Seen in retrospect, Russia’s demand for a written response was a trap, one neither the U.S. nor NATO yet recognizes, writes Scott Ritter.
By Scott Ritter
Back in December, Russia sent the U.S. and NATO two draft treaty documents spelling out its demands for security guarantees related to NATO’s posture in Eastern Europe. These demands came in a climate of tension fueled by both a Russian military buildup bordering Ukraine, and U.S. and NATO hysteria over what they deemed an imminent Russian military incursion into Ukraine.
The written replies that arrived on Jan. 22 failed — as expected — to address any of Russia’s concerns, including the red line of continued NATO expansion. Rather, the U.S. and NATO listed alternative pathways to diplomatic engagement, including arms control and limits on military exercises, and they now couch the ongoing crisis as a choice between accepting the diplomatic offramp they dictated, or war.
Russia, however, is far too sophisticated to allow itself to be boxed into such a corner. In the weeks and months ahead, Russia will be the one dictating the outcome of this crisis — which will be a resounding Russian victory.
The Russian buildup in its western and southern military districts, as well as in Belarus, has two purposes. The secondary goal is to demonstrate Russia’s ability, at a time and place of its choosing, to project sufficient military power into Ukraine to overwhelming defeat the Ukrainian armed forces and bring down its government.
To be clear, Russia has threatened neither of these outcomes. It maintains that the military buildup is simply an exercise designed to ensure it can respond to NATO’s aggressive expansion of forces along its western flank. It traces the confrontation to NATO’s “original sin” of expansion.
Historical fact supports the Russian interpretation: The Russian mantra of “not one inch eastward” is derived from an oral promise made by former Secretary of State James Baker to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev at the time of German reunification. But Russia’s goal is not to score debating points, but rather to reverse NATO policy and posturing it deems harmful to its national security.
To this end, the primary purpose of Russia’s military buildup is to expose the political, military and economic impotence of the U.S./NATO partnership by a range of crises — independent of any military incursion into Ukraine — for which the U.S. and NATO have no viable response other than to give in to most, if not all, of Russia’s demands for security guarantees.
The stage for the current crisis was set back in the spring of 2021, when Russia mobilized around 100,000 troops along the lines seen today. The U.S. and NATO immediately began a rhetoric-based war of perception management, using mainstream media and think tanks to paint a picture of Russian malfeasance and Western resolve.
A face-to-face meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden resulted, and Russia eventually drew down its forces — but not before making several salient points: It demanded that the West hold Ukraine’s feet to the fire regarding fulfillment of its obligations under the 2015 Minsk agreement. And after a “freedom of navigation” exercise which brought a British destroyer into contested waters off Crimea, it declared red lines Russia was prepared to defend, with force if necessary.
Russia took away two lessons from this. First, that neither the U.S. nor NATO had a viable military response. Russian military superiority in any future conflict with Ukraine was all but assured. Second, that the only response either the U.S. or NATO could come up with would center on economic sanctions. This stress test exposed several critical weaknesses Russia could exploit.
Armed with these important insights, Russia waited until last fall to repeat the stress test, again mobilizing more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine and deploying tens of thousands of elite shock troops — the First Guards Tank Army — into Belarus. Again, Russia issued no threats, stating repeatedly that it was simply conducting routine military exercises.
The U.S. and NATO, in contrast, immediately cast the Russian buildup as proof positive of its intent to invade Ukraine. In drawing this conclusion — despite Russian denials and Ukraine’s rejection of the inevitability of such an outcome — both the U.S. and NATO effectively founded their position on the principle of the inviolability of NATO’s “open-door” policy, which says that any nation qualified for NATO membership should have the opportunity to join.
For its part, Russia noted that NATO’s eastward expansion has created an unacceptable national security risk. It claims a right to exert a sphere of influence around its borders, implying that any accession to NATO by the former Soviet Republics of Ukraine or Georgia is viewed as an existential threat that would require a “military-technical” response. Russia said as much in the two draft treaties it submitted in December. Furthermore, Russia demanded that both NATO and the U.S. respond in writing.
Setting a Trap
Seen in retrospect, Russia’s demand for a written response was a trap, one neither the U.S. nor NATO yet recognizes. By rejecting Russian demands for security guarantees, the U.S. and NATO have married themselves to a posture defined by the “open-door” policy on NATO membership. Moreover, when Russia refused to cease its mobilization in the face of sanctions threats, the U.S. and NATO had no choice but to shift gears and create the perception of a military response designed to put pressure on Russia’s eastern flank — even though Washington has pointedly said it would not defend Ukraine from a Russian assault.
What emerged was, first, that neither the U.S. nor NATO is able to project meaningful military power even within NATO’s own borders. Putting 8,500 U.S. troops on alert for potential deployment to Europe is like bringing a garden hose to a three-alarm fire.
Moreover, threatening to activate NATO’s rapid response force for a non-NATO issue created fractures in the unity of NATO. Germany has been hesitant. The Czech Republic and Bulgaria have forbade their troops to be involved in any such adventure. Turkey views the entire Ukraine crisis as a U.S./NATO conspiracy to contain Turkish regional ambitions by tying it to a conflict with Russia.
These military fractures, in concert with Europe’s hesitation to commit economic suicide by going along with sanctions that would sever it from Russian energy it needs to survive, has provided Russia with three main takeaways: NATO is militarily impotent; no unanimity exists within either NATO or Europe on economic sanctions targeting Russia; and NATO — a consensus-based organization — is deeply fractured politically.
Moves to Checkmate
Despite the repeated Western warnings, Russia is highly unlikely to invade Ukraine — at least not yet. Instead, Russia appears to be entering a new phase of crisis management that seeks to exploit the weaknesses in the U.S./NATO alliance highlighted by their written responses to its demands.
