Hopefully the strategists advising NATO know what they are doing and anticipate the response from Putin, which seems to be escalating the situation to where Russian’s feel too threatened by chemical or biological weapons and invasion by the west to bother worrying about sanctions, or limit Putin’s power.
All this, after just over two weeks of the west “treading on eggshells” to avoid the risk of WWIII, while Putin seems to have his finger on the button with no such fears of the consequences.
Let The Russian Win Ukraine: Sound Advice To Avoid Escalation?
With 144 countries voting in the UN to condemn the invasion, and so many countries taking part in sanctions, this now involves more countries than any conflict since WWII, although so far, the tanks and troops are confined to Ukraine.
There is a scene in Star Wars where the advice is to “let the Wookie win” a game of chess, as his power to inflict harm if he loses and is angry, makes winning the game not worth the risk. With Putin, the risk is he pushes the button for WWIII.
Washington appeared surprised by the announcement by Polish foreign minister, Zbigniew Rau, who said on Tuesday that his government was “ready to deploy – immediately and free of charge – all their MiG-29 jets to the Ramstein airbase and place them at the disposal of the government of the United States of America.”
The Pentagon appeared to reject the proposal, saying it was not “tenable”.US dismisses Polish plan to provide fighter jets to be sent to Ukraine
Even giving the Ukraine old Russian planes in order to defend themselves is seen as a step risking WWIII in response. Clearly, the US will not support declaring no fly zone which would need to be enforced using planes of Western origin, and operated not just by Ukrainians, but by NATO allies.
This demonstrated just how worried the US is that this conflict could “escalate“, beyond being what is already described as the “most significant conflict” since WWII .
This risk of escalation is clearly so serious, that it is seen as justifying letting the horrific scenes in Ukraine continue.
I am just an armchair critic, and as with anyone reading this, can only hope and trust that the professional advisers, with all their intelligence information are making the right choice. Despite all the resources, the “weapons of mass destruction” saga did show that even the highest level of advisers can be affected by confirmation bias, or otherwise turn out to be misguided.
It is it possible that they are wrong and “letting the Russian to win” is not a strategy to avoid WWIII? Hopefully none of these advisers would see their careers advanced if their was a WWIII.
Is It A Bluff, Or Does Putin Want WWIII?
The Robber Analogy.
Robber with a gun: “I don’t want to shoot you, but if you don’t hand over your money I will have to”.
It is widely believed that Putin assumed the “gun” he held would ensure compliance. Now he has been resisted, he must use the gun to provide a lesson to encourage his next victim will be more compliant.
It seems that for Ukraine, the “lesson” is devastation of cities and towns and mass civilian casualties. Can Putin make this lesson so effective that the next country simple surrenders?
So the message for the future becomes “I don’t kill thousands of civilians and lay your country to waste, but if you don’t hand over control, I will have to”.
But what is the “gun” for the USA and more powerful allies? Putin cannot lay their countries to waste. In this case, the “gun” is nuclear. Putin does not want to use that gun, possibly any more than he probably did not want to have to lay Ukraine to waste. But if Putin does not get compliance, he can carry through with the his threats, even if he would prefer not to.
Not Just Ukraine, But The World Seems To Be Hostage To Putin.
It is like Putin has his trigger finger on the button could blow up the world, and it is the rest of the world that has to be in fear that he could press that WWIII button. Well… all of the world except China somehow?
On one hand we have Joe Biden declaring “Russia will pay a ‘severe price’ if it uses chemical weapons in Ukraine”, but at the same time vowing we must avoid provoking Russia into WWIII, having declared that even Poland providing Ukraine with old Russian fighter jets could start WWIII.
So clearly, Russia will pay a “severe price” must mean as long as the price does not provoke Putin to pushing the button on WWIII, and the severe price has to be less severe than Poland giving Ukraine some old Russian fighter jets?
However with Hitler in 1938, when other nations did not want to respond to the aggressor for fear of starting a war, a war that in that case that soon started anyway. Hopefully there is a reason why history will not repeat.
But I do wonder, why is it that Biden is walking on eggshells to prevent starting the WWIII, yet we see no evidence Putin is in any way walking on his own eggshells. It feels like Putin just keeps raising the stakes, and daring a response that might cause him to push the WWIII button.
