Thursday 3 March 2022

Contra Starkey, contra Putin: "Ukraine" is a Real Thing

The Starkey lecturette we were directed to the other day is very good viewing indeed - all manner of interesting perspectives.  I can't go along with all of it, however.  As noted before, the degree of strategic capability we should attribute to Putin is very much open to question, as is his 'hero' status in the non western world.

There's something else that needs to be challenged, if not on the facts then certainly on the interpretation.  Right at the beginning, Starkey notes that through most years of recorded history we won't find 'Ukraine' on the map.  His clear implication, I suggest, is that Ukraine is therefore not a 'proper entity' in some sense - a latter-day confection - which very much invites the next step of "so maybe we shouldn't get exercised about something which lacks status in that way". 

However much it's important for some purposes to learn the history, for other purposes we needn't get into "what are the origins of modern-day Ukraine?".  Specifically, there's the rather pointed alternative question: "will they stand and fight?".   A few days before it all kicked off, against a BTL comment that pointed to several recent regimes that had simply crumbled in the face of a determined military thrust, I offered the view that Finland 1939-40 was the appropriate counter example (NOT France 1940); and that "Ukrainian nationalism is a real thing".  If that's right - and I remain of the view that it is - the answer to Starkey's observation is a resounding "so what?".  If they stand and fight, what's the relevance for immediate practical purposes as to how they came by their national identity?

My views on this stem from when I worked in Moscow, many years ago.  I was determined to learn the language, and took on a Russian tutor.  At a very early stage I brought him a list of my Russian staff and asked him how I should correctly pronounce their names (knowing that, for example, Олег would put up with being called Oh-leg, but really it is more like Alyeck).   The tutor scanned down the list, and with a look of utter disgust lighted upon one name:  This is a Ukrainian name, he spat out - why do you employ her?

And so it went on.   At one particularly memorable business lunch when my boss from the US was over, one of the assembled host told a joke, the punchline of which was to compare Ukrainians unfavourably with certain others of mankind's races, and also the apes.  This was solemnly translated for my man, who went purple but didn't know quite what else to do.  But it was par for the course in Moscow.

In a later business incarnation I found myself working alongside a Ukrainian for a sustained period, who gave me the other side of the picture over a beer or three.

Any suggestion on Putin's part that Russians and Ukrainians are blood-brothers that have been artificially and temporarily separated, doesn't ring at all true to me.  Ukrainian nationalism is a Thing alright, wherever it came from and whenever it dates from - and quite tangible enough to fuel serious resistance.  As we see before us daily.  I'm still on my Finland-not-France analogy.


PS: I might add that if it rumbles on into a stalemate where the west keeps the Ukrainians armed and fighting as did Russia and China keep the North Vietnamese, this Russian gentleman suggests we may live to regret it.  As with Starkey, we're not obliged to agree with everything he says: but it's a compelling little essay.

PPS - an afterthought: if Ukraine "didn't exist" for much of history, then how's about, errrr, Germany?  Italy?   etc etc etc 


dearieme said...

He's getting old - he muddled East and West a couple of times. But it was worth listening to.

Mind you, his case that Ukraine doesn't really exist is a little weaker than the case you can easily make that England didn't really exist until the Normans. At least, it didn't exist except in an ambiguous, fleeting form: localism and the Danes assured that.

dearieme said...

The comparison with Hitler stuff I find naive and not a little dim. People who know no history think they know all about Hitler and don't realise that their opinions are based on mere hindsight, usually wonky hindsight.

The best analogy for Russia is the other great land-based empire constructed in the 17th - 19th centuries, the USA.

If the Ukes are just another sort of Russian then Putin is Lincoln, determined that all-Russia shall endure and the secessionary states must be conquered and punished.

If Ukraine and its neighbours should be Russian by manifest destiny then Putin is President Polk; accept into the Federation two republics that have seceded violently from Mexico - oops, from Ukraine - and conquer the rest of Northern Mexico by military aggression.

If Putin's ambition is that the lands between Russia and Germany should be buffer states then he is Monroe of the eponymous doctrine - these land are his backyard and everyone else is forbidden influence.

I suppose there might be comparable analogies between the great ship-borne Empires - British, Portuguese, Dutch, say. But the analogy between Russia and the USA is particularly striking.

