Sunday 20 March 2022

The War of Putin's Arse

As was suggested BTL on Friday, the Chinese piece we linked to last time certainly conveys (inter alia) a worldview fairly palatable to western readers, i.e. that China - a nation that has thrived mightily in the recent world order - has at least something to lose by finding itself on the wrong side of history.  Whether that means the piece is a come-on to embolden the west into doing something stupid is another matter.  I suppose it might be.

It's not just the Chinese, of course, who'll be priming the www with self-serving inputs.  Here's a briefing on behalf of Biden, making out he's a wise and consistent judge of Putin, with a realistic - i.e. very worried - view of the dangers.  Hmm.  Maybe.

Various western commentators say that our interests are best served by giving Putin a clear cut face-saver because the alternative is rapid escalation towards an existential threat to ourselves; against which outcome Ukraine as an integral, independent political entity may need to be sacrificed.  I'm not sure it's as easy as that.

Right now it looks to most of the world as though the stout Ukrainian defenders (with a little help from their sponsors) have already handed Putin his arse.  Sure enough, he may deploy heavy artillery plus an army of mercenary orcs to flatten and then occupy half the country.  Maybe that even includes a puppet regime in Kyiv.  But that's not even "Hitler Captures Most Of France in a Lightning Strike, Parades in Glory at the Arc de Triomphe, and Sponsors a Compliant Vichy Government", is it?  Nobody's the slightest impressed - most specifically, not Xi, as I keep saying. 

So: assuming the chances of Putin swiftly repeating his Ukrainian, errr, triumph on Estonia are vanishingly small, what scenario can possibly give him that face-saver, expunge his global humiliation?  

Here's what I think.  He gets and holds whatever slice of UKR he can, maybe even just Donbas (who's to stop him?), but there's non-stop sniping resistance from whatever's left (there are enough wealthy bear-baiters to finance that).  And the west carries on with serious sanctions: not remotely sufficient to guarantee an early anti-Putin putsch, but more than enough to make a mark, and have him permanently angry (and demeaningly in thrall to China).  Whatever the finer details - even if China feels strong enough, and the inclination, to tell him to wind his neck in surely in all cases we are likely to be in for a protracted 'War of Putin's Arse': his retribution by way of non-stop Kremlin-sponsored sub-military mayhem (sabotage, assassination, cyber attack, support for Bad Guys, encouragement of organised crime, sponsorship of illegal migration ...) against western interests by land, sea, air, space and cyber, never quite crossing anybody's red line into actual combat.  The west's lines of logistics are really quite extended and exposed ...

Whose nerve cracks first?  Germany, seriously incommoded by inability to rely on Russian energy supplies?  USA, with isolationist opposition to bearing the costs of strife in faraway places, and elections every two years?  Brussels, always keen to deal and never noted for its spine?  The entirety of western public opinion, ground down by shortages, price increases, limitations on safe travel, random unexplained power cuts and www outages, big defence bills  etc etc etc ad nauseam?  Or ... Putin's praetorian guard?

I really can't guess.  



Don Cox said...

It makes little sense to try to predict the future, because there are always many futures. Anything that can happen will happen in one future or another.

The real problem is how to make the leaders of semi-democratic countries stick to the term limits that are usually built into their constitutions.

Slightly off-topic: the Saudi news site Aharq AL-awsat has an Opinion section which reprints a good selection of opinion pieces from newspapers around the world. Many are worth reading.


John in Cheshire said...

This Vlad Tepes blog is worth reading/ watching. The videos are informative especially the Corbett report and watch it to the end because it may shock and/, or surprise you.

Anonymous said...

I know he is not everyone's cup of tea, but Dr North, in his Turbulent Times blog posts, has been an interesting read on the war in Ukraine.


Anonymous said...

According to (yet another) Russian commentator, this is the War of Fascist Babushkas. To support his view, he points to the change in demographics over the preceding centuries and the wars waged by the Russians against their neighbours. Basically Russian has always had a supply of young fit (and angry) men they could throw at an enemy. Now all Putin has is an army of geriatric, senile Babushkas who are his core vote. They are solid supporters of Putin as he has Made Russia Great Again.

Without these young men, Putin has to turn to mercenaries from other countries or the security apparatus from Russian regions (Have you seen how many have been killed.) Without the security apparatus, he risks his regime crumbling so there is a limit there. There is also a limit to mercenaries so will turn to attrition using long range ammunition - which is also limited.

Putin has had his arse handed to him by the West. He just won't admit it yet.

jim said...

