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Russian War Part 2

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From my end of my previous article of this:

I believe Putin is posturing and using the fear of the threat he poses to position himself politically, with his political enemies in a weakened state (due to COVID, energy crisis, etc). This is a high-stakes game though, as he’s bluffing for sure. The troops are too far out from Ukraine, the military are under-funded and their equipment is dangerously aged. Putin cannot invade Ukraine in this current state.

The most dangerous thing to watch out for is a pact between China and Russia. China wants to see the US and NATO economically sink, but not get their own hands dirty. China will happily give Putin all the weapons he asks for at a discount if it means they can better position themselves to clean-up after the mess. I don’t think Putin is a foolish man though, as such a deal would also not work out well for Russia either in the long-term. In the coming days I would image to see China gently try and nudge things along from the background, but I doubt it will be successful.

Yikes. There were certainly some hits and misses in this prediction...

Prediction Breakdown

I'll break down the individual parts and discuss where they went wrong and what they mean.

Posturing Putin

I believe Putin is posturing and using the fear of the threat he poses to position himself politically, [..]

I believe this was somewhat true at the time of writing. It's been known for a while that China have been leaking US intelligence to Russia, and China accidentally leaked the fact that they knew about the invasion prior to it actually happening. I think this is evidence enough that this has been in the planning for quite some time - you cannot have forward knowledge of something that is not planned.

Weakened Enemies

[..] with his political enemies in a weakened state (due to COVID, energy crisis, etc). This is a high-stakes game though, as he’s bluffing for sure.

I certainly wasn't wrong here, his enemies are weak. Most EU Countries do not come even remotely close to their target military spending. This has ultimately left them in a very weakened state.

Russian Military

The troops are too far out from Ukraine, the military are under-funded and their equipment is dangerously aged. Putin cannot invade Ukraine in this current state.

They were too far out and this may still end up being Russia's undoing. A desperately needed supply convoy of 40 miles long is now stuck, meaning fuel, medical supplies, soldiers, food/water, is unable to reach the front-line of the invasion. Moving large amounts of military equipment over long distances is non-trivial, I was not exaggerating that logistics can make or break military operations.

That all said, the convoy is just 30km away from the capital of Kyiv. 30km is just within a day's march, so supplies could be making their way by foot if required. Ukraine's only advantage here is to destroy the convoy whilst it is stalled and vulnerable.

China and Russia

The most dangerous thing to watch out for is a pact between China and Russia. China wants to see the US and NATO economically sink, but not get their own hands dirty. China will happily give Putin all the weapons he asks for at a discount if it means they can better position themselves to clean-up after the mess.

China abstained from voting in the UN, pretending to be a neutral party, despite playing games in the background. China now offers to help negotiate peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, who are quite obviously not a neutral part.

I believe China always intended to somehow use this situation to their advantage. Not only will China offer weapons, they will also likely now offer to help financially in light of the massive sanctions leverages against Russia.

Something not being discussed is India abstaining in the UN vote as they look to leverage their own position. I hear that India somewhat dislikes the West and finds themselves wanting closer ties to Russia, despite that meaning closer ties to China, Pakistan, and other key players they are opposed to.

Putin's Mentality

I don’t think Putin is a foolish man though, as such a deal would also not work out well for Russia either in the long-term. In the coming days I would image to see China gently try and nudge things along from the background, but I doubt it will be successful.

I still think that Russia's dependence on China is a long-term ultra-bad move. China will try to force Russia to become completely dependant on China, at which point they will force them to become a puppet state. If Putin's justification to invade Ukraine was to avoid the West becoming a threat to Russia, he ought to be more careful about who is at his back holding a knife.

China are also still pissed about their own "lost territories", which was seized by the Russian empire. If China agrees that Ukraine belongs to Ukraine, how can Russia deny China their claim to the Outer Manchuria region?

Weirdness

There are quite a few weird things that have transpired since the invasion into Ukraine, which are certainly note-worthy.