Nick Drew said...

not guilty of a Hitler analogy this time, dearieme ... Finland => Stalin! Is that better?

your US parallels are thought-provoking, too: thanks

PS, although there was indeed a punitive party within the Union camp, Lincoln himself - though resolute - was much more equable and responsible, to the despair of some on his side. (Didn't do him any good ...)

dearieme said...

And yet Lincoln killed huge numbers of Americans when, constitutionally, he could simply have accepted the secession.

DJK said...

Starkey himself mentions at the end that there was a Ukranian nationalist movement at the end of the nineteenth century, alongside similar movements in other parts of Europe. As to Germany, there was an identifiable German people --- Der Deutschen Volk --- scattered through Europe before Bismark created a German state. Italy, not so much. Likewise the germanic tribes that occupied much of Roman Britain after the legions left had started to think of themselves as one English people before the Normans created a modern state.

Crimea seems to be happily part of Russia now. Eastern Ukraine could probably be integrated too. As for the rest, I do not know, but I don't see a happy outcome for anybody here.

jim said...

So, Starkey feels that if we upped the defence budget a bit we could have deterred Putin. Not unless we were prepared to park a lot of tanks up in Ukraine back in January. Not unless we were prepared to go nose to nose with Putin nuke wise.

But he does not want to get crisped any more than we do. Nukes are useless toys but a good excuse for doing nothing and doing nothing is always a government's preferred option.

Sushentsov makes a good point. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. We got suckered by Washington, not very smart.

I'm sure all this talk of 'an error' or 'he's mad' was merely Western propaganda and a cover for our inability to do anything. The real problem is our own lack of preparation and precaution and talking to Putin. Putin knows what he is doing but has an inefficient tool for the job.

Cast our minds forward 6 months. Putin may be mopping up in Ukraine and has secured a huge land mass and breadbasket. Who cares if the West makes a fuss, he can sell his gas and oil eastwards. Most likely the West will compromise and we can all be besties again and those oligarch properties can return to their owners. The money will level up eventually.

Cast our minds forward 20 years and we may find China and Russia the dominant power bloc and we Europeans have grown a liking for long johns and mittens.

In the meantime Putin may have rubbish tyres on his trucks today - but next time.... All this talk of sanctions and seizures is foolish. In six months we will be making nice with Putin and giving all that stuff back. Disgusting and immoral - that's what we pay politicians for.

DJK said...

Winter War (right on cue):

Anonymous said...

"Italy, not so much"

On my first visit to Italy a guy from Turin (in a bar) told me "the Third World starts at Rome" - and when years later I got to Napoli I could see what he meant, although I still loved the place.

The entire MSM and political class are disgusting though - the Mail openly calling for Putin to be killed, Nadine celebrating the fact that RT is off the air and she hopes we'll soon have no access to it via any method!

"They hate us for our freedom". Haven't the Met just sacked a Russian soprano?

Didn't happen with Iraq or Libya or Syria, that's for sure. No one is calling for sanctions on the Saudis or Brits as another lot of BAe ordnance lands on poor old Yemen.

AndrewZ said...

There is an analogy for the survival of Ukrainian national identity in how the Irish maintained their identity and desire for independence during centuries of British rule. No doubt there were also British imperialists who thought that Ireland was an integral part of Britain and found the concept of an Irish state as incomprehensible as Surrey declaring independence.

Another analogy that might be relevant to the war is the China-Vietnam border war of 1979, in which a numerically superior force of poorly-trained conscripts took on a force of hardened veterans fighting on their own territory.

One interesting development here:

It's a Ukrainian government source (English via machine translation) claiming that an assassination attempt on President Zelensky by Chechen forces was foiled using "information from representatives of the FSB, who today have no desire to take part in this bloody war". If it's true - big "if" - it suggests that the Russian deep state is planning for a different outcome to whatever Putin has in mind.

E-K said...

All that matters is how Putin views Ukraine. He has us over a barrel.

Arming Ukrainians might make us feel a bit better about ourselves - even then the desired outcome of that could result in something much worse than Putin. He holds together the Russian Federation which could splinter into nuclear armed factions.

We just have to suck it all up - including the fallout from any reactors that go *pop*.

Way to go EU !

Anonymous said...

