Military-Technical Decommunization

Vladimir Putin: “We Are Ready to Show What Real Decommunization Would Mean for Ukraine”

Since my article last week predicting the imminent “Regathering of the Russian Lands”, the prospect of a large-scale Russian invasion has gone from ambiguous to extremely likely (90% on Metaculus). Personally, I think it’s a foregone conclusion, with operations beginning either tonight or tomorrow night, with the most interesting and important questions now being the speed of the Ukrainian collapse, the future borders and internal organization of Russian Empire 2.0, and the ramifications of the return of history on the international order.

February 22, 2022 will indeed enter history as the day when Vladimir Putin decided to become a Great Man of history. In an hour long speech, he basically recounted his magisterial July 2021 article on the historical unity of Russians and Ukrainians, officially endorsing the nationalist position that Russia is the “world’s largest divided big nation”. He stated that the modern Ukrainian state can be rightfully called “Vladimir Lenin’s Ukraine”, asserted that its statehood was developed by the Bolsheviks, and noted the irony in Ukrainian nationalists toppling statues to their father. “You want decommunization? Very well, this suits us just fine. But why stop halfway? We are ready to show what real decommunizations would mean for Ukraine.

Russian nationalists, a skeptical crowd that has long grown used to betrayals and disappointments from Russian politicians, were in shock and disbelief these past few days (Vile Varangian, a repatriate who, like me, was one of the few nationalists to identify Putin’s “nationalist turn” early, described it as suddenly living in a “Slavic Wakanda”). Talking points that, in their more radical and “powerful” forms, were once confined to tomes by nationalist intellectuals such as Igor Shafarevich or Konstantin Krylov, and/or propagated at the late Egor Prosvirnin’s Sputnik & Pogrom (a glossy e-magazine that played a critical but almost entirely unrecognized in the West’s role in establishing White Guardist nationalism as a youth subculture during the early to mid-2010s), was now affirmed as state ideology on TV before tens of millions of Russians. Weather reports now include not just Donetsk, but also Mariupol, which is for now outside the DNR. Maps of Russia’s historical “gifts” of territory to Ukraine that had previously only appeared as low quality jpgs on marginal LiveJournal blogs and in very long and autistic comments threads dominated by warring vatniks and svidomy (khokhlosrach, i.e. our equivalent of Balkansposting), found their way to mainstream TV shows. This was foreshadowed in Putin’s speech, in which he noted that Ukrainian cultural vandalism extended to statues to Imperial-era leaders and generals under the cover of renouncing the “so-called colonial heritage” of the Russian Empire… quite strange behavior considering Ukraine owes most of its territory to them.

The rest of Putin’s speech was the standard litany of complaints: Broken promises on NATO expansion, military installations in Eastern Europe, Ukraine’s disinterest in fulfilling the Minsk Accords. Genocide was also mentioned in the context of the Donbass, as well as a promise to bring to justice the perpetrators of the Odessa Trade Union arson that killed 46 anti-Maidan activists in 2014.

The culmination of trends long in motion.

The speech ended with the “long overdue” decision to recognize the DNR and LNR and sign mutual defense treaties with them. The treaties were officially signed by Putin and the leaders of the separatist republics shortly afterwards. Crucially, it was soon clarified that this recognition extended to their full pre-2014 borders. So far as both the DNR/LNR and the Russian Federation are now concerned, these territories are now occupied by the Ukrainian military. Meanwhile, quite conveniently, crazed and blood-lusted Banderites have taken a very acute interest in shelling Russian tractor roads, sheds, and sending infiltration teams to bomb churches in Crimea just as 75% of Russian military power happens to be concentrated on Ukraine’s borders. Very strange and illogical behavior indeed. Anyhow, the transparency of these stunts is an obvious tell that they are exclusively meant for domestic consumption.

The Russians burned their diplomatic documents a couple of weeks back, and evacuated the Kiev Embassy and consulates today. This is what happens towards the end.

