Then, it will not invade Poland or Moldova.

Next it will not invade Romania, Hungary, or Slovakia.

Nor will it invade Lithuania, Latvia, or Estonia.

Never mind Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan.

This is not just about the sovereignty, freedom, and security of Ukraine- but surely we must start there. Nor is this about the sovereignty, freedom, and security of eastern Europe, or greater Europe. This is about the the fate of the world. Russia is not to be trusted and must be stopped.


Collage- cutting, tearing, gluing of paper- by Nicolai Trainor

Glory to Ukraine!


As we move forward during these dark days, with the Russian military openly and illegally killing the citizens of a peaceful, democratic, and sovereign nation, one myth used by the perpetrator of these criminal acts must be dispelled. Most people have heard, somewhere in Putin’s continued rhetoric, about NATO’s promise not to expand eastward. This is one of his key arguments for the invasion of Ukraine.

The short answer to Putin’s statement is that NATO never gave such a promise. There is no truth in Russia’s claim that sovereign countries such as Ukraine and Georgia are, by the agreement, not allowed to join NATO. As the text of the document reads, Russia agrees to

respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all states and their inherent right to choose the means to ensure their own security“.

Further, the fact that Putin has himself initiated war upon Ukraine seems to void many parts of the document, which assumed peace on both sides. The arguments against Putin’s claims are many; they have all been clearly laid out in the various links below.

As background, Putin is referencing the 1997 NATO Russia Founding Act (full text), one of a number of documents created to keep peace and stability in the region in the post-Soviet era. Russia agreed to and signed the act, along with others over the years which were equally important in maintaining peace, stability, and the sovereignty of nations in the region. Historically, the agreement began much earlier than 1997, with discussions on the reunification of Germany, Poland’s bid to join NATO, and even with the discussion of Russia becoming a NATO partner.

The summary of the act issued by the US State Department on 15 May, 1997 can be found in archived form here.

NATO refutation of Putin’s claims, posted on 27 January, 2022 can be found here.

A Guardian article from 12 January, 2022 clearly lays out and refutes the main claims, and gives background on the Act as well as other points of negotiation with various world leaders over the years.

Final word, if you are thinking about how you can help the people of Ukraine, donating to the World Central Kitchen is a safe and fast option which will show immediate results. They are feeding thousands of refugees at numerous borders crossings, as well as in the country of Ukraine. This link will take you directly to their donation page.

UPDATE: 05 March, 2022 at 1725 MTN.- The big news today seems to be that Putin has declared he will not impose martial law in Russia. So now the question becomes, just when will he impose martial law in Russia? This is the next big step in cutting his own throat, and I am personally counting on him to add this to his list of mistakes very soon. The people of Russia are being held hostage, lied to, beaten, and imprisoned. We know that the majority of Russian’s do not support the killing of their neighbors. It is up to them just as much as it is up to the heroes in Ukraine to fight against the totalitarian regime now fully in place in Russia. Martial law will give them one more push to do so. Freedom awaits!

Original Post- 05 March, 2022 at 08:22 MTN.
The more things change, the more they stay the same- certainly this is true of the differences between the west… the differences between freedom, rule of law, justice, liberty, and life in modern Russia, at least as imposed by the rulers of the state. For perspective, we only need look back to purges, gulags, secret police, and the Terror that happened in what was then the Soviet Union. According to The “Beginning of the End for Putin”, and article on the Foreign Affairs website on March 2nd, 2022, a Levada Poll in Russia puts people’s fears of retaliation by the state against them at its highest since 1994.  That says volumes about where Russia- and its dictator- now find themselves. 

Putin took office on 31 December, 1999 and immediately began a course towards the past. According to Masha Gessen, in The Future is History, within a couple of years Putin had put “military officials in 25% of the top government jobs, had monopolised state media, and reversed judicial reforms.” He also began writing history (and rewriting it)- depending on how one views the limited information released on such events as the Moscow theater bombing, the Beslan school siege, the apartment house bombings, and the wars in Chechnya around that time, to mention a few points. What Putin did was nothing short of rebranding- what were essentially advertising agencies stepped in and created Putin, his party, “opposition parties”, and carefully choreographed responses to the attacks mentioned above, taking full advantage of each one to chip away at the few reforms that had been made in years since the fall of the iron curtain. 

And now it is 2022, and Putin’s egotism, his personal greed and that of his cronies, along with his paranoia and dissociation with reality- or so it seems- is putting his tenure at great risk. And good riddance. Nothing good can come of war, but if the world can find a way to find some sort of positive outcome from the current situation, the fall of Vladimir Putin, and a second chance for freedom in Russia, and relative peace in eastern Europe must be part of that outcome.

