Guest Post: Speedbox – The Putin Gambit – Part 2

Just a month ago I wrote “We may be witnessing one of the greatest geopolitical gambits in recent history. Or, we may wake up one morning in the coming days/weeks to news that Russia has invaded. Interesting times”.

The situation has now expanded where President Putin of Russia has officially recognised the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics which had self-proclaimed their existence in 2014. At the time Russia refused to recognise them but that changed on Monday. “I deem it necessary to make a decision that should have been made a long time ago — to immediately recognise the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic” Putin said.

Consequently, the Russian president directed the Defence Ministry to send troops into the areas for “the function of peacekeeping”.

Should we have seen this coming? Hindsight is a great thing but all the signs were there and it was just a matter of connecting the dots which stretch back before the fall of the Soviet Union. Firstly, we need to look at the Crimea.
The Crimea has been part of Russia for well over 200 years. Linguistically, historically, ethnically and socially the Crimean Peninsula, which is almost an island, is Russian. Vast numbers of Russians have died defending it (over 150,000 in WW2 alone) and the Crimean port of Sevastopol has hosted the Russian Black Sea fleet since the early 19th Century.

Then in 1956, the Crimea was “transferred” to the Ukraine as a gift to celebrate 300 years of the Ukraine being a member of the Russian Empire. When the USSR collapsed in 1991 and the Ukraine came into being again as a sovereign nation, the occupants of the Crimea sought then to be part of Russia rather than Ukraine. To avert civil war the Crimea was granted special autonomous status – it had its own President, constitution, parliament, made laws applicable only within the Crimea, exercised rudimentary “border” controls of Crimea/Ukraine boundary etc.

But, in 1993, the central Government in Kiev abolished the Crimea’s special status, cancelled the constitution and dismissed the President. Crimean’s were enraged but Russia could not assist them as Russia itself was teetering on collapse and any military incursion was out of the question. Moscow protested but could do nothing.

It is a matter of history that Russia resumed control of the Crimea in March 2014 and the Ukraine government were unable to stop it. Now, the retaking of the Crimea has direct parallels with what is occurring in the Donbas region of the Ukraine.

In considering that proposition, we should recall how Putin publicly bemoaned the demise of the USSR from early 2005: “First and foremost it is worth acknowledging that the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century” adding “As for the Russian people, it became a genuine tragedy. Tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory”. He has re-stated that position many times over the years.

If nothing else, that could have been seen as an omen.

It is clear that Russia substantially bolstered their economic position since those events of 2014. For example, government held gold reserves lifted dramatically from 1,000 tonnes at the time to over 2,300 tonnes today.

Similarly, Russian foreign exchange holdings rose to a record $US630 Bn. Then in June 2021, the Russian Treasury announced that it was ditching the US dollar entirely and would instead convert their holding to 30% Chinese yuan and 40% Euro with the balance in other currencies.

This currency shift partly stems from agreement between Russia and China where the two countries agreed an initial currency swap deal worth 150 billion yuan ($24.5 billion) back in 2014. The deal has been substantially extended and rejigged but it now allows each country’s central bank to gain access to the other’s currency (in addition to some other currencies) without trading via the US dollar.

Then in 2016 the Russian alternative to the SWIFT financial transfer scheme arrived. Named the System for Transfer of Financial Messages (SPFS) it is similar to SWIFT in terms of technology and infrastructure. Undoubtedly a minnow by comparison to SWIFT but that isn’t the point. Russia’s banks are all connected and if Russia is cut off from SWIFT, they will transition to the intra- and interbank messaging which now includes the Chinese banks and those of a few other countries.

Further, Russian banks are all well advanced with introducing blockchain and using it in international payments and have been doing so since 2017.
Which brings us to international trade.

Russia’s largest reciprocal trading partner is unquestionably China who account for 15% of exports and almost 25% of imports and the value of exports, in particular, grows yearly. Large quantities of Russia’s top five exports of crude and refined petroleum, gas, coal briquettes and wheat all find their way to China and recently, Russia signed a 30 year deal to supply even more gas to China via a new pipeline.

