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Bellingcat chronicles the Russian war against Ukraine

The investigative reporters at Bellingcat have produced a very interesting report on the Russian war against Ukraine, including many incidences of the Russian army firing artillery across the international border in 2014.

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140 comments to Bellingcat chronicles the Russian war against Ukraine

  • Paul Marks

    Yes.

    I find the pro Putin view of many conservatives and libertarians depressing. Mr Putin is a bad man who does bad things (because he LIKES doing very bad things – he gets a kick out of it, it is not an ideological thing) – this is a very simple matter, but it appears to be far too difficult for some people to understand.

  • Bod

    My suspicion is that the pro- feelings are largely envy.

    Regardless of one’s view of Putin himself – his methods and aims – he exercises volition and has direction, and he gets things done. For communitarians, the idea of being directed is comforting. Even if they don’t approve of the direction, they enjoy the (quite human) self-deceit that action is better than inaction, because that action *could* yield results that the individual would like, such as getting the trains running on time, improving society by giving the kulaks their comeuppance, etc.

    For people who want this kind of leadership, living in current western democracies is likely to be somewhat unsatisfactory, since we’ve had decades of enervated, lukewarm leadership that never seems to deliver anything other than meaningless platitudes.

    The social conditioning that expects leaders to lead is very strong. True “one-man-is-his-own-nation” anarchists still recognize that some tasks require specialization and leadership, and at the moment, Putin is one of those clear leaders. It’s hard to imagine a situation where given the choice between action and inaction, that he’d choose inaction. And that’s what’s appealing to so many people, because society (for the most part) conflates inaction with indolence, action with leadership.

    We (particularly US-arians) talk of the delights of gridlock, but when I hear it praised, I often have to wonder whether the source of that delight is – in a pure sense – that the speaker values the resulting inaction as a good in its own right, or whether it’s a refined form of ‘beggar-thy-neighbor’ simply because the alternative to gridlock is “the other team winning”.

  • bobby b

    In the US, if you read only what are considered to be the main-stream media, you’ll never have heard a word about Putin other than he’s sort of undefinably mean and nasty and the once-head of the KGB. And that he wants to kill terrorists.

    The bulk of Americans know nothing about apartment bombings, dead opponents, his path to power – nothing.

    I live in a history-illiterate country, with a great deal of the blame lying on those who claim to supply us with news and information.

  • Paul Marks

    Both Bod and bobby b have written very good comments.

  • Eric

    I find the pro Putin view of many conservatives and libertarians depressing.

    The attraction to Putin is he’s undeniably pro-Russian, which contrasts pretty strongly with the ruling classes in the US and most European countries. I want my president to look out for my interests. That doesn’t mean he should seek to screw over other countries for small gain, but it does mean he should be skeptical of the Davos set and their internationalist agenda.

  • Alisa

    I want my president to look out for my interests.

    How can anyone think that Putin is looking out for anyone’s interests other than his own is beyond me.

  • Jacob

    Are the Ukrainian leaders and people in any way different from Putin and the Russians? Is Putin worse than most leaders of most countries?
    As much as one likes to hate Putin, I find myself unable to sympathize with the Ukrainians.

    Let them fight it out among themselves, it’s none of my business.

  • Jacob

    “How can anyone think that Putin is looking out for anyone’s interests other than his own is beyond me.”
    Putin is looking for Russian nationalist interests. Most Russians think so and that’s why they support him.
    Returning Crimea to Russian sovereignty is surely not a personal Putin interest.

  • Stephen W. Houghton

    Bod: I think that the expectation that leaders lead is beyond social conditioning. A) we evolved in relatively egalitarian, but led bands. If the leader was no good he was got rid of. B) At the level of ideas, what is a leader who doesn’t lead, it is meaningless. That does not mean there is no value in symbolic leadership, but such a leader does have to act, but is more of the lead by example type of thing.

    Alisa: I am no fan of Putin, but I do think that you do not him but your analysis a disservice, if you assume his interests are purely self interested. His whole foreign policy is traditionally Russian. When I was studying Russian history in High School and College, I used to joke that even when all life on earth was microbial, the Russian microbes were trying to reach the Bosporus.

  • Are the Ukrainian leaders and people in any way different from Putin and the Russians?

    Remind me who the leaders of Ukraine, egged on by the people of Ukraine, invaded again? I might have missed that.

    Is Putin worse than most leaders of most countries?

    In the First World at least, most leaders tend not to assassinate their political opponents.

    As much as one likes to hate Putin, I find myself unable to sympathize with the Ukrainians.

    I know quite a lot of people who make similar statements, but they are usually talking about Israel, Israelis generally and its various enemies. I tend to disagree with them for much the reason I disagree with you regarding Ukrainian people.

    Let them fight it out among themselves, it’s none of my business.

    They are fighting it out amongst themselves and I do not recall them asking for US troops in Donbas. And I know a lot of American taxpayers who take your view of the rest of the world too, particular when it comes to subsidising NATO (in effect) and Israel (literally). Not sure I agree but I understand where it is coming from.

    Most Russians think so and that’s why they support him.

    Most? And you know this how? Reliable opinion polls?

    Returning Crimea to Russian sovereignty is surely not a personal Putin interest.

    Of course it was. As you correctly pointed out, he is playing to Russian nationalists and his ability to stay in power depend on that particular constituency. Cthulhu know it sure as hell ain’t riding a wave of economic joy that keeps him in power.

  • Alisa

    Stephen, Putin does in fact follow the old Russian tradition of expanding the empire at the expense of ordinary Russians (not to mention the non-Russian peoples it conqueres) – how is that a good thing?

    That was regarding his foreign policy – should we discuss his internal ones? Maybe the Russian economy, or the life expectancy in Russia?

  • Jacob

    “he is playing to Russian nationalists” – no, he IS a Russian nationalist.

  • Jacob

    “Remind me who the leaders of Ukraine, egged on by the people of Ukraine, invaded again?” Poland?

    There was a Polish-Ukrainian war in 1918-19, and then a Polish-Russian war in 1919-20 in which the Soviet Ukrainians played a role (on the Russian side). They were nationalist wars over control of territory, the matter is quite complicated, and it’s difficult to say who was the attacker and who the defender, and who right or wrong (the Poles or the Ukrainians)…
    Soviet Ukraine also gobbled up, in 1940, a big chunk of Romanian Bukovina.
    If their dubious history is not that well known, it is because they hid behind the facade of Soviet Russia.

    These kind of conflicts break out when there is a mixed population in some area, and two nations claim it as their own. That is also what happens in East Ukraine now.
    I do not think that The West needs to take sides in this conflict.

  • “he is playing to Russian nationalists” – no, he IS a Russian nationalist.

    No? So he is a Russian nationalist and he is not playing to the Russian nationalists? I have no idea what point you are making.

    There was a Polish-Ukrainian war in 1918-19

    Excuse me? Seriously, WTF does that have to do with Ukraine circa 2016? Exactly how many Ukrainian people that you have no sympathy for were even alive then? I would assume they can be counted on the figures of one hand. Perhaps those were the ones you have no sympathy for?

    I do not think that The West needs to take sides in this conflict.

    I am delighted in some ways that the prospect of less US interest in these matters has actually caused Poland to seriously start arming & for the first time in a long time Germany has finally got the message Putin is sending. Europe needs to confront Russia, not ‘the West’.

  • bobby b

    “I am delighted in some ways that the prospect of less US interest in these matters has actually caused Poland to seriously start arming & for the first time in a long time Germany has finally got the message Putin is sending. Europe needs to confront Russia, not ‘the West’.”

    Pretty much what Trump said during the campaign that gave so many the vapors.

  • Jacob, December 23, 2016 at 4:40 pm: “There was a Polish-Ukrainian war in 1918-19, and then a Polish-Russian war in 1919-20 in which the Soviet Ukrainians played a role (on the Russian side).”

    Jacob, you appear to know little Ukranian history. (To be fair, most people know little Ukranian history.)

    Ukraine’s aim at the end of WWI was to gain independence from Russia (and Germany). This they briefly achieved and then lost; a large scale peasant revolt gained them victory but then the peasants went home and the new state was left almost defenceless. Under renewed Soviet (i.e. Russian) attack, the Ukrainian government was driven from Kiev in February 1919. Ukrainian peasants spent most of that year rebelling against their Soviet overlords. Aided by parallel White-Russian attacks to the east, the Ukrainians regained control of western Ukraine in late 1919. The Soviets counterattacked, completing their reconquest by March 1920. The Poles then drove the Soviets out of the western Ukraine in May, but did not manage to hold these gains. The last regular Ukrainian units were defeated by the Soviets in November 1920; they crossed into Poland and were interned. Guerrilla warfare continued into 1921.

    Thereafter the Ukraine suffered mass-murder at Stalin’s hands in 1928-33, then had a worse-than-the-horrible-average time during the great terror of the late 30s, then got conquered by Hitler, then got reconquered by Stalin.

    Many western intellectuals, descending to the level of holocaust deniers, still try to present the many millions murdered in the early 30s as just a few thousands or tens of thousands. There was a big push in US universities to re-assert this lie in the early 80s – one of the many fake news items the left is happy about – and their credulous students can be met today.

  • Jacob

    “Europe needs to confront Russia, not ‘the West’.”

    “Europe” is a fiction. ( I mean – as far as fighting capabilities are concerned).