Meanwhile, reaching levels of cringe previously thought impossible, the US Embassy (no longer) in Kiev (or now even Lvov) is now reduced to posting idiotic svidomy memes in support of Ukraine. That it’s doing this from some basement in Kraków tells the story.

This was preceded by an ultimatum to Ukraine that was absurd and unfulfillable, and clearly designed to be so (Recognize Crimea and Sevastopol as Russian territory; renounce plans to join NATO; negotiate with LDNR leaders; demilitarization). Virtually no country would accede to such demands, and most especially by one under the thrall of unrealistic nationalists who have kept Minsk II in deadlock for eight years and whose response to an immediate existential threat in the form of 100,000s of Russian troops on its borders is to announce… intent to develop nuclear weapons.

Yesterday, the Russian Senate ticked the legality checkbox by granting Putin permission to use force outside Russia’s borders.

Sanctions are already being issued at a rapid clip by the West, further evidence that invasion is viewed as a foregone conclusion (most importantly, this involves the withdrawing of license permits for NS2). Granted, many of them are falling rather flat… Russian elites being banned from “shopping in Milano” and “buying “diamonds in Antwerp” is hardly something that concerns normal Russians (much like losing access to French cheese eight years ago). It’s also perfectly fine by Putin himself, as this just helps with existing drives to “nationalize the elites” by banning officials from having offshore bank accounts and the like. If Western policians can help with this project, then that’s all the better.

Facts on the ground: Apart from the ~120 BTGs/200,000 combat troops in the immediate area, you’d need to add some large percentage of Russia’s 60,000 VDV forces, naval units, perhaps a third of the 190,000 Air Force personnel, the 25,000 strong Black Sea Fleet, maybe the ~50,000 Belorussian troops, perhaps 50,000 Rosgvardiya. All told, comparable to the force the US assembled against Iraq in 2003, with two decades’ worth of technological progress on top and multiple times the Americans’ artillery/missile firepower per soldier. The crushing power of artillery was already demonstrated in the World Wars, accounting for most casualties; since rifle power has seen scant technological progress since then, while artillery fire is now much more precise, the mismatch between rifle power and artillery power would have multiplied since. The morale/bravery of individual soldiers makes no significant difference. Even if it was very high (spoiler: it isn’t), any Ukrainian units caught out in the open will be spotted by drones and destroyed within minutes. Between this, and Russia’s total air and EW dominance, we will see a very quick collapse of any Ukrainian fronts, and mass surrender and/or defection to the Russian Army.

There are reports on Telegram groups of these defection dynamics already playing out within silovik organizations in the Eastern cities. Today has seen the open defection of a Rada deputy, Ilya Kyva of the Opposition Bloc, who participated in the “Anti-Terrorist Operaton” in 2014-15 under Interior Minister Arsen Avakov but now faithfully repeats Putin’s bromides about Russians, Ukrainians, and Belorussians being one people, and calls for Russian military intervention. We can expect to see many more such cases of “rats fleeing sinking ships” over the coming days.

On a more general note, my impression is that the people who claim Ukrainian troops will offer serious resistance otherwise tend to either have a poor grasp on modern warfare, and/or are pro-Ukrainian partisans who have an understandable interest in trying to dissuade a Russian attack by making their capabilities out to be more threatening than they really are (i.e., blowfish strategy). On the topic of the latter, here is a good article at Palladium mag on “Waiting for the Russians in Ukraine”.

It was in the younger places, like Kiev and Lviv, that people were the most hopeful. Often, these were also the same people most intent in their nationalism. Lviv, in many ways the most optimistic place in the country, is also the place where the wartime nationalist Stepan Bandera is most deified. A young, buzzcut ultranationalist I met in Kiev named Gania—originally he was from Donetsk; easterners who became nationalists seemed to go further in order to compensate—was proud of Ukraine, and would stay behind to defend it. “Слава Україні!”: glory to Ukraine. I asked him what he thought of Bandera: a hero, he said. Ukraine was the greatest country. But he liked other places too. Would he move to America if he got the chance? Absolutely, he said: it’s too hard to get a good job here.