AndrewZ - I'm pretty sure if at any time between 1922 and today that if Eire had joined (or applied to join) a military alliance directed against the UK, we would have done what Putin's done.

Chamberlain's government handed over the naval bases at Cobh, Berehaven and Lough Swilly in the north in 1938!

Churchill said after the war - "we had plans to retake them by force if need be". Can there be any doubt we'd have acted if Ireland even before WW2 had allied with Germany, and German troops had exercised there as NATO forces have in Ukraine?

Anonymous said...

De Valera wrote to Woodrow Wilson - "Ireland is quite ready by treaty to ensure England's safety against the danger of foreign powers seeking to use Ireland as a basis of attack against her."

That is exactly the opposite of what the Ukrainian Government has done, egged on by NATO (i.e. the US).

Nick Drew said...

AndrewZ - yes, we've mentioned Vietnam/China before

Anon - Ireland might offer a few pointers and every analogy is worth considering:
but hey, there were plenty of broadly pro-German noises coming from Dublin around WW2; the Atlantic threat was life-or-death for the UK; a punitive expedition wouldn't have been that difficult; but the status quo was allowed to continue, notwithstanding those contingency plans you refer to for an event when we were already under fullscale German attack already! (at which point the analogy, however illuminating, collapses entirely)

I'd call that overall pattern of UK policy towards Ireland in the WW2 period mature, measured & responsible.

Anonymous said...

ND - ta, but I don't think Churchill had a punitive expedition in mind, but a reoccupation of the ports. An Ireland allied to Germany would have had different treatment. De Valera was pretty clever - do you ever hear about the six IRA men hanged or the three hunger strikers who died on his watch in WW2?

He knew what Zelensky didn't - that his best chance of remaining independent was to stay strictly neutral between the great power next door and any power ranged against her. But if Zelensky'd known that he'd never have been installed. I must say Victoria Nuland is a military genius - to have done by relatively peaceful means what it will take much blood and treasure for Russia to undo.

FWIW I don't think Putin's is a punitive expedition either - do you?

Nick Drew said...

@ FWIW I don't think Putin's is a punitive expedition either - do you?

Ask again in 3 weeks. The rhetoric isn't terribly friendly. "Allied"? Errr, well Ukr's actual non-membership of NATO is rather well-advertised, and rather dramatically germane as a factual state of affairs, n'est-ce pas?

What the EU is doing, contemplating rapid accession of Ukr, is anyone's guess - and another reason for being heartily glad to be out of it. I suppose you could view it as the other half of a tug-of-war: Putin says "they're basically all Russians, they belong over here", and the EU is saying "they're basically all Europeans ..."

AndrewZ said...

ND - "mature, measured & responsible"

Quite unlike the reckless and destructive approach of Putin's government!

Anonymous - "we would have done what Putin's done"

Ukraine's desire to join NATO was based on entirely justified fears of Russian aggression. Ukraine has been repeatedly invaded and oppressed by Russia during its history. Stalin created a famine to starve Ukrainians into submission. Putin used separatist movements as a pretext to occupy Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine, and there was no reason for Ukrainians to assume that he would stop there.

To continue the Irish analogies, what would the Republic of Ireland do if Britain started arming the UVF and used it to occupy Monaghan and Louth? Surely it would seek to join any alliance that might save it from complete subjugation?

AndrewZ said...

ND - "What the EU is doing, contemplating rapid accession of Ukr"

To have any chance of survival, Ukraine needs as much support as it can get from wherever it can find it. So, it needs to establish the closest possible political relations with its current supporters to make it harder for them to abandon Ukraine later on, if it becomes politically expedient for them to do so. It's also a statement about Ukraine's identity, i.e. "we're Europeans not Russians".

I suspect that the EU's largely positive response is a combination of ideological inflexibility (ever-closer union at all costs, whatever the circumstances) and vanity. Little men trying to be important, and forgetting how little hard power they can actually deploy in support of their grandiose ambitions.

Caeser Hēméra said...

I'm not sure how Russia comes away from this with anything but a pyrrhic victory at best.

Their equipment losses ( - assume bias) and roping in additional forces from across the rest of Russia is not a great advertisement for their military planning or prowess.

The likes of China and Venezuela have stepped back from their usual support, giving Russia little more a "Good luck, champ!" message.

