Streetwise Professor

December 9, 2021

Die for Donbas?–Demented

Filed under: Energy,Military,Politics,Russia — cpirrong @ 11:21 am

Vladimir Putin’s Russia has massed large forces on the border of Ukraine, and there are widespread fears that he is planning an invasion. This has led to calls from many in the United States (and to a lesser degree in nations that are actually closer to Ukraine) to deploy military forces–read, American military forces–to Ukraine, and to contest any Russian invasion if it comes to that.

This call to die for Donbas is demented.

It is useful to deconstruct the dementia by breaking the problem into two pieces: (1) whether defending Ukraine is in the strategic interest of the United States, and (2) what would be the costs of of doing so?

The red line that is apparently motivating Putin is the possibility that Ukraine will be admitted to NATO. Put aside whether a Ukraine in NATO would objectively pose a strategic threat to Russia, or whether this is a Putin phobia or part of Putin’s romantic desire to gather Russian lands and reunite brothers divided by a perfidious West. What matters is that he, and most of the Russian establishment (especially the security establishment) believes it. Putin has said repeatedly that it is a red line. We have to accept this as a fact.

If keeping Ukraine out of NATO is a strategic imperative for Putin, is putting Ukraine in NATO a strategic imperative for the United States?

Absolutely not. NATO’s mission from its founding was to keep Russia out of Western Europe. It succeeded. Adding Ukraine to NATO will not advance that objective.

So adding Ukraine would represent mission creep: redefining the part of the world that we want to keep Russia out of. Is it desirable that Ukraine remain independent? Probably, but mainly for Ukrainians. But it’s hardly a major strategic interest of the United States. How would American security decline if Ukraine was in Russia, or in Russian orbit? Hardly a whit.

So the stakes for Russia are high and the stakes for the United States are minuscule. It is never advisable to enter into a contest with such an imbalance of stakes.

And as I’ve written before, expanding NATO by adding countries that increase the alliance’s obligations without increasing its capabilities is idiocy. Indeed, it’s worse than that. Adding countries like Ukraine degrades NATO’s capabilities. As I’ve also written before, it is crippled by the need for unanimous decision making: adding members with divergent interests and concerns only magnifies the difficulties of achieving coherent action. It is inimical to the unity of command (something Russia possesses, by the way, and NATO already does not). Moreover, as (yet again) I’ve written before, adding countries that are unduly prone to Russian influence is a particularly stupid way to strengthen an alliance against Russia. (Hell, Putin might want to rethink his opposition to Ukraine in NATO just for that reason. I’m reminded of a story–the source of which I can’t trace so this is based on memory–that Napoleon actually rejoiced at the news that another country had joined a coalition against him, precisely because he knew this would undermine its unity of action.)

It is said about Mexico “so close to the United States, so far from God.” Well, it can be said about Ukraine “so close to Russia, so far from God.” It’s a tragic fate. But addressing that tragedy (which is only one of many tragedies around the world) does not advance American interests.

In addition to being far from God, unlike Mexico Ukraine is also very far from the United States. Which brings us to the second issue: the cost of defending Ukraine, even if it were deemed to be a potentially desirable object of American policy.

Soviet military strategists spoke of the “correlation of forces.” The correlation of forces is decisively on the side of Russia with respect to Ukraine.

Distance is of course a major factor. Ukraine is on Russia’s doorstep. It is thousands of miles and oceans away from the United States, and is even distant from deployable NATO forces in Western Europe. If Russia decided to move tomorrow, the invasion would be over before NATO could do a damn thing about it. And if NATO were somehow able to deploy forces before Russia moved in (which generously assumes that Putin would stand idly by to let such a deployment occur rather than using it as a pretext to launch an invasion) it would be operating at the far end of a very long and vulnerable logistical tail, whereas Russia would be operating with a short and relatively invulnerable one. This makes about as much sense as Custer charging into a huge Sioux and Cheyenne camp on the Little Big Horn, and would probably have a similar result: though Custer could be excused because of his ignorance about just how large the forces he was facing were, whereas NATO commanders could have no such excuse.

The choice would therefore be between abject defeat and a huge escalation that creates the potential for unimaginably horrible consequences.

