Author Topic: Russia/US-- Europe  (Read 160585 times)

G M

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Re: Russia/US-- Europe
« Reply #800 on: March 21, 2023, 05:05:19 PM »
Now you change the subject from your previous comment. 

Moving on.

Yes, we are not because my constantly lied to. It certainly wouldn’t be funded by our government!



Crafty_Dog

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WSJ: Putin's demons
« Reply #803 on: April 02, 2023, 06:02:26 PM »
Putin’s Shakespearean Demons
Imagine the condition in the heart of Europe today had NATO’s boundaries stayed frozen after 1989.
By Robert D. Kaplan
April 2, 2023 5:22 pm ET


Geopolitics will take you only so far in explaining foreign affairs. The more important element is Shakespearean. Ukraine is a perfect example.

Ukraine is engulfed by Russia on the north and east, its history and language entwined with its neighbor’s. But the greater part of the story concerns the personality of Vladimir Putin. The geopolitical argument that Mr. Putin invaded Ukraine because the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was expanding completely disregards the Russian leader’s Shakespearean demons.

Mr. Putin’s decision to invade represented not the collective thinking of the Russian elite but his own thoughts. Many oligarchs and security heavies near him were as surprised by the decision as people in the West. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, pressed by an oligarch to explain how Mr. Putin could have planned such an invasion without his inner circle knowing, reportedly replied: “He has three advisers. Ivan the Terrible. Peter the Great. And Catherine the Great.”

Given Mr. Putin’s paranoia, isolation and delusions of grandeur, the question arises: Would Europe today be at peace with Mr. Putin’s Russia had NATO not expanded east after the Cold War and had there been a Western guarantee of recognizing Russian interests in Ukraine? Certainly not.

The explanation for this lies in what would have been the internal situations of the states of Central and Eastern Europe—from Estonia south to Bulgaria and including Poland and Romania—had none of them joined NATO or the European Union. Having suffered nearly a half-century of communism, and in many cases having lacked a robust middle class before Nazi and Soviet occupation, those former Soviet bloc countries might have remained basket cases, with poverty-stricken rural areas and nasty, unstable politics in the capital cities. That would have left all or most of them vulnerable to Mr. Putin’s mischief.

One of the biggest canards in Washington is that the U.S. would have been better off without NATO enlargement. Take Moldova, a country that is Romanian-speaking and part of historic Greater Romania, yet never admitted to NATO or the EU. Romania has become a strong and stable state for the first time in its modern history, under NATO and EU tutelage and despite the Stalinist ravages of the Ceaușescu decades. But Moldova is weak and tottering—and a likely victim of destabilization by Mr. Putin’s Russia. Without NATO and EU expansion eastward over the decades, there might now be a few Moldovas between Germany and Russia.

Success in foreign policy isn’t only about the good things that happen but also the bad things that don’t happen. What hasn’t happened in Europe because of NATO expansion is broad-based instability. Imagine the condition in the heart of Europe today had NATO’s boundaries remained frozen after 1989.

NATO and the EU have created many durable bureaucratic states with reliable militaries in Central and Eastern Europe able to do their part to withstand Russian aggression. The West has grown in both economic and political might. Thus the business of World War II and the Cold War has been closed.

Hungary flirts with authoritarianism and Bulgaria is a weak state, but they are the fixable exceptions. If Russia’s military situation in Ukraine were to deteriorate dramatically, it is possible that the opportunistic Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán would re-embrace the EU and its democratic standards. NATO expansion throughout Central Europe was virtually inevitable because of the decisive and one-sided way the Cold War ended, just as the wars in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s encouraged the West to expand NATO to Romania, Bulgaria and Albania so that they wouldn’t be stranded on the other side of the Balkan battlefields.

Put another way: Had the West not expanded NATO and the EU to the east, we would now be fighting for Poland instead of for Ukraine and Belarus, as Mr. Putin surely would be breathing down the neck of every country between Berlin and Moscow. Ukraine would long ago have been under the heel of the Kremlin. Germany would have drifted further toward neutralism, requiring a close relationship with Russia not only for natural gas but to manage its borders with Poland and the Czech Republic—had those countries not become members of NATO and the EU and been susceptible to greater Russian influence.

We are now fighting to complete the Intermarium, Latin for “between the seas.” That is, the Baltic and Black seas—a belt of democratic states, from Estonia in the north to Ukraine in the south, to protect against Russian imperialism. We owe this post-World War I concept to the Polish statesman Józef Piłsudski, who envisioned it as a defense against Germany, too. Germany is now a longstanding ally. With Russia defeated in Ukraine, the purpose of the Intermarium will have been accomplished. This is all about geopolitics until it is all about Shakespeare, since a Russia without Mr. Putin would, however unstable, at least have some possibility of becoming a normal country.

Let’s not forget Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, another Shakespearean character, without whose charisma and dynamic leadership Ukraine might never have mustered the will to resist Russia on the battlefield. Geopolitics gets you only so far.

Mr. Kaplan holds a chair in geopolitics at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and is author, most recently, of “The Tragic Mind: Fear, Fate, and the Burden of Power.

G M

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Re: WSJ: Putin's demons
« Reply #804 on: April 02, 2023, 06:10:56 PM »
WSJoke



Putin’s Shakespearean Demons
Imagine the condition in the heart of Europe today had NATO’s boundaries stayed frozen after 1989.
By Robert D. Kaplan
April 2, 2023 5:22 pm ET


Geopolitics will take you only so far in explaining foreign affairs. The more important element is Shakespearean. Ukraine is a perfect example.

Ukraine is engulfed by Russia on the north and east, its history and language entwined with its neighbor’s. But the greater part of the story concerns the personality of Vladimir Putin. The geopolitical argument that Mr. Putin invaded Ukraine because the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was expanding completely disregards the Russian leader’s Shakespearean demons.

Mr. Putin’s decision to invade represented not the collective thinking of the Russian elite but his own thoughts. Many oligarchs and security heavies near him were as surprised by the decision as people in the West. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, pressed by an oligarch to explain how Mr. Putin could have planned such an invasion without his inner circle knowing, reportedly replied: “He has three advisers. Ivan the Terrible. Peter the Great. And Catherine the Great.”

Given Mr. Putin’s paranoia, isolation and delusions of grandeur, the question arises: Would Europe today be at peace with Mr. Putin’s Russia had NATO not expanded east after the Cold War and had there been a Western guarantee of recognizing Russian interests in Ukraine? Certainly not.

The explanation for this lies in what would have been the internal situations of the states of Central and Eastern Europe—from Estonia south to Bulgaria and including Poland and Romania—had none of them joined NATO or the European Union. Having suffered nearly a half-century of communism, and in many cases having lacked a robust middle class before Nazi and Soviet occupation, those former Soviet bloc countries might have remained basket cases, with poverty-stricken rural areas and nasty, unstable politics in the capital cities. That would have left all or most of them vulnerable to Mr. Putin’s mischief.

One of the biggest canards in Washington is that the U.S. would have been better off without NATO enlargement. Take Moldova, a country that is Romanian-speaking and part of historic Greater Romania, yet never admitted to NATO or the EU. Romania has become a strong and stable state for the first time in its modern history, under NATO and EU tutelage and despite the Stalinist ravages of the Ceaușescu decades. But Moldova is weak and tottering—and a likely victim of destabilization by Mr. Putin’s Russia. Without NATO and EU expansion eastward over the decades, there might now be a few Moldovas between Germany and Russia.

Success in foreign policy isn’t only about the good things that happen but also the bad things that don’t happen. What hasn’t happened in Europe because of NATO expansion is broad-based instability. Imagine the condition in the heart of Europe today had NATO’s boundaries remained frozen after 1989.

NATO and the EU have created many durable bureaucratic states with reliable militaries in Central and Eastern Europe able to do their part to withstand Russian aggression. The West has grown in both economic and political might. Thus the business of World War II and the Cold War has been closed.

