Why the Ukraine war is the fault of the US

Terrific video starring John Mearsheimer on Ukraine.

Houses and Holes
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  1. Grand Funk RailroadMEMBER

    On youtube Mearsheimer had a lecture on these themes dating from 2014, which was very good also.

    Robert Reich made some valid points in his piece in the Guardian yesyerday too.

    From an email to a mate this morning…….

    On the Russian sanctions and the ‘freezing’ of the external reserves I would observe this much.

    They will undermine some chunk of global capital markets.  The developed world has spent circa 30 years embedding Russian capital into itself.  A look through the worlds largest banks and the worlds richest people will reveal they nearly all have a touch of Russia somewhere – often superbly hidden.  Since 1998 Russia has been a net generator of capital and produced some very healthy returns for those people and organisations.  Over the same time Russian oligarchs who – for a range of reasons, some legit and some not – fell foul of the Russian state have invariably splashed out the megabucks for lawyers and abodes in the financial capitals of the world and anywhere they felt they needed outside the reach of Russian law.  I still recall being asked by an analyst sussing out the ownership of a Russian gold producer in the early 2000s about an Australian related entity and discovering someone who later became an Australian Prime Minister involved.  Plenty of other eminent persons have been getting a slice – all over the world.

    Over that time plenty of people (idiots like me for starters, but others far more notable) have been pointing out just how embedded those oligarchs have been and how deeply embedded Russian cash flows have been, and how hypocritical the developed world has been in not either addressing the genesis of the returns (which has involved considerable corruption linkage with Russia) or reconciling the politics and legalities.  The exposure of the worlds 1% has essentially been a position leveraging greater or lesser regulation, and more or less overt morality or probity, for profit maximisation.

    At a certain level this is inherent in capitalism, and all capital flows have an element of this to them.  That is what capitalism does. It seeks profit maximisation.  It will seek to do so legally, and tends to view legal process as a cost benefit analysis, not a moral position.  If a profitable activity is legally dubious it will seek to access weaker jurisdiction, or fight the legal process to the point where the costs of fighting the legal process outweigh the potential profits.  If it can suppress, smother or misinform it will regularly do so as well – to the point where the costs outweigh the likelihood of profit.

    The reason this is worth considering now is not simply about the economic consequences this has for Russia.  Russia has made its bed and it will now  lay in it.  The reason it is worth considering now is because Russia has simply been primus inter pares.  When the EU and US freeze Russia’s Central Bank reserves they are sending the message that the behaviours of Russia, and their response, are their potential response to any state and its behaviours.  The corruption of Russia has been quite observable but no more so than in a range of other locations across the developing world (for starters) in places such as Ukraine, Central Asia, Latin America, and good swathes of Africa.  A pretty good case could be made it is also observable in developed world economies and the US UK Australia EU and Japan, for starters, as well.

    In Russia the oligarchy has made an accomodation with Putin – who was originally elevated to power by that Oligarchy.  In Ukraine – notwithstanding that Zelensky is currently doing a fine job as frontman for a nation under attack – The Oligarchy has run the show as they saw fit, through the Presidencies of Poroshenko (an oligarch himself), Yanukovych (a pro Russian) and Yushchenko (pro reform but failed due to opposition of Oligarchs) after being created in the Kuchma and Kravchuk era.  They are still running the show in Ukraine.  A casual glimpse around most most of the developing world – but particularly the former Soviet world – and you will find them almost everywhere.  People who found themselves inordinately wealthy, in the Ex Soviet world through the dismantling of Communism, and from that have been able to craft an extreme rentier position in an economy by buying rent seeking positions (often highly lucrative), sometimes directly from the State, and often from other Oligarchs – who regularly get together to determine (in a fashion reminiscent of a crime gang) the profit maximising positions for them, which often looks a lot like a carve up.

