Ukraine: A Geopolitical Choke Point

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

Rather than attempt to reduce a very complex system to a cartoonish "explanation" of events, we would be better served by seeking out the geopolitical linchpins.

In trying to put the fast-moving events in Ukraine in perspective, we are equally prone to lose our way in simplistic reductions or obfuscating complexities. Many commentators reduce the many dynamics in play to a conventional binary conflict: Russia vs. the U.S. (Cold War redux), Russia vs. Europe, neo-fascist nationalists vs. leftists, western Ukraine vs. eastern Ukraine, etc.

While each of these binaries reflect one facet of the totality, claiming any binary is the key context guarantees a fatal blindness to all that is excluded by such reductionism.

On the other hand, the inability to discern key dynamics from background noise and sensationalism (World War III, coming to a screen near you!) triggers a free-fall into incoherence.

Rather than attempt to reduce a very complex system to a cartoonish "explanation" of events, we would be better served by seeking out the geopolitical linchpins that have proven key in every era and theater of operations. These include:

1. Energy
2. Transport routes
3. Military control of transport and geographical chokepoints
4. The support or resistance of resident populaces

We would also be wise to recall what Napoleon had to say about the limits of raw power: "Do you know what amazes me more than anything else? The impotence of force to organize anything."

I think what the great military genius was referring to was the impotence of force to organize anything beyond the taking of chokepoints by superior force, strategy, tactics and/or leadership.

Once the chokepoints are in hand, however, events tend to organize themselves.

I also think that exploiting leverage leads to a reaction, a dynamic expressed byReversal is the movement of Tao. As I noted last week, Russia's exploitation of its natural gas leverage over Europe has driven those on the receiving end to seek other sources of natural gas and other sources of counter-leverage.

With these dynamics in mind, let's turn to my recent discussion with Gordon T. Long, UKRAINE: Energy, Economic & Military Choke Point: (22 Minutes, 25 Slides)


Of related interest:

Ukraine: Follow the Energy (March 4, 2014)

How the Empire Might Strike Back (March 5, 2014)

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Say What Again's picture

Please advise on the choke points for a few select central bankers?

National Blessing's picture

There is no choking point.  The Crimean Peninsula is now Red.  Bastards.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

Start a vampire career. It is trendy and will mend the issue.

StychoKiller's picture

National Blessing is trying to form his/her own internet water army!

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

If William Forstchen is right in his new (2014) book, if they build a space elevator, things like Ukranian gas pipelines become much less important as solar electricity would come down via a "space elevator".  I had only heard a tiny bit about this idea, but the author makes a compelling fictional case.  A great read,.

He wrote the influential book One Second After a couple of years ago (about an EMP strike on the USA).  

Review Of: Pillar To The Sky (William Forstchen)

Cheap Electricity, Fishez!


Seer's picture

Yeah, right, I'll fire up my battery-operated tractor and get to work...  And your supply of materials for your bearings will come to you by way of thousands of Priuses!

Freddie's picture

I heard of that space elevator deal.  It is like a Stairway to Heaven

lakecity55's picture

There is a novel by Arthur C Clarke about a space elevator. As a mathematician, he described it as theoretically possible.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

I don't think we need a cartoon on choking the Kiev Chickens.

rotagen's picture

Here's a clue, you forgot the Wheat...and a little recent history Involving severe Temperature Anomalies.  There's more than one kinda "pipeline" that can be shut off.


Stanley Kubrick's picture

C'mon, man - really?

Why not cut out the middleman, save on jet fuel and fly the shit straight to Germany?

This farce went public long ago, you banker twats.

Cap Matifou's picture

Germany gets not a crumble from the loot.
The fearless apparatchiks said Fuck the EU, remember?

disabledvet's picture

not only do i think the answer to that is "yes" but something tells me they're gonna get more than Puerto Rico's 3 billion.

The bottom line is that while the article rails against simplicity in the still boils the whole matter down to natural gas pipelines....which really doesn't do justice the extraordinary severity of what this crisis can really be about.

