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Similarities between the Russia-Ukraine War and the First World War

  1. The aggressor was looking for a quick victory.
  2. When the aggressor failed to achieve that victory a stalemate developed.
  3. The principle mobile weapon system (then cavalry, now armour) was shown to be highly vulnerable.

Of course, there are significant differences. The German army, for instance, never suffered from massive corruption and incompetence. And this time there aren’t multiple belligerent powers.

But if the similarities hold does this mean that we can look forward to a stalemate that lasts four years, kills millions and doesn’t really resolve anything? Does it mean we’ll have to do it all over again in 20 years? Let’s hope not but there’s another similarity which may play a part here. As Perun has pointed out, Ukraine – believe it or not – can call on greater military resources than Russia. It already has a larger army and if the West supplies it properly it will have more and better military hardware to bring to bear. And morale will be no contest. This would make it much the same as the situation in 1918. It took the Western allies 3 years to develop the war industries they needed but when they unleashed their superior military resources, allied to an effective tactical doctrine, the Germans were powerless to resist.

To the best of my knowledge the Ukrainians are yet to enjoy any major offensive successes. So, for the time being we’re very much in the 1915 part of this analogy.

53 comments to Similarities between the Russia-Ukraine War and the First World War

  • Lee Moore

    I should have thought one significant difference is the role of mud. Russian / Ukrainian mud is very muddy, extensive and seasonal. Hence the vulnerabilities of Russian armour in the current conflict, when it began, were enhanced by the muddy reasons to stay on the road, thereby reducing mobility and making them an easy target. But the mud season is over, and the Russians can look forward to four solid months of unmuddy off road manoeuvering, which may be long enough to achieve a decisive result.

    Of course mud was not entirely absent from WW1, but the relatively restricted space on the Western Front made cavalry more or less useless even in dry weather. Also the Western Front had a lot more more roads per square inch than the Eastern Front. (On the Eastern Front, the bigger spaces allowed cavalry to operate reasonably effectively, even as late as the Russian Civil War.)

    So my prediction is that we have overestimated the Ukrainians’ power to resist by undervaluing the assistance of mud. Which they are not going to get again till the autumn.

  • Alsadius

    Unlike WW1, the aggressor isn’t worrying about a counter-invasion, because Russia has nukes and Ukraine does not. Also, the blockade is much less total. So the same level of pressure is virtually impossible to bring to bear, which lowers the odds of the same endgame (i.e., the civilian populace of the aggressor getting fed up, and exploding into revolt against their autocrat.)

    That said, if the West remains foursquare behind Ukraine, they will easily avoid the Finnish fate of 1940(where they simply ran out of hardware to resist a somewhat-less-incompetent Russian attack). And obviously, Ukraine is about ten times as big as Finland, which helps immensely too. So as much as I think that Russia still has the upper hand overall, and will likely end the war by forcing some manner of concessions, I don’t expect they’ll see it as a worthwhile decision in retrospect.

  • The aggressor was looking for a quick victory.

    The WWI German General Staff was looking for a 40-day campaign in the west to achieve decisive victory – after which fighting would continue in the west to exploit that decision while sizeable forces would be rushed east to achieve an (initially defensive) victory over invading Russian hordes. They expected many casualties and months of fighting. Putin expected to run through the Ukraine as he had the Crimea – in a special operation, not a war.

    When the aggressor failed to achieve that victory a stalemate developed.

    In the west, Germany won enough territory to make a defensive strategy viable, forcing their enemies to attack. In the east, major German victories were offset by defeats inflicted on their Austro-Hungarian allies.

    Whether or not ‘stalemate’ applies to that stage of WWI, I think it is too early to say that of the Russo-Ukraine war today. The analogy is far more with Russia’s 1939-40 winter war with Finland. Major Russian defeats in would-be-subtle all-along-the-frontier operations have been followed by concentration in one area and use of crude mass tactics, especially massed artillery.

    Patrick has noted one important difference. Finland was immensely outnumbered by Russia (which back then included the Ukraine). By contrast, there are well over 40 million Ukrainians facing well under 150 million ruled by Putin. That’s odds of less than 4:1 whereas for Finland in 1939 the ratio exceeded 40:1 – if you believe the census Stalin announced in 1939, after having the compilers of the suppressed 1937 census shot “for reducing the population of the USSR” (which was very unfair as it was not the census compilers who had reduced the population). I am sufficiently sceptical of the 1939 census to think Finland faced odds of less than 40:1 – but very little less than that.

