The End of Ukrainian Agriculture

Today’s video comes to you from Pine Creek in the Collegiate Wildnerness of central Colorado.

Russia has pulled out of the grain deal brokered by Turkey and the UN, and the countdown on Ukrainian agriculture has officially started.

The Russians are wasting no time, as attacks have already begun on the physical infrastructure that allowed Ukrainian wheat, corn, and sunflower to reach international markets by ship. Unfortunately, none of this is new; Russia is looking for any way to crush the Ukrainian economy and kickstart a famine in the region.

Efforts to export these products via other channels are somewhat futile, considering the cost breakdown and the risk involved. With exports already down by 2/3 before this deal was abandoned, this winter wheat crop will likely be the last one of size to hit international markets.

And it doesn’t stop there. As Russia continues to target agricultural infrastructure, Ukraine will lose the capacity to provide for its own population and become a food importer within the year.

To that tune, I encourage you to donate to MedShare or a charity of your choice. We must support these organizations that are working aggressively to alleviate some of the human suffering caused by this war. Learn more below.


Here at Zeihan On Geopolitics we select a single charity to sponsor. We have two criteria:
 
First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
 
Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.
 
And then there’s you.
 
Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S UKRAINE FUND

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S EFFORTS GLOBALLY

Why the Kerch Strait Bridge Attack is BAD for Russia

Apologies that this video is a few days behind schedule; finding a signal up here in the mountains is harder than the hiking I’m doing.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or stuck in the mountains), you’ve probably heard that the Kerch Strait Bridge was attacked again. While this attack took Russia’s vehicular transport capabilities offline, there’s much more at stake here.

This bridge is Russia’s most important logistical infrastructure in this war. It serves as the primary method Russia uses to get equipment, troops, and fuel into the front. They fancy this route in particular because it is out of artillery range, unlike the mainland alternatives.

Due to the vehicle bomb attack last year, the Kerch Strait Bridge was already operating at a limited capacity; vehicle transport was fine, but only one of two rail lines was operational. So with this new attack taking the vehicle spans offline, the singular light cargo rail line is the last man standing.

This is bad news for Russia, and if they can’t fix it quickly, it could evolve into a massive global embarrassment. Right now, the Ukrainians have a chance to make a huge breakthrough, but if they can’t make it happen soon…it may never happen. So be sure to keep a close eye on Ukraine.

Note: A single lane of road traffic reopened on the bridge yesterday, but the point remains that there won’t be anything happening at scale.


Here at Zeihan On Geopolitics we select a single charity to sponsor. We have two criteria:
 
First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
 
Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.
 
And then there’s you.
 
Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S UKRAINE FUND

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S EFFORTS GLOBALLY

Russia Terminates the Black Sea Grain Deal

Russia announced on Monday that the Black Sea grain deal will not be extended. This initiative has enabled Ukraine to export agricultural products through Russia’s blockade of the Black Sea; however, Ukrainian exports are only at a fraction of pre-war levels.

The termination of the grain deal should sound alarm bells for everyone. As one of the world’s largest grain exporters, Ukraine has played a vital role in feeding the world’s population. With exports already limited, the end of this deal will likely spark widespread shortages, price increases, and famine.

So why did Russia terminate the deal? Reports from the Kremlin state that not all conditions outlined in the deal had been met, so the agreement ceased to be valid. Admittedly, I’m a bit surprised that the intermittent coordination between Kyiv and Moscow lasted this long…and that’s before we even look at the Kerch Strait Bridge being attacked (again) on the eve of this deal’s expiration date.

Speaking of the recent attack, we’ll have an update on the Kerch Strait Bridge as soon as I can upload the video from the mountain tops here in Colorado.

To give you a refresher on the Black Sea Grain Deal and some context on how we got here, the video below contains my thoughts from August 2022 and March and June of 2023.


Here at Zeihan On Geopolitics we select a single charity to sponsor. We have two criteria:
 
First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
 
Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.
 
And then there’s you.
 
Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S UKRAINE FUND

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S EFFORTS GLOBALLY

Ukraine’s Waiting Game: Zelensky’s Quest for NATO Membership

Note: This video was recorded back in June, but it helps paint a picture of what is going down at the NATO summit.

As the NATO summit in Vilnius wraps up, we’re left with a result that was more or less expected. Ukraine won’t be getting called up to the big leagues anytime soon, but it’s not all bad news for Zelensky…

Now you’re probably thinking that the main reason NATO was formed was to keep Russia (formerly the Soviet Union) at bay. While that may be true, NATO has no interest in getting into a direct conflict with Russia.

On top of that, Ukraine doesn’t quite cross off all the requirements on the list. So even if everything went perfectly at the summit, the accession process still requires unanimity…so don’t hold your breath.

