vladimir putin

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)

Developing. We are publishing this article as it is being written. Please check back for updates. To see a list of previous articles, enter “Ukraine”…





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.


Ukraine Crisis, February 20, 2022: Deterrence has failed. Only China may be able to stop Putin’s invasion of Ukraine; now is no time to make concessions to an aggressor, in the Minsk negotiations or anywhere else

Negotiations within the Minsk process are not likely to make progress so long as Putin remains totally intransigent. His mobilization of an invading force of 190,000 troops suggests that that could be a long time.

The great risk in any meeting between Biden and Putin, or in negotiations to avoid an invasion, is that the U.S. and NATO, and/or Macron and Olaf Scholz, could pressure Zelensky to make concessions in the Minsk negotiations which in the end will amount to a surrender, or that a secret deal could be made behind his back that effectively blocks Ukraine from ever becoming a NATO member.

Such concessions would amount to rewarding Putin for his aggression.

As the Munich Pact in 1938 demonstrated, rewarding aggression through a policy of appeasement may bring “peace in our time”, but that time is likely to be short.

Following the Munich Pact on September 30/October 1, 1938, Hitler invaded “rump” Czechoslovakia in March, 1939, and Poland on September 1, 1939. Indeed, Hitler’s threats against Poland and Germany’s false-flag and propaganda operations in late August 1939, accompanied by frenetic diplomatic activity, greatly resemble Russia’s threats and false-flag operations against Ukraine today.

Final thoughts

As Radek Sikorski, a former foreign minister of Poland, said on Fareed Zakaria’s GPS program this morning, “Putin doesn’t want security guarantees. He wants Ukraine.”

Another quote from Sunday’s TV programs is worth bearing in mind. Retired. Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, former Vice-president Mike Pence’s National Security Adviser, reminded his audience on Fox News, “Putin doesn’t bluff.”


Ukraine Crisis, February 19, 2022: Putin’s advisers and advice; Russia’s pretexts for war reminiscent of Hitler in August, 1939; Munich Security Conference and Zelensky’s demands for NATO membership and sanctions now; NATO confirms it expects a full Russian attack on Ukraine

Yang Yi, who video-entered his speech, said, “Sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of every country should be protected and respected. This is one of the basic norms of international relations.” Ukraine is no exception here, he stressed.

This statement is not surprising in its content. It underlines the fact that China has traditionally supported basic norms of international law and the U.N. Charter in principle. It disputes it is in violation of international law despite the 2016 arbitration decision under the of the Sea Convention holding that its claims have no basis in international law, and make the argument that Taiwan is part of China/ It disputes the findings of humann rights violations in Xinjiang province. The important thing is that it supports the basic norms of the U.N> Charter, in principle, as this statement makes clear.

One of the regrettable things about Blinken’s intervention at the Security Council meeting on February 17 was that he failed to make the strong legal case against Russia that was available to be made, and which could be useful in persuading other countries, especially China, to support the basic principles of the U.N. Charter and international law which Putin is violating.

The United States and other law-abiding nations in the coalition opposing Russian aggression should be lobbying China very hard to state its position even more loudly, and to intervene with Putin to persuade him to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis and withdraw his troops from regions bordering Ukraine.

This may be one of the last things the allied coalition can do to dissuade Putin from launching an invasion of Ukraine. Other steps, which we have urged before, include announcing that Russia will be expelled from the SWIFT international payments system if it invades Ukraine, and announcements by NATO and other countries that if Putin invades Ukraine, they will view the situation as it evolves, and will take all appropriate measures in response, including the use of force if deemed necessary.

Finally, the U.S. and the EU should begin imposing graduated sanctions now, for Putin’s violation of the U.N. Charter prohibition against the threat of using force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, including Ukraine.


Ukraine Crisis, February 15: 2022 (I): Why Putin cannot win

We need to take a deep breath, step back, and ask ourselves, “How is the current Ukraine Crisis going to end?”

Upon reflection, it is clear that even if Vladimir Putin leaps into the abyss and launches an invasion of Ukraine he cannot achieve his crazy objectives, goals which only a madman or a dictator drunk on power could even imagine to be achievable.

He wants all of Europe and the Free World to agree to roll back the history of the last 77 years, since the end of World War II, the founding of the United Nations, and the adoption of the U.N. Charter in 1945 by all of the nations of the world, and to proceed as if international law did not exist.
It’s not going to happen.

He may invade Ukraine and start a war that could cost tens of thousands of lives, but he cannot win.

In his mad megalomania, he cannot prevail.

His aggression can only succeed if the rest of the world agrees that international relations will no longer be governed by the U.N. Charter, that treaties are no longer to be viewed as binding, and in general that international law will no longer govern relations between states.

