Even by his own standards Vladimir Putin’s speech on 30 September in the Kremlin’s St George’s Hall was unhinged. For those who can face reading it, it can be found here. As he ranted about the west, denouncing it in lurid terms for a range of evils, from imperialism to satanism, it seemed, as
Having read Putin’s speech I’m inclined to think that to call it ‘unhinged’ is to defame the mentally ill. (For shame Lawrence!) This was not madness, it was a man so consumed with bitterness and hatred he’d lost (permanently?) the capacity for rational thought or persuasive rhetoric. I cannot see how anyone reading this speech can think we can have any diplomacy at all with such a man.
The only thing to do is to ensure that he has a military, and economic base, so weakened he will never realize his imperial desires…and hope against hope that someone near to him might pull of a palace coup or (glory be) a people’s revolution triumphs against the secret police. I fear the last two hopes are wishful thinking, but thankfully Ukrainian valor and Putin’s dumbo energy policies make the containment goals look attainable and even probable.
PS Let’s hope the Russian troops so needlessly sacrificed at Lyman have the wisdom and guts to surrender.
As always very helpful.
The history of Alsace is interesting. Alsace had been in the Holy Roman Empire since 870 but was handed over to France in 1648 and in 1681 Louis XIV seized the free city of Strasbourg and France's possession of these territories was ratified in 1697. A century later, there was strong support for the Revolution and Alsace can probably be regarded as French. In 1871, Bismarck incorporated Alsace into the German Empire, creating (on the advice of von Moltke) a Vosges frontier rather than a Rhine frontier. There was strong opposition from the French population. The French government never accepted the legitimacy of the annexation - the statue of Strasbourg in Paris was veiled in black. The Germans then imposed a number of measures to turn Alsace into a culturally and linguistically German area.
In 1918 Alsace was recovered by France and remained French until 1940, being again recovered in 1944. There was however still a large German population, a local dialect (Alsatian) and war memorials for both world wars record soldiers giving their lives for both France and Germany.. It was only in the 50 years after 1945 Alsace definitely became entirely and irreversibly French - up to the 1980s, German had been used (sometimes as well as French) in the Lutheran (protestant) churches in Alsace . By the 1990s, French was often used throughout.
What we can learn from Alsace is that unless there is a wholesale shifting of population - for example in the expulsion of Greeks from Asia Minor after WW1 or expulsions of ethnic Germans after WW2 - it will be a long time before there is a complete political settlement in areas of Ukraine where there is a significant Russian population. Even if Russia manages to maintain an occupation, the Kremlin can proclaim that the territories it occupies are Russian as the Germans proclaimed Alsace was German but it will not eliminate a sense of Ukrainian identity. If Ukraine throws the Russian army out there will still be a Russian minority to give the Kremlin something to argue over.
As the Archbishop of Canterbury has observed, the European Union represents the greatest example of reconciliation in history. On occasion he has described this as a miracle, on others as an example of the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. A century ago, a European crisis meant France and Germany were on the verge of mobilisation. Today it is an argument over a proposed directive or regulation. We need to recognise that until there is similar reconciliation in Eastern Europe, there will be continuing intermittent threats to peace over the lands Russia has unlawfully claimed as its own.
What I’m curious about is how much Moldova & Georgia eyeing the territories seized by Russia? If the Russian Bear is beaten by Ukraine, how long will those “republics” survive?
The speech is less unhinged than it sounds to most Americans. Putin's only outside political support is among developing countries, who instinctively buy into an anti-imperialist line. (Can you blame them?) They were his foreign audience, not the NATO members or Japan who never had to deal with an external colonializer. (Korea and Taiwan are special cases; they were indeed colonies, but not colonized by a European power.) His speech was tailored to them, as well as the fascist international.
I was reading some of Paul Poasts thoughts on the likelihood of nuclear war in Ukraine and the different escalations. Lawrence has laid these out, as has Shashank Joshi at the Economist in a sliughtly different form.
