What Motivates Russian Military Intervention?

A few years ago, I discussed the possible relevance of prospect theory to the Russian annexation of Crimea. Prospect theory suggests that humans are more likely to take risks to avoid a loss than to achieve a gain. This fits the well-known psychological inclination of loss aversion. Losing stuff bothers us much more than failing to gain stuff. In the world of international relations, that means that one should expect states to use military force more often in cases when they are threatened by loss than as a tool to acquire something they don’t already have.

It’s interesting, therefore, to see some confirmation of this in a new study published by the RAND Corporation, entitled ‘Russia’s Military Interventions: Patterns, Drivers, and Signposts.’ This analyzes instances of Russian military intervention in the post-Soviet era and concludes that prevention of loss is one of the main motivators.

The report lists 25 military ‘interventions’ carried out by the Russian Federation since 1992. The term ‘intervention’ is quite loosely defined as “any deployment of military forces outside of Russia’s borders that meets a threshold of 100 person-years for ground forces (or an equivalent threshold for air and naval forces) and that engages in a qualifying activity, including combat, deterrence, humanitarian response, stabilization (i.e., peacekeeping), train and assist, and security, among others.” Most of the 25 interventions fall under the ‘stabilization’ heading, including a bunch of UN peacekeeping operations, provision of border security in Tajikistan, and so on. By contrast, post-Soviet Russia has not engaged in combat very often.

The report concludes that, ‘By comparison either to the Soviet Union or to the United States, Russia’s military interventions have been modest in scale and number and limited in geographical scope.’ As you can see from these charts, the Russian Federation’s military footprint abroad is much smaller than that of the USSR. Moreover, the great majority of its generally very limited ‘interventions’ have taken place within the space of the former Soviet Union.

Modern-day Russian, therefore, is much more regionally-focused than was the Soviet Union and its primary focus is regional stability.

The report analyzes a variety of motivations for military intervention previously identified in scholarly literature on the topic. It dismisses most of them as not relevant or only marginally relevant to the Russian case.

For instance, the report says that there is little or no evidence that
Russian military intervention is driven by economics or by ideology. Likewise the study dismisses the idea that Russia is afraid of the ‘diffusion’ of democratic ideas from neighbouring countries such as Ukraine and therefore seeks to prevent democracy from taking root there. As the report says:

“We certainly do not have examples of Russian leaders speaking of their fear of the demonstration effects of Ukrainian democratic success on the Russian populace. Moreover, we know that Russian elites have a very low opinion of their Ukrainian counterparts; it is difficult for them to conceive of the possibility that Ukraine can survive without Western assistance, let alone become a thriving democracy.”

Also rejected is the ‘wag the dog’ theory. Russia doesn’t engage in military activity in order to distract attention from internal problems, claims RAND. “There is scant evidence to suggest that Putin has ever felt that his popular support, the bedrock of his power, was under serious threat,” says the report, besides which there is no statistical correlation between low levels of government support and foreign intervention. In fact, as this chart shows, military intervention has declined under Putin compared to his predecessor, Yeltsin (i.e. since 2000).


In any case the study argues, it’s wrong to view Putin as the prime driver of Russian military interventions. As it says:

“if we examine all of Russia’s interventions that meet the threshold described in this report, it becomes clear that the majority occurred before Putin’s rise to power … most importantly, there is broad consensus today among Russian elites on foreign policy matter … [there is] little firsthand evidence to suggest that Putin’s personal predilections are a primary driver of Russia’s interventions.”

In short, all the claims that Russia seeks to export its authoritarian ideology, destabilize democracy, prop up the ‘Putin regime’, or is just driven by the aggressive personality of Putin himself are wrong.

So, what does produce Russian intervention?

According to the report, three motives stand out: concerns with national status; the regional power balance; and external threats. The authors conclude:

“Changes on the ground in post-Soviet Eurasia, particularly in Ukraine, that create an external threat or the perception of a rapid change in the regional balance or Russia’s status in ways that contradict Russian interests should be seen as potential triggers for Russian military action. Moscow will not hesitate to act, including with force, in its immediate neighborhood. Second, Russia does seem to act in ways consistent with a desire to avoid losses when it comes to regional power balances. Moscow has intervened when it perceived regional balances to be shifting away from a status quo that was favorable to Russian interests. … Russia seems to act in ways that are consistent with a desire to avoid losses when it comes to regional power balances. Moscow has intervened when it perceived regional balances to be shifting away from a status quo that was favorable to Russian interests. … In short, prevention of imminent loss could push Russia to act.”

