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  1. #51
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    Default Re: The Russians are Coming, the Russians are...oh, they're here...

    An article in today's Guardian concerns the lack of fight in Russian soldiers, some of whom have refused to do so, being protected by the legal fact that Russia has not formally declared war on the Ukraine. The real point of interest is how it intersects with a report that was on the Wednesday edition of BBC-2's Newsnight, which looked at how the Ukraine campaign has exposed the changes taking place to warfare.

    Just as the Russian soldiers don't want to fight, the logic of a land army taking possession of territory seems to have become, for the time being, marginal to Russian intentions. Initially it seems the idea was that strategic targets in Ukraine would be knocked out, the Russians arrive and take over, appoint their representatives, and integrate Ukraine into Russia. The resistance from the Ukraine and the shambles that the Russian military has become, has done two things.

    First, to continue prosecuting the war, the military has shifted from being land-based to being almost solely air-based, but not with the Air Force, but in the Russian case, air attacks with land-based artillery fired from within Russia, and in the Ukraine's case, the effective use of Drones, as both delivery vehicles for bombs, and as aerial intelligence to identify targets. The key point is that while Air Power has been the darling of strategy for some time now, these days it is not manned airpower that is proving to be effective, just as tanks and armoured vehicles are proving to be a liability when they get stuck in the mud, or are in such a poor shape they break down, with spare parts somewhere in a distant warehouse in Russia, or because the vehicles are old and crap anyway.

    This suggests that war is being fought almost as a form of 'remote control' -an officer sitting in Moscow ordering a missile strike on Mariupol or Kyiv or anywhere, the ferocious bombardment not being met with an incoming wave of troops, just destruction for the sake of destruction, creating a wasteland of ruined buildings and urban areas with no running water, gas or electricity, a Nihilist's dream. One wonders if any Russians genuinely want to go and live in Mariupol. It may become a ghost city -with only a functioning port the sign of life.

    The terrifying logic of this remote sensing, is that using a Nuclear Weapon becomes a matter of simple logic when all else fails. And yet, from what we know, is the Russian nuclear capability, well, capable? Not sure anyone wants to find out.

    ‘They were furious’: the Russian soldiers refusing to fight in Ukraine | Russia | The Guardian


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  2. #52
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    Default Re: The Russians are Coming, the Russians are...oh, they're here...

    Meanwhile, back at the Ranch, the original import of this thread concerned Russian funding of, and links to Boris Johnson and his 'Conservative Party', and not so shocking news the party is reluctant to publish the report into the circumstances in which Evgeny Lebedev became The Noble Lord Lebedev of Hampton and Siberia...yep, though the formal title is a bit longer.

    Read all about it!

    Boris Johnson Delays Publishing Secret Lebedev Advice Due to ‘Security Challenges’ – Byline Times



  3. #53
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    Default Re: The Russians are Coming, the Russians are...oh, they're here...

    If Sweden and Finland were to become members of NATO, it would be another failure in Putin's security plan for Russia, being the opposite of what he has claimed he wants, or the confirmation of his paranoia that Russia is under threat from the corrupt, transgender-lovin' West (huh?).

    Putin appeared to threaten Finland and Sweden if they join NATO, but yesterday he seemed to scale the rhetoric down, but the real story here is whether or not Turkey will use its veto to prevent Sweden and Finland from becoming full members. Some have argued that with an election looming, Erdogan is using the issue to buff up his image of a strong leader, claiming that Sweden hosts Kurdish 'terrorists' and that Turkey is being unfairly treated because it has purchased arms from Russia.

    Turkey became a member of NATO during the Cold War, but has more than once acted against the interests of the Alliance, without being held accountable, perhaps because the logic of the politics is that Turkey ought not to be a member of NATO. The two most obvious problems are with Turkey's illegal occupation of northern Cyprus, which began in 1974 and continues today, an occupation that set back hopes of a peace deal that would give Cyprus its independence, and continues to be a block today.

    The other is Turkey's illegal occupation of northern Syria -described by some as a 'new Gaza'-, which has only been possible because the same Kurds Erdogan claims are 'terrorists' were the main force that broke the back of Daesh and led to its demise as an 'Islamic State'.

    Turkey has form here, having annexed the Sanjak of Alexandretta in 1938 following tactics similar to what one finds with the Russians in Ukraine, there being little that is new about politics and the military when a dictatorship or even a democracy chooses to change 'facts on the ground' -my view being Turkey was one of the first Fascist states to emerge after the First World War, becoming a 'Fascist Democracy' -in other words, you can have a democratically elected Government, but only if the voters identify as Turks.

