Ukraine theory

I’ve been convinced for months that someone is trying to bait, nee force, Putin into Ukraine. After the invasion, I was curious to see the response. Would anyone show their hand?

Now that I’ve seen the response, I want to propose a novel model for understanding the Ukraine crisis. Think of it as the first full-scale test of a new military weapon, the so-called “financial nuclear bomb” developed and refined over the past decade to project power in the increasingly virtual world order. It’s surely not about Ukraine. It’s not even about Putin, who was just a target of opportunity.

If you view the conflict in this light, some of the unusual response patterns start to make more sense. It also raises some interesting questions. Is this weapon intended by its makers to win the war to end all wars? Will China respond? Will we enter a new economic mutually-assured-destruction era of stalemate between the (shadow) superpowers?

What if the financial nuclear bomb fails, the Russian fortress doesn’t crack, and Putin holds on?


It is an interesting theory. Of course, the assumption is that the “financial nuclear bomb” will not get an old-fashioned physical nuclear bomb in response. Our leaders living in their financialized world may have made that assumption – but that is only because they are dumb.

Talking about people showing their hand – Where are the Usual Suspects chanting “No War”? And where is the vaunted “International Community” desperately trying to broker a cease fire?

It seems that “Our Guys” have been playing a dangerous game, pushing Russia into a corner by refusing to acknowledge its concerns about the eastwards progression of NATO – the “defensive” alliance that has invaded Iraq, Serbia, Libya, Afghanistan.

Long ago, Sun Tzu stipulated in his “Art of War” that the smart general would never pin an enemy against a river. Give the enemy a way out, or he may decide that fighting to the death is his only option.


May I ask just who you think is this “someone”? I don’t think President * has the ability to plan anything like this. So I think you must be talking about some in the “Deep State.”

Which to my mind is more troubling than than this “financial nuclear bomb.” It implies that there is an unaccountable, unelected, secret cabal in the government that is actually running things. This is apart from the usual bureaucrats in the several Departments and Agencies.


It would be entering wild conspiracy theory territory for me to guess which individuals or groups play which part, but I very much doubt that any group is really “in control”. To me it seems more likely the same type of ad hoc confederation of voices and powers that work somewhat in unison to push progressive social change, just at a more deep state level.


That’s a fair answer, though somewhat even more disturbing!


My working model seems likely to produce the same results while requiring fewer assumptions about the existence of groups and agendas behind the scene.

The model has the same point of departure, that no group is in control. But the model goes further, in that there is no control at all. The ones who are trying to run it are a collection of mid-wit clowns who, mostly having learned only the “liberal arts”, are not equipped to imagine the consequences of their actions beyond the immediate future, if that far. They are like monkeys in the control room of a great vessel, screeching at one another and wildly manipulating wheels, levers, and knobs, none of which are connected to anything, while watching dials and gauges, none of which indicate reality (even if they were able to interpret it from accurate indicators) while they watch the calamity unfold outside the spittle-flecked windows of their command post.

They lack the attention span to observe the consequences of their actions and adjust them accordingly, and hear only the accolades of the trained seals in the mass media upon whom they shower largess plundered from the few remaining productive people they have not yet looted to oblivion.

Why hasn’t the whole thing collapsed? Compared to where it was at any time in the past, and using almost any indicator you wish, it has. It’s just that it started from a high altitude and hasn’t yet hit the terrain. But that’s where it’s going.

There’s no need to invoke conspiracies or hidden agendas when the room full of monkeys model explains the observable outcomes just as well, and is completely consistent with how what is going on appears to a rational, disinterested observer.


It is hard to disagree with that model. But maybe there is something more to the global situation. The chancelries of Europe & the US are indeed rooms full of chattering monkeys. But perhaps elsewhere there is a genuine control room.

Trying to look ahead to where we are heading. NATO has refused to acknowledge Russia’s concerns. Russia has accordingly invaded the Ukraine with the apparent aim of Finlandizing it. The West has declared all out financial war on Russia, and is pumping weapons into the conflict. What are the possible end states?

Perhaps the Ukraine agrees never to join NATO. But someone would have to guarantee the neutrality of the Ukraine. That could only be China. Chinese forces permanently stationed in the Ukraine on NATO’s border.

Perhaps Russia starts to lose the military/financial conflict. But this has become an existential struggle for Russia. They can’t afford to back down. And so the cities of Europe, Russia, and the US would perish in an all-out nuclear war. Which leaves unharmed China in an analogous position to the US at the end of WWII, with an intact industrial infrastructure and command of the world.

It is worth remembering that China has immense influence over Western politicians, media, business – and increasingly over the Russian equivalents. Perhaps China has been feeding the bananas to the monkeys in those spittle-flecked command posts?