Does Putin Now Need WWIII, Having Lost The Information War?
For most of the globe, Zelenskyy has defeated Putin in the information war, relegating Putin forever to the role of “bad guy” who must be eliminated as soon as possible.
A problem is, Putin is aware of this plot, and just continuing along until he loses power has little appeal. To delay the end of his reign in Russia, Putin has already needed to cut off communication between Russia and the West, yet is questionable how long the information isolation sustainable. So what does Putin do now? Something has to change, and defeating the government in Ukraine is no longer enough, as from this point, that is not even change. Putin is 69 years old, and reaching at least 79 without ending up in prison following being deposed would seem a minimum goal for him. So how does he hold off his demise long enough? What can he do to continue to ensure that opinion of “most of the globe” , does not influence Russia with making it clear what he is doing?
One way would be to destroy that “most of the globe” with nuclear weapons, but just having a war with “with most of the globe” is also a tried way to get citizens behind a lead and accepting conditions as strict as martial law. I cannot see a third way.
Putin Rhetoric Now Targets An Expanded Conflict: Refocusing USA As The Villain.
The original narratives “justifying” invading Ukraine were all about supposed genocide in Ukraine, or at least justifying Russian troops actions in Ukraine, and the role of Ukraine. Certainly there were claims the NATO was “luring” Ukraine, and the invasions was to stop NATO moving further east, but previously, there were no claims of attacks on Russia.
Now the claims are that USA was manufacturing chemical and biological weapons inside the USA. Instead of the enemy being only Ukraine, which it is also claimed should be part of Russia, now the enemy is at least part of NATO itself, and this enemy would no longer be stopped by just invading Ukraine.
Without some form of battle between the Russia and the US, this threat of a foreign power supposedly producing chemical and biological weapons near the border of the
USSR Russian Empire will not be eliminated.
It is somewhat like the situation of the US with 9/11, where the US felt the need to invade Afghanistan to eliminated the threat. Except of course there has been no chemical or biological attack on Russia. So far. False flag attack upcoming? How can Putin make it seem that Russia is the one under attack, and by chemical and biological weapons controlled by the USA?
Pushing The Boundaries.
There is a childhood behaviour of pushing boundaries to discover limits. Perhaps that is what Putin is doing, pushing boundaries to find the limits. But since ‘finding limits’ in this case means finding when NATO or the US will respond, it is also possible he wants a response, so he can then sell to Russian people that they are under attack.
A bomb had struck a hospital, destroying the maternity and children’s wards. Grainy images and video showed an Armageddon-like scene: vehicles on fire, the outside grounds singed and a crater large enough to accommodate two men head to toe. A dazed, bloodstained, pregnant woman was being led out by rescue workers.If bombing a children’s hospital isn’t crossing a red line — what is?
There have also been claims that during periods of ceasefire to allow civilians to get to safely, Russian troops to fire on the civilians during the ceasefire.
Is Putin trying to cross a “red line” that invokes a response the can use to justify pushing the WWIII button? Again, it all point to Putin either wanting WWIII, or at totally unafraid of WWIII.
Could Russia Win WWIII? Only With Support From China.
When the UN voted on condemning Russia for invading Ukraine, half of the world’s population were represented by a “yes” vote. Although most countries voted “yes”, almost half of the world’s people were represented by either abstaining or voted against the condemnation. Perhaps more importantly, most of the worlds military and nuclear weapons were in that block not supporting the vote.
Russia’s nuclear arms are the larger than those of the rest of the world combined. Add those of China, and the combined armies of Russia and China, and that force would be at least very difficult to defeat in a world war. In other words they could at least hold the world at stand off.
Good For Russia Vs Putin Good For Putin.
If there is a goal for Russia the country in all of this, it is not clear. If I find one, I will come back and update this section, but from my perspective, this it Putin’s war, with no upside for the Russian people. not the war of the Russian people. Maybe an upside for enough oligarchs who may not remain oligarchs if Putin loses power, but for the more typical Russian, only downside.
There is just no reason to implicate “Russia” or “Russians” in general. The small group in control, are not representative of the Russian people.
