Putin: Crazy Like a Fox

Scott Ritter says the Russian president is working from a 2007 playbook, when he warned European leaders of the need for a new security framework to replace the system built by the U.S. and NATO. 

President Vladimir Putin with Russia’s long-serving minister of defense, Army General Sergey Shoygu, in the Eastern Military District, 2013. (Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Scott Ritter
Special to Consortium News

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine goes on, the world wonders what the reason was behind such a precipitous act. The pro-Ukraine crowd has put forth a narrative constructed around the self-supporting themes of irrationality on the part of a Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and his post-Cold War fantasies of resurrecting the former Soviet Union.

This narrative ignores that, far from acting on a whim, the Russian president is working from a playbook that he initiated as far back as 2007, when he addressed the Munich Security Conference and warned the assembled leadership of Europe of the need for a new security framework to replace existing unitary system currently in place, built as it was around a trans-Atlantic alliance (NATO) led by the United States.

Moreover, far from seeking the reconstitution of the former Soviet Union, Putin is simply pursuing a post-Cold War system which protects the interests and security of the Russian people, including those who, through no fault of their own, found themselves residing outside the borders of Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In this age of politicized narrative shaping, which conforms to the demands of domestic political imperatives as opposed to geopolitical reality, fact-based logic is not in vogue. For decades now, the Russian leadership has been confronting a difficult phenomenon where Western democracies, struggling to deal with serious fractures derived from their own internal weakness, produce political leadership lacking in continuity of focus and purpose in foreign and national security relations.

Consistent Leadership

Whereas Russia has had the luxury of having consistent leadership for the past two decades, and can look to another decade or more of the same, Western leadership is transient in nature. One need only reflect on the fact that Putin has, in his time in office, dealt with five U.S. presidents who, because of the alternating nature of the political parties occupying the White House, have produced policies of an inconsistent and contradictory nature.

The White House is held hostage to the political constraints imposed by the reality of domestic partisan politics. “It’s the economy, stupid” resonates far more than any fact-based discussion about the relevance of post-Cold War NATO. What passes for a national discussion on the important issues of foreign and national security are, more often than not, reduced to pithy phrases. The complexities of a balanced dialogue are replaced by a good-versus-evil simplicity more readily digested by an electorate where potholes and tax rates matter more than geopolitics.

West Germany joined NATO in 1955, which led to the formation of the rival Warsaw Pact during the Cold War. (Bundesarchiv, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Rather than try to explain to the American people the historical roots of Putin’s concerns with an expanding NATO membership, or the impracticalities associated with any theoretical reconstitution of the former Soviet Union, the U.S. political elite instead define Putin as an autocratic dictator (he is not) possessing grandiose dreams of a Russian-led global empire (no such dreams exist).

It is impossible to reason with a political counterpart whose policy formulations need to conform with ignorance-based narratives. Russia, confronted with the reality that neither the U.S. nor NATO were willing to engage in a responsible discussion about the need for a European security framework which transcended the inherent instability of an expansive NATO seeking to encroach directly on Russia’s borders, took measures to change the framework in which such discussions would take place.

Russia had been seeking to create a neutral buffer between it and NATO through agreements which would preclude NATO membership for Ukraine and distance NATO combat power from its borders by insisting the alliance’s military-technical capabilities be withdrawn behind NATO’s boundaries as they existed in 1997. The U.S. and NATO rejected the very premise of such a dialogue.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine must be evaluated within this context. By invading Ukraine, Russia is creating a new geopolitical reality which revolves around the creation of a buffer of allied Slavic states (Belarus and Ukraine) that abuts NATO in a manner like the Cold War-era frontier represented by the border separating East and West Germany.

Russia has, by redeploying the 1st Guards Tank Army onto the territory of Belarus, militarized this buffer, creating the conditions for the kind of standoff that existed during the Cold War. The U.S. and NATO will have to adjust to this new reality, spending billions to resurrect a military capability that has atrophied since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Here’s the punchline — the likelihood that Europe balks at a resumption of the Cold War is high. And when it does, Russia will be able to exchange the withdrawal of its forces from Belarus and Ukraine in return for its demands regarding NATO’s return to the 1997 boundaries.

Vladimir Putin may, in fact, be crazy — crazy like a fox.

Scott Ritter is a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.


67 comments for “Putin: Crazy Like a Fox

  1. Susan
    March 3, 2022 at 17:48

    “… the “Shock and Awe” Bush War Title was really inhumane and disgusting. Some information said that between March 21st and April 9th 6,700 civilians were killed in Baghdad 4.5 million displaced, and between 1 and 2 million made widows, 5 million orphans, and that Bush knew THERE WAS NO WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION”

    Well, GMCasey, allow me to reveal just how utterly inhumane and disgusting the PROMISE of “Shock and Awe” really was. In an interview with Catherine Murray on BNN, Ken Courtis, former vice-chair of Goldman Sachs Asia, revealed:

    “You remember, Catherine, in March 2003 when the US launched their war against Iraq, on the first bombing run, all of a sudden none of the Iraqi radars or communications networks worked any more. Well, that was because there were backdoors in the communications equipment supplied by US players, and US military intelligence was able to just move in and close down their defense systems. ”


  2. WMD
    March 3, 2022 at 17:47

    “… the “Shock and Awe” Bush War Title was really inhumane and disgusting. Some information said that between March 21st and April 9th 6,700 civilians were killed in Baghdad 4.5 million displaced, and between 1 and 2 million made widows, 5 million orphans, and that Bush knew THERE WAS NO WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION”

    Well, GMCasey, allow me to reveal just how utterly inhumane and disgusting the PROMISE of “Shock and Awe” really was. In an interview with Catherine Murray on BNN, Ken Courtis, former vice-chair of Goldman Sachs Asia, revealed:

    “You remember, Catherine, in March 2003 when the US launched their war against Iraq, on the first bombing run, all of a sudden none of the Iraqi radars or communications networks worked any more. Well, that was because there were backdoors in the communications equipment supplied by US players, and US military intelligence was able to just move in and close down their defense systems. ”

    (you might have to paste twice)

  3. March 3, 2022 at 15:06

    A little history may be in order. When Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941 his forces included 3 million German military and another 700,000 from his allies: mostly Italian and Hungarian, but also contingents from Czechoslavkia, Poland, and a few other countries. In other words, the war was another in the many attempts over the course of the centuries by western nations to destroy Russia. The first that I know of was in the 12th century, when Russia was invaded by the Teutonic (German) Knights, and there were several other attempts in succeeding centuries. Putin has called this a limited war for certain goals, namely, the elimination of Ukraine as a forward arm of NATO. Some NATO countries are already showing signs of trying to limit their allegiance to the US bellicosity. When will Biden and Congress understand? Not for a while.

