An Informative Timeline

In the Western industrialized world, at least, the condemnation of Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine has been nearly unanimous.

Witnessing such things as Russia celebrating International Women's Day by postponing the shelling of a maternity hospital until the following day certainly contributes to such a climate of opinion.

However, there have been dissenting voices, even so. One of the chief arguments has been that the United States in particular, and Western nations in general, especially those in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, have been behaving in a needlessly provocative manner towards Russia, which ultimately led up to this tragedy.

And so some people have said that up until 2008, Vladimir Putin tried to create friendly relations with the West, but was unjustly spurned.

Is this true? Also, does Russia have a legitimate security interest in not having countries on its borders joining NATO?

It is difficult for me to approach that question without derision. I remember well what Hungary suffered in 1956, or what Czechoslovakia suffered in 1968. I remember the long agony of both the satellite nations of the Warsaw Pact, and of the captive nations within the Soviet Union itself, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine.

And, of course, we must never forget the Holodomor, Stalin's artificial famine that cost the lives of about four million Ukrainians.

Also, Stalin's Russia trained Mao Tse-Tung, who imposed a particularly brutal Communist regime on China, leading to massive starvation in the Great Leap Forward and brutal repression in the Cultural Revolution, and which also contributed to the Korean War in which many people from both the United States and its Western allies, including Canada, perished.

Russia under Communism was an evil aggressor nation, in precisely the same sense as Germany under Nazism was an evil aggressor nation. That is a very basic and obvious fact, and attempting to deny or minimize it only destroys the credibility of the rest of an argument.

But after democracy dawned in Russia under Boris Yeltsin, what was the role of the West? And who is Vladimir Putin?

September 21, 1658: the Moscow State starts a war against the Hetmanate, leading to Ukraine becoming once again a protectorate of Moscow.

November 2, 1708: During a war between Russia and Sweden, Russian forces find time to capture and destroy the Ukrainian city of Baturyn, killing from 9,000 to 15,000 people.

1720: A decree of Peter I forbade the printing of religious literature in the Ukrainian language.

May 1775: The Zaporozhzhian Sich, home to a relatively democratic Cossack nation, is destroyed and razed to the ground by the forces of Catherine the Great so as to provide an unobstructed corridor by means of which Russia could obtain control of the Crimea.

1863: The Valuev Circular, a secret decree severely limiting the types of works that could be printed in the Ukrainian language was promulgated, it included the claim that "a separate Little Russian language never existed, does not exist, and will not exist". (Little Russia is an alternative name for Ukraine. Since the Russian word for "white" is "byelo", to continue "as White Russia is an alternative name for Belarus" would seem disingenuous, although in researching the subject, I have learned that the "Rus" in "Belarus" actually refers to Ukraine and not Russia.)

March 16, 1917: The Provisional Government of Russia was announced after the February Revolution, which overthrew the Tsar and established a democratic government in Russia.

Russia, still reeling from the damage of the strife of this revolution, had difficulty in bearing the strain of its role as one of the nations allied against Germany in World War I. Because of strong pressure from Britain and France, however, the Provisional Government felt unable to take Russia out of that war, leading to discontent with it by the Russian people.

April 1917: Germany, in a plot to ease pressure on its Eastern front, provides Lenin with transportation from exile in Switzerland back to Russia.

November 7, 1917: Lenin overthrows the Provisional Government, ultimately establishing Communist tyranny in Russia. Hostilities between Russia and Ukraine begin shortly thereafter, and continue until the October 1921.

Spring 1932 and 1933: The Holodomor, a mass famine in the Ukraine, was caused by the seizure of food from the Ukraine under Stalin, leading to the death of four million or more Ukrainians.

Areas in the Eastern Ukraine that were depopulated by the famine were later settled by Russians; this occured in the Zaporizhzhya, Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. Thus, Donetsk and Luhansk were not areas inhabited by ethnic Russians since time immemorial, but instead are land stolen from the Ukrainian people.

1933: A new orthography was imposed by Stalin on the Ukrainian language in the Soviet Union, aimed at reducing the differences between Ukrainian and Russian. Among the changes was the elimination of the Ukrainian letter for "g"; the letter that is used in Russian for "g" is used for "h" in Ukrainian.

September 5, 1945: Igor Gouzenko, a cipher clerk at the Russian Embassy in Canada, defects, exposing extensive Soviet espionage activities in North America, including espionage activities aimed at obtaining secrets related to the development of nuclear weapons.

Fall 1946 - Fall 1947: Ukraine is affected by another famine, due to the compound effects of several factors: Communist agricultural policies, a failed harvest, and the destruction wrought by World War II. Nikita Khruschev, later to become General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, is in charge of Ukraine during this time.

March 11, 1985: Mikhail Gorbachev is appointed General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

April 26, 1986: The Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster took place. This led to Gorbachev putting an increased emphasis on the policy of glasnost which he had already begun some time previously, as attempts to cover up the seriousness of the event by some Russian officials only produced rumors that were worse than the truth.

March 11, 1990: Lithuania declares its independence from the Soviet Union.

January 11, 1991: The Soviet Union sends troops into Lithuania. This leads to a confrontation around a television station on January 13th, claiming several lives. After international condemnation of Russia's intervention in Lithuania, a peace treaty is signed on January 31st.

February 9, 1991: A referendum held in Lithuania results in overwhelming approval for independence.