Despite NATO leaving Ukraine out of the party, that doesn’t mean they won’t try to tip the scales in Ukraine’s favor; many NATO countries have already offered aid, supplies and support and that won’t be stopping anytime soon. A new wave of aid will be headed Ukraine’s way, so at least Zelensky wasn’t left completely high and dry.

While missiles, artillery, rockets, and an air force are all part of a combined arms warfare system, there’s simply no substitute for ground forces. The Russians are finding that even Ukraine, a country they dwarf militarily and economically, can have a shot at the title if they have the numbers and the right equipment.

Prefer to read the transcript of the video? Click here


Here at Zeihan On Geopolitics we select a single charity to sponsor. We have two criteria:
 
First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
 
Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.
 
And then there’s you.
 
Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S UKRAINE FUND

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S EFFORTS GLOBALLY


TRANSCIPT

Hey everybody. Peter Zeihan here coming to you from the Monterey Airport. Thunderstorms in Denver have delayed my departure, which means I’m stuck here for an extra 4 hours and I’m going to get to know the bartender very well. But I figured I might as well record some thoughts since I had the time on the topic of waiting in the wings for other people to make a damn decision.

But it was a good time to talk about NATO membership and the case of Ukraine. And now the NATO alliance is built by a series of countries that have unanimously agreed to look out for one another’s security. And that is something that has never happened in a multilateral environment before. Most security agreements that exist on the planet today and throughout human history have been at most bilateral pacts where countries are willing to back away. Its only article five of the NATO alliance that actually legally binds countries to look out for one another. Obviously, that’s the theory, and practice can be somewhat different. But the issue is this has always been the best security guarantee among countries at any point in human history. And Ukraine wants in. And there was a great joke going on last year when the Ukrainians were doing a great job against the Russians. Like, you know, that Nito is seeking membership in Ukraine rather the other way around. The conversation has again started up about what might be necessary for the Ukrainians to actually join NATO.

Let me start with the punch line. Not this year, not next year, not the year after. Not the year after that. For Ukraine to join NATO. One of the core issues, it has to be that you don’t have a border dispute with any of your neighbors and that eliminates Ukraine or right off the bat, even if the war were to end tomorrow, the Russians are certainly going to have some quibbles with the Ukrainians when it comes to where the international border is. And until that is resolved, one way or another, this is completely off the table. That was true for the Italians back in the immediate post-world War two environment. That has been true for the Croatians in the post Yugoslav war scenarios, and that is true for the Ukrainians today. There’s the second issue that while NATO’s was formed to keep the Russians at arm’s length, NATO’s is not like giddy about the possibility of getting into a slugfest with a nuclear power. And so as long, again, as we have these hostilities going on between Ukraine and Russia, it’s not that NATO countries are going to put their finger on the scale and try to adjust the outcome. That’s not what I’m saying at all. But they don’t want to get directly involved. And an Article five guarantee would guarantee that NATO’s immediately goes into a state of general war. So if you’re Ukraine, I’m afraid you have to take what you can get and do what you can do on your own. NATO is there. NATO’s helping, but the Article five guarantee that is years ahead. And even if Russia were to be defeated completely tomorrow and its fangs were moved so it could never launch another war again. Only then could NATO’s begin the process of its 30 odd members actually going through the accession process.

And that all by itself is another five years. Alright. I’ll see you in, I don’t know, like 20 minutes or something.

Ask Peter: Has the US Overcommitted Itself to the Ukraine War?

More than a few countries out there couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time…but the US isn’t one of them. Today’s question in the ‘Ask Peter Series’ looks at whether or not the US has stretched itself too thin in Ukraine to deal with another major conflict.

Yes, the US has given the Ukrainians a couple of shiny new toys, but most of the stuff has been obsolete hand-me-downs. And how often do you get to test your new weapon systems in a real-world setting? So the only thing in the mix that throws up any red flags for me is the cluster munitions (and those were going to be retired soon anyways).

This war hasn’t impacted US military preparedness, and if China wanted to try its luck, they’d get an ass-whoopin’ compliments of Uncle Sam. The big piece here is that the people doing the walking and chewing the gum are entirely different. If anything, our involvement in Ukraine has been a proof of concept for how the US will fight the wars of the future.

Prefer to read the transcript of the video? Click here


Here at Zeihan On Geopolitics we select a single charity to sponsor. We have two criteria:
 
First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
 
Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.
 
And then there’s you.
 
Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S UKRAINE FUND

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S EFFORTS GLOBALLY


TRANSCIPT

Hey everyone. Peter Zeihan here coming to you from an incredibly green Colorado. We’ve gotten double our annual precipitation before we even hit April, but hasn’t stopped yet. Today, as part of the ask period to your series, we’re going to talk about chewing gum and walking at the same time. The concern is that in supplying weapons to the Ukrainians, the United States might be stretching its bandwidth to be able to deal with a major conflict like, say, with China.