How do we get Putin out of this mess - and should we bother.

You paint a grim picture, one in which Putin cannot be allowed to survive - unless in the deepest cells of the Lubyanka. The half-baked compromise leaves him injured and resentful - a danger to us and a complete pest to his own people. No choice but to be kicked out or forced to withdraw humiliated. Can't be done from the outside so the inside has to be made desperate enough or brave enough to change.

I had thought the invasion made sense if quick and secured an endless supply of food forever. I was wrong, the cost exceeds the world price of food by a big margin. The price also exceeds the value of any anti-NATO comfort blanket. The big problem now is how to go back from here. Indeed the more sane goal would be to bring Russia into NATO, save us all a lot of cash, but some upset in the beltway. Which may be a problem down the road.

Where do we go from here? Entomb Russia and Ukraine as a cancer? If we redoubled the sanctions really hard and lived with turning off the gas tap Russia might collapse from within. Or just possibly become Asia-centric, a new world order. I don't think China would like that - so Russia looks well hemmed in. We might do well to suffer some pain now and get rid of Putin and change Russia forever. If the beltway and Beijing approves, otherwise the cost to us is not worth it.

Wildgoose said...

I am genuinely surprised that more commentators haven't looked to see what foreign media are actually saying, as opposed to the filtered fake news that Western Media feeds us.

For example, look at the bluntness of these comments by the Chinese Foreign Ministry:

"As the initiator of the Ukraine crisis, why does the US not reflect on its and NATO's responsibility of causing the current security crisis in Europe? Why does it not rethink its hypocrisy in fanning the flames of the Ukraine crisis? Why doesn't the EU media rethink how the region has become a battlefield?"

"We all remember that in March 1999, without permission from the UN Security Council, the US-led NATO blatantly started 78 days of attacks in Yugoslavia, causing the death of 2,500 civilians, and injuring over 10,000. For the past 20 years, the US has made thousands of air raids in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, leaving at least 22,000 civilians dead - the number may even be 48,000," Zhao said, asking "whether the US will also express concerns over the deaths of these civilians as a result of its military actions?"

On Wednesday, the US announced $800 million in military aid to Ukraine. Unlike the lethal weapons that the US has offered Ukraine, China has offered Ukraine food, milk powder, sleeping bags, quilts, and other humanitarian assistance.

"Has the US' latest weapons assistance to Ukraine brought stability and security to Ukraine? Or will it make more casualties of civilians? Do Ukrainian people need more food and sleeping bags or guns and ammunition?"

andrew said...

There is an article in the back of the weekend FT supplement.

It seems that Gary Kaspatov has been foretelling Ukraine's future for some years and was roundly derided by a lot of people who have probably conveniently forgotten the discussions.

(paraphrasing) Our key mistake was to ascribe out ideas of motive and rationality - capitalism - 'it is the economy stupid' to Russia's leaders. Putin was assumed to be another oligarch, who is sort of capitalist. "There was an assumption that putin would never destroy business because it seemed irrational". He forecasts a long messy war and that one quick way of ending it would be to establish a NATO no-fly zone as "putin only respects strength"

I do not necessarily agree with all he said, but, as one of those who got it right, perhaps greater weight should be given to his words than the various us / uk / european nodding heads who got it wrong.

Wildgoose said...

Or how about this article?

A NATO commitment of no eastward expansion could have easily ended the crisis and stopped the suffering. Instead, one side chose to fan the flames from a safe distance, watching its own arms dealers, bankers and oil tycoons make a fortune out of the war while leaving people of a small country with the wounds of war that would take years to heal. This is highly immoral and irresponsible, the Vice Foreign Minister said.

In responding to the current sanctions on Russia, Le said that China has all along opposed unilateral sanctions that have neither basis in international law nor mandate from the Security Council.

"Sanctions against Russia are now going to such lengths that globalization is being used as a weapon, even people from sports, cultural, art and entertainment communities are not spared, cats and trees are sanctioned, and the overseas assets of Russian citizens have been seized groundlessly," he said.

Wildgoose said...

Weaponising SWIFT, preventing Russia from paying its debts in dollars and then claiming they have "defaulted"?

The West provoked this war, and now the war has started, the actions of our so-called "leaders" are becoming increasingly insane.

The backlash will be enormous even if it doesn't go nuclear.

E-K said...

Who rebuilds Ukraine ? Who pays for it ?

It is now quite clear that Putin wasn't imagining NATO and EU military and political ambitions for that country.