  4. Ian Stevenson
    March 3, 2022 at 13:23

    I’d like to share this for your information. It was published on the Novesti website but taken down. I would assess it as the equivalent of Times of London editorial, except that the mai news agencies in Russia are highly regulated , so it probably expresses what the government wants us to hear. I leave it to your judgement.

  5. March 3, 2022 at 11:32

    Consortium News might consider conducting and publishing an interview with engineering Professor Leroy Hulsey of the University of Alaska-Fairbanks for inclusion of arguably the most important historical perspective relative to the current worrying state of affairs on Earth.


  6. maxim gorki
    March 3, 2022 at 09:21

    The US criticism of Russia is like Jeffery Dahmer criticizing his neighbor for spanking their child.

  7. Gene Poole
    March 3, 2022 at 06:48

    “Whereas Russia has had the luxury of having consistent leadership for the past two decades, and can look to another decade or more of the same, Western leadership is transient in nature.” Scott, you’re making an important point, but don’t forget that behind the transient US “leadership” is the real power: the US Permanent State, and is anything but transient.

    Even if Putin is a “mad dictator” as we are being asked (required?) to believe, isn’t it better to be able to know and see the person or persons that are making the decisions that affect your life? US citizens don’t have that luxury.

  8. Aaron
    March 3, 2022 at 06:45

    I don’t think the U.S. and NATO should engage Russia militarily, it would be totally insane and create the “Mutually Assured Destruction” and end life on earth. Napoleon, thought to be invincible, marched to fight the Russians with 400 to 500,000 troops. When it was over, only 10,000 came back alive.

    • Em
      March 3, 2022 at 09:00

      … and the Atom had not yet been split!

      • Theo
        March 3, 2022 at 11:27

        Neither has the Atom yet been put together.

  9. Robert Sinuhe
    March 2, 2022 at 22:58

    One has to be amazed at the reaction around the globe of the Russian action. Russia is being vilified in every corner. The Swedes and Norwegians are sending troops. Sweden was neutral during WWII, Norway hasn’t taken the field since the Vikings in the middle ages. Spain is sending a ship. Hopefully it will stay afloat. Slovenia with only 1 million people will send a few guys. Germany, of all countries, was responsible for much of the death in both world wars was browbeaten to send aid to Ukraine– but all is forgiven. The bitter irony is that without the sacrifice of Russia, Hitler’s Germany would have won the war and the human race would have entered a much darker age than now. In a matter, we should be thankful on the other hand it’s revealing that the world is more excited about this invasion than the more lethal invasions in this age. Those of Iraq and Syria hardly get noticed. Israel has been persecuting Palestinians for 40 years and taken their land illegally without whimper from the international community. It seems that good guys can do bad things but those we program to be bad don’t have the same privilege.

    • Lois Gagnon
      March 3, 2022 at 16:05

      The US and Europe are not the whole world. China and India abstained at the Security Council vote. Once the blowback from the sanctions hits the US and the EU, don’t expect Asia minus Japan or the Global South not to act in their own interests. The global order is shifting which is exactly what the US thought it was going to prevent by instigating this war in 2014. Instead, it’s been accelerated.

  10. March 2, 2022 at 20:18

    “spending billions to resurrect a military capability that has atrophied since the collapse of the Soviet Union.”

    Billions they won’t have since they just shot themselves in the foot by imposing sanctions on Russia that will mess up the world economy and devastate their own economies.

  11. bachac
    March 2, 2022 at 19:45

    I’ve always viewed Russia’s actions over the past two decades as strategic, proportionate and rational. This invasion seems contrary to all that. Wars, or large scale military interventions should be the option of last resort where there is an imminent threat. I saw the Ukranian situation as more of an irritant than a threat. Ukraine was never going to join NATO in the near future for a number of reasons, the most important one being that states with border disputes can’t join, lest the drag the alliance into a war over that.

    To this end Russia’s actions in 2014 were perfectly calibrated: annex Crimea to preserve their naval base, and support ethnic Russians in the Donbass to create a frozen conflict. This has been the status quo for the last eight years, and I’m baffled by the Russian action to change this. Any Ukranian attemp to retake Donbass could have been swiftly dealt with by Russian airpower and artillery. Russia itself is now so strong that despite NATO irritations at its borders, there was no genuine military threat.

    I’m still baffled by this decision, and can only view it as a massive strategic blunder. The U.S. is a declining power and the internal decay over the past decades that gave rise to Trump and the January 6th “party” is not getting better; in fact it will get worse. Any rational observer would predict that the U.S. would soon be too absorbed in their internal issues for foreign adventures, particularly with the post-Covid economic impact beginning to bite. Surely Russian analysts and diplomats must have seen this.

    A strategic approach to me would have been to sit back and watch this play out while making overtures to Germany, France and other European states through bilateral discussions. Waiting to play the adult in the room when Trump or whatever buffoon takes over in two years time and begins alienating Europe again, possibly leading them to realise that they can no longer depend on their partner across the Atlantic.

    But this invasion has blown all that. Relations with the entire Eurozone is now in the toilet, possibly until Putin leaves office. More NATO troops will be posted closer to Russia’s borders heightening insecurity (this has actually revitalized NATO, talk about an own goal!), there will be severe economic impacts. Ordinary Russians are being ostracized in a way I’ve never seen before done to any other nationality.

    I find this all profoundly depressing and distressing.

    On top of all this, I don’t know what the endgame is. Russia can’t hold Ukraine; they don’t have enough troops. It seems to me that just like in Afghanistan, the U.S. has lured Russia into a trap, and they fell for it. There must be many happy neocons in Washington right now.

