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Russia’s Grand Strategy and Ukraine

Perun has made one of his most ambitious presentations.


14 comments to Russia’s Grand Strategy and Ukraine

  • Lee Moore

    I’m not sure it makes that much sense to talk about “Russia’s” strategic failure. Putin is operating for Putin’s benefit, not Russia’s. So the timeline of strategy is his own lifetime, and the object of the exercise is to stay in power. The secondary objective is to stay in power some more. Also the third. The fourth objective, to be sure, is to strut his stuff as a force to be reckoned with internationally.

    You could certainly argue that he may have damaged his own survival prospects – both politically and biologically – as there are probably quite a few wannabees in Russia who think he’s made a mess of things. On the other hand he has succeeded in demonstrating that resistance to him, in “his” sphere of operations is very costly indeed.

    Anyway, the point is that when you come to dictators, particularly of the kleptomaniac variety, l’etat c’est moi.

  • Steven R

    I’m actually surprised someone hasn’t given Putin a 9mm brain aneurysm and stepped into power to try to salvage what they can by now. Never mind NATO has expanded, never mind the war has shown the world that the Russian military is a joke, never mind the political pushback the Kremlin is facing from Russians, this has hurt some of the oligarchs financially and they can’t be too happy about that.

  • Kirk

    I think that Putin probably thinks he’s operating in service of Russia. That’s his self-justification to himself, I’m sure. The problem is that he’s really entirely unequipped to even consider that his interests are not Russian interests, in the long term.

    I’ve long said that Putin is the worst thing that has happened to Russia in the last half-century. There was a time, a breathing space, where Russia could have recovered itself and lived up to its potential. Instead, Putin frittered all that time and the resources he had to aggrandize himself and pursue his ambitions of imperial pretense.

    Meanwhile, the demographics were hollowing out beneath him. Just like they did for the Boni of ancient Rome; the yeoman types out in the countryside aren’t replacing themselves. The villages are emptying out, the wolves are coming back. The end result of all that is going to be a vast space across what was Russia returning to wilderness, unpeopled, unused, empty. I’ve got a friend who spent a bunch of time wandering across the Russian interior, and his descriptions of what he saw out in the countryside are haunting… The vast regions that are depopulating before your eyes, with nothing but the elderly left to keep everything running while the young are either lost to drugs and drink, or vanished off into the urban hellscapes of the world. It is impossibly sad, but… Entirely self-inflicted. You get the political leadership you deserve, and Russians have not historically held their leaders to very high standards for either competence or care for actual Russians.

  • Kirk

    @Steven R,

    Everyone that could have done that is already defenestrated or dosed with Polonium-laced tea.

    I don’t think Putin is going to be assassinated. I think he’s going to ride this thing all the way into the ground, and then who knows what happens. You just can’t predict these things, at all.

    I mean, who would have predicted that Nicholas II would end up dead in a basement, massacred with his family, or that Stalin would die on a rug after a stroke, with nobody willing to take a chance on waking him up by daring to check on him?

    Russian autocrats lead very unpredictable lives. Typically, dying very unpredictable deaths.

    The enablers surrounding Putin have zero interest in getting rid of him. He’s accomplished that much, just like Stalin did. By rights, the Soviets should have put Stalin on trial during or after WWII for gross incompetence and malfeasance in office; without him, war with Germany likely wouldn’t have happened, if only because Hitler wouldn’t have had the resources to win his campaigns in Western Europe. Hell, without Soviet resource aid pouring in, Hitler’s General Staff might have assassinated him rather than go along with his plans. On that basis alone, the Soviet peoples should have held Stalin accountable.

    Of course, being natural victims, they’re just not wired that way. Accountability flows downward, never upward. Until it finally does. I rather doubt that either Nicholas II or Stalin had the presence of mind to recognize the roles their own acts played in their horrid deaths. Both parties were probably convinced that they were purely victims of other’s machinations, never mind that Nicholas II’s intelligence agencies had been complicit in the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, or that Stalin was in the beginning stages of yet another purge–Of the very doctors he would have needed to save his life.

    You sort of hope some good fairy of realization visited them both, there at the end.

  • Putin is operating for Putin’s benefit, not Russia’s.

    Putin is the Czar and the Czar is Russia.

  • Kirk

    Well, Perry… That’s the con, in a nutshell. The problems come for the Tsar-wannabe types when the rubes figure out that there is a con, and that they’re not benefiting at all from it.

    Happened in Russian Imperial times, happened in France just before the Revolution, and it happened in Romania at a place called Timisoara. The end state for these things is never, ever pretty. They only ever last so long as the people running the con don’t buy their own bullshit, and forget that they have to be convincing enough for the marks not to catch on to things.

    I think Putin and his cronies may well be running up against those hard stops. Which would explain the sudden increase in defenestrations and tea parties.

    Remains to be seen how all this plays out. I really don’t think that Putin is as capable as he’s been portrayed, or that there’s all that much time left on the clock for him. My guess is that there’s going to be a major swing in things within the next year or two, and that Russia is in for some serious problems before 2030. Existential ones.

    Demographically, they never really recovered from WWII. The attrition rate from Communist maladministration after the war did nothing to help recover from that war, and this… Thing… In Ukraine? It’s just the coup de grace, demographically. They’re killing off the seed corn, in very real terms. Where are all the young men going to come from, to father the replacement children and help raise them? How successful is a society without solid family units?

