Speaking About the Fall of Constantinople . . .

Today, the 29th of May, is the 569th anniversary of the Fall of Constantinople to Sultan Mehmed II Fatih (the Conqueror).  Believe it or not, this was the 24th time that a foreign enemy tried to conquer “the Golden Apple.”  Vikings, Arabs, Persians, Normans and Turks all tried their hand at this prospect several times over several centuries. 

Mehmet, the 21-year-old Sultan, who fancied himself a conqueror in the mold of Alexander the Great, succeeded. 

It was a bleak day for Christians all over the world.  They knew what it meant.  In 1456, just three years after the fall of Constantinople, Mehmet tried to take Belgrade but was turned back by the combined Christian forces led by Yanni Hunyadi.  And then, then some seventy years later, Suleiman the Magnificent, marched on Vienna, and almost took it.  Islam seemed unstoppable. 

In any event, those two kingdoms –Hungary and Austria–were spared.  Byzantium was not.  

As far as we Greeks are concerned, it was a particularly stinging defeat.  It was in fact a historical trauma from which we never recovered.  Neither our nation nor our Church emerged unscathed.  Indeed, the Great Church of Christ, underwent a “pseudomorphosis” as it were, torturing its form into a parody of its former self.   Simony and corruption set in. 

So it makes sense why Constantinople “matters,” especially to other Orthodox people as well.  Eventually Bulgaria and Serbia fell whereas Romania was able to enjoy an autonomy under the rule of handpicked Phanariote nobles.  But were you aware that it matters to the Russians as well?

I for one didn’t realize this.  However, one of our commentators, Ianto Watt, has written what I believe to be an insightful analysis of the present Russo-Ukrainian war.  Spoiler alert:  Constantinople may be the heart of it.  

Please take the time to read it.  It’s a fascinating piece.  Please bear in mind that Mr Watt writes from an ultramontane Catholic perspective, so we may have a few quibbles with it.  That doesn’t mean that we can’t be respectful and given the consideration that we feel it deserves. 

As always, let us know what you think.



Site logo image  

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


May 13

featured image

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 (agnatic appenage) created too many contenders for an ever-shrinking throne. The resulting fratricide was killing the Slavs, not the invading foreigners.

So, the Northern Slavs outsourced the job of ruler. Rurik’s first call-center was in Novgorod. He brought leadership to the Northern Slavs loyal to him, and the beginnings of Empire were laid. This was around the late 850’s. (Please remember, not all historians agree on dates this old).

Rurik and then Oleg (the regent of Rurik’s young son Igor) then sent some of their ‘nobles’ on expeditions to acquire more lands. (They’re Vikings, remember. Taking things is what they do). They sent 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.

Buy my new book and learn to argue against t


  1. I don’t think it’s possible to entirely predict what will happen and who wants what. However, “our” “leaders” clearly only have malice in mind for the sake of malice itself. Russia is the last bastion of something resembling traditional Christian values. Therefore I only wish Putin Godspeed in his quests.

    Somewhat related:


  2. Beware of Romans bearing gifts. I see no evidence to support this papist claptrap. Really, I don’t know why you all indulge this nonsense. One major reason the authoritarians will end up dominating the “democrats” is that they limit “freedom of speech”. Thus the battlefield of ideas is located in the West, not the East.

    For those who really believe in the Third Rome appellation, Istanbul is as irrelevant as Rome, Italy.

  3. Let us consider some real evidence:

    1. Russia unequivocally supported Erdogan in the 2016 coup, unlike the West.

    2. As a result, Erdogan has had Russia’s back during the present adventure. He has blocked off entry into the Baltic Sea and is currently blocking Swedish and Finnish accession to NATO.

    3. Which exports and which imports characterize Constantinople and of what effect is that to the Russian economy? Turkey is among the leaders in imports from Russia, but Constantinople itself exports nothing but division and internal tensions within Orthodoxy. I hear they have a lot of cats, but Russia is running long on cats (who have also been sanctioned, I might add).

    4. Since Turkey is more or less an ally of Russia, why would Russia set its sights on Istanbul? Russia would have to form an intention to conquer Turkey. Why would Russia want to conquer a Muslim state that is a member of NATO, especially if the Turks are doing nothing to harm Russia and seem to be doing what they can to aid her? Ancient history? I think not. There is nothing whatsoever magic about Constantinople, especially in an age when the Russians are keen on building up the gravitas of Moscow and downplaying the Phanar as irrelevant. Capturing Istanbul would be counterproductive, giving it more significance, not less.

    5. Were Russia so inclined, my guess is that they could pressure Turkey to evict the Phanariotes. However, the Phanar is a creature of the US State Department and Deep State. So Russia is inclined to let that rock lay unturned given the provocative potential. Again, what benefit would it be to Russia if an already disgraced and excommunicated Phanar had to relocate? It would only create sympathy.

