If Europe Wants Peace, It Must Prepare for More War

European leaders left the Madrid NATO Summit on June 30th with much to celebrate. The West has responded to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine with a degree of unity and resolve far beyond what Putin expected. Perhaps also far beyond what Western leaders themselves realised they were capable of.

The concrete results of the summit are necessary steps to maintaining security and preventing more war: agreement on long-term support for Ukraine; increasing NATO’s high-readiness force from 40,000 to 300,000; accepting Finland and Sweden into the alliance; and more forward-deployed troops and equipment on NATO’s eastern border. Along with renewed commitment from its members—especially the United States—the summit represents a historic revitalisation of the alliance.

Most important, perhaps, is the recognition that there is enormous potential for things to deteriorate significantly—and that this needs to be actively mitigated. As Jens Stoltenberg noted, “if this becomes a full-scale war between Russia and NATO, then we'll see suffering, damage, death, destruction at a scale which is much, much worse than what we see in Ukraine today.” NATO’s leaders agreed that, along with unwavering support for Ukraine, robust and credible deterrence was needed to prevent that from happening. If it is absolutely clear to Putin—or his successor—that war with NATO would end in disaster for Russia, such a war is very unlikely to happen.

European leaders may now be tempted to consider the threat solved and go back to worrying about pensions, labour unions, and the like. And not without reason. Not only does NATO now appear stronger than we thought it was, but Russia’s military performance in Ukraine also suggests it is far weaker than many feared. Despite some successes in the south-eastern corner of Ukraine, Russia’s invasion has mostly failed to achieve its aims of territorial conquest.

Although the competence of Ukraine’s leaders, the determination of its defenders, and the support received from the West were critical factors, much of the failure was of Russia’s own making. Shoddy planning, terrible logistics, low motivation, and poorly trained soldiers have contributed to an unexpectedly brittle invasion. Given their failure to defeat Ukraine, one might be forgiven for not seeing a serious conventional military threat to the rest of Europe—especially given NATO’s increasing vigilance. So far, Putin appears to be far more successful at emulating the ambitions of his role model Peter the Great than at matching his military achievements.

However, a dismissal of the Russian threat may well be a catastrophically naive assessment. While Russia is unlikely to pose a threat to the rest of Europe while fully preoccupied with Ukraine, there are good reasons to be prudently pessimistic over the longer term. Both in terms of the threat posed by Russia, and our own lack of preparedness. And, while the future might appear predictable over the next 12 to 18 months, it is anything but predictable over the next decade or two.

First, we may not have seen the full potential of Russia's military. Their planning and execution of the invasion may have been far below what they are capable of because they did not expect significant resistance. Rather than regular army soldiers, many units in the initial invasion force comprised riot police, suggesting an expectation of the need to quell civilian protests rather than fight a determined resistance from the Ukrainian military. Some units brought parade uniforms rather than extra ammunition—hardly the best preparation for going into battle.

Beyond the profound intelligence failure at the top, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has highlighted serious problems within the Russian military: pervasive corruption; overestimation of force preparedness; deep-seated problems with logistics and equipment maintenance; dysfunctional command and control. Such factors should be taken into account when assessing how dangerous Russian forces really are.

However, it would be extremely naive to assume that Russia will not make significant efforts to address these problems in the years to come. The war in Ukraine will provide Russia with a far more experienced officer corps, and Russia will learn from its mistakes and failures. Russia’s next invasion will almost certainly be executed far more competently than this one.

We should also bear in mind also that Russia has not even conducted a partial mobilization and still refuses to take the decisive political step of calling its invasion a “war” rather than just a “special military operation.” This is significant. On paper at least, Russia has huge reserves of both manpower and equipment that haven't been activated—potentially 10 to 15 times the number of troops currently deployed in Ukraine. In the case of a war with NATO, every possible reserve would be mobilised and additional troops drafted.

Although Russia’s military currently appears severely limited by logistics and other support capabilities, that, too, could change. If the political will is present, five to 10 years is more than enough to solve such challenges. The big question regarding Russia's ability to rebuild and upgrade its military capabilities is whether it will have the economic and technological means to do so

The sanctions applied to Russia will limit both its economic power and access to technology. The Russian defence sector has long depended on importing many key inputs from the West, such as precision machinery and digital hardware.

