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Thread: Ukraine

  1. #10606
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by lupussonic View Post
    the difference between attack and defense to you...
    You might be pro-war if you (and others) deny the objective historical reality that the US has blocked peace negotiations.

    You might well be pro-war if you take part in the dehumanization of the Russian people,

    and so on.

  2. #10607
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by sandtown View Post
    You might be pro-war if you (and others) deny the objective historical reality that the US has blocked peace negotiations.

    You might well be pro-war if you take part in the dehumanization of the Russian people,

    and so on.
    This has nothing to do with the Russian people and everything to do with the corrupt dictatorship that runs their country and would like to rule the continent similarly if people like you let it happen. Millions of Russians have fled many millions more are poised to either do the same or topple the regime that controls them.

  3. #10608
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by sandtown View Post
    You might be pro-war if you (and others) deny the objective historical reality that the US has blocked peace negotiations.

    You might well be pro-war if you take part in the dehumanization of the Russian people,

    and so on.
    You might be delusional if you believe that peace negotiations aren't between Moscow and Kyiv. Period.
    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."
    -William A. Ward



  4. #10609
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    the infantilizing fantasy that the "u.s. blob" has enslaved the ukrainian people to its designs is a grievous insult to ukraine's courageous and independant spirit. i spit in your general direction for that insult, sandtown. whatever your intentions, your words are vile.

  5. #10610
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by sandtown View Post
    You might be pro-war if you (and others) deny the objective historical reality that the US has blocked peace negotiations.

    You might well be pro-war if you take part in the dehumanization of the Russian people,

    and so on.
    The What?

    The “Objective Historical Reality” ?

    Someone has been reading too much poor quality Marxism.

    As well as telling silly lies.
    IMAGINES VEL NON FUERINT

  6. #10611
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by George. View Post
    How about Britain in 1940?

    Do you think the US should not have provided them with weapons?
    You see, sandy, when you don't answer a simple, relevant, and unoffensive question, even as you reply to a half-dozen ad hominem posts, it makes me think you are not serious about your philosophical objections to war. On the contrary, you seem to prefer conflict to objective discussion.

  7. #10612
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Craig-Bennett View Post
    The What?

    The “Objective Historical Reality” ?

    Someone has been reading too much poor quality Marxism.

    As well as telling silly lies.
    He was unable to support his claim that the West had blocked the peace talks, so now he's dressing up the claim with the term 'objective historical reality' in hopes that he will no longer be asked for proof.

    Remember when he claimed that Fiona Hill was his source for thinking this, until it became obvious that she hadn't said what she claimed he said? That caused him to stop treating her as an authoritative source. If he were arguing in good faith, he would by now have addressed the obvious question of how the U.S. or Britain or anyone, for that matter, could have prevented Ukraine from reaching a peace deal if they had found an acceptable one was within reach.

    It is by now obvious that he is not discussing matters in good faith, so why do people keep responding to him?

  8. #10613
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by sandtown View Post
    You might be pro-war if you (and others) deny the objective historical reality that the US has blocked peace negotiations.

    You might well be pro-war if you take part in the dehumanization of the Russian people,

    and so on.
    This is a long, in depth article with multiple links, sources, and quotes, that fairly comprehensively demolishes that line of argument.
    https://www.thebulwark.com/no-the-un...ia-peace-deal/


    The article from Ukrainska Pravda cited by Marcetic makes it clear that the Bucha revelations were a key factor in the breakdown of the negotiations. It also notes that, while Johnson did convey the message on his April 9 visit that Putin should be regarded as a war criminal to be fought, not negotiated with, Zelensky nonetheless issued a statement on April 16 that left open the possibility of peace treaties with Russia (with security guarantees for Ukraine). In fact, it was Putin who said on April 11 that negotiations were at a dead end. According to Reuters, Putin charged that “Kyiv had derailed peace talks by staging what he said were fake claims of Russian war crimes [in Bucha] and by demanding security guarantees to cover the whole of Ukraine.”
    Pete
    The Ignore feature, lowering blood pressure since 1862. Ahhhhhhh.

  9. #10614
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by sandtown View Post
    I seem to have grasped it well enough in Vietnam (OK, I was late to that), Central America, Bosnia (but that was pretty tricky), Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and . .

    In fact, I have an almost unbroken record (along with Vets For Peace) of being right on these issues for over a half century.

