Archive for the ‘Russians – Putin’ Category

Still more: Is Europe toast?

March 30, 2022

WSJ: “If Mr. Biden and the Europeans don’t get Ukraine right, Europe’s future is finished.”
==============
Last week, we first posed the question: Is Europe toast?

We argued that Western Europe has dug itself two very deep holes by increasing its energy dependence on Russia … and by deprioritizing (and defunding) security & defense.

Neither of these holes are candidates for quick filling.

Over the weekend, following right on cue, the WSJ’s Dan Henninger opined:

If Mr. Biden and the Europeans don’t get Ukraine right, Europe’s future is finished.

Henninger provided the poignant historic backdrop:

World War II was fought largely because Europe was experiencing the indiscriminate murder of civilians under Nazi military doctrine.

Since coming out of the ruins in 1945, the collective European memory has sustained an aversion to allowing the reappearance of that horror on its soil.

But, it’s happening now, again.

(That horror) is being revived by Mr. Putin who is attempting the extermination of a people and the obliteration of their cities.

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The rub, as articulated decades ago by Donald Rumsfeld:

If you look at the entire NATO Europe today, the center of gravity is shifting to the east.

Specifically, according to Henninger, Rumsfeld was referring to  Poland and the Baltics (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), the NATO members that for years warned France and Germany — and U.S. presidents — that Mr. Putin’s Russia was a clear and present danger.

It’s apparent that for all practical purposes, that message has largely fallen on deaf ears.

“Old Europe” (Great Britain, Germany, France) was geographically buffered from Russia by, in Rumsfeld’s words, the Eastern flank (i.e. “New Europe”).

Falsely comfortable, Western Europe paid  “yeah, yeah, yeah” lip service to the threat  while refocusing its attention and resources on social spending and, more recently, climate control.

Now, as Obama’s spiritual advisor Rev. Wright would say: “The chickens are coming home to roost”.

If Ukraine falls to Putin, Poland’s geographic buffer is gone.

Then what?

Henninger poses the central immediate question:

What will old Europe do in the next four weeks, as Mr. Putin launches cruise missiles from Russian territory or the Black Sea into apartment buildings, schools and hospitals across Ukraine?

The still sleepy-eyed Western European nations seem comfortable that Putin’s invasion will fail in Ukraine … or, that Putin will simply stop at Ukraine’s borders … or that the U.S. will massively intervene to bail them out (for the third time in history).

In other words their strategy is to pass their tea, champagne or beer … and hope for the best.

Yipes.

===============

Flashback:

Remember when Saddam Hussein’s invaded Kuwait in August 1990

When George W. Bush mulled over whether to repel the Iraqi leader militarily or not, British PM Margaret Thatcher admonished Bush with the classic: “Remember, this is no time to go wobbly, George.”

Apparently, Boris Johnson, et. al., didn’t internalize the message.

This past weekend, British foreign minister Liz Truss said that Russian sanctions could be lifted if Russia withdraws from Ukraine and commits to end aggression there. Source

We’ll let you skate on unprovoked invasions, civilian carnage, and other war crimes.

If you just promise us that you won’t do it again, we’ll just turn the page and stay the course.

Very “Old Europe”, right?

Greater threat to the planet: Putin or climate change?

March 24, 2022

Putin is the clear & present danger … so, unleash our oil & gas industry, Joe.
=============

Business leaders are now pushing Biden for an “Energy Marshall Plan” … to mobilize U.S. oil & gas companies for energy independence and export capacity.

Here’s what they’re thinking…

Analytically speaking, risk assessment boils down to a couple of decision criteria:

> How immediate is the threat?

> How severe are the potential consequences?

> How likely are the consequences?

> How might mitigation change the odds?

Applying these risk assessment criteria, the answer to the headlined question is pretty clear (to me).

Putin is demonstrably a clear, present, proven and potentially nuclear danger.

Just turn on your TV to watch the slaughter of innocent people and the destruction of a nation and a culture.

Putin is maniacal (and probably crazy), determined and has planet-destroying nuclear weapons that he might use if he’s cornered.

The climate change threat is murky (sorry, but the science is even more unsettled than it is on Covid) and prospective (decades off) … with asserted and uncertain long-term consequences.

Bottom line: If the choice is binary, Putin must be stopped ASAP.

If the Putin and climate threats need to be “balanced”, then the scale should be tilted to stopping Putin.

Putin is clearly the more immediate threat.

Climate control can wait.

Let’s go through the decision criteria…

=============

THREAT ASSESSMENT

Immediacy 

The Putin threat is happening now.  Just turn on your TV right and watch the slaughter of innocent people and the destruction of a nation and a culture.

Even climate control zealots concede that its potential “existential threat” from climate change is decades away.

=============

Severity

Climate control zealots say that, unchecked by draconian mitigation, the planet will be a degree or two warmer in 50 years … and that’s enough to end life as we know it.