And for what? (See above re the negligible stakes for the US and NATO.)

I should also note that the United States has a doleful record when it comes to attempting to defend and prop up dysfunctional and corrupt nations–and make no mistake, Ukraine is a Sovok sewer of corruption. Vietnam. Iraq. Afghanistan. In each case, vast amounts of American treasure and huge numbers of American lives were expended in the futile hope of creating functioning states out of dysfunctional ones. And the dysfunctions made the mission impossible, and moreover deeply damaged and corrupted the American military (cf. the Afghanistan Papers).

Uber realist Bismarck memorably said that the Balkans were “not worth the healthy bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier.” America needs to be uber realistic, and recognize that not only is Ukraine not worth the healthy bones of a single Texan Marine, it would cost many, many such skeletons.

This is a time when it is imperative to take a tragic view of history. Too often in the 100+ years the United States has taken a missionary, progressive, romantic, and idealistic view instead. It has always worked out horribly.

Can we finally learn our lesson?

A couple of political notes. First, there is a report today that the Biden administration is advising Ukraine to concede extensive Russian control over the Donbas. In light of the above, that is wise. But can you imagine the hue and cry if Trump had said that. Perhaps we are lucky Trump is not president–he would have been under much greater political pressure to intervene in Ukraine than Biden will be.

Relatedly, the call to defend Ukraine with Americans is an illustration of the Russia mania that has beset the American political “elite” in the past 5 years. It truly is a mental illness.

Second, it is no coincidence comrade, that the crisis is coming to a head when Nordstream II is ready for operations and Europe is desperate for energy. The former potentially allows Russia to have its Ukrainian cake and its gas revenues too. The latter makes the EU (aka the Fourth Reich) acutely vulnerable to Russia and therefore far less likely to intervene in any way–including sanctions, for that matter. (This also means that the US could not depend on Germany and other NATO nations for meaningful military support, even assuming that the Broomstick Brigades of the Bundeswehr have any to offer.)

For this the blame lays squarely on perfidious Germany and on Angela Merkel in particular. And ironically, exactly what Trump warned them about, and which Merkel and the rest of the European establishment dismissed haughtily, is coming to pass.

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  1. all well with the Germanophobia, but the NS2 deal between the U.S and Germany has a clause where they (Germany) are obliged to respond to any Russian threat to Ukraine (energy related or other). So yes there is a mechanism in place and I don’t see how Germany could get away with it.

    Comment by [email protected] — December 9, 2021 @ 2:00 pm

  2. You know all this and I know all this so why do the arseholes who run your country, and mine, claim not to know it?

    We were taught Bismarck’s wars at school. Nobody even asked why Britain didn’t intervene. I suppose it was held to be axiomatic that you don’t intervene unless (i) you have a vital interest at stake, or (ii) events might lead to a large and direct threat to you. Presumably the government of the day correctly assessed Bismarck as a conservative nationalist of finite ambitions.

    There were plenty of people who hoped Hitler would prove to be the same sort. Only after he attacked rump Czechoslovakia was it undeniable that he was a megalomaniac like Bonaparte, even going on to re-enact his attack on North Africa and his march on Moscow.

    Another view: Hitler was Austrian not German, Stalin Georgian not Russian, Buonaparte (original spelling) Italian not French. Putin is Russian; maybe he won’t feel so motivated to be a lunatic imperialist.

    Comment by dearieme — December 9, 2021 @ 3:20 pm

  3. What is their reasoning?

    It’s hard to know, because they just give us baby-talk through their Minitrue press organs, and do everything they can to keep their motives and arguments secret from the public. But really – why are they doing this? What is their reasoning?

    Comment by Ex-Global Super-Regulator on Lunch Break — December 9, 2021 @ 5:55 pm

  4. Out of idle curiosity, wanted to compare the arguments in this article with those in the 1939 edition (which are known to have worked well). Alas, there does not seem to be a publicly accessible copy of “Mourir pour Dantzig” on the internet.

