Garry Kasparov is not only a world class chess player, he is chairman of the Renew Democracy Initiative. He sees the war in Ukraine with clear eyes and has seen it for many, many years. He wrote about it in 2014 in an op/ed entitled “Stop This Man” when Putin first invaded Ukraine. At that time Kasparov said, “it was only the front line of his larger war against democracy and the liberal world order.” Now Kasparov says, “Ukrainians are dying for the values of liberty and democracy the U.S. and other NATO nations profess to treasure.”

He also points out, “It is constantly repeated that there is no NATO obligation to defend Ukraine, a non-member. But neither is there a prohibition against the coalition or individual nations taking action to stop a genocide on NATO’s doorstep.”

Putin was supposed to take Kyiv in two days. He may have correctly assessed the rest of the world as spineless but he grossly underestimated the mettle of the Ukrainian people. New York Daily News:

Putin’s initial goal was to take Kyiv quickly, behead its leadership — perhaps literally — and install a puppet regime as he did in occupied Eastern Ukraine in 2014. Based on initial responses, it seems that the U.S. and other powers were equally confident that this would happen in a matter of days. Instead of preparing Ukraine for the invasion with weapons and sanctions, they prepared for negotiations and a quick return to their comfort zone of useless diplomacy.

Perhaps they were listening to the “experts” who wrote before the war started that no amount of weaponry would help Ukraine fend off Russia’s invasion. Putin’s instincts about Western spinelessness were once again accurate. Following his old formula, previously employed in Eastern Ukraine as well as in the Republic of Georgia and Syria, he would use force to gain territory and concessions and the West would rush to accommodate him with diplomacy.

The only problem? Someone forgot to tell the Ukrainians. As the Russian joke going around puts it, “We are now one month into the two-day operation to capture Kyiv.” […]

Europe and the U.S. were also pushed to act by global public opinion, which mobilized very quickly in support of Ukraine. The media documented the unfolding horror in real time, with no doubt who the villain was. The exception being Tucker Carlson and some of his Fox News colleagues, who are so adept at parroting Kremlin propaganda that they should be paid in crackers.

The next surprise came on the battlefield. The Ukrainian military has fought well and hard, with the passion of a people defending their country. Meanwhile, Russia’s forces have proven inept and uncoordinated, rotted through with corruption. Russian soldiers’ morale is as low as the morals of their leader. Casualty numbers are likely in the tens of thousands, slowing Russia’s advance and making it harder for Putin to cover up the catastrophe back home. Dead Russian soldiers are left on the battlefield, unclaimed and unidentified

Zelensky has asked over and over for a no-fly zone. This request has been ignored, the rationale being that to do so would “escalate” the conflict. Joe Biden has said that it would “become WWIII.” Kasparov believes that escalation is already a foregone conclusion.

As for escalation, Putin will do that anyway and it’s more likely the more confident he is the West will not intervene. Dictators like Putin don’t require provocation to escalate. This new war came after years of Western collaboration and negotiation with Putin, not deterrence and strength. We must finally learn that lesson. As Zelensky said in his video address on Thursday, “freedom must be armed.”

Putin is capable of anything, but he and his commanders are not suicidal. He blusters about nuclear weapons because he knows the effect it has. We must be resolute and do everything possible for Ukraine to achieve victory. If you’re so afraid of what a dictator will do if he loses that you’re helping him win, you should reevaluate your strategy and your character. […]

This war will not truly end as long as Putin is in power. He must be isolated completely, with no way back. There can be no place for Russia in the Iran deal or anywhere else. His commanders, cronies, and ordinary Russians must be forced to choose between normal life and life as a pariah under Putin.

Putin has two fronts in this war, the actual war in Ukraine and the war back home in Russia. The Russian people do not want this war. They hate it. We have read that coup d’etats at the Kremlin have been discussed and it’s been speculated that the Russian economy will tank by early summer.

