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Towered

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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.

This is an important point. I think it would be a huge mistake for the West to reduce or lift the crushing sanctions as soon as the war ends as if nothing has happened and return to business as usual. That is totally unacceptable in my view. With this completely unjustified war on an innocent neighbour, the Russians have utterly poisoned the well of diplomatic relations for years, possibly decades. As you said, they need to be contained for the long term, and the best way to do that is to make and keep them poor, as we're doing. Slowly bleed them dry. Death by a thousand cuts. Transform them into a giant Venezuela. There is zero possibility to make nice with their current regime. The only reason everyone has tip toed around them for almost 80 years now is because of their historic cultural belligerence combined with their nuclear arsenal. There's a reason I linked the article above - Churchill was a brilliant man and he already knew at the end of WWII that the Russians would be a major threat to Europe and the West unless they took them on right then and there, and history has shown he was absolutely right since they've remained a consistent threat ever since. Massive opportunity missed, and we continue to pay the price today.

**** 'em. Isolate and contain for as long as it takes until a more pragmatic and enlightened leadership emerges that's willing to play nice. Get someone Gorbachev-esque and we can talk.
 
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SkylineHorizon

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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.
How could we? Sure the Soviet Union collapsed but the West never actually defeated them in the field nevermind occupied Russia. There was never any opportunity to do what we did with Germany or Japan and like others have said they have a belligerent mindset in general.

Heck I would argue it's just naturally a part of human nature; Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Its one of the biggest flaws of our species. The Chinese elites have the same mindset and it rears its ugly head in the west sometimes as well(Trump). Thankfully we have checks and balances in place to contain it in democratic societies, that's the difference between us an the East.
 

Bjays92

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Do you actually believe the Russians are going to make a distinction? That they're going to say "Oh, well, they just destroyed tens of thousands of our own soldiers and their weapons right here on Russian soil, but at least they didn't vapourize Novgorod"? They're not. No matter what we hit, they're going to see it as an attack on Russia, plain and simple, and they're respond. And it's very unlikely that response will be nuanced just because we happen to feel our attack was. Please put it out of your mind. Any attack on Russia directly by us is World War III. Period. With everything that that implies.
I think you're completely ignoring the fact that my suggestion that we would have to target places within Russia is only in the event article 5 is triggered anyway, which is WWIII at that point regardless.

I'm not suggesting pre emotive strikes on Russian territory that's preposterous. I'm also not saying Russia would distinguish between an attack on military targets or a city, all I'm saying is we would not flatten Russian cities as you suggested. Likewise, I'm saying we would have to respond (conventionally) to a nuclear attack, not in kind with more nukes, to make it very clear nuclear warfare has no place in this world even if certain bad actors attempt to utilise it.

May I suggest you don't talk down to everyone here like children as well. This is supposed to be a place to share ideas and perspectives, and this is a complex issue that doesn't have consensus even amongst experts, to suggest that there's a knowable right and wrong course of action in this current context is false.
 

kEiThZ

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Delve through this Twitter thread and you'll see various examples of how Western academics minimized or dismissed Russian imperialism and nationalism:


We even have some who outright blame the West for Russia's invasion of Ukraine:


When you spend time in the Ivory Tower, I guess everything can be theorized away. Including a nation state's autonomy and right to self-determination. This is a big part of why we have failed to understand how bad Russia was getting. It's high time we started demanding better from these apologists.
 

Towered

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Admiral Beez

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Lennox970

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This is an important point. I think it would be a huge mistake for the West to reduce or lift the crushing sanctions as soon as the war ends as if nothing has happened and return to business as usual. That is totally unacceptable in my view. With this completely unjustified war on an innocent neighbour, the Russians have utterly poisoned the well of diplomatic relations for years, possibly decades. As you said, they need to be contained for the long term, and the best way to do that is to make and keep them poor, as we're doing. Slowly bleed them dry. Death by a thousand cuts. Transform them into a giant Venezuela. There is zero possibility to make nice with their current regime. The only reason everyone has tip toed around them for almost 80 years now is because of their historic cultural belligerence combined with their nuclear arsenal. There's a reason I linked the article above - Churchill was a brilliant man and he already knew at the end of WWII that the Russians would be a major threat to Europe and the West unless they took them on right then and there, and history has shown he was absolutely right since they've remained a consistent threat ever since. Massive opportunity missed, and we continue to pay the price today.