However, it's not a given that Western countries will remain united around sanctions indefinitely, especially if inflation and their economic growth keep getting worse. Putin is actively betting on Western resolve weakening with election cycles. Europe has not yet been able to wean itself off Russian gas, and Russian oil export revenues are higher than before the war due to rising prices. Although that could change, especially as Europe speeds up investment in renewable energy, sanctions so far seem to have been more disruptive than crippling.

And despite its challenges, Russia still possesses a formidable arms industry that accounts for 20 percent of its total manufacturing production and employs two to three million people. It is the second-largest arms exporter in the world, producing about 50 percent more arms and equipment than are procured by its own armed forces. And while Russia currently spends four to five percent of its GDP on its military— high in comparison to most Western countries—this is historically low for Russia. In the mid-1980s, the Soviet Union spent upwards of 15 percent of its GDP on the military—more than twice as much as the United States spent relative to its GDP during the same period.

Russia also has other alternatives to rapprochement with the West to bolster its economic and industrial capacity. In particular, a closer relationship with China has been developing for years. As long as Russia and China both retain a strongly revanchist outlook towards the West, their interests will overlap more than they conflict. They both lay claim to the territories of key Western allies and are deeply opposed to the West’s promotion of human rights and democracy.

Importantly, if China decides to try to invade Taiwan, or Russia a NATO member, it would be enormously advantageous for them to do so at the same time. In such a scenario, to honour its alliances, the US would be forced to fight China and Russia simultaneously. And key European allies such as Britain and France would likely be unable to provide significant support in the defence of Taiwan.

Another critical indicator of the true Russian military capability is that they are still fighting despite sustaining enormous casualties. In just four months, somewhere between 16,000 (according to US estimates) and 35,000 (according to Ukrainian estimates) Russian troops have been killed. By comparison, “only” about 8,000 American and other Western troops were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan over 20 years.

Assuming two to three are seriously wounded for each soldier killed, the total Russian casualties are somewhere in the region of 50,000 to 100,000 soldiers. The high end of that estimate is roughly equivalent to the entire British army being wiped out, reserves included, or about a quarter of the combined strength of French, German, British, and American ground forces in Europe. To keep going in the face of such losses shows a remarkable degree of resilience.

That resilience is not just operational. Putin’s political ability to keep the war machine going despite very high casualties and limited progress should worry us. How would French, American, or British voters react to losing 5,000 to 10,000 soldiers per month defending Eastern Europe? Such losses could lead to a greater determination to persevere and win no matter the cost. On the other hand, under the wrong leadership, it could cause individual NATO members to desperately sue for peace—even if it meant abandoning their allies. We now know, however, that Putin’s army can and will keep going in the face of such losses. A regime willing to sacrifice so many of its youth in a war of aggression is an extremely dangerous neighbour.

Aside from the risk of underestimating Russia, we also run a serious risk of overestimating our own capabilities. On paper, NATO is far stronger militarily than Russia, even without additional investment. But—just as Russia discovered in Ukraine—numerical strength often hides serious weaknesses.

It is tempting to explain Russian military dysfunction with broader corruption, authoritarianism, and essentialist ideas of Russia as uniquely incompetent. Remember their disastrous war with Japan in 1905? Their failed invasion of Poland in 1922? The catastrophe of the Finnish Winter War? Their abysmal performance in Afghanistan in the 1980s?

The problem with such explanations is that we don’t know what military dysfunction we might discover in our own forces if they were put to the test in a large-scale conventional war—because they haven’t been tested in such a conflict in three generations. But it’s a near-certainty that many things would go wrong because that’s what happens in war. The question is whether our forces would be robust and adaptable enough to win despite painful, embarrassing, and deadly setbacks.

