« HARPER: OBAMA'S SYRIA OBSESSION BOOSTS AL QAEDA | Main | Back to rationality in foreign policy »

29 May 2014


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Allen  Thomson

> He wants Ukraine to remain a politically and militarily neutral buffer state between Russia and NATO, while letting the West pay for the privilege of establishing other ties with it (by supporting it financially).

I'm way out of my depth on this stuff, but why shouldn't that be an acceptable outcome for the West (however defined)? How it would play internally in Ukraine, I haven't a clue.

Allen  Thomson

> Steel magnate Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine's richest man, has his business empire in the Donbas region

Also Mississippi. Google "Severstal".


Dear Brigadier Ali and all,
Thank you for your astute reading of this, which is far more than I could provide. As ever, your posts offer those here important background. As an American who has lived in Greece for the better part of 36 years and lived through the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986 here, the fall of the the Soviet block, both Greece's and Portugal's entry into the then EEC, I have witnessed a fair bit on the ground, but not in a military role. I have followed the "ructions" in the Ukraine, Georgia, and Chechnya as they happened thanks to the Internet, and several weeks or a month ago someone posted a piece here (I believe) wondering "Who is the Saker?". I have been reading him daily for more than a month. This is his take today or yesterday (depending on time zones) I believe: http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/ukraine-sitrep-may-29th-1554-utczulu.html

I believe your analysis and his coincide on many key points. I would welcome any and all who might be sable to shed more light on this ever-changing situation.


Brigadier General Ali,

Yes. At this point Vladimir Putin has met all the challenges and appears to be ahead with the annexation of Crimea and the Gas Deal with China. But, the game for power is not over.

We need a modern Shakespeare to illuminate the overlords of the American Empire and how they wield power. Thomas Friedman and the Corporate Media are court jesters preening their rulers and misdirecting the audience. At face value in Mainstream Media, the Ukrainians had a successful revolt and are heroically subduing Vladimir Putin’s few remaining lackeys.

The truth is that ultra-nationalists with American help overthrew the Ukraine’s elected government. Right Sector goons are roaming through the East killing civilians. There are reports of plane loads of Ukrainian mercenaries who were fighting Assad in Syria have flown back and now are killing ethnic Russians and reluctant Ukrainian Army conscripts in the Eastern Providences. A civil war is underway on Russia’s border.

The neo-liberal Western Plutocrats and the neo-conservatives are intent on destabilizing Russia and looting it again. Money will be spent to provide more arms and more mercenaries. The question is how long and how intense the civil war will get before Russia has to invade to protect fellow Russians. If Russia invades, NATO will counter invade Western Ukraine. NATO exercises are already scheduled there this summer. Russia and NATO are one incident away from a shooting war. To date, not one nuclear power has got in a shooting war with another because once started it will escalate into a nuclear exchange.

If mankind survives the Nuclear Winter, Vladimir Putin and Barrack Obama will always be remembered as the Horrors who destroyed the North Hemisphere.


With the Ukrainian Government "killing their own people" with heavy airborne weapons and committing war crimes against the wounded being evacuated it is time for old' Vlad to exercise R2P and declare a Ukrainian "no fly zone". It would be hilarious to watch the Western Media attempt to spin that one.

FB Ali

Because many of the people who make policy in "the West" do not find it an "acceptable outcome". For my take on these groups I would suggest you follow the link to the War Party given above in my post.


FB Ali,

Thank you for the in depth analysis. I think that Poroshenko also has to make certain he can defang the far-right Pravy Sektor and Svoboda parties because not only do they hold the security and defence posts in the current government but it is very probably that their militias are being incorporated wholesale into the new national guard that the current government announced a few months ago. Poroshenko doesn't want his assassination to be the incident that provokes a Western intervention.

The Twisted Genius

Brigadier Ali,

Crimea and clarity. And all it cost us (America) was five billion dollars and twenty years. I'd say it is an understatement that our policy people do not find this an acceptable outcome.

I remember when Ukraine still had the Soviet nucs. The Ukrainians tried like hell to break the codes to fully control them. IMO their failure to break those codes was the primary reason they gave them up. Thank God for the quality of Russian coders.


Enjoyed the very clear and thoughtful analysis.

Here is an MSM article with no glaring anti-Russian propaganda. Amazingly it looks like real reporting. They even use the term 'rebels' instead of terrorists or separatists or pro-Russians.

Ukraine Rebels Outfox Army to Dent Poroshenko Troop Goal http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-29/ukraine-rebels-outfox-army-to-dent-poroshenko-troop-goal.html
Poroshenko, a former economy and foreign minister who’s fortune is estimated at $1 billion by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, immediately expressed his discontent at the government’s eastern offensive.

“The efficiency of the anti-terrorist operation will be sharply increased,” he said the day after the vote. “It shouldn’t last for months -- it should take a few hours.”

Speaking of chess vs. marbles… Poroshenko hasn’t got a clue. I’m guessing he’s used to delegating tedious tasks to others and expecting them to be accomplished in a timely manner. His on-the-job training is just starting. Will he be able to nudge the right-wing players out to the edge of the game? I don't have much confidence in that. They are a power base and won't just politely go away.

