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One Finite Planet

Salami Tactics Battle In Ukraine: What Can Be Done To Stop Russia, and China, and Potentially, WWIII.

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That Putin sees himself in the image of Peter the Great and restoring the Russian empire is no secret, and is generally portrayed as evidence that Putin has completely lost the plot. But what if there is a bigger plan involving both Russia and China that starts with triggering a global financial crisis? A dangerous game by two desperate leaders needing to bring others with them as their own economies collapse.

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Putin taking on 'the whole salami' in Ukraine, has advanced the world to a crisis with two potential outcomes:

  1. The invasion stalls long enough for Putin to lose power in Russia, leading to an end to expansionism not just in Russia, but most likely also improving the worlds relationship with China.
  2. The invasion succeeds, showing the response of nations as powerless in response to aggression, greenlighting a path that could lead to an extension of age of tyrants, and potentially WWIII.
Salami Tactics Battle In Ukraine: What Can Be Done To Stop Russia, and China, and Potentially, WWIII.

Putin taking on 'the whole salami' in Ukraine, has advanced the world to a crisis with two potential outcomes:

  1. The invasion stalls long enough for Putin to lose power in Russia, leading to an end to expansionism not just in Russia, but most likely also improving the worlds relationship with China.
  2. The invasion succeeds, showing the response of nations as powerless in response to aggression, greenlighting a path that could lead to an extension of age of tyrants, and potentially WWIII.

And the major deciding factor between these two paths? The level of outrage shown by the citizens of the world, which is what motivates governments to act, and the resolve on NATO, UN, EU, US and UK to prevent Russia taking more slices of salami in reply. The fate of the globe is at stake.

Background: Salami Tactics.

First drawn to my attention by the BBC “documentary”, Yes Minister, salami tactics is a term used to describe taking small steps so that no one step is clearly crossing a line, even though all the small steps when combined, clearly do cross that line.

Russia started to play the game with the sending in “piece keepers”. Armed forces who take small pieces of the Ukraine, so that Russia could keep those pieces. This was effectively cutting Ukraine into salami slices, and extending the process that seemed to work well with Crimea.

China has been accused of using the same “salami slicing strategy” in the south sea.

The lack of effective response to various dictators use of salami tactics in recent years, led to Putin, believing the response first Crimea, and then his annexing of his declared of independent states of Luhansk and Donetsk, as indecisive, to his

But then, Putin became impatient. He had tasted slices of salami with no reaction he considered to of o negative, so he decided to digest the rest in one sitting.

What Is At Stake: An Era Of Tranquilly vs Domination By Tyranny.

There is a major danger that, if Putin is successful in his war of aggression, other dictators around the world will be emboldened to adopt similar lawless methods.

Plus, while it at first seems the ‘whole salami’ has been used by Russia, NATO limiting their response in fear of nuclear war may embolden Putin to take more steps.

The most obvious risk is that, after President Xi Jinping has secured his third term as China’s leader, he will turn to “reunification” with Taiwan, which remains his most cherished political goal. Taiwan matters more to American global predominance than Ukraine, not least because of its key role as the world’s most advanced semiconductor manufacturer. At the same time, Taiwan’s people are highly unlikely to fight as tenaciously as the Ukrainians against an invading neighbor.

Niall Ferguson In Bloomberg Article.

I will add that it is also unlikely that Putin would stop at Ukraine, or likely Xi Jinping would stop at just Taiwan, if it is proven that the consequences of invasion are an insufficient deterrent, and the spoils outweigh the costs.

The Failure of Sanctions.

The Punishment for The Invading Was Unclear Before the Invasion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has told CNN that sanctions on Russia should be made public before a potential invasion of Ukraine occurs.

Zelensky told CNN at the Munich Security Conference that he disagreed with the stance that sanctions should only be listed after an invasion by the Kremlin. 

“The question of just making it public … just the list of sanctions for them, for us to know what will happen if they start the war — even that question does not have the support,” he told CNN. 

Ukraine’s president calls for a list of sanctions against Russia to be made public now

The response to Putin first salami slices failed to leave him with a bad taste deterred him going further.

Since the invasion started, sanctions have substantially increased. The blocking the Nord stream 2 pipeline, removing access to Swift, and perhaps others might have been sufficient to give Putin reason to hold back, had he known that an invasion would trigger these sanctions.

Ukraine kept asking for the “serious sanctions” to be made far clearer than vague and unspecified threats. This never happened. When Russia invaded, Europe and the US were undecided by what the sanctions would be. It is even possible that had it been announced these sanctions would follow, Putin would have held back on the invasion.

