The Universal Boosting of Putin 1818

Back in the days when I was one of the British state’s more efficient functionaries, I spoke with British officers who had been in Russia during the Yeltsin period, when they had been able to get up close and effectively inventory the Russian armed forces. (For those who don’t know, I was First Secretary at the British Embassy in Warsaw, I was British Ambassador in Tashkent, and I was taught to be fluent in both Polish and Russian, which included living in St Petersburg as a language student while Ambassador designate).

What we (as I was then a cog in this machine) found was that the strength of the Soviet Union’s Red Army had been massively exaggerated in all our intelligence estimates, on which defence strategy had been based for decades. We had over-estimated the numbers, the mobility and above all the capability of Soviet weapons systems. Much of it was barely functional; the problems with both quality and maintenance were not just the product of the disintegration of the Soviet system, they evidently went back decades.

One interesting thing – and I recall discussing this with a British Brigadier General at the Polish exercise area in Drawsko – was that years of military planning had involved scenarios which revolved around successive defensive lines in Western Europe and eschewed any kind of counter-attacking strategy. That conversation had started because, when the British Army first started exercising on the former Warsaw pact training area at Drawsko, we had to strengthen bridges in Eastern Germany and Western Poland in order to get our tanks there.

We were musing that this had never been considered a problem in cold war strategy, because it was presumed our tanks would never go forward. We now knew they could have, which was interesting the analysts.

The truth, of course, was that it had always been in the interest of MI6, the Defence Intelligence Service, the British armed forces, of their American counterparts, and of all their NATO counterparts, massively to exaggerate the strength of the Red Army. Because the greater the perceived enemy, the more we needed to throw money at MI6, the Defence Intelligence Service, the British armed forces, their American counterparts, and at all their NATO counterparts.

Nothing has changed. Exaggerating the strength of the nominated enemy is still very much in their interest.

It is also, of course, massively in the interest of the arms industry. This is the classic operation of the military industrial complex, which does not just need an enemy, it needs a massive, terrifying, ultra-powerful enemy. Or why would you and I keep feeding the military industrial complex huge sums of money?

We see this operating today. The war profiteers have already made billions from the war in Ukraine. Look at this surge in defence stocks.

The German chancellor has already announced $200 billion of extra defence spending. The market expects to see similar boosts, totalling trillions of dollars across NATO, of money into the arms manufacturers and dealers, as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Yet this is an irrational response. What the Russian invasion of Ukraine has actually revealed is the limitations of Russian power. Those limitations consist both of the capacity of its armed forces, and the desire of its people to be a part of European civilisation, not to destroy European civilisation.

You can pretty well stand inside Russia and throw stones into Kharkiv, where Russian is an everyday language (and locals call the place Kharkov), yet Russia has not yet managed to subdue it. Yet we are supposed to be terrified that the mighty Russian army could roll across Western Europe and its tanks could fight their way through Kiev, Warsaw, Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris and London? It is plainly an utter nonsense (I address nuclear war later, a quite different proposition).

It says something very interesting about mass psychology that our political and media classes are able to convince the population, both that Russia is an incredible threat to us in our homes, and that the gallant Ukrainians can hold the Russians off. The western political and media class, almost universally, are managing both to crow that Russia is militarily weak, and to claim that we need to throw yet more money at the military industrial complex. As nicely observed by Moon of Alabama.

There are however, even in “respectable” media, a few voices pointing out that what is happening in Ukraine shows NATO defence spending to be already disproportionate. I was very surprised to read this eminently sensible article in Newsweek:

In the longer term, the recognition of Russian military weakness represents a fundamental challenge to U.S. strategy, spending priorities and even its firm hold on the world. It questions Washington’s obsession with a supposed “peer” adversary and the U.S. emphasis on a larger military and ever-increasing defense spending to deal with Russia. Changing the narrative on the Russian military also fundamentally challenges NATO and its European members. Though there might be heightened awareness and even fear of Moscow’s willingness to resort to extreme and even reckless behavior, the reality is that there doesn’t need to be increased defense spending or a renewal of European ground forces….

For Washington, this display of Russian military weakness should be comforting in terms of Moscow’s true military threat to Europe. At the same time though, it exposes the need for a different national security strategy, one that doesn’t imagine Russia as a military equal, and one that doesn’t push Vladimir Putin’s back against a wall.

This war in Ukraine should represent such a moment of epiphany in western political thought.

According to the Russians themselves, Russian military spending is just 5% of NATO military spending. That is about right.

Total NATO spending is over 1 trillion dollars a year. Russian defence spending in 2019 was $65.1 billion a year, just higher than the UK. So nominally Russian spending is a little over 6% of NATO spending a year. Of course, purchasing power in the defence industry makes nominal calculations not entirely helpful. Here is a short link from an excellent discussion from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute of the factors that might make Russian real resources put into defence greater than the nominal total:

Nonetheless, there are strong indications that military goods and services cost less in Russia than in the USA or most of Europe and, therefore, that Russian military spending has a higher purchasing power. For example, unlike the USA and other large European states, Russia still relies on conscription. In addition, Russian career soldiers have lower salaries: for example, in 2019 a Russian lieutenant colonel received approximately $1330 per month, whereas a (lower-ranked) captain in the British Army received more than $4000 monthly. Adequate data to make a similar comparison of the cost of acquiring military equipment is not available.

Converting Russian military expenditure using GDP-based PPP rates (based on data from the International Monetary Fund) gives spending of $166 billion in 2019 (instead of $65.1 billion using market exchange rates). This is still less than one-quarter of US spending of $732 billion. A similar calculation gives Chinese military spending of over $500 billion (instead of $261 billion using market exchange rates).

I would argue that while paying and feeding troops may be indeed be much cheaper in Russia, military hardware costs are much dependent on metals, processors and other internationally traded commodities and an overall comparison to the simple relative cost of living PPP index for Russia is not appropriate. But even using the general IMF PPP calculator, Russian defence spending is, at the very most, 12% of NATO spending.

The idea that NATO has to spend more to match the threat to NATO of Russia is plainly a nonsense.

So those of us who have always opposed NATO’s militarism, NATO’s involvement in illegal wars and NATO’s massive propaganda operation aimed at boosting the funds fed in to the arms manufacturers, the security services and the military, should welcome the opportunity for growing understanding that a large portion of this defence expenditure is not necessary.

The Russian economy is about the size of the Spanish economy. Russian defence spending is, at the highest, 12% of NATO defence spending. Russia is not the great threat to Western Europe. The limit of Russian power has been shown up in its inability quickly to defeat Ukraine, a militarily third rate European power.

But a large section of the western left – including many regular readers of this blog – is not shouting this out. A section of the western left chooses to boost the propaganda of western arms manufacturers by talking up Russian power, claiming the Russian military is massively capable, putting a good gloss on the performance of the Russian military in Ukraine, and insisting that Putin is a strategic genius.

That “left” narrative is music to the ears of NATO and the military industrial complex. So how has the left been manoeuvred into the position of being the amplifiers of the argument of their natural enemies?

The answer, strangely enough, is not intellectual but emotional.

It is rather lonely being a dissident voice in the West, arguing against the consensus of the media and political elite. Even where that political elite completely screws up, as in the invasion of Iraq, where they launched an illegal war, caused the deaths of millions of people, destroyed the infrastructure of a country, yet still lost the war, there are no deleterious consequences for the political elite.

The International Criminal Court is investigating Russian war crimes in Ukraine. It has done nothing effective about western crimes in Iraq, where hundreds of thousands of civilians died.

This level of injustice is hard to stomach. There is a natural yearning for an alternative, for a good power in the world to match the bad power in the world, and to give at least some hope of justice or balance. Thus many on the left have come to idolise Vladimir Putin as the balance to outweigh and thwart the corrupt, warmongering, neo-imperialist Western states.

Syria gave some comfort to this viewpoint. In the war for hegemony that the West has waged all over the Middle East, the contradictions of allying with a country as anathematical to supposed Western values as Saudi Arabia reached their apotheosis. The American-led West was providing arms, finance and logistical and air support to ISIS and closely allied jihadist groups in an effort to overthrow the Assad regime. The western sponsored civil war had already caused devastation and huge refugee flows. Had the western backed jihadists succeeded, the results would have been unthinkable.

Putin saved the world from that, by a small but timely Russian military intervention, and I for one am glad he did. I say that as absolutely no fan of the Assad regime.

So I can sympathise with those who see Putin as the answer to their desire for the West to be counterbalanced. The problem is it is unrealistic. Russia is just not that strong. It has an economy the size of Spain or another second tier Western European state. Any military intervention by Russia that seriously crosses the West is ultimately dependent on nuclear brinkmanship.

The more fundamental point is that Putin is no more a “good guy” than Western leaders. Russia is a massively kleptocratic state where the gap between the extremely wealthy and the exploited general populace is every bit as big as the gap in the West, and until recently was inarguably much bigger. The human rights situation in Russia is poor. In fact in both those respects, the West is moving increasingly to looking like Russia, which is a very bad thing.

Putin’s Russia is no kind of socialist model.

