Meanwhile, In The Rest Of The Russian Empire…

Putin must be worrying about losing what little empire he has built.

Earlier, I argued that the rapid erosion of Russia’s military situation in Ukraine was increasing the stakes for Putin, leading to greater likelihood of awful escalation, beyond just the mass murder and terrorizing of Ukrainian civilians. Putin’s dream of a reconstituted Russian empire is at grave risk. So, too, is the fragment of that empire that exists today. Fears of losing that empire further raises the risk of escalation, since he has to demonstrate to Belarus, Georgia, and some chronically irredentist parts of Russia that the threat of Russian violence against them hasn’t gone away. With fewer soldiers, tanks, and planes by the day to make that threat, where does that lead Putin?

Here’s something that certainly must make him worry: Georgia’s interest in becoming part of the EU:

In a surprise U-turn, the government of Georgia has applied for EU membership just days after declaring it would not accelerate its application, as fears grow among the Georgian public that the Russian invasion might not stop with Ukraine.

And today, the prime minister of Georgia made a public show of welcoming the new head of the NATO liaison office in Georgia.

Russia effectively annexed parts of Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, in its brutal 2008 war. It has expected memories of that brutality to keep Georgia timid and neutral. That strategy clearly failed, and that bad news came on March 3rd.

How are things in Belarus? Putin’s fellow corrupt autocrat, Alexander Lukashenko, may soon commit Belarussian forces to the war in the Ukraine. Lukashenko has already made Belarus part of the war, allowing Russian forces to stage their invasion from Belarussian territory, and supporting the war effort in other ways. But what happens when Belarussian soldiers cross the border, and when they start getting killed?

And things aren’t exactly quiet in Chechnya either. While the recent unrest in Grozny isn’t related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it does show that the regime is at least a little nervous about opposition within the country — enough to threaten an investigative journalist and organize a mass protest against an anti-torture activist.

It’s impossible to say at this point whether there’s a real chance of a color revolution in Belarus, or anti-government violence in Chechnya, or something else that would reduce his mini-empire. But certainly that risk must be on Putin’s mind, as he sees his chief instrument of terror and control continue to grow weaker by the day.

FILED UNDER: Ukraine, , , ,
Kingdaddy
About Kingdaddy
Kingdaddy is returning to political blogging after a long hiatus. For several years, he wrote about national security affairs at his blog, Arms and Influence, under the same pseudonym. He currently lives in Colorado, where he is still awestruck at all the natural beauty here. He has a Ph.D in political science that is oddly useful in his day job.

Comments

  1. gVOR08 says:

    I saw a statement today, without sourcing, saying Belorussians are sabotaging their own rail lines to interfere with Russian movement and that if ordered to enter Ukraine the Belorussian military might mutiny.

    4
  2. Kathy says:

    For someone allegedly “steeped in history,” Putin doesn’t seem to know much of it.

    Russia fancies itself the “Third Rome,” after Constantinople and Rome itself. It bears knowing, then, that Rome did not build its empire under one emperor*, or under one consul. In fact, it took several generations, and many, many bloody wars.

    Meantime, the Second Rome as the Byzantine Empire (which called itself the Roman Empire) met with a great disaster when Justinian tried to reconquer lost parts of the Roman Empire, notably North Africa and Italy (to quote Robin Pierson “What is the Roman Empire without Rome?”)

    At that, Justinian had a brilliant general, Belisarius. Vlad the Butcher lacks a comparable figure. Justinian also had a pandemic, possibly a version of bubonic plague. That Vlad has with COVID.

    One can cite other great powers who failed miserably trying to reconquer lost territories. Spain and France, for instance, trying to get back Mexico and Haiti respectively. Or the French, again, in Indochina after WWII.

    We can see what group Vlad is about to join.

    *Actually most of the territorial expansion and empire building took place during the Roman Republic era. The first formal emperor, Augustus, warned against expanding the borders of the empire, favoring the protection of existing ones.

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  3. CSK says:
  4. Kathy says:

    If I may extend the analogy, Rome fought enemies with similar armament, but disimilar discipline and organization. The legions were famously well-disciplined and coordinated, with a tight, well-run organization. These gave them an advantage, albeit not an absolute one. Losses were plentiful (which made said wars bloody for all concerned).

    When they fought a similarly disciplined and organized enemy, like the armies of the Greek king Pyrrhus of Epirus, they lost. Oh, they inflicted heavy losses, which gave rise to the expression Pyrrhic Victory (“One more such victory and I’ll be utterly ruined!” the king is quoted as having said).