**** 'em. Isolate and contain for as long as it takes until a more pragmatic and enlightened leadership emerges that's willing to play nice. Get someone Gorbachev-esque and we can talk.
Russia is a busted flush for the foreseeable future. Economic, cultural and political disengagement by the West is on the cards and increase dependency on China (and India, etc) for exports is likely in the medium term. However, I don't think a Cold War Redux is necessarily a good thing for a number of reasons.

Firstly, the first CW was informed by agreed upon norms of behaviour in the international community that were generally adhered to. I can only see what passes for today's 'international system' and associated norms and behaviours being increasingly unclear and unstable.

Secondly, the leadership on both sides of the Iron Curtain almost always had first hand experience of both the Great Depression and the Second World War: they knew what very bad times looked like. Combat between USSR/Russia and the US was seen as hugely dangerous as the risks of misperception of intent and escalation to nuclear war were scarily real. Hitherto our moral outrage of Russian actions has been tempered by pragmatic realism from Hungary (1956), Czechoslovakia (1968) to Afghanistan (1979). Supplying of arms, equipment and ideology was understood to be permitted (most post-war liberation movements were amply supplied by USSR/PRC). The bulk of North Vietnamese war materiel, much of which was technologically advanced, was sourced from Russia. But direct combat was not a realistic option. Apart from General Jack D. Ripper in Doctor Strangelove). Even European governments withstood considerable pressure to intervene in Bosnia, 1992-95, knowing full well going toe-to-toe with the Serbs would be difficult and incur significant casualties.

But today seeing 'beautiful young things' on Instagram with #Cleartheskies scares 7 shades of sh!t out of me. Substituting moral outrage for cold eyed analysis of risk will not lead to anything good.

So Russia? Don't get mad, get even. Supply Ukraine with materiel, food, petroleum and humanitarian assistance. Keep Russia engaged in socio-cultural matters and some politics, but slowly withdraw from their markets. I don't see how regime change can take place internally, Putin's inner circle and military leadership is tied to his name. Traditionally change has been violent and messy in USSR/Russia. Let's hope less so in future, but be wary.
 

W. K. Lis

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President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish, but is Ukrainian first and leading his people, to Pharaoh Vladimir Putin...

Moses-let-my-people-go-900x506.jpg
From link.
 

SkylineHorizon

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Russia is a busted flush for the foreseeable future. Economic, cultural and political disengagement by the West is on the cards and increase dependency on China (and India, etc) for exports is likely in the medium term. However, I don't think a Cold War Redux is necessarily a good thing for a number of reasons.

Firstly, the first CW was informed by agreed upon norms of behaviour in the international community that were generally adhered to. I can only see what passes for today's 'international system' and associated norms and behaviours being increasingly unclear and unstable.

Secondly, the leadership on both sides of the Iron Curtain almost always had first hand experience of both the Great Depression and the Second World War: they knew what very bad times looked like. Combat between USSR/Russia and the US was seen as hugely dangerous as the risks of misperception of intent and escalation to nuclear war were scarily real. Hitherto our moral outrage of Russian actions has been tempered by pragmatic realism from Hungary (1956), Czechoslovakia (1968) to Afghanistan (1979).
It was also tempered by the acknowlegment that the conventional forces of the west could not beat Soviet ground forces, least not in their back yard.

In fact it was NATO that originally doctored a strategy that called for the use of tactical nuclear weapons to halt a massive Soviet advance into western Europe. Ironically it is now the Russians who must rely on their tactical arsenal as a trump card.
 

kEiThZ

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In fact it was NATO that originally doctored a strategy that called for the use of tactical nuclear weapons to halt a massive Soviet advance into western Europe. Ironically it is now the Russians who must rely on their tactical arsenal as a trump card.