Putin’s image as the strong man of Eurasia is boosted out of all proportion by those on the right who benefit from portraying a powerful enemy: and by those on the left who yearn for a powerful friend. This is the universal boosting of Putin. But in real life he is a much smaller figure, controlling a waning power of very limited resources. He has just made his largest miscalculation. In the last hour the UN General Assembly has condemned the Russian attack on Ukraine. The UN General Assembly is a forum where the US and its allies can normally muster between 2 and 12 votes. They had 141. Russia mustered 5, the kind of position the US, Israel and the Marshall Islands frequently find themselves in. That is the extent of Putin’s diplomatic blunder.

History teaches us it is a huge mistake to attack Russia. The Russian people have an enormous capacity for wartime resilience when attacked. But the plain truth is NATO has never attacked Russia, and though I intensely dislike NATO’s pushing of weapons systems closer to Russia, NATO doctrine has never included plans to initiate war with Russia.

Just as I have frequently stated Russia has never had any intent to attack the UK; to persuade the population otherwise is the everyday job of the military industrial complex.

But the Russian military industrial complex is just as powerful within Russia as the western military industrial complex is here, and the Russian people are just as exploited by their elites as we are in the West. On either side, the offices of heads of government are not the right place to search for the good guys. Everybody gets lied into war.

It is of course a truism that Russian security concerns were made neuralgic by the ever tightening encroachment of NATO and its missiles. It is a valid point. But it is an equally valid point that NATO has never attacked Russia and none of those missiles has ever been fired at Russia. The point of the missiles was never to fire them at Russia. The point of the missiles was to manufacture and sell them at enormous profit margins and provide large salaries and cash funds for politicians, with endless revolving door jobs for ex-military and civilian defence personnel, who all keep the contracts flowing.

We are now in a position where only a severe Russian military setback can reduce the political momentum for more arms spending, more militarism and more censorship of dissenting opinion in the west – and yet many on the left are hoping for a Russian victory. That despite the fact that not only is Putin’s attack on Ukraine illegal, it is an aggressive war with precisely the same spurious justification as the US-led destruction of Iraq; pre-emptive disarmament to prevent possible attack.

To make matters worse, Putin’s attack is popularly seen as justification of the appalling Russophobia that has formed a fundamental part of the Establishment political narrative in recent years. Putin has appeared to justify years of lies by Russophobes.

I first became fully aware of the untruth of the mainstream Russophobic narrative when it was claimed that Wikileaks had published the Clinton material on the rigging of the primaries against Bernie Sanders, in collaboration with Russia. I knew that was definitely untrue. We then saw an expansion of this narrative, including aspects of the official Skripal story that made no sense whatsoever.

As a result of the invasion of Ukraine, popular opinion holds as validated any lunatic suggestion of evil Russian influence ever to emerge from the disorganised brain of Carole Cadwalladr. “Putin has invaded Ukraine. I told you he fixed the 2016 election” is not a proposition that holds up to a millisecond of logical analysis, but logical analysis is the first casualty of war.

Finally, a couple of thoughts on nuclear weapons. Putin has put his nuclear forces at some kind of initial alert level. In a rational world, this would lead to an increased demand for genuine attempts at nuclear disarmament negotiations, but again I fear that is not in the interest of the elites who control governments. NATO’s insistence on pushing missile systems ever closer to a nuclear-armed Russia and continually ratcheting up Russia’s fear of aggressive encirclement, will make it extremely unlikely that Russia will have any interest in disarmament. Which is so obvious, it proves NATO has absolutely no interest in disarmament either.

I have said much which is highly critical of Russia, and rightly so because Russia had started an illegal war. But that in no way reduces the very large amount of blame that attaches to NATO for its absurd militarism and territorial triumphalism, and the complete lack of interest NATO has shown towards finding a less confrontational approach to Russia.

NATO does not defend the interests of the people of Europe. It embodies the interests of the global elite, who benefit from feeding the military industrial complex. NATO is an instrument of the military and the weapons manufacturers. To exist, it needs an enemy. NATO’s role will always be to secure its own existence and its controllers’ cashflow, by creating enemies.

The only good guys in this are the common people of Ukraine, and the unfortunate conscripts in the Russian army. Let us all pray, hope or think on them tonight.


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1,818 thoughts on “The Universal Boosting of Putin

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  • Gordon Liddle

    Great piece but to be honest, despite Monbiot and others looking for leftist supporters of Putin, I haven’t seen any. They see any critisism of NATO as proof, but as you have written, this is nonsense.

  • Fred Dagg

    “So those of us who have always opposed NATO’s militarism, NATO’s involvement in illegal wars and NATO’s massive propaganda operation aimed at boosting the funds fed in to the arms manufacturers, the security services and the military, should welcome the opportunity for growing understanding that all this defence expenditure is not necessary.”

    As I posted a couple of days ago […Following the collapse of the Eastern bloc, the West faced a major economic problem: any sudden decline in defence spending, with the vast amounts of capital being destroyed by arms production instead circulated in useful production, would risk massive over-production crises. These could only be avoided by maintaining or increasing spending on arms and engaging in a new generation of wars, in the 1990s primarily in Yugoslavia and Kuwait, and from 2001 onwards in the (endless) “war on terrorism” (“fortunately”, Capitalism’s colonial and imperialist past had sown rich pastures for “blowback” opportunities)…], arms production cannot be reduced, wars or no wars, because the re-circulation of the capital so destroyed into productive sectors of the economy, “making useful things”, would, because of the fantastic productivity and efficiency of the capitalist mode of production, cause over-production crises of a magnitude never previously seen.

    As the late, great Giovanni Arrighi explained in an article originally published in Italian in 1972:

    “The history of capitalism shows us that the periodic recurrence of crises is not a function of the working class’s strength or combativity, of ‘mistakes’ in economic management, or even of ‘parasitism’ in society. The tendency towards crisis is indissolubly linked to the existence of capitalism itself. It is a result of the contradiction between the goal of capitalist accumulation (the valorization of capital and the appropriation of surplus-value by capital) and the means by which this goal is pursued (growth in social productivity and the development of the social character of production). Social productivity is increased continuously by mechanization and the division and reorganization of labour, not in order to satisfy the needs of the producers, but in order to increase the proportion of the social product which accrues to capital instead of being passed on to the producers. This process has a contradictory effect on society’s ability to consume and produce. Whilst production (whose growth depends principally on the proportion of the social product which goes to the capitalists and is transformed into means of production) tends to increase, consumption (whose growth depends principally on the proportion of the social product which goes to the workers and which is transformed into means of consumption) tends to contract.

    Commodities produced using the means of production in which capital has been invested are thus always in danger of remaining unsold because of the restricted base of consumption under capitalism. From this spring what are called realization crises. The surplus-value which labour produces and incorporates in commodities is not realized – in other words, it does not form profit – because part of the commodities in question either remain unsold or can only be sold at such low prices that potential profit is reduced or nullified. In this case, the crisis occurs because the rate of exploitation (the relation between the portion of social product which is appropriated by capital and the portion retained by the workers) is ‘too high’ to allow the realization of surplus-value.

    If for any reason, on the other hand, the rate of exploitation does not rise and stays constant (or even falls), accumulation no longer tends to run up against over-restricted consumption, since workers’ incomes rise in step with productivity. In this case, accumulation runs up against the limits set by the fall in the rate of profit (the ratio of profit to invested capital). A constant (or diminishing) proportion of the social product is insufficient to remunerate, at a constant rate, the ever-increasing mass of capital that the capitalists have to invest per unit of product. If exploitation stays constant (or falls), the rate of profit falls with capital intensity in production.footnote1 There is hence a tendency for a reduction in accumulation to take place, because the capitalists do not get the returns they expected from their investment. In this case, the crisis is brought on because the rate of exploitation is ‘too low’ for an ‘adequate’ remuneration of capital.

    In both cases the crisis is manifested as a fall in the rate of profit and overproduction of commodities: in the first case (rate of exploitation ‘too high’) the rate of profit falls because there is overproduction of commodities and surplus-value cannot be completely transformed into profits; in the second case (rate of exploitation ‘too low’) there is overproduction because the fall in the rate of profit brings about a diminished demand for means of production. In spite of this apparent similarity, there is an important difference between the two situations. In the first case, overproduction (and the fall in the rate of profit) is greater in the sectors which produce wage-goods (goods consumed by the working class) and the means of production needed to make these goods. Capital therefore tends to migrate out of these sectors, and the social product ends up containing a lower quantity of these goods and a larger proportion of goods consumed by the bourgeoisie and unproductive social strata. In the second case, the opposite takes place. In other words, there will be a crisis both with a rate of exploitation which is ‘too high’ and with one which is ‘too low’. But the final outcome of the crisis in each case is different. In the first case, its weight will fall on the working class; in the second, it will fall on capital and on unproductive social strata.”

    A knowledge of Marxist economic theory really is not optional for understanding the way the world works.

  • Chops

    “Yet we are supposed to be terrified that the mighty Russian army could roll across Western Europe and its tanks could fight their way through Kiev, Warsaw, Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris and London?”

    That’s certainly not the message I heard today. I watched one commentator likening the current Russian convoy advance to the retreat of Iraqi forces on Highway 80 all those years ago, with the suggestion that if they did that against NATO, they’d get wiped up.

