Whatever happens this weekend or next week in Ukraine, Biden has done a superb job forging a united opposition to Russia. Intense diplomacy, unprecedented information sharing, leaving room for other leaders to engage Putin, and clear strategic comms all add up to Western unity.
— Ivo Daalder (@IvoHDaalder) February 18, 2022
BIDEN: “We believe that they will target Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, a city of 2.8 million innocent people. We’re calling out Russia’s plans loudly, repeatedly…to remove any reason that Russia may give to justify invading Ukraine and prevent them from moving”https://t.co/hY08k0ATqF
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) February 18, 2022
Here in Munich, @SecBlinken and @VP met several times today.
"We remain, even at this late hour, open to diplomacy" with Russia, a senior Biden official says. pic.twitter.com/OtMSS7tCkD
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) February 18, 2022
US remains supportive of diplomacy with Russia, "but we are also committed to taking corrective actions to ensure there will be severe consequences" if Putin goes ahead with an invasion of Ukraine, @VP Harris says in her 1st public remarks at Munich Security Conference. pic.twitter.com/vi19MIIewa
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) February 18, 2022
One key indicator is how Russian media covers the crisis. For weeks, those who monitored it, said it was not the dominant story. That seems to be changing now. https://t.co/D7oZ1PkQPe
— Tom Wright (@thomaswright08) February 18, 2022
The irony is that Russians, going back to the Soviet days, have a particular paranoia about their enemies launching attacks under the cover of exercises.
Everything I ever knew about the Soviet Union feels relevant again. I do not say this happily. https://t.co/ERSiJtBnq8
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) February 18, 2022
“Russian proposals are of a package nature and should be considered in a complex without identifying its individual components”. No negotiation, folks. Take it or leave it (and it’s going to be leave it). https://t.co/sHZqD5gnRs
— Shashank Joshi (@shashj) February 17, 2022
Look at that. Metadata on "today's" announcement from Russian-occupied Ukraine just happens to show it was recorded Wednesday when the US predicted the invasion would start.
A separate, similar video shows same.
Sure seems like US/allied intel bought Ukraine 48-72 hours. https://t.co/OV21oNZwS6
— zeddy (@Zeddary) February 18, 2022
#Russia is making demands over #Ukraine that are impossible to meet – and intentionally so. My @TheAtlantic newsletter today.https://t.co/0iVoAxS40G pic.twitter.com/qVTkSBGWte
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) February 18, 2022
… Russian tea leaves are never easy to read. I spent years doing this as a Sovietologist in the bad old days—which, sadly, are back—and this could either be the prelude to war or a middle finger to the West as Vladimir Putin heads back into his supervillain lair.
Given that the Russians are shelling areas along the Ukrainian border at this moment, I think that latter outcome is unlikely, but again, this could be either the opening salvo or a parting shot. Whatever happens, Putin is not done with Ukraine.
What’s important here, however, is that this refusal is shot through with a complete rejection of 30 years of peace and diplomacy. Putin, himself a decaying remnant of the old Soviet order, is saying, in effect, that everything in the former Soviet empire is still under the dominion of the Kremlin. Remember, demanding a reset back to 1997 means “before the Baltic states were admitted to NATO.” This would be resetting the Atlantic Alliance back to a time when only Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary were on track to join the original Cold War members of NATO.
Of course, this demand is impossible and Putin knows it…
And finally, why this is Putin‘s war and why the West has limited leverage over a man who is doing things for his own reasons:https://t.co/cVzRagxwUn
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) February 18, 2022
Hoping for maximum embarrassment for Putin.
Vlad will be history soon. Even if he invades and holds Ukraine for some period, even years, this will be his undoing. This is ridiculous.
I’m old enough to remember when the advice was to call your doctor if your erection lasts longer than four weeks. Call your doctor, Vlad.
Those soldiers in the second tweet look very, very glum.
David ? ☘The Establishment☘? Koch
Looks like I picked the wrong week to book a skiing trip to Ukraine
Thank the deity of your choice- or not, that we have a Biden/Harris Administration and not the prior. I am so very grateful to have experience and competence at the helm.
Vlad’s friends the Chinese have been very quiet. No doubt the Olympics are taking all of their attention.
Any chance Putin’s making his move now because he knows TFG has no chance in 2024? (Always looking for a silver lining.)
@Baud: hoping for Putin’s death (preferably painful). Maximum embarrassment sometimes backfires (if it’s true that Trump got the fire in his belly to run the night Obama humiliated him at the whca dinner
@Egorelick: Well, it’s still true that Bussey is the best executive decision Trump ever made. So there’s that.