    How about y'all ???
    We've had exchanges about your you and us attitude before. I could add a number of extra countries to your list of countries the US has meddled in.
    This thread is about Ukraine and has nothing to do with US foreign policy history or people being pro war. There are a number of countries who have a lot at stake if Ukraine goes under.
    Last edited by WX; 03-31-2023 at 04:17 PM.
    without freedom of speech, we wouldn't know who the idiots are.

  10. #10615
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    Sandy qualifies as a 5th column operative in my opinion.

  11. #10616
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by johnw View Post

    It is by now obvious that he is not discussing matters in good faith, so why do people keep responding to him?
    Wrestling with pigs can be fun.


    If you have access to a mental hot bath.

    Occasionally, with rock solid evidence and reasoned argument, you can shut him up. For a little while.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  12. #10617
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    [QUOTE=Peerie Maa;

    Occasionally, with rock solid evidence and reasoned argument, you can shut him up. For a little while.[/QUOTE]

    Makes me wonder whether he's busy tapping out his line of BS on fifty other forums- or whether the nurse has given him a pill and led him back to his room.

    I was at a gathering once where an American "Vietnam vet" was telling a young women about the horrors of the things he'd seen and done in Vietnam. They were both drunk, and when he was telling her about this one particular fire fight where he'd had to kill a beautiful eight year old girl, they were both blubbering. One of his buddies took me to one side and said that all his Vietnam stories were total garbage- he'd been a cook, never fired a shot in anger, went AWOL and had been in Australia ever since because he was too scared to go back to America because he thought he would would be jailed as a coward and deserter. But yes- he had been in Vietnam during the war. JayInOz
    Last edited by JayInOz; 03-31-2023 at 11:29 PM.

  13. #10618
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    I don't know if this has been posted here but it's a brilliant read.
    https://medium.com/@NoahSneider/the-...k-2b1ed2a2ebad
    without freedom of speech, we wouldn't know who the idiots are.

  14. #10619
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by George Jung View Post
    I do believe you've nailed it. I was thinking the same thing - ol' sandy has some deep-seated issues, undoubtedly based on guilt. Kinda messes ya up.
    You are a sniveling punkista

  15. #10620
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by JayInOz View Post
    I was at a gathering once where an American "Vietnam vet".
    We refer to those as "flack jacket" stories - Oz does not have a corner on the ridiculous BS market.

  16. #10621
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by WX View Post
    This thread is about Ukraine and has nothing to do with US foreign policy history or people being pro war..
    So you want us to ignore history and all of its lessons ?? Really ??

  17. #10622
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by skuthorp View Post
    Sandy qualifies as a 5th column operative in my opinion.
    So straight from the Column Number Five, I hereby dedicate this sane post to you . . .

    https://davidswanson.org/the-questio...ot-a-question/

  18. #10623
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    It's a bit late mate I reckon, and I do think we will be very fortunate to escape his first para scenario.

    "The question of a Ukraine agreement is not a question, for two reasons. One, the warmaking parties want the war to continue. Two, if they were willing to make an agreement, everybody on all sides knows exactly (or darn near exactly) what it would have to be, and always has. Sooner or later, it will have to be agreed to, or the world end."

    But the war would end if Russia withdrew, Ukraine will not be invading Russia. They are not going to do that with or without Putin, loss of face etc, and NATO and the baltic countries do not want Russia on their doorstep again, so it's better to keep the expanse of Ukraine between them and it.
    Ukranians are fighting a proxy European war, for how long it's proxy is a moot point.

  19. #10624
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by skuthorp View Post
    Ukranians are fighting a proxy European war, for how long it's proxy is a moot point.
    Thanks for reading that . . . the article makes sense.

    Most here (misguided souls to be sure) deny it is a proxy war.

    But I would say it is mostly a proxy US war with which lots of Europeans are nervous.