    Anyway, two links -the first on Turkey's Gaza in Syria, the other to the fascinating if depressing story of the Sanjak of Alexandretta, and how a multi-ethnic, multi-religious state became an almost entirely Turkish province. (If you can find it, there is an article on Alexandretta by Robert Satloff, which would normally come with a health warning given his political affiliations, but on this occasion an intriguing analysis -it is from the journal Middle Eastern Studies in 1986 but is only available through subscription).

    A new Gaza: Turkey’s border policy in northern Syria – European Council on Foreign Relations (ecfr.eu)

    Sanjak of Alexandretta - Wikipedia



  4. #54
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    Default Re: The Russians are Coming, the Russians are...oh, they're here...

    I see Putin was at it again, plucking morsels from history from which to make a meal celebrating, indeed justifying his war against Ukraine. This time, Peter the Great is recruited to confirm the fiction that Ukraine is really just Russia, so Putin is 'Taking Back' what was lost -lost by whom? Well, that would be Communists -bear in mind he was a Communist for most of his life before succeeding Yeltsin.

    The Great Northern War with Sweden is in its details the Great Northern Bore, replete with Kings and Princes marching into this and that territory, claiming it for themselves. The irony is that when Peter the Great was first defeated by the Swedes, it was because his armed forces were weak, poorly equipped and mostly cavalry rather than infantry, and when he defeated the Swedes it was after he had modernized the forces -take note, Vladimir, because your lads are failing because you failed to modernize your army!

    As for the fiction Ukraine is Russia, well maybe some parts once were, or were part of Poland, or Lithuania, or not really populated much at all. Take Luhansk and Donetsk -both of them founded as industrial towns...one by a Scot called Gascoigne, the other by a Welshman called Hughes, as the link tells you.
    The surprising British origins of eastern Ukraine - The Washington Post


    All of which begs the question, Vlad -if Ukraine is Russia, why are you bombing your own country into ash and rubble? And who is going to live in places like Mariupol when this is all over?

    "There is no Ukraine": Fact-Checking the Kremlin's Version of Ukrainian History | LSE International History


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  5. #55
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    Default Re: The Russians are Coming, the Russians are...oh, they're here...

    Sad



  6. #56
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    Default Re: The Russians are Coming, the Russians are...oh, they're here...

    Either Biden is trying to rewrite history or he is laying down the groundwork for either cutting off aid to Ukraine or an eventual negotiated settlement between them and Russia. Because if I recall, it was the Biden administration that was downplaying an invasion and almost calling Zelensky, "an alarmist".

    www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/06/11/biden-zelensky-russia-invasion-warnings-putin/

    Also, if the world's food supply was going to be threatened by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, wouldn't that have been a significant reason for NATO to get more involved.


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    Last edited by blackchubby38; 06-14-2022 at 12:57 AM.

  7. #57
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    Default Re: The Russians are Coming, the Russians are...oh, they're here...

    Your post is bang on, Blackchubby, as it exposes the most dangerous issues right now.

    I am not sure how to describe Biden's posture, which looks comatose, but so far must be described as caution. If the US were to get involved, what is the strategic aim, the end result? Given that most of the damage in Ukraine is being caused by artillery bombardments from inside Russia, could NATO get involved without bombing targets inside Russia?

    The irony here is that Russia's land forces have been so so poorly organized and equipped, that bombing Russian targets may lead to a Russian defeat more clearly defined than the kind of war fought in Iraq or Afghanistan, which begs the question, does the US want Russia defeated in a war? It might remove Putin from the stage, but it doesn't mean an equally aggressive Russian nationalist will not replace him. These 'known unknowns' are exercising minds in the Pentagon, hence the restraint.

    As you know, a Casus Belli has to be more precise for NATO to act on the basis of its charter, and so far, Russia has not provoked that kind of reaction. The military action has the political objective of establishing without question Russia's sovereignty over the region that comprises Ukraine in the West but which, because of historic Russian Imperial history could also include the Baltic States and parts of Poland. This on the basis that Belarus and Moldova are compliant to the extent that 'they know their place'.

