Lost: The Truth About the War in Ukraine. If Found, Please Return ASAP.

 

Reward offered upon confirmation of veracity.

As I was putting together some preliminary thoughts about the quandary I hope to address here, I found a recent post at Powerline, the opening paragraph of which sums up my — our — dilemma far better than I could. It can be found here, and is as follows:

A certain amount of caution is recommended about reporting and commenting on the Ukraine War, mostly because solid facts are hard to come by (the “fog of war” and all that), and judgment about what to do is in equally short supply, especially inside the head of our president.

Since I wrote a short and very admiring piece about Zelensky, I have tried to read (almost) everything I could get my hands on about the war and the combatants involved, to see whether I have been missing something along the way. Truth be told, I have apparently missed a lot, as one can find support for any side of the arguments about the war if one looks hard enough.

For example:

  1. The Russians have been defeated in their attempt to take Kyiv. Ukraine has not defeated the Russians at Kyiv, they have just pulled back to regroup and can come back after they mop up in the East. Take your pick.
  2. Zelensky is the Sir Winston Churchill of our time. Zelensky is a corrupt product of the deep corruption for which Ukraine is most noted and has millions stashed away in offshore banks Take your pick.
  3. The sanctions we have imposed on Russia, Putin, the oligarchs, etc., etc., are the most devastating in the history of sanctions in all of recorded history and have, in the typically inane words of our Potemkin “President”, “turned the ruble into rubble.” The sanctions we have imposed have had a serious initial impact on the Russian population in general but are unlikely to have any serious impact on Russia’s conduct of the war in Ukraine; the ruble was, in fact, hit hard at first and has now recovered to levels above where it was before the sanctions. Take your pick.
  4. Putin is a vicious mad-dog monster who just woke up one morning and decided to level an entire nation and slaughter millions in the process. Putin has been telling the West in clear and unmistakable terms that this invasion would take place if the West and NATO did not put a stop to its overtures to Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO and the EU. Take your pick.
  5. Putin is likely to be removed in a palace coup due to his mishandling of the war in Ukraine. Putin is stronger than ever with approval ratings, at last report, in the range of 78% (a level our “President” and his imbecile of a Vice President can only dream of). Take your pick.
  6. The war will end by mid-May. The war will grind on as long as it takes Russia to obliterate the entire country—and its leadership. Take your pick.
  7. Putin is winning decisively. Ukraine is winning and will, in short order, turn back the Russian onslaught. Take your pick.
  8. Biden engaged in real statesmanship in publicly calling Putin a “war criminal” and openly pushing for “regime change” in the Kremlin. Biden’s irresponsible remarks and more and more obvious cognitive deficiencies regarding the man with the largest nuclear arsenal in the world could get us all (ALL) killed. Take your pick.

What follows is a relatively brief discourse on the authorities I have found on all sides of some of these issues and I note that I use the word “brief” advisedly in viewing the voluminous nature of much of this content. That said, I cannot recommend too highly a complete reading of the writings cited here as, together, they give a much clearer picture of what is actually happening on the ground in Ukraine, unfiltered through the far left lens of disgraces to journalism like CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post and the New York Times.

I will most highly recommend one particular podcast as the most comprehensive resource I have found for a thorough and deeply researched treatment of the history leading up to this unspeakable tragedy. I emphasize that while I do not pretend to have any “answers” to all these questions, I have found some sources which seem to be, in my humble opinion as just a lay observer nowhere near the level of “nuanced” “intellectualism” of some of the elites (some of whom got us here in the first place), very solid writings about the long and sordid history leading up to this tragedy.

Another phrasing of that same truth is found in a short piece by a financial consultant James Rickards entitled “I’ve Never Heard So Many Lies”:

All wars are full of lies. Winston Churchill famously said, “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.”

We accept that idea broadly. Secret invasion plans should be closely held. The identities of spies must be kept under wraps. New weapons and defensive tools should not be revealed because enemies will be alerted to their potential and begin offensive workarounds.

Still, just because the government has legitimate reasons to deceive the public in wartime does not mean that citizens don’t have a duty to find the truth to the extent they can.

The Russian-Ukraine kinetic war and the broader U.S.-Russian economic war are full of more lies than any public events I’ve seen in my lifetime including Vietnam, Watergate and the Iraq War.

That’s how big the lies are.

