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Putin threatens to unleash something or other on the world

Vladimir Putin has announced that if NATO does not act in a manner more to his taste in future negotiations, he will take action to let them know he is not to be trifled with by unleashing an arms race.

So Russia (GDP $2.08 trillion) is threatening the EU (GDP $14.44 trillion) and USA (GDP $13.86 trillion) with an arms race?

Who says Russians do not have a great sense of humour? They are famous for it, in fact and this is a case in point. In effect Vladimir Putin is saying “if you do not start respecting me, I will bankrupt my country by producing large quantities of the same weapons that the Israelis consistently turn into confetti using western military technology.” Oh saints preserve us! It is rather like a petulant child threatening to hold his breath until they turn blue unless they are given what they want… except I cannot see why anyone should give a shit if Russia goes blue in the face and keels over due to self-inflicted stupidity.

Modern Russia is rapidly turning into a vile police state, so why pander to this unrepentant KGB scumbag with delusions of grandeur?

102 comments to Putin threatens to unleash something or other on the world

  • Sunfish

    We’re supposed to care because Putin has nuclear weapons. That is, he has submarines that are too rusted to leave the docks, and missiles designed by the same people who designed the tanks and aircraft and such that our Israeli friends routinely subject to rough handling.

    The phrase “d*ckwaving contest with John Holmes” comes to mind to describe Putin’s behavior. His only real weapon is to turn off the lights on the Continent, which will hurt him worse than them. At best, he’s like the sheriff in Blazing Saddles who took himself hostage.

  • permanentexpat

    Why even mention the EU in the equation? It’s not going to do anything. Thanks to really great foresight & planning on the part of this useless, unelected & polyglot monolith, Vlad the Cad has only to turn off the gas tap and there isn’t any Euro-GDP

  • Rutger

    You could increase the European figure to 20 trillion and I would still not trust the current European leadership to be able to handle a situation such as this.

  • Unfortunately, with people like Putin, I can’t imagine the pitiful state of the conomy is much of a drawback if he’s keen enough to start spending on some fancy new weapons. It’s not like he’s going to be overly worried if he’s got to make a few cutbacks in the welfare of the Russian people.

    Look at North Korea. One of the advantages of a brutal statist dictatorship I suppose.

  • Nick M

    I don’t think Pooty-Poot should be taken that lightly. The Russkys have some very competent tech and much lower wages mean the get more bang per buck. The parlous state of the RAF and RN doesn’t fill me with joy either.

    And of course there’s always the gas. He can squeeze Europe and sell to China, Japan or wherever else.

    I could really see the Chinese biting for a lot more gas. Gas power plants are quick and cheap to build and China’s old coal sets are appallingly polluting. This isn’t about looking cute for the Greens or anything because pollution in China is a serious problem.

  • So?

    It’s his last great performance for the masses, his last hurrah. He’s leaving for good. Not bad for a KGB scumbag?

  • So?

    Nick M:

    His words do not match his deeds. Relative to GDP, the military spending is not much better than under Yeltsin. So while it’s true that the Western militaries are unravelling, huge GDPs nonewithstanding, they are still better than Russia’s military, (but closing the gap fast!). The only country which could be said to be arming at an alarming rate is China. It’s rather interesting that whatever pitiful additions in hardware, flight hours, etc., that the Russian military gets – all is allocated to the Far East. Like I said, look at what people do, not what they say.

  • CountingCats

    So Russia has a GDP about equivalent to Italy? Fine, but this hides details. The European countries generate their GDP through manufacturing and services, applying skills and infrastructure to generate wealth, with primary extraction being a minor component. Russia, on the other hand is generating GDP by digging it up. Its production capability is equivalent to what? Wales maybe? Wales and Scotland combined?

    Sigh,

    So what if they do build a few weapons, it is not as if there is any ideological dispute which has Russia and the West looking at one another through gun sites. There isn’t even a territorial dispute to rattle sabres over.

  • So?

    The European countries generate their GDP through manufacturing and services.

    For how much longer will that be the case though? For all we know, all sides in the next Great War will be armed with weapons imported from China.

  • Nick M

    CC,
    Kaliningrad

    And I hear there are rumblings in the Balkans (again). Kosovan Independence from Serbia. The Russkies are standing with their Slav “brothers”.

    I don’t take them seriously as an existential threat but they are potentially a major irritant.

  • I don’t take them seriously as an existential threat but they are potentially a major irritant.

    Sure but that is all they are, an irritant. All this talk of ‘resurgent Russian power’ by some media commentators is ridiculous.

  • Ian B

    Yes, everything’s dropping into place for the Third Great War nicely. Give it, hmm, ten years or so, give or take?

  • CountingCats

    All this talk of ‘resurgent Russian power’ by some media commentators is ridiculous.

    Journalists have been sucked in by this talk of the “BRIC”s.

    Sure, India and China are on their way to being major powers in their own rights, but Russia and Brazil? Seriously?

    I am convinced that Media Studies and Journalism courses rot peoples brains and render them unable to count or reason.

    Russia would be a lot better off it it concentrated on building its tourism and space sectors. It just can’t compete anywhere else yet.

  • Yes, everything’s dropping into place for the Third Great War nicely. Give it, hmm, ten years or so, give or take?

    How do you figure that? Ukraine will probably be a member of NATO by then and Russia… well, who knows… maybe ‘Russia’ at that point will just mean the bit of Russia that is (more or less) European as the east will be inundated with Chinese squatters. My guess is Russia is going to be looking for western military alliances in ten years or so.

  • CountingCats

    Kaliningrad

    Seriously Nick, does anyone care any more? Apart from the Russians?