  • Jacob

    “WTF does that have to do with Ukraine circa 2016?”

    Ukraine is a fictitious entity that never existed as an independent state. They live in a cruel region, they suffered a lot and inflicted suffering on others, like all peoples in this region (and other regions too). Maybe Russia’s demands aren’t exactly just (what is that?) – so what?
    I just don’t see why others (Europe or the US) need to immerse themselves in this conflict. Let the Ukrainians find some accommodation with Russia over the autonomy claims of eastern Ukraine Russians.

  • bobby b

    “I just don’t see why others (Europe or the US) need to immerse themselves in this conflict.”

    One reason why we shouldn’t even try: we don’t know crap about the subject.

    I recently had occasion to sit down with a group of eight younger people, all of whom were full-time employees of the Hillary campaign. (I’m like the crazy uncle who frustrates their perfect knowledge of climate warming by bringing up scientific studies and facts when they simply know they’re right.)

    The discussion wandered to Europe and Russia and the various constituents. I challenged their confident assertions that they understood the region by printing out a borders-outline map of that half of the world and asking them to label the countries.

    Five knew where England was. Two got France right. Three identified Germany. Six got Russia, mostly because of its size. Most knew that Sweden/Norway/Finland were that block of three up above, but not which was which.

    None of them correctly identified any of the rest of the countries outlined. None. Not Ireland, Spain, Italy, certainly not any of the -ia’s.

    So I wrote in labels, and let them stew over the map for a minute.

    Then I put down a similar scaled map of our state. They all sort of gasped and remarked that they had no idea that everything in Europe was so small, and so close together. One said, in a surprised voice, that you could drive through most countries in a very few days.

    These people are the paid staffers running the state-level campaign for the favored candidate for our presidency. These are, by all accounts (and certainly their own), amongst our most educated, literate, globally-aware citizens.

    It frightens me that these people, in the face of almost complete ignorance, consider themselves well-equipped to lead the world, and to provide guidance and counseling to Europe.

    It ought to frighten you folks more.

  • “Europe” is a fiction. ( I mean – as far as fighting capabilities are concerned).

    France, Germany, UK, Poland, have real militaries and are belatedly realising they need more. So no, Europe is not a fiction.

    Ukraine is a fictitious entity that never existed as an independent state

    Factually incorect. But it is amazing how many of the things you write are pretty muuch the same things I hear so many people say about Israel. No sympathy for the Ukrainian/Israeli people. Ukraine/Israel are a fictitious entity. Let Ukraine/Israel go it alone to fight it out in their rough neighbourhood. Ukraine/Israel should compromise with their neighbours (who clearly want to destroy them as a country). Yup, heard it all before.

    Yet strangely the people I know in Kyiv seem to think they are living in a quite real entity. And they think that the influence of Moscow is entirely baleful, and that any compromise with Moscow will have much the same result as Czechoslovakia experienced compromising with Berlin: it did not end with the Sudetenland, and it will not end with Crimea and Donbass.

    And if you cannot see why Europe, and not just Ukraine, needs to confront Russian expansionism, then I guess you can’t see why Europe might have done better to meaningfully confront German expansionism in the mid 1930’s either, before Germany became a formidable military power.

  • Five knew where England was.

    But did they really? Was it in fact an outline of “England”? 😉

    Five knew where England was. Two got France right. Three identified Germany. Six got Russia, mostly because of its size. Most knew that Sweden/Norway/Finland were that block of three up above, but not which was which. None of them correctly identified any of the rest of the countries outlined. None. Not Ireland, Spain, Italy, certainly not any of the -ia’s. (…) It ought to frighten you folks more.

    I lived in the USA for quite a few years. ‘Twas always thus. I knew a chap in NJ whose last name was Poniatowski and he could not find Poland on a map.

  • bobby b

    “But it is amazing how many of the things you write are pretty muuch the same things I hear so many people say about Israel.”

    On sort of an OT note, I think we’re about to see what a transitional crisis looks like here in the US.

    Obama just directed Powers to abstain on the UN condemnation of Israel’s settlements, and so it passed.

    Israel and Trump are now firmly cemented together, and Israel is bypassing Obama and speaking to Trump, who is responding.

    Obama has been quickly enacting all sorts of goofy things that he knows Trump opposes, working with his lawyers to try to make the enactments Trump-proof. Civility has disappeared.

    May you live in interesting times.

  • bobby b

    “But did they really? Was it in fact an outline of “England”? 😉”

    It wasn’t the UK or GB, if that’s what you mean. I’m old-school ignorant-American. To me, (England) equals [(UK) minus (Scotland) minus (Wales)].

  • Mr Ed

    Exactly how many Ukrainian people that you have no sympathy for were even alive then?

    I don’t know about Ukrainians, but there’s an Israeli chap who was born in what is now Poland before all that nastiness started, he’s had a re-run of a bar mitzvah at 113, Kaiser Bill’s antics buggered up the original with his father getting drafted to the Czar’s army.

  • bobby b

    Oops. (GB), not (UK). Why can’t you folks just settle on one identity?

  • bobby b

    Further on my OT point, today Trump released a letter sent to him directly from Putin.

    I hope Obama reads Zero Hedge.

  • Stephen Houghton II

    I have to say I am a little tired of Americans being put down as geographic ignoramuses. So with out even a blank map in front of me let me give it a go.

    Starting in the south west of europe are: Gibralter, Spain, and Portugal. On the Hispano French fronteer is the dual principality of Andora who’s co princes are a spanish bishop and the President of France.

    Moving to the north west are: iceland, the republic of ireland, the UK with its four constituent nations of northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. In the Irish sea is the Lordship of Man and in the channel are the remnants of the duchy of Normandy, the bailwicks of Jersey and Guernsey.

    East of the UK are the Kingdoms of Norway and Sweden and the Republic of Finland.

    Returning to the South is the republic of france on the coast of which is the principality of monaco. Next is the republic of Italy with in which are the Vatican City, the Republic of San Marino, and the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. South of Italy is the Republic of Malta.

    Turning north are the Swiss confederation, the Principality of Lichtenstine, and the Republic of austria. North of them is Germany. Between germany and France are the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and the Kingdoms of Belgum and the Netherlands. North of Germany is Denmark.

    East of Germany is the Republic of Poland, to the north east of which are Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. East of Poland is the Belorus and Russia. South of russia is the Ukrane.

    South of Poland are the Chech Republic and the Slovak Republic. South of them are Hungery, Romania, and Bulgaria. Then comes Greece and European Turkey. South of them is the island (the name of which escapes me) that they basicly jointly occupy.

    North of Greece is Albania. North of Albania is Montanegro, North of that is Serbia. Then comes Bosnia Herzogoviana and Croatia. Last is Slovinia.

    I think that is all of them. Granted I have misspelled some of their names (I did not look names up so as to avoid finding hints and make it a fair test) but I think I have mentioned them all (though unable to name that island south of turkey) Though there may be one more country in Italy that I have missed. But I doubt strongly that I have missed any more.

    Anyway lets have a little less down on American geographical knowlege.

    PS Ok I just realized I left out the caususes.There I admit I am a little lost. I mean when I was a boy it was all part of the USSR.

  • Alisa

    To be fair, I doubt the average European is better familiar with the US geography than the average American is familiar with the European one. Thank you, government-run education systems.

  • Jacob, December 23, 2016 at 9:18 pm: “Ukraine is a fictitious entity that never existed as an independent state.”

    The Ukraine was conquered by Russia more recently than Scotland united with England (much more recently if you date from the union of the crowns, a bit more recently if you date from 1707). The Ukraine tried vigorously to obtain independence after WWI (and clearly would have tried again in WWII if the invader had handled it differently). After the fall of the Soviet Union, it reappeared as a sovereign state, with sovereign president and legislature, years before Scotland acquired its ‘first minister’ and ‘parliament’, which IIUC are less autonomous than the governor and legislature of Virginia, Idaho, etc.

    In short, the Ukraine is less fictitious than Scotland.

    (By all means point that out to any natz you have the misfortune to meet. 🙂 )

  • Alisa, December 24, 2016 at 10:49 am: “To be fair, I doubt the average European is better familiar with the US geography”

    You are correct Alisa. Thanks to my knowledge of the civil war, I am very (most unusually for the UK) knowledgable about the geography of states (especially southern states) that existed in 1860, but it was last year when a relative from the US corrected a misapprehension I had about Idaho (I thought it was further east). Most people here know a lot less about stateside geography than those US intellectuals who think everywhere not on the coast is flyover country.

    Before Julie points it out 🙂 I’ll ask: is it “better familiar” or should it be “more familiar” – or is yours acceptable US idiom (or even more acceptable UK idiom than I recognise)?

  • Alisa

    Not sure about that, Niall – although my English is far more American than it is British, it is generic more than anything else 🙂

  • I have to say I am a little tired of Americans being put down as geographic ignoramuses.

    Clearly not all.

  • Laird

    FWIW, I’ve never heard “better familiar”, although the meaning clear.

    If you give the average American a map of the US without the state names, most couldn’t correctly fill in more than about half. And we’re even more ignorant about the rest of the world (Mr. Houghton notwithstanding). But our own country is so big that it makes some sense to be inward-focused. That’s clearly not true for Europeans.