    Another difference is that western countries today can supply the Ukraine to the extent each chooses. Finland was a good deal more isolated in winter 1939/40, and the west, though verbally sympathetic, was not at all eager to deplete its own weapon stockpiles.

    The principle mobile weapon system (then cavalry, now armour) was shown to be highly vulnerable.

    In the east, cavalry in WWI remained militarily useful (and no stalemate developed). As it was militarily unwise to attack Finland in winter, so it was militarily unwise to attack the Ukraine just before the spring rasputitsa (the mud mentioned by Alsadius, June 12, 2022 at 3:13 pm). In both cases, Russian expectation of a very swift and easy victory prompted the mistake. We are now, however, well into the period when the weather is good for rapid mobile operations in the Ukraine’s open territory, but instead it seems like the Russians are attempting simple mass operations on a limited front.

    Another ‘weapon’ system that proved vulnerable in WWI was voice control. Without portable radios, and with shells raining down on the runners who tried to convey information to and orders from commanders, complex operations were much hindered, affecting the attacker more than the defender. This does not apply today – though today’s exceptional communications environment may be helping the top-down-directed Russians less than the Ukrainians. And we are very much in the earliest stages of discovering how drone warfare will work when it is developed.

    I am not expecting a prolonged stalemate unless Putin takes the step of mobilising more resources (as it was thought he might do on May 9th) by admitting he’s in a full-scale war (and proves able to handle the internal political cost of that) – but that is as close to a mere guess as makes very little difference.

    Just my 0.02p FWIW.

  • Mr Ed

    Major differences are that the aggressor has nukes, and that the victim of the invasion was a member of the United Nations long before the invader succeeded its designated predecessor as a member of the UN, and the context of the growth of international law and the (notional) rejection of aggression as a tool of policy. Also, it is not as if Russia has invaded, say, the Netherlands because a Bosnian shot an heir presumptive to a third party’s throne.

    Perhaps a better analogy (albeit imperfect for obvious reasons) would be if the United States had invaded the Confederacy in the 1890s having let it go in 1861, but with the difference being that the right of secession of the Ukrainians having been hitherto undisputed and unarguably well-founded and the lack of the maintenance by the Ukraine of slavery.

    My inner pedant adds: In chess, a stalemate determines the game as a draw, whereas an impasse may lead to a change in tactics in a lunge for victory (for better or for worse!).

  • Chester Draws

    One feature of WWI was that who was “winning” was a poor guide to who won.

    The Russians made very good progress in the Brusilov Offensive. Only to utterly collapse soon afterwards. They didn’t collapse because they were losing the war.

    The Austro-Hungarians broke the Italians at Caporetto, driving deep into Italy. It looked like Italy were knocked out. Then Austro-Hungary collapsed soon afterwards.

    The final German Spring offensive made good progress on the Western Front. Only to be reversed much more significantly, leading to their surrender.

    It was the internal front and soldier morale that mattered in the end in each case. The Ukraine-Russia war will not be won by the side that keeps grinding forward. It won’t be won by the biggest army, or most weapons. It will be won by the one that holds on the longest without cracking.

    I might add that in both WWI and WWII the Royal Navy blockade of Germany that proved vital. In both wars the Germans would likely have won if they had not been blockaded. The Germans got by for years, but eventually started to run out of vital supplies. Economic sanctions have a slow but cumulative effect.

  • Fraser Orr

    Isn’t the obvious similarity that the outcome was determined entirely by what the Americans did?

  • Ferox

    The main similarity to me is that a large number of young men will die in the cold mud, because the sh*theads leading the countries involved think that the world is a giant chessboard, theirs to play with.

    The question I am waiting to see answered is whether this conflict will stay regional, or whether it will spread around to other patches of mud and other young men. Brandon needs a distraction from the disasters caused by his policies, and maybe he thinks widening the Ukraine brouhaha is the perfect thing.

  • Milwaukee

    Zalensky campaigned for office with the promise of a peaceful negotiation with the Russians. The Right hard liners kept him from doing that. How that that factor into the “WWI all over again” thinking?