    Now I don’t know how accurate that is (i.e. I’m NOT commenting on how accurate that is, I’m commenting on the PERCEPTION that it is) and maybe against NATO those Russian forces would have put a bit more effort into air superiority, logistics, communications, encryption, and everything else that’s currently looking below what we expected, but the *message* I’m hearing from a number of commentators is that if this is representative, then maybe the conventional threat isn’t quite what was thought.

    • Allan Howard

      Chops, Craig is referring to rhetoric such as the following (and no doubt even more outlandish claims):

      Exactly why Russia has amassed these troops is unclear, but Blinken fears Putin may have goals beyond Ukraine.

      He told CBS Evening News: ‘You don’t need intelligence to tell you that that’s exactly what President Putin wants.

      ‘He’s made clear that he’d like to reconstitute the Soviet empire. Short of that, he’d like to reassert a sphere of influence around neighbouring countries that were once part of the Soviet bloc…..’

      NB And you can be absolutely 100% certain that Blinken knew exactly why the troops had been amassed on Ukraine’s borders (and likewise Biden and the rest of them). And given that most of the countries he’s referring to are now members of NATO……

  • Craig Chambers

    Hi Craig Mostly agree but what about the Nationalist and far right, Nazi elements in Ukraine? Why have you left this out of the equation?

    • Tatyana

      And especially their ties to Ukraine’s government. It cannot be that Odessa May 2, 2014 still not investigated, when so many were happy to participate and videoed themselves with smartphones, to share on the Internet for the whole country and wider world to see. But Ukrainian police.

    • Kitbee

      ‘what about the Nationalist and far right, Nazi elements in Ukraine?’

      Are they a credible threat to Russia?? If not then they are a matter for Ukraine no??

  • Mist001

    The strength or lack thereof, of the Russian army has been known about for at least the past 80 years. I read about all your points that you make above in a comic book(!) years ago which was discussing the transformation of the OSS into the CIA. The OSS painted a picture of a heavily armed, sophisticated Russian army to sell to the Americans when the truth was the Russians were armed with obsolete weaponry being transported by horse-drawn carriages.

    • Wikikettle

      Craig, what are your views on Lavrov’s assertions that in International Law and UN Charter there is indivisibility? That is one countries security should not be at expense of anothers? That assurances were given of no Noto expansion East of Germany? Nato’s reason for existence post Soviet Union collapse. The violent coup and regime change in Ukraine financed by US to overthrow a government and replace it with one that brought in laws to oppress a sizable minority in the West and majority in the East. What recourse would Russia have to Nato bases and missiles in Ukraine? No doubt after Ukraine, Nato would engineer a coup in Belarus and all the remaining former Soviet Republics not in the Wester remit. Surely Russia views these also as a surrounding attack of sorts by Nato. The final aim being regime change in Moscow itself. The 90’s were not a liberating experience for Russians and are they to go through another Yeltsin type chaos?

  • Ben

    There is, I think, a phenomenon that stands in opposition to American exceptionalism. I don’t have a name for it, but some on the left have internalized the claim that the US is the foulest, most rapacious and most vicious empire in the history of the world, an uber-villain that transcends all others, and is the fountain of human misery in the modern world; and that opposing US foreign policy is the way of the angels, no matter what that entails.

    And that foreign adversaries like Putin, or even domestic fascists like Trump (who sought to co-opt the national security state for its own ends, but in doing so posed a grave threat to its current beneficiaries) are better than the status quo, regardless of which “neoliberal” party (their opinion, not mine) happens to be in charge.

    A mindsight that is every bit as juvenile and simplistic as “my country right or wrong” jingoism.

    • DunGroanin

      How about the resource use imbalance and pollution and climate changing gases of that minority of Exceptionalists?

      Can you ignore their Banana Republics, Monroe Doctrines and imperial escapees over the century. The millions killed. The forests razed the oceans poisoned. Including that great massive land of North America with its extinctions and laying to waste?

      These in power who box people into their created left/right pseudo religious economics and their willing agents to push that agenda, are of course the real enemies of the whole of humanity and life on Earth.

    • terence callachan

      USA is as you describe no doubt about it.They have ravaged the Middle East pathetically excusing their disastrous actions as help to those countries in ridding themselves of their governments but in reality overthrowing and taking control to get access to resources on the cheap.All wars in the modern day era are about controlling world economics Ukraine is no different , Russia have nothing they need from Ukraine but will not stand bye and let Ukraine make agreements with USA NATO that threaten Russia access to the mediterranean ,Russia have access to the Baltic from Kaliningrad and St Petersburg through the Gulf of Finland but such a huge land as Russia need access to the Mediterranean too .USA and U.K. have been aggravating Russia by sending warships through the Bosporous straits to the Black Sea just to sail around Russia,s coast there USA and U.K. do the same in the China Sea.
      U.K. and USA had best be more careful now that China India and Russia are agreeing that U.K. and USA are aggressors .

    • Johnny Conspiranoid

      “A mindsight that is every bit as juvenile and simplistic as “my country right or wrong” jingoism.”

      I agree with it though. Very well summarised.

  • Bob (not OG)

    Craig, love your site, but have a few comments on this article.
    Putin “has just made his largest miscalculation. In the last hour the UN General Assembly has condemned the Russian attack on Ukraine.” — The UN, those great arbiters of truth and justice – right?

    “NATO has never attacked Russia and none of those missiles has ever been fired at Russia. The point of the missiles was never to fire them at Russia.”

    — I agree, the point of these weapons is the money, but just imagine the US was being steadily surrounded by enemy missiles and bases. Do you think, for one second, they would take that?

    “We are now in a position where only a severe Russian military setback can reduce the political momentum for more arms spending, more militarism and more censorship of dissenting opinion in the west”.

    — I hate to break it to you, but nothing is going to reduce the political momentum for more arms spending, more militarism and more censorship of dissenting opinion in the west, short of a direct hit from an asteroid. That ship has sailed.

    “not only is Putin’s attack on Ukraine illegal, it is an aggressive war”.

    — Russia have been trying for years to get Nato to address their concerns about Nato expansion. They’ve also had to watch more and more weapons coming into Ukraine, to be used on Russians in Donbas. Those two things might be considered justification enough for going in. At least, they are more solid reasons than we went into Iraq (and the US went into numerous ‘illegal’ wars) for.

    No one knows how this will end. The best solution would be for Ukraine to agree to stay out of Nato and Russia to withdraw from Ukraine. Also, for Nato to be disbanded, which is long overdue.

    • Chops

      I hear this a lot; that Russia was finding itself surrounded by enemies and that’s why it feel threatened. Sure, sounds reasonable.

      I wonder if they ever wondered why all their neighbours feel the need to get heavily tooled up and join a big self-defence club. Why is it that Ukraine feels that Russia poses some kind of existential threat and if there’s a better way to make Ukraine realise that’s not the case than invading them.

      • Bob (not OG)

        Russia’s neighbours got tooled up because there’s a lot of money to be made selling weapons, under whatever pretext that will appeal to the buyer. A brief look at history shows that Nato, whatever else it might be, is not a self-defence club.
        The military industrial complex that Eisenhower warned about is more powerful than ever.
        Maybe I shoudn’t have said the invasion was justified, instead explicable.

        • George Porter

          There is also a lot of money to be made by buying weapons. Your military spends a few billion buying arms from the USA (mostly) but there will be a big spend in your country as well – logistics, bases, warehouses and more. And that’s without the fees and bribes to middlemen. Everybody wins – except the taxpayers.

      • Akos Horvath

        Hungary is refusing to send weapons or soldiers to Ukraine. We even refused to allow UK arms shipments through our country. Opinion polls show a large majority wanting to stay out of this war.

        But I love when Westerners tell me how I supposedly feel. After all, the White Western Man with its burden knows it better than the natives.

      • Johnny Conspiranoid

        “Why is it that Ukraine feels that Russia poses some kind of existential threat and if there’s a better way to make Ukraine realise that’s not the case than invading them.”

        Ukraine did not feel that Russia posed some kind of existential otherwise it would not have dared to spend eight years slaughtering 14000 russians in the Donbass.

    • Bayard

      “NATO has never attacked Russia and none of those missiles has ever been fired at Russia. The point of the missiles was never to fire them at Russia.”

      — I agree, the point of these weapons is the money, but just imagine the US was being steadily surrounded by enemy missiles and bases. Do you think, for one second, they would take that?”

      There’s a first time for everything. None of NATO’s weapons had ever been fired at Iraq before the first time NATO attacked Iraq, either.

    • wall of controversy

      Craig’s overall points are largely excellent besides the one you quote which is outstanding daft:

      “NATO has never attacked Russia and none of those missiles has ever been fired at Russia. The point of the missiles was never to fire them at Russia.”

      How on earth can anyone claim that the point of missiles aimed at any country is never to fire them? Unlike India and China the US doesn’t even profess to have a “no first use” policy and in the lead up to this war it has been tearing up defence treaties willy-nilly. In an age dominated by neo-cons any enemy state’s reliance of American goodwill would be close to suicidal.

  • Jack

    While I don’t agree with the invasion, I think there is a total lack of understanding what is going on from the view of the Russians.