    I agree with Perry that Europe needs to be concerned with Russian expansionism. But not the US. I’m glad to learn that at least some European nations are beginning to beef up their militaries; they’ve subsisted on US protection for far too long. Time to walk on your own. (The same is true for Japan and South Korea, but that’s another discussion.)

  • Stephen Houghton II

    Re the whole Ukraine is fictitious line of arguement, it would be more true to say that Kiev is the traditional capital of Russia and what is now called Russia is a brake away province (Moscovy) with delusions of grandeur.

    Or to put it another way, if the Ukraine is fictitious because it was gathered into the Russian Empire then Russia is fictitious because it was gathered into the Mongol Empire. It all depends how far back you want to go.

    That fact is that the people of Ukraine have elected a government and have (thus far) had the power to govern it. That is as real as a nation can be.

  • Jacob

    “Europe” (presumably Western Europe, since Russia is “Europe” too…) hasn’t been able to defend itself for at least 100 years, and isn’t yet able to do so. “Europe” has mainly been busy committing suicide in the 20th century (Russia included).
    It would be nice if Europe indeed beefed up it’s defenses – there is no sign of Western Europe being concerned about it’s defense. (Poland isn’t “Western Europe”).

    The question “what should Western Europe do about Ukraine” is moot. They aren’t capable of doing anything. But you could ask this question hypothetically: suppose WesEU could do something – should it try to guarantee the eastern territorial borders of Ukraine?

  • Jacob

    “That fact is that the people of Ukraine…”
    There are probably many different kind of “people” in Ukraine. At least (and my knowledge isn’t perfect), there are Poles, and Russians and also Romanians – beside Rutheninas (aka Ukrainians).
    That’s the whole problem… and it’s the same in many countries – like Great Britain or Spain.

  • Jacob

    I missed Lithuanians, Cossacks and Tartars…

    Seems the Ukrainians are (at least) a mixture of two distinct groups: Ruthenians (originating from the Rus people) and Cossacks (of more easterly origin).
    The only (briefly) independent Ukrainian state, in the 17-18C, was a Cossack state, not a Ruthenian one…

    It’s very complicated.

  • Mr Ed

    FWIW, it’s ‘the Ukraine’ in English, thank you.

  • Alan H.

    (Poland isn’t “Western Europe”).

    You clearly haven’t been there recently 🙂 It’s so much a part of the western world that when you cross into Belarus, it’s like changing planets.

  • bobby b

    “FWIW, it’s ‘the Ukraine’ in English, thank you.”

    Then “the Ukrainians” have to be “the The Ukrainians”?

    (Google Maps, Infogalactic, Wikipedia, The Guardian, NYT . . . all call it “Ukraine.” My memory is that you are correct, but I’m thinking usage has changed.)

  • In Britain we say The Netherlands, The Argentine, The Ukraine. And most do not take their usage update cues from The Guardian 😎

  • bobby b

    “In Britain we say The Netherlands, The Argentine, The Ukraine. And most do not take their usage update cues from The Guardian.”

    How about BBC, the official website of the The Ukraine government, and The Telegraph?

    Although I suppose that, if they’re going to drop Ukraine’s “The”, we should fairly call them “Telegraph.”

    (Is “Britain” a smaller subset of “Great Britain”? I can’t keep them all straight.) 😉

  • Jacob,December 24, 2016 at 5:53 pm: “Europe (presumably Western Europe, since Russia is ‘Europe’ too) hasn’t been able to defend itself for at least 100 years, …”

    100 years ago, the combined armed forces of western and central continental Europe were the most powerful land force on the planet. The mighty military forces of continental Europe west of Russia were destroyed in WWII, which is quite a bit less than a hundred years ago, let alone ‘at least’.

    They were less-mightily rebuilt during the early cold war (no longer enough to have defended themselves alone from Russia – or the US if that had mattered), were slowly decaying before the cold war ended, and were mostly allowed to rot after that. However as Russia’s force is also less than in the old Soviet days, Europe today could make some effort to defend itself against any immediately-likely purely conventional threat.

    In current circumstances, I wonder if the Germans might feel shy of sending significant available public force outside their country, not just from innate spinelessness but also lest they need internally some of what little they have at short notice.

  • Mr Ed

    bobby b

    How about BBC, the official website of the The Ukraine government, and The Telegraph?

    BBC = The Guardian per der Nilpferdmeister; The Ukraine government, don’t speak English as natives; The Telegraph? Recent graduate scribblers (i.e. children).

    It just is ‘The Ukraine’, 74 years of Soviet mind-bending must be taken into account in the Ukrainian government’s interest with myusage of my language. For them to wish to change my usage of my language is forgivable, but not excusable.

  • Answering bobby b’s question (December 24, 2016 at 8:26 pm), the Guardian and the beeb are being politically correct (so what else is new) about ‘the Ukraine’ versus ‘Ukraine’.

    The Ukraine is the correct and long-established usage. Some non-native-English-speakers in the Ukraine, misunderstanding, complained that this usage somehow undervalued the legitimacy of the Ukraine as a state. Native-English-speaking friends of the Ukraine (e.g. Robert Conquest) went on using ‘the Ukraine’, pointing to ‘the Netherlands’, but in the Guardian (whence the beeb get their ideas) saying a verbalism is disrespectful to an ethnic group has the Guardianistas falling over themselves in their haste to use the new term: “Oh it’s not PC to say the Ukraine” made everyone switch.

    The inhabitants of the Netherlands are of course the Netherlanders, not the the Netherlanders – when they’re not being the Dutch or the Hollanders. Ditto for the Ukrainians.

  • I can’t keep them all straight

    Some things just pass all understanding, bobby :mrgreen:

  • Ukrainians use both The Ukraine and Ukraine. Probably neither Ukrainian or Russian use the definite article.

  • bobby b

    “It just is ‘The Ukraine’ . . . “

    I learned it that way, too. I wondered, though, in the face of all of this media-use revisionism, whether I might have learned it back when the area was simply a part of Russia, and thus “The Ukraine”, much like our plains states here are called “The Great Plains”, whereas if those plains states had seceded and formed a new independent body they might be named “Great Plains”, without the “The”.

    Lying back now and thinking of Great England, or United Britain, or The Kingdom, or . . .

  • Julie near Chicago

    Well, Niall, I passed on “better familiar” vs. “more familiar,” although “more familiar” is far more betterer usage than is “better familiar,” 😉 — but I just have to say that in the present instance my teeth are ground deeply into both the upper and lower gums. To wit, the Ukraine, the Sudan, the Sudetenland are all, like the Netherlands, open to the nasty barbs of Mother Nature and other worser Forces of Evil, when they arrive unpreceded by their standard bearer*, the definite article.

    *I break my own ironclad rule of using the hyphen: it should, of course, be “standard-bearer”; but the pun really doesn’t work with the hyphen present, so we will all just have to grin or grimace and bear it…even I. 🙁

  • Alisa

    There is no definite article in Russian (don’t know abut Ukrainian).

    What is strange in all this is what Bobby alludes to above: the use of the definite article for something that is already definite by, ahem, definition – i.e. there is only one Ukraine, and only one Argentine, etc.

  • Jacob

    “100 years ago, the combined armed forces of western and central continental Europe were the most powerful land force on the planet.”

    Locked in a deadly battle among themselves, a battle of self-destruction, from which they never recovered.

  • Włodek P.

    Locked in a deadly battle among themselves, a battle of self-destruction, from which they never recovered.

    Other than to get richer, live longer and generally have better lives. But apart from that, us Europeans never recovered 🙄

  • Julie near Chicago

    Why, thank you for noticing, Alisa! 😉

    . . .

    Seriously, I wonder about the etymology of “the Sudetenland” and “the Sudan.” “The Netherlands” I think is pretty self-explanatory: It’s “the Nether Lands,” with adjective and noun compounded into a single word, a noun. Without Looking It Up (my soup would get cold), I would conjecture that “nether” in this instance meant “low”: so, The Lowlands.

    .

    The Argentine. From The Foot of All Knowledge, article “Argentina”:

    In the English language the country was traditionally called “the Argentine”, mimicking the typical Spanish usage la Argentina[28] and perhaps resulting from a mistaken shortening of the fuller name ‘Argentine Republic’. ‘The Argentine’ fell out of fashion during the mid-to-late 20th century, and now the country is simply referred to as “Argentina”.

    .

    The Sudetenland. I dunno. Is it “the land of the Sudetens”? Again, my soup is cooling off fast…. Heck, I couldn’t resist. The Sudetenland is the land of the Sudeten Mountains, I guess (probably everybody else already knew, but I’m just an unedumacatified Colonial, so I don’t know no European geography, or anyway not much). The evidence is this, from the Ixquick Search Results for “The Sudeten”:

    Lower Silesia – Poland Poland

    http://www.polandpoland.com/lower-silesia.html Proxy Highlight

    There are a number of tourist attractions in the Lower Silesia region including: the Sudetan, Stolowe, Karkonosze and Rudawy Janowickie mountains; the …

    And — it turns out that hot soup is better when not cold 🙁 —

    (The) Sudan:

    ‘The name Sudan derives from the Arabic expression bilād al-sūdān (“land of the blacks”), by which medieval Arab geographers referred to the settled African countries that began at the southern edge of the Sahara.’