NATO had no intention to launch a first strike. And still does not. The Warsaw Pact on the other hand is the only alliance in recent history to invade its own members. And now you have Russians engaging in nuclear blackmail against their neighbours again.

There's more reasons why NATO didn't adopt a No First Use nuclear doctrine. It wasn't just about Soviet numbers. NFU would have meant that if nuclear war did break out, by the time tactical nukes were in play, they'd be employed against the adversary on NATO soil. This is part of the reason, France substantially withdrew from NATO. It wanted to be able to nuke Russians before they touched French soil, and wasn't confident they'd be allowed to do so. The French were just fine with the idea of nuking Germany and Italy to stop the Soviet horde.

Also, if there was an NFU policy, defence budgets would have to be double what they were, possibly with drafts in North America, just to have the ability to match the Warsaw Pact numbers.

Firstly, the first CW was informed by agreed upon norms of behaviour in the international community that were generally adhered to. I can only see what passes for today's 'international system' and associated norms and behaviours being increasingly unclear and unstable.

Yeah. No. The Cold War was messy too. It was just nice for white Europeans and North Americans that millions of Asians and Africans were killed in proxy wars instead.

The current era, for all the rhetoric, is relatively peaceful by contrast. And would have continued to be so, if Putin hadn't decided that wrecking Ukraine was in his personal interest. Let us be clear what drove this for Putin. There may be some delusions of grandeur. But I'm betting the vast majority of his motivation is the threat to his Kleptocracy from this:


Funny how the new minimalist Russian goals are now about capturing the very areas that could end Europe's dependence on Russian gas, and by extension Putin's kleptocracy.

Supply Ukraine with materiel, food, petroleum and humanitarian assistance. Keep Russia engaged in socio-cultural matters and some politics, but slowly withdraw from their markets.

I fail to see why socio-cultural contact is sacrosanct. Especially when the regime specifically relies on this for legitimacy at home. If I had my way, every Russian NHL player would be reliving their childhood in Russia right now.

Not to mention that those socio-cultural ties are increasingly weaponized by the regime for their influence campaigns. From Russian émigrés who support the homeland to propaganda outlets like Russia Today.

Unlike previous Putin adventures, the real backlash from Europe is the first time that Russians are even aware that there's displeasure at their country's actions.

I don't see how regime change can take place internally, Putin's inner circle and military leadership is tied to his name.

Nobody can predict regime change. If they could, they'd be billionaires. What we can do is incentivize it. This is exactly what Biden (albeit clumsily) attempted to do by telling the world to look beyond Putin. The subtext there is that we can deal with a Russia that doesn't have Putin in power. You can bet that every CIA station chief is passing the message to his/her SVR counterpart around the world.

It's clear that Putin is substantially out of touch. And it's now also clear that his kleptocracy has moved from costing Russia its wealth to costing them their lives.

Economically, the only thing the Russians had beside resources was weapons. And one has to wonder how much of that prowess will keep up in light of brain drain and sanctions that both limit critical components and critical machinery.

Their Central Bank is propping up the ruble now. But reserves aren't infinite. Whether it's a year or a decade, none of this is sustainable. Especially if brain drain kicks in. We should trade these NHL players for AI developers from Russia and help speed up the process.

My bet is that Putin is gone before the end of his natural life. I hope it's sooner.
 
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Lennox970

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The current era, for all the rhetoric, is relatively peaceful by contrast. And would have continued to be so, if Putin hadn't decided that wrecking Ukraine was in his personal interest. Let us be clear what drove this for Putin. There may be some delusions of grandeur. But I'm betting the vast majority of his motivation is the threat to his Kleptocracy from this:


Funny how the new minimalist Russian goals are now about capturing the very areas that could end Europe's dependence on Russian gas, and by extension Putin's kleptocracy.

