January 25, 2022

Amid surging tensions over Ukraine, the head of Germany’s navy had the courage to voice Europe’s fears over this totally unnecessary, contrived crisis.

In a speech to an Indian think tank, Vice-admiral Kay-Achim Schonbach proposed the Western powers ‘respect’ Russian leader Vladimir Putin and accept that Crimea would remain in Moscow’s hands.

The German admiral’s remarks produced a major uproar in Washington and tut tuts in Europe where hatred of Russia has become a state fetish. Most aggrieved were the British and Americans who deeply fear an alliance or at least entente between Germany and Russia that might undermine US domination of the continent.

Germany, Europe’s leading military force and mainstay of NATO, has hollowed out its military power. Thanks to unqualified female defense ministers, Germany’s armed forces have degenerated into parade troops. Armor and aircraft, once hallmarks of German military power, have become feeble toys, lacking in munitions, spare parts and capable crews.

Polls show Germans have very little interest in confronting Russia. Memories of World War II are still raw. Today’s Germans live in a nation that was 50% destroyed by US and British bombing. Millions of Germans come from families driven out of eastern Europe.

There is not a lot of sympathy for Ukraine’s current government that was installed by a US-financed and stage-managed coup in 2013-2014. Germany’s US-dominated media and government support Washington’s hard line on Ukraine but many ordinary Germans and French don’t agree.

America’s media and politicians strongly support the military confrontation with Russia, a low-cost way of being loudly patriotic without actually doing anything serious.

Only Poland, the Baltic states and American neocons really hunger for war – provided it is waged by the US. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, a rising star among the pro-war neocons, is pushing the confrontation with Russia – yet another bureaucrat with no military experience.

Military men quickly understand the logistic and climactic problems of fighting in the Black Sea region, but not Washington’s desk warriors and their European satraps. The US has been unwise to provoke a confrontation with Russia in its backyard. Though Russia has lost much of its Soviet-era military power, it would be a mistake to underestimate its combat capabilities and overestimate those of NATO.

Remember, Napoleon (who was seriously defeated in Russia) prayed ‘oh Lord, if I must go to war, please make it against a coalition.’

Washington’s sofa samurais are playing with fire. The neocons’ latest effort to overthrow President Putin risks backfiring badly by drawing China into the fray and undermining US domination of the continent. Let’s say US-led NATO forces thrash the 106,000 Russian troops around Ukraine’s borders. What then? An advance on Moscow? An assault on Crimea? Might Romania join the war to recover Moldova lost in WWII? Or tiny Finland? The Russians are unlikely to be quivering in their boots. Romanian troops, let’s recall, were defending the flank of Germany’s 6th Army at the Stalingrad disaster.

We are not going to see a rerun of the Great Northern War of the early 1700’s. What we are seeing is the re-birth of Russian power in its traditional sphere of influence. Admiral Schonbach is quite right. Russia will never relinquish Crimea any more than Germany would give over Hamburg or the US cede Baltimore to Cuban control.

Luckily for us, Russia is currently being run by hard men from the old KGB who are experienced and cautious. It is well that they are because Russia has thousands of nuclear weapons pointed at the US and its allies. No one in their right mind should contemplate a nuclear confrontation. Russia has repeatedly made clear that if backed into a corner, it may well use tactical nuclear weapons. China is coming around to the same thinking.

Beaten in Vietnam, Iraq and now Afghanistan, the US is seeking a cheap victory in Ukraine. But the northern rim of the Black Sea is not known for its low-hanging geopolitical fruit. And Russia always surprises.

Mr. Blinken, be cautious lest a hypersonic Russian missile comes flying through your office window.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2022

This post is in: Russia, Ukraine, USA


  1. It’s a sad life when Chinese state news sources are a more reliable source of truth, than your domestic news. Maybe the USA should have stopped handing out NATO membership cards to Russia’s next door neighbours and let sleeping bears lay.

  2. As usual Eric is right. This is a US driven conflict that started with the US backed coup d’etat in 2014. Crimea and the Donbas refused to acknowledge the coup d’etat and the new government. Crimea broke away before Ukraine could do anything but Ukraine invaded Donbas to keep them in line. That didn’t work. Eastern Ukraine (largely Russian speaking and ethnic Russians) or a chunk of it anyway should have been a separate country from the get go. Ukraine won’t follow the Minsk agreement that would give the Donbas autonomy.

