of Russian General Major Suhovetsky. He’s unsurprisingly a paratrooper. So let’s discuss the role of paratroopers in Russian military doctrine. That’ll shed a light on the course of this war and why Russia lost it

    That was yesterday’s post, time now to read here:

    https://twitter.com/kamilkazani

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  46. Jay L Gischer says:

    @charon: It’s remarkable, isn’t it? I encounter immigrants every single day. They don’t threaten to destroy me, they enrich me. They cut my hair. They wave hello to me. They teach me Tai Chi. They cook food for me. There are Mexicans, Chinese, Russians(!), Iraqi (Yes, I know a couple) and many others as well.

    The fears are real. It’s a mistake to think they aren’t. But I think it’s a resistance to things changing. I mean, the food is a bit different than I got when I was young, isn’t it? And my favorite general contractor speaks English with a Mexican accent. He does great work, of course. However, some people, it seems, would rather die than change.

    There is also, I think, a huge well of hurt and anger over the Great Recession and the failure of the ruling class to help working people through it. It’s being scapegoated onto “those people” though.

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  47. charon says:

    @charon:

    Yesterday’s promise:

    https://twitter.com/kamilkazani/status/1499402872437444610

    The only question is whether Ukrainians will be able to stand their ground until the imminent economic collapse of Russia. It will happen much sooner than most expect, gonna write about it tomorrow in a more detailed way. In any case, Putin’s plan of a special operation failed

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  48. Gustopher says:

    @charon:

    What next? Jews will not replace us?

    I’ve never understood why this is such a controversial statement. Of course the Jews will not replace us — they’re not even trying and their birthdates are way too low anyway.

    And economically it’s going to be robots that replace us.

    It just makes no sense. You have to be really stupid to be a Nazi these days. At least the phrenologists of old understood basic facial topography, measurements, and math — which could be useful for careers in carpentry or cosmology.

    And, to be perfectly honest, most of the people most insistent on not being replaced by Jews aren’t people we would want to replace anyway. Their roles can remain vacant.

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  49. charon says:

    ICYMT,

    https://twitter.com/TrentTelenko/status/1499164245250002944

    This is a thread that will explain the implied poor Russian Army truck maintenance practices based on this photo of a Pantsir-S1 wheeled gun-missile system’s right rear pair of tires below & the operational implications during the Ukrainian mud season.

    That thread describes how *this sh*t happens in a corrupt kleptocracy like Russia.

    * poor Russian Army truck maintenance practices

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  50. charon says:

    @Gustopher:

    they’re not even trying and their birthdates are way too low anyway.

    That is not the claim, the claim is that Jews are running some big conspiracy to flood the country with POC immigrants so as to make whites a minority.

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  51. charon says:

    @charon:

    With these jamokes whatever they don’t like is attributed to Jewish conspiracy.

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  52. charon says:

    I read this several days ago, seen it lots of places, but in case any of you all missed it, thread,

    https://twitter.com/kamilkazani/status/1497993363076915204

    Why Russia will lose this war?

    Much of the “realist” discourse is about accepting Putin’s victory, cuz it’s *guaranteed*. But how do we know it is?

    I’ll argue that analysts 1) overrate Russian army 2) underrate Ukrainian one 3) misunderstand Russian strategy & political goals

    etc., etc.,

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  53. JohnSF says:

    @charon:
    According to the Ukrainians I spoke to (Russophone background, identifying as Ukrainian ethnic and state allegiance) the key factor in the pre-2014 political parties map, which a lot of outside commentators saw as “ethnic” was not.
    Or at least, not just, or even primarily.

    Here is one example election map; 2010 presidential or this from 2012.
    And a basic language map.

    Pretty similar, are they not. Obvious then; that’s the explanation!

    But in the explanation of these Ukrainians, the real connection was a bit more subtle.
    Before 2014, Ukrainian politics was profoundly corrupt, and based on mafiya/oligarch networks.
    The elected politicians were merely the facade of the machines, as is often the case in the post-Soviet sphere (and plenty of other countries, from time to time)

    There were (and are) various groups, with several key centres :Lviv, Kyiv, Odesa, and “eastern” with several centres Kharkiv, Kryvyi Rih, Donetsk.
    They were each based on criminal/party/bureaucrat associations that were able to seize privatised assets and dominate local political/admin/police/legal systems in the post-Soviet years.

    The key difference was that the eastern Ukraine had been the major area of Soviet heavy industry in the region.
    It was also, historically, for several reason, more Russophone than central or western Ukraine.
    And especially in Donbas, saw quite an influx of workers from “Russia proper” under tsars and Soviets. And the Soviets made a policy of pushing Russification, especially in the eastern industrial centres, where they tended to have more of a grip than in Kyiv or the rural areas.

    The coal/iron/steel industry of the east was largely directly under central control as a “strategic industry” i.e. from Moscow, and the privatisation managed from there.
    A lot of the managers and party bosses there were first or second generation migrants from Russia proper, partly due to security reasons.
    (And a lot of the mafiya types Tatars)
    Because the privatisations were largely Moscow centred, Moscow mafiyas got cut in on the deals.
    And the industries themselves tended to have their main customers in the shipyards, vehicle plants etc in Russia.