    Vlad’s armies seem to lack in discipline and especially organization compared to Rome’s legions. Ukraine can bleed these armies for a long time, ceding territory slowly if they must, so long as supplies from the West keep coming in (“I need ammunition, not a lift,” Zelensky said and we can see why).

    In another odd historical similarity, it has been a long-standing Russian tactic, maintained through WWII, to trade space for time. That is, Russia is so vast, it could afford to let invading armies take and try to hold on to territory, while they retreated and regrouped.

    Ukraine can’t quite match that, but it is a big country and has a good army (better than most people thought, I’m willing to bet). And Russia isn’t having an easy time either taking or holding territory.

    Think of WWI in the Western Front, or perhaps Vietnam. Ukraine cannot repel the Russian invaders, but these cannot take Ukraine.

    2
  5. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Kingdaddy, I know it’s been said many times since your return, but thank you for coming back. As always, a clear, concise, and well reasoned piece.

    7
  6. Gustopher says:

    organize a mass protest against an anti-torture activist.

    There are moments when you assume that you have read something wrong, or that something has gone massively awry in the summation of reporting. Clicking through for that…

    On Wednesday, February 2, the Chechen authorities reported that 400,000 people had joined a rally in Grozny to protest the family of prominent anti-torture activist Abubakar Yangulbayev.

    Ok then. Obviously 400,000 is a fictitious number, as that would be about the size of Trump’s inaugural crowd, but still…

    A day earlier, State Duma deputy from Chechnya Adam Delimkhanov threatened to behead Yangulbayev’s relatives. “We will pursue you until we cut off your heads and kill you. We really have a vendetta against you and a blood feud,” Delimkhanov said in a statement given in Chechen. The lawmaker also threatened to behead anyone who translated his threats into Russian.

    Well, he is very direct. I will absolutely grant him that. Not sure why he wanted to ensure his threats were not translated into Russian, though, since Putin would likely approve and give him a cookie.

    Did Yangulbayev do anything other than suggest that perhaps the government not torture people? Nothing obvious pops up on a Google search.

    Shit’s fucked up.

    1
  7. JohnSF says:

    Re. Belarus, there’ve been repeated reports, with what credibility I’m not sure, that the reason Belarus forces have kept out is that the commanders are telling Lukashenko
    – they are in a worse condition than the Russians for fighting
    – that conscript units are liable to mutiny
    – that they need the loyal professional units for internal security

    And re. Russia:
    Some casualty figures reported as published then retracted, or communication intercepts etc.
    Source reliability uncertain, but tracks with comments from US DoD and UK MoD, and guesstimates from vehicle losses:

    intercepted Russian military summary for March 18:
    Rus. Army troops killed 12,814.
    Private company Liga (former Vagner) troops killed 4,451.
    Total number of service members killed at war in Ukraine: 17,265.

    And this:

    In refuting Ukr claim of 14,700 military personnel killed, Russian MoD acknowledges what is still huge loss: ‘during the special operation in Ukraine, the Russian Armed Forces lost 9861 people killed, 16153 people injured

    Even the second quote indicates an unsustainable rate of loss
    Western military assessments seem to be that at current levels of engagement average Russian casualties are running at around 1,000 a day.

    In addition, combinations of equipment loss and casualties must by now have rendered an unknown but substantial number of Tactical Groups ineffective.

    And all this before Russians have even begun ground attacks in Kyiv or Kharkiv.
    Or even gotten massed artillery guns/rockets (as opposed to missiles) in range of central Kyiv.
    Or taken Sumy or Mariupol.
    And lots of indicators that they are unable to supply food, fuel and ammunition to the forward formations adequately.
    If the Russians continue like this, their army will collapse.

  8. Tony W says:

    My understanding is that Japan, in at least some quarters, sees an opportunity to regain control of the Kuril Islands as well. Japanese news is reporting that Russia has cut off all family visits to graves and other courtesies that have been extended. Japan would love to have that territory back, and Russia seems ill-equipped to defend it at the moment.

  9. JohnSF says:

    @Tony W:
    A direct attack and serious fighting with a nuclear power is a very risky thing.
    Russian air and naval forces in the Far East are sufficient to ensure it would not be just a matter of land and occupy.
    And the Pacific Fleet submarine force would give any landing course a lot of concern.

    Very, very highly improbable.

    1
  10. Scott says:

    @Tony W: And recall that Russia and Japan still have not signed a peace treaty ending WWII.