Misinformation

There has been insane levels of misinformation on all sides. Nobody has any real picture of what is going on - at all. It's exceptionally messy. To name a few:

  1. Ghost of Ukraine - It's unclear whether the so-called 'ghost of Ukraine' is real or not. It was initially reported as real and is now generally accepted as false. Bare in mind, it was the same news media who telling you it is false, who initially told you it is true - so who actually knows?
  2. Zelenskyy fled Ukraine - It is now being reported by Russian media that President of Ukraine Zelenskyy has fled Ukraine for Poland. Ukraine's parliament obviously claims otherwise. I wouldn't be surprised if he is currently in Poland to try to fast-track Ukraine into the EU, Russia detected his aircraft flying out of Ukraine and figured out he is out of the Country, and then put out this news to force his hand and reveal his current location. The other option is that he has been injured, Russia learned of this and knowing he cannot appear in public, is using this opportunity to demoralise the Ukrainians, I doubt that Zelenskyy would abandon his people in any case, there's a good chance he's there until the bitter end.

I haven't got time right now to go through it all, there is simply too much. Just be extremely careful about what you read and believe.

Ban Russian Media

RT and Sputnik have been banned in the EU and US, meaning that for the average person, there is zero access to news from the Russian perspective. These are wartime measures and are highly concerning. There seems to be zero-trust that the average plebeian is able to process misinformation.

Due to the banning of RT, keep an eye on TASS for now (whilst you can still access it). It's obviously propaganda from Russia's perspective, and you can assume the truth lays somewhere between the West's and Russia's propaganda.

When the ban of RT and Sputnik first happened, it did make me think: why? This is likely because they didn't want Russian involvement in the discourse of the West, and that some understandable points are raised that are not easily dismissed. There are nuances that are not being discussed here, such as the collapse of the Minsk (II) agreement. There are incredibly important discussions to have as they mostly explain Russia's stance. It's not justification for Putin's actions, but we must understand his perspective if peace is going to be given a chance.

German Wakeup

Germany is almost single-handedly responsible for the EU's screwed up response to Russia. A rough timeline of events:

  1. Removal of nuclear power plants - Germany shutdown the last of their nuclear power planets, and therefore the last remaining hopes of energy security. It's not every sunny in Germany so solar is not so much an option, it's not very windy in mainland Europe as they are inland from the sea - so wind turbines are not an option, leaving hydro and outsourcing for "green energy" 1.
  2. Gas/oil pipelines - Germany's plan was to setup the Nord Stream 2 to transport natural gas from Russia to Germany to help meet their energy demands, an $11 billion project. This would mean that Germany was highly dependant on Russis to meet their energy needs. NATO desperately warned them this was a mega shit idea. Germany have now suspended Nord Stream 2, meaning that unless something changes, they are screwed when it comes to winter.
  3. Blocked transport weapons - Germany used their own energy security issues as a reason to block NATO from giving Ukraine desperately needed weapons prior to the invasion. As a result, Ukraine was weak and Putin was more easily able to invade.
  4. Send weapons - A week after the invasion, Germany then sends shit tonnes of weapons from their own supply, including unsafe and non-working missiles. It's not bad enough that they blocked NATO sending help, they then send non-working and dangerous equipment to Ukraine. Bare in mind, this was supposed to be the same equipment that NATO and the EU were relying on to defend themselves! Not only were they not spending their budget target for their military, their military doesn't have any working hardware to work with. Fuck!
  5. Increased budget - Not to worry though. After blocking help to Ukraine, sending their old crappy weapons to Ukraine, they are now spending 100 billion euros to renew their military hardware. This barely meets their 2% target and does not make up for years of underfunding. It will literally take years for Germany's military to become useful. They better hope that Russia does not have eyes on their border.
  6. NATO membership - German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has ruled out letting Ukraine join NATO in an apparent bid to put Russia's concerns at ease. But so-far trying to put Russia's concerns at ease has done nothing to stop the invasion into Ukraine. A proper move would be to not remove the option off of the table and to use it as a negotiation piece. Now that they have removed it from the table, Russia can ask for something else when it comes to negotiating their way of their mess.

Germany has a lot to answer for.

I always wondered how Germany became such a massive economic superpower, with a Country like the UK slowly moving down the ranks. Now I know - they simply have not been meeting their military obligations and have been fully relying on European peace to continue. I will say to them this: What is the point of having banks full of gold, if there are no guards outside?

Retaliation

In response to Russia's aggression, including their threatening of nuclear weapons, the world cut them out of SWIFT payment system. As a result, the Russian economy is near collapse and sanctions have been a lot more effective than it was previously though they would be.

In response, Russia's central bank closed the entire Country's stock market until further notice to prevent the further loss of wealth. Rich Russians are having their assets seized as we speak.