    I just can’t see Prussia making a claim for the return of Königsberg any time in the near future.

    The Russians might be a bit paranoid about it being surrounded by NATO, but what the hell. No one is threatening anyone over it.

  • CountingCats

    the east will be inundated with Chinese squatters.

    ???

    Can’t see it, the winters are too cold.

    Seriously, what for? Why would the Chinese migrate over there? Do you think that the Russians would accept Chinese wetbacks without kicking them back? Even without Russians pushing them back, the natural conditions the Chinese would face would be horrendous, killing a large percentage of any significant movement.

  • CountingCats, this has been happening for years (was first told about it by a Russian bloke back on the mid-1990s). If I remember I will poke around on Google and see if anyone has written much about it. It mentions it here (which is probably a blog-worthy article anyway).

  • Jacob

    We must repeat Bismark’s (?) phrase:
    “Russia is never as weak as she seems, Russia is never as strong as she seems”

    But even a weak Russia can cause a lot of mischief to the West, as the USSR did, by proxy, in Iran for example. Don’t dismiss them so fats.

  • lucklucky

    What was the GDP of Germany at outset of WW2? What was the GDP of Carthage Vs Rome or What was the GDP of Rome Vs “Barbarians” ?

    GDP doesnt tell the whole story. The first most important thing is the will of a society and the sacrifices it allows to endure to be preserved.

  • GDP doesnt tell the whole story.

    True but but is does tell 90% of it.

  • R. Richard Schweitzer

    Golly Gee!

    Come on now take the knots out of knickers.

    Putin is (always has been – since working as a “sub” in Sankt P’BG) a politician. And here we have just been reading about time wasted listening to politicians.

    Consider: Otherwise, why the national TV exposure?

    Next: What evidence do we have that Putin, or any other actor on that stage, has sole responsibiltity or control of what actually occurs; none.

    The Russian “Economy” is an export economy, to which the usual idiots have subordinated, but not eliminated, all other development (excluding sports and public entertainments). Cut off the gas? OK cut off the cash flow! Gas to Ukraine – or no wheat from Ukraine. Those boids all know not to crap in their nests.

    However, this is a personal point of view and is probably not the view of the “Russian Desk” at the Department of State of the U.S.A.

  • Alice

    You chaps are missing the point. Putin may just be smarter than all of us put together.

    What Putin has recognized is that NATO is a hollow shell on the point of collapse.

    NATO (in the form of Dutch forces) stood by & watched as a declared safe haven was over-run in the Balkans — and none of Europe’s Beautiful People gave a tinker’s damn. Most of the NATO forces in Afghanistan are underperforming dreadfully — and Europe’s Beautiful People are muttering about getting out before someone gets a boo-boo. The US is heading towards electing a President who will gut US military capabilities and, by default, get the US out of NATO. Without the US, NATO is nothing but a piece of paper — absolutely worthless.

    See how this is going to play out in Russia, which is the only place that Putin cares about? Putin spoke harshly to NATO, and NATO collapsed. Long live Putin!

    Russia’s real long-term strategic challenge is definitely in the east. But since Euro-chumps have backed themselves into a position where grandmothers survive the winter only by the grace & favor of Russia, Europeans are going to find themselves paying & providing the materials for Russia’s great game in the east. Taking credit for NATO’s forthcoming collapse can only help Putin in playing that game.

  • Alice, I suggest you read that article I linked to.

  • John

    This, coming from a country who, when at the zenith of its military power and with all the prepositioned bases, troops and hardware one could hope for, could not stop half its population from walking away with half its land area and wealth.

    At the rate they’re going, Russia’s border will be confined to Moscow and St Petersberg in a few decades.

  • Sam

    You have to be in it to win it and I don’t care if Europe had a $30 trillion economy, they would still lose.

    The US populace is growing ever more weary of propping up defensively a Europe that has near economic partity now and still cant muster the fortitude to supply just a few thousand combat troops for Afghanistan. It’s really an outrageous situation.

  • JorgXMcKie

    Let’s not forget Russia’s Rolling Demographic Crash. Where are the workers to man any military to come from? Where are the workers necessary to support the military? How much pointy-end-of-stick can they produce with the human resources they have/will have?

  • Just Sayin

    LuckyLucky,

    You asked “What was the GDP of Germany at outset of WW2?…” etc

    Read this:

    http://www.onwar.com/articles/0302.htm

    GDP really is most of the story.

  • Quenton

    I have zero fear that the Russians will be marching down Main Street, USA (or even Prague for that matter). What I do fear is that whichever statist opportunist that gets elected in November would almost certainly use Putin’s cock-wagging as an excuse to eliminate the few remaining liberties we posses. Cold War II: Electric Bugaloo

  • Just Sayin

    And one more thing. All this talk reminded me of this:

    If WWII was a MMORPG

    It’s old but it’s still funny.

  • LOL indeed. Outstanding, Just Sayin.

  • Russia needs money to scare the West with conventional weaponry and tech weaponry.

    The West needs Russia to scale back its teetering, heavily seamed, unsecured vestigial nuclear program.

    Mayhap there’s a trade to be made here? We’ll buy any (old) nukes they want to sell us and bury them in Wyoming or North Scotland or something, and they can use the money to invest it in threatening us more directly. I think it sounds fair.

  • R. Richard Schweitzer

    If you want to come up to date on all that economics/war stuff, it’s right there in the U.K.:(Link)

    with all that I think I’d best shorten my sign in to RRS

  • RRS

    Sorry, link didn’t take. If you are interested here it is spelled out as an address:

    http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/staff/faculty/harrison

  • norton

    Unfortunately I doubt if anyone in the state department can do the math as well as Perry. They’ll doubtless roll over for Putin.

