Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 21, 2022

U.S. - Russian Talks Show Signs Of Progress

It feels weird to watch the delusional talk of the United States towards Russia.

How can people who are as wrong as Biden and Blinken be at the top of a state?

President Biden said on Wednesday that he now expected President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia would order an invasion of Ukraine, delivering a grim assessment that the diplomacy and threat of sanctions issued by the United States and its European allies were unlikely to stop the Russian leader from sending troops across the border.

“Do I think he’ll test the West, test the United States and NATO, as significantly as he can? Yes, I think he will,” Mr. Biden told reporters during a nearly two-hour news conference in the East Room of the White House. He added, almost with an air of fatalism: “But I think he will pay a serious and dear price for it that he doesn’t think now will cost him what it’s going to cost him. And I think he will regret having done it.”

Asked to clarify whether he was accepting that an invasion was coming, Mr. Biden said: “My guess is he will move in. He has to do something.”

Has Biden even once asked the very simple question: "Why would Russia want to do that?"

Retired ambassador M.K. Bhadrakumar points out that even U.S. allies do not believe Biden's bullshit:

It is an open secret that in October and November, France, Germany and some others in the EU questioned Washington’s warnings that Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine could signal an imminent invasion. France and Germany even opposed activating NATO’s crisis response planning system and had to be persuaded to relent.

Above all, Europeans have no desire to bankroll Ukraine which is a black hole and failing state. It doesn’t make sense to them when the US intelligence brags in the media that they’d bleed Russian troops in a guerrilla war in the middle of Europe. Fundamentally, all this dovetails into a pervasive scepticism among the European elite regarding the Biden administration.

In a recent interview Sergej Karaganov, who heads the Russian Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, explained why invading the Ukraine is very dumb idea:

[O]f course, we absolutely do not need to fight for Ukraine to the last Ukrainian, we certainly do not want to fight there. All this squealing about the fact that we are going to capture Kiev, it is about nothing. Yes, our military is standing at the Ukrainian border, but only so that on the other side it does not occur to anyone to break into the Donbass. And the capture of Ukraine in our military plans, I'm sure, is not included. If only for the reason that capturing a country that is castrated economically, morally and intellectually, a country with a destroyed infrastructure and an embittered population is the worst-case scenario. The worst thing America can do for us is to give us Ukraine in the form they brought it to.

So is that what Biden and Blinken are trying to do? Give the Ukraine to Russia to create more problems for it? No, I don't think they are smart enough to strategize that far.

Russia is not at all concerned about the Ukraine. It is concerned about NATO in Ukraine. This is not only about the Ukraine becoming a NATO member. The chances of that are low. But it is about NATO and the U.S. determining Ukrainian policies, sending 'trainers' and weapon systems and enticing fascist to attack Russia.

Pepe Escobar @RealPepeEscobar - 8:14 UTC · Jan 21, 2022
What NATOstan sent to 404:
Empire: Javelins + $300 million.
Turkey - Bayraktar drones.
Brits - NLAW complexes.
Baltics - MANPADS.
Czechs - artillery shells.
Canada - SWAT + frigate.
Wait and see what happens when Russia launches the first Iskander.

That has to stop. But invading Ukraine is not the way to do that.

It requires direct pressure on the United States to move away from its confrontational course. Karaganov already senses that Russia is on its way to achieve that:

Even from recent conversations, it is noticeable that our Western partners have begun to retreat. They are already proposing dialogues between the military, negotiations on arms limitation - something that until recently was categorically rejected. So maybe we can agree on something.

Today's talks in Geneva between Blinken and Lavrov seem to have moved into the right direction:

Russia's foreign minister and his US counterpart have held what they called "frank" talks to try to reduce the chance of a wider conflict in Ukraine.

Sergei Lavrov repeated denials that a huge Russian force assembled near Ukraine's borders would be used to invade Ukraine.

Antony Blinken said America would respond severely to any invasion.
...
For Mr Blinken, the talks were "frank and substantive" while for Mr Lavrov, they were also "frank" with an agreement to "have a reasonable dialogue".

"I hope emotions will decrease," Mr Lavrov added.

Mr Blinken warned his Russian counterpart of a "united, swift and severe" response if Russia invaded.

Speaking after the talks, he said the US was prepared to pursue possible means of addressing Russian concerns in the spirit of reciprocity.
...
For his part, Mr Lavrov described the talks as open and useful but he accused Nato of working against Russia. He reiterated Moscow's position that it had "never threatened the Ukrainian people" and had no plans to attack Ukraine.

He also accused the Ukrainian government of using "state terrorism" against the rebels in the east and "sabotaging" the Minsk peace agreements on the conflict there.

Russia's foreign minister said the US would send "written responses" to all of Russia's proposals next week but Mr Blinken only said America hoped to share its "concerns and ideas in more detail in writing next week".

The talks between the two diplomats came just a day after Russia unveiled plans for naval drills involving more than 140 warships and more than 60 aircraft, seen as a show of strength.

Russia also moved some of its army brigades and airforce elements from eastern Siberia to Belarus where they will take part in exercises until February 20. This will complicate any plans Kiev might have for attacks on Donbass while Putin is in Beijing to watch the Olympics. The military authorities in Donbass today reported of new signs for such a move under the pretext of a false flag event (video - click CC for English translations).

While Russia moves its forces and fleets Blinken tried to impress Lavrov with some stupid stunts.

The U.S. Treasury sanctioned two sitting members of Ukraine's parliament for pursuing opposition policies. The State Department called that Taking Action to Expose and Disrupt Russia’s Destabilization Campaign in Ukraine. It also published two laughable new sections on its websites. One is about Russia's alleged Top Five Persistent Disinformation Narratives in which the U.S. denies to be behind the various 'color revolutions' of the last decades. I bet Victoria 'fuck the EU' Nuland came up with that stupidity. The other is United with Ukraine, a collection of nonsensical and empty Blinken quotes and Ukrainian nationalist photography.

Lavrov was not amused about either:

The Russian foreign ministry mocked those statements, saying they must have been prepared by an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth,” and Lavrov caustically dismissed them in his remarks to Blinken, saying he hoped the State Department had also spent time drafting responses to Russia’s demands.

“I do hope that not everyone in the State Department was working on those materials and there were some who were working on the essence of our proposals and their substance,” he said.

That nicely sets out the contrast.

Blinken is all about show, Lavrov is all about substance.

Blinken also felt a need to correct his boss:

Blinken took pains to stress U.S. unity with its allies in opposition to a possible Russian invasion, something that took an apparent hit earlier this week when U.S. President Joe Biden drew widespread criticism for saying retaliation for Russian aggression in Ukraine would depend on the details and that a “minor incursion” could prompt discord among Western allies.

On Thursday, Biden sought to clarify his comments by cautioning that any Russian troop movements across Ukraine’s border would constitute an invasion and that Moscow would “pay a heavy price” for such an action.

“I’ve been absolutely clear with President Putin,” Biden said. “He has no misunderstanding: Any, any assembled Russian units move across the Ukrainian border, that is an invasion.”

Russia has denied it is planning an invasion and instead accused the West on Thursday of plotting “provocations” in Ukraine, citing the delivery of weapons to the country by British military transport planes in recent days.

There will be no 'Russian invasion' of Ukraine. Should Donbass be attacked, Russian missile artillery, stationed in Russia, will demonstrate sufficient reach to destroy any Ukrainian units near the frontline.

The U.S. president should be more concerned about Cuban invitations for harbor visits of Russian missile submarines than about some wreak of a country on Russia's border.

However, the U.S. and Russia are talking, which is good, and it seems that Russia has already achieved some of its aims. The process will continue.

We will have to wait for the written U.S. response to Russia's demands to see in which direction it will develop.

Posted by b on January 21, 2022 at 18:08 UTC | Permalink

Comments
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Great job, b!
Let's hope cooler heads prevail.

Posted by: Peacenik | Jan 21 2022 18:29 utc | 1

European "unity" is already cracking, as Russia new it would when faced with hard decisions, given their likely consequences politically and economically. Macron now wants negotiations with Russia, independent of the US. The Germans are well aware of what happens to the economy in case of sanctions "from hell" that would sink them, too.

The US is apparently aware of its weak position judging from the barrage of hot air emanating from the leadership that is more bizarre and disconnected than usual, although it is difficult to tell since they are all amateurs. The American leadership is simply unqualified. And this is not an issue that only affects the Democrats. The GOP is even more loopy. They can't even keep their own country together.

Not to mention the strategic blunder — even worse than the invasion of Iraq — of driving Russia and China into an alliance, to which Iran is being added. Three front land war in Asia anyone?

The UK also merits special attention for its delusions of grandeur and fantasy of still being an imperial power that counts on the world stage. Laughable.