The punch line is, no, this is not something I’m worried about at all. For the simple reason that the people would be doing the gum chewing and the walking or different people, any sort of military conflict that the Americans are going to get involved with, with the Russians are going to be primarily on land first and foremost in Ukraine itself.

That’s an army job. And any conflict that soon involved the Chinese is going to be on the high seas. That’s the Navy’s and to a lesser degree, Marines job. So the United States is perfectly capable of fighting two wars if they’re very different sorts of wars. So I’m not worried there. Number one. Number two, nothing has happened with the Ukraine war yet that has really hit American military preparedness.

So let’s get this first. From the weapons point of view, it’s already been given most of the weapons system, almost all the weapons systems that the United States has provided to the Ukrainians are things that the United States you know, most of the stuff that the American right it to the Ukrainians are things that the U.S. military hasn’t used itself since at least the 1990s and in most cases further back.

This is Army surplus that has to technologically be high the military uses. And so really, the Ukrainians are just going through our hand-me-downs now. We would have given these things to the allies. That’s what we did at the end of the Cold War, for example. But most of the military’s in Europe have been downsizing or skipping a generation.

What we’ll do is left all this stuff like Hummers going around and warehouses. So with a couple of notable exceptions, these are not things that the U.S. uses at all, the notable exceptions. There are currently two Patriot batteries operate in Ukraine that is very close to the top of an aircraft that the United States has right now. I would argue that even though taking those out of American service might be at the strategic issue for the U.S. a little bit.

It’s worth it because we’re getting real time experience with U.S. technology and third party hands against top of the line Russian equipment, most notably the Kinzel cruise missiles. And we now know for certain that even without American personnel operating them, the Patriots don’t done that. The Russians have that was a great bit of information that we didn’t have before.

The other thing is, are three shells. Now, the United States has not been engaged in a massive war to Vietnam. Even when you look at the Gulf Wars, they were very short little events. And so we haven’t had to use artillery in volume for a very long period of time in the United States, which means that our production of artillery shells has been pared to the bone and we are going through we the Ukraine is going through more artillery shells in a month and the United States can produce in a year.

And Europe is even further behind when it comes to munitions. So that has prompted the United States to get Canadians weapons systems that we are in the process of phasing out. And most notably, that is the cluster munitions that you may have seen in the news recently. Now, a cluster munition is one single piece of explosive. There are dozens or hundreds of little but spread over an area.

The Ukrainians have been on the receiving end of these weapons since the beginning of the war. Russians have preferred to use the cluster munitions whenever they’re targeting a city. They’ll use them when they go in and get things like tanks and so there’s already hundreds of thousands, if not tens of millions of these little bomblets, some of which haven’t exploded, scattered across all of eastern and southern Ukraine, aren’t brought up.

The kids aren’t thrilled. But from the Ukraine interview, gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme. Because anywhere they can get and I believe they’re going to use cluster munitions on their population centers. That’s the job for the Russians anyway. These are weapons that are for is it’s a little distasteful. And the United States Army was in the process of them out anyway.

So again, this kind of falls into the category of surplus stuff, even if it’s not quite kind of there anyway. Bottom line, U.S. military preparedness really hasn’t been affected by this war to this point. If anything, it’s proving to be a useful proof of concept for how the U.S. is likely to fight wars in the future. In the aftermath of the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There is no political support in the United States for a mass deployment for anything except for top level national defense. That’s not seen as an issue right now. No one’s dumb enough to attack the United States directly. At least I don’t think that’s going to happen. Which means that U.S. strategic policy is going to be operating through third parties and or using special forces.

And so with Ukraine, where we have a motivated third party who was very willing to be an ally except in equipment, and we’re finding out how well that works and getting some expertize and figuring out what to do better the next time around. So all in all, in a weird sort of way, you can kind of thank the Russians for getting the United States to where it needs to go, both getting rid of its what and learning how to fight for the next century.

Alright. That’s it. Bye..

Putin Admits the Wagner Group is an Arm of the Russian State

The Russian state has kept a degree of separation from the Wagner Group for the past decade, but years of war crimes and avoided sanctions are about to come crashing down on Putin…

If you’re not familiar, the Wagner Group has been operating internationally as a gang of mercenaries and thugs since 2014. Most countries knew this was a branch of the Russian State, but many embraced the ‘legal deniability’ to protect trade and relations.

The Russian government just admitted that Wagner is, and always has been, an arm of the Russian State. Not only is this going to piss a lot of people off and start a new round of punitive sanctions, but it also means that the seizure of Wagner (aka Russian) assets will be starting up very soon.

Wagner’s capacity to operate internationally is going away, and Russia no longer has the ability to project power outside of the former Soviet space. So if you’re tired of hearing the name Yevgeny Prigozhin or Wagner, you’re probably in luck…

Prefer to read the transcript of the video? Click here


Here at Zeihan On Geopolitics we select a single charity to sponsor. We have two criteria:
 
First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
 
Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.
 