    The Russians invaded eastern Ukraine and Crimea in a response to western interests fermenting a coup in the Ukraine in 2014. Check on the activities the American Victoria Nuland, for example, and George Soros, in the color revolution biz. Ukrainians from the western part are willing to do territorial defense, but are being forced into combat in the east. Analogies breakdown. The Ukraine will not have the time to benefit from the all the graft and hardware being thrown at it. Plus there are reports of Ukrainian officials buying expensive new digs in Switzerland.

    The West, NATO, and the United States, want this war to drag on to bleed Russia, and they are willing to sacrifice as many Ukrainians as it takes to bleed Russia. When will the Ukrainians decide they don’t want to be doing the bleeding?

  • newrouter

    “The aggressor was looking for a quick victory.”

    Your mind reading skills are excellent! Did you use tarot cards or a ouija
    board?

  • Because not only is it screamingly obvious, many Russian military commentators have said as much.

  • The Russians invaded eastern Ukraine and Crimea in a response to western interests fermenting a coup in the Ukraine in 2014.

    That is laughably incorrect but it certainly is the Russia Today narrative.

    When will the Ukrainians decide they don’t want to be doing the bleeding?

    I hear very different attitudes expressed when I ask actual Ukrainians both in Ukraine & overseas. But then they actually understand Russian motives & intentions rather better than you do.

  • Brandon needs a distraction from the disasters caused by his policies, and maybe he thinks widening the Ukraine brouhaha is the perfect thing. (Ferox, June 13, 2022 at 3:11 am)

    At the risk of underestimating the stupidity of Brandon and his minders, I will guess that he won’t do that if he can (as he very probably can) avoid it. The regime that fled Afghanistan, and was ready to see Vlad race through the Ukraine by end-February, will certainly not be driven into action by some turn of events in Russia’s favour. And while they may be too stupid to ask themselves whether the nation will want to be taken to war with a nuclear power while led by Mr Brandon Afghanistan Withdrawal, there again, they may not be that stupid.

    The main similarity to me is that a large number of young men will die in the cold mud, because the sh*theads leading the countries involved think that the world is a giant chessboard, theirs to play with.

    I don’t think Zelensky thinks that – nor the young Ukrainian men who must have endured mud during the rasputitsa but probably not so much now summer is come. It’s also not that fair to the WWI French, who had war declared upon them, nor the WWI Belgians, who were invaded by a Germany not honest enough to declare war in that case. One obvious similarity between both world wars and the present war is that some countries had a choice of starting or not-starting it, some countries had a choice of joining it or staying neutral, and some had a choice of fighting an invader or surrendering.

    Likewise, calling the leaders “sh*theads” is not just failing to discriminate between them. It also sees stupidity where evil could more intelligently be seen. Evil people can also be stupid, and sometimes their stupidity comes from their evil and sometimes it comes from others being better than expected. Vlad looks stupid today because the Ukrainians fought.

  • Rollory

    It’s not “armour” that was shown vulnerable, but specifically the Russian-designed T-series vehicles. Not at all proven that late-20th-cen Western designs – M1 or Leopard, for example – would be equally vulnerable, and I think quite a bit of evidence that they’d shrug off a lot of hits that kill a T-tank – and if something did kill an M1, the crew has monumentally better chances of suviving the experience and learning from it.

    And this vulnerability was already known after the first Gulf War, with turretless tank husks scattered all across southern Iraq. But since it was Americans doing it, nobody took the lesson seriously.

  • The West, NATO, and the United States, want this war to drag on to bleed Russia, and they are willing to sacrifice as many Ukrainians as it takes to bleed Russia. When will the Ukrainians decide they don’t want to be doing the bleeding?

    Given that the alternative for Ukrainians living in the Ukraine is reduction to a colony / slave state of the Russians with the added bonus of being deported out of the Ukraine to some shit heap city in the Russian Far East, I’m guessing the Ukrainians have plenty of incentive, irrespective of what unreliable foreign allies do or don’t do.

    As for the Russians, all very well having tons of rolling armour, but this ain’t 1940. Surprise has been lost and the idea that the Russians will turn that around this Summer and Autumn seem unlikely, especially with the antiquated junk they’ve been fielding recently.

    The Ukrainians seem to be winning the asymmetric anti-tank war quite well with relatively cheap to deploy drones for intelligence and MANPADS hitting the “hard to move, hard to hide” Russian heavy armour quite badly.