  11. SC_Birdflyte says:

    It’s been noted on another thread that the Kievan Rus is the real progenitor of Russian civilization. But since Vlad is intent on making claims based on some fanciful notion of Russian territorial rights, perhaps Erdogan should remind him that the lands around the Black Sea were under Ottoman rule until the 18th century, if memory serves.

  12. JohnSF says:

    @SC_Birdflyte:
    Plus the northern part of Ukraine was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1648 (IIRC) when the Cossack revolts led to a Russian-Cossack alliance and an “autonomous” Cossack state under the suzerainty of the Tsar in the eastern half.
    The Hetmanate aka the Zaporizhian Host.

    Lasted until annexed by Russia in 1745 at the same time that Russia began its advance to the Black Sea, and later to the Kuban and Caucasia.

    The Poles kept the western part until the Second Partition of Poland, when it was taken by Russia.
    Apart from the far west (Lvov area/Ruthenia/Transcarpathia) which was snaffled by the Austrians.

    Ukrainian history is complicated. 🙂
    (And often very unpleasant for the poor bloody peasants on the ground: “may you live in interesting geography” to adapt the saying.)

    1
  13. Chris says:

    Putin has done a terrible job, during his long tenure, of leveraging Russia’s large territorial advantage, including the vast natural resources therein, as well as its clever people for economic success. Instead, he has pursued a path tread by previous megalomaniacs for grand expansion and control of other territories and individuals. If Putin couldn’t succeed as a dictator in leading Russia forward, why should anyone believe he can succeed by ruling over more land and subjects. It is no wonder Ukraine is fighting like hell to be free from this monstrous personality type. We must do all that we can to help Ukraine, while avoiding WWIII. As a product of the Cold War, I understand we must be resolute and smart. When Russia says they will use nukes if they have to against Ukraine, a non-nuclear weapons country, there must be an understood consequence for entertaining such an action. In the 1980’s similar threats by the Soviet Union were met with the U.S. and its allies putting Pershing II missiles in Western Europe. That act scared the sane members in the Soviet Union’s inner circle of leadership to agree to a nuclear arms treaty, thereby reducing nuclear arms and lowering the possibility of an all out nuclear war. Perhaps it’s time to start talking about a Pershing III program, where we plan to meet such threats by by putting such missiles in Poland and other NATO countries currently on Putin’s wish list of nation’s to control.

    1
  14. Kingdaddy says:

    @Kathy:

    Belisarius is certainly one of the most interesting characters in ancient history. Also, one of the most unfairly treated, to the detriment of the Empire.

    @JohnSF:

    There’s an episode of Servant of the People that has a funny bit about the complexity of Ukrainian history. I saw a clip of it before the series was released on Netflix, but I don’t know which episode includes it. You’ll know it when you see it.

    3
  15. JohnSF says:

    @Chris:
    Not an enormous change in policy, re. deployment.
    B-61 nuclear bombs are currently stationed at Kleine Brogel in Belgium, Büchel in Germany, Aviano and Ghedi in Italy, Volkel in the Netherlands and Incirlik in Turkey.
    Adding them in Poland and Romania would not be that big a step.

    But they are strictly a NATO force.
    To use them, or any other nuclear weapons, or to threaten their use, in response to a nuclear strike on Ukraine would be a monumentally perilous decision.

  16. JohnSF says:

    @Kingdaddy:
    Don’t know if you’ve come across this joke from the region:

    This old guy gets to Heaven, walks up to the Pearly Gates, and there’s St. Peter, checking the records
    St Peter asks:
    “Nationality?”
    -“Ruthenian”
    “Place of birth?”
    -“Austrian Empire”
    “School?”
    -Czechoslovakia
    “Married in?
    -“Hungary”
    “Children born in?”
    -“Third Reich”
    “Grandchildren born in?”
    -“USSR”
    “Died?”
    -“Ukraine”
    St Peter exclaims: “Well, I must say, you got around a bit!”
    Little guy: “Not so much. We never left Mukachevo.”

    5
  17. gVOR08 says:

    Thanks. I’ve been reminded of that joke often lately and couldn’t remember where I’d seen it. Now that you remind me, I believe it was here, from you.

    1
  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    This war has been a master class in unintended consequences and interesting revelations.

    Start a war to conquer Ukraine and break NATO, end up having your ass handed to you by the Ukrainians, re-arming Germany and strengthening NATO. Also? The way to convince countries that they’re better off in your economic system is not to close your stock market, jack interest rates up to 20%, turn your currency into confetti and suddenly deprive your population of access to banks and credit cards.

