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Lews
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Registered: Feb 2007
Location: Hugging Whales And Saving Trees

quote:
Originally posted by SYSTEM-J
There will be no direct conflict between NATO and Russia, that much is clear. The risk of escalation is far too high. So any NATO intervention in Ukraine will be along the same lines we're already seeing from member states through other channels. However, that doesn't mean Putin can throw everything he has at Ukraine with impunity. He has a lot of borders to protect.


After the past week or so, I'm not feeling very confident about any statements involving Putin and what he clearly will or won't do anymore. Everyone discounted the US intel saying Putin would invade Ukraine after the Olympics were over and that proved to be a 100% accurate forecast.

quote:
Originally posted by SYSTEM-J
I understand your worries but I think the risk to Finland is relatively low at this stage...


I obviously very much respect your judgment, Jack, but I think it's difficult for British people to understand the fear of the Russian military that most of the rest of Europe has (especially those on the Eastern side). Besides the whole Great Game, the only real war that comes quickly to mind between Britain and Russia is Crimea. Britain is one of the only countries in Europe in which the Russian hordes were never rampaging about.

quote:
Originally posted by SYSTEM-J
1. It's already looking like occupying and holding Ukraine is going to be much harder than Russia perhaps anticipated, which means it could become a major drain on their military resources. I don't see them extending their front to another country.

2. Maybe I'm only reading biased western media, but I've read a lot of stuff about how the economic sanctions on Russia have hit them harder than, again, Putin might have anticipated. Whatever the outcome of the ground war in Ukraine, it's already looking like an extremely costly invasion for them, which also makes it less likely they'll be keen for a repeat.


It's really, really difficult to know what is actually going on in Ukraine and Russia (Ukraine's PsyOps and propaganda machine have been incredible), but it definitely seems that invading Ukraine and avoiding the sanctions has been much, much more difficult for Russia than anyone anticipated. Well done to all involved, in my opinion.

quote:
Originally posted by SYSTEM-J
As always, history has the ability to make fools of us all, but the early signs are that this war is going to turn into a quagmire for Russia. It doesn't look like the start of an era of triumphant expansionism for them.


Agreed. Looks like Putin made a catastrophic mistake.


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Old Post Mar-03-2022 20:46 
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JEO
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Registered: Jan 2010
Location: ATH

quote:
Originally posted by SYSTEM-J
1. It's already looking like occupying and holding Ukraine is going to be much harder than Russia perhaps anticipated, which means it could become a major drain on their military resources. I don't see them extending their front to another country.


I've learnt to see Russia as an opportunist rather than a goal-oriented and rational actor, so to me there's simply no telling what they'll do next, unless there's an obvious weakness somewhere to be exploited. The whole Lenin's bayonet thing. It might be that Putin's generals oversold him the idea of Ukraine being an easy target – that the bayonet would hit something soft, so to speak. Maybe Ukraine will simply turn out to be a mistake for him, he'll retreat, and there'll be a small frozen conflict left in Ukraine.

However, there is an opportunity that's been waiting for him for two decades, and now that he's shown his appetite, I see big potential for the conflict to shift from Ukraine to the Baltic Sea area. Not necessarily soon, but in the coming few years.

I don't think they've publicly said anything about invading or not invading Finland and/or Sweden. It's unclear whether the "Don't believe anything until the Kremlin denies it" rule applies to lies by omission. I hope not.

quote:
Originally posted by SYSTEM-J
2. Maybe I'm only reading biased western media, but I've read a lot of stuff about how the economic sanctions on Russia have hit them harder than, again, Putin might have anticipated. Whatever the outcome of the ground war in Ukraine, it's already looking like an extremely costly invasion for them, which also makes it less likely they'll be keen for a repeat.


I think the sanctions really have hit the people and companies of Russia quite hard, and letting it affect his decisions regarding the war would make sense if he was acting rationally. It's just that they've learned to live with sanctions before (like they had any other choice), and somewhat pessimistically I believe the people will learn to live with the new ones too, and with minimal unrest.

I think he believes these few coming years to be his last chance to ensure he'll be a Russian hero in Russian history books. He's getting old and might even have an illness that has prompted him to do this. In my opinion the probability of him calling it a day after possibly accepting a defeat in Ukraine is close to zero. When desperation hits after a defeat in Ukraine, he's going to be even more unpredictable, I fear.

