What I wrote years ago...

...on the topic of the Ukraine and possible guarantees of sovereignty or independence:

The tone is coined by my stance that defence policy is about defence, not about playing games in distant places. 
Feel free to compare this tone and mindset with all the voices which are inevitably going to be raised about possible guarantees or interventions in the Ukraine.

The difference is a fundamentally different approach. 
My approach is to protect one's own country, which is best done in a sufficiently strong alliance - and this means "defence" is widened in its meaning to collective defence of the alliance.
Troubles such as those in the Ukraine, or earlier in Georgia, are better handled through institutions and global culture. Interventionists erode the role of institutions (UN etc.) and peaceful culture with aggression, hypocrisy and disrespect. Both are unpleasant obstacles to their own gaming, but merely useful tools to bash others (hence hypocrisy).
We were globally better than that when the UN was founded and aggressions ostracised.
A world with interventionist great powers is a worse world than one in which even great powers could face the Apartheid regimes' fate of exclusion. Regrettably, the design of the UNSC and the economic integration of Western economies make this extremely difficult for the time being.

- - - - -

By the way; the best a better lever against the apparent current Crimea policy of Putin is likely not military power, but taking the wealth of Russian oligarchs that's being stored abroad hostage. This in turn is reminiscent of what I wrote about strategic air warfare.*  Let's see if the usual (warmonger) suspects get that idea, too. ;)
I suppose they only see nails and will call for the hammer.


*: (I don't have nearly as many ideas as blog posts, that's for sure.)


  1. I don't know what to think about this issue. There are clear benefits to a rules-based international order and ostracizing wars of aggression.

    On the other hand there are many states that are not really sovereign or capable of governing themselves, and the world was clearly better off when they were under colonial/imperial administration. This was a very negative consequence of the UN system and the Cold War.

    How to reconcile these two? Ukraine shouldn't be a state and the Budapest Convention was a very questionable guarantee. But this problem should not be solved with war, which could rapidly spiral out of control.

    I don't think seizing the wealth of Russian oligarchs stored abroad is a useful deterrent at all. Putin has a goal of de-offshoring the Russian economy and making Russia self-sufficient in credit. The country has a large trade surplus and major foreign exchange reserves, so it's not terribly vulnerable to financial sanctions. And attacking the oligarchs could end up benefiting Putin, as it would diminish their power and allow him to accelerate reforms.

    1. Actually, the oligarchs are pillars of Putin's power.

    2. Yes, this on account of him kicking out or jailing all oligarchs that that didn't support him.

      Seizing the wealth of the oligarchs would severely undermine their support of Putin, but I would guess that they could be swept aside if they loose their wealth at the cost of becoming a pure military dictatorship. This would probably not be very welcome by the general population, but Putin might try it anyway it seems.

  2. Maybe you are a Russian speaker and know more about the situation. I am not. My country's media is extremely Russophobic, so to get information on Russia is difficult. The blog Da Russophile is helpful.

    My impression is that Putin and the remaining oligarchs are codependent. They got to keep their wealth and power in exchange for regularizing their shady affairs and ceasing very harmful activities. Overt support for him is desired, but seems not to be required (see Mikhail Prokhorov).

    If oligarch funds in the West were seized, would this really harm Putin? Tax revenues would keep flowing into the Russian state and he would not lose his domestic popularity.

    1. The Putin administration lacks an ideological way to inspire loyalty, for the general population what he has going for him is that he is a clear step up from Jeltsin, and now he is trying to build support on nationalistic an religious ideas.

      Men of power, like the oligarchs, are of course no longer impressed by the fact he is not Jeltsin, and furthermore not likely to be convinced that Putin should rule by religious or nationalistic arguments. So that leaves money as an easily accessible way of inspiring loyalty. Seize the oligarchs money, and Putin looses reason to trust the oligarchs, and they loose reason to support him. Of course, depending on the details they might also loose the formal power over companies, so they might end up defenseless...

    2. You are just plain wrong and ignorant most likely due to leak of foreign language proficiency and over reliance on western propaganda. Putin is appealing to core values like patriotism and religion.

    3. Since I mention that Putin is trying to build some sort of ideological foundation to legitimise his administration using religion and nationalism, I'm not sure I understand your actual critisim.

      On the other hand, since most of your (brief) post is just a random accusations about me (like that I can't read russia today), I mostly just reply for my own amusement.

  3. Also, if Germany started producing green electricity for heating, that would be swell you know?

    1. The idiotic atomic phaseout makes such a goal impossible. On the other hand it would be possible for Germany to use coal, including lignite at a greater rate. This of course would contradict Germany's stated climate goals...hehe.

    2. Nuclear isn't really green, there is no handy way of producing uranium from sunlight, and I've seen estimates that at current rates known uranium deposits last until the end of the century at the most (or maybe less, or more: I don't recall precisely. The supply IS limited though)

  4. Nuclear is exceptionally green. It emits no emissions in generation, and the energy and resource costs are lower per kilowatt of installed generation capacity than wind or solar. There are some diesel emissions in mining, but bear in mind a typical nuclear powerplant is only refueled with a few tractor trailers every two years. And unlike wind or solar, nuclear doesn't require supplementation by energy storage or peak generation (though this can make it more economic).

    It's true that "peak uranium" is an issue, but at present we only use about 2% of the energy potential of uranium and discard the rest as "waste". There is also the possibility of utilizing the thorium fuel cycle. Thorium reserves outnumber uranium by seven in the Earth's crust, and thorium makes breeder reactors more feasible.

    Ultimately the supply of everything is limited. The sun isn't going to burn out any time soon, but there is only so much of the Earth's surface that can be devoted to solar harvesting and this comes at the expense of other land uses. The raw materials used in the manufacture of solar panels (and everything else) are also limited. Eventually economic growth will largely cease unless we expand our resource mining efforts into outer space.