Maybe a room full of monkeys is too much imagery. Maybe all this trouble can be more simply explained by our new high speed commo that enables annoying biomass like Soros and Putin to function and seemingly coordinate with our digital media lords and the worldwide mid-witted bureaucratic soul suckers. Don’t posit a mastermind when mere clumsy, Satanic, power freaks like HRC, AKA Thunder Rodent Thighs, are pulling personally advantageous strings while managing related information. Zuckerbucks rule. Malfeasance reaches a new velocity.


I’m still re-reading Charles McKay’s book, “Extraordinary Popular Delusions…”and I’m up to the Crusades. Yeah, you had Pope Clement and Peter the Hermit (just like we’ve got Francis and Greta) but that doesn’t explain the first wave, which was just ordinary working people selling their plow shares (and everything else)—wonder who bought up all that land?) and surging toward Jerusalem. These things get a momentum of their own, the memory and motive stored and nurtured in other cells of he human “body politic”, not only, nor even primarily ,in its head.
There’s a great article on Am Greatness today, by Rupert Darwall (my fave!) which reminded me of your essay. We have been trying to ignore geopolitics in favor of a “supranational” economic order. And we in “the West” are ruthlessly and resolutely rejecting the gifts of the earth offered by the portion of it we occupy; we thought it doesn’t matter any more where reserves of oil and gas are located, nor what nation controls them. The UK just ordered two shale wells, which coulda supplied its needs for 50 years, not only abandoned, but filled with concrete! This is like Savonarola gleefully presiding over bonfires destroying the priceless heritage of his own civilization.
So, I think geopolitical financial reality may reassert itself as a result of this conflict, temporarily occluding the looming shadow of the financial thermobaric.


More importantly, how does this monetary “nuclear” bomb influence China? Everyone looking at the Ukrainian situation is also looking at whether China will do the same to Taiwan. Well, if China has similar plans in the works for Taiwan, you would have to conclude that they are also thinking about how to sidestep any financial warfare that is being tested in this current conflict. Here is a pretty good piece at Asia Times that touches on this:

The short of it is that China is going to look to decrease its holding of US Treasuries and move toward holding gold. Read the piece it is very interesting and timely given your theory.


Among the gold community, there has long been a suspicion that China’s gold holdings are much larger than their officially declared central bank reserves. In an article in today’s MoneyWeek, “China almost certainly owns more gold than the US – here’s why that matters”, Dominic Frisby reviews the evidence and what it may mean for China’s moving away from the U.S. dollar as the cornerstone of its reserves.

China’s declared gold reserves are 1948 tonnes or, at present prices, around 3% of its total reserves. The U.S. has gold reserves of 8134 tonnes, which account for 65% of its reserves. But China’s domestic miners report having mined 6830 tonnes of gold since 2000, and China does not permit the export of domestically-mined gold. So, where did all that gold go? Further, Frisby writes,

With reserves in decline at home, Chinese mining companies have also been buying assets abroad, across Africa, South America and Asia. International production exceeds domestic production – by about 15 tonnes in 2020.

Second, there is the fact that, as well as being the biggest producer, China is the world’s biggest importer. Gold imports via Switzerland and Dubai are not always declared, but we do know that via Hong Kong alone, over 6,700 tonnes have entered the country since 2000.

Add that to cumulative gold production since 2000, and you get a figure over 13,500 tonnes.

If China has such large gold reserves, why keep them quiet?

Whether ten, 15 or 30,000 tonnes, there is no way China can declare such large holdings. Not yet anyway – it would cause an unwanted surge in both the yuan and the gold price. The government’s $3.2trn of US dollar foreign exchange reserves would be devalued.

“I don’t think China needs to brag about its largesse,” says [gold analyst Ross] Norman. “After all, a stronger currency as a result of that reserve backing would be counter-productive, as it would confer competitive disadvantage”.

What’s more, to declare so much gold would be a direct challenge to American supremacy, which China is probably not yet ready for. Parity first, then supremacy.

For now they follow Deng Xiaoping’s doctrine of “we must not shine too brightly.” Its declared 1,948 tonnes is, perhaps, the bare minimum it could declare and look credible. But a mere 3% of China’s forex reserves in gold? Pull the other one.

If China decides to weaponise money, as the US has done, all it has to do is declare its gold holdings, perhaps even partially back the yuan with them. Talk was, at one stage, its central bank digital currency (CBDC) would be partially gold backed.

Unbacked Western money risks losing a great deal of its purchasing power in such an event. To back Western fiat even partially with gold would mean a dramatic upwards revaluation of gold – into the tens of thousands [of US$ per troy ounce].

But that is the card China now has with its 20 years of relentless accumulation. He who owns the gold, makes the rules.