  • Alexandros

    Just Sayin’ that link is *GREAT*…I LOLed alot
    *sigh* I can see how it’d work next year already…
    [Prez_Bush] has left the server
    [H1ll@ry] has joined the server
    H1ll@ry says: OMG I dont need AnY tanks r nuks
    H1ll@ry vendors [Military Assets] for 8g30s
    H1ll@ry says: LAWL now I cn gets cool stuf lk meds
    H1ll@ry purchases [Healthcare] for 5500g50s
    [Chyn@] has joined the server
    Chyn@ says: haha Amrica ur flag is uncapped
    Chyn@ captures [Alaska]
    Chyn@ captures [South Korea]
    Chyn@ says: rofl, u suk
    [Wrd_Up_da_Pr0ph3t_Ir@n] has joined the server
    Wrd_Up_da_Pr0ph3t_Ir@n says: lol, i’m stunlock specced nubs, u wont even h1t me
    H1ll@ry says: omg lame, crappy country wahy didnt u help meeee!!!

  • Gregory Koster

    I have not seen any concern in the comments about what Fred Pohl called a “Cool War,” i.e. industrial sabotage conducted across continents in a plausibly deniable form. Perhaps Putin would dial up Pohl’s “Cool War” into a “Warm War.” Consider: Putin’s Russia is easily able to get in touch with terrorists the world over. Recruit a few, train them in languages and manners, turn them into salesmen on the road. Let them roam the world: the United States, the EU, even China. Let them plant the aerosol containers that spread, say, the variants on H1N2 influenza viruses. Given the notoriously rickety state of the world’s public health systems (particularly in China) such artificially spread epidemics could knock out a sizable chunk of foreign powers’s GDP in a deniable way, especially if Putin is ruthless enough to deny any vaccines to enough Russians to make it look like Russia is suffering too.

    Plot for a middling SF novel? Could be. But why delude ourselves into believing that Putin & Co. are not thinking along these lines? The 9/11 attacks did far more damage to American GDP than we’ve been able to inflict in return. This is the definition of “asymmetric warfare. We may pay lip service to it, but Putin is putting real oil money into it .

    Sincerely yours,
    Gregory Koster

  • Perry,

    “So Russia (GDP $2.08 trillion) is threatening the EU (GDP $14.44 trillion)”

    Since when are you a EU fan ? When you need to counterbalance Russia’s might, you are suddenly no longer a small Englander, but a EU-nic?
    You don’t seriously claim that militarily the EU is superior to Russia ? I don’t think this is the case. EU is militarily absolutely impotent, because it’s total lack of will to live and fight.

  • Alice


    Alice, I suggest you read that article I linked to.

    Did read it. Dismissed it. Honestly, Perry, I am surprised that someone with your erudition took it seriously.

    Sure, the EU is going to be free of its need for Russian gas any day now, like the article implies. Just one or two more regulations to be translated into 15 different languages, and that’s it! Those mandates work every time.

    Stratfor is a strange mixture. Some very insightful pieces, and some infantile Euro-trash talk like this.

    Yeah! Let’s cut off nasty old Russia and depend instead on — stable, moderate, friendly Algeria! Let’s build more LNG terminals — and ignore that the problem with LNG is already a shortage of supply, not a shortage of unloading terminals. Woo-hoo! Let’s reinvigorate NATO! (And avert our eyes from real NATO performance in Afghanistan).

    Even if you took that EU Wet Dream seriously, the end point would be an angry, collapsing, bankrupt, nuclear-armed Russia on the EU’s neo-imperial border. Does that sound like a smart Euro-policy objective?

    Reality is that the EU’s dependence on Russia for gas, oil, and other minerals is only going to increase. And that Stratfor article was nothing more than soft porn for Eurocrats.

  • Ian B

    A few years from now, the EU’s armed forces, in conjunction with EUROGENDFOR, will be entirely occupied with suppressing internal dissent within the Union and trying to eradicate the seperatist insurgents appearing like mushrooms after the rain. A few half-hearted attempts will be made to hang onto the Islamising regions in the east, but to no avail. When the EU is sufficiently weak, a temporary alliance of forces from Imperial Russia and the Neo-Ottoman Empire will surge across the receding EU border in “land ironclads” and giant metal tripods and reach as far as the Rhine before being halted by a desperate counterattack by central and western european armies. A long attritional war gets underway.

    The former UK undergoes a short but exceedingly violent revolution and, as the heads of government watch from atop their pikes along London Bridge, cedes from the Union and prepares, once more, for the long haul of building a sufficient force and alliance with America to take back the continent.

    Once again, the liberated continentals are completely ungrateful and start laying plans for another pan-continental socialist utopia while complaining that reducing Teheran and Putingrad to lakes of glass was disproportionate and unjustified. But in England, at last liberty reigns.

    Dr Rowan Williams finally resigns.

    *wakes up and posts prophetic dream to samizdata*

  • a.sommer

    Let’s not forget that Russia thinks only its nuclear capability keeps the NATO hordes at bay.

    That’s because they know their conventional forces don’t have even a snowball’s chance of doing the job. The big realization was back when the Mother of all Battles became the Mother of all Routs. Things have not gotten better for them since.

  • Joe Lais

    http://www.siberianlight.net/2007/12/22/putin-40-billion/

    Maybe Putin will get the money by curtailing his looting of the Russian treasury. Or maybe not.

  • Otto

    The former UK undergoes a short but exceedingly violent revolution and, as the heads of government watch from atop their pikes along London Bridge, cedes from the Union and prepares, once more, for the long haul of building a sufficient force and alliance with America to take back the continent.

