English Outsider on MAD

I Ignored the nuclear dimension up above and was reminded on an English site that I’d done so. One cannot ignore that dimension. When I read various accounts of the current condition of American ground forces – “boutique army” and all the rest of it – I sometimes feel we are stuck in the thinking of those D-Day times.

In a couple of years, no more, the American Air, Naval and Ground Forces and the industrial capacity to back them up shot from being a neglected backwater – third rate in most respects – to being the military superpower. Able to cope with heavy and prolonged fighting in two theatres with enough to spare to deal with anything else that came along. I doubt there’s ever been a military revolution like it.

We still assess military capability in those terms. We’re still stuck in those times. Big is best and with near a trillion dollar budget, no matter how much is eaten away by the pork barrel, big still means American. And for minor wars big certainly is best, if that big can get deployed right. But for existential wars does that massive armoury mean anything? One man with a rusty rifle standing on a frontier somewhere will do. If it’s recognised that he is the tripwire that will trigger nuclear war.

For the same reason I look with wonderment at what the Russians are doing. Extensive mobilisation, armaments industry gearing up – for what purpose? Plenty of work for them to do in minor wars, certainly, as we’re seeing at the moment, but for what purpose is shell production being ramped up to five million shells a year for the indefinite future if, in a major war in the European theatre, far less is needed to trigger nuclear?

From the very start, in 2022, we’ve seen the Russians holding back the bulk of their forces, building them up now to a great degree, in case NATO came in in force. Do the Russians not understand that if NATO did come in in force it wouldn’t matter who had the best generals or the best logistics or the best army. It wouldn’t matter because the inevitable consequence would be mushroom clouds. Do the Europeans not understand that that would work the other way too?

Developments in missile technology mean that even in conventional warfare it’s possible to devastate a country without ever needing to set foot in it. But even ignoring that, there can be no more titanic battles for Berlin, or massive enterprises like those D-Day operations, if whichever of the sides is losing can unleash a nuclear response that will destroy both.

Not so much tripwire forces, perhaps. It would in reality take more than the man with the rusty rifle to set off Armageddon. But threshold forces. For the major wars of today you need no more than sufficient force to be able to say, “Defeat this lot and it’s curtains for both of us.” And that threat is enough, as it has been since the 50’s, to ensure that the two major nuclear powers never go toe to toe in full scale conventional warfare.

Zelensky’s only chance ever was to get the Americans to deploy that threat. He failed. Now the Europeans are seeking the same end. The only chance the Europeans had to bring this war to the conclusion they want is to get the Americans, finally, to deploy that threat for them. To risk nuclear war for them.

The Europeans’ll fail too. The American President, no matter who he is, will not risk Chicago frying in order to give the Europeans, or indeed his own hawks, the chance of winning a scrubby little war thousands of miles away. That’s too big a risk by far, for too small a gain, for any American President to take.

If you’ll allow me, TTG – we’re a way away from the Filthy Thirteen now and maybe too far away for this comment section – I’ll set out the reasoning that led me to that conclusion. I’ve thought for a couple of years now that the Americans would never go all the way to win this Ukrainian war. And that barring the Americans risking going all the way – isn’t that what Breedlove’s really asking for – there was no other way to win it.

It boils down to nuclear.

The Europeans are a dead loss militarily and have also lost the substantial moral and diplomatic credibility they possessed until quite recently. Not so much a busted flush. More politicians who’ve now been revealed always to have been a busted flush.

So they can posture to their heart’s content. They are like the scrawny man in a pub fight bellowing “let me get at him” while being grateful enough to his companions holding him back so he can’t.

The Americans are a different kettle of fish. They have sufficient military power to give the Russians a hard time, if they chose, even though they have no forces over here to speak off. And they have credible nuclear. That shuts off escalation to any serious extent. Were the Americans to engage in full scale conventional war with the Russians, and were the Russians to start losing – unlikely in the extreme but consider the case – the Russians would use nuclear weapons.

A revealing interview with Colonel Trukhan confirms that. He’s talking of the attempt to breach the “Surovikin Line”. He states matter of factly – almost in passing – that had we put in sufficient armour and CAS and all the rest of it to breach that line, the Russians would have repelled the attack with tactical nuclear as a matter of course. The recent tactical nuclear exercises underline that point. There is no winning against the Russians even if we could put credible forces in the field.

Works the other way. If the American forces were fully committed and were losing, they’d do the same. There is no winning against the Americans, not if they go for it hard. No winning for anyone, really, which is the basis of MAD and has been since the ’50’s.

So the Americans are not going to escalate past pinpricks such as we’re seeing now. And we know that, as in Syria, there are comprehensive deconfliction arrangements in place in order for both sides to ensure serious escalation is avoided in this theatre. So why the posturing? Why Macron’s arm waving or ours? Partly a hope the Americans will put a tripwire force in. Partly in preparation for the post-war blame game.

On the post-war blame game, all will wish to say “We could have won but our Allies didn’t back us up. So it’s their fault, not ours.” We’ve seen hints that the Americans in particular are being criticised for holding back and sometimes the Germans come in for some stick on that count too. Probably the Italians will as well, given they’ve disassociated themselves from escalation.

The blame game’s not a trivial consideration. This is going to be, as both Stoltenberg and Johnson have emphasised recently, a serious blow to the credibility of NATO and of the EU/UK. Being able to blame others will be a lifeline the respective politicians will clutch at so we’ll see, are seeing, a lot of it. And the respective electorates will need to believe them if they are to be kept acquiescent for the coming Cold War II. “For as long as it takes” will remain the spur even after Ukraine itself is neutralised.

The blame game is also a consideration in the States. There we already see one party blaming the other for not agreeing to escalate. “x is the man who lost Ukraine” is a reproach none will wish to suffer. We see that even in the interview linked to.

But there is perhaps more to the arm waving that that. We could be hoping, probably are, that the Americans will put a tripwire force in, We could put troops in overtly in the hope that when those troops get wiped out the Americans, for very shame, would be forced to come in overtly themselves. Or we could provoke the Russians with deep strikes in the hope the Russians would do the escalation for us. In the hope that the Russians would strike at our military installations in Europe or knock out our ISR assets. That could also bring the Americans in.

As said, the Americans have nothing of substance in the theatre but they do have tripwire forces. The 101st Airborne, already positioned, could be sent in as a tripwire force – in the expectation that the Russians would not dare to attack them for fear of the Americans using nuclear.

That’s Macron’s Hail Mary, and of the others talking that way. It’d be a gamble that the Russians would be scared to attack overtly deployed American troops directly – something that is never done – for fear the Americans would be pushed to that final escalation.

But this time it would be done. Putin made that clear at the Tashkent press conference. He reinforced that warning just now at the St Petersburg press conference. It’s more than likely the warning was also given to the Americans directly during deconfliction arrangement contacts. The gamble that the Russians would not dare to attack an American tripwire force for fear of escalation to nuclear is therefore not a gamble Biden will be prepared to take.

He made that clear recently. Brussels/HMG will therefore not risk escalation in the hope of getting the Americans to follow suit. MAD will continue to operate even as this proxy war comes to its end.

Comment: I can quibble about some of the points made by our English Outsider, but his conclusion that MAD will continue to operate is correct. Our policy of escalation management is an obvious effort to avoid the risk of a nuclear exchange or a crisis in the Kremlin that could lead to a nuclear exchange. Putin’s constant talk of conducting a nuclear attack on Western Europe is far more a tactic to manage our process of escalation management than it is a real threat to incinerate London, Berlin and Paris.

