There are so many angles from which to view the war in Ukraine. I’ve tried my best to cover them to get a sense of why we are where we are… which is headed towards a much larger conflict.
Despite my deep cynicism, I am essentially an optimist. I tend to see opportunities for end games that result in humanity walking away from any kind of final solution. And sometimes that means having to look beyond the boundary conditions of the current conflict and see it in the grander context of what humanity is trying to achieve.
So remember, this is my bias. There’s a solution even if things look bleak because humanity has always recoiled from the worst of its excesses when personally confronted with them, at least for a few generations until the memories fade.
In WWII the nominal good guys, the Allies, defeated the nominal bad guys, the Axis, but mainly the Nazis. I’m not one to subscribe to that caricature of events. I know the issues are far deeper than that.
During war both sides’ propaganda becomes the height of reductionist. The other side is bad.
Putin, for his part, is calling Ukrainians both brothers of Russia and Nazis at the same time, overplaying the genocide of Russians in the Donbass. While in the US we’re just calling the Russians by names we would normally reserve for ants invading our kitchen.
This conflict between West and East is a civilizational one where each side uses words in very specific ways which creates the opportunity for this type of reductionist propaganda. Joaquin Flores in my podcast with him tried to elucidate this idea from the Russians’ perspective.
There he talked about what Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov means by the word ‘neutral’ as it regards Ukraine. Neutral to Lavrov and Russia means part of the greater Russian Union State, making Ukraine a partner to Russia similar to Belarus and soon to be Kazakhstan.
The US and those angry ants at British Intelligence who craft the talking points for this war, define neutral like the Swiss: not aligned, a buffer state. And that mismatch in definition is used cynically to promote this idea by NATO and the West that the Russians are not fulfilling their international obligations and justify their helping Ukraine’s heroic defense of itself from a hostile invader.
And Russia is now a hostile invader. That much is true, certainly.
To promote the simplistic narrative is to ignore the last eight years in Ukraine as well as NATO’s advance across Europe over the last 30.
But this is where the unbridgeable gap between East and West lies.
The fault for this gap lies wholly with NATO and the West who have steadily advanced until they reached the Russian border at the Donbass. To discuss this in any other terms is pathetic and just an excuse to exercise one’s inherent racism and bloodlust against Russians.
That is what everyone putting a Ukrainian flag on their Twitter feed is doing whether they realize it or not.
You are not supporting the right to self-determination by a people acting freely here. Ukraine is a puppet state crucial to an aggressive war of conquest by the very people who brought you two years of privation and humiliation over COVID and now want to farm you as tax cattle while living in an unescapable Orwellian Panopticon.
Russia’s list of grievances are as long as any bill that passes through a Congressional committee these days. But the big ones have been the attempts on flipping Belarus and Kazakhstan. These two pivotal countries were victims of failed revolutions to overthrow the governments there and install NATO-controlled puppets, trying to replicate the ‘victory’ in Ukraine in 2014.
Not only did they fail miserably, if anything they furthered Russia’s aims to bring the former Soviet republics back into their orbit and end their flirtations with the West. The only one of these left, really, is Ukraine, the Baltics simply do not matter in any strategic sense.
To discuss this war in anything other than these terms is to purposefully miss the point. And our Neoconservatives in the State Dept. and the White House have absolutely prosecuted foreign policy in that way, showing a level of disingenuousness and willful obtuseness that frankly beggars description without resorting to swearing like a sailor.
That can only lead to the conclusion I have made multiple times. This war was chosen by the West. It was designed this way. All “attempts” at diplomacy by NATO, the UK, France and the US were simply nothing more than time-buying exercises to build up Ukraine’s strength to launch a blitz of the Donbass and sanction Russia for even responding.
Why? Well, frankly, to win and subjugate Russia to our oligarchic system of control, c.f. that Orwellian Panopticon I just mentioned. So, we purposefully use the term ‘Ukraine’ to mean something completely different than what the Russians mean by the name. Ukraine to the West is the pre-2014 border. That hasn’t been reality for eight years.
To the Russians Crimea is Russia, not Ukraine. The Donbass could have been negotiated down but that was refused by the West completely, rejecting the implementation of the Minsk Agreements.
Make no mistake, Minsk II was nothing more than another time-buying exercise by NATO and former German Chancellor Angela Merkel to get Nordstream 2 completed and allow NATO to build up the Ukrainian military to the point where it could credibly blitz the Donbass.
When Putin ordered a massive multi-front invasion he was simply pre-empting an attack that was coming.
The sanctions packages implemented since then were already prepared. They were happening no matter what move Putin made. There was no different outcome here, only the dates on which these events were going to take place.
NATO chose the place. Putin chose the time. Everything else is chatter and noise.
