Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 12, 2022

With No Progress In Talks Russia Will Have To React

Monday's negotiations over Russian security demands between the U.S. and Russia were, as predicted, a failure.

Russia's core demand, to end the NATO drive to its borders by excluding membership for the Ukraine and Georgia, was rejected. A for once realistic NYT piece did not even try to hide the disaster:

In Talks on Ukraine, U.S. and Russia Deadlock Over NATO Expansion

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei A. Ryabkov, Russia’s lead negotiator, insisted after the meeting that it was “absolutely mandatory” that Ukraine “never, never, ever” become a NATO member.

His American counterpart, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, reiterated that the United States could never make such a pledge because “we will not allow anyone to slam closed NATO’s open door policy,” and she said that the United States and its allies would not stand by if Russia sought to change international borders “by force."

Today's talk between all NATO members and Russia in Brussels had similar results. Russia's core requests were rejected and a bunch of stuff with which NATO would like to restrict Russian advantages was thrown up to divert the attention from the core issues.

As NATO's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg summarized it:

Today Russia raised the proposals that they published in December, aimed at addressing their security concerns.

These include demands to stop admitting any new members to NATO. And to withdraw forces from eastern Allies.

Allies on their side reaffirmed NATO’s Open Door policy. And the right for each nation to choose its own security arrangements.

Okay then. Russia will certainly choose its own security arrangements. And NATO will not like to see them.

The NATO wishlist for future talk includes these items:

Allies would like to discuss concrete ways to increase the transparency of military exercises, to prevent dangerous military incidents, and reduce space and cyber threats.

Allies have also offered to look at arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. Including to address reciprocal limitations on missiles, and to address nuclear policies.

On lines of communications, NATO Allies are interested in looking at ways to improve civil and military communications channels, and the possibility of re-establishing our respective offices in Moscow and Brussels.

None of those have any priority for Russia and, as it will surely point out, it was NATO which in October initiated the breaking off of civil and military communications channels by expelling 8 members of Russia's NATO mission in Brussels

The alliance has also halved the size of the Russian mission to NATO, headquartered in Brussels, from twenty to ten accredited positions -- the eight expelled Russian officials plus two other positions that will now be abolished.

Russia reacted to that outrageous behavior by closing its outpost in Brussels.

After the meeting today Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman added a new U.S. demand to her list:

Sherman, the number two State Department official who is leading the U.S. delegation in separate meetings in Europe this week, said the NATO-Russia meeting ended with "a sober challenge" for Russia "to de escalate tensions, choose the path of diplomacy, to continue to engage in honest and reciprocal dialogue so that together we can identify solutions that enhance the security of all."

The deputy secretary said that the Russian delegation did not commit, nor reject, NATO offers for follow-up discussions. The delegation further made no commitment to de-escalate, Sherman said, but added that they did not reject de-escalation.

"Russia's actions have caused this crisis and it is on Russia to de-escalate tensions and give diplomacy the chance to succeed... There was no commitment to de-escalate. Nor was there a statement that there would not be."

There is nothing to de-escalate. A number of Russian troops stationed within Russia are training to guard Russian borders. They have always done so and will continue to do that. It is the U.S., not Russia, which is exaggerating their number, today with 'additional helicopters' which no one has seen:

While troop movements have slowed, there are still 100,000 military personnel near the border and now the Russians have positioned additional attack aircraft there, American officials said. Attack and transport helicopters, along with ground attack fighter jets, would be a critical Russian advantage, should Mr. Putin decide to invade Ukraine.

Alexander Mercouris points out (vid) that the U.S. started the current affair when it, in March 2021, pushed the Ukraine to restart a war against it rebellious eastern Donbas provinces. Russia responded by quickly building up and showing off a force large enough to destroy the Ukrainian army.

That calmed down the Ukrainian issue for a while but the U.S. and NATO continued to pressure Russia with bomber flights near Russia's borders and warships in the Black Sea. What did they expect but a Russian response?