Posted by: Tom Hickey | Jan 21 2022 18:35 utc | 2

Seems like the US hype Russian "aggression" as much as possible so that they can claim victory when Russia, in fact, does not invade. Blinken will claim that Russia backed down in the face of US 'resolve' and 'determination'. Pure propaganda on the part of US intended to intoxicate the population

Posted by: svdaedalus | Jan 21 2022 18:39 utc | 3

Kudos on your recap, b!! Someone needs to ask Blinken or Biden about the presence of Outlaw US Empire military forces in Syria which implies they invaded since they weren't invited; and since that's the case, then why are they still there stealing Syria's resources? It seems very clear the Outlaw US Empire long ago did to Syria what it accuses Russia of wanting to do to Ukraine.

What now puzzles me is what the Outlaw US Empire will do to deny it's broken the OSCE treaties I've mentioned several times and upon which Lavrov's central argument focuses. Furthermore, I'd like to see some German support for Russia's position for the only reason Germany is whole today is because Gorbachev believed the West wasn't lying to him in 1988-9, when it most certainly was. If Gorby had a crystal ball, would he have said Da, or would we still have a divided Germany, the Berlin Wall, the Warsaw Pact, and the USSR?

IMO, the Russians have learned to insist that its discussions with the Outlaw US Empire be made public and thus become as transparent as possible, thus preventing the usual lying employed by the Empire, with the outcome of the Cuban Missile Crisis being the #1 exhibit, and the actual agreements that led to the end of the Cold War being #2--both of which the West continues to lie about.

And so we get to wait another week for Outlaw US Empire analysts to get their heads out of their asses and provide a detailed written response to Russia's proposals that were made a full month ago.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 21 2022 18:39 utc | 4

It seems that in a era where people expect instant communication via the internet the empire's figureheads struggle to put out a consistent message, thereby exposing the lack of any real decision making powers of the so called "heads of state."

Posted by: VeraK | Jan 21 2022 18:39 utc | 5

The Bidet administration's hysteria over the Ukraine is a political contrivance. They are facing electoral disaster and so their strategy is to make up a "Russian threat" that Bidet can 'steadfastly oppose' and claim a moral victory when no invasion occurs. It's theatre of the most irresponsible and dishonest kind.

Posted by: Figleaf23 | Jan 21 2022 18:40 utc | 6

It is trully incredible - i actually read the whole State Department article from the link posted (Top Five Persistent Disinformation Narratives)....
It is like the US is talking about itself instead of Russia. They understand themselves so well :)))

Posted by: Slevinq | Jan 21 2022 18:42 utc | 7

I second Peacenik at #1

great job and wrap up here...


"Better ten years of negotiations than one day of war." - Andrei Gromyko


Posted by: michaelj72 | Jan 21 2022 18:46 utc | 8

thank you b. What kind of kindergarten this is. I wonder whether for the US admin there is something like "loosing face"?

Posted by: Jan | Jan 21 2022 18:50 utc | 9

So, B, you are saying that this is all bluff on Putin's part and the US is falling for the bluff?

If Putin doesn't get what he wants from the talks then what?

How can you be sure that Russia won't take some military action in Ukraine?

Putin knows what happened to the last "deal" he made on Kiev 2.

What guarantees that that won't happen again?

What is Putin's fallback if the bluff you are positing doesn't work for one reason or another?

Posted by: Oscar Peterson | Jan 21 2022 18:56 utc | 10

@fig leaf #6

Yeah, but this doesn't look like a political winner for Biden under any circumstances.

Posted by: Oscar Peterson | Jan 21 2022 18:58 utc | 11

@6 If it is a political contrivance for domestic consumption it is a wasted effort. Americans do not care about Ukraine. At all. Beyond the ever shrinking audience of MSN and CNN, Americans don’t think about, nor talk about this situation at all. I do not know anyone who is even remotely aware of what has been going on without me informing them.

Biden is going to lose Congress and he’s going to lose re-election if he even runs. These are forgone conclusions now.

It seems to me that the chattering classes in the Beltway and their minions in the media are hyping up a story for their own consumption, utterly unaware that the rest of the country ignores them and their drama. The very fractured media landscape in the US necessarily means that getting everyone on the same page about any narrative is near impossible. They tried and failed with Covid and blew any capital they had to sway hearts and minds.

So I don’t doubt that it’s mere theater, but it is pointless theater for the benefit of the thespians performing the show without an audience. Bravo indeed…

Posted by: Krungle | Jan 21 2022 18:59 utc | 12

Did anyone else notice Sergei Lavrov's final response in today's post-meeting press conference?

The English translator seems to say "... adults, not PC." something something "Measuring contest. Who is tougher, who is cooler?"

Here's a link to Lavrov's press conference.

I also got a good laugh at the Russian Foreign Minister's comment in the opening remarks about how many irrelevant documents the entire US State Department has provided, and his hopes that some staff were available to work on the job at hand.

Posted by: jonku | Jan 21 2022 19:01 utc | 13

There will be no 'Russian invasion' of Ukraine. Should Donbass be attacked, Russian missile artillery, stationed in Russia, will demonstrate sufficient reach to destroy any Ukrainian units near the frontline

An attack would be "evaluated". The more crazy rulers of Ukraine will show themselves to be, the more value in a "rational reorganization of the region" -- terminology borrowed from PNAC or PNAC-related plans for the Middle East, and there are tangible benefits in making ORDLO, and perhaps Crimea, easier to defend and self-sufficient in water. And getting a nice number of surrounded Ukrainian troops to start talks.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jan 21 2022 19:03 utc | 14

I pasted it before, but American sanctions forced Egypt to cancel an order for 15 of the latest Russian fighter planes, so Iran is buying instead, and the package has a cherry on top: S-400's. And Iran will be paying with petro-yuans. By promoting the circulation of goods within Eurasia, USA contributes to global stability.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jan 21 2022 19:06 utc | 15

Lavrov said Russia is hoping for a written response in within a week. Olympics begin in about a week and a half. Martyanov and Orlov have suggested the possibility military alliance between Russia and China being signed in the meetings that will occur then. Formal alliance or not, I would think a joint strategy or ensuring Russia's and China's separate strategies complement each other will occur.

Russia with its security proposal,rather starting high, have started at the bare minimum they require which is a buffer zone in the age of hypersonic missiles.

This is how Pepe Escobar puts it. "In fact, whether U.S. and NATO functionaries like it or not, what’s really happening in the realpolitk realm is Russia dictating new terms from a position of power. In a nutshell: you may learn the new game in town in a peaceful manner, civilized dialogue included, or you will learn the hard way via a dialogue with Mr. Iskandr, Mr. Kalibr, Mr. Khinzal and Mr. Zircon."

In that article from 25th December his view on the Russia China partnership vs the US "Incidentally: any possible, future “counter threats” will be coordinated between Russia and China."

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 21 2022 19:07 utc | 16

I found The Saker's differing take on the talks helpful to remind people of reality. I posted the following comment there:

The goal of China, Russia, Iran, and a host of other nations is to get the Outlaw US Empire to conform to what it signed onto in 1945--the UN Charter--and thus finally become a normal nation, although there's the big issue of its debt that must be solved. Similarly, Russia's diplomatic offensive is aimed at getting the Outlaw US Empire to again agree to the #1 postulate of Collective Security all three OSCE Treaties restate--indivisible security means no nation's security can be obtained at the expense of another nation's security. If that postulate would be adhered to by all the world's nations, then there would no longer be any need for the current level of military establishments, and they could slowly be decommissioned along with the nukes and their delivery systems. Unfortunately, such an outcome will be viciously fought against by the Empire's Merchants of Death for that would mean the end of their livelihood. I don't see a similar problem for most other nations where the military industry is subordinated to the central government, not as supposedly private corporations.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 21 2022 19:12 utc | 17

Still a near-total waste of time, as far as I can tell

Posted by: ptb | Jan 21 2022 19:15 utc | 18

In the moments when I’m not bummed by the stupidity of the US position, I see this as a way for Biden to recover his “credibility” of the Afghan withdrawal. To mollify the borg, he has to show that he can stand tall, bait the bear, and “prove” that through his mighty testosterone, he was able to keep Russia from invading Ukraine.

It kind of reminds me of the enormous amount of bluster that preceded Obama’s non-invasion of Iran in 2012.

Posted by: JohnH | Jan 21 2022 19:18 utc | 20

Oscar Peterson 10 "What is Putin's fallback if the bluff you are positing doesn't work for one reason or another?"