I mean, they've still got Eritrea, which must be a real comfort in those cold 3am moments of self doubt. Oh, and Stop the War. Eritrea and Corbyn... Didn't they sing "Summer Breeze"?

A re-enervated NATO, possibly expanded, a re-arming Germany and Europe at least looking at a plan to get off Russian fuel dependency.

Putin demanding no more sanctions and for a return to normal is something of a step down from waving about the nuclear deterrent.

And of course his claims "all going as planned", because having your top of the range tanks set alight by the Ukrainian version of the A Team was on the checklist of success.

Maybe a little less 4D chess from Captain Kirk, and more war gaming from David Callan, Vladimir mate?

Still, despite Russia's best efforts to paint that very picture, it's difficult to see them not taking Ukraine. Incidentally, a tale from 2005:

Wonder if Putin ever read it?

dearieme said...

"the germanic tribes that occupied much of Roman Britain after the legions left had started to think of themselves as one English people before the Normans created a modern state."

Hardly: there was a deal to split England in two, one half to get an Anglo-Saxon monarch, the other half a Danish one. The deal failed only because the relevant Dane died. It still left the Danelaw intact though. Then in due course a Dane ruled the lot anyhow.

DJK said...

dearieme: Point still stands. In the 10th century there may not have been an English / Anglo-Saxon monarch ruling the whole of the territory we now call England, but there were a group that identified themselves as English (not Danish or Norman). All got rather muddied later, of course.

Press reports plenty of armed resistance by people who identify as Ukranian and not Russian. How representative of the whole of Ukraine that is I do not know.

Bill Quango MP said...

Where is the Russian airforce?

The airforce is the NATO game changer. If Moscow and it’s allies could achieve air superiority, the tanks could keep rolling to the Rhine. NATO very carefully created an airforce whose aim was to achieve air superiority over the Warsaw Pact, and destroy the logistics supporting the Soviet invasion spearheads.

Hence, in Iraq, any Iraqi fighter that could fly, soon wished it couldn’t.

Apparently, a few Ukrainian planes are still flying. From forest airfields and Swedish style emergency motorway runways.
If the might of the VVS, the Russian airforce,, with adequate warning for preparation and planning days, could not knock out completely the Ukrainian aircraft, then that must be a big worry for them.

Their 1st line aircraft are good. But must lack multi role, as the USA has always thought. In which case NATO will be feeling much stronger, and less afraid, than before the move was made.

A 40 mile supply convoy wouldn’t last the day against the west. Maybe not even half a day. If the Putin navy is only of the same quality as the ground forces, then the old Soviet quantity has its own quality still applies.

The footage we see is so limited. A very good question to ask must be, why? It is quite a surprise.

Nick Drew said...

Something else we haven't seen ... Spetsnaz. Read accounts of how they engineered the putsch in Afghanistan. Decisive, successful, and vital. And always considered to be the spearhead of any Soviet attack.

Not so many reports of "little green men" either ...

The Chinese must be reconsidering any respect they might have had for Putin

Anonymous said...

Its a very odd war with the trans-Ukrainian pipelines (e.g. Brotherhood) apparently still working.

Wonder if Putin is paying the transfer fees as the gas moves across Ukraine to Germany?

dearieme said...

Are you chaps hinting it's a Potemkin war?

Nick Drew said...

I think Putin has laid down some very clear, possibly quirky campaign ground-rules of his own devising, with some more-or-less rational thought process involved. (I can tell you, for example, that Gazprom is conducting itself very properly in the market. It is probably even still making payments to Ukraine for transit - though I don't know that for a fact. It all keeps options open for them, without a doubt)

Either that, or his generals have told him he can only play with certain of the toys. But the way he humiliates his senior people in public doesn't make him look too much like a man who takes that sort of thing kindly

E-K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
E-K said...


The NATO airforce issue is academic, is it not ?

There will be no such thing as limited conflict between NATO and Russia, the Russian Foreign Minister says WW3 can only be nuclear, ergo NATO's air force is largely irrelevant. It works against lesser powers, for sure but not this situation.

It is such a great great pity.

Ukraine was much more western than it must have thought. What did it think it would get that was better in the EU ? I see kids dressed the same as ours, cars the same as ours, women with blue hair and tattoos, a healthy, well fed and free population - it had a growing tourist industry and access to everything western which included top level rock concerts.