In other words, Russia intervenes when it feels threatened with a loss of status, stability, or security in its immediate neighbourhood. It doesn’t intervene in pursuit of what one might call ‘aggressive’ or ‘imperialistic’ goals, or to deflect from internal political problems. And it’s not a question of Vladimir Putin. Russia will retain the same interests and the same predilections regardless of who is in charge.

The report ends with a brief set of recommendations for US policy, primarily that the US should avoid putting Moscow in a position where it feels that it’s about to suffer a major loss in its near abroad. As think tank reports go, this is remarkable sober and sensible, and I don’t find much to criticize beyond the rather broad definition of ‘intervention’. Basically what it comes down to is ‘don’t drive the bear into a corner.’ In that sense, it’s really pretty obvious. It also contradicts the current prevalent narrative, which is that Russia is hell bent on aggression and needs to be cut down to size by every available means, including by intruding on its near abroad. If this report is right, that’s about the very worst thing one could do. But I doubt anybody is listening.

54 thoughts on “What Motivates Russian Military Intervention?”

  1. So long as Europe is still discussing an EU Defence Force, there will always be Pro-Nato folk talking up Russian aggression (and sometimes simply faking it). And all the pro-EU Defence Force people will be claiming “wait – I’m just as wary as Russia as you”.
    You might have a better idea, but my impression is that the EU alternative force discussion has been bubbling below the surface for a decade now (it would be odd if it hadn’t).

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    1. Interesting you should say that. The report also states that Russia makes its red lines very clear and that people should pay attention to them as Russia will fight if they are crossed.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’d say they are conspicuously unassertive. Even when they do act (the invasion of Georgia in 2008), it’s half-assed, abandoned before the natural conclusion. Responding to Turkey wantonly shooting down a military jet by banning the tomato import was pathetic. Refusing to restore Yanukovych and the Party of Regions to power in 2014 seems like a huge, disastrous mistake.

    But what do I know.

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    1. “Even when they do act… it’s half-assed, abandoned before the natural conclusion.

      Well, that was exquisitively sublime, Mao my good man!

      You only forgot to end your comment with “SUGS!”

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Responding in major campaign to a minor military threat is a sign of weakness, and as a large military power Russian command understands this clearly. Needless to remind you, even as those countries has flexed all of their military muscles, gathered all available resources, supported by a major military alliance, they got neutralized pretty efficiently without so much as breaking up the entire deterrence network. It is enough that their military was put in disarray and complete morale loss – they wanted to test Russian military power and they got what they were asking for.

      This strategy hasn’t resulted in any significant gain, but it has, indeed, resulted in loss aversion. Putin, as nobody before him, understand the position in which his country (count it as “the entire post-USSR”) finds itself – it needs to stop the disintegration process where it’s parts culturally, economically and politically drift from the common space of Eurasia, which is driven mostly by US, EU and NATO partnership and their economical interests.

      If there was a disastrous mistake, it has been made decades before, by entire different generation of political thinkers, and without full consciousness of consequences – it took some time and experience to learn about it (even though there are still people who learn nothing). By my observation, the current strategy is carefully balanced around external and internal security pressure to allow a restart a complex integration process, rather than grab the first thing and away run with it.

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      1. “By my observation, the current strategy is carefully balanced around external and internal security pressure…”

        Sure. Obviously, there has to be some sort of logic behind it, yes: strategy. Perhaps it’s all done according to Sun Tzu teachings, or whatever. For all I know, it could be an absolutely brilliant strategy.

        But we are discussing ‘military interventions’, and all I’m saying: this strategy looks conspicuously unassertive to me. Here’s another one: Africa. Just a few days ago I heard this, the official position: if there are armed Russians there, it’s private companies, nothing to do with the government.

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    3. Lol 😂 restore Yanukovich to power ?
      – he ran away – was Russia supposed to drag this man back to “lead” his country?

      He didn’t stay to fight what was going on. Neither did the Ukrainian people – only Crimea took charge of its own destiny.

      The Ukrainian people have shown they will tolerate the coalition of Nazi, liberals and libertarians and Russophobes. What is Russia supposed to do about that?

      As for Georgia – Russia are still there, in South Ossetia and Akhabzia.

      Turkey is a regional power and needs to be handled with care; Erdogan is unpredictable. We shall see how the relationship develops over time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, Mr Yanukovich, the elected president. And the Party of Regions.