    So, once again, the article is a proper part of the translation: “The Sudan” is “The Land of the Blacks.” At least if you believe

    https://www.britannica.com/place/Sudan , which I will in this case. Good maps at the source, and the translators appear to include native speakers of Arabic.

    .

    (The) Ukraine.

    There is this, from the Foot of All Knowledge (but first, the Great Foot tells us that “The neutrality of this article is disputed”):

    The name “Ukraine” (Ukrainian: Україна Ukrayina [ukrɑˈjinɑ]) derives from the Slavic word “kraj”, meaning “land” or “border”. It was first used to define part of the territory of Kievan Rus’ in the 12th century.

    [SNIP]

    .

    Mainstream interpretation as ‘borderland’

    Excerpt from Peresopnytsia Gospel (1556) where word “ukraina” is used for “border/coast”.

    The traditional theory (which was widely supported by historians and linguists in the 19–20th centuries, see e.g. Max Vasmer’s etymological dictionary of Russian) is that the modern name of the country is derived from the term “ukraina” in the sense ‘borderland, frontier region, marches’ etc. These meanings can be derived from the Proto-Slavic noun *krajь, meaning ‘edge, border’. Contemporary parallels for this are Russian okráina ‘outskirts’ and kraj ‘border district’.

    Alternative interpretation as ‘region, country’

    Some Ukrainian scholars, such as Hryhoriy Pivtorak, Fedir Shevchenko,[31] Mykola Andrusyak,[32] Serhiy Shelukhin[33] believe that the name is derived from ukraina in the sense of ‘region, principality, country’. Many medieval occurrences of the word can be interpreted as having that meaning. In this sense, the word can be associated with contemporary Ukrainian krajina, Belarusian kraina and Russian and Polish kraj, all meaning ‘country’ (see Translations, ‘region of land’).

    Pivtorak starts with the meaning of kraj as ‘land parcel, territory’, attested to in many Slavic languages and states of having acquired the meaning ‘a tribe’s territory’ from early in Slavic morphology; *ukraj and *ukrajina would then mean “a separated land parcel, a separate part of a tribe’s territory”

    [SNIP]

    Syntax

    Since the Ukrainian language does not use definite articles, the question of whether the “official” name for Ukraine includes the definite article is subject to discussion.

    [SNIP]

    Referring to the country as “the Ukraine” instead of “Ukraine” is considered insulting by some Ukrainians.[41][42] It now implies disregard for the country’s sovereignty, according to U.S. ambassador William Taylor. He noted that it continues in Russian usage (where the common form na Ukraine, “in the Ukraine”, dates to the Soviet period), and has parallels in (particularly British) English, where forms such as “the Lebanon” were once usual for non-sovereign territories, as one would for instance refer to “the Rocky Mountains”.[43]

    [SNIP]

    Alternative interpretation as ‘region, country’

    Some Ukrainian scholars, such as Hryhoriy Pivtorak, Fedir Shevchenko,[31] Mykola Andrusyak,[32] Serhiy Shelukhin[33] believe that the name is derived from ukraina in the sense of ‘region, principality, country’. Many medieval occurrences of the word can be interpreted as having that meaning. In this sense, the word can be associated with contemporary Ukrainian krajina, Belarusian kraina and Russian and Polish kraj, all meaning ‘country’ (see Translations, ‘region of land’).

    Pivtorak starts with the meaning of kraj as ‘land parcel, territory’, attested to in many Slavic languages and states of having acquired the meaning ‘a tribe’s territory’ from early in Slavic morphology; *ukraj and *ukrajina would then mean “a separated land parcel, a separate part of a tribe’s territory”

    [43] “‘Ukraine’ or ‘the Ukraine’? It’s more controversial than you think.”. Washington Post. 25 March 2014.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Name_of_Ukraine

    So, as usual, it’s the Commies wot buggered everything up. 👿

    The article is interesting. Part of me always wanted to be a linguist.

  • Mr Ed

    In Portuguese, ‘Brazil’ is called ‘O Brasil’ ‘The Brasil’ (‘o’ and ‘a’ being the singular forms of the definite article), and in Spanish, ‘Peru’ is ‘El Perú’ ‘The Peru’.

    So the definite article in a country’s name is hardly an aberration.

    Bonus fact: in Portuguese, ‘O perú’ means ‘the turkey’ as in the bird.

  • Jacob

    “Other than to get richer, live longer and generally have better lives.”

    While enjoying the protection of big daddy, uncle Sam.

  • Jacob

    So, what bothers Putin – if it’s Ukraine or The Ukraine?

  • Mr Ed

    So, what bothers Putin – if it’s Ukraine or The Ukraine?

    I suspect that what bothers him is if it is ‘his’ Ukraine,

    What bothers me is the mind-bending and totalitarian insistence that my natural term for a country (which I was told was termed ‘the borderland’) is wrong or improper because it ‘denotes’ something.

  • Alisa

    Linguistics aside (I happen to disagree with Julie on the relevance of proper-names’ etymology in this context), this is the same idea at play as behind those insisting on being addressed with made-up gender pronouns.

  • Jacob

    I was bothered by the two men who harassed Ivanka Trump on a recent flight. Each of them was calling the other “my husband”. Is that correct English?

  • Jacob

    “I suspect that what bothers him is if it is ‘his’ Ukraine,” He can have it, thank you.

    I suspect that Putin doesn’t like to have American military installations or personnel, or missiles in The Ukraine (under NATO). I can understand that.

    Yes, Putin is a nationalist thug, dictator and murderer, granted. Does he pose a danger to Western Europe? I don’t think so. I don’t think he is mad.

  • Jacob

    Russia (and the former Soviet Union) imposes strict neutrality rules on Finland. Finland cannot form alliances with other countries (let alone NATO) without Russian approval. Otherwise it is free and independent, and Russia doesn’t bother it. Wouldn’t such an arrangement make sense for The Ukraine too?

  • Jacob

    By the way – another fine leader that fully deserves the description of “nationalist thug, dictator and murderer” is Turkey’s Erdogan. A linchpin NATO member and EU member-candidate.

  • Mr Ed

    Russia (and the former Soviet Union) imposes strict neutrality rules on Finland. Finland cannot form alliances with other countries (let alone NATO) without Russian approval. Otherwise it is free and independent, and Russia doesn’t bother it. Wouldn’t such an arrangement make sense for The Ukraine too

    What a steaming pile of poo.

    Belize imposes strict neutrality rules on Russia. Russia cannot form alliances with other countries (let alone NATO) without Belizean approval. Otherwise it is free and independent, and Belize doesn’t bother it. Wouldn’t such an arrangement make sense for The Ukraine too

    would make as much, if not more, sense.

    Russia’s grip over Finland, hence the term ‘Finlandisation‘ was a direct result of Soviet aggression in the Winter War, and the end of the Continuation War.

    Censorship
    In the years immediately after the war (1944–1946), the Soviet part of the allied control commission demanded that public libraries should remove from circulation more than 1,700 books that were deemed anti-Soviet, and bookstores were given catalogs of banned books.[2][3] The Finnish Board of Film Classification likewise banned movies that it considered to be anti-Soviet.[citation needed] Banned movies included One, Two, Three (1961 film), directed by Billy Wilder, The Manchurian Candidate, directed by John Frankenheimer in 1962, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich 1970 by Finnish director Caspar Wrede and Born American by Finnish director Renny Harlin in 1986.

  • Wouldn’t such an arrangement make sense for The Ukraine too?

    No. The Euromaidan revolt was entirely due to the rejection of undue and entirely baleful Russian influence in domestic Ukrainian affairs, which had made them a de facto client state that imprisoned or murdered its political opponents. No sooner did the Ukrainian people throw out the Kremlin’s stooge, whereupon suddenly ‘spontaneous’ uprisings happened in Donbass and Crimea. Pure coincidence of course 🙄 So the evidence strongly falsifies the notion that the Kremlin was ever going to leave Ukraine alone as long as it was suitably supine.

    And of course the Baltics, with Russian minorities, are also well aware that just being a good neighbour was never going to be an option.

  • FWIW, I agree with those who translate the word Ukraine as borderland rather than principality. However it doesn’t matter for the article issue. In English, one says “I am going to the borderland” or ‘I live in the principality”, not , I am going to borderland’ or ‘I live in principality’. This is where the usage come from.

    Julie, I think you’re entitled to drop a hyphen for the sake of a pun; humour has its own rules. Merry Christmas.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Thank you, kind sir. Your beneficent Indulgence is appreciated. :>)))

    I’ve been thinking further about this “The” business. Someone above said something to the effect that you wouldn’t say “the the Netherlanders.” But that’s not these particular phrases work in English.

    The Netherlands: the lowlands. Think of the Scottish Highlanders. They are, as a group, “the Highlanders.” And they are also a group who live in the highlands, or the Highlands. We don’t speak of “the the Highlanders” (whether Scottish or not).

    In any case, you’re quite right, Niall. (And now I realize that when someone says something like “I live in borderland,” it’s often someone whose grasp of English is incomplete and whose native language lacks the definite article.) And personally, I do think it’s important to have some idea of why we use the syntax we do — whether or not other languages use similar syntax. Syntax is the name we give to the patterns of combination of the words we use, and if the syntax is badly garbled so is the meaning of the (ordered) set of words used to convey it.

