The Only Argument Against Russian Escalation in Ukraine Is Humanitarian

In every other way a Muscovite expedition against Kiev makes sense and is overdue

In 1913 Russia owing to its high fertility rate was on a trajectory to by 2000 become a superpower composed of 350 million East Slavs.

Instead, after the 5 million lost in the Civil War and famine, the 12 million lost to Stalin’s famines and repression, and the 25 million lost in WW2 there are just 200 million East Slavs. — The tens of millions of deaths coming early in a high-fertility century prevented an even higher number of their descendants from being born.

Even these 200 million are disunited with the two largest East Slavic states locked in a rivalry, and the smaller one backed by foreigners in order to weaken the larger one.

In place of a 350 million East Slav superpower, there is a 140-million Russia, which is isolated on the European continent. It is without major European allies and facing the hostility of entire Europe united in an anti-Russian bloc. Moreover, this hostile Europe that wishes it ill is backed and led by hegemonic North America that hates it even more. The only other times Russia has been this isolated in Europe — without allies, but instead facing the whole continent against her — were 1812, 1853, and 1941. Moreover, this isolated 140-million Russia doesn’t even command hegemony over the East Slav world.

Putin correctly points out that the combined warmaking potential of NATO is incomparable to that of Russia. If Russia did not possess nuclear weapons it is entirely likely that the scenario of 1853 would have already been organized years ago (perhaps with Chechnya as the pretext).

Not only is Russia the underdog in the weaker position, but its position continues to deteriorate. NATO has annexed the ex-Soviet Baltic and Romania on the Black Sea. Ukraine’s NATO-ization and Banderaization continue. 40 million East Slavs whom a hundred years ago nobody considered any less Russian than the Russians themselves are not just not adding to Russian power, but are being used to subtract from it.

It doesn’t help that the high economic growth (but from a low base) of the early 2000s has dried up. Absent some radical and visionary transformation (but which in the Russian case usually result in something awful — see Lenin, Stalin, Gorbachev, Yeltsin) there is little chance of ever catching up to the West economically. Perhaps in the military-technical sense Russia can nonetheless keep pace, but at what cost? Having to be eternally vigilant against entire Europe, entire North America, and 40 million of your own kin on top isn’t an enviable position. In fact, it is a position that guarantees permanent existential insecurity. Will at one point the Russians have to revert to the Spartan Soviet days where everything revolved around military needs just to be able to remain independent?

The inability to generate enviable growth also means that sadly soft power is lacking. Where in 2013 Russia could still compete for influence on somewhat equal terms, and where the option for Ukraine to trade with both the EU and Russia seemed possible, now over time Ukraine with an anti-Russian school curriculum seems guaranteed to drift farther and farther.

The situation is complicated by the fact that Ukraine and the US both are when it comes to power centers decentralized enough so as to be agreement incapable, but not democratic enough that the peace option could ever win. Moscow could talk with either an American/Ukrainian autocrat, or with their peoples, but not with the collective amorphous managerial blobs that currently run them. The managerial blob is set up in the way that there is cutthroat competition between its members and that the very top positions are in fact the most uncertain ones and the most vulnerable. How is it possible to get anything but narrow personal and institutional self-interest from a blob that is continuously in a war for positions with itself, with everyone on high alert for the tinniest temporary vulnerabilities of their competitors? No honesty, self-awareness, experimentation, courage, prudence, or honor can ever manifest from such a collective. Only the strict collective policing of the most hysterical and maximalist party line.

Putin spent 15 years trying to integrate with the West albeit on somewhat honorable terms. With the benefit of hindsight, all this resulted in was lost time. An alternate leader, someone like Lukashenko, someone who was reconciled to eventual “rogue state” status may have prepared for it from an earlier date, and may have been prepared to take grand decisive action earlier. Perhaps in such a case 2022 might not look quite so bleak for Moscow, with so few available options. Alas, it is what it is.