        And in 2008 Georgia, president Saakashvili ordered the shelling of Tskhinvali, Russian peacekeepers were killed. These are established facts. This, arguably, makes Mr Saakashvili a war criminal. What’s the point of advancing to very near Tbilisi where Mr Saakashvili is sitting, and then stopping and leaving?

        And perhaps responding to shooting down the plane by not buying tomatoes will make Erdogan even less predictable? I don’t know.

        Liked by 1 person

    4. Mao, I know it is easy to get frustrated. I partially agree with you though, I think that Russia should have assisted the Seps to take Odessa and Mariupol when they had the chance. That was a missed opportunity.

      Otherwise, I think the Russian state mostly follows the “kung fu” philosophy, which is just a different word for this “loss aversion” thing the Prof is talking about.

      The kung fu philosophy goes something like: “Avoid rather than check. Check rather than maim. Maim rather than kill.” Or something like that. In other words, try to restrain yourself when provoked, and use the least amount of force to repel the attack and defend one’s vital interests.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey Yalensis. I’m not frustrated at all, it’s just an observation. And why would I be frustrated; I’m pretty much a fatalist, after hearing ‘whatever happens, it’s all for the best’, from my grammy, a couple of dozen times every day in my formative years.

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      2. “Whatever happens, is for the best.” haha, I hear that from my mother all the time too. I don’t believe it, though, because some things are just so horrible they shouldn’t even happen at all!

        As for Saakashvili, yeah, the Russian army could have taken Tbilisi and strung him up by his you-know-whats. But then they would have had to install a new government and rule remotely; would it be worth it? I dunno… I reckon Putin decided he would just recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and let the Gruzians stew in their own juice.

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      3. Shevardnadze, the legitimate president overthrown in 2003, was still alive in 2008. If not himself, surely there still had to be some halfway reasonable political forces remaining from pre-Saakashvili days.

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      4. Mao, aside from Shevardnadze, I think Russia considered Nino Burjanadze to be a somewhat reasonable person. Eventually all the “reasonable” people got sidelined. But yeah, I get your point, Russia could have installed a puppet government if they wanted to, in 2008. Maybe they should have; if, not nothing else, to shut down that American bio-weapons facility on Gruzian territory. They busy people there, inventing new germs all the time…

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      5. Why puppet government? Shevardnadze wasn’t a puppet. He was duly elected, and then overthrown by something that looked a lot like January 6, 2021 event in DC – a horrible, unimaginable crime against Democracy Itself, y’know. Bringing him back would be doing the Lord’s work for sure.

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  3. Key excerpts with follow-up:

    “Modern-day Russian, therefore, is much more regionally-focused than was the Soviet Union and its primary focus is regional stability.”

    ****

    “For instance, the report says that there is little or no evidence that
    Russian military intervention is driven by economics or by ideology. Likewise the study dismisses the idea that Russia is afraid of the ‘diffusion’ of democratic ideas from neighbouring countries such as Ukraine and therefore seeks to prevent democracy from taking root there.”

    ****

    “Also rejected is the ‘wag the dog’ theory. Russia doesn’t engage in military activity in order to distract attention from internal problems, claims RAND.”

    ****

    “In other words, Russia intervenes when it feels threatened with a loss of status, stability, or security in its immediate neighbourhood. It doesn’t intervene in pursuit of what one might call ‘aggressive’ or ‘imperialistic’ goals, or to deflect from internal political problems. And it’s not a question of Vladimir Putin. Russia will retain the same interests and the same predilections regardless of who is in charge.

    The report ends with a brief set of recommendations for US policy, primarily that the US should avoid putting Moscow in a position where it feels that it’s about to suffer a major loss in its near abroad.”

    ****

    Observations made awhile back by at least one other source.Further evidence which reasonably leads some to conclude that establishment think tanks and those sucking up to them are overrated. In other words:

    “As think tank reports go, this is remarkable sober and sensible, and I don’t find much to criticize beyond the rather broad definition of ‘intervention’. Basically what it comes down to is ‘don’t drive the bear into a corner.’ In that sense, it’s really pretty obvious. It also contradicts the current prevalent narrative, which is that Russia is hell bent on aggression and needs to be cut down to size by every available means, including by intruding on its near abroad. If this report is right, that’s about the very worst thing one could do. But I doubt anybody is listening.”