    Anyhow, I’d been wondering about “the Sudetenland” and “the Sudan” and, of course, “the Ukraine” for quite awhile now, and was glad of the excuse to see what I could find. Even if my tomato soup did get cold. 😉

  • Jacob

    Ok, so Finland wasn’t totally free, but they were free enough…

    I think that what worries Putin is The Ukraine’s candidacy to NATO membership and the prospect of having foreign (NATO) military units in The Ukraine. Also – some key Russian defense industry plants are in the eastern Ukraine. I think that these issues can be solved in a non-confrontational way.
    The Ukraine could declare neutrality, and accept some limitations and some arrangements and some compromises with Russia.

  • I think that these issues can be solved in a non-confrontational way.

    With Russia? Yeah right.

    The Ukraine could declare neutrality, and accept some limitations and some arrangements and some compromises with Russia.

    Russia wants to dismember Ukraine, not compromise with it.

  • Jacob

    “Russia wants to dismember Ukraine”
    Not a bad idea.
    Who said current Ukrainian borders are sacred? If there is a majority Russian population in a small part of eastern Ukraine – let them get annexed to Russia if they prefer, or have some autonomous regime of compromise. Seems that the territories under dispute are small (compared to the whole of Ukraine), and that the Russians are indeed the majority population there. (I’m not sure this is the case, but I suppose so). There usually is no absolute justice in these disputes… just two nationalist positions clashing. The principle of the sacred “self determination” is awfully hard to apply in these mixed zones.

  • bobby b

    Jacob:

    That’s a dangerous trend.

    Do we in the US then have to allow the majority-Hispanic cities and counties in Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California to decide whether they want to remain USA citizens or join Mexico?

    Will Germany and GB and France need to hold a referendum at some point to decide if they will become honorary Libyans?

    Yeah, national boundaries change with time. But there is validity to a cohesive national identity that immigrants can be invited to join but not subsume.

  • Laird

    “Russia wants to dismember Ukraine”

    Works for me. In fact, I’d like to see more countries (including my own) severed into smaller independent political entities. In politics, big is bad. (Small can be bad, too, but generally less so.)

    As to the possibility of (the) Ukraine* being admitted into NATO, that is precisely why I want the US out of it. There is no circumstance under which I would want the US go to war with Russia over that country or, for that matter, any of the other recent entrants. And I’d rather go to war against Turkey than for it.

    * Why not just call it “Ukrainia” (just as “the Argentine” became “Argentina“)? That eliminates the definite article issue as well as any “implications” it might contain. [Or maybe “Ukrainus”?! 😛 ]

  • the other rob

    When I was in the Crimea, most of the people that I met spoke Russian and regarded themselves as Russian. That, plus knowledge of Khrushchev’s partition of the Crimea to the Ukraine led me to think that it was no big deal, despite my dislike of Putin.

    Since moving to Texas, however, I have met Ukrainian exiles who have persuaded me that the Russian annexation is a bad thing.

    However, as sorry as I feel for them, my country is now the USA and I must put our interests first. There’s every chance that Trump might do a deal with Putin to end the Daesh. Should that happen, Ukrainian sovereignty will likely be collateral damage.

    That’s unfortunate, but somebody always ends up holding the shitty end of the stick. I might regret that it’s you, but I’d rather it be you than I.

    On re-reading the above, I feel like a cunt. But I don’t see how those feelings change any of the hard practicalities.

  • Alisa

    “Russia wants to dismember Ukraine”

    Works for me.

    You live in Ukraine?

    In fact, I’d like to see more countries (including my own) severed into smaller independent political entities.

    There is a big difference between seceding of your own accord (such as when the American colonies sought independence), and being severed by a neighboring country. If you lived in TX, how would you have liked it to see Mexico sever it from the US? It’s called ‘annexation’, and that is what Russia did to Crimea. Whether the Crimeans like it or not is a separate question.

  • Jacob

    “You live in Ukraine?’

    Wrong question.
    The right question would be: do you live in the eastern provinces of Ukraine?

    Let’s not forget that the disputed territories in east Ukraine (Donbas) are a very small part of Ukraine’s territory and the population there is mostly Russian speaking, and it’s well possible that a majority of that population prefers to be in Russia and not the Ukraine. These areas are not traditionally Ukrainian, and were (as far as I know) only annexed to the Ukraine under the Soviet regime (i.e. by the Russians). Of course, the Ukrainians will have a different opinion. I don’t know the truth, and I don’t think that foreigners (the US, Europe or NATO) need to interfere.

  • Jacob

    “Do we in the US then have to allow the majority-Hispanic cities and counties in Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California to decide whether they want to remain USA citizens or join Mexico?”

    No problem with that.
    The Hispanics in the US fled Mexico, they will never wish to re-join Mexico. In fact, if some of these counties were in danger of being returned to Mexico – the Hispanic inhabitants (and evryone else) would flee further north, to avoid Mexican rule.

  • Donbass is a Russian invasion using mostly proxies but also Russian army soldiers. There is nothing spontaneous about the Donbass war.

  • Jacob

    “There is no circumstance under which I would want the US go to war with Russia over [Ukraina]”
    Fine.
    The next question is: short of war, do you think the US should pick a row with Putin and impose sanctions over Putin’s desire to annex two east Ukraine counties?

  • Jacob

    “Donbass is a Russian invasion using mostly proxies but also Russian army soldiers. There is nothing spontaneous about the Donbass war.”

    Sure. It is still possible that a majority of the Donbass population prefers Russian rule. I don’t know, but seems that there is a majority of Russians in the region.

  • It is still possible that a majority of the Donbass population prefers Russian rule. I don’t know, but seems that there is a majority of Russians in the region.

    The majority of Ukrainian nationalists I know speak ‘Russian’ (rather than the Ukrainian dialect) at home, so (1) how do you know? Do you think there was a free and fair vote? (2) ultimately so what? Russian has used force to make Ukrainian political realities more to their liking.

    If you think acquiescing to that and coming to some arraignment with Russia will be the end of it, I assume you take the same view of Israel, Hamas and Hezbollah: Israel should just cut a deal so everyone can like happily ever after, right? And I assume you also think it was wise of France and UK to have appeased Germany in the 1930s, yes?

  • Laird

    Alisa, fair point.

  • Laird

    Jacob, short answer: No. Not our fight. If the rest of (western) Europe wants to intervene, that’s their business.

  • Jacob

    Well, analogies work only up to a point…. at some point you stumble on Goodwin’s law…

    Putin is a thug, sure. Not all thugs are born equal. Not all thugs are equally dangerous or deranged. I wish there were less thugs in the world… it is still logically possible that Putin’s concerns about Russian interests in the Donbass have merit.

    I sure think that Putin’s demand that no NATO forces or installation be stationed in Ukraine has merit. It’s like the US demanding that no Russian missiles be stationed in Cuba. NATO made sense (in the past) as a collective defense arrangement for Western Europe. Not for the Ukraine.

    When I said that there are Russian speakers – what I mean is that the Ukrainian bureau of statistics lists the number of NATIVE Russian speakers, presumably meaning that they are of Russian nationality. As far as I am concerned, I couldn’t tell an Ukrainian from a Russian even if my life depended on it.

  • Jacob

    To learn what fine people the Ukrainians are – see the massacre of Poles, where between 76 and 105 thousand Polish civilians were massacred in the Ukraine by the Ukrainian UPA in 1943-44.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Alisa: Excellent point.

  • Jacob, what is wrong with you? How is what happened in 1943-4 have anything whatsoever to do with any of this? Are you moonlighting at 55 Savushkina Street? Seriously, WTF?

  • Jacob

    When one portrays the Ukrainians as fine, peace loving and human-rights respecting people who have been unjustifiably attacked by that thug, Putin, I have my doubts.

    You are presenting, and probably believing, a too one-sided version of what happens there.

  • bobby b

    “The Hispanics in the US fled Mexico, they will never wish to re-join Mexico.”

    Most of them, sure.

    But google Aztlan, and La Raza Unida.

    There’s a large contingent that believes the American SW was taken wrongfully by the USA from Mexico, and seeks its return.

    It’s been their published, acknowledged plan to slowly populate the SW with their own people, and once they hit some critical mass, demand that the USA cede the territory either back to Mexico, or to a new state of Aztlan.

    Point is, your scenario would allow for just such a move in The Ukraine. Get enough Russians to move across the border, and then demand that Russia take back the area. Each individual may vary in their motivation, of course, but to allow for such a thing empowers those of ill intent. The possibility needs to be foreclosed to prevent such shenanigans.

  • When one portrays the Ukrainians as fine, peace loving and human-rights respecting people…

    Please link to where I wrote that. Indeed I never write about a ‘people’ in that manner, it is a bit like why I so loath anti-Semites who make generalisations about ‘The Jews’.

    …who have been unjustifiably attacked by that thug, Putin

    And that is exactly what happened. Fact upon fact backs that up.

    I have my doubts.

    Then for some reason you have drunk Putin’s koolaid.

  • Mr Ed

    Argentina invaded the Falklands in 1982, part of the long chauvinist Hispanic war against the Anglosphere. As part of itheir ‘peace plan”, they proposed a referendum on the Islands’ future, but only after importing 10,000 Argies to the Islands to vote, as opposed to c. 2,000 Islanders.

    Same old trick, it didn’t help them when quite a few Paras, Royal Marines, Guardsmen and Gurkhas turned up to contest the proposal.