There are serious problems to worry about in such a scenario, the first of which is that all of NATO currently produces far too few munitions. This problem is especially dire in Europe. In a major simulation exercise about a year ago, the UK ran out of ”every bit of important ammunition” in just eight days. During the European-led air campaign against Muammar Gaddafi’s Libyan forces in 2011, France, Britain, and other European countries quickly ran short of precision-guided bombs. The supplies needed for a limited intervention against a collapsing third-world regime are vastly lower than those needed for a full-scale conventional war. The irony is that, despite the West’s enormous wealth, if push comes to shove we might find ourselves short of the tools we need to effectively wage a major war.

More broadly, years of underinvestment have resulted in European militaries being cut down to the bone. In its entire history, Europe as a whole has very likely never spent less on defence as a percentage of GDP than in the last two decades. Few European countries have met the two percent of GDP spending target agreed by all NATO members. And that target—set in 2006 at the height of post cold-war expectations of permanent peace—is already far too low for the far more dangerous reality we face today.

The notion that we can ill afford to spend far more is nonsense.  Despite being less wealthy than today, during the mid-1980s, most European countries spent above three percent of their GDP on defence; some spent far more. The UK defence budget regularly consumed more than five percent of its GDP. As the Cold War ended, it made sense to de-prioritise defence spending and take a “peace dividend.” But if we are unable to turn a fraction of our unparalleled wealth today into military strength again, we risk losing far, far more

The geopolitical implication of irresponsibly low European defense spending is that European security now depends more on decisions taken in Washington DC than on decisions taken in London, Paris, or Berlin. And it depends more on taxpayers in Ohio and California than on taxpayers in Oslo or Cologne. Even if one assumes that the US military commitment to NATO and Europe is ironclad and eternal—an assumption that could easily be tested by another populist president– this degree of reliance on the United States is both irresponsible and unethical.

Even if the US remains fully committed to NATO, its resources are not unlimited— especially if war breaks out between the US and a major non-European power, for example China. More importantly, it is morally reprehensible for Europeans to expect anyone but themselves to be carrying the heaviest burden in the defense of Europe. Whatever the right level of defense investment might be to maintain European security, it should be higher for Europe than for the United States—both in money and manpower.

It goes without saying that Europe should still continue to do everything it can to maintain a robust and healthy NATO with the US at the helm. And we should work from the assumption that America’s commitment will remain firm. But that does not preclude Europeans from the responsibility of taking the lead on European defense and security. More significantly, the more we depend on the United States without pulling our own weight, the more we should expect America’s patience to wear thin.

Far greater European defense investment is fully in line with the direction outlined by the NATO alliance at its Madrid summit. But bold commitments often become watered down when confronted with domestic policy priorities, and the temptation to perpetually put off expensive defence investments until after the next election cycle. But the consequences of such dithering will be far greater in the decades to come than they have been so far.

Should NATO not receive the necessary upkeep—whether through the US stepping back or European countries failing to re-build their militaries in the near future—a number of unfortunate scenarios become more likely. First and foremost, Russian aggression beyond Ukraine is entirely dependent on Putin or his successor believing they might be successful. This is a situation which only becomes possible if Europe fails to adequately rebuild its militaries.

Other threats might also emerge. If NATO ceases to be a powerful alliance, Erdoğan, for example, might gravitate away from it and towards Russia and China instead. This is especially worrisome as Turkey has revanchist claims on territory in Greece, a fellow member of NATO. Orbán, too, has prevaricated about whether Hungary’s place is with the EU and NATO or Putin’s Russia. If a realignment was accompanied by Russia finally succeeding in Ukraine—a scenario which becomes far more likely if Western support begins to fall away—NATO-members Bulgaria and Romania could quite literally be “boxed in” by Russia, Turkey, and Hungary.

In an extreme worst-case scenario, one might imagine a de-facto alliance between Russia, China, Turkey, and other minor powers; and a NATO weakened by a lack of European defence investment and American prevarication over their commitment to the alliance. In such a situation, war breaking out simultaneously over Russian claims in the Baltics, Turkish claims in the Aegean, and Chinese claims to Taiwan become a real possibility—precisely because it would be far from obvious that the West would prevail.