English Outsider is adamant that Russia has and continues to hold back on the application of military force. That’s true for nuclear weapons use, but Russian forces have not held back in the application of all other means of military force. It became quickly apparent that the much vaunted Russian military machine could not live up to its reputation. They still have plenty of meat to feed into the grinder, but they had to resort to North Korean artillery ammunition and Iranian drones to keep up their invasion against a much smaller Ukrainian force. Their armored columns have given way to T-62s, Scooby Doo vans, Chinese golf carts and motorcycles. They are not holding back and their ultimate victory is not close to being inevitable.

Concerning tripwire forces, they would only function in the manner described by English Outsider if they were in place before the Russian invasion. If US or other NATO trainers are introduced into Ukraine, I doubt Russia would hold back on targeting them. In fact, they would become a priority target just as the Abrams tanks did. And I’m also certain that France, Poland, the Baltics and the US are aware these trainers would be targets and would accept the risk without resorting to nuclear retaliation. France seems fully willing to accept that risk.


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66 Responses to English Outsider on MAD

  1. Jimmy_W says:

    Nuclear deterrence is fading. Missile defense is getting better, slowly. And all nuclear powers are investing in missile defense. Plenty of wargames in the 80s have demonstrated the utility of missile defense.

    In the meantime, investment in conventional forces demonstrates national power. US may be big, but it speaks volumes that the US cannot match Russian shell production, or even getting close, after so long. And before the “quality trump quantity” people chime in, the precision kit production is not ramping up quickly enough to match Ukrainian usage, either.

    During the 90s and the 00’s, Russian strategy was to economize military through nuclear deterrence. This Ukrainian War, and the Western inability to mobilize manufacturing, is demonstrating that the West is defaulting to the old Russian strategy, too. One can only hope that the reason is not the same as the Russian one.

    • TTG says:


      US and most Western militaries have invested in air power for firepower rather than artillery. That Western airpower can’t be applied in Ukraine unless we choose to dangerously escalate. Now we realize the full importance of artillery and everyone is realizing the potential of drones.

      • Eric Newhill says:

        Dangerously escalate to what? You say that MAD will remain in effect. You also say that Russia is not holding back; what you see is what they got. So what is there to worry about?

        IMO, you are wrong about Russia not holding back. I think they are, but not for reason of the grand strategic imaginings of the pro-Russia peanut gallery. IMO, the Russian people would no more welcome millions being conscripted into a combat MOS and the economy (whole society) being ordered, top down, into an austere full on war more.

        US members of the pro-Russia peanut gallery who have been traveling to major Russian cities note, among other positive attributes and glowing reviews, that the Russians on the street seem to not be concerned with war. That tells me that Putin has wisely gone to great lengths to keep the war contained enough that the average Boris and Natasha have no skin in the game – and that Putin thinks that kind of cushioning of the public is necessary.

      • Jimmy_W says:


        Funny how we don’t hear much about Western glide bombs in Ukraine. After all the hoopla about launching NATO weapons from Ukrainian Su-24 and Mig-29.

        Rocket manufacturing uses much less steel and less tolerance than howitzer shells. You don’t even need a dedicated launcher or precision since you have glide bombs on the rockets.

        Boohoo GPS denial. USAF promised us since forever that GPS is reliable. Some retired generals better lose their pension for the lie. And why aren’t we using INS of the guidance kits.

      • Jimmy_W says:

        Oh, wait. We are short on RDX and guncotton, too. What a joke of an Arsenal of Democracy.

        • Eric Newhill says:

          And yet Russia still cannot prevail after two and half years. So whatever nasty things you have to say about the US and friends, the Russians must be worse.

          To repeat what I goofed writing while multitasking, IMO, the Russian people would no more welcome millions being conscripted into a combat MOS (and hundreds of thousands killed and maimed) and the economy (whole society) being ordered, top down, into an austere full on war mode than Americans would. The Russians are no longer the tough patriots of Stalingrad resistance. Their success has made them as suffering adverse as ours has.So Russia has reached its maximum commitment to the war. There will be no escalation. No sweeping final offense, none of that stuff the peanut gallery proclaimed was about to happen next week, as soon as the ground froze (or thawed), etc. All the west needs to do is continue resupplying Ukraine until Russia tires out and asks for a cease fire and/or the Russian people demand and end to the losses.

          Putin bit off more than he could chew. He gambled on a frightened Ukraine quickly begging to negotiate a peace settlement, and he lost that gamble. Now he is stuck in a quagmire that offers zero opportunity for success given his original stated objectives. He will always have a hostile NATO on his borders, wherever those borders end up being drawn, and there will always be a free Ukraine.

          End of story

          • Jimmy_w says:

            Mobilization of industrial capacity is different from mobilization of the conscription system. You are talking manning. I am talking manufacturing.

            Russia has mobilized its economy to, say, 60% of total wartime capacity. America has mobilized maybe triple its peacetime capacity. But is there anymore manufacturing slack to give in America. It is difficult to say. Certainly there is no more slack on the steel and powder side of the defense business. Plastic, silicon, and copper, maybe, but nothing else.

            You say that Russia is holding back, but so is NATO.

            “Always have a hostile NATO on its borders…” Sure. But NATO will never invade, right. So who cares how hostile it gets.

          • F&L says:

            You’ve perfectly summarized my thinking, which pains me. I sympathize with the Russians for a number of reasons including my revulsion with the 2014 Kiev coup. I have zero affection for western governments especially the US and even moreso the UK. Nonetheless … they (Putin & co) fucked up royally and as you say are now royally stuck for a long time. Maybe I’ll be proved wrong but doubt it. I also estimate that China isn’t going any in any imagined battle over Taiwan but that’s another matter, it would be the height of stupidity to launch an seaborne invasion and nihilistic to attack from the air.

          • Stefan says:

            “Russian people demand and end to the losses”. Reminds me of when Armand de Caulaincourt advised Napoleon that this would not happen. Or on the top of my head, further back in time, Stephen Bathory hoped for the same in the Livonian war, and guess what. I just can’t comprehend how you can even remotely think that the Russians will do so, as there are literally hundreds of examples in the Muscovite, Soviet and Russian history showing the opposite. Only internal division can shatter Russia, and it is not happening at the moment. You can just easily check the recent polls about the war among Russians, or google translate a Russian speaking forum. I am not pro-Russian, but this is silly.

          • Eric Newhill says:

            Toward the end of WW1 Russians revolted and killed off their rulers and went commie. The Russian people are capable of all manner of civl unrest once they’ve had enough.

            Just as Americans are no longer like our “greatest generation” due to the softening effects of material comfort and liberal ideology, the Russians too are not like their greatest generation. Why go die in Ukraine if you can be enjoying a comfortable life, attending concerts, and partying in clubs in Moscow and St Petersburg? No one is invading Russia. There is no reason for satisfied people to fight in Ukraine. The Russians are not ideology driven, crazed, blood thirsty maniacs like the adherents of a certain religion.

          • Eric Newhill says:

            Those are growth pains. Not a bad thing. Get used to it and you may emerge as an enlightened human one of these days.

            Do you think it is painful when the caterpillar’s skin rips open and it becomes a butterfly? Just because the creature can’t scream – or you can’t hear it when it does – doesn’t mean it isn’t in pain.

