GUEST BLOG: Ben Morgan – Annexation, nuclear threats and mobilisation – What does it all mean?

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Russia’s recent actions; calls to annex captured territories, announcing mobilisation and making nuclear threats were predictable. The actions are indicative of the desperate position that Putin is now in.  In Ukraine, Russian forces are collapsing, the country’s economy is suffering, at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation conference in Samarkand Putin was castigated and embarrassed by his closest allies and at the United Nations Security Council Russia faced further international condemnation.  At home, Putin’s right-wing nationalist traditional supporters are attacking the war, not because they disagree with invading Ukraine but rather because Russia is being militarily embarrassed.  Putin is now starting to ‘feel the heat’ from many directions and the pain of defeat is impacting on him.  At home his sycophants are critical of him and abroad he is an embarrassment; kept waiting for photo ops by leaders of Central Asian republics, chastised by allies, no longer the smug, secure leader of the anti-West. 

And, this is a dangerous and difficult time for the world.  Like any strongman Putin’s response to challenges is threats, aggression and bluster. The question is what threats can he realistically deliver on, and to understand this potential we need to take a calm and reasoned approach to analysing the situation.  Putin’s nuclear threats are the most concerning and any threat of this nature must be taken very seriously.  In this case Putin’s ability to use nuclear weapons is in no doubt, Russia has a large arsenal of these weapons both at the tactical level and longer-range strategic weapons. However, judging if Putin will actually use these weapons requires an understanding of the Russian state because even the most powerful rulers rely on underlings and henchmen to do their bidding and that is where things become less certain. 

Russia is not a modern nation state.  Instead, it is a strange feudal kingdom ruled by a small group of siloviki, powerful strongmen mostly recruited from the former KGB, they became powerful and rich using their connections and knowledge to carve out fiefdoms within Putin’s Russia.  Some estimates, say that a small group of men, only about 150 run modern Russia.  Putin relies on them and demands their loyalty like a feudal lord.  However, a weakness of feudal systems is that power rests with individuals; rather than in institutions and an individual can easily be replaced by another person. History shows many kings have had their heads put on pikes by a nobility that tires of them.    Maintaining control of a feudal kingdom is a difficult and delicate balancing act; and although there is unlikely to be a coup, this group’s power is a check on Putin’s ability to escalate.

It apparent that the relationship between Putin and Russia’s military is deteriorating.  Evidence of this trend has been available for a long-time.  A rapid turnover of military commanders, as unsuccessful leaders are sacked by Putin is a feature of this war. As is the fractured command structure of the invasion force and reports of direct political intervention in tactical and operational level decision-making.  However, in recent months Russia’s covert mobilisation of non-military para-militaries and mercenaries could indicate a deeper rift. Putin, trying to use these forces rather than conventional forces he doesn’t trust.  It seems unlikely that Putin will be able to generate enough support within Russia’s ‘nobility’ for the use of either tactical nuclear weapons or his strategic arsenal.  

So why make these threats?  

Putin is playing to a number of audiences.  First, he is trying to scare NATO and Ukraine’s supporters testing their resolve. More importantly, he is speaking to his home audience Russian nationalists and conservatives.  Lord Simon McDonald, ex-Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom succinctly explaining this week that Putin’s speech is an act of desperation, carefully constructed to sound powerful to the home audience and demonstrate that Russia is still powerful; without materially changing the military situation.  The Institute for the Study of War’s 21 September update clearly analyses the detail of the speech “He (Putin) addressed partial mobilization, annexation referenda in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, and the possibility of nuclear war in his speech—but as separate topics rather than a coherent whole. The fact that he mentioned all three topics in a single speech was clearly meant to suggest a linkage, but he went out of his way to avoid making any such linkage explicit”.  Putin is talking tough but the key points are that there are no ‘red lines’, no statements about newly annexed territories being pulled under Russia’s ‘nuclear umbrella’ nor did the speech change Russian policies for the use of nuclear weapons and at this stage, Anthony Blinken the United States Secretary of State reports that there has not been a discernible change in Russia’s nuclear state of readiness after Putin’s speech.   