More importantly, even if Europe were to win such a war and nuclear apocalypse were to be avoided, it would still be a catastrophic event. In the least-worst case, hundreds of thousands of people would die, vast sums of wealth and prosperity would be destroyed, and the lives of millions of survivors would be scarred by the experiences of war.

The way to make war less likely is very simple: we need to spend a lot more on defence. If European armies are strong enough that any attack from Russia will be obviously futile, such an attack will never come. Such deterrence needs to be strong enough that it stands on its own feet with or without out American support. European countries ought to build strong enough militaries to successfully deter Russia and others on its own. That is far from a tall order. Europe’s population is three-and-a-half times that of Russia’s and its GDP is 14 times greater.

Nevertheless, a shift to responsible defence policy will come with serious costs for European leaders—both political and economic ones. It will mean spending hundreds of billions more euros, pounds, and kroner than we do today on arms and equipment—every single year. It means investing in large-scale surge capacity in our defence industry, in terms of both capital investment and training. It means keeping millions—not hundreds of thousands—of reservists in a permanent state of readiness. All in order to prevent the soldiers, matériel, and surge capacity from ever having to be used.

But by doing so, we make sure that even the most delusional Russian leader—whether or not supported by China and potentially others—would have no doubt that an attempt to beat Europe into submission militarily would be doomed to failure.

In planning for such investments, the consequences of spending too little or too much are hugely asymmetric. If we end up spending too much, defence industry executives and shareholders might become richer than they ought to, and taxes will remain a couple of percent higher than they should. But if we spend too little, we risk losing everything we hold dear: our sovereignty, our freedom, our lives, and the lives of those we love.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://quillette.com/2022/07/15/if-europe-wants-peace-it-must-prepare-for-more-war/
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Articles like this, make me wonder why do i even support Quillette.
Why does Quillette publish articles written by certified idiots like the author of this article?
Failure to understand even the most basic political challenges is the trademark of this article.
This article is not an exception, it is the rule here on Quillette.
Why?
Where is the so-called heterodoxy?
Where is the critical thinking?
Where is the Quillette quality check before publishing such garbage?
Seriously i have a question for the users of Quillette, does any of you fall for the garbage of this article?

The article makes some interesting points; there are countries in the world like Russia which are not democratic, in those countries the leadership often think the way to increase their power further is through conquest - and their own people are there to serve the goals of that leadership. We’ve seen in the past how cooperation between such regimes can be built through the mutual interest of their leaders, just as cooperation between democracies occurs as a result of the mutual interest of voters.

So yes, cooperation between Russia and China is very likely to increase and in some other countries we see a level of state control of the media approaching that in Russia - an issue that has on many occasions resulted in the failure of democracy and the rise of dictatorship.

Other parts of the article aren’t so reasonable, like NATO, Russia also does not have huge stockpiles of modern weaponry so couldn’t sustain a major hot war for long and would be scrambling to boost production.

The claim that US estimates of Russian forces Killed in the last 4-5 months is 16,000 is inaccurate, that figure includes DPR and LPR losses and losses from other nationalities roped in to fight for Russia. As the DPR puts their own military deaths at nearly 2,5000, a reflection of Russian generals preferring to put non Russian units at the sharp end, Russian military deaths could be as low as 10,000 with the US estimates still being correct. Total Russian casualties including injured and captured are unlikely to be over 30,000 as Russia still has an army that can push forward, even if their progress is through wholesale distruction via artillery.

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The military industrial complex is speaking here. The one and only entity that has to gain from this.

So by spending too much there is little to worry about, just some “couple percent higher” taxes and some rich people, no biggie.
But by spending too little the losses would be colossal.
Russia would invade and enslave the whole planet. Probably the “western democracies” are afraid that Russia might do what they have been doing for centuries, despite the fact there is no indication of such intentions from Russia, or China.

So the damage wreaked on their own economies and the suffering inflicted on their voters, is in the mutual interest of those voters, that’s post-modernist political thinking.
People should think about the fact that the western politicians were elected by the people of the western countries, to represent their interests, not the interests of Ukraine and the military industrial complex.