Thanks to the 81 million+ who’d had enough of the Kremlin’s orange fascist shitstain and made their voices heard via ballot!
President Xi is not Putin’s ‘friend’.
I’m sure he appreciates any actions, however futile, that will distract / damage American interests. But I doubt he’ll spend one renminbi to assist Putin personally, much less the existing Russian government.
And I don’t think Putin is dumb enough to count on China for assistance, either — beyond ‘not our circus, not our monkeys’ public statements of non-interference.
I’m sure that the Tokyo Rose of the 21st Century, aka Tucker Carlson, will once more explain why Putin should be given everything he wants. I look at all this and think Putin is hoping that this is 1938 Munich all over and he’ll be given the Ukraine just like Hitler was given the Sudetenland (sp?). But, his Neville Chamberlain is no longer in power and Sleepy Joe seems to be pulling things together quite nicely. I also wonder if his incompetence at anything other than running a klepocracy has finally thrown the Russian Federation into the kind of mess where the government doesn’t know where the population’s next meal is coming from and has decided that the only way to feed the Russian people is to steal Ukraine’s agricultural infrastructure–doing so worked out so well during the Soviet Era, he said without the sarcasm font.
Many people are saying — seriously — that Putin is doing this because he’s got reason to believe his days are numbered.
Whether the threat is personal (he’s been essentially isolated in a sealed bubble to protect himself from covid for the last two years, and speculations about his physical / mental health are perennial) or political (kleptocracies seem unbreakable, until the moment they collapse) depends on the viewpoint.
Buying Trump the presidency was a spectacular lottery win for Putin. Many lottery winners go broke assuming one big win means they’re smart, not just lucky.
@Egorelick: The WHCD was in 2011. TFG announced for President for the 2016 election the day after JEB! I think he wanted to punish JEB! much more than he cared about Obama making fun of him (remember he loved any publicity when he was an up-and-comer in NYC real estate).
BusinessInsider (from 2015):
JEB! got in the way of TFG making money on yet more casinos, so he had to be destroyed.
Tom Levenson brought up the thought that he keeps coming back to the name Leopoldo Galtieri and Falklands/Malvines conflict and how there may be some parallels here with Putin.
Although, Galtieri had bee in power for far less time, a seriously tanking economy, an enormously restless populace and a desperate grip to hold on to power. It’s true the invasion of the Falklands was hugely popular in Argentina in the early days, it certainly didn’t help Galtieri and crew in the end.
Hope it’s a very small number. ?
@debbie: All soldiers are very glum, it’s part of the deal.
@raven: Come on, some are pissed off.
I’d love to know what the topics were in all that classified shit found in TFGs sock drawer. Probably mostly, if not, Russia and Putin bought it.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
I’m not sure I agree with you a hundred percent on your
police workverb choice, there, Lou.
Putin looks bloated.
How long has he been in power, and his country’s economy is still only about the size of Italy’s (if I recollect rightly). He’s nothing more than a thug. He can do a hideous amount of damage; but if he goes through with this it will undo him. I am so fucking sick of megalomaniacs sowing fear and misery among people who only want to live their lives in some kind of peace.
So thankful that we turned out and got Trump out. Ukraine is a lesson for us, as well, to stand for the democracy we want. Wonder how many defections from Russian ranks there’ll be.
In other news, Lawrence O’Donnell had a nice bit about how Trump, in his monumental arrogance, completely undid the points his own lawyers had put forth about how he knew nothing about the business dealings Letitia James wants him to testify about. Just awesome.
It’s sorta like, if Trump had been competent, and not only ran businesses that made money rather than losing it but also had carried out his coup (yes yes autogolpe shuddup) successfully and remained in office for several terms, and then decided for one reason or another (politics, personal profit) that BC and Alberta were historically part of the US (and who wouldn’t want Vancouver and all those yummy tar sands) and threatened to invade. What, in the end, could the rest of the world do about it?
The irony here — as noted in a 3-minute vid by CT Sen. Chris Murphy — is that, at this point, he’s facing a set of increasingly bad alternatives, and he has only himself to thank for it. Backing off would be a terrible loss of face, full-on invasion and occupation would be a nightmare of a quagmire, and in any case he’s done more to unify the West than probably anyone else could have, and he’s pushed most of Ukraine further toward the West in the process.
