Monday 22 August 2022

How people misunderstand the Ukrainian war

I got round at last to hearing this, a talk by Sky News Australia host Cory Bernardi, criticising Zelensky and the Americans for their role in Ukraine before the invasion, which I left unwatched before I went on holiday. 

I don't like watching or listening rather than reading and clicking but it's worth ten minutes, it's interesting and mostly fairly true, though he gets the details of the Minsk accords wrong. They offered Ukrainian Russians home rule, not independence.

That does NOT mean I think Russia's invasion of the Ukraine is in any way justified but I do think Russia was provoked by the US State Department and Zelensky.

Mark Galeotti on a recent podcast said he sees that Putin believes he is on the defensive against America 'however ridiculous that may seem', although he is very anxious repeatedly to assure listeners that he is not 'advocating this'. 

In fact, Putin is right but Mark Galeotti cannot see this. He sees that from around 2020, but he can't be too exact, Putin's policy to Ukraine changed. 2019 was when Trump started arming Ukraine heavily to create jobs but the election of the fiercely anti-Russian Joe Biden was probably the big trigger. 

Depressingly he thinks a negotiated peace was possible in the spring but no longer is. Everything points to a long war in which Ukraine is ruined and a pointless cold war. The first cold war served little purpose, because Communist Russia was not going to attack Western Europe but at least that was its raison d'etre. A second  cold war would not have a raison d'etre, except in the minds of paranoid people who think Putin wants, after somehow defeating Ukraine, to march somewhere else.

How did the war happen? Because of American and EU folly and of still greater folly on the part of Putin. Lawrence Freedman said, ‘Autocracies tend to make catastrophic decisions. That’s the case with Putin’. Yes indeed but America has made some catastrophic decisions too. Think of the second Iraq war, Libya and add others to taste. Syria is not the Americans' fault but they would have made very bad much worse had Hillary won. 

She said 8 days before her defeat at the polls that regime change in Syria was her number 1 priority. 

Thank God we were spared that. Had she won I suspect the Ukraine war would have started years ago, partly in response to her actions in Syria.


  1. It’s not a sign of intelligence or maturity to seize the bait every time you’re “provoked.” Luckily for Russia no one is actually bent on attacking Russia. If someone were, right now would be a great opportunity.

  2. John Winterson Richards:
    Putin did not advance an inch during the Trump Administration. This was not because he liked Trump or because he was in collusion with Trump but because Trump was obviously not interested in the expansion of NATO. The election of Biden changed everything because it presented both a threat and an opportunity. The threat was the resumption of the expansion of NATO. The opportunity was Biden's weakness. I do not believe Putin planned a full scale invasion at first. He simply decided after Afghanistan, or perhaps even later, when Biden signalled that he would not intervene militarily, that it was now or never.