I. “Ukraine has won the Battle of Kyiv”

When I decided to make a concentrated effort to learn as much as I could about the war, one of the first publications I turned to was the daily reporting of the Institute for the Study of War. I was impressed by the thoroughness of their reports and most impressed by the membership of their Board of Directors, which includes Gen. Jack Keane. Gradually it started to dawn on me that most, if not all, of their reporting was sourced to the Ukrainian General Staff. For example, here is the opening paragraph of their report of April 3:

Ukraine has won the Battle of Kyiv. Russian forces are completing their withdrawal, but not in good order. Ukrainian forces are continuing to clear Kyiv Oblast of isolated Russian troops left behind in the retreat, which some Ukrainian officials describe as “lost orcs.” Russian forces had attempted to conduct an orderly retreat from their positions around Kyiv with designated covering forces supported by artillery and mines to allow the main body to withdraw. The main body of Russian troops has withdrawn from the west bank of the Dnipro and is completing its withdrawal from the east bank, but the retrograde has been sufficiently disorderly that some Russian troops were left behind.

And here are their “Key Takeaways” from the same date:

  • Ukraine has won the Battle of Kyiv, and Russian forces are completing their withdrawals from both the east and the west banks of the Dnipro in disorder.
  • Russian forces retreating from around Kyiv will likely need considerable time before they can return to combat.
  • Incidents of refusals of orders to engage in combat operations among Russian units continue and may lead to the redeployment of two BTGs that had arrived near Donbas within the last few days to their home stations in South Ossetia.
  • The continued existence of an independent Ukrainian state with its capital in Kyiv is no longer in question at this time, although much fighting remains and the war could still turn Russia’s way.

II. Ukraine has not won the battle of Kyiv.

The other side of this issue, decidedly less rosy and optimistic, was stated in the Rickards piece, cited above, and echoed by the estimable Roger Kimball, in an article entitled “Trading Realpolitik for a Puppet Show”, here.

Here’s the official U.S. narrative as echoed by the mainstream media: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was unprovoked, Putin’s three-day blitzkrieg of Kyiv has failed, Russian forces are bogged down and valiant Ukrainian troops are putting up a powerful defense and regaining lost ground with the help of weapons from NATO.

***

Russia never planned a blitzkrieg on Kyiv. That’s a Western invention intended to make Putin look like a failure. In fact, Russia is slowly and methodically taking territory in the south and east of Ukraine in order to control the seacoasts, eliminate pro-fascist elements in Mariupol and establish pro-Russian autonomous zones in Donbas.

Also noted in this piece is the view of our own military and here I am (with great regret) constrained to note one is most highly advised to take any information from the current Pentagon leadership with a grain of salt the size of one of Hunter Biden’s cocaine rocks:

Most tellingly, Pentagon leaks say the same thing. The story from inside the Pentagon is that Putin is not acting recklessly but is being patient and methodical. It also says that, despite some civilian casualties, Putin is actually using a restrained approach. Furthermore, there are no signs he is preparing for the use of chemical or biological weapons.

III. The Slaughter in Bucha was a War Crime by Russia

The consensus of the reporting of the media at the time this is being written, as well as what seems to be the almost-universally accepted narrative world-wide, is that this was a war crime committed by the butchers of the Red Army. The images being viewed daily over the world could easily have been the same they left behind as they slaughtered their way to Berlin. Their reputation for wanton cruelty, such as the Katyn Massacre in which an estimated 20,000 Polish Army officers were gunned down in 1940, has been long established and lends credence to this side of the argument.

IV. The Bucha Atrocity Was a False Flag Operation and a Lie

In “About the Bucha ‘Reported’ Atrocities” on the Meaning in History blog, these passages are found:

… Even a casual observer of the news feeds has to notice that virtually all of the anti-Russian claims—wildly over optimistic assessments, claims of Putin’s mental decline and or desperation, fake news of atrocities and casualties, mislabeling of photos, etc.—appear first in British media outlets.

This has also happened in the case of the “reported”—i.e., unverified—Russian atrocities in Bucha. A few tweets illustrate the very dodgy character of this narrative. It took no less than two days, maybe longer, of reoccupation of Bucha by Ukraine for the narrative to develop. Weird, huh?

***

No forensic findings—only narrative designed to prolong and increase sanctions. Ultimate goal? Probably to hold wavering NATO countries in line:

***

… Let’s see if the Ukrainians provide verifiable medical forensic data to sustain their accusations.

Similar questions about the “accepted” narrative were set forth in a most interesting discussion found in American Greatness entitled “Who Really Committed War Cremes in Bucha?”, dated April 9. For the sake of brevity, here is a truncated version of the author’s main points:

First, this fits with a pattern of Ukrainian forces violating the rules of war, as evidenced by numerous videos showing the shooting of prisonerstorturing civilians, and the like. …

Second, Ukrainian President Voldomyr Zelenskyy has given numerous speeches calling for the punishment of “saboteurs” and “traitors,” saying the war will ultimately end with the “de-Russification” of Ukraine. These are tough words, which clearly would tend to inflame and encourage the more extremist elements.