    Comment by Ivan — December 10, 2021 @ 3:49 am

  5. To sum up, Russia is about to invade Ukraine and it’s all Germany’s fault. Righty ho.

    This whole situation does raise the question what exactly is the US doing in Europe, if not to fuck with one of their stated adversaries (to quote Sun Tzu)? Ukraine was one of its rare foreign policy successes over the past few decades, why cut it loose now? Vlad clearly is still vexed over losing the country, stalking it like a jilted lover. Let’s have some fun, tool up the Ukrainians and Poles, who are clearly spoiling for a fight. Who knows, we might even tempt the Turks to lend them a few of their drones, which have proven so effective against Russian armour everywhere they’ve been used.

    Semi-seriously though, Nord 2 aside, I do wonder if this crisis has been manufactured by Vlad to deflect domestic concerns about Russia’s ongoing economic travails, lacklustre Covid response, and golden toilet brushes.

    Comment by David Mercer — December 10, 2021 @ 4:31 am

  6. @ prof
    Could you please explain what Germany (Europe) should/could have done to reduce dependency on Russian Energy? (apart from keeping the atomic reactors running)…
    I fail to see hwo a second pipeline, as opposed to only one, increases the dependency. The supplier in any case remains the same.
    The only way to decrease the dependency is to invest in alternatives (nuclear) which in Germany is a political no-go..(but accepted in France and CEE).

    @ dearieme
    the keep doing this due to the fact that US decision making is decentralized and chaotic, driven by bureaucrats who “want to make an impact” in order to get promoted (i.e. no-one is in charge). See the excellent curtis yarvin interview with Tucker Carlson – very, very recomended.

    Comment by viennacapitalist — December 10, 2021 @ 5:30 am

  7. Yes it is pointless to fight a war you can’t win, unless it’s a matter of national survival. When you have other means of retaliation it’s even sillier. So I’m surprised that Biden appears to have made promises to Ukraine that he can’t keep. More evidence of cognitive decline, or just democratic hubris?

    But Putin is not stupid. He knows the non military consequences of invasion. Probably exclusion from the SWIFT network, making every Russian who’s ever shaken hands with him persona non grata at the least. He is pressurising Ukraine in order to win concessions elsewhere. Putin has few friends. China is a transactional “friend” who will extract greater concessions than Putin achieves for Russia. Syria is just an expensive coaling station, Belarus is weak and unreliable. Former USSR components (the ‘stans) would be alarmed.

    What Putin could do short of invasion is install a puppet regime in the Donbas and demand a seat at the UN as an “independent” country. How would that play out?

    Comment by philip — December 10, 2021 @ 5:38 am

  8. Prof I was going to bust chops and say Go Army, but thought about and decided Navy would probably pull the opposite.

    Good job navy and thanks for all your writing.

    Comment by Joe Walker — December 11, 2021 @ 8:06 pm

  9. Two things: NS2 would allow Putin to bypass Ekraine and deliver gas to Europe and cut/reduce gas through that country.

    What is happening is opportunistic due to the energy shortage that has arisen in Europe due to a combination of bad policies and bad forward planning. And it is not just in one country. It seems the whole of Europe is part of this lack of preparedness.

    Putin is ramping things up now as he and his coterie can see an opportunity to gain some of their aims.

    Will there be an invasion? Possibly. But not very likely IMO. And I’m willing to eat my words if it does come to pass. There is no certainty going forward as to how things might pan out, but actual large scale conflict is probably not an intended outcome of the present sprat. But accidents can happen. A more likely development is limited fighting in the Donbass area where the Ukrainian army either decides to start a fight or there is a plan to gain some tactical advantage by those who control the Donbass area.

    Into this mix, of course, is the influx of weapons to arm the Ukrainians and this may embolden them to start a fight.

    Not a good time to be living in Europe.

    Comment by Peter Moles — December 12, 2021 @ 1:19 pm

  10. @Viennacapitalist. Trivial–you assume way the problem (“apart from keeping the nuclear reactors running.”). Closing them was a neurotic, nay hysterical, reaction to Fukushima. As if tsunamis are a big risk in Germany. And even then, the death toll in Fukushima was trivial.

    As for a political no go–well, that’s exactly the problem. Should I endorse German green hysteria? Should Ukraine be sacrificed on the alter of German neuroses?

