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Ukraine 8


Werthead
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5 minutes ago, Clueless Northman said:

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.

Didn’t you claim the Russian dictator would never choose a full scale invasion of Ukraine?

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2 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Didn’t you claim the Russian dictator would never choose a full scale invasion of Ukraine?

I didn't think he would either, because he didn't have enough troops to do it. The thought he might invade anyway with an insufficient number of troops didn't really cross anyone's mind because it seemed ludicrous, as has proven to be the case.

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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.

Yes, this is the problem (for both sides). Putin can come back and try again in six months or two years or six years, having learned lessons from this operation and trying to compensate (fully compensating would probably require completely de-corrupting the entire Russian state, which I don't think is possible). But Ukraine would also rebuild, would also improve its position and would be better-prepared next time. The best arguments I've seen for Putin launching this operation at this time is that the power balance discrepancy between Ukraine and Russia is probably not going to wide further in Russia's favour and could close significantly (for example, Ukraine could achieve medium-range missile capability fairly easily, putting larger Russian cities within reprisal range).

There is also the possibility, however slim, of Putin striking a deal, withdrawing his troops, and flattening a few Ukrainian cities in a fit of pique. Maybe not entirely impossible, but it would not be great for his legacy and would not achieve any practical aim.

From a purely rationalist POV, Zelensky expressing annoyance over NATO's lack of help (which he's already said many times), giving Putin most of what he wants on paper and declaring neutrality is the best thing for Ukraine (it ends the current situation, which is untenable) and a good outcome for Russia (it removes Ukraine from NATO and possibly the EU's orbit, and allows Putin to declare a domestic victory) and a not-bad outcome for NATO and the West (it places a friendly buffer between them and Russia). It does allow for a repeat of this fiasco further down the line, but it also allows time for rebuilding. And a calculation at this juncture is that Putin will not be around forever and if it's ten or fifteen years before Russia can mount another operation like this, there could be fresh blood to deal with.

Whether that fresh blood is any better or worse is another question, of course.

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In any peace deal one of the stumbling blocks to me seem to be the sanctions. Ukraine themselves have no power to remove them, the US is not going to allow putin to get off freely, and then they will continue to cripple the Russian economy. It will be very difficult for putin to sell that as a victory. 

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17 minutes ago, Makk said:

In any peace deal one of the stumbling blocks to me seem to be the sanctions. Ukraine themselves have no power to remove them, the US is not going to allow putin to get off freely, and then they will continue to cripple the Russian economy. It will be very difficult for putin to sell that as a victory. 

Putin has already straight-up said that the sanctions offer an opportunity for Russia to take other measures and become independent and he is not afraid of them.

You have to half-consider the possibility that securing total control over Russia internally, removing the oligarchs' bolt-holes and apparently snuffing out the last possibility of competition to his rule might, for him, have made the whole thing worthwhile. Also, weaning the West off Russian oil and gas also means Russia weaning itself off the West's money, which from his POV might make be a bigger win.

Also, if Ukraine strikes a decent deal and asks itself for the sanctions to be removed, the international community might have a hard time resisting them. I could see the US dragging their feet over how long it takes, but other countries might pull the sanctions to help Ukraine's position versus Russia.

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53 minutes ago, Werthead said:

I didn't think he would either, because he didn't have enough troops to do it. The thought he might invade anyway with an insufficient number of troops didn't really cross anyone's mind because it seemed ludicrous, as has proven to be the case.

The thought he might invade anyways with an insufficient number of troops, or the fact he had an insufficient number of troops? :P

Edited by A True Kaniggit
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21 minutes ago, Werthead said:

Also, if Ukraine strikes a decent deal and asks itself for the sanctions to be removed, the international community might have a hard time resisting them. I could see the US dragging their feet over how long it takes, but other countries might pull the sanctions to help Ukraine's position versus Russia.

Even if Ukraine calls for the rolling back of sanctions I can't see many places doing it too quickly. Sure, some will prioritize their economies, but I think a large number of nations want to send a message to Russia and won't fully relax them until we see a prolonged period without aggression (and cyber aggressions should be treated no differently). 