  20. #10625
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    The ISW Russian offensive campaign assessment, March 31.
    https://www.understandingwar.org/bac...-march-31-2023

    Key Takeaways

    • Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a new Russian Foreign Policy Concept on March 31 that likely aims to support the Kremlin’s attempts to promote a potential anti-Western coalition.
    • Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko continues to use high-profile public statements to portray Belarus as a sovereign state despite its current de-facto occupation by Russian forces.
    • Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov promptly rejected Lukashenko’s suggestion of a ceasefire and indicated that the Kremlin is not interested in serious negotiations.
    • Russian Security Council deputy chairman Dmitry Medvedev leveraged comments about sending peacekeeping forces to Ukraine to continue information operations that portray the West as escalatory.
    • Russian forces continued ground attacks along the Svatove-Kreminna line.
    • Russian forces made gains within Bakhmut and Ukrainian forces regained positions in the Bakhmut area.
    • Russian forces continued offensive operations along the Avdiivka-Donetsk frontline.
    • Ukrainian strikes against Russian concentration areas in southern Ukraine are likely causing the Russian grouping in the area to change tactics to avoid the risk of strikes.
    • Russian officials continue to state that Russian forces have no plans for a formal second wave of mobilization.
    • Russian officials continue to send Ukrainian children to camps in Russia.

  21. #10626
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by sandtown View Post
    So you want us to ignore history and all of its lessons ?? Really ??
    You really don't pay attention do you? There are a lot of countries with a vested interesting in seeing Ukraine survive as an independent state. To say this is a purely US/ Russia proxy war is not only blinkered, but a very US centric view of how the world works.
    without freedom of speech, we wouldn't know who the idiots are.

  22. #10627
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by sandtown View Post
    So you want us to ignore history and all of its lessons ?? Really ??
    https://medium.com/@NoahSneider/the-...k-2b1ed2a2ebad
    without freedom of speech, we wouldn't know who the idiots are.

  23. #10628
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by George. View Post
    You see, sandy, when you don't answer a simple, relevant, and unoffensive question, even as you reply to a half-dozen ad hominem posts, it makes me think you are not serious about your philosophical objections to war. On the contrary, you seem to prefer conflict to objective discussion.
    And a half-dozen more, but still no response.

  24. #10629
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    Well, he has been having a hot time of it here George.

  25. #10630
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by sandtown View Post
    So you want us to ignore history and all of its lessons ?? Really ??
    That would be you Sandy
    Remember "Peace in our time"
    So much for a negotiated peace with a corrupt dictator.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  26. #10631
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by skuthorp View Post
    Well, he has been having a hot time of it here George.
    That's my point. He'd rather engage in petty bickering exchanges than discuss the points he himself raises.

    Pacifism begins at home. Sandy is not very pacific.

  27. #10632
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by WX View Post
    You really don't pay attention do you? There are a lot of countries with a vested interesting in seeing Ukraine survive as an independent state. To say this is a purely US/ Russia proxy war is not only blinkered, but a very US centric view of how the world works.
    Bingo!

    Too many US citizens have a very US-centric view of the world. Our media has done a good job of shaping the view, as it's rare to hear much about another country unless we're in a war there. Seems Sandtown has been trapped into that thinking like so many others here. I guess it's hard for people with a limited world view to get that a country bordering Ukraine or only a few hundred kilometers away might have even more reason to be concerned.

    OK - back to my work at convincing Ukraine to never negotiate...
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  28. #10633
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by sandtown View Post
    So you want us to ignore history and all of its lessons ?? Really ??
    What history teaches is that moscow is a power thirsty warmonger indifferent on even own people's suffering, that perceives reason as weakness and terror as a tool.

    Calling for peace/negotiations in a war they singlehandedly started IS ignoring history.
    WszystekPoTrochu's signature available only for premium forum users.

  29. #10634
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    ^ This.
    Gerard>
    Albuquerque, NM

    Next election, vote against EVERY Republican, for EVERY office, at EVERY level. Be patriotic, save the country.

  30. #10635
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by johnw View Post
    He was unable to support his claim that the West had blocked the peace talks, s?
    It is not "my claim", it has been reported by those who were there including the Israeli PM, Turkey, Ukr just for openers.

    The fact that you refuse to accept basic reality shows you to be pro-war . . .

    https://responsiblestatecraft.org/20...al-in-ukraine/

    (I have posted this material previously, and will likely continue to have to do so.(

  31. #10636
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    Remember "Peace in our time" .
    Remember Versailles circa 1918 ?? JM Keynes who was there foretold what disasters it would spawn.

    Munich 1938 has been the go-to rationale of war lovers ever since.

  32. #10637
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    It is not "my claim", it has been reported by those who were there including the Israeli PM, Turkey, Ukr just for openers.

