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Lone Primate

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How far you willing to take this?

Next up, he tells NATO to surrender the Baltics and Poland (the country on a path to surpass Germany as the regional power) and threatens nuclear war. Should we just walk way from them too?

Legitimizing nuclear blackmail is a hell of an idea. And probably a recipe for both nuclear proliferation and the end of democracy as we know it.

I say treat this exactly like any proxy Cold War fight. If Putin wants he can try and interdict supply lines at the Polish and Romanian borders.
Strawman much, Keith? Seriously. I've mentioned Article 5 any number of times. If you don't know what that is, I'll tell you. It's the heart of the North Atlantic Treaty we've been party to since 1949. It's the part that declares an attack on one to be an attack on all. It's only been invoked once in history: by the US, after the 9/11 attacks. In the entire Cold War, we never invoked Article 5. Not during the construction of the Berlin Wall. Not during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Not during Vietnam. That's how rare it's been and how reluctant we've been to invoke it, and how reluctant the Soviets/Russians have been to trigger it.

Nevertheless, it's there. It's our red line, plainly stated. And like it or not, Ukraine is on the other side of the red line. The Baltics are not. It's one thing for Ivan Lunchpail to mouth off about the Baltics in the street. Big deal. It's another altogether for the Russians to line up an invasion force along those borders, and another still altogether to roll it across that line. That, too, is World War III. We knew it when I was a kid (although the line was considerably further west at the time), and we know it now. And for all the bluster, so does every Kremlin general, intelligence operative, and apparatchik. They all know what it means. That's where we have to make our stand, and be credible on it. If we have Ukraine on the other side of it, and we stick to that (as we have), the Russians will notice that. Frankly, I've been surprised how measured their response to our sanctions and weapons transfers have actually been. And if we say, as we have repeatedly, that we won't surrender a single inch of NATO's territory, they'll notice that too. We've been consistent on the first point. We need to be consistent on the second.

Maybe you didn't notice... maybe you're new to this... but the entire world lives (and potentially dies) under "nuclear blackmail", and it has for 70 years. It's largely what's kept the peace since my grandfather came home from Europe in WWII, or not long afterwards. I grew up under that explicit threat. Frankly, so did you, but if you're young enough, you probably weren't aware of it. Anyone who came to political consciousness after the Berlin Wall fell really doesn't have that gut understanding of it that people older than that have. The difference is that this is the first time in a very long time that any of the real nuclear powers (rather than the regional ones) has stated out loud that it considers their use an option. This is not an ordinary proxy war off someplace no one cares much about. It's not Afghanistan or Syria or Libya. It's in the heart of Europe, bumping up against NATO's actual borders. These are the highest chips either side has in the game. Ukraine is a place many if not most Russians consider to be an historic part of their own country, whether we like it or not, and people behave a certain way about things they don't simply covet, but sincerely believe are already theirs. Treating this as just another conflict out there someplace would be a big mistake. We haven't seen anything quite like this in a very long time. If ever. This is something new, and it's something very dangerous with the potential to go very wrong very fast.

We have only one sensible course, and it's the one we've been pursuing. 1) Limit our engagement to aiding Ukraine to defend itself, without getting involved ourselves. Like it or not, Ukraine needs to be a buffer between the West and Russia. I'm sorry for them, but that's the reality of it. Direct conflict between Russia and the West has never happened, and it needs to stay that way, no matter what. 2) Our economic might is the greatest weapon we can actually wield in this struggle, by far. There are things in the modern world that no one else but us can do for Russia, not even China, and if we hang together and do deny those things to the Russians, quietly and persistently, we can hamper Russia's ability to advance in Ukraine and dissuade or make actually impossible any real attempt on any other front. Russia has no real way to counter this, other than going to outright war with us. So far, they've been smart enough not to do that, and God help us all if they do. But other than that, they simply cannot prevail over us. We can only defeat ourselves by not sticking together and speaking with one voice.
 

afransen

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Letting Russia use nukes without getting their nose bloodied is dangerous. It would warrant heavy conventional bombardment of military and strategic assets such as oil & gas infrastructure in retaliation.
 

kEiThZ

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I've mentioned Article 5 any number of times. If you don't know what that is, I'll tell you. It's the heart of the North Atlantic Treaty we've been party to since 1949. I

Maybe you didn't notice... maybe you're new to this...