    I think Russia has been led down the garden path by Putin and his fellow kleptocrats. The pathway doesn’t end anywhere but the cesspool.

  • Mark

    Putin is Hitler. I suppose, what else could he be (I thought we had a copyright on that?).

    Toytown Austria-Hungary is absolutely not a german empire.

    So glad to hear that. So relieved that a “pact” isn’t going to be signed anytime soon.

    “Scum of the earth I presume?”

    “Bloody assassin of the workers I believe?”

    I’m joking of course. We get so much representation and consideration of our wants and needs from those in office who are where they are through the manifest will of the people it fair makes my head spin!

  • Paul Marks

    We will know within a few days whether or not Mr Putin’s forces are going to get the job done.

    Not much point in speculating when we will soon know – one way or the other.

    However, my own speculation is that Russian soldiers do not see the point of Mr Putin’s war – I may have to eat those words, but that is my opinion.

  • Paul Marks

    The one time that Boris Yeltsin sobered up in retirement and attacked a decision of Mr Putin was over the national anthem – it was Mr Putin who made the decision to go back to the old Soviet anthem.

    “Just the music Paul – not the lyrics” – yes, but Mr Putin got the same man who wrote the Stalin lyrics to write the new lyrics, and (as Boris Yeltsin pointed out) it was the tune that had all the terrible associations.

    The anthem of the Yeltsin time had been music by Glinka – and it had not been a success, partly because it was associated with the monetary and financial chaos of the Yeltsin time – when Boris Yeltsin (with no knowledge of how a market economy works) followed Western advisers who confused fiat money (endless inflation) and credit bubble finance (endless fraud) with a market economy – and many Russians were only too eager to take up the opportunities for stealing in the Cantillon Effect economy the Western advisers created in Russia. Boris Yeltsin himself seeking refuge in drink – because he did not understand what was going on, or what to do about it.

    Perhaps Russia should have gone back to the Imperial Anthem and invited a Romanov back on the throne of a Constitutional Monarchy (although which Romanov – the succession is contested).

    Perhaps only with a Constitutional Monarchy could a distinction between the state and the government be established in Russia – with the institutions, such as the courts and the armed forces, not loyal to whatever political faction boss happens to be in charge.

    As we see from the institutional corruption of the United States, with the FBI and the rest of the security state being blatantly on one side against the other, there is a problem when the head of state is also the head of government.

    Although this is a fairly modern thing – with the institutional nature of bias in the American administrative machine perhaps (perhaps) only dating from as late as 1993 (only 30 years ago), when the incoming Clinton Administration made a special point of appointing politically “reliable” officials (both Democrats and RINOs) all over the administrative machine – but especially in such areas as the “Justice” Department.

    What is “illegal” for a President the establishment does not like (such as Donald John Trump – who would not have been allowed appoint his own people to all these positions) to do, is winked at when it is a President the establishment likes – or rather when that President is following a line of policy the “educated” establishment approves of.

    The old rule applies – as understood (for example) by the ruler of Abu Dhabi, before a Western backed coup removed him in 1966, – sell your product or products (oil, gas, steel – whatever it is) for a physical commodity, such as gold (but it need NOT be gold – there are other things), and keep this commodity under your physical control.

    But that is what the City and Wall Street can not allow, their survival depends on keeping their scam going – and Western security and intelligence forces will do their best for them, although the scam-system will still, eventually, fall.

    By the way, gentle reader, do not make the mistake of thinking the Russia financial and monetary system is not also a scam – it is a scam.

    The only real difference is not “the rubble is backed by gold” (anyone who tells you that is trying to sell you a bridge they do not own) or anything like that – the difference is that most Russians know that their financial system is a scam. Many Americans and British people still (even now) do not grasp this about their own system.

    In much the same way Russians flash the lights on their cars to warn other motorists that there are police ahead – the police, of course, being thieves.

    Many Americans still regard this behaviour by ordinary Russians (warning other Russians that the police-thieves are about) to be outrageous – even though American security forces (local, State and Federal) have been stealing cash and valuables from ordinary people for some years now – as “civil asset forfeiture” or some such, without any proof that the cash or valuables, often cars or even the home of the victim, came from crime.

    I suppose it takes time for a general population to gain a realistic understanding of both governments and corporations, even when the governments and corporations become so intertwined they are essentially the same entity.

    “But this corporation gave me medicines that poisoned me – and there is no legal remedy”.

    Well of course, what were you expecting?

    “The government stole my money and my home”.

    Well, again – of course, what were you expecting?

    Sadly the modern West would come as no shock to Russians – it is what they are used to.

    Many Westerners still, even now, have a high level of “trust”, of “confidence”, even though this “trust” and “confidence” is no longer warranted – not in the political system or the economic system.

  • That’s the con, in a nutshell.

    Indeed it is.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Bookmarked for later @Perry dH.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Haven’t finished listening, but there is an interesting thought at ~41:37, about commentary by people who

    don’t tend to recognize Ukraine as an independent sovereign actor, they only view Ukraine as an extension of the United States.

    It’s sad that there are people like that even on Samizdata — although it’s only commenters, not Samizdatistas.

  • Mountain-Historian

    As a result of this analysis, I have changed my mind about the Russian-Ukraine War. Perun has convinced me that Russia should be denied any sort of victory. The West can survive a peace where Russia ends up with the Donbas & Crimea, but why not support Ukraine enough so they get all their pre-2014 land back?