My guess is, he’ll effectively annex some part of eastern Ukraine, contiguous with both Crimea and Russia, probably by installing a puppet regime, and continue a pressure campaign against the remainder of Ukraine in an effort to make it toe the line. That is, East Germany redux. And we’ll just have to see what the West does in response, both immediately and in the long term.
AlJazeera interview with former Ukraine Defense Minister (from 2/17):
He very likely has enemies in and out of Russia. It’s difficult to be a countries richest person, and most powerful, especially the way he’s gotten there, and not have enemies. His response to Covid has been weak in all ways and it’s cost him. I wonder actually how strong his military is these days? He has to play strongman games otherwise he’s got nothing and I think that’s what Ukraine is. It’s a very dangerous game and no one can really afford to call his bluff but President Biden has taken the correct tact, diplomacy, resolve and strength, without any obvious threat of direct confrontation.
@Jim, Foolish Literalist: ;-)
I was hoping they were Russian soldiers and were glum because they weren’t happy with what they were being asked to do.
Being the target does that to a person.
Gin & Tonic
@debbie: They are Ukrainian. The sign behind them says “Kharkiv,” which is Ukraine’s second-largest city.
@debbie: Soldiers pulling guard duty in the cold look like that.
@bbleh: That area is monumentally poor and dependent today on cash from Kyiv. As little as I like it, Vlad having that sink hung around his neck for a while might be instructive.
Funny how someone always wants to be the turd in the world’s punch bowl.
Think of how wonderful life would be without people desperate to be bigger and more important than they are.
@bbleh: immediately seize all repatriated Russian oligarch assets and cut off their banking systems from the rest of the world
@HinTN: It’s not like Putin is going to spend resources actually supporting that area.
they don’t look glum to me, they look bored.
People seem to forget, this is not the Ukrainian Military of 2014.
– They arn’t riddled with Russophiles,
– They have far better Command, Control and Intelligence,
– They have over 6 years of NATO training and joint exercises,
– They have massively improved their supplies and logistics,
– They have significantly improved their ELINT and drone systems,
– They have far better weapons, domestic and foreign, (* eg, look at both the vehicle, the rifles, the uniforms, body armour and gear, 2014 Ukraine Military often went into combat with 1970’s weapons, no body armour, only vintage Soviet unit comm gear, driving Niva’s painted green).
– they are no longer reliant on recalled conscripts and “volunteer” units for either offensive or defensive operations.
– their Airforce and air defences, while still tiny, compared to what they might be facing, are greatly improved.
– they are alert and mobilized.
– politically, they are much more unified, with better Leadership.
– weak points are their Navy and numbers.
I doubt Putin would know anything on that subject that we don’t. Even his energetic efforts to put Trump in office in the first place were only playing on existing forces in US society that were evident to all.
@bbleh: Fifty-Four Forty or Fight…
@Gin & Tonic: Hello G & T. Want to say I have benefited from reading your earlier comments, but I don’t want to sound like I didn’t hear your frustration.
Since I have no area knowledge, I will just send good wishes to you and the people you care about there.
Again… both sides have thousands of nukes, this ties our hands to some degree.
@Gin & Tonic:
Oh, well, another dashed hope.
many, many years ago, I was driving a bunch of US Officers from Vancouver up to Trask Lake area as observers for an exercise.
The Coq, ( the Highway from Hell was under construction) so we drove the #1. From Hope on, their butts were clenched the whole way. They pretty much €hit themselves on the Trask Lake Forest Service Road.
During the exercise, of course, it snowed. 8 inches, in June.
WH.gov background press briefing by senior administration official in Munich:
Biden and Harris (and Pelosi) know how these things work. Having GOPers on the trip was important to show unity in the response to VVP.
i wonder what defcon level the u.s.is at currently .
keep in mind that Pootie Poot could barely take the DPR and LPR with his “Little Green Men”, Conscripts, Contract Soldiers and Russophiles. He wasn’t stopped by Minsk II, he was stopped by Veterans, both conscripts, volunteers and Professionals who had learned the hard way.
Since then, he has “gutted” some of the most effective and committed Russofiles in the “illegal” Militia’s in order to unify Russian political, criminal and military control of the DPR and LPR.
@Jay: I watched a few hours of CTV’s live coverage of the Ottawa FluTruckxKlan takedown this morning. Gotta say, your people government, media all come off looking pretty good. I could ask for better, but boy howdy, I can’t imagine that sort of takedown happening in the US. Not anymore.
Sadly, while being methodical, they are still being “gentle”.
They are starting to push up against the “dead enders”, so things are getting more violent, ( Flu Trux Klan), not the police.