Essentially, Putin is isolated from his military and under attack by his main supporters in Russia so needs to be seen standing firm against the West. Nuclear threats are a politically expedient way of doing that.  Although we must be prepared for him to surprise us, it seems unlikely that he would be able to gather the political support within his ‘nobility’ to use nuclear weapons. Further, his primary external ally this week used discussions at the United Nations Security Council to distance themselves from him.  In strategic terms, the consequences of using nuclear weapons are too dire and too unpredictable so it is unlikely we will see a nuclear escalation.  

Instead, Putin has another plan.  The mobilisation is a big news story, to untrained observers 300,000 soldiers seems like an enormous number but for context remember that in the 1991 Gulf War, the American led coalition deployed nearly 1 million service people. The 2003 Invasion of Iraq saw half a million coalition service people deployed.  Both deployments were larger than the total Russian invasion force, including the new 300,000.  Russia has a ready reserve (people that have served in the military within the last five years) of about 2 million.  The partial mobilisation is therefore roughly 15% of this total.   The small size of the mobilisation indicates that Putin is nervous about the political impact of mobilisation on the Russian people.

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However, the ‘Devil is always in the detail’ and Chapman House Associate Professor Samantha Bendern, an expert on Russian politics recently pointed out in a Times Radio interview that the mobilisation order is very vague and open-ended leaving the opportunity open for further mobilisation.  This is crucial information because it helps us decipher Putin’s plan.  It seems logical that the initial mobilisation will be used to stabilise the front then slowly, as the initial political ‘heat’ caused by mobilisation dies down at home a larger mobilisation will be undertaken.  Covertly, increasing the size of the force able to be deployed in Ukraine. Already reports are circulating of plans for wider mobilisation that; if true confirm this assessment. 

My speculation is that the mobilisation is a minimum, a ‘least worst’ option, the aim of which is to provide enough cannon fodder to hold the line till winter at which point Putin’s gas embargo will impact.  It is a callous plan sacrificing young Russian lives to provide time for winter gas shortages to punish the people of Europe and force European leaders to deal with angry, cold voters.  Putin’s strategic aim is to prolong the war, punish Europe and drive ‘weak’ European democracies away from supporting Ukraine.  

Recent reports from Russia confirm the mobilisation is being managed in a heavy handed and rushed manner.  This tells us that Putin’s immediate objective is to get ‘boots on the ground’ as soon as possible to reinforce his failing army, hoping that sheer weight of numbers will slow the Ukrainian advance.  Reporting from Russia also indicates that the mobilisation is targeting communities far from Moscow and St Petersburg. Russia’s ethnic minorities look like they will bear the brunt of the mobilisation and targeting these disenfranchised groups confirms the political risk Putin is taking. 

Mobilisation is unlikely to achieve Putin’s goal. Training soldiers is hard, time-consuming work.  A conscript that has been out of the military for one to five years is not a frontline soldier.  Returning a soldier to a basic level of competence should take at least six weeks.  Integrating them into effective fighting units, ready for battle should take months.  And, this is not the 1980s the Ukrainians are fighting in a modern, network-enabled manner and are likely to defeat any number of hastily trained un-motivated conscripts.  Until Russia significantly re-structures their whole military they are going to continue to be defeated. Putin probably doesn’t care; the loss of young men’s lives is not important to his strategic game and he is gambling that sheer weight of numbers will slow the Ukrainians down long enough for his strategic plans to come to fruition.  The gas embargo during winter and annexation. 

This week Putin advanced the annexation strategy, within Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizihia and Kherson the world heard voices calling for referendums to become part of Russia.  Annexation creates uncertainty for Ukrainian and NATO strategists. If an area is annexed will Russia use nuclear weapons to defend it?  If an annexed area is invaded by Ukraine, Putin may claim that Ukraine is attacking Russia ‘proper’ and use defence of the homeland to justify use of tactical nuclear weapons.  Not because it is particularly useful on the battlefield but to scare Ukraine and NATO about the prospect of nuclear escalation, encouraging them to ‘give up’ on trying to reclaim these areas.