There is no bluff. Putin has said US will come under reciprocal threat and that is what will occur unless US signs up to and acts a new security agreement.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 21 2022 19:19 utc | 21

@svdaedalus | Jan 21 2022 18:39 utc | 3

I totally agree. Poll numbers for Biden are in the toilet and the Super Hawks will have a field day when the administration does the intelligent thing. Biden needs a fig leaf. Inasmuch as the US corporate propaganda is saying nothing but "The Ukrainian Invasion" it seems likely they are setting the stage for an "American Victory"!

The numbers show that there are only 18 days of gas left in Europe, so all the Russians have to do is nothing but watch the Eurozone collapse economically. I suspect troops are in place to deal with European and Ukrainian craziness when the sh*t hits the fan. I'm just curious if they will allow the Ukrainians to freeze.

Posted by: Michael.j | Jan 21 2022 19:22 utc | 22

You are more optimistic than me, B. Yes, they are still discussing and the US might agree to make some positive moves on the Russian demands.

However, what about the 'security garantees' demanded by Putin ? How are we going to get there with all those 'imbeciles' running the show at the US state department and the US Congress ?

I don't see any scenario that will lead us towards what Putin is asking the US, outside a military show of force by Russia that will treaten US financial interests. If Biden agrees with Putin to give him the security garantees Russia needs, he will face a major defeat at the mid-term election in November. Biden's way out is to show the american people that he doesn't have any choice but to accept Russian demands.

Posted by: Bigben | Jan 21 2022 19:32 utc | 23

Don't know where to start with the praise! Great stuff all along, everything one needs to know about recent events there. Feeling much better now. Thank you (will make a contribution next week).

Nice video of this Patrick Lancaster fellow. Like the Lenin statue in the background!

"The worst thing America can do for us is to give us Ukraine in the form they brought it to."
Great quote. Reminded me of this queer film title: "Geschenkt ist noch zu teuer".

Posted by: Scotch Bingeington | Jan 21 2022 19:34 utc | 24

Peter AU1 @16--

I'd add Iran to that short list. IMO, the example provided by Orlov related to collective security is what Russia would employ to convince the Outlaw US Empire to seriously discuss this issue and arrive at an agreement that's very close to the UN Charter and OSCE treaty's intent. IMO, the only possible way to convince those behind the Outlaw US Empire's curtain of power that MAD no longer exists for them is for Russia to demonstrate the effectiveness of its AD systems against its own Hypersonic and ballistic missiles, thus sending the message that it clearly has first strike capability with the ability to defend against all counterstrikes. Such a display should allow Empire military to choose the targeting coordinates and flight paths so it can't be said that the demonstration was staged, making it easy to shoot down the incoming missiles and warheads. Being shown in such a forceful manner that MAD is no longer in play ought to change minds. I should make clear that the MAD doctrine doesn't conform to the principle of indivisible security as it's the opposite and provides no nation with security. Otherwise, I can't formulate anything else that would prompt/convince the Outlaw US Empire that it's no longer preeminent, that its primacy has vanished such that it must change its ways.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 21 2022 19:38 utc | 25

b.. thanks... -b quote - "Blinken is all about show, Lavrov is all about substance."

in fact the msm is all about the show, while the world and reality is all about the substance... those that know don't give a shit about the show.. it is indeed about the substance...

Posted by: james | Jan 21 2022 19:40 utc | 26

it is indeed about the substance...

Posted by: james | Jan 21 2022 19:40 utc | 26

I think substance is going to become a fad soon. Come back into fashion.

Posted by: Bemildred | Jan 21 2022 19:43 utc | 27

@16 Peter AU1

re: Pepe Escobar's recent opinion of the situation .... I am a huge fan of Pepe Escobar's insights and always look forward to reading his work. However, I'm not sure where this appraisal is coming from. It is no more possible to dictate terms to US than to Russia, for the same barbarically simple reasons.

The leverage that Russia and US have is over EU, and some other states. Not over each other. And even that is kindof useless, since EU is too incoherent to do anything meaningful. Most of the countries in EU are on track to getting reduced to the quasi-colonial position that many Latin America countries spent decades in, with no ability to stop the process.

But in addition to that, if the various bluffs get called, and a prolonged energy crisis results, then it won't be contained within EU. It gets exported all over the developing world causing even more havoc than is already the case.

So among other things, this means even an "indirect" military solution from Russia's point, as suggested by Pepe Escobar, is still a worldwide trainwreck. As of course, is NATO's version of the same thing. The former having the advantage of gaining a small amount of ground in Donbass, but that's not too significant in the grand scheme of things. In the end, US and China walk away inconvenienced a little less than the rest of the world. But it's a useless outcome.

So I think it's just more of the same, varying degrees of sh*t talk, jockeying for alliances in places where that is relevant, which is for the most part away from Europe.

In the long term, US will completely -100% certain- regret driving Russia and China and a rapidly growing group of strategic partners, into various forms of anti-hegemonic alliance. But as far as the immediate issues here - putting an end to proxy regime change ops, not using 3rd party nations as human shields to hide behind for shooting... these are the very essence of US policy, it won't be given up until the economic balance of power manifests itself in an undeniable way. That hasn't happened yet.

Posted by: ptb | Jan 21 2022 19:50 utc | 28

Europeans seem to realize that actual war in Ukraine would produce a flood of refugees into Europe, the way war in Syria did to Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon.

They also seem to realize that a guerrilla war among 44 million people in the heart of Europe would not be entirely contained by the map lines of Ukraine, but would also produce waves of violence that would wash out over Europe.

Europeans and Russia both seem to realize that Ukraine is a wreck of a nation, and the Europeans have gone out of their way to refuse economic help. They don't want to start now with crisis help, nor does Russia have the money or will to flood Ukraine with economic vitality. The place is and must remain an economic basket case, burdening anyone who is responsible for it.

Yet Russia has some specific demands -- NATO stay out of there.

In response, Europeans definitely don't want to go in there. Only the US seems to want that, and only if it can send someone else (none of whom want to go).

Can the US spark a war anyway, by reckless confrontation threatening things to be done by someone else at the cost of someone else?

Posted by: Mark Thomason | Jan 21 2022 19:52 utc | 29

@27 bemildred.. yes.. the west is caught up in "fads" and being "trendy", lol... i can't see substance being a new fad... substance requires work and effort.. fads on the other hand, come and go for obvious reasons.. however substance may indeed come back into fashion... i suspect complete breakdown and failing apart of usa empire is much more likely, or may happen at the same time that more people recognize how to distinguish between the 2 - show verses substance..

Posted by: james | Jan 21 2022 19:56 utc | 30

Russia: We demand the West to recognize all of the former Soviet Union and the former Eastern Bloc to be part of the Russian sphere of influence. Else: military-technical measures. We demand it in a written, legally binding form and we demand it NOW! [Bangs with the fist on the table.]

Stoltenberg: No.

Russia: We demand Eastern Europe and the Balkans!

Borrell: No.

Russia: Shut up! You are irrelevant. We will make a Yalta-lile deal with the Americans about Europe over the heads of the Europeans!

Blinken: No.

Russia: Oh yeah?! And what does NATO say about that?

NATO: No.

Russia: Oh yeah?! And what does the OSCE say about that?

OSCE: No.

Russia: We demand a reply in proper written form! [Bangs with the fist on the table.]
(Ha!!! We have already forced them at the negotiation table! Talks are going into the right direction.)

[Meanwhile in Ukraine: The USA and the UK implement military-technical measures.]

Posted by: m | Jan 21 2022 19:58 utc | 31

Sanctions are bandied about by Blinken, Biden, and the Outlaw US Empire's Congress. Paul Robinson reviews the lack of effect sanctions have on Russia and notes the recent decision by Germany to oppose cutting Russia from SWIFT--blowback is far too costly.

IMO, the Outlaw US Empire lacks any policy tools to change Russia's behavior, while Russia has tools to change the Empire's ways.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 21 2022 20:01 utc | 32

karlof1 25

I suspect it will take a very visible threat to make the US agree to a binding security agreement. Pentagon quite likely already has reading on Russia's missile defense capability, but perhaps some demonstrations will be arranged in Russian naval exercises just off the US coast?
I think the coming months will be interesting.
As for shooting down maneuvering hypersonic glide or cruise missiles I am not sure Russia has that capability yet. The combination of very high heat and very high G loads, especially in taking down a maneuvering glide missile, makes me think some other means is required.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 21 2022 20:08 utc | 33

Andrei Martianov on the talks between Blinken and Lavrov

Posted by: Norwegian | Jan 21 2022 20:13 utc | 34

Biden's use of the phrase "minor incursions" is a good sign that there is someone talking sensible realism in high-level meetings. Of course, it set the Chicken Hawks in the US MSM a-squawkin', and the White House wasted a day or two "clarifying" the "slip".