However, I think he does understand the money part… Ukraine’s Poroshenko asks EU to postpone signing of association agreement http://en.itar-tass.com/world/733971

Kyle Pearson

Also, West Ukraine is an economic basketcase, while the east is at least nominally self-sufficient (though still quite backwards compared to the rest of the region).

By Finlandizing Ukraine, Putin will draw in the more economically viable east, gain the west as a client in need of Russian resources (oil and gas, in particular), while NATO will be saddled with trying to finance some sort of economic recovery for a region that's notoriously hard to organize and develop.

That's going to mean either lots and lots of dollars and Euros going into west Ukraine -- much (perhaps even most) of which will wind up in Russian banks -- or a permanently destitute breeding ground for right-wing fascists and all the associated social ills (gangsterism, drug smuggling, etc).


Excellent summation of higher level strategery, sir.


FB Ali,
thanks for your insights. I agree that this crisis for Russia has brought long overdue clarity. I regret that deeply, and would have vastly preferred Europe and NATO having found a reasonable modus vivendi with them, something that was entirely doable with just a modicum of good sense and goodwill.

To kick sand in their faces again and again was just senseless, even more so with the final episode, since there was never any intention to let Ukraine into the EU. Alas, as you said, the West needlessly created an opponent from someone who desperately wanted to be a friend, and for once providing China with a serious ally.

I warmly recommend this lecture by Anatol Lieven on the subject:


I think he is perfectly right to point out that for Russia Ukraine is central and very important whereas for Europe it is peripheral, which means that Russia will go to great lengths to protect their interests there, while we may be inconvenienced by 'losing it', but not much more. Western policy does to me not seem to take that into account. The importance that Ukraine has for Russia accounts for their great care they execute their policy with.

Still, he sees the situation in Ukraine as a crushing defeat (0:28:00) for Russia, because Russia in Ukraine lost a vitally important market and because Russia's idea of an Eurasian Union got scuttled in Ukraine. He sees Krimea as a very small consolation price. That said, Lieven's reminiscences on his Great-Grandfather and the Donbas (0:31:45) are hilarious.

He also gave a good explanation for the conduct of for example Kerry and Nuland, pointing out how US foreign policy, especially when carried by bipartisan consensus (as with the generally agreed upon hostility towards Russia) runs on 'tram lines' in the absence of presidential leadership (1:01:01).

I found quite illuminating his remarks how Western media and Western Politicos (Americans in partuicular - I still wait for Kerry to frown over 'this so-called Mr. Putin' ...) by instinct personalises conflicts (Putin, Putin, Putin ... 0:28:00) and by instinct opt for anti-Russian counter-propaganda in order to not spoil the message instead of reporting accurately (0:49:30), all in the result leading to a misguided understanding of reality.

He also pointed out that the EU has largely left the issue of Ukraine for Poland to handle (0:14:14 and 0:23:30), the only European country form which Ukraine is not peripheral. And Polish policy vis a vis Russia and Ukraine is not entirely rational. Lieven's remark (1:15:45) on just how not entirely rational Polish paranoia against Russian capabilities and intents is being tolerated even with Russians present, 'because you have to understand Polish fears' really gave me the creeps.

And then there was this line on China (1:27:40):

"I think the Americans have been profoundly foolish in that regard. It does weaken their credibility in alliances elsewhere. [...] If the United States extends to China the kind of attitudes and the kind of policies that it has to Russia over the past generation, then, ladies and gentlemen, we will find ourselves in another major international war which will bring the world economy down in ruins and with it, probably, many democracies around the world including our own. I hope that the fact that an American policy which did this would deserve the results it got will be a comfort to our descendants."


The EU leaving to a large extent Ukraine policy to Poland - the player most activist in that regard - is pretty much akin to the US having outsourced the definition of their Middle East Policy to Israel, the player most activist in that regard in both the Middle East proper and in US domestic politics as well.

In such situations the activists impose the agenda, goals and biases on the more inert players who leave the initiative to them.

A lesson on the sense and nonsense of outsourcing key prerogatives.


"I'm way out of my depth on this stuff, but why shouldn't that be an acceptable outcome for the West (however defined)?"

Because the Anglosphere has identified Russia as an enemy, starting shortly after the end of the Napoleonic Wars in the case of the British, and in the late 1800s for the Americans. In 1900, Alfed Thayer Mahan, the seapower guru, called for an alliance between the US, the UK, Germany, and Japan, to 'contain' Russia until it fell apart. The Anglosphere has been waging Cold War against Russia since, with interruptions provided by Kaiser Billy II 1907-1918 and Kaiser Adolf I 1939-1945.

They want Russia excluded from Europe and permanently neutered as a Great Power at a minimum, and broken up in the ideal case. That's why this outcome is unsatisfactory.


". There are reports of plane loads of Ukrainian mercenaries who were fighting Assad in Syria have flown back and now are killing ethnic Russians and reluctant Ukrainian Army conscripts in the Eastern Providences. "

Have anything on that?