    People like Dr. Joyner will be teaching this war forever.

    The interesting revelation is that far from being some wily strategist, Putin is a degenerate gambler who thought because he won the first three throws he was invincible. Also, not that this should be a surprise, but criminal enterprises – and that’s what Russia’s government is – are not great at preventative maintenance.

    3
  19. JohnSF says:

    Bloody hell!
    Wall Street Journal report.
    NATO makes it’s first statement on estimated Russian losses in Ukraine:

    Up to 40,000 Russian troops killed, wounded, taken prisoner or missing

    That is more than a fifth of the invasion force of 190,000.
    One in ten of the entire Russian Ground Forces numbers.

    2
  20. JohnSF says:

    Some context: that’s more casualties than the Germans suffered at the Battle of El Alamein, and not that far below their losses in the Falaise Gap in Normandy.

    1
  21. Sleeping Dog says:

    @JohnSF:

    If you go with the 9-12K killed figures that have leaked out of Moscow, the casualty totals would be 33-36K and 4000 captured or deserters would seem reasonable. But still…

  22. Lounsbury says:

    @JohnSF: Caution, that’s including missing. In a context where there have been credible suggestions of significant mass desertions. So unlikely to be casualties equivalence.

    The Russian “oops” publication this AM of 9k KIA though suggests real catastrophic performance.

  23. JohnSF says:

    @Lounsbury:
    I know; the El Alamein and Falaise figures also include MIA.
    Though it has to be said, most MIA at those were almost certainly dead; the Russian MIA probably includes a fair few currently hiding in the woods. or driving a stolen Lada in the direction of Minsk.
    Also, I suspect the total casualty figure may be lower than NATO assumptions used.
    Some others indicate an usually high ratio of killed to wounded due to poor Russian medical support and large numbers of Russian being casualties of shaped charge weapons etc impacting armoured vehicles = low probability of survival.

    But even if the true figure was half the NATO estimate, that’s an unsustainable loss rate.
    Especially given Russia has still not committed infantry in force to take and hold the core areas of Mariupol, Sumy or Chernihiv, let alone Kharkiv or Kyiv.

    And the Battalion Tactical Group basis of the Russian forces makes the formations harder to “fix up” than NATO style arrangements.
    And heaven knows what their losses are in supply trucks, fuel tankers and pre-positioned stocks.

  24. Lounsbury says:

    @JohnSF: precisely that MIA for US and Germans in those battles were almost certainly mostly unIDed / confirmed KIA whereas we have decent reason to suspect that for Russians right now they may indeed be experiencing a mass desertion / sit-it-out effect.

    Which is about equally damning in the end.

    But does confirm the Trump level of Genius it turns out Putin has.

    2
  25. charon says:

    Putin’s ambitions:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/03/22/alexander-dugin-author-putin-deady-playbook/

    Excerpts:

    “A product of late-period Soviet decline, Dugin belongs to the long, dismal line of political theorists who invent a strong and glorious past — infused with mysticism and obedient to authority — to explain a failed present. The future lies in reclaiming this past from the liberal, commercial, cosmopolitan present (often represented by the Jewish people).

    Dugin tells essentially the same story from a Russian point of view. Before modernity ruined everything, a spiritually motivated Russian people promised to unite Europe and Asia into one great empire, appropriately ruled by ethnic Russians. Alas, a competing sea-based empire of corrupt, money-grubbing individualists, led by the United States and Britain, thwarted Russia’s destiny and brought “Eurasia” — his term for the future Russian empire — low.

    In his magnum opus, “The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia,” published in 1997, Dugin mapped out the game plan in detail. Russian agents should foment racial, religious and sectional divisions within the United States while promoting the United States’ isolationist factions. In Great Britain, the psy-ops effort should focus on exacerbating historic rifts with Continental Europe and separatist movements in Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Western Europe, meanwhile, should be drawn in Russia’s direction by the lure of natural resources: oil, gas and food. NATO would collapse from within.”

    So what comes next, should Putin manage to “resolve” Russia’s “problem” in Ukraine? Dugin envisions a gradual dividing of Europe into zones of German and Russian influence, with Russia very much in charge thanks to its eventual stranglehold over Germany’s resource needs. As Great Britain crumbles and Russia picks up the pieces, the empire of Eurasia will ultimately stretch, in Dugin’s words, “from Dublin to Vladisvostok.”