June 12, 1991: In Russia's first presidential election, won by Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Zhirinovsky places third. He recieves some attention in the Western press as representing extreme nationalist views within Russia.

August 18, 1991: A coup attempt against Mikhail Gorbachev by Communist hardliners begins; popular resistance causes it to fail within days.

August 29, 1991: The Supreme Soviet suspends activities of the Communist Party. Gorbachev remains its General Secretary until December 25.

November 6, 1991: Boris Yeltsin bans Communist Party activity in the Soviet Union.

December 8, 1991: The Commonwealth of Independent States is created as the successor to the Soviet Union.

September 21, 1993: Boris Yeltsin proclaimed the Russian parliament dissolved, despite not having the constitutional authority to do so. This was because it was refusing to pass legislation to progress further with market reforms in the economy, after past steps had produced serious issues with unemployment. Parliament responded by impeaching Putin.

October 4, 1993: The Russian military, in response to orders from Yeltsin, surrounded the parliamentary buildings, and suppressed demonstrations supporting the parliament. As the West saw Yeltsin as the savior of Russian democracy, and in general supported Russia adopting the free-enterprise system, the media in general accepted Yeltsin's characterization of events as an attempt of hold-overs from the Soviet era attempting to go back to Communism, and did not present the event as a coup d'état by Yeltsin - which, in hindsight, may have been in error.

On the other hand, according the the October 18, 1993 edition of TIME, this was a battle between Yeltsin and Alexander Rutskoi, who had formed a "ragtag army of Communists, neo-Nazis and just plain hooligans dedicated to restoring the old Soviet Union", and I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of such a reputable news magazine. I will have to probe much deeper into the events of those days to find out for certain what is the real truth about them.

December 5, 1994: The United States, the United Kingdom, and the Russian Federation signed the Budapest Memorandum with Ukraine, in which they agreed, in return for Ukraine destroying the portion of the Soviet Union's nuclear arsenal that lay within Ukraine borders, and for Ukraine joining the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear power,

Russia, of course, is currently in violation of this agreement by virtue of its invasion of Ukraine. The agreement did not contain any pledge on the part of the United States to oppose aggression against Ukraine by direct military force, as an act of collective self-defence, pending a determination by the UN Security Council.

At the time, France offered the first three of these assurances to Ukraine. The People's Republic of China, for its part, noted that it does not threaten the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states, and urges other nations to do the same, and it also urges that differences between nations be settled through peaceful negotiations.

December 11, 1994: Russia begins open military aggression against Chechnya, which was marked by indiscriminate bombardment of the civilian population, ultimately leadilng to the defeat of the Chechen people on August 31, 1996.

This aggression against Checnya, of course, contributed significantly to the murders of several Americans on April 15, 2013 at the Boston Marathon, since their killers were people affectected by the Russian aggression who, as a result, harbored an unreasonable resentment at the failure of the United States to intervene and prevent it.

However, Russian participation in the Boston Marathon has only been restricted now, in 2022, as the result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, rather than in 2014, given Russia's share in the responsibility for this attack.

April 2, 1996: Belarus and Russia formed the Union of Belarus and Russia.

March 25, 1999: Despite a campaign by Serbia against Kosovo which involved the murder of civililans, and the destruction of housing, similar to what is happening now in Ukraine, Boris Yeltsin issued a statement condemning NATO airstrikes against Serbia in response as aggression.

At the end of the conflict, Kosovo is not immediately rebuilt; the United States asks Europe to take the lead in rebuilding Kosovo, given that it had contributed its share by contributing to the defeat of Serbia. The idea of making Serbia, and Serbia alone, pay for the entire cost of immediately rebuilding Kosovo in every possible respect to its previous condition does not appear to have been even considered, which sets a distressing precedent for the current struggle in Ukraine.

December 31, 1999: Boris Yeltsin resigns as Premier of Russia.

March 26, 2000: Vladimir Putin is elected President of the Russian Federation.

November 23, 2003: Mikheil Sakashvili comes to power, ousting Soviet-era leader Eduard Shevardnadze, as the result of the Rose Revolution in Georgia, one of the "Color Revolutions" along with the Orange Revolution in Ukraine.

November 22, 2004: Massive protests in cities across the Ukraine in response to election fraud by Viktor Yanukovych mark the beginning of the Orange Revolution, which leads to genuinely democratic government there.

December 12, 2007: Gary Kasparov withdraws his bid for the Russian Presidency, because a law was enacted requiring a candidate to obtain 500 signatures at a nominating convention, for which no one in Moscow was willing to rent him a meeting venue. This was widely regarded as a contrived scheme to prevent Putin from facing opposition from any candidate with popular appeal.

August 1, 2008: South Ossetian rebels shell Georgian villages, in violation of a 1992 ceasefire agreement.

August 7, 2008: The Georgian military responds to these attacks by entering the breakaway province.

August 8, 2008: Russia invades Georgia, using the Georgian response to their engineered provocation as a pretext for their aggression. This was done while President George W. Bush was attending the Beijing Olympics, thus potentially complicating the ability of the United States to respond to the situation.

August 4, 2009: Russian President Dimitri Medvedev sends an open letter to Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko in which he expresses concern about Ukraine providing arms to Georgia, characterizing the Holodomor as a genocide, suppressing the Russian language, and obstructing the activities of the Russian Black Sea fleet.