    Comment by cpirrong — December 12, 2021 @ 7:17 pm

  11. @Joe–Yes, Navy pulled the upset.

    Thanks for your thanks.

    Comment by cpirrong — December 12, 2021 @ 7:20 pm

  12. @Viennacapitalist. In some ways your comment reminds me of the line: “Other than that, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?”

    Comment by cpirrong — December 12, 2021 @ 7:21 pm

  13. @Ivan. The differences are many and obvious–which is exactly why I deliberately chose the title to echo “Why die for Danzig?”

    A major reason for the failures of American foreign policy in the last 5 decades is the tendency to jam every confrontation into the frame of Munich.

    Putin is not Hitler. Putin does not have the military capability of Hitler. Even taking Donbas would be a challenge.

    And who cares if he does? He can that shithole add it to his collection of shitholes, e.g., South Ossetia and Abkhazia. These speak to the limits of his ambitions, and his capacity to achieve them.

    Comment by cpirrong — December 12, 2021 @ 7:27 pm

  14. @Ex-Global Super-Regulator on Lunch Break. You give them too much credit by assuming that they are reasoning. To me it seems like lizard brain reflexes.

    Comment by cpirrong — December 12, 2021 @ 7:28 pm

  15. @libte. I am not a Germanophobe. A Misgermanthrope is more like it. I despise them, and I certainly do not fear them (as “phobia” implies).

    You greatly underestimate the German willingness and ability to shirk their commitments.

    Comment by cpirrong — December 12, 2021 @ 7:30 pm

  16. @ prof
    “…Trivial–you assume way the problem (“apart from keeping the nuclear reactors running.”)…”

    There might be some projection going on from your side:-)

    Here is why:
    listen, there is no question Merkel’s reaction to Fukushima was insane and made the problem worse, but clearly the energy dependency on Russian gas was big BEFORE that (also driven by depleting gas fields in the Netherlands et. al)…

    Or are you saying that absend Merkel’s Fukushima, all would be well? (Better, no doubt, but well???)

    Comment by viennacapitalist — December 13, 2021 @ 4:04 am

  17. A question – so the Donbas isn’t worth it, but what about Taiwan, South Korea, and all those other disputed islands in the South China Sea and beyond (snuff it for the Sprattleys, keel over for Kuril)? If not, then perhaps you need to have a rethink about the size, make-up and commitments of your military machine. It does seem somewhat outsized for those bitty, low-intensity conflicts you’re going to be left with.

    Further to my previous, the hard-up Turks have reportedly flogged the Ukrainians some of their drones, along with a license to build their own. Apparently the Russians were a tad annoyed, no doubt mindful of what happened to the kit they supplied Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh. Such fun. As you noted, I wouldn’t necessarily rate Russia’s chances of success even within the limits of the Donbas. I’m beginning this all is just posturing. It may become an annual event, like the May Day parade.

    Comment by David Mercer — December 13, 2021 @ 8:55 am

  18. We’ve all read 1984 haven’t we. (Actually I haven’t but I know how it ends.) But what came before 1984 and our perpetual war against Eastasia? Why, 1983 of course. I’m beginning to think we’re in 1983 today.

    Comment by philip — December 13, 2021 @ 10:08 pm

  19. @cpirrong Does the same logic apply to Taiwan?

    Comment by aaa — December 14, 2021 @ 12:11 am

  20. “If Russia decided to move tomorrow, the invasion would be over before NATO could do a damn thing about it”

    “Putin does not have the military capability of Hitler. Even taking Donbas would be a challenge”

    Is this the same person’s writing?

    Comment by mini — December 14, 2021 @ 10:19 am

  21. I am posting the first of several comments that I received on this post – I will post them separately.


    Bravo! The Budapest Memorandum memory hole has blitzkrieged the soul out of the Free World, pro-gun personalities hit hardest. (From Tucker Carlson to Laura Ingraham, the list goes on.)

    To invade, or not to invade? As a “worthless” Ukrainian, let me me respond poetically:

    The rest of Ukraine would be hardly a gold win

    Even with NATO gone full Alec Baldwin

    Putin likes it gold AND and low-cost

    Scaring NATO cheaply is what he likes the most

    With Western promises cheap and memory short, Putin knows how to strike gold — and on a budget. Let’s call it Buildup Back Better!