    You have millions of ethnic russians in Ukraine, you have a civil war that have killed thousands of ethnic russians past years. You the Ukrainan gov. That simply refuse to sign peace agreement, you have a NATO/US that refuse to sign any security agreements. You have a world that simply deny or do not care if russians are killed or are discriminated against in Ukraine with the arms of US and NATO (and now EU). You have encroaching US/NATO past decade. It is not hard to understand why Russia acted with armed forces. From their view.

    Imagine if there were 10 million americans that lived in Ukraine and this group were the victim, rest assured US would have intervened long time ago with the approval of the whole world!

    The playing field is uneven for Russia because russophobia have been at play since time immemorial and I guess that is also what rule Russian action – if west wont listen to us – we wont listen to them seems to be critical underlying sentiment.

    Adding to that, what makes this conflict so emotional is the overblown reaction by the west, the situation doesnt have to be this agitated, the west are making the situation this hysterical.

    Call up the russians, sit down and make a deal, it is not harder than that to stop this war for the west if they had any interest in peace.

    • Wikikettle

      What was so wrong of Russia to ask that Ukraine be Neutral like Austria? Now Nato wants to expand into Finland and Sweden ! This is surely seen as exetential threat not even faced by Russia at the height of the Cold War.

        • Chops

          At some point, Russia has surely got to ask itself “Why do all my neighbours seem so keen to join a self-defence club as protection against me?” Even just “why now, mere days after I invaded Ukraine, are they suddenly so keen to do that?”

          • Akos Horvath

            At some point the West needs to ask itself why it keeps invading Russia and tries to exterminate its people. Just off the top of my head: Bonaparte Napoleon, the Crimean War (the UK and a different Napoleon), WW1, the Western intervention after the 1917 revolution, WW2.

            When did Russia invade London or Paris or Rome? A black and white worldview without any nuance is characteristic of children. This is not to justify the invasion of Ukraine, but look in the mirror first.

          • pretzelattack

            Is Belarus joining those neighbors? why is it that countries who have governments overthrown by the US or subsidized heavily by NATO and the US suddenly adopt US foreign policy? why exactly is the US still occupying Germany and Japan? Why does NATO still exist? so many questions for people to ask themselves.

          • James Chater

            Historians will look back and see reasons, but not justifications, as a war of this savagery, with civilians targeted (and also, on the other side, exploiting conscripts) can never be justified. Reasons included tghe racheting up of tensions, the failure of NATO see see a red line (the extension of NATO to Russia’s border), Putin’s overconfidence in a quick victory. And also sheer inertia and macho: he had amassed all those troops at the border, and withdrawing them would have looked silly and Grand Old Duke of Yorkish. Also, there is the “We’ve got the means, might as well use them” siren voice which lures leaders into war – especially imprudent leaders who have never seen a war.

      • ET

        In relation to the existential threat Russia has depicted with NATO missiles being five minutes from Moscow, “on our doorstep.”
        If NATO missiles in Ukraine are 5 minutes to Moscow then by corollary Russian missiles are 5 minutes from Kyiv. Forgetting for a moment the current state of Ukrainian government who has the moral upper hand in existential threats? Does anyone?

        • pretzelattack

          so you would be ok with Russia instigating a coup within a country next to yours and installing missiles aimed at your country. I don’t think you would. There is a right to national self-defense.

        • Tom Welsh

          Nobody in the West cares about Kiev or Ukrainians. Everyone in Ukraine could die and very few people would be concerned.

          To make your analogy correct, you must imagine Russian missiles being five minutes from Washington, New York, and London.

        • Johnny Conspiranoid

          “In relation to the existential threat Russia has depicted with NATO missiles being five minutes from Moscow, “on our doorstep.”

          “If NATO missiles in Ukraine are 5 minutes to Moscow then by corollary Russian missiles are 5 minutes from Kyiv.”

          This is why people should enter into arms limitation treaties as suggested by Russia but refused by NATO.

      • Jimmeh

        > What was so wrong of Russia to ask that Ukraine be Neutral like Austria?

        Maybe they should have asked nicely, instead of hammering on the door with 150,000 troops on the doorstep.

        Mugger: “Gimme all your money or I’ll stab you to death.”
        Victim: “Oh, I’m neutral, you should have picked on someone else.”

        Let’s be serious: nobody turns neutral just because the big guy from down the road demands it.

        • Tom Welsh

          A more realistic analogy would have NATO as the mugger and Ukraine as his knife. Is Russia to wait to be stabbed before reacting? What it is doing is taking the knife away from the mugger, with as little force as humanly possible.

          If NATO didn’t want Russia to use force, it should not have pushed and pushed and pushed until Russia had its back right up against the wall.

    • Chops

      “Call up the russians, sit down and make a deal, it is not harder than that to stop this war for the west if they had any interest in peace.”

      It seems a bit off for countries that aren’t Ukraine to cut a deal with Russia on the fate of Ukraine.

      • Jack


        Because west are now the ones backing, funding, arming Ukraine so obviously Russia have to talk with the people in charge i.e the west.
        Russia also have to talk to US on Nato matters for Ukraine.

        What is absurd is that Nato have said ‘No’ to Ukraine on joining Nato, so in principle Nato understands the logic of Ukraine being a neutral country, but they cannot bear to admit it to the russians, picking the alternative – this invasion, instead.

        Nontheless. I do wonder what the next step would be, will Nato change its mind and proceed with Nato membership Ukraine after this invasion?

        • Chops

          “Because west are now the ones backing, funding, arming Ukraine so obviously Russia have to talk with the people in charge i.e the west.”

          That’s not at all obvious. The Ukranians are the ones fighting. They will be the ones who have to stop fighting.

          • pretzelattack

            and they will stop fighting when the people funding them stop doing that.

        • Allan Howard

          Jack, in a Counterpunch article posted on Feb 23rd it quoted Jeffrey Sachs in the Financial Times as saying the following:

          “Putin has repeatedly demanded that the U.S. forswear NATO’s enlargement into Ukraine, while Biden has repeatedly asserted that membership of the alliance is Ukraine’s choice.”

          Jeffry Sachs also dismisses another falsehood – he refers to it as ‘utterly mistaken’ – which has been repeated ad nauseum in recent weeks, and for the obvious reason:

          As Sachs noted, “Many insist that NATO enlargement is not the real issue for Putin and that he wants to recreate the Russian empire, pure and simple. Everything else, including NATO enlargement, they claim, is a mere distraction. This is utterly mistaken. Russia has adamantly opposed NATO expansion towards the east for 30 years, first under Boris Yeltsin and now Putin…. Neither the U.S. nor Russia wants the other’s military on their doorstep.

  • Mist001

    Serious, though hypothetical question:

    Imagine an independent Scotland and England decided to do what Russia has done with Ukraine.

    What does anyone think the worlds reaction would be?

    • Wikikettle

      I dont think England would like an Independent Scotland to house Russian bases and missiles and their own nuclear subs in Faslane. Yet we thought it perfectly ok to have a US Nato naval base in Crimea. !!!!!

    • Athanasius

      Who knows? Did anyone imagine the outrage in the west for what Putin has done? Did anyone foresee the west pumping arms into the Ukraine? Lads armies of volunteers joining up like in the Spanish Civil War? Germany telling Putin what to do with his gas pipeline then doubling their defence budget? Once the first shot is fired, no sod knows what happens next. That’s why war should be a last resort.

    • davidwferguson

      Imagine an independent Scotland and England decided to do what Russia has done with Ukraine…

      A better analogy would be: Imagine Scotland declared its independence from the United Kingdom, and England spent the next eight years showering it with bombs and missiles..

  • Athanasius

    Kleptocratic and authoritarian? Actually, Craig, I would say Putin’s Russia is the exemplar of socialist states. And while you make a fair point about the arms industry always needing an enemy, it occurs to me the if Ukraine survives this assault, it will be because every Javelin Missile on the planet is being rushed into the hands of their soldiers, and these things aren’t grown by eco-friendly hydroponic farmers. It’s a rough old world, and like the man said, it’s not show friends, it’s show business. You don’t have to be perfect to be better than the other fellow, and if Putin has done one favour for the world, it’s to wake the west up from it’s leftist doze and remind it that, actually, yes, it IS better than the alternative.

    • pretzelattack

      the US is the worst and most lawless warmonger country on the planet, but thanks for pointing out that Putin doesn’t have to be perfect to be better than the US alternative, nor does China.

      • Athanasius

        Yes, no matter WHAT happens, the US/west/EU is REALLY the evil one. That’s what western education has come down to in 2022. And for clarity, graduate in law here.

        • andyoldlabour


          If you really are a law graduate, then the Iraq war, the subsequent 450,000 dead Iraqis, the millions displaced, the totally destroyed infrastructure, the destruction of Afghanistan and Libya, the attempt to do the same to Syria, all of that may, if you have half a brain and a moral compass, indeed tell you that the US/UK/EU has acted in an evil manner, far worse than anything Russia/Vladimir Putin has done.
          The worst thing about it, is that none of our leaders/politicians/architects of evil, have ever had sanctions placed on them, or faced justice at the ICC.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    Craig Murray,

    On the same topic – but stated in a succinct and highly impressive interview of Chris Hedges he makes the core point – which you also state.

    My point here is that on your recent post – from me you get an ‘A’. Keep it up and next time you may even earn yourself an ‘A+’

    Keep being a good student and thanks for your hard and worthy effort.

