Tag Archives: Ukraine war

How much can Russians take?

It’s fair to ask of our fellow travelers who happen to live in Russia: How much more of their country’s squalid leadership can they take as they watch their young soldiers get slaughtered in Ukraine?

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin launched an illegal and immoral war against Ukraine in February 2022. He reportedly expected a quick-and-dirty finish to the conflict, with the Ukrainians buckling under the weight of the vastly superior Russian army.

Not so fast. It damn sure didn’t happen.

Now the Ukrainians have launched their long-anticipated “counter offensive” and have retaken much of the land captured by Russian troops.

Putin’s armed forces have performed miserably. Putin surely must know it. Every international observer worth a damn has declared the Russian effort a tactical defeat for Putin.

Back to my question …

Russians cannot possibly be so gullible that they believe the propaganda put forth from the Kremlin about the so-called “success” of the military effort in Ukraine. They have access to worldwide media accounts that tell a stark story of incompetence, malfeasance, desertion among the troops and draftees fleeing the country to avoid conscription into the Russian army.

It all makes me wonder just how much longer Putin can continue to (mis)manage this conflict.

He is being offered a bitter but nonetheless important lesson, which tells him something like this: You do not invade another sovereign country expecting it to roll over just because you demand it. 

The Russians should have learned that lesson already in Afghanistan. It reminds me of the truism about “those who fail to learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them.”

Putin gets his payback

Yevgeny Prigozhin seems to have died in a plane crash today.

I say “seems” because Russian authorities haven’t yet declared that he is indeed one of the 10 people who died when the plane plummeted to the ground.

Who is this guy? Two months ago, he mounted a mutiny against Russian strongman Vladimir Putin with his mercenary army  marching within spitting distance of Moscow. Prigozhin called off his challenge to Putin, retreated to Belarus, and then Putin declared that he wouldn’t exact any punishment against Prigozhin.

Then this happened. Coincidence? Hardly!

The death of this thoroughly bad actor shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone. Putin’s promise to let Prigozhin live on was pure BS and those who follow Kremlin intrigue knew it when Putin made the declaration.

I am not mourning Prigozhin’s apparent demise. I am just aghast that Vladimir Putin would follow the script from which he has been reading once again … while the world is watching how he is prosecuting an illegal and immoral war against Ukraine.

Putin commits No. 1 blunder

In the annals of strategic blunders, it appears to me that an all-time mess-up might have been committed by Russian dictator/tyrant/goon Vladimir Putin.

He invaded Ukraine in February 2022 thinking the war would be brief, that he would install a puppet government in Kyiv, he could bring his troops home, he could force NATO to fall apart and could have his way in that part of Europe.


President Joe Biden declared this week on his trip to Lithuania and then to Helsinki, Finland, that Putin already has “lost the war” in Ukraine.

His military is third-rate at best; Ukraine has shown itself to be more than capable; NATO not only has held together, it has grown; Finland’s inclusion in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization effectively doubles the size of territory bordering Russia.

Oh, and the alliance has held because of Biden’s expertise in foreign policy and his steady leadership as president of the world’s pre-eminent military and economic superpower.

My sense now is that it might be time to start pressuring Putin to begin negotiating a way out of this war. We have supplied Ukraine with plenty of arms, ordnance, various supplies and training to handle the supposedly vaunted Russian military. The Russians have demonstrated time and again a level of battlefield incompetence that no one saw coming.

President Biden is not overstating what looks to be more obvious all the time … that Russia has already “lost” the Ukraine War.


First things first in Ukraine

President Biden has laid it out there: Ukraine, he said, “isn’t yet ready” to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Hmm. That is code, of course, for the obvious reason why it’s premature for Ukraine to consider joining NATO.

Ukraine is the middle of a war with Russia. NATO happens to have a clause in its constitution that says, in effect, that an attack on one member nation is an attack on the entire organization. Translation: That means the United States goes to war with Russia, too!

Accordingly, Joe Biden is absolutely correct in asserting that Ukraine shouldn’t become a NATO member until the war with Russia ends.

The president is displaying his foreign-policy chops handsomely during his visit to Lithuania, which is playing host to NATO member nations. Ukraine has launched a long-anticipated counteroffensive against the Russian aggressors, seeking to take back territory the Russians seized when they launched the unprovoked, illegal and immoral war against a sovereign state.