Hungary flirts with authoritarianism and Bulgaria is a weak state, but they are the fixable exceptions. If Russia’s military situation in Ukraine were to deteriorate dramatically, it is possible that the opportunistic Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán would re-embrace the EU and its democratic standards. NATO expansion throughout Central Europe was virtually inevitable because of the decisive and one-sided way the Cold War ended, just as the wars in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s encouraged the West to expand NATO to Romania, Bulgaria and Albania so that they wouldn’t be stranded on the other side of the Balkan battlefields.

Put another way: Had the West not expanded NATO and the EU to the east, we would now be fighting for Poland instead of for Ukraine and Belarus, as Mr. Putin surely would be breathing down the neck of every country between Berlin and Moscow. Ukraine would long ago have been under the heel of the Kremlin. Germany would have drifted further toward neutralism, requiring a close relationship with Russia not only for natural gas but to manage its borders with Poland and the Czech Republic—had those countries not become members of NATO and the EU and been susceptible to greater Russian influence.

We are now fighting to complete the Intermarium, Latin for “between the seas.” That is, the Baltic and Black seas—a belt of democratic states, from Estonia in the north to Ukraine in the south, to protect against Russian imperialism. We owe this post-World War I concept to the Polish statesman Józef Piłsudski, who envisioned it as a defense against Germany, too. Germany is now a longstanding ally. With Russia defeated in Ukraine, the purpose of the Intermarium will have been accomplished. This is all about geopolitics until it is all about Shakespeare, since a Russia without Mr. Putin would, however unstable, at least have some possibility of becoming a normal country.

Let’s not forget Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, another Shakespearean character, without whose charisma and dynamic leadership Ukraine might never have mustered the will to resist Russia on the battlefield. Geopolitics gets you only so far.

Mr. Kaplan holds a chair in geopolitics at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and is author, most recently, of “The Tragic Mind: Fear, Fate, and the Burden of Power.

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GPF: Russian revenues declining sharply
« Reply #806 on: April 07, 2023, 11:28:16 AM »
Daily Memo: Russia's Plummeting Revenues
Moscow's budget deficit is growing fast.
By: Geopolitical Futures
More signs of trouble. Russia’s federal budget revenue in the first quarter dropped by 21 percent (to 5.7 trillion rubles, or $69 billion) compared to a year ago. The decline was largely due to the flagging energy sector, where oil and gas revenues plummeted by 45 percent. Budget expenditures, however, increased by 34 percent to 8 trillion rubles. The Russian currency fell to its lowest level – 83 rubles on the dollar – on Friday, after climbing 18 percent since the beginning of the year. The ruble is under pressure from weak exports, low foreign currency supplies and foreign investors’ withdrawals from Russian assets.



Security coordination. Russia and Belarus are stepping up their joint security planning. The two countries are working on a “security concept” for their integration project called the Union State – which will include consideration of tensions on their external borders, sanctions and the “information war” launched against them. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko met on Thursday to discuss defense-related issues.

Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Russia-Hungary
« Reply #807 on: April 11, 2023, 04:56:51 PM »


April 11, 2023
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Daily Memo: Hungary and Russia Talk Energy, US and Philippines Train in South China Sea
Budapest is looking ahead to next winter.
By: Geopolitical Futures
Energy focus. Hungary’s foreign minister arrived in Moscow to discuss energy cooperation with Russia’s deputy prime minister and the head of Russian firm Rosatom. Hungary, which is still importing Russian oil and natural gas, is concerned that Europe could face more energy problems next winter due to spikes in demand from the recovering Chinese economy and Europe's slow development of energy infrastructure. Meanwhile, Russian oil exports to India reached another record high, climbing to 2.14 million barrels per day in March.

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GPF: Russia-Belarus
« Reply #814 on: April 17, 2023, 11:43:26 AM »
April 17, 2023
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Belarus and Russia: Partners For Now
Belarus is beholden to Russia, but it is still guided by self-interest.
By: Ekaterina Zolotova
Belarus is all but a Russian vassal state, but that wasn’t always the case. Only a few years ago, it had been able to balance between Moscow and the West, careful not to antagonize or placate either side too much, while generally taking advantage of its position as a transport route between Russia and Europe. Minsk even tried to mediate between Kyiv and Moscow in the late 2010s as conflict brewed in eastern Ukraine.

But things changed in 2020. That year, President Alexander Lukashenko was reelected in what was generally seen as a sham election. The ensuing protests pitted Lukashenko against demonstrators he claimed were organized by Western countries. Things looked increasingly dire until Russia, one of the only countries to recognize Lukashenko’s legitimacy, stepped in. It helped form a security reserve to deal with the protests, and even restructured $1 billion worth of Belarusian debt. Put simply, Lukashenko owes his position to Russia – a position that has further alienated Belarus from the West while making it more economically and politically dependent on Russia. This explains why Belarus has “backed” Russia’s intervention in Ukraine from the outset. On the anniversary of hostilities, Lukashenko reminded the world that he believes the conflict was caused not by Russia but by Western aggression, which he vowed to resist alongside Russia in Ukraine. But his comments betray an unspoken concern that pro-Western elements in Ukraine could spread to Belarus and put his government at risk.

To be sure, the threat of destabilization still exists. The opposition may be fragmented – and further imperiled by Minsk’s intensified prosecution of journalists and civil rights activists – but it still has support from like-minded parties in Europe. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who was Lukashenko’s primary rival in the 2020 election, still travels the world to rally others to her cause. (She was recently in the U.K. and Ireland, where she received the Tipperary International Peace Prize). And let’s not forget that Belarus borders an active warzone where Russian forces are battling Ukraine and pro-Western forces, which include Belarusian volunteers. Belarus is absolutely worried that the mingling of these elements could destabilize its own government. The Belarusian opposition condemned the war in Ukraine and launched a campaign of anti-war protests, even as pro-Ukraine militias were created. Minsk cannot afford to forget the 17,000 troops in Ukraine – which may or may not include anti-government Belarusian nationalists – currently concentrated near the Belarusian border.

The more unstable Ukraine becomes, the more worried Minsk gets, and the more it is forced to turn to Russia. Though the Belarusian military has not directly participated in the Ukraine war, Minsk has made itself available to Russia in other ways. Russian troops are constantly stationed in Belarus, and they regularly hold joint exercises, including near the border with Ukraine. In April, Russia sent Belarus Iskander-M ballistic missiles that are capable of carrying tactical nuclear weapons, and certain Belarusian aircraft have been equipped with weapons capable of destroying nuclear equipment. Meanwhile, the idea of a “union state” between Russia and Belarus has gained more traction in light of Western sanctions. Minsk and Moscow even announced a plan to prepare a security concept for their Union State integration project, where external challenges are identified and plans are formulated. Lukashenko is also looking to revise bilateral agreements and decide “what normative legal act of an interstate nature should be adopted now in order to ensure the complete security of Belarus.”

The government in Minsk understands that Russia needs Belarus as much as Belarus needs Russia, so the more military assistance it provides, the more it will demand from Russia in return, especially financially. More than 40 percent of Belarusian exports go to Russia and 56 percent of its imports come from Russia, but Ukraine and the European Union were also significant trade partners. Western sanctions hit the Belarusian economy hard, particularly in light of the fact that oil products constituted a large share of trade with Europe. (Raw materials, of course, come from Russia and are processed at Belarusian facilities.) In no uncertain terms, the government needs to soften the economic blows from the sanctions campaign to stave off any potential instability.

Top Trading Partners of Belarus
(click to enlarge)

The sanctions have directly affected about 20 percent of the Belarusian economy, and their indirect effects have rippled through nearly every sector. The country's gross domestic product fell by 2.1 percent from January to April 2022, and the economy minister warned that sanctions could destroy a number of key industries such as related to oil refining, fertilizers, food, chemical fibers and lumber.

Deepening integration with Russia could help smooth things out since Moscow can provide a reliable market for Belarusian goods and facilitate their reach into other markets like China and Central Asia. Back in 2021, Belarus signed on to 28 Union State programs with Russia and secured access to cheaper oil and gas; now it wants to increase exports and execute industrial projects. All told, Belarus managed to offset some 80 percent of export losses because Russia provided 19 ports for the transshipment of Belarusian cargo. In January-October 2022, the passage of Belarusian exports by rail through Russia more than doubled, while container traffic to China increased even more.

