Nothing has changed from my initial Ukraine war factsheet from eight months ago (click here), except that President Zelensky’s approval rating has fallen squarely below 20 percent, he has been outed for helping launder $40 million to Cyprus in his prior career as a comedian and TV producer, and he has commenced jailing the opposition and closing their media a.k.a. “saving democracy”, with the full, outspoken support of the U.S. Embassy. The one thing saving him (for now) is his party’s supermajority in parliament, but with a party approval rating barely above his own, the smartest rats are leaving the ship and turning on him. He was desperate when I sent out my factsheet; he is even more desperate now. The knives are out. Some very deep pockets have lined up against him. If he falls, he will have to leave the country on an unscheduled flight—he simply can’t stay.
The U.S. is using Ukraine to fight Russia, but remains unwilling to fight Russia itself, or to invest “real” money in this country. Our embassy in Kiev is scoping out who it might get behind to replace Zelensky as of the 2023 election, but at the same time, is doing everything to keep him in power until then, to include neutralizing all opposition, as it is understood that only hyper-centralized presidential authority—under the guise of “democracy” and “fighting corruption”—allows Ukraine to continue to stand against Russia.
For example, the U.S. Embassy is widely believed to have pressured the sudden, unexpected resignation of the long-time interior minister, Avakov, who was a power unto himself, and the one man who might conceivably have led some kind of “palace coup” ahead of the election. Also, the U.S. Treasury Department has just sanctioned the head of Ukraine’s Constitutional Court (and his wife), who had been illegally suspended and locked out of his own office by Zelensky in a struggle over the scope of the court’s powers. (The official explanation is “for taking bribes”, by which logic they should sanction Zelensky’s entire regime.)
Of course, Uncle Sam doesn’t care that (by the most conservative estimates) four million working-age Ukrainian citizens from areas still under government control—over one quarter of the workforce—have voted with their feet and moved to Russia, Poland, Italy, etc. since 2014, most with no intention to return. Ukraine is never going to rise above the level of a U.S. puppet state, being handed just enough money to hold up its pants in the fight against Russia, and not one cent more. The country has just that one purpose, without which, it would be discarded and flushed down the toilet. To be blunt, Ukraine is being “used”, but no one—least of all its “customers”—respects its “profession.”
The present escalation with Russia will be resolved if or when Uncle Sam reigns in any move by Ukraine to take back—or act like it is about to take back—the rebel regions under Russia’s wing. However, the “problem” this time, is that Russia has made clear through many channels that its pain threshold for tolerating the usual once-or-twice-per-year, “hey we’re still here” military escalation from the Ukrainians—more intense artillery bombardment, assaults on vulnerable outposts, industrial sabotage, etc.—is now much lower than ever before. This time, it appears Bad Vlad would prefer liquidating Ukraine to putting up with the endless drama and constant risk of NATO deployment to the country. It’s winter, Europe is running low on fuel, and he seems to feel that it’s now or never. Russia is clearly not bluffing when it demands written guarantees against NATO involvement with Ukraine… or else. Hence, Brandon’s people are walking a very fine line.
There is another aspect that has not been discussed. The extreme financial sanctions that our State Department is threatening against Russia, would—besides sending our average unleaded gallon price much closer to $4.00—blow up the European natural gas market this harsh winter, sending the “Dutch Hub” price from its already totally insane range of $950 to $1150 per 1000 cubic meters to $1500 or higher. This, in turn, would put further pressure on fertilizer and food prices worldwide into 2022 and beyond. Also note, Russia accounts for 45 percent of the world’s ammonium nitrate exports, to include 40 percent of U.S. needs, and if it can’t take payment in dollars, and has to pay workaround cuts to various money-changer intermediaries, that alone could hike the price of this fertilizer (now already at an all-time high and in short supply in most countries) everywhere by five to 10 percent on a pure cost basis, or much higher on speculative/panic grounds.
Since 2014, Russia has stood up new financial IT systems and is prepared structurally and technically for this moment—it is well positioned to survive the sanctions and “make bank” even as the West shoots itself in the foot. I am more worried about us here.
What’s the relevance to our political scene? Understanding that any major escalation will ultimately hit the American voter in the pocket, Republicans should just let Brandon’s people sort it out. Please, GOP, don’t give the bastards any “statesman” legitimacy, or any “war fever” cover to sneak their crazy agenda in through the cracks. It’s a no-win, let them own it. Just let it go. You will have your own go at Russia in due time. If you feel the “must grandstand against Russia” itchy-itch, please find the nearest methadone clinic.