  • Jacob

    And GB invaded Gibraltar and settled it with Englishmen, and keeps it since. Such things happen…

  • Jacob

    Perry,
    I’m not sure that Ukrainian nationalism is not, at least in part, making a compromise with Russia hard to achieve. I’m not sure it’s all Russia’s blame alone… I’m not sure you have investigated the matter beyond what your Ukrainian friends told you. I’m not sure the matter is black and white 100%.
    I, personally, have no idea what is the case, but, based on history, I wouldn’t buy everything a Ukrainian tells me. I see it (I guess) as a clash between two nationalist positions.

  • Jacob

    “Argentina invaded the Falklands in 1982, part of the long chauvinist Hispanic war against the Anglosphere. ”

    That is a narrow, Anglo-centric, biased, view. All South Americans see the Falklands as a British colony. This is also a plausible view.

    It does not justify Argentine’s aggression.

    The aggresion was not a “part of the long chauvinist Hispanic war against the Anglosphere”. It was just a blunder of some idiot Argentine General.

    And, yes, over hundreds of years there was a struggle between the British and Spanish empires over control of the colonies. Calling it “a Hispanic war against the Anglosphere” is not strictly correct.

  • I’m not sure that Ukrainian nationalism is not, at least in part, making a compromise with Russia hard to achieve

    Oh yes, that is indisputably true, Ukrainian nationalists want the Ukraine to exist as an independent nation, whereas Russian nationalists want it to either stop being an independent nation and be part of Russia, or at the very least be a client state that is controlled by Russia. Not much room for compromise there.

    I’m not sure it’s all Russia’s blame alone

    Russia attacked Ukraine, Ukraine did not attack Russia, so yes, the blame lies with the Russian state.

  • Mr Ed

    And GB invaded Gibraltar and settled it with Englishmen, and keeps it since. Such things happen…

    Not quite.

    1. It was settled with lots of people, Genoese, Sephardic Jews, Maltese, not ‘Englishmen’ and it has been in British hands longer than it has been in Spanish hands.

    2. The populace have voted overwhelmingly against Spanish rule. It would be ‘handed back’ to Spain if the populace so voted.

    3. It was not GB that invaded, GB did not exist at the time, but an Anglo-Dutch force.

    4. It was ceded by Treaty to the then Great Britain. (Alright, it was most convenient for GB).

    5. Spain itself illegally occupies territory of a neighbour, so they can put their own house in order first before complaining about democratic choices.

  • Jacob

    “It was settled with lots of people” all strangers, except the people that lived there, in it’s immediate proximity – the Spanish. England occupied a piece of Spanish territory, drove out the Spanish inhabitants and populated it with foreigners.

    I’m pro-British in this matter, let Britain keep Gibraltar. But I can understand the Spanish protest and point of view, and find merit in it. British protests of righteousness sound biased and hypocrite.

    Take another example: Hong Kong. Britain grabbed Hong Kong by force when the Chinese were weak, and managed to create there a wonderful, rich and prosperous land. Then it returned it to China in 1997 (under Thatcher), without holding a referendum to find out the preference of Hong Kong’s population. Why didn’t Britain act righteously in Hong Kong? Because, in the words of the character in the series “Yes Prime Minister”: “they are too strong [China]”….which is a perfectly valid and good reason.

    So Britain keeps Gibraltar because Spain is not yet “too strong”…. works for me.

    By the way – what does Britain need Gibraltar for? The British Empire exists no more, so it seems that Gibraltar is a net burden, the money spent maintaining it is wasted money, that serves no purpose.

  • so it seems that Gibraltar is a net burden

    I rather doubt that. Falklands is very much a net burden, but Gibraltar is actually a prosperous place.

  • Jacob

    Good catch. What does Britain need the Falklands for?

    “Gibraltar is actually a prosperous place.” Thanks to it being a tax free zone. i.e. it does not contribute to Britain. I’m sure Britain spends a nice sum keeping the base and installations and defenses and government services there.

  • What does Britain need the Falklands for?

    Depends who you ask. Primarily what Britain needs the Falklands for post-1982 is maintaining the position that you cannot take something from Britain by force. But I would actually say “what does Argentina need the Falklands for?”

    Thanks to it being a tax free zone.

    And this is a bad thing? It is also not strictly true.

    i.e. it does not contribute to Britain.

    Huh? Define “contributing to Britain”. Go on, swallow the baited hook I am dangling in front of you, you know you want to 😉

    I’m sure Britain spends a nice sum keeping the base and installations and defenses and government services there.

    Chump change actually.

  • Jacob

    Once Argentine attacked the Falklands it became a matter of National Pride and Principle – something outside of rational assessment.

    But the question is why wasn’t the matter settled amicably before the war? There were talks with Argentine before. The UK could have saved some blood and a lot of expenses by graciously ceding the Falklands to Argentine, amid a pact of eternal love and friendship and free trade, and free use of Argentinian ports and installations, etc. The only reason it didn’t is that Argentine was not “too strong”.

    Sooner or later Britain will get tired of the expenses and abandon the Falklands. The geography dictates it.

  • Once Argentine attacked the Falklands it became a matter of National Pride and Principle – something outside of rational assessment.

    Nope. It is entirely rational to make it clear that taking something that belongs to the UK by force means war. Indeed the war happened because for decades the UK had (1) not make that clear (2) had been intermittently discussing a deal with Argentina anyway, making it seem the UK were not that bothered by the Falklands anyway (which was true)

    The only reason it didn’t is that Argentine was not “too strong”.

    Wrong again, you clearly know nothing of the subject. The idea of a deal with Argentina had been floated by several UK governments & realistically if the Argentine government had waited long enough, the UK government would have come up with some joint sovereignty deal that protected the islanders (it would have been impossible during the ‘Dirty War’ in Argentina, but a deal with the UK was just a matter of waiting for memory of that to fade from the newspapers a bit). The reason Argentina attacked was not because they were tired of waiting but in order to unite the country behind a faltering military junta, which it did right up until the point when it because clear the UK really was willing to go to war over the Falklands, at which point it suddenly did not seem like such a great idea.

    Sooner or later Britain will get tired of the expenses and abandon the Falklands. The geography dictates it.

    It is eerie how often you do that, Jacob. It is as if you lift your geopolitical ideas from anti-Zionist tracts and just change the names of the countries and people involved. I hear the same argument about Israel, that it is a geopolitical abnormality and that for peace it needs to go away and be subsumed into the surrounding nations ‘because geography’. It is bullshit of course. At least in Hong Kong a sizeable chunk of the population actually liked the ‘One Nation Two Systems’ solution, whereas hardly anyone living in the Falklands or Gibraltar (or indeed Israel or Ceuta and Melilla) want to be subsumed into the neighbouring countries.

  • Jacob

    About Gibraltar – maybe indeed the expense of maintaining it isn’t so great. It should be declared a National Monument to a Glorious Past, and kept in perpetuity – that is as long as Spain does not become too strong, which seems indeed to be “in perpetuity”.

  • Jacob

    “I hear the same argument about Israel” your analogies are superficial. I can’t remember that King Arthur held his round table sessions in the Falklands, or that Boudica’s ancestors originated in the Falklands.
    Whether or not Israel is a “geopolitical abnormality” is an emotional assessment, not a fact (either way).

    I admit that my statement that Britain is bound to abandon the Falklands is a prophecy, based on the assessment of the strength of British attachment to the Falklands vs. the cost of maintaining it. That is a speculation. It might be wrong, of course, it probably is wrong, you never know,prophecies usually are wrong.

    I think it makes no sense (in a rational way) for Britain to keep the Falklands. It would make much more sense (would be much cheaper) to re-settle the 2000 Falkland shepherds in the UK, instead of the Asian or Arab immigrants, 6 millions of which settled in Britain in recent years. The Falklands people would be super-happy for such arrangement. You could even send the bill (or part of it) to Argentine…

  • “I hear the same argument about Israel” your analogies are superficial. I can’t remember that King Arthur held his round table sessions in the Falklands, or that Boudica’s ancestors originated in the Falklands.

    You are the one who thinks “The geography dictates it”, not me. The fact Israel is an isolated enclave means bugger all as far as I am concerned, as I do not think “geography dictates it”. But I can’t remember the conquistadors who founded a Spanish colony in Argentina having much to say about Port Stanley either.

    The Falklands people would be super-happy for such arrangement.

    I assume that is a joke. Don’t quit the day job 😀

  • Probably neither Ukrainian or Russian use the definite article.

    Five days late with my correction, but that should read: Probably becaue neither Ukrainian or Russian use the definite article.

  • NickM

    Whilst it is true that the UK couldn’t do a 1982 all over again it is also true that neither could Argentina so the point is moot.

  • Mr Ed

    If Spain were to ‘hand back’ Ceuta, logically it would have to be to Portugal. Ceuta is, I’m told, the only part of Spain that has actually voted to be part of it – after Portugal regained independence in 1640 from the 1580 Spanish takeover. Portugal had had Ceuta since 1415.

  • To answer some of Jacob’s points:

    Also – some key Russian defense industry plants are in the eastern Ukraine.

    Firstly, no they’re not: they are defence industry plants which belong to Ukraine. Secondly, if Russia is relying on defence industries located in Ukraine it has had 25 years to set up its own in Russian territory (just as it had 25 years to relocate their Black Sea fleet from Sebastopol). That they haven’t suggests they are either too tight-fisted to do so or the strategic value of said facilities isn’t very high after all: neither remotely justifies an invasion or annexation.