No one outside Kremlin really knows what's going on in there. No one even knows if it's Putin alone making these decisions or whether there's a bigger group of people behind him. If he's making all the decisions himself and he's delusional, there is no way to tell where this is going. The way I see it, logic and rationality have little to do with it. It chills me that some Finnish politicians are still repeating the mantra that there's no direct threat to Finland right now, and that there's no reason for Putin to invade Finland. The only reason this man needs is that he wants it. He's justifying the war to Russians in such absurd arguments that really anything goes, and time and time again we Westerners are somehow surprised by the things Russia does. I saw the first missile hit Ukraine on a live feed last week. Eight hours prior people still saw an attack unlikely, almost completely out of the question, and that the 150 000+ troops on Ukraine's borders were mere bravado.

Just to highlight the second biggest problem we have with Russia: does anyone know whether the majority of Russians approve of the war in Ukraine? I don't, and none of our politicians know. Any official figures coming out of Russia are and have always been outright lies. Their whole concept of truth in Russia is very unfamiliar to people outside Russia. The direct translation of 'pravda' is 'truth', but many Russia experts say that to Russians it doesn't mean the opposite of a falsehood, but rather "a pursuit of harmony".

quote:
Originally posted by Lews
Everyone discounted the US intel saying Putin would invade Ukraine after the Olympics were over and that proved to be a 100% accurate forecast.


Not everyone. Marco Rubio's Twitter account has basically become a way to see into the future regarding this conflict. I'd even go so far as to speculate that the intel the US gave away earlier that "wasn't correct", initially was correct, and it did exactly what it was supposed to: took away a big enough part of the element of surprise, forcing Putin to delay.

Last edited by JEO on Mar-03-2022 at 23:27

Old Post Mar-03-2022 22:52  Finland
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JEO
Supreme tranceaddict



Registered: Jan 2010
Location: ATH

Well.. Now there's a fire at Europe's largest nuclear power plant from Russian shelling. Someone wake me up.

Old Post Mar-04-2022 02:09  Finland
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Old Post Mar-04-2022 14:22 
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Lews
Platipus And Prog Addict



Registered: Feb 2007
Location: Hugging Whales And Saving Trees

quote:
Originally posted by JEO
I've learnt to see Russia as an opportunist rather than a goal-oriented and rational actor, so to me there's simply no telling what they'll do next, unless there's an obvious weakness somewhere to be exploited. The whole Lenin's bayonet thing. It might be that Putin's generals oversold him the idea of Ukraine being an easy target – that the bayonet would hit something soft, so to speak. Maybe Ukraine will simply turn out to be a mistake for him, he'll retreat, and there'll be a small frozen conflict left in Ukraine.


I'd be careful with statements like this. Just because we don't understand their rationality does not mean that it does not exist. And Putin is certainly goal oriented - but unfortunately we don't quite understand his goals.

quote:
Originally posted by JEO
However, there is an opportunity that's been waiting for him for two decades, and now that he's shown his appetite, I see big potential for the conflict to shift from Ukraine to the Baltic Sea area. Not necessarily soon, but in the coming few years.

I don't think they've publicly said anything about invading or not invading Finland and/or Sweden. It's unclear whether the "Don't believe anything until the Kremlin denies it" rule applies to lies by omission. I hope not.


If reports from Ukraine are remotely accurate, it seems unlikely Russia will be able to pivot to the Baltics anytime soon. The amount of materiel they are losing appears to be astounding. Their army is also, it appears, kinda shit?

quote:
Originally posted by JEO
I think the sanctions really have hit the people and companies of Russia quite hard, and letting it affect his decisions regarding the war would make sense if he was acting rationally. It's just that they've learned to live with sanctions before (like they had any other choice), and somewhat pessimistically I believe the people will learn to live with the new ones too, and with minimal unrest.


I dunno about them living with these sanctions. I don't think the world has ever imposed sanctions this severe on anyone except North Korea, and they never have had access to the developed world and our products the way Russians have. We're cutting them off from everything they've gained the last 30 years. It's going to be pretty miserable there very soon. Not just no Nike/Adidas, but no Microsoft Azure, no Google Search, no Visa, no Mastercard, etc etc.

quote:
Originally posted by JEO
I think he believes these few coming years to be his last chance to ensure he'll be a Russian hero in Russian history books. He's getting old and might even have an illness that has prompted him to do this. In my opinion the probability of him calling it a day after possibly accepting a defeat in Ukraine is close to zero. When desperation hits after a defeat in Ukraine, he's going to be even more unpredictable, I fear.