For me that’s deja vu, just like in Ceausescu’s Romania, the western politicians are lying and they know they are lying, the western media are lying and they know they are lying, and the public knows they are being lied to, but they can do nothing about it.

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From your perspective, what do you believe these are?

What kind of quality check are you looking for? I thought the intention of this forum is to allow a diverse range of ideas? What specifically got up your nose about this article that prompted this comment?

I for one am a sceptic, I like to listen to ideas and keep changing my views. I am not looking for a cookie cutter answer to complex problems, are you? I therefore don’t “fall for anything”.

This article triggered one thing for me, Russian tenacity to add to my assessment of this particular problem which makes me a little less dismissive of the threat that I have mentioned elsewhere on this forum.
Russia has a history of having the crap knocked out of them, but they never give up.
The article also made me challenge the orthodoxy of an armament buildup to curtail this threat.

Sweden and Finland are joining NATO, do you still believe that Swede’s and Finn’s are being dragged into the alliance kicking and screaming?

Russia has been seen as a threat by the people of many European countries for decades, by invading Ukraine Putin has reminded/confirmed to them he’s a threat, many/most of them are willing to pay a price to oppose that threat, just as most of them pay a price for the home/car/life insurance they buy.

Even if they don’t see Russia as a direct threat to themselves they have empathy for the people in Ukraine whose lives Putin has destroyed, just as they would have empathy for a neighbor whose life had been wrecked by some low-life criminal, or a woman who’d suffered at the hands of her husband.

Now it’s possible that European governments have misread their electors, in which case they’ll suffer in the next elections.

Democracy isn’t perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than living under the power of a murderous authoritarian thug.

Riight, Putin hasn’t actually invaded Ukraine displacing millions and killing many thousands, that’s actually untrue, Europeans know it’s untrue but the poor things are unable to do anything about revealing the truth.

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NATO should be expanded dramatically so long as all members share the same goal. The only meaningful stance for the alliance is to be so powerful that it can overwhelm any other global power with sheer force. Anything less is a complete and utter waste and a failure. The purpose of a successful military alliance is to maintain peace through coercive force, fear and intimidation. If neighbors of NATO do not see it as an organization capable and willing to annihilate any state that threatens any of its members in any capacity, then it is a useless organization, much like the UN, and should be disbanded.

My knee jerk reaction too, act as a deterrent. The nuclear arms race is an example. The downside is that NATO then forces Russia to scale up dramatically (as they did with the nuclear arms race), and the Russian people get united in response to an overwhelming threat.

Great idea in principle, but unlikely to work in practice. An all out war with Russia will last at least 10 years and dessimate Europe.

European’s are not going to attack Russia on its own soil. The last two attempts were totally unsuccessful, the fear is Russian winters, in this case a nuclear one.

Those decisions have nothing to do with voter’s interest. Just like the decision to destroy one’s own economy has nothing to do with the interest of voters. The US has it’s means of “coercion”, without said coercion, Western European countries would have never acted the way they did, to their own detriment.

False statement. The soviet union had been seen as a threat. After the fall of the soviet union, Russia was not seen as a threat, and all Western European countries wanted NATO to be disbanded.
Sadly it did not matter what Western European countries wanted, it only mattered why the US military industrial complex wanted.

By bombing Yugoslavia (2500 civilian victims), Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan, NATO has proven to be the real threat. Care to explain the presence of US troops in Syria right now? They occupied the resource rich North, and thats that. They must’ve done it for democracy of course.
Russia’s actions in Ukraine are the result of direct provocation from US: the 2014 coup, the support and arming of nazi battalions, the training and joint military operations of Ukraine with NATO, amassing large armies near Crimea and Dombas, the refusal to negotiate with Russia over the tensions that the US created unilaterally.

Oh i see, they are ok with the misery their own governments are dragging them into, out of “empathy” for poor Ukrainians.
Such noble empathic people, wonder where was your empathy when the civilians of Dombas were bombed by the Ukrainians for 8 years? Where was your empathy for the countless civilians in Serbia, Libya and Iraq?

