Ukraine, Russia & The Orient Express — Guest Post by Ianto Watt

Ukraine, Russia & The Orient Express — Guest Post by Ianto Watt

Dear Reader, beware the false dichotomy. That our criminal regime is funneling our money into our oligarchs’ pockets in support of a puppet government does not mean we must blindly support the other side. It is good to stand back and seek for explanations beyond which our propaganda lords supply us, as Watt does today.

Well, here we are, barreling along on the Orient Express. Which those of us old enough to remember, was the famous rail link between Paris and Istanbul in the early years of the 20th Century. But, while everyone seems to think that it is currently heading westward, I perceive it as actually heading east.

What am I talking about? The War. Ukraine! You know, the smoldering mass that could reach critical mass and blossom into WWIII. Which will render the need for elections moot. Convenient, eh Joe?

Furthermore, I sense that the Express’ actual destination intended by the Engineer (Vlad) is radically different than what most people imagine that Russia seeks to reach. Most people in the West seem to think Vlad’s primary goal is to dominate Western Europe, by way of conquering Central Europe. And while I think these will eventually be on the menu in the Club Car, they will be under the ‘desserts’ column.

But the main course listed on the upcoming menu is a Thanksgiving dinner, complete with all the fixings. And when Russia reaches her real intended destination, there will be plenty to be thankful for, from their Slavic Orthodox perspective. I will attempt to explain what I mean. That will require I explain a series of formative events in the origins and development of the Russian psyche, which covers a vast period of time. Please, be patient.

I want to begin by making three statements. We can argue about them later, but this piece is built upon these three premises.

First, that the Orthodox mindset is built upon the presumption that the Church is (and should be) subservient to the State. The foundation of this belief only came forward after the Great Schism of 860, sparked by Patriarch Photius of Constantinople, as he served the wishes of Caesar Bardas. The Orthodox believe (today) that the Council of Nicea (325 AD) approved of this concept of Caesaro-Papism. Why? Because it was the Emperor, Constantine the Great, who called forth this great council. The Eastern Orthodox (of today) say that it is the power of the Emperor that rightly guides the Church. (Yes, today, and for the last 500 years, there has been no Byzantine Emperor, but that’s not a problem for them. It’s just an intermission in a epic movie.).

Second, I assert that the Russian mind is the greatest example of deliberate deception, dis-information and mis-direction, both on the battlefield and in diplomacy, since the time of Sun Tzu. You may disagree, but the record shows that almost every Western ‘intelligence’ agency has been radically wrong on almost every assessment of Russian power, intention, maneuver and nerve for the same past 500 years. Not even the Anglish Bastards are this devious (try as they might). The CIA and its siblings, all products of this same Anglishmen-tality, have also either been total idiots or else totally controlled (knowingly or not) by the Russian mind in all the areas that matter. Ask Kim Philby. Or the rest of the Cambridge Five.

Third, I believe that the entire aim of the current war in Ukraine is totally different than what these same ‘intelligence’ agencies perceive as the end-game of Russian power. I believe that the essential aim of Russian might is not the capture of Europe, but rather the Ottoman Empire (a.k.a. Turkey). Europe will follow, but only as a result of the capture of Istanbul (Constantinople). This is the key to everything, in the Russian mind. Here is why.

You cannot understand where Russia is going until you know where she has been (and why). To do this, you must know her origins. We all know she began as ‘The Rus’ with the invitation, by the northern Slavic tribes, to the Swedish Varangian (Viking) Prince Rurik, to come and rule them. The reason for this was that the Slavic method of princely succession (Askold and Dir south on the Dnieper River, where they found a small Slavic settlement known as Kiev. They took it in Rurik’s name.

Later, from this vantage point, those same Vikings sent an armada of over 200 long boats down the Dnieper, into the Black Sea, and from there to the very gates of Constantinople. This is all recorded by the greatest Byzantine historian Alexander Vasiliev, in his volume on The Russian Attack on Constantinople in 860.

While the attack failed to breach the city gates, it was an incredible effort. The Vikings actually beached their ships and mounted them on wheels to ‘sail’ overland on the promontory of The Golden Horn in order to bypass the gigantic iron chain that blocked the waterway.