There is nothing the U.S. can do about troop positioning within Russia. Exaggerating their numbers only builds more pressure. The constant false lamenting about 'Russian military build-ups' don't help to calm things down.

The 'de-escalation' has to happen on the U.S. side. Otherwise it will be Russia which has to escalate. That is the warning Russia's President Vladimir Putin has given to U.S. President Joe Biden. But it does not seem that the U.S. has come to understand that.

The talks will fail as the 'western' side is rejecting the main requests Russia has. The promised 'military-technical measures' will be implemented in Europe, Asia and probably also in Latin America. Given that Russia has throughout the last decade presented a number of revolutionary weapon designs we can expect some new surprises which the U.S. will be unable to match.

Fact is that Russia is capable to defend itself and its allies from military attacks and U.S. instigated color revolution attempts like in Belarus and Kazakhstan.

That the U.S. does not like that is not Russia's problem.

Posted by b on January 12, 2022 at 17:52 UTC | Permalink

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Posted by: Pablo D Rodriguez | Jan 13 2022 16:47 utc | 197:

Russia itself is playing coy with the idea :-)

Posted by: Oriental Voice | Jan 13 2022 18:01 utc | 201

"There is nothing the U.S. can do about troop positioning within Russia."

The money line.

Posted by: ian | Jan 13 2022 19:34 utc | 202

@uncle tungsten, 172

I would love to see a published identikit of every USA and UK, NGO terrorist organiser in Kazakhstan.

So would I as well as the names of the "22 Americans, 16 Turks and 6 Israelis" in the terrorist command centre in Almaty. I have never understood why the golden pheasants from the Debaltsevo cauldron and Aleppo siege were allowed to go free without being named.

Posted by: cirsium | Jan 13 2022 21:07 utc | 203

@197 Pablo D Rodriguez "Are not forgueting the Cubans and Venezuelans?"

Think about it:
Those are the only two countries in the Americas that the USA does not have in their pocket.
Those are the only two countries in the Americas that the USA can't trust to do as they are told.

If war does erupt between Russia and the USA the VERY FIRST thing that the US military will do is to clean up its own backyard.
It will invade and occupy Cuba and Venezuela, if only to free up the men and resources that it must otherwise retain in the region.

That would be true regardless of what the Cubans or Venezuelans do or do not do.
Either way, if it does come to a shooting war then they are going down. Hard.

So the Russians can come to those countries with "an offer they can't refuse", which is this: the only way to avoid a shooting war is for you to agree to host these weapons. We'll put them in, we'll rattle a few sabres, and then we'll agree to remove them in exchange for the USA removing its missiles from Europe.

No war, which is good for us.
You get to live, which is good for you.

Cuba: Sounds risky....
Russia: It's the only way, dude.
Venezuela: I dunno.....
Russia: You're dead otherwise, dude.

If they are smart - and they are - then they'll know this is true.
They will know it is the ONLY way to prevent a war that will consume them both.
They'll agree, because not agreeing to it is a death sentence.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 13 2022 21:17 utc | 204

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 13 2022 21:17 utc | 204

If war does erupt between Russia and the USA the VERY FIRST thing that the US military will do is to clean up its own backyard.
It will invade and occupy Cuba and Venezuela, if only to free up the men and resources that it must otherwise retain in the region.

I can't say I'm following your logic on this one. How does invading and occupying countries the size of Venezuela and Cuba free up military resources? As a reference, the 83 invasion of Grenada called for an aircraft carrier and 3 destroyers.

And from a Cuban or Venezuelan perspective, I believe it would take a bit more persuasion and a much sweeter deal. Big projects, partnership, long-term contracts, that sort of thing.