    The assumption is that if Russia were to face defeat or another year of fighting in the Donbas it would seek an escalation of its 'special operations' in the Baltic states, my view being Putin might try a single attack on one of them just to see if NATO does in fact act, or expose the perception it has that the US doesn't want to get involved in any more wars, so Russia can do what it likes.

    For this reason, your reference to the food supply issues brings in the maritime aspect of this conflict which has not received much exposure, perhaps because it is more likely to provoke a direct confrontation with the Russians than threats to the Baltics.

    Lawrence Freedman lays out the scenarios in the link below, noting that Russia's attempts -successful so far- to control the maritime links between the Sea of Azov via the Kerch Straits to the Black Sea and through the Dardanelles to the Mediterranean, are illegal but that an international maritime force designed to protect Odesa and facilitate its exports, would be the maritime equivalent of a 'no fly zone' over the air space of Ukraine that the US has explicitly said it will not enforce. Turkey's role in this too is hard to read, as Turkey tends to act in its own interests regardless of its NATO membership (cf Cyprus) and would have to agree to any maritime force protecting shipping in and out of Odesa.

    Will the 'war at sea', if it happens, be the inevitable 'war with Russia'?

    One rogue factor could be Boris Johnson, desperate to remain Prime Minister in the UK and perceiving Germany and Macron to be NATO's 'weak link', sending a Royal Navy vessel into the Sea of Azov- but let's just let that thought sink somewhere, given the state of our Navy as it is, let alone Johnson's declining powers.

    For this reason, I think there is/will be pressure from the EU and NATO on Zelensky to at least negotiate terms for a Ceasefire, if Ukraine cannot stomach a treaty of any sort that cedes territory to Russia's control. Biden wants to avoid the US becoming involved in a military conflict anywhere, Putin knows this and is deliberately provoking the US, and I think Biden's posture remains committed to not getting involved, but while this appears to benefit Putin, it only does by forcing Ukraine to some kind of settlement that Putin can call a 'triumph' even if it means his original strategic vision has failed, along with the decimation of the officer class and substantial troop -and maritime losses.

    So yes, either there will be a military confrontation at sea, or there will be a messy, unhappy compromise that forces Ukraine to concede to Russia, though whether that solves the question of grain exports I don't know, as Russia is stealing grain and selling it on the world market, and though Ukraine can, with difficulty export grain via rail and road through Poland, the disruption to the production and export of grain and other things will continue, pushing up prices, but an issue which Putin doesn't care about.

    "Protecting commercial shipping is by no means a simple option. Escorts would need to include minesweepers. Accompanying warships can also suffer from mines. There would need to be unanimity in Nato to authorise the operation – Turkey in particular would need to sign up. Because of the Montreux treaty, it has an effective veto as it would need to authorise Nato warships moving through the Turkish straits from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. And Turkey’s actions are not always predictable."
    Russia's Black Sea blockade causes food shortages for the whole world - New Statesman

    On Ukraine's exports-
    Odessa official: Ukraine needs help to break Russian blockade | World Grain (world-grain.com)
    Russia has blocked 20 million tons of grain from being exported from Ukraine : NPR


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  8. #58
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    Default Re: The Russians are Coming, the Russians are...oh, they're here...

    Quote Originally Posted by blackchubby38 View Post
    Either Biden is trying to rewrite history or he is laying down the groundwork for either cutting off aid to Ukraine or an eventual negotiated settlement between them and Russia. Because if I recall, it was the Biden administration that was downplaying an invasion and almost calling Zelensky, "an alarmist".
    Your recollection is incorrect. US intelligence agencies were definitely warning that an invasion was imminent and Ukraine did express concerns that this was alarmist.
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/...vasion-ukraine
    https://nationalinterest.org/blog/pa...ukraine-200846


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  9. #59
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    Default Re: The Russians are Coming, the Russians are...oh, they're here...

    Quote Originally Posted by Stavros View Post
    Your post is bang on, Blackchubby, as it exposes the most dangerous issues right now.

    I am not sure how to describe Biden's posture, which looks comatose, but so far must be described as caution. If the US were to get involved, what is the strategic aim, the end result? Given that most of the damage in Ukraine is being caused by artillery bombardments from inside Russia, could NATO get involved without bombing targets inside Russia?

    The irony here is that Russia's land forces have been so so poorly organized and equipped, that bombing Russian targets may lead to a Russian defeat more clearly defined than the kind of war fought in Iraq or Afghanistan, which begs the question, does the US want Russia defeated in a war? It might remove Putin from the stage, but it doesn't mean an equally aggressive Russian nationalist will not replace him. These 'known unknowns' are exercising minds in the Pentagon, hence the restraint.