He's never going to be a hero in the history books. He had an opportunity, in like 2000-2005 or whatever, but now he's just damaged the country, perhaps permanently.

quote:
Originally posted by JEO
Not everyone. Marco Rubio's Twitter account has basically become a way to see into the future regarding this conflict. I'd even go so far as to speculate that the intel the US gave away earlier that "wasn't correct", initially was correct, and it did exactly what it was supposed to: took away a big enough part of the element of surprise, forcing Putin to delay.


Well, yeah, obviously not everyone

Personally, I've made an absolute killing the past two months, by betting big on oil and gas, especially on companies with no Russia exposure.

quote:
Originally posted by Lira
Reminds me of something a very good Ukrainian friend of mine told me: even as her dad and friends were under fire in Kyiv, they couldn't believe it was really happening, because it was completely off their radar (despite the frozen conflict since 2014). I remember reading back in early February that, according to a survey by a Foreign Policy author, 61% of Russia experts thought there'd be an invasion - so even 39% of people whose job it is to understand the inner workings of the Kremlin failed to see it coming.

Even Russians seem to be dumbstruck by this advance, so it's no wonder the general public seems to have fallen for the Kremlin version of the conflict hook, line and sinker. Hell, most Brazilians I know seem to be pro-Russia (this is just an impression, I wish there was a poll to prove me wrong though).


Hope springs eternal


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Old Post Mar-06-2022 02:00 
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SYSTEM-J
IDKFA.



Registered: Sep 2003
Location: Manchester

quote:
Originally posted by Lews
I obviously very much respect your judgment, Jack, but I think it's difficult for British people to understand the fear of the Russian military that most of the rest of Europe has (especially those on the Eastern side).


I did go out with a Polish girl for eight years, remember? I think I have a decent idea.

And yes, the reports of just how pitiful the Russian military are performing only strengthen my earlier sentiment. Russia simply does not have the military capability to occupy and hold numerous resistant nations at once.


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Old Post Mar-06-2022 12:15  England
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JEO
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Registered: Jan 2010
Location: ATH

Just to clarify; my fear isn't really Russia invading Finland while they're still in Ukraine or them all of a sudden pivoting to the Baltic Sea region (region, not the Baltic states) while this conflict is ongoing, but afterwards, regardless of the outcome of the war in Ukraine.

If they magically do well after all, Putin will have gained at least some confidence to continue on to smaller targets. If they do badly, and if the proposed inner turmoil in Russia grows so bad that Putin feels threatened by it, he's going to try to take the focus out of it; meaning another special operation somewhere abroad, probably with a smaller target.

Right now, there's an online hybrid op going on in Finland where actual Russians living in Finland, and the St. Petersburg online brigade spread misinformation (well, mostly misinformation) about harassment and racism towards Russian-born immigrants in Finland. The same tactic they had in Ukraine. I know full well that we aren't exactly welcoming to Russian immigrants, but the problem isn't that big. I've known many enough old Russians to know that especially the older ones are still under Putin's spell somehow, and it's really hard to try and stay non-hostile towards someone who openly, in Finland, says Finland is on borrowed time, and that the area belongs to Russia anyway.

I really would love it that their relative defeat in Ukraine be so massive that they decide to take it easy for a decade or two, and that Putin is brought to Haag, served tea, or something else, but that's only something I'd love to be able to believe, not something I see happening. I think Putin's all-in now, no matter how it goes.

I think you two are being a bit too hopeful about it, but I hope you're right

They've also reformed much of their military in a short timespan before, after their humiliating half-success in the Winter War, so I'm not going to say their current problems in Ukraine are any indicator of what they're capable of in a few years. That would be a dangerous mistake to make. Believing that the seemingly hapless giant poses no actual threat to its close neighbours is something Sweden would probably want to undo completely.

And please bear in mind that it's somewhat difficult for me to stay very objective in a situation like this. Being wary of Russia and anticipating their aggression is very much the default mindset for anyone living next to them. Ask the Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians.. But first make sure the person you're asking doesn't speak Russian.

Old Post Mar-06-2022 14:13  Finland
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SYSTEM-J
IDKFA.