Most analysts are working on the basis of an escalatory ladder and applying game theory as practiced in the cold war.
Look though at Putin's rhetoric. Maximalist and no off ramp. There is no safe place for him to retreat. More to to the point he doesn't want Ukraine. He needs for it not to exist. So for Putin, the rational thing for him to do, when he loses is to destroy Ukraine.
That way he wins, whatever the military facts are on the ground.
It means that every single city in Ukraine will be hit hard with nuclear weapons - and within Putin's mindset it will be totally justified.
Equally total destruction of Ukraine presents the US and it's allies with a fait accompli. Is it worth escalating when Ukraine has ceased to exist? Especially in the face of such overkill?
A limited conventional strike by NATO in this instance is trivial. A Nuclear attack on Russia too escalatory, especially in light of its denonstrated readiness to destroy Ukraine. Putin thus forces a long term freeze and locks Russia into his mindset, another win.
The only way out will be for the US to provide Ukraine with massively increased air defence and THAAD anti ballistic missile systems to stop this.
I think that this scenario is appalling but equally it is the miost elegant way for Putin to solve his strategic dilemma. Meh
A series of force-directed offensives have reduced and degraded the Russian Army since August. Starting with Kherson, then the drive on the Oskil, and now the advance to Kreminna. advances on the ground have been small, but whole Russian units have been destroyed or rendered combat-ineffective. As we are seeing now, Russian numbers in the east are already too low to hold a broad defensive line in any depth against Ukrainian attacks. Russian doctrine was tank-heavy and infantry-poor to begin with, so this frenetic mobiliation isn't solving the combat power problem, either.
I think, having read his speech (which I put into English, at https://streamfortyseven.substack.com/p/vladimir-putin-speech-30-september), that Putin's intent doesn't stop with the four "annexed" provinces, but extends to the rest of Ukraine, then to the rest of the former Soviet Socialist Republics, then to Europe. He casts this, in the end, as a struggle for domination between Russia and the West - and his vision isn't "multipolar" even though he uses that Duginist language, in fact, I think he's looking at war between Russia and the US. Given his remarks, I wouldn't put it past him to attempt a first strike on the US with strategic nuclear weapons.
"The audience at St George’s Hall look more perplexed than inspired, watching a man who has lost his swagger, caught up in a deluded world of his own construction, but out of which he has inflicted a real-world catastrophe." No wonder TFG and his acolytes have such a bromance with this fool. He's as deluded as they are. Unfortunately, deluded people in positions of power have, historically, produced nothing but widespread misery for everyone, including their own supporters.
It is known that Xi Jinping expressed concern to Putin over the war in Ukraine recently; Putin himself admitted as much. I wonder if he watched Putin's "rant" on TV and, if so, whether he was holding his head in his hands at the time. With Taiwan no doubt on his mind, I expect the last thing he would want to see is the US leading the successful support (if that is what it turns out to be) of the fight back by a smaller nation defending its territory against a much larger and theoretically stronger aggressor neighbour. I wonder if he has made a call yet?
If Putin is indeed imposing his will on military strategy, how ironic to see him echoing the errors of Hitler in that regard., with particular reference to Stalingrad. The very sad thing is rolling that analogy forward, as it seems likely he too will cause many more deaths before his own demise..... That's what happens when, like Hitler, you back yourself into a corner without a viable off-ramp (here's holding Thumbs that I'm totally wrong)
Putin may have lost it.
Either way, he has made himself into perhaps the biggest bargaining chip in any peace negotiation.
His stepping aside/being removed might pave the way for a peace where Russia withdraws from all territory but Crimea, and Ukraine withdraws its application for NATO membership.
Maybe an end to sanctions in return for some loans by Russia to Ukraine.
'caught up in a deluded world of his own construction, but out of which he has inflicted a real-world catastrophe.'. ... could also be applied to Donalds situation and perhaps the Saudi Prince, Iran...