We will see what happens over the next few days, and while Ottawa is in the headlines, the “Ice Choad Truckers” have other protests going.
One thing that doesn’t surprise me is how many scammers and con people are front and centre in the “Protests”. The guy leading the Quebec City protests graduated from credit card scams to construction and Fire/Flood/Restore scams.
Tom Nichols via Anne Laurie @ Top:
I’m wondering if, in fact, Putin is in the beginning stages of senile dementia. He’s 69, which would be a little early for senile dementia, but certainly not unheard of.
I mean, the whole “I demand everything go back to the way it used to be, when I was younger and sexually virile” style of his demands feels like an old man desperate to regain his lost youth, nostalgic for a power he no longer has – and maybe never had to the extent that he believes, in the way nostalgia entices us with a better past that never was.
As his cock-holster Trump once twatted on Twitter™: SAD!
@Jay: It’s a fair cop, what you say. I heard a lotta po-po-fluffing, talk about all the training, the professionalism, the preparation, and how they’d learned lessons from the G-7 (I forget, but there was a ruckus around that, wasn’t there?) and all. And I immediately thought: “gee, the next time some First Nations folks protest, are you gonna remember all that?” And truth is, they probably won’t.
But even with that, it’s still something I can’t imagine happening in the US. Not anymore.
keep in mind, Pootie Poot has surrounded himself with “Yes Men” and “Yes Media” over the decades.
His Syrian adventure is stalled, he is being rolled back in Libya, Mozambique is starting to go sideways, Ukraine has been a frozen conflict for 6 years,
Putin’s winter home is a billion-dollar complex on the Black Sea. I don’t know if he would be there around now, but it isn’t that far from Ukrainian Air Force bases, or for that matter the US Izmir AFB in Turkey. Just sayin’.
Here’s a brief palate cleanser.
@HumboldtBlue: There are people like that in SD, and then there’s Noem. It’s jarring, the incongruity.
As they say, it costs nothing to be kind.
i am reminded of Diocletian’s palace. on the Adriatic, as i recall.
@HumboldtBlue: Try to explain that to a Calvinist. Sigh.
Or to a Hobbesist!
@Chetan Murthy: SD is School District. It’s in Arkansas. While Noem is, in fact, a twit, she ain’t involved in this tale.
My assumption – based on nothing of substance, of course – is that the most Xi is likely to do for Putin is continue to trade with him, which isn’t nothing for someone who will likely find himself isolated under a punitive wave of sanctions from the US, EU and elsewhere. But I would be surprised if the terms of any such trading deals – if they exist- aren’t reasonably favorable to China, since Vlad will be the desperate one.
It all seems a bit nuts though – the economic, reputational and political aftermath seem wildly out of proportion to any possible advantage to seizing Ukraine.
After the Soviet Union collapsed, there were a heck of a lot of “obsolete NATO takes”, but for someone who really, really hates NATO, Putin seems to have spent the last decade doing everything he can to keep NATO relevant.
@theturtlemoves: o.i.c. I don’t know what the GrOPer Gov of AR has done lately, so I won’t pillory him.
@Noskilz: I’ve read articles over at Window on Eurasia (http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/ ) (he reposts stuff from Russian media) that in Russia, the issue of demographic collapse of the Russian population is a big deal — being replaced by Central Asians and their “alien culture” (gosh, so familiar). And they view annexing Belarus and Ukraine as key to keeping the Russian population up, as they view those people as Russians also (even as Ukrainians, more and more, most definitely do not).
@Chetan Murthy: yeah. We’re probably overestimating how willing the Ukrainians are to destroy their country to keep the Russians at bay. The Russians are probably underestimating the willingness of Ukrainians to see their country destroyed to keep the Russia at bay. But if the point of this is to stave off demographic collapse, there is a good possibility that a lot of the young people of Ukraine will be leaving and what he’ll “win” is will look something like Yemen or Lebanon.
@Noskilz: my sense is that even had NATO disbanded in 1991, this would be happening. Less coordination to supply Ukraine with arms. But Poland, France and the US would be making it costly for Russia to advance outside its borders.
Decapitation strikes, don’t have a great history.
The most successful one, while a clown show, took out the one guy interested in reforming the AustroHungarian Empire, and fostering levels of ethnic autonomy in more of a Commonwealth than an Empire.
It did not end well.
Just like many of the decapitation strikes the US tried.
In terms of both population and GDP, Russia carries about the same weight as Mexico. The Russian economy is smaller than that of Canada or Texas. The following are all 2020 estimates.