    Witness a surge in shuttle diplomacy, Chamberlain-style. Watch Ukraine get quietly good cop, bad copped on Minsk. And, of course, listen to an endless stream of “assurances” to the contrary. Never mind that pressuring Ukraine runs afoul of the previous batch of “assurances” — “security assurances” issued under the Budapest Memorandum. Issued and disgracefully forgotten. Forgotten on both sides of the aisle. Forgotten on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Anyways, if Biden and Johnson let Putin have his way, Minsking up Ukraine into a certified vassal of Russia, two scenarios come to mind:

    1. “Worthless” Ukrainians get tired, shut up and obey. Whew! Peace for our time…

    2. “Worthless” Ukrainians get triggered, take to the streets and kiss goodbye to Zenukovych…

    If the first thing happens, get ready to make more ambitious sacrifices on the altar of peace. You can never ever do enough for your pal and partner in crime Putin. You’ll need to prove your worth! Especially if you fancy him as an ally against Xi.

    If the second thing happens, watch Ukraine descend into disarray and qualify for another relatively low-cost invasion, either partial or full. And pray for Taiwan and the Baltics and whoever comes next.

    Hope the Bidens and the Johnsons got the memo.

    Comment by elmer — December 16, 2021 @ 3:56 pm

  22. another comment

    I guess it’s about whether Ukraine is a reasonable facsimile of a democracy. How goes it down the road with Belarus, the Baltic States, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, or Poland, if Russia is allowed to invade Ukraine? Does the same argument work? Do Ukrainians want us? Afghans never did, neither did Vietnamese, nor Iraqis. The Czechs wanted the French and British in 1938 and the failure to support them led directly to WWII

    Comment by elmer — December 16, 2021 @ 3:57 pm

  23. another comment

    Why are all discussions about sending US troops to fight in Ukraine? It is a diversion. A diversion to refuse sending arms to Ukraine. Ukraine never asked for foreign combat troops. They ask for lethal weapons, which Obama and now Biden do not want. The discussion should only be about equipment. Biden sends as little as he can. Germany just refused to SELL weapons to Ukraine. Biden et al are hanging Ukraine out to dry. Putin has made his deal with Biden. Now Biden has to sell it, by it was either agree to Putin’s terms, or send,US soldiers into Ukraine. They are not the only choices. Diversion. Sim8lar to vaccines are the only choice. No mention of therapeutics or natural immunity is permitted.

    Comment by elmer — December 16, 2021 @ 3:58 pm

  24. another comment

    I just came across a neoCon magazine called “Nation,” which featured, “Ukraine, the World’s Most Dangerous Problem” as their cover story. Their solution? Remove Ukrainian nationalists from power; decentralize the country into a federation, while giving Putin a say in the decentralization process, make Russian a co-equal official national language, and aggressively promote multiculturalism until Ukrainian culture takes a back seat.

    I wonder whether that would work in Israel?

    A question I’ve posed more than once to people who seem to be in the know is how the Ukrainian armed forces leapt from 5,000 under-equipped men after the Yanukovich presidency — to Europe;’s largest and perhaps best equipped Army (next to Russia’s of course). How did that happen? And so quickly? Despite their obvious corruption, some of Ukraine’s oligarchs funded the rebuilding of Ukraine’s forces. It appears to be in their interest to keep the Russian mafia out of Ukraine — to protect their turf.

    In addition, many Jews have decided that Israel is too unstable and dangerous and have emigrated to Ukraine, which many consider their ancestral home. Dnipropetrovsk already has the world’s largest Holocaust museum. This growing community views Russians as anti-Semitic and Putin as a turf-grabber and want no part of a Russian takeover.

    This combination of interests could provide some of the backbone that our fine-speaking defenders of freedom obviously lack.

    I’m sure there’s a LOT going on right now behind the scenes. Hold on to your hats!

