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Ukraine Part 5: war...it never changes


Kalnestk Oblast
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1 hour ago, sologdin said:

.we should welcome those for whom the ukraine invasion is a tripwire and seek to extend their zeal retroactively into other conflicts, which may implicate their own cultural and national prejudices. it is thus not a large step for the new antiwar principle to merge arrow and target, as it were. 

Yea this is a good point, important to remember that it’s the previous reactions that were under-blown, not this one being overblown. Hopefully the comparison of ‘this is just like Ukraine’ will wake a few people up in the future.

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Putin asked for no more sanctions on Russia and suggested good relations with other countries could be restored after the military operation is resolved, but he is prepared to ride out sanctions as long as necessary.

That's interesting because there was no real bellicosity (no vague nuke threats). It could be standard Putin obfuscation, maybe he's the good cop today and Lavarov/Medvedev will come out with bad cop statements later on. Or maybe there's simply a very coded diplomatic phrasing there that when the operation ends successfully - as defined by him and him alone - sanctions could then be removed. Maybe a hint that a deal is doable.

Whether that deal is remotely realistic or acceptable remains to be seen, of course.

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3 hours ago, Derfel Cadarn said:

Pretty much stalled. Ukraine claiming they’ve been attacking it

One of the comical things about it is they're taking up every lane going one direction. Doesn't exactly make it easy to refuel the numerous trucks. 

12 minutes ago, Werthead said:

Putin asked for no more sanctions on Russia and suggested good relations with other countries could be restored after the military operation is resolved, but he is prepared to ride out sanctions as long as necessary.

Putin is completely delusional if he thinks good relations will ever be restored so long as he's still in charge. 

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6 minutes ago, Tywin et al. said:

Putin is completely delusional if he thinks good relations will ever be restored so long as he's still in charge. 

I think he may be delusional.  I think we may have an actual “mad bomber”. His own people have to know there is no good outcome for Russia from this invasion… they have to.

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9 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

I think he may be delusional.  I think we may have an actual “mad bomber”. His own people have to know there is no good outcome for Russia from this invasion… they have to.

Russian society is extremely stratified. It looks like that around one-third of the Russian population are totally lapping up everything Putin says and believing it to the hilt, a third think it's total horseshit and a third are divided, cynical enough to not believe everything that comes from state media but also not necessary believing that the other side is 100% right either.

Of course, you have a great variety within those divides, so people who might believe Putin's stories but think that war is going too far, and others who might fully believe the stories of Russia bombing civilians in Ukraine but also approve of it.

There is also a big age divide. Young people in Russia, who are much cannier at using VPNs to get around Russian blocks and who read widely and non-Russian sources, and gamers who play with non-Russians and other somewhat savvy people, are vastly more likely to know it's all BS and don't support Putin, whilst older people, especially those who were old enough to remember and consider the 1990s to be a total shitshow in Russia, are much more likely to support him (the very old, who remember life in the Soviet Union and what things were like as something of a pariah state, probably have far more mixed feelings).

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The Pentagon has set up a new hotline with the Russian MoD to prevent miscommunication and escalation, among other things. I think this is a good idea, many of you may not know that India and Pakistan have a hotline too, used extensively during the 1997 nuclear tests that both nations conducted.

Particularly important when the spectre of nuclear attacks has been raised, whatever the reason for that.

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People toss off psychopathy, but here is a pretty clear cut psychopath. He’s been getting bad information, but this was a roll of the dice that he was prepared to make, since killing alone seems fine with him. Trump still has power enough to cause division after having worked on his behalf countless times. The cracks in the U.S. and even Canada have been exploited. Germany is under power. Britain has been brexited by Bojo. The pandemic raises everyone’s stress levels. Operators have gotten away with expansion, poisoning, and disappearing opposition. What better time? 