    P.S. Here is what Hedges had to say:-

    Chris Hedges On Ukraine, Russia & NATOKatie Halper (YouTube, 27m 55s)

    • Wikikettle

      Courtenay Barnett. I hear Nato is arriving in Colombia !? No doubt another push for regime change next door in Venezuela.

      • Courtenay Barnett


        If what you say is so:-

        ” I hear Nato is arriving in Colombia !? No doubt another push for regime change next door in Venezuela.”

        Do provide me with evidence to equip myself for any observation to be shared with you.



        • Wikikettle

          On last Sunday’s George Galloways show Mother of all Talk Shows on RT Sputnik. ( the last one ? )
          I don’t think George would make something like that up, but I agree I/we need something more solid !
          Will endeavour to dig deeper.

          • Tom Welsh

            NATO’s supposed mission was to protect Western Europe from invasion by the USSR and the Warsaw Pact.

            Colombia is 9,000 km from Western Europe, and the USSR ceased to exist 30 years ago.

            It is increasingly obvious to all but the wilfully blind that NATO has become the equivalent of a violent, destructive street gang. naturally many countries wish to join it: safer to be in the gang than out.

            Since 1991 the gang has crowded and pushed Russia until it is in a corner. Now, like Crocodile Dundee, Russia has said (amiably enough), “No, THIS is a knife”.

            Of course there is panic, terror, anger and everyone blames Russia for “aggression”.

          • Courtenay Barnett


            Seems like not yet full fledged membership of NATO.

            My reading?

            NATO ( READ ‘US’) is spreading its wings across the world. Difficulty is that US interests do not necessarily equate to what is in the best interest of Europe. Why would Germany want to walk away from cheaper Russian oil/gas for more expensive US LNG?

  • Akos Horvath

    I think on military matters you get a much better analysis from Scott Ritter. You can follow his Twitter feed. Craig comes through as an amateur.

    • Wikikettle

      Akos Horvath. Indeed Scott is the real deal. He like Craig has suffered by being a whistle blower. Our host is no amateur, respect please.

      • Akos Horvath

        On MILITARY matters he sounds like an amateur to me. This is my personal opinion. The US and its satraps bombed Baghdad for 40 days straight and it took them a month to declare Mission Accomplished. This with an invasion force of 300k against a country that had been bombed daily for a decade or so. And Yugoslavia was bombed for 78 days before it surrendered.

        But if Russia doesn’t occupy Ukraine in 7 days that’s an abject failure. The Russian invasion force is 150-190k according to the various Western talking heads, significantly smaller than the US one in 2003. It just doesn’t seem a very serious analysis.

        It’s also interesting that Poland was one of the countries that invaded Iraq and Ukraine provided I think the 3rd largest occupying contingent. Illegal invasions and occupations were not against their ‘European values’ back then.

        • Akos Horvath

          Just to be crystal clear, I am cheering for neither side. I have never picked up a gun in my entire life and never will. In fact, I have always advocated that Hungary should disband its army like Costa Rica.

          War and military spending are a complete waste for humanity. But in the military waste department, the West ‘wins’ hands down, as shown by its gargantuan military spending and hundreds of bases suffocating the planet.

          • pretzelattack

            yes it strikes me too that some goalpost movement is being done. Moreover, by reports, Russia is consciously holding back, something the US did not do in for example the second Iraq War.

    • Tom Welsh

      Absolutely right, Akos. Perhaps career diplomats tend to suffer from the same problem as lawyers: they tend to mistake words on paper for reality.

      For a corrective (albeit a rather outspoken, scatological one) try Andrei Martyanov. He is a real military (or strictly speaking naval) expert with particular knowledge of all things Russian. His books should be required reading.

  • Tatyana

    Germany, France, UK, US, EU, UN, IMF, NATO, OSCE – for eight years they all had no will to stop the conflict. No power or, no desire?
    Let’s be crystal clear, they all were happy to support anti-Russian project aka Ukraine.

    • Mist001

      Like I said last night, my belief is that Ukraine is only a pretext for regime change in Russia. The entire might of the Western media and it seems, the majority of the people, is designed to put pressure on Putin. All the sanctions that are being implemented against Russia are going to hurt the ordinary Russian people like yourself and the idea is that this will bring about a popular uprising against Putin.

      This war in Ukraine is simply to bring about regime change in Russia and the next President of Russia has probably already been chosen.

      It would be funny if it was Roman Abramovich!

      Anyway, it’s taken me a week to come to my conclusion, time will prove me right or wrong but I’m not losing any sleep over nuclear warfare or anything like that.

      • Jack

        Most likely sanctions will only give Putin a huge boost in support, west shoot itself it the foot, especially since the sanctions as you say target the ordinary population.
        Nations like Iraq, Iran, North korea all have leaders that have became more popular, not less, when sanctions have been imposed.

        • Mist001

          Do you think ordinary Russians will appreciate being disliked and treated as the enemy? That’s exactly how they’re being portrayed as in the Western media just now.

          Would YOU like to be treated as the enemy and thought of in that way by millions upon millions of people?

          Of course you wouldn’t.

          Russians will look to Putin as the cause of all their woes and do what they can to get rid of him, just to bring some normality back to their lives and as I said, the next President of Russia has probably already been chosen and is just waiting to be installed by the West.

          It’s regime change, that’s what this is all about as far as I’m concerned.

          • Jack


            Why would the russian population attack their own government when the outside world do them harm by sanctions and isolation? Of course they are going to rally around the flag now.

          • mark cutts

            I agree with what you say.

            As usual the media is wall to wall War as if Covid has gone away and that austerity and wealth gaps no longer exist.

            I am suspicious as to the so called ‘Drum Beats ‘to War which were issued by the US more than any other nation.

            Now the US is surprised and shocked when a country they were ‘advising ‘ended up being invaded after taking their advice.

            Of course who can resist the pressure not to try and analyse the reasons for this war?

            That depends on where you start.

            The collapse of The Soviet Union?

            The collapse of the Berlin Wall?

            The coup in Ukraine?( never noted in the media ).

            They all start from Thursday 24/2/22.

            Ironically the only analysis I’ve seen about the matter was on RT ( it is now censored) but if the West were confident about their policies/arguments they could have watched their output and criticised it.

            Instead they did what they acuse Putin of doing – they cut it off.

            My view is that the Ukraine and Russia will agree to a ceasefire eventually but if Russia win comprehensively then the EU will be charged by NATO ( essentially the US ) to keep up the bad work.

            Many precedents have been set for the future from Germany to Switzerland and when Trump or a Trumpite lands in the Whitehouse ina few years those actions will be used to egg on the EU into taking up the NATO mantle in Europe.

            That way leads to trouble – big trouble in my opinion.

          • Jen


            The experience of Iran and Iraq in response to being sanctioned by the West suggests that ordinary Russians will rally around their government, just as the public in Iran, Iraq and in other countries as well – Venezuela has been under sanctions for a long time and Nicolas Maduro is still President there – rallied around theirs, no matter how much they might have hated their immediate leaders or thought of them as ineffective or corrupt.

            It’s not just Putin who would be replaced if regime change were to take place in Russia; the entire government and its public service could well be replaced or even changed completely as well. Anyone associated with Putin – not just people like Sergei Lavrov, Dmitry Peskov, Sergei Shoigu and Maria Zakharova, but also all the business elites said to be part of Putin’s “inner” or “outer” circle, people like the Rotenberg brothers – could very well be purged.

          • Arfur Mo

            Some Russians have created a term to describe their view of how the west sees them, based on similar treatment of ungrateful Middle Easterners on the receiving end of western Freedom and Democracy. The term is “snow n*gg*rs” to reflect the term “sand n*gg*rs” used to describe the Middle Easterners.

          • Ilya

            No – Russians like history, and there are many many – every century basically – instances of the collective West trying to give it a go against Russia.

            Putin is not the cause here, Western aggression is the cause, and it is ancient. No Russian doesn’t know this.

          • johnny conspiranoid

            “Would YOU like to be treated as the enemy and thought of in that way by millions upon millions of people?”

            Why would they look at Putin as the cause of their woes?

          • Johnny Conspiranoid

            “Do you think ordinary Russians will appreciate being disliked and treated as the enemy? That’s exactly how they’re being portrayed as in the Western media just now.”

            Why would Russians care about what the lying scumbags of the western media have to say?

            “Would YOU like to be treated as the enemy and thought of in that way by millions upon millions of people?”

            Millions of people who do not live in the west support Russia because they are better informed.

            “Russians will look to Putin as the cause of all their woes”

            What woes? Life has improved under Putin and getting rid of him would return Russia to the misery of the western dominated Yeltsin years.

      • Steve

        Speak to a South African or a Rhodesian, sanctions simply make you stronger, sanction the purchase of weapons we will simply make our own. The truly evil, and I use the word advisedly, evil is denying the supply of antibiotics to places like Iran and Venezuela so that innocent children die. In a truly civilised world the entire Western hegemony would be found guilty of crimes against humanity and punished accordingly

        • DunGroanin

          The worst is cutting of water supplies causing drought and ensuing crop failure.
          Followed by GM capture of Agroindustry.
          Which is one of the reasons why the WEST wants a dismemberment of Ukraine because it’s laws and parliaments (even post coup) refuse to allow foreign ownership of its great soils.