Forget "pipelines" for a moment and start thinking "food" and "logistics."
Ukraine isn't just in the heart of's also in its wheelhouse.

Not only that but unlike France (which is also in Europe's wheelhouse) this "integrated territory" has access to the Black Sea...and "an entire island the size of Massachusetts" (Crimea.)

That's why there was an entire war fought just over this island once.

This thing looks to be heading South in a hurry and could very well end up taking a lot of other things down with it. I think what Russia has done has been totally spur of the moment...and does nothing but precipitate more crises and rather than being momentary looks more "momentous" by the day. No one in that neighborhood needs to have explained to them what the history of that neighborhood is like. It would be nice if this was explained however...that this is the wrong part of the world to be "precipitating" precisely because so many interests are involved.

One thing is certain: once something starts it won't stop for a long time and will move in ways that surprise people.

Whoa Dammit's picture

Russia has Crimea. The U.S. has the gold. The Chinese leased the farm land. As far as the people of the Ukraine go, TPTB say "We'll get back to you. Let's do lunch sometime."

BlackMagician's picture

"Russia has Crimea. The U.S. has the reserve currency. The Chinese leased the farm land..."

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

That gold should just about cover the gas bill that Ukraine owes Gazprom.

How... Symmetric: the Golden Triangle.

ebworthen's picture

Yes, this would explain Russia moving in, digging in, and laying mines.

Grande Tetons's picture

Once the chokepoints are in hand, however, events tend to organize themselves.

I think Jenna Jameson was the first to say that. 

Urban Redneck's picture

It's 3am here, 20 minute videos are a bit much, but here's a choke point:

Igor Kolomoysky
Means, Motive, Opportunity

Means (several billion)
Motive (downside - several billion in already off-shored wealth, upside - no loss and many more billions to off-shore)
Opportunity (his new "official" position, the political party he backs, his news agencies feeding western propaganda, the location of those suspiciously well dressed and equipped irregulars (mercenaries) yesterday, et al.)

Follow the Money Bitchez!

Choke his ass before this thing gets out of hand. (Or find a courageous and non-corrupt prosecutor in the midst of kleptocracy... on second thought that's asking a bit much.)

(ALL WARZ are banker and lawyer wars, serving oligarchs and commanding generals)

Jorgen's picture

The Ukrainian crisis and Poland's fear of Russia may soon start benefiting U.S. MIC at the European defense industry expense:

Polish government announced contracts for the modernization of the army of unprecedented worth of US$46 billion (140 billion zlotys)  (Google translation)

(So this is why the Polish government confiscated private retirement funds...?)


williambanzai7's picture

I thought those were confiscated by NATO

LMAOLORI's picture



Did someone tell them to play the Nuke Card?


Ukraine may have to go nuclear, says Kiev lawmaker
Caviar Emptor's picture

We were trying to Yuppify errr gentrify Ukraine when outta nowhere Putin wants to Russify it!

Solution? Say hello to The Ruppy! A hybrid Russian-Yuppy!
And say hello to The Uppy! Ukrainian yuppies rule!

The consumerist revolution lives! Viva Bernanke, Reagan and Friedman!
Down with counter revolutionaries Marx, Lenin, and Ron Paul!
When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping!

hooligan2009's picture

with all due respect to the europeans and comminists in the ukraine and in crimea and the capital of kyiv...can you really define why anyone should actually give a flying rats ass about your problems compared to the fraud/corruption/bullshit that is going on in the west?

i know you have problems...but seriously...stop trying to make yourself relevant like Israel does......our problems make your problems look like an ink stain on a five thousand leaf hand written document..

like i said..we care..but hey..multiply your problems by 50,000 and we can talk

AnAnonymous's picture

'Americans' are making the problem.

The Wisp's picture

And of course the Ukraine was too dumb and trusting of the US  to hide a few nukes in the cellar fudge the count. swear they got em all.. Nice little Sea Port you got there Russia shame if something happened to it,  while everybody was off drinking Vodka...

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

Prediction of the future is betterly done when based on actual past events rather than fantasy.

The Wisp's picture

Right nobody ever bamboozles the inspectors I forgot..