The next Belarusian election won't be until June 2025. Even if Lukashenko recuses himself from the race, he will still be politically active, hoping to maintain power behind the scenes, all while supporting Russia. But their relationship will start to be dictated more by self-interest. Minsk will make its demands, and Moscow will generally oblige. For Russia, Belarus is an important buffer zone on its western border, and Moscow believes its influence there is a matter of national security. For Minsk, Russia is the lesser of two evils, but one that guarantees economic and national security. And the more pressure Belarusian authorities receive from the West, the more Minsk will be drawn into Russia’s orbit. But even this can't guarantee that Belarus will be a Russian ally forever. Its interests will determine the extent of their future cooperation.


Crafty_Dog

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Re: Russia/US-- Europe
« Reply #816 on: April 19, 2023, 11:28:29 AM »
A letter?  From Team Biden?  No doubt the Russians will honor the request , , ,  :roll:

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GPF: Sanctions reach their limit
« Reply #817 on: April 28, 2023, 04:58:03 PM »
April 28, 2023
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Russia Sanctions Hit Their Limit
The effectiveness of the sanctions campaign is nearing its limits.
By: Geopolitical Futures
Russia's Sanction Surge
(click to enlarge)

Kyiv wants more Western sanctions against Russia, but there are signs that the effectiveness of the sanctions campaign is nearing its limits. In early March, the European Union issued its 10th package of sanctions against Russia, but various European firms are still finding ways to do business with the country. The most important example concerns oil. Europe continues to buy Russian oil, only it's doing it through middlemen like India, which is exporting 360,000 barrels per day to the Continent.

Even the International Monetary Fund has said that, after a sharp fall in the second quarter of 2022, Russia's economy managed to recover in the second half of the year. This suggests the Russian economy is weathering sanctions better than most observers expected.

ya

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Re: Russia/US-- Europe
« Reply #818 on: April 29, 2023, 12:25:58 PM »

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Russia/US-- Europe
« Reply #819 on: April 29, 2023, 07:13:19 PM »
???


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George Friedman: Poland
« Reply #821 on: April 29, 2023, 08:03:32 PM »
April 28, 2023
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Poland on My Mind
Thoughts in and around geopolitics.
By: George Friedman
During my recent bout with COVID-19, I apparently announced to my wife in the middle of the night that we were in Poland and that I had a meeting scheduled with the Polish military. This is the moment my wife wisely decided to call our doctor, starting a sequence that led to my spending three nights in hospital. I have no memory of any of this, so I’ll defer to my wife.

Of all the curiosities of this episode, my biggest question was why I would choose Poland for my supposed meeting. I’m from Hungary; maybe I was troubled by Hungary’s position on the war? But I love Ireland; why didn’t I elect to be there? Then it occurred to me that I had written a book in 2009 in which I forecast the emergence of Poland as a great power. This is the same book in which I predicted Russia would invade Ukraine. If a person revisits their own writing while delirious, I assume the same madness would generate more interesting thoughts.

The idea of Poland as a great power was ridiculed at the time and remains dubious in the better regions of my craft. But Poland as a great power is not nearly as crazy an idea now as it was then. In my forecast, I predicted that Russia would attack Ukraine and fail to defeat it. But the heart of my forecast was that Poland, sandwiched between Russia and Germany, has historically been a bad place to be. In 1939, to use just one example, the Soviet Union and Germany signed a pact whose primary purpose was to break Poland. The attack itself was a means to an end: The Soviet Union and Germany regarded the defeat and dismemberment of Poland as essential to their national security. The Soviets could have simply dug in and held their ground if the Germans attacked. Germany could have started the war with any number of nations. On the surface, opening the war with an attack on Poland did not make sense for either country. The German-Soviet treaty could have been put to better use.

Geography explains their rationale. Poland sits on the North European Plain, which is the highway from Paris to Moscow. Poland was neither a superpower nor a nonentity, but if a war started to the west, the threat of Poland striking Germany from the rear had to be taken seriously. If Germany struck the Soviets from the west, the Poles would be a significant complementary force.

But military geography isn’t the only consideration. Poland had significant economic promise compared with the Soviets. Russia was larger and possessed raw materials, but it lacked the dynamism needed for, say, a war machine. Poland was smaller but was emerging as a significant economic power. Years later, the European Union convinced me of the importance of independent countries in general and Poland in particular.

I did not believe then, nor do I now, that the EU was a viable long-term entity. Multinational alliances tend to fragment over time. The United Kingdom left, taking with it a huge chunk of the EU economy, and to my amazement, the EU didn’t seem to grasp the significance. For alliances to exist, members must all share the burden of the alliance. All political and especially economic alliances have periods of pain, which is rarely evenly distributed. For an alliance to survive, the more successful nations must be willing to sacrifice to maintain the union. This is a rare thing in this world, and over time, the differential pain breaks the alliance. The purpose of the EU was to promote peace and prosperity. It was my view that peace was always fragile, given my read of the Russians. I didn’t believe the various nations of the EU would sacrifice prosperity to relieve the pain of foreign countries. Italy has a troubled economy, and it bears responsibility for this. The EU will help, but not so much that it can solve fundamental economic problems. A nation is a nation, and the government’s obligation is to the nation. The political ability to assume economic burdens is limited.

From my point of view, then, Poland would emerge militarily because it faced an immediate threat from Russia that motivated its policy, while Germany would be generations away from aggressive war. Economically, Poland was an outsider to the European system, and it would be under constant pressure from the EU to change the way it behaves on a religious, legal and social basis. Poland would resist and be treated as a pariah, but it could not concede because of domestic politics and therefore, in the course of EU history, would be on its own.

Germany is socially incapable of being a great military power, as it had been, and it is so intimately linked with the EU that it would have trouble defending itself in a crisis. Russia lacked the military capacity to pose a threat to Poland, and its economy is not a major force. Poland is not yet a major power, but its military position relative to its neighbors is significant, and given the economic challenges facing a still-united EU, Poland has greater long-term economic potential than some of its neighbors.

And thus, the meeting that I believed I was attending in Poland might simply have been Warsaw’s wish to consult me on their next move. Or my theory could be utterly wrong, put in my head by COVID-induced fever dreams. But my wife tells me I am much better now, and I no longer think they are waiting to meet with me. But I wrote the forecast a decade before I got COVID-19, and so far it has mostly come to pass. So I’ll hold my position, regardless of what the Polish General Staff thinks.

G M

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Re: RANE: New revelations about NS 2 hit
« Reply #822 on: May 04, 2023, 11:03:56 AM »
https://summit.news/2023/05/03/new-bbc-report-insinuates-russia-blew-up-nord-stream-pipeline/

Russia! Russia! Russia!

RANE is pissng on your leg and telling you it’s raining.


New Revelations About the Nord Stream Attacks Put Ukraine in Hot Water
9 MIN READMar 8, 2023 | 23:15 GMT






Allegations that pro-Ukrainian actors were behind last fall's sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines reduce the perceived Russian threat to European oil and gas infrastructure, but could also undermine Western support for Ukraine. The extent to which this occurs will likely depend on whether the Ukrainian government is believed to have participated in the attack. On March 7, multiple Western news outlets published stories that U.S. and European officials believe pro-Ukrainian saboteurs were behind the September 2022 explosions that severely damaged the Nord Stream 1 and 2 natural gas pipelines, which are operated by Russia's state-owned gas giant Gazprom. Officials reportedly have no evidence to indicate that top Ukrainian leaders, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, directed or were aware of the operation. The anonymous sources cited in these reports say there remain many unknowns and declined to reveal any of the evidence informing their suspicions. However, the same day, Die Zeit and several other German media outlets reported that five men and one woman, all of whom used fake passports and were of unknown nationality, used a yacht hired by a Ukrainian-owned company in Poland to carry out the attacks. The yacht reportedly left a German port on Sept. 6, 2022 (nearly three weeks before the incidents began on Sept. 26) and was returned in an ''uncleaned'' fashion; German prosecutors were supposedly able to find evidence of explosives on a table in the yacht's cabin. On March 8, Germany's federal prosecutor's office confirmed that the yacht had been searched in January.