Even now not all is lost. The technological rise of China presents a great opportunity for Russia that the USSR did not have. It means that Russia can never be economically besieged in the way that Iraq and Iran were. The West can cut its entire trade and the Russians can still get all their machine tools, as well as some capital in China.

The other welcome development is that NATO has given Moscow a free hand in Ukraine. The Russian military buildup has made clear that Russia can do whatever it wants militarily in Ukraine and the West will not get involved in any way that could make a difference. The West has told Russia that if it can swallow Ukraine, it can have it.

Of course, the West believes that Russia can not swallow Ukraine, and hopes it will choke on it instead.

Nonetheless, it means that the only avenue that is left to Moscow to influence Ukraine, and to affect its unenviable strategic position — that avenue being military power — is in fact an option. Not a pretty option. But an option.

If Moscow is now serious about changing its circumstances it is an option it has to take. Because it doesn’t have anything else. Because standing still in fact means continued deterioration of its position.

Russia won’t get anything major from just the buildup from either the US or Ukraine. If the Russian military returns to its bases then in a few years’ time Russia will once again be amassing at the border and impotently demanding assurances yet again. We all know this.

Except by that time, Ukraine will have drifted yet more, and a military operation will be yet more complicated.

I’m not saying that Putin & co should escalate with a Moscow offensive against Kiev. Any offensive is going to kill innocents. Ordering any such enterprise means condemning your soul to hell. I’m not going to ask of Putin to condemn himself to hell for Russia’s strategic position. I’m also not an East Slav, and as such I’m not going to be advocating for, rooting for, or supporting a fratricidal war between East Slavs.

But I’m not going to do these things because I am an idealist. People who run governments usually aren’t. They usually describe themselves as realists and believe that actions of governments can not be judged by the same criteria as actions of individuals outside governments. As an anarchist, I happen to vehemently reject that, but this isn’t about what I think should or should not happen. This is an analysis of how people in the Russian government must think, based on their worldview, not my own.

I think a Moscow military offensive against Kiev is possible. Whether the Ukrainians or Americans provide a helpful pretext or not. I am sorry if this offends you and the image of Russia that you have. But Russia does not need to live up to the image of Russia that you have. No more than it needs to live up to my anarchist morality. Russia does not exist to conform to your view of a model great power. It exists to survive as best as its ‘realist’ leadership can steer it.

If someone says a Russian offensive is possible that doesn’t make them “pro-Empire” or whatever. What that means is understanding that Russia won’t necessarily keep limiting itself to picking from the playbook the West (or anarchists) would have for her.

If you figure that a Moscovite invasion against Kiev would be a jerk move, against international law, or “aggression” then that’s great, but it’s doubtful the leadership that sees its country as being in a lifeboat situation will prioritize not embarrassing its foreign online supporters over its survival.

And if I say that Vladimir Putin ordering a military escalation would be immoral then that is in the anarchist, small-people humanitarian, and Christian sense. It does not mean that it would be immoral in the sense that Washington and Kiev could condemn him for. They themselves have already done worse.

Does anybody doubt that if a similar situation existed in the British Isles or North America, with Ireland or Canada allying China that they wouldn’t be dealt with in a heartbeat? (In fact, isn’t regime change, whether by the Pentagon, the CIA, or a color revolution a national sport of the Americans?)

In a sense, a fratricidal war between East Slavs already exists. It is waged by Kiev which unseated a government that was legitimate in Donbass, then sent out tanks to make Donbass bow to a government that wasn’t legitimate there. Moscow can say it is moving in to for all times end Kiev’s (or is it really Lviv’s?) war on Donetsk. And furthermore to allow more East Slav cities to get from under Kievan (or Galician?) hegemony and get under Moscow’s hegemony instead if they so please. Is there any reason that the right to pick own allies that NATO can’t shut up about shouldn’t extend to Donetsk, Kharkov and Odessa?