            So it will be ok. Resistance to the light of truth is futile

  2. F&L says:

    You’re both to be commended on this post. You balance each other. For writing style I have to give TTG a very slight edge though.

  3. babelthuap says:

    Biden said Moscow won’t be targeted with long range missiles. With a Russian fleet close to FLA, maybe Putin proves to be a real sport and honor the same for D.C. and only targets smaller US cities like say a Meridian MS where I’m certain Biden will claim he led the charge marching during “MS Burning I” and ready to do it again.

    Jokes aside, somebody, anybody needs to step up and put an end to it. No super power is going to let you strike them with long range missiles without major consequences or else they would not be a superpower.

    • TTG says:


      Isn’t that the whole purpose of MAD?

      • Muralidhar Rao says:

        Exactly TTG, what I don’t understand is why all this chest beating when we know we are not going to blow up our cities for that far away land? How does this chest beating and name calling “Putin is a dictator he is thug on and on” help our credibility as a super power? Do we really think that the rest of the world doesn’t see and understand our inaction? Thanks

  4. Lars says:

    I don’t think anyone knows what happens next in Ukraine, but it is questionable how long Russia can keep losing men and still produce enough to make a decisive difference. Texas has a bigger economy than Russia and in the end that will make the biggest difference. Russia’s efforts have a limit, both economically and socially. In the meantime, the support for Ukraine is increasing and all they have to do is to wear the Russians down. As has been stated, Putin is anxious to keep the population happy and that can turn very rapidly should that effort falter. Guns and butter policies have been tried in the past and eventually they are not sustainable. In addition, for the Russians and their nuclear capability, they cannot be sure their equipment will work as designed, due to the pervasive corruption in that country and that widespread problem will also be a drag on any efforts. Now we know that even Gazprom is losing money and that will seep into the rest of the economy. As I have said before, if you want to speculate, put some money in the markets and you will soon find out how good you are at predicting the future. I have certainly learned from that.

    • Muralidhar Rao says:

      Sir did you hear the latest news? According to IMF Russia the gas station has overtaken Japan as the fourth largest economy beating Germany to sixth place. Also those faulty missiles run with chips taken from washing machines are decimating the poor Ukranian soldiers. Oh by the way they also have Hypersonic missiles which we are still trying to figure out how to make them.

    • English Outsider says:

      Lars – The notion the Western propagandists would like to see us give credence to – that the Russian people are living under the knout and are at the mercy of a mad dictator – is dead wrong!

      So, with respect, is the view that they don’t much care about what the foreign policy of the Russian government is.

      We need Andrei Martyanov or Patrick Armstrong back to give us a useful
      overview of the popular mood in Russia but from what little one can pick up from the outside, the only realistic prospect of popular discontent in Russia is if the Russian government doesn’t follow through on its stated objectives for Ukraine.

      Those objectives can be summarised in one word. Neutralisation. Neutralisation, obviously, of the regions that will be absorbed into Russia proper. Neutralisation of remnant Ukraine, whatever remnant Ukraine turns out to be.

      Those objectives are roughly similar to the peace terms Moscow and Kiev were said to have agreed upon in Istanbul. Those were the terms of peace then. After Istanbul is was always obvious that those same terms, though now tougher and more far reaching, will be the terms of capitulation now.

      Putin is now, as it were, prisoner of those objectives. Though he might feel inclined, as we’d expect from a canny negotiator, to allow the Western powers to save face he’s not going to be able to do much in that line. Neither his electorate nor the power structure there would let him. We’d do well to take it as read that like it or not, the West is no longer going to be able to utilise Ukraine as a means of “overextending and unbalancing Russia”.

      In practice that won’t bother the hawk or “neocon” faction in the States much. They have plenty of other pressure points around Russia to work on so the loss of this one isn’t going to be that big a deal. If I’m reading the American press and commentators correctly, half of them want to switch target to China anyway. And am I right in guessing that Gaza is much more a hot political issue in the States now than Ukraine?

      Nothing much then for the American hawks to fuss about, losing Ukraine. If they can get the PR right, and it’s just possible Putin might help on that, this is merely another forever war to walk away from.

      The position for the European politicians is entirely different.

      They have invested their credibility in project Ukraine. For many years they have sought to bring the borders of the EU right up to the borders of Russia. Using American money and power as leverage in that project, as that summary from Dr North examines, but that project was central to the EU as it was not to the US. Our eyes were all on Mrs Nuland and we failed to understand that Lady Ashton was working away in Kiev as well, back in Maidan times.

      Not forgetting that the UK was part of the EU until recently and in this area of foreign policy is still very much at one with it.

      The European politicians also invested their credibility in defeating Russia. That too was the central aim of the European politicians as it was never the central or only aim of the American.

      In that they could rely on the gut Russophobia, or at least suspicion and dislike of Russia, that is prevalent in Northern Europe in particular and has been from way back. As many Irish are still suspicious of the English – you probably know they had several centuries of brutal oppression from us – many central and northern Europeans are still suspicious of the Russians and for just that reason.

      Add to that the Russophobia in Germany we can trace back as far as the time of the Frankfurt Parliament and that came to the fore dramatically during the Third Reich, and there’s popular dislike of Russia in parts of Europe for the politicians to rely on as there is not in the US.

      I can give you an illustration of that. Look at the prominent dissident Americans, all the ex-Intel and foreign policy people who are against their government’s policy in Ukraine. They are against it for straightforward moral reasons. This, they say, is not what my country should be doing.

      Now look at the dissident Europeans. There are plenty. More in continental Europe than in the UK but it’s a large number and they are more influential than it seems on the surface. The ones I keep an eye on are the German dissidents, that because I know Germany better than other parts of continental Europe. In general – there are honourable exceptions – they are not against the EU anti-Russian crusade for moral reasons. They are against it because it is obviously disadvantageous economically.

      That’s one hell of difference! The American dissident will reject Western foreign policy with regard to Russia because he thinks it wrong. The European because he doesn’t think it’ll pay.

      This will matter after the war in Ukraine is ended. It will matter in a way the European politicians don’t seem to be thinking about.

      There will be no walking away for the Europeans. The European politicians will have little difficulty taking us in Europe into Cold War II. That, unless there’s some unlikely political change of heart in the European electorates, we can take as a given. If we think the current European politicians, ours in the UK included, are going to put their hands on their hearts and say to their electorates after the war, “People! We got it all wrong and are sorry!”, we’re living in dreamland. They will justify their anti-Russia crusade by insisting it continues and most of us in Europe will go along with it. Cold War II is next on the agenda.

      Here that assessment of the popular mood in Russia is important. We can be confident they don’t like us very much. What comes over to them from the Western media is little more than hate mail. What comes over from us physically is bullets. Putin won’t get much dissent from his electorate if he decides to push back.

      If he wants to push back, if he wants to stop the Europeans making a nuisance of themselves on his Western border, he doesn’t have to invade us. He doesn’t even need to send over one of his fancy rockets. He merely has to stop supplies to Europe. Europe is still very much dependent on supplies from Russia. The EU/UK politicians don’t seem to worry about that at all. They should,

      This comment’s too long. Again. Sorry, TTG, But no one seems to be worrying about what the position will be for Europe after the war.

