Tuesday 5 April 2022

Putin & war-crimes: always going to disgrace himself

Soldiers on the move through civilian areas are rarely paragons of virtue when the blood's up: even a determined disciplinarian like Wellington could only achieve so much with hangings and floggings; and looting is the least of it.  But everything about Russia's recent 'triumphs' in Chechnya and Syria told in favour of Putin's forces disgracing themselves on the humanitarian front, just as (and partly because) they have been humiliated on the military front.  Was Ukraine in danger of slipping down the news rankings?  Was the craven Macron going to succeed in toning down sanctions?  Not now.  Well done, Li'l Volodya.  Does even China want itself associated with this?  Russia contra mundum now.  

And maybe that's OK with him, for now?  Let's see to what extent his monolithic domestic 'support' holds up behind the defensive barrage of lies.  That support will surely run deep: Russians rally behind their strongmen - but not necessarily including the cream at the top.  The intelligentsia can't find this very edifying and there are reports of "scientists leaving Russia", for whatever they are worth (the reports, that is - I'm sure some of the scientists are good).  And not necessarily regionally, either.

Right after the start, when I was musing aloud as to why Russia manifestly wasn't following the doctrinally-expected pattern of attack, it crossed my mind that Putin might have issued some clear policy red-lines of his own amateur devising.  So: maybe the absence of the mandatory massive opening barrage by artillery and air, betokened not just that he expected a walk in the Ukrainian park (being greeted by grateful peasants offering vodka and roses instead of anti-tank munitions), but that he'd decided large-scale destruction would be a Bad Idea in general: bad for PR, bad for putative ongoing occupation.

Well, maybe.  But since all his major assumptions quickly proved false (at least, as regards the on-the-ground situation, even if you're one of those that seems to think he's reading the geo-political situation adroitly), clearly, all bets are off and it's to be ruthless brutality all the way.  Thus far that's just artillery targeting, and men with rifles.   

Plenty of scope for worse, of course.  So many 'maybes'.



Frank said...

When diplomats are expelled, do new diplomats take their place? Or do embassies run with fewer people?

If new ones do arrive, what is the point?

Jan said...

There's a lot of talk about Putin bein tried for war crimes. Well if he's to be tried then please let's not forget Blair and Bush who caused just as much death and destruction in Iraq.

Don Cox said...

The invasion of Iraq was not only by the USA and Britain. A large number of other countries took part.


So any war crimes tribunal would be busy for a long time.


Sobers said...

"Was Ukraine in danger of slipping down the news rankings? Was the craven Macron going to succeed in toning down sanctions? Not now. "

Well quite. Very timely, that the 'war crimes' appear now isn't it, just when its suits Zelensky et al perfectly.

If you take any 'news' thats coming out of Ukraine in this war you need your head examining. Its all propaganda for one side or the other.

andrew said...

It is all propaganda.
The Russians did invade Ukraine.
A lot of civilains are dead.
They did not kill themselves.
The russians have a track record of killing civilians in syria, chechenya and afghanistan.

There is no moral equivalence between one side murdering hundreds of civilians and the other side shouting out that that is a bad thing to do.

I suppose if zelensky had a bit more tact he should have stayed quiet for a fortnight. You dont want children to be put off their Easter eggs.

Don Cox said...

I also feel sorry about the dead and wounded Russian conscripts and their families. They didn't ask to be involved in a war.

Russia could be a successful country if they abandoned their nineteenth-century imperialism. Britain has I think much improved since we lost our empire.

Russia has a long list of great writers, musicians, and artists. These are what they can be proud of -- not Nicholas, Lenin, Stalin and Putin.

The Russians are doing better than Britain at nuclear power station engineering. Why does Putin need to rule Chechnya and the Ukraine ? Why support Assad ?


Caeser Hēméra said...

Next few weeks should be illuminating, we're just over a month out from the annual Victory Day parade in Moscow and surely Putin will want something to sell to the Russian people?

What kind of victory can he be allowed to have now that'll satisfy Ukraine, the West and Russia? A few weeks back, something could have been achieved no doubt, but Russia plainly didn't feel like playing ball.

@Don - a good look at Russia's demographics will tell a tale of why Putin wants Ukraine and Belarus merged back into Russia. Ethnic Russians are slowly dying out, and every attempt to get people breeding has pretty much failed. Adding a few million more ethnic Russians, or close enough, to the pool helps while they figure out how to get the birth numbers up.

Although, given a fair percentage of those 10k+ and counting soldiers that have died will have been ethnic Russians, he's not improving matters.

E-K said...

OK. Several things.

The BBC, the Sun all sorts of others have shown us pictures of plucky Ukrainian civilians sporting automatic weapons and molatov cocktails (and I'm not saying they shouldn't.)

In Iraq such civilians were called insurgents.

The second issue is that while kids are out rattling tins and old ladies in churches are baking cakes to raise funds for Ukraine Western banks aren't cancelling Ukraine's debts but are making them pay up in full.

This is America's fault. Perpetuating its abandonment of the the gold standard and its credit ponzi - NATO reverting to its original purpose of getting America in Europe, keeping the Germans down and Russia out.