The point of all this background is to query whether any sanctions imposed on Russia by western governments will have a significant impact – or has Russia sufficiently fortified their economy and amplified their relationship with China whilst having an ulterior motive in mind?

I can’t help but wonder whether the genesis of the Russian push into Ukraine had its beginnings so many years ago. Perhaps Putin has swapped notes and learned from Chinese President Xi who became President in 2013. Or perhaps President Putin merely feels Russia is economically ‘insulated’ and that retaking the Donbas, and potentially more of Ukraine, is now viable.

Let your plans be dark and as impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.

Sun Tzu

65 thoughts on “Guest Post: Speedbox – The Putin Gambit – Part 2”

  1. Or perhaps President Putin merely feels Russia is economically ‘insulated’ and that retaking the Donbas, and potentially more of Ukraine, is now viable.

    Ukraine has been shelling the Donbass for years, so it was always a question of how much more?
    Putin sounds like a Bible student though, so he’ll be happy with taking back the areas where Russians live, rather than create an Empire with all the problems that causes.


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  2. As a follow-on to my first post, which Western nation sets an example that any sane (normal) person would want to emulate?

    We fret over non-existent catastrophic climate change. We fret over virtually non-life threatening viruses. We fret over non-existent discrimination. We fret over non-existent genders. We fret over hurtful words. We fret over everything just to make life worse, rather than better.

    There is not one Western nation that hasn’t lost the plot.


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  3. Given the absence of upside, you’d have to assume that Putin is deeply worried about the state of his home environs. He can’t poison or jail every dissenter. He can’t endlessly wreck the economy and pillage without consequence. Like all of his kind, the public pays for his callous self-interest. Ideally, he will go out in the manner usual to his kind; badly.


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  4. Did somebody say Danzig or Sudetenland ?

    More than once. We’re now into the rest-of-Czechoslovakia phase. Putin is doing it the other way around from Adolf, since Adolf did Austria first whereas Putin is doing Belarus second.

    Meanwhile the Free West is in safe hands.

    Awkward: Asked if He Underestimated Putin, Biden Stares Vacantly and Picks His Teeth (23 Feb)

    It’s one of the most awkward twenty seconds ever captured on video in a disastrous administration that lurches from one awkward moment to another: when asked “Do you think you may have underestimated Putin?,” Old Joe Biden first continued to stare in the general direction of the question, a slight smirk on his face, expression absolutely unchanged from what it had been before the question was asked. A few seconds later he turned his head to face the camera and, after a few more seconds, grinned sardonically. A few seconds later, he began picking his teeth with his thumbnail, and then grins a bit vacantly before the video mercifully runs out. Amid all the wrong choices, erroneous policies, abject failures, and stupid missteps of this disastrous administration, it was a trivial moment, but it was a telling one.

    Just amazing.


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  5. Excellent post, Speedbox.

    Don’t neglect the spititual aspect of this. Putin has alluded to it numerous times.

    It’s an aspect of the conflict that most Westerners are ignorant of.


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  6. Don’t neglect the spititual aspect of this.

    That’s an aspect that I didn’t specifically mention, but it’s encapsulated in all the examples that I made. The West now embraces false gods.


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  7. I hate to put it so crudely, but geopolitical events of the past few years strongly suggest that unless we (miraculously) secure ourselves a decent, critical thinking government, Australia is screwed. The USA is in a deep abyss. Now a Mike Pompeio may come along to slowly pull it out of that sink hole, but I don’t think I would bet the house on it.

    So – if China thinks “it’s time has come” to secure Taiwan and the South China Sea…..holy cow!…….where does the diesel for our tractor come from?

    We need a man of “real stuff” like Matt Canavan to seize the reins in coming times……but instead we will probably have Joshie….. or Albo…..sheez!!!!