This attack was followed by successive expeditions (Oleg in 911, Igor in 941 & 944, etc.) each of which grew more worrisome to the Emperor. These guys were not going away!

By the time Rurik’s great grandson Vladimir came along, nothing had changed. The Viking mindset was still locked in on looting the Empire. And so, a deal was struck. Vlad could marry the Emperor’s sister, Anna, if he would stop attacking his new in-laws. All he had to do was convert to Christianity, which he willingly did in 988, on the banks of the Dnieper River, in Kiev. These two families have been intermarried ever since, even until the fall of Constantinople in 1453. From which time, Moscow has claimed to be Third Rome.

And this, my friend, is how we have arrived at today, where the Russian mind says two things; first, Russia is the legitimate heir to the Byzantine throne, and second, that this same throne should rule the Church as well.

Let’s think for a minute. If you were the legitimate (but despised) heir to the Imperial throne, as well as The Lord of the Church (as you saw it), and you were head of the preeminent Orthodox population (which reached deeply into Eastern Europe, across lands you did not yet own), which would you desire most, Paris or Constantinople? Which city would best allow you to consolidate your ethno-religious base, in order to conquer the rest of Europe (and the world)?

Sure, Paris is nice, with great Bistro’s and all, but hey, we want respect! We may be Slavs at heart, but you need to respect our Viking heritage. Or we’ll kill you. OK?

What is there that can support this thesis? Let’s look a bit at the military history of Russia since the fall of Constantinople. And let’s notice one thing: that most of Russia’s offensive movements have focused on one thing, the girdling of the Black Sea. That is, to the south.

Yes, much is made, and rightly so, of Russia’s many defensive wars. But these were primarily against the Western and Northern European powers. The list is long (Sweden, Teutonic Knights, Poland-Lithuania, Prussia, Germany, France, etc.). And the cost profound. Being a younger sibling taught me the value of suspicion. Russia has drunk from the same cup.

But I’m not here to talk of her paranoia, earned or not. I want to look at her own sins, if so they be. Let’s make a check-list of these southerly movements that have produced the Russia we know today.

Here’s a nice cheat-sheet, showing twelve Russo-Turkish Wars, beginning in 1568, and continuing through today (#13) if you want to count the Syrian theatre, where Vlad and Erdogan are currently at hot odds.

What’s my point? Russia is fixated on the Throne of Constantinople. And the West is fixated on denying it to her. Even though it is always Russia that has to pull the European fat from the fire when maniacs like Napoleon and Hitler appear.

It’s really a pretty simple formula. Until Russia can reach a warm-water port, she is effectively nothing but a land-power. An under-manned one at that, as MacKinder explained. All she needs is a little help from her putative ‘Christian’ friends in Europe. Who have all conspired (with the infidels, no less!) to deny her this access. No one likes competition. At least, not in London, Paris, Rome or Berlin.

Now Vlad and his men, in light of the astounding Russophobia exhibited by the Anglo-Financial-West, have decided ‘to Hell with you’. They will never again be left beholden to Western favors (or slights).

And once again, they will do as Alexander Nevsky did, when he turned East and joined the Mongols against the Swedes in 1240 and then the Teutonic Knights in 1242. Russia has now repeated this fateful move, and has turned to China as her wing-man in their joint struggle against the Anglosphere. And not a moment too soon.

So let’s dispose of the question of ‘who owns Ukraine?’, and all the attendant propaganda that has been generated in the Western attempt to jump-start WWIII. Here’s an excellent primer on the origins of this political-military football that has been tossed around since the times when Poland ruled Moscow.

Notice the map. And how the original peach-pit in the center has had numerous layers added to the original idea of ‘the borderlands’ (which is what Ukraine translates to). The Ukraine we think we know of is actually a pretty recent invention. Here’s the short story of how Great Russia came to believe it rightfully belongs to her.

Let’s start with the Cossack rebellion against the Poles (1648) and their subsequent allegiance to the Throne of Moscow. This occurred, in the southern steppes, under the Cossack Hetmanate of their Head-Man, Bogdan Khmelnitsky. Since that time the nomadic Ukrainian steppes have been part of Tsardom. This Cossack (Khazak) outburst spread further south, to Crimea, which was then under the Sultan’s control. Until Catherine the Great wrested it away in 1783.