All interesting points, and an enlightening discussion. I wasn’t aware of the potential for oil in Ukraine, that is news to me and if such potential exists I am surprised it is not better known. Especially given a section of our society that will scream and shout over perceived ‘blood for oil’ on our own side. What has been recently highlighted is the role of both Germany and Russia in seeking to minimise the possibility that North African gas and oil can supply Europe in any quantities. Is Germany really on our side?

Yeah. No. The Cold War was messy too. It was just nice for white Europeans and North Americans that millions of Asians and Africans were killed in proxy wars instead.

I never claimed the Cold War wasn’t messy and that it wasn’t nice for many Asians and Africans. Bearing in mind white Europeans and non-White Asians had just emerged from their own Armageddon, the worst conflict in human history, and Red China was subjecting its people to untold horrors of collectivisation, and mass industrialisation, etc. (sorry, I don’t do the ‘white’ self-flagellation thing)

The key point being that there were norms of behaviour and understandings that were meant to reduce the friction between nuclear powers. The potential destructiveness of a nuclear exchange paled any other threat 1945-90. And there were never serious calls for one side to engage in direct combat with the other. Proxies yes, and that could result in significant local conflict, but that is a very different matter form WW3.

Where I fear we seem to be drifting is a situation where if direct combat between NATO/US and Russia should occur, the logic is one of escalation. And the risk is that this logic results in either continued escalation to the nuclear threshold, or else one side climbs down (and loss of credibility i.e. Khrushev).

I fail to see why socio-cultural contact is sacrosanct. Especially when the regime specifically relies on this for legitimacy at home. If I had my way, every Russian NHL player would be reliving their childhood in Russia right now.

Not to mention that those socio-cultural ties are increasingly weaponized by the regime for their influence campaigns. From Russian émigrés who support the homeland to propaganda outlets like Russia Today.

Unlike previous Putin adventures, the real backlash from Europe is the first time that Russians are even aware that there's displeasure at their country's actions.

Yes probably will be weaponised. And the Russian public largely supports the conflict. But our beef is with the Russian government and the regime therein, not with the Russian people and this must be continually emphasised. I think Arnie Schwarzennegger’s video was spot on, great Info Ops. We just need to be consistent on this message: the Ukraine invasion is wrong, Russia is engaged in aggressive war and atrocities. The Russian people should not support this policy or the regime. Drip, drip, drip, to keep a positive message about Russian people, negative about regime and 'its' war.


Nobody can predict regime change. If they could, they'd be billionaires. What we can do is incentivize it. This is exactly what Biden (albeit clumsily) attempted to do by telling the world to look beyond Putin. The subtext there is that we can deal with a Russia that doesn't have Putin in power. You can bet that every CIA station chief is passing the message to his/her SVR counterpart around the world.

It's clear that Putin is substantially out of touch. And it's now also clear that his kleptocracy has moved from costing Russia its wealth to costing them their lives.

Economically, the only thing the Russians had beside resources was weapons. And one has to wonder how much of that prowess will keep up in light of brain drain and sanctions that both limit critical components and critical machinery.

Their Central Bank is propping up the ruble now. But reserves aren't infinite. Whether it's a year or a decade, none of this is sustainable. Especially if brain drain kicks in. We should trade these NHL players for AI developers from Russia and help speed up the process.

My bet is that Putin is gone before the end of his natural life. I hope it's sooner.

I have no doubt contacts are being made, exploited or strengthened with that exact message. But the problem for Russia (some describe as “an oil company with nukes”) is that:

1. Historically, regime change has been sudden and violent.

2. This has been because regimes are always consolidating their own power and negating any potential successor by regularly ‘cutting the grass’ of threats. The security establishment (‘siloviki’), oligarchs and population do not necessarily share same interest, but do share mutual suspicion.

3. The regime has cast a very wide net of patronage for both elites and the people (predominantly rural) incentivising their success and wellbeing to regime status quo.

4. Rightly or wrongly, folk memory of ‘bad times’ prior to Putin and ‘better times’ after Putin (big price rise in oil from about 2000).

I would like to see a more peaceful and amenable leadership in the Kremlin too. But who is to say any successor regime will be better? Never say it cannot get worse.
 

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