Three, the atmosphere in Ukraine is ripe for war crimes. …

Four, the timeline of reports creates real doubts about whether Russia perpetrated the Bucha Massacre. …

Fifth, in at least some of the photos of Bucha , the victims appear to have white armbands—a sign of friendliness towards Russian forces and an indicator used by Russian forces themselves—and Russian-supplied emergency rations. …

Finally, the Ukrainians surely know that allegations of Russian atrocities—like earlier stories about Russia attacking nuclear plants and suggestions of Russia’s imminent use of chemical weapons—are the easiest way to manipulate the West into becoming a combatant. …

My selection of his main points is entirely and arbitrarily mine; I highly recommend a full reading of this excellent article.

V. Volodymyr Zelensky is the Sir Winston Churchill of our time

Not long ago, I wrote a post entitled “Zelensky: A President Who Loves His Country- And Would Die For It” in which I praised his speech before the Congress and noted my admiration for his strength and obvious love of country. One of the ideas behind this admittedly laudatory discussion was the contrast I saw between that President and the corrupt, dishonest, cognitively-impaired cretin who presently occupies —illegitimately in my opinion, but that is for another day — that position in our Nation. One comment said that “90% of your post is fawning over a corrupt man.” While I did not know I was even capable of “fawning” over anyone (My Lady and family obviously excepted) , my recent research has lent heartening evidence to the fact that I am apparently not alone in admiring this man in these impossible-to-imagine trials, as one of Sir Winston’s most noted biographers recently published an op-ed “Churchill, Zelensky and the American Right”, in the Wall Street Journal, noting the following:

No reflection on Churchill today would be complete without noting the Churchillian leadership of President Volodymyr Zelensky. Mr. Zelensky saw the Afghan president flee when the Taliban advanced on Kabul last year and decided he wouldn’t be that kind of leader. He summoned his inner Churchill and decided to stay in his capital and fight it out. If he dies in Kyiv, Mr. Zelensky will become a martyr to Ukrainians for centuries and could be even more of a threat to Mr. Putin in death than he is in life.

Like Churchill, Mr. Zelensky endures nightly attacks on his capital city for weeks on end, speaks to his people without ever sugaring the pill, appeals for the tools to finish the job, and, in a direct paraphrase of Churchill’s June 4, 1940, speech after Dunkirk, has promised to fight in the forests and the streets and not to surrender. Churchill never had to face enemy ground troops in London’s suburbs or assassination squads.

Mr. Putin has described Mr. Zelensky as a neo-Nazi and a drug addict. The neo-Nazi jibe stretches credulity for many reasons, not least Mr. Zelensky’s Jewishness. With regard to addiction, I wish Mr. Putin had revealed what drug Mr. Zelensky is taking so that I could get some. Churchill said in January 1940: “Finland—superb, nay, sublime. In the jaws of peril, Finland shows what free men can do. The service rendered by Finland to mankind is magnificent.” Today he would apply those same words to Ukraine.

There are people in the conservative movement who oppose and attack Mr. Zelensky. I understand their arguments intellectually. Some are ideological; others have to do with World War II; still others go back to Catherine the Great or to events as recent as the Trump presidency. I beseech them to recognize that as of Feb. 24 everything has changed, not only because of Mr. Putin’s invasion, but because of the brutal way it has been carried out. For all our sophisticated appreciation of realpolitik, we mustn’t blind ourselves to the fact that an evil man has done a terribly evil thing.

VI, Zelensky is just another corrupt product of one of the most corrupt nations in the world.

This side of the argument is best summarized in the Kimball piece linked above, in which he has this to say about the “new Churchill” canard:

… But what about Zelenskyy, the “new Churchill”?  On the plus side, Rickards acknowledges, he has “succeeded in presenting himself as a strong wartime leader, standing up to the big, bad Putin.” He’s telegenic, a fighter, and a PR genius. No wonder the U.S. Congress gave him a standing ovation. But he is also a complicated figure. As Rickards also notes, Zelenskyy is “a corrupt oligarch with millions of dollars hidden offshore. His acting skills have enhanced his propaganda efforts, but it doesn’t take much training to see how phony he is.” Moreover, “innocent civilians, including women and children, are dying under his failed leadership and inability to come to terms with Putin before the invasion began. In a nutshell, Zelenskyy bet on support from Biden and the West and lost.”

VII. Conclusion: Sources on the History of Events Leading up to this Tragedy

Several detailed and extensively researched articles have appeared lately outlining the history of the last 20 years or so leading up to this point. Before I cite those authorities, and while I wish it was not at all necessary to do so, I must make it clear that nothing in this post should be taken to excuse in any way whatsoever the cruel and brutal attack on Ukraine and its people. These discussions and resources are offered as research aids for anyone who might wish to delve further into this most sordid chapter in the history of modern warfare.