    • D'Esterre
      March 3, 2022 at 19:28

      Bachac: “This has been the status quo for the last eight years, and I’m baffled by the Russian action to change this.”

      No, it hasn’t. The Ukraine has ignored the Minsk Accords, and the western countries tasked with overseeing them have done nothing. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military and volunteer battalions have since 2014 mounted constant attacks on the Donbass. The result has been about 14000 deaths (I read recently: it may be more) and much destruction.

      Russia had not formally recognised the breakaway states: now it has. For years the citizens of the Donbass have been pleading for Russian assistance: official recognition allows that assistance to be given.

      “I’m still baffled by this decision, and can only view it as a massive strategic blunder.”

      The US has set a bear trap for Russia, which had in the end no option but to invade. We have extended family connections to that part of the world. Do you have any idea what’s been going on in the Ukraine since the US-sponsored putsch there? Do you know what happened in Odessa in 2014, not long after that putsch? We think that event is one of the reasons why Russia moved so swiftly on Odessa this past week.

      The parties parachuted into power by the US following the violent overthrow of Yanukovych are neo-Nazi. That’s how they characterised themselves at the time, though they’re careful not to use that term around English-speakers now! They’re fascists: ultra-nationalists, and at present attempting to eliminate the Russian language from the Ukraine. Never mind the fact that a large chunk of the Ukrainian populace, especially in the east, is ethnically Russian. Note that Zelensky gave his recent address to the nation in Russian.

      “A strategic approach to me would have been to sit back and watch this play out…”

      While yet more people die. Strategic perhaps, but not humane, I’d have said.

      “Ordinary Russians are being ostracized…”

      Wherever you are in the world, you can do something to counter this nonsense. Find out the real story of the Ukraine, and speak out in support of Russia and Russians. And while you’re at it, be clear-eyed about the truly awful things the US has done, not just vis-a-vis Russia and the Ukraine, but elsewhere in the world.

      And save your sympathy for the citizens of the Donbass. Don’t waste any of it on Zelensky and his government.

      That would help.

  12. Neutral Observer
    March 2, 2022 at 18:11

    The Russian population west of the Ural mountains has almost a totally European orientation. Putin may be able to mitigate financial damage via alternative trading with China, but Russian access to Western sports, entertainment, business exchanges, academic exchanges, travel, tourism, etc. are being destroyed and will not recover in the near future.

    Russia today is not Tsarist Russia or the Soviet Union where the Russian people then had no real exposure to the West. The bell of cultural, economic, scientific and technical modernity that has matured inside of Russia over the past 30 years cannot be unrung. If Putin thinks that his near-abroad conquest based on his illusory historic sentimentality will provide a satisfactory counter to a reversion to a Soviet model of repressed international exchange with the West at home he has another thing coming.

    For China it is all business. China will form business alliances with Russia that make business sense. China will not align with Russia for ideological reasons. If Putin thinks that China/Xi will sacrifice money making with global partners in order to “rescue” Russia in any context, he is deluding himself.

    Regardless of how wrong or how screwed up the U.S. may be, it still has tremendous military and economic power and political influence. Putin is looking at a beat-down in the long term both from the West and internally at home when the Russian people get fed up with the lifestyle constraints that Putin has imposed on them. This will not end well for the Russian people. Putin is probably a goner. (The U.S. Warfare State and the MIC though are ecstatic.)

    • Mr. Russian
      March 2, 2022 at 23:47

      “Putin is looking at a beat-down in the long term both from the West and internally at home when the Russian people get fed up with the lifestyle constraints that Putin has imposed on them.”
      That’s the problem isn’t it?
      That you think that Russians would blame Putin for sanctions.
      Here is a historical lesson. During WW2 Nazi SS divisions used scare tactics by rounding up some villagers and demanding to give up positions of partisans (irregular Russian Army). If positions weren’t revealed the villagers would be killed.
      So who do you think the remaining villagers would hate more the SS or the partisans? “Carpet bombing” sanctions against literally regular Russian people will not be accepted well by the Russian people.

      Sure, some people would blame Putin but even now about 70% of Russian adult population (which is really surprising to me) support this military operation. It’s not seen as a war, it’s seen as removing a threat to Russia’s existence.

      It’s also short sited to think that removing Putin from power would remove all the sanctions and suddenly make everybody’s life better, 8 year of American influence in Ukraine turned it to the least developed country in Europe. Russia also had a taste of this “democracy” in 90s I doubt it would want it again.

    • Beverly
      March 3, 2022 at 01:52

      China cannot afford not to stand shoulder to shoulder with Russia. If Russia falls to the U.S. imperial fascists, China is next… and there will be no one to help. Only together can they weather the empire’s nefarious intentions of global domination.

  13. Herman Schmidt
    March 2, 2022 at 17:27

    Scott Ritter was informative but did not address the following: Why has the “West” been so eager to adopt policies that bring Russia and China closer? Does it believe by crushing Russia it will weaken the alliance? If so, that depends on whether or not it can achieve the destruction objective which seems unlikely. Or does it have some Machiavellian notion that it can suddenly open its arms to Russia, and Russia will jump at the opportunity, leaving China all alone. To do that, they need to throw out Putin and create another Yeltsin and a very gullible Russian public. Sounds crazy but no crazier than the current one

  14. March 2, 2022 at 17:00

    Thank you Scott (and CN for publishing this), your comments make me less depressed – just knowing that there are still a few people who understand what is going on. I do hope you are right and that the EU will realize it is in their interest to stop this nonsense of lies, and negotiate! Sadly, it is apparent that my county, the US, is incapable of that, and I’m worried that the EU is so attached to the US that they will not be able to act with any clarity, unless the situation becomes so economically disasterous that they are forced to.

  15. Drew Hunkins
    March 2, 2022 at 16:53

    De Facto United States President Ron Klain’s spokesperson Jen Psaki was all over the militarist-corporate mainstream media this past weekend assuring everyone that Russia never had anything to fear regarding NATO. This assurance was a blatant distortion emanating from the same nation that invaded and obliterated Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yugoslavia, and almost Syria.