    The fact that you refuse to accept basic reality shows you to be pro-war . . .

    https://responsiblestatecraft.org/20...al-in-ukraine/

    (I have posted this material previously, and will likely continue to have to do so.(
    And apparently, you still haven't read the piece it uses as the basis of its inaccurate claim, published in Foreign Affairs, August 25th last, "The World Putin Wants: How Distortions About the Past Feed Delusions About the Future".

    The actual "claim" that Boris Johnson somehow spiked a peace agreement came from Ukrainska Pravda: https://www.pravda.com.ua/eng/news/2022/05/5/7344206/

    The Foreign Affairs article is at

    https://www.foreignaffairs.com/russi...l-angela-stent

    It's paywalled now, but a précis can be found here:

    The World Putin Wants

    Fiona Hill, Angela Stent

    This is a summary of an article originally published by Foreign Affairs, with the subheading: "How Distortions About the Past Feed Delusions About the Future."

    The authors write:

    "Vladimir Putin is determined to shape the future to look like his version of the past. Russia’s president invaded Ukraine not because he felt threatened by NATO expansion or by Western 'provocations.' He ordered his 'special military operation' because he believes that it is Russia’s divine right to rule Ukraine, to wipe out the country’s national identity and to integrate its people into a Greater Russia."

    "Putin wants a world where Russia presides over a new Slavic union composed of Belarus, Russia, Ukraine and perhaps the northern part of Kazakhstan (which is heavily Slavic)—and where all the other post-Soviet states recognize Russia’s suzerainty. ... Putin’s manipulations of history suggest that his claims go beyond Ukraine, into Europe and Eurasia. ... He also wants the West and the global South to accept Russia’s predominant regional role in Eurasia."

    "Sanctions cannot alter Putin’s view of history or his determination to subjugate Ukraine, so they have not changed his calculus or his war aims."

    "Putin seems uninterested in a compromise that would leave Ukraine as a sovereign, independent state—whatever its borders. ... The goal is not negotiation, but Ukrainian capitulation."

    "The United States and its allies may want to isolate Russia, but a large number of states in the global South, led by China, regard the Russia-Ukraine war as a localized European conflict that does not affect them. Not only does much of the world refuse to criticize or sanction Russia; major countries simply do not accept the West’s view of what caused the war or just how grave the conflict is. They instead criticize the United States and argue that what Russia is doing in Ukraine is no different from what the United States did in Iraq or Vietnam. They, like Moscow, justify Russia’s invasion as a response to the threat from NATO. This is thanks in part to the Kremlin’s propaganda, which has amplified Putin’s narratives about NATO and proxy wars and the nefarious actions of the West."

    "It is imperative that the West (Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, the United States and Europe) redouble its efforts to remain united in supporting Ukraine and countering Russia."

    Author

    Fiona Hill is senior fellow at the Center on the United States and Europe in the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institution. From 2017 to 2019, she was the Senior Director for Europe and Russia on the U.S. National Security Council. She is the author of "There Is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-first Century."

    Author

    Angela Stent

    Angela Stent is a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and Professor Emerita at Georgetown University. She is the author of "Putin’s World: Russia Against the West and With the Rest."
    Last edited by Nicholas Carey; 04-01-2023 at 11:38 AM.
    You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound. — P.G. Wodehouse (Carry On, Jeeves)

  33. #10638
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    Quote Originally Posted by sandtown View Post
    Remember Versailles circa 1918 ?? JM Keynes who was there foretold what disasters it would spawn.

    Munich 1938 has been the go-to rationale of war lovers ever since.
    You really need to read this.
    https://medium.com/@NoahSneider/the-...k-2b1ed2a2ebad
    without freedom of speech, we wouldn't know who the idiots are.

  34. #10639
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    Here is the text of Fiona Hill's Foreign Affairs piece:

    The World Putin Wants: How Distortions About the Past Feed Delusions About the Future

    By Fiona Hill and Angela Stent

    September/October 2022
    Published on August 25, 2022

    Vladimir Putin is determined to shape the future to look like his version of the past. Russia’s president invaded Ukraine not because he felt threatened by NATO expansion or by Western “provocations.” He ordered his “special military operation” because he believes that it is Russia’s divine right to rule Ukraine, to wipe out the country’s national identity, and to integrate its people into a Greater Russia.