First, Russia will keep the diplomatic option open, but on its terms. Moscow has already engaged in so-called Normandy Format talks involving Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine over the ongoing crisis in Donbas. In the initial meeting, all parties agreed to respect the cease-fire in effect and to meet again in 10 days — the exact opposite of any imminent invasion by Russia. Note the absence of the U.S. and NATO from these talks.
Next, Russia will turn the threat of sanctions against the U.S. and Europe. Russia has already declared that banning it from the Swift system for international monetary transactions will result in the immediate halt of Russian energy supplies to Europe. Russia is expected to sign major economic agreements with China soon that will further insulate it from economic sanctions. China has made it clear it supports Russia in the current crisis, recognizing that if the West prevails against Russia, it will soon face a similar attack.
Finally, Russia will exploit U.S. hypocrisy on spheres of influence and military alliances by entering military relationships with Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua and deploying a naval squadron to the Caribbean, with the potential for additional force deployments in the future.
With these three measures, Russia seeks to further isolate the U.S. from NATO and Europe. In the end, the U.S. will be confronted with one of two options, either agree to trade NATO’s open-door policy for Russian agreement not to deploy into the Western Hemisphere, or force a confrontation that will result in a Russian invasion of Ukraine that is seen by Europe as being the fault of the U.S..
The chess pieces are already being moved. While the U.S. may not see it, a Russian checkmate can be predicted sooner, rather than later.
This article is from Energy Intelligence.
Scott Ritter is a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer whose service over a 20-plus-year career included tours of duty in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control agreements, serving on the staff of U.S. Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf during the Gulf War and later as a chief weapons inspector with the UN in Iraq from 1991-98.
Scott Ritter is always a breath of fresh air and a source of in-depth information. Thanks, CN.
Mr. Ritter’s article is the first clear and incisive look at the various motives, moves, and strategies behind Russian,U.S., and European words and actions I’ve seen. It makes me aware of how hapless the U.S. and NATO appear. Perhaps they have depended on baloney and bluster for too long. It also makes me aware of how playing a few simple chess games with this situation in mind might lead to some important insights for the U.S., not just the thoughtless rhetoric and action we seem to be seeing. Biden’s statement (paraphrased), “He (Putin) has to do something soon.” is colossally stupid. Is Biden Putin’s policy adviser? What? Why? Who’s forcing his hand? Anyone? Geographic analogies?
Scott, I am pretty sure that Russia has no plan for “symmetrical” threat to the U.S. in Latin America. This is just “maskirovka”, a distraction to elicit some useless Pentagon planning for Russian presence in the hemisphere. Russian military doctrine is rooted in making asymmetrical moves. It’s all about Ukraine; a strategy based on anything else doesn’t make much sense – given Russia’s limited resources, which will take another hit whatever Putin’s tough move is going to be. Strategically, Russia needs Ukraine back in its orbit to maintain an acceptable level of security on its western borders. Nothing short of that will do and Putin knows that. Besides, Russia’s not worried as much about future formal membership of Ukraine in NATO as it is about its current status of a NATO “associate”, heavily armed, and the heavy, and fast progressing, anti-Russian social engineering seeking to wipe out the Russian (and Russia-friendly) component in the country. Unlike the first “Orange” revolution in 2004, the Maidan coup cannot be reversed by a popular mandate as Yushchenko’s experiment was in 2010. Russia will have to intervene – either by staging a counter-coup or large-scale military invasion or a combination of the two.
Do any of us really know? I think in regard to Russia seeking ties to Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua – I think I’d agree, the claim was rhetorical, at the moment. The problem with Scott’s analysis perhaps is that it is suggesting there is still sanity in the US or the UK, something I very much doubt. The NATO tail in the eastern European states is wagging the bigger NATO dog too. However, France does seem to be bring some sanity, Germany, now Merkel deprived, is harder to assess. There is a serious irrationality to the US and UK claims in regard to the USSR, that’s dangerous. The world economy and Covid and environmental issues are massive issues ready to blow up in our faces, not being dealt with, and now we have this totally manufactured geo-political crisis, our parallels to the times leading up to WW1 are more than concerning as failing states (US and UK particularly) thrash about in mad stupidity. Russia will not invade the whole of Ukraine, you’d need massive resources and at least 500,000 troops to invade and quell such a large and populated country and resisting country. The loss of life and material would be huge, and how would Putin sell that to the Russian citizens? However they could invade or “rescue” the Donbass successfully and NATO and Ukraine couldn’t do anything about it. The media remain criminally complicit in supporting the US paranoia and depriving readers, viewers, listeners and the citizens with alternative views and sane commentary. Iraq all over again – it’s impossible to believe that it’s “here we go again”.- we learn nothing. I think the wording of “Checkmate” for Russia is overconfident and too dramatic. The US, as long as it’s a semi-functioning state, will continue its war on Russia one way or another for as long as one can see, Russia is “unfinished business”. The fact is there are going to be no “winners” in this continued geopolitical rivalry, just one foot forward and one foot back as this ridiculous state of affairs continues.
It is like Eomer says in LOTR “ Do not trust to hope, it has forsaken these lands.”
Alfred deZayas raised the spectre of Russian forces in multiple Latinoamerican countries a couple weeks ago.
As the major powers buy into, albeit various versions of, rising globalism, despite the current Covid-19 interlude, they would have no difficulty putting to rest all notions of nurturing “spheres of influence” a no longer viable and sane choice in the coming progressive world. Only the United States is still dreaming of reviving dead concepts like spheres of influence today. Fissures in the Western camp clearly exposes this fact : German disinterest, Central European disinclination and outright Turkish rejection and perceptions of Western hypocrisy and double standards. If these diplomatic realities are not recognised than the major powers would have no choice but to go for trade offs between Western “open door policy” and Russia’s red lines BUT only due to defaults !