    In a sense, Dugin’s 600-page doorstop can be boiled down to one idea: The wrong alliance won World War II. If only Hitler had not invaded Russia, Britain could have been broken. The United States would have remained at home, isolationist and divided, and Japan would have ruled the former China as Russia’s junior partner.

    Dugin’s book reviewed (from 2004, Putin has been following that playbook ever since):

    https://tec.fsi.stanford.edu/docs/aleksandr-dugins-foundations-geopolitics

    This a very lengthy very long read, bottom line:

    Conclusion

    In a moment of exultant imperial elan, Dugin revealingly trumpets at one point in his book, “The battle for the world rule of [ethnic] Russians has not ended” (213). It is necessary to speak the unvarnished truth. An official adviser on geopolitics to the speaker of the Russian Duma is a dangerous Russian fascist. As has been noted, Dugin also reportedly enjoys close ties to elements in the presidential administration, the secret services, the military, and the parliament. Although Dugin’s influence should not be exaggerated, it also should not be understated. One is required to ask whether Russian fascism–a tendency which exhibits contempt both for international borders and for international law–has a realistic chance of emerging as the “new political thinking” in international affairs in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. In late 1998, Russian academic Andrei Tsygankov appropriately warned that the discourse of Dugin and of like-minded “Eurasians” is in reality “the discourse of war.”

    Interviewed by a journalist from the army newspaper Krasnya zvezda in May 2001, Dugin patiently explained: “Eurasian space is the territory of Russia, the countries of the CIS and a part of the adjacent territories to the West and to the South, where there is no clear-cut geopolitical orientation. All of this comprises Eurasian strategic space broadly understood.” The army reporter offered no objections to this quite mad schema.

    Aleksandr Dugin’s Foundations of Geopolitics, to summarize, represents a harsh and cynical repudiation of the architecture of international relations that was laboriously erected following the carnage of the Second World War and the emergence of nuclear weapons. Dugin and his “system,” it seems, resemble the combustible interwar period and the rise of fascism in Europe, with the lurid imperial fantasies of the Duce, the Fuhrer, and other fascist demagogues. Could a reversion to a destructive past be the “dividend” which Russia and the West are to receive for having finally and with enormous effort put an end to the cold war?

    1
  26. a country lawyer says:

    @JohnSF: In about the same length of time, the Marines in the battle for Iwo Jima, had approximately 26,000 casualties including 7,000 killed. It was the only battle in the war where the allied casualties exceeded that of the enemy. On the other hand, virtually the entire Japanese garrison of 22,000 soldiers were killed.

  27. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Speaking of strengthening NATO:

    NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday the alliance is likely to bolster troops along its eastern flank, deploying four new battle groups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia.

    (This appears to be a long-term deployment, beyond the 140,000 troops currently on temporary emergency reinforcement in Baltic/Central Europe/Balkans area)

    And UK purchasing £533 million worth of new US built Ballistic Missile Defense system components.
    Germany also looks likely to acquire THAAD missile systems, some thirty five F-35’s, and fifteen additional Eurofighter Typhoons.

    There’s a head of steam now behind European defence and strategic industry moves that’s going to have it’s own momentum going forward, at least until there are major changes in Russian politics.

    And probably even after that: institutions have inertia, and this level of spending is going to generate political factors in itself.

  28. dazedandconfused says:

    @CSK:

    As a counter to the “honeybadger” model, here’s a take from Chas Freeman, one of our retired diplomats. It’s an hour long but worth it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vxufUeqnuc

    I’m of the opinion that we must not dismiss the possibility Putin is not a honey badger, he simply made an egregious, huge, mistake. What makes that seem incredible is the thought that big mistakes don’t happen at that level, but they do. It seems incredible to me we assume such mistakes are not possible with our own invasion of Iraq so historically recent, an act based on a firm belief our own BS.

    2
  29. charon says:

    @charon:

    Another Post piece, apparently Putin is also a bit of a religious nutter:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/03/22/putin-religious-russia-history-ukraine/

    Putin described the bloody assault as salvation for Ukraine — and spoke of a religious duty “to relieve these people of suffering.” Astonishingly, he quoted the Bible to justify his blitzkrieg: “I recall the words from the Holy Scripture: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

    Putin’s words sound perverse, even blasphemous, to us in the West. Putin’s army has bombed maternity hospitals, shopping malls and opera houses in Ukraine. But this twisted version is evidently what Putin believes.

    Putin’s religiosity is a little noted but powerful part of his personality. Putin’s mother, Maria, was a “deeply religious” woman, according to biographer Steven Lee Myers, who survived the siege of Leningrad in World War II after moaning for help amid a pile of corpses. When her son Vladimir was born in 1952, she “secretly baptized the boy,” Myers writes.