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6 minutes ago, HoodedCrow said:

People toss off psychopathy, but here is a pretty clear cut psychopath. He’s been getting bad information, but this was a roll of the dice that he was prepared to make, since killing alone seems fine with him. Trump still has power enough to cause division after having worked on his behalf countless times. The cracks in the U.S. and even Canada have been exploited. Germany is under power. Britain has been brexited by Bojo. The pandemic raises everyone’s stress levels. Operators have gotten away with expansion, poisoning, and disappearing opposition. What better time? 

More a sociopath than a psychopath.  

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So I had a worrying thought.  What if the Russian invasion runs out of steam and rather than accept a stalemate/negotiated peace, Putin uses a nuke on one of the holdout Ukrainian cities?  What could NATO do at that point?  They have already used basically all their non-military options and it has not gotten the desired result.  A nuclear bomb might change China's opinion of the matter, but I'm not totally convinced that Putin cares that much about China's opinion either. 

Could the US/EU just ignore that?  And if not, is there any way this doesn't end in a large scale nuclear exchange? 

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7 minutes ago, Maithanet said:

So I had a worrying thought.  What if the Russian invasion runs out of steam and rather than accept a stalemate/negotiated peace, Putin uses a nuke on one of the holdout Ukrainian cities?  What could NATO do at that point?  They have already used basically all their non-military options and it has not gotten the desired result.  A nuclear bomb might change China's opinion of the matter, but I'm not totally convinced that Putin cares that much about China's opinion either. 

Could the US/EU just ignore that?  And if not, is there any way this doesn't end in a large scale nuclear exchange? 

That's kind of a nightmare scenario, similar to Russia using a battlefield nuke. What happens then?

It's difficult to know. If Russia's position is that it is willing to use any means to neutralise Ukraine rather than allow it to be free and independent, then that becomes a very difficult thing to deal with.

This is the issue with red lines in the sand. If Putin believes that NATO will defend every inch of its territory, up to having Americans die for Estonia and risk nuclear war, then is he willing to do the same for Ukraine? Is he basically saying he has Ukraine or the entire world suffers?

This is the kind of situation that was not really envisaged in the Cold War because the red lines in the Cold War were really set in 1945, re-set in 1949 and then never really budged, and one mistake by either side over those lines could have set off a nuclear war. The red lines here are blurrier and vaguer, and it's much easier for someone to stumble over those lines without realising.

The hope would be that Putin realises that nuking either Kyiv or Kharkiv would spread nuclear fallout over Russia and Belarus, and would do a lot of damage to Russia as well as Ukraine. Also, nuking Ukrainian cities means not being able to incorporate them later on into a Greater Russia. One of Putin's goals may be addressing Russia's population problem and adding an extra 20 million-odd people (even if he can't add all 44 million) and various industries and economic resource is important to his future plans. Destroying the things you want to capture is counter-productive. If Russia fails to capture Ukraine this time around (or all of it), there might be other opportunities later on. That would require Putin to be content to wait, or for him to accept it might not be done in his lifetime, which is a different question.

Edited by Werthead
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5 minutes ago, Werthead said:

This is the kind of situation that was not really envisaged in the Cold War because the red lines in the Cold War were really set in 1945, re-set in 1949 and then never really budged, and one mistake by either side over those lines could have set off a nuclear war. The red lines here are blurrier and vaguer, and it's much easier for someone to stumble over those lines without realising.

The lines are definitely blurrier, although this sort of situation could have very easily come up during the Cold War as well.  Russia could have used a nuke in Afghanistan instead of retreating.  Likewise the US could have done so in Vietnam.  They didn't because they knew that once nukes start getting used, it is really hard to know where it ends, and nobody wanted to risk it. 

And maybe (hopefully!) we're still living in that world.  But Putin is acting very strangely and making some inexplicable decisions this past month, so it is hard to assume that this is a line he wouldn't dare cross. 

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The first non-military option would have to be an embargo on all Russian goods and potentially on every country that buys Russian oil (so basically forcing China’s hand). After that it seems all options probably lead to WW3 or capitulation.