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  8. It’s one of the most awkward twenty seconds ever captured on video in a disastrous administration that lurches from one awkward moment to another: when asked “Do you think you may have underestimated Putin?,” Old Joe Biden first continued to stare in the general direction of the question, a slight smirk on his face, expression absolutely unchanged from what it had been before the question was asked. A few seconds later he turned his head to face the camera and, after a few more seconds, grinned sardonically. A few seconds later, he began picking his teeth with his thumbnail, and then grins a bit vacantly before the video mercifully runs out. Amid all the wrong choices, erroneous policies, abject failures, and stupid missteps of this disastrous administration, it was a trivial moment, but it was a telling one.

    Bruce of N,

    this pic of Biden segues well with your post.


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  9. I hate to put it so crudely, but geopolitical events of the past few years strongly suggest that unless we (miraculously) secure ourselves a decent, critical thinking government, Australia is screwed.

    I agree and we may never be able to rely on the US again. When will our strategic oil reserve be moved here btw?


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  10. The West now embraces false gods.

    Which means we – or our elite classes to be exact – are making war against the true God.

    Cf. Psalm 2 for how that works out.


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  11. The power elite is the west is truly beneath contempt from DC to Canbra to London. They hate what they rule over too of course and are trying their best to wreck it. Have they actually thought about the consequences of their actions?


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  12. Let’s send real help to Ukraine.
    A bunch of crack Extinction Rebellion activists to glue themselves to the road and block the invasion routes and that’ll stop the tanks.
    That’ll be the best we can do, everything else is just political posturing for a home audience that no longer shares the same values.
    All that money the Ukrainians gave the Biden family and all they got was Joe staring off into space while picking his teeth and dreaming of the days he showed that Cornpop.


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  13. All that money the Ukrainians gave the Biden family and all they got was Joe staring off into space while picking his teeth and dreaming of the days he showed that Cornpop.

    Boris Yeltsin sorta stuff


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  14. Its probably already been pointed out but the West (NATO) reneging on the agreement it has with Russia regarding the security of the Russian border, and in which Putin has been complaining about for years, has perhaps has played a bigger part in Putin’s actions, or more likely, the only part.

    It’s not beyond the possibility of ignorance to argue that Putin’s actions are a reversal of the Cuban missile crisis of 1959 wherein the USA played the victim.

    In any event, Australia should mind its own damn business. There’s been more than enough Ozzie blood spilt on European soil trying to save Europe from itself.


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  15. Frankly, at this point both Australia and the USA would greatly benefit from leadership like that of Putin’s. Compare and contrast it with, oh I don’t know, transgender reading hour.

    Ain’t going to happen of course. That’s how we got into to this mess in the first place.


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  16. The simplest and most obvious answer is that Putin invaded because he could.

    The west is weak, and weaker than usual with Biden wondering what’s in his undies. Any self-respecting imperialist would do the same.


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  17. Thanks Roger. Yes, and there are two aspects to the spiritual – the first being Putin’s belief in God.

    I didn’t have the room on the post to cover every aspect (it was a post, not a thesis 🙂 ) but I did see an old Izvestia article of December 2001 where they interviewed Putin’s spiritual father, the Archimandrite Tikhon of the Sretensky Monastery. The Archimandrite said: “Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is really an Orthodox Christian really, and not nominally. He confesses, receives communion and is aware of his responsibility before God for the ministry entrusted to him from on high and for his immortal soul. The burden and severity of the problems he is undertaking to solve and his responsibility for these is truly enormous. Anyone who really loves Russia and wishes her well can only pray for Vladimir Vladimirovich whom the Providence of God sent to deliver Russia”.

    High praise and an early omen.

    Then, the second aspect being his belief that his path to reconstitute elements of the former USSR is righteous. His words of 2005 can’t be clearer: “…… the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century. Tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory”.

    It is not hard to see that the reclaiming of the Crimea and the Ukraine are his ‘divine’ quest.

    Prior to 2014 the status quo may have survived because most Ukrainian Presidents were ‘friendly’ to Russia (not to mention corrupt). Of course, that all changed with Poroshenko and Zelensky being appointed as successive Presidents. And just to add insult to injury, Ukraine looked repeatedly at joining NATO despite Putin constantly and forcefully saying this was utterly unacceptable. The proverbial ‘red line’ and unlike Obama, Putin meant it so the plotting and preparations began.