Posted by: robin | Jan 13 2022 21:34 utc | 205

RE: robin | Jan 13 2022 21:34 utc | 205

I know next to nothing about the state of Cuba's military, but I do know quite about about that of Venezuela, which has layers upon layers of military and civilian armed fighters -- from the national level to the neighborhood -- ready and willing to put up a wall of fire against anyone foolish enough to try an invasion.

Should any invaders make the attempt they would find, in the probably apocryphal words of Admiral Yamamoto, "a rifle behind every blade of grass."

Posted by: AntiSpin | Jan 13 2022 21:54 utc | 206

"I can't say I'm following your logic on this one. How does invading and occupying countries the size of Venezuela and Cuba free up military resources? As a reference, the 83 invasion of Grenada called for an aircraft carrier and 3 destroyers."

While Cuba and Venezuela are left in the hands of their respective governments the USA has to retain forces in the USA sufficient to mount an invasion and overwhelm their military. It would be militarily irresponsible of the Pentagon not to do so, since it effectively leaves a backdoor open.

But once they DO invade and occupy those two countries then all they need is an army of occupation.
And it requires far, far fewer forces to keep a lid on an occupation than to invade.

Consider this: the Imperial Japanese Army committed a force at the beginning of the Pacific War that was much smaller than the combined number of soldiers under American, British, Dutch and Australian command.

It didn't matter: they committed their forces to the invasion of Malaya and the Philippines, then loaded them back on the boats and invaded the Dutch East Indies. Then loaded them back on the boat and invaded New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

A successful invasion frees up the bulk of your forces to go elsewhere, because the occupation forces you leave behind are much, much smaller than the force you needed to invade in the first place.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 13 2022 22:35 utc | 207

@205 "Big projects, partnership, long-term contracts, that sort of thing."

Not dying isn't an incentive?

Let's be honest here: if there is a war between Russia and the USA then Cuba and Venezuela are toast.

But if those two countries help Russia win without a shot being fired - which is what I am suggesting they can do - then the Russians will owe the Cubans and the Venezuelans big-time. Enough for the Russians to insist that all sanctions on everyone have to be lifted.

Including those on Cuba and Venezuela.

And that's not worth nothing, in your book?

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 13 2022 22:56 utc | 208

@208 Cuba and Venezuela have probably been warned already. If there is a war between US and Russia don't get any ideas.

You won't find that in writing anywhere.

Posted by: dh | Jan 13 2022 23:16 utc | 209

@209 dh And the Cubans and Venezuelans would be able to trust such a warning.... why, exactly?

Imagine a war between Russia and the USA.
A big, drag 'em out war between the two of them.

Even if the Cubans and Venezuelans DID NOTHING, the Pentagon would still invade those two countries during that war.

Q: Why?
A: Because the USA needs *everyone* in their backyard to be under their thumb.

They can't afford to have *anyone* outside the tent, precisely because the USA has a unique advantage in being a hegemon of an entire hemisphere.

Cuba and Venezuela are outside that tent which is tolerable while it is a "cold war", but utterly intolerable when it becomes a "hot war".

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 14 2022 1:58 utc | 210

@210 The Cubans or Venezuelans would not like being told to butt out but they can't argue about it. Their economies are practically ruined already and a dozen bombs/missiles strategically placed would finish them off. The US wouldn't need to invade.

Posted by: dh | Jan 14 2022 2:10 utc | 211

@211 If you say so.

So, please, if it comes to a hot war between Russia and the USA why wouldn't the USA fire those missiles irrespective of what the Cubans/Venezuelans do or don't do? As you said, it would only take a few missiles to remove those two countries from the board, so why wouldn't the Pentagon do that.

You know, just to be sure.

Because that's my main point: I remain convinced that if they *do* agree to host Russian missiles then there won't be any shots fired at all.

Which is a very attractive prospect for them, rather than simply cowering in the corner hoping that the Pentagon leaves them alone.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 14 2022 2:52 utc | 212

@212 I think you are living in some kind of Che Guevara fantasy world. The US will not tolerate Russian missile bases in Cuba or Venezuela even if the Cubans and Venezuelans would accept them. Which is doubtful. That's the reality.