    Moreover, this flatulence of the mouth is coming from the same nation that has handed military arms and equipment to a kleptocratic Kiev regime that for the past eight years has been waging daily bombing campaigns against the ethnic Russian civilians in the Donbass. The Kiev warmongers often work with the Avoz battalion, a Nazi infested military unit, when carrying out these assaults. One key Russian military objective in its demilitarization and denazification campaign is to contain and bring these fascists to justice for the crimes against humanity they’ve committed over the past several years.

    It should never be forgotten that Ukrainian territory was the primary avenue in which Napoleon and Hitler invaded Russia killing millions. And Zelensky recently returned from the Munich talks strongly implying that Ukraine should obtain nuclear weapons.

    Given this harrowing reality, it’s the height of effrontery and audacious propaganda for the Biden clan to lecture the world about how Moscow never had anything to fear relating to NATO’s eastward expansion.

    Sullivan, Psaki, Klain et al. essentially champion the idea that NATO’s no big deal and nothing for Russia to worry about. If so, why does the Washington empire insist on expanding it to Ukraine? Why not simply grant the Kremlin its very reasonable and long sought security guarantee of Ukrainian nonalignment?

  16. GMCasey
    March 2, 2022 at 16:52

    I am always concerned when people who have never been to war—decide that they are suddenly all knowing Generals. I also wondered, when people condemned how this began—I had to see what GW Bush was doing when he decided to act on Iraq—which always seemed weird to me. I was also personally offended by the SHOCK and AWE headlines. It seem weird after Bush’s never ending disaster that America forgot that already.

    I always wondered about how this war started as it didn’t seem to have anything to do with what Putin did.
    I looked up some information , and that “Shock and Awe ,” Bush war title was really inhumane and disgusting. Some information said that between March 21st and April 9th 6700 civilians were killed in Baghdad 4.5 million displaced, and between 1 and 2 million made widows, 5 million orphans, and that Bush knew the THERE WAS NO WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION— unless that was what Bush counted on people believing when Saddam was hung.
    Maybe Biden should read up on what Bush did—although that was awful in itself. I found it interesting that Putin announced what he was doing. And finally, I find it very sad that people are acting as if no one else on the planet ever did anything this horrible—although, so far, Truman and Hiroshima, Nagasaki seem the most horrific.
    It seems weird that the UN is going off on Putin while forgetting its own history—and why what Putin is doing is being made worse than what Bush 2 did.

    Even before America was America, people back then could see the hypocrisy of what the people running things at the time did against John Peter Zenger was wrong. There seem to be more clarity and honesty for truth back then., How can we get back to that?

    As to Russia… it was apparently Clinton who went up to Russia’s line, and the harassment continued until America had surrounded Russia with gifts of weapons to other nations. As awful as to what is going on now, I have to wonder—why do all these presidents who have never been in a war ( Clinton, Bush 2, Obama Trump and Biden) why do they seem to want to cause wars?

    I wish the people who are said to be leaders had more ideas about the planets future, but it seems that all they can think of is WAR.
    why are they so

  17. DSH
    March 2, 2022 at 15:27

    I think the opinion pieces on CN have placed too much blame on US policies as a cause of the Ukranian invasion. CN has not adequately explored other reasons for the conflict. Since the time that NATO has allowed former Soviet Bloc countries to become part of NATO, 14 of these countries have chosen to join. These countries spent over 30 years under the influence of Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, and their own autocrats. The parents and grandparents of today’s generation who lived under this occupation know, that despite the many flaws of the West, their chances of a better life do not lie with the East.

    Despite some influence by the US in the Maidan Revolution, Ukrainians were already firmly on a path to choose a future with the West. The issue of Ukraine wanting to join or not join NATO is unlikely to be the main reason that Putin wants to bring Ukraine back into the Soviet Orbit. It was a given by all parties involved, that Russia has a legitimate concern about what type and quantity of weapons are positioned near its border. However, this is not 1914, and with today’s weapons and delivery systems, how critical is it whether the physical location of said weapons are in a NATO country like Poland or in a non-aligned country such as Ukraine? Putin invaded Ukraine to crush the democratic movement.

    If one wades through Solzhenitsyn’s rather dismal “Gulag Archipelago”, he explains why the rise of an autocratic Russian leader like Putin is nearly inevitable – not an aberration. He spends much time discussing Russia’s historical lack of democratic tradition and institutions. Democracy threatens Russia and its leaders. I think the pundits are completely wrong when they say Putin’s speech for justifying the invading of Ukraine was the rant of an unbalanced individual. The same could be said about many of the speakers at a CPAC conventions. In both cases it is simply the red meat that that resonates with their respective supporters.

    An aside – Winston Churchill said; “Generals are always prepared to fight the last war.” We are currently witnessing a war like none before. The outcome may ultimately be decided by economic pressures and digital technology, not boots on the ground.

  18. April Fools
    March 2, 2022 at 14:59

    Thank you, Scott Ritter, for your logical and fair remarks. I appreciate this so much. What I consider to be, completely, unreasonable actions of most counties, has given me Shingles, I think.

  19. Jim other
    March 2, 2022 at 14:46

    In the interim, the Ukranian people pay the price of amateur geopolitical strategies of US politicians. Congress should provide humanitarian aid rather than more arms.

    • Ian Stevenson
      March 3, 2022 at 13:06

      I think you might find that idea difficult to sell to the Ukrainians at present.
      There are reports of many of invading soldiers talking to locals and not wishing to go on. The 65 Km column seems to be stuck. They seem reluctant to proceed.

  20. David Otness
    March 2, 2022 at 14:35

    Myself and many others truly paying attention to the history being made in our lifetimes appreciate your voice, Scott. Especially as your efforts have tangible results in making people think and ultimately have positive consequences in your elevation of international discourse. “They” can and have smeared you falsely, they’ve done their best (worst) to muzzle you, but you have a bone in your teeth and one to pick with those who have led this nation astray and to this current end.
    The fact you have been present and in positions of responsibility regarding the life-changing outcomes of major events of our time is not lost on me, the hundreds of millions if not ultimately billions whose fates rest or rested upon your work, futile or not. You continue to persevere.