“Russia has already declared that banning it from the Swift system for international monetary transactions will result in the immediate halt of Russian energy supplies to Europe.” What’s your source for this? I believe it is false.
So to defeat the Nazi Third Reich, U.S.S.R. armed forces assisted Nazi withdrawal from the city limits of Moscow and Stalingrad and occupied Berlin. Then Germany divided up by control zones” U.S., U.K., France and U.S.S.R. First three became West Germany with many ex-Nazis involved in governing. Countries subject to Third Reich administration during its occupation came under U.SS.R. domination. U.S.S.R. not allowed to participate in Marshall Plan for reconstruction of Europe with most rubble in metropolitan area caused by allied bombing and pressing on to Berlin. Germans poorly treated by occupation troops. U.S.S.R. not allowed to participate in Neo-Nazi N.A.T.O. U.S.S.R. created Warsaw Pact of occupied countries with self. As U.S.S.R. dissolved into Russian Federation, POTUS George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of State, James Baker gave verbal assurance if Germany reunited less parts given to Poland, N.A.T.O. would not expand its gang banging membership past German Frontier. Warsaw Pact dissolved by Russia. Russia withdrew its armed forces from countries passed through in causing Nazi retreat as well as Germany. N.A.T.O. expands to Russian frontier as United States armed forces expand from Germany as it remains in armed occupation of much of Europe since the end of Nazi Third Reich. Historical past reads of Napoleon’s French Empire invasion, Imperial German invasion, allied invasion by Poland, France, U.K., U.S.A. Japan and others in support of “White Russians” with Japan’s Imperial force lass to leave Russian soil in 1927. Nazi Third Reich invasion last. The number one destroyer of democracy–as was done in the Ukraine with elected President running for his life to avoid being assassinated as Nazi like regime put in place, with real democracy demonstrated when citizens of Crimea voted to again be part of Russia.–is the United States as countless murdered democracies in the Americas and Haiti can testify to. Useful to remember Russian land given to Ukraine by Lenin and Stalin prior to being released from being a portion of the U.S.S.R.
The USSR declined to participate in the Marshall plan.
Related to all of this, as reported by the TASS news agency, some 720,000 Donbass residents have obtained Russian citizenship:
Team that with this statement from Deputy Chairman of the State Duma (the lower house of parliament) Committee on CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Relations with Compatriots, Viktor Vodolatsky*:
If this is correct, then some proportion of the 720,000 recently minted Russian citizens are eligible to join the Russian military.
Let’s say a significant number of them take up the offer. In essence, is this not an invasion, without an invasion? (Understand that I am not criticizing the move — I expect this is very well thought out by the typically diligent Russian government.) And if the number is large enough to constitute defensive competence of the territory, does this not make the Donbass de facto (NOT de jure) Russian territory?
How would the US/NATO react to that? No troops have crossed the border — could they spin this as a passive invasion? I can see the interviews now, with your regular mish-mash of former military/intelligence officials cum pundits, declaring this as tantamount to a kinetic invasion, as images of unrelated Russian military maneuvers are displayed in the background.
*Note: I do not know what weight Mr. Vodolatsky’s words or title carry.
Oy-gevoy! What interesting news.. Seems like checkmate to me… Funny how this has escaped all Western media…
I don’t see how Russia benefits from any invasion. It would clearly lose much more that could possibly be gained. I can’t imagine Putin would be so stupid.
The clear play is for Russia to keep increasing troops and armaments on the border, maybe even add Chinese and Iranian troops, until the hysteria in the EU reaches a crescendo and it become explicitly clear that NATO can’t checkmate Russia. Then everyone will go the negotiating table in earnest… all threats resolved… the monopolar hegemon is emasculated… multipolar world order established… thank you Russia.
that’s the cheap way. also military and economic agreements with cuba, etc. to highlight the asymmetry of u.s. policy about “spheres of influence” (although the u.s. thinks its sphere of influence is the earth itself.
I agree with you that a “buffer zone” would place missiles farther from Russia and increase decision making time.
But as it is used in mainstream media and by Scott Ritter, the term “sphere of influence,” without reference to missile placement and decision making time, implies Russia objects to NATO moving eastward only because it deprives Russia of economic or military influence over nearby countries. That is not Russia’s concern.
Russia’s concern is that nuclear armed missiles placed 5-7 minutes from Russia’s population and government centers puts the world on a knife edge of annihilation.
Indeed. And 2 huge ironies vis-a-vis the German position: (1) WAY back in early 80s, Rudolf Bahro and the Greens gained prominence by opposing those US Pershing II missiles. Whether or not they could reach Moscow, everybody had a right to be ‘concerned.’ Now, as Diana Johnstone has pointed out [search consortiumnews.com for link], the Greens are all ‘trained in the US,’ with the obvious reversals now on display. (2) Now, Tony Blinken [who with sidekick Jake got trained by Team Hillary in the art of the putsch (Honduras, Libya, Ukraine)] is dictating German policy on their joint pipeline with Russia:
Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline will not open if Russia invades …hXXps://www.theguardian.com › world › jan › nord-strea…
5 days ago — The Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany will not move forward if Russia invades Ukraine, the US state department has said, …
“100 seconds to midnight” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists recent utube is well worth watching hxxps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EB7H6L26Agc
“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” Martin Luther King
The us and nato are liers ignoring made agreements and wanting to expand their own territory over the world,sticking their Orr in where it is not wanted and parading the fleet like any sea is theirs furthermore america has given out so much money it’s impossible that they had that in the first place so they print some more that ain’t worth ziltz,Russia is. Boss!!!!
Maybe not everyone between the Baltic & the Black is playing by the protocols of chess? My concern is with murderous-minded actors unleashed within Ukraine after the coup of 2014 who continue to act as wild cards.