Let’s see…there was no such ‘nation’ known as Ukraine…the nomadic Cossacks threw off their Polish overlords…and then pledged allegiance to the Tsar…and have fought in his service for centuries. Check, check, check, check. Sounds like the law of possession to me.

But things don’t stand still, do they? And Cossacks like to ride free. And loot. But it was in the name of the Tsar, so it was OK, right? Remember, there was nobody named Zelensky screaming for American stingers back then. It was an open range. Whoever filled the vacuum ruled it. And anything nearby was simply a new place to put in another franchise outlet. And since the northern rim of the Black Sea was now secure, from Odessa to the Azov Sea, (including Crimea), the logical expansion was southeast, to the Caucasus.

The Caucasus Mountains were a formidable barrier to anyone trying to cross it. In either direction. They kept the Sultan out of Moscow’s turf, but it also kept Moscow out of the Sultan’s world. For now.

These southern Cossack expeditions led Russians into the northern side of the Trans-Caucasian region. Where Georgia, Armenia and many of the other minor principalities were brought under the sway of Moscow. The northern and eastern rims of the Black Sea have been, for centuries, firmly in the grip of the Tsars. And their Tatars. Nobody ever pretended there was such a national thing known as Ukraine. It was simply a geographic term.

That’s not the end of the story, of course. Although, it must be noted, that all of these expeditions and victories did something to Russia. It made her multi-ethnic, and multi-confessional. But all of this was nicely contained by the Russian doctrine troika of ‘Autocracy, Orthodoxy and Nationality’. (Uvarov was the popularizer of it, I think.)

In other words, you could still be a good Muslim or Azeri, or whatever, as long as you pledged total allegiance to Moscow. You must be Russian first, last, and always, but anything else in between was OK. Religion and ethnicity were not a problem because the Tsars weren’t into proselytizing. Just ruling.

Let’s go back to Crimea and go counter-clockwise to the Black Sea and see where we get.

First, we go west to Odessa. Probably the most Russified city in the south of Russia. This is where the current war really started. On May 2, 2014. This is where the Russian soul was inflamed to the point of rage, as the NATO-Nazis immolated, gassed, shot and killed 48 unarmed civilians (including 7 women, one who was pregnant) in the Trades Union Building. 221 more were hospitalized.

All for the crime of wanting to be able to speak in their mother tongue. Which is the dominant tongue of the entire southern rim of ‘Ukraine’. What? You’ve not heard of this war crime? After 8 years, you’ve never seen a single word of it in the Western ‘press’? Me neither. But here’s a link if you’re interested in why Vlad is mad. Notice the roasted corpses.

That’s now: this is actually defense. But in the past, Russia has fought a dozen offensive wars against the Sultan (see the previous list), from Odessa to the Danube and beyond. And she has won most of them. Only to have their spoils spoiled by the ‘Great Power’ conferences that snatched Russian victory from her jaws, time and again. Now she’s had enough. Enough of the West and their Pasha Proxies. Enough of everybody that wants to ‘cancel’ her and her glorious past.

Here’s the real strategy. Keep the West fixated on Central and Eastern Europe. Keep maneuvering towards the West. But don’t commit to crossing that portion of the NATO line. For those who understand, you must forget Warsaw for now. And forget Berlin. Forget Paris too. That will all come, later. London too. With a vengeance, I might add, as the Policeman of Europe returns to his beat.

No, for now, and always, the real goal of Russia is the Bosporus. From the vantage point of Moscow, south-west is the direction of true intent. That move alone will finally secure the soft underbelly of Russia, the Black Sea. Vlad must harden the entire coast of the Black Sea area if he is to have any chance of national survival. Once this coast is cleared, literally, the real action can commence. But not a moment before.

Once Odessa is re-gained and Transnistria is conjoined to the newly and fully Russified coast, the way is secure. All the way to the Danube. And that will give Vlad the protection he needs. When all the Big D’s are secured: Danube, Dniester, Dnieper, and Don. Control of the delta of the Danube then gives Vlad the ability to interdict the main east-west freight corridor of Europe. He then controls the flow of energy in (via pipelines), and then the flow of products that energy produced, coming out. It’s nice to have levers, da?