Let’s assume that’s true.

Some might argue that the Putin threat is localized and contained.

The Ukraine invasion is tragic and sad, but c’mon man, it’s just Ukraine.

Once Putin gets to the Polish border, the U.N. and NATO will stop him in his tracks.

Might be true.

But, what if Putin is, in fact, crazy and, when cornered, he starts lobbing nukes.

Suddenly, we’re looking at a level of global destruction that gives climate change a run for its money.

==============

Likelihood

So, what is the likelihood that climate change puts planetary existence at risk?

Sure, clean energy beats dirty energy and a green mindset makes sense.

But, the case for climate change ending the planet’s existence is a reach.

It is disputable whether the “data is clear” and that “the science is settled” on the consequences of climate change.

For details, see 16 Reasons why I’m lukewarm on climate change

Personally, I’d score the likelihood of Putin unleashing planet-destroying nukes higher than a climate existential threat.

Update: Yesterday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a dire appeal for help as Russia’s attacks across the country intensified and the Russians set afire the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.

In Zelensky’s words: “The end of the world has arrived.” 

=============

Mitigation

This is where things get dicey.

I’m confident that the U.S. will become increasingly green.

That’s a good thing.

I believe that American ingenuity and technology will — sometime and somehow over the next 50 years — provide game-changing climate control remedies.

But, as Igor Sechin, CEO of Russia’s state-owned Rosneft, has warned

Some ecologists and politicians urge for a hasty energy transition, yet it requires an unrealistically fast launch of renewable energy sources and faces issues with storage, ensuring reliability and stability of power generation. WSJ

And, to this point, climate control initiatives in the U.S. and Europe have largely been virtue signaling … outsourcing fossil fuel production to other countries (most notably Russia!) … putting the U.S. and Europe in a vulnerable security position.

Question: Is Russian oil cleaner than U.S. or Canadian oil?

Answer: Nope!

So, the pivotal question is how to “mitigate” the Putin threat.

Well, maybe Putin can be jawboned and shunned … and will come to his senses and rein in  his destructive tendencies.

My opinion: Odds of that are essentially zero.

Maybe the rational Russian people will rise up and take him out.

I’m betting the under on that one, too

Let’s try diplomacy.

How’s then been working out?

Not to worry, NATO will ultimately use military force to contain the Putin risk at the Polish border.

English translation: NATO nations will encourage the U.S. to kick Putin’s ass when the time comes

Military containment might be doable … but, at a high cost with the incumbent risk that a crazy Putin starts a nuclear war.

=============

So what to do?

Oh yeah, there are other Putin-mitigating options.

How about draining his war-mongering financial resources with sanctions?

In logic-speak: necessary but not sufficient … especially since the current sanctions explicitly rule out any transactions related to the flow of Russian oil.

According to Biden’s Deputy National Security Advisor Daleep Singh:

“To be clear, our sanctions are not designed to cause any disruption to the current flow of energy from Russia to the world” Source

Say, what?

Bottom line: The only non-military way to cripple Putin’s war mongering is to use U.S. oil & gas production as a geo-political strategic tool … the geo-political strategic tool!

As one right-leaning pundit puts it:

Putin’s power comes from money, most of Putin’s money comes from oil and gas.

It stands to reason that if you’re trying to punish him, hitting him in the wallet is the most effective way to do it.

So why would our President specifically exempt what is the best, most effective, and really only significant way to hurt Putin in way that might impact his behavior?

Of course, there’s an explanation…

Biden is boxed by his party’s far left climate control zealots.

Nonetheless, as we’ve said before:

It’s time to reprioritize energy security and independence by unleashing U.S. oil & gas production!

He has to do an objective risk assessment (see above), stiff-arm his parity’s uber-left loons, restore U.S. energy superiority by unleashing our oil & gas industry.

It’s as simple as that!

 

Is Europe toast?

March 22, 2022

Putin’s Ukraine invasion has forced a long overdue realization that reality bites.
=============

Western European NATO nations have dug themselves into two very deep holes.

First, they have green-thought themselves into energy dependence on Russia … largely by declaring nuclear and non-Russian fossil fuels to be existential threats.

Second, they have de-prioritized security and grossly underspent on their own defense … apparently assuming that Putin’s Russia and China were just misunderstood nice guys … and that, worst case, the U.S. would swoop in and save them (again).

Brings to mind an old saying regarding the French: “We’ve saved their asses twice and they still haven’t forgiven us.”

=============

Let’s take first things first…

Regarding the European energy hole, Kimberly Strassel wrote in the WSJ:

The Europeans have embraced the climate religion with a fervor to rival Bernie Sanders.

Yet Mr. Putin’s shocking violence in Ukraine — his willingness to wield energy as a weapon — sobered the Continent overnight.