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  4. They should write a report about why does it take the US two decades to realise anything significant. The report doesn’t say anything we all haven’t known for many years. Washington won’t be too fussed unless Biden wants to use it as further proof to support Obamas, oops, sorry, I mean, his ‘park Russia, pivot to Asia’ strategy.’ The MIC most certainly won’t be having any of it, for them the more mortal enemies the better and sadly the big 5 own congress, well they’ve certainly paid for it so their influence is pretty all encompassing. Mind you, I have to say this kind of thing would never even have seen the light of day a few years back so maybe we can call it a progress of sorts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That report is oh so easy. There’s a permeating historical, geopolitical and cultural bias against Russia, coupled with the kind of nouveau McCarthyism which encouraged Russiagate. Quite revealing:

      https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2021/05/22/bbc-limits-and-related-censorship-on-russia-coverage/

      Regarding Anglo-American mass media, Stephen Sackur isn’t alone and isn’t the worst.

      Recall the hoopla raised over Matthew Rojansky. After reportedly getting denied a State Dep. spot, he proceeded to author the standard anti-Russian leaning BS in an apparent effort to show that he’s not soft on Russia – not that he ever was to begin with.

      What was done to the SCF highlights the aforementioned nouveau McCarthyism. Ditto how the opposites like Evelyn Farkas and Craig Unger get comparatively treated.

      Keep promoting the likes of Galeotti and Meduza over the qualitatively excellent and censored pro-Russian advocacy that provides constructive criticism on Russia, as opposed to negatively inaccurate BS.

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    2. Gerald, I asked myself, within my as always limited means, if Trump’s approach to China wasn’t a continuation of Obama’s “pivot to Asia” too.

      The distribution of power between congress and the respective leader is something on my mind now and then for longer now.

      Not least since Trump’s Jerusalem Embassy Act. Hardly influenced by the MIC? Hand in hand? Not least, since apparently the issue got me into pretty hot water somewhere else for pointing out the larger legislative context. Too ironically? Up to today, I do not fully understand why. No irony allowed on such deadly serious foreign relation issues? 😉

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerusalem_Embassy_Act#Constitutional_separation_of_powers

      Maybe it (MIC, economics, energy, competition, special interests) goes hand in hand. How many states have moved their embassies to Jerusalem by now, or at least recognized the city’s status. To what percentage are they already NATO members or try to get membership?

      ******
      The Georgia chapter in the Rand study might be the most interesting for me. Admittedly, the Russia-Georgia war caught me somewhat by surprise. Georgia was a member of the coalition of the willing during the Iraq war? Rose revolution? … How is Saakashvili doing nowadays?

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    3. Gerald, here we go again. Hat tip to Patrick Armstrong, via his recent Russian Federation Sitrep.

      WSJ, Mark Milley meets Valery Gerasimov:

      https://archive.is/rdsQi#selection-4369.0-4373.58

      While the U.S. and Russia share concerns about the threat of terrorism, the idea of working with Russia on counterterrorism is fraught with challenges, particularly politically. Congress enacted legislation several years ago that precludes close cooperation between the U.S. and Russia militaries as long as Russian troops are in Ukraine, unless the secretary of defense issues a special waiver.

      Didn’t they share these concerns already in 2001?

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  5. I must say I am constantly surprised that the RAND corporation so often does it job – as in it is a national security think tank that produces pieces of work that tell powerful elites what they need to hear as opposed to what they want to hear. Given that he is trying to preside over a rationalisation, not thaw, over policy with Russia I suspect this is a message, if he ever heard of it or found time to read it Biden would be very receptive to. The problem is that many people around him – who he also needs to keep happy – do not want to hear this message. It is also why AUKUS bears signs of being stitched up in a hurry as Biden’s White House and State Department have been very professional, and the Americans have been alone among the three in showing any contrition for what happened with the French. But I suspect the haste was to try and dampen down the shrieking that was going on over Afghanistan.

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    1. Rand is quite overrated given the Captain Obvious, no shit Sherlock manner evident in their recent report.

      Prior to that piece, Rand has had some not so great insight. Better stuff exhibited at this thread.

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  6. Concerning some of the twisted anti-Russian advocacy out there:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=%22Klaus+Larres%22&ei=7HBUYdutAeXB_Qbv-qnIAg&oq=%22Klaus+Larres%22&gs_lcp=Cgdnd3Mtd2l6EAMyBQgAEIAEMgUIABCABDoHCAAQRxCwAzoFCAAQzQJKBAhBGABQ035Yks8BYP7YAWgBcAJ4AYABXogB7g6SAQIzMpgBAKABAcgBBMABAQ&sclient=gws-wiz&ved=0ahUKEwjb07XAq6TzAhXlYN8KHW99CikQ4dUDCA0&uact=5

    Seem to recall Larres on RT. Just saw him on a CGTN panel show that included Vladimir Golstein, one of the voices getting downplayed by the BBC, DW et al. Said CGTN show let Larres get away with a barrage of anti-Russian BS.