    Anyway, I think that as a consequence of this afternoon’s move by Russian forces beyond the Donbas and attacks as far west as Odesa (Odessa), that Ukraine no longer effectively exists as a sovereign nation. She is in the clutches of Russia and over the next few days/weeks that grip will tighten. Global maps won’t be re-drawn and it will never be officially recognised as Russian territory but Ukraine will be an occupied state with everything that entails.


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  18. Just for interest to some of you……. I have heard a suggestion that NATO was prepared to consider an urgent request from Ukraine for membership just a couple of weeks ago.

    The suggestion pivots on Russian forces proceeding no further that the Donbas and the Ukrainian government continuing in Kiev thereby ‘outflanking’ Putin by a sudden declaration of Ukraine’s membership to NATO.

    But I think the suggestion is certain to be a complete fabrication because it would have brought NATO into direct conflict with Russia and I just can’t see NATO wanting to get into a serious no-holds-barred sh1tfight with Russia over the Ukraine. Stuff like that can escalate very quickly and God knows where it could end up.

    NATO may be too bright at times but they’re not stupid.


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  19. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg holds a news conference as Russia launches Ukraine invasion. [- The Sun channel on YT]

    Russia absorbs and extinguishes Ukraine while NATO natters.
    Jens doing his best wet lettuce leaf impersonation.


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  20. Wrong country to invade – leave Ukraine alone and I will give you a country decimated by an idiot and ugly women – Merkel Deutchland or as it is known now Germany.
    There your Infantry are encourage to grope and rape Caucasian women – welcome soldier – you won’t have any problem. With the males as they have no real jobs, they have not been trained for anything and even better send your fossil fuels there as she thinks windmills and mirrors create electricity.


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  21. Cool Snoopy – that idiot article is just another idiot Marxist giving Russia the encouragement to invade. Russia has been an aggressive state for 5 or 6 Centuries. TheUkraine has been a peaceful state and in the 16 to 18 century was part of the most co operative economic and political block stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea.
    Russia invaded due to stupid talk as their are nazi in Ukraine. These nazi – as per Ross Kemp were young males who were learning martial arts to defend themselves.this our idiocy.
    That idiot Merkel who took Russian Gas when Trump told her it was a bad deal.
    Then Putin looks at the west , idiots like Merkel, Macron, Trudeau, O Bama who allow the rape and murder of their own citizens, stpupify them with drug addiction, tell them to chop their testicles off, toxic male behaviour, off shore skilled jobs and set up call centres instead, reduce the power of a society through idiotic ideas that solar panels and wind farms generatE more power than fossil fuels.
    That’s why Russia has invaded and continue to invade. Kazickstan was to due power shortages.
    Well done abc, alp greens.


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  22. The Resident and his puppeteers couldn’t even be bothered to defend (eg) Portland or Minneapolis…

    …what on earth would lead you to think they could or would defend the Ukraine (or Taiwan)?


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  23. TheUkraine has been a peaceful state

    All that indiscriminate shelling of the Donbas region by Ukrainian forces is just a mostly peaceful protest.
    If you think that Russia and Putin are the bad guys in this then you’ve been watching too much TV.
    Even cursory research on the situation leading up to this shows that Ukraine have been needling for this war with the backing of evil US and Western elites for years.


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  24. “There is not one Western nation that hasn’t lost the plot.”

    Call this the devil’s advocate position: how does it look from the Russian point of view?

    They spread people and assets throughout the USSR.

    The USSR collapsed, breaking into “independent” countries, most were, or turned into, “democracies”. Sure, many – maybe even most – are “corrupt” and the Ukraine is no exception, with gaoling of political opponents etc common there.

    Russia has only one warm water port – on the black sea, and access is through a straight wedged between Crimea and eastern Ukraine – if they do not control the entry point, they do not have a warm water port.

    In short, Russia got rid of communism as the west demanded. Not perfect, but they are trying.

    Yet they are still labelled as “the enemy” – no-one in the west wants to be friends with them.

    Ukraine wants to join NATO – if the Cuban missile crisis is anything to go by, that would be extremely provocative, but NATO refuses to state that will not happen.