    The reports that Sberbank, in particular, could fail in Russia go to the heart of the matter.  My personal view is that as soon as I understood the sanctions now being applied to Russia my first thought was ‘regime change’.  I remain with that view. I tend to the view the forced failure of Sberbank  fits hand in glove with that view – indeed it is integral to it. The reasoning behind my thinking is this.  Sberbank is by far the largest holder of deposit accounts in Russia (last time I looked it was more than 85% of all Russian household bank accounts).  Sberbank is – for most Russians – the banking system.  It has existed through the Tsarist and then Soviet eras.  In the post Soviet era when the defaults occurred Sberbank was a relative bastion of stability.  The Rouble was devalued, and any foreign currency accounts hammered, and all banks exposed to global markets through borrowings got creamed, but if you were just an ordinary Russian with some roubles in the bank your acounts were fine – just that the Roubles in the bank didn’t buy as much as you thought they would.  Every town has Sberbank branches, the vast majority of people pay their bills there and have their accounts there.  Also worth noting is that Russia has a far far lesser degree of real estate speculation and bank lending than almost any other country.  That in part reflects a population largely still living in the owned housing ‘entitlements’ of the Soviet era – which Putin personally takes very seriously – and partly because Sberbank has always been quite austere in relation to its housing lending, with most Russians taking out mortgages needing to go to smaller banks prepared to handle riskier lending.  My basic position would be that to take out the financial system in almost any country you would crush the housing markets – usually by central  bank interest rates. I don’t think that would work in Russia.  You would need to wipe out savings and make lots of people poor.  You would need to wipe out much business and make the refinancing of the main bank(s but in Russia’s case only Sberbank) impractical by overwhelming its deposit base with nonperforming loans, then obliterate the ability of the state to refinance the asset base of that bank by either central bank refinancing or direct state capital injections.  That to my mind is where Russia is heading.

     That all adds up to State chaos in Russia.  I think it primarily intended to effect regime change.  The major issue I would observe is that there is no  credible ‘opposition’ in Russia.  The vast bulk of the Oligarchs are pretty tied to the state through either the assets they own or their refinancing needs.  To efffect ‘Regime change’ in Russia will require the trashing of the lives of the very people – the educated, intelllectual,  and meaningfully entrepreneurial types, as well as the more genuine administrative and bureacratic and judicial types – that any future regime in Russia is going to desperately need.  These will be the people likely to get out any way they can – and are, I know more than a few who have either done it or are acutely aware of what is unfolding and the implications for them personally and are making preparations.  The Russian education system is often very good, and these people will be the well educated IT people, medical people, financial and legal and creative people, who will be able to take their skills elsewhere.  For those people inside Russia, and the rest of the Russian population, that is likely to mean more repression.  The likely response to that more repression is potentially more corruption – at a grassroots level, as opposed to the macro/policy level which currently dominates corruption.  More distrubingly trashing the lives of circa 140 million people will likely lead to some forms of bitterness, annd I would suspect the emergence of yet another ‘hard ‘ man as leader there.

    The freezing of the Russian reserves has even more implication for the global financial system.  China currently has a financial system with about 1.8% of its assets outside China, the Russian system (as I wrote up back circa 2013) has circa 20% outside Russia.  The SWIFT cut and the impounding of the external reserves – which I think primarily about being able to provide an asset base for whatever regime comes to power after the Putin regime has departed, and which I think will be milked by the global 1% on that basis – actually lends considerable weight to concerns voiced by the Chinese and Russians for a long time about US dollar domination, and about NeoLiberal economics and policy positioning.  I think we can be sure that the Chinese from about here (as they are already learning with their speculation/housing mania experience) will be a lot more careful with their exposures to the global (Western) financial system.

    Even if, like me, one doesn’t particularly like many aspects of the Chinese or Russian ways of doing things, one could observe some of those criticisms had some merit worthy of consideration.  The debt promulgation, the rentierism, the actual process by which ‘’money’ is actually created, and the range of  privatisations and contractorisations of government services which in many ways align people people to resemble chattels or assets and their relations as ‘contracts’ when for much of the world this is somewhat offensive.  If we think the developed (or ‘Western’ world for the Russians or Chinese) is essentially running off the fumes of ever falling interest rates, pricing up an ever shrinking body of assets, benefitting an ever diminishing number of punters, and undermining ever more forms of future economic endeavour then we may not be as superior as we would like.