      • Muralidhar Rao says:

        I agree with your assessment of the European situation : They will justify their anti-Russia crusade by insisting it continues and most of us in Europe will go along with it. Cold War II is next on the agenda.” as well as “He merely has to stop supplies to Europe. Europe is still very much dependent on supplies from Russia. The EU/UK politicians don’t seem to worry about that at all. They should,”. Sir may I remind you with the astronomical prices for LNG supplies from US it wouldn’t be long before the so called enlightened European Electorate will wake up to the sub freezing temps and empty shelfs in the supermarkets. To those war mongering tribes who could pick on hapless Asians and the Africans in the past with ease are over and they will realize that they have an equally powerful Mafiosi in their neighbourhood and they better pay him the right price for his goods and services. Karma is a bitch when it bites us. How painful when we pay lip service to our ancestors wisdom “Do unto others what thou want others to do unto you” Thanks

        • TTG says:

          Muralidhar Rao,

          Europe didn’t wake up to sub freezing temps and empty shelfs in the supermarkets, but they did wake up to high energy prices. They will eventually have to make the choice between those high energy prices and subservience to the Kremlin.

          • Eric Newhill says:

            Or nuclear power.

            This is one the area where the EU is a pack of suicidal lemmings. They are chock full of “Greens” who hypocritically still purchase Russian energy. IMO all these lefties, Greens, progressive are on Russian and Chinese payrolls – or simply useful idiots.

            Same jackasses are trying to screw up the US as well. Thank God for the so called racist, deplorable, trailer trash that resists them

          • Barbara Ann says:


            What Europe woke up to was the sight of Nord Stream having being blown up. Freedom Gas, high energy prices & subservience to DC are the only choice now.

      • LeaNder says:

        Using American money and power as leverage in that project, as that summary from Dr North examines

        I am in the process of leaving town for beautiful France, Britanny/Bretagne more precisely, thus not much time, E.O. Could you please clarify a minor detail that somewhat puzzles me?

        That summary from Dr. North refers to your own earlier comments, parts of which TTG picked up for discussion here. Summary from Dr. North, since you first published it there? Thus, if I went back and reread your argument more carefully, I would realize the ample evidence you present about how Europe used American money and leverage to maneuver Russia into a war against Ukraine.

        Or is there such a summary by Dr. North himself too? You gave us a link somewhere that escaped me.

        Thanks in advance. I am really late in my preparations.

        • English Outsider says:

          LeaNder – very late over here now but I’ll look for the link. It’s a link that contains three further links to articles by Dr North, written a long time ago, on the Association Agreement.

          Hope you have a good holiday in Brittany!

        • English Outsider says:

          LeaNder – found it!. Second “outsider” comment down:-


          But the link to the third Dr North article is WRONG.
          The link should be:-

          “Ukraine: provocation disguised?”



          Main point, because there are better things to do on a sunny French beach than poring over Mutti’s ancient delinquencies:-

          “One cannot look at all that, in conjunction with NATO expansion in the region, and claim there was no concerted effort to bring the boundaries of the EU – and of NATO – right up to the borders of the RF.

          ” Mrs Merkel – the “bride left at the altar” as she put it when Yanukovych attempted to reject the agreement – was a key player and it was that debacle that led directly to the Maidan,”

          • LeaNder says:

            Thanks, EO. You will be surprised, Dr. North wasn’t the only critic of the EU enlargement project. But times changed a lot, thanks to Putin.

            He does not take our calls anymore (specifically those of Barbarossa Scholz) ? Boo hoo, boo hoo!

            The neo-Nazi core will mostly be dead or fled to Germany, the country’s down to some half of its original population, and most Ukrainians are slowly getting to realise we’ve taken them for a ride.

            What do you think? The 200,000 Ukrainian potential male ‘draft dodgers’ presently in Germany are neo-Nazis. Should help to send them back?

            ” Mrs Merkel – the “bride left at the altar” as she put it when Yanukovych attempted to reject the agreement – was a key player and it was that debacle that led directly to the Maidan,”

            Yes, no doubt your favorite made-up Merkel quote had to surface, why don’t you link to it?

            I may help you out. Below is your Turbulent Times comment, where you link all the relevant Dr. North blog data points into a semi-coherent: EU-poodle-lured-US of A-into-supporting-Ukraine. What still miss, and we probably have to wait for the Cherry Blossom King’s return, are the data points about: How did we make the US pay?

            Thus, yes, it may not really be that easy to disentangle your narrative from Dr. North’s opinion.
            Thus: Whose argument? Yours or Dr. North’s? Semi-unanswerable.

            Not easy to link directly to comments on North’s blog. Here we go. The bride leaves the altar:

  5. walrus says:

    First of all, does anyone remember PNAC? The underlying presumption behind that document and all similar flights of Washington fantasy is that nothing and nobody can or will touch North America. Up to now that has been correct; the mothers of Vietnam, Iraq, Syria, Serbia and Afghanistan could do nothing but curse us through their tears. 911 was a pinprick compared to what we have done to others since 1945. Well this time we have gone too far; Putin has made it quite clear that American interests and assets will be attacked if necessary because as far as Russia is concerned this war is existential. As for going too far, I mean that our proxies do not have the capability or desire to take on the Russians except perhaps the Poles or the Baltics who must be on drugs if they think America will risk annihilation to save them.

    Ukraine is being used as an object lesson for any country that might think the American suggestion : “Lets you and him fight” is a good idea. Judging by the European election results, at least the French population has woken up. The British aren’t far behind and possibly the Germans soon. Hopefully the bellicose Eurocrats, Stoltenberg, Von der leyen etc. may still be hung from lampposts.So much for the globalists wet dream: a united Europe. led by Washington, dismembering Russia to make it safe for LBTQ whatsits as well as Cargill, Archer Midland Daniels and Chevron.

    As for logistics, my holiday job as an engineering student wasat an ammunitiiiion plant anyone who can watch youtube and use a stopeatch knows the limits of our ammunition production rate and any Engineer can make a good guess at how fast we can ramp up. By the way, “The greatest generation ™” was sustained by the greatest generation ™ of hard working, well educated workers who built the weapons that were used and they worke their backsides off without arguing about personal pronouns like the current generation does.Remember the ‘dollar a year’ men? Guess what Wall Street thinks o that idea?

    We are not going to win; not a chance, nor do we deserve to,

    • TTG says:


      This war is existential for Ukraine. The Ukrainians are not fighting back just to please us. They are doing so for their very survival as a nation. Russia launched the invasion, not Ukraine. No one is talking about invading Russia or forcibly dismembering it.

      US 155mm ammo production has increased from 14,000 to over 30,000 shells per month so far. The EU has increased their production similarly. I doubt we’ll ever match Russia’s production numbers, but our accuracy and reliability levels the playing field. Our production, limited as it is, has been sufficient to prevent the Russian Army from achieving its goals on the battlefield. Drone production seems to be just as critical, if not more so, to Ukraine’s ability to continue to resist the Russians.

      • Jimmy_w says:

        “Our production …has been sufficient to prevent Russian Army from achieving its goals on the battlefield.”

        If we have been so successful, why is Macron talking about lining the Dnieper River with NATO bodies.

        Complaining about Korean shells is silly, when America is also playing a shell game with Korean shells.

        • TTG says:


          Macron is talking seriously about sending French trainers to Ukraine. The talk of stationing French combat units along Ukraine’s borders with Transdniester or Belarus is more thinking out loud at this point. It would free up Ukrainian forces garrisoning those borders.

          South Korean artillery shells are of high quality whereas North Korean shells often burst the barrels of Russian artillery pieces or their duds.