    He laid out this mission in a 5,000-word treatise, published in July 2021, entitled, “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians.” In it, Putin insisted that Belarusians, Russians, and Ukrainians are all descendants of the Rus, an ancient people who settled the lands between the Black and Baltic Seas. He asserted that they are bound together by a common territory and language and the Orthodox Christian faith. In his version of history, Ukraine has never been sovereign, except for a few historical interludes when it tried—and failed—to become an independent state. Putin wrote that “Russia was robbed” of core territory when the Bolsheviks created the Soviet Union in 1922 and established a Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. In his telling, since the Soviet collapse, the West has used Ukraine as a platform to threaten Russia, and it has supported the rise of “neo-Nazis” there. Putin’s essay, which every soldier sent to Ukraine is supposed to carry, ends by asserting that Ukraine can only be sovereign in partnership with Russia. “We are one people,” Putin declares.

    This treatise, and similar public statements, make clear that Putin wants a world where Russia presides over a new Slavic union composed of Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, and perhaps the northern part of Kazakhstan (which is heavily Slavic)—and where all the other post-Soviet states recognize Russia’s suzerainty. He also wants the West and the global South to accept Russia’s predominant regional role in Eurasia. This is more than a sphere of influence; it is a sphere of control, with a mixture of outright territorial reintegration of some places and dominance in the security, political, and economic spheres of others.

    Putin is serious about achieving these goals by military and nonmilitary means. He has been at war in Ukraine since early 2014, when Russian forces, wearing green combat uniforms stripped of their insignia, took control of Crimea in a stealth operation. This attack was swiftly followed by covert operations to stir up civil disorder in Ukraine’s eastern and southern regions close to the Russian border. Russia succeeded in fomenting revolt in the Donbas region and sparking an armed conflict that resulted in 14,000 deaths over the next eight years. All these regions have been targeted for assault and conquest since February 2022. Similarly, in Belarus, Putin took advantage of internal crises and large-scale protests in 2020 and 2021 to constrain its leader’s room for maneuver. Belarus, which has a so-called union arrangement with Russia, was then used as the staging ground for the “special military operation” against Ukraine.

    The Russian president has made it clear that his country is a revisionist power. In a March 2014 speech marking Crimea’s annexation, Putin put the West on notice that Russia was on the offensive in staking out its regional claims. To make this task easier, Putin later took steps that he believed would sanction-proof the Russian economy by reducing its exposure to the United States and Europe, including pushing for the domestic production of critical goods. He stepped up repression, conducting targeted assassinations and imprisoning opponents. He carried out disinformation operations and engaged in efforts to bribe and blackmail politicians abroad. Putin has constantly adapted his tactics to mitigate Western responses—to the point that on the eve of his invasion, as Russian troops massed on Ukraine’s borders, he bragged to some European interlocutors that he had “bought the West.” There was nothing, he thought, that the United States or Europe could do to constrain him.

    So far, the West’s reaction to the invasion has generally been united and robust. Russia’s aggressive attack on Ukraine was a wake-up call for the United States and its allies. But the West must understand that it is dealing with a leader who is trying to change the historical narrative of the last hundred years—not just of the period since the end of the Cold War. Vladimir Putin wants to make Ukraine, Europe, and indeed the whole world conform to his own version of history. Understanding his objectives is central to crafting the right response.

    WHO CONTROLS THE PAST?

    In Vladimir Putin’s mind, history matters—that is, history as he sees it. Putin’s conception of the past may be very different from what is generally accepted, but his narratives are a potent political weapon, and they underpin his legitimacy. Well before the full invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Putin had been making intellectual forays into obscure periods of the past and manipulating key events to set up the domestic and international justification for his war. In 2010, at the annual meeting of the Kremlin-sponsored Valdai International Discussion Club, Putin’s press spokesman told the audience that the Russian president reads books on Russian history “all the time.” He makes frequent pronouncements about Russian history, including about his own place in it. Putin has put Kyiv at the center of his drive to “correct” what he says is a historical injustice: the separation of Ukraine from Russia during the 1922 formation of the Soviet Union.

    The president’s obsession with Russia’s imperial past runs deep. In his Kremlin chambers, Putin has strategically placed statues of the Russian monarchs Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, who conquered what are today Ukrainian territories in wars with the Swedish and Ottoman empires. He has also usurped Ukraine’s history and appropriated some of its most prominent figures. In November 2016, for example, right outside the Kremlin gates, Putin erected a statue of Vladimir the Great, the tenth-century grand prince of the principality of Kyiv. In Putin’s version of history, Grand Prince Vladimir converted to Christianity on behalf of all of ancient Rus in 988, making him the holy saint of Orthodox Christianity and a Russian, not a Ukrainian, Figure. The conversion means that there is no Ukrainian nation separate from Russia. The grand prince belongs to Moscow, not to Kyiv.