What were they revolting against in 2013 ?

I don't wish to be defeatist. There is an answer and appeasement, I'm afraid, is what I propose but one that saves face on both sides.

WE fucked up badly. We must admit it.

BTW - Biden is NOT the man to do deal with Putin, in case none of you had noticed. Outing Putin is likely to do more harm than good too if it gets messy in Russia.

Anonymous said...

"The footage we see is so limited. A very good question to ask must be, why?"

Maybe there isn't any? I too share what seems to be general puzzlement over this war. I wonder how many embedded NATO boffins are monitoring the Russian forces/air from a technical perspective. But from the few clips I've seen it looks as if various Pantsirs will have fallen into NATO hands, and at least some Javelins and whatever the Brits gave them in the anti-tank line have been snaffled by Ivan.

We're still waiting to find out whether the Russians will miss the money more than Europeans will miss the gas, or vice-versa. If I can still dabble on Monday, I might try go grab some Polymetal - just a dabble.

Bill Quango MP said...

Talking with some very recently former uk military pilots, just now.
These are helicopter gunship pilots from our Iraq 2, Afghan era.

I asked if they would fancy shooting that Russian convoy into scrap?
Surprised when they said, yes, and no.

Yes, because in NATO/uk exercise attacks they would be hunting for exactly that target. But from a Ukrainian perspective, they would discount it. Because to attack a highly defended target, is to take high losses that cannot be replaced.
Russia has the ability to lose that entire convoy and still win. Ukraine would lose the ability to hit again, permanently.

The actual phrase used was, “ Fight the crocodile nearest the boat.”

Means the Ukrainians don’t have the luxury. They need to stop the Russians getting into or surrounding the cities. Fight those enemy frontline forces as a priority. If they can keep from being cut off, and keep supply lines from the west open, they are still in the war.

As one “ intelligence” office said, “ That convoy burns up fuel and supplies all day and night. It had to be defended at all times. It’s a huge column. That requires another huge column just to resupply the fuel, spare parts, breakdowns and food, and soldiers for the first column. It is costing Putin a fortune. All of that equipment isn’t doing anything where it is. Just waiting. So don’t worry about it now. If it’s dispersed by attacks, then the column would be assigned to attacking somewhere. Somewhere where the already overstretched Ukrainians are unable to counter it.
So, best just leave it be at the moment.

As remarked, “ it isn’t going anywhere right now. That’s the best result for a hugely outnumbered army. To know exactly where the enemies reserves are and watch them doing nothing.”

As someone who knows IF the worlds longest traffic jam had been pounded in the Ardennes in 1940, France would not have surrendered and there would be no Second World War. Just a European one.

But, what I think I was being told, was much like the French and British in 1940, knowing where the column was, and where it was going, would have been far, far more important than attacking it.
Because the allied attacks, when they came, were mostly ineffective and very costly.

Any thoughts on this?

E-K said...

Plus we have some right dodgy nations in NATO since the last Cold War.

All of them of different temperament. What's to say a rogue Lithuanian or Latvian pilot taking on Russian planes couldn't happen ?

We used to have much more control over these things.

Poland's just had to be reigned in for proposing to supply fighter planes to Ukraine.

Endless expansionism... bound to hit geopolitical fault lines and hot head trigger pullers.

Bill Quango MP said...

It’s not that nuclear war is a Russian option.
It’s that the NATO forces ensure this is the ONLY option for an aggressive Warsaw Pact, or daughter of Warsaw Pact force.

If the old Soviets thought they could have steamed across west Germany, then they would have
If they worried they could not, then the would not.

NATO is to stop the aggressor, against NATO. If Vlad is tired of life and wants to go full Bond villain and unleash nuclear cleansing of the globe, he can do that tonight.

But if he wants to fight his enemies and emerge victorious, he needs to defeat them without ending all life on earth. That’s why we have those conventional forces. As even at the early 80s, USA and UK, very, low point of willingnesses , equipment, morale, and money. Which corresponds to the very high point of USSR equipment, capability, and near parity of ground missiles, radar, etc, they did not dare try it.

E-K said...

How did WW1 start ? A prick with a trigger.

And we are in War Fever at this very moment. Everyone's in "take Putin out mode."