This anecdotally backs up what I said back in early December: The main class of people who would fight for Ukraine, even in principle, are highly ideological Far Right types from prole backgrounds, such as members of Azov (who, ironically, happen to be disproportionately ethnic Russian). They are not going to be “liberal civil society” crypto traders, another stock Ukrainian character profiled in that article; nor, needless to say, those Ukrainian who see “independence as a catastrophe”, i.e. who are pro-Russian. The latter are numerically significant, and probably underestimated in official polls.

“The Punisher” FSB armored vehicle, its aesthetics remarkably redolent of the militaristic dictatorship of the “Land of the Unknown Fathers” from the Russian-Ukrainian “The Inhabited Island” (2008) film, is for the rainbow mask people in Kiev. They have been very naughty…

The prominent presence of Rosgvardiya units and vehicles in videos, including avtozaks used for prisoner transport, suggests that the Russian authorities share my view that the military operation will be over quickly, and that much subsequent energy will have to be expended on putting down urban riots by agitated svidomy in shock and disbelief from having their many delusions crash all around them (e.g., their “strongest army in Europe” lasting no more than a few days tops against alcoholic katsap vatniks).

As I finish writing this, there are reports that Russia has closed the airspace over East Ukraine, the Ukrainian electricity grid has been decoupled from Russia and Belarus, and Putin isn’t answering Zelensky’s calls. Looks like Kyiv is soon going to be Kiev again.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. Good to have you back, Karlin. What is your take on the prospects of rebuilding Ukraine (or most of it) under Russia? The Ukraine’s anemic economic performance and long history of political instability suggest its going to be hard, especially with the Kremlin cut off from much foreign funding. What do you think of Russia’s economy going forward? The “export oil” model seems to have been exhausted in 2014 and foreign investment that takes advantage of Russia’s decent human capital is simply not going to materialize now that Putin is Sanctionsmaxxing. The kremlins also seem increasingly keen on nationalizing stuff, which becomes counterproductive after a certain point (iirc something like a third of Russia’s GDP is controlled by the State, which definitely isnt Neoliberal Best Practice). What’s next?

    • I wonder if the Kremlins will also have to deal with something like a Ukrainian version of Solidarity for those Ukrainians who are nationalistic-minded but too chicken to do things such as bomb-planting.

  2. Daniel Chieh says

    If it really seems to be proceeded as smoothly as implied – blackouts followed by takeover, Russian forces seems to have not only be employed combined arms but have integrated cyberwarfare and electronic warfare more masterfully than anyone else at the moment.

  3. Any chance of Germany reversing its position on NS2?

    • Daniel Chieh says

      No, Germany steel foundries run off on #WeStandWithUkraine.

    • Joshua Erwin says

      They will sooner rather than later. The pipeline is ready to go. First they will just have a little taste, an emergency, one time gas delivery. Then it becomes easier to have another. They have no choice but to defy their masters in Washington. No other way to replace nuclear power baseload.

  4. Disconcerted Denizen says

    Jingoism, especially when you are not in the trenches is not a good look. As for political immoralism, it has a malevolent influence on one’s mind — its proponents tend to end up like Prosvirnin.

    Let’s hope the fire Vlad Putin is trying to start will consume himself — it’s better for both Russians and Ukranians to have a horrible ending than horrors without end.

    • Daniel Chieh says

      How are your predictions coming along, dude?

      • Frankly, I wonder if Putin is trying to play 666-D chess by invading Ukraine, causing Russia to get heavily sanctioned, creating a siege mentality in Russia similar to Israel, and thus trying to get Russians to breed as much as Israeli Jews do!

        • BravePotato says

          Sure man, what ever helps you get off.

        • Dude this is such a stupid comment. He’s obviously playing 999-D chess by invading Ukraine, causing Russia’s army to be destroyed and getting heavily sanctioned, to inspire tens of millions of the worlds best and brightest to move to Russia for a better life and giving the worlds largest country the worlds largest population,

    • Do you think it’s more moral to let millions of Russians live in a literal war zone, and more millions of Ukrainians live in a chaotic failed state — forever? If the Ukrainians will drop their weapons and go back home, the horror ends now, if they won’t, it will just take more time. They imposed the horror, in 1918, 1943, 1991 and 2014, and in 2022 it ends.