The leading article I would recommend appeared in the Wall Street Journal recently under the title “Vladimir Putin’s 20-Year March to War in Ukraine — and How the West Mishandled it” — it is a chilling reminder of how many “red flags” were blown through on the way to February 24, 2022, by many in the West. I highly recommend a thorough reading of this lengthy analysis. A more succinct discussion can be found in “Bill Clinton’s supreme NATO screw-up comes back to haunt us”, containing these thoughts, starting with a reference to George Kennan’s book American Diplomacy:

Kennan understood, as Clinton and his team did not, that a Russian “sphere of influence” was one of those “national realities.”  He singled out Ukraine for special mention in this regard.  “Ukraine,” he wrote, “deserves full recognition for the peculiar genius and abilities of its people and for the requirements and possibilities of its development as a linguistic and cultural entity.”  But, he continued, “Ukraine is economically as much a part of Russia as Pennsylvania is a part of the United States.”  Meanwhile, the Baltic states and other satellite states, he advised, should not proceed from “feelings of revenge and hatred toward the Russian people who have shared their tragedy.”

Kennan would have rolled his eyes at the notion pressed by Clinton in his Atlantic article that, as president, he “tried to put Russia on another path.”  Kennan lacked the intellectual and ahistorical hubris of the Clinton foreign policy team.  He understood that Russians, not American policymakers, would decide Russia’s political future.  And the Russian political tradition, as the late Russian scholar Richard Pipes repeatedly noted, was one of “patrimonialism,” where all power flows directly from an autocratic leader or group of leaders.  Vladimir Putin fits within that Russian tradition.

I also recommend “How the West Sowed the Seeds of War in Ukraine” by Pedro Gonzalez, here.

I conclude with a reference to a resource that is not only, in my opinion, perhaps the very best of all those I noted in my research, but maybe one of the best in-depth historical analyses I have ever heard in a relatively brief delivery. It is entitled “Thoughts on Ukraine” and is on the podcast The MartyrMade podcast by Darryl Cooper.

I have learned — at times the hard way — that there are no guarantees in life, but in this case I will come close to assuring anyone who is willing to invest the almost 2 1/2 hours it will take to get through this discussion that your views on the many diplomatic misadventures along the way will almost certainly change to one degree or another. With that knowledge may well come, as it did for me, a real and chilling sense of foreboding for what the future holds, especially, obviously, as long as our National “leadership” class, led by the worst “President” in American history, remains in power.

Pray for Ukraine— and America!

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  1. E. Kent Golding Member
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    I admit that I do not understand what is going on in Ukraine.   Two things I know:  1.   Russia has killed many people in Ukraine for insufficient reasons.  2.  Biden egged Putin on to push Putin into war.

    • #1
  2. DonG (CAGW is a Hoax) Coolidge
    DonG (CAGW is a Hoax)
    @DonG

    Beyond fog of war, there is an immense amounts of disinformation thrown at us.  On the GoodFellows podcast they speculated that Ukraine is a redo of the Korean war.  It is a proxy fight between cold-war II factions.  This time, Russia and China have switch positions, so that Russia is doing the fighting and China is doing the financing.  They expect Ukraine to be partitioned like Korea and a simmering tension to persist for decades.  Unlike with Korea, they do not expect US boots on the ground.   Could be.

    Meanwhile I am seeing reports that the Azov militia has nearly been cleared out of Mariupol and that Russian enforcements are headed to the Donbass.  Those reports might be true and probably mean something.  Again, even our hindsight is not 20/20.

    • #2
  3. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    DonG (CAGW is a Hoax) (View Comment):

    Beyond fog of war, there is an immense amounts of disinformation thrown at us. On the GoodFellows podcast they speculated that Ukraine is a redo of the Korean war. It is a proxy fight between cold-war II factions. This time, Russia and China have switch positions, so that Russia is doing the fighting and China is doing the financing. They expect Ukraine to be partitioned like Korea and a simmering tension to persist for decades. Unlike with Korea, they do not expect US boots on the ground. Could be.

    Meanwhile I am seeing reports that the Azov militia has nearly been cleared out of Mariupol and that Russian enforcements are headed to the Donbass. Those reports might be true and probably mean something. Again, even our hindsight is not 20/20.

    Maybe, maybe not.  I am a bit more cynical than I was.  I think this whole game is about corruption, power and money. Ukraine Has been in too much of my news the last few years.  The Democrats and GOPe are neck deep in it.  Used it to impeach a POTUS.  Used it to shutdown pipelines and start up others.  I feel for the people of Ukraine.  Especially since it looks that the US help caused this event.  Now the best thing would be to it be and stop playing in its corruption. 

    • #3
  4. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    Good roundup of competing viewpoints. The following retorts are intended to ascribe anything to you.