    Beyond all that I actually feel llike heading out and borrowing as much as I possibly can.  In the not distant future I think we will see crude heading towards $150 BBL  Russia and Ukraine related grains going ballistic and a range of other metals in particular – potash and titanium are the ones I am watching – become so expensive they start to destroy demand, or that they become so difficult to get, that other means around their use will need to be engineered.

    I don’t think central banks anywhere will be tightening up that much any time soon.  Maybe the US Fed, but even then I think they will soon reach a point where they back off.  The US doesn’t rely on Russian energy and the effect of any tightening is likely to mean a global turn to US dollar which will weigh on the US economy and likely bring them back to needing stimulus – when they need to renegotiate debt limits in Congess every year or so.

    Should be a hoot all round. Between now and then my nights are getting busier helping Russians, and Ukrainians, distance themselves from what looks like being ground zero for something seriously ugly. The global Oligarch set – or 1% – wouldnt baulk at moving in for some prime cuts if Russia’s natural wealth was up for grabs, and trampling over lots of impoverished ‘guilty’ Russians wouldnt be beyond them either.

    • Great analysis. I still feel though that this is the fault of the average Russian who are accept such BS from their leaders and accept Putin as their leader. As such I want them to eat cake – However the world strangling Russia is not a great strategy for a world free of conflict but what other choice is there?

      • I still feel though that this is the fault of the average Russian”

        Great response, you should become a member of the Greens.

        • My family is in Ukraine. Russians can f themselves. I was trying to be polite.

          Let them eat cake.

          • Do the Ukrainian people prefer oligarch gangsters to be their master? Putin has done more for Russia than Ukraine’s leadership could dream of. The proof is in the pudding (Putin came to leadership in 2000): https://tinyurl.com/2p9ymnds

          • Unfortunately xpjsx Democracy doesn’t go in a direct line. What do you think all the revolutions were about? They were ALL about corruption.
            Hell look at the Italians and ask if they have conquered theirs.

          • “My family is in Ukraine. Russians can f themselves. I was trying to be polite.”

            OK… So interning ethnic Japanese people in WW2 wasn’t wrong?

      • Someone ElseMEMBER

        I saw some work being done on bioaccumulation from sea water (Murdoch Uni? IIRC). They were looking into using algae/seaweed to harvest metal ions from sea water. I don’t remember potassium specifically but I assume potassium from seaweed is an option. Seasol writ large. Just need a way to remove/reduce keep the sodium.

        • Someone ElseMEMBER

          It was a good esearch funding magnet with every new metal boom. Just a search and replace in the proposal document to insert the latest boom metal (I saw gold and then uranium) and another few million of funding is secured.

        • If it comes to that, tagines, spices and carpets will be banned; the Atlas mountains will be cancelled, and the Moroccan President will be exposed as a brutal animal that bombs the souks with chemical weapons. People on the Right side of History everywhere will be baying for regime change. Rinse and repeat as necessary…
          jeez I’m starting to sound like the marsupial.

          • If it’s any consolation it’s a myth that ‘roos can’t walk backwards.

            Nice catch with the Arnaud Bertrand tweet too.

          • Yeah, why pay when you can corrupt & take it for a song. Game of thrones is still alive & well including the incestuous top end of town. The Roo is probably right – Sigh.

    • Good writer up. Regime change is required, I believe, not just Putin but most of the poliicians, oligarchs & heads of all institutions so that there is a complete shift in attitudes & they put Russia ahead of themselves, else nothing will change. And just as importantly the same must happen in Ukraine & Belarus (and other neighboring states would be helpful too)

      • Someone ElseMEMBER

        We don’t have a regime that works for Australians. How can we demand they swap out their corrupt kleptocracy while we sit here and pick the nuts out of the sh!t of our kleptocracy?