And then there’s you.
 
Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S UKRAINE FUND

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S EFFORTS GLOBALLY


TRANSCIPT

Hello, everybody. Peter Zeihan here coming to you from Colorado. Today is the 27th of June. And the news is that the Russian government has admitted formally that Wagner is an arm of the Russian state to the tune of about $1,000,000,000 a year in terms of their outlays. Now, why is this important?

Now, Wagner was formed by the Russians, specifically by a guy by the name of Prigozhin back in 2013, 2014, in the lead up to the Donbass war, which is a war where the Russians basically created what we’re called little green men to fight on the other side of an international border and foment a, quote, secession war, and then under that pretext, move in regular forces. Well, no one really bought it, but the legal fiction did allow a degree of separation that gave especially the Europeans pause. And anyone who was looking for an excuse to continue normal relations with the Russians. The Germans are probably at the top of that list, grabbed onto that little flimsy bit of legalism with both hands and wouldn’t let go. In the years since, Wagner has been used by the Russian state in any number of conflicts all over the world, most notably in the Middle East and Africa. And in those operations, because it has not been a state entity, it has gleefully engaged in the series of massacres that are really war crimes by almost any definition. And so Wagner has been under sanction not just in the United States and the European Union, but Australia, Japan, a lot of other countries that we generally considered part of the you know, if you want, here’s a loaded term, civilized world – and are the the leaders of it are persona non grata at most of the world’s airports. Well, but as long as the Russians haven’t claimed that Wagner is one of their own from a government point of view, that it’s just a group of mercenaries, kind of like a Russian Blackwater, if you will, then that degree of legal separation allows Wagner to do what it wants might be under sanction, but it’s not like it’s under state sanction charges today.

Now that Vladimir Putin has said that Wagner is and always was part of the Russian state, assets of the Russian state can be seized in order to pay for things that Wagner has done in various countries. And whenever you have a government shift in one of the countries where Wagner is accused of war crimes or one bordering it, that has an influence in that area, you now have two things going on. Number one, the degree of legal installation is gone. Now, anything that Wagner does or has done, Moscow itself is culpable. And in a lot of circumstances, Wagner slash Russia have been compensated not with cash, but with, say, mineral concessions, with gold mines being a favorite. Those are now legally all up in the air. So the admission here not only is going to piss off a lot of people in Europe and generate an awful new round of punitive sanctions, it means that the assets of the Russian state and the assets of Wagner are now one and the same, and the same tools can go after all of them. And that flimsy legal pretext is completely gone now. And so anyone who had a line into a private asset by Wagner or public assets by Russia can now use those same tools to go after both. So we’re going to see a wrapping up of Wagner’s international economic position in a relatively short period of time. And it won’t take much of a government shift in places where Wagner has been accused of war crimes that include Sudan and the Central African Republic and Syria and Libya in order to see their military position wrapped up as well. And that, of course, assumes that nothing else goes wrong and several other things are going wrong.

So as you guys have obviously seen those Wagner through a kind of not-coup over the weekend and Wagner troops now have to pledge loyalty to the Russian state and hand over their heavy equipment to the Russian military. Some of them will. Some of them won’t. And what that means is there’s a smaller number of Wagner staff that are available to man all these international missions in the first place, even if the Russian government doesn’t go through and do a purge of them. And that purge is definitely coming. Remember that Vladimir Putin’s power center is not within the Russian military. They control it. But that’s not their power center. Their power center is within the security services, most notably the intelligence bureaus like the FSB and the GRU. And those institutions are very capable of doing a purge of personnel of people who are not physically in Russia. So we’re going to be seeing a lot of that. So Wagner’s capacity to function internationally is going to go down significantly. And since the Russian military no longer has the capacity to project beyond the former Soviet Union, you’re looking at all of this getting wrapped up one way or another, probably by the end of the year.

Alright. That’s it. Take care.

And Now We Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Program

Despite all the hullabaloo about the not-coup in Russia over the weekend, this assessment that we had initially planned to publish still holds true for the tactical situation in Ukraine…as well as some of the strategic implications with the Russians.

Note: If you were following the Russia Coup Series over the weekend, you might have already seen the tactical update in this video. The second half (starting around 8:40) is the fundamentally new material.

Today’s newsletter comes to you from my parents’ front porch in Iowa.

We’re about three weeks into the Ukrainian counter-offensive, and most of the reports have left (more than) a little to be desired. While these tactical reports are lackluster, we must step back and break down the strategy behind everything. I’ll let the video speak for itself, but the main pieces we’re looking at revolve around movement and politics.

The Ukrainians are shifting their focus from command and control centers to munition dumps and infrastructure, allowing Ukraine to limit or, at the very least, complicate resupplies and the flow of Russian troops.