      • babelthuap says:

        Ukraine was told not to pursue NATO or long range weapons. Ukraine did both and initiated the invasion which is the same the US or China would do with any border country. You know damn well if Mexico pursued BRICS and starting trying to buy long range weapons the US would NEVER ALLOW IT so stop with “Russia invaded” pearl clutching. You would not be saying that if Mexico did it to the US.

        • TTG says:


          And Russia was told not to invade Ukraine. See how that worked out? If Mexico pursued BRICS, I doubt we’d do anything beyond arm twisting and sanctions. Mexico would be in pretty terrible shape under US sanctions, although both Mexico and the US would eventually adjust.

        • leith says:

          Babelthuap –

          Ukraine did not ask for membership in NATO and stayed neutral until after Putin stole Crimea and parts of the Donbas.

          As for long range weapons, they already had leftover Soviet made OTR-21 Tochkas and KH-35 shipkillers. Conventional.

          • TTG says:

            leith and babelthuap,

            Ukraine joined the NATO “Partnership for Peace” program back in 1991. But then, Russia did the same in 1994. Russia didn’t have a complete falling out with NATO until 2014.

          • leith says:

            TTG –

            Neutral Switzerland is also a member of the Partnership for Peace.

    • Barbara Ann says:


      Correct on all points. Frankly it doesn’t matter if this war is existential for Ukraine, they are a proxy and proxies are expendable. Georgia (country not state) has taken note of the object lesson and is falling over itself to try and avoid being the next sacrificial proxy. Moldova won’t be so lucky I think. If Macron is mad enough to formally send French troops into Ukraine I expect to see him dragged out of the Élysée Palace very soon after they are killed – probably by the army.


      “..it is questionable how long Russia can keep losing men..”

      That cuts both ways and Ukraine’s pool is much smaller. The Russian MoD’s estimated casualty rate for the AFU over the last 48hrs was north of 3,800. Assuming their methodology has remained consistent, this is some of the most intensive fighting of the war. Just because the front lines are near static does not mean this is a stalemate. Also, Russia is the world’s 4th largest economy on PPP basis according to the World Bank (bigger than both Germany & Japan).


      • mcohen says:

        “Frankly does not matter”

        he came from the east
        had coal black eyes
        the mark of the beast
        he dressed in disguise

        he gathered up an army
        in the name of his lord
        as far as one could see
        a mighty horde

        he led them from city to city
        which they burnt to the ground
        they showed no pity
        destroyed all they found

        finally they came to a mighty river
        where they encamped for the night
        a cold wind blew a shiver
        in the dying light

        the next morning there stood
        on the opposite bank
        a single warrior in cape and hood
        his name was frank

        a challenge went out
        one man against the horde
        no doubt an uneven bout
        with only a shield and sword

        they say frank put up a brave fight
        slew many an enemy warrior
        but finally fell to an axe bite
        that broke the barrier

        I can tell you quite frankly
        what the moral of the story might be
        is to choose your battles wisely
        if you ask me.

        • frankie p says:

          To be frank, your poem resembles a dream I had the other night. Frankly, I would prefer if you use me in your poems, you make me the victor; it sure beats falling to axe bites.

      • Lars says:

        Russia is losing men in other areas than the military, but they are losing proportionally more there. Regarding the economies of the EU and the USA they dwarfs the rest of the world and especially Russia. Hungary is now selling passports to foreigners for a tidy sum and there appears to be a rather large market for them. So, the question is: Why do so many, including Russians, want to be able to leave?

    • leith says:

      PNAC? Wasn’t that Bush Junior and team? Thank God that crew of knuckleheads is long gone.

      • Keith Harbaugh says:

        Actually, leith, the PNAC
        was founded by
        William Kristol and Robert Kagan. two Jews.
        Important to keep in mind who is driving American foreign policy, and in whose interests.

      • Fred says:


        Mr. Robert Kagan, aka Victoria Nuland’s husband. Along with Bill Kristol. The neocons are not gone, they are busy as ever screwing up American foreign policy.

        • leith says:

          Fred & Keith Harbaugh –

          In addition to Kagan & Kristol there were others involved in the PNAC founding. They included Donald Rumsfeld, Deadeye Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Elliot Abrams, Scooter Libby, and a host of other Bush appointees. Even Junior’s brother Jeb was one of the original signatories.

          BTW, Kristol’s magazine, The Weekly Standard where he and Kagan published NeoCon philosophy, was financed by Rupert Murdoch. And it was Murdoch’s media empire that worked with Junior Bush and Tony Blair to drum up public support of the Iraq War.

    • d74 says:

      Walrus, I agree with you. Nothing new here.

      Barabara, you’re right: the Russians don’t want a Hollywood offensive with territorial gains. But a methodical destruction of Ukrainian forces. So no long range armored assault. I doubt they’re up to that. They’re just doing what they’re equipped to do, materially and intellectually. This is very Clausewitzian. The casualties on both sides are still a mystery, but there’s no doubt about it: the Russians can take far more casualties than the Ukrainians. These unfortunate Ukrainians are fleeing mobilization en masse. Only 7% of potential recruits responded to the mobilization centers. According to Ukrainian figures, the army needs 30,000 men a month, but they have at most 20,000. The Russians, for their part, are not planning any mobilization. Volunteers are enough. Ukrainian society seems to be disintegrating. Nothing is certain, but…
      Everything points to a much gloomier picture for the Ukrainians.

      EO, let’s stay calm. The nuclear forces are in rational hands. The rise to extremes in 1914, so well described by Barbara Tuchman, should serve to refresh the excited. Today’s war is a tiny and local event. Yes, a country is in danger of disappearing. On the scale of centuries, Europe has seen others and will recover. As for your enthusiasts who talk about the local use of tactical nuclear weapons, they are ignorant. Nuclear power sterilizes and prohibits the nuclear zone for a long time and beyond, depending on prevailing winds. Europe is too densely populated for anyone in charge to indulge in such fantasies. We’re back to the familiar dictum: “We had to destroy this village to liberate it. Only here there’s no rebuilding.
      That’s why nuclear power is automatically strategic, no matter what power (kt or Mt) is used. Add to that the Chernobyl disaster and its fallout, and you’ve got to get it into the heads of even the most obtuse that you can’t play with nuclear energy.

      To all: there’s no need to refer to Minimac. He’s a non-person on the international scene, and soon on the local scene as well. Forget about him. Don’t rely on his statements. He’s all French: light and fickle.

      • jld says:

        Europe has seen others and will recover.


      • d74 says:

        I remember reading that the USSR had 152 mm nuclear shells.
        Power in TNT equivalent: 7 (or 9?) tons.
        According to the text, the ‘nuclear bomb’ had a few grams of tritium.

        If this is true, the tritium has long since been neutralized (half-life approx. 12 years). It’s the last thing a wise staff would want to keep alive. Just good for irradiating your troops.

        • TTG says:


          We also had the W48 155mm nuclear artillery round. We also had the 203mm Atomic Annie nuclear artillery. We deployed those to Europe in the 50s and 60s. They’re all long gone now.

          • d74 says:

            I knew it, but what power? I’d like to know.
            And what is the range of the 155 mm? Enough to protect the launcher from fallout?

            I support the idea of fighting to the death. I’ve given it a lot of thought. Besides, it’s not up to the infantryman to judge whether or not his own death will be useful for tactical victory. All he has to do is carry out his orders.