How much incursion or havoc wreaked east of the Dneiper would it take to force Russia either to intervene to protect the people of the Donbass or to forsake them to the fascists?
At that point, it would seem all bets would be off.
The pity is that possible fixes to forestall such a scenario already exist in the Minsk Protocol 2, combined with reasserting the treaties unilaterally abandoned by Bush-Cheney and Trump. The Russians say the demise of the ABM treaty in 2002 is what toppled the fragile balance of nuclear power that existed between U.S. & Russia for decades of Cold War 1. Since then it’s been a kind of nuclear free-fall.
Now it’s back to arms races and games of nuclear chicken that create new levels of dreadful uncertainty. Do the people in charge have the moxie to fix this while saving their precious faces?
Thank You CC and Scott Ritter. Stay safe everyone.
Another good analysis by Scott Ritter .Events are evolving as they should.This is what happens when chess is mistaken for checkers .
I’m in accord with Scott’s analysis.
People are told to write to their Senators and Representatives if they want to influence policy.
Over the weekend as a Canadian, I sent this Message to all 100 US Senators. I reference a Message sent to all 100 Senators in November concerning the leading indicators I see developing in the US not leading to a good Future place. Even though I made it clear I’m Canadian, not one Senator replied to address the substance in the Message, but I got a Senate majority still sending me their Newsletters as if I was a Voter in their States.
While I won’t divulge the name right now, only 1 Senator replied personally, and that Senator is of the most prominent and Nationally known with instant Name recognition.
Good Day Senator,
As a World Citizen Child of God at 77, and a Canadian, I sent the same Message to all 100 Senators November 5,8,15 &16, not as Representatives of Local Parochial interests, but as National and International Leaders.
It took that long finding an address and ZIP code in all 50 States since the Senate email system has no provision to hear opinions other than from Americans. Stating I’m Canadian in the 1st sentence & using my actual name and email address in the Senate forms, a Senate majority sends me their Newsletters without addressing anything in the November Message concerned with US Domestic Developments as if whoever opens the email didn’t ever read it.
This Message also going to all 100 Senators concerns the Dangerous Developments on the International Stage. Senators have almost as much influence collectively as the Executive Branch. I can only hope and pray Saner heads prevail, although from what I see on CNN, MSNBC & FOX, that seems unlikely to reduce International tensions, but increase them.
Putin doesn’t want War. No sane person would want MUTUALLY ASSURED DESTRUCTION unless there is a subconscious desire for SUICIDE BY NUKES.
All Putin wants is NATO to stop advancing to Russia’s border just like Americans didn’t want Soviet missiles in Cuba. In 1962, the US was ready to start Armageddon/WWIII over Russian missiles in Cuba reacting to the US putting their missiles aimed at Russia in new NATO Member Turkey.
Americans aren’t exceptional.
Just like the US in 1962, Putin correctly sees the steady incremental advance of NATO to the border of Russia since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union and the Military Warsaw Pact opposite NATO, is not defensive, but offensive. I see that Independently watching from CanaDa.
He is following that 1962 US playbook. If it was Good when the US did it, is it EVIL because Putin is drawing his red line just like the US already did in 1962?
US paid Propagandists use words like, “since Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.” That’s how subtle Propaganda is.
Trucks on Russia’s side of the border, covered in snow and parked for weeks, is aggression? What is aggressive, is the US pouring $Billions of weapons into Ukraine, with NATO troops already in Ukraine, with more possibly on the way, inflaming the situation on the ground.
This confirms in Putin’s eyes it’s the US as the hegemon beating the War Drums, leading to Armageddon/WWIII the US put on the table in 1962.
According to CNN & MSNBC News reports, the Ukrainians themselves are not worried about a Russian invasion. This is a US freak out to distract from the increasing Domestic problems and Divisions I wrote about in November.
This is more interesting for me to watch unfolding from CanaDa because of this 1 line among so many more in my Curriculum Vitae, as recorded by The Kansas City Times September 13, 1976,
“He wanted to bring to the Public’s attention “an idea being put out subtly and deceptively” by the government that we have to get prepared for a War with Russia.”
That 1976 FUTURE is NOW with the Revelation of the details GENERALLY unfolding in the spirit of the letter.
With the benefit of 45 years hindsight, the last 8 years of intensified Military, FBI and Intelligence “experts” on TV constantly, unanimously, demonizing Putin and Russia since the 2014 US orchestrated Coup/regime change of the Russian friendly government, installing an Neo-Nazi anti-Russian government, the American People have been prepared as the majority of comments in all Washington Post articles on the US-Russian Tug of War over Ukraine prove beyond any doubt.
As a further Sign of The Times The Kansas City Times did a followup on ALL SOULS DAY, November 2, 1976, publishing this Historical Newspaper record:
You may imagine my Surprise and Wonder when the TV movie ‘THE DAY AFTER’ Kansas City was incinerated in a Nuclear Holocaust was shown 7 years to the month later, on November 20, 1983?
Most probably, I was the only person on Earth watching it that night to NOTE at THE END, the movie pauses at the same picture frame The Kansas City Times published on ALL SOULS DAY, November 2, 1976, this being the TV screenshot:
Those Historical records are Signs of the Times of where this World is at Today. They can dismissed as being of no consequence, but the Historical Record cannot be changed.
Only Time will tell. Reading about and watching the hyped up US News Today, that Time may be sooner than most People dare think?
Obviously, I had nothing to do with those Historical FACTS come into being other than being a Messenger. Then and Now!
I thank God I’m still alive at 77 able to point to the unchangeable Historical Records
Peace & Blessing
Please don’t think, Ray Joseph Cormier, that you’ve been singled out by the members of the U.S. Senate because you’re Canadian. I can assure you that when I email my Senators – certainly the Republican Senators – about my concerns, and also some Democrats (although at least some of them may agree with some of my concerns) I’ll get a form letter emailed to me – the Republicans thank me politely for taking the time to express my opinions and then someone in their office copies and pastes the form letter of the Republican Party Line in their reply as though they’re saying – “STFU idiot – we don’t care and this is the way things are”.