I'll let others tell you what my day job is.....

Here's the thing. Article 5 is only as credible as your willingness to enforce it. Remember when Trump questioned why the US had to defend the Baltics? This is exactly the kind of apathy and unwillingness that Putin is banking on.

Also, Putin never just rolls into a country. He foments an ethnic Russian uprising and then uses that as an excuse. There's the joke that Russian speakers are to Russia like oil is to America. Just waiting to be liberated.
 

AlvinofDiaspar

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Letting Russia use nukes without getting their nose bloodied is dangerous. It would warrant heavy conventional bombardment of military and strategic assets such as oil & gas infrastructure in retaliation.

Conventional? Nay. I'd suggest a demonstration of the resolve against the offensive first use of nukes by launching and detonating a few into the Baltic Sea right off Kaliningrad and the Gulf of Finland off St. Petersburg - and make sure they knew this is coming beforehand.

AoD
 
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kEiThZ

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Letting Russia use nukes without getting their nose bloodied is dangerous. It would warrant heavy conventional bombardment of military and strategic assets such as oil & gas infrastructure in retaliation.

I wouldn't target Russia proper. But I would be highly surprised if there weren't TLAMs heading towards a whole bunch of Russian targets all over Ukraine after that. Particularly towards the Black Sea fleet at Sevastopol. Putin knows this too. That's why the Russians are doing this:


And that's the Americans and NATO are doing stuff like this:



PS. Military aircraft don't normally have transponders on when conducting military ops. A squawking B-52 is just saying hi.
 

Lone Primate

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Here's the thing. Article 5 is only as credible as your willingness to enforce it.

Which I've been at lengths to stress repeatedly. Seriously, have you been reading what I've actually been saying here, or just supposing I'm saying what you want to take issue with?

But the point is, our willingness to enforce Article 5 starts and ends where Article 5 does: with NATO's members. Ukraine isn't one, unfortunately for them. The Baltics are members, and so I agree, we need to stress what NATO's secretary general has said: we'll defend every inch. If that's not enough, there's nothing we can do but face it down and pray to God we're all still breathing next week.

Also, Putin never just rolls into a country. He foments an ethnic Russian uprising and then uses that as an excuse. There's the joke that Russian speakers are to Russia like oil is to America. Just waiting to be liberated.

It's pretty clear that's their attitude, and it's largely the attitude of those ethnic Russians in those countries, too. That's a complication of the situation we face. It's crude, and it verges on soft ethnic cleansing, but the case needs to be made to ethnic Russians in countries that are in NATO that "If you want to be Russian, it's that big country over there. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out." Otherwise, no matter what you speak or who your grandparents were, remember YOU are Polish, or Latvian, or Moldovan, as the case may be.
 
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Lone Primate

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Letting Russia use nukes without getting their nose bloodied is dangerous. It would warrant heavy conventional bombardment of military and strategic assets such as oil & gas infrastructure in retaliation.
A conventional response would be the only real hope we'd have of not triggering an ever-increasing spiral of nuclear escalation. Once that gets going, it's very unlikely either side is going to give the other the last word, and the likelihood that some field commander or submarine captain calls the shot that ends the world skyrockets.
 

kEiThZ

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But the point is, our willingness to enforce Article 5 starts and ends where Article 5 does

No it doesn't. Indeed, it could be argued the lack of a harsh response to previous Russian adventures is why we're seeing this invasion now. Just three months ago, plenty of countries (including Canada) weren't even willing to supply lethal aid to Ukraine. Heck, the partner in our governing coalition right now is still opposed to lethal aid to Ukraine.

I would argue that wilting at every single threat Vlad makes because he whispers the word "nuclear" after that, substantially damages our credibility on Article 5. It emboldens Putin to question whether our resolve is genuine.

