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06 July 2014


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"another hard hearted empath". Explains a lot regarding Putin's (in)actions. Political communities require shared identities which are often the result of adversity and a common history of struggle.

The Russians are acting coherently from a strategic theory perspective. The Cheneyites are engaged in their usual astrategic spasms reflecting a decadent political elite in terminal decline, so understandable as well. It's the actions of the Europeans which doesn't make much sense imo . . .



"They must want it and be willing to fight for it themselves."..."The Donbass miners have defied their oligarch employers and began taking up arms just last month."

Just give the latest IMF plan (Thanks Christine Lagarde and staff) about a year and there will be plenty of men and women joining in support of the new nation.


Just to clarify, "Novorossiya" means "New Russia" in Russian. It is the name of the self-proclaimed republic in eastern Ukraine.

Charlie Wilson


Kyiv looks shell shocked. The cab ride from the airport costs $15, down from $60. The Maidanites are mostly petty criminals and are paid to hang around and appear menacing. Stores, clubs, restaurants are closed. Worst of all the streets are empty of fine looking devushkas.


Norbert M Salamon

It is the area of old Russia given to Ukraine by Lenin.

David Habakkuk


I find it extraordinarily difficult to get any handle on what is happening in ‘Novorussia’.

A central ground for optimism about the prospects for keeping Ukraine together appeared to be that while many in the South and East wanted to continue to belong a Russian cultural world, very few – outside the Crimea – seemed to want to back under the control of Moscow.

And as far as I can see, at least until recently the reaction against the blatantly Russophobic nature of the new authorities in Kiev has been much more ‘federalist’, rather than ‘separatist’.

My strong suspicion is that very many in the South and East remain confused about what they want, and who they should blame for their misfortunes. How much support there is for the ‘militia’ still seems to me a very open question, and, I srongly suspect, a considerable section of opinion thinks they would have been much better off without it.

But dealing with such confusions is something that the Western MSM is chronically incapable of doing.

Recently, the chief foreign affairs commentator of the FT, Gideon Rachman, explained that ‘the west’s instinctive reaction when an international crisis breaks out is to ask two questions: what should we do; and who are the good guys?’ Infantile narcissistic cretinism rules, it appears, in London as much as in Washington.

Another puzzle is how serious the pressure building on Putin to intervene is. If one believes ‘the Saker’, if the loss of Slavyansk is followed by intense attacks on Lugansk and Donetsk – as seems likely – the calls for him to intervene may become irresistible.

Indeed, Mark Sleboda, whom 'the Saker' featured recently on his blog, was suggesting that if Putin did not intervene, Russians would have to resign themselves to the kind of fate Brzezinski has been intending for them.

On the other hand, ‘the Saker’ also recently quoted Dmitri Yazov – who really is one of the ‘last of the Mohicans’: the only Soviet Marshal still alive, and one of the last of those whose whole thinking about the world was shaped by direct experience of the Second World War.

It was always poorly appreciated in the United States that, although Soviet military thinking suffered immensely from being developed within the framework of an absurd ideology, in some ways it benefited from being developed by practical military men, rather than imbecile academics like those who cooked up most of the theorising about nuclear ‘detererence.’

Also, the trauma of 1914 still lives on intensely among Russians, as among other Europeans, in a way it never has for most Americans: after all, what did you people suffer in that war, or indeed in the 1939-45 war?

What Yazov apparently said was that:

“Some hotheads are in favor of sending our armed forces into the territory of South-Eastern Ukraine, where there is a war taking place. We cannot allow this. We cannot send out troops into the territory of People's Republics of Donbass and Lugansk, which are unrecognized republics and which are part of another country – Ukraine. Such reckless actions could lead to a third world war.”

At the same time, there are clearly negotiations going on behind the scenes among Europeans, as the former long-serving Canadian government analyst Dr Patrick Armstrong notes.

(See http://us-russia.org/2446-russian-federation-sitrep.html .)

In the same post, Dr Armstrong deals with the clear emerging evidence that the Polish Foreign Minister, Sikorski – a ‘Bullingdon Boy’, like the rich white trash who run the current British government – really is another East European fruitcake.

Apparently, he is still back in 1939, imagining that somehow Putin and Merkel are Stalin and Hitler, about to conspire to divide Poland once again. And, as he makes plain, he doesn’t trust any of you an inch.

Of course as a reasonably well-informed Brit, I remember a previous occasion when we gave a guarantee to Poland. Had we not, it is at least possible we might have averted the Second World War – and certainly, the takeover by Stalin of the Baltics, which was an entirely predictable result of Chamberlain’s guarantee to Poland.