In late September 2022, four leaks were detected on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines that carry Russian gas through the Baltic Sea to Germany. Neither pipeline system was delivering gas to Europe at the time, though were under pressure which led to the leaks. The leaks were soon assessed to be deliberate explosions; they also appeared to be very precisely targeted because the two attacks on Nord Stream 1 occurred just outside of Denmark's territorial waters, while Nord Stream 2 does not go through the country's sovereign territory at all.
In the wake of the Nord Stream leaks, many Western governments immediately called out Russia as the likeliest perpetrator, accusing the Kremlin of orchestrating an attack as a form of coercive diplomacy against the West for its support for Ukraine. However, despite significant speculation, there has been no publicly revealed evidence clearly pointing toward Russia, which has always maintained its innocence and accused Kyiv and the West of being responsible.

On March 8, Germany's defense minister warned that it was too early to jump to conclusions, hinting it could have been a Russian false flag operation and that it may not have been ordered by the Ukrainian government.

If Ukrainian nationals were indeed behind the attacks, it would reduce the overall threat that Russia may pose to oil and gas infrastructure in Europe, despite lingering risks. Originally, the speculation that the Nord Stream 1 and 2 attacks were the work of Russia led many to believe that Moscow had demonstrated its willingness to strike energy infrastructure in Europe (even if technically outside of EU maritime territory, as the explosions occurred just beyond Denmark's 12 nautical mile territorial waters). This raised concerns that Russia could carry out sabotage operations against other infrastructure, such as Norwegian or U.K. oil and gas infrastructure in the North Sea or the Baltic Pipe connecting Norway to Poland in the Baltic Sea. But if it turns out that Russia was not behind the attacks, then there is no precedent of Russian sabotage against EU oil and natural gas infrastructure in territorial waters or exclusive economic zones to point to as evidence that the Kremlin is willing to take such risks against NATO or likely future NATO countries, like Sweden. Still, even if the perceived risk to European oil and gas infrastructure is lower, Russian sabotage or accusation of sabotage on natural gas pipelines going through Ukraine remains a distinct possibility, as Ukraine is a war zone and Russian forces have repeatedly attacked critical infrastructure in the country. For southeastern Europe, this represents a continued energy security risk since the Ukrainian pipelines delivering Russian gas to Europe remain in operation (but natural gas delivered through those pipelines also goes to Hungary, which the Kremlin may not want to harm with gas cutoffs for fear of alienating its closest ally in the European Union). Finally, if Russia was not behind the Nord Stream attacks, it does not exclude the possibility of Moscow conducting cyber and/or physical attacks against other European infrastructure in the future, even if the likelihood of this scenario is reduced.

U.S. and European leaders will see the revelations as another sign that the Ukrainian government is failing to constrain its own conduct or that of its citizens. But while this will damage their trust in Kyiv, Ukraine's Western allies are unlikely to significantly scale back their support unless the Zelensky administration is found to be directly implicated. The allegations add to a list of incidents suspected to be the work of Ukraine that Kyiv's Western backers have indicated risked not only alienating European allies but expanding the war — a scenario that NATO countries first and foremost want to avoid. But while these previous incidents drew some concern from Western governments, they were immediately linked to the Ukrainian military and intelligence services. All of the incidents were also significantly less controversial compared with the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines, which are infrastructure for delivering gas to NATO countries. As long as the allegations continue to suggest that the attacks took place without the approval of the Ukrainian government, it is unlikely that additional revelations will override the strategic imperatives driving high Western support of Kyiv. If, however, evidence emerges that the Ukrainian government approved the action, it could significantly fracture the United States and other major Western nations' willingness to continue funneling money and weapons into Ukraine. Some Western officials would use Kyiv's involvement in the Nord Stream leaks to argue that a Ukrainian government unwilling or unable to constrain its actions (or those of citizens claiming to act on its behalf) could conduct escalation or unauthorized provocations intended to draw NATO into the war with Russia in order to prevent the West from agreeing to a de-facto Russian victory in Ukraine by not providing sufficient weapons for it to retake more of its territory.

The incidents involving Ukrainian actions not necessarily approved by the West include the killing of ultranationalist journalist Daria Dugina inside Russia in an apparent attempt to assassinate her father, the strike damaging of the Kerch Strait Bridge linking Crimea to Russia, and drone strikes deep inside Russia that have destroyed Russian strategic bombers (which ultimately served as Moscow's primary argument for suspending its participation in the New START treaty with the United States).

Any Ukrainian involvement in the attack could undermine public support for Western governments' pro-Ukraine stance and embolden anti-war movements. Regardless of whether Kyiv was behind the attacks or if they were the actions of a pro-Ukraine sabotage group with no direct link to the Ukrainian state, media reports connecting the blasts to Ukraine could impact the public perception and narrative of the war in Ukraine across the United States and Europe. While the White House remains staunchly behind Kyiv, there are growing calls from some, mainly Republican, U.S. lawmakers to put upper limits on the amount of U.S. financial and military assistance to Ukraine. The recent news reports could thus not only add momentum to these calls, but also have longer-term impacts on the candidates vying for the U.S. presidency in 2024 elections. In Eastern Europe, support for Ukraine is likely to remain strong regardless of these events, because of the region's higher sense of threat regarding Russia. But in Western Europe, voices calling for an end to EU support for Ukraine could become louder — particularly in Germany, which has seen some of Europe's largest protests against the Ukraine war and Russian sanctions. These types of demonstrations in Germany and other Western European states (like Italy and France) will likely increase in frequency and intensity in the wake of the recent Nord Stream revelations. Such protests have so far had little effect on Western public opinion. But the allegations that pro-Ukrainian actors were behind the September pipeline attacks — combined with even bolder Russian propaganda that can now point to the incident as proof of Western lies about the war — could rally more widespread opposition against supporting Kyiv's war efforts and the country's accession to the European Union, especially if Kyiv's involvement is confirmed.

At two recent hearings in the U.S. House of Representatives, Republican lawmakers pressed Pentagon officials about where money and military support for Ukraine is going. On March 8, U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy also rejected an invitation from Zelensky to visit Kyiv, arguing that he didn't need to travel there to ensure that Ukraine did not receive a ''blank check.'' In addition, multiple recent surveys show that overall U.S. public support for Ukraine is decreasing, while the percentage of Americans who think their government is giving Kyiv too much aid is increasing.

Mainstream government parties across Europe will not downplay the significance of the sabotage. But to mitigate the potential for protest and public backlash, they may try to divert attention from it by arguing Russia had already halted natural gas flows through the pipeline and pointing to other direct Russian responsibilities in the conflict, while at the same time casting doubts on any Ukrainian involvement.

For months, regular anti-war rallies have taken place in Berlin and across several cities in eastern Germany, particularly Leipzig, that have stretched across both far-left and far-right political forces in the country. Before the sabotage incidents in September, German demonstrators had been demanding the reopening of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to ease spiraling energy prices in 2022. On Feb. 24, marking the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a demonstration against supplying Ukraine with weapons saw 13,000 people take to the streets in Berlin.

Other countries besides Germany have experienced similar demonstrations, including the Czech Republic, which in September 2022 saw 70,000 protesters gather in Prague to oppose the government's support for Ukraine. Such protests have also taken place in France, Italy and the United Kingdom, but on a much smaller scale



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Re: Russia/US-- Europe
« Reply #825 on: May 04, 2023, 01:13:06 PM »
Russia?  or Finland?

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Re: Russia/US-- Europe
« Reply #826 on: May 04, 2023, 01:15:48 PM »
Russia?  or Finland?

The malevolent retards in DC.

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Re: Russia/US-- Europe
« Reply #827 on: May 04, 2023, 02:02:12 PM »
I'm thinking the Finns have real good reason to want this, and Russia is responsible for why.

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Re: Russia/US-- Europe
« Reply #828 on: May 04, 2023, 02:09:11 PM »
I'm thinking the Finns have real good reason to want this, and Russia is responsible for why.

"Finlandization" was  thing for a reason. Buffer states and diplomacy are how you avoid war.

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The actual invasion of europe-happening now
« Reply #829 on: May 04, 2023, 02:39:05 PM »
I'm thinking the Finns have real good reason to want this, and Russia is responsible for why.