    Once again, the liberated continentals are completely ungrateful and start laying plans for another pan-continental socialist utopia while complaining that reducing Teheran and Putingrad to lakes of glass was disproportionate and unjustified. But in England, at last liberty reigns.

    Alas, Ian B, we can but dream!

  • Every time Putin makes an overly-zealous hawkish statement those here in the US and Europe laugh. He knows it. He does not spew forth with such idiocy for the benefit of those in the West. He says it for the benefit of the foolish citizenry over which he wants to govern.

    Russians still love their Czars and their ego–combined with a huge inferiority complex–eat this trip up by the bucket-full.

    The product Putin sells is not for import, it’s for the Russian market.

  • Jacob, Europe had quite sufficient military capabilities to deal with the real military threats is actually faces (i.e. attacks against Central or Western Europe). I do not have to like the EU to recognise that in terms of sheer wealth, it is vastly richer than Russia and has access to technology and economic infrastructure capable of being turned to military use if the real (rather that theoretical) need arises.

    Is Europe militarily ‘superior’ to Russia? Yes. Why? Because Russia lacks the logistic (and by many account organisational) wherewithal to easily move corps sized forces around its own damn country let alone project them into Central Europe and actually keep them supplied. The ability of major Russian forces to do an out-of-the-blue attack on anyone other than maybe the Baltic states is close to zero… and of course if they did that, I suspect it would provide all the motivation needed to strip the EU nations of any residual wishful thinking about Russia.

  • So?

    Alice, I suggest you read that article I linked to.

    Stratfor has as much credibility as Debka i.e. none.


    Gas to Ukraine – or no wheat from Ukraine. Those boids all know not to crap in their nests.

    Russia is now a net grain exporter. Shocking, I know. I didn’t believe it when I first read it.

  • jim

    Sorry we generally delete brainless comments which do not actually make an argument… unless they are really funny

  • “Russia is now a net grain exporter.” and the EU is destroying Europe’s grain capacity to make bio-fuels.So Russia has the EU by both balls,food and energy.
    Does anyone really think the EU has the will to fight its way out of a paper bag? By the time it was decided who would command,what uniforms would be worn,which flag would be flown,what language the orders should be given in it would be over.
    Who is going to fight and die for the EU?

  • Ian B

    Who is going to fight and die for the EU?

    Indeed. We should remember that the EU is only getting away with playing at being a superstate by pretending to its citizens that it isn’t one and has no intention of being one. Troops and populations are unlikely to show any support for the EU-as-entity for the foreseeable future. They may create an EU army of cooperating national forces, but if they try to create an official EU army they’ll be admitting what they’re up to, and the populations will say “non”.

    It thus manages to be both malign and useless simultaneously; a threat to its own subjects’ freedom while no deterrent to any external threat. It’s a sorry thing indeed that can only get where it’s going by pretending it isn’t going there, then denying it’s got there when it arrives.

  • I’m with Alice and Sam.

    Hitler occupied the Sudetenland with bicycle troops and a few tracked machine gun tanks. The french had divisions of infantry parked across a few bridges, and declined to confront Hitler.

    If Putin decided that, say, one or more of the Baltic states needed to be occupied for Russian national security interests, just which NATO power is going to lead the charge for a ground campaign to dislodge all those crappy old tanks… and helicopters… and artillery pieces… and theater rockets…

    I don’t think it is likely in the least that that will be the scenario. But if it came to brute force, who will apply it, and who will respond forcefully enough to effectively counter?

    We wrote the checks to protect Europe from the big bad Bear, and it made perfect sense because a war there would rapidly become a war here. I don’t think we are all that keen to confront the bully on the block for the Euros, since Europe saw fit to spend their windfall on social programs vice minimal security arrangements.

    And yes, what passes for “EU armed forces” are going to be increasingly occupied with domestic issues for the immediate future.

  • Short version:

    Who Dares Wins.

  • Ian B

    Plus the usual suspects would surrender,some would even be on the other side.
    In the main there would be few volunteers because nobody loves this bastard child born of the political elite and the bureaucracy.
    My main fear is Johnny Jihadi will discover the power lies in Brussels and bomb the cringing classes into submission.

  • Bogdan of Australia

    Have you all forgotten Lenin’s motto “An organised minority can easily defeat an disorganised, demoralised majority”? NickM call Russia a potential “major irritant”. Perhaps, but it is like with an aching tooth; firts it’s an irritant, but when you don’t take a proper care of it, you will end up with having you entire jaw removed…

  • Ken

    Hey someone has to send Mister Vlad, A couple seasons of future weapons. I think Russia has about ten years of catching up to do. Before his country can start racing.

    America is producing new and cool weapon systems every day. The only weapons that works for russia every time. IS that lovely russian winter they have.

  • So?

    TmjUtah:

    Somehow I don’t believe it will ever come to that.

  • So?

    America is producing new and cool weapon systems every day. The only weapons that works for russia every time. IS that lovely russian winter they have.

    America is in the same boat as everyone else, except China – fielding very little. The USAF especially is in a heap of trouble. Ancient tankers, old bombers, too few B-2’s and F-22’s, old F-15s, JSF getting more expensive by the day. Airlift is lacking, or you wouldn’t lease Russian planes.

    Naval aviation is not in much better nick either. The Super Hornet may be new, but it’s a dog. It’s made to do the work of several different specialised platforms that have just been or about to be retired. It’s not great at anything it does.

    All this with a humongous defence budget, the ongoing commitment in Iraq and Afghanistan and possible future action against Iran.