  • Tatyana

    Is there someone who speaks French?
    It is posted today in our social media. My knowledge of the language is very limited and English subtitles unavailable for me. Also, I’m unaware of the journalist’s or the channel’s credibility, so I’d like to know too. Thank you!

    War in Ukraine: Anne-Laure Bonnel where I am (Donbass) the bombings are Ukrainian (in French) – 1 Mar 2022 – RECONQUEST SAVOY – Personal channel of Marie DE SOLMS (YouTube, 6m 45s)

    War reporter Anne-Laure Bonnel in the Donbass: “eight years since the government of Kiev bombed its population”, “13,000 dead”, “yesterday I was in a school, two teachers were cut in half”

  • Michael Droy

    Much to agree with – but a couple of points.

    “You can pretty well stand inside Russia and throw stones into Kharkiv, where Russian is an everyday language (and locals call the place Kharkov), yet Russia has not yet managed to subdue it. “

    You seem to be under the illusion that this is an Iraq style invasion.
    The issue with Kharkov (or Mariupol) is that it is full of civilians and the Azov regiment will not let them out.
    That is what takes time. Russia can destroy the city in minutes – using updated versions of the grad missile showers that the Ukrainians have used in Donbas.
    They choose not to. They choose to take their time. (Which is why the west is missing all the dastardly White helmets footage of children buried under rubble – there has been no shelling just a few targeted missiles to take out a balcony or two.)

    “I would argue that while paying and feeding troops may be indeed be much cheaper in Russia, military hardware costs are much dependent on metals, processors and other internationally traded commodities and an overall comparison to the simple relative cost of living PPP index for Russia is not appropriate.”

    Surely Russia gets much more bang for its buck than US, much more than the PPP ratio.
    I guess it depends on how much you believe in Russia’s missile technology. Many would say they are 5 to 10 years ahead of US, particularly in terms of Electronic warfare and Manoeuvrable Hypersonic* Missiles. This is certainly Putin’s claim from 2018. And the two key skills Russia has in abundance over US are Rocket technology (Nasa still depends on Russian rockets) and Maths.

    * the key here is not “hypersonic” which has been around for 50 years or so, but Manouevrable, because the ability to make sudden but accurate changes in direction means these missiles are almost impossible to shoot down. Russia’s rocket technological lead again.

  • Ian

    Well said, and argued, Craig. Even now there are still plenty making excuses for Putin and his kleptocrats. It is tragic what is happening and there is no through line which meant it was somehow ‘inevitable’ or ‘legitimate’ as many are implying, whatever the faults of NATO.
    Having been in Ukraine some years ago, and also Russia, it is the young people in particular, those I met who were cheerful, enthusiastic and optimistic for their futures, and who had no interests in their grandparent’s historic attitudes, who will suffer most. Putin will set back Ukraine years, if not decades, and will only push other countries more willingly into the arms of NATO.
    The only hope is that this catastrophic decision and utter wanton killing of innocent people will lead to his and his fellow mobsters’ unseating, although they have a tight grip on the chaotic structures of governance in Russia. Russian people will not swallow the deprivation being prepared for them by his imperial, out of date ambitions.
    An absolute tragedy, completely avoidable, unnecessary and unjustifiable, whatever provocations they suffered. The last gasp of an outmoded nostalgia for the old Russian empire, completely ignorant of how Ukraine has changed massively in the last ten years. Some of Putin’s speeches are delusional, steeped in victimhood and motivated by revenge, absurdly imagining that there are any large constituencies of people wanting Russia back in charge of their countries. And now, what is he persuading them of? Death, deprivation, destruction comes with being a Russian satellite.

    • Akos Horvath

      And ‘analyses’ like this have brought us to where we are. I see the same level of ‘understanding’ when Westerners talk about Hungary. I bet you have never set foot in Eastern Europe, save for maybe a stag party.

      In my experience, the West lives in the bubble of nostalgia much more. They still yap about their superior civilization all day, but it’s China that operates rovers on the Moon and Mars simultaneously, while Europe can’t make enough face masks. And ESA is just about to cut off its own leg by cancelling the launch of the completed ExoMars rover.

      The reason is not a big mystery. Eastern Europe had to change because our systems collapsed. There was no denying reality. I know, I lived through it. The West, in contrast, believed its own propaganda of winning the Cold War by heroic battles (where were these exactly?), and became complacent. The end result is China as the world’s largest economy and soon leading scientific power. It already is light years ahead of Europe in space technology. And the UK is a small second league power representing, dunno, <1% of mankind.

      You can read Martin Jacques, a former Oxford scholar, on China for some good analysis. The West is being replaced, but they are too arrogant to realize.

      • Ben

        WOOT! And Kudoes to boot

        Add-in the Horseshoe Left had contorted itself visibly since they reacted to NATO overreach with European aplomb whilst reacting with a similar refrain from Chamberlain..

      • Tatyana

        Let me know please when you hear about OneWeb project 🙂
        Fully paid, launch planned for March 4, british gov. is shareholder and the sattelites services are contracted for military forces of ‘hostile states’
        Launch is from Baikonur, Kazakhstan by Roskosmos, Russia.
        Funny memes with Elon Musk all over.

    • Neville

      Youth having no interest in their grandparents history – Isn’t that one of the major problems nowadays? As they say, those who don’t learn from their past are destined to repeat past mistakes.
      Putin is strong on history, he won’t be repeating past mistakes of stalin or yeltsin.
      The dogs of War will learn from having their noses rubbed in some strong Russian decisiveness. Unfortunately it’s the little folk who will really suffer not the big boys.

    • Allan Howard

      Ian, was there anything at all unreasonable in Putin’s proposals? If so, could you explain why.

      What possible legitimate reasons could Biden/NATO have for refusing to sign up to them if – as was obviously being threatened during the weeks prior to the invasion commencing – it would avoid a military invasion, and all the death and destruction and devastation that goes with it?

      The proposals were:

      • NATO guarantees that it will not deploy missiles in nations bordering Russia. (They are already in place from Slovenia to Romania, with Poland to follow)
      • NATO to stop military and naval exercises in nations and seas bordering Russia.
      • Ukraine will not become a member of NATO.
      • the West and Russia to sign a binding East-West security pact.
      • the landmark treaty between the US and Russia covering intermediate-range nuclear weapons to be restored. (The US abandoned it in 2019)

      Why would you refuse to agree to them unless, that is, you WANTED Putin/Russia to invade so that you – and your allies – could then pulverise Russia economically and bankrupt it and isolate it every-which-way you can. Which is EXACTLY what is now happening of course! And it’s no coincidence that Johnson and all these other spokes-people that have been regularly appearing on our TV screens since last Thursday keep repeating the falsehood that it was a completely unprovoked invasion/attac!

      • Jimmeh

        > NATO guarantees that it will not deploy missiles in nations bordering Russia.

        Russia guarantees that it will not deploy missiles in countries bordering Poland. Oh, hang on.

        • Ron Soak

          Let me fix that for Jimmeh: Read the text of the proposed agreement issued by RF in December 2021 and point out just where there is the absence of reciprocal arrangements you are claiming do not exist:

          The Russian Federation and the member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), hereinafter referred to as the Parties, reaffirming their aspiration to improve relations and deepen mutual understanding, acknowledging that an effective response to contemporary challenges and threats to security in our interdependent world requires joint efforts of all the Parties, determined to prevent dangerous military activity and therefore reduce the possibility of incidents between their armed forces, noting that the security interests of each Party require better multilateral cooperation, more political and military stability, predictability, and transparency, reaffirming their commitment to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, the 1975 Helsinki Final Act of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, the 1997 Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between the Russian Federation and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the 1994 Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security, the 1999 Charter for European Security, and the Rome Declaration “Russia-NATO Relations: a New Quality” signed by the Heads of State and Government of the Russian Federation and NATO member States in 2002, have agreed as follows:
          Article 1
          The Parties shall guide in their relations by the principles of cooperation, equal and indivisible security. They shall not strengthen their security individually, within international organizations, military alliances or coalitions at the expense of the security of other Parties. The Parties shall settle all international disputes in their mutual relations by peaceful means and refrain from the use or threat of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations. The Parties shall not create conditions or situations that pose or could be perceived as a threat to thenational security of other Parties. The Parties shall exercise restraint in military planning and conducting exercises to reduce risks of eventual dangerous situations in accordance with their obligations under international law, including those set out in intergovernmental agreements on the prevention of incidents at sea outside territorial waters and in the airspace above, as well as in intergovernmental agreements on the prevention of dangerous military activities.
          Article 2
          In order to address issues and settle problems, the Parties shall use the mechanisms of urgent bilateral or multilateral consultations, including the NATO-Russia Council. The Parties shall regularly and voluntarily exchange assessments of contemporary threats and security challenges, inform each other about military exercises and maneuvers, and main provisions of their military doctrines. All existing mechanisms and tools for confidence-building measures shall be used in order to ensure transparency and predictability of military activities. Telephone hotlines shall be established to maintain emergency contacts between the Parties.
          Article 3
          The Parties reaffirm that they do not consider each other as adversaries. The Parties shall maintain dialogue and interaction on improving mechanisms to prevent incidents on and over the high seas (primarily in the Baltics and the Black Sea region).
          Article 4
          The Russian Federation and all the Parties that were member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as of 27 May 1997, respectively, shall not deploy military forces and weaponry on the territory of any of the other States in Europe in addition to the forces stationed on that territory as of 27 May 1997. With the consent of all the Parties such deployments can take place in exceptional cases to eliminate a threat to security of one or more Parties.
          Article 5
          The Parties shall not deploy land-based intermediate- and short-range missiles in areas allowing them to reach the territory of the other Parties.
          Article 6
          All member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization commit themselves to refrain from any further enlargement of NATO, including the accession of Ukraine as well as other States.
          Article 7
          The Parties that are member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization shall not conduct any military activity on the territory of Ukraine as well as other States in the Eastern Europe, in the South Caucasus and in Central Asia. In order to exclude incidents the Russian Federation and the Parties that are member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization shall not conduct military exercises or other military activitiesabove the brigade level in a zone of agreed width and configuration on each side of the border line of the Russian Federation and the states in a military alliance with it, as well as Parties that are member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
          Article 8
          This Agreement shall not affect and shall not be interpreted as affecting the primary responsibility of the Security Council of the United Nations for maintaining international peace and security, nor the rights and obligations of the Parties under the Charter of the United Nations.
          Article 9
          This Agreement shall enter into force from the date of deposit of the instruments of ratification, expressing consent to be bound by it, with the Depositary by more than a half of the signatory States. With respect to a State that deposited its instrument of ratification at a later date, this Agreement shall enter into force from the date of its deposit.
          Each Party to this Agreement may withdraw from it by giving appropriate notice to the Depositary. This Agreement shall terminate for such Party [30] days after receipt of such notice by the Depositary.
          This Agreement has been drawn up in Russian, English and French, all texts being equally authentic, and shall be deposited in the archive of the Depositary, which is the Government of … Done in [the city of …] this [XX] day of [XX] two thousand and [XX].