He also expresses hope that ties between Russia and Ukraine will return, and improve further to a strategic partnership between the two countries.

January 17, 2010: Victor Yanukovych is elected President of Ukraine.

November 21, 2013: The Ukrainian government, under Viktor Yanukovych, who did originally come to power in a democratic election in Ukraine, issued a decree cancelling preparations for signing an agreement to move towards membership in the European Union. Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Yuri Andreev called for people to protest this decision, and protests began.

November 30, 2013: Ukrainian police dispersed the protesters, also attacking bystanders and reporters, beating people with their batons as well as using stun grenades and tear gas.

December 1, 2013: Protests in reaction to the police activity began, and continued to grow. Thus, the Revolution of Dignity was not something that happened because a minority imposed a pro-Western direction on Ukraine, but because the Ukrainian people reacted to Yanukovych showing his true colors as a tyrant determined to brutally suppress all dissent.

December 8, 2013: Protesters toppled a statue of Lenin in Kyiv, after previous attempts on earlier days were blocked by police.

February 21, 2014: After agreeing to return the country to the 2004 consitution, and withdraw security forces from central Kyiv, Yanukovych leaves Kyiv, heading for Kharkiv, then Donetsk, and then Russia.

February 27, 2014: Russia begins its seizure of the Crimea from Ukraine.

March 18, 2014: In a speech justifying his annexation of Crimea, Vladmir Putin states: "Do not believe those who want you to fear Russia, shouting that other regions will follow Crimea. We do not want to divide Ukraine; we do not need that." As the world sees on August 22, 2014, this had as much truth to it as Adolph Hitler's statement of September 26, 1938 at the Berlin Sportspalast: "The Sudetenland is the last territorial demand I have to make in Europe, but it is a demand on which I shall not yield. I am thankful to Mr. Chamberlain for all his trouble, and I assured him that the German people want nothing but peace, but I also declared that I cannot go beyond the limits of our patience".

March 24, 2014: Ukraine withdraws all its military forces from the Crimea. The United States fails to line the borders of Ukraine with U.S. troops so as to render any further Russian attacks on Ukraine as impossible as, say, Russian tanks rolling into Germany or France.

July 2, 2014: The day before Republic Day in Belarus, President Aleksandr Lukashenko uses the Belarusian language, rather than Russian, as he usually does exclusively, in part of a major speech. In Ukraine, Russian had been in wide use, at least in the major cities, prior to the 2022 invasion, but the Ukrainian language was still widely known and used as well; in Belarus, use of Russian was so widespread as to leave the Belarusian language in desuetude.

August 22, 2014: Russian soldiers, not wearing their uniforms, and claimed by the Russian government to be volunteers, invade the Donetsk region, beginning the Russian conquest of portions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

May 21, 2015: Vladimir Putin awards Vladimir Zhirinovsky the Order of Aleksandr Nevsky.

July 6, 2017: The Moscow Times, an independent newspaper, publishes its last print issue, becoming a web site only.

July 25, 2019: Donald J. Trump, then President of the United States, has a telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky in which he pressures Zelensky to engage in an "investigation" of totally fabricated accusations against Hunter Biden; absent Ukrainian aid in this scheme, Trump would block a $400 million military aid package to Ukraine legislated by the U.S. Congress. This phone conversation led to the first impeachment trial of Donald Trump, in which a conviction did not take place, due to Republican Senators voting along partisan lines instead of honestly executing their sworn duty on behalf of the American people.

January 24, 2020: In a speech, Aleksandr Lukashenko complains of pressure from Russia to integrate Belarus with Russia.

July 29, 2020: 33 Russians are arrested in Belarus: it is claimed that several of them are employed with the Wagner Group, and were part of an attempt by Russia to destabilize the government of Belarus in advance of the forthcoming elections. It is possible that this could have been a contrivance to allow Lukashenko to put some distance between himself and Russia in the minds of voters before the election.

August 9, 2020: After election results were announced in Belarus, mass protests erupted across the country; these were brutally suppressed. More recently, a leak from Ukrainian intelligence services claims that Vladimir Putin drew up plans to invade Belarus if Aleksandr Lukashenko's control of Belarus was seriously threatened.

May 23, 2021: Ryanair flight 4978 from Athens, Greece to Vilnius, Lithuania, was forced to land in Belarus, so that dissident Roman Protasevich could be seized along with Sofia Sapega. Subsequent to this event, Russia showed support for this action by the regime in Belarus, preventing immediate regime change for this violation of the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation and act of piracy and state terrorism.

July 12, 2021: An essay by Vladimir Putin, On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians is published, which denied the long history of the Ukrainian people as a nation suffering attempts at suppression by first the Russian Empire and then by Soviet Communism.

November 12, 2021: Kremlin spokesperson Dimitry Peskov informs reporters in a telephone conference call that "Russia doesn't threaten anyone. The movement of troops on our territory shouldn't be a cause for anyone's concern." This was in connection with the massing of Russian troops near the borders with Ukraine.

December 28, 2021: Memorial, a human-rights group in Russia that sought to bring to light the record of the human rights violations in Russia under Communism, is suppressed by the Russian government. The lawyer representing the Putin regime criticized Memorial for having the goal of "making us repent the Soviet past, instead of remembering glorious history", which is reason enough, from my perspective, to hold Russia once again responsible for the crimes of the Soviet Union in addition to those of the Putin regime.