I agree with b that Russia isn't going to invade *all of* Ukraine, but rather use limited - but effective - strikes to support separatists in Donbass, and maybe try to peel off some other pieces of Ukraine where Russian language or ethnicity are strongest. I feel much safer, having heard Biden make the distinction between "invasion" and "minor incursions"; it shows that there are at least some people around him who are capable of nuance (unlike the public discussion).

Posted by: elkern | Jan 21 2022 20:25 utc | 35

The weirdest threat made by the US is of a 'guerrilla war" in Ukraine. Much more likely to follow an invasion would be a civil war as millions of Ukrainians, liberated from the terrorist regime in Kiev, turn on the north American backed, financed and heavily armed neo-nazis who currently dominate the country.
That they do so is evidenced in the complete indifference shown to the collapse of the economy and the plunging living standards of the people.
It is impossible to understand the Ukraine without recognising that any real opposition to the NATO wannabes is silenced by a government based on the death squads from Maidan.

Posted by: bevin | Jan 21 2022 20:31 utc | 36

re: Russia is not at all concerned about the Ukraine. It is concerned about NATO in Ukraine.
Russia is concerned about Donetsk and Luhansk.
Russian parliament to discuss recognising rebel-held east Ukraine as independent

MOSCOW, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Russia's parliament will hold consultations next week on an idea to appeal to President Vladimir Putin to recognise two pro-Russian breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent states, the chamber's speaker said on Friday.
Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, made the announcement ahead of talks in Geneva on Friday between Russia's top diplomat and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss soaring tensions over Ukraine. . . .here

Where have a heard that song before?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 21 2022 20:34 utc | 37

I'd happily acquire an hypothetical "book of memories" written by Mr. Lavrov after his retirement! He would certainly avoid some sensible contents, but I'm sure he has a lot of interesting things to tell us regarding to his interaction with "diplomats" from western "partners" along the last decade!

Posted by: C Khosta y Alzamendi | Jan 21 2022 20:46 utc | 38

m | Jan 21 2022 19:58 utc | 31

m.. we demand to be listened to.

james .. no.. waste of time..

Posted by: james | Jan 21 2022 20:46 utc | 39

According to Oriental Daily of Hong Kong, the Russia-USA meeting lasted 1.5 hours and two sides agreed on NOTHING. Prior to the meeting Lavro indicated that Russia did not expect a breakthrough out of this meeting but do expect to receive written response from US and NATO on Russia's security demands. Blinken's response to that is that the US seeks to resolve this crisis through diplomatic means. According to this report, Lavrov indicated that Blinken PROMISED a written response next week.

I'm posting this summary to give a glimpse of this event from the perspective of a supposedly impartial party, fwiw.

Posted by: Oriental Voice | Jan 21 2022 20:47 utc | 40

Peter AU1 @33--

Yes, there are indeed some limitations. But as I've suggested, Russia's "physics breakthrough" is in energy pulse weaponry similar to lasers that overcome atmospheric interference with enough oomph when it hits the object to negate it. Yes, I'll admit that's complete speculation, but it makes complete sense, IMO given the few snippets of info that's been allowed to seep into press. Such a demo would also show the Empire that its development of hypersonics won't improve its position.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 21 2022 20:47 utc | 41

C Khosta y Alzamendi @38--

I agree that would be a very valuable addition. Unfortunately, Lavrov has voiced his lack of interest in such a project on several occasions. I know I'd very much like to write his biography while he's still alive, and I'm sure many other historians would also like that opportunity.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 21 2022 20:50 utc | 42

ptb 28

With Russia continuous deployment of more and more next gen weapons systems since Putin announced the strategic systems in 2018, I have Thought Russia would face down the US in a big way at some point. Since making the security proposals public, Putin has spoken many times on the subject. Answering questions and in speeches all on video. The speech to the military brass is worth watching. Putin does not bluff. As he said, Russia now has nowhere to retreat to. US will soon have hypersonic missiles and without a security agreement in place, those missiles will be on Russia's borders.
This will go all the way to a point where if a security agreement is not in place by the time US ia ready to deploy its missiles, US will be eliminated as a threat.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 21 2022 20:51 utc | 43

My post #40 missed one important item:

Lavrov indicated, prior to the meeting, that Russia's security demand includes NATO military pull back from Bulgaria and Romania

This is the one item USA/NATO will have hard time dealing with :-)

Posted by: Oriental Voice | Jan 21 2022 20:52 utc | 44

@35 "Biden's use of the phrase "minor incursions" is a good sign that there is someone talking sensible realism in high-level meetings."

What it says to me is that Biden doesn't want to be a war president. He either doesn't want it on his historical record or he knows how difficult it is to stop a war once it starts. And how they can escalate in unpredictable directions.

Maybe he is getting some sensible advice from somewhere but that doesn't mean there aren't people pressuring him to 'give the Russians a bloody nose' (that's a quote from some senator recently).

Posted by: dh | Jan 21 2022 20:58 utc | 45

karlof1 41

You may be right. I checked again on what Yury Borisov was referring to and it seems they have made a number of breakthroughs on what he calls 'physical principles' and both laser and electromagnetic are included in the breakthroughs.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 21 2022 21:14 utc | 46

@43 Peter AU 1

Appreciate the response... But if some new promises are made, how long will those last? They won't.

That said, there's not going to be a WWIII, there won't be tanks rolling into Kiev or Paris, there won't be missiles flying at Moscow or London or Berlin or New York. That's all just something to get the public riled up.

IMO if there is to be a multipolar balance, what there will be, sooner or later, is this: A demonstrated pattern that a coalition led by Russia and China can provide security for third parties, against both proxy-destabilization and security against economic sabotage. This will be evaluated in relative terms compared to the "protection" offered by the extended partnership of the NATO group (often protection against NATO's own actions, it's not a pretty game). It's already demonstrated that direct neo-colonial action gets repeatedly defeated, and that proxy actions tend to smash up the place they happen more than anything else, but that is only half way there. An alternative security system needs to exist, if the world is to avoid the rapacious hegemony of a single power. If so, it's going to be a group effort.

Cheers

Posted by: ptb | Jan 21 2022 21:23 utc | 47

Es todo una comedia muy mal representada. Hoy Lavrov se partía de risa ante las cámaras, como para creerse nada.

Posted by: Frasco | Jan 21 2022 21:24 utc | 48

"We will have to wait for the written U.S. response to Russia's demands to see in which direction it will develop"

"We" don't have to wait for the mythical complete response because it's not coming. And the Russkis are not going to hold their breath either. They understand that it's all about Blinken jerking off and playing for time; and will proceed with their plans, whatever they are

Lavrov only met with Blunder to keep the talking channels open, just in case.

Posted by: kral | Jan 21 2022 21:32 utc | 49

ptb 47 "But if some new promises are made, how long will those last?"

Putin mentioned that too and actions are the main thing, writing on paper secondary. That said, I think they are looking at a treaty type agreement that becomes international law and also ratified into American law.
As for tanks rolling around streets and stuff, that is very much WWII. That is something I have noticed in everything surrounding this is that virtually every can only envisage some sort of war in Europe. Russia will take it straight to the US and if US are out of the fight there won't be wars anywhere else. And that wont be troops on the ground and invasion and crap, rather the destruction of US military capability.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 21 2022 21:37 utc | 50

If the Russians actually said that they would invade and occupy Ukraine if NATO dares to set up shop there the EU/USA would stop effing around.
The USA cannot afford a war, ANYWHERE!
The USA military is all for show right now, a war, a real war would bankrupt the USA and collapse the country.
The USA is divided within, the military and industry are a fine mess and there is no absolutely no desire or appetite for war from even the most belicose sections of society.
The USA military is completely demoralized and they despise and hold complete contempt for their Commander in Chief.
Trump was much better than this garbage regime in Washington right now. .

Posted by: Fernando Martinez | Jan 21 2022 21:42 utc | 51

ptb 47 "But if some new promises are made, how long will those last?"

That sentence hits the nail on the head. Russia has watched the buildup of a self declared enemy on its borders for years - constantly getting larger and closer. Russia knows that the US end goal is to destroy Russia as any sort of competition, as a country, by military means or any other.
Putin, in an interview said if a fight is inevitable, strike first. And unless Russia is willing to capitulate to the US, a fight is inevitable.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 21 2022 21:53 utc | 52

Thank you b for an tidy summation.

My take is that Russia has dropped a high tensile monkey wrench into the gearbox of the Outlaw US empire just when it is revving up for an election. The Demoncrats are doomed as are Biden and Blinken. I say this because they have to design a move in public, in the face of the GOP nutters. Both political dinosaurs will soon be at each other's throats all over a bone called Ukraine - the mouse that squealed.