They've even changed Chicken Kiev to Chicken Kyiv in the shops (don't dare anyone say Chicken Kev !!!!)

In the run up to WW1 they kicked Daschunds.

Russophobia has bent minds out of shape. Putin has been hitherto subject to anti stale, pale male policy.

Plenty of other atrocities have been ignored, nay excused by despots of other races - partly because they are not white and neither are their victims. Compromises have been made.

E-K said...


Very well put (my 5.54 posted at the same time as yours.)

Here the issue is Ukraine.

What do you think would happen if we flew over it today ?

Anonymous said...

E-K - the Scallies are refusing to unload Russian oil for Stanlow refinery! Thank heavens we don't need petrol with all our cheap electricity ;-)

"Dockworkers at a Tranmere have refused to unload Russian oil, echoing steps taken by counterparts at a gas terminal in Kent and in the Netherlands, as dissent spread across European ports in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

Unite said it had informed the owner of the Stanlow refinery, India’s Essar Group, that its members would “under no circumstances unload any Russian oil regardless of the nationality of the vessel which delivers it”."

E-K said...

In know, Anon


Anonymous said...

Be interesting to see if the German unions take that attitude - I somehow think not, but who knows.

This is all getting WW1 propaganda level silly.

Meanwhile ...

"A Saudi-led, US-backed coalition, which included the UAE, intervened in Yemen in 2015 to push back the rebels, who had taken over most of the country, including the capital Sanaa, and to restore the Gulf-backed government of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, head of the Houthi supreme revolutionary committee, criticised the UNSC decision for ignoring “crimes” by the coalition and said in a Twitter post that any arms embargo that does not apply to the alliance “had no value”."

Anonymous said...

from that article

"The war in Yemen has brought the country to the verge of famine, sparking what the UN has said is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. The coalition accuses the Houthis of being proxies of Iran – a charge that both the rebels and Tehran reject.

Russia, which is close to Iran, on Monday voted in favour of the UNSC resolution, which states that the Houthi rebels in their entirety will now be subject to an arms embargo first declared in 2015 on some of their leaders.

Diplomats, speaking to the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity, said Russia’s position suggests a deal was cut between Moscow and Abu Dhabi for the latter to abstain in upcoming UN votes on the Russian invasion of Ukraine."

Nick Drew said...

@ BQ, Any thoughts on this?

the Soviets practised 'attack from the line of march' as a vital concomitant discipline to their doctrine of rapid thrusts (though this 2022 cohort may fall well short of their standards); and I'd still want to degrade those static columns, whose precise location is known to the nearest millimetre. They may be a wasting asset where they sit: they're even more wasted if they are methodically being strewn across the tarmac in flames

we did see some footage of a Turkish-supplied drone being used by Ukr for this purpose - to good effect - earlier in the war. (But combat footage has been notable by its absence and there's a chance we're just not being shown. The US habit of "release loads of graphic footage" is not appropriate in every scenario)

to leave those static forces where they are, unmolested, for the apparently sound reasons BQ was told, is one helluvan act of sang-froid. Suggests to me the Ukr don't have long-range SP artillery

still, as before I also think there's a decent chance we just aren't being shown what's happening at all. I know there are a lot of commercial satellites out there these days, but I also suspect they all take a hint from the Pentagon when they get one

Sobers said...

"NATO is to stop the aggressor, against NATO."

NATO is the cocky a-hole in a flat top pub who keeps egging his mates on to wind up the local hard nut, then gets bent out of shape when said hard nut wipes the floor with them.

'We dindu nuffin! He just glassed my mate out of the blue!'

Thud said...

Kev, you dug that shelter yet? I don't think somehow you are going to get you war to end all us undeserving weak westeners...never mind. you can get back to your pics of Putin and his rouged nipples riding his horse...ha!

Anonymous said...

Very struck in Trump's response to the news that Putin was conducting special ops in Ukraine. Calling it "genius"

Were the Kleptocrats in different countries signalling to each other? Perhaps there is a different game going on.

Bill Quango MP said...

BBC been reading C@W again.

“ Why doesn't the Ukrainian air force attack the long Russian convoy? - David Finch

..Everyone is baffled as to why Ukraine has not done more to attack the Russian convoy as it is a sitting duck for drone and airstrikes.
There are several possible explanations, Ukraine may be running out of armed drones and its small, outnumbered air force may be wary of being shot down by Russian air defence batteries.