The primary aim of having a punishment, is to act as a deterrent, what the punishment will be, needs to be clear for that punishment to be an effective deterrent.

So even if the threat of sanctions could have been a sufficient deterrent, which is uncertain, the ambiguity of whether the sanctions would ever contain anything meaningful, ensured they would fail.

Sanctions That May’ve Prevented The Invasion Starting, Won’t Stop Invasion Now.

The allies sanctions failed, not necessarily because they were insufficient to stop invasion, but because they were announced retrospectively.

It is hard to imagine a worse outcome for Putin than having to call off the invasion now.

Sanctions could now lead to Putin becoming so unpoplar than over time he loses control, but for Putin, ending the invasion would be losing control immediately.

Sufficient sanctions announced ahead of time just might have resulted in Putin remaining restricted to his small salami slices of keeping one piece of Ukraine at at time, but we cannot be sure now.

However, not starting an invasion is nothing really lost, but calling off an invasion that is underway?

It is hard to imagine a scenario much worse for Putin then needing to call off the invasion now.

Which means the sanctions may one day result in regime change in Russia, but they can’t get Putin to backdown.

The problem with “one day”, is the outrage of the world will fade, and the punishment of sanctions cut both ways. Europe needs Russian gas, and it becomes a battle as to who blinks first. Counting on sanctions to end Putin’s reign is a gamble, and need to put an end to expansionism.

NIALL FERGUSON: There is a very clear lesson of history here which is that, if you use economic methods such as sanctions, they’re highly unlikely to alter the course of a war once it’s begun.

The history behind Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

To Stop Russia, The Invasion And Expansion Must Fail.

If Russia can claim is victory in the Ukraine, sanctions alone will not stop the invasion, and resulting expansion being called a success.

Ukraine has extremely rich and complementary mineral resources in high concentrations and close proximity to each other.


Winning Ukraine can be seen to offset a lot of financial damage from sanctions. If Ukraine falls, then “did Russia win or not” may become debatable, but debatable does not end Putin’s reign, and it does encourage others with expansionist goals.

Putin’s goals are likely not even the mineral wealth, but his need to ensure Ukraine does not become another Poland, a country building success as a western democracy, but right on his doorstep.

NIALL FERGUSON: I think it’s more that there was a huge cost in the scenario that Ukraine succeeded in becoming a stable, Western-oriented democracy.

That, I think, is the real motivation here.

Ukrainians look to the West and they see Poland – a country with which they’re historically just as connected as they are to Russia – and they see Poland, which has prospered in the European Union, prospered in NATO, is now significantly better off than Ukraine.

The real goal here is not to acquire territory. The real goal here is not even to acquire 40 million+ people. The goal is to prevent those people from making a success of democracy and freedom.

The history behind Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: ABC 7:30.

How similar might China’s motives be with regard to Hong Kong and Taiwan?

Blocking The Invasion: The Battle Of Salamis.

Ending the Expansion, Requires Salami Tactics Of ‘Lethal Aid’ For Ukraine.

Some people may feel like sending in forces to stop the invading Russians, but two foreign armies fighting in Ukraine can allow propaganda artists a field day questioning who are the invaders.

The entire salami is doing everything short of sending in troops to help Ukraine win.

The ‘reverse slices’ have started, with an increasing number of countries now providing Ukraine with ‘lethal aid’, but it makes me wonder what further step is going to be palatable? How close could an allied country come to helping in battle by firing remotely on Russian tanks and positions inside Ukraine without triggering WWII? Of those I ask, many would love this to happen. This is a thought experiment on how far things could go.

The Dream.

Right now there is a massive convoy of Russian vehicles headed into Kviv/Kiev. In my dream scenario, I picture missiles or planes just taking out the entire convoy and effectively ending the invasion. But what about all the people in that convoy? My dream scenario goes further, with all the Russians in that convoy being warned, and able to get out of their vehicles in time to stand by as the convoy busts into flames. All the soldiers would then defect, as going back to Russia having lost would not be very appealing, and you have to wonder what disagreement the people of Ukraine and Russia hold against each other.

I picture the Russian troops first being forewarned that their only escape will be to exit their vehicles, prior to of the destruction of the convoy, and then able see explosions progressively getting closer before the vehicles start being destroyed one after another.

With the attack on Kviv/Kiev then in disarray, and the soldiers welcomed into Ukraine, the dream has a very happy ending, where all support for the invasion, at least within the troops, would end.