          I won’t be holding my breath.

    • M LeDocteur Ralph

      You need to remember timelines, sound bites and apply common sense to understand what happened in Ukraine.

      2,881 Days ago on Sunday April 13, 2014 the acting Ukrainian President, Oleksandr Turchynov, first launched the “Anti-Terrorist Operation” (ATO) against separatist movements in Donetsk Oblast.

      Why did civil disobedience (the occupation of buildings) qualify as terrorism? To fit in various US War on Terror Budgets.

      Why was it a masterstroke? Because all those voters in Luhansk and Donetsk who had voted for Viktor Yanukovych were effectively disenfranchised. Bienvenue President Petro Poroshenko and the continuation of the ATO until 2,878 Days later Russia invades Ukraine.

      Back at he very start the message was pretty much the same:

      Ukraine is still sending mortars and rockets into Luhansk and Donetsk, it never complied with its obligations under the Minsk Agreements, France and Germany never called it out for not complying with its obligations and it still continued to attack the civilian populations of Luhansk and Donetsk even after Russia recognized the two republics.

      This war has been carefully planned and not just by Russia:

  • Arfur Mo

    Biden’s U.S. trained Neo-Nazi Ukrainian friends “Azov Battalion” Engaged in Brutal Attacks on Immigrants, Gypsies and Trans (VIDEO – Warning Violent), were hosted by U.S. Amb. to Ukraine Geoff Pyatt……they also participated in the Jan. 6 Capital riot

    The article shows an image of a Turkish fascist showing the wolf’s head salute whilst being a member of the Azov battalion. These guts work with Daesh/ISIS in Syria.

    A widely published image of the Azov battalion, showing the group raising nazi salutes in front of NATO, Azov and Swastika flags has a another interesting character – the guy third from the right on the front row. He is saluting with a single pointed finger of the right hand. That salute is the salute of ISIS fighters operating in Syria.

    What an interesting mix, especially as Russia invoked the UN Charter right of self defence against Deash/ISIS following their blowing up of flight 7K9268 over Egypt back in 2015.

  • mark golding

    I would agree absolutely if this was a Russian invasion. It is not. It is a Russian peacekeeping mission. It is unique, exceptional and singulary will not feed the war profiteers after the cock crows and dawn brings peace and protection of the Russian people, Stamps Ukraine’s neutrality and delivers decentralization of the state in order to prevent an anti-Russian policy in the future in Kiev.

    That is the envelope that contain’s President Putin’s goal to “denazify Ukraine.” It is a message. It is an epistle to peace. Contrary to gifting war it will be the people’s atonement, human absolution that will point to peace and the knowing, the understanding a capable army, ultra-powerful munitions, mass destruction, terror, bio-disease, chemicals, propaganda, lies, proxy, illegal weapons such as cluster bombs, assassination, mental torture, solitary confinement, nasty dogs, electric shocks, castration and humiliation are futile, only generate hate, generate terrorism, generate control, generate misery, generate death and curtail, end. beautiful, innocent, gorgeous young lives. Vladirmir Putin has shown the way, now we must see, take in and follow,

  • David W Ferguson

    But it is an equally valid point that NATO has never attacked Russia and none of those missiles has ever been fired at Russia. The point of the missiles was never to fire them at Russia. The point of the missiles was to manufacture and sell them at enormous profit margins and provide large salaries and cash funds for politicians…

    Not quite. One small piece missing from your puzzle. Sure, part of the point of the missiles was to manufacture and sell them at enormous provit. But the other point was to goad Russia into a response, so that even more missiles could be manufactured and an enormous profit. And if Putin had failed to respond this time round the US would simply have carried on goading him until he did. The US Militaary Industrial Complex needs enemies like vampires need blood. And if they haven’t got enough they’ll do what it takes to make them.

    • David W Ferguson

      And of course they’re now in “rinse and repeat” mode with China. Sailing up and down the Taiwan Straits; discussions on arming Taiwan. Of course the objective is not to attack China. It’s to goad China into a response. And a failure to respond to the goading on the part of China won’t lead to a de-escalation and a negotiated diplomatic settlement any more than it would have with Russia and Ukraine. It will simply lead to more goading, until China does eventually respond.

  • Baalbek

    Whatever boosting of Putin there is pales in comparison to the rabid pro-war jingoism that saturates the MSM.

    Is what someone does or does not think of Putin really that important? I’ve heard arguments and opinions about this war from pro- and anti-Putin commentators. Some I agree with and some I don’t.

    Putin’s politics are not my politics but why does that matter? I have no influence over what the Russian government does. Shouldn’t discussion be driven by facts and arguments rather than which political figure one “supports” or agrees with?

  • edwin

    I’ve been reading a lot. One of the things that caught my eye was Henry Kissinger. from 2014. A number of people around this time suddenly felt the urge to write about Ukraine. Amazingly they seem to have something in common with Kissinger. Kissinger predicted this.

    The West must understand that, to Russia, Ukraine can never be just a foreign country. Russian history began in what was called Kievan-Rus. The Russian religion spread from there. Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and their histories were intertwined before then. Some of the most important battles for Russian freedom, starting with the Battle of Poltava in 1709 , were fought on Ukrainian soil. The Black Sea Fleet — Russia’s means of projecting power in the Mediterranean — is based by long-term lease in Sevastopol, in Crimea. Even such famed dissidents as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Joseph Brodsky insisted that Ukraine was an integral part of Russian history and, indeed, of Russia.

    The European Union must recognize that its bureaucratic dilatoriness and subordination of the strategic element to domestic politics in negotiating Ukraine’s relationship to Europe contributed to turning a negotiation into a crisis. Foreign policy is the art of establishing priorities.

    The Ukrainians are the decisive element. They live in a country with a complex history and a polyglot composition. The Western part was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1939, when Stalin and Hitler divided up the spoils. Crimea, 60 percent of whose population is Russian, became part of Ukraine only in 1954 , when Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian by birth, awarded it as part of the 300th-year celebration of a Russian agreement with the Cossacks. The west is largely Catholic; the east largely Russian Orthodox. The west speaks Ukrainian; the east speaks mostly Russian. Any attempt by one wing of Ukraine to dominate the other — as has been the pattern — would lead eventually to civil war or breakup. To treat Ukraine as part of an East-West confrontation would scuttle for decades any prospect to bring Russia and the West — especially Russia and Europe — into a cooperative international system.

    Ukraine has been independent for only 23 years; it had previously been under some kind of foreign rule since the 14th century. Not surprisingly, its leaders have not learned the art of compromise, even less of historical perspective. The politics of post-independence Ukraine clearly demonstrate that the root of the problem lies in efforts by Ukrainian politicians to impose their will on recalcitrant parts of the country, first by one faction, then by the other. That is the essence of the conflict between Viktor Yanukovych and his principal political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko. They represent the two wings of Ukraine and have not been willing to share power. A wise U.S. policy toward Ukraine would seek a way for the two parts of the country to cooperate with each other. We should seek reconciliation, not the domination of a faction.

    The entire thing is extremely interesting. It has left me very confused about Kissinger.

  • DiggerUK

    Mr. Murray,
    You level accusations that are little better than ad hominems. I think few here are as ignorant of the issues as you claim. Your anti left bitching is ridiculous, what left are you referring to? Bob Geldof/Emma Thompson? Jeremy Corbyn/John McDonnell? George Monbiot/Caroline Lucas? DiggerUK?