            But I unreservedly disapprove of the use of weapons that automatically mean one’s own death. That’s suicide.
            Many of the weapons of the 1960s and 1980s required too much taste for suicide for no tactical gain. It seems to me that 152 and 155 are among them.

          • TTG says:


            We were told that our backpack nukes had enough delay to allow us to move to a safe distance. We didn’t really believe it. Why would we allow an armed nuclear device to sit unguarded by an SF team. We figured it would go off as soon as we turned the switch to arm.

        • F&L says:

          Putin said recently in St Petersburg that his “non-strategic” (tactical) nukes weigh in with explosive charges of 60 kilotons. Hiroshima & Nagasaki were approximately 15 to 20 kilotons. (I don’t know if those are fitted into shells.) So 3 to 4 Hiroshimas per tactical nuke. He may have been exaggerating, also don’t know. Yes Tritium loses strength over time. I would think that they can be tuned up by replenishing the Tritium gas.

      • English Outsider says:

        D 74, yes. I think TTG has put the subject of nuclear escalation to bed:-

        “Concerning tripwire forces, they would only function in the manner described by English Outsider if they were in place before the Russian invasion. If US or other NATO trainers are introduced into Ukraine, I doubt Russia would hold back on targeting them.

        ” In fact, they would become a priority target just as the Abrams tanks did. And I’m also certain that France, Poland, the Baltics and the US are aware these trainers would be targets and would accept the risk without resorting to nuclear retaliation. France seems fully willing to accept that risk.”

        So that’s that. On the question of why the US didn’t put tripwire forces in before February 2022, that’s been a puzzle for me from the start – but is something one can only guess about. It didn’t, anyway, and it’s too late now.

        The Russians themselves won’t need to use nuclear. That’s obvious. When the sanctions war failed victory for them was assured and the winning side has no need to go to such lengths.
        Why then did Putin mention nuclear early on? I think TTG nails it here too:-

        “Putin’s constant talk of conducting a nuclear attack on Western Europe is far more a tactic to manage our process of escalation management than it is a real threat to incinerate London, Berlin and Paris”

        And maybe, though it’s only speculation, the mysterious chain-smoking Russian Colonel was doing much the same when he let drop, ever so casually, that Russian doctrine was to use tactical nuclear if their backs really had been against the wall. Just saying to the other side, “Don’t be tempted to push it too far. MAD is still in play.”


        Can’t agree with you about the French. Very spirited lot and when they get going, tough as old boots and professional with it. Don’t forget Bir Hakeim:-

        “Forgotten Fights: The Free French at Bir Hacheim, May 1942
        The courageous Free French defense of the remote desert fortress of Bir Hacheim in May 1942 helped turn the tide of the war in North Africa.”


        Wiki also has this to say:-

        ” Generalmajor Friedrich von Mellenthin wrote, [I]n the whole course of the desert war, we never encountered a more heroic and well-sustained defence.[1].”

        As for Macron, well, yes. But he’s got more style than the unlamented Boris Johnson – and a hell of a lot more go in him than shilly-shally Barbarossa Scholz.

  6. d74 says:

    Houla, walou!
    Bir-Akeim, what’s that? About 2,300 men and 1 woman, English legionnaire (Miss Travers, the first and only female legionnaire), commanded by General Pierre-Marie Koenig, doing well his job as a general. They came from all parts of the French Empire.
    Bir-Akeim was also an evacuation like Dunkirk. To paraphrase Churchill, you can’t win a war with Bir-Akeims.
    Sure, it was a good start to our military revival.

    Koenig had an unusual tactical sense. Add to that his unflappable phlegm and infectious courage. Courage, but also the ingenuity to improve on what already existed. For example, our old 75mm gun turned out to be an excellent direct-fire antitank gun. (Tested on the beach in Beirut against heavily armored tank carcasses). And very mobile when mounted in the body of a Bedford. It wreaked havoc on Italian tanks and few german. We had several hundred thousand rounds of ammunition stored in Lebanon and Syria, and the guns to go with them.
    For years, the artillery department had been opposed to promoting the 75 as an anti-tank weapon. This simple fact shows the intellectual decay of our leaders. Rather perish than violate a regulation. Defeat has swept them away. Time for creative (and cheap!) imagination. In 1939, we had several thousand of these guns. They were beginning to be replaced by the marvellous 105 model 1936.

    Rommel said: “Once again, proof was given that a French leader, determined not to throw in the gun at the first opportunity, can work miracles, even in a seemingly hopeless situation.” The expression in French and German is much more graphic:
    “Throw away the gun after the line of sight…” It was a proverbial expression in the German army.

    Koenig was showered with medals by both the British and the French.

    Dying for the Fatherland, it is the most beautiful fate, the most worthy of envy !

  7. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Where are American politicians standing with regard to the war?
    A fairly detailed look is here:

    A synopsis:
    Democratic politicians, at least some, REALLY want to escalate the war.

    “Democrats amp up pressure on Biden to loosen Ukrainian strike rules on Russia
    Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said he is pressing President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s case with the White House.”

  8. Christian J Chuba says:

    Russian military forces are minimally engaged in Ukraine.

    They are only engaged enough to lure NATO weapons into Ukraine so that Russia can destroy it, on favorable terms, to inflict economic damage on the U.S. and EU and to show us that we cannot win a war of attrition. If you believe that happy talk from our Pentagon and U.K. intelligence then Russia is bleeding out but I do not believe that to be the case.

    Unfortunately, if I am right, this nightmare will continue until the U.S. / EU stop supporting Ukraine because it will get to the point where we can no longer do so.
    We will no longer be able to supply Ukraine with basics, such as artillery shells, F16’s, missiles etc. I hate Russia’s strategy because it will inflict maximum damage on Ukraine before this mess is over.

    • TTG says:

      Christian J Chuba,

      Russia has lost her crack units several times over including VDV brigades, tank armies and specialized arctic brigades. They had to be rebuilt several times over, each time with less capability than the time before. Their “armored assaults” are often spearheaded by T-62s, bukhanka loaf vans and motorcycles and never more than a company in strength. Their latest attacks on the Kharkiv front have been halted and are starting to be beaten back. They had to pull units out of the line elsewhere in an attempt to hold what they got. Their air defense is having little luck stopping Ukrainian drone attacks deep into Russian territory or missile attacks against those air defense assets.

      NATO has not sent much of their equipment to Ukraine, 34 Abrams tanks and a lot of other gear that we no longer use. We’ve supplied only a handful of Patriot batteries. Our ability to provide ammunition is improving, slowly, but improving.

      But you’re right about one thing. Russia will inflict maximum damage on Ukraine before this mess is over.

      • Poul says:

        Not the heavy Russian losses trope again.

        I remember the same story from last year which turned out to be false.

        That your perception of the Russian army was very wrong can be seen in your comments on the article from Tom Cooper.

        “I do think we’ll have a fairly clear idea of where things stand by early September. In the meantime, I don’t see either side collapsing militarily, but they will both be exhausted.”

        The only party which got exhausted were the Ukrainians. the Russians launched a counter-offensive all along the front which is still ongoing. So you clearly assumed a Russian weakness that only existed in NATO PR.

        Also the last part of your comment illustrates the point of a flawed understanding of the Russian army’s losses.

        Quote:”I do see continued occupation of Crimea by the Russian invaders becoming more untenable, but I don’t see Ukraine reclaiming Crimea this year. Maybe next year.”