Also, you've discussed Ukraine rebuilding as a preventative tool to deter another Russia attack. Is that really true in the short run? I have to think it's going to take many years to rebuild Ukraine before true advancements can be made and as of right now I'm not sure they'll have a function economy for a long time to come. They're going to be vulnerable for the considerable future which is another reason why nations should be cautious about rolling back sanctions too quickly.   

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Ukraine is going to have an absurd amount of aid pouring in if the war ends. Tons of military and nonmilitary. The west is going to arm Ukraine like they're a police force in midstate Iowa - with crazy amounts of secondhand us weapons well beyond anything reasonable. You will see a rebuild not seen since the Marshall plan. The west will want to atone and the only way they know how is with money. 

On kherson - I'm not sure having it claimed by Russia is that big of a win and I'm not sure Russia wants it that bad. Are they going to want to sit and fight a counterinsurgency where those crazy amount of arms can just flow freely into the area with a populace that almost certainly hates them with a massive passion? It might be a good bargaining chip, but I don't think Russia wants it unless they can also get the entire south of Ukraine. 

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17 minutes ago, Tywin et al. said:

Also, you've discussed Ukraine rebuilding as a preventative tool to deter another Russia attack. Is that really true in the short run? I have to think it's going to take many years to rebuild Ukraine before true advancements can be made and as of right now I'm not sure they'll have a function economy for a long time to come. They're going to be vulnerable for the considerable future which is another reason why nations should be cautious about rolling back sanctions too quickly.   

The latest estimate from the IMF is that if the war ended now Ukraine would see a ~10% drop in GDP this year; and if it keeps dragging on (but doesn't lead to a Russian victory) that might increase to a ~35% drop. That is incredibly bad, but is a far cry from not having an economy at all. Most of the western cities won't take long to repair any damages and much of the country's GDP comes from agriculture, which hasn't been too badly impacted yet.

On top of that, the main deterrence to future Russian aggression wouldn't be arms that Ukraine purchases themselves; it'll be the continued flow of free NATO arms.

I do agree though that sanctions are likely to stay in place for a while, unless they are replaced by reparations. Which I doubt Russia would ever agree to.

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1 hour ago, Fez said:

I do agree though that sanctions are likely to stay in place for a while, unless they are replaced by reparations. Which I doubt Russia would ever agree to.

There have been rumblings (I don't know how seriously these should be taken) that assets confiscated from Russia be used to rebuild Ukraine.  It's the kind of plan that sounds really good as a political slogan but might be much harder in practice.  Nonetheless because it sounds good as a political slogan it could become a reality. 

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9 minutes ago, Maithanet said:

There have been rumblings (I don't know how seriously these should be taken) that assets confiscated from Russia be used to rebuild Ukraine.

I don't think the math really works out on that one.

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1 hour ago, Fez said:

The latest estimate from the IMF is that if the war ended now Ukraine would see a ~10% drop in GDP this year; and if it keeps dragging on (but doesn't lead to a Russian victory) that might increase to a ~35% drop. That is incredibly bad, but is a far cry from not having an economy at all. Most of the western cities won't take long to repair any damages and much of the country's GDP comes from agriculture, which hasn't been too badly impacted yet.

On top of that, the main deterrence to future Russian aggression wouldn't be arms that Ukraine purchases themselves; it'll be the continued flow of free NATO arms.

That's actually a lot more optimistic than I would have guessed. I do think it will take longer to rebuild the national infrastructure though, and there's no reason to assume Russia still won't be interfering. 

And to the last point, along with what Kal mentioned I have no doubt that there were be an immediate rush to inject cheap capital and weapons into Ukraine, but how long will that reasonably be sustained? In line with what Maith mentioned it will be popular to say you're doing those things now, but will it be in a year? I have some doubts there.

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36 minutes ago, Tywin et al. said:

That's actually a lot more optimistic than I would have guessed. I do think it will take longer to rebuild the national infrastructure though, and there's no reason to assume Russia still won't be interfering. 