Registered: Sep 2003
Location: Manchester

quote:
Originally posted by JEO
They've also reformed much of their military in a short timespan before


That takes money though. One of the reasons Russia's military is historically shitty right now is the collapse of the value of the rouble after the 2014 Crimea operation. Their current defence budget is similar to the UK's, which would have been unimaginable during the Cold War, and the heavy economic sanctions are going to hit them even harder in this respect.

quote:
If they magically do well after all, Putin will have gained at least some confidence to continue on to smaller targets. If they do badly, and if the proposed inner turmoil in Russia grows so bad that Putin feels threatened by it, he's going to try to take the focus out of it; meaning another special operation somewhere abroad, probably with a smaller target.


Most likely, they get drawn into a costly war of attrition in Ukraine where even if they "do well" (occupy the whole country) they have to keep a hefty garrison across the whole nation to suppress the inevitable insurgency and guerrilla warfare. And if they perform so poorly they have to abandon the whole invasion quickly (which doesn't look likely given Putin's ruthless bloody-mindedness), the operational effectiveness of their military to carry out a full scale invasion has basically been debunked. I just don't see any outcome where they settle the Ukraine issue quickly enough to rebuild and go again at a second country.

In the meantime, Finland would do well to get its NATO application form posted off as quickly as possible.

Also: is it worth us shifting all of this to a dedicated Ukraine thread, so people talking about Friday drinks and house buying aren't interposed with discussion of defence budgets?


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Old Post Mar-06-2022 15:29  England
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Lira
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Registered: Nov 2001
Location: Seoul, South Korea Originally from: Brasília, Brazil

quote:
Originally posted by SYSTEM-J
In the meantime, Finland would do well to get its NATO application form posted off as quickly as possible.

There's a reason they've refrained from sending the letter until now: this would eventually become a way to fight global warming with a nuclear winter.

In the short term (10 to 20 years), and if we assume this war will have disastrous consequences for the Russian economy, this means Finland would be protected against a weakened Russia. But, we have no idea who will replace Putin, and I'm afraid the sheer force of the recent sanctions might turn Putin's Russia into something akin to Kaiser Wilhelm II's Germany. That is, a very fertile ground for extremism.

NATO has been instrumental in keeping Europe relatively peaceful for quite a while, mostly because it kept absorbing threats. It's easy to forget the Treaty of Dunkirk meant to protect the UK and France from a possible German attack. Then West Germany joined. And then a unified Germany.

And then the weirdest thing happened: NATO, which was supposed to fend off the expansion of communism was joined by the countries from the former Warsaw Pact. The Soviet Union was no more, but the organisation kept growing until it reached Russia... and Putin was reportedly keen in joining. If I recall correctly, he had plans to turn it into an alliance against terrorism - which made a lot of sense in the beginning of the century.

As buffer states between NATO and Russia became less numerous, Russia felt more threatened (that's what buffer countries are for). Expanding NATO even further will only make Russia feel more threatened down the line, and there's no way of knowing how Putin's successor will tackle this problem (the ongoing war itself could hardly be predicted). And, if NATO decides to have Russia among its ranks, it'll be China's turn to feel threatened. And the cycle continues...

In short, expanding NATO will likely only worsen an already bad situation in the long run.


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Old Post Mar-08-2022 05:22  Brazil
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SYSTEM-J
IDKFA.



Registered: Sep 2003
Location: Manchester

There's not going to be a nuclear war and Russia is never going to invade a NATO member state. If it didn't happen between 1945 and 1990 it's not going to happen now. Using examples from the pre-nuclear age is pointless.


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Old Post Mar-08-2022 09:23  England
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JEO
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Location: ATH

quote:
Originally posted by Lira


Dude.. Man. I don't know if you're saying this just to provoke discussion or if you actually think like this, but if it's the latter, you may not know Russia and their reflexive control scheme, or are willingly doing what they want you to.

We've been running from the bully exactly because so many people bought Russia's intimidation and thought like you seem to, while NATO has been the "easy" answer all along. Russia being surrounded by NATO countries doesn't make Russia more, but less belligerent. The best time to surround them was when they were weaker militarily, but popular appeasers and former Stasi collaborators managed to keep NATO practically a non-option here. I dare say that if Finland made it to NATO 15 years ago, Russia's belligerence wouldn't be this extreme today.

The "buffer zone" thinking is not very popular in Finland at this point, and the option of trusting Russia was thrown out of the window overnight. Like our president said: the mask is off. There's no going back to buffer zones or "neutrality".