That ending discourages any future dictator wishing to order their troops to invade the neighbours. One of the best hope for the conquest breaking down, would be the soldiers losing the will to fire upon Ukrainians. That everyone is a human after all is perhaps best illustrated by the story of the Ukrainian interacting with Russian troops who had broken down.

What Is Wrong With the Dream?

The convey is 40 miles long, so perhaps taking out the entire convoy in one step is a bit much, but even taking out the first 5 miles would be enough to stop it in its tracks.

But whatever is done, as Ukraine is not a NATO alliance country, sending NATO troops into Ukraine is crossing a line which would invoke international condemnation. This means, the US or other major force directly attacking Russian forces is seen as an unpalatable ‘entire salami’ that could result in WWIII.

The problem with the dream, is that stopping the convoy is ok as the goal, but it must by Ukraine forces being assisted by others, not directly by the others.

The Acceptable Salami Tactics To Stop Russia.

There can be as much help given to Ukraine as possible, as long it is Ukraine being helped, and not direct action by other counties. So when does the ‘help’ cross the line into being direct action. Maybe one individual to help the Ukrainians? But neither John McClane, nor John Rambo is available. Sending Chuck Norris would probably be going to far. But to return from the land of dreams…. a big problem is that there is a Russian bud guy, and no American hero.

We already have Germany, and other countries sending anti tank missiles and other “lethal aid” into Ukraine. This means that while sending troops into Ukraine not acceptable, then sending of military equipment and ammunition as “lethal aid” is an acceptable slice.

Salami tactics in response so far:

What further slices can be taken, but not yet accepted accepted?

  1. More Lethal drones for Ukraine?
    • Does anyone have drones even more capable than those supplied by Turkey?
  2. Planes for Ukraine:
  3. No fly zone over Ukraine.
    • While even giving planes to Ukraine is blocked, this will not happen.
  4. Troops For Ukraine.
    • Unimaginable.

Could a US, French, UK or German drone flown inside Ukraine be used to provide vision for a remote attack from outside Ukraine? Or a Turkish drones the limit.

Why is it that it is impossible for Ukraine to ‘purchase’ planes? The US etc can supply the money, and the list of potential suppliers does even include Turkey, South Korea and Japan. Of course they need to fly into either NATO countries, or neighbours afraid of Russia to get to Ukraine.

A no fly zone would be very effective, but given only Russia is even proving planes that will ever get to Ukraine, who would police a no fly zone?

As for troops, Germans, for example, crossing into the Ukraine in order to operate even the weapons Ukraine has been given, would be crossing the line, but sending weapons to Ukraine is ok. How does Ukraine get the weapons? Either people from Ukraine have to cross into Poland or another country, or delivery personnel from another country have to cross into Ukraine.

Perhaps if the fire button is pressed by someone from a NATO country, that would be going too far? How about if the button is pressed by a Ukrainian officer who happens to be in Poland where there are NATO troops stationed?

This would save the time taken in shipping the missile by land into Ukraine. But would it break the rules? What is that rule that is broken?

I am going to keep considering this. There must be other ‘salami slice’ steps between the extremes.

Those On The Sidelines: Who Wants What Outcome.

People Feeling Outraged Around The World: The Violence Ends, Ukraine Restored.

There are a large number in countries from Russia, Europe, The US and UK, Canada, Australia and around the world, protesting in outrage over the invasion of Ukraine. In this age of outrage and polarisation, the outrage has generally all been in one direction, leaving Putin almost alone at his polar location.

In a world where polarisation has become so strong that people who could on vaccinations when the vaccine was for measles, no longer agree now the vaccine is for Covid-19. In fact people can’t all agree the the Earth is not flat! Media engagement increases with polarisation and outrage, which logically will ensure the AI controlling who gets what news will target polarisation, even if the human overlords of social media are neutral, which is going to mean a percentage of people normally appear on both sides of any argument, not matter how strong the logic for one side may be. Perhaps the unity will hold, and the AI and controllers will be satisfied with Putin as the target, but engagement is strongest among those who find themselves in the minority, suggesting a group will emerge who feel Ukraine should belong to Russia.

This opinion wants Russia to stop, and the guns to stop. They may not care as much who ends up owning Ukraine, just as the world did not seem to care who owned Crimea.

Putin’s Goals For Russia.

Control Over Ukraine: Restoring Historical Russian Power After The Collapse Of The Soviet Union.

I already previous quoted Niall Ferguson above, who despite the details of his name (private joke), I suggest is really worth listening on Putin’s motives. Putin wants a subservient Ukraine. There is no more reason for Ukraine being a member of NATO to be a threat to Russia than, for Estonia, Lative Lithuania, and this action is likely to trigger Finland, and possibly even Sweden to join.