It is quite likely that China will refuse to also impose sanctions. China may use this as an opportunity to get Russia and other Countries to start using CIPS (Cross-border Interbank Payments System). We are likely to see two dual competing financial systems very soon.

Watch These Things

The following are things I believe are important to watch for.

Protracted War

Russia is not well positioned for a long and protracted invasion of Ukraine. To list just a few problems:

  1. Financing - The sanctions have massively reduced their ability to finance their military. Putin was not expecting to get kicked out of SWIFT. He will not be able to afford a long-term war without help.
  2. Supplies - Putin's advantage was speed, but this was at the cost of advancing faster than supplies could back the advance. As a result, they are very dependant on the coming supply convoys - which are currently in a traffic jam due to poor conditions and constant attacks. 100k+ troops require a lot of food/water, fuel, medicine, etc.
  3. Hardware - Their hardware is very old and not well maintained. They are likely using military hardware as old as the offerings from Germany for the most part. This is evidenced is a very good report, where Russia continue to have zero air support despite ground forces desperately needing it. Apparently corruption could also be what has caused their hardware to have failed.

Foreign Engagement

As you can see, governments around the world have remained unbiased in this developing situation:

Probably the biggest news in that story is that the House of Commons agreed on something! All they needed was a common enemy...

Governments around the world have been sending money and weapons, with UK MP Liz Truss giving the green light for UK citizens to go fight in Ukraine, something that very possibly triggered Putin to start threatening nuclear weapons. One could imagine somehow off-duty Special Forces soldiers could end up volunteering in their 'unpaid' holiday, an action that could be interpreted as NATO/UN involvement. That really could kick off WWIII.

There may of course be ulterior motives for the West suddenly wanting to create a conflict with Russia. There are many reasons to one to divert the attention of the public: questions regarding the legal frameworks abused during the pandemic, inflation, shrinkflation (products get smaller), rising energy costs, energy security, food shortages, to name a few. A good war is a great way to stimulate an economy after all, and people have already started to forget to think about the pandemic lockdown situation.

Russian Internal Backlash

There is some hope at least... In Moscow, thousands defy orders and protest against the Ukrainian invasion and have been met with arrests. Put does not nearly have the internal support he thought he would have. The Ukrainians hardly welcomed him with open arms as he led himself to believe either.

The rich Oligarchs have been having their assets seized, which is significant because they ultimately help keep Putin in power, so-long as he keeps them rich. This deal is obviously broken with both their assets being seized in foreign Countries and the Russian currency nearing collapse.

Predictions

The following are predictions that are also unlikely to age well, but let's see:

  1. Putin will successfully invade, but it will be on the order of months/years - Their advantage of timing is being lost by the hour and they will soon have to fight for every inch as Ukraine continues to dig in for the long haul.
  2. Putin tightens grip on Russia - Putin at this point is losing face internally in Russia. You can control the entire media, make it illegal to speak badly about Putin, kill all of your political opponents, but ultimately people will notice when bread starts costing more. Given that he is already committed to being President for life, he has no choice but to turn up domestic control. Things are about to get really shitty in Russia.
  3. Russia will be forced to align with China - Being cut off from SWIFT will mean Russia has no choice but to turn to China. If they turn to India, India risk serious sanctions, and don't want that. The best thing that could possibly happen is that China refuses to act as a payment processor for Russia, which may be achieved by threatening China with serious sanctions. The problem is, China may call the bluff, in which case the West is still heavily tied to China for manufacturing of electronics and medicine.
  4. Ties will strengthen between the US and EU - Rather than force the UN/NATO/EU to become divided internally, they have only become more strongly united. This is exactly the opposite of what Russia wanted. Expect more Countries to increase their military spending. Some Countries such as Japan are seriously considering allowing the US to place forward operating nuclear weapons launch sites.

Putin has only one real option, but it's not one he's willing to exercise. He needs these peace talks with Ukraine to go well. The problem is, the Ukrainians are not really in the mood for peace talks - on the ground it might feel like they have a hope of winning as Russia continues to have to pull-back its punches.

The smartest thing Biden could do right now is offer Putin a way out, to agree to move NATO elements away from the border of Russia. The problem is, Biden is hardly here with us, and in fact the US appears to be in the mood for war.

These are scary times indeed. I hope I am wrong.


  1. Note that green energy in Germany is the biggest bullshit ever. They are not reducing global emissions/nuclear waste, just those generated on German soil. It has only outsourced the problem and added to the globalisation problem.