I'm not one to argue we should fight in Ukraine right now. But I don't buy the argument that if we give the Ukrainians 30 yr old Polish MiGs, there will be nuclear tipped cruise missiles landing in Warsaw. We absolutely can aid Ukraine a lot more. And we can lay out red lines on WMD use in Ukraine. Not in the least because of actual risks to NATO members (including possible fallout). I have zero doubts that some of these have been communicated to the Russians already.
 

lenaitch

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May be not traditional conservatives. But PPC? Ask them about countries filled with Muslims or Mexico or Africa or China.
Perhaps. I know a goodly number of them don't like members of those groups being here, but I can't say I've heard a lot of their opinions about them being there. It might be that I really only hear what is written in professional media and a few forums (like here). I don't dwell in the cesspool of social media.
 
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Admiral Beez

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If you want to understand how the average Russian thinks, just imagine the USA, but with 75% of the population supporting Trump and exclusively watching Fox News. That should provide a rough approximation.
We don’t need to care what Putin thinks nor what the Russian people think. This war isn’t going to end by winning over the hearts and minds of the Russian people or enciting regime change. Putin and the Russian people have played their hand. This war will end when the Russians are defeated in the field and pushed out of Ukraine and when Ukraine is strong enough to prevent future Russian attacks. After that Russians can sit in their now sanctioned and boycotted sh#thole of a failed state and rot. Our job in the West is to expedite the above.
 

kEiThZ

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We don’t need to care what Putin thinks nor what the Russian people think.

I'd argue we should care.

Why are we here?

It's because we (the West) never did to the Soviet Union what we did to Germany and Japan after WWII. So their cultural preference for belligerence was never ameliorated. Worse, they conveniently memoryholed their dealings with the Nazis, the substantial aid of the allies and cast themselves as the great saviours of humanity from Nazism. This mythology now let's their rulers consistently brainwash their public into supporting aggression against its neighbours.

It's not just that Ukraine needs to defeat Russia. We need to discuss how to contain Russia till they come to terms with their sordid past, or we'll keep going through this every generation.
 

Admiral Beez

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So their cultural preference for belligerence was never ameliorated.
That‘s hardwired in their ethnic psyche. Their deference to strongmen, willful, propaganda-following ignorance, and their Rodney Dangerfield like respect-hungry, inferiority complex. It’s who Russians are. What contains Russia is might - had the West armed and shown the interest in Ukraine as it does today in 2014 or beforehand Russia would have never invaded. Russia has not attacked its NATO neighbours due to Article 5. Russia signed postwar border agreements with China, the last in 2005 because the former could never successfully combat the latter. Russia can control their preference for belligerence when the odds are clearly against them. So, let’s support Ukraine in shoving Russia out of their territory. Then we can let the Russians starve, provided they stay in their cage.
 

W. K. Lis

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While most clergy are on the Ukraine's side, there is one notable on Putin's side.

Kirill, the Patriarch in league with Putin

From link.
Until very recently, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, was most famous for being the owner of a phantom wristwatch. It had the magical property of disappearing from sight, visible to onlookers only as a reflection.

Don’t believe me? Google ‘Kirill’ and ‘watch’ and you’ll find a photo of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus’ meeting the Russian justice minister. It was taken in 2009, the year Kirill succeeded the late Patriarch Alexy II as spiritual leader of 110 million Russian Orthodox Christians.

On his head Kirill is wearing a white koukoulion, the so-called ‘helmet of salvation’, with side flaps like the ears of a giant basset hound. But his cassock is plain black and his wrist is bare. Only the polished table reveals the glimmer of his phantom wristwatch, a £20,000 Swiss Breguet.

With that sort of price tag, you’d have thought the Russian Orthodox could afford a better class of Photoshopper. At any rate, the humiliated Patriarch threw a fit. ‘There will be a thorough investigation to determine why in this instance there was a crude violation of our internal ethical code [against digital manipulation],’ said his spokesman. ‘The guilty ones will be punished severely.’

We can be sure that promise was kept. You don’t mess with Kirill, a fanatical supporter of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, who was born 75 years ago as Vladimir Mikhailovich Gundyayev. It’s probably his patronymic that explains why for decades he was known as ‘Mikhailov’ by his superiors.
His superiors in the KGB, that is, not the Orthodox Church. As a young priest and bishop, Kirill spent years infiltrating the World Council of Churches (WCC) and other international bodies on behalf of the Soviet Union.