        • Reality……….. our opposition leader isn’t in jail, I’d say we’re a fair way in front.
          And we have an actual opportunity to vote the current fvck wit out

    • Ronin8317MEMBER

      I doubt Sberbank will ‘fail’ as such as it remains for all intent and purposes the retail arm of the Russian Central Bank. it will run out of foreign currencies, but it won’t run out of rubles, and as long as you can borrow a bank cannot go under. The bigger danger will be inflation, so expect some kind of price control being reimposed, even if it’s futile.

      Regime change via financial sanction remains a Western pipe-dream when there are no alternative leader in place. Who will take over? Putin’s daughter?

    • Steven Roberts

      To quote precisely Mearsheimer’s 2014 University of Chicago lecture:
      “If you really want to wreck Russia you should encourage it to conquer Ukraine. Putin is far too smart for that.”

      The man is a moron. Everything that he has ever forecast has proven false.

      This is the last gasp of Russian empire. It is already building a Europe that can (apart from the strategic nuclear deterrent the US provides) an independent force. It has 3 times the population of Russia and 10 times the GDP.

      And a Europe that can stand up itself will facilitate the US pivot to the Pacific.

      Putin has shot himself in both feet.

      • Steven Roberts

        In fact, in light of his 4/3/2022 youtube speech (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppD_bhWODDc) one could draw the conclusion that the man is not only a moron, but …

        1. everything he said has been pro the unprovoked attack of the Russian Government on the Ukrainian People, and
        2. whereas his arguments in 2014 were at least vaguely internally coherent, his more recent comments are not

      • This is why I thought Russia’s invasion was so daft. They could have easily worked to influence the next elections and slowly get what they wanted.

      • UpperWestsideMEMBER

        So I read this and my first thought was – meh!
        Holding companies offshore has been a norm since they did a number on Bill B, and Sergei died.
        Having the tax authorities come and take your corporate docs and then magically transfer the ownership of the company to someone connected, is business risk 101. Just be happy they don’t jail you in the process for the tax fraud the new ‘owner’ commits. So hold control offshore!.
        Were they hiding taxes, maybe , probably , and yes that is bad , but given the really awful shit that actually happens its nothing.
        I once lost some staff to another bank. To clear the ranks for the new recruits a couple of the old guys were found swimming, russian style (ie: cable ties). What they depict in the movies is not reality, reality is worse.

    • I would be surprised if Ukraine didn’t have a bio lab facility. I dont find anything earth shattering about this. How do you look to counter new pathogens? Of course there is the threat of a bio lab creating a weapon but the two are not always the same. Russia has them in spades so I am not sure what the argument is.

      It is just a useful tool so Russia can provide more horror to Ukrainians.

      But of course it is always America’s fault.

      • TRADINGtheAPOCALYPSE

        Always americas fault indeed. I’ve read all of chomsky, pilger et al. and I can’t stand US interventionism, neoliberalism, and all the hypocrisy and hubris behind it. Yet..

        US spent 2 trillion trying to put a puppet government up in Afghanistan. Complete and unadulterated c0ck-up. Now people wanna tell me that with 3billion and a few well placed envoys the US are suddenly strategic masterminds, fully controlling politically a country in Ukraine as large as Afghanistan. That’s peak hubris thinking they’ve got that much control. Ukraine existed before the US. Kiev was a city before Moscow was on the map. Also, George bush snr in 1991 was warning Ukrainians that pushing for independence was “suicidal”. But they went for independence anyway. Ukraine ain’t some Russian enclave.

    • C.M.BurnsMEMBER

      Everyone has biological research facilities whose research would, if used malevolently, be quite simple to turn into biological weapons.

      If a nation relies on agriculture – ie everyone – then you have these lab(s) and they are doing research into these fields.

      A biological weapon lab is, as the name suggests, about the weaponisation of existing (natural) biological organisms.

        • C.M.BurnsMEMBER

          thanks for wasting 16 minutes of my life, that I won’t get back, posting a tucker carlson rant.

          a biological research lab is not the same as biological weapons lab. But then again, I am repeating myself.

      • Personal Risk Tolerance

        Australia certainly does. We weaponised myxomatosis and calicivirus to control rabbits. From a biological perspective, targetting humans is no harder.