    The demoralisation of Russian troops driving past obliterated equipment just like the tanks and armoured troop transports they’re driving in is also not to be ignored. These aren’t trained and disciplined troops, but mostly young, largely untrained conscripts.

    To cut this short, neither side can seem to land a killer blow on the other or force a surrender. The lines are ebbing and flowing with neither side able to hold a sustained advantage, much like the entrenchments of WWI. So we’re really back to a war of attrition and whose supplies of troops, munitions and desire to win runs out first.

    Hard to call.

  • Tim c

    There are approximately 41 million Ukranians. No idea what current total losses are but has been mentioned that at the moment it’s about 100 a day. 3000 a month, 36000 a year if that continues (let alone if it increases).
    At some point they will run out of people to man all this hi tech weaponry won’t they? Unless of course the Western powers get more involved.

  • TDK

    I would have thought the similarity was closer to the Austro Hungarian invasion of Serbia.

    A larger aggressor living on dreams of past grand imperial greatness but with a hopelessly inadequate military, assumes it will walk over the victim in hours but finds itself halted. Meanwhile much of the world pledges support. The key difference is that Germany, the stronger power, is there to prevent Austro-Hungarian collapse ad to directly engage the would be allies.

    We just have to hope that China does not decide to backup Putin

  • Fraser Orr

    @Milwaukee
    The West, NATO, and the United States, want this war to drag on to bleed Russia

    It is a mistake to think that the West and NATO want the same thing as each other. It is plain that some European countries want this to end ASAP, whereas it seems plain that the USA wants it to be another perpetual war. War is very useful to these brain dead politicians. The economic disaster in the USA is being blamed mainly on Putin, despite the fact that it is mainly caused by terrible policies. Plus it means selling masses of weapons by major political donors (both sides), and it is some great moral crusade to make speeches about. I see absolutely no upside to politicians to end the war — which is why NATO has been effectively at war since its creation (except when peace was accidentally forced on them for a short time in the 90s).

    And again, it is a mistake to think that Ukraine is doing well in this war. I don’t doubt the individual bravery of individual men or the political savvy of Zelensky. But the war is at stalemate because of a massive overwhelming advantage in logistics from NATO. Wars are won by logistics and all those fancy weapons sure aren’t being made in Ukraine — they can’t even make bullets there. Plus there is an asymmetric advantage. In normal wars the materiel production facilities are bombed but for asymmetric reasons that is not something the Russians can do without world ending consequences.

    Even the down side of the war to politicians is being hidden by the press. Toxic masculinity resurgent and “Who needs an AR-15? Well Zelensky did!” both of which seem really rather obvious commentary seem utterly absent.

    So my expectation is a perpetual war with lots of innocent people dying while rich people get rich and politicians can disguise their incompetence is jingoistic fervor. I’m afraid plus ca change, plus le meme chose. As is always the story – lions lead by donkeys.

  • Quite so Rollory. Moreover Russia seems to have lost the institutional knowledge required for combined arms operations.

  • llamas

    Maybe slightly OT, but Tablet magazine has an excellent long-form interview with Edward Luttwak (who I know is not our generous host’s COT, but there we go) discussing the Russia-Ukraine war and the complete intelligence cock-up of both Russia’s FSB and every one of the three-letter US agencies. Not sure I’m buying all of his conclusions but it’s a thought-provoking read nonetheless.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Luttwak is not *utterly* hopeless but he really needs to ponder Dupuy before pronouncing on military affairs 😉

  • Agammamon

    And this time there aren’t multiple belligerent powers.

    Juuuuuust barely though. This is kinda on the thin edge of dragging NATO in – or exposing it as toothless – if a mistake is made.

  • Agammamon

    MANPADS hitting the “hard to move, hard to hide” Russian heavy armour quite badly.

    Ok, this is a technical thing, but it bothers me. Nothing to do with you, of course, and you’re all free to not care or make fun of me for it.

    They’re not using MANPADs.

    MANPADs are ‘Man Portable Air Defense’ systems. Things like the Stinger missile. For shooting down aircraft. Not suitable for anti-tank use because the warhead is optimized for aircraft.

    They’re using light self-contained ATGM packages like the Javelin or NLAW. While the Javelin can attack helicopters (not fast moving or high up fixed wing aircraft) the NLAW can not – because their primary purpose is anti-armor.