The evidence is set out in a paper entitled ‘The Mikhailov Files: Patriarch Kirill and the KGB’, published by the historian and human rights activist Felix Corley in 2018. His sources are documents from the KGB archives in Moscow which, he writes, ‘were seen by a number of researchers after the archives were briefly opened in the wake of the failed August 1991 coup, but access was then closed again after the Russian Orthodox leadership protested against the extent of the revelations’.

The panic was understandable. The then patriarch, Alexy, was himself a KGB agent. No religious leaders were allowed out of the country unless they were doubling as spies, and that included Catholics, Muslims and Buddhists from the USSR. So it goes without saying that Father Kirill would have been one. What’s interesting is the sinister nature of the tasks to which he was assigned.
In November 1978, the KGB drew up a ‘Future Plan’ of co-operation with its Czech equivalent to ‘deepen dissent within leading reactionary church circles’, to harass Protestant ‘sects’, to tighten its grip on the WCC and to strengthen the position of an unnamed agent in the Vatican. The KGB mentions that it wants this agent, codenamed ‘Professor’, to ‘strengthen links with Lviv vice-province’, home to most of Ukraine’s Greek Rite Catholics. Four KGB agents are assigned this task, the first of which is Mikhailov – i.e. Kirill, who was the Moscow Patriarch’s representative to the WCC in Geneva.

Corley adds: ‘The documents also reveal that the KGB was aware Kirill was corresponding with Rome-based Catholic professor Eduard Huber, rector of the Pontifical Oriental Institute, even if the KGB backed away from attempting to recruit Huber as an agent.’ The now forgotten Huber was a Soviet--educated Jesuit priest; his Institute dealt with Eastern Catholic Churches, the largest of which is Ukrainian. During his time as rector, the Ukrainian Greek Rite Catholics, hated by Moscow, were an obstacle to the Vatican’s Ostpolitik. No wonder the KGB wanted him to talk to Mikhailov.
Ostpolitik (the Vatican’s normalisation of relations with countries behind the Iron Curtain, an approach rejected by Pope John Paul II) has been revived by Pope Francis. So, too, has liberation theology, an ugly hybrid of Catholicism and Marxism that developed in Latin America – well outside Kirill’s sphere of influence, you might think. Not so, according to the late Ion Mihai Pacepa, the Romanian general and confidant of President Ceausescu who was the highest-ranking defector from the Soviet bloc.

According to Pacepa, ‘Kirill/Mikhailov’s main task was to involve the WCC in spreading the new liberation theology throughout Latin America’. Pacepa also repeated a claim by Moscow News that Patriarch Kirill was worth $4 billion in 2006, partly thanks to abusing his Church’s bizarre privilege of importing duty-free cigarettes into Russia.

Joining the dots between these claims is not easy, but it doesn’t require us to believe that Kirill, any more than his friend Putin, was ever a devout communist. He has always been a nationalist who believes Russian Orthodox Christianity is superior to any other variety; he could see the morale-sapping effect of liberation theology on the Catholic Church and was happy to help matters along.

Far more important, he believes that Ukraine, where Russians first converted to Christianity, must never slip from the grasp of the Patriarchate or the Kremlin. In 2019 he took the extreme step of breaking communion with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew – the Archbishop of Constantinople and spiritual leader of all Orthodox churches – because Bartholomew had granted independence to the main body of Ukrainian Orthodox.
Kirill also despises Greek Rite Ukrainian Catholics who broke with Orthodoxy at the end of the 16th century. Why, then, has he embraced glasnost towards the Pope of Rome, to whom these Ukrainian ‘Uniates’ –a term they hate – owe allegiance?

The answer lies in an agreement that Francis and Kirill signed in Havana airport, of all places, in 2016. In the declaration, the two leaders say many worthy things – but the money quote, the reason the Patriarch flew to Cuba, was the statement that ‘Uniatism’ was not the way forward.

Now Ukrainian Greek Rite Catholics face oppression or death from Russian invaders, along with the Ukrainian Orthodox Christians Kirill excommunicated – and at the time of writing Francis has yet to say a word specifically condemning Putin.
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From link.
 

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