    Since no-one wants to be friends, and their history is replete with invasion by foreigners with no notice (from the Mongols in the 11th and 12th centuries, to the Germans in WW2), they need some sort of ally. China is close, wants energy (which Russia has) and is a major and cheap industrial manufacturer, as well as a strong military.

    They need guaranteed access to a warm water port, which means controlling the narrow straight between Crimea and the Ukraine. They need to feel secure, but have no friends, despite doing everything “right”.

    In view of that, what would anyone do? Is Putin acting unreasonably, under the circumstances?
    Is this whole debacle the fault of the west for not recognising that Russia has legitimate concerns, and continuing to label them as “the baddies”?


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  25. All that money the Ukrainians gave the Biden family

    you mean all of that money the Ukrainian oligarchs stole from the populace and gave to the Biden family…


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  26. Joe is a delusional bully. From cornpop to push-ups against members of an audience, from abuse of reporters (Peter Doocey, and others) to ‘saving’ a train conductor (who had died several years previously) from being shot by his personal security. I don’t know what world he’s living in, and I doubt he does either.


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  27. Speedbox: You might think Ukraine is now in Russia’s clutches. Another possibility is that the Putin macho game actually puts back together the very factors that made USSR unstable. The most likely outcome of his “success” is years of instabilty and repression, permanent deployment of a million troops in Ukraine and permanent interference in Russia’s ability to trade and finance internationally.
    “Genius”, as his Orange sock puppet, the LOTUS has said.


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  28. If the Ukrainians had accepted the deal that the Russians offered, the situation would have been resolved to everyone’s benefit.

    The Russians offered to recognise Ukrainian sovereignty over its eastern (Russian speaking) provinces, end aid to the separatist movements, and give five years free gas to restart industry in the Ukraine. In exchange, they asked for Ukrainian recognition of Russian sovereignty of the Crimea, and an undertaking that the Ukraine would not join NATO.

    All nations don’t want potentially hostile neighbours on their border; JFK didn’t want the Russian missiles in Cuba, China didn’t want a US puppet state on its border on the Korean peninsular, etc., so if the Ukrainian government accepted the Russian deal they would have been a reasonably prosperous neutral nation living peacefully with their Russian and European neighbours.

    This isn’t good enough for the NWO types who control Washington though, Russia won’t join their club so they will rattle their sabres and make all sorts of threats, they can’t comprehend that some people hold nationalistic sentiments rather than their exulted “citizen of the world” globalist concepts.


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  29. I think the problem is made worse by the Washington war machine, they have seen the billions the government has passed on to Big Pharma and they now want some of that action. A war in the Ukraine might also help the Democrats in the mid term elections, they need all the help they can get.


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  30. Like him or loathe him, you have to say about Putin

    What balls he has!

    More than Xi, Biden etc

    Oh, could we all use the word “blast”, a little less please. If you are whining about someone you don’t like, you’re not “blasting” them, ok? You are whining…


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  31. OB; you are sounding very much like an ageing leftist? US bad, Russia cuddly.
    Excuse this and then what? Poland or Estonia? They both fit your criteria for invasion.


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  32. “OB; you are sounding very much like an ageing leftist? US bad, Russia cuddly.
    Excuse this and then what? Poland or Estonia? They both fit your criteria for invasion.”

    OB is talking sense. And Putin would never move on Poland and Estonia because both are NATO members.


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  33. and their history is replete with invasion by foreigners with no notice (from the Mongols in the 11th and 12th centuries,

    Not so sure about that.
    I think the Golden Horde preceded the Kievan Rus.

    to the Germans in WW2),

    That’s 100% wrong.
    Stalin had massed millions of troops ready to invade Europe in a few days when the Germans got a heads up and launched their own invasion.
    He had refused to believe intelligence from Richard Sorge and others that an attack was imminent.


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  34. OB; you are sounding very much like an ageing leftist? US bad, Russia cuddly.

    Living the dream; you’re sounding like a conservative Boomer. OK, Boomer.