Members of the House generally accept comments on line only from their own zip code. Although a few may take a phone call, generally responding with a comment line.
They’re all terrorized by the National Security state. And live in the DC bubble trying to hang on to their privileged, insider jobs – they’re still allowed to trade stocks!!!
That said, I’ve also written Trudeau and haven’t heard anything back except an acknowledgment that the electronic mail was received.
The only things I would have written him about were Julian Assange and the Canadian mining companies that threaten the environment and indigenous people:
and his knee-jerk participating in the NATO aggressions.
I wish Pierre Trudeau was still around. He seemed to have some backbone wrt standing up to the oil companies when he thought it served the people of Canada from what I remember reading in the Globe and Mail.
Unfortunately the Canadian Prime minister seems to be caught in the same vise as Morrison of Australia and all of our presidents going back a long way….and of course the lapdogs in Britain.
Not sure about New Zealand which seems to be more independent thinking.
Democracy doesn’t seem to mean very much to these people in power – They “KNOW” and the hundreds of millions of people, including their own (those who serve) are subjected to for profit wars and the corruption – we’re not on their radar, except for Bernie Sanders and a few others wrt standing up for fairer domestic policies.
Although none of them as far as I know, except for maybe Ro Khanna, have spoken up for Julian Assange.
At least the trucker convoys (whose opinions on vaccines differ from mine but I’m glad they’re pushing back on the poorly thought through authoritarian edicts) are showing some solidarity challenging a government that has failed to deal fairly with people over the pandemic.
The small clique of the wealthy countries are directed, it seems, by their secretive national security conglomerates that serve the profit motive of the elite at the expense of world peace, the environment, etc.
Here in the U.S., racism, homophobia, anti-immigrant phobias seem to keep us in a civil war and distracted from how our tax dollars are thrown into the black hole of disposable weapons and wars for profit.
It seems like Canada has to rely on the divisions created from the handling of the Pandemic crisis since you lack some of the other red herrings used to manipulate people and keep us distracted.
Thanks, and sorry for my rambling here….it’s frustrating to consider where we’re all stuck in this troubling time with leadership incapable of addressing sustainability for their people and the planet. Instead buckling to the for profit thieves who the courts have handed (in the U.S. with their Citizens United ruling) political control.
New Zealand’s independent thinking? Not sure that stands much scrutiny. The recent publicity about New Zealand’s reluctance to go along with the Five Eyes criticism of China might be more due to the fact that 30% or more of New Zealand’s exports go to China with a good trade surplus with China.
In regard to Russia, all I have heard is Nanai Mahuta’s comment that “Aotearoa New Zealand strongly supports Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity … We call on Russia to act in a manner consistent with international law and to take immediate steps to reduce tensions and the risk of a severe miscalculation,” thereby agreeing with the “Russia is the villain” hysteria.
I wrote a letter to her complaining, an extract here:
“So why do you say this, when the problem is not Russia, but the US, with its European minions and especially its “special relationship” subordinate the UK, lead by a mendacious, incompetent and hubristic PM. I have already sent you a copy of a longer e-mail to our PM, Jacinda Ardern, about this matter, explaining in detail the underlying reasons for this manufactured crisis and the blame of NATO expansionism, egged on by the USA.”
I further urged her to make a diplomatic intervention as a non-involved state and get some sanity into our nominal friends and allies. That won’t happen of course.
This chess game has serious negative consequences for future of Russia. I do not think Russia will succeed in this conflict being far weak economic party.
I think you are in for a number of significant surprises if events cascade toward violence on a grand scale.
There is much more to Russia, its economy and resiliency, than one would or could infer from just listening to the West’s always propagandized analyses of relative strengths. Much more.
How is Russia a weak economy? It is managing sanctions well and is actually now in a stronger position than before as it develops its own alternative technology and import substitution. It can feed itself. It is energy independent ,. It will manage further future sanctions by cooperating more with China. It has huge fiscal and gold reserves and Russian debt is smaller than its reserves It runs a controlled and efficient public sector which is able to look after its citizens in a time of crisis. None of this applies to the US and the UK whose economies are built on debt and wishful thinking and whose increasingly divided citizens are being seriously squeezed by rising costs for the necessities of living. .
I’m sure it doesn’t strike everyone the same way but picturing the call from our president to the Ukraine president brings up the image of a Monty Pithon skit.
Our President: “The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming.”
Ukraine President: “No they’re not.”
Our President, “Yes they are.”
Ukraine President :”Not”
And on and on with finaly some clever Monty Python close.
Resuscitate the Minsk Agreement.
“Russia is expected to sign major economic agreements with China soon that will further insulate it from economic sanctions.”
There are also agreements with India, with India securing top-of-the-line weapons and technology (local productions), as is traditional, supplies of fertilizers that are critical this year (Russia is a major global producer, but currently tightly controls exports to protect prices for domestic agriculture, but for India, those “few million tons” are a difference between having enough food or not, so India will be motivated to be neutral and set a payment system like Russia-China. And approaching agreements with Iran of similar nature. Thus friendly + neutral countries in respect to Russia will include bulk of Eurasia.
West can cut off Russia from certain technological goods, but not from “middle tech” and consumer goods, there is a life after iPhones. Denting huge trade surplus will make only slight dent in living standards, but in Europe, denting already critical energy balance is painful indeed, and it remains to be seen how comfortable Americans will be with additional stimulus to inflation (big swing in affordability of mortgages, investments etc.).
Putin waited for the most favorable phase of commodity cycle. In few years, the table will turn temporarily. But then the West will have a different set of governments. Who knows, the new guys may learn from the failure of the predecessors?
