vladimir putin




Ukraine War, October 11, 2022 (II): No response from Biden to Putin’s escalations

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Ukraine War, September 27, 2022: The response of the U.S. and NATO to Putin’s nuclear threats

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Ukraine War, September 12, 2022: Repercussions of Russian debacle in Kharkiv; U.S. should deliver weapons capable of hitting Russia, rely on commitments from Ukraine not to do so without U.S. authorization; NATO response to tactical nuclear weapon

Dispatches 1) Mike Martin, “Putin is finished. The Ukrainians have him on the ropes with a stunning victory in their sights; In 72 hours, the…


Ukraine War, August 16, 2022: Putin, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, and the risk of nuclear war

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Ukraine War, July 25, 2022: To win the war in Ukraine, what must be done?

Dispatches 1) jok/dpa, “Russland bestätigt Pläne für Sturz der ukrainischen Regierung; Der Kreml verschärft den Ton im Ukrainekrieg: Erklärtes Ziel sei es, die amtierende Regierung…



Ukraine War, July 11, 2022: The West needs a leader like Winston Churchill to lead us to victory over Russia after January 2025

Developing. We are publishing this article as it is being written. Please check back for updates. UKRAINE: THE WAR TO SAVE THE U.N. CHARTER AND…


Ukraine War, May 19, 2022: Putin assumes defeat will cost him his life (Interview with Graham Allison); West must find way to live with Putin, carefully weigh risk of nuclear escalation with every decision (Updated May 20, 2022)

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Ukraine War, April 5, 2022 (I): After Bucha, Zelensky expresses the outrage of the world over Russian crimes against humanity; clarifications regarding Russia’s seat on Security Council, and “crimes against humanity” v. “genocide”

Developing Due to rapidly-breaking developments and in order to facilitate readers’ access to the latest dispatches, we are publishing this article as it is being…


Ukranian War, February 28, 2022: How to stop Putin, if he has become a madman with nuclear weapons? Dispatches

The “rational actor model” assumes that the unitary mind making the calculations has access to all relevant information.
However, organizational behavior and bureaucratic politics may affect the information available to a given leader, such as Vladimir Putin. These in turn may be affected by a leader’s personal emotions and prejudices, and his choice of close advisers upon whose advice–and information–he relies.
Even operating under these constraints, his own decisions–as opposed to the actual behavior of his government–may be the product of a rational calculation of costs and benefits as he understands them.
But what if, perhaps under the stress of an international crisis or of war, he has gone absolutely mad? Bonkers?
Horrors the contemporary Western mind can hardly grasp
Unless Putin is stopped, the world may be on the brink of witnessing the devastation of near all-out war on a scale and with an intensity not seen since World War II. This could start in Ukraine, to be sure, but would entail an enormous risk of escalation to nuclear conflict.
This is a horror that the Western mind, insulated from such terrors since 1945 (aided and abetted by an aversion to looking at what was going on in Syria in the civil war which began in 2011) can hardly grasp. It doesn’t want to grasp this possibility.
Nonetheless the prospect of such horror is absolutely clear, and seems to be bearing down on Kviv and Kharkhov with ineluctable force.
Yet there is an even greater terror, which the Western mind, at a subconscious level, seeks with even greater determination not to see. That is the possibility of nuclear conflict, and even escalation to nuclear war–or World War III, as the Russians warn in seeking to deter any U.S. or NATO military involvement in Ukraine.
Our minds cannot grasp it, just as they could not conceive of the evil in Hitler’s Germany that would lead to the death of six million Jews.
How can Putin be stopped?
…5) NATO countries conduct missile or drone strikes on or bomb Russian columns approaching Kviv, and prepare for escalation by Putin.
According to latest reports based on private satellite photos, a 60 kilometer-long (36 mile-long) column of vehicles, armor, and men is currently advancing toward Kviv.
They would make excellent targets.
At some point, as Russia kills tens of thousands of people under the umbrella of Putin’s nuclear threats, NATO countries may have to take military action in Ukraine, As Emmanuel Macron has reminded Putin, NATO has nuclear weapons too.