A lot of what you have provided was touched on in the Asia Times piece I linked to. The Asia Times also noted that China has been buying the rights to as many African gold mines as it can get its hands on, so China’s gold reserves will certainly increase in the near future as they start extracting gold from those mines. Finally, I recall over the past decade seeing occasional stories about China–and Russia–wanting to find an alternative to the dollar as a world reserve. I have also made my thoughts about that known: if the dollar is ever removed as the world’s reserve currency, this country is screwed because of the now $30 trillion we owe to lenders. Get ready people because Uncle Sugar is about to be bled out.


This is all interesting speculation. For me, the quintessential question is why did Putin actually INVADE Ukraine. He already had all the concessions he wanted or needed. Surely as wylie a tyrant as he would recognize the advantages he had - and the huge poteftial disadvantages of actually invading.

Yup! Massive inflation in the US (and the EU too), along with empty shelves because the decline in the Dollar/Euro means that imports become too expensive. However, all of this takes time.

Increasingly, it looks like what we are seeing in the Ukraine is a contest to see whether the Pen is mightier than the Sword. The West is doing a great job of pumping out propaganda and imposing financial restrictions – but Russian forces are still advancing.

Also, it looks increasingly likely that China and other countries are learning both what the Pen can do and what it cannot. Now they know the limits of what the West can accomplish in the financial realm, they will be prepared to thwart it when the next turn of the wheel comes.


Come on, Dev! President Putin has told the world – repeatedly – why Russia would have to invade the Ukraine. The fault lies 100% with NATO/US which refused to listen. Russia does not want NATO offensive weapons on its borders, which sounds rather reasonable. Just like the US did not want nuclear missiles in Cuba.

The problem is that Western stupidity & arrogance has turned this into an existential issue for Russia. If our “leaders” push someone into a corner, they should not be surprised when he finally starts throwing punches.

Ask yourself – Why is the “International Community” pumping up the conflict instead of seeking to defuse it?


I used to, say, prior to 2020, when observing something that didn’t make any sense at all, assume there was some factor behind it I didn’t know or understand. Now that I have adopted the “monkeys on the bridge” model of geopolitics, I have extirpated “That doesn’t make any sense” from my verbal repertoire and ceased to fret over incomprehensible things—because that’s what happens when you have monkeys at the helm.

That said, if Putin’s goal is what Alexander Solzhenitsyn spoke of in a 2008 interview with Forbes, “Alexander Solzhenitsyn On The New Russia”:

Already in 1990 I wrote that Russia could desire the union of only the three Slavic republics [Russia, Ukraine, Belarus] and Kazakhstan, while all the other republics should be let go. It would be desirable if [a resulting Russian Union] could be formed into a unitary state, not into a fragile, artificial confederation with a huge supra-national bureaucracy, as Nazarbayev recently proposed. That’s just smoke and mirrors.

And on Ukraine, when asked “Why does independence for Ukraine weaken Russia?”:

As a result of the sudden and crude fragmentation of the intermingled Slavic peoples, the borders have torn apart millions of ties of family and friendship. Is this acceptable? The recent elections in Ukraine, for instance, clearly show the [Russian] sympathies of the Crimean and Donets populations. And a democracy must respect this.

I myself am nearly half Ukrainian. I grew up with the sounds of Ukrainian speech. I love her culture and genuinely wish all kinds of success for Ukraine—but only within her real ethnic boundaries, without grabbing Russian provinces. And not in the form of a “great power,” the concept on which Ukrainian nationalists have placed their bets. They are acting out and trumpeting a cult of force, persistently inflating Russia into the image of an “enemy.” Militant slogans are proclaimed. And the Ukrainian army is being indoctrinated with the propaganda that war with Russia is inevitable.

For every country, great power status deforms and harms the national character. I have never wished great power status for Russia, and do not wish it for the United States. I don’t wish it for Ukraine. She would not be able to perform even the cultural task required to achieve great power status: In her current borders, 63% of the population consider Russian to be their native language, a number three times larger than the number of ethnic Russians. And all these people will have to be re-educated in the Ukrainian language, while the language itself will have to be raised to international standards and usage. This is a task that would require over 100 years.

In a February 16, 2022 piece in Substack, “Regathering of the Russian Lands”, Anatoly Karlin argues that Putin’s statements since the late 2000s are consistent with this view and that Putin may see the present as an excellent and perhaps final window of opportunity to achieve this goal.