Of course, the crisis can be patched up, rhetoric moderated etc. To Atlanticists, it will be a failure, to the rest of us, a relief.
The US plans to stage a false flag cyber attack against Kiev, then preemptively move US special forces to Kiev to provide a protection racket and try to lure a Russian invasion all the way up to the Dnieper river. The goal is to erect another Iron Curtain or Berlin wall along the Dnieper river, the other option is WW3.
I hope cooler heads will prevail. My impression is that while Pentagon is not flashy about it, some people there are realistic in estimating short-medium term risks which would be enormous in this scenario. There was no attack on Iran yet, was it?
Only becasue Iran has shown enormous restraint. US and Israel has done everything and then some to provoke them.
“In the end, the U.S. will be confronted with one of two options, either agree to trade NATO’s open-door policy for Russian agreement not to deploy into the Western Hemisphere, or force a confrontation that will result in a Russian invasion of Ukraine that is seen by Europe as being the fault of the U.S..”
It sounds like win-win for America’s warmongers! I bet they will say that America needs another trillion in defense spending, and sanction Russia some more. Remember, America only really cares about its arms sales. If Russia does that then they would have secured the jobs of a multitude of national security grifters that sleep soundly at night knowing that Russia is too afraid to do anything to them! In the saying about wrestling in the mud with a pig, America is the pig.
European independence would be a novelty. I doubt they would break from the US. They didn’t with Iran. They went along with America’s Libyan (France wanted this one real bad too) and Syrian catastrophes, and then they were flooded with refugees. They surrendered on the JCPOA and accused Russia of poisonings and disinformation. Their main issue with Trump was that he thought NATO was obsolete. The Europeans happily gave up Iranian oil, so why not Russian oil too? I have my doubts that Nord Stream 2 is more valuable to them than the US. They should be worried about an alliance between Russia and China. China would bring in the financial muscle to deal with NATO that Russia lacks. If I was Europe, I wouldn’t want to get involved in the squabbles between China, America, and India either. They should seek peace with Russia and China.
America doesn’t only care about arms sales. Its leaders care deeply about power, about domination.
True, the question is if the European thirst for submission is limited or not. Some burps were audible.
“Russia may not invade – yet”. Who would
Want that mess of a country? Only the USA – who created the mess. I have figured out that the US is giving them money so they can purchase lethal “aid” from the US. What a circular cluster fu(k.
Well thought out article from Mr. Ritter. I think he has the most pragmatic perspective on the Ukraine debacle.
I would suggest that there is another option. The US will just keep doubling down on the same old tired rhetoric. That is all they do anyhow. They might even start a mini arms race in Ukraine by sending more arms to the Ukro-fascists, trying to force Russia into doing the same by arming more the separatists.
The idea being to provoke Russia into invading the Ukraine once the stakes are high enough for Russia to feel it is time to intervene. Then the western MSM will go into a frenzy about Russian aggression, this time ‘justified’.
The photo of the Chess board credited to “Max Pixel” is set up incorrectly. It shows the white queen to the king’s right, and the proper position is the reverse, as is easily seen in your second “Chess Titans” graphic.
Another incredible article by Consortium News. BBB doesn’t mean Build Back Better, it means Bumbling, Buffoonish, Biden? Putin reminds me of that character Eddie Morra in the Movie Limitless, he’s 100 steps ahead of the foolish, amateurish, Americans? The inept, imbecilic & arrogant Biden Administration is completely delusional & incapable of accepting the reality that the US unipolar moment in the sun is finished? And Putin doesn’t need the performance enhancing drug NZ-T to turbocharge his intellect, he’s naturally clever & smart? Like the earlier & superb CN article about America & its Empty Toolbox, Russia knows it, China knows it & everyone else in the World see’s it? I believe Biden’s Afghanistan debacle was a pivotal moment in History it proved beyond any doubt that America’s Hegemony was OVER, this humiliating Saigon retreat catastrophe showed the Empire has no clothes, America & NATO’s Military defeat by the raggedy assed Taliban has destroyed America’s Military credibility & highlighted it’s impotence? A fact that Russia & China are now exploiting despite all of America’s sabre rattling threats in the Ukraine, Russia knows the US Military is a complete laughingstock joke who couldn’t defeat the Taliban so what hope would they have against the Russians in combat? Biden’s shambolic Administration & its amateur hour Foreign Policy wonks like Blinken, Nuland & other idiots are completely out of their depth against Sergei Lavrov & his Team! America has fallen into Russia’s trap like a Spider trapping a fly & has nothing left in the Toolbox but its Fake News, Propaganda MSM to create a bullcrap narrative that the US is in control & calling the shots? Pathetic!
It’s not a matter of being weak militarily. In any war where you are the aggressor in a sovereign country, all the people there need to do is never give up. Eventually the aggressor gives up its will to go on. History shows it so many times. The American revolution, Vietnam, both the US and Soviet wars in Afghanistan….and more.
I am Canadian watching what is going on between the Commonwealth countries (namely, UK, Australia, Canada, India) and the USA. The US has been doing its best to gather some allies. They bought off Australia. Kissed up to an inept UK. Now trying to challenge Canada into getting involved with Ukraine. We have been holding out but the US is putting the screws to us. Closing subsidiaries, threatening our security, infiltrating and using media to agitate right wing activists and enacting border closures. They want us to supply more military personnel and arms for Ukraine. Biden know the only thing which will unite a divided country is war!
I’m of the same opinion as Scott Ritter’s article on Russia, USA and NATO. I also believe the responsibility for American unrest is mainstream media, but I’m not forgiving the tech algorithms. It became obvious during Trump campaign and continued through out his Presidency. Giving air time to a man who has a disorder and suffers from lack of any ethical standards. But when we look at history, once the pandemic is behind us and the economy sinks and then comes back… that is when fascism takes hold. I hope that is not in store for our us, our children and grandchildren.