  • So? –

    I didn’t say it would.

    But Putin patatively (sorry – couldn’t resist) is already using the beat downs, the military draft, and medical incarceration to defeat political opponents.

    He may have used 30 REAL large worth of polonium to “send a message”.

    I’m just saying that he’ll go big if he judges the reward worth the risk.

    Giving the euroes a choice between “cave at any cost ” or “fight” seems like a winning bet for Putin. At least based on what we’ve seen so far.

    NOBODY likes to think like that… except dictators, thugs, and adults who may have to deal with them.

    NATO members in Europe declined to deal with Kosovo.

    NATO members in Europe are in the process of comepletely declining to honor their commitments in Afghanistan – host country to the Taliban, hosts of Al Qaeda, which attack a NATO signatory.

    Not much adult going on in Brussels any more.

  • Ian B

    I can’t help thinking about how everybody thought German re-armament was no big deal in the 30s.

  • Me too, Ian. Although I am much more worried about China.

    Russia is now a net grain exporter

    Is there a source for this?

  • So?

    TmjUtah:

    I think you’re attaching too much importance to Putin.
    He’s no dictator. There hasn’t been one in Russia since Stalin. He’s not even a proper autocrat either, because autocrats don’t give up power voluntarily, which is precisely what he is doing. I don’t see how Putin will menace the West in retirement.

  • So?

    Ian B:

    Russia is re-arming? News to me.

  • So?: Putin has not given up power, and is not retiring. Don’t be fooled by window dressing.

  • So?

    Alisa:

    “Putin stayin’ on” makes for good copy – that’s all. His media presence is being dialed down, while Medvedev’s is dialed up. His “PM promise” means nothing – he’s just pumping up Medvedev’s popularity. The PM has very little power compared with the President, and there’s never been a puppet leader in Russian history. I’m sure he’s well aware of that. Had he wanted to stay as leader, he could have easily changed the constitution 12-18 months ago with wide popular support. Why jump through all these hoops now?

  • To secure his legitimacy, when the “people” beg him to come back.

  • So?

    Beg who? Medvedev is yet to go through the final formality, but already has a cohort ready to move into the big office. More resources are already being spent on Medvedev’s security than Putin’s. Doesn’t sound like Putin’s patsy to me.

  • Ivan

    Perry de Havilland:

    The ability of major Russian forces to do an out-of-the-blue attack on anyone other than maybe the Baltic states is close to zero… and of course if they did that, I suspect it would provide all the motivation needed to strip the EU nations of any residual wishful thinking about Russia.

    However, the same was true about Russia in 1920, and yet, it had become tragically false less than 20 years later. If I were in the Baltic states, I definitely wouldn’t feel comfortable in the long run. In five, or ten, or probably even twenty years, the situation is overwhelmingly likely to remain as you describe, but it’s enough that Americans get tired of propping up NATO one day, and the Baltic states are toast. I don’t think Russians will ever stop viewing these countries as a wayward part of their sphere of influence, however sad it might be, considering their tragic history under Soviet domination.

  • So?

    Ivan:

    The value of the Baltics states is in their ports. Since Russia is rapidly building her own, they’ll probably have far less value to Russia in the near future. Even if they do, it’s cheaper to buy the local politicial elite and I don’t know how NATO would make a difference there.

  • Hilarious…..but you know, the EU never spends any real money on defence. Let’s leave it to the Americans.

  • Jacob

    Is Europe militarily ‘superior’ to Russia? Yes. Why? Because Russia lacks the logistic (and by many account organisational) wherewithal to easily move corps sized forces around its own damn country let alone project them into Central Europe and actually keep them supplied.

    Perry,
    WW2 ended 60+ years ago. Today’s wars are different.

    You also forget that even in WW2, old Europe was helpless and impotent, it needed the masses of Russian soldiers, the tens of thousands of tanks and planes that the primitive and backward Russians managed to bring to the battlefield at the end of the war – combined with Yankee money, GI’s and hardware – to survive.

    Today’s wars are fought with missiles. Where are Europe’s missiles, and missile defences ? You can’t start rearming after the war breaks out, like in the past.
    Europe has ceased to be a factor in World power play. It’s about as relevent as Armenia, or Congo. Sad, but true.
    Putin’s threats aren’t, IMO, serious, it’s just spin and propaganda. Which is lucky, as Europe is in no position to ofer any military resistance.

  • WW2 ended 60+ years ago. Today’s wars are different.

    No, not all that different.

    Today’s wars are fought with missiles.

    No, they’re not. In fact you are so completely and utterly wrong on every level I just don’t have the time right now to lay it out as it would take volumes to fill the void of your ‘wrongness’.

    The long and short of it is: if Putin’s Russia cannot get a meaningful chunk of its army even into Central Poland, and then keep it there in supply, it cannot in any way shape or form be said to pose a meaningful threat to Europe much beyond that of Al Qaeda. They can take the Baltics and in so doing give Europe a shot of political adrenaline that makes it re-arm. Hard to see the upside of that for Russia. Don’t believe it? Fine, but you’re wrong and probably suffering from a variant of BDS called EUDS.

    Sure, it can throw nukes and precipitate WW3… or it can fire off its rusting stock of tactical non-nuclear missiles, or at least as many as will deign to leave the launch rails… and what would achieve? Well, it would make Europe mobilise against it twise as fast, do some annoying but ultimately insignificant damage to Central European infrastructure and re-cement the Atlantic alliance for another 30 years in return for nothing good for Russia whatsoever.

    Russia is a busted flush and the good old days of Cold War certainties just ain’t coming back.

  • So?