The nuclear discussion is finally happening in the US. A proposed joint resolution states any Russian (or Belarusian) action involving nuclear consequences will be considered an act of war under Article 5 of NATO. This is just a statement of intent, but at least they got the ball rolling on the strategic nuclear policy conversation.

Prefer to read the transcript of the video? Click here


Here at Zeihan On Geopolitics we select a single charity to sponsor. We have two criteria:
 
First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
 
Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.
 
And then there’s you.
 
Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S UKRAINE FUND

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S EFFORTS GLOBALLY


TRANSCIPT

Hey everybody. Peter Zeihan here. It’s the 23rd of June coming to you from Iowa and I’m at my parents, where I am in town for a birthday. So I’m here on the front porch talking about Ukraine because why the hell not?

There have been a lot of reports over the course of the last week about how the Ukrainian counteroffensive is not going particularly well. I’d be lying if I said that that is a thought that hasn’t occurred to me. But I’ve always tried to step back and not use tactical developments to inform strategic discussions because there is the whole fog of war thing going on. The Ukrainians are keeping mum about a lot of the details, whereas the Russians are just flat out lie and no one really has an accurate picture of what’s actually going on on the various fronts.

That said, we’re now well into the third week of the conflict and the Ukrainians haven’t achieved any sort of breakthrough. There’s two main lines of defense that the Russians are trying to hold. The first is a series of minefields, and the second is a series of more strategic defensive emplacements like Dragon’s Teeth and Trenches. And the Ukrainians haven’t really been able to get past the minefields to get to the real defenses yet.

And what that means is they’ve just kind of been bogged down in attritional fighting. And because the Russians have an order of magnitude more industrial plants and reserves and at least a factor of three more population, any battle in which the Ukrainians are duking it out a mano a mano is not one that they’re going to do well.

And in fact, any battle where the Ukrainians only kill three times as many Russians as they lose in their own troops is a battle they’ve lost. So instead of seeing the dramatic breakthroughs that we saw in person in Kharkiv last summer, it’s been a slugfest and it hasn’t gone well. That said, a couple things. Number one, we’re still early in the offensive, are still probing for weaknesses.

They’re still going after command and control. And then second, in the last 96 hours, a few things have changed. First of all, three or four days ago, Ukrainians shifted from using their missiles to target command and control systems to going after ammo dumps. And you would do that when you’re getting to the next phase of the operation. You feel like you’ve broken up their ability to react and now you’re trying to not just to trick their forces, but make sure that the forces cannot actually get meaningful supplies.

But the real issue happened with the morning of Thursday, the 22nd of June, when the Ukrainians put some serious holes in a few supply bridges that are critical for Russian forces. And to understand the significance of that targeting shift, we need to look at a few maps. Here’s our first map of the Ukrainian space. Nothing too exciting here.

The red line is roughly where the front is. The Russians occupied the territory to the east and south of that line and the yellow bars are where the Ukrainians have put their primary thrusts. Now, the the one on the left there, that’s the separatists, the front. The Ukrainians have been expected to go in that direction since the very beginning of this conflict, because if they can push down to the Sea of Azov, they can basically isolate the entirety of the southwestern front and Crimea, because not only would there no longer be a land bridge between Russia proper and Crimea, but the Ukrainians would be able to target the Kerch Strait Bridge directly.

But they’ve had more success going further into the east because there are fewer defensive works. But still in all these cases, you’re talking about advances in the single digits of kilometers. No sort of strategic breakthrough where mobile Russian forces excuse me, where mobile Ukrainian forces and getting behind the Russians and isolate them and break them up and for strategic retreats and routes.

Okay. Here’s a zoom in on Ukraine. The single most important thing here is, of course, the Kerch Bridge, an attack, unclaimed attack. We don’t really know who did it, but either the Americans, the Ukrainians took out one of the spans of the Kerch Bridge last summer. Now the Kerch Bridge has three lines to it to two lane road connections and one rail connection.

The Ukrainians, Americans, whoever it happened to be, were able to take out one of those two lane road connections and start a series of fires on a railcar that was going by on the rail bridge at that time, which warped the bridge and made it impossible to handle cargo. So no more trains in and out of Crimea from this route and used to be the primary route.

And only two of the four road lanes were being asked to go on truck. And when they do have convoys coming or going, they have to shut it down to other traffic. So that was a big hit and it forced the Russians to shift their supply route over to this area, to the land connections that go into Crimea.

So let’s zoom in there. Now, first thing to understand about this area is a lot of this is not land. This entire zone here is a series of brackish lakes, which obviously you’re not going to be running cargo across. In fact, there’s only really two ways to cross. On the left, you’ve got the proper land connection, which is in all land routes that goes through southern Ukraine.

It is the furthest connection from the front. It’s not that the infrastructure there doesn’t work. It’s just that it’s not great. However, if you go to the yellow arrow, the one further to the right to the east, you’re looking at the Charnock crossing. Now, China has a rail connection and a road connection, and it’s these connections that the Ukrainians put some holes in.

