Escalation

Ukraine

As it emerges that Russia is using white phosphorus in civilian areas, a potential “game changer” for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization,[1] I have a new blog post entitled, “Nuclear survival.”

Updated: To summarize in Ukraine:

  1. Ukraine fights alone[2] against a numerically vastly superior Russian force invading the country that has nonetheless become bogged down in some, but not all, regions.[3]
  2. Reports of Russian atrocities and potential atrocities continue to mount.[4]
  3. Diplomatic and economic pressure against Russia are failing to diminish Vladimir Putin’s determination.[5] To the extent they work, economic sanctions increase the likelihood that Putin will resort to a nuclear attack,[6] but, in Russia’s case, state control means resilience,[7] making it unlikely that Putin will be dissuaded from his invasion anytime soon.
  4. There is no hope of a coup against Vladimir Putin.[8] If that assessment is wrong, then what little hope there is would be with the security services,[9] but they probably aren’t really smart enough to pull it off.[10]
  5. There is no hope of a popular uprising in Russia against Putin.[11]
  6. Nobody knows how this ends beyond a devastated Ukraine.[12]

Somebody will have to capitulate, because everyone has staked positions they say they will not back down from,[13] sooner or later. And right now, it looks like an extremely devastating later, with no assurance whatsoever in the meantime that Putin will not expand the war, no assurance that Putin will not launch nuclear weapons, including against North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries.[14] Even if you’re immorally willing to sacrifice Ukraine, I’m having a hard time seeing how this status quo isn’t foolhardy and reckless.

Tom Ball, “This war will be a total failure, FSB whistleblower says,” Times, March 7, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/this-war-will-be-a-total-failure-fsb-whistleblower-says-wl2gtdl9m

Martin Farrer, “Russia Ukraine war: what we know on day 13 of the Russian invasion,” Guardian, March 7, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/08/russia-ukraine-war-what-we-know-on-day-13-of-the-russian-invasion

Jesus Jiménez, “What Is NATO and Which Countries Are Members?” New York Times, March 7, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/article/what-is-nato.html

Jacob Judah, “Moldova braces for ‘spectrum of threats’ as Russia bids to seize south of Ukraine,” Telegraph, March 7, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/03/07/moldova-braced-spectrum-threats-russia-bids-seize-south-ukraine/

Yuras Karmanau, “Crisis deepens, Ukraine accuses Moscow of ‘medieval’ tactics,” Associated Press, March 7, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-kyiv-europe-evacuations-kharkiv-01693b3373cf8bcf2400ae29af992bbe

David Leonhardt, “Preventing This War,” New York Times, March 7, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/07/briefing/russia-ukraine-war-us-involvement.html

Robert Mendick and Dominic Nicholls, “Russian aircraft losses in Ukraine ‘unsustainable for more than a fortnight,’” Telegraph, March 7, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/03/07/russian-aircraft-losses-ukraine-unsustainable-fortnight/

David Moye, “Ukraine Expert Alexander Vindman Humiliates Marjorie Taylor Greene With Brutal Fact Check,” HuffPost, March 7, 2022, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/marjorie-taylor-greene-ukraine-alexander-vindman-twitter-fact-check_n_62263198e4b02186be2570f3

Andrew Nikiforuk, “Can Ukraine Win?” Tyee, March 7, 2022, https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2022/03/07/Can-Ukraine-Win/

Tina Nguyen, “The G.O.P.’s New Trump-Putin Headache,” Puck News, March 7, 2022, https://puck.news/the-g-o-p-s-new-trump-putin-headache/

Daphne Rousseau, “Ukraine parades Russian troops captured during invasion before cameras,” Times of Israel, March 7, 2022, https://www.timesofisrael.com/ukraine-parades-russian-troops-captured-during-invasion-before-cameras/

Jordan Michael Smith, “Would Putin Really Go Nuclear? Well …,” New Republic, March 7, 2022, https://newrepublic.com/article/165634/putin-nuclear-weapons-ukraine-us-response

Aaron Blake, “Tucker Carlson goes full blame-America on Russia’s Ukraine invasion,” Washington Post, March 8, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/03/08/tucker-carlson-goes-full-blame-america-russias-ukraine-invasion/

Kaitlan Collins et al., “Biden announces ban on Russian energy imports,” CNN, March 8, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/03/08/politics/russian-energy-import-ban/index.html

Anthony Faiola, “Through Putin’s looking glass: How the Russians are seeing — or not seeing — the war in Ukraine,” Washington Post, March 8, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/03/08/russian-media-state-television-ukraine/

Julia Ioffe, “The Death of Putin,” Puck News, March 8, 2022, https://puck.news/the-death-of-putin/