    The fact Lifetime Liar Biden as Chair of Senate Foreign Affairs ignored your Iraq truths, the Bush Gang’s Cheney, Powell, Rice and the succeeding Congress’s and Administrations followed suit, only serves to give your sincere patriotism more durable credibility as history is written. Your persistence in being a large and looming fact-based pain in the ass to these usurpers of our Bill of Rights and Constitution is the finest kind of notoriety.
    Having followed you and been friends on FB (before I was shitcanned for anti-Nazi posts) I’ve observed your writing evolve and bring more clarity and direction in subtle ways that illustrate that you are continually growing further in your thought processes and how you outline and bring clarity to your subject matter. My copy of “Scorpion King” remains close at hand.
    Just saying, glad you are on our side. Your voice is requisite for our times. Keep bringing it.

    • Mikael Andersson
      March 2, 2022 at 19:13

      I up-vote that. Scott’s comments are the best I see and I recommend them to all my circle – and lots of MSM journalists. Hopeless perhaps, but if I don’t try I’ll never succeed. The MSM propaganda tsunami might be stopped – one journo at a time. Thanks Scott.

    • Gene Poole
      March 3, 2022 at 06:42

      Another upvote. Then Senator Biden’s sickening arrogance in his treatment of Scott during the Senate hearings in 1998 was disgusting and shameful. Biden was already on board with the invasion (or was it a Special Operation?) of Iraq at the time, of course.

      Biden’s performance can be seen here: which can be found at hxxps://www.c-span.org/video/?c4842887/user-clip-1998-biden-chastises-weapons-inspector-ritter

      • Dwight
        March 4, 2022 at 12:49

        Biden’s unipolar moment

  21. James Terry
    March 2, 2022 at 12:06

    While Scott Ritter’s analysis of Putin’s motives for invading Ukraine ring true, he spends very little time, if any, lamenting what the Russian army and missiles and rockets have done to the Ukrainian people while also saying very little as to how this conflict can finally come to an end. Trying to end this conflict should be the first priority of our world leaders and the main concern of those who are on the left.

    • Consortiumnews.com
      March 2, 2022 at 12:35

      It is not at all clear what is happening on the ground and what can be believed. It makes zero sense for Russia to be deliberately targeting civilians.

      • James Terry
        March 2, 2022 at 16:56

        It is clear that non-combatants always end up, either intentionally or unintentionally, being the victims of the aggressor during wartime. I was on a U.S. ship which fired rockets which were supposed to provide cover for secret military missions during the American War on Vietnam. While it may not have been the intention to kill and maim civilians, it is a good bet that those rockets were killing people who were not part of the NVA. Civilians always end up bearing the brunt of nearly any war which occurs. A recent article by Chris Hedges and which was published by Consortium News pretty much confirms this assertion. As Hedges [as well as myself] had tried to point out, that while Russia was lured into attacking Ukraine for the most specious of reasons, the critical point is that this conflict needs to end very quickly before more lives are lost for no justifiable reason whatsoever.

        • Joe Brant
          March 3, 2022 at 05:30

          Don’t assume that Russia is not minimizing Ukraine civilian losses, which are at most one percent of US interventions.
          The US bombs cities indiscriminately, while Russia has surrounded them while allowing humanitarian corridors.

          For military casualties, according to an RT article yesterday, citing an MOD report:

          498 military killed
          1,600 wounded
          Ukraine :
          2,870 military and paramilitary killed
          3,700 wounded
          572 taken prisoner
          The article is here: rt dot com/russia/551084-military-fatalities-in-ukraine/

    • David Otness
      March 2, 2022 at 13:58

      If you read outside the Western propaganda lines—as described by Consortium News in its critique of your assertion—I think you will find that Russia has followed a doctrine as near as possible to opposite of the U.S.’s “shock and awe,” destroy any and everything, resulting in minimal civilian and infrastructure casualties. For first of all, this is a family spat among Slavic people who have much more in common than not. The shirttail relative clan has seized power only because of outside interests who continue to use them against the entire family.
      To apprehend and comprehend this, you first have to want to achieve an objective analysis regarding what has transpired over the course of this last week. A difficult thing to do if one is already susceptible (as most are) to the propaganda narrative/barrage being laid down and inculcated into the U.S./Western populations. In addition information is being squeezed if emanating from the “Other” side. The NATO paradigm does not want you to know not only does Russia not want to possess the cauldron that is Ukraine, it wants a stable, prosperous and secure bordering state (perhaps several?) rid of its extreme and terrorist-infiltrated infection. Period. Russia as an actual rule does not seek-out nor force war on others as a national policy. That’s US.

      As to the conflict’s ending, it’s likely (imo) not going to take much longer to mop-up on most of the territory. What will likely take a long time in spite of Russia’s ‘light touch’ is flushing out the U.S./NATO-promulgated Nazi and even imported ISIS terrorists, including already-there ‘Blackwater’ & the CIA “left-behinds” they have already proudly announced to the world would be causing mayhem well into the future of any Ukrainian state trying to achieve its own independence. We’ll see about that since Russia has imported Chechens from the Federation to deal with worst of the worst.
      This CIA replay of post-WW II OSS planning and action operations in Ukraine is what allowed the sustaining longevity of the fascists and their morphing into the Azov Battalion and Right Sector which yet bedevil Ukraine and kept the USSR beleaguered throughout Cold War 1.0 and into today. A very complicated balancing act remains Ukraine’s immediate future—thanks to the West’s elite’s predilection for planting and sowing perennial mayhem in its quest to subjugate and dominate world commerce while effecting as well its territorial possession of the entire world. But Ukraine, Belarus and Russia are permanently united as contiguous territories and a common culture. Trade, mutual assistance, and economic intercourse should ultimately prevail.

      • Anna
        March 2, 2022 at 20:43

        Manifesto on the Formation of the State of the Federal Republic of Ukraine

        “We, the free people of Kharkov, Nikolaev, Sumy, Chernigov and other regions of Ukraine, declare and proclaim the formation of a new democratic state, the Federal Republic of Ukraine.

        When the course of events leads to the fact that people of different nations and peoples are forced to terminate the political ties that bind them to a state by dictatorial repressive methods that impose the ideology of Nazism on society, they have an inalienable right to take an independent and equal place among the nations of the world, and a respectful attitude towards the opinions of mankind requires them to explain the reasons that prompted him to such a separation.