In the period following WWII, German people were very much maligned. If you could call them a race, you could say they suffered racism. The same with the Japanese. Following the war, many people believed these countries had to be full of terrible people for them to have supported their governments, and fought for their leaders. Today, we know the truth is that Germans and Japanese are humans just like everyone else, who will follow leaders at times when we should not.
The same applies today, there are Russians who will even follow Putin, who are perfectly reasonable human beings. It becomes clear we all should question the narrative we are told, in order to be sure it is not us who, at least in part, are not the bad guys.
China & Russia Information War Round II: Chemical & Biological.
Influence Media: The Chemical & Biological Weapons Claims.
It does not seem likely this claim could ever resonate outside countries that strictly control their information. It is really creditable the US wants to invade Russia? Although it did not seem likely that anti-vaccine or flat earth conspiracies could gain such wide support either.
Social media propagates any polarisation and outrage as it drives up engagement. Yes, a minority in the west starting to believe the US is manufacturing chemical and biological weapons would be good business for social media, but it is so hard to see it taking hold.
It seems far more likely these theories are targeting the citizens of specific countries to prepare them for war against the US, but these same theories are backed in in America by QAnon. See on CNN: Analysis: Russia and QAnon have the same false conspiracy theory about Ukraine
Then there are people, often from Russia, who participate in discussions around the world and spread the narrative of Putin.
We are conducting a military operation to rescue civilians in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions, to disarm Nazi battalions, to destroy weapons supplied to Ukraine by the US and the EU (which they probably wanted to use against civilians in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions or even Russia), to denazify Ukraine. Why are you against our actions then??? Zelensky himself did not fight the Nazis. And what should we do???Quote from contributor on a tennis forum
In our online world, discussions are global, and, as in the case above, even discussion that appear to be about action against Russia, can be or become ‘false flag’ discussions designed to attract those who support Putin’s claims.
China Has Joined the Chemical/Biological Threat Information War.
This is highly significant. China is preparing the path to supporting Russia in claims the the USA must be stopped at all costs.
In a statement on Twitter Wednesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki pushed back on “Russia’s false claims about alleged US biological weapons labs and chemical weapons development in Ukraine” and noted the “echoing” of those “conspiracy theories” by Chinese officials.CNN, 10th March 2022: China’s promotion of Russian disinformation indicates where its loyalties lie
I am just adding some links here:
- USA: China Gets Wuhan Lab Leak Revenge by Doubling Down on U.S. Bioweapons Claim
- USA: China amplifies unsupported Russian claim of Ukraine biolabs
- Australia: China accused of spreading Russian disinformation across its media channels
- Kenya: China calls for destruction of chemical weapons
The message that Russia may not be left standing alone if conflict escalates does appear very clear.
“Friendly Fire” In the Influence/Information War?
Then, from the US itself, there are claims there may really be labs somewhat like Russia and China describe.
No One Denies That Russia Lies, But Why Is The U.S. Funding These Biolabs Around The World?Tucker Carlson: RealClear Politics, March 10 2022.
Now personally, I do not not trust Tucker Carlson as a news source. But even if this is totally false, the fact is being reported in the US would provide support for the story. Plus, despite that I do not trust Tucker Carlson, I assumed for this “smoke” to be reported, there must be some form of fire somewhere, that can be potentially twisted into a story about bio/chemical weapons used in Ukraine but claimed to evidence of American war crimes. So what is the “smoke”:
“These are all public health and veterinary labs,” said Gregory Koblentz, director of the Biodefense Graduate Program at George Mason University. “None of them have been involved in biological warfare.”Russia, China and Tucker Carlson lack evidence on Ukraine bioweapons labs
Ukraine has (or had), as country of 44 million people, Universities. Universities do research projects, and worldwide there are biology and disease are studied by university research labs. The USA is a source of funding for research labs, and the labs that receive US funding have, for at least two years, been on a page on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine describing the role of the U.S., which means that although Tucker Carlson may have considered them “secret”, the information has been very public, and the claim there are involvement in weapon is baseless.
There is a strange mix of truth, partial truth and lies, all aimed at political point scoring. The aim is terrible as the in question “biolabs”, and clearly stated to be not weapons labs, have, yes, been funded by Biden administration as stated, but thus was merely a continuation of funding that also occurred under the Trump administration. It only works as political point scoring for Russia and perhaps China.