Russia Population: 144 million, Russian GDP 1.48 trillion
Mexican Population: 129 million, Mexican GDP 1.08 trillion
Canada GDP: 1.65 trillion
Texas GDP: 1.9 trillion
UK GDP: 2.7 trillion
California GDP: 3.5 trillion
German GDP 3.8 trillion
Japanese GDP: 5.1 trillion
Chinese GDP: 14.7 trillion
EU GDP: 17.1 trillion
US GDP: 20.9 trillion
the history of Ukraine since the start of WWI, is that the Polish, Austro-Hungarian and other ethnic enclaves in what was, and now is Ukraine, have never had, and don’t have any interest in being “Russian”.
After Brest-Listovic, Ukraine formed their very own “communist, revolutionary Independent State” until they were conquered by the Red Army and absorbed into the USSR.
During WWI, and post WWIi, huge swaths of Eastern Europe had their borders rearranged, often with massive ethnic cleansing. Roughly half of what we now view as Poland, used to be Germany, Czechoslovakia and Ukraine.
That’s not enough time or economic success for old memories to die.
Has anyone considered that Putin is just another fucking idiot like Trump?
Or alternatively that all this bullshitting is just a huge distraction from the coming unraveling of his failed attempt to coup the United States of America?
And a last shower thought:
Are we about to see the naked brutal truth of our failed society and capitalistic system, which is that an imbecilic narcissist, completely bereft of even an iota of merit, like Trump could rise to the highest political position and at the same time an equally imbecilic narcissist, you see where this is going, completely bereft of even an iota of merit, like Musk could rise to the highest business position?
it helps to start your “career” as a billionaire,
What advantage? That he can be a bigger dick to more humans?
Really how is there any advantage to him other than controlling more land and people? He’ll have a larger population to steal from? vlad is the archetypal dictator, Russian or otherwise. What he has is never enough, be it power, control of land, control of humans, number of humans he can claim as his….
my take is a bit different. Pre current war Ukraine was divided between Russophiles and those looking towards the EU. This was solved through violence. The “new” Ukrainian Gov, fudged some laws and technicalities, then targeted the Russian “ethnics” . They walked it back, but not fast enough for Putin to take advantage.
Here in Canada, faced with Quebec Separation in the 60’s and 70’s, we passed inclusion laws, we didn’t even consider or table exclusion laws. The Ukrainian Rada “considered” and “tabled” exclusion laws, even though they were pulled or did not pass.
In a time of social media, misinformation and outside actors, it was enough, to create enough of a divide, and for Putin, an excuse.
During the October Crisis, none of the Quebecois military or police, chose to go over to the separatist cause.
Not so in the Ukraine, although there are major historical differences.
I noticed something really interesting.
Per The Hill:
White House: Kicking Russia out of SWIFT unlikely to be in initial sanctions package
Uncle Joe is playing with his Smith&Wesson and whistling “Dontcha worry, pal! I won’t shoot!”
If the Russians get kicked out of SWIFT, Putin is dead within 60 days. Suicide, shot himself in the back of the head. Twice.
If there is a real chance putin won’t invade if Ukraine and NATO agree that they will never join – why not? Really, an occupied Ukraine by the Russians and the death, destruction as well economic damage to everyone is so worth maintaining that fig leaf of ‘choice’? I call that insane. Yes, putin is evil, yes Russia shouldn’t do such a massively illegal and terrible act. Yet Russia views the Ukraine joining NATO as absolutely a deadly danger to its security. I’d really like any real logic that shows its better to have this war vs. just not expanding NATO further?
@Cermet: Ummmmm, state sovereignty and rights to self determination ever cross your mind?
Because it’s better to support a democracy than enable an authoritarian dictatorship. Period. WTF is wrong with you? When has what you’re suggesting ever worked out well for the world?
So, what, they’re gonna use them as breeding stock???
“Ha! See?! If you count the occupied territories, the census numbers are still majority white! We win!”
Man. The things fascism does to a motherfucker’s brain…
@Cermet: Seriously, dude, are you making any money off this pro-Russia contrarianism of yours? Because beclowning yourself for free is never a good look.
J R in WV
If I was running anything around the Black Sea, I would launch drones/missiles at Putin’s estate while he was known to be elsewhere.
Not a Decapitation Strike, a ruin your sweet cozy life strike. Live to see your shit destroyed.
I also suspect he has early stages of some kind of dementia, this is not the strategy of one with his shit together at all.
J R in WV
He makes a good looking dessert interlude, tho. I stopped going there a long time ago…