March 1, 2022

Having been a soldier and correspondent in 14 wars, I’m trying to see through the inevitable fog of war that beclouds the current conflict in Ukraine.

This is no easy task. Moscow has done a poor job of explaining its position and scared the hell out of everyone with its nuclear alert.

Western media has championed the cause of Ukraine in a totally one-sided manner. So, we have plucky David v. evil Goliath. Never mind that civil war between Ukrainian nationalists, militant rightists and the Kiev regime has been flaring for 14 years.

Russia, which ruled Ukraine with a few pauses since the 1700’s, sought to rapidly overthrow the western-backed Ukrainian nationalist government in Kiev by launching what the French calls ‘un coup de main’, a lightening attack to seize Ukraine’s centers of power.

But this effort did not work out. Ukrainian government forces, secretly armed with the latest antitank and anti-aircraft weapons by the Western powers, blunted Moscow’s initial attacks. I strongly suspect the presence of US and/or British Special Forces. More heavy offensives appear to be on the way. An initial attack on the key port of Odessa quickly petered out.

Did the Russian soldiers lack enthusiasm? Hard to say at this point. Many were reportedly loathe to attack their Ukrainian ‘brothers.’ This conflict was not popular in Mother Russia.

We have not yet seen any eruption of ever-mighty Russian nationalism that was so powerful in World War II. Nor the pure racial-religious hatred seen in the crushing of Chechen independence in 1990. In that gruesome conflict, Russia destroyed the Chechen capitol and many towns across Chechnya. But the fierce Chechen were Muslims, not fellow Orthodox Slavs.

So far, Russian forces, whose doctrine calls for massive artillery use, have been sparing in their use of big guns and rocket batteries. Much more is very likely to come. The Russian Air Force and Black Sea Fleet have also been notably absent. Perhaps President Vladimir Putin has sought to keep the Ukraine conflict to a low-key punitive action.

But many other dangers are evident. Turkey says it will adhere to the important 1936 Montreux Convention that limits the entry of warships into the Black Sea. The US Navy plans a very aggressive campaign against Russia in the Black Sea – and around Vladivostok in the North Pacific. Will Turkey bar the US Navy from that inland sea?

Regarding the nuclear scare. President Putin has previously stated that because of Russia’s reductions in its conventional forces it would henceforth rely increasingly on tactical and strategic nuclear weapons. Anyone who attacked Russia could expect at least a limited nuclear riposte.

Western politicians have had a field day denouncing the ‘barbarity” (Boris Johnson’s words) of Russian attacks on Ukrainian civilian targets. This is shameless bunkum. British pilots and mechanics have kept the Saudi air forces pounding Yemen’s cities and villages. The US Air Force and Navy have destroyed many of Iraq, Libya’s and Syria’s urban areas, notably Falluja, Aleppo and Mosul. Israel’s US-supplied air force flattened parts of Gaza.

Our side is not without sin.

The western powers need to abate their righteous jeremiads against Russia and work to find a face-saving way for Russia out of this dangerous morass. France has made a good start. By contrast, Germany has again shown its total lack of independent policy.

As much as we feel sympathy for Ukraine, we must also remember that Russia remains a great power of sorts and needs to be shown a clear exit from this mess. America must not be carried away by glee at Russia’s discomfort and try to complete the destruction of the once mighty Soviet Union into an eastern Yugoslavia.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2022

This post is in: Russia, Ukraine


  1. oldcanuck says:

    James VI of Scotland became King James I of England. He Reigned over England. The fight between English Parliament and King James over who “ruled” England ended with his son Charles losing his head and his throne. Scotland never Ruled England. Did Russia ever rule Ukraine?

    Russia’s Tsars Reigned over Ukraine. Do we misunderstand your past writing seems to suggest that without Black Sea, Azov and Danubian Sich Cossacks that may not have happened? Did the USSR Communist Party really rule effectively over Ukraine before Khrushchev’s 1938 Stalinist Purges? Is not Putin’s conflation of the 1932 – 1933 ‎Soviet Famine and concurrent Ukrainian Holodomor with the 1938 Stalinist purges worthy of Tucker Carlson for imbicility? Is not Putin’s current Ukranian Imperial catastrope worthy of entry in the Imperial Overreach Hall of Fame along with Rome in the German Forests, Napoleon’s Retreat from Moscow, Britain’s 1842 retreat from Kabul and the USA at The Bay of Pigs / Viet Nam / Iraq / Afghanistan.

