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Escalation Strategy & Aid in Ukraine – How the West manages Russian nuclear threats and ‘red lines’

Another excellent presentation by Perun…

20 comments to Escalation Strategy & Aid in Ukraine – How the West manages Russian nuclear threats and ‘red lines’

  • Paul Marks.

    The war seems to be reaching a climax – over the next week or so, we will see if the Ukrainian offensive has worked, or has failed.

  • Rob Fisher

    I think there could still be a way to go. While people keep saying that *this time* Putin has no choice but to go nuclear, as this and other Perun videos have shown, there are in fact many more small steps along the road, many things the West has yet to do against Putin, and many more ways he can back down without appearing to back down.

    I suspect the most likely outcome will not be some definite climax: there will be some, but not total, success for Ukraine in this offensive. A bit more success when F16s arrive. Russians will retreat gradually but never completely. And the whole thing will fizzle out with a whimper after some years of conflict similar to the 2014-2022 years.

    Russia collapsing or imploding or something else I wouldn’t totally rule out, though. But it’s not predictable.

  • …over the next week or so, we will see if the Ukrainian offensive has worked, or has failed.

    Over the next month or so.

  • I suspect the most likely outcome will not be some definite climax

    If the Ukrainians make it to Melitopol, Russia is screwed at the operational level & Crimea is not viable for them.

  • Chester Draws

    If the Ukrainians make it to Melitopol, Russia is screwed at the operational level & Crimea is not viable for them.

    Russia is already screwed. There is no way it can win the war, and because Putin keeps making maximalist claims, no graceful way it can draw it either.

    The question is how much damage they are willing to take in the process.

    If Melitopol falls then, yes, their situation will be dreadful. But they won’t stop fighting for that reason. They’ll stop fighting when the average Russian soldier decides he no longer wants to die in this stupid war.

  • Kirk

    There is no end to the folly.

    Just like with the Germans in both world wars, the signs were there that they should have said “Yeah, this ain’t winnable, let’s cut our losses while we still can…”

    The problem for Russia is that, just like the Germans did, they’ve kept upping the ante on the table until their opponents can’t quit, can’t negotiate, and the only option is their withdrawal from the board.

    Putin is a lot like Hitler, in that he’s a low-level guy who got jumped up to operate at a higher level than he has any business being at. There is no way in hell a guy with his background ought to be where he is, making the decisions he is. Just like with Hitler… Or, the vast majority of the hereditary nobles that were running things for most of human history.

    The root of all this is that we’re terrible, terrible at producing the people we put into these overly-powerful jobs like the one Putin is in. Also, Hitler, Wilhelm, Nicholas II, Napoleon…

    The thing is, they know what they know. And, when you get down to it, Putin has been applying the rules of internecine office politics within the old KGB, which he obviously mastered, to international geopolitics of the early 21st Century, where the rules are rather different. It ain’t working. And, he’s not able to bring himself to acknowledge that fact, or deal with it productively. He’s repeating the same dysfunctional behaviors that worked for Georgia and then the initial seizure of the Crimea, Donbas, and Luhansk… And, he’s completely oblivious that those techniques were short-sighted, counter-productive, and have now created a situation that’s ten times worse for Russia than the one he thought he was fighting against.

    We really need a better way of selecting and training national leaders. Or, alternatively, we could just do without their services at all…

  • Mark


    The problem is “we” – I’ll stick my neck out and assume you mean people by the established democratic means – haven’t “chosen” our leaders for a while now.

    Barry O’Biden was, of course, duly elected. As was rancid arsecrack here. But it’s the freely, democratically, reflecting perfectly the will of the people, star chamber of toytown Austria-Hungary I’ll be watching with interest over the next few years.

    They make a desolation and call it “europe”. I wonder what seedy deals are being done behind the scenes (and with who exactly in Ukraine).

    Need a dam rebuilding? No problem, just sign up to our declarations of German, sorry, human rights etc.

    Looks like the fatherland is finally going to get its lebensraum. Not sure the settlement will be going the way the dreamers always intended though.

  • Kirk


    When I speak of these things, I’m going at the underneath, the unspoken and unwritten means by which we pick and choose these people.

    The public, you say “doesn’t have a choice”. Well, yes, they do: They’ve just allowed their say to be taken away from them through inattention and apathy.

    You get the leadership you deserve. That’s a hard truism; if you tolerate the little things going on around you, you’re going to have those things eventually rebound on you.