(And by the way, for those eternal CIA-nitpicking doubters, ask yourself this about the everlasting Russian chessboard mindset: why in the world was it seen as necessary to Russian national interests, to protect and foster this microcosmic Transdnistrian breakaway in 1990? When the Soviet World was supposedly imploding and the fisc was bankrupt and there was no coherent central government? And to protect it until now, when it would finally have truly geostrategic value? Well? Cosmic coincidence? Again?)

What’s the next step in this Bolshoi Ballet of mis-directed military operations? The same as it has always been. The last leg: From the Danube to the Dardanelles. The location of Troy, by the way. The last of the Big D’s. With a short stop at the palace, where the Hagia Sophia will be closed for renovation, and the frescoes restored to their Byzantine glory. So that they will be presentable at the next Byzantine coronation.

Romania and Bulgaria, guess what? You need to be aware of something important. It’s 1914 all over again. But this time the Tsar is actually prepared. Russia is mobilized and the West is not. And it’s your necks that are going to be next on the block. And nobody from the West is going to save you. The NATO Sultan is busy, you know, in Syria. Again, courtesy of Vlad. And Joe is busy fighting White Racism.

When you see The Orient Express, with Vlad at the wheel, veer off from Central and Western Europe, and head south along the western coast of the Black Sea, be thankful. Be thankful he isn’t interested in incinerating us—yet. He’s got bigger fish to fry. Let’s see if we can’t be more appreciative of this guy and this nation that are willing to go against the Sultan and his Horde. Again.

And for once, let’s not get in his way.

St. Joseph, please, please, pray for us.

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  1. Incitadus

    Do you think Turkey might object?

  2. Hagfish Bagpipe

    Well, that was a whirlwind, as usual. Quite interesting. Some questions: what about…? And how come…? And why did…? And what’s going to…?

    But do play on, bard — I’m sure you’ll get around to all that, eventually.

  3. Robin

    Wow. Great reading; and great insight.

    But if true then Vlad’s (Russia’s) ambitions would be predicated on pre-18th (maybe pre-19th) century thinking. Not sure this is relevant today. True that some contend the European Dark Ages were caused by the Muslim Empire cutting off land trade routes to Europe (and gold and silk along with it). But this is not possible today as most goods move by sea, no? How would controlling the Bosporus have any effect upon Atlantic, Pacific or even Mediterranean/Suez trade routes?

    Of course oil and gas pipelines from resource rich producers will be routed (or cut off) through black sea/middle eastern regions if under the control of Russia, but there are alternative sources of energy, such as nuclear, that with time can be made to fill any (temporary) shortages of Europe, yes?

    So in the longer term, I don’t see how this would really be an advantage to Russia. And it would be difficult to maintain control of the black sea region; so may vulnerable flanks there.

    While I don’t doubt your (very interesting and informative) assessment of the Russian mindset, I wonder if this mindset is misguided.

  4. Hagfish Bagpipe

    If Vlad takes Constantinople will he march on and take Jerusalem?

  5. Briggs

    Hagfish, Don’t let’s get our hopes up.

  6. Forbes

    I’d be curious to know where the current day interests of Turkey and Russia collide? Because it doesn’t look like current day Turkey would acquiesce to Russia where Watt expresses the Russian interest flows.

  7. spaceranger

    Might get a little sticky. Unlike Ukraine, Turkey IS a NATO member.

  8. C

    Russia has maintained for some time that “Rus” is the legitimate holding place of the Roman Empire. The empire’s center was translated from Rome to Constantinople by Constantine, and at the fall of Constantinople, its redoubt was moved north until the city can be retaken. The Russians have never ceased to aspire, as the legitimate heirs to the Roman Empire, to re-claim its capitol, Constantinople.

    The western regions of empire may be reverting to the barbarous wastelands they once were, ruins on the sandbanks of history, their cemeteries, as allegedly they once were, left to the care of the Roman pontiff.