They use a special kind of warhead, which I’m not going to go into detail because it’s not my focus. But it blew all the way through the concrete blue, all the way through the rebar, put a giant hole right in the middle of the thing. You’re not taking trucks across that. You’re not taking the rail across that until such time as these are repaired.

Repaired. It is not beyond the capacity of the Russians. But keep in mind that it’s been months since Kerch had that whole put it and the rail connection there has still not been rebuilt. One of the many, many downsides of the Soviet dissolution is we’ve had a simultaneous education crisis and demographic crisis now decades in progress. The technical education system in Russia collapsed back in the eighties and the demographics of they’ve had a death rate that’s been higher than the birth rate for 30 years now, which means that the youngest suite of people who have the full skill set to be technical experts, they’re in their fifties right now, will turn 60 this year on

average. They still haven’t replaced the span encouraged. They still haven’t replaced the rail system. There’s a question as to whether they can. Now, the China crossing is not nearly sophisticated. Instead of being a high elevated suspension bridge, it’s a low block bridge. It’s not blocking navigation. This is not a navigable waterway system. They probably can do it, but it’s going to take them a few weeks, which means in the meantime, any cargo going to and from Ukraine has to come from that western bridge.

And this means that the soldiers in Ukraine, the Russian soldiers in occupied Ukraine, are facing a double bind. Back to this map. Notice the city of Mariupol. Basically, any Russian troops that are west of that zone have basically been cut off from supplies that come from Russia proper off in the east. They got everything they needed from Crimea, which is, you know, more difficult to support now and now with the China Bridge off line, it’s going to take about a week for the Russians to reroute everything further west to then cross a larger just a chunk of territory that would suggest to me that the Ukrainians are as ready as they can possibly be to

make a push in that direction. Now, coming down from the Japanese here, it doesn’t really matter where they penetrate. As long as they reach the Sea of Azov, it could be east of Mariupol, it could be west of multiple. It could be anywhere in between. Any way that they can cut that land bridge forever and then have the range in order to hit the remains of the bridge to wreck if we’re going to see an attack, if this counteroffensive is going to really manifest as something, these are exactly the circumstances you would expect the Ukrainians to shape.

And now they’ve done it. And since there is going to be a window before the Russians can redirect supplies further to the west, the troops in the multiple area are now completely cut off, vulnerable. They’re not going to get reinforcements. They’re not going to get fuel. They’re not going to get artillery shells and ammo. Now would be the time.

Now, that’s the strategic picture that we’re seeing right now. There is also something going on with the politics. Also on the 22nd. 22nd was a big day. Senators Blumenthal from Connecticut and Graham from South Carolina, a Democrat and a Republican, put out a joint resolution that they’re trying to get passed that would basically say that any Russian use or Belarus should use directly or indirectly through the proxies of a strategic nuclear weapon, a tactical nuclear weapon, or taking actions that they omission or commission cause.

A meltdown at a nuclear power plant would be considered an act of war under Article five of Nito. The Russians have, we know from satellite photos, mined the coolant from of the Japanese power plant Smuckers. Anyway, what the idea is to warn not just Putin, but the people who would get the orders that if they follow those orders, that they’re not just simply going to be new, causing a nuclear catastrophe in Ukraine proper, but it will be perceived by the United States and its allies as an act of war, and they will be choosing to initiate a direct military conflict with the United States and the natural lights.

Now, this interpretation of Article five is an executive privilege. It is not something Congress can really put their their fingers in. In addition, a joint resolution is just that. It’s a resolution. It’s not a law is a statement of intent. So there’s no legal weight here. Also, Article five is something that will be decided among the allies, not by the United States, unilaterally.

So this is probably not the right tool to effect, the right tool for the job. But I’m very glad that the two senators have started the conversation because the Russians have long considered for several years that Crimea is an integral part of their own territory, the annexed it back in 2014. And so anything that pushes towards Crimea, you’re crossing the gray zone where the Russians might actually consider that to be a real war where the use of defensive nuclear weapons might be warranted.

Now, that is not accepted in the United States or in the West. In fact, it’s not accepted in China. It’s not accepted by Ortega in Nicaragua. No country in the world has recognized the annexation of Crimea by the Russians. In fact, aside from some foreign pro-Russian shills like Tucker Carlson, no one in the United States considers Crimea to be Russian territory.

But it doesn’t matter what we think. It matters what the Russians think and whether or not they’re going to treat Crimea like Moscow. And there’s only one way to find out. In addition, if the Ukrainians are going to win this war, eventually they’re going to have to cross the international border, not just into Crimea, but into Russia proper and take out some logistics tackle hubs that are on Russian territory that is clearly crossing into what is internationally recognized Russian space.