    What’s there for Russia in Central Poland?

  • So?: maybe you are right. That would imply that Putin was in it only for the money, not power, and that he did not get addicted to power once he tasted it. This is possible, but given what I know about people, not very likely. Note, I am not saying that Perry is incorrect, and Russia is a real threat. I don’t have a good enough understanding of the military aspects to judge. I am just saying that the military aspect is not the only one.

  • Alice


    The long and short of it is: if Putin’s Russia cannot get a meaningful chunk of its army even into Central Poland, and then keep it there in supply, it cannot in any way shape or form be said to pose a meaningful threat to Europe much beyond that of Al Qaeda.

    Perry — I have great respect for your general perceptiveness & for your vigorous presentation of your ideas, but we all have our blind spots. It looks like Russia is one of yours.

    If Russia wanted to flatten the EU (although I don’t think it does), what would there be to stop them discretely outfitting some Jihadists with some of those neat back-pack nuclear bombs? Russia does not need to launch an army into the EU to destroy the creaking tower of political correctness. And the response of the brave Spanish to a few train bombs shows how effective that approach could be.

    As it happens, I don’t agree with the perspective that Putin was threatening military action. Putin is running rings round the EU’s best & brightest. What he needs from the EU is the money, the weapons, and probably ultimately the mercenaries to help deal with the Chinese threat in the east. With an EU that suffers from delusions of its own moral superiority, ignores the cancers growing within, and a leadership that is simply flat out too cowardly to take decisive action, the smart money has to be on Putin & his successors getting everything they want from the EU.

  • “What’s there for Russia in Central Poland?”

    EU subsidies.

  • Jacob

    They can take the Baltics and in so doing give Europe a shot of political adrenaline that makes it re-arm.

    Like when Hitler took Sudetenland ?

    And how does “Europe mobilise against it twise as fast” after her factories and infrastructure have been anihilated by Russian missiles ? They will probably sue for peace “twice as fast”.
    In modern warfare there is no mobilization. Either you have missliles and missile defence, or you’re dead (in case of war). How long does it take to produce a missile defence system ? You don’t have any time.

    and in so doing give Europe a shot of political adrenaline

    That was very funny… make it SJOD (Samizdata joke of the day).

  • Jacob

    About EUDS.
    I’m much less antagonistic to the EU that you are. Open borders, free flow of people and merchandise, and a single currency are Good Things. There are others too.
    There are also Bad Things, like their softcore socialism, subsidies, etc.

    Still, as far as military ability is concerned – the EU does not deem it worth to have any, or to spend any money on it. Whatever hardware they build is more a subsidy for their indutries, and is outdated. And the lack of hardware is the least of the problems. The main thing is the lack of will. I don’t share your optimism that this is curable.

  • There seems to be a misunderstanding,the relative poverty of Russia vis a vie the EU,is an incentive for Russia to try to dominate the EU.Just what a wolf needs,fat sheep.

  • I believe Russia had it together well enough to deploy airmobile assets into Kosovo before NATO had more than advance party personnel in the neighborhood.

    Wars, contrary to wishful opinion, aren’t all that different today than they were at Waterloo. It’s still about who achieves their objectives. Yes, the Russians are paranoid. They are also proud and, more importantly, abut sick and tired of being the butt of Brussel’s jokes.

    Interesting times are…here.

  • RRS

    Alisa:

    Yes the source is probably in Agra which I believe is a U K reporting service, and at times past, Russia has been a net exporter of Wheat.

    But, despite the general impressions of fungibiltiy, something less than 80% of Russia’s wheat is “millable” (still has other uses) which varies from year to year. Both Ukraine and Russian Wheat suffer from drought in the best soil locations. However, Russia, from internal and external wheat is probably now a net exporter of wheat flour.

    Most exports are consolidated as “Black Sea” Area, which includes Romania (now restricted).

  • Thanks RRS (how do you like your new name, BTW?:-)). I knew about the times past, that made the fact that the USSR had to import wheat from the USA all the more telling. What is it that makes wheat “un-millable”?

  • “What is it that makes wheat “un-millable”?

    Shrapnel.

  • Ron, you are on a roll today, aren’t you:-)

  • RRS

    My understanding, and I do invest in grain futures, is that it is a classification of wheat qualities in the transaction (use) markets where the particular grade of wheat cannot be milled into flour.

    While a more comprehensive description of conditions making wheat unmillable are, inter allia –
    conditions of storage (particularly limited in Russia); delays and exposure in transportation; mechanical dernier deficiencies (generally grain size); and no doubt others. Big Problem in Russian Northern (poor soils) wheat.

    I believe most Russian seed grain stocks are derived from the replacement seed stocks provided by the U.S. in 1922 et seq. some may have regressed genetically.

  • Andy

    If Russia wanted to flatten the EU (although I don’t think it does), what would there be to stop them discretely outfitting some Jihadists with some of those neat back-pack nuclear bombs?

    Not so ‘friendly’ fire.

  • Alice


    Not so ‘friendly’ fire

    Ok, Andy, but someone still has to pull the trigger. Who?

    Shooting innocent Muslims who have (at that point) doen no harm to anyone would be pre-emptive cruel & unusual punishment — the EU is totally united in absolute opposition to such “cowboy” tactics, and unshakable in its sense of moral superiority.

    People who know much more about the topic than I suggest that the real threat from “rogue” Russian agencies is biological attack, rather than nuclear weapons surreptiously given to Jihadists. Just a handful of infected martyrs sneezing their way around the London Underground and Paris Metro could bring those cities to their knees.