Yuras Karmanau, “People flee embattled Ukraine city, supplies head to another,” Associated Press, March 8, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-kyiv-europe-united-nations-evacuations-62fa232dcb9d6260fef0e9c7f5386f9a

Matthew Luxmoore, Drew Hinshaw, and Nancy A. Youssef, “NATO Members Mount Huge Operation to Resupply Ukrainian Fighters,” Wall Street Journal, March 8, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/nato-members-mount-huge-operation-to-resupply-ukrainian-fighters-11646761821

Paul Nuki, “Why Vladimir Putin may stay in power longer than we think,” Telegraph, March 8, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/03/08/vladimir-putin-may-stay-power-longer-think/

Matt Oliver, “West scrambles for alternatives to Russian oil and gas,7rdquo; Telegraph, March 8, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2022/03/08/inside-wests-battle-wean-russian-oil-gas/

Emily Rauhala, “E.U. presents plan to cut Russian gas imports by two-thirds this year, stops short of boycott,” Washington Post, March 8, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/03/08/eu-russian-gas/

Daniel Thomas & Michael Race, “War in Ukraine: Russia says it may cut gas supplies if oil ban goes ahead,” British Broadcasting Corporation, March 8, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/business-60656673

Agence France-Presse, “Chernobyl power supply cut but IAEA says ‘no critical impact on safety,’” Guardian, March 9, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/09/chernobyl-power-supply-cut-completely-after-russian-seizure-warns-ukaine

Samantha Lock and Maanvi Singh, “Russia-Ukraine war update: what we know on day 15 of the Russian invasion,” Guardian, March 9, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/10/russia-ukraine-war-update-what-we-know-on-day-15-of-the-russian-invasion

David L. Stern et al., “Russian airstrike hits maternity hospital, as officials warn of fast-rising civilian toll,” Washington Post, March 9, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/03/09/russian-airstrike-hospital/

Adela Suliman and David L. Stern, “Chernobyl plant disconnected from power grid; Ukraine demands cease-fire for urgent repairs,” Washington Post, March 9, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/03/09/chernobyl-ukraine-russia-iaea-nuclear-monitoring-lost/

Victoria Ward, “‘Atrocity’ as maternity hospital in besieged Mariupol destroyed by Russian air strikes,” Telegraph, March 9, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/03/09/childrens-hospital-mariupol-destroyed-russian-air-strikes/

Associated Press, “Russia built an economy like a fortress but the pain is real,” March 10, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-business-europe-global-trade-economy-cd99ba45b1e36bb2ab80574eeaa69e4c

Daniel Boffey, “Western Europe leaders rebuff Ukraine fast-track EU membership appeal,” Guardian, March 10, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/10/western-europe-leaders-rebuff-ukraine-fast-track-eu-membership-appeal

Vladislav Davidzon, “No Quiet Place Left on Earth,” Tablet, March 10, 2022, https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/no-quiet-place-left-on-earth

Steven L. Hall, “Putin doesn’t fear a coup by oligarchs. But he should fear his fellow spies,” Washington Post, March 10, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2022/03/10/putin-coup-russia-siloviki/

Julia Ioffe, “Inside Russia’s Media Black Hole,” Puck News, March 10, 2022, https://puck.news/inside-russias-media-black-hole/

Ashley Parker et al., “‘No off-ramps’: U.S. and European officials don’t see a clear endgame in Ukraine,” Washington Post, March 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/03/10/ukraine-end-game/

Pavel Polityuk and Tuvan Gumrukcu, “Ukraine says Russia snubs plea for humanitarian access to besieged civilians,” Reuters, March 10, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/ukraine-accuses-russia-genocide-after-bombing-childrens-hospital-2022-03-10/

Reuters, “Russia, Ukraine foreign ministers meet as war enters third week,” March 10, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/ukraine-accuses-russia-genocide-after-bombing-childrens-hospital-2022-03-10/

William Vaillancourt, “Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin Sets Hannity Straight on Russian Propaganda,” Daily Beast, March 10, 2022, https://www.thedailybeast.com/fox-news-jennifer-griffin-sets-hannity-straight-on-russian-propaganda

Kaitlan Collins et al., “Biden calls for suspending normal trade relations with Russia and will ban imports of vodka and seafood,” CNN, March 11, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/03/10/politics/russia-trade-status-us-g7-eu-biden/index.html

Nick Gutteridge, “Russia ‘stockpiling bodies of Ukrainian soldiers’ to use in ‘false flag’ attack on Chernobyl,” Telegraph, March 11, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/03/11/vladimir-putin-planning-terror-attack-releasing-radioactive/

David Horovitz, “What does Putin think he’s doing? An expert’s primer on why he invaded, what’s next,” Times of Israel, March 11, 2022, https://www.timesofisrael.com/what-does-putin-think-hes-doing-an-experts-primer-on-why-he-invaded-whats-next/