What matters to Putin is control over Ukraine, and as a member of NATO, control would be lost forever. Ukraine prospering as member of the EU is a threat to the empire of Putin ever expanding, and restoring Russia former glory days of the Tzars.

“It was a disintegration of historical Russia under the name of the Soviet Union,” Putin said of the 1991 breakup, in comments aired on Sunday as part of a documentary film called “Russia. New History,” the RIA state news agency reported.

“We turned into a completely different country. And what had been built up over 1,000 years was largely lost,” said Putin, saying 25 million Russian people in newly independent countries suddenly found themselves cut off from Russia, part of what he called “a major humanitarian tragedy.”

Russia’s Putin laments Soviet collapse

From Putin’s perspective, any territory ever claimed by Russia in the 1,000 years, should be part of Russia today for the country to be a the pinnacle of its existence. Putin wants to be the leader that restored Russia to that pinnacle.

Putin Never Recognised Ukraine As Other Than A Part of Russia. It doesn’t matter than Ukraine was not always part of Russia, it was at one time, and from that time in Putin’s mind it becomes Russia’s property.

Putin Is Not Really A Human Rights Champion.

The claim of a genocide of Russia speakers in Ukraine only really exists to defend Putin from being a war criminal. Sure the claims are baseless, but so were the claims Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. If you believe human rights are being violated, you at least try to have agree and support your actions.

Russia has made these kinds of false claims before. It sought to justify its invasion of Georgia in 2008 and annexation of Crimea in 2014 by framing them as humanitarian interventions.

If Russia truly believed genocide is taking place in Donbas, it could have made its case in a more formal and less violent way. Russia could have shared evidence with different U.N. bodies, including the U.N. Office on Genocide Prevention, and petitioned for an investigation.

Military intervention to prevent atrocity crimes – which include genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing – only gains a degree of legitimacy if clear evidence has been provided to the international community. It’s also necessary to collaborate with other countries at the U.N. or other global or regional multilateral actors.

Russia has not done this.

Given Russia’s lack of evidence of atrocity crimes and its failure to engage with other world powers, Russia use of military force in Ukraine cannot be characterized as a humanitarian intervention to prevent genocide. It is an invasion.

This invasion of Ukraine violates international law and is likely to cause exactly the sort of humanitarian crisis and widespread death that Russia claims to want to prevent.

The Conversation: Putin’s claims that Ukraine is committing genocide are baseless, but not unprecedented

Putin Supporters: The Violence Ends, Russian Controls Ukraine.

Untrue claims about genocide and authorities in Kyiv supporting nazism are among the most common falsehoods pushed online amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict, according to analysis.

Analysts identify top 10 ‘war myths’ of Russia-Ukraine conflict

Stated reasons to support Putin:

  1. Putin Is Preventing genocide.
  2. The US has been just as bad (Even if they have, does than mean it is OK?) .
  3. Kiev Was Capital Of Russia (it wasn’t).
  4. NATO Brought this on themselves by expanding towards Russia.

Does anyone really believe that Putin is a champion of human rights? Has Putin ever tried to garner any support for a single human rights cause? Is there a single example of Putin supporting human rights, beyond justification of military action in former soviet territories.

There will always be the claim that the US is no better. I do not see why that justifies Russia in Ukraine as as “other people have murdered and some even got away with it” does not rate highly as a defence case in court. Still, the US and allies in Iraq the second time is an uncomfortable comparison, but many were also outraged at the US that time, and in that case, it was a little less clear the government being overthrown was there as the will of the people.

Kiev was never capital of Russia, and the closest it came to being capital of the area was long before Russia was a country. There is a claim that most of the people of Russia were descended from a people who once had Kiev as their major city, but it becomes a little like Austria claiming many of its citizens descended from the Romans so they should own Rome. Still, if people can claim the Earth is flat, then they can claim this. Link added 14March2022: Tells of history of Russia trying to eliminate Ukrainian language and culture over time.

NATO has been gaining more members, but there is no suggestion NATO has coerced countries into joining NATO, nor is there any real suggestion NATO is seeking to invade Russia. The problem for Russia is that countries who join NATO will be very difficult forcibly reclaim, and the main motivation to join NATO is to prevent Russia invading. On this basis, there may be a stronger argument for Russia forcing countries to join NATO, and Ukraine is a very clear example of a country who has wanted to join NATO, but have not yet been allowed. Guess who it was made them want to join?

Finland, once under the control of Russia, and not a member of NATO, now has been given reason to join NATO, as has neighbouring Sweden.