    CGTN and Al Jazeera have been giving a good deal of time to Pavel Felgenhauer, who spins more towards Western neolib and neocon preferences over the mainstream Russian variant. .

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      1. Pastels are nice. It’s your commentary though that I come for.

        You and Mercouris are both first choice reads/videos for me of late. Much appreciated.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. The goal is to take absolute control over the Russian Federation. Military, it is not feasible, of course, the preferred method is the colored revolution, Ucraina style.

    The recipe is tried and true: come up with bogus reasons ( human rights, weapons of mass destruction etc) to put up sanctions, than tight them up till the economy croaks. Then use a bunch of professional agitators to stir the unhappy masses and let the fifth column opposition take the lead after you bribe the military chiefs.. Voila!

    The Georgia and Maidan coup were traps, waiting for Russians to overreact. Russia was in a poor position, most of the economy was export of gas and oil to EU and even more important, all of the food and stuff that fills the stores was imported from there also. The transactions were done 100% through SWIFT banking system, located in Bruxelles…

    So Russia invades, next day SWIFT is turn off, economy crashes, people in the streets, Navalny gets to be president, this is how it is done, not firing a bullet ( well, some snipers Maidan style are ok) Check mate.

    So whats the defense for that ? Do not fall for the trap and prepare to deal with the above consequences, cause they’ll push till you bite. If attention is payed, there has been a lot of effort on Russian site to overcome those weaknesses.
    The export of gas and oil has been balanced toward East, China the major client
    The agriculture has been massively beefed up, interesting that the Russian contra sanctions were only in agriculture…
    Swift system has been replaced with their own… recent stuff.
    Military wise, the 6 wonder weapons showed up.

    When Ukraine army came closer to the rebels, this summer, Russia was in a position to call their bluff ..

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    1. ‘The Georgia and Maidan coup were traps, waiting for Russians to overreact … So Russia invades, next day SWIFT is turn off, economy crashes, people in the streets, Navalny gets to be president, this is how it is done, not firing a bullet ( well, some snipers Maidan style are ok) Check mate.’
      Genius. Thank you. I hadn’t considered this.

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      1. Yep. The whole relation Russia West goes around this concept..
        Look for other active Russian countermeasures: massive liquidation of all the dollar holdings with lots of gold buying designed to minimize the impact of future sanctions in the dollar world, the very close supervision or even interdiction for various NGOs, classic web of spies and dormant agitators…Scientology was banned from Russia 2 days ago….

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    2. Jim. To what extent do ‘bogus reasons’ put another way helpful reasons in the larger public relations context, even before the next election circus, hit back on the home ground? … To then be picked up in rout cause research, arguments on whatever intellectual level on the basis of a ‘Never look Back’?

      come up with bogus reasons ( human rights, weapons of mass destruction etc) to put up sanctions

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      1. As we know from hanging around here, most western folks are easy to trick by official propaganda, they do not insist on critical thinking and world history in schools… The fake news guys are pretty brazen, do not seem to care if 1% sees through it, as long as the majority thinks what they want …

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  8. As for the downed Russian plane in Turkey, a full hot response would have been very unwise, potentially catastrophic. The Russian expedition is supplied through Bosfor, easy closing by Turks. Also, at that moment, the Russian Syrian coalition was winning, Turkey’s only chance was to drad Nato into it by poking the bear…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Former president of Georgia Saakashvili had been arrested upon his arrival from the Ukraine. Current Georgian authorities accused him of being Kremlin’s agent. He accused them in turn of doing Kremlin’s will by arresting him.

    Also, Mik-HAIL Saakashvili already announced a hunger strike.

    Mao, why are you so hell bent on changing history, to deprive us of this most tasty drama?

    P.S. Why the international journalism and watchdogs are silent? When will we see their hot takes comparing Saakashvili’s arrest upon arrival with Navalny’s? But, most important of all, why are Saak’s former imperial masters keep mum?

    Questions, questions…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Why, I’m observing Mr Saakashvili’s excellent adventures with interest.

      There isn’t much to say just yet, however. The plot is developing. We are in the early stage of this particular vaudeville. Plenty of wonderful singing and dancing ahead, I’m sure.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My personal favorite beyond the most excellent tie fellatio episode was the one where he fled over Kiev’s rooftops with Poroshenko’s goons in hot pursuit. The only thing he’s missing in these most excellent hijinks is a cape and tights.