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

David Remnick, “The Weakness of the Despot,” New Yorker, March 11, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/stephen-kotkin-putin-russia-ukraine-stalin

Reuters, “UN rights office says it has credible reports of Russian cluster bomb use in Ukraine,” March 11, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/un-rights-office-has-credible-reports-russian-cluster-bomb-use-ukraine-2022-03-11/

David L. Stern et al., “Intelligence points to heightened risk of Russian chemical attack in Ukraine, officials say,” Washington Post, March 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/03/11/intelligence-russian-chemical-attack/

Maureen Dowd, “Zelensky Answers Hamlet,” New York Times, March 12, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/12/opinion/zelensky-ukraine-russia-biden.html

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

Jennifer Maloney, Emily Glazer, and Heather Haddon, “Russian Prosecutors Warn Western Companies of Arrests, Asset Seizures,” Wall Street Journal, March 13, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/russian-prosecutors-warn-western-companies-of-arrests-asset-seizures-11647206193

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

Edward Wong and Julian E. Barnes, “Russia Asked China for Military and Economic Aid for Ukraine War, U.S. Officials Say,” New York Times, March 13, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/13/us/politics/russia-china-ukraine.html

Henry Zeffman, “Russia ‘using banned white phosphorus bombs’ in attack on Ukrainian city,” Times, March 13, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/russia-using-banned-white-phosphorus-in-attack-on-ukrainian-city-nj3rq6mg6