        When a long series of egregious and inhumane abuses and acts of violence, invariably subordinated to the same goal, testifies to the insidious design to force our peoples to accept unlimited despotism, dictatorship and the complete rehabilitation of Nazism, the overthrow of such a government and the creation of new security guarantees for the future becomes a right and a duty of the peoples of Ukraine.

        The peoples of Ukraine have shown patience for a long time, and only necessity compels them to change the previous system of their government.” … more.

    • March 2, 2022 at 16:04

      If we don’t look at the real causes of the invasion, it could just lead to worse later.

      In particular, if Putin pulls out unconditionally, it could embolden the neocon/neoliberal Washington crowd to further try to dismember not only the former Soviet Union but Russia itself.

      Putin’s desperate act here and putting his nuclear forces on high alert shows that’s a policy that could be a lose-lose for the whole world.

    • gcw919
      March 2, 2022 at 22:38

      Thanks for your comment. No one would question that NATO and the US have attempted to cripple Russia. Nor should we forget that Putin twice asked to become a member of NATO and was rejected.. At the same time, this invasion is pure barbarism. Let’s stop this admiration for Putin’s intelligence and shrewd acumen on the world stage: what he is doing now in Ukraine is a criminal act of rage and aggression, worthy of a sociopath.

    • Eddy
      March 3, 2022 at 03:26

      Are you serious? The U. S. together with its sycophants, has since 2014 spent billions of dollars ensuring this event is happening. Witness how quickly the sycophant nations all jumped up the minute Putin ordered his troops in. The U. S. together with the sycophants stated they were not going to commit troops, yet again, as soon as the Russians got rolling, all of a sudden Everyone put their hands up to commit troops and material. No one is going to convince me this was not planned. You, expect these people who have planned this as far back as 2014, think they are going to throw it all away when they believe they are so close to achieving their objective? L. O. L. Best of luck on that dream.

  22. alley cat
    March 2, 2022 at 11:32

    The “crazy Hitler” narrative adopted by western media is crazy—like a fox. It’s a standard demonization tactic that always works with a majority of Americans, who currently are acting dutifully crazy—but not like foxes.

    If Putin really were crazy, how sane would it be to continually provoke him, given that he controls the world’s largest arsenal of nuclear weapons?

    The fact that Putin obviously is not crazy, but always acts coolly and rationally, doesn’t mean he won’t resort to tactical nukes and/or hypersonic weapons, or worse, if he thinks Russia’s existence is threatened. This is not just a hypothetical situation. It’s where we are now, thanks to Biden’s constant misreading of Putin’s willingness to fight.

    Biden’s moves to corner Russia and destroy its economy are brazen acts of war. The rational response for a country like Russia is to use whatever means they possess to deter an aggressor. But Biden seems unable to process that data. He just keeps doubling down, no matter what happens.

    So who’s the crazy one?

  23. John Doe
    March 2, 2022 at 11:08

    It is refreshing to see this type of analysis. Regardless, of whether one agrees with it or not (I do). But today any opinion counter to popular narrative gets you canceled, or even worse; labeled as a bot or being pro-Russian. There is no room for discourse.

    Even worse, is the treatment I am seeing of the Russian people around the globe. EU and the U.S. have gone beyond sanctions and started canceling out Russian goods and Russian people. For example, in football. Russia has now been excluded from competing for a WC spot, Russian owners are being sanctioned, Russian players are being targeted. Where does it end? Well this started with COVID-19, if you were “anti-vax” they wanted to cancel you. Now, the mob mentality has turned to the Russian people. Cancel them, cancel their goods, just eliminate them. Complete madness. I predict we will begin seeing attacks on Russians around the globe, particularly in the UK, and that will be the spark for WW3. Just like the Asian hate crimes in the U.S., we will begin to see hate crimes against Russians. The irony is it will be at the hands of the so-called “liberals” and those who claim Putin is the next Hitler. Well, they’re the ones acting more like Hitler by segregating Russians. I am not sure how they think this will end…

  24. susan
    March 2, 2022 at 10:44

    Everyone should read this to get a reasoned perspective of what is actually going on: hxxps://scheerpost.com/2022/03/01/on-humiliation-and-the-ukraine-war/

    • Consortiumnews.com
      March 2, 2022 at 11:13

      This article was published first on Consortium News on Feb. 28.

  25. Soloview
    March 2, 2022 at 10:39

    Well, there are some problems with this scenario. One of them is the question – so far unanswered – what happens with Ukraine as a state. From a military point of view, in order t create the sort of “wall” that Scott has in mind, Russian forces would have to control Ukraine’s western borders, which with the exception of Moldova are all NATO countries. This could be disaster in the making. Moving forces into western Ukraine may be really costly for Putin, and if his last year’s essay on “unity” is any indication, he really doesn’t want that part of the land. He does not consider Galicia and adjoining regions a part of the Ukrainian statehood as it was formed by the Soviets in 1922. It may be that, rather than being absorbed into the new Ukraine, and risk a long-term instability given the regions political and cultural history which sets them apart, they could become bargaining chips. My sense is that Putin will occupy as much non-hostile land as he can and begin regional administrative restructuring there, while negotiating with Europe about the western parts. His bottom line will be that western Ukraine would have to be demilitarized, and “nazi” militias and party outlawed. This leaves Lukashenko’s regime which has an expiry date written on it. Putin might agree to a EU friendly succession provided that Belarus remains neutral, and NATO is either disbanded outright, or rendered irrelevant in Russia’s security calculus. At any rate, handing western Ukraine over to the EU, would be really “foxy smart” both as getting rid of the cultural barrier that divides the country, (and which Putin cannot repair), and at the same time putting to sleep the false narrative that he is trying to resurrect the corpse of the old USSR.

    • March 2, 2022 at 11:57

      The point that Scott is relying on is that, unlike Russia, NATO is still just an alliance of independent states having their own ideas about security and what’s best for them. And, unlike Russia, those ideas change with the numerous, asynchronous turnovers of leadership.

      The big question is if some, or any, of those independent states will balk at US insistence to restart a cold war. While a cold war is definitely good for American arms industries, it is not in the best interests of European citizens.