Posted by: dh | Jan 14 2022 3:04 utc | 213

@213 Then talk to Wendy Sherman, not to me.

Because she is the person who just stood up and articulated USA policy on this, and in terms that allow no misunderstanding:

There are no such thing as "spheres of influence".

No "national security concern" can justify a resort to force.

EVERY country, no matter how small, are entitled to form military alliances with whomever they wish.

Those are ALL non-negotiable, core policies of the United States of America. Set in stone. Not gonna change.

Only now you are telling me otherwise.

Heck, don't tell *me*.

Tell the f**king State Department. Because *they* don't agree with you.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 14 2022 3:47 utc | 214

@213 dh For what it's worth I agree with you that Washington can not tolerate Russian offensive missiles in Cuba and Venezuela.

Absolutely can not tolerate such a threat.

But the point remains: Sherman has just scuppered any claim the USA might have to a moral or legal justification for this.

That just leaves Realpolitik. Naked self-interest in the USA's "near abroad".

Wellllllll, yeah. That's what the Russians have been arguing all along.

So what does the USA do if those missiles start being airlifted in?

Go kinetic? That simply inverts the argument on its head, and Russia are no longer the "bad guys" in the armed conflict. The USA is.

Or negotiate? We'll remove our forces from Eastern Europe if you remove your forces from the America's.

Russia will take that deal, and nobody dies.

What's not to like?

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 14 2022 3:58 utc | 215

@215 Sounds like you should be arguing with Wendy Sherman. I dont think me and Wendy would get along at all. I just think your idea for missile bases in Latin America is a non starter but maybe you and Wendy can work something out.

Posted by: Dh | Jan 14 2022 4:16 utc | 216

@216 OK, I give up. There really is no point attempting to point out the obvious to you.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 14 2022 5:25 utc | 217

@Yeah, Right | Jan 14 2022 3:58 utc | 215

Sherman has just scuppered any claim the USA might have to a moral or legal justification for this.

"Cuba chose its own security arrangements and asked us if we could supply some missiles, and we could".

Something like that.

Posted by: Norwegian | Jan 14 2022 7:25 utc | 218

@217 Dont give up. Tell us why you think Castro and Maduro should get Russian missile bases.As if they dont have enough problems already. No need to tell us Wendy Sherman is a two faced, arrogant b*tch. Thats obvious.

Posted by: Dh | Jan 14 2022 8:06 utc | 219

@219 dh "Tell us why you think Castro and Maduro should get Russian missile bases."

*sigh* Already done, post @204. I can't be bothered to repeat it.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 14 2022 8:23 utc | 220

US will react if Russia deploys troops in Latin America – White House

Not likely to happen I think, but if they did, what would the reaction be?

More speculation: What if China deployed to Nicaragua to protect an upcoming Nicaragua canal?

Posted by: Norwegian | Jan 14 2022 9:13 utc | 221

The 5-Minute Decapitation Strike

1] From Russia's point of view, is a static missile emplacement ( Venezuela or Cuba ), better than a dynamic missile emplacement on roving nuclear-engined submarines in the Atlantic and Artic? From the US point of view, is it easier to aim your ICBMs at a static missile base or to find super-silent Russian submarines playing hide and seek in 2 vast oceans?

2] From Russia's point of view, after announcing a 5-minute decapitation flight time, could they not move their subs so that the strike time is 4 minutes, even 6 minutes? This widens by millions of square kilometres of ocean that the US is forced to search for enemy subs. From Russia's point of view, there is hardly any difference to make a sure kill, but the US has to commit much more resources on defense.

3] From Russia's point of view, why spend time and money building new missile bases a continent away, only to become sitting ducks for ICBM fire ( notwithstanding their S500 ) for an inferior tactical solution when a much superior naval solution is available right now with available nuclear submarines highly-practised at finding hiding places in the Atlantic, and especially the ice-covered Artic?