This is an important issue and is very difficult to interpret.  Any logical analysis demonstrates that a referendum conducted at this time is unlikely to be legitimate.  But legitimacy is subjective (in some parts of the world) and annexation may provide the legitimacy Putin needs within Russia for nuclear escalation or for further mobilisation.  Whether or not the argument will work is unknown but it seems obvious that this is the overall aim of a rapid annexation.

 My analysis can be summarised as follows:

  • Putin is desperate. He is on the road to a terrible defeat and the actions we saw this week were predictable.  
  • The nuclear rhetoric is designed to intimidate the West and to bolster support amongst Putin’s supporters in Russia.  However, at this stage his speech has not materially changed the situation on the battlefield.  Putin’s nuclear rhetoric is more concerning because of its future impacts contributing to a normalisation of nuclear threats and a sense of the inevitability of these weapons being used. The concern is that this rhetoric is to prepare the Russian people for their use in the future.  
  • Annexation votes will be forced through as soon as practical. It is useful for Putin’s overall narrative to be fighting for the freedom of pro-Russian Ukrainians, a narrative used to justify future escalations to his people.  Already there are reports that this week votes will be held in the occupied areas. 
  • The partial mobilisation is to buy time so the gas embargo can take effect.  Putin is an old man; he does not understand the modern progressive West. He sees decadence and weakness which is a critical flaw in his strategic thinking.  Putin believes that when winter comes, without cheap Russian gas Europeans will suffer physical and economic hardship.  Then they will complain and their ‘weak’ democratic leaders will capitulate, turning their backs on Ukraine.  Putin’s only chance of success is breaking European cohesion and the gas embargo is his tool to achieve this goal.  Time is running out though. Right now, the Russian army in Ukraine is collapsing so quickly that the war might be over before winter bites. So he needs more cannon fodder to hold the line. The first wave of mobilisation will be rushed and the troops sent immediately into action, young Russian lives sacrificed to buy time for Putin’s strategy to take effect.
  • Expect the war to go on for longer. The vagueness of the mobilisation proclamation leaves room for Putin to increase his covert mobilisation.  More that 300,000 men will be mobilised and deep in the Russian hinterland new armies will be formed.  However, until the Russian military’s critical structural issues are addressed these armies will be poorly trained and relatively ineffective. Further, as economic sanctions bite equipping them with the modern communications equipment and weapons, they need will become progressively harder.

In conclusion, Putin’s actions are not unexpected and were carefully considered. Paraphrasing Lord Simon McDonald, he is desperate but far from stupid. He knows that he is in trouble and this week’s activities bolster his internal supporters, intimidate his opponents and more importantly provide options for continuing the war. Putin’s hope is that NATO will tire of the war before he does; and that he can win by attrition.  The only thing standing in his way, are some brave Ukrainians and a world that supports them by being willing to weather the impact on each of our daily lives. 

Ben Morgan is a tired Gen X interested in international politics. He is TDB’s Military analyst.

105 COMMENTS

  1. Putin this, Putin that, Putin is more omnipotent that every Bond villain put together…and then some! The allegations against Putin are limitless but the proof behind any of them are non existent, but here in the West, proof isn’t needed for anything, our powers-that-be just need to say it is so and most of us believe it. As such, we really are our own worst enemies.