    Watched this happen on the micro-scale several times over the course of my career. One good example would be the shady peer I had who was constantly cutting corners and doing unethical things, things that all of us around him knew were immoral and unethical. You’d report it, but the next layer higher in the food chain of leadership didn’t care; too much trouble to take action. They ignored it, knowing he’d eventually get reassigned away from us and that he’d become someone else’s problem.

    Couple years go by… New officer comes into the unit, and I (happily for the karmic effect…) have some of my old lazy-ass leaders above me. Guess who the new officer is? Yep; Captain Shady. Who proceeded to do all the same sort of cliquish unethical things he was doing as a junior NCO, but now on a level where he could do a lot more harm. It was fun to watch the guys I’d told about him deal with all of that, now that he was essentially untouchable by them.

    You don’t police the ranks on your left and right, you get what you deserve when those jackasses you let slide wind up in charge. And, that, my friend, is exactly what we’re dealing with right now. Men like Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin should never have wound up in charge, but there they are: Because nobody did anything about their corruption and malfeasance when they were still small enough to deal with.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: We’re doing this wrong. And, sadly, a lot of it all comes down to us, the people who let these assholes propagate through the system like some sort of human fungus. You don’t squash the little Bidens and Putins when they’re small, don’t be real surprised when they wind up running the entire mess. And, who is to blame? Well, a bunch of people who refused to do quality control on their peers, back when.

  • Mark


    Depressingly true alas.

    “Men like Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin should never have wound up in charge”. Of course not, but there they are.

    The “underneath”. Indeed. You clearly have a military background (I don’t, but military history is one of my numerous nerdy interests) so let’s look at Rome.

    Legions could function, even with some have half mad, inbred fop in titular command because the centurions were professionals and they kept the legionnaires below them in line, well trained and disciplined, leading them properly in battle. The quality and effectiveness of an army essentially depends on its NCOs.

    So does a society. The NCOs being that core of competent, stoic people in all professions and jobs who just get on with it, who can see wasters and idiots around them, above and below but don’t let this stop them doing their jobs.

    I’ve been one of them (I still am) and the fact that there are those who can’t (or won’t) do a proper job was just one of those things (never liked this particularly but seldom had a proper opportunity to pull one of these wasters up). There never used to be be too many, but how things have changed in the last 10-20 years.

    What we are witnessing in the west is the withering of civic society. The competent people, the societal NCOs as it were, are dying off (not quite literally yet, but they are starting to retire or give up) and are not being properly replaced.

    Couple this with a – for want of a better word – legal framework that magnifies the drag of the wasters and idiots a hundredfold by coddling or positively encouraging them.

    I do wonder if we were to get a genuinely competent and pro British government how effectively could they root out the dead wood.

    Maybe it does all have to collapse.

  • bobby b

    Your society is in trouble when it takes a different skill set to attain power than it does to lead.

  • Kirk


    Absolutely. Everything you’re saying.

    The insidious problem began back when people suddenly went all-in on that “Let’s not be judgmental…” thing. The people that came up with that were perfect exemplars of what Chesterton was talking about, in terms of “Don’t tear up fences whose purpose you don’t understand…”

    They thought “Oh, that whole persecution of Hester Prynne in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter was sooooo unjust and unfair… We should never judge people like that!!!”

    Yeah, well… Fine. Maybe Hester was unfairly maligned. However, comma… She and her persecution by society served as a most excellent example for everyone else that thought about transgressing on “the rules” which served to keep everything more-or-less in line and functioning. Without which, well… Can you say “San Francisco”? “Portland”?

    I think that that was where the rot set in, when people ceased being willing to call a spade a spade with the conduct of those on their left and right. I used to run into that a lot, in the military… There was a bizarre reticence, a reluctance, to call people on their bullshit. I had a guy put under me as a subordinate that had been knocking around on post for literal years; people just kept transferring him between units because he was barracks-lawyer waste of space. I watched him do things working for one of my peers that were egregiously just plain criminal, but nobody bothered calling him on it because he’d always just gotten away with it. They reorganized the platoon one week, and I wound up with him directly under me. First thing I did, brought him in, counseled him on what I expected, what I wanted, and then laid out what would get him in trouble. Didn’t take him 24 hours before he presented me with dereliction of duty and failure to report charges, as in he didn’t go on duty to relieve other guys doing guard. I have him up on charges that day. Within three weeks, he’s lost all his rank for continuing to do the same things, thinking he was immune. It was like he was insane, or something: All he had to do was go where he was told and do as he was told. Too hard. Commander was done with him; I was not “harassing him”, all I was doing was documenting what he was told to do and then documenting what he wasn’t doing, and none of it was either abusive or in excess of anything else anyone was expected to do. I had enough paper on him to throw him out of the Army within a month or two, and started the process.