      • If Ukrainians want regime change, they can either vote for new candidates in the next elections or launch a new revolution. They have experience doing both of these things. The fact that their whole political class is so inadequate is its own, separate issue and problem. But then again, I would have voted for Rukh in Ukraine’s early post-independence years were I a Ukrainian (my Jewish paternal grandfather was born in Ukraine) because Rukh were not Sovoks.

      • SimonAM says

        Very glad people of Stalingrad didn’t follow your advice when the Nazis came!

  5. Joshua Erwin says

    My mind immediately goes to McDonalds. What will happen to Russian McDonalds when the USA goes full sanctions-tantrum? Will we see a Coke-Fanta split? Or will Russian McDonalds carry on under the same name?

    • Hah! Throw all Western IP out the window. Wanna remake Star Wars or some other Hollywood movie? Go for it, it’s public domain now!

    • DonMak will replace McDonald’s in Russia, possibly.

  6. FWIW, I absolutely agree that the nationalistic type of Ukrainians, many (but not all) of whom are far-right, are likely to be some of the fiercest fighters in Ukraine after a Russian invasion. The Ukrainian stock trader or whatever will probably simply move to Poland instead, or perhaps move to Galicia if it remains free.

    Would be interesting to see just how much of a fight Ukrainians will put up against the Russians, even more so unconventionally since they can’t defeat Russia in conventional warfare, obviously. Would AP’s prediction of a Northern Irish Troubles-like situation in Kiev actually come to pass? We’ll see.

    But Yeah, if Russia will invade, as looks increasingly likely, then Ukrainians will have to show just how committed they are to their country. Though I suppose that the more peacefully-inclined Ukrainians could create a movement like Poland’s Solidarity rather than engaging in any sort of armed resistance. It did previously work for Poland, after all. But Yeah, sometimes countries’ survival depends on people’s willingness to fight for them in some way. This is why, for instance, Iraq managed to survive in 2014-2015 and even to reconquer all of its lost territories.

  7. Well, it’s happening.

  8. God is on the side with the best artillery

    Napoleon Bonaparte


  9. One more consequence of “Decommunization”: the Soviet An-225 cargo plane, the largest aircraft ever built, was destroyed. Ukrainians took a huge pride on this old piece of Soviet hardware.

  10. Marcin Lachowski says

    That didn’t age well.

  11. Anatoly looking forward to your next follow – would be great if you talk about ways Russia could recover from their Special Operations disaster, perhaps by becoming more like Australia, a country where gay marriage is legal, 1/5 citizens were born overseas and we have rule of law and democracy. Despite having 1/6 the population our economies are comparable in size – imagine how powerful Russia could be more like us!

    • Australia also has a cognitively elitist immigration policy and keeps undesirable migrants in offshore detention centers indefinitely, no? Sounds rather ideal for Russian nationalists who wouldn’t mind a little more diversity. Cute Chinese and Vietnamese waifus, anyone? 😉

      But Yeah, if the US would have thought like Russia, then we would have already invaded your country as well as both New Zealand and Canada. Greater economies of scale and national reunification are what really matters, right? And in any case, the US’s separation from those other countries is only due to the US’s rebellion from Britain back in 1776. The US and Canada at least were meant to be an organic whole.

      • 20 percent of australian population is born overseas and immigrated here. Imagine how powerful Russia would be if they did the same. US does not invade us or NZ or Canada because unlike lose Russia country they don’t hate immigrants so smart Russians leave Russia because it is a loser country and move to US to start successful companies like Google.

  12. Rereading this my favourite part where he laughs at the US Embassy memes – turns out they are good at memes and also at getting lethal weapons into the hands of the Ukraine army. Anatoly seems extremely online though so can see why we thinks US power comes from Twitter and not their immigrant powered economy that gives them the best and brightest (thank you anti-Semitic Russia for giving US Google!).