    The other side of this issue, decidedly less rosy and optimistic, was stated in the Rickards piece, cited above, and echoed by the estimable Roger Kimball, in an article entitled “Trading Realpolitik for a Puppet Show”, here.

    Here’s the official U.S. narrative as echoed by the mainstream media: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was unprovoked, Putin’s three-day blitzkrieg of Kyiv has failed, Russian forces are bogged down and valiant Ukrainian troops are putting up a powerful defense and regaining lost ground with the help of weapons from NATO.

    Did Putin’s assault on Kyiv succeed? Or was it – what’s the word – bogged down, plagued by its own logistical and materiel inadequacies, harassed and detrited, until it lumbered off minus tons of tanks and lots of men? I love when people say “valiant” in this sarcastic sense; it’s a tell.

    Russia never planned a blitzkrieg on Kyiv. That’s a Western invention intended to make Putin look like a failure.  In fact, Russia is slowly and methodically taking territory in the south and east of Ukraine in order to control the seacoasts, eliminate pro-fascist elements in Mariupol and establish pro-Russian autonomous zones in Donbas.

    Yes, Putin is so deeply concerned with fascists. The very idea of messianic militarist nationalism just horrifies him, as it would any liberal democrat. Why, all he asks is “pro-Russian” zones that  would never ever (pinky swear) be anything but “autonomous,” completely free to chart their own destiny. Meanwhile, Putin, who is totally not looking like a failure but a steely-eyed master of events, fired 150 FSB agents and threw the head of the Fifth Service into the clink at Levortofo for pocketing money intended to bribe the Ukes into quitting.

    The upcoming  eastern offensive may be hideous, since the Russians will probably just bomb everything to rubble and kill as many people as possible to reach their diminished objective of pliable client states filled with people who probably preferred to live in intact cities instead of liberated rubble.

    • #4
  5. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    Putin just backed the ruble with gold and tied it and only it to resource exports. He just shoved the sanctions right up the worlds a**. 

    • #5
  6. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Good stuff and where I am.

    I can but pray.

    • #6
  7. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    Despite the fog of war, distrust in the liberal media, and propaganda coming from both sides, there are certain things that can be deduced by common sense.

    First of all, the idea that Russia has not lost the battle of Kiev, but is making a strategic retreat is kind of ludicrous.  What winning army anywhere in the world runs away from their opponents after victory?  (I know, Israel, but they are a special case, and are not conquistadors like Russia.)  It’s just nonsensical that Russia would leave a part of Ukraine that it had already won.

    Second, it’s pretty clear that Zelinsky is not a “phony,” an Oligarch who is just waiting to live off his stashed millions offshore as Kimball opines.  The guy stayed and fought when he had a free ticket to peaceful retirement from Joe Biden.  “I need ammunition, not a ride.”

    I earlier read the piece you linked from Pedro Gonzales in another thread and I found it blaming the West for this war, which I find just absurd.

    • #7
  8. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    Steven Seward (View Comment):
    I earlier read the piece you linked from Pedro Gonzales in another thread and I found it blaming the West for this war, which I find just absurd.

    With respect, I disagree because, as I read his piece, that is not what he said. Here’s the pertinent part on which I base that:

    President Vladimir Putin is playing Russian roulette with the world. The invasion he launched on Feb. 24 has brought us closer to nuclear war than anything since the Cuban missile crisis. 

    However, other culprits in the United States and Europe share his guilt. But they have so far managed to avoid notice and blame.

    There would be no victory in stopping Russia without confronting what these groups and individuals have done. War does not begin in a vacuum, and this one has been a long time coming. Putin invaded Ukraine, but these liberal interventionists paved the road that made the present crisis inevitable.

    Steven Seward (View Comment):
    Second, it’s pretty clear that Zelinsky is not a “phony,” an Oligarch who is just waiting to live off his stashed millions offshore as Kimball opines.  The guy stayed and fought when he had a free ticket to peaceful retirement from Joe Biden.  “I need ammunition, not a ride.”

    Agree. See my earlier post at https://ricochet.com/1206296/zelenskyy-a-president-who-loves-his-country-and-would-die-for-it/

    Steven Seward (View Comment):
    First of all, the idea that Russia has not lost the battle of Kiev, but is making a strategic retreat is kind of ludicrous.  What winning army anywhere in the world runs away from their opponents after victory?  (I know, Israel, but they are a special case, and are not conquistadors like Russia.)  It’s just nonsensical that Russia would leave a part of Ukraine that it had already won.

    I am inclined to agree, but quite frankly find this to be one of those times when I have no idea what the truth is.

    Thanks for your comment. Jim

    • #8
  9. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    James Lileks (View Comment):
    Good roundup of competing viewpoints. The following retorts are (not?) intended to ascribe anything to you.