January 31, 2022: At the United Nations, in response to Western concerns that the movement of more than 100,000 troops to the vicinity of Ukraine's border indicated that Russia was planning to invade Ukraine, Russian ambassador Vasily Nebenzya responded "Not a single Russian politician, not a single public figure, not a single person said that we are planning to attack Ukraine".

Perhaps that statement was entirely factual; subsequent historical events, though, have demonstrated that the reason for that was not a lack of intention, on the part of the Russian government, to invade Ukraine, but instead was similar to the reason why, prior to December 7, 1941, no Japanese politicians or public figures had stated Japan planned to bomb Pearl Harbor. That is, for reasons of operational security. Even though, in the case of Russia, unlike Japan, they weren't fooling anyone.

February 12, 2022: A one-hour telephone conversation between U. S. President Joseph R. Biden and Vladimir Putin fails to resolve the apprehension of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. neither gives Putin the security guarantees he wants, or supplies the Ukraine with U.S. troops so as to send a clear message to Russia that an invasion of Ukraine would have catastrophic consequences.

February 20, 2022: Vladimir Putin states that a failure on the part of NATO to take Russia's demands for security guarantees seriously could result in conflict. The United States and NATO, being notified of the possibility of aggressive military acts by Russia towards Ukraine, again fail to take the necessary steps to render such aggression impossible, by lining the borders of Ukraine with areas under hostile control with U.S. and/or NATO troops.

February 24, 2022: Russia invades the entirety of Ukraine. Vladimir Putin threatens any country that would come directly to Ukraine's aid by sending in troops against the Russian forces with nuclear attack. This has meant that while the world has come to Ukraine's aid in a number of limited ways, it has been unable to prevent Russian forces from killing people on Ukrainian soil, including direct attacks on civilians.

March 4, 2022: A law is passed in Russia providing jail terms of up to 15 years for those who refer to Russia's "special military operation" in Ukraine as a "war" or an "invasion", or for making other statements which the authorities view as "fake news". Within days, the Moscow Times, once an independent newspaper in Russia, but which ceased print publication, becoming only a web site, in 2017, relocates from Moscow to Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, following these restrictions on the press in Russia.

March 16, 2022: The International Court of Justice calls for Russia to withdraw from Ukraine. While this, in itself, is likely to have no practical consequence, it is indicative of a new phase in Russia's internatiional isolation.

Also, Vladimir Putin issued a statement harshly critical of those Russians who think in a Western fashion instead of a Russian fashion, calling on the real Russian people to "spit them out". This has been described as "chilling", and indeed it is, on a number of levels. Certainly, if one is a "rootless cosmopolite" (that is, if one is of Jewish origin, this being Stalin's way of making veiled references to them), the time to leave Russia was yesterday. One can look on the bright side, and note that it is a sign of increasing desperation under the fierce Ukrainian defense and Western sanctions, but rather than entertaining possibly unrealistic hopes about Putin being deposed, I will wait to rejoice in it when it actually happens.

March 18, 2022: As one consequence of Vladimir Putin's "special military operation", of which one avowed goal is to "de-Nazify" Ukraine, Boris Romanchenko, a survivor of the Buchenwald concentration camp, died as a result of a rocket hitting the apartment building in which he lived during the bombardment of Kharkiv by Russian forces.

April 3, 2022: RIA Novosti published an opinion piece by Timofey Sergaytsev claiming that the majority of Ukrainians are passive accomplices of Nazism, that history has shown that Ukraine is impossible as a nation-state, and that Ukraine will have to be thoroughly cleansed of Nazism through harsh measures by Russia.

Of course, the Russian government only allows the ideas it wishes to see expressed to appear in the mass media, but this does not mean that this is necessarily the official intent of the Russian government; it could just as easily be only a threat meant to demoralize the people and government of Ukraine.

April 4, 2022: Russia begins its occupation of Bucha, which ends on April 10. When the town north of Kiev is regained by Ukrainian forces, evidence of mass slaughter, torture, and rape by Russian forces is found.

April 10, 2022: United States officials confirm that Russia has appointed Aleksandr Dvornikov to head its invasion of Ukraine. Dvornikov, in Syria, was responsible for indiscriminate attacks on civilians, including children.

May 17, 2022: Finland and Sweden officially request admission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Turkey expresses its intention to deny them the unanimous consent they require for admission, citing several issues on which those countries had taken positions against Turkey.

May 18, 2022: The Ukrainian troops holding out at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol end their fight, but are unable to escape, and thus surrender to Russian forces. As many of them belong to the Azov Regiment, which Russia claims harbors "Nazis" among its members, there have been calls in Russia's news media to try them for "war crimes". As such charges would be utterly baseless, this would be a violation of the Geneva Conventions by Russia.

May 25, 2022: Russia offered to allow ships to leave Ukraine to export food if the West would lift some of the sanctions against Russia.

June 9, 2022: While paying tribute to Tsar Peter the Great on the 350th anniversary of his birth, Putin said it was "impossible to build a fence around a country like Russia", in the sense that Russia could not be delimited to exclude Ukraine - or Estonia - from its territory.

June 25, 2022: Aleksandr Dvornikov is dismissed from his role in the invasion of Ukraine, apparently because of drunkenness, according to some reports.