4] From Russia's point of view, is it better to trust your naval officers with secrecy than to trust Cubans and Venezuelans, who are after all humans, open to infiltration by 17 "intelligence" agencies, not counting M16 and the Chosen Tribe?

5] Is the defense of Venezuela and Cuba a responsibility of Russia's, no matter how "good" that might seem to you and I?

6] And is it not true that Russia's chief complaint against US's actions in Europe is not Ukraine per se, nor Nato per se, nor the EU per se, but the likelihood of a 5-minute decapitation strike when the US has hypersonic weapons in a few years' time.

Posted by: kiwiklown | Jan 14 2022 9:30 utc | 222

There will be some thorough analysis of Lavrov presser, I'll just point to a detail, Lavrov hinted to the known expression, Russians take their time to saddle their horses but once saddled they ride them fast.

So, here it is, a classic song, Coachman don't Rush the Horses, that goes for all the speculation, where how and when are they going to throw the bomb. The real bomb has been thrown already: we want it in writing.

How sad, foggy all around

My path is dreary, desolate

And the past seems like a dream

Compresses a sore chest.

(chorus): Coachman, don't rush the horses,

I have nowhere else to hasten

I have no one else to love,

Coachman, don't rush the horses.

Posted by: Paco | Jan 14 2022 9:45 utc | 223

@kiwiklown | Jan 14 2022 9:30 utc | 222

I'm bemused by all this talk of stationing military equipment here or there.
There seems to be a deficit within the discourse that fails to understand the nature of complex "total risk communication" (e.g., go follow up Peter Sandman).

Total risk in this case is a combination of the real empirical hazard (all this hardware location etc) AND the "Outrage" that results from it.

Under current technology it is rather a non-event as to where anything is physically, except at the very close border margins. If it goes nuclear then at least three civilizations (possibly four) will be gone in a blinding flash before the third missile volley even leaves the automatic silo launch systems. Life will continue at the stick and stones level in remote regional pockets and some future historians may make some sense of it in a thousand years time. They won't be speaking or writing English.

I do not know what others are implying about placement of Russian attack capacity in the USA backyard. I personally only see any possible merit in (a) announcing it; (b) beginning it; and (c) perhaps eventually completing it as part of a mass media (hysteria) managment programme strategy under the above mentioned "Outrage" vector. And the wisdom of this approach is beyond my pay-grade. It is going to be sanctions from hell (well, the US Treasury, but I repeat myself) in any case for many if the USA won't transform and stand down from their empire fanatsy.

The question is: what media outrage strategy best helps the USA domestic forces rise and tip the balance towards this preferred (by many) outcome before it is too late. That is my two-cents worth but I hear/read very little on how this may be facilitated. I mentioned once before, that Cuba cancelling the Gitmo Bay lease on the grounds of running a terror torture center would be one possible action. Handing it to the Russians or Chinese to establish a Caribean holiday village (and lead container storage terminal) would control the USA domestic discourse for weeks/months. Whether to Cuba's advantage, or disadvantage, I am not sure.

Posted by: imo | Jan 14 2022 10:00 utc | 224

A slow news week ahead. Russia has asked for a detailed written response to its proposals on security.

Lavrov I guess has a good understanding of where things are headed.

Lavrov: We always focus on specific tasks. “The hopes the young mind nourish,” but we are mature men here. The reality is harsh, and we have to act on it, and the reality is that we have been promised a written response. We will wait for it and then determine what to do next.

As for optimism, there is a saying that goes like this: “Who’s a pessimist? A pessimist is a well-informed optimist.”

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 14 2022 10:56 utc | 225

@224 imo The purpose of putting missiles into Cuba and Venezuela is to then bargain them away.

Nothing more. No less.