Sweet justice.

Which way will the USA cast its response that can satisfy the Russian/Eurasian situation and save their skin at home. There is little room for maneuver. IMO the USA political class will collapse further into a mire of contention and ridicule.

Does anyone really think either political party in the USA is capable of ordering NATO back to the 1990's bases and survive? The englanders will implode and the EU rightwing nutters will choke on their croissants, sauerkraut, coffee etc.

So all that meticulous, mendacious, mean maneuvering by the 'free world' fakes over decades is at risk here as well. :))

Expect more european leaders to travel hastily to Moscow in the next month or two expressing goodwill and closing NATO divisions and emasculating missile launchers. I trust the tide is turning to a more peaceful world.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Jan 21 2022 21:56 utc | 53

If Russian missile submarines visited Cuba, I think it will inflame tensions with the US further. I wonder if Russia was paying attention to Belarus and Lithuania. In 2020, Belarus allowed thousands of mostly Iraqi refugees to cross into Lithuania. Eventually, Lithuania stopped the refugee flow but not before over 4,000 arrived. After trying to get the refugees who arrived to leave, about 3,500 remain in Lithuania. Now the Lithuanian government at the behest of the EU is discussing giving the remaining ones residency in Lithuania.

Russia might be thinking of setting up a refugee service center in Haiti. If Russia helps Haitian refugees go to Florida it would create a lot of stress in Florida but at the same time, many in the US will want to help the Haitian refugees. In the end, the Haitian refugees would be accepted into the US but at the same time the US government would definitely not want the waves to keep on coming. That would be a much more reasonable response than Russia sending nuclear missile submarines close to the US.

Posted by: tradeoff | Jan 21 2022 21:57 utc | 54

@35 "Biden's use of the phrase "minor incursions" is a good sign that there is someone talking sensible realism in high-level meetings."

Posted by: dh | Jan 21 2022 20:58 utc | 45

In similar vein, America agreed to answer Russian postulates in writing as they could not address them verbally, or justify when they were addressing them at all. Kind of the case of a student who should flunk oral exam for answering questions that were NOT ASKED, instead of those asked, but given ADD conditions certified by a doctor, gets an option to write the answers at home.

So a "mini-agreement" as a test: is America capable of fulfilling ANY agreements. Will they submit the homework, and what will be the grade -- changing topics again? Preposterous arguments again?

About minor incursions, diplomatically, it could be a good prod to make Ukrainians talks with leaders of Donetsk and Lugansk republics, and reduce the concentration of Ukrainian troops at the line of control, but that would be too direct.

Actually, daily news about imminent invasions made the interest rates on Ukrainian obligations go sharply up, and the currency somewhat down, so the Kiev authorities started to worry and deny the "imminence" of the danger, like "for sure in February".

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jan 21 2022 22:05 utc | 55

Thanks heavens for MoA! And speaking of the 'delusional talk of the United States towards Russia,' behold that of the Canadian liberal-left...

How the West Made Putin Possible

https://rabble.ca/columnists/how-the-west-made-putin-possible/

Posted by: John Gilberts | Jan 21 2022 22:07 utc | 56

m #31

Granted, that is a possible scenario. Yes this standoff could continue for some time but there are major internal divisions in the west that are likely to severely constrain their room to move or their capacity to sustain nimble footing.

Clearly Russia is prepared to confront the NATO idiocy and it can do that in many places of its own choosing. Sure Russia may not emerge unscathed but I sense that it is in a far better place to win the round. It is the obstinate lunacy of the Outlaw US empire and its running dogs that will screw them up.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Jan 21 2022 22:08 utc | 57

@ Oriental Voice | Jan 21 2022 20:52 utc | 40 / 44... thanks.. i appreciate your clarity here..

Posted by: james | Jan 21 2022 22:30 utc | 58

How many of the anti-tank weapons US and UK ship to Ukraine will end up in bank robberies, blowing up armored cash transport cars?

Posted by: Passerby | Jan 21 2022 22:30 utc | 59

Off topic, but looks like the CCP is continuing its pressure on recalcitrant capitalists who have not respected the directions to stay out of politics and to not try to compromise CCP officials. Alibaba stock took a hit in the last couple of days as state television covered allegations that property deals in Hangzhou involved the corruption of government officials by private interests. Alibaba is headquartered in Hangzhou and seems to be the only corporate investor in the deals. Alibaba is down by nearly 66% since the start of 2021 ($320 to $120).

https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/ant-group-connected-former-hangzhou-083240561.html
https://sparknewswire.com/newsfeed/ant-group-is-linked-to-former-hangzhou-party-secretarys-corruption-scandal-report/

Jack Ma has been a very naughty boy, cavorting with challengers to Xi through opaque investment vehicles. Probably his celebrity status and the need to to scare the crap out of other corporate owners has limited his punishment. A WSJ story from early last year but still very informative.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-blocked-jack-mas-ant-ipo-after-an-investigation-revealed-who-stood-to-gain-11613491292

Xi certainly doesn't seem to be letting up on his social lessons to those with lots of money, all part of the economic rebalancing.

Posted by: Roger | Jan 21 2022 22:32 utc | 60

How can people who are as wrong as Biden and Blinken be at the top of a state?

Recently I was listening to a speech by one of the Russian experts, and he made an interesting suggestion - that Blinken, before being admitted to the negotiations, must present a certificate of his mental health. Listening to his other speeches, such a measure seems more than justified.
I think Victoria Nuland should show a certificate of her mental health every time she appears in public. This woman is too inadequate every time she opens her mouth.

Posted by: alaff | Jan 21 2022 22:51 utc | 61

My SWAG is that, if and to the extent that there is in fact any progress, it is because certain of Muh European Allies(R) are getting cold feet.

1. Germany in particular stands to suffer if gas supplies are curtailed. Even if Russian gas were to be replaced by 'Merikun Freedom Molecules(R), the infrastructure to do so is not in place and will take time and money to construct. Even that infrastructure is built, gas will be much more expensive, and Europe will be at the mercy of a master that has a nasty habit of dragging its vassals into its foreign adventures.

Of course, the hypocrisy of European Greens replacing a reliable supply of natural gas via existing pipelines (which are pretty much carbon-neutral) with future LPG deliveries by supertanker (which are some of the biggest carbon emitters in existence), all because their American masters ordered them to do so, is too rich for words.

2. Expect a new wave of refugees. While these refugees are white Europeans, if Europe accepts this wave of refugees, doing so will make it that much harder to reject the wave of brown non-European refugees that will surely result from America's future imperialist wars.

The European Vassals (ex Poland and the Baltics, which are only too happy to cut off their own noses if doing so might somehow spite Russia) cannot be too jazzed about the prospect of 1. or 2., all as the results of a war that in no way benefits them.

3. Another NATO failure will surely damage its credibility like nothing else.

Posted by: Feral Finster | Jan 21 2022 22:51 utc | 62

@35 "Biden's use of the phrase "minor incursions" is a good sign that there is someone talking sensible realism in high-level meetings."

I have wondered if this was Biden trying to get Russia to attack already, please.

Posted by: Feral Finster | Jan 21 2022 22:53 utc | 63

Ray Macgovern points at an achievable NATO 'light retreat' which could be Putin's aim. So that while there's guns at the Russia border they keep the dangerous missiles out

Posted by: Tuyzentfloot | Jan 21 2022 22:55 utc | 64

Peter AU1 @46--

Thanks for your reply and your additional discourse with ptb and vice-versa.

The degree of difference between the two sides is quite marked for those paying attention. Russia's leaders are full of confidence because they enjoy the moral high ground and also the military high ground. They also have what I call collective national integrity as there're no divisions within Russian society that could be considered a threat to its morale, whereas the opposite is true within the Outlaw US Empire. The closest comparison I can employ is Olympians playing with their mortal toys--there's seriousness but also a degree of amusement.

The military high ground is the key asset, but Russia doesn't flaunt it unlike the Outlaw US Empire. As we both know, the nature of the battlespace has radically changed since Operation Desert Storm. What were once untouchable command and control centers can now be easily obliterated in just minutes from the other side of the planet. Russian AD can deny almost all European airspace to NATO. Stand-off weapons launched at Russia have no chance of reaching their target; and if I'm correct, then neither will NATO hypersonics, SLBMs or ICBMs. Eurasia will have the equivalent of the energy shields seen in SciFi. Particle beam weapons powered by portable nukes will spell the end of MAD. All of the above is why arriving at genuine, enforceable, Collective Security as suggested by Russia becomes mandatory as all the world's nations will insist upon its implementation. At long last, the Outlaw US Empire will find itself forced to obey the UN Charter, for it will have lost the ultimate Zero-sum game.