    Since the war, Putin has doubled down on his historical arguments. He deputized his former culture minister and close Kremlin aide, Vladimir Medinsky, to lead the Russian delegation in early talks with Ukraine. According to a well-informed Russian academic, Medinsky was one of the ghostwriters of a series of essays by Putin on Ukraine and its supposed fusion with Russia. As quickly became clear, Medinsky’s brief was to press Russia’s historical claims to Ukraine and defend Putin’s distorted narratives, not just to negotiate a diplomatic solution.

    Putin’s assertions, of course, are historical miasmas, infused with a brew of temporal and factual contradictions. They ignore, for example, the fact that in 988, the idea of a united Russian state and empire was centuries off in the future. Indeed, the first reference to Moscow as a place of any importance was not recorded until 1147.

    [more...]
    Last edited by Nicholas Carey; 04-01-2023 at 03:08 PM.
    You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound. — P.G. Wodehouse (Carry On, Jeeves)

  35. #10640
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    Default Re: Ukraine

    [...continued]

    BLAMING THE BOLSHEVIKS

    On the eve of the invasion, Putin gave a speech accusing Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin of destroying the Russian empire by launching a revolution during World War I and then “separating, severing what is historically Russian land.” As Putin put it, “Bolshevik, Communist Russia” created “a country that had never existed before”—Ukraine—by wedging Russian territories such as the Donbas region, a center of heavy industry, into a new Ukrainian socialist republic. In fact, Lenin and the Bolsheviks essentially recreated the Russian empire and just called it something else. They established separate Soviet Socialist Republics for Ukraine and other regions to contrast themselves with the imperial tsars, who reigned over a united, Russified state and oppressed ethnic minorities. But for Putin, the Bolsheviks’ decision was illegitimate, robbing Russia of its patrimony and stirring “zealous nationalists” in Ukraine, who then developed dangerous ideas of independence. Putin claims he is reversing these century-old “strategic mistakes.”

    Narratives about NATO have also played a special role in Putin’s version of history. Putin argues that NATO is a tool of U.S. imperialism and a means for the United States to continue its supposed Cold War occupation and domination of Europe. He claims that NATO compelled eastern European member countries to join the organization and accuses it of unilaterally expanding into Russia’s sphere of influence. In reality, those countries, still fearful after decades of Soviet domination, clamored to become members.

    But according to Putin, these purported actions by the United States and NATO have forced Russia to defend itself against military encroachment; Moscow had “no other choice,” he claims, but to invade Ukraine to forestall it from joining NATO, even though the organization was not going to admit the country. On July 7, 2022, Putin told Russian parliamentary leaders that the war in Ukraine was unleashed by “the collective West,” which was trying to contain Russia and “impose its new world order on the rest of the world.”

    But Putin also plays up Russia’s imperial role. At a June 9, 2022, Moscow conference, Putin told young Russian entrepreneurs that Ukraine is a “colony,” not a sovereign country. He likened himself to Peter the Great, who waged “the Great Northern War” for 21 years against Sweden—“returning and reinforcing” control over land that was part of Russia. This explanation also echoes what Putin told U.S. President George Bush at the April 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest: “Ukraine is not a real country.”

    The United States was, of course, once a colony of Great Britain. So were Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, and numerous other states that have been independent and sovereign for decades. That does not make them British or give the United Kingdom a contemporary claim to exert control over their destinies, even though many of these countries have English as their first or second language. Yet Putin insists that Ukraine’s Russian speakers are all Moscow’s subjects and that, globally, all Russian speakers are part of the “Russian world,” with special ties to the motherland.

    In Ukraine, however, his push has backfired. Since February 24, 2022, Putin’s insistence that Ukrainians who speak Russian are Russians has, on the contrary, helped to forge a new national identity in Ukraine centered on the Ukrainian language. The more that Putin tries to erase the Ukrainian national identity with bombs and artillery shells, the stronger it becomes.