WMM II's picture

"4. The support or resistance of resident populaces"


and my take is that putin knew from the get go, that the crimeans did not want him as president of crimea. after all 60% speak russian. and they know russian history, thank you very much czar putin. but do not show yourselves outside of your silly little masks...or we crimeans will take you to pieces.

not only do the crimean people not want to be serfs, none of yugoslavia, oops, ukrainians everywhere DO NOT want to be serfs.

gosh, johnny, let'em break up into states (they already have lines on maps) and hold elections and send their representatives to whomever they please.

i'll bet on the new ukraine over the old serfdom.

putin gets his wish as the only way out. but it backfires big on him. what actually occurs in plain view of the world, is a large number of people peacefully reorganizing themselves into what would certainly be able to be compared to a fresh restart of the u.s.of a. format. one that, what ever the particulars will be, will demonstrate the power of people. invader putin repelled, democratically, after the "house' is in order.

all at the request of the putin hissssselllfff.

history will long look back at this as the time putin when putin won the nobel for not invading crimea.




oh, and ps. i thank you for the list identifying choke points.


StychoKiller's picture

[quote] a large number of people peacefully reorganizing themselves into what would certainly be able to be compared to a fresh restart of the u.s.of a. format.[/quote]

Tell that to the folks that got their skulls ventilated.

Panafrican Funktron Robot's picture

TPTB don't allow any populace to "self-determine".  Every government on planet Earth is determined by those who have the power to determine governmental structures, including the USA. 

Flying Wombat's picture

The way NGOs fit into this whole mess represents quite the rabbit hole.  The following report is interesting not only on the issue of Ukraine, but also, details a pile of dirt on the Human Rights NGO community too.

It's just 13 minutes long - well worth checking out and great context on Ukraine.

"How NGOs Helped Plan Ukraine War"

williambanzai7's picture

When I was in Kiev, the most fascinating thing I found, besides the women hanging around the hotel lobby, was a collection of miniature models built on the heads of pins as I recall. There was a whole room of these housed in a monastery or church complex. You literally needed a microscope to view these things.

I thing these were more valuable than the tungsten shipped to the Fed.

Quantum Nucleonics's picture

It's only a chokepoint till it's not. A couple of LNG terminals in western europe and the gas pipeline is irrevelant.  A warm water port is nice, but only so long as Turkey, er NATO lets you use it.

Seer's picture

And just where does the NG come from?

ebear's picture

Armchair comfy enough, or would you like an extra pillow?

kurt's picture

Frack the World!

larz1002's picture

How come no one blinked an eye when Russia sent ships supposedly for emergency evacuation during Sochi olympics when there already was trouble brewing in Ukraine?  Geez talk about an devious plan right under world eyes.

123dobryden's picture

if west and russia would stay of of this, there most probably would be a much working system, much less corruption, much more economic progress, much much more wealth creation, much more happy people, much more gas transported.


this way, nation is brought to the,  edge, with all bad consequences, with growing army of usefull idiots on both sides, and especialy here...


esum's picture

obumbler coould have had gas exports to negotiate with had he not been a stupid libtard. the oil cos have wanted to export gas for years and EPA and DOE stopped construciton of the export terminals...and supply pipelines infrastructure...  Just plain STUPID... China is already paying for iranian oil with gold. I doubt energy suppliers would dump the dollar for just another fiat. But they would for GOLD.... Russia is weak economically and its military consists mostly of poor morale conscripts servig for 1 year and not battle hardened. We are probably seeing some of the best that russia has to offer in the crimea. they have a plan and are executing. perhaps the FEAR of this will motivate other former soviet union countries to go back into the fold.. belarus and moldava for starters...

Flakmeister's picture

You seem to be oblivious to the fact that the US doesn't really have NG to export...

They are still a net importer of NG...

Who Laughed's picture

tanker route choke point at malacca. where the malaysian plane was headed.

coincedence or new strategic shift from the administration?

matrix2012's picture

From Now On, No Compromises Are Possible For Russia

Washington has defaulted on all of its key agreements made with USSR/Russia during the last 30 years.