NATO (an organisation set up to kill Russians) is killing ... erm... Russians. Obviously British commando tactics and equipment is being used to great effect in Ukraine and that training didn't start the night before the end of the Olympics. Proud of our forces on the one hand but why do the Lefties in charge of them love war so much ?

Putin well knows who's behind it but we're not allowed to hear anything from him so don't know what he's thinking... just that he's got a 'lemon' face and is insane because of steroids.

We're only allowed one BBC view point on this whole thing. A BBC that wants a no-fly zone and which has gone strangely quiet on its earlier documentaries in which it was shrill about the Nazification of Ukraine. Memory holed. Doesn't suit the story line anymore.

So 10 million displaced so far, cities levelled and unknown numbers of civilians killed. I'd say Zelensky has had his arse handed back to him too.

AND whoever is going to have to pay for this shit.

I blame the West. I blame unready Greenism, NATO and the EU.

Wildgoose said...

@ E-K, the training started in 2015, 7 years ago.

The US has been planning for this situation for at least that long.

They probably even helped train the Ukrainian neo-Nazi Azov Battalion.

Which reminds me. The trigger for Trump's first impeachment was when he tried to stop (military?) funding going to Ukraine. Funny that. They really didn't want their plans for this to be disturbed, did they?

BlokeInBrum said...

I think there is a clear divide now between those who believe what the western regimes have been promoting through their proxies in the press - the utter shambles that is the Russian invasion, the massive casualties that they are suffering, the slim chance they have of succeeding etc. etc. - and those who don't.

I think there are going to be a lot of surprised people when Russia doesn't fail to succeed in it's mission - to destroy the corrupt Ukrainian regime, annihilate the military forces, often neo-nazis (Azov battalion etc.) who have been given extensive training by British and American forces specifically and deliberately to undermine Russia and Russian interests. To destroy any means and infrastructure that can be used against them.

They've got off to a slow start alright. But I don't doubt that Putin will supply whatever resources are required to win, because for him and for Russia, this is existential.

There has already been footage showing the Ukrainian forces preventing civilians from leaving so as to use them as human shields. They're not the good guys.

The response from Israel, in support of Zelensky has been very muted - no doubt because they are reluctant to support a Government which is comprised of, and actively supports neo-nazis.

What hasn't been explained so well is why we have a dog in this fight. As a national security issue, Ukraine is irrelevant to the security interests of the UK.

The worries of Russian expansion is simply projection on the part of Nato. Russia couldn't afford to even if it wanted - it has twice the population of the UK, but half its GDP.

Sadly now, as a Brit, it is almost impossible to get dispassionate, accurate news from almost any Western news outlet. Time will tell how truthful their coverage actually is.

In related news, over in America. It turns out the that the news about Hunter Bidens Laptop turned out to be absoulutely true. After every single news outlet, online platform and media outlet, as well as Joe Biden himself, told us it was Russian disinformation.

E-K said...

From what I've heard Putin is so very well protected that assassination is wishful thinking. That his inner circles' own lives depend on him surviving and that everyone is so closely monitored.

Far from helping Ukraine resistance is prolonging the inevitable. Hence I am utterly appalled at my local Church being full of camouflage clothing and bergens. Alas simple Good vs Evil is how this is viewed even in what passes for educated, pacifistic minds.

Zelensky gets special dispensation to address Parliament bypassing any need for British election and dare anyone NOT stand and applaud him.

DJK said...

I find it interesting the message that Zelensky is giving to different audiences. To British MPs he paraphrased Churchill ("we shall fight them on the beaches, we shall fight them on the steppe..."); to the Americans he said that Ukraine was 9-11 times 100 (surely a line from Team America: World Police?); to the Germans he talked about tearing down a wall that is being built across Europe; to Israel it was talk of a new holocaust. Does he write his own scripts?

Wildgoose is right that reporting on the war from outside the BBC and Western MSM paints a rather different picture.

Bill Quango MP said...

You know it’s the End of Days when you agree with Dr North.

But I did accept his comment on the media. And agree with almost all of his posts.

Then I felt a tremendous disturbance in The Force.

Elby the Beserk said...

The Slog, bless him, sometimes seems to veer into conspiracy theory zone; tho' recent events are making people realise that some conspiracies reflect reality, for example, the Covid Lab Leak "conspiracy theory", debunked by all of the MSM, suddenly became "Well, what else can it have been?" (Indeed, how else could a virus with several existing patents on elements within it have "escaped" a lab?").

Here's his offering today on Ukraine. I suspect most of what he says is true but have not the knowledge to yea or nay it, so over to you

dearieme said...