I recall a story of Russia closing Krimean airports to aircraft from Turkey, which were reported to carry Ukrainian minority Muslims who had before been fighting Assad.

Has this been confirmed? Have these folks found their way to Ukraine via different routes? What became of this? Anyone who has anything on about the role of Turkey in this?


U.S. military, national security agencies vexed by dependence on Russian rocket engines http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/us-military-national-security-agencies-vexed-by-dependence-on-russian-rocket-engines/2014/05/30/19822e40-e6c0-11e3-8f90-73e071f3d637_story.html

Allen Thomson

Der Spiegel has an interesting article on Russia's propaganda operations: http://tinyurl.com/ox96mky

(And the cover of their current issue, "Amerikas Letzter Sieg: D-Day", makes me wonder.)

FB Ali

"The EU leaving to a large extent Ukraine policy to Poland..."

I'm afraid I do not understand why Angela Merkel would leave the fate of her policies (and the well-being of her country) to the crude devices of the Poles (and their phobias).


confusedponderer and Allen Thomson

Below is the link to the translated report about the Ukrainian mercenaries from Syria being flown back to fight the Separatists.


What is frightening is that the Russian reports have turned out to be much more truthful than the western government press releases published by corporate media.

On the internet there were posts the last several weeks that indicated that the US military space program is dependent on Russian rockets. Valissa’s post above gives the link to the Washington Post article that confirms this. This basically proves that the billions being spent on the military has one purpose; to line the pockets of the plutocrats, not to provide for the national defense or even provide jobs for Americans making rocket engines.

Today’s western media news reports have Chuck Hagel saying the shooting down of the helicopter is an escalation and calls on Russia to calm the Separatists down. Yet, reports indicates that 1200 Ukrainian soldiers were killed at the same time.


This is shocking if true. This approaches causalities of a battalion wiped out attacking entrenched positions or 100 half-tracks and/or trucks transporting troops caught in the open by artillery or airstrikes, or a division headquarters overrun. The war is escalating faster than the politicians in Washington DC can comprehend or admit.


Valissa, the Vineyard of the Saker had this up two days ago: "When the Soviet Union broke apart Russia lost not only the Ukraine but another 13 republics many of which had Soviet MIC resources and many have wondered whether Russia could go by without them. The test of that proposition is simple: can Russia produce completely new weapon systems or not? And the clear answer is yes - Russia can and Russia has.

Take, for example, the new Russian submarines (Borei-class or Yasen-class), new combat aircraft (Su-34 of PAKFA), new tanks (Armata), new ICBMs (SS-27) or SLBMs (SS-N-32). Now, of course, since the weapons-design cycle is very long, all these systems have their origins in Soviet designs, and some might even have part purchased from the Ukraine (or other ex-Soviet states). But the fact that Russia assembled, tested and deployed these systems proves that Russia has the technological know-how to control all the technologies used in them. This is especially true of very complex systems like submarines or advanced combat aircraft. For the general military, the goal is to have the Russian armed forces equipped with new military systems for 70% of all its equipment by 2020. That is ambitious but doable."

William R. Cumming

Respectfully disagree with your analysis. The UK realized early on that Russia a needed counterweight to Germany and without Russia [even though defeated in WWI] believe the outcome of those wars very different if Russia not involved.

The real problem is the "German" factor and its location in the pivot point at the moment of Eurasia.

Russia despite its Eastern Orthodox religion and its land mass west of the Urals is part of Western Civilization despite Asian interference from time to time in the past. Few Americans understand the geography of the Eurasian Continent and even Adolf Hitler might have thought differently if he had maps not using the Mercator version. Now with the dramatic opening of the Arctic I suggest that the maps of the world be flipped up side down when viewing projections of the continents and oceans.

Charles Dekle


In relation to "lining the pockets of the plutocrats" you might find the following article interesting:

The title refers to the shut down cost of the contract. Further into the article someone slipped in the total spent before the SECDEF shut it down:
"Setting aside contract-law arcana, what is the bottom line? All sources consulted for this story agree that the total amount spent on the Future Combat Systems program is just under $20 billion."

I participated in several audits and oversight missions of the FCS while working in DoD from 2005 until 2012. FCS was a prime exemplar of your assertion.

While I am ranting here is another example:

The article concludes with the guess that the JSF might be delivered at a cost of $250 - $300 billion per copy. That might be a little to expensive to send in harm's way. I am glad that I am retired. It was a wonderful and interesting career. Though at times, I thought that Lewis Carroll was writing the script. :-)



My hunch: Too sensitive because of German guilt ... Lieven perfectly summed the attitude up: '... you have to understand Polish fears!'

When the twins were heading Poland in their rspective offices, they were voicing shrill fears of imminent encirclement whenever a German chancellor flew to Moscow without a stop inbetween to hold their hands.

Same with the silence over the Izzies and their persistent misconduct ... 'you got to understand Jewish fears!'

Babak Makkinejad

Must be that "guilt" thing about WWI and WWII.

Babak Makkinejad

I think that the Western Civilization ends at line of partition of the Roman Empire in 395 AD.

Please see here:


Everything East of the "Red Area" in the map is not Europe.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad