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Clueless Northman

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  1. Both sides claim to want to negotiate and that negotiations are the only way this will end. I give them both the benefit of the doubt (to differing extents), at least as far as both sides feel there will have to be peace talks because no complete surrender can be expected or achieved. As long as talks seemed to be ongoing, back in March, I thought it reasonable not to talk too much about what they were asking or ceding to each other, and quite respectful not to publicly reveal what the other side's position exactly was. But talks are quite stalled for now, so this is moot. I'm beginning to think Zelensky should actually make public a starting offer, so that international community can see how reasonable it is. This would put the whole pressure on Putin to reveal his aims, so that others can see if he has realistic demands or if his counteroffer is totally ludicrous. Ukrainian troops are slowly retreating from overexposed Donbas positions, under bombing and heavy pressure, but it looks like no solid counterattack is ready to help there. I usually tend to think it's better to offer negotiations when things aren't collapsing but are still looking OK for you, rather than when you're taking a beating; your position is stronger and you can expect a better outcome than if things take a very bad turn. Not that it's a given, but there's always a risk, even for Ukraine. Same goes for Russians of course - they expect to push Ukrainians back from Donbas, but without superior numbers, they can eventually experience a nasty lethal surprise and a regional crushing defeat here or there - better talk now that they still have some hope than when half their fronts cave in. But I fear I'm less boneheaded than some actors and advisersm who are way more ready to sacrifice tens of thousands more men on both sides for a somewhat possible victory.
  2. Had smallpox vaccine, one of the last, it seems. I don't fear this monkeypox more than I feared covid after vaccine. Thought I had chickenpox vaccine as well. Then actually caught chickenpox in my 30s... But then, chickenpox vaccine doesn't give you a scar so that you can be sure you're vaccinated.
  3. Norman Finkelstein? He's been pretty famous for decades, and some of his views would probably fit well with some people here - and go pretty badly with others, of course: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Finkelstein
  4. Ah yes, the fabled great and decisive political reaction against the Iraq War! Remember when EU decided that it was a war crime and the US had to be massively sanctioned? Remember when European political leadership asked to put Blair and Bush on trial? Remember when US billionaires had their assets seized across the rest of the world? Good times I really don't see how that graindead Putin ever hoped to get away with invading Ukraine, since there was such a punitive example made of with the good old US of A.
  5. If these outlying provinces are taking massive casualties, this seriously reduces their potential manpower for possible revolt as well. Locals will be massively angry but that's not increasing the odds of secession. Besides I also had another serious look at the situation, and North Caucasus and Tatars look to be the ones who can truly cause troubles for Russia. Others aren't numerous enough and often are landlocked inside Russia and inside Russian-populated territories; Tuvans or Chukchi aren't going to agitate for independence. As for Transistria, if Russia has 25K troops stationed there, then indeed they can take over Moldova or try to push inside Ukraine. But as far as I know, it's more in the 5.000 range. Considering Ukraine is sending troops at the border, I wouldn't even try a move against Moldova and would just focus on defense.
  6. John Deere should capitalize on this in their next ad campaign: their tractors have the Russian seal of approval
  7. Oh dear this is so stupid. Of course undercover neo-nazi killers will have nazi-flag-themed shirts when infiltrating Russia! And they're coke-addict, obviously, because that's how you are a good hitman with an impressive track record. There's been some silly propaganda on both sides but this one looks so fake it's embarrassing.
  8. Way I see it, it's the last chance of wiping out LREM as a lasting major political party. If it doesn't rule now, odds of a LREM president in 5 years decrease significantly. Yup, things will get bad. Heck, with current inflation and post-pandemic economic hardships, it's already unstable, shifty, dodghy situation. If we add climate refugees and side-effects of climate change / warming in the next 10 years, a lot of political positions will suffer. I think liberalism, first of all economical but possibly, in the long run, even political/social as well, will wane as a political power. Of course that's my own bias: I've been saying since the previous century that capitalism isn't compatible with mankind's survival.
  9. It's quite obvious from what I can see that both Melenchon and Le Pen supporters will vote a lot, hoping that at the very least Macron can't have a majority in parliament. Though I can't see Melenchon PM, he won't have a left majority and would have to compromise even with Macron's own "non-party" to rule.
  10. Looks like that guy didn't get that his president is Vlad Putin, not Vlad Tepes .
  11. Well, it worked well for the Prussian army in Barry Lyndon's time.
  12. Taiwan should be relieved that China isn't ready at all, because with Western ammo stocks going down quickly with all the help sent to Ukraine, it would be very tricky for the West to try to defend both. Even Zelensky must see that a frozen or lasting conflict would be bad for Ukraine, unless it ends with a blatant defeat of Russian troops - clearer defeat than the Winter War and like the Persian Wars basically. It's frustrating that I can't clearly see who's proposing what and who's refusing what (or "was" since discussions seem to have mostly ceased for now); I wonder if there are any pressure on Zelensky not to concede much, if Zelensky thinks he can refuse concessions, and if Russia is proposing any settlement or just has ludicrous requests like annexing more than 1/4 of the country or it's full invasion. Frankly, from my totally-not-Ukrainian and quite removed point of view, ceding territory, even the 2 complete Donbas provinces, would be a far worse outcome than just giving up on Crimea and opting for neutral (non-NATO) non-nuclear status, but with non-aggression treaty with Russia, with independence guaranteed by NATO/US (and for good measure a fully neutral status would also imply no possible Russian alliance with guarantees against NATO interference in case Ukraine ever gets a pro-Russian government - quite unlikely of course), coupled with an official status of some kind for Russian language at least across the Eastern half of the country. Though I'm curious to know which option would appear to be the least bad outcome for Zelensky himself.
  13. Oh it's not just disobeyed. Depending on how he plans to use them, he might be removed - even physically removed if he orders some kind of stupid first strike. Meanwhile, Putin also made a lieutenant general out of that complete idiot and complete psycho Kadyrov. Considering the seeming death rate of Russian generals currently, I wouldn't accept, were I Kadyrov - sounds like a trap. At this point, these sieges, advances, attacks and counter-attacks are kind of a race against time. Mariupol is nearly over, this frees up Russian troops who can go fight in other fronts, first of all the Donbas encirclement attempt. And if that one is over and the troops are defeated or surrended, this will free up a sizable Russian contingent. Better secure positions and ensure there are as few sieges as possible before it happens. Heck, better negotiaet a peace deal now rather than after the Ukrainian troops in Donbas fall - or Zelensky better hopes there's a clever plan to help them get out of there soon. Still good news about negotiating positions, assuming they're sincere (seriously, at some point Zelensky should really admit that as a native Russian-speaker, he wouldn't mind bringing Russian back as some kind of locally official language, it's really silly that he has to act like Ukrainian is the only legit language in the country). I take it Russia is content to kill the bulk of Azov and to destroy the bulk of current Ukrainian hardware and doesn't need much binding rules. But that's really the only part that couldn't be achieved without war. Whatever the future peace, it'll leave a very bitter taste, so much suffering, death and now mutual hatred and lasting mistrust for a deal that might have been achieved peacefully. Disgusting shit that makes me nearly despair of mankind.
  14. What's just as puzzling is that they would've been poisoned in Kiev, wouldn't they? Weird, at this point, one would expect the capital to be safer from Russian agents. A case of weird covid? Some hardcore FSB goons gone rogue? Some hardcore Ukrainians gone rogue? At least, doesn't look like really potent stuff thankfully. They wouldn't be satisfied, but since it's their alleged main beef with Ukraine, they should be satisfied with Ukraine being new Finland, and negotiations should go accordingly - with Western hints that we'd accept this if Ukraine's ok with it, but Russia shouldn't press luck much further with outlandish requests. Time to see to which extent Putin is bluffing or is serious about his public complaints.
  15. So all of Europe should be afraid of Putin, yet the Western interwebs are full of jokes about how his army is being decimated, is incompetent, is losing tanks here and there, and Ukraine will surely win if it lasts a couple more weeks. So which is it, because obviously it can't be both? Because seriously,Ukraine without NATO military intervention just couldn't stand against the 2nd coming of Hitler, so is it Mussolini instead? Actually, if I analyze this cynically, I should hope for a swift end - even if it means some concessions from Ukraine -, because obviously Russia was ill-prepared and improvised, but the Russian army is learning and might adapt and get better at waging such a war, which is something we don't want to see. Just like Red Army learned some lessons from the humiliating Winter War, just like Peter the Great's army learned after getting spanked again and again by Charles XII's Sweden, just like Wellington and the British army learned land war after years fighting Napoleon's armies in the Peninsular War, helping to bring ultimate victory at Waterloo. I've never feared that USSR would overrun all Europe and doom us, so I sure as hell don't fear Russian tanks doing it now, when they're less likely to succeed. The only terrible doom-inducing outcome I could see happening, now as well as back in the 80s, is somebody getting reckless and acting totally stupid and we all go up in nuclear flames or down in nuclear winter.
  16. If Putin wants to stay a tiny bit consistent with his "Ukrainians are our brothers after all, we're just fighting Nazis, and Kiev is a major source of Russian culture and history" shtick, he can't just carpet-bomb the major cities and mass-murder civilians like Wehrmacht in Warsaw uprising, or arguably even like he did himself to Grozny. Of course, he might assume that as long as Russian media don't report on such atrocities, it's OK. Indeed, something any reasonably old person from former USSR would know: he's basically followed Stalin's example, who chose to stay in Moscow - meaning of course government and Politburo would have to stay as well -, because he knew that fleeing would collapse the army's morale, Moscow might have fallen, and if this happened, morale would've collapsed at Leningrad as well. But that would mean that, instead of genuine peace deal, it would just be a decade-long truce like in Korea, with Russia keeping what the army has conquered in the last 3 weeks. Officially, Moscow is still merely asking to keep Crimea and have the 2 Donbass oblasts as "independent" country. Were I Zelensky, I would be amenable to negotiate the no-NATO constitutional part than to cede several provinces. Crimea's water supply should of course be negotiated, but that's a small issue compared to the rest, and one that's reasonable once peace is at hand and not totally hostile relations can be considered between both countries. Then, as I've probably said at some point in the last week, Zelensky should also make clear that if Ukraine signs binding treaty about military neutrality, to give Russia security guarantees on South-West flank, then Russia should also sign binding guarantees about future Ukraine's territorial safety. At least they're still talking and they keep saying they're coming closer to agreements on some points or others, without one side coming with new ridiculous demands. Slow progress at times, but constant progress, it seems. Still such a waste of life and a fucking shame, Putin should've send his guys to negotiate back in February and put some grand conference between he and Zelensky for late March, instead of acting like a raving maniac.
  17. Technically speaking, even though it's been acting as an independent small nation for a long time, Taiwan is the same sovereign nation as China, still stuck in a civil war. Actually, Taipei officially claims even wider territories than Beijing. Since you obviously consider Russia here, let me just mention that little overlooked detail that this way lies World War III and most probably nuclear holocaust. Just saying. Either you boot them all or they all stay in - at the very least USA, China and Russia would make a huge fuss (understatement of the century) if anyone is expelled but not the others.
  18. Make of that what you want, obviously one can't do proper 100% reliable research right now, scholars probably fear it'd be risky, but I found that bit: https://www.facebook.com/mmsokolov/posts/2016414775197668 So the main dividing factors are age (less than 30 / more than 60) and whether people watch Russian TV everyday or don't give a damn about it. Gender is barely noticeable, even urban/rural is way lower. Interestingly, internet usage is way lower in importance than TV - so it's not that people don't browse the net, it's rather that it's easy to be in your own echo chamber, whether Putinist-slanted or Western-oriented. Also, as mentioned by the sociologist and as I always suspected, Russians who answer "I don't know" are basically against but prefer not to.
  19. I think the guy's fallen into that classic trap of equating himself with his country. Putin is Russia, and Russia is Putin. Might have been slowly creeping, the longer he ruled and didn't see any worthy successor, the more he became convinced he had no choice, if Russia were to prosper ever again. No idea if there ever was a tipping point. I wouldn't rule out that he came to that conclusion after Medvedev's term - he assumed he'd do a better job and considering the ever more powerful West/NATO, he'd better take back control of Russia, otherwise the country would eventually become a weakling. Or he's been unhinged from the beginning. But I tend to take him seriously most of the time - unless clear complete nonsense like when he's blablering about a country full of drug-addict Nazis. Good. Russia said they already had a few - except Mariupol obviously -, but there's always reasonable doubt about how they'd really respect their own promises. I don't think the average Ukrainian would trust them that much. If it's actually backed by some Ukrainian check and confirmation, then people might actually get out before real shit happens. As for the rest, then it really looks like Putin thinks he still has momentum and the upper hand and doesn't have to settle for a compromise. I also wouldn't be surprised if Ukrainians become overconfident with all the help, including military, and sanctions, and don't want to give in much. Ironically, in the long run, this bloody stupid shameless fucking war might actually push Europe to become more independent militarily as well, and in the long run (not in the next few years obviously, not even this decade) EU might actually stop being the sidekick of US foreign policy's ambitions. What Putin clearly would've hoped for - splitting Europe and USA -, but definitely not in the way he expected it to happen.
  20. Oh no, just in the middle of Europe. Sorry if I gave such a wrong impression. Though at this point one has to go back to old Cold War planning, in case one is scum enough to drop the bomb. For classical bombings, shelters and bunkers would make perfect sense; for global nuclear warfare, I'm not sure I'd choose that.
  21. Good to see that level of sanity, it's a relief. One has to be realistic about these things, and mankind's survival. At times, I despair and have the feeling many Western leaders are losing it just like Putin might have. China playing the role of peace broker would be an insanely big diplomatic coup, I think, one which would give them a shit-ton of soft power. From a veiledly interested point of view, I'd say the West should try to talk to Moscow as well, we can't be left out of this - of course I suppose they're already doing this. Could be it ends like this, but I'm going to be so pissed off, not because it's a loss for Ukraine, or Russia isn't clearly beaten, but because I still have that foolish notion that some similar deal might have been achieved without that fucking war, had Ukraine, US and Russia discussed for a few more months, well make that until late 2022. Of course, since other timelines are unknown, it's possible that a not-total war on Ukraine might be a way for Russia to show it's serious and can still bite a bit, and without this war, a worse one - say Putin actually attacking NATO in Baltics or Poland - would've been way worse consequences. But still, a terrible waste of life, terrible economic damages all around (and specially in Ukraine and to a lesser extent to Russian civilian bystanders). Of course, since we often talk about how Putin would be at risk at home if he'd face a genuine defeat, there was the other scenario that Zelensky making such concessions just because of pressure and threat of invasion would also be at risk. At least, if these are the concessions Ukraine has to do (maybe with some kind of updated Minsk 2 giving a bit more autonomy to provinces), Zelensky won't be blamed by many Ukrainians and shouldn't fear being killed by hardliners - if those are the terms to end this fucking mess, Ukrainian people should be very proud of their stand against the onslaught, their resistance, their spirit, and that's a legacy that's not going to disappear next month. That said, I have to plan for all outcomes. Time for me to ponder the ultimate contingency, just to be sure and not to be stuck like a deer in headlights. In this case, I'm probably quickly walking to the hill behind and look at the fireworks and the end of all things, instead of going into the bunker. Sure, my best friend told me "I'm going to get you and drag you kicking into the shelter", but I don't think she'd cross half the city when the alert will sound.
  22. Which would make them quite stupid. US has a habit of keeping sanctions until the country collapses and regime-changes. Putin, of all world leaders, should be well aware of that. Ok, some sanctions - travel bans and SWIFT - might get lifted once Ukraine has been entirely freed and compensated... What are they talking about? Geneva Conventions are definitely not about use of weapons, they're about treatment of war prisoners and civilians in war zones. Hague Conventions deal with weapons, but of course merely early 20th century stuff, like dum dum bullets and gas. Then other Protocols and Conventions deal with chemical and biological weapons. Sadly, thermobaric weapons are quite a recent development, so it looks like they've simply never been regulated. Besides, I'd bet Russia used a few of them on ISIS and other jihadis in Syria at the time, and Allies most probably used some in Afghanistan as well when dealing with those huge AQ cave networks.
  23. I wonder if this order implies the mobile missiles go on random drives across the country instead of staying at their usual locations, to ensure they won't be taken out by an enemy first strike. Since they're also out in the open, they'd be faster to launch as well, I suppose. But I've no clue, just second-guessing. Putin would have to be very convincing for people like Lavror and Naryshkin, or even Shoigu and Gerasimov, to agree on nuclear strikes. That is, if they hear he's going to do it, they might decide to act first, unless they've come to the conclusion it's necessary. See Kissinger telling the military that if Nixon ever ordered a strike, they should consult him first. And if he's thinking about legacy, it should be ground to avoid nuclear war actually - since this would just end Russian people. If he stopped caring about his legacy and only bothered with the last few years of life he's got left, I'd be more worried. Unless he's thinking "If I don't move now, Russia will be defeated and people will hate me, 200 years from now" - but that'd be weird because there wouldn't be Russian people, 200 years from now, if he goes full nuclear.
  24. Took 2 full days to US armor to reach Basra outskirts back in 2003, which sits less than 50 km from border with Kuwait. Kiev outskirts were reached on Day 2 here. We'll see what Russian army will do to the cities, that's the big issue, as far as I'm concerned. Potential for mass civilian casualties, alas, and the whole thing can take a long time, as we've seen with Mosul. Azov battalion is in Mariupol. For obvious reasons, Russia wants to neutralize them and, most probably, to wipe them out entirely. Helps to explain why they focus so much on the city. If one is to take Putin at his word, then he'd probably like to see dead all people involved with Azov and Right Sector...
  25. Oh, fucking hell This needs to end fast... Hopefully, with as few civilian casualties as possible. (not that I expect it, sadly)
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