And again, the defensive nuclear question comes into play. So while this isn’t the right tool for the job that the senators have picked up, I’m very happy that they have decided to at least start the conversation in this country about something we haven’t had a conversation on since the 1980s strategic nuclear, their policy vis a vis the Russians.

This is a conversation we have to have and this is going to sound really weird, but we probably have the best president in 30 years to have that conversation. Say what you will about Biden and there is a lot to say. He was there as an old man when the first nuclear weapon was detonated back in 1945, 44, four forties.

So he’s seen the entire arc of nuclear policy in this country and gives him a unique perspective that we’re going to need in the months to come. So things have broken loose. It looks like we’re on the verge of seeing the real counteroffensive, or at least if it’s going to happen. It’s going to happen now. And we’re at the dawn of a new stage of the conflict where we need to be thinking about some much deeper questions.

All right. That’s it for me. Everybody take care. See you next time.

The Russia Coup Part 1: What the Hell Is Going On? (And the Ukraine Angle)

An attempted coup is in progress in Russia. The mercenary group Wagner, led by a one-time confidant of Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Prigozin, is attempting to overthrow the Kremlin. The implications for the Ukraine War are…massive.


Here at Zeihan On Geopolitics we select a single charity to sponsor. We have two criteria:
 
First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
 
Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.
 
And then there’s you.
 
Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S UKRAINE FUND

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5 EU Countries BAN Ukrainian Agriculture Exports

Today’s video comes to you from the Okanagan region of BC – famous for its deep lakes, good wine, and (typically) blue skies.

We’re talking about agriculture today, specifically the ban that five EU countries just placed on Ukrainian exports. With Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania dropping this hammer, I would expect Ukraine exports to fall by up to 90%.

Most Ukrainian exports used to go out by sea; now that Russia is cutting these lines off, rail is the next best option. However, these new bans will force exports to travel farther to Western Europe, requiring transfer to new rail cars due to incompatible gauges and adding a few extra “0s” to the bill along the way.

In addition to the cuts in exports, many of the processing capabilities that enabled Ukraine to move up the value-add chain have also been taken offline. With neighboring countries prioritizing local farmers, Ukraine is s*** out of luck.

There isn’t a quick fix for any of this either…unless the Ukrainian counter-offensive can capture all of the Crimean Peninsula…but that’s not going to happen anytime soon. While this is a devastating blow for Ukraine, its effects will be felt far and wide, with Egypt at the top of that list.

Prefer to read the transcript of the video? Click here


Here at Zeihan On Geopolitics we select a single charity to sponsor. We have two criteria:
 
First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
 
Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.
 
And then there’s you.
 
Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S UKRAINE FUND

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S EFFORTS GLOBALLY


TRANSCIPT

Hey Everybody. Peter Zeihan here. Coming to you from Canada’s famed Okanagan Region, an area famous for its deep lakes, it’s nice wine and its crystal blue skies. But maybe not today because it’s just as smoggy and smoky as the rest of the continent is going to be for the rest of the summer. Anyway, I want to use today as an opportunity to talk about some of the agricultural things that are going on in the Ukrainian space.

Specifically, we now have a coalition of five EU countries that have decided that they’re not going to accept any shipments any longer from Ukraine. They’ll still allow trans-shipments. So it’s not like the stuff’s completely gone now, but they’re not going to take the delivery themselves. You’ve got five countries Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania, all of whom are relatively significant agricultural producers for a lot of the same products that come out of Ukraine. And what’s been happening is the Ukrainians have lost the ability to do their normal export systems. Normally, they would ship everything out by water, down the Dnieper, get it packaged at a place like Nikolayev or Odessa, and then shipped out to the wider world. Or they would process it and crush it. In the case of Sunflower at home and then ship out the the intermediate product, they can’t do any of that right now. The power grid is not stable enough to do the crushing, and most of the crushing is in ports, several of which are under Russian control. And the Russians have the ability, because they have naval supremacy in the area, to prevent any sort of bulker from coming or going without their express say so.