    I don’t know about that — the history of biowarfare is unimpressive. But not quite as unimpressive as the idea that any Russian coercion of the Holy EU Empire would have to look like a replay of WWII.

  • So?

    As it happens, I don’t agree with the perspective that Putin was threatening military action. Putin is running rings round the EU’s best & brightest. What he needs from the EU is the money, the weapons, and probably ultimately the mercenaries to help deal with the Chinese threat in the east.

    So why not join NATO then?

  • Putin is running rings round the EU’s best & brightest.

    Really? So NATO and the EU are spreading east like a mega-sized Lyautey inkblot with even Ukraine trying to join up, ferchristsake, but… Putin is running rings around… who exactly? You seriously think that Putin or his nationalist admirers look at the map each year and think “Wooo hooo, are we ever whoopin’ their asses in the West!”?

  • Buzz

    All russia has is its nukes. Putin is becoming afraid of his own army because it is now only half ethnic russian. Most of the rest are muslim. I saw a story in a russian newspaper a few weeks ago that said russian arms factories can only make 10 BMP vehicles a year because of material shortages. Most of their ship building capabilities are in use to make china and indis ships. The average age of a ship in the black sea fleet is 30 years now and when they go out for exercises (almost never now) the celibrate when none sink!

    The russians designe world class equipment but build Junk. The west should fear putin cutting off gas and oil supplies more than war.

  • So?

    Really? So NATO and the EU are spreading east like a mega-sized Lyautey inkblot with even Ukraine trying to join up, ferchristsake

    Western Ukraine – yes. East and South – not so much, and they make up most of the economy.

  • Alice


    So NATO and the EU are spreading east like a mega-sized Lyautey inkblot …

    NATO spreading east? Maybe in a paper sense — the EU, after all, is God’s gift to bureaucrats who write treaties — but not in any real sense. Without US involvement (and NATO is going to have to learn how to get along without US backing, sorry), those are just expensive pieces of paper.

    The world is changing — for everyone! Yes, Russia faces some serious problems with population decline. But the situation inside the Empire is not good either. France is reportedly rapidly approaching the point where about 50% of fighting age males will be Muslim. Brits with Geordie accents are already training with Al Qaeda. The EU is the world’s largest fossil fuel importer, critically dependent on countries like — Russia.

    Maybe you have implicit faith in the ability of the bureaucrats of the EU to play their hand masterfully and lead the whole world into a great big Kumbaya sing-song, Perry. I don’t. And if we try to be objective about things, Russia happens to be holding a rather good hand these days — certainly compared to that in the hands of the Eurocrats.

    None of this is any reason to pronounce the EU a dead man walking. But it would behoove Europeans to be a bit more humble & realistic in their approach to the world.

  • Jacob

    But it would behoove Europeans to be a bit more humble & realistic in their approach to the world.

    It would also behoove them to take defense more seriously…

  • Without US involvement (and NATO is going to have to learn how to get along without US backing, sorry), those are just expensive pieces of paper.

    Sure, that would explain the US radars and weapon systems moving into the Czech republic and Poland.

    The EU is the world’s largest fossil fuel importer, critically dependent on countries like — Russia

    …which, like Chavez, can only use that ‘weapon’ by cutting off their own cashflow.

    Maybe you have implicit faith in the ability of the bureaucrats of the EU to play their hand masterfully and lead the whole world into a great big Kumbaya sing-song, Perry. I don’t.

    Oh please, you act like you don’t know my boundless contempt for the EU… I just don’t have EUDS. The EU can be as inept as it always has been and it still have relatively little to worry about from Russia. The GDP figures tell the story. Major wars are about logistics and logistics is about money. Everything else is fluff.

  • Alice


    Major wars are about logistics and logistics is about money. Everything else is fluff.

    But only if everything else is equal — and it seldom is.

    What about Cortez and a handful of Spaniards knocking over a long-established rich powerful empire in the Americas? What about England defeating the larger & wealthier Spanish Empire? What about a relatively small number of under-supplied colonists taking on the British Army, its efficient German mercenaries, and its world-beating fleet — and still winning the war? What about poor Irishmen defeating England & winning independence?

  • What about Cortez and a handful of Spaniards knocking over a long-established rich powerful empire in the Americas?

    Neither rich (in terms of internal economy) nor powerful (primitive technology, crude military institutions) but the long and short of it is…Spain has much much better technology.

    What about England defeating the larger & wealthier Spanish Empire?

    Logistics: Spain was unable to project power due to… logistical limitations. They could not turn wealth in Spain into power in England. The attack on Cadiz was only coincidentally to burn ships, it was mostly to burn barrels. Logistics.

    What about a relatively small number of under-supplied colonists taking on the British Army, its efficient German mercenaries, and its world-beating fleet

    French fleet. Without the interdiction of English SLOCs by French fleet, Yorktown would have been an inconvenient set back, not a military disaster. And, due to the logistic limitations of the time, projecting England’s full power against a technologically comparable enemy on the other size of the Atlantic whilst fighting a war against France was difficult. Logistics.

    What about poor Irishmen defeating England & winning independence?

    Huh? You think Britain was ejected from Southern Ireland by military force? Really? Please name the battles where the Irish Army defeated the British Army.

  • Sunfish

    Major wars are about logistics and logistics is about money. Everything else is fluff.

    Logistics is about money, and being able to buy stuff with that money, and being able to transport stuff to where it might be useful.

    Is Europe able to make military hardware in any meaningful quantity? Can they stand up 250,000 infantrymen and tankers, put them all in IFV’s and tanks, and send them all to Poland in any half-assedly reasonable period of time. Do they have the command and control worked out, or will French brigade commanders refuse to take orders from German corps commanders?

