Try not to look at the radioactive flash that precedes the mushroom cloud

Ukraine

If Russia attacks a military base (the International Centre for Peacekeeping and Security near Lviv, also near Poland) that Russia claims is a North Atlantic Treaty Organization base, whether or not it is in fact a NATO base,[1] is it in fact an attack on NATO?

The attack on the base is highly significant for a number of reasons. Long viewed with suspicion by Russia – whose media has claimed falsely in that the past the facility was a secret Nato base in Ukraine – the proximity, so close to the Polish border, marks a sharp escalation in the scope of Russian airstrikes.[2]

For now, I guess, but only for now, the answer has to be no, not quite. But it’s a nuanced ‘no,’ rather a warning shot, that signals Vladimir Putin’s willingness to expand the war beyond Ukraine and against NATO, even as it seems unlikely he can truly prevail in Ukraine.[3]

I get that Stephen Kotkin resists aspersions on Putin’s sanity—Kotkin does so for good reason, really I think much the same reason I resisted treating conservatives as mentally disordered in my dissertation[4]—but Putin’s apparent willingness to widen the war is inescapably madness.

That said, just as Putin is deluded, so increasingly it appears are NATO leaders refusing even the no-fly zone in what increasingly appears to be the vain hope of containing this war to Ukraine.[5] As I previously explained,

Fundamentally, imperialist logic exists on a slippery slope. There is always a necessity, indeed, an existential necessity, to expand; such is, in fact, intrinsic to our system of social organization and a fundamental reason it is unsustainable, for at some point, even after all the wars of expansion that can be fought have been fought, there is nothing on earth left to expand into.[6][7]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky seems increasingly likely to have been right when he warned that this war might not be containable to Ukraine.[8] Putin will lose. One way or another, he will lose.[9] But just as surely as we all lose with the climate crisis that we seem incapable of addressing substantively, we will also lose with a nuclear war, which this wider war would surely become, that seems increasingly impossible to avoid.

Luke Harding, Peter Beaumont, and Lorenzo Tondo, “Russia missile strike on Ukraine base close to Polish border kills 35, governor says,” Guardian, March 13, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/13/russia-widens-attacks-on-ukraine-with-missile-strike-on-base-close-to-polish-border

Richard Spencer, “Putin wipes out entire Ukrainian city of Volnovakha,” Times, March 13, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/putin-wipes-out-entire-ukrainian-city-of-volnovakha-b28k0lwh7


  1. [1]Luke Harding, Peter Beaumont, and Lorenzo Tondo, “Russia missile strike on Ukraine base close to Polish border kills 35, governor says,” Guardian, March 13, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/13/russia-widens-attacks-on-ukraine-with-missile-strike-on-base-close-to-polish-border
  2. [2]Luke Harding, Peter Beaumont, and Lorenzo Tondo, “Russia missile strike on Ukraine base close to Polish border kills 35, governor says,” Guardian, March 13, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/13/russia-widens-attacks-on-ukraine-with-missile-strike-on-base-close-to-polish-border
  3. [3]Julian Borger and Angelique Chrisafis, “Decision to invade Ukraine raises questions over Putin’s ‘sense of reality,’” Guardian, February 24, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/24/putin-russian-president-ukraine-invasion-mental-fitness; Eric Levitz, “Ukraine Is a War Without Endgame,” New York, March 11, 2022, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/03/ukraine-is-a-war-without-endgame.html; Andrew Nikiforuk, “Can Ukraine Win?” Tyee, March 7, 2022, https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2022/03/07/Can-Ukraine-Win/
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  5. [5]Simon Lewis and Sabine Siebold, “NATO rejects Ukraine no-fly zone, says ‘not part of this’ war,” Reuters, March 4, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/business/aerospace-defense/nato-meets-ukraine-calls-no-fly-zone-hinder-russia-2022-03-04/
  6. [6]John H. Bodley, Victims of Progress, 5th ed. (Lanham, MD: AltaMira, 2008).
  7. [7]David Benfell, “Where does Vladimir Putin stop?” Not Housebroken, March 13, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/03/04/where-does-vladimir-putin-stop/
  8. [8]Jake Epstein and John Haltiwanger, “Ukraine’s president warns a Russian invasion would spark a ‘fully-fledged’ European war,” Business Insider, February 1, 2022, https://www.businessinsider.com/ukraine-president-warns-russia-invasion-could-spark-european-war-2022-2
  9. [9]Julian Borger and Angelique Chrisafis, “Decision to invade Ukraine raises questions over Putin’s ‘sense of reality,’” Guardian, February 24, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/24/putin-russian-president-ukraine-invasion-mental-fitness; Eric Levitz, “Ukraine Is a War Without Endgame,” New York, March 11, 2022, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/03/ukraine-is-a-war-without-endgame.html; Andrew Nikiforuk, “Can Ukraine Win?” Tyee, March 7, 2022, https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2022/03/07/Can-Ukraine-Win/

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