Where is your empathy now when every single day the Ukrainians are bombing civilians in Dombas cities? Oh wait despite daily live footage from the bombing sites, the western media is still busy ignoring that, or presenting it as “Russian propaganda”.

By now, most people in the west know from experience how it is to live under the power of a murderous authoritarian organization called NATO and the military industrial complex.

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Biden couldn’t coerce a cat out of a bath, you appear to be under the impression that the American government is especially clever with amazing mind powers they can use against the governments and people of other nations. Sad.

The USSR controlled the Warsaw pact, Russia controlled the USSR, do you seriously think Ukraine or the Baltic states had the freedoms to make their own decisions as members of the USSR compared to their freedom if or as members of NATO? Thinking about it you probably do. Also sad.

Sometimes military force is necessary to defend your own and your allies, I’m not going to get sidetracked onto other conflicts.

Many are many aren’t, that’s what it’s like in democracies, you’re allowed to disagree with the state on policy.

And they’ll pick that over the murdering thug Putin any and every day.

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ummm…no idea what you talking about, guess that makes two of us.

But that’s exactly what Russia is doing now, so what’s your problem?

While you appear to be under the impression that Biden is at the helm of the US.
Biden is certifiably senile and thus not capable to fulfill his duties, and yet he is still president, there are no serious talks to replace him.
This is a living proof that it’s not Biden that is running America, it’s other people.

Now let’s look at the American government and the Western European governments, they are all running their own countries into the ground and possibly into a nuclear war, and we are supposed to believe they do that for Ukraine?
The US provoked this war and now all the west is somehow frightened that Russia would attack them?
Those are lies and i think everybody knows that, with the exception of a few true believers like yourself.

The lies are about the western concern about Ukraine, the defending of democracy (Ukraine was not a democracy and was the third most corrupt country on the planet), about western sanctions being aimed to stop the war, about the Russian military action being unprovoked and unjustified, about the “atrocities” committed by Russian troops, about intentional bombing of civilian targets (when it’s Ukraine doing that), about the billions in military aid and the self destruction of own economies being a necessity to “defend democracy”.
Those are just some of the direct lies, but there is a large assortment out there.

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Sorry your reply was very good but i missed it somehow.
My post was just an angry outburst, so your questions are very good, because i stated things without bringing the slightest justification.
To my defense, i think the political challenges the world is facing, ought to be obvious to most of us.
There is a world war going on. For now it’s (mostly) a proxy war. All the west is fighting a proxy and economic war against Russia.
The American hegemony is challenged by the BRICS.
America has a senile president and an ultra corrupt government.
The western block seems as obsessed with conquering Russia as Napoleon and Hitler back in the day.
You can see the drool in the western mouths fantasizing about getting a piece of Russia, and now that they smelled blood, the sharks cannot be stopped.
This unprecedented conflict, combined with the corrupt and incompetent western politicians involved (thank you diversity and inclusion), could escalate out of control anytime.
There are huge political challenges, created by huge political incompetence in the west, and there is nothing that scares me more than incompetent politicians with nukes at their disposal.

Was not talking about these forums, which are fine and dandy. Was talking about the quality control of the Quillette publication, which should not publish military industrial complex propaganda, out of respect for it’s users.

Russia has a history of all superpowers wanting a piece of Russia, and also a history of kicking their royal behinds. Hope this time the Russian people will succeed again in defending their nation against the western predators.
As for the armament buildup to curtail the “threat”…ask yourself if the threat is real, ask yourself who provoked who, who did what and when, and above all, ask yourself who is the entity that will benefit from the armament buildup.

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Yes, invading a sovereign neighbouring country, flattening it’s cities and intentionally targeting it’s civilians(murdering) is really a great way to show oneself as a glorious and righteous defender…this is really disciplined behaviour and deserving of those who ‘provoke’. /s

‘Oh but it is more complicated than that! History says this and that and so many things! NATO is going to kill us all and make us fly rainbow flags!! We were ‘provoked’(triggered)!’ Reacting to provocation shows ill discipline. When dulled by negative intentions, all phenomena can be perceived as provocation. Provocation is only consummated into war by simpletons who are paranoid with fear and misery. Discipline cultures ethos and ethos balances pathos from delving into a negative.