John Helmer posted an overview of what was known about relevant public opinion in Southeastern Ukraine as of about the end of April at Johnhelmer.net/?p=10640 This post is based on a considerable amount of publicly available polling, much of which has been funded by various US government or government-supported entities.

Helmer's website provides interesting, in-depth coverage of many political and economic issues relevant to the current events in Ukraine. I have been surprised that I have not seen more references to Helmer's work.


Dear Sir,

Radoslaw Sikorski served many masters. Perhaps he himself can hardly keep track anymore. Combined with his obnoxious narcissism, your reservations towards him might not be unjustified.

This being said, even a broken watch is right twice a day. I would argue that in Sikorski’s mind, this is not 1939, but rather 1943, though. He is looking for another Teheran / Yalta conference in making somewhere. If this happens, the best he can hope for is becoming the next Joseph Retinger. In the worst case, he and his comrades expect to end up like his one-time mentor and the person who brought him to the political scenes (President Lech Kaczynski) or his namesake, Prime Minister General Sikorski. Yet another sacrifice made in the name of peace, stability and geopolitics. Recent releases of taped lunch conversations of member of the Polish government and key power brokers shed some light on their perceptions.

I also find your assessment of Chamberlain’s politics in 1938 and 1939 somewhat disputable. Wasn’t the intention and the obtained result to ensure that war starts on the right schedule and direction with an opportunity to transition to a Prime Minister and cabinet who are better positioned to handle the situation?



Ah dem mortars. They look like they know what they're doing. Mortar gunnery at that level isn't something you just pick up off the ground. I wonder what their large deflection times look like?

robt willmann

The other day, the Ukrainian "government" made Valeriy Heletey the new Defense Minister. He promptly said in so many words that the Ukrainian army will retake Crimea: "Believe me, there will be a victory parade -- there will be for sure -- in Ukraine's Sevastopol."



Furthermore, Heletey along with the new "president" Poroshenko are following the script John Brennan left after his visit by calling all the secessionists in eastern Ukraine "terrorists", each time, every time.

different clue

I have read Saker a little less than recently. I continue respecting his density and granularity of information and quality of analysis ( to the extent that I am even able to judge such things) but he has seemed lately to adopt a psychological and emotional moodstate against the Ukrainians similar to that which he accuses the Ukrainians of holding against the people he calls Novorussians.
For example, he attributes the failure of the entire population of East and South Ukraine to rise in bitter open revolt to cowardice and passivity. How do I know that it isn't due to a lingering desire to live in a Federated Regionalized Ukraine. How do I know a majority of EasterSouthern Ukrainians are really Novorussians in their hearts? How do I know they really all want the independence which may lead to rejoining the Russian Federation? Because Saker says so for ethnic-nationalist reasons?

different clue

Robt Willmann,

One really wants to tell this Valeriy Heletey . . . " uhh, no there won't. There really won't."


In general the telling of this story has been tremendously polluted by propaganda from both sides.

The fact that y'all are discussing the Saker's blog is a sure sign of how starved we are of information on this subject. Saker is a a useful aggregator of availible information, such as it is. But I wouldn't go too deep into his opinion pieces...

I agree, that Putin would be perfectly content to let Kiev slaughter a few thousand locals if that is what is needed to make the European media begin to present the other side of the story.

Finally, Thanks for this article!

PS- nice video with the mortars. Anyone catch the Russian translation of the scene from the movie "300" where fighters are asked what is their occupation, inside the video's soundtrack?


analysis at the following link gave me a new pov... turned my frown upside down, so to speak.


Babak Makkinejad

The movie "300" was a piece of crude propaganda against the Great King and the Persian Empire - the forerunner of all universal empires that followed most of them never matching its record.

The pagan Spartans as men of honor and morality?

what rubbish!

There was them murdering ambassadors and then there was the matter of their pederasty conveniently forgotten and their murder of the "unfit" infants unmentioned.

The Great King and the Persians were believers in the message of the Zarathustra - another revealed religion that predates any other - and yet they were portrayed as morally decadent; I did not find that credible.


Can't say I blame Putin for not wanting to save people who don't want to be saved. I'm sure he saw the wages of the US in that.

Fwiw this does seem like a strategic withdrawal versus fleeing before s triumphant army. How many aircraft have been knocked out of the sky with little to no fanfare by the media?

At this point anything that fits the narrative should be distrusted until otherwise proven.



The movie was rubbish based on a cartoon booklet that was also rubbish. The actual history is far more interesting and more important.