Now there has been a deal in place that allows the Ukrainians to export somewhat. Basically the Russians insist on inspecting the bulker on the way in and the way out to make sure it’s not being used to smuggle. And that deal has basically fallen apart now. So it’s been going less and less and less over the winter, and now it’s basically defunct. And the Russians are indicating that they really have no intention of re-upping that at all. Now, this used to be 80% or almost 90% of Ukraine’s exports. You can rail stuff out. But now three problems. Number one, there’s a different rail gauge between the European Union and the former Soviet world. So that’s a problem. Know there are only so many carriages that can adjust. Number two, all of the countries that are on the edge, you know, Poland, Romania and the rest, they’re all grain exporters themselves. So when the Ukrainian stuff was coming in, it was getting dumped on the local market. Local farmers were getting quite aggro and now they can’t do that. So you can still export it through these countries to other places. But then you need twice as many rail cars that are capable of that jump, or you need a facility at the border that can shift the grain from one car to another. And those just don’t exist at scale. And now you need twice as many to get the same amount of stuff out. So all told, with these two problems in place, you’re looking at Ukrainian grain exports dropping by roughly 80 to 92%, and there’s really no way around that. The third problem is that processing stage, the Ukrainians, while always being a significant exporter of the raw stuff, also did a lot of crushing specifically for their sunflowers. Well, with that crushing now only accessible, they need to find another facility. There are facilities in all five of these countries, but they process local stuff. So once you process an agricultural commodity into things like oil, it takes up a lot less space. It’s higher value to bulk. Well, not only are the Ukrainians not able to do that now, so they get this higher bulk, lower value product, they have to send it farther. And it just takes too much effort and too much cost and there’s not enough infrastructure to support it. They’ve been trying to build out the rail system. They’ve been trying to bring in more rail cars, carriages, but it just hasn’t been enough to move the needle. And so even without the Russians deliberately attacking the agricultural infrastructure, which they are doing, you’re still looking at that 80 to 90% reduction in the ability of Ukraine to participate in the international market.

The biggest losers, aside from the Ukrainians, of course, are the Egyptians who source the majority of their imported wheat from Ukraine specifically. But there’s a large number of countries in Africa and in South Asia that source ultimately Ukrainian and to a lesser degree, Russian wheat. And we’re going to see all of them get hit to a significant degree. The question will be if we get to a point where the Russians start actually targeting shipments themselves. We’re not there yet. It’s probably just around the corner. The only way that this is going to change is as the Ukrainians get access to the water again. And that means if this counteroffensive that they’ve just launched is successful, it would have to include, at a minimum, the liberation of the entirety of the Crimean Peninsula, because most of the grain goes down the Dnieper River to Odessa. And as long as any part of that route is within range of Russian weaponry, it’s just a no go. So you’re talking about them having the Ukrainians would need to liberate the entirety of southern Ukraine and the entirety of the Crimean peninsula, and that is a very, very tall order, probably won’t happen this year, which means that any of the agriculturalists and farmers in Ukraine who get screwed this year because of a lack of export options won’t have the income that’s necessary to afford to plant next year. And assuming a runaway Ukrainian victory, it still means that Ukraine is not going to be a significant agricultural player in the world for several years. And then, of course, if the counteroffensive fails…a lot longer than that.

Well, crap. I kind of was looking for a happier topic. This is not it. I’ll try harder tomorrow. Bye..

Ask Peter: Will Putin “Disappear” and Updates on Russian Demographics?

This is the first of the “Ask Peter” series, so I figured we’d kick it off with a two-parter. First, what’s the likelihood of Putin getting assassinated? Second, how is Russia’s demographic situation?

Answering the second question will help us understand the first question. Russia is in contention for the worst demographics in the world…Ukraine and China are up there too. One reason is the vast demographic gouges caused by past trauma, the big one being the collapse of the Soviet Union, which doubled the mortality rate and halved the birth rate. More recently, over a million people have fled Russia since the war started, many being young men avoiding the draft.

The collapsing government and nonexistent education system amplify this grim situation. With all these factors stacking up, Russia views its position as existential (because it is). The only path to survival is expanding and conquering the necessary geographical barriers.

This war has to end with one side being completely defeated. Even if the Ukrainians can humiliate Putin to the point that revolutions break out in Moscow and they put a democratic government in power, the Russians wouldn’t be able to climb out of the hole they’ve dug. The Russians are in this thing until the end. And their demise is coming this century. The only question is will it be in a few years or decades?

As for Putin, it doesn’t really matter if he goes bye-bye. There are scores within Russia’s top rungs ready to see this to the end. Remember: this war isn’t about one man’s ego, but rather Russia’s survival strategy.


Here at Zeihan On Geopolitics we select a single charity to sponsor. We have two criteria:
 
First, we look across the world and use our skill sets to identify where the needs are most acute. Second, we look for an institution with preexisting networks for both materials gathering and aid distribution. That way we know every cent of our donation is not simply going directly to where help is needed most, but our donations serve as a force multiplier for a system already in existence. Then we give what we can.
 
Today, our chosen charity is a group called Medshare, which provides emergency medical services to communities in need, with a very heavy emphasis on locations facing acute crises. Medshare operates right in the thick of it. Until future notice, every cent we earn from every book we sell in every format through every retailer is going to Medshare’s Ukraine fund.
 
And then there’s you.
 
Our newsletters and videologues are not only free, they will always be free. We also will never share your contact information with anyone. All we ask is that if you find one of our releases in any way useful, that you make a donation to Medshare. Over one third of Ukraine’s pre-war population has either been forced from their homes, kidnapped and shipped to Russia, or is trying to survive in occupied lands. This is our way to help who we can. Please, join us.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S UKRAINE FUND

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT MEDSHARE’S EFFORTS GLOBALLY