  2. ” to take out the financial system in almost any country you would crush the housing markets”

    • Grand Funk RailroadMEMBER

      Well if you smash the value of the housing you smash the financial system and then the economy – is pretty much what i meant.

    • bolstroodMEMBER

      That is what Scrotum is doing to the east coast with his let it rip Fossil fuel policy.
      3200 homes destroyed on the Northern rivers, thousands more in QLD

  3. Chayan GunendranMEMBER

    Fault solely is with Putin, who has a grand ambition of re-creating the Soviet Era; a bit like the Queen wanting her colonies back even IF the colonies are not keen.

    US was moving away from Europe towards Asia, but why not blame them anyways 🙂

  4. Mearsheimer is always one sided, he talks as if it’s all the wests fault & completely ignores what Ukrainians might want. Ignores that for most people they want a modern European type of democracy & integration into the EU. Ukraine has a right to choose for itself & Russia has no right to demand they be a so called “security buffer”, which is only marginally true, given modern weapons, it’s all about control (& in Putin’s mind, restoring Russia glorious past). Of course western nations will support this in various ways, just as non democratic countries support installing undemocratic leaders, but he fails to consider this, yes it’s a fight for influence in certain qtrs, but none of that changes the fundamental right of Ukrainians to choose for themselves. Saying Putin isn’t responsible for their war is like the Taliban claiming it’s the womens fault they get raped as they didn’t cover themselves completely.

    • Arthur Schopenhauer

      Yep, the Covid era is certainly revealing the interests of many experts. Greenwald and Snowden look like a couple of b-grade stooges too.

    • It seems that way, even with a lot of commentators on this blog. They assume that Ukrainians can be completely ignored, and the only relevant opinion is geo-strategic USA/EU vs Russia/China battles.
      Ukrainians have some agency, and it is being displayed in full by the way that they are defending their land.
      Ukrainians have been fighting for their freedom from Russia in various ways for the last 300 years, while Russia has been attempting genocide on Ukrainians over the same period. This is a continuation of a very long fight. Hopefully, Russia will self-immolate and stop terrorizing their neighbors.

    • Grand Funk RailroadMEMBER

      Gents, the Soviet Union – predecessor of both contemporary Ukraine and Russia – lost circa 26 million punters fighting off the Germans in WW2.  Whether they were good or bad or whether they did it well or incompetently is irrelevant.  They lost zillions of punters.  Following the ‘’win’ they ultimately got out of that war, they suppressed all nations of central and Eastern Europe for another 45 years.

      Going back prior to WW2 that same central and Eastern Europe was notable for being in an almost permanent state of war somewhere, when it was not staging a pogrom,or not dealing with a famine or plague.  Although I wouldn’t for a second suggest life was a bed of roses under the Soviets they did a plausible job on toning down territorial disputes, almost all forms of ethnic barneying, and some of the more overt forms of anti semitism.

      Now as as has been pointed out here repeatedly, apart from the Mongols in the 12 century – who actually did it properly – every last invasion of Russia has come from somewhere to their West.  And they have all ultimately cocked things up.  So when a Russian says to me that they think the nations and peoples to their West are prone to a little biffo and have it in for them I buy something of that (even though I would also agree that many of those nations have been subjugated by peoples speaking Russian for much of the period since WW2, and some of them have actually been carved up by the Russians prior to that [The Poles for starters] or otherwise been invaded by Russian type punters too).

      Now I tend to the view that the 26 million punters killed scenario is something the world may be better off doing without – ever again.  On that basis alone I tend to the view that the nation that coughed up the 26 million last time around deserves to be heard and should be listened to.  Not agreed to every time, but certainly accorded enough respect as to be given obvious and overt address of any concerns it raises.

      Now at that point I come to a couple of assertions made by Myk.

       Ukrainians have some agency, and it is being displayed in full by the way that they are defending their land.
      Ukrainians have been fighting for their freedom from Russia in various ways for the last 300 years, while Russia has been attempting genocide on Ukrainians over the same period. This is a continuation of a very long fight. Hopefully, Russia will self-immolate and stop terrorizing their neighbors.