    Or will the aforementioned Germans be unable to even send signals to the aforementioned French? We’re discovering in a completely different context that achieving public safety communications interoperability between two cities THAT ALREADY SPEAK THE SAME LANGUAGE[1] is not a trivial task.

    Can the North Sea crank out enough oil to sustain a war? Obviously, Russia won’t supply it, and I have my doubts that the US will be all that willing to get involved in the next iteration of the Never-Ending European Civil War. Democrats will all be beholden to the no war at any cost crowd, and not that many Republicans will be able to keep a straight face when discussing the need to defend France or Germany.

    [1] And don’t have this bad habit of invading each other every century or so, building up bad blood and turning the whole thing into a grudge match

  • Alice


    You think Britain was ejected from Southern Ireland by military force?

    Now you have changed the question, Perry. I thought we were talking about winning wars. The Irish won that one, the English lost. OK, today we would talk about insurgents and hearts & minds and asymmetric combat and such like, but bottom line is that the Irish achieved their objective (independence) while the English failed (continued English rule).

    Take another example, North Vietnam clearly achieved its objectives in the conflict with the US, despite very lopsided GDP & logistical advantages on the US side. Or think about Napoleon versus the Russians — Napoleon had most of the advantages and won most of the major battles, yet still lost that war. If war were simply a matter of comparing GDPs and logistics, it would have long ago become unnecessary.

    Watching the EU and Russia wage conventional war on each other would be a little like watching two geriatrics in a boxing ring, tripping over their own walkers and suffering more damage from falls than blows.

    But don’t assume that the EU would have an easy time of any conflict with Russia just because the EU is richer. Russia does not have to follow the EU’s rules about waging war conventionally. If Russia wanted to bring down the EU (which I do not believe it does), the contest would morely likely involve one of the boxing geriatrics suddenly pulling out a gun, or giving his brawny coach something to spike the other geriatric’s water, or stepping on the other geriatric’s oxygen tube.

  • Actually you are the one who changed the subject by talking about something other than a confrontation between nation-states… also I guess you need to read a bit more about Irish history if you do not think it was a political rather than military issue (my background is green *&* orange, so I have no dog in that fight).

    But don’t assume that the EU would have an easy time of any conflict with Russia just because the EU is richer. Russia does not have to follow the EU’s rules about waging war conventionally.

    Well I refer the honourable lady to the history books labelled 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 and suggest that is she thinks peacetime rules apply in real wartime in Europe, she is very much mistaken.

  • @Alice

    If Russia wanted to flatten the EU (although I don’t think it does), what would there be to stop them discretely outfitting some Jihadists with some of those neat back-pack nuclear bombs?

    The fact that they don’t exist? The fact that the Russians have their own problems with jihadis? Jack Bauer may well wander across suitcase nukes, but no one in the universe of reality is likely to see them anytime soon.

  • paul

    Exceptionally amusing and quite true! Thanks!

  • Eugene

    I’m a native russian speaker, so i’m like an insider.It looks like Putin is either western agent or inadequate madman, because that what he is doing all the time-sending bombers just as all NATO representatives attend their meeting, or acting just rough enough to rise western military spendings – ensures everyone, that the problem of russian strategic nuclear missiles must be solved (green light for NMD sites everywhere in Europe) and there is no way to leave things to go on as they are now.
    I’m sure, that as such key NMD systems as KEI would be mature and built in numbers enough to take action, one day we will read in newspaper that there was a mulfunction of US Ballistic Missile Early Warning System, some Mituteman-3 missiles has benn launched and as the responce russians commenced a massive launch of their own ICBM’s(for instance, in 2015 there will be left only 1/3 of their actual number, because of extremly slow procurement ), but the NMD served well.I don’t think that there will be some media campaign like before second Gulf War, russian government is doing enough to save time and paper for western media.
    I neither pro-american, nor pro-russian, just an observer.Russian nuclear missiles are the only reason this land is untouchable.Remove them-a they will be naked.Most fun thing is that the majority of russians is absolutely sure-their country is invincible.They have been defeated many times, but try to find anithyng about that in school programm or in head of average russian.Their government uses this in an expert manner, the majority is not feared of this turn.It’s really sad.
    I found a link to this blog in some popular russian blog, with dozens of commenters who are thinking their country is not getting in trouble coming in confrontation with western world.

  • Kate

    Majority of Americans are really naive. It’s funny. As for Russia – it’s not autocratic. Such a large number of people cannot be brainwashed and stay that way for a long time. Since majority of Russians are happy with the current situation in their country, then that’s it. It means the situation is in fact not bad. Stay away!

  • Majority of Americans are really naive.

    Huh? The majority of people everywhere are really naive. So what?

    As for Russia – it’s not autocratic.

    Yes actually it is and it appears most Russians like it that way. An autocratic police state where people the government dislikes often end up dead or in an insane asylum.

    Such a large number of people cannot be brainwashed and stay that way for a long time.

    If history tells us anything, it is that nothing could be further from the truth

    Since majority of Russians are happy with the current situation in their country, then that’s it.

    A ‘plurality’ are happy perhaps. Hitler too was elected by the German voters. It just means that a plurality of Russians are responsible for their own misfortunes and appear to see themselves as chattels of the state, or at least the volk.

    It means the situation is in fact not bad.

    If most Russians are happy with their crappy living standards and murderous ruling class, then it begs the question of ‘why’ do they like their crappy circumstances. My guess? The Tzar, followed by communism… I fear poor Russia never had a chance to develop an even half-way sane culture.

    Stay away!

    I have no desire whatsoever to visit Russia at the moment.