August 21, 2022: Darya Dugina, the daughter of Alexander Dugin, is killed in a car bomb explosion. As news reports identified Alexander Dugin as "Putin's Brain", and thus someone whose influence encouraged Putin to invade Ukraine, it was not only in the Russian press that there was speculation that agents from the Ukraine had attempted to assassinate Alexander Dugin, killing her by accident.

Ukraine denied responsibility for the attack, suggesting that it may have been due to internal Russian opponents of Putin.

However, I have now seen a YouTube video claiming that Alexander Dugin was actually an opponent of Putin, and so it was Putin's secret police that were behind this death. While I certainly would find it congenial to believe that, and useful to claim that, at present this theory is not more than an interesting possibility as far as I know.

August 30, 2022: After a long illness, Mikhail Gorbachev passes away in Russia.

September 1, 2022: Ravil Maganov, chairman of the board of Lukoil, Russia's largest private oil company, was clearly and obviously murdered on the orders of Vladimir Putin, because he had called for Russia to cease its "special military operation" in Ukraine. The Russian news media, however, claims that his fall from a sixth-story hospital window may have been a suicide (presumably, instead of an accident).

September 5, 2022: Russia formally adopts a foreign policy doctrine which claims that Russia has a legitimate interest in supporting the rights of persons of Russian origin living abroad; of course, what is of concern is not that the legitimate rights of ethnic Russians would be defended, but that it means that as with the Germans of the Sudetenland, or the Russians in Georgia and Ukraine, it means more use of Russians living in other places as a false pretext for invasions. The Baltic countries, having both sizable Russian populations, descended from people enabled to enter without permission due to their Soviet conquest, and being NATO members, are of particular concern, as this legislation could be viewed as indicating a willingness on the part of the Putin regime to start World War III.

September 7, 2022: Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, claimed that from 900,000 to 1.6 million Ukrainians had been forcibly moved to Russia since the invasion of Ukraine. Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ilze Brands Kehris, a Swedish national, stated that U.N. human rights officials had verified the process of "filtration" had indeed been taking place, at least to some extent.

September 14, 2022: A Twitter posting claims that a "loud bang" was heard near Putin's limousine as the result of an attempt to assassinate Putin. This is reported in some Western tabloid newspapers as fact. However, not only has the claim been officially denied by Russia, there seems to be no evidence of it. Some have speculated that the item was planted by Russia for whatever reason; the only one I can think of would be to distract people from an automobile accident in which Volodomyr Zelensky was involved which could perhaps have been an assassination attempt by Russian agents. But it could also have just been an automobile accident, in which case I cannot shed light on this mystery.

September 21, 2022: After Ukrainian forces make significant advances in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Vladimir Putin announces a "partial mobilization" that will move 300,000 men with some form of previous combat training or experience to the conflict with Ukraine. This leads to protests, and to a panicked exodus from Russia by many men believing a general mobilization is imminent.

September 23, 2022: Russia begins sending armed troops door to door in occupied areas of Ukraine, asking residents to vote on whether or not they wish their regions to be annexed by Russia. The intent is to present the Ukraine and the West with a fait accompli so that the West would not dare to assist Ukraine in the reconquest of these areas for fear of nuclear retaliation. Due to the form of this referendum, however, Western nations have indicated they are taking the threats no more seriously than the referendum.

September 24, 2022: Reports from Russia indicate that instead of a partial mobilization of 300,000 men, Russia is actually engaging in large-scale conscription to mobilize from 1 to 1.2 million men.

September 25, 2022: Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, has told his Russian faithful that those who are killed fighting in Vladimir Putin's "special military operation" against Ukraine will recieve absolution from their sins.

September 30, 2022: Despite losses on the ground, Vladimir Putin gives a speech where he announces his intent to annex Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine, making them an "eternal" part of Russia. This drew broad international condemnation as being contrary to international law (hopefully, among other things).

Also, a popular youthful former Orthodox priest by the name of Ivan Ivanovich Okhlobystin tells a crowd in Red Square, as part of a concert celebrating the annexation of these regions at which Vladimir Putin also gave a speech, that those countries that oppose Russia in Ukraine should be afraid, because they're run by Satanists and perverts. According to Wikipedia, he has advocated burning homosexuals alive, so we can see he has strong views on this sort of thing. Another notable feature of his speech is that he uses the rallying cry "Gojda!". As the commentator Jonasz Rewiński on TVP World, an English-language Internet service of Telewizja Polska noted, this was not Gouda, despite his speech being cheesy: rather, this was the cry used by the secret police of Ivan the Terrible. Surprisingly, since they both share strong support for Vladimir Putin's "special military operation", it was Patriarch Kirill himself that defrocked Okhlobystin. Perhaps a reconciliation is forthcoming?

October 5, 2022: Putin signs the annexations into law.

Also, OPEC+ agrees to cut oil production by two million barrels per day, despite the crisis created in Europe by the unavailability of fossil fuel supplies from Russia due to the Ukraine conflict. This decision is sharply criticized by U. S. President Joseph R. Biden.

The current members of OPEC are Algeria, Angola, the Republic of the Congo (not Zaire), Equatorial Guniea, Gabon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Sa'udi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.

The term OPEC+ has been coined to include nations which co-ordinate their oil production with OPEC; nations in this group are said to be Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, the Philippines, Russia, Sudan, and South Sudan.