The Twisted Genius

David Habakkuk,

"I find it extraordinarily difficult to get any handle on what is happening in ‘Novorussia’."

I share your frustration. The stuff coming out of Kiev is worse than "Baghdad Bob" at his best. BBC and the MSM in the US do little more than parrot what comes out of Kiev. ITAR-TASS and RT are much better, in my opinion, but they obviously have their agendas. I have resorted to using several twitter accounts to get a better idea of what's going on in the region. The account of gbazov is doing some good translations of Strelkov's near daily reports and a few other Russian language sources. I think the trick is to keep looking at different first hand sources rather than relying on a comfortable few... and use Google Translate liberally, no matter how comical the results can sometimes be. Crone pointed out an interesting source of analysis by Joaquin Flores at Syncretic Studies. I know nothing of Flores, but the one article I read sounds reasonable.

Medicine Man

I agree. While I suspect Herodotus was a bit of a storyteller himself, the histories we have of that long war have more implicit, meaningful drama than Miller's comic book.

David Habakkuk


If indeed Sikorski is looking for another Tehran/Yalta conference, then he is even more cuckoo than I thought him. Can you provide me with any scenario under which anyone with half a brain could expect such a thing? (It would of course be an unworthy suspicion to suggest that Sikorski wrecked his brain with too many monster binges with his Bullingdon Club pals.)

As to Chamberlain, you are simply wrong.

The history is complicated, but some aspects are clear.

Until Hitler occupied the rump of Czechoslavia in March 1939, very many ‘appeasers’ had taken it for granted that his agendas, because they were ‘Pan-German’ were limited. It was an easier mistake to make at the time than it seems in retrospect, but a catastrophic misjudgement all the same.

After the Wehrmacht occupied Prague, Chamberlain had to adjust to his mistake. At that point, very many people in this country – including many deeply committed anti-communists, like my own father – argued that any effective strategy of ‘containment’ of Hitler had to involve the Soviet Union.

However, Chamberlain – encouraged by the Polish leader, Colonel Beck – convinced himself that involving the Soviet Union would make a German attack on Poland more, rather than less, likely.

What neither Chamberlain nor Beck had reckoned with was the rather obvious counter-move available to Hitler: to seek an agreement with Stalin, based on a reversion to the old alliance between Berlin and St. Petersburg, which had at its centre keeping the Poles down. We had intelligence coming out of our hears pointing to this possibility, which Chamberlain ignored. The Americans had even better intelligence, which they did not share with us until too late.

Following Chamberlain’s guarantee to Poland – on this, see the studies of Gabriel Gorodetsky and Zara Steiner – Stalin found himself between the devil and the deep blue sea.

If he did not make terms with Hitler, the Germans might invade Poland anyway – and perhaps decide to continue further and invade the Soviet Union. At that point, having wrecked his army in the purges, Stalin faced a point of ‘maximum danger.’

If he did make terms, then he would have to completely abandon the Litvinov ‘collective security’ strategy, and the hope of the British and French being allies in confronting Germany.

Given that he suspected that the British and French had been trying to push Hitler East, Stalin tried to finesse his dilemma by getting them to provide clear and unambiguous commitments, which meant that if he was going to confront Hitler, they could be relied upon to fight with the him.

He had to do his utmost to eliminate the possibility that the British and French would stand aside, on the basis that if they did nothing very much their adversaries could be expected to destroy each other.

For Stalin to have succeeded, it would have been necessary for the British response to have involved 1. a determined attempt to make clear that, in the event of war, they and the French meant to fight seriously – the absence of which led to a desperate Soviet search for concrete commitments from the democracies, which were not given, 2. a reckoning with the fact that, if the Red Army was to fight Hitler to any effect, it had to have be able to cross Polish territory.

Quite realistically, Stalin strongly suspected that war with Hitler was inevitable. By contrast, the British still thought – delusionally – that the most appropriate ‘planning assumption’ was that ‘deterrence’ could be made to work. In particular, they thought it could be made to work without realistic discussion with the Soviets about contingency planning for war.

The brute truth is that Chamberlain and Colonel Beck together bear a non-negligible share of responsibility for the outbreak of the Second World War, the catastrophe inflicted on Poland, the Baltics, and many others, and the Holocaust.

Ironically, however, this was because of assumptions and patterns of thinking they share with the ‘neoconservatives’ who denounce ‘appeasement’ without demonstrating any serious attempt to understand why the strategy was adopted.

Moreover, the blunt truth is that there was no self-evident way out of the formidable difficulties the British Government faced at the time. All their options were awful.

