(I wrote this a few weeks ago. Things have moved on since then.)
I told you so.
About seven years ago, August 2015.
Russia will not, will not, will not lose control of Svestapol without a fight, and they will escalate as far as it takes, whatever it takes. They are not bluffing. They still have nukes. If they have to, they will march the Red Army south right through the middle of the Ukraine, and to hell with anyone who gets in the way. If Kiev doesn’t like it, fuck them. If anyone wants to help out Kiev, fuck them too.https://paulmurray.wordpress.com/2015/08/08/on-the-crimean-repost/
What I got completely wrong was how the war would proceed. The first and most important part has been running for years. But I’ll deal with that in a tick. First, let’s review what this war is about, for what prize it is being fought.
Russia fights to connect Russian road and rail to its naval port at Sevastopol. It intends and has always intended to take Dontesk, Luhansk, and the eastern side of the Dnepro river to the south. And it has substantially achieved this goal. The result means unrestricted access to the Black Sea, The Mediterranean, and via the Suez Canal to Asia. A (relatively) warm-water port. Shipping via sea is still the best way to transport bulk goods. Yes, at first Russian traffic will not be welcome in the Suez, but false flags and large amounts of money will win out.
There is also an emerging Sino-Russian alliance, whose goal is to connect Russian natural resources to Chinese industry by road and rail. But the only shared land borders are a tiny strip of border in the mountains between Khazakstan and Mongolia (there isn’t even a town there – it’s all mountains) or way, way to the east around the other side of Mongolia. One observes that good fences make good neighbours, and the Gobi Desert is a fine fence. The goal of the next war, then, will be to shave off the northeastern strip of Khazakstan – east of the \rtysh River – to get a decent land route to China. Relatively nice and flat, which is what you need for rail. The route will be Novosibirsk to Ürüqi. Russia might use “terrorism” as an excuse. After all, the USA has set the precedent there. When a population hates you – even if it is for excellent reason – and fights you the only way it can, then that makes it ok to invade them. However, possibly China may secure the route through its usual combination of trade and demographic replacement, which brings me back to the decade-long war that Russia has been engaging with against the Ukraine.
Russia’s Causus Belli has been that The Ukraine has been bombing ethnic russians in Dontesk and Luhansk. Which they almost certainly have been. Horrifying, of course, that the Ukranian government is doing this to its own citizens. But then you have to pause. We are dealing with Ukranians who are ethnically Russian, speak Russian, trade in roubles, and who – and this is of paramount importance – can reasonably expect the protection of the Russian military, reasonably expect that the fellow Russians will hazard their lives, will bomb and kill, to protect them. “Fellow Russians” is nowhere near strong enough – only the word “countrymen” will do. Nothing could be clearer than that these people are not, and never were, Ukranian. What might have been written on their passports and birth certificates is a preposterous lie. These people are simply Russians.
So why were these Russians living in Ukranian territory?
They were colonising it.
The genius of democracy is that it makes it very, very difficult to defeat a nation militarily. In particular, decapitation doesn’t work. So what if a President or Prime Minister is killed? You just replace them. They aren’t a king or a queen. Most particularly, plopping someone on the throne doesn’t work. There is no throne. It has taken civilisation some time to find democracy’s weakness, which is that power goes to groups that vote as a bloc. The weapon that destroys democracies is group identity among a substantial minority. So to make war on a democracy, you split it into factions, and you move your own people in.
(It also helps if you can ruin the sense of group identity among the majority. A democracy is only ever as strong as its majority citizens are proud and patriotic. But more of that later.)
So, yes, it was quite reasonable of The Ukraine to attempt to ethnically cleanse these woodworms. Families, mums and dads, innocent apple-cheeked children – all loyal to Mother Russia. But turns out that dropping missiles on them in hopes that they will leave across the border didn’t work. What they probably needed to do was to enclose the Russians in ghettos and then ship them by rail to the gas chambers. But, well, the optics are bad. And more likely the Ukranian government never had the organisational ability to pull off such a thing. Ukranians are, after all, wogs – even if the people right at the top are not. It’s no coincidence that Dontesk and Luhansk, populated by Russians, are the industrial and technological parts of The Ukraine, and that the rest is mostly farms.
But lobbing missiles at buildings with families in them is something any military can do, and something that they especially enjoy doing when they are product of a people and culture prone to holding centuries-old grudges.
What I’m saying is that everyone is a bad guy, here.