Or Moscow can annex all of Kiev’s territory, then move the capital to Lviv, change the flag to yellow-blue, rename the country Ukraine, enshrine Ukrainian as the most honorable and exalted of all East Slav literary standards, and put Bandera on coinage for good measure, to give birth to an East Slavic superpower from Galicia to Vladivostok by the name of “Ukraine”. Ultimately that stuff doesn’t matter. What matters is that East Slavs have the best chance of attaining and retaining a measure of independence and free and independent development if they are united and not expending energies on internecine conflict.

Too often what follows after more and more secession isn’t more local rule but the de facto enslavement to an imperial capital that is even further away and even less responsive than the one you started out with.

  1. Peter says

    Marko, Marko, looks like you have a problem of your own!

    Any offensive is going to kill innocents. Ordering any such enterprise means condemning your soul to hell. I’m not going to ask of Putin to condemn himself to hell for Russia’s strategic position. 


    1. Field Empty says

      Yeah but I’m not butthurt over it and I don’t lash out at people with name-calling if they have a different take on how likely a war is. Because I said an offensive is possible but that I’m not going to support it I’m “pro-Empire” according to a few vulgar-mouthed snowflakes. I can advocate against the bloodshed from a nobler plane, even as I totally and fully understand the rationale for it at the more survival-oriented plane. And I can explain why escalation is possible, worrisome, unwelcome, and tragic all at the same time without that being badmouthing of Russia or anything like that, but hysterical shrieking snowflakes aren’t capable of complexities.

      The only two snowflake-approved options are A) to claim that war is 100% impossible because the official Kremlin officially said so (and we know Kremlin’s official pronouncements are The Bible) or B) to salivate over the prospect of dead Malorussians.

      1. TZVI says

        Agreed 99%, not sure about the term Snowflake tho’, I think younger generations who grew up with out Super strong father figures, and the threat of Incineration by ICBMS deserve a break as well, it’s not all their fault. They will grow up and stop using silly terms like “butthurt” around the same time we ( survivors) are all scrapping for food.

      2. Peter says

        I can advocate against the bloodshed from a nobler plane

        Then address the argument to a specific side. Don’t argue like this with the one they are about to murder: Let yourself be murdered, because someone standing by, will get hurt!!!

    2. padre says

      You can see,what he stands for, when he uses the word “Muscovites”, pure Banderistan word!

    3. Michael Arnold says

      been preaching the same gospel, brother!

  2. guest says

    Russia is now painted into a corner.
    Unless Vladimir truely is a 5D chess-player of asymmetrical warfare, the outcome cannot be good. A coloured revolution in Petrograd and Moscow can easily follow.

    Btw, when will Königsberg (the antient slav city) be returned to the rightful owners ?

    1. Peter says

      at the same time that those four islands in the East will be returned to Japan. Dream on.

    2. Mr Reynard says

      Reduce your attention to CNN & get back to the real World ??
      USA # 1 !! USA # 1 !! USA # 1 !! USA # 1 !! USA # 1 !! Rara…Rara ..

    3. JC Denton says

      “when will Königsberg (the antient slav city) be returned to the rightful owners ?”

      When the germans resurrect the tens of millions they have slaughtered.

  3. nnn says

    Just eliminate this Bandera scum on the top and the whole thing will fall apart

  4. guest says

    Oh, Great Mother Russia, the prison and cemetery of nations ! Started out on 50 square miles, and now Vladimir from the KGB is the patron saint protector of all that is Slav —from pre-historic slav Konigsberg, to milennial slav homeland Karelia, to forever slav Galicia (a Kingdom before Moscow was even on the map), all the way to Chechnia the birth-place of panslav ideals and historic mission, to Mongolia where (as we all know) slavs threatened the Kindom of China so much so that the Chinese built a wall to keep them out, to Japan where 2,500 years ago Moscovite slav fishermen were catching sea-monsters.
    Rurik who gave his name to this future blessed entity, was a freebooter from Sweden who freely traded with Oleg and Igor between Kiev and Novgorod —so yes, Kiev should be the center and dictator of this mother of all that is Russian and Slav.  —-Lapp, Mordvin, Cheremis, Votyak, Pechegen, Viking, Hun —all part of the fertile slav race.