"Finlandization" was  thing for a reason. Buffer states and diplomacy are how you avoid war.

https://twitter.com/RebelNews_UK/status/1654072821289566208

https://media.gab.com/cdn-cgi/image/width=852,quality=100,fit=scale-down/system/media_attachments/files/136/703/671/original/460f0893b188ac6e.jpg



It's not Russians.

It's not 1983 and Reagan isn't president.

You don't live in the same country.

Time to adjust your paradigm. The one you've been using is way out of sync with reality.

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Wagner threatens to pullout
« Reply #830 on: May 05, 2023, 09:36:53 AM »
Wagner Threatens to Pull Out of Ukraine in Latest Internal Russia Spat
Graphic video shot in front of rows of dead soldiers underlines Moscow’s divisions ahead of expected Ukrainian offensive
By Thomas GroveFollow
 and Isabel ColesFollow
Updated May 5, 2023 9:00 am ET


The leader of Russian paramilitary group Wagner threatened to withdraw his troops from the front line in Ukraine, citing growing losses, in a move that raises fresh tensions between Moscow’s military leaders ahead of an expected offensive by Kyiv’s forces.

Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin said his forces would leave their positions in the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut on May 10 after delivering an expletive-riddled broadside against Moscow’s military leadership, which he accused of withholding ammunition.

“Shoigu, Gerasimov, where is the…ammunition?” he shouted into the camera, referring to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Gen. Valery Gerasimov, Russia’s top military officer, in a video posted on his public Telegram channel.

“If you handed over the ammunition quota, there’d be five times fewer dead,” he added, standing in a field covered in rows of dead soldiers.


Wagner has spearheaded Russia’s offensive on the eastern city of Bakhmut, which Ukrainian forces are clinging on to after months of brutal combat that have taken a heavy toll on both sides. The White House estimated this week that about half the 20,000 Russian troops killed in Ukraine since December were from Wagner.

“I withdraw units of the Wagner [private military company] because they are doomed to a senseless death without ammunition,” Mr. Prigozhin said in a later statement.


Ukrainian officials cast doubt on Mr. Prigozhin’s ultimatum. Andriy Chernyak, a spokesman for Ukraine’s military intelligence agency, known as GUR, said Mr. Prigozhin was seeking a scapegoat for failure to seize Bakhmut by May 9, when Russia marks the victory of the Soviet army over Nazi Germany in 1945. Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said Russia had deployed Wagner soldiers from other fronts to Bakhmut in an effort to capture the remainder of the city before Victory Day.

The flare-up of tensions within Russia’s military machine over chronic supply shortages follows a spate of drone attacks on Russian soil. The strikes, which have targeted mainly infrastructure central for sustaining Moscow’s war effort such as trains, airfields and fuel depots, have put the Kremlin on the back foot ahead of what Western analysts say is an imminent Ukrainian offensive.

A blaze at a Russian refinery near the border with Ukraine early Friday sent plumes of smoke into the sky. Military analysts have said the string of drone strikes is likely part of Kyiv’s attempt to disrupt Russian logistics ahead of its planned offensive. Ukraine hasn’t commented on the attacks.

The cause of the explosion at the Ilsky refinery in Krasnodar, which sits in southern Russia, wasn’t immediately clear. Emergency workers speaking to state news agency TASS said it was the result of a drone attack.

Russian state television initially blamed saboteurs. State media later said the blast was caused when the blaze from a previous attack by Ukrainian drones on Thursday reignited.

In the most spectacular incident, two drones exploded over the Kremlin earlier this week after Moscow said they had been intercepted. Russia blamed Ukraine and the U.S. Both Kyiv and Washington denied involvement.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking at a Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting in India, blamed the drone attack on Kyiv and said it couldn’t have been carried out without “the knowledge of its masters.”


Earlier this week, an airport in Russia’s Bryansk region was also targeted by a drone, and two trains carrying fuel toward the front lines were derailed in the same area.

The U.K.’s Ministry of Defense said a recent uptick in attacks targeting Russian railway lines in areas bordering Ukraine had likely caused short-term, localized disruption to Moscow’s military movements. While the damage can be repaired quickly, the ministry said Russia’s internal security forces were unlikely to be able to fully protect Russia’s rail networks from attack.

Meanwhile, Ukraine is preparing to deploy Western weapons and troops trained by its allies in an offensive to recapture territory occupied by Russia in the east and south of the country.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said its units were still pressing to take all of Bakhmut and that Moscow’s troops had destroyed a bridge crucial to the Ukrainians’ efforts to resupply its forces there with armament and personnel. Fighting has raged in recent days over the last road Ukraine can use to resupply its forces from the west.


A wounded Ukrainian serviceman waits to receive first aid near the front-line city of Bakhmut. PHOTO: DIMITAR DILKOFF/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES


A three-day curfew came into force in the southern city of Kherson as Russian forces continued to pound the surrounding region with rockets and artillery. Three people were wounded in shelling over the past day, said the head of the Kherson military administration, Oleksandr Prokudin, adding that Russian forces had fired hundreds of projectiles across the region.

Ukrainian forces recaptured the city of Kherson last year but it and the surrounding areas remain within artillery range of Russian forces that were driven back to the east bank of the Dnipro River.

Local authorities have said the curfew aims to help law enforcement carry out unspecified activities. A Ukrainian military analyst said the curfew might make it easier for the Ukrainian military to move around and target Russian positions over the river. Ukraine has previously imposed curfews to clear the streets, making it easier to identify and root out collaborators who may be providing information to Russian forces.

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WSJ: Lithuania
« Reply #831 on: May 05, 2023, 04:59:58 PM »
Little Lithuania Stands Tall Against Russia and China
Gabrielius Landsbergis, the Baltic nation’s foreign minister, explains why his country never bought into ‘the end of history’ and what Ukraine and Taiwan have in common.
By Tunku Varadarajan
May 5, 2023 3:53 pm ET


Lithuania is a Baltic country of just under 2.8 million people, a million fewer than live in the city of Los Angeles. It won its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and existed for the next three decades on the margins of international attention, patronized in the European Union (which it joined in 2004) by heavyweights like France and Germany.

The war in Ukraine changed all that, redrawing the moral and diplomatic map of Europe in significant ways. With France and Germany leading from behind—the latter chronically indecisive and hostage to Russian energy supplies—the front-line states of the eastern flank have been left to mount a robust European defense of Ukraine. Along with Poland, the Baltic states—Estonia and Latvia as well as Lithuania—have been most vocal in their condemnation of the invasion; and they’ve committed materiel to the war effort in unstinting ways and hosted large numbers of Ukrainian refugees. In doing so, they’ve earned the wrath of Russia, which they regard as proof of a moral duty well done.

“We still have a very clear historic memory of my country being under occupation,” says Gabrielius Landsbergis, 41, Lithuania’s foreign minister, in a Zoom call from his chancery in Vilnius. “I’m a youngish politician, but I remember it, as does the current young generation in Parliament.” His children “only read about it,” but Lithuanians have national nightmares of Russian attacks, “not just the tanks in Ukraine, and in Georgia, but here in the capital city.”

Mr. Landsbergis was 9 when Soviet tanks rolled into Vilnius in an attempt to disperse massed protesters calling for independence. Fourteen Lithuanians died at the hands of Soviet troops on Jan. 13, 1991, now commemorated as Freedom Defenders Day. Eight months later, Russian President Boris Yeltsin recognized Lithuania’s sovereignty. United Nations membership followed days later. The foreign minister’s paternal grandfather, Vytautas Landsbergis, now 90, was the first head of state of independent Lithuania.


That experience gives Lithuanians an “additional layer of understanding of what we’re up against, and what Ukraine is up against,” the foreign minister says. It also explains why Lithuania is the world’s only country in a state of open confrontation with both Russia and China. Lithuania sees itself as standing up to bullies who would snuff out the sovereignty of other nations. Its political position was strengthened late last month when China’s ambassador to France said on French television that “previously Soviet states have no effective status in international law.”