October 8, 2022: The Kerch Bridge, a 12-mile bridge spanning the strait linking the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea, which connects Crimea directly to Russia, was seriously damaged by an explosion. Russian officials claimed the explosion was likely to have been caused by a bomb carried by a truck travelling from Crimea to Russia along the bridge, but some Western analysts have claimed that this was unlikely. While glee over the event was expressed by Ukrainian officials, no claim of responsibility was made.

October 9, 2022: Russian missiles hit apartment blocks in the city of Zaporizhzhia, in a direct attack on civilians, which, of course, is a war crime, in apparent retaliation for the damage to the Kerch Bridge, which, as a major supply route for Russian forces defending their occupation of Crimea, was a legitimate military target, although this did not stop Russian authorities from referring to the attack on the Kerch Bridge as an "act of terrorism".

While Russia had recently officially annexed the province of Zaporizhzhia, and it had lost significant territory there, the capital, also named Zaporizhzhia, had remained under Ukrainian control from before the gunpoint referendum and the illegal claimed annexation. Thus, while there is still considerable irony in that Russia is retaliating for the attack on the Kerch Bridge by shooting a missile at civilians who are likely to mostly be the ethnic Russians that Russia claims it is fighting to rescue, it turns out that I am not able to accurately claim even more irony, as the people killed or injured by the missile did not actually have the opportunity to have voted to rejoin Mother Russia in the recent referendum.

Had that been the case, it would have thoroughly given the lie to Putin's rationale for his aggression against Ukraine in a particularly glaring manner. But even without that final touch, it still does so well enough.

October 10, 2022: Perhaps realizing their mistake of the previous day, Russian forces launched missiles at civilians in Kyiv, among other places in Ukraine. These attacks led to the president of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, announcing that he was "100% satisfied" with Russia's conduct of its "special military operation" in Ukraine, after previously being critical of it, due to setbacks.

Also, more than a dozen large airports in the United States were affected by cyberattacks apparently emanating from a Russian hacker group, Killnet. However, the impact appears to have been limited to the web sites of these airports.

October 11, 2022: Missile strikes against Ukraine continue, this time with more than 40 Ukrainian cities targeted. This appears to confirm an earlier report from the English-language service of Polish state television, TVP World, that Russia had been preparing its current missile attack on Ukraine in advance of the explosion on the Kerch Bridge, and thus these attacks are not actually retaliation for the explosion, but would have taken place in any case.

A statement by the deputy secretary of Russia's Security Council, Aleksander Venediktov, that Ukraine becoming a member of NATO would cause the current conflict with Ukraine to escalate into World War III was widely reported as a new nuclear threat from Russia. In fact, this has been acknowledged all along by Western nations, which is why the admission of Ukraine to NATO can only happen when, for whatever reason, it is no longer currently in the midst of a conflict. Then, the guarantee of escalation will be a good thing rather than a bad thing, as it would prevent any future conflict from starting.

October 18, 2022: Kevin McCarthy, House minority leader, states that if the Republicans obtain control of the House of Representatives (as they did), the Administration would not recieve a "blank check" when it came to money for Ukraine.

If all this meant was that there would be responsible oversight of assistance to Ukraine to ensure the American taxpayer's money was not wasted, who could argue with it? But because of the behavior of the Republican Party under Obama and under Trump, dark suspicions that this could mean, in practice, that Ukraine will be held hostage in order to force prosecutions of former President Donald Trump to be abandoned, are hard to avoid.

October 19, 2022: Damage to a number of Ukrainian power plants by Russian missile attacks and shelling raises concern that a "humanitarian catastrophe" could take place in Ukraine with people unable to heat their homes.

October 24, 2022: The Russian state-run broadcaster Russia Today suspended Anton Krasovsky for saying, on-air, that Ukrainian children ought to be "thrown in a river with a strong undercurrent" or burned alive. It was even stated that there will be an investigation to determine if a violation of Russia's hate speech laws took place. Given the nature of earlier statements by Russian nationalists during the course of this "special military operation", it is, if anything, surprising to learn that even Russia has its limits; however, this suspension took place as the result of a negative popular reaction to the statement, rather than at the initiative of the broadcaster, so the limits are those of the Russian people, not their government.

Also, Russian officials claim that Ukraine is planning to detonate a "dirty bomb" in a false-flag operation. This claim is not taken seriously in the West, but it raises fears that Russia is laying the groundwork for evading responsibility after it uses such a weapon against Ukraine.

As well, on that day, a statement signed by Pramila Jayapal, Alexandria Occasio-Cortez, and 28 other members of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party was released which called for the United States to immediately begin negotiations with Russia on the Ukraine conflict.

This statement was met with a shocked reaction, both in Ukraine and in the United States; but a quick correction was issued, to the effect that this was a draft document which was inadvertently released, and which no longer reflected the thinking of its signatories, due to changes in the situation in the conflict.

October 26, 2022: Anton Krasovsky may possibly face consequences for his over-enthusiasm in the Russian cause. Now, accusations are coming from Russia that either or both the U.S. and Ukraine instructed him to make his extreme remarks to serve their propaganda goals.

October 27, 2022: It is widely reported that Vladimir Putin gave a speech in which he accused the West of playing a "dangerous, bloody, and dirty game" related to the conflict in Ukraine.