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    2. Saakashvili is yesterday’s news. A useless American appendage more trouble than he’s worth. He’ll not fare well in Georgia.

      I assume Zelensky’s useless appendage syndrome is soon to follow and then there’s that Navalny character who by urging Russians to vote communist has tweaked more than a few sensitive ears to the word in America.

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      1. Remember Pussy Riot? I recall a WaPo and/or RFE/RL piece showing a photo of one of their “concerts”. It was done in an up close way, making it impossible to see the audience. This was probably an intentional shot to coverup the lack of people at their “concert”. Some NYC street performers likely outdraw them.

        Their politics are idiotic and their musical related work isn’t highly thought of.

        In the US and elsewhere, there’re considerably more talented folks on Russia related matters getting censored. Just look at some of the stuff propped at this blog versus what isn’t.

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  10. A simple, common sense analysis and conclusion of what should be obvious to all, yet to so Americans in positions of influence, is outwardly not. I cannot believe that such people are truly that obtuse, therefore I can only conclude that they have ulterior motives that override their common sense and those ulterior motives can only be expansion of military budget, foreign influence, political gain, progressive ideology/conservative whatever, etc. Hence, it can only be America, the expansionist hegemon who by all rights concerning Russia, must be rightly named the aggressor on multiple fronts.

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  11. 2 days ago, at Sochi, Erdogan met Putin, there were talks about buying the second S400, cooperating in jet engine production, submarines, expanding the nuclear energy joint in south Turkey. The downing of the SU 24 in 2015 was supposed to provoke war and unite Nato and Turkey against the Ruskies, yet it seems like we are seeing the opposite effect, with Turkey being veered of from the allies…

    Maybe it helped that Russians were eavesdropping to the Gullen/Cia rebels that staged the military coup in 2016 and Erdogan was tipped off.. It looks like the Turkish air crew who fired at the Russian plane got jailed, together with the colonel from Incirlik that ordered it…So, maybe the tomatoes ban contributed , but there were some other factors also…

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  12. A few years ago, I discussed the possible relevance of prospect theory to the Russian annexation of Crimea.

    Curious, at first sight the BBC video you link to in that context, seems to be censured for copyright reasons. The easiest legal approach, it feels. Following matters on YouTube of my once upon quite a long time ago chosen legal topic: copyright laws. That is. 😉

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  13. @Jim Anderson: ‘SWIFT is turned off, economy crashes’, etc.

    If they want to turn SWIFT off, what prevents them from doing it today? The official western narrative is that Russia already invaded Ukraine. And it keeps invading, and polluting the precious democratic body fluids everywhere.

    Nah. I feel that cause/effect is probably the opposite: you show weakness – your opponents attack. You show strength – they calm down. Kipling, y’know.

    A better argument would’ve been that the RF would encounter insurrections, waste resources, etc. Cost/benefit analysis on the ground, not any hypothetical western reaction, because that happens anyway. And I’ll admit that it wasn’t obvious in 2014. But it does seem obvious now that what they calculated in 2014 was a mistake.

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    1. In a way, you are right, they always attacked first, Chechen war, Georgia, Maidan, Su 24 because they smelled weakness… You do not poke the bear until you have a gun to put it down, if it really comes for you. Their confidence was anchored in a very real Russian weakness, the economy. SWiFT off is the nuclear option, reserved if the shit really hits the fan.. it is not without cost for the West, an abrupt halt to Russian gas would seriously mess with Europe, until then, they rely on the classic economic weapons, the sanctions.. The other part made preparations also, American LNG and Qatar gas piped through Syria was supposed to fill the Russian void.

      I would say that now it’s a little too late to play the Swift game. The dollars are gone from Russia CB, the gas pipes towards China are pumping, Swift alternatives are in place, Russian agriculture does well and yesterday Russia lanced the first Zircon from an immersed nuclear sub. As it is thought, there is no defense against it, a whole carrier task force can go down in minutes..It is a significant difference between Russian military capabilities in Georgia war and what they can do now, this summer nasty things were supposed to happen in Western Ukraine, but the bear barred some military teeth and Zelensky’s puppets backed off.

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  14. Ya know folks, it’s not as if the neocons are actually all that smart.

    Afghanistan, Iran more influential than ever before, China-Russia relationship, etc etc. Everything Brzezinski and his flunkeys have touched has turned to dust.

    As Shelley put it

    “Look on their works, ye mighty, and have a good laugh.”

    Like

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