Russia has a schizotypal, insular culture filled with detachment and pathos…rich with intelligence and culture but incompetent to garner relations or compromise with western ideas and principles. It is always in a state of contention with the bigger picture. Friendless as one’s own enemy. Russian paranoia has devolved ethos to the point of eccentric desperation. They are flailing about at neighbours looking for an insatiable grand fulfillment and lacking any sort of self reflection as self aggrandizement has consumed them. Unconsciously looking for qualitative identity and doing it through ill-moderated consummation.

The ‘Authoritarian Strongman’ is incapable of inner self sacrifice so he sends his naive subordinates to slaughter by proxy. Typical compensatory measures for someone who has limited character. If only he took some time to look inward and consider compromise and growth of ethic over surrendering to the whims of the many tribes around him. They have made him a puppet, but not with strings from above, rather with artifice and machination from below and around. Addressing life with an intellectual structure, he only sees interfering foreign structures and seeks to destroy them. He absolved all humanity. Too many whispers from too many directions. Divided and devolved from too much power and no refreshment.

I can only see a great shame befalling Russia and it’s people. I wish for Russian metanoia.

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Neighboring country that was shelling civilians and amassing a big NATO trained and equipped army at the borders of Crimea and Dombas.

City flattening is a normal result of military conflict carried out in cities, and the Ukraine battalions were holed up in Mariupol and using civilians as human shields. Even the UN commission found the Ukrainians responsible for civilian casualties, because they were using schools and hospitals as bases but not evacuating the civilians.
As for the intentional targeting of civilians, use your head. Civilian casualties are against Russia’s interests and are very much in Ukraine’s interest. Every single day there is footage of Ukrainian missiles striking civilian areas, and that is not new, the ex Ukrainian president Poroshenko stated publicly that “our children will go to school, their children will hide in basements”.

You mean like the west is perceiving the Russian intervention in Ukraine as a provocation against the “free world”? You might have a point there.

Again it sounds like you are talking about the western block.

“Incompetent to compromise with western ideas and principles” you say.
Let’s look back a little. The Soviet Union agreed to the reunification of Germany with the condition that NATO won’t expand to the east. Russia even proposed to become a member of NATO and the EU and was laughed at.
Russia worked together with Ukraine France and Germany on the Minsk accord, which was never respected, at the behest of the US.
Russia tried to bring the west at the negotiation table to address their NATO concerns in Ukraine, they were laughed at.
History shows it is the west who is incapable to respect agreements and promises and unwilling to compromise.
Once again, as several times in history, the west wants Russia.

Beautiful description of the modern western culture.
What you are doing is called projection.

That’s the western plan, but truth usually prevails and the truth is on Russia’s side. As for the metanoia, the western cultures need it so badly.
You know nothing about the Russian culture, otherwise you would have known they dont need metanoia, they are modest enough.

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While I share much of your sentiments, I do question how this could potentially be seen by folks on the other side. My concern is that we tend to trivialize our opponents perspective and end up providing equally naive, oversimplified views, and show ourselves as glorious and righteous defenders of the only truth.

Putin’s position (or at least the most plausible one that many Russian’s are likely to align with) is that ever since the collapse of the USSR, the West has been on the march to essentially wipe the Russian nation off the face of the Earth. There is plenty of evidence to substantiate this claim if one takes the time to consider it. The final straw would be for NATO to establish a forward position in Kiev, less than half a days drive from Moscow. Reasonable justification to make any nation nervous.

From a Russian perspective, Zelensky does not project the values that we claim. Within months of his election, he ordered Ukrainian law enforcement to raid his predesessor’s party headquarters, with the intent to eliminate any possible influence of Poroshenko in the future, finally accusing him of state treason.

He then imprisoned the leader of the opposition Viktor V. Medvedchuk, who was the People’s Deputy of Ukraine from August 29, 2019. Medvedchuk is the chairman of the pro-Russia political organization Ukrainian Choice and an opponent of Ukraine joining the European Union.
Even the EU has called upon Zelensky to release Medvedchuk.