    On to the key issue here, nuclear threats, this interview of former chief UN weapons inspector and former US Marine Scott Ritter by The Grayzone gives us, but one side of this very volatile issue.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJCJtbDux-4&ab_channel=TheGrayzone

    This is the full interview here, the nuclear component starting from the 1hr 25 minute mark.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_FY87Se1d8&ab_channel=TheGrayzone

  2. Putin’s nuclear threats are the most concerning and any threat of this nature must be taken very seriously
    Yes Ben, so let’s get a little context. Nuclear war is always a risk between nuclear armed powers and is always a risk in a proxy war. If you go back a year you will note Ukraine wanted to revoke its non nuclear status but were persuaded out of this. In the sabre rattling prior to and during this conflict the rhetoric around nuclear weapon use has come in particular from Ukraine and Western hawkes such as Hodges. Putin has responded which is not to be applauded when de-escalation is required.
    Putins response highlights the real cause of Russia’s stance. He has been on record for several years warning the West not to bring their military and missiles too close to Russia’s borders. That has been ignored and the West has missile deployment capability within 3 minutes flying time of Moscow. Clearly seen by Russia as an existential threat.
    As a Western citizen who has opposed nuclear weapons since the 70s I regard the collective stance of our leaders in allowing this policy as idiocy. Everybody loses a nuclear confrontation and it appears that only the Russians understand this.

  3. First; it is appalling that a shooting & possibly nukes involved war should occur in this region in the 21st century, like all wars it hurts the working class people and innocent civilians of all factions involved most of all. I don’t support authoritarianism and I don’t support Putin.

    Second; It is an Imperialist proxy war because NATO and the US are ramping it up with supplying weapons and maximum propaganda output rather than looking for peace and solutions. A negotiated settlement is the requirement here.

    Thirdly; The armchair general phenomenon is disturbing, people that have never held a gun are now military experts according to their online statements. Ukraine has become a spectator sport like those disgusting Israelis photographed in armchairs, drinks at hand, watching the Israeli Military air strikes on Palestinians.

    Neither Washington, Moscow or Beijing.

  4. Of course Ben in his informed analysis like all Western puff pieces fails to mention European Politicians openly talking about the use of nuclear weapons against Russia or the open call of its breakup. All things start with Putin only apparently. Putin’s speech was a reaction to western rhetoric no matter how much Ben try’s to pretend otherwise.
    Putin was abundantly clear under what circumstances they would defend themselves and the sovereignty of Russia, but of course we are yet again subject to more bait and switch by the West.

    • Name these European politicians. There would be no-one in European countries who is even remotely near actual power who has advocated the use of nuclear weapons against Russia.

      The exception is successive UK Prime Ministers and French Presidents who would use their weapons in the event of a first strike by Russia against their nations.

      Right at the moment there is only one national leader talking about using nuclear weapons and that is Putin. He and Medelev have implied Russia could use nuclear weapons to defend the territorial integrity of the newly incorporated parts of Ukraine. However, it is almost certainly a bluff.

      The Ukrainians are using relatively modest precision strike weapons to clear the way for their offensives in the North East and in the South. For instance, Ukraine does not have the ability to launch massive aerial bombardment with literally hundreds of precision munitions such as cruise missiles and long range strike missiles. Only the US and to a some extent, the British and the French, have such capabilities. And they are not giving them to Ukraine.

      So the nuclear threat utterly fails the proportionality test. Which has been effectively proven when Russia did not launch a massive air assault in response to Ukraine attacks in Crimea.

      I would note that Russia also does not have the capability to launch a massive conventional air war campaign, as would be the norm for a western led military campaign. It is said that the TU95’s and the TU160’s are running out of standoff cruise missiles. Maybe yes, maybe no. In any event these strategic bombers are not venturing into Ukraine airspace. It is now too dangerous given the extent of Western supplied anti air missiles.

      I would note that just about everything Russia possesses is outclassed by Western weapons. For instance, the T80 and T90 tanks are no match for the Abrams. Russian artillery can’t match the Western 155’s. There is no real equivalent to the F35. The Tu95 is nowhere as capable as a B52. They have nothing like a B2 bomber. Basically Russian weapons are a whole generation, (about 25 years) behind those of the West.

      So far Ukraine is only getting a selected part of the Western military inventory. They are not getting Western tanks or aircraft. The western intent is to keep the war within Ukraine. No western country wants Ukraine to launch any serious attacks into Russian territory. And the weapons supplied do not have the range for Ukraine to do so. Russia is well aware of this. Hence my reason for saying Putin is bluffing about nuclear weapons.