    Towards the end, I got called in by the brigade Sergeant Major and read the riot act for “conducting a vendetta” against this character. The Sergeant Major had never even read the packet I’d produced on him, and just took said mook’s word for what was going on when he’d gone in to complain to him on the “Open Door Policy”. End of the day, I simply laid the packet out for the various commanders, documenting everything that had gone on, and he was out of the Army after about five years of continual mopery and dopery that nobody had ever successfully called him on.

    I had people come up to me after he was gone and shake my hand, former supervisors of his who’d never managed to get anything to stick on this guy, and I’m like “WTF? Could you not do your damn jobs…?”

    Boiled down to a lot of people who found looking the other way a lot more convenient and less trouble than passing on substandard performance to someone else. And, that damn Sergeant Major that thought he’d play Mr. Nice Guy to a complete waste of oxygen that everyone else who’d encountered this piss-poor excuse for a soldier thought was an oxygen thief. Which explained a lot of how he’d gotten away with what he did–Too many superiors who felt sorry for him.

    Most frustrating thing was, for me? All I was doing was what should have been going on from the beginning: Holding up the bare minimum as a standard.

    Super-frustrating, and a large reason why I almost got out as soon as I was eligible for retirement, out of sheer frustration. 9/11 happened, and I wound up doing an additional five years, but if that hadn’t been a thing… Yeah. 20 and done with the stupid.

  • Chester Draws

    “Men like Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin should never have wound up in charge”. Of course not, but there they are.

    Putin is in charge of Russia. People will do what he says, however ridiculous. And no-one (internally at least) will point out that it is idiotic.

    Joe Biden is not in charge of the US in anything like the same way. If he decided invading Mexico was a good idea, it would take years of politicking to even float the idea. And that’s even allowing for the fact that “Joe Biden” is already a handful of minders/advisors.

    We may not be pure democracies, but we aren’t totalitarian regimes either. Western states need a very large minority on board to do anything daft.

  • Kirk

    bobby b said:

    Your society is in trouble when it takes a different skill set to attain power than it does to lead.

    No, I think I have to disagree with this assessment. Yes, there is a mismatch there, but there has always been one. Even when things were “working right”, for a given value thereof.

    The real problem isn’t that the wrong skillsets get you places, the actual problem comes in because society and its systems start rewarding the wrong things and conversely failing to reward the right ones, which is nearly as inimical. We’ve always had political schemers, the Courtney Massengale types. They’re an ever-present plague upon the body politic.

    The real problem is that we keep glorifying these people and putting them in charge. It’s the f*cking culture surrounding the whole thing… You’re sitting there at lunch, one day, and someone tells you “Young man, you ought to do X, it’ll be good for your career…”, and nobody else stands up to slap the snot out of the person saying that inane stupidity and says “No, you ought to do a good job at whatever you find yourself doing… It’s not about you; it’s about the organization and the job…”

    This goes a hell of a lot deeper than just selecting for the wrong skillsets; there’s a fundamental and deep-rooted issue with how our entire society frames all of this. We revere the “guy who looks out for number one”, but the guy who does the thankless, unsung job? They’re mocked, sidelined, and denigrated.

    Then, we wonder why it is that the bombastic incompetents like Biden and Johnson wind up running everything.

    This all ties back into the things I was saying in response to Mark’s post. Something has gone seriously, seriously dysfunctional in the very basics of our society, and it all goes back to about the same time, around the turn of the 19th Century.

    You’re right about the skillsets and personalities, but I think you’re wrong in the diagnosis; the problem goes deeper than “attaining power”, it rises forth from society and includes all those things going on out in classrooms and the homes of the nations we see this happening. It’s a societal-scale problem; we reward the wrong damn things, at all levels.

    Hell, you can see it in small group instruction in schools, all the damn time. It’s why I loathe working in small groups the way they are usually implemented, where the parasites get to leach off the hard work of the “grinders”, who never get rewarded for their efforts. The whole thing is an inimical microcosm of life outside schooling…

  • Steven R

    But Kirk, the problem you had with that trooper? That’s every place with people and a bureaucracy these days. I see it in the corporate world all the time. Hire someone, he’s useless, so he gets moved from department to department because it’s easier to do nothing than act. it takes effort to hold people accountable, even if it is to the point that disciplinary action is taken. Your employee spends all day goofing off? Not only do you have to document, document, document, but now you have to come up with action plans, remedial training, assign a mentor, so on and so forth. And if that employee is a protected class, it’s safer to do nothing. Writing up a protectee is a surefire way to end up fired yourself. So you find a do nothing job somewhere where he can still draw a paycheck and won’t get in the way, or you transfer him and make him someone else’s problem.