The serious nations have a plan while those behind the curtain controlling the Outlaw US Empire are only concerned with defrauding US citizens out of a few more $Trillion as they're now beginning to exit the asset bubble that was inflated for them. Whatever plan related to the pandemic that might have existed no longer does thanks to many factors. The developing nations sense the time for them to finally emerge and forge their own path is at hand, that Neo-Colonialism/Neo-Imperialism's wickedness is finally being dissolved as those who adhered to the Washington Consensus are ousted and buried.

Meanwhile, the Neoliberal nations will face rising turmoil as their citizery rebels and repudiates worthless militarism and central bank planning that only enriches the already wealthy. A series of self-generated Color Revolutions face those nations who fail to change their political-economies to people-centered development. That's the Re-Set Davos genuinely fears.

All the above is quite possible. Russia's revelations of its newest weapons makes it probable. One thing IMO is absolutely certain. The world's most important leaders say there's only one way forward and that's by adherence to the laws set down in the UN Charter and the realization that all humanity must work together to enhance its future prospects and the planet's viability. Will this result in the SCO becoming the World's Policeman? Only if some nations become/continue to be renegades. If humanity is provided for in an equitable manner that allows for meritorious personal development, then humanity's chances for survival and further maturing into a wise species is possible. But first, peace and security must be established by ending the Outlaw US Empire's reign and its policy of destabilizing the planet for profit.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 21 2022 23:16 utc | 65

“I do hope that not everyone in the State Department was working on those materials and there were some who were working on the essence of our proposals and their substance,” he [Lavrov] said. OMG, Lavrov reached a diplomatic pinnacle to have so deftly delivered such a zinger!

Posted by: Trisha | Jan 21 2022 23:21 utc | 66

@62 Feral Finster

"Expect a new wave of refugees"

Unfortunately, this is a possibility. It would be a triple-crisis, in addition to continued fallout from Covid, and energy prices. The trigger may be economic this time. It's also a side effect of energy prices, doubled for the developing world because of financing relationships and interest rates. Looking especially at the middle east, but everywhere outside North America, really. Increased pressure on Turkey is a particular concern. Hopefully all of these will be relatively short term, like a year or two at most.

Posted by: ptb | Jan 21 2022 23:27 utc | 67

Russia: We demand a reply in proper written form! [Bangs with the fist on the table.]
(Ha!!! We have already forced them at the negotiation table! Talks are going into the right direction.)

[Meanwhile in Ukraine: The USA and the UK implement military-technical measures.]

Correction... they bring in man portable weaps, the Ukies don't know how to use... don't know how to maintain...

While the Ukies freeze in their trenches and dugouts...

While the DPR/LNR/Rus forces wax in their heated barracks...

Now, exactly how capable will the Ukies be.... after 6 mths... freezing their asses off...?

INDY

Posted by: George W Oprisko | Jan 21 2022 23:31 utc | 68

If you carefully read that article by M. K. Bhadrakumar, one of its key takeaways--and positive developments--is that the Western (war criminal) alliance system is developing fractures.

Thus, even Eurotrash nations like Germany and France are stepping out from under America’s possessive embrace and seeking to cut side deals with Russia to save their own interests, which cut across America’s agenda.

This is a delicious geopolitical irony.

The Anglo Americans and Europeans often whine that they have failed to impose their usual imperial Divide-and-Conquer tactic against the Eurasian “Axis of Resistance” led by Russia and China. Hence, their recurrent crying about “driving Russia and China together.”

Now, in a splendid judo-style move, the Ukraine crisis is being leveraged by a certain martial arts master in Moscow to engender divisions in the vaunted Western alliance itself!

Perhaps, Sensei Putin is indeed a 32-dimensional grandmaster in chess as well. ;-)

There is a lesson for the collective West (and especially the Anglo-Americans) in all of this: Behave yourself. Don’t play your geopolitical games—or you will get played in response.

Posted by: ak74 | Jan 21 2022 23:33 utc | 69

Now... what will Nato think... when the Russians/Iranians/Chinese/Beylorussians/DPRK...

Hold maneuvers beside the Latvian, Estonian, Lithuanian, Belarusian, Moldovian border with NATO??

Using....

Live ammo....?

INDY

Posted by: George W Oprisko | Jan 21 2022 23:35 utc | 70

PTB, Peter AU1, et al

Interesting discussion. This manufactured crisis certainly grabs ones attention (as it is supposed to).

My 2 cents worth:

I agree with B that Russias primary concern is NATO in Ukraine, not Ukraine itself (for obvious reasons).

Russia has talked about its “red lines” for years, and has been ignored. This time, Russia has described its concerns and red lines and expectations in writing. It should be emphasised that Russia insists on a response in writing. Western orgs offer discussions, but Sergei Lavrov has again insisted on receiving a written response. I believe this is for two reasons:

The US and subsidiaries have a history of treating oral agreements as not binding,

Russia wants written proof of an agreement that it can display publicly, nullifying any future refutations of what was agreed.

There is a lot of talk, some of it hopeful, that if an agreement is not concluded, Russia may engage in military action. This is not what Russia has said it will do. Russia has said it may deploy military technical responses. I read this as being the revelation of new weapons, or the deployment of weapons and EW assets that may be both defensive and offensive and have a very visible profile and purpose.

I do not discount the possibility of a public display of weapon effectiveness, but this would be performed in a manner to avoid human casualties.

I also do not discount the possibility Russia may loosen the leash on other parties such as Syria to re-exert sovereignty over their land. That may also involve the supply of advanced weapons systems. I do not see a deployment of offensive missile systems to Venezuela or Cuba as being likely – that is looking backwards, not forwards.

The only chance for Russian involvement in combat, as I see it, is the activation of stand-off systems to defeat a Ukrainian incursion into Donbass or Crimea (or possibly to protect the Crimean water supply). No boots on the ground.

What confuses me is the rabid hyperbolic scaremongering forecasting an imminent invasion of Ukraine. What is the purpose? To obtain leverage over Russia? To stop Russia supporting Donbass against a Ukrainian attack? Does it provide the west the opportunity, when an invasion does not eventuate, to claim victory over the evil Russians again (whilst quietly agreeing to Russian demands)? Or is there a more nefarious purpose? I can’t possibly obtain the information necessary to develop an informed opinion on this.

Posted by: Cantab | Jan 21 2022 23:42 utc | 71

It might be useful to have a discussion about what will happen if Russia doesn't invade Ukraine. I could imagine Russia offering some sort of protection to the breakaway republics and then guarding the rest of its border regions tightly. Ukraine has not hit bottom yet. It won't take an invasion to motivate people to flee the failed state. I hate to picture Europe with even more refugees.

On an unrelated note, it would be worthwhile to discuss what steps Europe has to take to have steady and affordable energy supplies. Europe is in bad enough shape financially, they don't need to keep adding to their problems.

Posted by: stratus | Jan 21 2022 23:42 utc | 72

I see lot of back tapping and celebration here.

Don't forget it is US we area talking about. Chances they somehow grew brain and reduced egomania in last few weeks is near nil.

So, this is only another lying maneuver from US lawyer gov. Expect all negotiations to crash in a week or so and military solutions to come forward from Russia soon enough.

Posted by: Abe | Jan 21 2022 23:43 utc | 73

Cantab 71

One thing to keep in mind is that several times Putin has stated that those threatening Russia will come under reciprocal threat. That is very much in relation to US missile bases in Europe, one in Romania and one in Poland and that threat would be a reciprocal flight time away (The time distance between the threat and the American leadership).

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 22 2022 0:15 utc | 74

@Trisha | Jan 21 2022 23:21 utc | 66

:)
It's a little sad that so so few are aware of the names of those who have helped stem the tide and keep the flood of chaos from engulfing humanity. A list which includes Lavrov, Soleimani, Givi, Zahreddine, Malone. Some still alive, thankfully.

Posted by: Anto | Jan 22 2022 0:23 utc | 75

@65 karlof1

Yes, the world is slowly changing

"They also have what I call collective national integrity as there're no divisions within Russian society that could be considered a threat to its morale, whereas the opposite is true within the Outlaw US Empire" -- that's a pointed and more-and-more-too-real observation. It produces figures like Clinton II or Trump, from which the US government clearly hasn't recovered.

You mention the "military high ground". I guess that's really what I was trying to get at originally above, in reacting to Pepe Escobar.