This speech was given at the Valdai Discussion Club, which is claimed to be a "think tank" for the political forces in Russia sympathetic to Putin.

If one examines the full text of this speech, it contained a number of statements which would appear peculiar to many in the West.

The speech was given during a four-day session with the name "A Post-Hegemonic World: Justice and Security for Everyone".

Thus, he said that the West always seeks "to aggravate matters", listing "the stoking of war in Ukraine, the provocations around Taiwan, and the destabilization of global food and energy markets".

Provocations around Taiwan? But perhaps he finds Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan to be provocative, and the various military drills near Taiwan, which are generally seen in the West to be of an intimidating character, to be entirely legitimate.

Stoking of war in Ukraine? In the West, we think that the only cause of war in Ukraine is that Putin decided to wage one to satisfy his own ego. But the West did support a change of government in Ukraine that Putin wasn't happy with. So, if the war was the West's fault, then so would be the resultant "destabilization of global food and energy markets".

He went on to say "But this game is certainly dangerous, bloody and, I would say, dirty. It denies the sovereignty of countries and peoples, their identity and uniqueness, and tramples upon other statesí interests." Given Russian statements about how Ukraine is not a real nation distinct from Russia, given that Russian troops entered Ukraine to engage in hostilities, which is, of course, the most fundamental form of disrespect for a nation's sovereignty, it's hard to regard such a statement as anything but risible.

And he went on to note that the West was distracting the world from such important real concerns as global warming and biodiversity. That the war in Ukraine has distracted from these is, of course, quite true, but the argument is about who is responsible for there being a war in Ukraine.

But he claims that the West seeks absolute global dominance, and the differences the West is trying to wipe out other forms of genuinely representative government in terms of their own model:

"For many years, Western ideologists and politicians have been telling the world there was no alternative to democracy. Admittedly, they meant the Western-style, the so-called liberal model of democracy. They arrogantly rejected all other variants and forms of government by the people and, I want to emphasize this, did so contemptuously and disdainfully."

That Russia's government is an example of another form of government by the people, of course, does not seem plausible, with the events of December 12, 2007 noted above as just one example making it clear why, nor is it believable that the government of the People's Republic of China is an example of another form of government by the people. But Vladimir Putin, it must be admitted, is not the only person who says such things.

As an example of the point he was making, he said: "For example, the Hungarian MPsí July proposals to codify the commitment to European Christian values and culture in the Treaty on European Union were taken not even as an affront, but as an outright and hostile act of sabotage." Of course, given that it is the side of liberal democracy that reacted in this way, the reaction is not surprising. While Europe is indeed a predominantly Christian continent, and it should celebrate its values and culture, placing a direct reference to them in the laws would run the risk of promoting inequality and discrimination.

However, Putin went on, "There is no need to cancel anything, be it Christian values, Islamic values or Jewish values. We have other world religions as well. All you need to do is respect each other." Here, he was not contradicting himself, because his claim that the reaction to the proposal of the Hungarian members of the European Parliament was unjustified rests upon the premise that it was not in any way an open proclamation of Christian supremacism. And in this, he is correct: it was not. Where he is being disingenuous is in ignoring that this reaction was out of vigilance against even beginning movement in the direction of the "old days" where inequality was pervasive and accepted as inevitable.

And one example of how the West, unlike Russia, does not respect the rights of other nations to develop and represent their people in government according to their own cultures was outlined in this: "If the Western elites believe they can have their people and their societies embrace what I believe are strange and trendy ideas like dozens of genders or gay pride parades, so be it. Let them do as they please. But they certainly have no right to tell others to follow in their steps."

Such a statement may strike a responsive chord in some, as it is understandable that many will be uncomfortable with a recent change in our understanding of what equality should include. But since liberalism also tries to forbid, for example, the persecution of religious minorities (which Putin, elsewhere, seemed to be against) the notion that one can't really have democracy without having individual rights that protect everyone seems sound to me.

October 29, 2022: Russia suspends an agreement which allowed grain to be shipped from Ukraine so as to prevent the war from disrupting the world's food supply, citing a drone attack on their Black Sea Fleet in Crimea as the reason.

November 2, 2022: Russia returns to the grain deal.

November 11, 2022: Reports claim that Aleksandr Dugin called for Putin's ouster because of the withdrawal of Russian forces from Kherson in Ukraine. These reports were based on an anonymous letter on the Russian Tsargrad website, alleged to have been his work. Although it did not mention Putin by name, it did say that the military commanders involved were not to blame, but rather that autocracy is a natural response to the nation reaching a critical point; if the autocrat does harsh things, that may be unpleasant, but if the nation is saved, that is what is important. If it is not saved, then "the fate of the 'king of the rains' awaits [the autocrat]"; this was an allusion to Frazer's "The Golden Bough".

Not only did he say that anyone who wasn't deeply hurt by the loss of Kherson was not a Russian, but he concluded that this loss was "not [merely] a betrayal, [but] a step towards Armageddon" - because a Western victory in the conflict in Ukraine would be so unacceptable (he refers to the West as "this civilization of Satan") that the use of nuclear weapons by Russia would be inevitable.

This could be interpreted not as a call for people to overthrow and execute Putin now as a result of the fall of Kherson, but rather as a prediction of what would happen following a final Russian defeat.

In any case, there has been no news of any immediate consequences for Aleksandr Dugin in the following days.