    It’s no different in the public schools either. We all know the stories and statistics of kids promoted and graduating who cannot read or write or are discipline problems. Why? Because holding a kid back looks bad on the school’s statistics, administrators and unions don’t want you to do anything extra because of the headache, parents raise holy hell, and again, if the kid is a protected class it is a quick way to unemployment if you do anything. So you make that kid someone else’s problem. Sure the kid gets further and further behind until he can’t catch up, but by the time you think about it you’ve already got 30 more of him right in front of you.

    At some point it becomes about survival more than anything. Keep the job, get the money, pay your bills, and let it be someone else’s problem because trying to do anything is just going to end up biting you in the butt.

  • Kirk

    Like I said, Steven… It’s a societal-scale problem, and deeply rooted.

    I really don’t know where the hell the reticence comes from, with everyone. It’s like “Hey, I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings…”, and then they look the other way. It’s reflexive; I see everyone doing it. While I’m looking on and saying “No, you ought to be calling a spade a spade, because by not giving honest feedback, you’re actually hurting that person more…”

    There’s been shift across a broad swathe of society, by everyone. When I was a kid, if you misbehaved? Lord have mercy on your soul, because if your parents ever got wind of it, the punishments meted out by the school were going to be nothing by comparison. You got paddled at school? You were due for a whole series of ass-whippings at home.

    Now? Dear God… You so much as vaguely criticize someone’s kid for misbehavior, and you’re in for a lawsuit, ‘cos their little darling could not possibly be in the wrong.

    Where’d that get started, and why? It’s all part of the same damn continuum, so… What happened?

    This is one of those social zeitgeist moments that passes analyses, to be honest. I’ve tried puzzling this crap out, and I have no idea at all where the hell it comes from, or why this shift has happened. It’s like a “Great Vowel Shift” of the social order, and it ain’t doing good things for society.

    It wasn’t well-documented as having happened, but I sort of wonder if this sort of BS is what was going on around the time that the Western Roman Empire fell…

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    If you allow lawyers to breed, you’ll get lawsuits! This is just another way for lawyers to fill up their time. People don’t want to accept responsibility, and a lawyer will help them to also get money! I don’t think it will stop soon.

  • Steven R

    I think at least part of the, for lack of a better word, societal apathy is that we woke up one day and realized we’re stuck in a giant system and we have no way out. So many people see the problems but they don’t know how to fix it or do anything about it. And now that livelihoods are destroyed for having a wrongthink opinion about whichever issue, even bitching about it with friends is no longer an option. There is no where else to go. The frontier no longer exists and we’re stuck here, waiting on a leader that will never come, to rally around. Like him or not, Trump was the closest to that we’ve seen in my lifetime and he was destroyed by that same system. But there’s no solution normal people can see to fixing all these things.

    It reminds me of Winston Smith realizing the only hope was in the Proles waking up and realizing that they can do something to the Party, only in reality the Proles have been beaten down and demoralized to the point that they just can’t see what or how to do anything short of a violent revolution which is something nobody wants and no one can afford. It’s one thing to say “come and take it” but it’s quite another to say “I don’t care if this makes my family homeless when I miss my mortgage payment or my children go hungry since I can’t afford to feed them because I quit my job to become a rebel.”

    I never thought I would be at the point where I would hope for Right Wing Death Squads doing the needful, but here we are.

  • Kirk

    @Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray,

    It ain’t the lawyers, much as I’d like to blame them. They’re merely the tool people pick up. The question to ask is “Why are they so willing to go to that tool, these days…?”

    And, it has changed. Time was, people were even ashamed of insurance payouts for deaths, because “blood money”. Now? It’s a right…

    There has been a distinct inflection point in this regard, just in my lifetime. The lawyers and the lawyering are merely symptoms of something deeper into the culture.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    I wonder if the difference is the size of the compensation? Maybe people no longer care how you got your money, but how much you have.

  • Paul Marks.

    Partly due to extensive Western training, which goes back quite some years, and vast amounts of Western equipment, especially night fighting equipment, the Ukrainian infantry units seem to have captured villages and so on.

    Perry indicates that the time table for larger scale results is the next month – say to the middle of July. We shall see whether the Ukrainians achieve their wider objectives, such as dividing the Russian forces, and cutting off the land route to Crimea, in that timetable, or not.

    It is an empirical matter now – we can just watch and see, no need to speculate.