    It’s like the US demanding that no Russian missiles be stationed in Cuba.

    Not really. The missile stationed in Cuba by the USSR were offensive, intermediate-range ballistic missiles targetting the USA, and we found out later that Castro urged Khrushchev to fire them first in a pre-emptive nuclear strike. This is somewhat different from the possibility of having discussions on Ukraine joining Nato whereby maybe later a defensive anti-missile system is set up. For all the talk about the threat of Nato on Russia’s doorstep, perhaps Putin is too dim to notice that Lithuania is in Nato and borders Russia and yet Kaliningrad remains decidedly unthreatened.

    Let’s not forget that the disputed territories in east Ukraine (Donbas) are a very small part of Ukraine’s territory and the population there is mostly Russian speaking, and it’s well possible that a majority of that population prefers to be in Russia and not the Ukraine.

    That’s your view. It happens to be completely wrong, but even supposing it isn’t, should we not at least find out if Ukraine’s Russian-speaking population want to be part of Russia before we allow Russia to annex them.

    Incidentally, Putin was probably correct in thinking people who lived in Crimea would want to be under Russian rule if he could arrange it, and so he did. But he then took this success, and the ease of accompanying it, to assume those in the Russian-speaking and supposedly “pro-Russian” regions of Eastern Ukraine wanted the same thing, and so he attempted a similar takeover. I suspect he was somewhat surprised to find the people of that region did *not* want to be ruled by Russians, and particularly by the knuckle-dragging oafs that are running the pro-Russian militias who are forcing people to take sides, and his campaign has bogged down in a nasty stalemate that will probably drag on for years. The situation in Ukraine was never about who was pro- or anti-Russian, the division was more along the lines of who thought leaning towards the EU was the only viable route out of 25 years of corruption-riddled malaise or whether “more of the same” rule by gangsters in leather jackets reporting to Moscow was the way to go. It was dressed up as an ethnic war by various sides, but it was nothing of the sort – hence the pushback against the Russian incursion into supposedly staunchly pro-Russian regions.

  • Jacob

    “perhaps Putin is too dim”
    Putin is not dim at all.
    Maybe you misunderstand Russian sensibilities. For us (westerners) NATO is not only a benign and vital force for the good, it is a superb achievement. For the USSR it was a dangerous foe. The protestation that NATO is a purely defensive alliance is not believed by all Russians. Putin, with a mentality formed under the USSR and shared by many Russians does not love NATO as much as we do. Also – Germany is a member of NATO – and the suffering it inflicted on Russia in two World Wars is enormous, and not easy to forget. The Russian perspective is different from our’s.

  • Jacob

    “The Falklands people would be super-happy for such arrangement.”

    A joke? why? have you asked them?
    The referendum in 2013 asked: “Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom?”. It was not stated but inferred that the alternative was Argentinian rule.

    It hasn’t asked: “Who wishes to receive generous help to re-settle in the UK or anywhere else?”

  • Jacob

    One fact about the Falklands is indisputable: The distance from GB to the Falklands is 8000 miles.

  • NickM

    Jacob,
    Blackbuck you! Does that matter? I am from the UK and live in the UK and in many ways culturally closer to Aussies than to the French. This is the C21st and geography is history. Why is the EU in the 2 and 8 it is? Geographical proximity doesn’t make you the same. 255 UK service personnel died to take the Falklands back from a very nasty junta at the end of its rope. That matters.

  • Jacob

    Distance means costs.

  • Jacob

    “who thought leaning towards the EU was the only viable route out of 25 years of corruption-riddled malaise ”
    I applaud Ukrainian idealists … still:
    “Ukraine is securely locked in a frozen conflict and its political system appears to be imploding as President Petro Poroshenko and his team are revealed as the same kind of venal post-Soviet rulers as their predecessors.”

  • Laird

    Jacob, perhaps the solution is to invite Russia and Ukraine into NATO! Then we’d all be on the same side and there would be no need to fear NATO’s defensive capabilities.

  • Maybe you misunderstand Russian sensibilities.

    Let’s pretend I don’t.

    For the USSR it was a dangerous foe. The protestation that NATO is a purely defensive alliance is not believed by all Russians.

    So Nato should conduct its policy based on the delusions of its rival? Russians are also convinced that Americans give a damn what is going on in Russia, and most of their foreign policy is driven by this delusion. I’m not sure why America should pander to it.

    Besides, the Russian high command know damned well Nato is no threat to them, unless by “threat” they mean a force likely to stand in the way of Russian expansion into neighbouring territories. Like I said, the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad is hemmed in by Nato countries and could be overrun within hours if Nato was an offensive alliance hell-bent on bringing Russia to its knees. That there hasn’t been so much as raised voices at the border in over 25 years suggests alleged Russian “concerns” about Nato aggression are empty words designed to feed the delusions of their general public.

  • Jacob

    You can say that Russian’s concern about NATO aggression is irrational. It probably is. But people are not rational. The concern surely exists. We should not dismiss irrational concerns just because they are irrational (or we think they are irrational).

    This portrayal of Ukrainians as fine, pure, honest, tender, God loving people and Russians as corrupt thugs that are corrupting the poor Ukrainians – that’s pure rubbish. To claim that violence and corruption is a Russian import to Ukraine is ridiculous. The Ukrainians are not one bit less corrupt or thuggish than the Russians, and, judging by history, are the more barbarous of the two people.

    The current Ukrainian leaders play the Nationalist Ukrainian card (anti Russian) as a political ploy to gain power.
    There is no need for foreigners to get involved in this game or conflict.

  • Jacob

    Here is John Derbyshire about Russia :
    “What about the larger question of whether Russia is a natural enemy of the U.S.A.? Is it?
    My answer would be no, with qualifications.
    Russia belongs to Western Civilization, to which they’ve made great contributions. In music and the arts, in literature, in science and math, Russia has been a major player since at least the 18th century. The MacTutor biographical dictionary of important mathematicians lists 130 born in Russia. I covered some of them in my own books about the history of mathematics.

    Culturally, civilizationally, Russians are our brothers and sisters. Without their contributions, Western Civ. would be the poorer.

    That said, you then have to say this: That of all the great European nations, Russia alone has never really struggled up out of medieval despotism into full civic nationhood. Politically, Russia is the problem child of the modern West.”
    The same applies to Ukraine, minus the cultural acheivments.

  • This portrayal of Ukrainians as fine, pure, honest, tender, God loving people

    This is some bizarre irrational delusion going on in your head. No one here has claimed that. No one. No entire ‘people’ are like that anywhere in the world in fact.

    and Russians as corrupt thugs that are corrupting the poor Ukrainians – that’s pure rubbish

    It is your willingness to label “Ukrainians” and “Russians” as this or that which makes your views so easy to just discount. There are good, bad and indifferent people everywhere, but there are political cultures that are more or less toxic than others… and it is true that Ukrainian political culture features endemic corruption, because of the long shared history it has had with Russia.

    The driver behind the Euromaidan revolution was that there is a substantial counter current of ‘westernist’ opinion that wants to sweep away that ‘eastern’ political culture, and see Ukraine become just another European country like Poland or Slovakia. Indeed Poland and Slovakia have developed spectacularly since the collapse of the Soviet Union and provided a vivid example of what life-without-Moscow can look like to man-in-the-street Ukrainians. As someone I know who was at the Euromaidan protests put it, they are acutely aware how corrupt and dysfunctional Ukrainian politics are, but if they are within Russia’s political orbit, that can never change. “We can oppose our own Ukrainian bastards, and work towards ‘normal’ politics of gradual reform, but it is much harder to oppose Russian-backed Ukrainian bastards, because they are much more willing to just kill people.”

    The current Ukrainian leaders play the Nationalist Ukrainian card (anti Russian) as a political ploy to gain power.

    If you actually followed the link in the damn article above, the Russian army itself has been shelling across the border. Russian backed troops are in occupation of part of Ukraine, so not being anti-Russian would be completely irrational.

  • Jacob

    “it is true that Ukrainian political culture features endemic corruption, because of the long shared history it has had with Russia.”

    Again, you blame thuggish culture and corruption in Ukraine on the Russians, maybe it’s the other way round?
    ““We can oppose our own Ukrainian bastards, and work towards ‘normal’ politics of gradual reform, but it is much harder to oppose Russian-backed Ukrainian bastards, because they are much more willing to just kill people.” again – blame the Russians for Ukrainian bastards…

    “The driver behind the Euromaidan revolution”… it is definitely possible that there are some nice people behind the Euromaidan protests, as it is also probable that there were some nice people driving the “Arab spring” revolutions in Cairo and Benghazi and Aleppo. The problem is that these elements, as laudable support-worthy as they are, are probably minuscule and powerless minorities in their societies.

    Now Russia and Ukraine have a border dispute. There are probably thousands of border disputes in the world at this moment. Shooting breaks out along borders all the time. (For example: between Azerbaijan and Armenia at this very moment). What’s so special about this?

  • Jacob

    By the way – how does the Russian shooting on the border interfere with Ukraine’s quest for a clean, ideal, Western style (EU style?) democracy?
    Let Russia have the Russian thugs populated enclaves in eastern Ukraine, and proceed with establishing the ideal Ukraine society in the 95% of Ukraine’s territory.