Finally, Yaroslav Hrytsak recently wrote in the New York Times:

Ukraine is once again at the center of a potentially global conflict. World War I, as the historian Dominic Lieven put it, “turned on the fate of Ukraine.” World War II, according to the legendary journalist Edgar Snow, was “first of all a Ukrainian war.” Now the threat of a third world war hinges on what could happen in Ukraine…. After all, the struggle for Ukraine, as history tells us, is about much more than just Ukraine or Europe. It is the struggle for the shape of the world to come.

We watch and we wait. The best case scenario is that Putin is toppled, that Ukraine not only is the victor in protecting itself but that it frees Russia from this madman. The worst case scenario? I do not want to even speculate.

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  1. Kasparov is also a loudmouth with his volume and obnoxiousness knobs broken off and stuck at a high level. Following his advice would get a lot more people killed, which apparently he’s fine with. I’m getting too many Glen Greenwald vibes off this guy: a fanatic who puts his ideology above human concerns and thinks the rest of us are dumb enough to believe him. Right side or not, Kamil Galeev is worth believing over this guy.

    • One thing is certain: the no-fly zone is not an easy shot to call. Putin may indeed get dirty before all is said and done in Ukraine and that could include chemical warfare, all kinds of awfulness. I hope he wouldn’t stoop to nukes but I’m not sure of his mental stability and he lives in a bubble. Maybe the no-fly zone would set him off. That’s the chance nobody wants to take it makes sense to me.

    • Bareshark,
      Thanks for that incisive assessment. People were taken in by the charismatic
      Greenwald at first, but it turns out he is the cobra in the tall grass. I held back and watched my reaction to his allure until I was sure of his true character. I was surprised at how attracted I was to his wiles, and that gave me insight into the
      Trumphumpers’ cult around their $tereotypical Gombeen man.

      • Greenwald ALWAYS rubbed me the wrong way. Nothing I could put my finger on but I’ve learned to trust my instincts. Eventually, they’re proven right.

    • But Kasparov is correct – Biden is weak and Putin will continue to press. NATO should have entered UKR prior to the invasion; at this point they should do everything militarily to defeat Putin.

      • Trump, along with Tillerson & Pompeo spent four years whacking at NATO and our relationship with other allies with a meat cleaver inflicting gaping wounds. One of the things Trump did was start pulling troops out of NATO countries and if you know anything about military stuff getting even some of that unfucked is an incredibly complicated thing to do. Add in that despite the disdain in public opinion over the final withdrawal from Afghanistan the country had long grown sick of major presence in war zones. Also, Trump’s isolationist crap had gained some traction. Between unfucking the Covid mess at home and just trying to restore things in NATO sending a significant troop presence into Ukraine would have made any already torn apart country tear ourselves up even more. I don’t give a shit what any opinion polls said, most people in this country were sick of Bush’s war and didn’t want us getting into a new one. (Btw, those of us who are old enough remember those images from Vietnam knew it would be a repeat and you can bet your ass Trump’s political advisors got him to slow walk things until after the election, and then played the tape of the TV news from Vietnam and told Trump “just in case why not let Biden take the heat?” Being a tee vee guy Trump would have grasped that) Putin was likely hoping that we’d send in a team of military advisors/trainers and THAT would have given him some cover in the U.N. If you think otherwise I say you’re wrong. Biden played a bad hand about as well as it could be played. That doesn’t mean I don’t think at some point we might wind up with American and other NATO forces directly involved however. What worries me is that for those around the world who haven’t fully embraced the sanctions on Putin and his oligarchs and those yet to join in an excuse to back out of what has become a truly serious threat to Putin and Russia if American nnd NATO forces start killing Russians.

        • Biden’s doing a terrific job. I think Kasparov’s point is that Putin started all this back in 2014 and the entire western world has known Putin would eventually do this. This isn’t a black and white situation.