It might also behoove the West to remind Putin that if he uses Nukes anywhere then Moscow becomes fair game. MAD is a horribly idea, but it may be the thing that stays Putin’s hand.

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8 minutes ago, Maithanet said:

The lines are definitely blurrier, although this sort of situation could have very easily come up during the Cold War as well.  Russia could have used a nuke in Afghanistan instead of retreating.  Likewise the US could have done so in Vietnam.  They didn't because they knew that once nukes start getting used, it is really hard to know where it ends, and nobody wanted to risk it.

I'm not sure using a nuclear weapon would have done the Soviets much good in Afghanistan, they controlled all the cities and it's not like they were fighting a regular army. Also when they left the communist government did a lot better at carrying on without them than the one the West left behind. Putin seems to have got himself into a worse hole with this invasion than the Soviets ever did in Afghanistan. Which says a lot given it's only been just over a week.

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1 minute ago, Tywin et al. said:

It might also behoove the West to remind Putin that if he uses Nukes anywhere then Moscow becomes fair game. MAD is a horribly idea, but it may be the thing that stays Putin’s hand.

I had a similar thought about the nuclear power plants, given that one having a meltdown would actually have an even worse direct effect on Europe than 'only' one frustration nuke. Just so that this night doesn't repeat, we could make clear that we regard the destruction of a nuclear power plant as an indiscriminate attack on Europe, so he should leave them the fuck alone if he doesn't want WW3. Yes, that would be drawing a line in the sand and challenging Putin, but I feel like this can still be regarded as a reasonable stance that isn't meant as escalation, but as a gentle reminder that any kind of nuclear devastation is off-limits as a threat.

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5 minutes ago, Toth said:

I had a similar thought about the nuclear power plants, given that one having a meltdown would actually have an even worse direct effect on Europe than 'only' one frustration nuke.

?  Only if Ukrainians are not Europeans.  The death toll for Chernobyl is hard to pin down but the highest estimate I could find was 60k, and most estimates are more like 15-20k.  The death toll of using even a single nuke on a city would be much higher than that. 

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6 minutes ago, Maithanet said:

?  Only if Ukrainians are not Europeans.  The death toll for Chernobyl is hard to pin down but the highest estimate I could find was 60k, and most estimates are more like 15-20k.  The death toll of using even a single nuke on a city would be much higher than that. 

Mmh, I wasn't exactly trying to put the lives on a pair of scales, just trying to say that a nuke would only affect Ukraine while cracking a nuclear power plant like an egg with heavy shelling would irradiate NATO countries and could therefore be interpreted as Putin wanting to see everyone burn if he doesn't get his way (yes, it would also certainly affect Russia, but we are way past the point where Putin seems to care about the well-being of his people).

Though in the end both possibilities are to be prevented at all cost.

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15 minutes ago, Toth said:

I had a similar thought about the nuclear power plants, given that one having a meltdown would actually have an even worse direct effect on Europe than 'only' one frustration nuke. Just so that this night doesn't repeat, we could make clear that we regard the destruction of a nuclear power plant as an indiscriminate attack on Europe, so he should leave them the fuck alone if he doesn't want WW3. Yes, that would be drawing a line in the sand and challenging Putin, but I feel like this can still be regarded as a reasonable stance that isn't meant as escalation, but as a gentle reminder that any kind of nuclear devastation is off-limits as a threat.

I’m not sure I’d draw the line at attacking a nuclear power plant (I know little to nothing about what the fallout would be hence my silence on the issue). I also don’t think Putin’s threats are serious, but if you think they are the West really only has two choices, return the threat or in effect backdown which is basically an invitation to Putin to invade any of the former Soviet states.

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34 minutes ago, Ran said:

 

That’s interesting… not only are they saying Russia doesn’t have “Air Superiority”… they’re saying Ukraine does.  Why isn’t the UkAF pounding the hell out of Russian ground forces.  That “convoy” is a sitting duck.

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