China’s animus against Lithuania is easily explained. In November 2021, the government gave its imprimatur to the opening of a Taiwan Representative Office in Vilnius. Such an office is commonly described in the media as a de facto embassy, but Mr. Landsbergis takes care to call it “nondiplomatic.” It is the sole Taiwanese representative office in Europe to use “Taiwan,” as opposed to “Taipei,” the only name China considers permissible. Even in the U.S., Taiwan’s representatives adhere to Beijing-approved nomenclature.

The Chinese reaction was swift, disproportionate and vengeful. China ceased all trade with Lithuania overnight, recalled its ambassador from Vilnius and expelled Lithuania’s from Beijing. “It was a hand-brake situation,” Mr. Landsbergis says, “a full stop.” He believes it was unprecedented: “Going from 100% of trade to zero trade—that’s never happened.” It caused “a lot of stress to businesses” and “a lot of stress to the government, trying to figure out how to deal with the situation.”

As it floundered to deal with the economic shock, Lithuania found that it wasn’t friendless. Australia, Japan and South Korea opened their ports to ships that could no longer dock in China: “Last year, our trade with the Pacific grew by 40%.” Booming trade with Singapore prompted Lithuania to open an embassy there.

“We were decoupled by China,” Mr. Landsbergis says, “but we showed that it was possible to withstand it, and not lower our threshold when it comes to values.” Taiwan still has its office in Lithuania, and trade relations with China have been restored, although the ambassadors haven’t returned.

Why did Lithuania, alone in Europe, poke China in the eye? Mr. Landsbergis doesn’t care for that characterization; he says his country isn’t “poking China in the eye, but allowing people to feel dignified by calling themselves the way they see themselves. And if they see themselves as Taiwanese, be it politically or culturally, it’s not my place to ask, but to give them that dignity.” He says Vilnius’s position on Taiwan derives from its national values and belief in a “rules-based world order.” He directly compares Taiwan to Ukraine. “The sovereignty of countries is one of our main values,” he says, as is the “dignity of people, which usually comes up when we’re talking about the people in Taiwan” and their desire to be “recognized as a democratic community.”

China, Mr. Landsbergis says, accused Lithuania of violating “their One China policy. We said that every country has a One China Policy and we did not violate the policy that Lithuania has. So this is a political dispute, but it goes deeper than that, to an attempt to suppress identity.”

He also bristles at the thought of taking dictation on policy from Beijing. “Will we be able to talk about Hong Kong? About Xinjiang? Will we be able to look into human-rights abuse? Maybe that will become an out-of-the-question question that will merit sanctions from China.” That “might start affecting our sovereignty. And this is where we are.”


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Re: Russia/US-- Europe
« Reply #834 on: May 05, 2023, 06:08:43 PM »
A most reasonable POV!

OTOH Kasparov is a very bright man, a brave man, and Russian opponent of Putin who knows him well.  Reading and noting his thoughts on the matter is also reasonable.

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Re: Russia/US-- Europe
« Reply #835 on: May 05, 2023, 06:18:13 PM »
A most reasonable POV!

OTOH Kasparov is a very bright man, a brave man, and Russian opponent of Putin who knows him well.  Reading and noting his thoughts on the matter is also reasonable.

I don't love or trust Putin. My priority is what is left of the Former USA. I have family and friends less than a day's drive from the clusterfuck in El Paso.

Unlike the scum pulling the strings on the semi-animated corpse of Pedo Peter Biden, Putin actually has a love for his "Rodina".

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Re: Russia/US-- Europe
« Reply #836 on: May 05, 2023, 08:32:52 PM »
"My priority is what is left of the Former USA."

YES!!!

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WSJ: The Arrest that Preceded an Invasion
« Reply #837 on: May 09, 2023, 08:53:04 AM »
The Arrest That Preceded an Invasion
Lukashenko hijacked a plane to capture a critic of his Belarus government.
By The Editorial Board
May 8, 2023 6:14 pm ET


The world’s authoritarians are getting more brazen in their extraterritorial reach, and the eight-year prison sentence handed out last week to Belarusian journalist Roman Protasevich is a reminder that the West has been too timid in its response.

Mr. Protasevich is a prominent critic of Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko who left Belarus in 2019 to escape arrest. When demonstrations erupted in 2020 against Mr. Lukashenko, Mr. Protasevich’s Telegram channel, NEXTA Live, became a popular source of information for protesters. “We were the only ones beyond the control of the Belarusian authorities,” he told the BBC in 2020.

In May 2021 Mr. Lukashenko learned the journalist was flying to Lithuania from Greece over Belarusian territory and ordered a fighter jet to intercept the Ryanair passenger plane on the pretense of a bomb threat. No explosives were found, but Belarusian agents arrested Mr. Protasevich.

Who knows what brutality the 27-year-old has had to endure in prison. His confession on state television and subsequent praise of Mr. Lukashenko were obviously spoken under duress. A Belarusian court nonetheless found him guilty Wednesday of organizing riots and calling for acts of terrorism, among other charges, and imposed the harsh sentence.


Mr. Lukashenko’s capture of the journalist was “a case of state-sponsored hijacking,” as Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said at the time. Yet the Western response was less than forceful. The European Union barred civilian planes from flying through Belarusian airspace and blocked Belarusian planes from transiting through Europe. But it took nearly a month for Washington and the EU to impose sanctions on Belarusian officials in response to the hijacking.

Mr. Lukashenko is Vladimir Putin’s closest ally and facilitated the Russian invasion of Ukraine. A mere two days after Mr. Protasevich’s arrest—and amid reports that he had been beaten in jail—the White House announced a one-on-one meeting between President Biden and Mr. Putin.

The Protasevich hijacking unfolded as Mr. Putin was sizing up Western resolve as he considered his move against Ukraine. Nine months later, Russian tanks rolled across the border, including from Belarus.

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George Friedman: What if Russia "loses"?
« Reply #838 on: May 12, 2023, 09:38:39 AM »
May 12, 2023
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Russia and the Nightmare Scenario
Thoughts in and around geopolitics.
By: George Friedman

I recently wrote an article that raised the question of whether the Russian government was united or even functional. The basis for the article was that the Russians have been bogged down in the city of Bakhmut for more than six months, have not retreated or regrouped, and have been unable to advance. Russian forces there are so deeply divided between the regular armed forces and the Wagner Group, the private military company that has been carrying much of the load, that the Russian military has refused to provide artillery rounds to Wagner. Withholding ammunition from this force in Bakhmut would not be rational. Some have argued that the military is short of artillery shells, which raises the question of how that was permitted to happen.

On the surface, it seems there is a political battle going on between the regular army and Wagner. Regardless of the cause, the fundamental question is why the civilian government, namely President Vladimir Putin, has not intervened and imposed the necessary steps, such as producing more shells or shifting some of the inventory, to solve the problem. Put differently, a tense struggle is taking place within the Russian army, and the president of the republic has not imposed his power on the forces and commanded solutions.

The question is whether Putin has the will or, more important, the power to do something about this problem. I obviously have no direct knowledge of the inner workings of the Kremlin, but I discern that this is a major obstacle for the government based on the public utterances, the military’s performance and the fact that the high command and the political leaders have not acted.

This raises the possibility that Ukraine and its allies could be winning the war against a crippled Russia. That should be all for the good if true, but it also raises a more frightening scenario.

In 1991, when the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union collapsed, the major issue was the status of nuclear weapons. The fear was that elements in the Soviet government who resisted collapse or thought they might reverse events would obtain parts of the Soviet arsenal and threaten the West with it. Others worried that if the Soviet control system had broken down, individuals would gain access and perhaps fire a missile. How to gain control of the Soviet Union’s arsenal very rapidly became an overarching concern. Anxieties were eased when an arms control agreement was reached with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

The Soviet Union was unstable but had controls. The degree of control in Moscow today is unclear. That means that the 1991 nightmare could rear its head again. If the military and political leadership are as fragmented and unpredictable as they appear to be to me, the end game might not be paradise but a deep crisis.

This is all vastly hypothetical, but a conventional defeat of a major nuclear power carries with it uncertainties about just how far the defeated might go. Perhaps the Russians will throw in their chips, perhaps they will bluff some action, and perhaps they will try to redress their defeat. The likelihood of the final option may be infinitesimal, but the stakes are too high to ignore the possibility when nuclear weapons are concerned.