      • Biden is strong and he is a patriot. Trump is a traitor and a clown that was laughed at during his speech at the UN, and the Republican party is the evilest organization in the history of the world. I would like to see us and NATO go in and completely destroy Putin’s army in Ukraine and in Syria and Africa. Quickly, and then force unconditional surrender and all of their Nukes and other WMD. We could do that, but…. I’ll bet a few quarters, but not a few hundred-dollar bills. We are in the position of a husband and father that has to worry about his wife and children, and not just himself. Biden will play his cards the best way he can. He is not in Putin’s pocket like the entire Republican party.

  2. If the west is so spineless, why hasn’t putin marched in? Truth is Biden, with all those years in the senate & eight years as VP, is playing chess & putin is slowly being pushed into checkmate. The best outcome would be to avoid total escalation, & have putin on the ropes at home. This action has strengthened western unity after traitor Trump did everything he could to destroy it for his master, AND now putin has a hive of agitated citizens at home willing to face his wrath. All this before they start demanding to know where their solider son is located & when is he coming home? Putin is a man caught in quicksand, now labeled as a WAR CRIMINAL. The more he struggles, the deeper he sinks.

    • Perhaps with proper levels of transparency in Russia, Putin’s massively stupid move to kill all Ukraine citizens as expendable canon fodder, just to make an asininely land grab, the family ties to Ukraine’s citizens, AND those missing-in-action young troops, WILL cause drastic changes in the future livability of Putin himself … Unfortunately, the timeline seems to be in Putin’s favor at the minute …

      With a step up to Reaper drones and the continued worthlessness of tanks per the newest load of man-held destruction and the success of the Ukraine troops and their well-planned attack methods …

      So far, given a clear shot, the Ukraine troops will be having weapons that can literally stop/destroy ANY mobile unit from Russia … The power and ease of use with the Reaper would cower any remaining Russian Troops and I believe Putin is already having a major problem raising a massive army to do his bidding … since Biden’s and our Allies are slamming down the Ruble as a useful exchange currency and Putin’s as well as his friendly oligarch’s cash value is in the dump, Putin is fast running out of options …

      The attacks from the warships on the west side of Ukraine may soon be stymied with help from other countries, not thrilled with Russian tubs in tight, close-up locations … Putin’s seemingly free reign to kill Ukraine children at will, in the Ukraine, is hitting home to the whole world now … he has crossed so many lines of decency and made critical mistakes of a WAR CRIMINAL, looking for his own final solution …

    • Kasparov is taking his stance, I believe, from watching this situation deteriorate for all these years. I get that and it makes sense to me. But I can’t get away from the fact that playing chicken is different from playing chess and right now chess makes more sense. Kasparov wants us to play chicken, instead.

  3. I’d really love to read where Lieven actually wrote that WW1 “turned on the fate of Ukraine.” While it’s true that the modern country of Ukraine comprises territory that was part of both the Russian Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire and much of the conflict between those two powers was stalled in what’s now the westernmost part of Ukraine, I don’t quite see how “the fate of Ukraine” had much to do with WW1. The Russian people and especially the Russian Army had grown tired of the veritable stalemate on their “western front” and there was that little nastiness of a revolution (which was less a singular event but more a series of small events). I can see that Ukraine had *some* connection (it was a major agricultural part of Imperial Russia and the war put a strain on agriculture as many of the farm workers were sent to the frontlines) but to suggest that Ukraine’s “fate” had much to do with the war seems a bit silly.

  4. What I don’t understand is if Poland has planes to give to Ukraine but are scared to take them there then why don’t they just send Ukraine pilots to Poland to go in and get them ?

  5. APPARENTLY Kasparov missed #KamilGaleev thread on Russia falling and why .. and no it may not be soon but it is happening every single day.. How sanctions are killing Russia?
    Russia’s falling.
    GOT THAT? Old sanctions of 2014 sabotaged development of new innovative weaponry.
    New sanctions of 2022 are undermining Russian military efforts, destroying its technological chains and communications lines, thus breaking country apart?

  6. Kasparov: And it would never had happened had you and those other NeverTrumpers not pilloried President Trump in your ever-loving efforts to appear relevant. Go tell it on a mountain and bug off.


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