While going thru my computer I ran across an article written by Parry in 2017 concerning Russia and Ukraine as well as the Contra affair. I saved it because I finally found someone who writes the truth and is willing to speak out. Today I read his obituary and discovered Consortiumnews. I generally read 3 – 5 foreign newspapers a day, (Canada, USA, Germany, China and UK). Then listen to CNN, MSNBC, PBS, and FOX. This enables a well-rounded picture of what is happening. (Hey, we are in lockdown what else is there to do?)
The USA media is so slanted, no wonder America is in such a sad state. I’ll be cancelling my subscriptions to Washington Post and New York Times and sending you my subscription costs so your organization can continue accurate and complete reporting. Thank you for speaking up.
For all the crying wolf about Trump, he neither threatened war on Russia, resisted the temptation to get further involved in Syria, and initiated the exit from Afghanistan.
There are warmongers in both parties, but Trumps kind of populism is far less receptive to them than the Democrats currently are.
I agree. The dems are virtual signalling psychopaths.
I must agree with you Tristan they are transparent fools. And the republicans are virtual signalling sycophants.
Both parties are as worthless to the American populace as teats are on a bore hog!
As Mr. Victor says there are war mongers in both parties, that is true . But let us remember Trumps brand declared war on all Americans who agreed and disagreed with him.
As the “Village Idiot from Crawford Texas” did when he warned me and others, “You are either with us or against us”, right before lying the country’s way into the misguided war in Iraq. Ever hear of the republican party.
I’m tired of threats from those working and serving in the U.S. Government. Both political parties are pathetic losers. Trust me at this point in time neither party is worth defending nor is Trump!
Figure it out kids you are running out of time.
If we can’t trust the media on Ukraine, can we trust them to tell the truth about Trump?
Of course not. The never ending stories about his racism and incompetence spring from the same well stream that now try to induce a war with Russia.
(Just an example: When Trump talked about tearing down historical monuments and said there were good people on both sides of that debate, that got spun into Trump talking about Nazis.)
I didn’t vote for the guy, but I have no qualms saying that he was a better choice than warmongers/useful tools like Hillary Clinton or Biden.
(Yes, that’s a low bar!)
Is Trump rich? Yes, but the deep state and uniparty clearly can’t control him, which is why they’re constantly trying to stop him under some halfassed “our democracy!” Excuse.
That’s not defending Trump, that’s acknowledging facts.
I’ll keep your comment about acknowledging facts in mind.
Cheers to you and thanks, Peggy Andrews, for your level headed analysis from Canada!
I hope that you’re successful persuading your government not to buckle to the “diplomacy last” “bomb first profiteers” crowd in DC.
I found that Pierre Trudeau had a backbone and a core based on some articles I read in the Globe and Mail when he was Prime Minister – refusing to buckle to Big Oil in order to best serve his constituents, I think I remember.
There was courage and intellect and concern to do the right thing there, inspiring trust.
I’m hoping his son finds those attributes so he stands up like Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.
Good luck to us all :)
That is exactly how I see this playing out. If Putin does actually invade, it will be bloody and brief, he knows that, the losses to the federation would surely at least be 15000 by the time it’s over. I don’t think Putin is anywhere that politically naive to risk that kind of political fall out so close to yet another election.
Oh. I so want this to be true. It will expose definitively the age if weaponised hypocrisy by the US amply and enthusiastically implemented by western state friebdly media. The endless Chicken Little BS masquerading as journalism has been a pathetic dangerous farce.
Russian concern is not about sphere of influence. It is, and has been stated as being, about the 5-7 minute decision making time forced by placement of nuclear armed missiles on its border.
“… Reintroducing theater-support missiles to Europe creates the potential for nuclear escalation, primarily based on a target nation’s inability to determine whether an incoming missile is armed with a nuclear warhead. This potential warhead ambiguity can lead to a nation misidentifying a missile in flight, creating a response dilemma that could lead to inadvertent escalation. This issue drives Russian policy. Recently, the Russian military newspaper Red Star invoked this dual-use missile dilemma in a controversial proclamation: “Russia will perceive any ballistic missile launched at its territory as a nuclear attack that warrants a nuclear retaliation.” Senior Russian military officers explained the dilemma in plain language: “there will be no way to determine if an incoming ballistic missile is fitted with a nuclear or a conventional warhead, and so the military will see it as a nuclear attack.” In June 2020, Putin signed an executive order outlining Russia’s basic nuclear strategy. Specifically, he described the four scenarios that would justify nuclear weapon use. In addition to a direct nuclear attack and the identification of an incoming ballistic missile, these included an attack “against critical governmental or military sites” that “undermine nuclear force response action,” and a conventional attack when the “existence of the state is in jeopardy.”
WHY INTERMEDIATE-RANGE MISSILES ARE A FOCAL POINT IN THE UKRAINE CRISIS
JANUARY 28, 2022”
Surely that’s why they need a sphere of influence, or buffer zone.
In the ’90s a Norwegian weather sounding rocket was misidentified as a submarine launched missile aimed at Moscow. The paperwork had been filed so the Russians should have known what it was, but the person in charge of processing it was on vacation. The Kremlin urged Yeltsin to launch a retaliatory strike immediately, fortunately Boris couldn’t believe that his new friend and financial benefactor Clinton had betrayed him and refused.
Whenever I see an article by Scott I drop what I am doing to read.
But I am not sure I agree with his statement that “The secondary goal is to demonstrate Russia’s ability… to project sufficient military power into Ukraine to overwhelming defeat the Ukrainian armed forces and bring down its government.”