      OK, all nations have agency.  But at the same time they arent the sole deciders of their agency, are they?  Ukrainians have agency, and the obvious recent display of that agency is a 30 year decent into Oligarch infested nothingness for a large number of people there.  They are defending their land, and good on them for doing so – all strength to them.  The people picking up the cudgels in Ukraine and those wearing the shellings and the rifle fire deserve far better from their nation than what they have received over the course of the generation leading up to the Maidan. If Zelenskyy can deliver that then he will have no more fervent suppporter than I, and probably would have the lasting grattitude of most Ukrainians.  But less than a year ago he wasn’t looking quite as good in terms of delivering economic outcomes for the people who elected him to power – predominantly the pro- Russian peoples of Eastern Ukraine, as opposed to the Poroshenko supporting peoples of Western Ukraine.  This war may give him the credibility and strength of position which will see him address Ukraine’s oligarch issues, and the rampant corruption to be found in its institutions, some time in the future.  But most observers would note that he hadnt made much headway before Russian invasion took priority for his decisionmaking and reform efforts.

      Of the idea that Ukrainians have been fighting for their freedom for 300 years, well OK.  Some of them have.  But it would be also true to note that for the vast bulk of that 300 years the majority of Ukrainians have been living just fine under Russia or the Soviets.  Far more of them have been serving in Russian or Soviet armies than have been fighting the Russians.  Far more have been heading off to work in other parts of the Russian or Soviet world – and yes far more have been sent off to Gulags or prisons in the Soviet or Tsarist world too. The other point worth noting there is that it isnt only the Russians, Ukrainian nationalists have been fighting. Many in the West of the country would either prefer to be part of Poland or some other nation, or wary of the possibility that the Poles or some other nation may lay claim to the part of Ukraine they are from/in.  For some it may be the continuation of a long fight, but for many others it is a disturbing shock from a nation with whom they have in many ways considered themselves almost as one. 

      Finally the point about Russian self immolation.  Have a think about that one Myk.  If Russia does descend into self immolation do you think that would add to the peace and tranquility of Ukraine anywhere?  Do you think Russia would evolve into maybe a Norway style of democratic tradition at the point of a gun through the prism of chaos?   And if Russia descends into chaos – as I think it may easily do – do you think Belarus would avoid being in chaos too?  And if Russia and Belarus were to be in chaos do you think that wouldn’t somehow affect Ukraine?  And if any of those nations were in chaos do you think there may be an urge on the part of Ukrainians to be part of some other country? 

      Before you cheer on Russian self immolation you may want to work through a few scenarios.  And then ask yourself if those people you would wish it upon wouldn’t wish self immolation upon Ukraine as preferable to their immolation – which would just about bring plenty of Russians back to a need for doing something pretty serious about those nations to their West, wouldn’t it?

      As I dare say you would be perfectly aware Myk.  It isnt a simple good v bad world.  Eastern Europe and Ukraine more than most.

      • Thank you for your detailed response. i tend not to write many words, so I might not seem very detailed.
        Yes, as per my previous posts in other threads, Ukraine has many problems. Some are self inflicted. Some are imposed from outside. A big problem was the “soviet mentality”, where it trained its people to be crooks. You only got ahead in the USSR by stealing…
        You still seem to promote the narrative that Ukraine and Russia are effectively one people. This is a very Russian attitude. Dare I say imperialistic. From the Russian perspective yes, but from the Ukrainian perspective not really.
        By self-immolation of Russia, it is difficult to regard Russia as a country, and any self-immolation is likely to be internal. Russia is more accurately described as the Moscovy empire. Without force, it will fall apart (refer Chechnya and the ‘stans’). You are correct that it might get worse, but it is really bad now. Maybe it is worth rolling the dice?

        • Grand Funk RailroadMEMBER

          You still seem to promote the narrative that Ukraine and Russia are effectively one people. This is a very Russian attitude. Dare I say imperialistic. From the Russian perspective yes, but from the Ukrainian perspective not really.
          By self-immolation of Russia, it is difficult to regard Russia as a country, and any self-immolation is likely to be internal. Russia is more accurately described as the Moscovy empire. Without force, it will fall apart (refer Chechnya and the ‘stans’). You are correct that it might get worse, but it is really bad now. Maybe it is worth rolling the dice?