    Did I fix it for you? :-) Jim

     

    • #9
  10. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    Jim George (View Comment):

    James Lileks (View Comment):
    Good roundup of competing viewpoints. The following retorts are (not?) intended to ascribe anything to you.

    Did I fix it for you? :-) Jim

     

    Yes – hah. A late-night edit to my comment, missing the most important word. Thanks!

    • #10
  11. MiMac Thatcher
    MiMac
    @MiMac

    The American Greatness article is an absolute boot licker of a piece-ignores the satellite pics showing bodies in the street well before the Russians left.  But we all know those satellites are liars. Not to mention the Russians were absolute Girl Scouts in Syria and Grozny.

    • #11
  12. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Putin is reliably untrustworthy. Zelensky is unreliably trustworthy. Biden is unreliable and untrustworthy. 

    • #12
  13. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Putin is reliably untrustworthy. Zelensky is unreliably trustworthy. Biden is unreliable and untrustworthy.

    My Lady and I agree: this is comment of the week, if not of the year! Bravo! 

    • #13
  14. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    Putin just backed the ruble with gold and tied it and only it to resource exports. He just shoved the sanctions right up the worlds a**.

    I think he just now decoupled it again from gold.

    But also the ruble can also now be used in a round-about way to buy and sell oil and gas.

    • #14
  15. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    Putin just backed the ruble with gold and tied it and only it to resource exports. He just shoved the sanctions right up the worlds a**.

    I think he just now decoupled it again from gold.

    But also the ruble can also now be used in a round-about way to buy and sell oil and gas.

    Beginning of the end of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency? I’ve seen quite a few articles and comments to that effect lately. 

    • #15
  16. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    Jim George (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    Putin just backed the ruble with gold and tied it and only it to resource exports. He just shoved the sanctions right up the worlds a**.

    I think he just now decoupled it again from gold.

    But also the ruble can also now be used in a round-about way to buy and sell oil and gas.

    Beginning of the end of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency? I’ve seen quite a few articles and comments to that effect lately.

    I’ve been seeing that prediction for years, if not decades, but it never seems to become a reality.

    • #16
  17. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Jim George (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    Putin just backed the ruble with gold and tied it and only it to resource exports. He just shoved the sanctions right up the worlds a**.

    I think he just now decoupled it again from gold.

    But also the ruble can also now be used in a round-about way to buy and sell oil and gas.

    Beginning of the end of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency? I’ve seen quite a few articles and comments to that effect lately.

    I’ve been seeing that prediction for years, if not decades, but it never seems to become a reality.

    Sure hope that continues or we’ll (or our children and grandchildren)  be speaking Mandarin.

    • #17
  18. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    I’ve been following the fighting fairly closely.  I have no military background, but some experience in data analysis.  Given the fog of war and miasma of agitprop, I’ve been focusing on two things:  data that can’t be disguised, and track records of analysts.  

    On the data front, this is the most transparent war in history.  You don’t have to work hard to find open source satellite images and on location pictures and videos, many of them geocoded and/or time stamped, showing the aftermath of battle and occasionally troops and equipment in transit and live combat footage.  With all that, it’s pretty hard for either side to disguise the approximate location of current combat, the operational tempo, and to some degree the logistical tail of their forces.  Some of the pix and video have been obviously manipulated to some extent (e.g., music inserted on a number of Ukrainian combat vids), but in most cases they check out either specifically, by later images in the same area, or generally in the sense that other events mesh with the purported actions.

    The current situation as I perceive it from the above:  Operational tempo has dropped dramatically since the Russians retreated from the Kyiv attack, both on the ground and in the air.  Russians and their proxies continue the siege of Mariupol.  Ukrainians are launching some minor counter attacks in the Kherson oblast.  Russians are pressing in the Kharkiv and Izyum areas, without notable success and continue to batter at the Donbas line also without much success.

    There are two radically different theories floating around for what’s happening:

    1. It’s the calm before the storm.  Putin has realigned the war effort towards taking all of Eastern Ukraine and the Russian army is pulling up forces and supplies to launch a major attack.  Ukraine is digging in to resist and give the Russians another bloody nose.  All the fighting mentioned above is just position improvement and battlefield prep for the big show.
    2. Both sides are prostrated.  Russian logistics and personnel were poor to begin with, and were further trashed in the failed attack on Kyiv, with most of the units committed being effectively out of action.  Ukraine has taken more logistical damage and casualties than they have revealed and can’t risk heavier losses.  In this version, the fighting above is all the sides can actually manage.

    And of course they might both be partly true.  One thing seems clear:  The time pressure is on the Russians.  Putin has made a semi-official goal of some sort of claimable victory by May 9th.  A lot of Russian enlistments will expire in June (see Dunnigan article in new post). The Ukrainians will get more resupplies with time, and the Russian economy will likely erode.