WWIII As A Sanctions War: Can Sanctions Decide The War.
A World War Of Sanctions?
After world war II, we had the cold war, and the arms race, but neither of those involved as many countries in a significant way this current conflict. At this time, beyond the borders of Ukraine, it isdoes go further than being just a sanctions war, as countries as far away as Australia have sent ‘lethal’ aid to Ukraine. But for now, it is mostly a sanctions war, which also has economic costs to both sides, and with but with far more countries involved than previous conflicts since WWII. Hopefully on a ‘world war’ scale, things remain at sanctions, but even as sanctions the impact can be quite serious.
Sanctions Come At A Cost To Both Sides.
Russia is around 11% of the worlds landmass. Russia and Ukraine have effectively been both removed from the worlds food supplies, as well as the world fertilizer supply. A consequence of the planet being above ideal population is that the entire global system is fragile the impact is that globally, and many people could starve.
A big question is, how long will the will power for sanctions remain? If Putin can remain in power, could the alliance of sanctions survive through to next winter is still in power, or is it certain Putin would lose this war? If it is certain he would lose, then Putin cannot allow it to remain a sanctions war.
The Risk Of A Return To Apathy.
When Russia’s mafioso-president murdered Alexander Litvinenko, invaded Georgia, abetted Syrian war crimes, annexed Crimea, sent mercenary killers to Libya and the Sahel, subverted America’s elections, waged cyber warfare, weaponised the internet and poisoned the Skripals, ensuing punishments were short-lived, ineffective or non-existent.
Western politicians and businesses have known for years what kind of man Putin is. They knew what his rogue regime was capable of. Yet many pretended otherwise, or looked away, or took his money, as have far-right parties in France and Italy. They pretended he was normal.Timidity, greed and sloth: why the west always loses to Putin
So What Next? Escalation, or Path to a Solution?
Lessons Of History: Similarities To The Start Of WWII.
At the start of WWII, or just before the start depending on perspective, Hitler invaded both areas of Czechoslovakia, and Sudetenland, to “protect the human rights of German speaking minorities”. Other counties stood by in order to avoid escalation.
In the summer of 1938 Hitler demanded the annexation of the Sudetenland into Germany. At this point Hitler was aware that the Allies were desperate to avoid war, and thought it likely that they would appease his demands.
Hitler threatened war over the issue of the Sudetenland. On 29 – 30 September 1938 the British, Italian, French and German leaders met in Munich to discuss the issue.
The Allies agreed to concede the Sudetenland to Germany in exchange for a pledge of peace. This agreement was known as the Munich Pact.Foreign policy and the road to war
WWII officially began following German’s invasion of Poland, but in some ways that was when other countries finally said “enough”, as it was not the first invasion by Germany. Up until Poland, war did not start only because no one wanted to risk enraging Germany, but the actions to trigger war had already began.
Next Step Option 0: Putin Backs Down And Accepts Diplomatic Solution.
I put this as option zero, as I see zero chance it can happen. I cannot see any diplomatic victory that Putin can sell to make him a hero as being possible. The only possible way would be sanctions could have such a rapid effect, to block the rest of Russian finances as suggested by this exiled “Russian Oligarch”. Of course this may not be practical, or as effective as suggested, and the result would rely on China not offering Russia a lifeline.
Next Step Option 1: Russia Takes Over Ukraine, And All Quietens Down.
Life in Ukraine would not all quieten down. Maybe for most of us seeing the same news everyday, the story will become old. How long before people around the world stop caring? Just global fuel prices alone will keep people remined. Do governments cave to taking Russian products again?
There seem to be too many advisers confident that sanctions can hold long enough too rule out this as a future option. Hopefully, these advisers as not as affected by confirmation bias as those who advised Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction prior to the Gulf war. But if Putin also believes the advisers have it right, than Putin will know he cannot afford to stop at Ukraine.
Next Step Option 2: Putin Out.