    So, you have the evolution of two main alliances of oligarchs/mafiya, the eastern alliance largely Russophone and often Russian, and with mob and commercial links to Moscow.
    The looser central/western/southern alliance mixed Ukranophone/Russophone, and more free standing.

    So the political map of Ukraine pre-2014 looked to be ethnic/linguistic, but in reality was based on oligarch alliance groups, which had a more distant connection to ethnicity and economic history.

    Thus it was explained to me, some eight years ago.
    I’ve seen little to contradict it and much to support it.

    (There are also the interactions of this corrupted politics with 2012, EuroMaidan 2014, and the election of Zelensky, but that’s whole other chapter….)

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  54. dazedandconfused says:

    @charon:

    The point of his piece is a mea culpa, how hubris and vanity led him into a bad decision, is it not? The bit you parsed is unrepresentative of that. To me it’s all to the better that it’s coming from a RWer. If he can admit being wrong about something…he’s a cut above most ideologues…and not beyond hope.

    I believed at the time the reason nobody was seriously questioning the obvious BS about Iraq’s weapons program and support of AQ was an assumption it would be as “easy” as Iraq I had been. Hubris and vanity.

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  55. Matt says:

    @Gustopher: Yeah those two “authors” (Jon and Aaron) live in some kind of alternative universe where it’s the left that hates NATO and Trump who embraced NATO and warned us of the danger of Putin… delusional beyond belief.

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  56. JohnSF says:

    @dazedandconfused:
    There’s a key thing about the North’s that you may well not get.

    He is not shifting his view on Iraq etc. to accord with some sudden enlightenment.
    He is making a rhetorical shift so he can extend a long standing antipathy for the EU, to the point of “understanding” Russian actions to enable the blame to be heaped on the “deluded” Europeans and Americans.
    It’s all about “bash the EU, bash, bash, bash.”

    To North, NATO is entirely secondary to the focus of his animus toward Brussels, France and Germany. And if he has to repeat the standard Tankie talking points to do so, well, it’s all grist to the mill.

    The UKIP and Conservative right (who overlap a lot) have since 2014 developed a trope of blaming the EU for “provoking” Russia (ironically closer to the truth than are the Tankies of the left).
    27 March 2014

    Nigel Farage has stood by his claim that the “imperialist, expansionist” EU has “blood on its hands” for “destabilising” Ukraine.

    Farage accused the EU in Ukraine of possessing “an absolutely stupid, almost imperial foreign policy; like almost all empires [it] wants to expand and expand”.

    Farage: “It’s given false hope to those predominantly Catholic, western Ukrainians, leaving them to rise up, topple their own democratically elected leader, and if you poke the Russian bear with a stick, he will react. I do not want be part of an EU that has an activist militarist and expansionist foreign policy.”

    If the name Farage rings a bell, you may recall him as Trump’s best British “friend”.
    Among other interesting connections too long to mention.

    10.05.2016

    Ex-Mayor of London Boris Johnson blames Russia’s annexation of Crimea on the EU

    And a bit further along the Leaver right continuum, let’s not forget the frankly neo-Nazi Tommy Robinson.
    The whole pack of them elevate their hate of the EU to a corresponding regard for Putin, as it’s opponent.

    See also Steve Bannon who also connects.
    Though to be fair to North, no record of him praising Bannon I’m aware of.

    Though the North’s always tried to present themselves as intellectually superior “flexcit” advocates compared to UKIP headbangers, they are definitely in the same ideological fishpond, IMO.

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  57. Jax says:

    Soooo…..why CAN’T we just sell these planes to Ukraine on credit, repaint them with Ukraine insignias, and raise some hell? If we’ve sold them to Ukraine, we’re not technically flying fowl of any agreements, right?

    https://www.defensenews.com/opinion/commentary/2022/03/03/transfer-three-a-10-aircraft-squadrons-to-ukraine-now/

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  58. Jax says:

    Ugh….flying foul….but it was kinda funny, anyways. No edit. 😛

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  59. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Jax:

    Based on what I’m seeing elsewhere:
    1. The “pilot retraining is minimal” remark is not even close to being true and it takes years to get an A-10 pilot to the point they can be effective in combat
    2. There’s no parts and maintenance chain for the A-10 in Ukraine, so they wouldn’t be able to keep them flying
    3. The plane is a sitting duck for other jets and can only really be useful when it’s flying under air superiority, which the Ukrainians don’t have

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  60. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Jax:
    A modern jet isn’t a piece of equipment, it’s a whole extended infrastructure. We might have been able to lay the groundwork for all that, but at the time we were busy extorting political dirt for Trump. AA missiles are much easier to operate.

    I wonder how much we’re able to help with intel.

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  61. Jax says:

    @Stormy Dragon: @Michael Reynolds: If we’re looking to retire them anyways, why would we need extended infrastructure or parts?

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  62. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Jax:

    I suspect the A-10 is “being retired” in the same sense that the B-52 has been “being retired” since 1987.

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