    There is no logical connection between Ukraine’s border dispute with Russia and it’s quest for whatever…

  • Jacob

    Tim,
    About NATO and the Kaliningrad enclave argument: I’m sure the US and UK don’t give a damn about Kaliningrad (the only thing the UK cares about, deeply, is the Falklands).
    But the Germans would really like to have their Koenigsberg back, as probably would the Poles and Lithuanians.
    The Russians are absolutely sue that the only reason that they still hold on to Kaliningrad is that NATO is, militarily, utterly and irreparably impotent. It’s not that NATO are peace loving people, just that the Russians are too strong.

  • The problem is that these elements, as laudable support-worthy as they are, are probably minuscule and powerless minorities in their societies.

    They’re not.

    Let Russia have the Russian thugs populated enclaves in eastern Ukraine

    They’re not populated by Russian thugs. Not exclusively so anyway, and they’re not even in the majority, hence Putin had to send soldiers and Russian militias in to do the fighting the supposedly pro-Russian Ukrainian citizens would not.

    But the Germans would really like to have their Koenigsberg back, as probably would the Poles and Lithuanians.

    I don’t know about Germans and Poles, but I’ve yet to meet a Lithuanian who cares one jot that Kaliningrad is Russian, let alone agitating to take it back by force.

    The Russians are absolutely sue that the only reason that they still hold on to Kaliningrad is that NATO is, militarily, utterly and irreparably impotent.

    No, they don’t. Some Russians might, but then some Russians think drinking bath lotion is a good idea.

    You appear to know very little about those whose thoughts you claim to be able to ascertain. I confess I am no longer in regular contact with any Lithuanians, but I used to be; and I am in daily contact with a Russian-speaking Ukrainian and a whole shitload of Russians. In fact, my Russian wife spends half the time complaining there are too many Russians in our flat forcing her to drink and being very loud and annoying.

  • Mr Ed

    But the Germans would really like to have their Koenigsberg back, as probably would the Poles and Lithuanians.

    That’s just Kant. Furthermore, the place is, in part, a Brutalist dump.

  • Jacob

    “That’s just Kant. ”
    No. Koenigsberg was founded at least in 1255 by Teutonic knights and was never Russian until 1945. The German population fled or was driven out by the Russians in 1945. It’s quite probable that the Germans have renounced it, but the Russians, driven by guilt, might think the Germans still want it.

    I’m not saying that the Germans, or Poles or Lithuanians want Kaliningrad. I’m saying that the Russians don’t trust the non aggressive nature of NATO, and believe it’s their power (the Russian’s) that keeps predators away. The Russians are paranoid, maybe it’s irrational and unjustified, but they really are.

    About the very real paranoia if not dementia of President Obama – no need to enlarge. I don’t remember an expulsion of more than 3 or 5 Soviet diplomats during the whole cold war – and now Obama expels 35! And what for? Because the Russians have (possibly) done a service to the American people by divulging Hillary’s corruption,

    So, yes, some people are paranoid. maybe the Ukrainians too…

  • Jacob

    Tim,
    It’s not that I’m an advocate of the Russians or a Russian lover. No person of east European ancestry can be a lover of Russians. It’s just that in my antipathy towards the Russians I include the Ukrainians too, I don’t distinguish between them. I’m egalitarian and non-discriminating in this respect. And, historically, the Ukrainians are the less civilized and more barbarous of the two, if anything.

  • Mr Ed

    “That’s just Kant. ”
    No.

    Read it again? 😉

  • Jacob, by your own admission your opinions are just naked bigotry against not the Russian state or Ukrainian state but “Russians” and “Ukrainians”, based on things done by people long dead in a very different world. It continues to be striking how similar your train of thought is to another strain of collectivist notions.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Mr Ed, your link: two things.

    First, the Brutalist Dump has two eyes and a mouth, though probably unintended — as do so many of the works of Man. (I often think of Streamliners — remember those? — although there, the chief feature is the brilliantly lit nose beneath the eyes which are the split front windows; and certain autos from an earlier era: the ones with mouth-shaped grilles, with teeth yet, set beneath two large eyes. Very evocative. Cartoons, animated and not, have made hay down the centuries with this particular image.)

    Secondly, and more to the point: I have seen scenes in movies where the Bad Guy’s weaponry is ack-acking bullets out of just such a mouth-looking part of the killing machine; and the eyes, are there too. In film, the whole thing is set up so as to make it clear that something utterly inhuman is going on with the Bad Guy, or Guys. —-OH! Well, one example is those huge tin-elephant affairs in Star Wars, though the barrel of the “gun” is the wrong shape. But I think I remember scenes from other movies where the weapon is far more Brutalist than those.

    Come with me, Mr Ed, and we shall make Brutiful Music together. 😉

  • Julie near Chicago

    For photos of several cars with somewhat of the look described, go down past the center of the page at

    http://www.swopemuseum.com/Antique-Cars-Collection.asp

    I guess the 1955 DeSoto is the closest in “feel” to the cars in my visual memory. (One of these is an orange number in a Tiger Paws ad — see below.) See also the 1949 Dodge and the 1948 Packard Victoria Convertible. In fact several cars from 1948 on, plus the ’41 Buick Super Sport, have some semblance to the Look.

    Heck, since you’re there anyway, treat yourself to a complete reconnoitering of the page, starting at the top with a 1910 Brush (never heard of it! Reminds a little a walker, the kind with the seat, topped by scaffolding); and —> a 1910 Hupmobile !!!. And goes right on down the first 3/4 of the century, to end with a ’72 Mustang. Then, for lagniappe, there’s the 1921 Dodge Bradesh, q.v.

    .

    Oh yeah. Tiger Paws:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBOS_AS08Bc

  • Julie near Chicago

    PS. Above, I wrote my reaction immediately after I saw the lead photo — before reading even the first paragraph. I see that others had already noted the “face,” although they took they took the Dump for a robot buried up to its shoulders.

  • Jacob

    ” bigotry… against “Russians” and “Ukrainians”, based on things done by people long dead in a very different world.”

    Of course my opinions are based on history,… “long dead”? … less than 100 year old history… everything is based on history, nothing springs out suddenly out of nowhere.

    I think you good opinion on “Ukrainians” is just as a collective attitude to these people as mine, I think your’s is romantic, and not very realistic. And history is indeed one of my arguments.

  • I think you good opinion on “Ukrainians” is just as a collective attitude to these people as mine, I think your’s is romantic, and not very realistic

    On the contrary. I have no opinion on “Ukrainians” because I have stated there are many different factions and opinions, and unlike you, I actually spend time in Kyiv occasionally and communicate with Ukrainians almost daily. The people I know are all deeply cynical regarding Ukrainian political culture but take a view not unlike mine with Brexit… that best the hope for reform is when politics is repatriated (i.e. removing the undue influence of Moscow and Brussels respectively).

    And unlike you I never make statements that describe “the Ukrainians” or “the Russians” as being like this or that, any more than I ever say “The Jews”, because I am realistic enough to know collectivist bullshit when I hear it. The brutal reality of centralised Russian political power prevents alternative views being acted on or loudly expressed (but that does not mean such views do not exist), but the same is not true in the Ukraine, and there is a wide variety of opinions that are both expressed and acted on (hence the Orange Revolution and the Euromaidan Revolution). But there is at least as much cultural and political variation across the Ukraine as any western country (more really), making your sweeping statements based on “Ukrainians are barbaric” (etc) particularly ill-informed. Yes, some are, but the same is true everywhere.

  • Jacob

    Ok, fine, I admit that my personal knowledge of the current state of Ukraine and it’s people is not first-hand, and I bow to your assessment.
    Still I think the Ukraine should not be in NATO, and, as much as one might feel sympathy and want to help the good Ukrainians – it’s not worth picking too big a row with Putin and Russia over it.

  • Still I think the Ukraine should not be in NATO

    I agree with that, but I also think Russia needs to be ‘confronted’ (i.e. contained) in order to prevent the most lunatic elements nibbling away at its neighbours.

  • Alisa

    It looks like Russia will now be appeased to an extent, as there is a bigger fish to fry – the bigger fish in Trump’s mind being China, and I tend to agree.

  • Yup that seems about right. Many of my reform minded Ukrainians chums actually take the view there needs to be a conscious repudiation of the past, a rejectionist approach to all notions tainted by the former Soviet culture, including as my sharpest chum put it (echoing that article, and quoted from a private IM discussion) “we even ended up with the tainted Soviet version of what capitalism was supposed to be. They warned us evil capitalist oligarchs would control us if socialism failed. Then socialism failed. So they just assumed we needed to produce our own oligarchs or we would end up with ones from the west! Even goddamn Slovakia didn’t make that mistake, and so now they’re way richer than us!”

  • Jacob

    From that article:
    “While the extent of Russia’s meddling in American politics this year has been greatly exaggerated (for obvious reasons), such an interference isn’t new and has existed since at least the 1930s. Imagine how much damage Russia’s interference, multiplied tenfold, can do to a weaker neighboring country with a Russian-speaking majority and frail democratic traditions.”

    OK. I’m all in favor. Where do I sign a petition asking Putin to please not interfere?

    (Someone remarked that when the USSR interfered in US elections promoting lefties the media never complained…)