      • Wayne ,,, “I would note that just about everything Russia possesses is outclassed by Western weapons.”

        yeah nah ….

        Russian air defense missile systems ,,, best in the world.

        unstoppable and unmatched Russian hyper-sonic missiles ,,, Deployed.

        nato/usa weapons have been found wanting and ineffective defending against cheap Iranian drones ,,,, or against their missiles for that matter.

        Bye Bye ,,,, said the cheap drone to the expensive Himar ?…. approx 1:00:22 https://youtu.be/CoIHZ6zXQho?t=3636

        ….’Is the present coordinated outrage against Iran linked to this matter ???’…

        P.s ,,,,Liz Truss would think of and describe a first strike against Russia as being Defensive,,,, in conditions she would be judge of.

        See for yourselves ,,,,,No-where is retaliation to a Russian Nuclear first strike mentioned from her ….

        Liz Truss asked about nuclear weapons: ‘I’m ready to do it’ https://youtu.be/CM8evVhzHPI

      • Weapon weapons Wayne, seems everything the Russians use is second rate. Yet despite this Russia have hypersonics capable of taking out carrier task forces with impunity, or delivering a nuke to Pennsylvania Ave. No doubt the US also has wonder weapons, with their budget you’d hope so.

        Point is however that in the action on the ground the casualties mount due to old fashioned artillery massively supplied with old fashioned logistics chains. Like 1914 and 1941 it’s still a railway war for supply. And all the wonder weapons like Javelins, HIMARS etc, yawn, consumed in the morass. Its always a “game changer” but never is. It sounds good like “NATO trained” implies superiority over Russian “reservists”.

        There’s a whole NATO equipped and trained army dead and maimed by inferior Russian forces so far. How long until you get the point that Russia might actually be a peer, not inferior?

    • The only European power with the nuclear deterrent is France and Macron was certainly not threatening his mate Putin with nukes! When you analyse finngrin’s claims they are always empty – like his brain.

  5. Wonderful summation AO and Nick&J. Despite all that we have experienced of US duplicity over the years and despite the all-pervading media propaganda that supports it, it’s amazing that such sanity still survives. For more of it I recommend the authoritative articles and opinion pieces at Information Clearing House;
    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/

  6. I agree with both AO and Nick+J.
    The Minsk Accord agreements were signed but never adhered to.
    Unfortunately our government would have been well informed regarding the Ukrainian government shelling of the Donbass since 2014 but because we belong to the 5 eyes club we were silent as we are on most western or western backed foreign crimes eg the apartheid regime of Israel and the daily killings, beatings and humiliation of Palestinians that cannot happen without political and financial support from the US.
    Our PM is in New York criticising the use of the Russian veto at the UN regarding Ukraine but I have never once heard her criticise the heinous behaviour of Israel against the Palestinians.
    I pose the question like so many before me have, would the US ever allow any military base construction by either Russia or China on their borders?
    Quick answer is NO.
    Yet the western media continue to frame this war as a conflict between Ukraine and Russia and ignore the US 53 billion dollars (so far) in weapons and aid plus the combined military and financial aid from every country (including NZ) who are part of the US/NATO cabal.
    On a global basis only 40 countries support this proxy war and in population terms that equals 10% of the world population.
    There is a shift away from a unipolar US hegemonic world but the establishment west never has and never will put peace at the top of their priority list.

  7. Ben — here is what you missed
    – The so called Ukraine “breakthrough” on the battlefield from last week was utter BS, it was staged for the world’s media — satellite imagines disprove Ukraine claims
    – The UN – Turkey are sponsoring peace talk – settlement between Ukraine and Russia, those talks have been going on for the last 30 days
    – Russia’s call up is in response to the USA – UK weapon dump of $1.2 billion last week in Ukraine
    – On-going, and growing protesters against the Ukraine Government, and the pro – Nazism of the armed services in both Ukraine – Poland, and now, the Baltic States
    – Amnesty International has confirmed MORE war crimes committed by the Ukraine Nazi themed militia

    • After what Russia did to Poland it appears Naziism is the slightly lesser of two evils. Oh and the events of the Prague Spring, another western lie perpetrated by the perfidious Satan of the west.