This group could grown through targeted social media and propaganda campaigns, and could find an ally in social media itself if the result is increased “engagement”. The goal of this group would be that the fighting stops, but with Russia controlling Ukraine.

Governments With Invasion Or Expansion Ambitions: It Is An Internal Matter.

Let’s face it, governments have always wanted to expand their territory, but few have ever felt doing so by invasion was a realistic option for them. From this group, rule out “countries more likely to be invaded than to invade others”. That today means almost every country other than Russia, the US, China and India. As I can’t imagine anyone invading North Korea, maybe the are in the group. Perhaps even more controversially, Israel? But if Israel is introduced, then there other some others who want to invade Israel, and may be at least as likely to do so as be invaded themselves.

This group, would have mixed feelings. Could they be judged the harshly for invading someone they would like to invade? Could they be prevented from invading? I single out the US as in a class of its own, as even if their own people do not always agree, they tend to think of themselves as only invading when it is right to do so. But then, so do other son the list , so maybe the difference is the US thinks it can get others to agree.

For this group, the “countries should have a freedom to invade others” enters the mix. Even if Russia should be stopped, there should be strict rules as who can play a role in stopping them. The outcome may become less important than the rules followed to achieve that outcome.

Of course, everyone is watching China, and what is happening in Ukraine will have a huge impact on what China does in future, how emboldened Xi Jinping will be by events, and even if there is a risk of him losing influence, or being persuaded that the future greatness of China will hindered rather than helped by forcibly taking over Taiwan.

Countries more likely to be invaded than to invade others: Stop Russia!

This is still almost all of the world. All that matters to most nations is that Russia is stopped, forever decreasing the threat to countries from those who make wish to one day invade or take over.

WWIII? Nuclear?

Putin is a student of history. He knows the fate that awaits Russian leaders who lose wars. We all recall what befell the last Romanov tsar, Nicholas II, who not only suffered defeat in World War I, but also lost the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, a defeat that triggered the first of two Russian Revolutions.

But another sobering case that Putin must ponder is the wretched fate of Nicholas I, who went to war with the Ottoman Empire in 1853 only to find Russia isolated and faced with an Anglo-French expedition to Crimea that culminated in the fall of Sevastopol. Though he died of pneumonia in 1855, it was said that the tsar refused treatment as the ignominy of losing the Crimean War was intolerable to him. 

This is why Putin has so drastically upped the ante on Sunday by condemning Western sanctions as “illegitimate” and placing Russia’s deterrence — i.e., nuclear — forces on “a special regime of duty.” The real point of this threat (a classic Cold War ploy) is to deter hawks in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries from contemplating a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

There are clearly serious risks of escalation here. Putin has gambled his life on this invasion. He will certainly not hesitate to sacrifice the lives of thousands if not millions of people if he believes it is the only way to preserve his own. The fact that there is already a live cyberwar that almost certainly involves NATO countries attacking Russian websites means that the conflict has already spilled over beyond the borders of Ukraine.

Niall Ferguson In Bloomberg Article.

It seems possible that if Putin is faced with a choice of lose without using nuclear weapons, or gamble on the outcome following use of nuclear weapons, he just might take the gamble. The safest approach, is to stop Putin as early as possible.

What Can The Average Person Do To Help?

This conflict will play a huge role in determining the future prospects for peace, and what the average person does, will play a significant role in the outcome.

Consider Germany. Initially the government did not wish to risk electoral backlash from voters over rising energy prices. As outrage in the community grew, they moved to cancel the Nord Stream II gas pipeline. Then most recently they moved to supplying ‘lethal aid’. The more governments feel they have support of their citizens, the further they will go in taking action.

Everything from attending protests to writing to the editor or local member of government will all play a role in obtaining an end to expansionist invasions.

Conclusion: Response For Appearances, Not Results.

It seems reminiscent of action on climate change. The risks from getting the response wrong to either climate or Ukraine are huge, so the path of least significant action is chosen.

In response to calls for action from the public, governments take steps that can be claimed to be trying, but without the effort required if really trying and solve the problem.

Lots of governments are sending ‘lethal aid’, but no one is sending enough to hold off Vladimir Putin for long. Without enough ‘lethal aid’ of a level to stop that convoy, Ukraine has little it can do.

With climate change, the political reality is that there will be no results by the next election. With the Ukraine, the US can blame Russia, and inaction this time results in Taiwan being invaded before the next election, they can just blame China. If letting this one go does lead to either global conflict, global dominance by an totalitarian China or Chian/Russia regime, perhaps it will not happen in the current election cycle, or before the US midterms.