Yaroslav Trofimov

Ukrainian War, June 13, 2022: Insufficient weapons deliveries lead Ukraine to fear defeat in Donbas; Allies will face hard decisions

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 12, 2022 (I): The War’s decisive moment; more than 20,000 killed in Mariupol

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 27, 2022: The spiritual dimension–Albert Camus, “Letters to a German friend” 1943-44; Dispatches and analyses

And you, who were already conquered in your greatest victories, what will you be in the approaching defeat?
–First Letter, December, 1943
***

For you Europe is an expanse encircled by seas and mountains, dotted with dams, gutted with mines, covered with harvests, where Germany is playing a game in which her own fate alone is at stake.

But for us, Europe is a home of the spirit where for the last twenty centuries the most amazing adventure of the human spirit has been going on.
–Third Letter, July 1943


Ukraine War, February 26, 2022: The current fighting; Playing “the China card”–again; Voice of America Russian-language short-wave broadcasts to Russia

In conclusion, there are two things the Biden administration can do immediately to influence Russia, and Russian public opinion. First, now would be a great time for Biden to hold a ceremony celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations with China, perhaps with Henry Kissinger participating, and to issue an invitation to Xi Jinping to hold a summit with him in Washington, D.C., perhaps at Camp David.

It is time to put aside the emotional approach to China, to focus on furthering U.S. interests, and to take the initiative in trying to improve personal and diplomatic relations.

It is also time to resume Russian-language short-wave broadcasts to Russia.

Biden should order that these actions be taken at the earliest possible moment.

The challenge is to try to leap out of bureaucratic and government time, and to try to move as fast in war time as Russian tanks are moving in Kviv and Ukraine.


Ukraine Crisis, February 21, 2022 (Part II): Weighing options–Biden’s Munich moment

Joe Biden is facing “a Munich moment”. Will he impose tough sanctions on Putin for crowning his ongoing invasion of the Eastern Ukraine with the recognition of the puppet regimes he installed in 2014 and has maintained in power since, as independent countries, who will now invite Russian troops in to “protect” the population?
It is clear from the reports above that Biden is temporizing, drawing fine intellectual distinctions just like his mentor, Barack Obama, who helped create the present Ukraine crisis by not reacting strongly to Putin’s invasions of the Crimea and the Eastern Ukraine in 2014.
In 2014 Obama objected to the characterization of the Russian invasion of the Donbas as an “invasion”, preferring to term it an “incursion”. An “incursion did not require as strong a response with sanctions as an “invasion”, as Biden eerily communicated to Putin in a press conference some weeks ago.
Biden has made two colossal strategic misjudgments, and appears to be making a third at this very minute.
The first was the irrevocable decision to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan. Once that decision was made, all that followed was a future foretold.
The second strategic blunder was to tell the world publicly, including Putin, that he was taking force off the table as a possible response to potential Russian aggression against Ukraine.
By that decision, Biden shaped the battlefield in ways which were sharply detrimental to Ukraine, and to the U.S. and its allies.
Now, having set the stage with the first two colossal blunders, Biden is making his third, by not applying the threatened severe sanctions against Putin for merely having engaged in an “incursion” in the Donbas.
The initial sanctions announced today, to ban business with entities in the “separatist” republics and to sanction personally individuals involved in the decision is a bad joke, and repeats–almost in cut and paste fashion–the bad joke of Obama’s sanctions against Russia for invading the Crimea in 2014.
In 2014, it was a bad joke which emboldened Putin. In 2022, it is a bad joke which will not deter Putin from a larger war, and which very likely will increase his contempt for Biden–unless it is followed within a day or two by the heaviest of sanctions.
Biden’s third strategic blunder is underway, but it’s not too late for him to do some fresh thinking and adopt the heaviest possible sanctions.
Biden needs to lead the anti-Russian coalition, not merely sink to its lowest common denominator.

Putin will not stop until he hits a brick wall. Biden must either bring that brick wall into play, or choose the path of appeasement, as Western leaders did at Munich.
He faces what is likely to be greatest Munich moment in his presidency.


Russian intervention in Kazakhstan

Analysis and Opinion See 1) “Russia and Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) decide to send troops to Kazakhstan–text of CSTO Charter,” The Trenchant Observer, January…


Taliban take Kandahar prison, Afghan morale in free fall, Biden delusional: Afghanistan Chronicle – August 11, 2021

As the democratically elected government of Afghanistan teeters on the brink in the face of a Taliban onslaught which is the result of President Joe Biden’s disastrous decision to withdraw all U.S. forces from the country, Biden and his foreign policy team are disconnected from reality. In his op-ed in the Washington Post, Max Boot highlights the “delusional” thinking in the Biden administration. This thinking could find no more cogent illustration than the fact that Biden is proceeding with plans to hold a Summit of Democracies in December.

The Silence of the Generals

One question permeates a deafening silence: Where are the retired American generals and defense officials who should be screaming from the rooftops about Biden’s surrender to the Taliban, and his passive acceptance of Taliban war crimes on a growing scale?

These generals and officials fought the Taliban, and watched over 2,500 American soldiers die fighting the Taliban.

Where is their patriotism now? Why don’t they speak out and shout out about what is going on?

If they remain silent, they will take the shame of their silence to their graves.