Defeating a nuclear power whose command-and-control system broke down – and whose president has already threatened nuclear action – is a very difficult business. The reality of a counterattack has kept nuclear war at bay since 1945. Even so, if the government collapses, the actions of the Russians can’t be known.

Frankly, it’s not in the interest of the United States or Ukraine to absorb the risk. I am certain that intelligence and the military are playing out the war games that might reveal the truth. But my understanding of the situation leads me to the conclusion that it is not in the interest of the U.S. to defeat Russia, and that even if the Ukrainians can threaten a victory, they should settle for an agreement.

Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq could be treated casually after they ended because they were not nuclear powers. But if Russia loses in Ukraine, what will be its next target? Protecting Ukraine is a strategic necessity in my mind, since the Russian threat increases if Moscow wins in Ukraine. But either way, the Russian appetite will not dissolve. If my concerns about Russia’s stability are wrong, we still gain by thinking this through.

We will reach the negotiation stage at some point, and then the great uncertainty will become whether Moscow is in control of its nuclear weapons and whether the government could order their use. As I have said, this is possible though a most unlikely scenario, but it will psychologically haunt peace talks. Defending Ukraine was an imperative not because of the centrality of Ukraine but because of what would come next from Russia if there was no resistance. Russia’s next move will not be to invade Poland, but we cannot dismiss the possibility of convincing nuclear gestures.

I do not think the nightmare will be nuclear war. Rather, it will be Russia’s use of the threat of nuclear war to shape negotiations. Any threat would have to be taken as credible, and a credible nuclear threat, even if it never transpires, is a nightmare.

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RANE: Meaning of the escalating Wagner Feud
« Reply #840 on: May 16, 2023, 02:35:41 PM »
What the Escalating Wagner Feud Means for Russia's War in Ukraine -- And Beyond
May 16, 2023 | 20:57 GMT


While the Wagner Group's public feud with Russia's military leaders could complicate Russia's war efforts in Ukraine, the military contractor will likely remain involved in the war, though its role will diminish over time. Evgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Russian military contractor Wagner Group, has in recent days escalated his months-long feud with Russia's military leadership. On May 5, he accused Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and General Staff Chief Valery Gerasimov, two close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin, of causing the deaths of Wagner soldiers by failing to provide Wagner Group sufficient artillery ammunition. Then on May 10, Prigozhin suggested that an unnamed ''grandpa'' — a possible reference to Putin — was an imbecile whose withholding of resources was a catastrophic mistake. On May 11, reports in Russian media citing Kremlin officials suggested that the comments nearly crossed a red line of attacking Putin, but that Prigozhin's ability to plausibly claim that he was referring to other officials, including his usual targets Gerasimov and Shoigu, meant the words didn't constitute a direct attack on the president and therefore the Kremlin was unlikely to act against him. On May 15, additional leaks also began circulating that Prigozhin offered Ukraine intel on Russian forces in exchange for ceding territory around Bakhmut, which is likely related to Wagner's feud with the MoD as well.

The Wagner Group is a global paramilitary force that some European countries are now moving to designate a terrorist group, and that the United States has labeled a transnational crime organization.

Wagner soldiers have been a key force in Russia's war efforts in Ukraine since last fall. Wagner's feud with Russia's Ministry of Defense (MoD), embodied by Kremlin insiders Shoigu and Gerasimov, began festering in February over Wagner soldiers' inability to take Bakhmut in Russia's winter offensive, and has since worsened due to the MoD's ammunition saving for the upcoming Ukrainian offensive. Meanwhile, the Wagner group has taken massive losses on the battlefield that have shattered its remaining forces. In Prigozhin's eyes, his organization has sacrificed resources for the MoD. To that end, on May 9 Prigozhin griped that ''our enemy isn't the Ukrainian military'' but Russian ''military bureaucrats.''

Citing leaked U.S. intelligence documents, The Washington Post reported on May 5 that tensions between the MoD and Wagner were reaching new highs. Gerasimov and Shoigu were reportedly implicated in actions to sabotage Wagner and provide justification to reduce the group's role in Ukraine. Specifically, on Feb. 12, Gerasimov allegedly ordered to stop munitions supplies to Wagner, halting planned military transport flights that were set to transport ammunition to the organization's headquarters in southern Russia. Intercepted communications from Russia's Federal Security Service confirmed that Wagner was receiving less ammunition than it had been promised, suggesting Gerasimov's intervention caused the shortage.

According to the leaks published by The Washington Post, Russia's military leadership was so frustrated by Prigozhin's public attacks that some officials debated how to quash his criticism, considering a public campaign to discredit Prigozhin before concluding that banning him from speaking out was not feasible.

The feud could complicate Russia's efforts in Ukraine by deepening fissures within the Russian military, leading to an inefficient allocation of resources and weakening political support for the invasion. On one side of the ongoing feud is Shoigu, Gerasimov and the rest of Russia's defense establishment. And on the other is the Wagner Group and Russian military officials skeptical of the Ukraine war's trajectory — including the former head commander of the invasion, Gen. Sergey Surovikin, who Progozhin claimed on May 8 had been appointed as the Wagner Group's effective liaison with the MoD. The deepening rift between these two sides risks fueling factionalism in Russia's leadership and resentment among the rank and file that could complicate military efforts. Because of the feud, Russian military officers may not know the extent to which their actions should entirely align with Shoigu and Gerasimov, or with Prigozhin and aligned general Surovikin. This could make some Russian soldiers hesitant to see through orders that may be pushed in factional interests rather than objective military realities, leading to less optimal allocation of increasingly limited resources. Similar hesitance may grow among the rank and file, where reports indicate an interservice rivalry between Wagner and the MoD is breeding distrust and animus on the ground, reducing the interoperability of Wagner and Russian army troops and their combat effectiveness. Prigozhin's rhetoric also foments broader skepticism and disdain toward Russia's military and political leaders among not just soldiers, but the general public and elites. A sense of disunity has grown in recent months among influential military bloggers, some state propagandists, and even political officials. On May 10, lawmakers from the ruling United Russia party offered to invite Prigozhin to parliament to explain his grievances, demonstrating the increasing political visibility of the Wagner leader's skepticism of Kremlin-appointed military leaders.

Prigozhin has often followed his provocative statements and addresses with promotional videos seeking volunteers to join the Wagner group. The conduct suggests that Prigozhin is effectively using anger toward the regular army and accusations of MoD incompetence as a recruiting tool, underscoring Wagner's direct competition for manpower against the MoD's own volunteer campaign.

On April 30, Russia's deputy defense minister in charge of logistics, Mikhail Mizintsev, was removed from his position without explanation. But on May 4, Wagner announced Mizintsev had become a deputy commander of Wagner forces in Ukraine, making him one of the most senior Russian military officials ever to join the organization. The move is a potential sign of factionalism in the military.
On Oct. 8, Moscow General Sergei Surovikin was named as the first overall commander of the Ukraine invasion, replacing a previous command structure whereby multiple front commanders answered to Putin through Shoigu and Gerasimov. After only three months on the job, Surovikin was then replaced in January and demoted to serving as one of Gerasimov's deputies.

Surovikin's time as overall commander saw at least two major controversial decisions, including the retreat from the Western bank of the Dnieper River in November and the airstrike campaign against Ukraine's civilian infrastructure that failed to undermine Ukraine's resistance. This fueled speculation that Russia's top military leaders had set up Surovikin and his advocates, including Prigozhin, to serve as scapegoats.