Russian goon/strongman Vladimir Putin has been accused by the world court of committing war crimes against Ukrainian civilians, giving Ukraine more incentive to take the fight to the Russians.

This fight isn’t over. Our sincere hope ought to be that there can be a negotiated settlement found and that the Russians can end their bloody misadventure in due course.

NATO, meanwhile, remains strong and united in its effort to persuade Russia of the tragic mistake it is making. I will credit the president of the United States for keeping his cool and for assuring NATO remains strong and united in this fight to preserve democracy.

Once the fight ends, then we can talk about Ukraine’s future as a member of the alliance formed after World War II — let us never forget — to protect the continent against Russian aggression.


Cluster bombs: Too much, too deadly?

President Biden’s decision to send cluster bombs to Ukraine to aid the Ukrainians in their fight against Russian aggressors sends a slight chill up my spine.

I say “slight” because the president easily could place some restrictions on their use by Ukrainian armed forces.

Cluster munitions are the types of bombs break apart, sending explosives over a vast target area. They inflict astonishing damage on targets they hit. They also are known to inflict tragic collateral damage. Indeed, the Russians are using them against Ukrainians in their effort to conquer that sovereign state.

Joe Biden has accused Russians of committing war crimes in using cluster munitions, given the damage they have done to schools, hospitals and houses of worship.

It sounds like Ukraine could be sliding down that proverbial slippery slope if they use this ordnance against Russians, unless …

They are able to inflict the intended damage only to military targets.

President Biden’s decision to send these munitions to Ukraine comes at the recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Pentagon brass. Fine, Mr. President.

Please, though, tell Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to use them judiciously to avoid falling into the same category of “war criminal” as the madman who seeks to take control of your country.


If only a good guy could emerge

Before we get too far down the road in wishing for a different outcome in that brief rebellion we witnessed in Russia, it’s good to put a couple of aspects in proper perspective.

One is that the alternative to Russian strongman/goon/tyrant Vladimir Putin was not a good one.

The commander of the Wagner military group of mercenaries is one bad dude. Yevgeny Prigozhin had led a march to about 125 miles south of Moscow before he called the whole thing off. Putin called him a traitor and vowed maximum revenge.

Then Prigozhin high-tailed it to Belarus after that country’s president brokered some sort of stand-down. Putin said Prigozhin wouldn’t face punishment after all.

That’s all the bad news. The good news is that there appear to be major cracks appearing in Putin’s ring of protection in the Kremlin, according to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“I suspect that this is a moving picture and we haven’t seen the last act yet. But we can say this,” Blinken told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “First of all, what we have seen is extraordinary. And I think you have seen cracks emerge that weren’t there before: first in having Prigozhin raise front and center — questioning the very premises of the Russian aggression against Ukraine to begin with — the argument that somehow Ukraine or NATO posed a threat to Russia, and a direct challenge to Putin himself.”

Prigozhin’s forces have been fighting alongside Russians seeking to overthrow the Ukrainian government … and have been getting their asses kicked by Ukrainian forces. The Wagner leader is angry over the incompetence being shown by Putin and his military high command, which is why — apparently — he sought to toss Putin out via a military coup.

If it’s true that Vladimir Putin’s regime is showing signs of weakness, then it appears incumbent on those who want him removed to ensure that an actual democrat emerges to take the reins of power in the Kremlin.

Yevgeny Prigozhin is nothing of the sort.

Still, what we witnessed for about 48 hours was a remarkable attempt to unseat a wholly evil tyrant who should stand trial as the war criminal he has proven himself to be.


Anti-democrats: here and there

I have struggled — until just now — with trying to connect a few dots outlining the political alliances in this country and those that are playing out in the Kremlin and in Kyiv.

Here is what I have determined:

The forces that oppose democracy in Ukraine are being bolstered by those who oppose democracy in this country.  That’s it.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine that began in early 2022 came with the tacit blessing of the MAGA morons and the ultra-right-wingers who questioned initially why the United States was just so damn committed to Ukraine.

You heard them, didn’t you? I surely did. They appeared on right-wing media outlets to suggest that American-led efforts to shore up Ukraine were being fed by a phony assertion that Ukraine wasn’t really a democratic state.

Who do you suppose led that amen chorus? Well, that would be the presumed front runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination and the individual Joe Biden succeeded after the 2020 presidential election.

The MAGA cult is parroting many of the talking points coming from the Kremlin. And where is the outrage from the moronic right-wingers over the war crimes being committed against Ukraine by Russian military personnel? They have been silent!