This morning's Telegraph:

"Russia’s Ministry of Defence appeared to inadvertently reveal that nearly 10,000 of its soldiers have been killed in Ukraine.

The figure was contained in a report on March 20 by the pro-Kremlin Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, which has since been deleted from the paper’s site.

Komsomolskaya Pravda later claimed to have been hacked and said “inaccurate information” had been published

Before it was removed, the article quoted the Russian Defence Ministry as saying that 9,861 Russian soldiers had been killed and 16,153 were injured in more than three weeks of fighting."

Isn't the ratio of wounded to killed suspiciously low?

DJK said...

Elby: Thanks for The Slog link. Maybe bonkers conspiracy, but who knows. I certainly think there is unrecognized potential for huge sanctions blowback.

Bill Quango MP said...

Interesting wound vs killed. Battlefield casualties.

As a very general rule, in modern conflicts, the ratio is 4.
Up from 2.5 in WW2.
( submarines, bombers, merchant ships, battleship magazine explosions, etc, have few survivors.)

The 4 wound to 1 killed is a Vietnam stat. And depends upon air superiority and rapid removal to a field aid station.
Malaya, similar jungle, insurgency war, is much closer to WW2.

Killed vs wounds is 4 to 5 wounded for killed.
But for a close in combat. An insurgency in cities, that number falls very dramatically to about 2.
Because being hit by a bullet is deadly. And if you are that close, so can be hit, the opening or follow up grenades will kill many of the wounded.

Afghanistan for the USA is roughly 1-20 killed to wounded.

This was from a paper, can’t locate now, about Yugoslavia break up war. It was a paper concerned with the Blair government not having body armour for all at start of Iraq 2.
The urgent need for body armour was the point of it. But the stats stuck with me.

Especially the high velocity, vs low velocity assault or rifles.
The data came from uk military RIFLE Bullet casualties.

Low velocity injury. Pistol round calibre deaths was 1 for every 27
High velocity, sniper DMr and heavy WW2 sized rounds. 1 for every 2 ( almost).

( the paper didn’t linger on the obvious point. A round to the head, as in a scoped, aimed, rifle, is a killing shot all by itself.)

But to the point, the Russian stats look wrong. But MIGHT not be.

the fighting is at very close range, which it might be.

Or the Russian vehicles have poor escape percentages against missile strikes, which they probably do as they aren’t using their very latest tech, and the Ukrainians are using the latest NATO anti vehicle weapons.

The Ukrainians, by necessity and design were ambushing unprepared, softer targets, at the start. An RPG or an IED on a truck or APC won’t leave many wounded, if they can’t be evacuated very quickly.

A helicopter coming down takes a lot of people inside with it.

The Russians are on the offensive. They are more exposed.

But who really knows?

Nick Drew said...

@ dearieme, BQ - Russian tracked APCs are notorious death-traps - so cramped, only diminutive soldiers can ride in them with the hatches closed.

And it's not at all obvious the tanks we've seen are equipped with reactive armour.

Finally, can we really imagine the battlefield medical facilities on the Russian side are up to much in this badly-conducted conflict?

All in all, I'd say a high death/injury ratio looks plausible

@ Elby - not familiar with Slog: it's an interesting account but rather quirky in its writing. Petade ? and Alles Klar - eh, wot?

Elby the Beserk said...


Yes indeed, the Slog can at times come over as a prophet howling in the wilderness (he's even older than me :-) ), but he has his moments. Worth keeping an eye on. Heart's in the right place for sure.

jim said...

Cast our minds forward two or three months and then a year. How do we see the Ukraine war going?

Zelensky has done a top job drawing in the West and gaining help. How much longer will that last. Because one thing is sure about all politicians - think of the lowest, most disgusting manoeuvre you can think of, then go some lower.

E-K said...

I cannot believe he's allowed to address Parliaments around the world directly, Jim. Including our own. And that MPs must stand and clap or face damage to their careers.

That speaks volumes to me.

And that Nazism in his troops can be ignored - especially as BBC Newsnight reported several times on the far right in Ukraine in recent years. Memory holed all of a sudden. Still up on YouTube if you don't believe me.

"But Zelensky is Jewish. They can't be Nazis."

Well America had a black president for 8 years and that didn't stop the BBC calling America racist.

"Nazis are only a small part of the Ukrainian forces"

Well the SS were only a small part of the German forces.

"Nazis interfering in Ukrainian politics is only a tiny problem"

According to a BBC that demands root and branch reform of the Met Police over a couple of wayward Whatsapp jokes by off duty officers.