More broadly, the economic environment has perhaps never been more favorable for Russian irredentism. Russia has spent the past eight years insulating its economy from sanctions through import substitution and pursuing tight fiscal and monetary policies, which allowed it to build up a formidable war chest of $600 billion in foreign currency reserves. In any case, most of the sanctions that could be imposed on Russia cheaply have either already been implemented, or are simply absurd (Russian vatniks will be very sad if Navalny-supporting hipsters were to lose access to the latest iPhone models… maybe not), or are downright impractical, like cutting off its oil exports or cutting it off from the Internet (a popular Reddit fantasy). Even SWIFT is ultimately just a financial messaging system and its removal will just be an inconvenience. Ultimately, Russia has a 2x bigger population, much bigger GDP, and far more developed technological base than Iran, and as Iran mostly gets by, it’s unclear why Russia should be expected to do worse.

If you’re in charge of a country with national debt of 17% of GDP and a net energy exporter confronting the clown show in Washington, but looking at dire demographic projections for your own country and the generation that remembers the prestige of the Soviet empire with nostalgia scrolling off the screen, mightn’t now be the time to roll the dice?


I would think Putin is more practical than that. I, too, long for the old days of liberty here in the US, but am practical enough to realize it isn’t likely in my lifetime. Maybe in my childrens’ time, but even that is pushing a rational timeframe. ?Why isn’t Putin that rational. He has stolen all the money he needs, he has had all the power he needs, he has “improved” his ostensibly loved country. Surely a rational person understands there is real time needed for many things.

As for Gavin’s comment about NATO pushing his borders, that seems a silly notion. We pushed back on an openly hostile USSR; NATO has hardly fit that profile. Heck, Germany closed its numerous nuke plants and made themselves economically and energy-wise at a disadvantage, which Russia was benefiting from.

Warfare is never certain. For all our rearward wisdom, no one during the fight of WWII was certain we would win. Our subsequent experiences ought to have taught all who wished to observe and learn that lesson.

Ukraine may speak to a large part Russian, but that is no barrier to dislike. Yugoslavia is a great example of just that. Despite speaking the exact SAME language Serbs and Croats have been at each other’s throats for centuries, Croats thinking themselves better because of the Hapsburg connection, and Serbs because of the Orthodox one. Neither side has done much to compromise. I’m an American ethnic Serb who was raised to hate Croats. I don’t anymore (although did as a youngster) but find I dislike them, NOT because they’re RC (I’ve actually come to rather like RC’s even though I’m Orthodox) but because they’ve acted like such jackasses, not just in WWII - a long time ago - but in the 90’s Balkan Wars. The ethnic cleansing they did in Leka and Preko is unconscionable, just as the propoganda we bought whole cloth from the muslims in Bosna and Herzegovina.

I like your “monkeys” idea, but for me there’s too much “co-ordination” to allow for the random monkeys’ approach.


USUALLY there’s a lot of room between rhetoric and action. Russia’s alleged “worry” about NATO is mostly BS - a cover for avarice. NO ONE in NATO has threatened Russia, and one can make a great case that Germany, one of the linchpins of NATO, has almost prostrated itself before Russia. Comparison to Cuba vs the USSR is not reasonable; back then the USSR was an open and vociferous enemy of the US. Today Russia is not, although the Left Wing’s constant false claims about Russia might look bad. But Putin’s intel operatives are good enough, and we are open enough, to make it plain the nation mostly doesn’t give a rat’s breath about Russia.

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I have to disagree with you there. Through the highest diplomatic channels, Russia sent its documented concerns to NATO and the US. Russia then went ahead and rather unusually published those documents so the whole world could see them. Top concern was not wanting nuclear weapons in Cuba – sorry, I mean not wanting offensive weapons on its borders.

Now, you could certainly make the assumption that Russia is lying. But then everything would be based on your assumption – which is just an assumption, and could be wrong.

What lends support to our host’s view of the monkeys in our control rooms is that the normal diplomatic response to Russia’s concern would have been to say – OK, if that is the problem, then we promise there will never be offensive weapons on Ukrainian soil. If Russia had invaded after that, then your assumption that Russia was lying all along would have been demonstrated … and we would be in the same position we are in today. However, our monkeys did not even acknowledge Russia’s concern – as we know when the (non-public) NATO & US responses were eventually leaked.

I know this is tough for us all to accept, but “Our Guys” are wearing black hats. It is no excuse to say that Russia’s guys are wearing black hats too.


Well, what evidence is there besides Putin’s letter. ?Has NATO aggressor against Russia’s border. ?Has NATO issued policy or proposed positions showing NATO invading western parts of Russia. ?What did NATO actually DO when Russia invaded Georgia or grabbed Crimea - both illegally.

So it strikes me that you are giving Putin validity when in fact there is none. This isn’t my assumption; it’s fact, based upon actual actions of the constituents. ?Are we now suppose to accept and concede that China has every right to invade Taiwan if they, too “claim” it is a security risk for their state.

I believe you are putting the wrong hat on the wrong people.

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