    Comment by elmer — December 16, 2021 @ 4:00 pm

  25. another comment

    Unfortunately, too many Ukrainian nationalists ended up too soft and/or outgunned/sidelined. That involved making too many deals with the devil and losing public trust. Think Yushchenko, Tyahnybok, Parubiy, Tenyukh, Makhnitsky.
    Interestingly, Russia has no problem with nationalists in France, Germany, Italy and Hungary — countries that invaded Russia — some repeatedly. But when it comes to Ukraine, Russia can’t stand even the slightest forms of nationalism.

    Not to mention the humblest of results. Indeed, the Kremlin and its Western government enablers can’t wait to have Ukraine fully “decentralized,” “Finlandized,” “Kurdistanized,” etc.

    Since 2014, Ukraine should have done a lot more work rebuilding its military and statehood. A lot more. We’re hardly the top conventional military in Europe. Yes, some of our oligarchs did help Ukraine fight back — if only to protect their own possessions and strike a much more conciliatory tone later. And some didn’t help at all.

    Even so, a combination of our military strength, geography and demographics makes a head-on, full scale thrust cost-prohibitive. The risks simply outweigh the rewards. Putin loves a walk in the park, not a walk on hot coals.

    All of that can change if NATO pats Ukraine on the back with the rusty shank of Minsk, acting as Putin’s detonator.

    Comment by elmer — December 16, 2021 @ 4:02 pm

  26. We all know that nobody’s gonna help Ukraine out, he’s got nothing to fear from the Euros and our dear president has already said he’s not gonna fight their wars (in this case i agree with him, if they want help they can ask the euros–oh wait).

    If the Russians want to take Ukraine (at the very least the eastern portion of the country) they can do so relatively easily, through their new protectorate in Minsk and through their freakazoid “People’s Republics” in Luhansk and Donetsk, a multi-pronged attack that will cut off the eastern portion from any help coming from Kiev.

    It’s true that the Ukrainian army isn’t what it was in 2014 but guess what? So ain’t the Russian army.

    Yeah, there’s all this talk about a “guerrilla war” (and good luck to them in all cases if it comes to that) but this ain’t the 1940’s, if the Kremlin is good at one thing its creating frozen conflicts, nobody’s gonna step into that shit show.

    All in all, i say good luck to the Ukrainians and may God be with you, because no one else will.

    Comment by JJK — December 16, 2021 @ 5:05 pm

  27. I hope Ukraine is not counting on US military assistance:

    Comment by Henry Barth — December 16, 2021 @ 5:42 pm


    Ukraine Business News

    Comment by elmer — December 16, 2021 @ 5:42 pm

  29. @aaa No. China dwarfs Russia as a threat to American interests. Taiwan is far more important to the US and its allies than Donbas or even Ukraine as a whole (which isn’t hard, given that Donbas in particular means nothing at all). Just the chip industry in Taiwan is a vital American interest. And unlike Donbas or Ukraine, Taiwan is on the way to somewhere. Recall that the US Navy (Nimitz and King) wanted to invade Formosa rather than the Philippines as a staging area for the invasion of Japan.

    Comment by cpirrong — December 16, 2021 @ 7:22 pm

  30. @viennacapitalist. It would sure be a helluva lot better.

    Just look at today (16 December). Four French nukes go down for repairs and the power price spikes.

    Comment by cpirrong — December 16, 2021 @ 7:24 pm

  31. SWP – I beg to differ

    The Marxists/commies in US government dwarf Roosha and Chicomland as threats to American interests.

    The Squabs, Bernie the Commie Sanders, Pocahontas, or if you prefer, Karenhontas, Brainless Bozo Biteme, the zombie mayor of Chicago, and the rest.

    Big time

    They have a deliberate plan of destruction of the US, as we have seen implemented already, in order to “build back commumism”

    In the meantime – long before people joined in on the Let’s Go Brandon chants, for good reason in the US< people in Ukraine were chanting "Putler Khuylo" in stadiums – the word "khuylo" indicating "di#k"

    Putler, the self-styled hero who scores 20 goals in each hockey game as a participant, has absolutely no valid reason for doing what he's doing with respect to Ukraine.