    Eric, bring back your Hallmark No Margolis apologia for British, American, or Soviet Brutal Imperial Disasters. Perhaps give a plausible roadmap for Putin to declare Victory and get out of Ukraine keeping his Moscow Throne? Would that not be true Margolis story? More improbable things have happened. Churchill came back after Gallipoli. Neocons love that tale. Is Putin really anything more than a Russian Neocon with Dreams of Empire ever floating before all he surveys?

  2. America has truly become a fascist state by shutting down RT almost the only news network inthe world not owned by the war industry

  3. Abraxas says:

    The war will end

    The leaders will shake hands

    The old woman will keep waiting

    for her martyred son.

    That girl will wait for her beloved husband

    and those children will wait

    for their heroic father

    I don’t know who sold our homeland

    but I know who paid the price.

  4. Is Russia even looking for a way out? I doubt it. Their losses are minimal from their point of view since anything short of debilitating casualties is of no concern for Russian commanders.
    Vlad has to go as this is his war and he will likely double down until it is won or he is replaced. Who are the leading candidates for Vlad’s job who have not gone full in with him on this invasion?

  5. tyrionlannister says:

    A few columns back Mr. Margolis commented that at least it was good that Russia was run by hard headed experienced former KGB men. Well, that went South pretty fast. It’s shocking that Putin could do something so criminally irresponsible. Worse than a crime, a blunder, as someone once said. Maybe someone in the the regime can still send Pooty-Poot out to pasture somehow (maybe Age is showing and the marble count is getting low) and then hit the negotiating table.
    One ray of intelligent sunshine came recently at the UN in a speech by Kenya’s envoy Martin Kimani, It’s going viral and it richly deserves to. Maybe the single most eloquent public statement on the crisis to date.

    • ” It’s shocking that Putin could do something so criminally irresponsible.”
      I’m not so sure it was criminally irresponsible… Kennedy was prepared to go to WWIII over the Cuba missile crisis. Putin was far more threatened and in a ‘real’ fashion.

  6. I should have added that restricting the economy of Russia may have some unintended consequenced. It was the stranglehold embargo that the US placed on Japan that likely let to the Pearl Harbor attack at the time of WWII.

  7. Joe from Canada says:

    Thank you for your continued objective analysis.
    As a hockey fan, I have often wondered about the fierce loyalty to “our side” that drives the home crowd into a raging fury at offences against the home team; yet laughs or shrugs amidst similar bashing of opponents.
    In one long past world tournament, ‘our guy’ deliberately slashed and broke a Russian star’s leg. That was OK, because he was bad, and the good guys won.
    All of that said, Russia’s behaviour in this situation is contemptible.
    Putin has ensured that he and Russia will be world pariahs for generations to come.

  8. The attack against the Ukraine wasn’t unpredictable. It was, however, surprising. There are several facets to this action that I’m aware of, and there may be many more. I think Putin may have handled this poorly. Putin should have had the regions declare themselves as independent ‘countries’ through proper channels as was done with the Sudan when oil interests thought this was the ‘right way’.
    The original satellite states of the USSR should have declared their neutrality when they left. This would have given Russia little concern about the countries along the border.
    I understand the original elected government was replaced in 2014 during what was referred to as the Euromaidan Revolution. I also understand that the Americans had some involvement in this overthrow. They replaced the democratically elected leader with a ‘bad actor’. I suspect they had some involvement in overturning the democratically elected leader in Egypt, too.
    NATO moved in to encourage them to be members. I had understood that one of Gorby’s conditions was that NATO not be involved. I don’t know if this was a verbal agreement or if it was in writing. If it was verbal, it should have written down, else parties will deny its existence.
    There’s lots of ‘fluff’ about them bombing civilian targets. This pales in comparison to the Americans bombing Bagdad. They also mention the use of vacuum bombs. I assume these are ‘fuel-air’ devices, where the detonation and combustion removes air from the area causing internal organ failure by ‘suction’. This is no different than the MOAB device that Trump unleashed on the Afghanis.
    Putin’s actions are no different than those taken by Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis. The US was threatened and Kennedy was prepared to unleash nuclear weapons.
    The hypocracy is numbing…

  9. McRocket 8 says:

    THANK YOU!!!
    Your insights are refreshing and appreciated.

  10. Eastern Rebellion says:

    Qualified professionals like John Mearsheimer and Stephen Catkin have warned about the potential of conflict in Ukraine. Too bad people didn’t listen. President Biden needs to be strong and insist on a diplomatic solution. Yes, Russia’s actions were unconscionable. However, cooler heads should be able to sort this out. Many of the imbeciles in the media will condemn any compromise as a “Munich”. What they have forgotten was that at the time, the Munich Agreement was seen as a prevention of another world war. I am not comparing Putin to Hitler, but I agree with Eric that a face-saving exit for Russia is necessary.

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