  • Even the down side of the war to politicians is being hidden by the press. Toxic masculinity resurgent and “Who needs an AR-15? Well Zelensky did!” both of which seem really rather obvious commentary seem utterly absent. (Fraser Orr, June 13, 2022 at 11:38 am)

    Such narrative cross-overs may be carefully weeded from the PC MSM, but they are indeed obvious, so even sometimes trip up the hard-left brain-dead and get noticed.

  • Plamus

    At some point they will run out of people to man all this hi tech weaponry won’t they? Unless of course the Western powers get more involved.

    Tim c, not really. This is actually the problem Russia is facing – not enough manpower, even less non-conscripted manpower, even less competent manpower, and even less motivated manpower. They initially tried to mask this by throwing forward tons of undermanned units/vehicles/equipment, and therefore lost a lot of equipment and personnel, because apparently they forgot that combined arms is a thing, and that unsupported armor loses to light infantry. Now they are reverting to, IMHO, not so much WW1, but more Chechnya-war mode – level what’s in front of you with artillery, take a step forward, rinse and repeat.
    Ukraine has, for now at least, the opposite problem – enough men and women, not enough heavy hardware and ammo.

    Addendum: I find it hilarious that the captcha made me select images that included tractors.

  • Patrick Crozier

    On the point about whether Ukraine can sustain its current losses, we have the example of Britain in the First World War. 750,000 Britons (not including the Empire) died during the war. Most of those occurred in the last 3 years (it takes time to create a large army). That equates to 250,000 dead a year. This from a country with a very similar population to modern-day Ukraine. If the 36,000 figure is correct, Ukraine can easily sustain these losses for many years.

    I doubt the 36,000 number refers to dead. My guess is that it refers to casualties which includes dead, wounded, captured and deserters. So the actual number of dead is about 12,000 tops. I am using the First World War iron ratio of one death for every 3 casualties. With modern medical facilities it will be a bit higher.

    It’s Russia’s ability to sustain losses that is more likely to count. For Ukraine this is an existential struggle. For Russia it isn’t.

  • MANPADS hitting the “hard to move, hard to hide” Russian heavy armour quite badly.

    You mean infantry ATGMs, not MANPADS.

  • Chester Draws

    In normal wars the materiel production facilities are bombed but for asymmetric reasons that is not something the Russians can do without world ending consequences.

    I don’t quite get this desire to show that Ukraine has all the advantages.

    The Ukrainians have very limited ability to strike at the Russian supply base. They’ve done it a few times, but nothing like if they had free rein. Russian factories deep in the country can produce in total safety.

    Meanwhile the Russians have the ability to strike at every entry point of NATO weapons. So while they can’t hit production facilities, they can hit transport and storage. Meanwhile the US has specifically forbidden any of its long range artillery from being used in a similar way against Russia itself.

    Not to mention a naval blockade of Ukrainian imports and exports, which is asymmetrically very much in Russia’s favour.

  • They’re using light self-contained ATGM packages like the Javelin or NLAW. While the Javelin can attack helicopters (not fast moving or high up fixed wing aircraft) the NLAW can not – because their primary purpose is anti-armor.

    I stand corrected.

    The Ukrainians have very limited ability to strike at the Russian supply base. They’ve done it a few times, but nothing like if they had free rein. Russian factories deep in the country can produce in total safety.

    The claim though is that the mysterious explosion of weapons productions facilities inside Russia aren’t just random events, but either sabotage by Russian anti-Putin subversives or Ukrainian special forces operating deep inside Russia. Same applies to disruption of supplies across the Belarus railway network during the early stages of the assault on Kyiv.

    Given the typical drunken incompetence of the average Russian, I’ve put it down to lax safety procedures around dangerous chemicals when production facilities are running at max on a war footing, but maybe I’m not cynical enough.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Chester Draws
    I don’t quite get this desire to show that Ukraine has all the advantages.

    I’m not sure I have a “desire” to do this, I am just calling the facts like they are. This narrative of brave and plucky Ukraine fighting off big bad Russia and winning against all odds is just simply not true. Certainly there are a lot of brave Ukrainians and plenty of bad Russians including the Czar himself. However, Ukraine would have long ago collapsed completely if that is what was happening. In fact it is NATO fighting Russia using Ukrainians as their willing proxy. Under the best of circumstances it is a very dangerous game to play, and one that brings us closer to a nuclear war than we have probably ever been. But these are not the best of circumstances, since we have a man in charge who can barely string two sentences together, and frequently makes blunders that could easily bring the world to an end. A man who has 50 years of foreign policy experience in which he has been consistently wrong about everything for all of those 50 years. A record of incompetence that I doubt anybody has ever matched.