And to the last point, along with what Kal mentioned I have no doubt that there were be an immediate rush to inject cheap capital and weapons into Ukraine, but how long will that reasonably be sustained? In line with what Maith mentioned it will be popular to say you're doing those things now, but will it be in a year? I have some doubts there.

The US will do a bunch and then get distracted by something shiny, no doubt. But Europe? Oh, Europe is well and truly pissed off. They are going to rebuild ukraine, arm and train the shit out of them and make them a nato member in all but name. 

Germany got permission to start making a military again and they are gonna lean into that shit

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16 minutes ago, Kalibuster said:

The US will do a bunch and then get distracted by something shiny, no doubt. But Europe? Oh, Europe is well and truly pissed off. They are going to rebuild ukraine, arm and train the shit out of them and make them a nato member in all but name. 

Germany got permission to start making a military again and they are gonna lean into that shit

Europe is pissed for the moment, but they too could get distracted after a while. And the current level of unity isn't going to last. Countries will do what's in their own economic interests, especially if a recession hits, and to your last point, I suspect the need for various countries to build up their own defense forces will supersede any long term commitments to Ukraine.  

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58 minutes ago, Tywin et al. said:

That's actually a lot more optimistic than I would have guessed. I do think it will take longer to rebuild the national infrastructure though, and there's no reason to assume Russia still won't be interfering. 

And to the last point, along with what Kal mentioned I have no doubt that there were be an immediate rush to inject cheap capital and weapons into Ukraine, but how long will that reasonably be sustained? In line with what Maith mentioned it will be popular to say you're doing those things now, but will it be in a year? I have some doubts there.

Oh for sure there's been tons of damage done. The latest estimate from one of Ukraine's ministers is that about $500 billion in damages have been done so far. And Ukraine's GDP last year was only $155 billion. So it'll take ages for them to rebuild everything without major assistance.

It's just been one small bit of fortune that the most important parts of Ukraine's economic engine have not been a major part of the damage. And probably can't be, unless Russia literally starts salting the earth.

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4 hours ago, Werthead said:

Putin has already straight-up said that the sanctions offer an opportunity for Russia to take other measures and become independent and he is not afraid of them.

It's one thing to say that a couple of days after they are put in place. It's another thing to tell his people that after they start losing their jobs, their houses, their savings, their entire life style. It will be interesting to see what happens when the stock market reopens. It's difficult to judge just how crippling the sanctions will be but I'm more of the view that they will be catastrophic for the economy and I doubt they will be removed entirely. I suspect the best they can hope for is that they will gradually be eased after a peace deal. This is terrible for Ukranians but the Russian people have really been shafted by this as well. 

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Putin doesn't just bluster about nukes, @Werthead 

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@Makk

 

Mmn hmn. Russia's economy is predominantly resource based, and by all reports managed horribly. Its manufacturing sector is weak, riddled with grift due to the same issues as the latter, etc etc ad nauseum McMafia. China may seem like a port in the storm, but it'll probably leg itself up with a foot on Russia's head.

Getting out from sanctions is the only way and if it were up to me that wouldn't happen without regime change. Probably good it's not up to me.   

Edited by JEORDHl
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6 hours ago, Kalibuster said:

The US will do a bunch and then get distracted by something shiny, no doubt. But Europe? Oh, Europe is well and truly pissed off. They are going to rebuild ukraine, arm and train the shit out of them and make them a nato member in all but name. 

Germany got permission to start making a military again and they are gonna lean into that shit

I was talking with my German partner about how absurd the build-up of the German military is when they were being encouraged to do so by France and Poland. 

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The idea of a German military build up did seem absurd until it wasn’t. You have to admire them for sticking with their policy for so long while the world refused to change around them.

Turns out Zelensky is incredibly impressive as a diplomat too. The whole ‘NATO close the sky’ thing, although I’m sure he would’ve preferred if it actually happened, now looks like a gambit to eventually back off NATO and secure a deal.

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