This is all combined to suggest that small-d “democrats” — led by President Biden — are rallying to protect democracy as it is being pursued in Europe. They also are seeking to protect our governmental principles against the forces operating against it here at home.

Those who oppose democracy are fighting on the battlefield to defeat it in Ukraine; their American compatriots have stormed our nation’s Capitol Building to return a 2020 defeated candidate for president to the office he lost in a free and fair election.

The symmetry is quite stunning … don’t you think?


Putin faces rebellion? Yes!

Vladimir Putin isn’t looking like such a tough guy after all, given the challenge mounted by the leader of what they call a “mercenary” army intent on challenging the dictator’s invasion of Ukraine.

The mercenary force was said to be marching on Moscow. Then the leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, reportedly ordered his Wagner forces to “stand down.”

What in the world does this mean? At first blush, it appears that Putin is likely to seek the harshest retribution imaginable against what he calls an act of “treason” against the Kremlin. Well, that’s not exactly how some of us beyond the Russian borders see it.

Prigozhin was acting out of a sense of desperation as Russian military forces are being defeated by Ukrainians seeking to regain territory taken by the Russians in their illegal and immoral invasion launched more than a year ago against Ukraine.

And it damn sure signals a serious fracture within the Russian military command that has acted incompetently and stupidly ever since Putin ordered the invasion in early 2022.

Meanwhile, the United States — led by President Biden — continues its aggressive support in providing aid and equipment to Ukraine.

This is serious stuff, folks.

Wagner Chief Marches on Moscow in Mutiny Challenging Putin (yahoo.com)

As Yahoo News reports: The insurrection is without precedent in Putin’s nearly quarter-century rule in Russia, jolting a country trying to sustain a war in Ukraine that’s the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II. It’s unfolding against the backdrop of a Ukrainian counteroffensive across some of the area where Wagner’s troops deployed for months in the war’s longest and bloodiest battle.

My strong hope is that Joe Biden continues to apply maximum economic pressure on Putin in a strategy he hopes will persuade the dictator to cease his aggression.

The United States cannot let up in its support of the valiant Ukrainians who are fighting for the survival of democracy in Europe.


But … we’re doing that, Mr. VPOTUS!

While listening the other day to former Vice President Mike Pence declare his 2024 presidential candidacy, I was struck by a theme he kept harping on.

We need to do all we can to support democratic nations, such as Ukraine, he said. The United States must take the lead in helping Ukraine fend off the illegal and immoral invasion by Russian forces, he added. We need to stand for democracy in Europe, Pence said.

But … wait!

We’re already doing that, aren’t we? President Biden has not just said all of that but has persuaded Congress to spend a lot of money to arm the Ukrainians, to train them in using the equipment we’re providing them. He has imposed punishing economic sanctions on Russia, persuading our NATO and EU allies to go along.

The Ukrainians are — as near as many experts can tell — winning the fight in the field against a demoralized, under-qualified Russian invading force.

How is that? Because the United States has stepped up as the world’s pre-eminent champion for democracy!

What does Mike Pence think we should do differently than what we have done already?

For my money? Not a damn thing!


Russians are repeating their mistakes

You’ve heard it said about those who do not learn from their mistakes, correct?

The leading aphorism comes from the Spanish philosopher George Santayana, who said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

It looks to me as though the Russians are learning that lesson the hard way, in real time.

What we once knew as the Soviet Union decided in 1980 to invade Afghanistan, attempting to install a Kremlin-friendly regime in Kabul. The Afghans were fighting for their lives and for the future of their country and then proceeded to kick the Soviets’ backsides out of Afghanistan eight years later.

They had help from sources, such as the U.S. Congress, which appropriated money to supply the Afghan fighters with anti-aircraft missiles, which they used with stunning efficiency.

Fast-forward to early 2022. Russia decided to invade Ukraine, again to install a regime friendly to autocrats who run the Kremlin. The Ukrainians, like the Afghans before them, are fighting for their sovereignty … and are actually winning the war on the battlefield. Once again, the Ukrainians are being helped by arms coming from multiple allied nations that also are appalled at the Russians’ illegal and immoral effort to subdue a sovereign nation.

Can it possibly be that Russian strongman Vladimir Putin is too stupid to understand the wisdom of a learned Spanish thinker?

Stupid? It’s possible … along with too arrogant.