    This is not Ukraine verses Russia, it is NATO and Ukraine verses Russia, with China as a Machiavellian backstop. We are one stray missile away from the end of the world, and not in a fake “global warming” end of the world way, I mean a real end of the world with climate changes vastly exceeding the IPCC’s predictions. Honestly, anyone who is not terrified is not paying attention.

    The Ukrainians have very limited ability to strike at the Russian supply base. They’ve done it a few times, but nothing like if they had free rein. Russian factories deep in the country can produce in total safety.

    Yes, for balance, that is absolutely correct. And the fact that the Ukrainians have done so is really pretty dangerous even if in a limited way, since it provides some sort of moral justification for the Russians to do so in kind in the west, and that would very, very quickly spiral out of control.

    But even so, the west’s productive capacity simply dwarfs the Russian’s. So this is very much advantage Ukraine.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    What do you mean, “end of th world”? If the North pole goes nuclear, we Australians will recivilise the world!

  • What do you mean, “end of th world”? If the North pole goes nuclear, we Australians will recivilise the world!

    Press “X” to Doubt.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray
    we Australians will recivilise the world!

    Assuming the government lets you leave your house.

  • anon

    I find Patrick’s comparison of the current invasion of Ukraine with WW1 unconvincing. Points 1 and 2 can equally be applied to many–arguably most–historic conflicts, and are surely not grounds to invoke the war to end all wars. As for point 3, it is far from clear that the day of the tank has been eclipsed the way that WW1 saw the end of the cavalry era. Besides the points made by other commenters in this regard, I would refer people to this video for a counter-argument: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lI7T650RTT8

    If these three points are the basis for comparison, do we not find a substantially more compelling parallel with Stalin’s 1939 invasion of Finland? And if so, does that not bode rather more ominously for Ukraine than the strained parallel to 1914?

  • llamas

    Shades of ‘On the Beach’ begin to draw . . .

    One of the plot points of that book, echoed by Luttwak, is that if it all goes pear-shaped, it will likely be, not some mad Jack D. Ripper type, but some nameless and unknown major or lieutenant-colonel, to whom the first-strike authority has devolved because the chain of command has fragmented. IOW, Putin, or Zelensky, are not that crazy – but Major Ostopensky just might be. It’s worrisome.

    llater,

    llamas

  • In fact it is NATO fighting Russia using Ukrainians as their willing proxy. Under the best of circumstances it is a very dangerous game to play, and one that brings us closer to a nuclear war than we have probably ever been.

    Vietnam War: Soviets and Chinese provided the weapons killing US troops, including jet fighters & SAMs…WW3 did not follow

  • Kevin Jaeger

    But even so, the west’s productive capacity simply dwarfs the Russian’s. So this is very much advantage Ukraine.

    This is theoretically true. If the entire west went to a full war economy the productive capacity is indeed enormous. But is it practically true, for the purposes of the war currently being fought? Is there any evidence the west is actually delivering the armour, rockets, artillery, missiles and ammunition to provide a material military advantage on any front? Is there any evidence the Western European countries could manufacture and deliver these weapons to the front in quantities that the Russians are incapable of matching?

    All I see is a massive Russian edge in everything except ATGMs and Manpads. These are very effective weapons that make Russian advances slow and costly, but don’t come close to providing any kind of offensive capability at all. So we see a slow and steady Russian advance on any area they choose to target. I don’t see how this dynamic changes anytime soon.

  • do we not find a substantially more compelling parallel with Stalin’s 1939 invasion of Finland?

    In some ways yes. In spite of what was happening in the west, France & UK actually assembled assets to aid Finland, rightly seeing the Soviets as Nazi allies, but which in the event where never sent.

    The difference with Ukraine is it is like Finland 1939, with Germany only financing Russia (snark intended) & nothing to stop Finland’s friends sending meaningful & above all *timely* help.

  • llamas

    @ PdH – I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the similarities (or not) between the Vietnam conflict and the current unpleasantness.