    • #18
  19. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    2/2 Data aggregators I’m watching: (Rico editor is doing some weird s*** to twitter URLs, so truncating them.)

    twitter.com/UAWeapons

    twitter.com/sentdefender

    The former is very equipment focused, the latter is wider, including non-Ukraine.  Both are pro-Ukraine, the latter more obviously, but both show UA losses.  Useful links to primary data.

    https://militaryland.net/ukraine/invasion-day-48-summary/  (change the day number to suit.  Day 48 = April 12th.)

    https://liveuamap.com/

    twitter.com/EuromaidanPress

    twitter.com/KyivIndependent

    The latter two are quasi-official UA. Anything seen there needs to be confirmed elsewhere.

    On to analysts.  There’s been enough time now to evaluate their abilities to forecast.  As is pretty well known, the ‘establishment’ analysts in both official defense organizations and most relevant ‘think tanks’ ended up with major egg on their faces, having forecast a rapid Russian victory.  They may all be safely ignored unless they are reporting primary data (e.g., Pentagon brief presumably from technical intelligence take).

    Some guys who got it mostly right:

    twitter.com/PhillipsPOBrien

    twitter.com/TrentTelenko

    Past results are no guarantee, blah blah blah, but at least they were looking in the right places.

    Others of note:

    Jim Dunnigan at StrategyPage.  This article is particularly on point: https://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htwin/articles/20220411.aspx

    https://www.understandingwar.org/  Institute for the Study of War.  Daily reports and periodic analysis at both tactical and strategy level.

    • #19
  20. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Jim George (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    Putin just backed the ruble with gold and tied it and only it to resource exports. He just shoved the sanctions right up the worlds a**.

    I think he just now decoupled it again from gold.

    But also the ruble can also now be used in a round-about way to buy and sell oil and gas.

    Beginning of the end of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency? I’ve seen quite a few articles and comments to that effect lately.

    I’ve been seeing that prediction for years, if not decades, but it never seems to become a reality.

    Did you ever see millions of people get arrested for walking around in public or get fired for refusing to get a shot over all those years and decades? 

    • #20
  21. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Jim George (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    Putin just backed the ruble with gold and tied it and only it to resource exports. He just shoved the sanctions right up the worlds a**.

    I think he just now decoupled it again from gold.

    But also the ruble can also now be used in a round-about way to buy and sell oil and gas.

    Beginning of the end of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency? I’ve seen quite a few articles and comments to that effect lately.

    I’ve been seeing that prediction for years, if not decades, but it never seems to become a reality.

    Did you ever see millions of people get arrested for walking around in public or get fired for refusing to get a shot over all those years and decades?

    No, but I’m not sure what that has to do with the U.S. Dollar being the World’s reserve currency.

    • #21
  22. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    Locke On (View Comment):

    I’ve been following the fighting fairly closely. I have no military background, but some experience in data analysis. Given the fog of war and miasma of agitprop, I’ve been focusing on two things: data that can’t be disguised, and track records of analysts.

    Thanks for the analysis and links to further information.  I especially appreciate it because I don’t watch any news broadcasts nor listen to any on the radio.

    • #22
  23. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Jim George (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    Putin just backed the ruble with gold and tied it and only it to resource exports. He just shoved the sanctions right up the worlds a**.

    I think he just now decoupled it again from gold.

    But also the ruble can also now be used in a round-about way to buy and sell oil and gas.

    Beginning of the end of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency? I’ve seen quite a few articles and comments to that effect lately.

    I’ve been seeing that prediction for years, if not decades, but it never seems to become a reality.

    Did you ever see millions of people get arrested for walking around in public or get fired for refusing to get a shot over all those years and decades?

    No, but I’m not sure what that has to do with the U.S. Dollar being the World’s reserve currency.

    Things are changing fast and changing to change even faster.  Who’d’ve thought ten years ago that we would have gay clowns having our four-year-old boys sit on their laps and tell them that they could be girls.

    Or a truly mentally unfit (yes, I’ve recently changed my view to this) president who can’t give a speech without saying something he’s not supposed to say.

    Or gay marriage, or banks taking people’s money for social or political incorrectness, or the government telling companies to fire people if they don’t get experimental vaccines, or putting entire cities on near house arrest.  Or prosecuting parading protesters, but releasing rioters and arsonists.

    There’s a pattern here.

    • #23
  24. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Jim George (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    Putin just backed the ruble with gold and tied it and only it to resource exports. He just shoved the sanctions right up the worlds a**.

    I think he just now decoupled it again from gold.

    But also the ruble can also now be used in a round-about way to buy and sell oil and gas.

    Beginning of the end of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency? I’ve seen quite a few articles and comments to that effect lately.