Ukraine War, February 25, 2022: “We are all Ukrainians now”; U.N. Security Council resolution and vote (with links to video and text of resolution)

Draft – Developing This is a draft of an article on fast-breaking events related to Ukraine. Please check back for updates and additions, “We are…


Ukraine Crisis, February 22, 2022: Putin makes impossible demands on Ukraine, supports inclusion of Ukraine-occupied territory in boundaries of “people’s republics”; Biden’s “rational actor” approach to graduated sanctions not likely to deter Putin from larger war

The “rational actor fallacy” is a phenomenon well known by political scientists and students of international affairs. The classic study of this phenomena is Essence of Decision by Graham Allison, a professor at Harvard, who demonstrated the flaws in using a “rational actor” model to analyze the behavior of the U.S. during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
As we wrote yesterday,

Joe Biden, like Barack Obama before him, seems to have fallen into the trap of assuming Russia is a single, unitary mind, rationally calculating costs and benefits in making decisions that determine state behavior. Now, like Obama, Biden is trying to make fine intellectual distinctions in weighing sanctions, as if Putin were an accountant carefully adding up on his calculator the costs and benefits of invading Ukraine.
In fact, however, Putin is a KGB thug, a war criminal (Syria, Chechnya), an apparent serial murderer of his opponents (Boris Nemtsov, Alexei Navalny–unsuccessful attempt, to be sure, et. al.), and someone who invaded the Donbas in 2014 and kept a war going that has cost some 14,000 lives.
–“Ukraine Crisis, February 21, 2022 (Part II): Weighing options–Biden’s Munich moment,” February 21, 2022.

The problem with Biden’s “rational actor” approach to graduated sanctions is that Russia’s actions, at this point in the execution of a huge and carefully choreographed war plan, may not be under the control of Putin, the postulated unitary, rational actor. Moreover, even if they are, the finely graduated sanctions of Biden’s team are not likely to have enough power to jolt Putin out of his war trance in time for him to pull the emergency brake, assuming that he can be persuaded that he needs to.
At this point, only massive sanctions, imposed immediately and simultaneously, might conceivably jolt Putin out if his war trance. Graduated sanctions are very unlikely to do so. Even massive sanctions, holding little in reserve, may not work. But they should be tried.
The one thing that is certain is that there is no single rational actor, sitting in a control room somewhere, who could accurately perceive the threatened impacts of additional tranches of sanctions, and then exercise control over a country and a war machine that are fully engaged in war.


Ukraine Crisis, February 21, 2022: Putin recognizes puppet “separatist” governments in Donetsk and Luhansk provinces; to deter a full invasion, U.S. and allies must impose heaviest sanctions now

By recognizing the”separatist” republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, Vladimir Putin has destroyed the last off-ramp from war, the last possibility for any kind of diplomacy and negotiations. The Minsk agreements are dead.
Putin’s action is characteristic of his pattern of probing, measuring the Western response, and then if the latter is weak pushing on to achieve a larger objective.
The key points to bear in mind about the recognition of the “People’s Republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk is that they were installed through the illegal use of force by Russia in 2014, that Russia has troops and equipment in the Donbas now as a result of its ongoing invasion, and that recognition of these puppet regimes is equivalent to the Russian recognition of the Crimea as part of Russia in March, 2014.
The ongoing invasion is a continuing violation of the U.N. Charter prohibition (Article 2 paragraph 4) against “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state”.
Immediate action required to try to deter a full invasion of Ukraine
The U.S. and its allies must impose their heaviest sanctions on Russia, now. The argument that they should be held in reserve in order to deter a further invasion by Putin is fallacious. As president Volodymyr Zelensky argued at the Munich Security Conferene, if the U.S. is almost 100% sure Russia is going to invade, what are they waiting for? The sanctions cannot be useful as a deterrent in the future if they are not imposed now when deterrence fails.
There is no guarantee that even, if imposed, they will alter Putin’s behavior. Nonetheless, history will judge the U.S. and its allies harshly if they don’t even try.
If they don’t impose the threatened sanctions, they will have zero credibility the next time they try to deter Putin, e.g. from seizing the land corridor that connects Kaliningrad to mainland Russia.