    One difference I keep returning to is the political one. In VN, the clients (North Vietnam, the ARVN, the Vietcong, the Pathet Lao ASF), were very-strongly poltically-aligned with their benefactors. In the Ukraine, by contrast, the alignment between Ukraine and NATO/ ‘The West’ is purely strategic – I don’t think Joe Biden gives a toss about the Ukraine in a political sense, he now uses it purely as a scapegoat for his domestic disasters, and I think he would cut Zelensky off in a heartbeat if (for example) he thought it might save him a House seat or two.

    Am I overthinking this? Is this ‘a distinction, without a difference’? You know more about how it goes in that part of the world – what do you think?

    llater,

    llamas

  • Rykehaven

    Note from the editor: I’d like to thank Rykehaven for the most moronic comment in perhaps 5 years.

    Goodbye.

  • First, WW1 was fomented by Jews

    Quit reading there. Feel free to take that anti-Semitic crap somewhere else.

    We ain’t buying.

  • First, WW1 was fomented by Jews and the greatest victory went to neither the Allied nor Central Powers, but to the Bolsheviks who murdered the Tsar and created the Soviet Union (Rykehaven, June 14, 2022 at 6:47 pm

    That was indeed Adolf Hitler’s theory. Either WWI was started by Germany declaring war on various countries and then invading those countries (and also Belgium, where for crude propaganda reasons they delivered an ultimatum but did not formally declare war before invading) or it was started in some mysterious occult way so subtle that Germany could do all the initial declarings of war and all the initial invasions and yet claim to be innocent of the responsibility of starting it. Since it looks both wicked and stupid to start a very brutal, costly war, then to introduce such innovations as poison gas and aerial bombing during it, and then to lose it, Adolf and many another German preferred to claim “the Jews did it”, despite a certain lack of evidence.

    Speaking of things that are both wicked and stupid, I wasn’t terribly impressed with the rest of the comment either. 🙂

  • bobby b

    I think I’m coming down with a cold.

    Damned Jooos.

    😉

    (But, there’s a sort of disquieting mix here, given the next OP. I understand it and acknowledge the right to blank it, but I bet the mask!/don’t mask!/okay, mask! people feel that same impulse when they cancel a tweet. I don’t say this to complain about this redaction – it was tripe – but to draw a comparison. They think all nonconforming conversation is tripe, too.)

  • Fraser Orr

    Perry de Havilland (London)
    Vietnam War: Soviets and Chinese provided the weapons killing US troops, including jet fighters & SAMs…WW3 did not follow

    I don’t think the two are comparable in very important ways. Vietnam was ten thousand miles away from both belligerents so there was no danger of a stray missile violating integrity. Neither the US or USSR (or come to that China) made any pretension that Vietnam was part of their territory, and the Brezhnev doctrine was one of detent with the west (though calling to heel communist states like Czechoslovakia.) As to China — 1960s China is a completely different animal than 2020 China. In the 60s they had a few ineffective nuclear weapons and a technologically backward military. Today they are definitely much stronger — though not battle tested by any means.

    Russia, wrongly, claims thinks of Ukraine as Russian territory, so a western invasion is not much different that sending an airborne division into Moscow (in their mind anyway.) NATO and Russia are right next to the conflict and there is a huge danger of a stray missile. Putin is very much expansionist (unlike Brezhnev) and LBJ for all his faults was a smart, pragmatic guy, whereas Biden is a bumbling idiot.

    These are not trivial differences, they are differences that put us at serious danger of a nuclear conflagration. In a sense we are dependent on Putin making sensible choices, because you can bet that Biden will not. And that is truly terrifying.

    Like I say, we are the closest we are to a nuclear war in history, far closer, for example, than the Cuban missile crisis.

  • These are not trivial differences

    Actually I think they are trivial differences, but in any case, as Putin sees Poland, Baltic, Finland as part of his Imperial adventure, it hardly matters where Russia’s limits are. NATO forces are already within the borders of the old Russian Empire

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Mr Orr, what are you talking about? Perhaps Victoria had such policies, but here in New South Wales we do not have such rules.

  • Mr Orr, what are you talking about? Perhaps Victoria had such policies, but here in New South Wales we do not have such rules.

    As if Cell Block NSW is any better than Cell Block V!

  • Lee Moore

    In spite of what was happening in the west, France & UK actually assembled assets to aid Finland, rightly seeing the Soviets as Nazi allies, but which in the event where never sent.

