Wednesday 21 September 2022

Putin's Latest

OK, so this development - not unforeseen - is way above the pay grade of a mere blogger.  But we can still have opinions.

It was pretty obvious, when Ukraine swept the Russian rag-bag out of Kharkiv earlier this month, that Putin would respond.  Taking his cue from Uncle Joe in 1941, he went hull-down and took his time.  On 2nd Sept, as the counter-offensive began I wrote

Worst case? This happens, say, in October, after the Russians have conducted the spurious "referendum" they have long been trying to carry out - now looks like a colossal mistake by Putin not to have done this already - and which presumably records 104.6% of the population of Kherson declaring itself to be now a province of Mother Russia. Then Putin can declare that Russia herself is in mortal peril, and ...

And so it transpires.

It was indeed a colossal, complacent mistake, one of his multiple errors.  Painted-into-the-corner Putin now has a massive problem, in painfully easy stages:

  • The rushed referenda will indeed deliver the 104.6% votes [1]
  • Putin's mobilisation will not quickly boost effective forces on the ground [2]
  • Ukraine will continue making territorial ground: for them, nothing changes [3]
  • The world will not recognize the newly-annexed 'Russian territories'
  • So if he's "not bluffing" [© V. V. Putin 2022], he'll potentially be faced with the need [4] to go nuclear in, oooh, a couple of weeks time.   October, in fact.

    Just a guess, but I think we'll find he is indeed bluffing.  Hope so, anyway.


    [1]  But probably also some surprises, since this development has been so obvious for so long, and there are clearly some canny and creative strategists in Kyiv, just as there seem to be none in Moscow
    [2]  Though in the long run, as we've always said, who's to stop him?
    [3]  Quite the reverse: in the ad hoc graveyards of Izyum they are being reminded in spades - literally, I'm afraid - of why they are fighting
    [4]  He did pick his words quite carefully; and later, he'll say he was only "not bluffing" if NATO had threatened to nuke Kherson.  Which of course it hasn't and never will.  But for the domestic nationalist audience he's managed to look really tough.  For now.  And that's his problem: they aren't thinking about the hair-splitting weasel in his words ...

    PS: the sum of all this might well mean some really quite impressive new Ukrainian re-gains in the next couple of weeks.  Overstretch is a big risk: but they've a massive strategic incentive to achieve more, & quickly.


    Anonymous said...

    People seem to swing between Putin the genius and Putin the idiot. I think his real problem is that he has no access to decent advice. I have seen many CEOs at the top of companies go comparatively mad as their advisors tell them what they want to know and also, crucially tell them that the mistakes that were made were nothing to do with the head man. I believe the French call it Elysee disease, where Presidents lose touch with reality.

    I imagine Putin has this problem in spades. I have no idea if he will go nuclear or not, if the choice is go nuclear or be bumped off by his own people I fear he will go nuclear. So the circle around him has to believe that if Russia goes nuclear, they all die, in which case he might be quietly removed which might help.

    I do feel that we have helped to create the nest of vipers on our doorstep and should make every effort to assist the new Russian leader, when ever he arrives.

    An interesting future awaits either way.

    Always a good read on your blog.

    Kind regards


    Matt said...

    If Putin is putsched out, the US/EU/UK will claim it to be a great success and double down on the next "aggressor" (Xi?). Only to realise too late they were mortally wounded themselves by this encounter with Putin. If children are scared of no future because the weather might get warmer, they are definitely missing the far larger concern that the West is dead but hasn't realised yet.

    Anonymous said...

    For once I have little interest in this obvious and telegraphed move, except to say that all along VVP has been dragged into this by force of events. Strelkov is right, he should have recognised Donetsk and Luhansk in 2014, before NATO boosted the Ukrainian forces.

    More pressing from a UK perspective - Trussonomics! I can hardly believe, after the experiences since 1979, that "trickle-down" is being wheeled out again.

    And they're going to cut stamp duty "to help first time buyers"! What happened when they did that during covid?

    "To keep the housing bubble inflated a bit longer" would be more accurate.

    I was talking so someone from the former steel city of Sheffield on the weekend, he's just moved into a Victorian terrace on a hillside (most of Sheffield is Victorian and on hillsides).

    400k! 400 flaming k! In Sheffield!

    Caeser Hēméra said...

    I can't see Russia going nuclear.

