Peter Zeihan spends the first ten minutes of his talk telling Canadians in Manitoba how their province can profit from the coming shortage of global metals and other minerals. Then he turns very sober as he brings the audience up to date on what is happening in Ukraine. First he has to spend a few minutes bringing them up to date, setting the stage. Then he explains how the Ukrainians have nothing to lose now, and will fight to the death. He also explains how Putin now thinks he has nothing to lose, so Putin intends to unleash as much devastation on the civilians of Ukraine as he possibly can — up to and including outright genocide.
Canada has a lot of Ukrainian immigrants, many of whom fled Ukraine to escape Russian atrocities over the past century and longer. Russia has never been especially kind to Ukraine — or to anyone else. But only once before has Russia resorted to outright genocide against its cousins, at least in recent history. This is clearly another time that Russia shows its ugly side to the world, without remorse, without regret.
Peter Zeihan says that Russian leadership thinks that the very existence of Russia is at stake. In a vague theoretical/historical sense there may be a very weak argument, if everyone participating is several cards short of a full deck. But who was lining up to invade Russia? Ukraine had already decided not to join NATO — the Ukrainian people did not want to take the chance of provoking a trigger-happy Russia, so they were ready to sign any treaty to the effect that they would not join NATO.
But Putin wanted to invade several other countries not just Ukraine. Putin also wanted Moldova, Poland, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and total control over Belarus. Putin wanted all of those countries to be part of Russia beyond any retrieval. And so he had to invade and subdue Ukraine before Ukraine could become part of the EU and before Ukraine could formally foreclose any opportunity to join NATO — thus eliminating that excuse for a Russian invasion.
But Putin was thwarted — not by NATO but by the Ukrainian people themselves. The Ukrainians had a sovereign nation by rights and they wanted to keep it! Putin had no legal leg to stand on, but that has never stopped him before. Now he is betting the entire future of Russia for real, not pretend this time. And he is bringing the risk to a head much sooner than would ever have occurred in any other hypothetical future.
After a sobering update of Putin’s Ukraine war, Zeihan explains the opportunity for Manitoba that the idiot man-child Putin’s gross miscalculation has opened up.
The Kremlin intensified its information operation to accuse Ukraine of preparing to conduct a false-flag attack using a dirty bomb for a second day in a row on October 24. Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov separately called his counterparts from the United Kingdom and United States about the “situation connected with Ukraine’s possible use of a dirty bomb” (a conventional explosive laced with radioactive material that is not a nuclear weapon) on October 24. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made similar calls with his counterparts from the United Stated, United Kingdom, France, and Turkey on October 23. The Chief of Russia’s Radiation, Chemical, and Biological Protection Forces, Lt. Gen. Igor Kirillov, gave a lengthy briefing accusing Ukraine of planning a dirty bomb false-flag provocation to accuse Russia of detonating a low-yield nuclear weapon in Ukraine on October 24. Russian military bloggers are amplifying this information operation. ISW assesses the Kremlin is unlikely to be preparing an imminent false-flag dirty bomb attack.
Russian forces conducted air, missile, and drone strikes against targets in Ukraine at a markedly slower tempo than in previous days. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on October 24 that Russian forces conducted 2 missile and 28 air strikes, and Ukrainian forces shot down 16 Shahed-136 drones on October 23. The slower tempo of Russian air, missile, and drone strikes possibly reflects decreasing missile and drone stockpiles and the strikes’ limited effectiveness of accomplishing Russian strategic military goals.
Ukraine’s Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Chief, Major General Kyrylo Budanov, stated on October 24 that the impact of Russian terrorist strikes against critical Ukrainian infrastructure is waning as Russian forces further deplete their limited arsenal of cruise missiles. Budanov stated that Russian forces have stopped targeting Ukraine’s military infrastructure, instead aiming for civilian infrastructure to incite panic and fear in Ukrainians.ISW 24OCT22
What Putin is doing amounts to another European holocaust. That is how he will be remembered for the foreseeable future.
But the human tragedy in Ukraine should not blind us to everything else that is being spun off from Putin’s folly. The Ukrainians and the other historical victims of Russia will make sure that Russia suffers payback in spades. The rest of the world needs to do its best to facilitate an abundant and expansive human future.