I've seen this idea of small countries next to Russia remaining buffer zones being thrown around in big countries like the USA, like it's the small nation's role somehow. I don't know whether this idea is seen as plausible because of their ignorance on how Russia is to their small neighbours if they bow down to Russia, or whether the people in small countries just don't matter to the big boys. We've been a buffer zone for decades, and if even one thing goes to plan, we're not going to be that again. We are joining NATO, period. I second that Russia would never attack a NATO country; that would be suicide. Like I've said, Putin and Russia go for weakness. The only debate left is whether we're joining during this conflict or after it, and I'd prefer we do it ASAP.

quote:
Originally posted by Lira
And, if NATO decides to have Russia among its ranks


What's the time scale you're operating on here? 200 years? I think the European blue-eyedness towards Russia is gone for at least 50 years, and the possibility of Russia joining anything West of it is pretty much zero for quite some time.

quote:
Originally posted by SYSTEM-J
In the meantime, Finland would do well to get its NATO application form posted off as quickly as possible.


The polls historically shifted in favor of NATO almost overnight, and the membership has now been brought to public discourse in a way I've never seen before. Two civil initiatives for NATO membership to be addressed in Parliament collected the needed 50 000 signatures in record time. "The train to NATO membership is now moving" and "we are going to be in NATO" were two phrases I heard being used last night in a semi-official context. I'm starting to get confident we'll be in NATO relatively soon.

quote:
Originally posted by Lira
In short, expanding NATO will likely only worsen an already bad situation in the long run.


Jesus, man!

Last edited by JEO on Mar-08-2022 at 12:18

Old Post Mar-08-2022 11:55  Finland
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Lira
Windowlickin' Good!



Registered: Nov 2001
Location: Seoul, South Korea Originally from: Brasília, Brazil

Thanks, Swampstah!
quote:
Originally posted by SYSTEM-J
There's not going to be a nuclear war and Russia is never going to invade a NATO member state.

All right, this is actually two entirely different claims, and I partially agree with the latter half for one simple reason: Russia wouldn't have to invade a NATO member state to invade Finland if they ever decide to join.

Since 2005, Russia has been known to destabilise and carve out buffer states in neighbouring countries with intensified NATO talks, prior to their entrance (that's how we ended up with Abkhazia, Donetsk, Luhansk, and South Ossetia after all), so the negotiations themselves would hang a bullseye on Finland's for a while. In a way, the Kremlin is already watching because it always has.

Now, regarding the nuclear strikes. I used a colourful hyperbole to drive my point home, as is my wont, but don't you reckon a blanket statement is a tad bit too strong? At this very moment, the use of any nuclear weapon is very unlikely, but remember "Russia won't invade Ukraine"? It wasn't an unreasonable position just a little over a fortnight ago (I myself thought it wasn't feasible until Putin's "Ukraine doesn't exist" speech), US Intel sounded nothing short of paranoid, and yet, here we are. The risk is definitely higher than zero, no need to push the envelope with a cavalier approach towards Russia.
quote:
Originally posted by SYSTEM-J
If it didn't happen between 1945 and 1990 it's not going to happen now. Using examples from the pre-nuclear age is pointless.

Good to know things don't ever happen for the first time

Anyway, that's not a very good comparison because it's a very different context: the Cold War slowly evolved after a number of years, with a gradual escalation between two former allies that eventually fell out, which gave both sides the possibility to develop checks to avoid an accidental clashes. This is not the case just yet.
quote:
Originally posted by JEO
Dude.. Man. I don't know if you're saying this just to provoke discussion or if you actually think like this, but if it's the latter, you may not know Russia and their reflexive control scheme, or are willingly doing what they want you to.

I'm not saying any of this to provoke a reaction or because I agree with Putin in anyway (there were plenty of diplomatic alternatives to waging war). I don't want to be the doomsayer because I realise this issue is literally closer to you than to either me or Jack. I only mentioned it to him because there have been calls against NATO expansion since the 90s (login to JSTOR required), and they have, for the most part, been quite prescient. Finland and Sweden joining NATO, just like Ukraine's no-fly zone, would be a great solution in isolation. Unfortunately, the devil is in the details, and we can't wish the Kremlin away.

Anyway, I'm not sure I want to push this argument any further, because I understand this isn't a theoretical issue, not one of us has enough clout in international politics to solve the problem, so revisiting this discussion might just be upsetting.


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Old Post Mar-12-2022 22:52  Brazil
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