        • And the ‘when it was done’.
          How far back do we go?
          I dont think ANY country comes out well if we go far back far enough. So that arguement is a classic strawman…….

          • So Keriman, I beg to disagree. The lessons of history are always with us. The Prague Spring was just over 40 years ago and that’s in living memory. I notice Antforce harking back to WW2 and Israel is still chasing Nazi War criminals from that time. Perhaps you can enlighten us with a cut off date for rationalising current conflict.

            • How about a generation if a country has had two or less leaders in that timeframe. Or earlier if a country has had 3-4-5 etc leaders who ALL do the same. e.g. USA/Britain etc are war mongering all the time, and killing LOTS of innocent people, but those expendable/acceptable deaths are typically NOT white.
              Thus if Russia was interested in ‘dominating the world’ like the USA/NATO clearly want to do, then they’d have tried it by now, given Putins been basically in charge for 20+ years.
              And no invading/fighting neighbouring countries that the USA/Britain have encouraged to ‘poke the bear’ are NOT fair e.g’s.

                • Cantabrian September 25, 2022 at 1:12 am
                  Russia’s actions in Syria and the Chechen wars say it all.

                  Which is why Russia will prevail.

                • Russia was INVITED into Syria by the legally elected Govt.
                  The USA (and NATO) invaded and the USA is still an illegal occupier, who is conveniently based where the oil is, which they steal.
                  Is that ALL you have?

                  re: Chechen wars..please reread what I’ve said above and check with a dictonary if you’re struggling with English comprehension.

                  • And you forget about Afghanistan where the then GRU agent Sergei Skripal was tasked with assassinating President Amin because he was getting ‘too close to the west’. Plus the proxy wars in Angola and Mozambique. Need I go on?

                    • How long ago did ‘the soviet union’ (NOT RUSSIA and NOT Putin) invade Afghanistan.
                      Again please read what my point was.
                      If you want to make a different point, please be my guest, but don’t change the gist of my point, because it doesn’t suit your opinion.

                    • I recall also that the Afghan Govt invited the Soviets in, to help prop up their Govt from American pressure to overthrow them.
                      Seems like a common theme in the world for the last 80 odd years.
                      America purposely starting internal conflict, to overthrow a Govts that won’t do as the USA DEMANDS and then uses their CONTROL of the media to convince the ‘simple people’ that the other guy is the bad guy.

        • Nathan, I don’t have much truck for the USA and it’s foreign adventuring either however, their activities are no excuse or reason for Russia to act in the way it has and is.
          PS Grenada was a real hard on. Those dashing marines with Colgate smiles and John Wayne hips charging the beaches into a storm of coconuts without fear or flinching. Real men Brucie!

          • What about it being obvious that with their enormous natural resources they were and are the ultimate prize target ? It was only a matter of time till they were in for another regime change / asset striping programme. Unlike us they are not going to hand over any more than the US took in the nineties. And it doesn’t make any difference who is President there, Putin is probably the most patient and cautious of any likely alternative.
            D J S

  8. Eventually mobilisation will be meaningless as Russia runs out of equipment to mobilise with. The US have demonstrated a master class in geopolitical strategy by enticing Russia into this war.
    Like Ali vs Foreman the dope has been roped.

      • Firstly, the long term damage to Russia’s economy will far exceed the short and medium term to Europe’s economy.
        Secondly, the deaths if hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian and Russian soldiers as well as the butt fucking of the European economies is a price that the US will happily pay.
        In fact, the US elites are very comfortable in their own people being homeless as a consequence of this.
        The only reason they aren’t happy to send their own troops to die is because it would be very unpopular at home meaning that the sheeple might look up plus it would risk an actual war with Russia rather than a simple proxy war.