    As you know, a Casus Belli has to be more precise for NATO to act on the basis of its charter, and so far, Russia has not provoked that kind of reaction. The military action has the political objective of establishing without question Russia's sovereignty over the region that comprises Ukraine in the West but which, because of historic Russian Imperial history could also include the Baltic States and parts of Poland. This on the basis that Belarus and Moldova are compliant to the extent that 'they know their place'.

    The assumption is that if Russia were to face defeat or another year of fighting in the Donbas it would seek an escalation of its 'special operations' in the Baltic states, my view being Putin might try a single attack on one of them just to see if NATO does in fact act, or expose the perception it has that the US doesn't want to get involved in any more wars, so Russia can do what it likes.

    For this reason, your reference to the food supply issues brings in the maritime aspect of this conflict which has not received much exposure, perhaps because it is more likely to provoke a direct confrontation with the Russians than threats to the Baltics.

    Lawrence Freedman lays out the scenarios in the link below, noting that Russia's attempts -successful so far- to control the maritime links between the Sea of Azov via the Kerch Straits to the Black Sea and through the Dardanelles to the Mediterranean, are illegal but that an international maritime force designed to protect Odesa and facilitate its exports, would be the maritime equivalent of a 'no fly zone' over the air space of Ukraine that the US has explicitly said it will not enforce. Turkey's role in this too is hard to read, as Turkey tends to act in its own interests regardless of its NATO membership (cf Cyprus) and would have to agree to any maritime force protecting shipping in and out of Odesa.

    Will the 'war at sea', if it happens, be the inevitable 'war with Russia'?

    One rogue factor could be Boris Johnson, desperate to remain Prime Minister in the UK and perceiving Germany and Macron to be NATO's 'weak link', sending a Royal Navy vessel into the Sea of Azov- but let's just let that thought sink somewhere, given the state of our Navy as it is, let alone Johnson's declining powers.

    For this reason, I think there is/will be pressure from the EU and NATO on Zelensky to at least negotiate terms for a Ceasefire, if Ukraine cannot stomach a treaty of any sort that cedes territory to Russia's control. Biden wants to avoid the US becoming involved in a military conflict anywhere, Putin knows this and is deliberately provoking the US, and I think Biden's posture remains committed to not getting involved, but while this appears to benefit Putin, it only does by forcing Ukraine to some kind of settlement that Putin can call a 'triumph' even if it means his original strategic vision has failed, along with the decimation of the officer class and substantial troop -and maritime losses.

    So yes, either there will be a military confrontation at sea, or there will be a messy, unhappy compromise that forces Ukraine to concede to Russia, though whether that solves the question of grain exports I don't know, as Russia is stealing grain and selling it on the world market, and though Ukraine can, with difficulty export grain via rail and road through Poland, the disruption to the production and export of grain and other things will continue, pushing up prices, but an issue which Putin doesn't care about.

    "Protecting commercial shipping is by no means a simple option. Escorts would need to include minesweepers. Accompanying warships can also suffer from mines. There would need to be unanimity in Nato to authorise the operation – Turkey in particular would need to sign up. Because of the Montreux treaty, it has an effective veto as it would need to authorise Nato warships moving through the Turkish straits from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. And Turkey’s actions are not always predictable."
    Russia's Black Sea blockade causes food shortages for the whole world - New Statesman

    On Ukraine's exports-
    Odessa official: Ukraine needs help to break Russian blockade | World Grain (world-grain.com)
    Russia has blocked 20 million tons of grain from being exported from Ukraine : NPR
    Sometimes a show of force can be just as effective as using force itself. So if NATO can convince Turkey it is in its best interest to help break Russia's Black Sea blockade, than they should send commercial ships (possibly from a non NATO member) protected by NATO forces just to see what Russia is going to do. Therefore you put the ball into Putin's court and make him decide does he really want his country to get into a shooting match over trying to make sure the world has enough grain.

    I by no means want this to escalate into a war between NATO and Russia and/or possibly WW III. But I think we are getting to the point that confrontation between the two maybe inevitable. Especially if Putin's war is responsible for things like inflation and high gas prices as the Biden administration has stated. So then the question becomes how much more are governments going to be willing to take with the war having an impact on their countries. As well as the death and destruction that continues to be inflicted upon Ukraine, before they have no choice to get more involved.