  9. Incitadus

    What I find odd is that if Vlad was so upset with events in Odessa in 2014
    why did he wait eight years, take time and treasure to intervene in Syria, and then
    just sit back and watch some 14 thousand of his compatriots die in the Donbass.
    The timing of his invasion doesn’t coincide with these feelings of deep empathy
    you propose. What it does coincide with is the destruction of the world
    economy as outlined in the great reset on the heels of the self-inflicted
    world wide covid depression. It’s kind of like the last nail in the coffin with
    the threat of nuclear war to add emphasis. The idea that Putin is taking the
    globalists out is ludicrous he’s marching in lockstep with them. All the while
    Xi is putting the finishing touches on what remains of supply chains and
    manufacturing in China. And Joe he’s doing his part too.

  10. I was more than willing to be fascinated by this article, particularly because it mentions St Photios, the patron saint of bloggers and a kind of 9th century Wm Briggs, whose enormous work “Bibliotheca” is the most fascinatingly unreadable compilation of random thoughts existent pre-internet.

    Imagine my dismay therefore when I got to the sentence “The reason for this was that the Slavic method of princely succession..” which continues by opening a parenthesis which never closes.

    Is this a subtle metaphor for the nature of history, or of blogging, or of the Russian psyche, or is there in fact a reason?

  11. Robin

    I: “Do you think Turkey might object?”
    S: “Might get a little sticky. Unlike Ukraine, Turkey IS a NATO member.”

    Good points.

    If Russia were to acquire control of Bulgaria (either by military conquest or just by establishing a Bulgarian protectorate), then Turkey would be surrounded by hostile adversaries: Russia, Georgia, Syria, Kurdistan, Bulgaria, Greece. Each of these countries has deep historic hostility towards Turkey, and I do not think on balance they would be hostile to the establishment of New Constantinople.

    Should Russia truly move on Turkey, by that time they would have already provoked NATO. So would Turkey’s NATO membership even make a difference? What would NATO do if hostilities broke out between Greece and Turkey (two NATO members)? It could split NATO apart.

    H: “If Vlad takes Constantinople will he march on and take Jerusalem?”

    Joking aside, if Russia were to successfully move against Istanbul, then Jerusalem would on the cards. No doubt about it, in my view. No way these two religious centres could maintain a peaceful co-existence over the longer term.

  12. MikeJ


    It has great relevance for today. The Dardanelles is a strategic chokepoint. It can check any grain or ag shipments coming out of the Ukraine or Russia. It also gives the Russian fleet control of the area where their fleet might be bottled up by a hostile power such as Turkey (think NATO).

    Yes, most goods are delivered by ship, but a study of chokepoints is a good start to seeing why both the Chinese and the Russians are interested in them, as their trade is dependent upon them.

  13. Pecancorner

    This is the smartest analysis I’ve seen yet. Finally, someone takes Russia’s theological history seriously. And has noticed that Putin is a lifelong Christian.

  14. spaceranger

    Timothy Snyder’s “The Making of Unfreedom” delved deeply into Putin’s religious roots and studies and how they affected him. Also Ukraine. Unfortunately, Snyder hates Trump and it warps his view of everything else.

  15. Splinter1838

    Great review of the geo-political landscape and the stakes in play. When you add a potential strategic partnership with China to the mix, it all makes sense to me (assuming a requirement by China that with their support, Russia controls access to the Mediterranean), A powerful blend of goods production, materials and transport. Good comment on who then controls the sea lanes.

  16. Shecky R

    Can I assume by now that everyone has figured out the full anagram of Mr. Watt’s “name”?

  17. Briggs


    Do tell.

  18. vodka man bad


    ianto watt anagrams:

    attain two
    attain tow
    ottawa tin

    all rather pedestrian

  19. “What’s my point? Russia is fixated on the Throne of Constantinople. And the West is fixated on denying it to her. Even though it is always Russia that has to pull the European fat from the fire when maniacs like Napoleon and Hitler appear.

    It’s really a pretty simple formula. Until Russia can reach a warm-water port, she is effectively nothing but a land-power. ”

    Quite right … and I have more than one horse in this race. Also, never forget Gorki’s, ‘Kuda, Rossiya? Ona nye otvyetit.’

  20. I often read Hagfish Bagpipe without reading the article. Insight with wit unmatched. Intend to steal.

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