          • Do you get these figures from the same book that you told me had the true fact re the bomb on Japan. My information says 50 000 Russian dead that is why the need the reserve force if the can find 300000 young men left in Russia

  9. Yeah who does strongman Putin think he is pushing back on Western aggression on the Russian border. I’m just going to throw this one out there, but I reckon that if the Donbass votes to join Russia then Russia will not bomb the Donbass people like the Ukranian government does. You know, murder their own people with weapons from NATO, the EU, America and the West.

  10. Well you can’t win on this blog by the looks of it Ben. The Vlad fan club seems to consist of InfoWar types who cannot accept that the western media is anything other than a pawn in a giant game of misinformation and that the truth is the Russian’s have the war almost won. That will be why the borders out-of the country are so busy. Everyone’s off on holiday to celebrate. If you could just do a little more “research” and let us know ” The Real Truth” it would be much appreciated.

      • True – but that said, the constant dripping of obviously biased propaganda in our Western media is enough to set anyone’s crap-detector ringing madly.

        • ‘Obviously biased Western media’ – I take issue with that. If you are talking about English, European tabloids yes but not broadsheet papers such as the Guardian, NYT, The Times, and broadcasters BBC, CNN, ABC etc. You are going to tell me that the bias is ‘obvious’ but it is not obvious at all. All those trendy ‘news’ sites such as ‘Information Clearing House’ and the ‘Moon over Alabama’ are mostly fake news sites which attempt to match their readers’ confirmation bias. And they are run on a shoestring. The news media shouldn’t be telling you what you want to hear. Just facts.

          • Facts?? Some days ago our tabloid NZ Media printed stories about bodies being dug up with rope nooses tied around their necks. Hours later that ‘story’ had been taken down from the original Ukrainian source – too obviously false and unverifiable.
            Did we see one retraction in our NZ media? No, straight on to yet more stories about the evil Russians. My error was writing ‘our Western Media’ when I had NZ in mind.
            Sorry, but few Kiwis refer to the Guardian, etc – and even they are biased in the eyes of many.

  11. Ben Morgan ‘Russia is not a modern nation state. Instead, it is a strange feudal kingdom ruled by a small group of siloviki, powerful strongmen mostly recruited from the former KGB, they became powerful and rich using their connections and knowledge to carve out fiefdoms within Putin’s Russia. Some estimates, say that a small group of men, only about 150 run modern Russia. Putin relies on them and demands their loyalty like a feudal lord.’

    Got proof?

    • Worth a read

      “This finding suggests that the number of people with real power may be even smaller than the sixty people represented in the data set, as only the second group has lasting influence at the highest levels. It also suggests that the members of the elite who were displaced in the government turnover of January 2020 will have different fates. People who have close ties to Putin, such as Dmitry Medvedev, will remain influential, while those who have had power because of their roles in government, such as Surkov, are likely to disappear. ”

      https://www.marshallcenter.org/en/publications/security-insights/political-elite-under-putin-0

      • Apply the Sir Humphrey test,
        The George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies is one of six United States Department of Defense Regional Centers, and the only bilateral Center—a partnership between the United States Department of Defense (DoD) and the German Federal Ministry of Defense (FMoD).
        They would say that.

      • That not proof you banderite troll that his opinion like most of the shit he writes about Ukraine, Russia ‘Special Military Operation’ that gonna escalate and Russia will prevail like in Syria, watch this space!

        • Russia has not prevailed in Syria. Idlib still hangs on despite massive Russian aerial bombardment.

          https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/three-years-russian-air-strikes-syria-kill-18000-people-monitor

          Despite what you claim Stephen, Russia has not only not prevailed in Syria, Russia will never prevail in Syria.
          Even if Putin dropped nuclear bombs on Ukraine. Even if Putin conducted mass genocide against the people of Ukraine on the same industrial scale as the Assad regime has on the Syrian people, Russia will still not be able to defeat Ukraine.
          When a huge powerful invading army becomes bogged down in a smaller weaker country.
          It’s called a quagmire.
          And I will tell you why;
          It’s the lesson the French learnt in Vietnam and the Americans learnt in Vietnam. It is the same lesson that the USSR learnt in Afghanistan, and Americans also learnt in Afghanistan.
          The lesson was this:
          An insurgent population will not stop fighting even to their last breath, not until the invader is driven out of their land. Even if the war lasts years or even decades, even if the EU signs a separate peace with Russia t keep the gas flowing. Even if Ukraine was abandoned by its Western allies. Ukraine will still prevail.