November 15, 2022: An explosion in Przewodów, Poland, killed two people. It is believed to have been caused by a missile involved in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia that went the wrong way. A statement by President Biden noted that NATO surveillance aircraft in the area had tracked the missile's trajectory, and the information from this seemed to indicate that it was unlikely the missile came from Russia. As well, analysis of images of the wreckage of the missile indicated that some of the fragments were from the 48D6 motor of the FV55-series missile of the S-300 air defense system, which would make it a Ukrainian missile.

As well, a news report surfaced that the Zambian government had been notified of the death of one of their citizens in September, Lemekhani Nyirenda.

He had been working as a courier, and as he had been given a parcel containing drugs, and the police could not find the person who gave them to him, he was convicted and jailed without any proof that he knew what was in the parcel.

From a Russian jail, he was conscripted to serve in the war against Ukraine, where he died.

November 16, 2022: In a disaster for humanity, the Republican Party achieved control of the House of Representatives in the United States after the November 8th mid-term elections. As it is the House of Representatives that has the spending power within the U.S. government, this is expected to interfere with continued U.S. aid to Ukraine in its heroic struggle to survive.

Colonel Vadim Boyko, deputy head of the Vladivostok Pacific Naval College, involved in the Russian mobilization for that country's invasion of Ukraine, was found dead in the morning; official news accounts in Russia claim that he committed suicide, but these accounts are being met with skepticism.

November 17, 2022: Several Republicans from the House of Representatives, including Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz, held a news conference in which they made statements expressing an intent to halt, or severely limit, American assistance to Ukraine in the current conflict.

December 15, 2022: In response to messages by the Government of Canada on Twitter about Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and the mobilization of additional soldiers to that end, Oleg Stepanov, Russia's ambassador to Canada, made this statement:

We live in a free country. There are no travel restrictions for individuals. Hoever, all jokes aside, I can state only one thing in this context: I pity them. Cowards can neither be Russians nor citizens of our country. To be Russian is to stay with your country in the face of challenges. Regardless of one's political views. When your national army is fighting, you have no moral alternative but to stand by it. Those who have left are just a dried-up husk of a man, dust in the wind. It is that very case when the history separates the wheat from the chaff.

Of course, while such words would be fine words if Russia were indeed defending itself from aggression, when the reality is that Russia is conducting a cruel and completely unprovoked aggression against a peaceful neighbor, they are so divorced from reality as to deserve nothing but mockery.

History has all the time needed in so obvious a situation to separate the wheat - Zelensky, and the heroic Ukrainian people - from the chaff - Putin, and his accomplices in aggression.

December 17, 2022: In an interview, John Bolton says what most of us ought to have suspected all along: if Donald Trump had been re-elected in 2020, Russia's forces would be in Kiev by now.

December 21, 2022: Volodymyr Zelensky visits the United States to address a joint session of Congress.

Representative Thomas Massie, a Republican from Kentucky, did not attend the address, and explained his reasons on Twitter: he did not choose to listen to a lobbyist for Ukraine.

A presentation involving both Vladimir Putin and Sergei Shoigu announced plans to increase the size of Russia's armed forces to 1.5 million soldiers, to place emphasis on enhancing Russia's nuclear capabilities, and to include placing more forces on the border with Finland.

December 22, 2022: Fox News host Tucker Carlson weighed in on Volodomyr Zelensky's appearance before Congress. As Zelensky was in casual wear instead of formal wear, Carlson opined that he should have been "thrown out" of Congress, and that he had the appearance of "the manager of a strip club, demanding money".

As the freedom, not just of Ukraine, but of the Baltic states, of Finland, and indeed, all of Europe is hanging in the balance, it will be remembered which side Tucker Carlson and Thomas Massie, among others, chose to take.

January 13, 2023: A natural gas pipeline between Lithuania and Latvia is damaged by an explosion. This occurred on the day when Lithuania remembers the casualties of the confrontation with Soviet troops after its independence in 1991. The possibility of deliberate sabotage is under investigation.

Also on that date, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova accused the chief of staff of the Ukrainian President of falsifying history, by referring to Sergei Korolev, the "Chief Designer" of the Soviet space program, as Ukrainian, claiming that the only Ukrainian thing about him was where he was born. In fact, he was ethnically Ukrainian, he lived and worked in the Ukraine until he was 19, and used the Ukrainian language into his old age in addition to Russian, which he certainly did know well.

Interestingly enough, on December 19 of the preceding year, a pop music video celebrating the destructive power of the new Sarmat missile being prepared for deployment ended with a shot of a monument to Sergei Korolev, thanking him for making it possible.

January 14, 2023: Dimitri Medvedev, the man who filled in for Vladimir Putin much the same way as Lurleen Wallace filled in for George Wallace, in response to a joint statement from U. S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, stating the firmness of their opposition against any use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine by Russia, accused the Japanese Prime Minister of a shameful subservience to the United States, and suggested that such shame could only be dealt with through the Japanese Prime Minister performing seppuku, the Japanese ritual suicide by disembowlment also known in the West as hara-kiri.

January 23, 2023: South Africa hosted an official visit from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and as well defended the decision to host a joint naval exercise with Russia and the People's Republic of China in February.

January 25, 2023: After some delays, Germany has agreed to supply its Leopard tanks to Ukraine.