    I’ve been seeing that prediction for years, if not decades, but it never seems to become a reality.

    Did you ever see millions of people get arrested for walking around in public or get fired for refusing to get a shot over all those years and decades?

    No, but I’m not sure what that has to do with the U.S. Dollar being the World’s reserve currency.

    Things are changing fast and changing to change even faster. Who’d’ve thought ten years ago that we would have gay clowns having our four-year-old boys sit on their laps and tell them that they could be girls.

    Or a truly mentally unfit (yes, I’ve recently changed my view to this) president who can’t give a speech without saying something he’s not supposed to say.

    Or gay marriage, or banks taking people’s money for social or political incorrectness, or the government telling companies to fire people if they don’t get experimental vaccines, or putting entire cities on near house arrest. Or prosecuting parading protesters, but releasing rioters and arsonists.

    There’s a pattern here.

    I think it takes more than the fact that things change to make a pattern. 

    • #24
  25. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Jim George (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    Putin just backed the ruble with gold and tied it and only it to resource exports. He just shoved the sanctions right up the worlds a**.

    I think he just now decoupled it again from gold.

    But also the ruble can also now be used in a round-about way to buy and sell oil and gas.

    Beginning of the end of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency? I’ve seen quite a few articles and comments to that effect lately.

    I’ve been seeing that prediction for years, if not decades, but it never seems to become a reality.

    Did you ever see millions of people get arrested for walking around in public or get fired for refusing to get a shot over all those years and decades?

    No, but I’m not sure what that has to do with the U.S. Dollar being the World’s reserve currency.

    It means that formerly reliable practices are no longer reliable; they’re not even common. The dollar is a fiat currency and the world knows it, and wants it to crash, and there’s no reason for it not to.

    • #25
  26. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    There’s a pattern here.

    I think it takes more than the fact that things change to make a pattern. 

    So let/s call it a “trend” instead of a “pattern”.

    • #26
  27. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Rodin (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    There’s a pattern here.

    I think it takes more than the fact that things change to make a pattern.

    So let/s call it a “trend” instead of a “pattern”.

    Don’t get sucked into word games.  He isn’t saying that there isn’t a pattern.  He isn’t even saying that he doesn’t see the pattern.

    • #27
  28. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    This, like so many places over time, is well beyond me.  What I found as a foreign service officer for over thirty years, on three continents, was that folks talk as if they know a place, but after about 6 months I’d find they didn’t understand much.  Then for quite a few years I’d think I did, but that wasn’t true either.  You have to simplify and decide what actually matters to the US and is something we can shape. Not easy.   My point here, is most folks writing about the Ukraine and Russia are ignorant and superficial.  Thanks for the article that addresses exactly what it took me so many years to figure out.  That is why, to have real influence,  the US has to be perceived as strong, determined and capable, all very different characteristics.  We’re none of those now, so we have little influence and must be cautious until we’ve changed leadership.  Who or wherever that comes from.  It isn’t  Biden.  

    • #28
  29. John H. Member
    John H.
    @JohnH

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Locke On (View Comment):

    I’ve been following the fighting fairly closely. I have no military background, but some experience in data analysis. Given the fog of war and miasma of agitprop, I’ve been focusing on two things: data that can’t be disguised, and track records of analysts.

    Thanks for the analysis and links to further information. I especially appreciate it because I don’t watch any news broadcasts nor listen to any on the radio.

    And thanks from me too, for the same things and for the same reasons. I was going to write “Not only have I learned nothing about this war but it appears no one has learned anything about any war” but that would have been an exaggeration.

    Not having anything to contribute about the conflict in question, I will toss out a debate topic: suppose there were a war and the belligerents instituted food rationing. Whether they did, and whether it was a good idea, I bet most onlookers nowadays would flat-out disbelieve it. The tenor of most modern commentary, really its unspoken assumption, is that war must be quick. Maybe for most onlookers, it would be: they’d surrender before lunch. But for the parties directly involved, that doesn’t seem to happen! Commentators’ lack of knowledge is one thing; their lack of imagination another, perhaps greater thing.

    • #29
  30. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    John H. (View Comment):

    The tenor of most modern commentary, really its unspoken assumption, is that war must be quick. Maybe for most onlookers, it would be: they’d surrender before lunch. But for the parties directly involved, that doesn’t seem to happen! Commentators’ lack of knowledge is one thing; their lack of imagination another, perhaps greater thing

    I think that is just an American perspective, having perpetrated one-sided landslide military victories over the last 30 years.  We just expected that Russia, being the “other superpower,” should have walked through Ukraine the way we went through Iraq.  It is turning out that Russia’s reputation of power is a counterfeit veneer hiding a weaker military due to good old corruption, incompetence, and disorganization as commonly seen in authoritarian regimes.

    • #30
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