Ben Barry from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) suggests the Ukrainians may well be safeguarding what resources they do have in readiness to counter-attack when the Russians get closer to Kyiv.

DJK said...

The D. Tel is having a tantrum about lawyers using human rights legislation to stop the seizure of Russian oligarchs' assets. Apparently, they too have a right to a fair trial. I suppose the government could suspend the human rights of groups of people it dislikes, but it seems a strange way to show the superiority of our political system.

It seems to me that we are still only in the opening phase of what will become a new normal. The MSM are talking as if sanctions will bring about a coup in Russia and force the Russian army to withdraw. Just maybe, I suppose, but has anybody thought about how dangerous the resulting chaos would be for us all?

There's still a long way to go with the Russian invasion/dismemberment/de-nazification of Ukraine. And meanwhile, there are plenty of counter sanctions the Russians could apply to us: switching off the gas, seizure of Western assets or people, banning the export of strategic minerals, stopping recognition of American copyrights/IP, etc.

We'd better get used to energy and food security being a major concern, plus having to spend much more on defence if we're planning to hold the new front line at the Baltics.

E-K said...

Thud - I didn't want ANY of this. If it does kick off I'll be trying to get as close to the epicentre as possible.

At the very least extreme hardships are going to hit the west out of the folly of becoming dependent on Russian gas whilst poking the bear in the eye with a stick. Way to go EU !

As for Putin. Not really my type. But he did hold together one of the toughest countries in the world for twenty years, enabled an orderly dismantling of the USSR and quelled the Russian mafia - albeit through brutality to opponents - to enable the recovery of the rule of law and discipline.

Eventually he flipped.

He's obviously no general but I stand by my claim that he's the real deal and we owe him.

I don't want to be confused with the RMT wallies who deify him - I've mostly voted Conservative except for once voting UKIP.

This is not over by a long shot. We can but hope that he is taken down by his own and replaced in a sensible manner.

There is only one person I think he will listen to btw.


If Xi wants this war to end it will.

He obviously doesn't.

E-K said...



I've thought about the dangers of the resulting chaos of Putin being deposed and expressed them several times on these pages.

I've been called a whinger and just been ribbed by Thud (which is OK because he's earned the right over the years I've known him.)

Anonymous said...

BIG queues this morning at my local cheapo garage. Across the road Texaco diesel at 175p!

I'm getting a "look out all your spare fuel containers and fill them" vibe.

E-K said...

Richard Madeley of all people but truly depressing if anyone thinks Putin is going quietly or by the hand of his own inner guard.

lilith said... is worse than Biden dealing with this war.. he has deputised Kamala Harris to deal with it.

Anonymous said...

The muted US response is again strange as is the timing of Putin's special operation. It's just before the mid-terms and only 2 more years before Trump is back. It will be odds-on what he will do.

Anonymous said...

Zelensky background.

Anonymous said...

The idea of replacing Putin is ... brave. He said in big letters and many long and lucid speeches that Ukraine in NATO was a red line.

"Always hold on tight to Nurse, for fear of finding something worse".

Elby the Beserk said...

Anonymous said...
The muted US response is again strange as is the timing of Putin's special operation. It's just before the mid-terms and only 2 more years before Trump is back. It will be odds-on what he will do.

1:40 pm

Hardly, given the Biden family have been screwing Ukraine for years.

dearieme said...

"the folly of becoming dependent on Russian gas whilst poking the bear in the eye with a stick." x 1000

Ever since the USA/NATO started its aggression against Serbia I've said how stupid it was to rattle the bear's cage. Especially to force Serbia to let a bit of the country secede. It make our hypocrisy undeniable when we object to the two Donbas republics seceding.

Putin is the wicked moral agent for this war but, by God, the West has got to share some of the blame.

Unless ... it wasn't mere western folly but a long pursued attempt to bring Russia down to open it to exploitation by US corporations. But is it realistic to suppose that any arm of the US government is competent enough to pull that off? Dunno. Seems unlikely.

BlokeInBrum said...

"But is it realistic to suppose that any arm of the US government is competent enough to pull that off? Dunno. Seems unlikely."

Sure, big government doesn't have the brains for that, so why not outsource it to Blackrock and Vanguard?