The USA is not interested in removing THEIR missiles from Poland and Romania because, well, why should they. The Pentagon is not a charity, and it's Generals do not hail from the Salvation Army. Russia has no chips of comparable worth to trade with, so Washington is not interested in a horse-trade.

But if Russian missiles were in Cuba and Venezuela then that is different: it sharpens the mind, and it gives Moscow something to trade off.

Such missiles would be vulnerable to a US first strike?
Sure, same as the US missiles in those Aegis Ashore silos, but that doesn't mean that Russia is unconcerned about them.

The Americans would go ape-shit at the very prospect?
Sure, that's the entire point of the exercise, because as things stand now Washington is totally unconcerned about Russia's complaints.

Folks, this isn't a hypothetic: the world has been through this before with the Cuban Missile Crisis.

That started with American nukes in Turkey, which the Soviets did not like one little bit.
So the Soviets moved nukes into Cuba, and Washington went utterly ape-shit.

Q: So, what happened?
A: The Russians removed their missiles from Cuba, and.... the USA removed their missiles from Turkey.

Honestly, has nobody read a history book?

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 14 2022 11:16 utc | 226

Posted by: imo | Jan 14 2022 10:00 utc | 224

Thanks for commenting.

My thoughts flow from what Putin himself said in public in answer to hostile fire from Western journalists. He said that he knows when the US will have hypersonics, and that if emplaced in Ukraine, and similar places, it will take only 5 minutes for a decapitation strike against Moscow. He therefore asks for a written undertaking from the US that they will not emplace such weaponry against Moscow, and that the US will not treat Russia as an enemy nation. Putin's generals have expanded on the request to say that Nato ought to pick up their shit, and go back to the 1997 borders, and that if nothing positive (from Russia's POV) results from the requests to sign the 2 agreements, then "military-technical" remedies will apply.

Now, you and I know that the US is not agreement capable: they merrily violate signed agreements all the time. Furthermore, the US will bluster and huff and puff and will NOT sign Putin's proposed agreements in the first place. Predicting exactly that US response, Putin put the 2 agreements he asked the US to sign "out there" in the public domain. His diplomats also put the US response "out there" in hour-long pressers after each of the 3 meetings. All that so that Putin can say to the world that he at least tried to talk sense into the US leadership.

Now that the 3 meetings are over, and the US have said piss off, Putin can move on to what he has anticipated he needs to do, which is to put his missiles at an equal 5-minute flight time from the decision-making centres of the US. He warned exactly that during his retorts to those hostile Western journalists in the lead up to this whole "non-ultimatum" ultimatum.

This is where my remarks at @222 flow on from.

We are living through an epoch-making inflexion point in history. Things are moving very fast.

You will not know it from reading the Western press, and even some of the "alternative" press.

I do not have time to find links for you for each statement I make above but what I talk about are easily searchable.

Posted by: kiwiklown | Jan 14 2022 11:36 utc | 227

@221 Norwegian Well, when Jake Sullivan starts threatening to be "decisive" you just know that Putin is shaking in his boots and his minions have rushed to the bomb shelters.

Because, honestly, when The Human Condom starts to get animated you know that things are serious.

But that article is a laugh: his main complaint is that Russia didn't run this idea past Wendy Sherman at the gab-fest.

Hellloooooo. Wendy Sherman had just lectured the Russians that as far as the USA is concerned ANYBODY is entitled to form a military alliance with ANYONE they damn well like, so suck on that, Vlad. Any suggestion to the contrary is a complete non-starter.

Russia: OK, we hear you.
Wendy: Ya' got something else to say?
Russia: No, but we'll take your sage advice to heart.
Wendy: Wadda' mean?
Russia: You'll see.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 14 2022 11:47 utc | 228

@ m 168

I think you have come to a wrong place, mate. is the place for you.

Posted by: Den Lille Abe | Jan 14 2022 12:05 utc | 229

@kiwiklown | Jan 14 2022 11:36 utc | 227

Fyi: behind a paywall unfortunately, but on topic.