    CONJURING NAZIS

    Ukraine and Ukrainians have a complicated history. Empires have come and gone, and borders have changed for centuries, so the people living on modern Ukrainian territory have fluid, compound identities. But Ukraine has been an independent state since 1991, and Putin is genuinely aggrieved that Ukrainians insist on their own statehood and civic identity.

    Take Putin’s frequent references to World War II. Since 2011, Putin has enshrined the “Great Fatherland War” as the seminal event for modern Russia. He has strictly enforced official narratives about the conflict. He has also portrayed his current operation as its successor; in Putin’s telling, the invasion of Ukraine is designed to liberate the country from Nazis. But for Putin, Ukrainians are Nazis not because they follow the precepts of Adolf Hitler or espouse national socialism. They are Nazis because they are “zealous nationalists”—akin to the controversial World War II–era Ukrainian partisan Stepan Bandera, who fought with the Germans against Soviet forces. They are Nazis because they refuse to admit they are Russians.

    Putin’s conjuring of Ukrainian Nazis has gained more traction domestically than anywhere else. Yet internationally, Putin’s assertions about NATO and proxy wars with the United States and the collective West have won a variety of adherents, from prominent academics to Pope Francis, who said in June 2022 that the Ukraine war was “perhaps somehow provoked.” Western politicians and analysts continue to debate whether NATO is at fault for the war. These arguments persist even though Putin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea came in response to Ukraine’s efforts to associate with the European Union, not with NATO. And the debate has gone on, even though when Finland and Sweden applied to join the alliance in June 2022, despite months of threats from Russia, Putin told reporters that Kremlin officials “don’t have problems with Sweden and Finland like we do with Ukraine.” Putin’s problem, then, was not NATO in particular. It was that Ukraine wanted to associate with any entity or country other than Russia. Whether Ukraine wanted to join the European Union or NATO or have bilateral relations with the United States—any of these efforts would have been an affront to Russia’s history and dignity.

    But Putin knows it will be difficult to negotiate a settlement in Ukraine based on his version of history and to reconcile fundamentally different stories of the past. Most modern European states emerged from the ruins of empires and the disintegration of larger multiethnic states. The war in Ukraine could lead to more Russian interference to stoke simmering conflicts in weak states such as Bosnia-Herzegovina and other Balkan countries, where history and territorial claims are also disputed.

    Yet no matter the potential cost, Putin wants his past to prevail in Europe’s political present. And to make sure that happens, the Russian military is in the field, in full force, fighting the regular Ukrainian army. Unlike the situation in Donbas from 2014 to 2022, when Russia falsely denied that it was involved, this war is a direct conflict between the two states. As Putin also told his Russian parliamentarians on July 7, he is determined to fight to the end. “Largely speaking, we haven’t even yet started anything in earnest,” he said, even though he purportedly sees Ukrainians as “brothers.”

    AT ANY COST

    Putin abhors that the United States and European countries are supporting Ukraine militarily. In response, he has launched an economic and information war against the West, clearly signaling that this is not only a military conflict and a battle over who gets to “own history.” Russia has weaponized energy, grain, and other commodities. It has spread disinformation, including by accusing Ukraine of committing the very atrocities that Russia has carried out on the battlefield and by blaming Western sanctions for exacerbating famines in Africa when it is Russia that has blocked Ukrainian grain shipments to the continent from the Black Sea. And in many parts of the world, Russia is winning the information war. So far, the West has not been able to be completely effective in the informational space.

    Nevertheless, Western support for Ukraine has been significant. This support has two major elements: weapons and sanctions, including the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) from the United States, which have significantly increased Ukraine’s ability to strike back at Russian targets. Other NATO members have also supplied weapons and humanitarian assistance. But Ukraine’s constant need to replenish its arms has already begun to deplete the arsenals of donating countries.

    Western energy, financial, and export control sanctions have been extensive, and they are affecting the Russian economy. But sanctions cannot alter Putin’s view of history or his determination to subjugate Ukraine, so they have not changed his calculus or his war aims. Indeed, close observers say that Putin has rarely consulted his economic advisers during this war, apart from Elvira Nabiullina, the head of the central bank, who has astutely managed the value of the ruble. This is a stark break from the past, when Putin has always appeared extremely interested in the Russian economy and eager to discuss statistics and growth rates in great detail. Any concerns about the long-term economic impact of the war have receded from his view.

    [more...]
    You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound. — P.G. Wodehouse (Carry On, Jeeves)

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