Wicked. Utterly wicked and atrocities are what happens when wars are provoked.

Don Cox said...

Are you seriously saying that abandoning the Gold Standard was wicked ? What century are we in ?

Should we be using cowrie shells ?


Don Cox said...

There was an article in Urban Operations Journal in I think 2008 consisting of interviews with people who fought in the war in Chechnya.

If you can find a copy that's not behind a paywall, it's worth reading.


E-K said...

Don Cox

It caused decoupled-money to levitate in the form of credit to the point that there is now far more debt than money that can ever be created.

The only way to keep the West afloat was to expand into more and more territory in Europe. Now America has created a newly terrified and indebted Europe and wants to sell its arms there.

The expansion of the West up to Russia's border -triggering and invasion - to keep a ponzi scheme going is what has been wicked.


PS, The other issue I was pointing out was that the news (in the West anyway) is full of "Russians kill civilians" yet the BBC, only a few weeks ago, was fawning over footage of fully armed civilians ready to fight Russians to the last gasp, The Sun has pictures of women and kids sporting rifles and machine guns.

That's been memory holed - so no un-uniformed civilians have waged guerrilla warfare against Russians according to the BBC all of a sudden.

I think Putin's war is wrong but I also think we provoked him knowing full well there was a risk he would do it. And if we go by the Americans in, Germans down and Russians out mission of NATO then that's been accomplished.

dearieme said...

"Should we be using cowrie shells ?"

When I was a boy we used cowrie shells for gambling games at home. I became rather fond of them: elegant wee things.

visc said...

@E-K 8.25: Interesting point of course civilians as you describe armed and engaging in combat would be designated as by the International Committee of the Red Cross as unlawful combatants
...""If civilians directly engage in hostilities, they are considered 'unlawful' or 'unprivileged' combatants or belligerents"

This suggests to me Zelensky and his Western cheerleaders really don't care about civilian casualties and are more than happy for the war to continue and casualties to mount, it's their preference as far as I can see.

In the fog of war people will be killed who shouldn't, it is truly tragic but a fact once conflict starts. However I am wary about talk of "War Crimes" it smacks of faux moral outrage, hypocrisy and propaganda. From Germans bayoneting nurses in Belgium in WW1 to Iraqi's killing infants in incubators in Gulf War 1 , lies to feed blood lust and a "just cause" nonsense narrative have a long history.

.. indeed as Jan 12.49 says Blair and Bush should also be tried (actually a much stronger case.) Personally I'd throw in as well Cameron (and Osbourne because he' such a weaselly little shit.) However they didn't do "as much" as the Russians are alleged to have done, a sad and documented fact UK /US forces in Gulf War 2, Libya and Syria have done far far worse, the butchers bill is far higher.

The defence put by Don Cox 1.26 is flawed by the fact that arbitrarily applying a law
for your own side only means a "law" be nothing but a pretend fig leaf, i.e. no law at all. (We would need to discuss whether international law is an oxymoron separately).

I notice the UK is blocking a debate request by the Russians over the alleged Bucha killings. Almost at the same time Zelensky demands Russia be expelled from the Security Council. That a man so corrupt as he (as indicated by the Panama papers), is somehow being pushed as a moral leader in the media would be funny if it weren't so vomit inducing and tragic.

I do however agree with Nick Drew's assessment, there is scope for things to get much worse. But that is surely a function of a the length of the conflict, which will see each side drawn to commit atrocious acts.

Don Cox said...

"The expansion of the West up to Russia's border -triggering and invasion"

Consider the history of Poland. The Poles had a long and hard struggle to gain independence from Russian and German imperialism. They achieved it when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Likewise Hungary. Do you not remember the Hungarian revolution in 1956 ?

Britain sent troops to fight against independence for Kenya. Do you think that was right ? I don't. Should we invade Kenya now to recover it for a resurgent British Empire ?

It is not an excuse to say that Ukraine has resources that Russia could use.

Putin is simply power mad, and living in the past.


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

Putin wants a buffer between Russia and NATO

It's really very simple. He's told us so many times.

We are now calling his back yard OUR back yard, Zelensky effectively said he wanted NATO missiles on his land and I think it's us with the imperial aspirations Don.

E-K said...

Russia can only commit 300,000 troops to this campaign. The rest of his 900,000 forces are committed to Russian border duties.

This is nothing like Hitler who waged war across Europe with nearly 16 million (young) troops.


Interestingly the BBC. It's memory holed its programs on Ukrainian right wing extremism but it's still all there on YouTube if you care to look. (Newsnight.) Why the EU would want that in its gene pool.

This from an organisation that was happy to see the entire Brexit vote nullified at a mere whiff of right wing involvement.

Whereas Germany has always got the BBC whitewash brush "Hitler's Nazism caused the Holocaust" (not the Germans) it's quite the reverse with Stalin's Communism's cause of the Ukrainian Holodomor. The Russians definitely did cause that, according to the BBC.

You can tell who they want you to hate.

E-K said...

Anti NATO doesn't make me pro Putin. He's a ruthless killer able to hold together a gangster nation. That's what I meant when I said he's "the real deal" and we shouldn't fuck with him and that lots of people would die if we did.

Read some of the links in the next thread.