    For starters, it is no longer guaranteed MAD, so no insane Dr Strangelove plans of arising out of the ashes to wage war on each others silos 10 years down the line. The West would be devastated, but Russia? Deleted permanently. Even the bitterest psychopath can't dredge a win out of that.

    And given how the families of the regime are scattered across the West, we'd either get one hell of an early warning, or regime members would get to pick between offing their loved ones or offing Putin. I'm thinking Putin isn't that lovable.

    If he even seriously muses that route, I suspect the rest of the powerbrokers would welcome him with open windows.

    Anonymous said...

    (I should say this is a side effect of diversity, another bipartisan policy, whether Lab or Tory. A terraced house in Page Hall, where Roma and Pakistanis have the occasional street battle, can be yours for 50k. But the people moving in from London want "a nice area", Newspeak for "white")

    Anonymous said...

    (in satellite pit villages around Durham with only indigenous population Victorian terraces start at £55k in need of total renovation, livable around £80k). 5-10 miles from city centre.

    Anonymous said...

    Yes, I spent some time in Spennymoor last year. Good old style butcher.

    Sadly our young people seem a tad conservative. As a lad I moved where I could afford, somewhere with little of my student culture available, but you took the locals as you found them (made some good mates), and gradually found other young people like you, often miles away, and made links. Now my son only wants to live in the middle of people like him, which means a rented city centre flat (in a whitopia) that he'll never be able to afford to buy.

    Anonymous said...

    Charles - "in which case he might be quietly removed which might help"

    You could say the same about Lynn Truss!

    Anyone know why Andrea Leadsom didn't stand? She stood against May, and I'd hoped she would beat her.

    decnine said...

    I suspect that Ukraine is waiting for The Mud. It will greatly reduce the mobility of the armour that Russia relies on.

    Sackerson said...

    Remind me again, how and why (and when - please start at 2013 or earlier) all this started. Since the Russians overthrew Communism, why have we (aka the US) a program to destroy Russia? Boredom?

    dearieme said...

    Happily the UK is well supplied with Quislings who are permanently keen to overthrow the results of referenda.

    Though, on second thoughts, maybe it's only honest referenda that they dislike.

    dearieme said...

    The oblast Anschluß, eh? Who are the Nazis now, Mr Putin?

    Don Cox said...

    Why does Putin feel the need to restore Stalin's empire ?

    I see no sign of a program to destroy Russia, any more than there's a program to destroy Turkey or Venezuela.

    Communism as such may have been overthrown, but the secret police are still dominant. One might hope that the Russians will one day be rid of them.


    Anonymous said...

    "Communism as such may have been overthrown, but the secret police are still dominant."

    And when did you last visit Russia?

    And in the United States, there are people who have been held in solitary confinement for protesting the rigged election, and who still have no trial date. In Guantanamo Bay there are people who've been held without trial for decades!

    I do sometimes get a bit impatient with people who watch BBC, read the Times, FT and the Economist, and think thereby that they're well informed, unlike the Mail-reading plebs. But I was one of those people myself ten years ago, so I can't get too cross.

    andrew said...


    Ever since the russians decided to start invading other countries and (crucially) annexing them or deciding to recognise 'independant republics' because there were russian speakers there / they could get away with it / they were bored.

    The trail of pillaging, destruction, rape, murder of civilians, torture, mass kidnap etc etc really does not endear either.

    andrew said...

    But what really sets me off is their attitude to telling the truth.

    When the govt here does something wrong (Bloody sunday, Windrush, Horizon system) it may take some years but most of the truth comes out.

    Or the Russian foreign minister sits there on R4 today and tells us NATO/Ukraine is invading Russia.

    He knows he is lying and that we know that he is lying but it is in some ways an expression of Russian power that he gets to state that.
    It undermines respect for the truth. This is how we got Trump claiming he won and Boris ... lets not get started on him.

    I used to say that countries run on an untruthful basis are likely to fail.
    But in the meantime they infect the rest of the world.

    Sobers said...

    "When the govt here does something wrong (Bloody sunday, Windrush, Horizon system) it may take some years but most of the truth comes out."

    Just because the State gets caught f*cking people over sometime does not mean it always does. Sometimes the consequences of admitting the truth are too big, and thus no admission of error ever happens. One suspects that the Western response to covid falls under that category, and the vaccines too.