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  35. Ed Case says:
    February 25, 2022 at 4:54 pm
    …….and their history is replete with invasion by foreigners with no notice (from the Mongols in the 11th and 12th centuries,

    ……to the Germans in WW2),

    That’s 100% wrong. Stalin had massed millions of troops ready to invade Europe in a few days when the Germans got a heads up and launched their own invasion.

    Very close, but not quite. Any Russian invasion was not mere days away.

    However, there is definite evidence that General Zhukov had intended to attack Germany and had also planned for something in May/June 1941. But, it was put back because the Russian military, for all its eventual might, was a creaking disorganised machine (comparatively) at that time. Therefore, a date in August/September was much more likely.

    When General Andrei Vlassov, who was captured by the Germans in 1942, was interrogated by SS General Richard Hildebrandt he was asked if Stalin had actually intended to attack Germany. Hildebrandt later wrote in his diary: “Vlassov responded by saying that the attack was planned for August-September 1941. The Russians had been preparing the attack since the beginning of the year, which took quite a while because of the poor Russian railroad network. Hitler had sized up the situation entirely correctly, and had struck directly into the Russian build-up. Vlassov said this is the reason for the tremendous initial German success.”

    It has also been widely reported that Colonel Vladimir Karpov said “Just imagine if Zhukov’s plan had been accepted and implemented. At dawn one morning in May or June thousands of our aircraft and tens of thousands of our artillery pieces would have struck against densely concentrated enemy forces, whose positions were known down to the battalion level – a surprise even more inconceivable than the German attack on us.”

    And General Alfred Jodl, one of Hitler’s military advisors, testified at the Nuremberg: “It was undeniably a purely preventive war. What we found out later on was the certainty of enormous Russian military preparations opposite our frontier. I will dispense with details, but I can only say that although we succeeded in a tactical surprise as to the day and the hour, it was no strategic surprise. Russia was fully prepared for war.”

    I think Jodl was being a little disingenuous with his ‘preventative’ comment but even so, it supports the proposition that Russia was well advanced in its preparations. They just weren’t ready in May/June 1941.


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  36. Oh, could we all use the word “blast”, a little less please. If you are whining about someone you don’t like, you’re not “blasting” them, ok?

    What if you’re “Oblasting” them – is that allowed? 😕


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  37. I think Jodl was being a little disingenuous with his ‘preventative’ comment but even so, it supports the proposition that Russia was well advanced in its preparations. They just weren’t ready in May/June 1941.

    Jodl wasn’t in a great position at the time he made those comments.
    Would you concede that he may have been saying what he was told to say?
    Because, even 80 years later, there’s still resistance to the idea that Stalin was only days away from ordering an attack.


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  38. stalin had massed millions of troops ready to invade Europe in a few days when the germans got a heads up and launched their own invasion

    Yeah, no. The russians did their homework and built up a massive buffer zone in ’39 to ’41 extending from the Arctic to the black sea. There wasn’t a slab of territory in that massive space that stalin didn’t see gifted to the russians in that period. Started off in Finland, the Baltic states, the eastern third of Poland and various eastern portions southward including significant slabs of Romania and Bulgaria.

    However, he was so prepared for a german invasion that the russians were still exporting massive amounts of raw materials and food westward right up until and after June 22 1941.

    russians have been “liberating” ports, lands and peoples for centuries. communism merely gave them a new banner under which to march. That creepy weird corruptocrat imbecile manipulating the latest developments is merely the latest in a long line of monstrous tyrants.

    russians should have gotten their shit together by now. That they haven’t, reflects badly on them. They have a fatalistic outlook on life, unlike westerners, who are increasingly envisioning and imagining themselves in a scenario similar to the fall of Rome and feeling good about it. Ukrainians are barely any better. Yes, russian and ukranian young women might be hot, but I have nothing else remotely positive to say about them.


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  39. Ed Case says:
    February 25, 2022 at 9:45 pm
    Jodl wasn’t in a great position at the time he made those comments. Would you concede that he may have been saying what he was told to say? Because, even 80 years later, there’s still resistance to the idea that Stalin was only days away from ordering an attack.