    Your world within a diplomatic comfort blanket was not interfered with much by the paeans and their problems. Your time in Samarkand ended that mistake, but the mistake was made.
    As a diplomat you were there primarily to sort out problems that affected other parties. If the paeans got a little out of the process it would be by default, not design. If the paeans got nowt, well tough, at least the mission was accomplished, signed off and the paperwork filed.

    Your disdain for opinions that can determine between those who break the law AND commit a crime and those who break the law but be viewed as NOT committing a crime is way too formal.
    The recent not guilty verdicts of those who threw a statue in Bristol docks clearly demonstrates that laws being broken is not always seen as a criminal act. Russia likewise has clearly broken international laws, some regard that as understandable but not necessarily a crime. Some see it as self defence, maybe you don’t see due provocation for self defence.

    The history leading us all here post Soviet implosion cannot be altered, but the future can be changed. Calm heads need to be brought together. Your criticisms are out of order…_

    • Andrew H

      “Russia likewise has clearly broken international laws, some regard that as understandable but not necessarily a crime”

      – remember that one. I hope it haunts you.

      • Tom Welsh

        Try listening to this interview with British ex-ambassador Mr Peter Ford. You will hear him distinctly explain that “international law” is so vague as to be useless on most serious topics, such as wars and invasions. He points out that the exact meaning of the law depends on how lawyers interpret it; and the richest have the most and the trickiest lawyers.

        I would also like to draw attention to the opinion of US President Abraham Lincoln:

        “Any people, anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right, a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world”.

        The most important phrase there is “having the power”. The Confederate States of America secded from the USA, believing that they had the precedent of the Declaration of Independence on their side. If the USA had been justified in seceding from Great Britain, surely the CSA was equally justified in seceding from the USA.

        But Lincoln took advantage of his “fingers crossed behind the back” condition “having the power”. The Union armed forces defeated the CSA at the cost of over 750,000 lives and forced them back into the Union.

        Today certain parts of Ukraine wish to secede from it – as any decent person would – following the example of Crimea. Fortunately, Russia has the power to enforce that freedom on their behalf, just as France decisively intervened in the American Revolution to tip the balance against its deadly enemy, Britain. In the end these matters always come down to power. be assured, Russia has enough military power and to spare. Interfering with it will end badly.

        Also note the official view of the Chinese ambassy in Russia.×1024.jpg

  • stray

    Sometimes Craig, you make me think you know what you are talking about and other times make me wonder if you have an actual clue.
    i would leave Military strategy out of your discussions.

  • Baalbek

    The people, including Craig, who scoff at RU’s military abilities “they can’t even take Kahrkov!” would be shouting at the top of their lungs about massive civilian deaths had they gone full Grozny from day one and flattened Ukrainian cities with mass artillery strikes and heavy aerial bombardment.

    It’s early days yet so that might still happen. So far, however, the Russians have been treading very lightly. Have you considered that maybe keeping civilian casualties relatively low is part of their strategy?

    Observing the reactions on Twitter, YT and in the blogosphere to this invasion I am struck by how everyone and their dog knows exactly what’s happening on the battlefield (including that the Russians “are losing”) despite the fact that the Russian MOD has been largely quiet about what their forces are doing and what their objectives are.

    Craig of all people ought to understand that much of the info currently being circulated could be inaccurate or outright propaganda. The fog of war, the first casualty of war is truth and all that.

    At least wait a few weeks before being so certain about what is happening on the ground. It’s also worth remembering that Russia’s present-day military is not simply a continuation of the Soviet Union’s forces.

    Last but not least the west, after decades of illegal wars abroad and creeping authoritarianism at home, has absolutely no moral authority to lecture other countries and leaders about war crimes, illegal invasions and human rights.

    I like Craig and respect his opinions on most things but on some issues, namely Russia and the EU, he has some pretty big blind spots.

    • Jimmeh

      > gone full Grozny from day one

      The “full Grozny” didn’t start on day one of the Chechen war. It was months before Russia decided that the way forwards was to flatten cities.

      > Have you considered that maybe keeping civilian casualties relatively low is part of their strategy?

      I have.

      It’s part of their *graduated* strategy. They’ve only just begun; for the most part, the Russian airforce is still in its hangars, and it looks like the troops Russia has deployed are largely conscripts. Fairly standard tactics: advance using conscripts and mercenaries as cannon-fodder, and bring up crack troops when it’s become clear where the hot-points are going to be.

      • Tom Welsh

        On the contrary, Russian spokespeople have repeatedly emphasised that there are no Russian conscripts in Ukraine. Only officers and professional volunteers. That’s logical, as they want the greatest efficiency and to achieve their goals with as few casusalties as possible – especially among civilians.

        The main reason why the operation has taken so long has been that the Russians actually avoid civilian areas unless those surrender immediately. The Nazis (such as the Azov Regiment) exploit every opportunity to use their own civilians as human shields. Winkling them out will be a long and difficult process.

    • Tom Welsh

      May I suggest that “full Fallujah”, “full Raqqa”, or “full Tripoli” might be more apposite?

      In North Korea, American generals boasted that they had not left one brick on another throughout the whole country.

      ‘USAF General Curtis LeMay commented, “We went over there and fought the war and eventually burned down every town in North Korea anyway, some way or another, and some in South Korea, too.” Pyongyang, which saw 75 percent of its area destroyed, was so devastated that bombing was halted as there were no longer any worthy targets. By the end of the campaign, US bombers had difficulty in finding targets and were reduced to bombing footbridges or jettisoning their bombs into the sea.

      ‘In August 1951, war correspondent Tibor Meráy stated that he had witnessed “a complete devastation between the Yalu River and the capital.” He said that there were “no more cities in North Korea.” He added, “My impression was that I am traveling on the moon because there was only devastation—every city was a collection of chimneys.”‘

  • Ben

    No doubt there is room for accommodation toward Moscow following the archetypal fall of Soviet error and miscalculous

    Not like they’ve prepared for formularic defeat, but pride itself convicts them. Unfortunately, the punitive West will affect the amworking masses most. But that’s where pressure is most effectively applied

    Reap your harvest of speculative gains Leftist wunderkinds of hopeful futility

    It’s yours…

  • M LeDocteur Ralph

    I fundamentally disagree with your assertion that NATO was a purely defensive alliance and that “years of military planning had involved scenarios which revolved around successive defensive lines in Western Europe and eschewed any kind of counter-attacking strategy”. Those “successive defensive lines” were to avoid the spreading fallout.

    The US Strategic Air Command planned to drop nuclear bombs on 1200 cities across Eastern Europe and Asia to “Win the Air Power Battle” and “Destroy Systematically SovBloc War Supporting Resources”. While not the same priority as Moscow and Leningrad all of Ukraine’s cities made the list:

    Not that the British military would necessarily have been informed of the US SAC’s plans – after all even the dimmest guards officer might have queried why he was laying down his life to defend democracy when the nuclear fallout from those US atomic bombs was going to wipe out his entire country.

    • Ian Gibson

      Not forgetting that it was (is?) US strategy that, in the event of nuclear war with Russia, they would bomb China whether or not they were involved.

    • Steve

      Leave us not forget Secretary General Ismay (Lord Ismay ” The purpose of NATO is to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down” pretty offensive to my mind.

  • Andrew H

    Whilst, I may agree with some of the basic conclusions, I think some of the calculations are off. Most notably it costs far more for the US to develop a plane than it does Russia. (The material costs like metals are mostly irrelevant). The USA has significantly higher wages especially in the technology sector. (most tech people in the US aspire to be millionaires or more – even running a relatively small business). This is perhaps best exemplified by Turkey’s cost effect development of drones. (the US-made ones were too expensive even for Nato allies to buy). Also the US involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq have cost trillions – so its easy to see why US military spending is high.

    The second point I would make, is that until about a two months ago the US had almost entirely pivoted away from Russia as the bad guy to China as the bad guy. Putin and Russia have longed been viewed as corrupt, but not as a serious threat – it is with China that the US has been fighting a low level trade war and all talk has been of oppression in Hong Kong. Whatever was going on in Ukraine was barely a news item. So I think you greatly exaggerate Russia-phobia in the west. (that has now changed the last few weeks, but what can one expect – perhaps Putin was just craving the attention?)

    • Lantern Dude

      AH interesting change of emphasis from merely sniping with emotionally charged bullet points.

      To summarise: The cost of American military equipment is extremely high and that their military spending is high. Contemporary American diplomacy is currently directed toward portraying China as a ‘bad guy’ and the US had ‘almost entirely pivoted away’ from Russia as the bad guy. When exactly did the US stop considering and, therefore, portraying Russia as a ‘bad guy’?

      ‘Pivoted away’ suggests a longterm policy. Finally, as you seem to be well informed, is American LPG very expensive compared to the Russian gas that would have gone to Europe?

    • Tom Welsh

      “The second point I would make, is that until about a two months ago the US had almost entirely pivoted away from Russia as the bad guy to China as the bad guy”.

      The real point is that there always has to be a “bad guy”. So infantile is discourse in the West that it assumes the framework of a 1950s Western movie.

      Ask yourself why there always has to be a “bad guy”.

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