  26. mgr
    March 2, 2022 at 10:20

    From the various and differing perspectives that I have read, I have pieced together a similar portrait of Putin as you describe. In contrast, US military/foreign policy has been taken over once more by the same neocon element that drove things during the glory years of Bush 2, right into the toilet. Back again, or still here, whatever… This mindset has transformed a huge potential friend and collaborator into an enemy. Has anyone heard of the “Darwinian Awards?”: “USANo1!” And thank you for the concise explanation for America’s chaotic foreign policy makeup. Blindingly clear in retrospect.

    It poses quite a dilemma to have to engage with a party that continues to insert themselves into every situation, everywhere, and is either unwilling, or unable, or both, to engage or negotiate in good faith. Or, as Mr. Ritter says, “It is impossible to reason with a political counterpart whose policy formulations need to conform with ignorance-based narratives.” That certainly requires a patience and determined continuity of purpose that is for all intents and purposes long gone in the US (with the attention span of a hamster). Does the lack of this particular ability, that is, to reason, fit the job description of being the world’s sovereign nation? No..? Tragically, of course, the person or nation least qualified to be world’s sovereign something usually insists on the role, perhaps by divine right, and forever no less. And right there, of course, is the one area where all US political discourse unifies.

    Well, if left to America, the status quo that has produced the lovely conditions of our current world, would continue indefinitely. I had always thought that perhaps the EU would become a genuine catalyst for positive change. Perhaps in the future. In any case, America is resisting tooth and nail the change from our current (for decades) uni-polar world to a much needed multi-polar one. And not for any good reason like, “Look! We’re doing such a great job!” that I’ve heard. So, if Russia and China want to promote a framework of laws based on a democratized UN, I wish them a lot of success. Funny thing is that many of us thought that that was what we already had. Perhaps if given some actual support…

    • David Otness
      March 2, 2022 at 15:15

      ^^^ Brilliant, mgr.^^^ Well done!

    • Mikael Andersson
      March 2, 2022 at 20:17

      Thanks Mgr. In a multi-polar world multi-thinking and multi-actions will be visible. Insistence on uni-polar thinking results in all Russian actions being interpreted from the perspective of the global hegemon. I think that leads to a very distorted (wrong) assessment of Russian intentions, objectives and means. One must get into the shoes of the other party in order to even begin. The western MSM propaganda tsunami has been very successful at preventing that. Some countries have even outlawed it. But it remans the only possible starting point. The multi-polar world is arriving in front of our eyes. We can choose to see it when we wish.

    • Em
      March 2, 2022 at 20:30

      If power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupt absolutely, then when last did utterly corrupt power concede without a fight to the finish?
      Isn’t this what we have been witnessing globally, for at least the last three decades.
      For too many generations now; for the masses of us who must forfeit our lives on behalf of the power elites, this unipolar operative strategy of inciting chaos, and causing long-lasting mass destabilization, and internecine violence, for them, has succeeded beyond our worst nightmares for we are now comatose.
      If they succeed in keeping us comatose, then this final endeavor of holding on to unipolar power will unfold as nothing the world has ever witnessed before, because there will be no witnesses!

  27. RK
    March 2, 2022 at 10:17

    That’s a big gamble and will probably fail. Then we’ll have a new cold war..
    Or is this the Russian Mafia telling the Western Mafia they want a seat at the NWO table..

    • March 2, 2022 at 12:08

      Sadly, we already have a cold war and it’s been going on for quite awhile. (That’s why our “defense” budget keeps growing.) But it’s mostly a cold war between the US/UK and Russia. I’m not sure that many Europeans have bought into it yet.

  28. Ernesto Migoya
    March 2, 2022 at 10:15

    I have been following Scott for many years and I’m really glad to read his articles once again.
    He states the facts as they are. Please keep up abs hold your head high when they start to condemn you as being pro Russian.

    May peace prevail.

    • Steve
      March 2, 2022 at 12:54

      Thanks for that comment about Scott. He’s one of the good guys and I’ve always admired his work in Iraq searching for Weapons of Mass Destruction…(which I don’t think amounted to any serious threat). Bush 2 was ready to invade before they were even finished, and he had to clear out to avoid being collateral damage!

  29. March 2, 2022 at 10:14

    Many of us who were not Trump supporters, perhaps because of his obnoxious personality, nonetheless agreed with his aversion to foreign interventions and wars, and especially with his observation that NATO was an expensive toy, a white elephant and a black hole into which way too much of America’s wealth disappeared, and that looking for a reason to continue beyond its reasonable life span, like a vampire, it was constantly in search for new victims, for a justifiable raison d’être.

    • robert e williamson jr
      March 3, 2022 at 17:31

      One big problem with “Dear Leaders” thoughts here.

      Personally I cannot agree that these words originated from this idiot. Sounds more like someone cherry picked parts of his Nationals Security Briefing Books for the good stuff.

      I doubt seriously any of this originated from the Liar in Chief. And that my friend is the result of his tract record.

      If the US had thrown a $trillion or two into the NATO countries as happened in the bull shit wars in Iraq and Afghanistan I’m seriously doubting we would be having the current issues with Putin. There were issues there all along and the national security apparatus damned well knew where problems where. I mean all the way back to 1990. I guess of course our intelligence capabilities could actually be that piss poor, but I think not so much.

      He misses the fact that that expensive toy bought weapons, aircraft and other things from the MIC.

      All I have to do is look to his sickening genuflexions to the government of Israel , whAt to talk about a white elephant or a black hole, Crimeanny and I can see through this BS. Pardon the pun!

      Nope! This bastard showed no quarter to his enemies and deserves none in return.

      Thanks CN

  30. March 2, 2022 at 10:02

    The U.S. seems to have an odd hold on its vassal states that drives them to act always against their own nominal self interests. Germany, for example, should have rejected any calls to halt Nordstream 2, yet it complied with U.S. edicts without hesitation the moment Russia entered Ukraine, thus dooming its economy to save face for the Biden regime. Europe is not a collection of sovereign nations. It is a group of vassal states the foreign and domestic policies of which are dictated by Washington, D.C.