          Weirdly enough I have had people put the ‘one people’ aspect to me in Ukraine, indeed in Kiev – though one assumes they have reviewed their thinking in recent weeks.

          As for ‘it is difficult to regard Russia as a country’ – well I dont know how to tell you this Myk but those Russians assuming Ukraine isnt a country arent any more convincing with their thoughts but could point to more ‘country’ runs on the board than you, and that dice you may hear going off in various cities around Ukraine, that is VVP’s roll. If you cant respect another nations existence or concerns, you cant be too shocked if it doesnt respect yours.

          • I would respect Russia as a nation, if Russia respected Ukraine / Belarus / Moldova / Latvia / etc. as nations. All the countries I mentioned have a strong ‘national’ identity, whereas Russia has an ‘imperial’ identity. Maybe I was being a bit cute, but it seems I struck a bit of a nerve.
            It took the total destruction of Germany in WW2 for it to lose its imperial ambitions. Maybe the same is needed for Russia.
            Regardless, if the narrative of Ukraine not being a nation was even partially true 2 weeks ago, it has completely died within the population after the invasion.
            Maybe Putin is doing a favour to Ukraine (and Europe) in the long term. What is being done now will never be forgotten or forgiven, regardless of the outcome.

          • I’m not even remotely an expert on this crisis, but what I will say is due credit to the discourse above. Complex, highly emotive issues with clearly differing views yet still a more nuanced and mature level of discussion than most of our professional commentators are capable of.

            Thank you from this member of the MB community.

          • Hi BB_AU, that is why I like Macrobusiness. The forums are generally civil and add to overall knowledge. As is normal for forums, some are unhinged, but that is OK.
            Grand Funk Railroad is articulate and generally has a good depth of analysis. From my perspective his “spin” is very pro-Russian, and I feel the need to counter some of his points from a non-Russian perspective. It is very easy to just believe what he says, if a person does not know the deeper history/context. Even though I am not very active here, hopefully I add a bit to the discussion.

      • Some of them have. But it would be also true to note that for the vast bulk of that 300 years the majority of Ukrainians have been living just fine under Russia or the Soviets.

        i can only think the Holodomor lies outside this ‘vast bulk’?

        I mean, arguably the Holodomor’s resulting depopulation resulted in the concentration of ethnic Russians in Donetsk and Luhansk to begin with as Russians moved in afterwards.

    • Mearsheimer doesn’t go far enough. The dismemberment of the Russian state has been the pet project of more than a few over the years. Mackinder extended the British “great game” and thought that Russia should be divided into four different political entities. Hitler with his “general plan east” thought that the Russians had no right to exist at all and significant numbers of various eastern Europeans agreed with and supported him. With the fall of the Soviet Union Brzezinski thought that it would be nice if Russia were divided into three independent states – European, Siberian and Far East. The Russians were excluded from Europe denied membership of NATO – humiliated. And the American project to control everything continued. NATO continues to exist as a vehicle of American power and the Germans as usual control everything EU. Given the history one can understand how the Russians view all of this as a threat to their existence. Of course there are a lot of ethnic, cultural and other factors involved not mentioned here.

      Eastern Europeans and others have been offered baskets of carrots to be a part of this American/German system. But the Russians with good reason sense danger and ulterior motives. They clouted Georgia back in the early 2000’s (2004?) when this country sought to join NATO and this should have been a warning about the dangers of affiliating with the western alliance to the strategic disadvantage of the Russians.
      The Ukrainians have been cruelly deceived in that they thought that the west US/EU/NATO would rush to their aid militarily and they would not need to compromise with the nervous giant next door. The Horror.

    • GonzificusMEMBER

      Does Cuba have a right to choose for itself? Would the US have any right to demand Cuba be a “security buffer” if Russia were encroaching on the US borders?

      • Ronin8317MEMBER

        You missed the whole Cuban missile crisis? Bay of Pigs? How Haiti become a failed state?