This seems like a variation of the bogus invasion propaganda we have been buried in since November. How would it serve Russia’s interests to bring down the Ukrainian government? I can see that if aggression against Donetsk/Lugansk increases past some threshold, Russia will forcefully put a stop to it using standoff weapons and air power. But if she goes further than necessary, taking down the government, it would just play into the Western warmongers’ and propagandists’ hands… Big Bad Vlad Strikes Again.
I think there comes a time in any ongoing situation that the existential threat supersedes and overrides any diplomatic niceties. All of these years of Western demonizing and trying to isolate Russia and its Federation as “the other” have deeper consequences that go beyond worries about how the world perceives you. Such as how your own nation perceives your leadership’s response to long term bullying by a collective West that loudly blares your supposed “inferiority” in the face of not only supreme and sublime (and ongoing) national accomplishment, but its historical horrors collectively endured and survived—most recently to that Nazi horrors’ own 1945 national death, but only after the U.S.S.R.’s great— unimaginable in especially the North American ‘West’—privation of starvation, death and destruction of its homeland. Your Everything lost. (But for your proven indomitable will to survive.)
A lesson learned and permanently coursing through Russian veins after so many hundreds of years of invasion from the east and the west, a lesson yet to pierce the propaganda veil so artfully cast over our own intentionally ill-educated and transfixed masses of ahistorical twitter-boobs. We know nothing of suffering on that scale. Nothing.
Those doing the demonizing have nothing to lose as long as their power perch is only further, albeit temporally sustained by such cheap, intellectually shallow, vulgar actions that serve the purpose of molding this population’s TV-Twitter-“smart” phone-addled/concerned minds where emotions are purposely kept running high (but uninformed) in such an over-the-top overt national psyop against Russia—and China too.
The same tactics so subtly used to keep us at each others’ throats more covertly as the Owners do as they wish in their commerce-oriented private game(s) of international chess. Emotions are poor substitutes for reasoned considerations. Yet are used most effectively in shaping our own perceptions to the detriment of discerning what’s really going on. And that’s why They call us ‘pawns.’
What we find if determined to actually self-assess the current state of our ‘Manifest Destiny’ is there is no honor among the Thieves of Everything—our Owner class which dictates such mean-spirited and venal foreign policy in its folly-laden violent ways—while based upon our own burden of Their excesses in Their evil choices made—for us. Not by us. But nonetheless ‘made in “our” names.’ These Few want it all. Everything. The world.
The Russians know this. The world knows this. But only some few of us know this.
Because Russia and China actually do know what’s really going on, and it means they both have exercised prolific restraint in their responses to so much overt aggression; so they understand the stakes and also the mistakes to be made. They calculate. They employ rectitude rather than emotion. It is a requisite survival mechanism to them in a thousands of years-long learning curve. They are wise where ‘we’ are brash. And heedless in ‘our’ technology-dependent testosterone-laden hubris. ‘Our’ superiority complex composed of national military power-drunkenness combined with sociopathic bankers in the shadows. And our current obvious deficiencies in diplomatic skills (by MIC shills) are made evident by our long-term foolish dependency on mass death-dealing. There is no ‘Plan B.’ But there’s Hell yet to pay for such ‘thinking’ as has plagued the world since 1947.
If Russia determines it is in its best interest to swat the shit-for-brains Ukrainian hotheads, their will be done. Period. No amount of impotent damnation from the “trending” bluecheck Twitterverse or Talking Head think-tank/media syndicates in Washington D.C.’s bowels will deter what is deemed to be necessary for Russia’s (its people and their territorial integrity) survival.
That includes thriving, and not being beholden to the whims of a wayward West that lacks not only cohesion, but indeed expresses a profound political disarray among its populace, lacking also meaningful standards of honesty and integrity in dealing with other nations. A huge chink in our national mythos armor of a nation which purports to be not only ‘moral,’ but exceptionally so. What we actually have is a surfeit of delusion exacerbated by those planted and fertilized notions of “Exceptionalism.” But instead of the fruits of ‘liberty and justice for all’ growing from that soil, we have a GMO Audrey from “Little Shop of Horrors” unleashed and growing like Dixie kudzu all over the world. “FEED ME!!!”
Right. Any Russian incursion will be a response to renewed aggression by Kiev against its own people in the Donbas. That incursion would be brief and decisive, driving the Ukrainian military back a safe distance from the autonomous provinces, but stopping short of Kiev. The Russian military would then withdraw, point made, just like 2008 after Saakashvili shelled the South Ossetian capitol.
Most foreign policy is designed to impress people at home. My assessment is that Putin wants to demonstrate his standing in the world and cement his reputation at home. Actual invasion of Ukraine would be relatively easy but then his problems start. He would face a population who were highly resentful. Most Ukrainians see themselves akin to Europe today. NATO would be galvanised into a build up, making any further advance very dangerous. Economic Sanctions would follow and public support would start to decline. How would he get out of it?
I think he is probably too intelligent to fall into that trap but when rulers don’t have a real opposition, they often start to believe their own rhetoric.
He must know that the distances and logistics for any invasion of Russia are beyond what NATO could do at present. Any threat would be, as several have said, from missiles. A sensible strategy for NATO would be not to deploy any such system and not base any ‘old NATO’, pre 1991. Country’s troops in the Eastern States.
We have a situation where if the west just sits tight. (It can’t do much else.) then Russia will have to chose between escalating and backing down. “we never meant to invade you”.
It needs some creative diplomacy. It also means Putin has to be able to pull bag the dogs of war without losing face. He has to be careful about avoiding the escalate / deescalate situation as well.
Were there any Russian dogs of war? Read our report today on the UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine.
I don’t think there is much risk of Russian attack but Putin doesn’t mass troops just to keep them busy. It is part of his diplomacy and they have certainly got the attention of the west.
The Ukrainians have a range of views but some at least, take it seriously.