  3. Joe from Canada says:

    Again, thank you, Mr. Margolis.

    Normally, I am in 100% agreement with this writer, but challenge this:
    “Thanks to unqualified female defense ministers, Germany’s armed forces have degenerated into parade troops.”

    Which is it: “degenerated”….or risen from the rubble?

    As the writer points out, excessive testosterone is the root cause of the problem, on the world stage, from Taliban to Putin to Trump. It evolves from the unthinking, endless military displays in sports arenas, flyovers at NASCAR and Super Bowls, and (former) presidential bragging about sexual exploits. Chest thumping.

    We do need more gray matter than testosterone in international affairs. Let women lead the way.

    Germany and, long ago, tiny Costa Rica rose above their peers by turning away from militarism.

  4. Elementary Game Theory would suggest thatif two opposing factions, before direct confrontation: 1) Strengthen the home front; 2) Attempt to weaken the oppositions home base; 3) Strengthen one’s own allies, & 3) Seek to undermine the oppsoition’s allies. The US is divided by Fox News; Nato is not exactly gung ho to hundreds of thousands of refugess seeking asylum into European borders or wanting to bargain for more expensive gas. Meanwhile, Putin is ever popular for defending the borders of Mother Russia & is being driven into the arms of China. The USA struggles with stating : 1) a clearly defined objective, 2) creating a coalition of the willing, internally or foreign, and 3) most in the US won’t pay the price for any war and China won’t unless interest rates go through the roof. All Putin has to do is to contribuite to a Trump Campaign, a plus without a shot fired.

  5. Eastern Rebellion says:

    I would respectfully disagree with the author that any East European nation (particularly the Baltics) would welcome a war with Russia. The Baltic states would be overrun in a matter of days and occupied before the West could intervene. Any war would be fought over the territories of theses countries, leaving severe devastation in its wake. Finland fought the USSR twice, and was the only country at war with it (excluding Italy and Japan) that was not occupied by the Soviets after the conclusion of WW2. That is a testament to the tenacity and toughness of the Finns, perhaps the hardiest soldiers of Europe. As I have stated previously, this matter needs to be resolved diplomatically. IMHO, the US is in no state to fight a first class opponent right now. The political unrest over the last several years in America has destablized it domestically and the stresses of a war with severe casualties could create serious internal problems.

  6. One of the most terrifying aspects of this is seeing what passes for liberals in America screaming for war and right wingers like Tucker Carlson and Fox News are telling the truth and warning against war with Russia and even siding with them. But then 96% of the media is owned by the war industry. Thank you Mr Reagan.

  7. I understand the reason Crimea left the Ukraine was that the government was corrupt and the residents of Crimea were ‘fed up’ with it. Crimea is a very strategic country for Russia, and one that they will not relinquish. Russia will hold on to it, even if it comes to war.
    The people of Crimea should approach the UN to declare themselves as a separate country like was done in the Sudan when it came to separating for ‘oil reasons’. Russia and the rest of Europe should be pressing for that type of solution.
    The Americans would be unhappy about this peaceful approach.
    Once ‘legally’ freed, the Crimeans could join Russia which I suspect they would.
    When I hear news reports of the Russians transgressing I don’t know if this is Eastern Ukraine or Crimea, thinking that Ukrainians, in power, think that Crimea is still part of the Ukraine. I think the Americans would resist a UN approach.
    It’s only of late that I’ve realised that many democratic countries are not democracies, but are Oligarchies, run by a few select rich. This may have been ‘for ever’, but has really come to the forefront in the last several decades. The epitome example of this is the Americans. I suspect their constitution and amendments are simply window dressing to be played with to give the people the idea they are free.
    America has been lucky in past that wars have been fought in Europe, Asia and Africa, not on the American continent. Things may not be so fortunate if another ‘skirmish’ ensues. Major American cities are at stake. No one wants a war except for the American neocons. We’ll have to wait to see how this plays out. Putin is a tested and worthy opponent, and will not be a ‘push over’. He’s fiercely nationalistic and his country is at stake.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.