  12. The Russian shills on the responses really need to work on their English sentence structure and grammar. It becomes a bit hard to read their stream-of-consciousness propaganda with missing definite and indefinite articles and qualifiers, though it can be amusing to read these in a SMERSH-like accent.

  13. This is Generall SVR’s take:
    Дорогие подписчики и гости канала! Мобилизация, объявленная президентом России Владимиром Путиным, только началась, а он уже не доволен тем как идет процесс. Президенту сообщают о многочисленных проблемах, возникших в ходе реализации указа о мобилизации, большом количестве пытающихся уклониться от мобилизации, массовом исходе мужчин призывного возраста за рубеж и резком падении уровня доверия президенту (опрос ФСО). На этом фоне во время закрытой части совещания с постоянными членами Совета Безопасности РФ в узком составе Путин заявил о необходимости введения военного положения как минимум в ряде приграничных областей и запрет на выезд из страны мужчин призывного возраста. Путин сказал, что определится с датой в ближайшее время.
    Dear subscribers and guests of the channel! The mobilization announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin has just begun, and he is no longer satisfied with the way the process is going. The President is informed about the numerous problems that arose during the implementation of the decree on mobilization, the large number of people trying to evade mobilization, the mass exodus of men of military age abroad and a sharp drop in the level of confidence in the president (FSO survey). Against this background, during the closed part of the meeting with the permanent members of the Security Council of the Russian Federation in narrow format, Putin announced the need to introduce martial law in at least a number of border areas and a ban on military-age men leaving the country. Putin said that he would decide on the date in the near future.

  14. The cartel of oligarch’s have stolen much of the wealth producing parts of the Russian economy – much of this dirty money has been transferred to western banks to be cleaned and used to contaminate the west.
    The city of London is embarrassed at the extent to which they have enabled this to happen.
    The relative poverty of russians outside the major cities has seen russian troops in Ukraine engaging in wholesale theft and shipping of quality goods back home to villages that have never had the luxuries they find. On paper russians have a higher standard of living but in Ukraine it is more equitably distributed.

    https://www.ibtimes.com.au/putin-oligarchs-may-have-stolen-1-trillion-russian-people-browden-1809594

  15. Thanks for your specific insights. Versus the many nitwits here.

    He’s a cornered beast. What will he do and what will his ‘nobility’ do?

    Russia is a sad case at the end of time. Mainly because we put the medium term before the long term from nineteen eighty on. The rich don’t know their arses from their anuses.

    Back to the main point, what will the cornered beast try to do and what can he do? Let the creature keep his his two thousand and fourteen steals. And then see the Russians consume him alive. I just don’t feel he in any real way is different to Hitler backed into a corner. Give him a nothing, for the planet.

  16. I think our Stalinist trolls need to read the literature on the history and politics of Russia and Ukraine as their basic knowledge is woefully inadequate. Accordingly I will draw up a reading list for them out of the goodness of my heart.
    Start with: Riasanovsky: A History of Russia and Orlando Figes: The Story of Russia also Norman Davies: God’s Playground, A History of Poland.

  17. Very Banderite type comment Cantab (PhD). Don’t you think you should use your academic training to be more accurate in labelling. I grew up having read Solzenitsyn with a total loathing of Stalinism. So am I a Stalinism troll? Are you a Banderite?

    • Actually Nick J I wasn’t referring to you. I am no more a Banderite than you are a Stalinist. It is our other ‘friends’ I am referring to.

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