However, there is one simple lesson this history teaches: that given open-ended guarantees is not necessarily particularly bright. Time and again, it leads to the tails thinking they can wag the dog. As is evident with Sikorski now, as also with Netanyahu, when the tail is confronted with the possibility that the dog may not want to be wagged, it tends to go hysterical.


Oh I just mentioned it because I thought it was interesting that this piece of American culture (the comic-book version of Sparta) got transferred over into a Russian motivational video.


Tyler: How much training does it take to become a competent mortar gunner?

Babak Makkinejad

Stalin was right in his suspicion/supposition that " the British and French had been trying to push Hitler East"; I think the deliberate scuttling of Litvinov's mission by the British Foreign Office - himself a Jew - confirmed that for him.

Babak Makkinejad


Putin is not driven by the time table of the events in Ukraine; he can pick and choose when and how and at what level to intervene - if at all.

Neither Russia nor Ukraine are going anywhere and there is a case to be made for "Strategic Patience" on part of the Russian Federation until saner men and women are elected/selected to positions of power in London, Paris, and Washington DC.

the Scythian

"How do I know they really all want the independence which may lead to rejoining the Russian Federation?"

My assessment: Across the Eastern half of the country roughly 80% pro-Russian identity, 20% pro-Galician (what you probably think of as "Ukrainian") identity

1. You could note the massive turnout and vote for the people's organized referendum for independence from Kiev across the Donbass, now known as NovoRossiya two months ago - people turned out massively to vote against the regime even when they were being attacked, shelled, and killed on the day for daring to do so. This was the highest turnout in the region for any vote since 92. One could quibble legalisms about the particulars of the vote etc (as if any vote in a warzone could be perfect) - but even the Western press was unable to deny the huge lines, turnout, and sentiment. That referendum gave the self-defense and the new state at least as much, if not IMHO more legitimacy, than the West-backed Putsch regime occupying Kiev.

2. One could note from the plethora of such videos that when the so-called "ATO" (Anti-terrorist Operation)first began two months (before they resorted to heavy artillery barrages, airstrikes, and shooting everyone on sight) that the regime's military and paramilitary forces (Natz Guard, Right Sector, international fascist brigades, oligarch-funded merc "battalions")they were utterly bewildered to be met by crowds of civilian locals swarming their tanks and BTR's denouncing them as fascists, and demanding them to leave. This resulted in the desertion and/or defection of no small number of regular (now drafted at point of gun) military units, and the seizure of quite a number of military vehicles by the self-defense forces.

3. One could note even the-UN recognized massive refugee situation from the Donbass with now 170,000 registered refugees (and a UN projected 500,000+ total as they noted majority so far were staying with family and friends, rather than registering in camps). They fled the conflict for safety, not to Kiev or the rest of Ukraine - but to Russia.

4. One could look at polling and voting results, and sociological research from recent months going all the way back to 92 - showing the obvious hatred of the Maidan, the support for the legitimate overthrown government, and the strong Russian-identity in the Eastern half of the country. Ukraine is a country with no agreed-upon conception of their own national identity. The West (ie Galicia) is very anti-Russian (and also very pro-Banderite fascist) and the East is very pro-Russian. The center is divided, and largely identity-apathetic - the "swing vote" in American political parlance.

One could also note the (largely ignored in the West MSM) large protests against the Maidan riots and then against the Putsch regime in Kiev across ALL of South and East Ukraine before the attempt to violently suppress them with bussed-in Right Sector "crowd management", first led to the formation of the armed self-defense militias. The protests continue every week, still in the thousands, ignored by the Western MSM, even today.

5. Common-sense test - would you want to be part of a country whose regime leaders calls you "evil subhumans", Colorado beetles (insects), and "terrorista" who "need to be cleansed from Ukraine" and subsequently go about this ethnic cleansing with use of howitzers, GRADS, Urrigans MLRS, Smerch "city flatteners", and airstrikes - against your cities and towns.

6. Last - if you were so inclined - you could even simply take my word for it. I am a US Navy Vet (nuclear engineering field) who did his postgraduate work in international relations theory and security studies at the LSE in the UK. I immigrated to Russia 12 years ago. My wife is from the Crimea (now thankful again to be officially Russian) - and I have in-laws not only there, but across the South-East of the Ukraine (a few of them, yes, fighting for lives and freedom at the barricades in the Donbass). I have visited the Crimea and the Ukraine several times every year and my research has always been focused on the region and post-Soviet identity(Russian/Eurasian civilizational theory). I think I have a better idea than most Western academics and "experts" of the sentiments of the people and the complexities of the situation on the ground.

- Mark Sleboda




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