        • GonzificusMEMBER

          That was a rhetorical question, based off the scenario from the Cuban missile crisis.
          We already know that the US would have gone nuclear if Russia hadn’t backed down. Now the roles are reversed, thankfully I don’t see Russia keen to release the atom.

  5. The staggering thing is that anyone gives credence to this feeble and shallow commentary; it has the depth of a sophomore international relations paper.

  6. Careful, even suggesting that there may be some shade of grey in the conflict is immediately seized on a misinformation and “Putinism”. Geopolitics, much like national policies is all very simple, good vs evil, right vs wrong, my facts vs their propaganda didn’t you get the memo?

    If you continue down this path you may find your blog listed as a portal for fascists and white nationalist sympathisers, you’ll be placed on a banned list alongside RT, maybe google adds, your web server, domain provider and payment portal will lock you out.

    Could be worse though, you could have Stan Grant policing your posts….?

  7. Glad you’re adopting a more mature take HnH rather than emotional outpourings. A bit late to the party though. This info has been around for years.

  8. Steven Roberts

    At the next federal election, I dedicate to give my vote to the candidate that can best pronounce Nuclear. Noo – clee – ahr. It ain’t that hard boys. WTF?

    • Steven Roberts

      Seriously, one bloke can barely pronounce his own name. The other bloke has nothing to talk about. This is the choice that faces us as electors.

  9. “But it would be also true to note that for the vast bulk of that 300 years the majority of Ukrainians have been living just fine under Russia or the Soviets. ”

    “Although I wouldn’t for a second suggest life was a bed of roses under the Soviets they did a plausible job on toning down territorial disputes. ” Well, whoopdie doo!

    Try telling that to my Estonian grandfather who was 12 at the time, and whose mother, father, brother and sister were all shot by the Soviets when the Soviet Union invaded Estonia in 1940.

    • From a Russian perspective, the soviet era was great.
      Given the Holodomor (1932-33) and other genocidal atrocities in Ukraine, as well as the forced “russification” of all the soviet republics, the CCCP was a disaster for non-Russians.

  10. The problem with dismembering Russia is that China will be looking with greedy eyes on the Russian far east, possibly the whole of Siberia. That wouldnt be a good outcome for us in the Pacific. Far better to have regime change in Russia with the country maintaining its territorial integrity and a credible threat to China. Remember, the Russians and Chinese have had several goes at each other. XI-Putin relationship is akin to Hitler-Stalin. They act like buddies but they dont trust one another for a second.

    • Agree, but this was Putin’s choice.
      He could have comfortably remained the leader of the largest country on earth, but he started acting on his imperial ambitions, and might end up losing most of Russia. China will be the winner here, even if Russia remains in its current borders. Russia is toxic to everyone that matters (except China).

  11. The problem autocrats have when they see democracies is that they just cant get inside our heads and understand us. Autocracies present strength when they are weak, unity when they are fractious and trust when they are distrustful. Whereas liberal democracies have a tendency to present in the reverse pattern. We squabble and bicker, we display all of our weaknesses, but deep down, we even trust the French, well sort of…

    • A bit like the difference between Russia and Ukraine.
      [trusting the French is going a bit far 🙂 ]

  12. I made alot of these points vis a vis this crisis in 2014 on this website. As I recall the views were not very well received by HnH, UE and especially Chris Becker at the time.

    Realism is the only school of international relations that should be listened to when it comes to great power competition.

  13. So a free country wanted to be more like Europe and less like Russia but they’re not allowed because Putin is paranoid and wants to bring Russia back to former glory.

    Got it.

    I’d really like to think what the US does if China wanted Western Australia.

    I really wonder about this blog recently.

  14. Russia will be lucky to even afford to maintain their nukes after all of this is over. They have just played their hand to change the order of the world and they’re a laughing stock.

    Putin just needed to forgot Ukraine and let it all go and keep bluffing away, but his ego was too big. Just like Hitler.

    Military pecking order is now

    US
    China

    And because Putin galvanised the EU, China standing there byots self.