    For 300 years England played Russia like a fiddle. Now Vladimir is going to give up his slav nature and be wiser and smarter than many generations of Romanovs and grand-dukes ?


    The Russian nation must be constantly on a war footing to keep the soldiers warlike and in good condition. No rest must be allowed, except for the purpose of relieving the state finances, recruiting the army, or biding the favourable moment for attack. By this means peace is made subservient to war, and war to peace, in the interest of the aggrandisement and increasing prosperity of Russia.

    Every possible means must be used to invite from the most cultivated European states commanders in war, and philosophers in peace : to enable the Russian nation to participate in the advantages of other countries, without losing any of its own.

    No opportunity must be lost of taking part in the affairs and disputes of Europe, especially in those of Germany, which, from its vicinity, is of the most direct interest to us.

    Poland must be divided, by keeping up constant jealousies and confusion there. The authorities must be gained over with money, and the assemblies corrupted so as to influence the election of the kings. We must get up a party of our own there, send Russian troops into the country, and let them sojourn there so long that they may ultimately find some pretext for remaining there for ever. Should the neighbouring states make difficulties, we must appease them for the moment, by allowing them a share of the territory, until we can safely resume what we have thus given away.

     We must take away as much territory as possible from Sweden, and contrive that they shall attack us first, so as to give us a pretext for their subjugation. With this object in view, we must keep Sweden in opposition to Denmark, and Denmark to Sweden, and sedulously foster their mutual jealousies.

    The consorts of the Russian princes must always be chosen from among the German princesses, in order to multiply our family alliances with the Germans, and to unite our interests with theirs ; and thus, by consolidating our influence in Germany, to cause it to attach itself spontaneously to our policy.

    We must be careful to keep up our commercial alliance with England, for she is the power which has most need of our products for her navy, and at the same time may be of the greatest service to us in the development of our own. We must export wood and other articles in exchange for her gold, and establish permanent connexions between her merchants and seamen and our own.

    We must keep steadily extending our frontiers northward along the Baltic, and southwards along the shores of the Black Sea.

    We must progress as much as possible in the direction of Constantinople and India. He who can once get possession of these points is the real ruler of the world. With this view we must provoke constant quarrels — at one time with Turkey, and at another with Persia. We must establish wharves and docks in the Euxine, and by degrees make ourselves masters of that sea, as well as of the Baltic, which is a doubly important element in the success of our plan. We must hasten the downfall of Persia ; push on to the Persian Gulf ; if possible, re-establish the ancient commercial intercourse with the Levant through Syria ; and force our way into the Indies, which are the storehouses of the world ; once there, we can dispense with English gold.

    August 22, 1767, ukaz from Catherine 2nd (a German countess): “if any serf shall dare to present a petition against his master he shall be punished with the knout and transported for life to the mines of Nerchinsk.”

  5. JC Denton says

    “12 million lost to Stalin’s famines and repression
    Why just 12? I thought Stalins astronomic body count rises every month, we should be at 200 gorillion right now.

    “In 1913 Russia owing to its high fertility rate was on a trajectory to by 2000…”
    Yeah and under the godsend great Tsar they would have won the space race by 1927 instead of 57, nuclear superpower by 1930, mars colonization by 1940… oh wait, Russia was a agricultural 3rd world state in 1913 that was on the trajectory of losing its statehood and becoming a total colony. A path that is being resumed since 1989 as we see today.

  6. Ragheadthefiendlyterrorist says

    So, let’s see, “anti”empire thinks Russia shouldn’t eliminate the Ukranazi coup regime for “humanitarian reasons”, while over 10000 civilians have died, and more are in danger of dying, under Ukranazi coup regime attacks unless Russia intervenes.

    Anytime so still thinks Marjanovic isn’t an imperialist black propagandist by now is deluded.

    1. Hostage (Raptar) Driver says

      Perhaps I am deluded but I gave you a thumbs up for the 1st paragraph, not the last.
      More information is necessary to make such a conclusion.

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