    Putin’s passion for the Russian Orthodox church underlies the sense of “oneness” between Russia and Ukraine that he expressed in a rambling essay he wrote in July 2021, which was a precursor of the violent assault to come. Putin noted that the roots of his faith were in Kyiv, where St. Vladimir in 988 converted from paganism to Orthodoxy. The Orthodox faithful were often repressed over subsequent centuries but they persisted in Russia and Ukraine, Putin wrote. “We are one people,” he proclaimed.

    Though Putin often seems nostalgic for the Soviet Union, his July essay blasted the Soviets for creating what he claimed was a false sense of a separate Ukrainian identity, enshrined in a separate republic carved out of Mother Russia. “The Bolsheviks treated the Russian people as inexhaustible material for their social experiments,” Putin wrote. “One fact is crystal clear: Russia was robbed.”

    At the heart of Putin’s worldview is a sense that Russia has been humiliated by a Western conspiracy. In Putin’s view, the “Euro-Atlantic countries” have lost their spiritual anchor, according to biographer Myers. “They are denying moral principles and all traditional identities: national, cultural, religious, and even sexual” and are on “a direct path to degradation and primitivism,” Putin said in a 2013 speech quoted by Myers.

  30. Kathy says:

    @charon:

    Who knew in this day and age some world leader would worship Moloch.

    1
  31. Sleeping Dog says:

    @JohnSF:

    Thoughts on how Germany and Europe should rearm.

    HOW THE BUNDESWEHR SHOULD SPEND ITS MONEY

  32. Lounsbury says:

    @charon: I think you badly misinterpret.

    Putin is a Great Russian ethno-supremacist nutter – the Russian Orthodox Church is less a “religious” qua religion than a ethno-identarian supremacist nuttiness.

    Perhaps not that far from the white supramcist born again nutters of USA land whose actual religious practice is non-existant and the born-Again Protestant supremacism is really just a part of white supremacist identity.

  33. Lounsbury says:

    BTW, it is going to be political malpractice if the Opposition (Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans) can not use all of this to emasculate Trump and his fellow travellers who have rained praise on Putin the past few years.

    Not that Foreign Adventures are normally particularly domestic politics compelling but this has all the ingrediants to be used successfully.

  34. Just nutha says:

    @CSK: I can see I was wrong about Putin needing to consult with Kim Jong eun. Putin understands Juche just fine. ☹️

  35. Michael Reynolds says:

    @JohnSF:

    There’s a head of steam now behind European defence and strategic industry moves that’s going to have it’s own momentum going forward, at least until there are major changes in Russian politics.

    As a nominal Jew there’s a frisson when I welcome the return to Germany of the military-industrial complex.

  36. dazedandconfused says:

    @Lounsbury:
    Probably shouldn’t read too much into Putin’s citing of religion. It was also Solzhenitsyn’s thought that post-Soviet Russian society could and probably should be organized around the Russian Orthodox church, as reported by Hedrick Smith. It was the only institution which the Soviets could not crush, which says quite a lot, and a practical matter for re-shaping a shattered society more than and ideological one. Putin followed that idea and has promoted the institution all along. He’s far more White Russian than a Red.

  37. Lounsbury says:

    @dazedandconfused: Yes what I meant – in the end Putin and Orthodox Church is not religion as religion, but religon as tool of empire and ethno-chauvinism.

  38. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    …the return to Germany of the military-industrial complex.

    As person from Coventry, I’d admit a bit of bit of ambivalence about it myself.

  39. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    @JohnSF:

    The thing is, Germany seems to have changed in the base format of its culture, and the politics that emerge from that.
    And has been conditioned to the post-1945 international ecosystem of Europe: EU/NATO, and the US as global ringmaster, and the rest of the architectures of Roosevelt and Truman.
    And the international politics that emerge from those.
    Along with other European states.

    It’s unfortunate that Russia continues to insist in living in the zero-sum world-system of Vienna rather than that of Helsinki.
    To crave another fix of the drug of empire.
    To continue to live in a world of Mearsheimer-style machtpolitik “realism” that is no longer realistic; if it ever was.

    The tale of Weimar rebooted.

  40. dazedandconfused says:

    @Lounsbury: If exploited as such by a government makes a religion not a religion, then there have been no “real” religions. For the people of deep faith in Russia, it’s real. They clung to it in the face of sever Soviet disapproval.