While Prigozhin will likely continue making divisive comments, his reliance on Putin and the defense ministry mean that he is unlikely to continue escalating the feud to the point of crossing the Kremlin's red lines. Prigozhin will continue to publicize his grievances and garner attention, including by making critical comments toward the MoD, which will pose an informational challenge to the Kremlin. But the Kremlin is unlikely to muzzle Prigozhin because he does not pose a threat to Putin's power and Russia's greater political system. The Kremlin also does not believe Prigozhin will cross its clear red lines by, for example by directly attacking Putin, forming an anti-Kremlin political movement or engaging in treasonous activity.The Wagner Group remains entirely reliant on Russia's defense ministry for key weapons and transport, and Prigozhin's other business endeavors are dependent on government contracts that could be quickly curtailed should he overstep his bounds. Therefore, it is extremely doubtful that he would bite the hand that feeds him by significantly escalating his rhetoric. Prigozhin's activities are an attempt to increase his influence, but are not an attempt to fundamentally alter his ultimately minimal role in Russia's governance system. Prigozhin is still not viewed in the Kremlin or the general public as a viable politician, and remains unlikely to vie for such status at the risk of his life and fortune.

The ongoing feud will, however, likely further compel Moscow to gradually reduce the Wagner Group's role in Ukraine. Wagner forces remained Russia's primary offensive forces after Russia's military establishment endorsed General Surovikin's plan to move to the defensive while using missiles to strike Ukrainian civilian infrastructure. Gerasimov's replacement of Surovikin in mid-January resulted in that strategy being partially abandoned, with Russia instead launching a larger winter offensive aimed at regaining the initiative. The offensive saw the Russian regular army play a larger role around Vuhledar and Kreminna, but yielded extremely limited gains. Only Wagner's preceding efforts in Bakhmut continued to gain ground, though it's come at an enormous cost. Wagner forces are now likely exhausted and demoralized. But most importantly, they're short of manpower, down to around 15,000 soldiers from approximately 50,000 early last fall. As Russia's regular army contingent in Ukraine has grown to approximately 500,000 soldiers due to mobilization, the relative importance of Wagner troops to Russia's overall force structure has fallen significantly. Furthermore, as the entire Russian army deals with ammunition shortages and prepares to defend against Ukraine's impending counteroffensive, for which Wagner is not structured, the lack of prestige-gaining offensive opportunities leaves little reason for Wagner to maintain a large presence on the front line.

Wagner will likely retain some involvement in the war, even if on a smaller scale, as Wagner forces have benefits compared with Russian regular troops that Moscow will want to continue leveraging. There are several reasons the Kremlin would want to keep some level of Wagner soldiers in Ukraine, despite the recent feud with Prigozhin. For one, Wagner soldiers have been fighting in conflict zones around the world for years, including in eastern Ukraine since 2014. The military contractor's surviving forces are thus more experienced than the vast majority of Russia's regular troops — especially the newly mobilized ones now deployed to Ukraine. For Russia, this makes Wagner a considerably useful resource for not only future combat, but for training and advising other Russian units in the meantime. Unlike Russian regular troops, Wagner fighters are also all volunteers and prisoners, which means their loss on the battlefield has a smaller impact on Russian society and Moscow's overall war efforts compared with the loss of regular soldiers or mobilized personnel. Furthermore, prisoners and previous mercenaries are not individuals taken out of the economy, and Wagner casualties are not reflected in Russia's official army statistics and thus lack political ramifications, which enables Moscow to use Wagner soldiers for riskier attacks. Furthermore, from a financial standpoint, Wagner forces' upkeep is less of a drain on the Russian government's budget (due to private funding sources picking up a larger portion of the group's operating costs). Another private military contractor could, in theory, eventually offer similar economic, political and strategic benefits to Moscow. But the other contractors currently operating in Russia — while plentiful — are still much smaller and lack the manpower, equipment, structure, administration, or media status to replace Wagner quickly.

On April 18, videos emerged in Russian media purporting to show that Wagner personnel were participating in the training of mobilized regular soldiers — a formerly exclusive undertaking of the regular army. Such training would constitute an expansion rather than a reduction of the military contractor's role, which would make it harder for Gerasimov and Shoigu to phase out the use of Wagner soldiers in Ukraine.

Despite his public criticisms, Prigozhin will also seek to stay engaged in Ukraine to ensure that he and his organization remain important to the Kremlin, though this will limit Wagner's ability to expand its operations in key geographies like Africa. Wagner's ''regime security'' services remain key to the Kremlin's global geopolitical strategy, including in countries such as Mali, the Central African Republic and Libya, providing services for which competition largely comes from other Russian private military contractors with weaker ties to the Kremlin. For Wagner, those global services are likely more lucrative from a business standpoint compared with fighting in the Ukraine war. But despite his recent criticisms of Russian leaders' strategy in Ukraine, Prigozhin will still seek to ensure that his organization remains involved in the Ukraine war. This is because Wagner's presence in Ukraine remains an important source of prestige, as well as a valuable insurance policy that will protect Prigozhin himself from the worst consequences of any red lines he may cross in the future. Pulling out Wagner's remaining forces to focus on activities in Africa could put him in increased danger as the Kremlin may seek to replace him with someone more committed to the Ukraine agenda. Therefore, Prigozhin's feud with the Russian military, Wagner's losses in Ukraine and continued presence there mean the group will likely be constrained in its ability to significantly expand its presence in Africa or elsewhere. These factors could cause potential clients to turn to one of the many other smaller (but growing) private military contractors in Russia or from another country by fueling concerns about Wagner's ability to fulfill contracts.

Crafty_Dog

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Zeihan on "Who Started it?"
« Reply #841 on: May 22, 2023, 02:38:05 PM »
Pithily, potently, and pungently argued , , , 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rh4QU7hxKVg
« Last Edit: May 22, 2023, 02:43:32 PM by Crafty_Dog »

Crafty_Dog

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Today's episode in defenestration
« Reply #842 on: May 22, 2023, 08:25:39 PM »


https://www.thedailybeast.com/russian-deputy-minister-pyotr-kucherenko-dies-after-slamming-fascist-invasion-of-ukraine?ref=home%3Fref%3Dhome&fbclid=IwAR3152fm1kX_RWR6LZkO2StaPPO_5ZXfB5W2DYA8CXrjqGQwgcHQ-TD8bYc

==========================

Tomáš Řezníček
13h
  ·
The Legion of Free Russia, consisting of Russians fighting on the side of the Ukrainian army, passed to Russia in the Belgorod region and conquered three settlements Kozinka, Glotov, Gora-Podil. Tough fights are underway for control of Greyvoron.
Her statement: "We are Russians just like you. We are human beings just like you. We want our children to grow up unbroken and be free people so they can travel, study and just be happy in a free country. But in today's Putin's Russia, rotten corruption, lies, censorship, restrictions of freedoms, repression, has no place. In that Russia, where a human life means less than an official's wallet. In Russia, where a separate railway is built to the residence of grandfather of the bunker instead of repairing roads in the regions. In a dictatorial country where children are separated from their parents for calling for peace and teenagers get life imprisonment. It's time to end the Kremlin dictatorship. Thank you to all those who support us. To everyone sending us donations and smoking where necessary. Your support is what reminds us every day of our final goal on Red Square [in Moscow]. Be courageous and not afraid for we are coming home. Russia will be free! "
  ·   ·


G M

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Re: Zeihan on "Who Started it?"
« Reply #843 on: May 22, 2023, 11:16:12 PM »
Pithily, potently, and pungently argued , , , 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rh4QU7hxKVg

Not sure why you like Zmughan so much. He sure forgot the CIA’s color revolution and the Ukenazi slaughter of ethnic Russians since 2014 that might have been a motivator for Russia.

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Russia/US-- Europe
« Reply #844 on: May 23, 2023, 12:51:51 PM »
On many things he has much to offer.   

Not a question of like or not, it is a question of a precise articulation of a particular POV.  Those of us who disagree (I'm thinking that is all four of us) need to be able to answer precisely-- e.g. such as you just did.

"Man sharpens man" etc.

PS:  I used your Foreign Policy Experts Against Expanding NATO citation on a FB Group yesterday.

PPS: One of these days you may notice that I don't necessarily agree with 100% of things that I post. 
« Last Edit: May 23, 2023, 12:56:13 PM by Crafty_Dog »





Crafty_Dog

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Re: Russia/US-- Europe
« Reply #849 on: May 24, 2023, 02:18:39 PM »
Ummm , , , none of which applies to anything Stratfor has ever said.

In a nearby thread, you spoke of thinking like a gambler-- and gamblers "think in bets"-- they realize there is not only one possible outcome.