    6. Is this fanciful tale not an attempt to flatter the Greeks in order to drive a further wedge between the faction centered around Istanbul and that centered around Moscow and, moreover, to drive a wedge between the Turks and the Russians? The MP has already made a show of ostracizing and ignoring the Phanar, given its offenses. They have broken communion not only with the CP but with its satellites who recognize the OCU. It has further participated in the Amman synaxis, led by the Patriarch of Jerusalem.

    7. There is no doubt that Russia received Orthodoxy from the Greeks. And many Greeks in Greece itself feel a kinship with Russia. But the Greek government is also coopted by the West. It is only the Greek shipping industry which has put its foot down which is preventing the government from adversely affecting the flow of Russian oil.

    8. Most of Orthodoxy is with the MP. Syria has received substantial assistance from Russia against Western aggression and the West’s support for Islamist elements. Jerusalem is clearly onside with Russia as Amman demonstrated. Russia is substantially involved in Orthodoxy in the Holy Land.

    9. Given the status quo (which Ronald Reagan famously quipped is Latin for “the mess we’re in now”), why would Russia risk alienating the rest of the Orthodox world, war with NATO, and the occupation of a Muslim country, with a hard takeover of Istanbul?

    10. Rather, why not keep Turkey as an ally, break Europe with its present strategy of commodities for rubles, causing them to face their dependency on Russian energy, and overturning governments which resist this soft takeover? Turkey, and Constantinople, are very, very small potatoes.

  4. I think in my second comment on this thread I said Erdogan was blocking off the Baltic Sea, I meant to say the Black Sea.

    • Joseph Lipper says

      I believe the main reason Russia wanted Crimea was to have a warm water port leading to the Mediterranean. Access through the Bosphorus Straits is considered vital for Russia. If the straits are closed to Russia, then there will be war with Turkey.

    • Gail Sheppard says


      5. Emphasize that Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, deeply empathizing with all those affected by misfortune, has repeatedly called for doing everything possible to avoid casualties among civilians, and for all members of the Russian Orthodox Church to purely pray for the speedy restoration of peace and provide all possible assistance to all those affected, including refugees, people left without shelter and livelihood.

  5. Beware Latins offering analyses…

  6. This guy’s take is a hot mess. His first premise is wrong from the get-go. In his second he says that no one has ever managed to predict what Russia is going to do – then he proceeds to do that himself.

    And he finishes with “buy my book.” This is the same dude that tried to hawk his other book with the ULTIMATE THEORY OF EVERYTHING on here. You shouldn’t be giving him the airtime.

  7. Μωλον Λαβε says

    Western intelligence(?) has consistently misunderstood the Rus mind. Russia knows this and follow the adage of not interrupting your enemy when he is making a mistake.
    I believe that only the weapons suppliers, support brokers and several politicians are the ones profiting from the fiasco known as Ukraine which Z and others are in denial that they have been thrown under the bus. I wonder where Z will be in a year ?
    Smart money says that Russia take over the entire Ukraine – slowly, quietly with less blood and tears.
    At least the newest NATO countries are waking up that there is no “enemy” to defend against. (cue Trump when he told NATO members that they needed to pay their fair share). Thus, the idea over a year ago that Europe have their own joint defense force – but in my opinion this is not necessary, not militarily against Russia, but to protect themselves economically from the US implosion.

    Concerning Turkey, Russia would be doing the ME a favor since their is no love lost between the Arab and the Turk. Their is no need for military action here. Erdogan sees the advantage here of changing sides. Consider the advantage that Russia – and Turkey will gain.
    I am certain that others are seeing the writting on the wall and reassessing their position. Will any country come to help the US in any form – Canada ?

    I originally thought that Mitsotakis would be the answer to Greece’s problems – but at what cost ?
    When I first heard him speak before the elections, I was not impressed. In time I saw positive changes but I ask myself how much of this was because of US intervention ? History and experience tell us that US intervention does not have a happy ending for the host country. Mitsotakis certainly jumps and somersaults when the US says so. In passing to friends, there was discussion of how Greece has more in common with Russia that with the West. History’s testament is to how often Greece was betrayed by Western powers.

    The times they are a’changin’ and the wind is changing direction.We are indeed living in interesting times. My only question is – will the West (US) go away with a bang or a whimper ?

    As far as the various Orthodox factions shennigan are concerned, I think of as another roadside dis-attraction. Our Heavenly Father has a plan, so everyone chill out and keep praying.

  8. Zeke Elfress says

    Conchanipple fell because of hesyogasm, and Cantacozene, the whole world know but you.

  9. George Michalopulos says

    Here’s my take on Mr Watt’s piece:

    Although I don’t accept his ultramontane premises, he is quite right about seeing the new world order emerging, one that looks to the East. I think the future is Eurasian.

    For the West to regain its footing, it must come back to Christian normalcy. Unfortunately, the US and Europe are hopelessly decadent, mired as they are in feminism, faggotry and trannyism. Perhaps after a complete civilizational collapse –one brought on by a massive military humiliation–will the scales off of people’s eyes be removed.

    I ain’t holding my breath.