    If a confrontation happens at sea and can be limited to that specific theater without further escalation, I think its a chance that NATO should be willing to take if it helps prevent further food shortages. There is a chance that Putin may blink if it he sees a combined naval effort heading towards the blockade.


    Last edited by blackchubby38; 06-27-2022 at 12:17 AM.

  10. #60
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    Default Re: The Russians are Coming, the Russians are...oh, they're here...

    Again, you highlight the dilemma, namely direct confrontation with Russia, or an indirect one so transparent the Russians could say it is so, but also, can NATO call Russia's bluff? The weakness of the land forces Russia has in Ukraine and the losses it has incurred, along with the turmoil in the higher ranks of the military, suggest Russia is not as strong as it likes to project, but this also raises the stakes with regard to potential/threatened nuclear action.

    If Russia is strategically overstretched, could NATO further undermine Russia by promoting Georgia's claim that Abkhazia and South Ossetia be 'returned' to Georgia, as they are considered 'fake' republics? The Russians have -or had- around 8,000 troops in South Ossetia, about 3,500 in Abkhazia, but the problem lies in Georgia where the population is divided on the Ukraine question, where it supports Georgia's aim to join NATO, and the so-far 'agreement' that the EU recognize its aspirations to join without yet becoming a Candidate Member (though this does raise the obvious question, is Georgia in Europe?), while some are pro-Russian.

    Critically, so far Georgia has decided not to 'rock the boat' and has tended to side with the Russians, so it remains weak link. Earlier this month the UK Govt issued a statement calling for the reintegration of Georgia and a 'right of return' for the 160,000 odd people made refugees when this conflict began in 2008.

    On the other side, there is little expectation that Moldova will attempt to re-integrate Transnistria into the country. There are approx 1,500 Russian troops there, but again, Moldova tends to be compliant when dealing with Russia, and as with Ukraine and Poland, gas supplies are an important leverage.

    If you factor in Turkey as an unreliable ally, given its illegal occupation of Cyprus since 1974 and its negative impact on peace negotiations there, plus its illegal actions in Northern Syria, I would assume the US is unwilling to get involved because other than Ukraine, the Baltic States and Finland, it cannot rely on support from the Caucasus in the east, or Moldova in the west -Moldova is vulnerable in regard to gas supplies, Georgia with regard to the BTC pipeline which runs from Moscow-friendly Baku through Georgia to the Turkish coast.

    So on the surface yes, a free shipping lane sounds possible -though both Ukraine and Russia have mined the waters- and would be considered a defeat for Putin, but he has other options, other allies, and as someone from the Brookings Institution said on the BBC last night, the US/NATO doesn't really have an 'end game' - repatriating eastern Ukraine looks too much to ask, but negotiating their official transfer to Russia remains unacceptable in Kyiv; and Putin may calculate that as long as his artillery in Russia can bomb targets in Ukraine, the war can go on until he runs out of ammo.

    That may be why NATO is looking at further sanctions to weaken Russia economically, which so far is working, albeit slowly. A direct attack on the locations from which the bombardment takes place would be a direct attack on Russia, and so far that has been ruled out, as has, I think, a significant upgrade of Ukraine's air force -I don't know if Israel's Iron Dome would lessen the impact of Russia's bombardment, but Israel has so far sat on the fence, though Bennet may lose the upcoming election there, and I don't know what Netanyahu's position is, should he return to power.

    Then there are the rumours of Putin's health, or of an inside cabal that wants to replace him and what's left of the Military High Command (Shoigu in particular). I think NATO and Biden are cautious for good reason, but the cost is mounting and a sense that 'something must be done' to at least bring the fighting and the bombing to an end, even if it then means years of inconclusive on-off negotiations. Putin, after all, can look at Donetsk, Luhansk, Transnistria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia -and Chehnya too- and see the Russians have achieved their objectives there, even if they are all poor, corrupt and young people leave as soon as they can. He really doesn't care.

    Some links-
    In Georgia, Calls Emerge To Retake South Ossetia, Abkhazia (rferl.org)

    Putin Is Failing in Ukraine, But Winning in Georgia - The Bulwark

    Reiterating our deep concern over the continued illegal Russian presence in Georgia - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

    What you need to know about Transnistria | openDemocracy


    Last edited by Stavros; 06-27-2022 at 11:49 AM.

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