Pressure from the world must hold steady, and grow daily, become stronger and stronger, and not let up until we see images of Putin’s dead body flashing across all the screens of the world. This is the best chance the world is going to get, and we must take it. 



The live event just ended, but the video is online and available to watch. It will be a well-spent hour of your time!

You can watch the event here.

UPDATE- 24 February, 2022- The Russian invasion of Ukraine is underway. WWIII in the making… Putin said he would not invade. He also said he would not use nuclear weapons. Our nuclear shields had better be up, as a madman is on the loose and he is capable of anything.


Original Post- 23 February, 2022
The imaginary lines are being crossed. Our greatest fears are being realised, at least those of us that grew up in the 1980’s. I keep having visions of Ronald Reagan, and the fears of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction for the uninitiated- the doctrine that if nuclear war begins, no matter who starts it, both sides will end up completely destroyed.)

Why do I bring up MAD? For those of us who caught the blurb recently, Biden and Putin discussed nuclear war and agreed that neither would “push the button.”  Curious, that meeting, and agreement. Out of nowhere it seemed to me. And then, the “Ukraine crisis” begins in earnest.

And where are we really… the Supreme Soviet still controls all (Putin and the oligarchs), the cult of personality still rules, the KGB still enforces their will upon the people (now FSB- headed by the one and only Putin under Boris Yeltsin), the nomenklatura and apparatchiks still fill the proper posts, the proletariat are still poor and downtrodden, agitprop still fills the airwaves and newspapers (oligarch/ “state”-owned) and in our era even more damaging are the hundreds of millions of cell phones and computers fed with it, history is still revised with facts disappearing down the memory hole, and now the Terror may never have happened- again (so much for reconciliation).

The work of the party is sacred.

The west is the enemy, with only one purpose- to destroy the great empire.

From the czar to the Bolsheviks, to Lenin and Stalin, to a very brief and failed attempt at freedom, and back to the czar. History continues to repeat itself, and it seems that we continue to be oblivious to that fact. What must be realised by all is this- Putin is living in some long- gone century, dreaming; the Russian Empire is an anachronism. This is the 21st century and freedom, liberty, and democracy will prevail.

Let us hope that the taste of freedom that so many have had, more so in Ukraine than many other places in the former Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact countries, will make it impossible for totalitarianism to succeed in its latest plot. Sit tight, as the future proves to be interesting.



Listening to the Wind…

13 February 2022

Of Change.

Unfortunately it is blowing in the wrong direction. (Listen here.)



While I do my best to only scan the daily news, and not let it consume me, the events on the Poland- Belarus border are hard to gloss over. First, the intent behind it all is quite clear, as reported even by U.S. news agencies- essentially regional destabilisation and distraction of the European Union and its allies.  The BBC and Aljazeera give good background on the crisis, and yesterday I began hearing how the term “hybrid warfare” best describes what is now playing out in the region. Hybrid warfare, in case you are unfamiliar, encompasses all possible forms of confrontation- asymmetric warfare, cyber warfare, “lawfare”, economic warfare, regular and irregular warfare including psychological operations and the extensive use of propaganda. The final items in the list are some of the easiest to use in our day and age, with the “democratic” internet and social media at everyone’s fingertips, especially governments, and more important to most people than the oxygen they breathe. What we are seeing currently goes well beyond that, using living humans as fodder, battering rams, and Trojan horses on a new kind of front line.

Now a word about background. First we have a resurgent-minded Russia- Vladimir Putin’s clearly expressed goal in life is to reclaim and rebuild greater Russia. His ally is Belarus and its dictator Alexander Lukashenko (a reminder to A.L. in case he should read this- be careful! If Putin succeeds your country will no longer be an ally, but a satellite, and you will become expendable.) Their aim again, or I should say Putin’s, is disruption and distraction of Europe, the European Union, and its allies. I am sure Putin would be perfectly happy if bullets started flying; proxy warfare is one of the best kind- why use your own troops when you can use those of others to die for your cause? All very straight-forward.

Finally, something that seems to be forgotten by most observers and news reports is the fact that Syria is also an ally of Russia, and that with Russia’s support, the pathological, megalomaniacal, murdering dictator, Bashar al-Assad is largely behind the crisis.  Remember where many of these migrants have come from- Syria, as well as other, similarly dysfunctional countries (if we can still call them countries… when does a country just become a battleground? ) throughout the region.

What to do about it all? Good question. One of the most important things we can do for the entire world is to address climate change. Which is clearly not at the top of Putin’s agenda. Why? If we were really serious about stopping global warming, fossil fuels would have to become obsolete, and soon. This would put Russia in a very precarious position- the power behind its riches in oil and gas would fall away, and its would-be super-power status would be at risk. That is not going to happen! The world will continue to heat up, we will become a world full of refugees, and sic transit gloria mundi.