        May I be so bold to ask what year Crimea will now be reclaimed?

        As for the use of T-62’s instead of T-90’s. Well maybe they are just as good in the role that tanks have in the Ukraine War. They are cheaper.

        A CNN piece on Ukrainian tankers with M1’s


        The role of a tank is that of an assault gun. Direct fire on infantry positions at close range. Note how the Ukrainians comments on that they received the wrong ammunition for the tank role, too much anti-tank ammo and not enough HE rounds plus the HE rounds are not effective enough.

        The Challenger 2 has been reduced to the same role.

    • English Outsider says:

      Christian J Chuba – I hate the strategy too. But there are only three choices for the Russians and they won’t adopt the first.

      That first is for them to stop this murderous fighting and give up. Leave Ukraine, Leave the Donbass. Zelensky’s peace plan.

      If they were ever going to make that choice then why bother to fight at all? That choice would lead to large scale atrocities and ethnic cleansing in the Donbass – which is what they went in to prevent in the first place. It’d also lead to chaos in Russia itself as the government fell apart. Even in a what if exercise we can write that choice off.

      The second choice, one that I saw advocated by quite a few Russian bloggers and commentators, was to put a quick end to it. The famous “Broad Arrow” offensive. They’ve got competent generals, good logistics, and masses of men and equipment. Use them to drive straight to the Polish border and have done with it all. Bagration all over again on smaller scale.

      Russian casualties would have been horrendous. People simply don’t understand the lethality of even quite ordinary seeming modern weaponry. Both the Ukrainians and the Russians do. That’s why they’re eschewing old style storming of enemy positions and experimenting with crazy looking stuff. Sending small assault teams in – tiny often – using golf carts or motor bikes or whatever just to get a handful quickly past the drones and artillery. Even that, usually, only after they’ve worked on enemy positions and drone stations, sometimes for weeks or months, and taken out AD if they can so they can use air.

      And Western ISR is first class – they say the Russian is now up to that standard but we don’t really know – and artillery and drone fire can now apparently be called in in seconds. No clever manoeuvring to take the enemy by surprise. The enemy can see you coming from way back.

      A grand sweep on the battlefield against a numerous and determined enemy might not be suicidal. But these days it risks a large number of casualties. Troops don’t like getting thrown away like that.

      Panetta said at the start that the Ukrainians’ job is to kill Russians for us. Politicians have been saying that ever since. Use the Ukrainians to wear the Russians down Doesn’t cost that much and every dead Russian is one less for us to have to bother with, The Russians have no intention of satisfying our hopes in that respect. Choice 2 isn’t one they’re going to adopt.

      Choice 3 is what we’re seeing. Massive attrition of our proxies and our equipment and the casualty ratio very much in favour of the Russians. That’ll go on until we run out of proxies or until the proxies themselves decide it’s a mugs game, take matters into their own hands, and get rid of the puppet government we’ve installed there that’s now determinedly herding them into the killing fields.

      If Biden’s lucky the slaughter will continue long enough for neither of those endings to occur until after the presidential election. Seems to be his election team’s game plan and we’ll have to wait and see whether it works.

  9. ked says:

    there’s a phenomenon going on here … lotsa folk living in the past, frozen. even when temps hit 100F they cannot, will not, thaw. the nature of this war is that nothing has fundamentally changed since Russia’s Special Military Operation fell flat a month into its debut. obviously, opinions about the SMO among correspondents haven’t either. that’s the way factoids are bandied about in these times – enough information is being generated to support practically any analysis & outcome one wishes. it’s useful to belabor obvious points, so I thought I’d best do so as preamble.

    some news from the home front. in recent conversation w/ a longtime friend still inside the MIC (a business owner in the “we make hw things” segment, way down the food chain, but well connected) volunteered that a lot of US equipment has been scarfed up & shipped to Ukraine. much of it older hardware. he foresees the US backfilling those stores as a foundation for expansion of US production of modern weaponry. hardware tuned to address both emerging & returning threats – both classic & novel. he volunteered that we (US) will replace & expand successful legacy types while modifying / reducing / halting systems proven unsuited to present & future requirements. he also views the US industrial base, while suffering excessively finance-centric (M&As, stock buy-backs & etc) behaviors of LSIs, is quite capable of meeting product demand in volume. {his biz is one that can do that} also noted is the rise of a generation of leaders (even in LSIs! & the civil service!) who insist on “getting our shit together”.

    coincidently, I’ve observed weapons producers (I live among them) expanding production staff, running more shifts, hiring & building facilities. our Congressional cluster-battles over Ukraine & Israel funds + election posturing (“which old guy do you hate more? or less?”) has converted a managable challenge into a self-inflicted problem that could very well yield crisis (“good! we’ll win the crisis battle, so we can get credit for losing the war!”). that too can pass, post-election … one prays. even w/o prayer, I don’t think the urge towards “all is lost”, that failure is inevitable (or even happening) is justified by every global event & selected factoids. among my many contacts active within the sector (where I spent half my career embedded within), their current experience is out of sync with much of what I read here. I wonder if boomers (kinda like myself) conflate one’s individual passing from the scene w/ the loss of everything held dear – especially immutable beliefs.

  10. English Outsider says:

    Steady on, LeaNder! That’s some hard knocks you’ve given me there and we English don’t like hard knocks. Unless of course it’s the Ukrainians getting them on our behalf and then we’re delirious.

    This section – “” Mrs Merkel – the “bride left at the altar” as she put it when Yanukovych attempted to reject the agreement – was a key player and it was that debacle that led directly to the Maidan,” is clearly not from Dr North!

    It’s from the end of my second comment in the comment section referred to:-


    As mentioned before, it’s Professor Sakwa’s monumental examination of the negotiations on the EU Association Agreement that we must refer to for a detailed look at those negotiations. It’s still available so if you want to know more you can get a copy and read it. All I’ll say here is that Professor Sakwa found some of the EU negotiating tactics at that time crude and counter-productive.

    It’s now forgotten that it was Mrs Merkel’s (and ours!) insistence on expanding the EU in this way that led directly to the Maidan. Also that Mrs Merkel was primarily responsible for Minsk 2, an agreement she made clear later she did not regard as worth the paper it was written on. I need scarcely remind you that it was the failure of Minsk 2, and Scholz’s weak-kneed failure to carry through on it, that led to the destruction of Ukraine. Though if you look at Scholz and Macron’s last talks with Putin just before the SMO, they demonstrate worse than failure. They demonstrate deception.

    The notion that the Eurocrats are little angels and the American neocons were solely responsible for this mess is not consistent with the facts. To make a start on the subject, do get hold of Professor Sakwa’s work on those Association Agreement negotiations, though Professor Sakwa restricts himself to economic considerations and does not have a lot to say about the political consequences. Nor does he (from memory – it’s a big book, that one!) have much to say about the question of security commitments embedded in the Association Agreement that I recollect Dr North examining way back.

    Generally, I think I’ve been pretty mild in my criticism of the part Germany played in the Ukrainian debacle. The country of Nie Wieder supporting neo-Nazis in Ukraine for the past decade and more is real whited sepulchre stuff and deserves more scorn than I’ve thought proper to show. And pretty well the entire country pretending nothing’s happened when they get critical infrastructure blown up is breath-taking! You lot asleep over there?

    Putting wrecked Russian tanks on display outside the Russian embassy is mindlessly crass. As were the statements made by Scholz and Merz in the Bundestag after the start of the invasion. You know what’s going to happen after the Ukrainian defeat? You Germans are all going to go around piously saying “The Yanks made us do it! We are the poor innocents who were led astray!”