Put Senator Roger Wicker—who went on Fox to raise the possibility of a pre-emptive naval strike on Russia, as well as an offensive “nuclear action”—in a straitjacket for a few months. We can’t have low-IQ people representing the party on national TV, morons who volunteer to help Democrats take the focus off inflation and crime and things that voters care about. Shocking as it may sound, Wicker’s base—and yours’, if you hold office or work for someone who does—cares more about hundreds of political prisoners held and tortured in DC for 11 months without trial and without sufficient evidence to bring to trial (most of them for just “trespassing” for 20 minutes, many of them in fact waived-in through the doors by police), than about Puh-puh-puh-Poootin.
In short… please let go of the stupid and DON’T TAKE THE BAIT!!!
Update: December 19, 2021
The Brandon administration has shared its intelligence assessment that Bad Vlad has not yet made up his mind as to whether to liquidate Ukraine (if he needs to.) Anyone who has followed Russian state and quasi-state media as well as Russia’s foreign ministry can see the opposite is true. The question is of timing—waiting till the harshest time of winter, for the enemy to run low on diesel, and for Europe to freeze on its knees.
Someone in the Russian government even put a price tag on incorporating parts of Ukraine that Russia must hold on to, and this is indeed the best time, as Russia’s budget is back in surplus, its reserves are bulging, and any meaningful new sanctions against it would blow up Europe’s gas and electricity markets and send the oil price soaring, leading to… more money for Russia. Moreover, it is well known that Bad Vlad is hoping to retire (not to die in office like Stalin or the tsars), and he can’t pass off this festering pustule to a potentially weaker successor—it might blow back and destroy the state he created, and then he gets pulled out of his retirement villa, and extradited to the International Criminal Court, and dies in prison like Milosevic.
For now, there is (at least theoretically) a chance to work things out. On Saturday, December 18th, Russia’s deputy foreign minister told state TV that the West will have to “deal with a military-technical alternative” if it doesn’t “seriously approach” a Russian written offer for two-way security guarantees (more on this below.) Unfortunately, Team Brandon is playing for time to arm the Ukraine some more, while NATO’s Secretary General has basically declared, “We don’t negotiate with peons, you are in no position to make demands, we are the side that makes demands, the Ukraine is ours’, get back in your box.” So, it doesn’t look promising.
In fact, our foreign policy establishment is so far gone over the Ukraine, that the U.S. and Ukraine were the only two countries to vote this past week against United Nations Resolution 75/169, which condemned—among many other manifestations of hate—official Ukrainian tolerance/promotion of neo-Nazi groups and glorification/commemoration of Nazism and Nazi collaborationism (without actually mentioning Ukraine by name, but it was clear who the target was, and that the resolution came from Russia or its friends.)
When the Empire of Freedom votes for Hitler and the Ukrainian division of the Waffen SS, it’s time to stop and think.
But this train is so far out from the station, there is no turning back. My guess is, there is no talking Uncle Sam out of another Afghanistan—a collapse of a rotten, collaborationist regime in a deeply divided country—in the Ukraine. For Russia, the one thing left now is to explain as widely as possible that it shared its “red lines” and was told to take a hike. Putin’s government has done a great job of this, and it helps that it’s the truth. When Russia’s foreign ministry publicized draft agreements it had sent to the U.S. and NATO with a list of demands (no new NATO members, no more military bases close to Russia, keep foreign ships and planes away from Russia’s shores and borders, Russia and NATO agree not to call each other adversaries, etc.,), this was not done to strengthen the demands (Uncle Sam surely used these documents for toilet paper) but to continue working on Western opinion, to include elite opinion in certain NATO countries that are not reliably on the U.S. leadership wagon.
As for Republican voters specifically, sure, Putin is a killer, but so is Fauci, among others. We know who has killed Americans, we know what our real problems are. We know who is censoring us, who is trying to shut down all opposition here in this country—and it’s not Putin. It seems the GOP in Congress is catching on, because instead of sending their A-Team to rant about Russia on Fox, they left it to moron Senator Wicker, who went on to blab about a preemptive nuclear strike against Russia (truly, “this is your brain on drugs.”)
At this point, I think Republicans can see what a war—and “killer sanctions” on Russia—would do to gas prices in the country their voters live in (fancy that!), and perhaps they’d rather step back and let Brandon take the blame and call him weak after-the-fact, than cheerlead now and share the blame if/when it all goes to hell. But for any Republican who hasn’t yet smelled the coffee, please, just let Brandon do what he’s going to do—lay low and stay out of it!!!
Correction: An earlier draft of the referenced factsheet from April wrongly explained the term “Donbass.” It is actually the Donets coal basin (a geological-origin term), not the Don River basin. The Don River flows some distance to the east, across the border in Russia.