    Jodl was in deep trouble at the time and would have said black was white if he thought he would help himself. But, the idea that Barbarossa was ‘preventative’ is just a tiny step away from saying it was self defence which, of course, is completely self-serving to diminish any involvement he had (which was lots).

    Stalin knew as well as anyone that they weren’t ready to attack. He may have wanted to order it, but couldn’t. Men and materiel were being moved into position but…..the Germans beat him to the punch.

    Sometimes the best laid plans of mice and men…..(you know the rest)


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  40. Winston Smith says:
    February 26, 2022 at 10:16 pm

    They can’t stop there. It’s all or nothing. If the Russian stop at the river then the Ukrainian govt will set up in Lviv and direct military operations from there. Then, the west will flood assorted lethal weapons across the border and eventually the Russians will be beaten back. Ukraine in general and Kyiv in particular will be a smoking ruin but the other danger is the escalation factor.

    If Putin is looking at defeat (not to mention abject humiliation of the Russian military) with tens of thousands of Russian soldiers killed/wounded plus the cost of lost military materiel AND the cost of the sanctions and overall pariah status globally, I’m unsure how he might react. Battlefield nuclear weapons? Sure, sounds ridiculous, but if I’d told you three years ago that we would all be locked in our houses, curfews and other draconian measures for a bug, you’d have thought I had really dropped my bundle.


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  41. To be clear I’m not comparing covid to the Ukraine war – but making the point that circumstances can shift rapidly and something that may seem absurd today, becomes some bizarre reality tomorrow.


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  42. Speedbox: This is Putin’s war and he has miscalculated. The next stage for him is bad no matter what. But if he escalates he is seriously cooked. As for the notion he has to run to the Western border, then what?
    If he occupies Ukraine he has a deeply motivated, armed populace who will not go quietly. The same people whose dissidence contributed to the end of the USSR. A million troops, unhappy, trying to suppress 40 million Ukrainians. On a budget that can’t run to the logistics of a long planned invasion.
    With a bit of luck Putin and LOTUS will get to share cells.


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  43. Living the dream says:
    February 27, 2022 at 7:25 pm

    I don’t disagree. Governing 40 million who don’t want to be governed is going to be very difficult although in fairness, it won’t be 40 million. Some will leave the country, many will acquiesce (however reluctantly), some are pro-Russian and, some will fight.

    On the issue of fighting, if 1% actually take up arms in guerrilla warfare, that is 400,000 and to suppress that many is a big task. However, this will be influenced by the degree of brutality the Russians are prepared to dispense which will reduce the number to a ‘hard-core’. The life of a ‘partisan’ is not a happy one and not everybody will be capable.

    In any case, I can’t imagine ‘what’ the end-game is. Maybe Putin imagined he would be welcomed as a saviour – I don’t know. But my point about running to the western border remains valid – any attack that stopped at the Donbas or even at the east bank of the Dniper river is doomed to eventually fail. Western nations would fill the balance of the Ukraine with untold weapons and every mercenary able to fight. It is undoubtedly an ‘all or nothing’ scenario for Putin.


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  44. Anyone still think Putin was kidding about the red lines he’s been banging on about the last few years? What was supposed to happen when you paint someone like that in a corner?

    I swear it’s like the USA has been the kid egging on another kid to poke the bear and is now mouthing platitudes and going “well, it was your decision…” Reckon it’s going to have some massive repercussions, especially after the Afghan debacle.


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  45. I see your point Speedbox. But no matter what Putin does, his certain outcome is to restore the instability of the USSR. Ukrainians won’t settle into his idea of empire. Russians will again be the ethnic minority in the “federation”. Occupation will be extremely costly and he will be driven to dependency on China, which simply doesn’t trust Russia. He has no end game and his nuclear play shows both his weakness and his tendency to scare his best allies..


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  46. Latest count: two oligarchs have come out publicly for peace. Currency halved in value. Interest rates headed for the ceiling. (Germany has restored its defence budget and prioritised a shift away from Russian gas – note that EU gas share of primary energy is down from 38% to 25% since 2019 – US is ramping up LNG capacity for Europe and Qatar will have huge new volumes in three years).


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