  1. [1]Henry Zeffman, “Russia ‘using banned white phosphorus bombs’ in attack on Ukrainian city,” Times, March 13, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/russia-using-banned-white-phosphorus-in-attack-on-ukrainian-city-nj3rq6mg6
  2. [2]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/
  3. [3]Mark Galeotti, “How does Putin extract himself from this nightmare of his own making?” Times, March 5, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/how-does-putin-extract-himself-from-this-nightmare-of-his-own-making-v2ktvw08g; Dan Lamothe, Alex Horton, and Karoun Demirjian, “Ukraine’s military adapts tactics after enduring Russia’s initial invasion,” Washington Post, March 5, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/03/05/ukraine-military-strategy/; Eric Levitz, “Putin’s War Looks Increasingly Insane,” New York, March 4, 2022, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/03/putins-war-looks-increasingly-insane.html; Justin McCurry, Samantha Lock, and Luke Harding, “Russia targeting cities as strength of Ukraine’s resistance ‘continues to surprise’, UK says,” Guardian, March 6, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/06/biden-and-zelenskiy-discuss-more-aid-for-ukraine-as-russian-attacks-intensify; Ashley Parker et al., “‘No off-ramps’: U.S. and European officials don’t see a clear endgame in Ukraine,” Washington Post, March 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/03/10/ukraine-end-game/; David Remnick, “The Weakness of the Despot,” New Yorker, March 11, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/stephen-kotkin-putin-russia-ukraine-stalin
  4. [4]Agence France-Presse, “Chernobyl power supply cut but IAEA says ‘no critical impact on safety,’” Guardian, March 9, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/09/chernobyl-power-supply-cut-completely-after-russian-seizure-warns-ukaine; Nick Gutteridge, “Russia ‘stockpiling bodies of Ukrainian soldiers’ to use in ‘false flag’ attack on Chernobyl,” Telegraph, March 11, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/03/11/vladimir-putin-planning-terror-attack-releasing-radioactive/; Jim Heintz, Yuras Karmanau, and Mstyslav Chernov, “Fire out at key Ukraine nuclear plant, no radiation released,” Associated Press, March 4, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-volodymyr-zelenskyy-joe-biden-kyiv-business-33b6c1709dee937750f95c6786832840; Yuras Karmanau, “Crisis deepens, Ukraine accuses Moscow of ‘medieval’ tactics,” Associated Press, March 7, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-kyiv-europe-evacuations-kharkiv-01693b3373cf8bcf2400ae29af992bbe; James Kilner, “Russia ‘may be preparing to use chemical weapons in Ukraine,’” Telegraph, March 4, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/03/04/russia-may-ready-use-chemical-weapons-ukraine/; Justin McCurry, Samantha Lock, and Luke Harding, “Russia targeting cities as strength of Ukraine’s resistance ‘continues to surprise’, UK says,” Guardian, March 6, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/06/biden-and-zelenskiy-discuss-more-aid-for-ukraine-as-russian-attacks-intensify; Catherine Philp, Caroline Wheeler, and Matthew Campbell, “Merciless Vladimir Putin shells Ukrainian evacuees,” Times, March 6, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/merciless-vladimir-putin-shells-ukrainian-evacuees-s98r0j50x; Pavel Polityuk and Tuvan Gumrukcu, “Ukraine says Russia snubs plea for humanitarian access to besieged civilians,” Reuters, March 10, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/ukraine-accuses-russia-genocide-after-bombing-childrens-hospital-2022-03-10/; Reuters, “UN rights office says it has credible reports of Russian cluster bomb use in Ukraine,” March 11, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/un-rights-office-has-credible-reports-russian-cluster-bomb-use-ukraine-2022-03-11/; Jim Sleeper, “Too much reality: Putin’s Ukraine invasion summons Europe’s dark past,” Tikkun, March 2, 2022, https://www.tikkun.org/too-much-reality-putins-ukraine-invasion-summons-europes-dark-past/; Jordan Michael Smith, “Would Putin Really Go Nuclear? Well …,” New Republic, March 7, 2022, https://newrepublic.com/article/165634/putin-nuclear-weapons-ukraine-us-response; 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; David L. Stern et al., “Russian airstrike hits maternity hospital, as officials warn of fast-rising civilian toll,” Washington Post, March 9, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/03/09/russian-airstrike-hospital/; David L. Stern et al., “Intelligence points to heightened risk of Russian chemical attack in Ukraine, officials say,” Washington Post, March 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/03/11/intelligence-russian-chemical-attack/; Adela Suliman and David L. Stern, “Chernobyl plant disconnected from power grid; Ukraine demands cease-fire for urgent repairs,” Washington Post, March 9, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/03/09/chernobyl-ukraine-russia-iaea-nuclear-monitoring-lost/; Yaroslav Trofimov, “Ukraine, Russia Agreement on Evacuating Mariupol Civilians Collapses,” Wall Street Journal, March 5, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-and-russia-agree-to-open-corridors-for-civilians-to-evacuate-mariupol-11646470358; Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russian Artillery Kills Ukrainian Civilians Fleeing Kyiv Suburb,” Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/russian-artillery-kills-ukrainian-civilians-fleeing-kyiv-suburb-11646575238; Yaroslav Trofimov and Alan Cullison, “Ukraine Faces Fresh Wave of Attacks Focused on Population Centers,” Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-resumes-evacuation-attempts-as-russia-presses-offensive-11646564330; Victoria Ward, “‘Atrocity’ as maternity hospital in besieged Mariupol destroyed by Russian air strikes,” Telegraph, March 9, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/03/09/childrens-hospital-mariupol-destroyed-russian-air-strikes/; Robin Wright, “What Does Putin’s Nuclear Sabre Rattling Mean?” New Yorker, March 1, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/what-does-putins-nuclear-sabre-rattling-mean; Henry Zeffman, “Russia ‘using banned white phosphorus bombs’ in attack on Ukrainian city,” Times, March 13, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/russia-using-banned-white-phosphorus-in-attack-on-ukrainian-city-nj3rq6mg6
  5. [5]Ashley Parker et al., “‘No off-ramps’: U.S. and European officials don’t see a clear endgame in Ukraine,” Washington Post, March 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/03/10/ukraine-end-game/
  6. [6]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
  7. [7]Associated Press, “Russia built an economy like a fortress but the pain is real,” March 10, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-business-europe-global-trade-economy-cd99ba45b1e36bb2ab80574eeaa69e4c
  8. [8]Mark Galeotti, “How does Putin extract himself from this nightmare of his own making?” Times, March 5, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/how-does-putin-extract-himself-from-this-nightmare-of-his-own-making-v2ktvw08g; Julia Ioffe, “Europe’s 9/11,” Puck News, March 3, 2022, https://puck.news/europes-9-11/; Paul Nuki, “Why Vladimir Putin may stay in power longer than we think,” Telegraph, March 8, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/03/08/vladimir-putin-may-stay-power-longer-think/
  9. [9]Steven L. Hall, “Putin doesn’t fear a coup by oligarchs. But he should fear his fellow spies,” Washington Post, March 10, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2022/03/10/putin-coup-russia-siloviki/
  10. [10]David Remnick, “The Weakness of the Despot,” New Yorker, March 11, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/stephen-kotkin-putin-russia-ukraine-stalin
  11. [11]Julia Ioffe, “Inside Russia’s Media Black Hole,” Puck News, March 10, 2022, https://puck.news/inside-russias-media-black-hole/
  12. [12]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; Ashley Parker et al., “‘No off-ramps’: U.S. and European officials don’t see a clear endgame in Ukraine,” Washington Post, March 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/03/10/ukraine-end-game/
  13. [13]Ashley Parker et al., “‘No off-ramps’: U.S. and European officials don’t see a clear endgame in Ukraine,” Washington Post, March 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/03/10/ukraine-end-game/
  14. [14]David Benfell, “Where does Vladimir Putin stop?” Not Housebroken, March 10, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/03/04/where-does-vladimir-putin-stop/; 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

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