    • rosemerry
      March 2, 2022 at 14:03

      You are correct. I wonder why the boss of the EU has a right to decide for the 500 million of us to destroy a large and important sovereign nation she has persuaded many of the media and others to remove from the map. Russian FM Lavrov, probably the best diplomat in the world now, was humiliated and forced to negotiate his visit to important meetings on peace by her imperious behavior. Who gave this power to one unelected person from Germany? Why are we not allowed to have information different from the official line? This is “liberal democracy?””freedom of speech”??
      Russia painstakingly follows international law, and has recorded the actions in Ukraine over the last eight years which need investigation, but those in power in the “international community” steadfastly refuse even to investigate.

  31. Ed Rickert
    March 2, 2022 at 09:29

    Scott Ritter thanks for your courage, knowledge, and analysis. You are one of the lonely voices that dare challenge the lies and false narratives of a corrupt media and incompetent administration. My appreciation too to the efforts of consortiumnews for standing against the “alternative facts” provided by main stream journalism.

    • Mikael Andersson
      March 2, 2022 at 20:19

      I up-vote that. Thanks Ed.

  32. Tom Dionne-carroll
    March 2, 2022 at 09:24

    The best analysis of what is really happening in Ukraine now from someone who has seen war

  33. JMF
    March 2, 2022 at 09:02


    Thanks for once again being an incredibly sensible voice of reason. I’ve read your articles for many years — since the run-up to Iraq — and your astute observations have consistently been on the mark.

    I’m amazed (but not surprised) that the Western “Mighty Wurlitzer” is once again churning out its demonization narrative at full throttle. Having seen it all before, as in the run-up to Iraq, I immediately took this propaganda blitz as strong evidence of our own government’s continued mendacity. By comparison, Mr. Putin’s laudable speech presents a clear exposition of legitimate, unaddressed grievances reminiscent of our own Declaration of Independence.

  34. SoWhatIsGoingOn
    March 2, 2022 at 07:30

    Another great article — (I’m very grateful to have found such a useful resource as CN, because it’s truly crazy to jump between all the narratives being pumped out over the BBC, RT and Aljazeera).
    A couple of questions, to Scott:
    1) Do you think Putin has timed this now exactly because Trump is NOT in power? (From what I gather, the general American view is that Biden is acting weakly, which will play well into Trump’s re-election bid)
    2) There are reports (fake?) of the Russian’s still allowing the Ukraine to use their airforce, how come the Russian’s haven’t shut them down with their superior air strength?

    • vinnieoh
      March 2, 2022 at 12:35

      I’m not Scott, but I believe the proximate cause was the imminent opening of Nordstream 2, but this takes some explaining. All the US entreaties to Germany to stop its completion and back out of the deal weren’t working. In March ’21 the (coup) Ukraine government passed resolutions and made loud proclamations of their intent to re-take the Donbas and Crimea by military force, US and others began to pour in military equipment, train their forces, etc. Attempted US fomented color revolutions in Belarus, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan. EuroSheild (NATO) drills and preparations. Ukraine govmt moving units and equipment to the LOC at the Donbas (which the western media obediently failed to report.) Increased US build-up of forces and equipment in Poland.

      For the Russians, all the imminent warning signs were there, and so their first mobilization along their border to pre-position their equipment, then a pause and wait and see. The last hurdle to getting the gas flowing in NS2 was the certification process which Germany was proceeding with. Then came the provocations along the LOC in the Donbas by the Ukrainians – increased shelling, sappers and saboteurs inside the separatist zones, and so Russia decided they could not delay or postpone the inevitable any longer.

      Biden’s first pronouncement upon Putin’s decision to heed the resolutions of the Russian legislature and formally recognize the separatist regions was to declare that NordStream 2 was dead.

      Ta da ! Mission accomplished. There is, of course, wider strategic scheming by the US going on, but NS2 WAS the proximate cause.

      If Scott or Joe wish to reply and disagree or correct me, that is to be expected. I don’t know how I missed the original posting of this editorial, which is very good. I disagree though with one part of Scott’s analysis:

      “…produce political leadership lacking in continuity of focus and purpose in foreign and national security relations.”

      I believe those perceived inconsistencies are largely superficial, and that despite which faction of the duopoly controls the WH or the Congress that US foreign/geopolitical policy has been remarkably consistent over many decades. Relentless, single-minded, and largely unconstrained.

      • TS
        March 3, 2022 at 15:04

        > the certification process which Germany was proceeding with

        No, not really.While not formally halted (as it has been now), the German government was making no secret of its foot-dragging.

  35. Ian Stevenson
    March 2, 2022 at 06:36

    I forgot this . A US Marine Corps study. Is this an example of constructing a scenario so it becomes a justification for a pre-determined policy or does it reflect a long term plan?


  36. Ian Stevenson
    March 2, 2022 at 06:32

    It seems Putin intended a salutary lesson to the West. A quick occupation as in Georgia, followed by a returning to Russia. It has gone wrong due to the fierce resistance of the Ukrainians, poor logistical planning and a reported reluctance by some soldiers, to fight. Any withdrawal now will look like a political defeat even if he occupies the country.
    Belarus had elections where the population did not accept the result and that was crushed by force. Putin turned up to offer Lukashanko his support but both know that the model of government they stand for is not popular in both Belarus and Ukraine. I wonder how far the military action was also meant to be a message to those populations. Maybe the threat was less about NATO or EU membership and more about the nature of government.
    The West needs to offer him a way to stand down without too much humiliation. But even so, it could be his days in power are numbered.

    • torture this
      March 2, 2022 at 10:57

      “It has gone wrong due to the fierce resistance of the Ukrainians, poor logistical planning and a reported reluctance by some soldiers, to fight.”
      There’s some disagreement about what’s really going on. At this point, I can’t help but take reports from both sides with a grain of salt. Handing out weapons to civilians and turning prisoners loose aren’t normally the kind of things that the winning side does, though. We’re used to seeing cities trashed and civilians wiped out when the West invades but does it necessarily mean one side is losing because it’s not killing everything that moves? If the US empire expands, I think we’ll know it. But, I don’t know how anyone could trust their sources to the point that they believe we’re there, already.

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