There is one version of military-high-ground for deterrence between major powers, and to provide security for one's own country. A vital first step for any country or grouping that wishes to have an independent existence. There is another version of it to provide security for third parties. This is the complementary role to tactics of de-stabilization. De-stabilization is now done in either with, or under cover of, non-military means. So I think it means that both military high-tech, and bulk combat-power, have to be complemented by elements of old-fashioned alliance building. Some combination of material/industrial benefits, personal, cultural, institutional, religious, financial, and diplomatic networking. Similar to the much-abused "soft power" concept, though under Obama that term became a euphemism for obstruction of rivals via financial levers, and also media/propaganda.

Happy Friday!

Posted by: ptb | Jan 22 2022 0:26 utc | 76

@71 Cantab

"What confuses me is the rabid hyperbolic scaremongering forecasting an imminent invasion of Ukraine."

Personally I think the objective there for US/Ukraine was to prevent the commissioning of the NS2 gas pipeline, and as a possible extended objective of slowing Russian industrialization, particularly oil/gas production rampup, by blocking companies like Siemens, Linde, and a handful of other specialty firms. It would be huge win for US LNG exporters, and as far as Ukraine is concerned, they would remain "strategically relevant" a bit longer, thus more likely to get another round of financial support from NATO.

Posted by: ptb | Jan 22 2022 0:34 utc | 77

Posted by: Oriental Voice | Jan 21 2022 20:47 utc | 40
"Blinken's response to that is that the US seeks to resolve this crisis through diplomatic means. According to this report, Lavrov indicated that Blinken PROMISED a written response next week.
I'm posting this summary to give a glimpse of this event from the perspective of a supposedly impartial party, fwiw."

Appreciate the perspective and quotes from Hong Kong. This is a perfect example of important points of view from places I have almost no access to. There are many barflies whom I have grown to trust-- people from Canada, Norway, Iran, China (you), France, Spain, Germany. We all read their/your comments, links and sometimes sitreps and then determine how much validity their postings have based on past postings.
Bottom line, keep posting. Thank you Oriental Voice and others.

Posted by: migueljose | Jan 22 2022 0:38 utc | 78

[link to Canadian liberal delusions] Posted by: John Gilberts | Jan 21 2022 22:07 utc | 56

crushing dissent and opposition, and extinguishing the brief emergence of a democratic Russia. Which is to say that the last thing he needed was a free, democratic, and prosperous Ukraine on his border to provide a counterexample to his own regime, although it would be hard to argue that Ukraine is a positive contrast in terms of corruption.

1990-ties are not "necessarily" remembered as "emergence of democratic Russia"/Ukraine etc. It was an economic and humanitarian catastrophe that spawned private mega-corporations and multiparty system. Seems that Ukraine preserved that multiparty system in which smallish parties may be fully owned by business moguls, who also own groups of deputies in larger parties: financing of a party is conditioned on putting a number of underlings of the donor among candidates of the party accepting the donation (limits and qui pro quo's are regularly circumvented by unemployed people donating the maximum amounts etc.). Plurality in media ownership had (and has, in Ukraine) similar character.

On district and municipal level you have similar corrupted schemes that allow for the participation of local moguls and criminal gangs. This is the outline of pluralistic, "democratic" system that was formed in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine and was preserved in Ukraine, now with "pro-Western orientation". Alas, Ukraine cannot be presented to Russians and Belarus-ans as "prosperous" or "having smaller corruptions, in spite of (or because of) the uninterrupted period "Western influence" from 2014. A liberal should give some thought: how that could happen?

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jan 22 2022 0:39 utc | 79

Oh, Moon of Alabama
I now must say Hello.
I've lost my freaking patience
and must have some real news
Oh, you know why.

Posted by: tim rourke | Jan 22 2022 0:41 utc | 80

The comment by ak74 @69 on EU or US allies starting to fracture. US has had to do a bit of arm twisting and blackmail no doubt so they would all "speak with one voice". Unless US does something foolish, this will be a slow process perhaps even a year or so depending on how close US is to deploying its first missiles. In that time Russia will apply a lot more pressure on the US. I can't see them "talking with one voice" after just a few months. Macron came out with some brain farts the other day and wanted to go and talk to Russia so perhaps France will be the first to depart. This may well end up as just five-eyes and those rabid eastern Euro countries vs the rest after a few months.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 22 2022 0:42 utc | 81

@63 "Biden's use of the phrase "minor incursions" is a good sign that there is someone talking sensible realism in high-level meetings."

Feral Finster wonders if this was Biden trying to get Russia to attack already, please.

I can't see Biden coming up with something so devious. The words may have been put in his mouth of course but then why spend 2 days on damage control? No, I think he just had a senior moment.

Posted by: dh | Jan 22 2022 0:42 utc | 82

. . .Putin cares about Ukraine.
Article by Vladimir Putin ”On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians“

During the recent Direct Line, when I was asked about Russian-Ukrainian relations, I said that Russians and Ukrainians were one people – a single whole. These words were not driven by some short-term considerations or prompted by the current political context. It is what I have said on numerous occasions and what I firmly believe. I therefore feel it necessary to explain my position in detail and share my assessments of today's situation.
. . .I am confident that true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia. Our spiritual, human and civilizational ties formed for centuries and have their origins in the same sources, they have been hardened by common trials, achievements and victories. Our kinship has been transmitted from generation to generation. It is in the hearts and the memory of people living in modern Russia and Ukraine, in the blood ties that unite millions of our families. Together we have always been and will be many times stronger and more successful. For we are one people.
. .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 22 2022 0:43 utc | 83

Cantab #71

What confuses me is the rabid hyperbolic scaremongering forecasting an imminent invasion of Ukraine. What is the purpose? To obtain leverage over Russia? To stop Russia supporting Donbass against a Ukrainian attack? Does it provide the west the opportunity, when an invasion does not eventuate, to claim victory over the evil Russians again (whilst quietly agreeing to Russian demands)? Or is there a more nefarious purpose? I can’t possibly obtain the information necessary to develop an informed opinion on this.

Can I suggest a perspective: The USA is in a tight position. It cannot discuss or negotiate with Russians as it has established a home front hysteria narrative that reads 'discussions' as capitulations. If it makes any form of agreement that includes a reduction in armaments or forward missile deployment, it will stand accused of retreat, failure, surrender. See what the msm and bleating neocons and republicans did to Biden for his Afghanistan withdrawal. The USA warmongers and the Military Intelligence Industrial Complex cannot abide any reduction of their supremacy.

An election cometh and even now it looks like a very bad news day for the Democrats. Normally this would delight Biden as he is entirely in the Republican pocket but he is surely doomed after Afghanistan let alone after the decommissioning of missile assault stations throughout the NATO lands of eastern europe.

Trapped in their own discourse, the UKUSA and its rabid message mangers have no choice but to remain silent, offer no text to Russia and just keep screaming Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine.

The BEAR is IN the room and they have no way to get it or themselves out of that space without shattering their own world.

Consider the twisted version of US reality: talking to the Russians now would be 'permitting them to meddle in US elections'. I don't believe that but Rachel Maddow (or any other loony) would never stop bleating it.

Meanwhile Russia has made some excellent supporting moves for the people of Eastern Ukraine and has numerous locations / targets elsewhere to pursue as a distraction gesture. The Uke nazi troops are sitting in their freezing, urine stinking trenches bleeding money from the government, crippling their home life, hating Zelensky for getting them stuck here, waiting for godot. It is a good look and why should Russia disturb it.

They are trapped as is Zelensky and the framework of the trap is the constant western negative hatred/discourse. Should that discourse weaken, then Russia can have a small pretend defence games in Belarus next month. Just to keep the trap shut.

The UKUSA cannot tolerate persistent exposure of their weakness,their incapacity to 'do something' and 'move on'. They are being slowly ground down by their own words and a small poke from the bear every now and then.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Jan 22 2022 0:52 utc | 84

ptb @76--

Thanks for your reply! I pulled my commentary and short discourse with Peter AU1 together into a muse that I published at my VK Space, "We Delay the Future Because the Outlaw US Empire Didn't Do Its Homework. Meanwhile, This Muse." That prompted ideas for further essays, one specifically dealing with the huge problem of a proper global security arrangement that replaces MAD, which isn't about security whatsoever. IMO, the world yearns for the fundamental type of security that was announced as the Allied effort's War Aim by FDR 81 years ago on 6 Jan 1941 that's been deliberately undermined by a very different Post-War Outlaw US Empire. Responsible nations seem to have said to each other: We're going to go about our program of people-centered development regardless of what the Empire does to the point of forcing it to back-off if it tries too hard to interfere, which it has for the past 81 years. Ya Basta! is the cry as the Arc of Resistance grows ever bigger.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 22 2022 1:02 utc | 85

@ PTB 77

The planning horizon of the US becomes relevant in your scenario.

If NS2 operation is stymied, and US LNG steps in to fill the supply gap, gas prices will rise in Europe AND USA - its simply market forces.