A U.S.-based Russian businessman is offering $1 million to any military officer who apprehends Russian President Vladimir Putin “dead or alive” for committing war crimes in his invasion of Ukraine.Newsweek: ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive’: Russian Tycoon Puts $1M Bounty on Putin’s Head
I suspect 1 million is not sufficient to fund a successful operation, but it is a start in terms of people calling for Putin to be deposed. This ‘people turn against Putin’ seems the option the US is backing on.
Next Step Option 3: Russia Raises The Stakes.
If the US believes people will turn against Putin, it is likely realistic. But if is realistic, Putin may also know it is realistic, and will move to prevent it happening.
I see Putin as needing to have a story to try to sell the Russian people as to why the war makes sense, and the original narrative of to protect human rights of Russian speakers in Ukraine can not justify the scale of impact on Russia. He needs a bigger story.
Russia Uses Chemical/Bio Weapons
Some experts believe it likely Putin would want to resort to chemical weapons. Then there is Putin’s need to provide evidence there are biological/chemical weapons in Ukraine that could be used against Russia, and the use of chemical weapons by Russia could play a role claiming these weapons were in Ukraine all along, and were used by Ukraine, not Russia.
Russia has already made several claims Ukraine is using Phosphorous bombs, which may be a precursor to Russia using similar weapons.
Russia Recruits China For Lethal Aid.
Russia has asked China for military assistance in Ukraine, including drones, a senior US official said Sunday.
CNN has reached out to the Russian embassy in the US for comment but did not receive an immediate response.
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN’s Dana Bash Sunday that China providing Russia with support is a “concern.”
“We also are watching closely to see the extent to which China actually does provide any form of support, material support or economic support, to Russia. It is a concern of ours. And we have communicated to Beijing that we will not stand by and allow any country to compensate Russia for its losses from the economic sanctions,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said the US has made it clear to Beijing there will “absolutely be consequences” for “large-scale” efforts to give the Kremlin a workaround to US sanctions.
“We will not allow that to go forward and allow there to be a lifeline to Russia from these economic sanctions from any country anywhere in the world,” he said.
Sullivan is set to meet with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi in Rome Monday.
Chinese embassy spokesperson Liu Pengyu told CNN Sunday he had not heard of Russia’s request.
“I’ve never heard of that. China is deeply concerned and grieved on the Ukraine situation. We sincerely hope that the situation will ease and peace will return at an early date,” Pengyu said. “The current situation in Ukraine is indeed disconcerting. Utmost efforts should be made to support Russia and Ukraine in carrying forward negotiations despite the difficult situation to produce a peaceful outcome. We support and encourage all efforts that are conducive to a peaceful settlement of the crisis. The high priority now is to prevent the tense situation from escalating or even getting out of control. There is consensus about this among the international community, including the parties concerned.”
“China calls for exercising utmost restraint and preventing a massive humanitarian crisis. China has put forward an initiative for responding to the humanitarian situation in Ukraine. China has provided Ukraine with humanitarian assistance, and will continue to do so,” Pengyu said.
The White House said last week China was “abiding by the requirements that have been put in place” over sanctions.
“Our assessment right now is that (China is) abiding by the requirements that have been put in place, but we would continue to encourage any country to think a lot about what role they want to play in history as we all look back,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a Wednesday news conference.From CNN’s Jim Sciutto and Kylie Atwood, March 13th.
I have quoted the article in full as the links in “live feeds” can change, but it is worth reading the original. If China supplies “lethal aid” to Russia, then it becomes clearly not just a world scale battle, but one where “the other side” to most countries, is the one with the most weapons. Chian supplying “lethal aid” would escalate the war to a whole new level.
Next Option : Invade Somewhere Else?
This is another way to escalate the war. I discussed this previously, so just include it here as another option, but it seems to have become less likely as Putin’s path of escalation. It seems more likely an escalation into other countries will more likely be by stray missiles, or locations strategic to supporting Ukraine.
Conclusion: Fires, Disease, Plagues, Floods, War, What Next?
It feels like we are living in interesting times.
In Australia, first there were the fires in 2019/2020, then came Covid-19, then floods, a mouse plague, more floods and now war. The story elsewhere mostly varies with the sequence , although smaller areas tend to have had floods or drought and/or fires (or wildfires) but not always both.
We could really do with this war ending well, and bringing the post world war feeling back.