"Russia Suggests Military Deployment to Venezuela, Cuba if Tensions With U.S. Remain High" (Jan. 13, 2022)

"Russia’s deputy foreign minister said talks with the U.S. over the security situation in Ukraine had stalled and suggested that Moscow could dispatch a military deployment to Venezuela and Cuba, as the Kremlin seeks to pressure Washington to meet its demands to halt Western military activity that Russia claims poses a threat.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Thursday that Moscow couldn’t exclude dispatching “military infrastructure” to Venezuela or Cuba if tensions with Washington—which have soared in recent weeks over a huge buildup of Russian troops on Ukraine’s border—continue to rise. ..."

Posted by: imo | Jan 14 2022 13:13 utc | 230

@222 Some clear thinking there. I doubt if Russia will even ask Cuba or Venezuela to allow missile bases on their land. Cubans and Venezuelans know precisely what the US will say about it and how they will react. Any missile bases won't ever get to the building stage.

Posted by: dh | Jan 14 2022 14:06 utc | 231

@imo #124
I fear you have an inaccurate view of the US ruling elites and their media partners/pawns.
The average American isn't hearing diddly about this - only the occasional snippet about "Russians threatening to invade".
Unless and until (and if) the US institutes a draft in order to prosecute a "boots on the ground" war - this won't change.
In the meantime, the American oligarchy: bureaucrats, politicians, CEOs, media personalities, professors, think tankers etc will do pretty much whatever they want.

Posted by: c1ue | Jan 14 2022 15:30 utc | 232

Yesterday a Russian Government Tu-154M (Boeing 727 alike) aircraft was tracked by FlightRadar 24 south of Cuba heading for Venezuela. We have to guess what it was up to but the timing and destinations are interesting.

I still think that until the American oligarchy, as described by c1ue above, actually 'feels' any Russian action, either personally or perhaps all over the MSM, they will do as he says, nothing.

This means that a pure 'military' action, like a Yasen armed with Tsirkon hypersonic missiles parked 500 miles somewhere off the east coast, is pointless.

Perhaps an action that got Israel howling, like Russia supplying Iran with Su-35S advanced fighters (currently ex stock due to a cancelled Egyptian order - CAATSA impact), although military and not directly affecting the US, might activate the Israeli lobby who would try to rouse the oligarchy.

Posted by: JohninMK | Jan 14 2022 16:20 utc | 233

@233 Israel is already howling about close Iran/Venezuela ties. Maduro has visited Teheran recently and Iran has supplied Venezuela with UAVs. Then there's the oil shipments which surprisingly don't seem to get a lot of attention.

Posted by: dh | Jan 14 2022 16:39 utc | 234

Posted by: imo | Jan 14 2022 10:00 utc | 224

...I mentioned once before, that Cuba cancelling the Gitmo Bay lease on the grounds of running a terror torture center would be one possible action. Handing it to the Russians or Chinese to establish a Caribean holiday village (and lead container storage terminal) would control the USA domestic discourse for weeks/months. Whether to Cuba's advantage, or disadvantage, I am not sure.

This point illustrates the disconnect between how things are and how they ought to be.

In a fair world, Cuba has the sovereign right to decide who does what, when and how, on its territory. But in practise, it does not. It can ask the Americans to leave, and it certainly has, repeatedly, since the revolution. But alas, the occupier just doesn't see it that way. There simply is no arbiter, no enforcing power to boot the invader off the island.

This is an example of a very heavily tilted power balance. There are many other similar examples of such imbalances which invariably involve the same belligerent.

In my opinion, many scenarios I've been reading recently could benefit from a re calibration of the power balance meter. I sometimes wonder if I'm reading objective predictions or wishful fantasy screenplays. I'm referring to the postings from the last few days by the way, not you imo.