If Russia were then to close Ukrainian pipeline supply in response, gas prices in both markets rise even further (now with a significant supply shortfall), and Ukraine loses transit revenues.

If this is a correct interpretation, then shutting off NS2 would seem an irrational move. However, I’m not sure USA/EU leaders are seeing things objectively nor anticipating 2nd order effects of their choices, and so one cannot assume they will make rational choices.

So you may be right.

I suspect this is what keeps the Russian leadership up at night – trying to anticipate the choices of irrational or deluded opponents.

Posted by: Cantab | Jan 22 2022 1:07 utc | 86

Certainly Lavrov realizes he is hold dialog with a hand puppet. The situation is not ultimately in bidens or blinkens control. But for any politician, what matters is that they will not have to face the issue today. Biden is nearing lame duck aside from being figurehead and a liitle lax in the details. Biden needs a win, already they have suceeded in stopping the Russian attack on Ukraine.

A few days ago B was saying the attack would occur end of January and today he mocks Blinken for saying same.

I think Putin is into that whole judo think of use your enemys size to advantage.

I dont think much of Russia standing off and firing missiles into Ukraine, that is the new sanitary warfare as used on Yugoslavia.

Posted by: jared | Jan 22 2022 1:08 utc | 87

Germany blocks Estonian arms exports to Ukraine: report
https://www.dw.com/en/germany-blocks-estonian-arms-exports-to-ukraine-report/a-60520988

Posted by: Nick | Jan 22 2022 1:18 utc | 88

I enjoy reading your stuff and the detail you present!...... However I think you should reflect on the fact it's... "Ukraine" and not "The Ukraine"! Do you say... "The Canada" or "The England" or "The Australia" or "The South Africa"...... The "THE" is used when there are more than one defined entity, such as "The United States" or "The Russian Federation" but in reference to Russia it's just "Russia"........
Not wishing to be offensive or insulting I hope that clears up a bit of grammar?
William Kierath

Posted by: William Edward Kiera | Jan 22 2022 1:19 utc | 89

borderland, or THE borderland??

"Those who called it "the Ukraine" in English must have known that the word meant "borderland", says Anatoly Liberman, a professor at the University of Minnesota with a specialism in etymology. So they referred to it as "the borderland".

"After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukrainians probably decided that the article denigrated their country [by identifying it as a part of Russia] and abolished 'the' while speaking English, so now it is simply Ukraine.

"That's why the Ukraine suddenly lost its article in the last 20 years, it's a sort of linguistic independence in Europe, it's hugely symbolic."

Posted by: james | Jan 22 2022 1:25 utc | 90

@86 Cantab

That's logical, and I think the first 2 things you describe are happening now.

The impact on US natgas prices is contained by the fact that US LNG export capacity is limited (something like 130 bcm/y, which can still be accommodated by continental production).

On the other hand the price at which recently-booked capacity got priced is now doubled or more vs the typical japan/korea/china price. In a year or so it'll all equalize, but the global price might still end up inflated. This kind-of benefits all the LNG exporters, notably US, Qatar, Australia, and Russia. Russian overland exports tho are priced more conservatively -- China is supposedly paying something like $9/MMBtu for pipeline gas compared to current prices of $20+ in EU.

The current price level is painful for western Europe, very painful for Southern and Eastern Europe (worst of all for Ukraine), and it's pretty much suicidal for any EU heavy industry that faces global competition - including ag and chemicals. And this is before there is even any conflict, it has room to get worse!

Does the US care? Doesn't look like it, since once again the allies take the pain, and companies making campaign contributions to both R and D parties are profiting.

Does China care? Maybe a little, but they get an unexpected opportunity to knock out a couple of their most serious industrial competitors who are based in EU.

Does Russia care? I think if they had any common sense, they'd realize that NS2 is most probably going to get strung along "almost finished" forever, i.e. never happening, and act accordingly.

Does the rest of the world care? Yes, it has the potential to be a huge economic disaster.

Posted by: ptb | Jan 22 2022 1:37 utc | 91

james 90

So now it's just borderlands. Before it was the borderlands of Russia now it has slipped into the borderlands of insanity. The Cossack's originated in the borderlands.
It is a pity more people do not know Ukraine's history nor the meaning of its name.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 22 2022 1:52 utc | 92

what we hear from our officials in the US is for public manipulation.

Ukraine allows the US to scream "Russia! Russia! Russia!" constantly at the US public. so the subject of Ukraine is very useful.

This is partly an attempt to distract the public from the government's nightmare covid policy.

to some degree, the "the Russians are coming!" fear campaign is working, esp among democrats and pwoggies. who is the richest man in the world? who threw the election to Trump because Trump is Putin's poodle? who invaded Crimea? who has poisoned dissenters? who is not as #woke as he should be (Russia hates fags, don't you know)? etc., etc.

why don't Americans realize that Ukraine, like Taiwan et al, has *nothing* to do with them? and the only reason we hear about these countries is because the US is there to rape and kill?

why do Americans believe a goddam word out of Biden and Blinken and Bluster and Blitzkrieg's mouths? were they asleep during the run up to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc., etc.?

Posted by: rjb1.5 | Jan 22 2022 1:53 utc | 93

William Edward Kiera 89

As I commented to james, before it was the borderlands of Russia. Now it is "the" borderlands of insanity. The terms insanity and USA are interchangeable.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 22 2022 2:05 utc | 94

svdaedalus #3. Precisely. It is like "why do you have tar on your face?
Because it keeps the elephants away!
But there are no elephants here !
I know - effective isn't it?

Posted by: Big Al | Jan 22 2022 2:07 utc | 95

James @ 90, Peter AU 1 @ 92:

There is an area in SE Europe, somewhere where Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Serbia meet, that is known as Krajina. (The "j" is pronounced as "y".) The word means the same as "Ukraine". In Russia there are administrative regions whose official names end with the word "Kray", meaning "territory".

So technically "ukraine" could mean any frontier or border region but "the Ukraine" refers to a specific border region

Posted by: Jen | Jan 22 2022 2:10 utc | 96

@85 karlof1
Thanks for the link!

Posted by: ptb | Jan 22 2022 2:12 utc | 97

Let's see if I have this straight. There is an ongoing civil war in Ukraine where the US and its allies are arming and sending soldiers, sorry, "trainers", to help one side (in contravention of the Minsk agreements), but the real problem is a Russian invasion. Meanwhile, the US invasion in Syria is actually a "civil war". Thanks, MSM!

b's linked Donbas video by Patrick Lancaster was a real eye-opener, btw, and I highly recommend watching it.

Posted by: farm ecologist | Jan 22 2022 2:18 utc | 98

@ rjb1.5 #93

One cannot underestimate the power of the media to manage perceptions. Media in the West is well controlled; sadly, I see it in my own country, with NYT, Washington Post, Guardian articles uncritically reprinted, with no counter arguments tolerated. I would wish that my countrymen would seek alternative perspectives, but many do not.

Even worse, I don’t see enough critical thinking or independent thought from our politicians either.

@ PTB #91

A few months ago when discussing a large (for us) contract in Europe slated for 2023, the consultant engineer asked what I thought may impact pricing. “Energy” was my immediate response, which surprised him. I went on to explain that energy affects all prices in a manufacturing context, and I was expecting significant increases.

Well, here we are, and its not over yet, with oil projected to USD$120 - $150/barrel.

So yes, and economic disaster in the making.

@ Uncle T #84

Agreed that USA has talked itself into a corner (over some years now). Very stupid, very short-sighted, and honestly, very dangerous for all of us. I find it extraordinary that a nation would allow itself to portray diplomacy and negotiation and de-escalation as weakness. It starts with deluded exceptionalism, and potentially ends in war.

It makes me so angry.

BTW – appreciate your comments here - always well reasoned and perceptive IMO.

Posted by: Cantab | Jan 22 2022 2:19 utc | 99

This is how I see Russia's evolving position:

1. Enough is enough! Here is our list of demands - take it or leave it!

2. No, this isn't an ultimatum (although it sounds like one), just a basis for discussion! Nevertheless, it is not pick and choose!

3. No, we are not going to fight you if you cross the reddest of our red lines and install NATO in Ukraine. Sadly, however this would complicate things.

4. (Once rejections started pouring in): We knew from the start we'd be rejected by the entire West. We just want to be rejected in writing (God knows why).

5. Pouring weapons into Ukraine is not a friendly move and encourages Zelensky to attack and cleanse Russian speakers. We'd rather you stopped please.

6. Since you dismiss our demands completely, can we forget these and negotiate secondary and tertiary issues? We are optimistic!

And so on ad nauseam

Posted by: Jacob's Ladder | Jan 22 2022 2:20 utc | 100

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