Has The Risk Of Escalation ... Escalated?
Yesterday Moon of Alabama, in the course of a wide ranging article, presented the possibility of a major escalation of the Ukraine - Russia conflict—one which could involved direct clashes of Russian and NATO forces.
As a backdrop, we see a widening split within NATO between the EU and the Anglosphere, reflecting the EU’s economic crisis. Thus, on June 16 three former banksters—German Chancellor Scholz, French President Macron and Italian President Draghi—arrived in Kiev to urge Ukraine to for-God’s-sake end the war.
Vera Van Horne @VeraVanHorneThe day after: Russia reduces gas inflow to Germany, Italy. France is cut off the Russian gas completely. https://t.co/zyBgDCIlyG
At least that’s what I read. It’s not entirely clear, but it seems likely because the next day lame duck Boris Johnson turned up, mongering for more war. One presumes that he did so as the messenger boy for the Anglosphere. In the meantime, we’re hearing strange rationalizations for continuing a hopeless war along the lines of: Ukraine needs to improve its negotiating position.
So, within that overall context, Moon voices his concerns:
The Pentagon is not ready for a war on China. Iran is too strong and would respond to an attack by launching its huge missile arsenal on Israel and U.S. allies in the Gulf. This leaves Syria. It is unlikely by chance that the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the U.S. is coordinating Israeli airstrikes in that country:
WASHINGTON—Israel secretly coordinates with the U.S. on many of the airstrikes it carries out in Syria as the allies face a battlefield crowded with militant groups, Iranian-backed militias and foreign militaries, according to current and former U.S. officials.
I expect those airstrikes, like last week's attack on the airport of Damascus, to intensify with the hope to divert Russian attention from Ukraine.
Russia is of course 100% prepared for that but U.S. miscalculations that led to this are many and I do not expect that tendency to change anytime soon.
Lending support to the idea that the Western brain trust is seeking to stage diversionary military actions to distract Russia from what appears to be a looming major victory in eastern Ukraine, we see the new Ukrainian campaign of indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas of Donetsk—almost certainly an effort to draw Russian forces away from their main offensive:
Russians With Attitude @RWApodcastI mean, the terrorism makes sense from a purely military perspective. They're trying their hardest to distract the Donetsk People's Militia & the RuAF from Severodonetsk. They want to make the Allied forces divert artillery back to Donetsk for counter-battery measures. https://t.co/fXbh1vmKtJ
Now, at this point I want to present Michael Brenner’s overall perspective, justifying his concern that the Zhou regime will go for one more miscalculation—this time escalatory. After all, with this regime’s track record, why would they stop miscalculating? That’s Brenner’s fundamental point:
Michael Brenner sizes up the scale of the West’s blunder in trying to use a crisis in Ukraine as the lever to bring down Putin and Russia along with him.
Reality has a way of catching up to us. ...
Dim the lights, the party’s almost over. But that is not the end of the affair. Whatever the exact outcomes, there is no going back to the status quo ante — the world, especially Europe, has changed in fundamental respects. Moreover, it has changed in ways diametrically opposite to what was desired and anticipated.
That was Putin’s basic message, speaking at the economic conference in St. Petersburg the other day. Was anyone in the West listening?
The West has been inhabiting a fanciful world that could exist only in our imaginations. Many remain stranded in that self-deluded mirage. The more that we have invested in that fantasy world, the harder we find it to exit and to make the adjustment — intellectual, emotional, behavioral.
An assessment of where we are, where we might go and the implications over time of the reactions of other parties is a singularly complex undertaking. ...
Those in Charge
First, the people who count at the head of governments are not pure thinking machines. Far from it. They are too often persons of narrow intelligence, of limited experience in high stakes games of power politics, who navigate by simplistic, outdated and parochial cognitive maps of the world. Their perspectives approximate montages composed of bits of ideology, bits of visceral emotion, bits of remembered but inappropriate precedents, bits of massaged public opinion data, and odds-and-ends plucked from New York Times op-ed pieces.
Consequently, there are two powerful, in-built tendencies that inflect the choices made: 1) inertial extension of existing attitudes and approaches; and 2) avoidance wherever possible of endangering a hard-won, often tenuous, consensus on a lowest common denominator basis.
One thing we know with certainty: no fundamental change in thinking or action can occur without determination and decisiveness at the top.
True innovation tends to occur only in extremis; and even then, behavioral change is more likely to begin with minor adjustments of established thinking and behavior at the margins rather than modification of core beliefs and patterns of action.
The American Dilemma
Those truths underscore the American dilemma as the Ukraine venture turns sour on the battlefield and your enemy is faring far better than expected while your friends and allies are faring far worse.