    There wasn’t any way to send them. The Germans – see Nazi-Soviet Pact – refused passage of arms to Finland, even from neutrals never mind France and the UK, with whom Germany was already at war. And Sweden likewise refused passage of arms because they didn’t want to annoy the Soviets.

  • Sure Lee, but the point is that however impractical, France & UK did actually assemble forces with a view to seeing if they could get them there.

  • Chester Draws

    In fact it is NATO fighting Russia using Ukrainians as their willing proxy.

    So long as they are our willing collaborators, I see not the slightest issue.

    Why would we not back people who want to be our friends, to avoid annoying people who are our avowed enemies?

    Under the best of circumstances it is a very dangerous game to play, and one that brings us closer to a nuclear war than we have probably ever been

    But appeasement is an even more dangerous game. If we let Russia just take Ukraine, then we know that it won’t stop there. Putin will push, and push, until he is stopped. Nuclear war is MUCH more likely over something stupid like invading Estonia.

    I believe firmly that by making Putin realise now that he will be opposed is likely, long-term, to save lives.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Chester Draws
    So long as they are our willing collaborators, I see not the slightest issue.

    I don’t think I said that it was a problem (though I am disturbed by reports that men Ukrainian men are being conscripted against their will.) So I think you are missing the point. I am not strongly advocating that the current process is wrong, I am saying that the narrative of “Plucky Ukrainian underdogs…” is deeply misleading, and moreover pointing out that the situation is VERY, VERY dangerous. And the danger is rather hidden from the Western nation publics by the dishonest “Plucky Ukrainian underdogs” is deceiving them hiding the degree of danger.

    Fundamentally the solution to this and to every fight is to stop them before they even start. We are in this mess because America saw fit to elect a buffoon for President (and blighty didn’t do much better.)

    Why would we not back people who want to be our friends, to avoid annoying people who are our avowed enemies?

    I don’t think I am concerned with “annoying” the Russians, but rather I am concerned with provoking a world ending conflagration. Like I say, we are closer to a nuclear exchange than we have ever been in history. Jingoism and press dishonesty, and western decadence and virtue signaling leading to the election of incompetent morons like Biden have no place in such an insanely dangerous situation. Yet we are drowning in all of these maladies.

    (And FWIW, I also got tractors in the captcha and it was really quite funny.)

  • I am disturbed by reports that Ukrainian men are being conscripted against their will.

    My parents were conscripted in WWII. Obviously, there is a libertarian Starship Troopers argument against conscription in general, but I see no issue specific to the Ukraine today.

    the dishonest “Plucky Ukrainian underdogs” is deceiving them hiding the degree of danger. (Fraser Orr, June 16, 2022 at 4:44 am) …

    I see no dishonesty; they fought when Putin and elites in the US and EU thought they’d fold. Nor are British people deceived: when Russian outlets began rattling their nuclear sabre, various random Scots I encountered were very aware of it and alarmed (and others, like myself, very much less so). No narrative tried to hide or underplay it – or is trying now. That people here are now spending more time discussing Russia sentencing to death the UK nationals they captured is the fault of Vlad, not of a western ‘Plucky Ukraine’ narrative.

    Generally, I’m with Chester Draws (June 16, 2022 at 12:06 am)

    appeasement is an even more dangerous game.

  • bobby b (June 14, 2022 at 10:59 pm), I take your point about the woke’s belief (dishonest and self-indulgently held though it be) that they do to us what we do to Mr R’s comments.

    I strongly defend Perry’s right to make the smiting decisions on samizdata – it is his blog.

    For the record, had it been my decision, I would have left that comment up – the bits I did not quote, for example about all those wicked Israeli traders in sex-slaves and their Ukrainian suppliers, both added point to my mockery of it and reduced its credibility still further (if possible). However, I might have arranged for Mr R’s next comment to go into ‘pending’, for review whether to appear in the thread or not at my discretion.

    A side-point concerns my reference to “Mr R’s comments” – less a crude (if deserved) joke about him than to avoid being instantly trashed for using his web name. I’m reminded of the problems of the Wessex health authority in the days when cruder (in every sense) spam-bots ruthlessly blocked their domain names. 🙂 Middlesex had similar problems, but these days could, I suppose, force them to be rapidly fixed by reporting any blocking of them as transphobic.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    I do not live in a cell block- nor does any other Australian. If called upon we will resettle the world. As Les Paterson once famously said, Australia has more culture than a flask of penicillin!

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