That is not going to happen, no matter what Putin does.

One thing is certain: Putin cannot win. He cannot achieve his delusional goals by leaping into the abyss of war.

Indeed, he cannot know even how he might land.

Of course, if Putin misses the last exit ramp before war, there may be further exit ramps further down the road.

Whether there will be a further exit ramp he can take and still retain his power, is unknown, and essentially unknowable–even by him.


Ukraine Crisis, February 14, 2022: The military situation; Putin cannot win

We need to take a deep breath, step back, and ask ourselves, “How is the current Ukraine Crisis going to end?”

Upon reflection, it is clear that even if Vladimir Putin leaps into the abyss and launches an invasion of Ukraine he cannot achieve his crazy objectives, goals which only a madman or a dictator drunk on power could even imagine to be achievable.

He wants all of Europe and the Free World to agree to roll back the history of the last 77 years, since the end of World War II, the founding of the United Nations, and the adoption of of the U.N. Charter in 1945 by all of the nations in the world, and to proceed as if international law did not exist.

It’s not going to happen.

Two of the bedrock principles upon which the U.N. Charter and the post-World War II international legal order is based are the sovereign equality of all states (U.N. Charter, Article 2 paragraph 1), and the prohibition of “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state” (U.N. Charter, Article 2 paragraph 4).

Putin’s power structure and chain of command could become frayed and even fall apart. Putin is 69 years old. Certainly there are younger men who would seek to take advantage of Putin’s war and Putin’s folly.

Who knows how it will all end?

One thing is certain: Putin cannot win. He cannot achieve his delusional goals by leaping into the abyss of war.

Indeed, he cannot know even how, or if, he might land.

Of course, if Putin misses the last exit ramp before war, there may be further exit ramps further down the road.

Whether there will be a further exit ramp he can take and still retain his power, is unknown, and essentially unknowable–even by him.


Ukraine Crisis, February 11, 2022: PBS correspondent Nick Schifrin reports Putin has issued orders to invade Ukraine; Putin’s last off-ramp; Biden needs to re-open off-ramp, propose summit

Nick Schifrin reports in tweets that Vladimir Putin has issued orders to invade Ukraine.
What could be the last chance to avoid war would be to reopen that last exit ramp for Putin.
At this point, only President Joe Biden has a shot at doing that successfully.
Summary and Conclusion

In conclusion, Biden should act urgently to reopen the last off-ramp, as suggested above, and even propose a summit with Putin, and perhaps other leaders.
At the same time, Biden should take the two steps in the United Nations suggested above.


Ukraine Crisis, February 10, 2022: Putin compares Ukraine’s role in Minsk II negotiations to that of rape victim; Lavrov treats British foreign secretary Liz Truss with disdain

On some days there is no single striking development in the Ukraine Crisis, but rather just different stories that illuminate this or that aspect of…


Ukraine Crisis, February 8, 2022: Urgent need for strongest possible deterrent steps; the Minsk II off-ramp for Putin

The current threats of economic sanctions against Russia if it invades Ukraine do not appear sufficient to deter Putin.

Putin’s disdainful remarks about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky yesterday in Moscow, following his five-hour meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, suggest a hardened attitude and a dug-in position.

Deterrence of a Russian invasion should not be considered merely as a desirable objective, but rather as an absolute necessity for the security of Europe, Taiwan, and other countries.

Moreover, the survival of the post-World War II U.N. Charter-based system for the maintenance if international oeace and security, and international relations based on international law, are at stake.

The alternative, in a nuclear age, is the “right-makes-right” system that led to two world wars in the twentieth century.

Maximum Assured Deterrence

To make sure the law-abiding nations of the world avoid the fate they suffered after 1938, they must adopt deterrent measures that provide “Maximum Assured Deterrence”, that is, not just deterrence that seems “politically feasible” but which may or may not work.In an age when Mutual Assured Destruction (what we can call MAD I) may deter a nuclear first -strike, but may not deter aggression with conventional weapons, “Maximum Assured Deterrence” (which we can call MAD II) may be required to deter aggression and invasions by conventional forces.

What steps can be taken, even now, to provide “Maximum Assured Deterrence” against a Russian invasion of Ukraine?

The preceding analysis strongly suggests that an optimal strategy for dealing with Putin and Russia, starting today, would include the following components:

1) Adoption of the Maximum Assured Deterrence steps outlined above; and

2) Development of fully-developed and coordinated negotiating positions on Minsk II implementation in order to help construct an off-ramp which Putin might be persuaded to take.

Time is of the essence. These steps should be taken as soon as possible, on an urgent basis.


European and international security after the Ukraine Crisis

We may be in the gravest military crisis since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962… How will it all end? It could all end in…