Russia has blunted everything thrown at them – to the shock of Western planners. Every assumption underpinning their scorched-earth assault on the Russian economy has proven mistaken. A dismal record of analytical error even by C.I.A. and think tank standards.
Btw, you can apply most of that reasoning to the Establishment Deep State decision to remove Trump via a hoaxed up coup. Not too smart, putting Zhou in the WH, was it? Thanks, Bluto Barr! As Brenner says, most of the people making these decisions didn’t get to their positions of power because they’re geniuses of some sort. They did it by joining the status quo and parroting the conventional ‘wisdom’.
Anyway, Brenner calculates that we should keep an eye on what’s going on in Syria, where US and Russian forces are already engaged in a dangerous dance. However, surprisingly, little attention is being paid to the Baltic region, where NATO war ‘games’ just concluded. Below is a Twitter thread that discusses a development that should alarm us all—you can read all about the fascinating history of the former East Prussia and how it ended up becoming the Kaliningrad Oblast of the Russian Federation here:
🇱🇹 🇷🇺 Lithuania has begun to gradually stifle rail transit to the Kaliningrad region. Lithuanian Railways has notified Kaliningrad Railway of the termination of the transit of a number of goods subject to EU sanctions from Saturday.
Up to 50% of the range of goods, including building materials and metals, will fall under the transit ban.
This is not yet a full-fledged blockade of the region, but it is already close to it.
It is obvious that in the near future Russia will have to solve the issue of deblocking the Kaliningrad region. In this case, the hypothetical Suwalki corridor may well become a reality.
🇱🇹 May be denazified when the times comes it means that...
If suddenly, someday, residents of Lithuania, for example, say, "what is happenning," remember this day.
The day when Lithuania, in fact, violates to some extent Russian sovereignty over the Kaliningrad region
Statement from the Governor of the Kaliningrad region Alikhanov:
"The Lithuanian Railways have notified the Kaliningrad Railway that from zero o'clock they stop passing transit from Kaliningrad and to the Kaliningrad region...
We believe that this is a gross violation of the protocols on the accession of the Baltic states to the EU, a violation of the rules of free transit. This was an obligation of the EU and the Baltic States. This is an attempt to strangle our region economically."
I would like to remind you that an integral part of the package of joint EU-Russia-Lithuania decisions of 2002-2003 to guarantee the transit of Russian goods and, of course, citizens of the Russian Federation to/from the Kaliningrad Region
It was the counter commitment of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation to ratify the Agreement on the State Border with the Republic of Lithuania.
I remember this very well, because at that time I headed the State Duma Committee on International Affairs and was the special representative of the President of Russia at these negotiations.
If Brussels and Vilnius are proactively and treacherously destroying the package of agreements on Kaliningrad transit signed by them,which entered into force on July 1, 2003, then the EU should understand the consequences of its suicidal decision for the legitimacy of its own eastern border.
Is this intended to divert Russia’s attention from eastern Ukraine? If so, it seems incredibly reckless. Consider:
The Baltic Fleet is subordinate to Russia's Western Military District (headquartered in St. Petersburg) which also incorporates Russia's strongest ground and air formations. The Kaliningrad region serves as the principal base area for the Baltic Fleet and therefore hosts significant land and air forces, both to defend Kaliningrad and to extend Russian shore-based air and sea denial capabilities (A2/AD) into the Baltic Sea and region.
Are there any adults in DC?
Moon follows up today, and his remarks begin with this disturbing observation:
This morning I watched an hour long discussion (vid) by 'experts' at the Center for Strategic & International Studies about assessing Russia's war in Ukraine. I have to say that these folks know nothing that is relevant. They seem to have never heard of Sun Tsu's dictum 'Know your enemy':
Sun Tzu says, “To know your enemy, you must become your enemy,” but how do you become your enemy? You need to put yourself in the place of your enemy so you can predict his actions.
Not once did the CSIS people consider the view of Russia or its real intent. They talk about this or that U.S. option but do not even once consider how the other side would react to it.
Reality can be a bitch. For example, among other interesting tidbits in this article:
The Ukrainian logistic commander also mentions that the U.S. delivered howitzer are very vulnerable:
Unfortunately, we don't have an opportunity today to have foreign supplied equipment sent back to a restoration facility simply because of time constraints. That is why we are discussing spare parts here so that we can maintain and repair that equipment right in the field.
For example, the M777 artillery systems are really prone to being damaged by enemy artillery. For every battery of M777, there are six pieces.
After every artillery contact, we have to take two artillery pieces and take them back to the rear to maintain them because some of the subsystems are damaged by shrapnel. This happens every day.
Events tend to have a momentum that takes them forward faster than the people who are supposed to control them. The possibility of loss of control would seem to me to escalate the more areas of confrontation are multiplied. But what do I know?