So where are we today?
Both sides believe just enough of their own propaganda as to dig in on their strategies.
Putin and Russia are methodically turning Ukraine into a meat grinder with a 1000 mile front the UAF cannot possibly keep supplied. The initial attack by Russia was designed to knock out logistics behind UAF lines and make it all but impossible for the cells of Ukrainian forces to support each other without ceding large amounts of territory, if they could even get out from under Russian fire control.
The US and NATO think they can now fight a proxy war turning Ukraine into Afghanistan in the 1980’s by sending in billions in weapons and doing everything short of sending in official troops to turn this into an official NATO v. Russia war.
The losses on both sides will be horrific and high. The chaos unleashed on Ukrainian civilians is terrible. The scenes in recently ‘liberated’ Mariupol are heart breaking.
Ukraine should have surrendered early on but Davos and NATO do not want that, because that would end their legal justification to send aid in and the dreams of bleeding Russia white through sanctions and outright theft of their foreign assets.
But the evolution of this war is proceeding exactly as I told you early on. Opening salvos have been fired, now the real war for the future of humanity begins at the legal and financial level.
Russia has made many smart moves in shoring up its financial position. It kept the gas flowing to Europe to leave the communications lines open there. But since the EU are not reliable actors Russia put them on the published ‘unfriendly list’ of countries that now are allowed to pay for their Russian exports in either rubles (announced by Putin earlier this week) or gold (announced yesterday).
The response to this move by the Twitterati today has been hilarious. It’s clear the talking point went out of PR central that Russia is ‘violating its contracts’ by demanding payment in something other than the contracted currency.
In a post-sanctions environment where the currency of the contract is useless to one party of the contract that contract is no longer valid. This is a basic contract of adhesion issue where one party has forced another into a subordinate position vis a vis the contract.
And when that’s the case, the contract as written is invalid. Period.
This lesson can be applied all across this conflict to see where NATO, the US and Europe have abrogated their responsibilities towards Russia over and over again — START, INF, Budapest, Minsk, etc. — and yet still feel they have the justification under international law to call Russia the aggressor and escalate the conflict.
It’s childish and irresponsible but it’s also so endemically Davos. When you’re the superior power you can enforce contract rules or break them and leave the other person twisting. Contracts only matter when people abide by them.
As everyone with some working gray matter has pointed out, Russia has the real power here because it produces what the world needs while the people pushing this war are doing so from an increasingly shaky foundation of paper assets.
So, contracts be damned, it’s gold or rubles for natural gas, unfriendly Europe.
It’s bitcoin or local currencies for everyone else.
Ukraine will be neutral. China will remain friendly. Words matter when a person wants them to matter.
And from where I’ve sat these past ten years the Russians have honored their words while the West has used them as weapons.
If we live in a world where agreements are simply a tactical extension of war then Russia tearing off the band-aid in Ukraine ended that illusion.
Both sides here aren’t listening to the other until one side is forced to, by facts on the ground or in the plumbing of the financial system. The end result will be a world with a new Iron Curtain. The sanctions will stay in place until there is a full political revolution on either side.
My bet is on that happening in the West since it is psychologically and culturally far weaker.
The West and NATO believe they can effect regime change in Russia by costing some oligarchs their yachts. The Russians feel they can grind out a victory on the ground in Ukraine while running out the clock on the petrodollar-and-paper-gold-inflated monetary system of the West.
Neither side has yet taken enough damage to back off from their positions. Biden stood up at NATO in Brussels and told the world food shortages are coming and we must endure them because Russia.
Davos is intentionally, through Biden, Blinken and NATO, trying to destroy the world economy so no one needs Russian energy while killing off millions more useless eaters.
The Russians responded with: We take gold or rubles for wheat and gas, just not useless euros or dollars. At the same time they finished cleaning the Azov battalion animals out of the important port city of Mariupol, key to the chip industry.
Then I read on Zerohedge that the Russians are so thoroughly tired of listening to lying US officials that they aren’t even taking calls on their ‘deconfliction hot lines’ between senior military staff. Only the low-level operators are talking.
But Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement that the Russian officials “have so far declined to engage.”
…“We must avoid a scenario of NATO and Russia sleepwalking into war because senior leaders can’t pick up a phone and explain to each other what is happening,” he added.
The only ones sleepwalking into a NATO/Russia war will be the Neocons who still think some logistics failures around Kharkov and Kiev equal a Russian military weak enough to force into submission. Very soon, Davos will come to the realization they can’t win a war against a united Global South intent on de-dollarizing and repricing their trade in real gold, not their paper, and real barrels of oil.
Then they’ll want to talk.
At that point, unfortunately, the graveyards all across Ukraine, Russia and the West will be overflowing.