    In fact I’m picking that up already. Utter nonsense. Scholz, leader of by far the most powerful country in Europe, and that country the keystone of and virtually the hegemon of the European Union, screwed up so abysmally that he’s near wrecked your economy. And that’s down to him and his merry men – not forgetting the ravishing Bellatrix Baerbock! – and not Biden or Trump.

    All that’s pretty mild, really, my views on your politicians, given what a sad mess you’ve allowed those politicians to get Europe into. If you want something a little stronger, take a look at what Mr Martyanov has to say about the Europeans generally. He thinks we’re a lost cause.


    Poor old Europe. I quite like the place, particularly Germany. D’you think we’ll be able to put it right and prove Mr Martyanov wrong?

    • English Outsider says:

      Note – found it difficult to get to the article from the link. Link to the article here:-


      The article contains a summary of recent work by Alex Vershinin.

      Lt Col (Retd) Alex Vershinin has 10 years of frontline experience in Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan. For the last decade before his retirement, he worked as a modelling and simulations officer in concept development and experimentation for NATO and the US Army.


      Vershinin has previously published on the question of ammunition supply and in the article summarised above branches out into an examination of attritional warfare generally.

    • Keith Harbaugh says:

      Which of Europe or the U.S. is more in favor of escalation?
      This article would lead one to believe it is at least some European leaders.


      ” ‘One hand tied around the back’: Europe presses US to lift Ukraine weapons limits
      President Joe Biden has given narrow permission to strike Russia using U.S. weapons.
      But Kyiv and European allies are looking for more.”

      • English Outsider says:

        Keith Harbaugh – hadn’t seen that Politico article. Very relevant.

        I believe it’s fluff, these frantic European attempts to pull off some last minute turnaround. Just fluff. Similarly all the “let’s go get ’em” talk coming out of some factions in Washington. Confused and desperate men who see the walls closing in and are scurrying around witless.

        But the article does relate to the interesting stuff. Putin’s big Foreign Ministry “peace offer”. Put in inverted commas because, well, can you see any chance of the West taking it? I don’t believe Putin does.

        I remember writing early last year that we were seeing a significant escalation in Russian demands. From Minsk 2, which would have kept the Donbass in Ukraine, to Istanbul which sort of left the question open, to incorporation of the Donbass into Russia proper and perhaps the incorporation of more regions of Ukraine that wished to be Russian rather than Ukrainian. “Demilitarisation and denazification”, and no NATO, still being core demands but more and more accreting around those core demands.

        Parallel to that demand escalation, we were seeing another significant add-on. The Russians wanted a more stable security architecture for Europe generally. They were harking back to the draft treaties they put forward in late 2021.

        That was the position last year. Of course the Russians didn’t have a cat in hell’s chance of getting the West to agree to those demands back then. But the point is that the Russian objectives had grown like Topsy over the course of the war, with territorial claims and European security claims piled on top of the modest original aims of Minsk 2. So there was demand escalation even back last year.

        Now the Russians’ terms as outlined by Putin at the Russian Foreign Ministry have further expanded. On Ukraine itself it’s the four Oblasts, withdrawal of troops, getting rid of Zelensky, seemingly, and getting on with “denazification”. Plus, again, Ukrainian assurance of never NATO.

        No question either of a temporary ceasefire or of a frozen conflict. The settlement to be permanent and not to be implemented until the Ukrainians had shown, by their troop withdrawals, that they were in earnest. Also, looks like, the clear inference that the Ukrainian government is no more than an illegitimate puppet government and it’s time the Ukrainians themselves got a look in when questions about their future were considered..

        As if that all that weren’t enough for the West to have to swallow, all those terms, as far as I can make out, are merely a preliminary to serious negotiations with the Ukrainians on the terms of capitulation.

        And tacked on to the whole package again, a demand for a final settlement of the European security architecture. A big conference, all including NATO to be involved, the 2021 Russian security demands to be on the table.

        There’s not a cat in hell’s chance of getting the West to accept those terms either, which is why I sketched them out rather casually instead of setting them out properly. Unless Biden has some impossible Come to Jesus moment he’s no more going to accept terms like that than stand on his head.

        So why mention Putin’s Foreign Ministry speech at all, if those peace demands aren’t going anywhere?

        They are in fact vitally important. These terms will have been hammered out with Russia’s Brics partners or those who might become such. These terms are the terms China and the others are prepared to go along with.

        The Brics diplomats, and Putin himself, have been racing around spending ever more time consulting with each other since the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Such contacts were established or strengthened at the Doha talks and accompanying meetings. That’s now developed into a network of diplomatic to-ing and fro-ing in which a common front is hammered out. These Russians peace terms for the Ukrainian war are not just the Russians having happy dreams. They represent what all Russia’s new allies and friends are prepared to go along with. And what they are prepared to go along with is very much more than most of them would have been comfortable with in February 2022.

        That slow progress towards consensus is one reason, though only one among many, for the Russians slow walking their Ukrainian military campaign. But it has more significance than that.

        None of us can be prophets, but it’s not really possible to see Biden accepting Putin’s peace package as set out at that Foreign Ministry meeting. The war will likely go on, either until Ukrainian military collapse or Ukrainian administrative collapse. “This conflict will be decided on the battlefield”, Borrell said, and he could be right. As it goes one, it’s likely we’ll see more escalation of the Russian settlement demands. And further consensus among Russia’s friends and allies on supporting those demands.

        That could mean eventually the imposition of Russian counter-sanctions on Europe to get those Russian European security demands met. Can’t see the Russians have any other way of getting those demands met, not as things are. And though there are several good reasons for the Russians not imposing counter-sanctions, the most powerful reason is that Russia using its trading weight like that would alarm its Brics partners if they weren’t consulted and in agreement with it beforehand.

        That objection at least removed, Putin’s latest demands don’t look as stupid as all that. Slowly but inexorably the Russians are inching towards counter-sanctions. Not difficult, Russian counter-sanctions. All the Russians have to do is let supply contracts run out. The Russians said in 2022 that they’d leave open to a later date the question of renewal of those supply contracts. That later date’s coming up.

        No wonder that Politico article shows the European politicians running around like headless chickens. They never had a plan B in case the sanctions war didn’t work. There’s no Plan B to be improvised now.


        Text of speech.

        14 June 2024 17:15

        President of Russia Vladimir Putin’s speech at the meeting with senior staff of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Moscow, June 14, 2024.


        “Today, we are presenting another concrete and genuine peace proposal. If Kiev and Western capitals reject it again, as they have done before, then ultimately, it becomes their responsibility, both political and moral, for the ongoing bloodshed. Clearly, the situation on the front lines will continue to evolve unfavourably for the Kiev regime, altering the conditions necessary for initiating negotiations.

        “Let me underscore the key point: the essence of our proposal is not a temporary truce or ceasefire, as the West might prefer, to allow the Kiev regime to recover, rearm, and prepare for a new offensive. I repeat: we are not discussing freezing the conflict, but its definitive resolution.

        “And I will reiterate: once Kiev agrees to the course of action proposed today, including the full withdrawal of its troops from the DPR, LPR, the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, and begins this process earnestly, we are prepared to commence negotiations promptly without delay”.


  11. EO,

    I consider you comments the best here.

    This article was also a fine effort.

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