    And anyway, being found out, or at least admitting to error (its the admitting thats the crucial bit, the State can continue to deny culpability almost indefinitely, and those affected die eventually) only after decades have passed is hardly justice. Many of those affected are dead, or about to be. Their entire lives have been ruined, what good is an apology once they are a few years from the grave? And those culpable in the State apparatus are long retired or dead too, and no-one is ever punished. Its like murdering someone and then admitting to it on your death bed. Its hardly justice is it?

    Anonymous said...

    Off topic, but I see Flamanville 3 - the model for our future power generation - is now at anywhere between 13 and 19 bn USD for 1650 megawatts.

    Rosatom is building a 6000 megawatt plant in Turkey at 20bn USD.

    Maybe we should make nice and they'll build us one too?

    Just think, when the Queen was first reigning, we used to be able to build nuclear reactors.

    Anonymous said...

    Andrew, our entire media is telling us that Russia are shelling a nuclear plant that they control - a lie so transparent you would think a child could see through it.

    You may have forgotten, but I still remember how Saddam's brutal soldiers tore the premature babies from the incubators and left them to die...

    The Nayirah testimony was false testimony given before the United States Congressional Human Rights Caucus on October 10, 1990, by a 15-year-old girl who was publicly identified at the time by her first name, Nayirah. The testimony was widely publicized, and was cited numerous times by United States senators and President George H. W. Bush in their rationale to support Kuwait in the Gulf War. In 1992, it was revealed that Nayirah's last name was Al-Ṣabaḥ (Arabic: نيرة الصباح) and that she was the daughter of Saud Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States. Furthermore, it was revealed that her testimony was organized as part of the Citizens for a Free Kuwait public relations campaign, which was run by the American public relations firm Hill & Knowlton for the Kuwaiti government. Following this, al-Sabah's testimony has come to be regarded as a classic example of modern atrocity propaganda. In her testimony, Nayirah claimed that after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait she had witnessed Iraqi soldiers take babies out of incubators in a Kuwaiti hospital, take the incubators, and leave the babies to die. Her story was initially corroborated by Amnesty International, a British NGO, which published several independent reports about the killings

    dearieme said...

    For decades historians assured us all that the tales of German atrocities in Belgium in 1914 were mere propaganda. In the last few decades the historiography trade has done a 180 and now says there really were lots of outrages perpetrated.

    What to believe? That's the problem. What to believe?

    Let me give you an example. My father told me that many soldiers in the British Army during the war suspected that the tales of Nazi atrocities might have been great exaggerations. He wondered himself. Then he saw Belsen. Dear Christ it was all true!

    Anonymous said...

    Interesting piece on the latest tensions between Armenia and Azerbijan, which could lead to war (and will, if the US have anything to do with it)

    It's basically US/Azeris/Israel vs Russia/Armenia/Iran. Note that ostensibly Christian US is against Christian Armenia, as is fellow genocide victim Israel. For Shia Muslim Iran, strategic interests outweigh Muslim solidarity, and anyway the Azeris are Sunnis, like the Turks.

    The US would love nothing more than forcing Russia to get involved. Neocon think tanks in Washington like the RAND Corporation suggest doing exactly that. While Pelosi waxes on the US commitment to Armenia and need for peace with Azerbaijan, the US State Department and Department of Defense continue to send Azerbaijan military aid. They do so while ignoring a 1992 law that prohibits assistance, other than specified support for nonproliferation and disarmament, to Baku.

    There are exemptions that require Congressional approval, but since 2014, the law has simply been ignored. According to the Government Accountability Office the requirements for exemption haven’t been met and aid continues to flow regardless. The GAO report reads: “the agencies did not document how they determined that their programs would not be used for offensive purposes against Armenia.”

    Elby the Beserk said...

    Rand Corporation did you say?

    No idea as to the truth of this, regardless, I put it up for your perusal. Presuming Blogger lets me post it, and then if it does, then disappears it later...

    Anonymous said...

    Elby, I think that Rand doc is a fake. Rand have denied producing it.

    Still, as someone said about some other fake document, it "illustrates a wider truth".

    Runge said...

    It’s the fake news era.

    Originally the war in Ukraine was because of the CIA bio lab. Spreading Covid into Russia.
    The Nazi politicians on the rise in Ukraine.
    Ukraine on the cusp of joining NATO/EU and deploying icbm.
    Us Special forces on operations inside the occupied territories.