    In the meantime, ain't it just so much fun to play the "let's give Ukraine away to Putler, because what Putler wants, Putler gets"

    because it's in "Rasha's interests"

    Comment by elmer — December 17, 2021 @ 8:22 am

  32. Taiwan? “But…the chips!” I hear you cry. The fact is Taiwan, to a lesser extent, and Japan, and South Korea, and the Philippines, to an even lesser extent, are pliant US client states. You can’t cut any of them loose without considerable loss of face and damage to your military credibility.

    But would the American public really stand to have its youth in harm’s way to fight for this country, irrespective of its allegiances, direction of travel, chips etc? The Cross-Strait is only c.100 miles across, FFS. What you really need to do is ape France and set up a Foreign Legion to fight these wars, give all those migrants a route to citizenship (10 years military service should just about do it).

    Comment by David Mercer — December 17, 2021 @ 10:57 am

  33. @prof
    Sure, it would be helluva lot better. I just fail to see (and you do not explain) how adding another pipeline makes the situation worse….
    It‘s just another pointless discussion missing the real issue…

    Comment by Viennacapitalist — December 17, 2021 @ 2:27 pm

  34. another comment

    It interests me to read and listen to the experts talk about the “ethnic Russians” in Donbas. I venture to guess none of these experts has been within 200 km of Donbas. Why would they go there? Even before the war. My first trip to Luhansk was a 17.5 hour train ride from Kyiv. From Kyiv the scenery changed from pine forest to white birch forest to fields of wheat and sunflower. Closer to Luhansk there were mounds of slag from the coal mines. The city (not much of a city, more like a big town). Dusty streets. Only two main avenues. One east west one north south. Sidewalks petered out to dusty paths 3 blocks,from the center. My hotel was 8 blocks south from the center. I had the option of staying at the fancy 13 story Intourist hotel in,the city center the tallest building in Luhansk. But my contact told me they supported Yanukovich. Small wonder. The fact is, that Donbas was controlled by criminal mafia gang. No secret. Not a big worry for me. I was only visiting and I had an official “observer” badge issued from the capital in Kyiv. To most locals I was a curiosity. No one from Kyiv ever visited, never mind from the USA. And I spoke Ukrainian, a real shocker. Yes, they speak mostly Russian in Luhansk. Because,it,was,forced,on them. My Ukrainian elicited no resentment. Usually a smile, and a reply in Ukrainian. Russian Oligarchs Gangsters ran the place. I met with the local communist party boss. A jovial guy he was nice to me the local police invited me to visit their police station. They had a lot of questions about the USA.
    The taxi drivers in Luhansk were skinny guys driving patched up jalopies, and they did not double the rates after 7:00 PM. No one cheated me for a penny in Luhansk. Well, a group of Gypsies,tried.
    I later returned to Luhansk (by airplane) for a break from Kyiv. People,in Luhansk are just simple hard,working people. They know the situation. They did not choose Putin or Russia,,They would prefer freedom. The language,is,irrelevant.

    Comment by elmer — December 18, 2021 @ 6:54 am

  35. another comment

    As Reuters recently reported, “Biden said the United States had a moral and legal obligation to defend NATO allies if they are attacked, but that obligation did not extend to Ukraine.” Hope the Saudis, Koreans, Israelis and Taiwanese haven’t signed any Budapest Memorandums and instead have joined NATO.

    And yes, there’s definitely something morally and legally wrong with Ukraine because, at this point, the Biden admin won’t consider supplying air defense systems, deeming them “provocative.”
    So here’s the deal: Even if Biden publicly rejects Putin’s swelling wish list, the “don’t poke the bear” policy already in place will de facto meet his “red line.” From now on, all Putin has to do to keep NATO at bay and Ukraine in his orbit is stage another scary buildup. It’s that simple.

    Should Biden go the extra mile and join Putin in Minsking up on Ukraine, the potential for Zenukovych getting Maidaned out in a bloody chaos of infighting and disarray would be significant. And that would mean another couple of relatively low-cost Crimea’n’Donbases.

    Comment by elmer — December 19, 2021 @ 9:18 am

  36. Can you recall which CNN or MSNBC pundits were hardest on dissing Biden’s speech?

    Comment by aNanyMouse — January 18, 2022 @ 12:19 pm

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