From a basic economic perspective, Russia poured significant funding into the Ukraine, creating a very modern and relatively efficient state. Perhaps many Russia’s see this courting of the West as a betrayal?

I’m not suggesting that what Putin has done is justifiable, just that it may not be the act of a simpleton as you suggest. That he is ruthless and bit off more than he can chew, is less in dispute.

Now what is important is what to do going forward. It appears that those of us in the West are paranoid with the threat of future Russian expansion

Rephrase that form the other perspective.
Russia is going to kill us, and turn us all into robots to do as we are told.

In the interim we will continue to provide weapons as long as Ukrainians are prepared to sacrifice the lives of its young men, to continue to harass an enemy that consumes us with fear.

This guy is either a lobbyist for the defense industry or a potential paid CNN contributor and appears to be a perfect fit alongside Americas jock/woke generals we see daily on western legacy media pushing a lopsided account of history, current tragedy in Ukraine and annoyingly attempting to mitigate their feelings of toxic whiteness. “If Europe Wants Peace, It Must Prepare for More War” Yep, Europe needs to step up. If you choose to beat the war drums without pursuing any attempt at peace, I will be more than happy to place a sign on my front lawn, but it will state Europe followed by a question mark. Besides once somebody explains to our millennial generations that Europe is just a bunch of white folks as Whoopie says fighting amongst themselves they may reconsider any support. You can’t waive enough pride flags to escape that reality. Not sure why 1% of my citizens who constantly must bear the brunt of every whim of the West relative to war who have sacrificed for missions that are never clear and result in humiliation and defeat may be asked to happily choke on their own blood on the streets of Helsinki if Vlad pokes a toe across the border. If someone thinks they should please share because I’m open. But if it is in pursuit of some bizarre 21st century silliness of a liberal world order I would prefer not. Europe is in this situation because it chooses to be. Immigration and elections have consequences. The majority of you pass judgement on countries like Hungary and Poland but they may be your last great hope in preserving anything that resembles Europe. Perhaps you should consider peace and a path to get there first. When was the last time the West sat down and considered nuclear disarmament? Peace is messy and egos may get beat up, but it may be a better option then Stockholm waking up to a weather forecast of 1000 degrees and cloudy.

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That statement is a claim of some sort of systematic attack by Ukraine on civilians in the Dombas for the last 8 years, but what has actually been number of the civilian deaths, and what has the trend been?

Total conflict-related civilian casualties in 2014-2021
During the entire conflict period, from 14 April
2014 to 31 December 2021, OHCHR recorded a
total of 3,106 conflict-related civilian deaths
(1,852 men, 1,072 women, 102 boys, 50 girls,
and 30 adults whose sex is unknown). Taking
into account the 298 deaths on board Malaysian
Airlines flight MH17 on 17 July 2014, the total
death toll of the conflict on civilians has reached
at least 3,404.

And the trend?
2014: 2084
2015: 955
2016: 112
2017: 117
2018: 58
2019: 27
2020: 26
2021: 25

Those are the civilian deaths recorded on both sides, in reality there’s been a steady decline in the violence and a rapid decline in civilian causalities.

If we look at the civilian deaths from land mines and handling ERD’s (explosive remnants of war) from 2018, deaths likely not a result of targeting, but likely from previously expended or deployed munitions:
2018: 35
2019: 17
2020: 17
2021: 12

So from 2018 the civilian deaths on both sides that could have been a result of active military actions by both sides is, by year:
2018: 58-35=23
2019: 27-17=10
2020: 26-17=9
2021: 25-12=13

The truth is that rather than being a genocide as Putin claims, the Dombas conflict itself was dying out with static front lines and little actual conflict, and that is why Putin launched his attack on Ukraine, those actually involved in the Dombas conflict weren’t doing enough killing for Putin’s aims, an excuse for an all-out war against Ukraine.

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Who?

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A couple of months ago most of the interviewees tended to shy away from questioning the reasons for the invasion, now there appears to be more open criticism of the Russian leadership.

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