End of Monday afternoon rant.




For anyone familiar with the writing- and life- of John Buchan, the title of this post will not be surprising. Buchan, aside from being an author- a very prolific and gifted author- was also a statesman, diplomat, writer of specific texts regarding enemies of Britain negatively (a propagandist), a poet, a Christian- what we would call a Renaissance man. I am still not sure how I found his writings so late in life, but I am happy I did.  My son and I have been sharing books- we are through the Hannay series, into McCunn’s adventures, and taking side trips to Africa (Prester John) as we await the arrival of our latest titles, Sick Heart River and The Courts of the Morning. Thankfully we stumbled upon The Thirty Nine Steps– the first of the books with Richard Hannay, and our reading lives have never been the same.

Original cover of first edition of The Thirty Nine Steps.

Back to my point- in one of my recent reads, Buchan’s Huntingtower, written in 1922, the heroine is an exiled Russian princess. Late in the story as the Bolsheviks are nearing their stronghold she explains her situation, and that of Russia- which are interminably intertwined- to Archibald Roylance (another of Buchan’s reappearing characters.) The importance of her discourse is as poignant and appropriate today as it was in 1922. The Princess Saskia explains,

“Russia is mortally sick and therefore all evil is unchained, and the criminal have no one to check them. There is crime everywhere in the world, and the unfettered crime in Russia is so powerful that it stretches its hand to crime throughout the globe and there is a great mobilising everywhere of wicked men… Russia is broken, in her they can make their headquarters…. It is not Bolshevism, the theory, you need to fear, for that is a weak and dying thing. It is crime, which today finds its seat in my country….”

Take it for what it’s worth.  Either way, if you pick up a Buchan book you won’t be disappointed.

(Re-posted from another of my blogs- this post needed to be here as well, to support other posts about the Balkans.)

As a follow-up to my recent post on the Balkan wars of the 1990’s, I felt it was time to add more book reviews for those who might be interested in immersing themselves in the issues facing the Balkans and eastern Europe. With the future in mind, first on the list is a recent (fall, 2017) edition from the Brookings Institution titled Beyond NATO: A New Security Architecture for Eastern Europe (The Marshall Papers) by Michael E. O’Hanlon.

In summary, the book argues the case against NATO expansion and presents the alternative of a “negotiated agreement” between current NATO countries, the non-NATO and non-aligned states that would remain sovereign and neutral, and Russia. The catalyst for this new type of security agreement is Russia, and namely Russia’s fear of NATO and the west uncomfortably approaching, and eventually encroaching upon, its borders. The author does cause the reader to step outside the western view that our intervention in eastern Europe, most notably Bosnia, Kosovo, and Ukraine, even when labeled humanitarian, can be construed as threatening when viewed through Russian eyes.

The premise is that the new security architecture would act as a deterrent to Russian posturing and aggression and its plans for military growth, including nuclear weapons. It is believed that the coalition of neutral states, not overseen directly by NATO or the United States especially, will eventually allow Russia to cease their destabilisation efforts in the region, specifically in Ukraine and Georgia, and allow these and other states such as Armenia and Azerbaijan to develop towards normalcy after being able to turn away from a continuous defensive/offensive posture.

While theoretically possible, the concept relies on Russia’s acceptance of the new structure. Whether or not Russia accepts, and if so, their willingness and ability to remain faithful to the agreement, is a different story. There would be a built-in “range of responses” to different threats against the agreement participants, be that Russia or other nations. These responses could include anything from economic sanctions to expedited NATO membership for threatened agreement participants.

Street art in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo by Gerald Trainor.

Street art in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, October, 2017. Note the artist’s use of a bullet hole for the left eye, obviously the starting point for the image.

Seasons in Hell: Understanding Bosnia’s War by Ed Vulliamy was published in 1994. At that time the siege of Sarajevo had ended, Serbia and its forces understood that the UN and NATO would actually take decisive action against them, and the concentration camps, mass murder, atrocities, and genocide of the war in Bosnia had been exposed to the world. Vulliamy’s book reports what was known at the time of publication and paints an ugly, demented picture of what was perpetrated on so many innocent people by the Yugoslav army/ the Serbian army, by “paramilitaries”, by criminals and thugs. But he also tells stories of hope, heroism, and bravery, of fighting against all odds, and of how so many of the people of Bosnia endured. Interspersing these stories in a book of this nature is absolutely necessary, lest the sickened reader cast the book aside. If you choose one book to help your understand the war in Bosnia, Vulliamy’s book will painfully, yet clearly meet that goal.