The problem I see with confusing what things ought to be with what they really are, is that any objective observation is subsequently received with suspicion. Suggesting that the US is firmly implanted in Syria because it enjoys escalation dominance is somehow perceived as an endorsement of the belligerent and received with annoyance. This is unfortunate because this kind of reasoning creates a tension which ultimately hampers the discussion.

Posted by: robin | Jan 14 2022 19:55 utc | 235

Posted by: Norwegian | Jan 14 2022 9:13 utc | 221

...More speculation: What if China deployed to Nicaragua to protect an upcoming Nicaragua canal?

Thanks for bringing up Nicaragua.

Before even thinking about big projects, it would make sense to protect the country from the inevitable upcoming coup. You just know that the US has all sorts of plans to stir up trouble.

How about some cooperation similar to what was seen in Kazakhstan?

Posted by: robin | Jan 14 2022 20:31 utc | 236

@235 Which is why there's no point in getting excited when Wendy Sherman says "Every country has sovereign right to choose its own path.” as if it's a Gotcha! moment.

There is obvious inconsistency in what she says but if she's aware of it she doesn't give a damn.

Posted by: dh | Jan 14 2022 20:38 utc | 237

@233 JohninMK This is true. So many people are spouting that Russia doesn't "need" to put missiles in Cuba and Venezuela because it can simply part a missile sub off the east coast of the USA.

That misses the point entirely. If the oligarchs can't see the danger then they don't even factor it in. They ignore it. They discount it.

A sub off the coast of the USA? Well, when hasn't there been a sub off the coast?
Putin can fire missiles from Russia that can hit Washington? Yeah, when hasn't he had such missiles?

But putting missiles into Cuba and Venezuela is a direct threat to the Monroe Doctrine. It is a direct threat to the Washington assumption that the "western hemisphere" is theirs and theirs alone to play in.

It will concentrate their minds, and drive them utterly ape-shit. Those missiles will HAVE to be removed.

Washington can do it by force.
Washington can do it by negotiation.

But the important point is this: it is the missiles themselves that makes "negotiation" possible. Without them then the USA sees absolutely no need to negotiate with anyone over anything.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 14 2022 22:01 utc | 238

@238 " It will concentrate their minds, and drive them utterly ape-shit. Those missiles will HAVE to be removed.

Washington can do it by force.
Washington can do it by negotiation."

I'll put my money on force. But not right away. They'll start with a few threats if Cuba agrees to the installation. They've probably done that already. If the Cubans actually start building a base they'll knock of a power plant or two. Then Havana airport. Then maybe a couple hotels in Varadero. They'll try to limit human casualties if possible but accidents happen. No Bay of Pigs invasion though. Times have changed.

Posted by: dh | Jan 14 2022 23:25 utc | 239

@239 "I'll put my money on force"

Good for you.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 15 2022 2:09 utc | 240

"With No Progress In Talks Russia Will Have To React"

A useful tool in "perception management" is to act in a way you always intended to act at a time when you intended to act, which the opponent will "interpret" as being in reaction to something that he has done.

Another is to do nothing when your opponent expects you to react and allow the lacunae to be bridged by the opponents beliefs - an example of opponents bridging doubt by belief to attain self-confirmation - a tool that is consistently resorted to in present contexts, when evangelised known as "fake news", Mr. Rove's observation on "We are an Empire.." refers.

Posted by: NotEuclid | Jan 19 2022 9:16 utc | 241

I just want to point out that neither Russia or China, or for that matter Iran, NEEDS to do anything. They are winning as things are now.

It is the West that needs to do something, and we don't want to change. THAT is the problem, we don't want to change, we want the same old leaders and institutions doing the same old stupid wars and stuff.

It is true that what Putin is doing is precisely emphasizing the neediness of the West. Making them take a good hard look at it.

And Russia IS the least needy nation on the planet.

Posted by: Bemildred | Jan 19 2022 11:59 utc | 242

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