No one is giving up on renewables, but nobody is any longer pretending they are the basis of energy reliability or security.

Fossil fuels will remain for decades a currency of global power, and Russia’s invasion highlights the stupidity of being broke.

Strassel offers evidence that European nations seem to have gotten the message:

Germany’s is stockpiling coal and expediting terminals for liquefied natural gas.

Europe is working to get more gas through pipelines from Norway and Azerbaijan.

Poland plans new nuclear plants.

The U.K. may restart onshore fracking and ramp up North Sea drilling.

Norway plans to expand Arctic exploration.

Of course, Europe would now be willing to replace all of their Russian oil & gas with U.S. produced oil & gas … but, Joe says “no”

Apparently, he still hasn’t gotten the message … .

See: Greater threat to the planet: Putin or climate change?

But, Biden does seem to eventually follow Europe’s leads — albeit with a frustratingly long time-delay — so there’s still faint hope.

Hitting Putin where it hurts him the most …

March 10, 2022

No, we’re not talking oil sanctions … we’re talking burgers and lattes … but not chips.
==============

After McDonalds investors and consumers called for the chain to cut ties with Russia, the company announced that it is temporarily closing its 847 restaurants in Russia.

Announcing the action, McD’s CEO told employees:

Our values mean we cannot ignore the needless human suffering unfolding in Ukraine.

image

Some other companies are following suit…

> Coke and Starbucks pledged to suspend all business activity in Russia

> PepsiCo said it was halting sales of its big soda brands there … but would continue to sell potato chips.

Apparently, Pepsi concluded that stopping the flow of Lays, Doritos and Fritos might trigger Putin to further accelerate his atrocities.

Woody Allen: “Mankind is at a crossroads”

March 7, 2022

Woody’s 1979 “Speech to Graduates” seems eerily on-point today.
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image

I’m not a big Woody Allen fan, but one of his long ago quotes has always stuck in my memory.

The Ukraine crisis brought Woody’s words front-of-mind:

More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads.

One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness.

The other, to total extinction.

Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.

Unconsciously applying Woody’s admonition, the WSJ puts it this way:

Europe is learning a hard “Ukraine changes everything” lesson.

In the U.S. we’re shocked at the images from Ukraine.

Whether we’re willing to change our own complacent status quo in the face of manifestly real external and internal threats to our security is less clear.

At least now we have a baseline for discussion:

Do nothing, and disorder descends.

For a deeper cut,, see my prior post…

Greater threat to the planet: Putin or climate change?

… that argues Putin is a clear, present, nuclear threat …  that prevails over climate change on immediacy, likelihood, severity and game-changing mitigation.

So, climate control should take a backseat to stopping a manic who is killing masses of people, destroying a country and postured to threaten nuclear blackmail as long as he’s in power.

In other words, shelve the elitist idealism and “drill, baby, drill”.

============

Worth reading

Woody’s entire speech …. as published in the New York Times, August 10, 1979 … is a quick read … pithy, funny and on-point

The key elements:

We are a people who lack defined goals.

We have never learned to love.

We lack leaders and coherent programs.

Unfortunately our politicians are either incompetent or corrupt. Sometimes both on the same day.

We have no spiritual center.

Religion has unfortunately let us down.

Feeling godless then, what we have done is made technology God.

We’re counting on computers and electricity to solve our problems.

Eventually, energy will be in short supply and each car owner will be allowed only enough gasoline to back up a few inches.

We are adrift alone in the cosmos wreaking monstrous violence on one another out of frustration and pain.

Violence breeds more violence.

It’s a 3-minute read … and worth the time.

 

Greater threat to the planet: Putin or climate change?

March 4, 2022

Putin is the clear & present danger … so, unleash our oil & gas industry, Joe.
=============

Analytically speaking, risk assessment boils down to a couple of decision criteria:

> How immediate is the threat?

> How severe are the potential consequences?

> How likely are the consequences?

> How might mitigation change the odds?

Applying these risk assessment criteria, the answer to the headlined question is pretty clear (to me).

Putin is demonstrably a clear, present, proven and potentially nuclear danger.

Just turn on your TV to watch the slaughter of innocent people and the destruction of a nation and a culture.

Putin is maniacal (and probably crazy), determined and has planet-destroying nuclear weapons that he might use if he’s cornered.

The climate change threat is murky (sorry, but the science is even more unsettled than it is on Covid) and prospective (decades off) … with asserted and uncertain long-term consequences.

Bottom line: If the choice is binary, Putin must be stopped ASAP.

If the Putin and climate threats need to be “balanced”, then the scale should be tilted to stopping Putin.

Putin is clearly the more immediate threat.

Climate control can wait.

Let’s go through the decision criteria…

=============

THREAT ASSESSMENT

Immediacy 

The Putin threat is happening now.  Just turn on your TV right and watch the slaughter of innocent people and the destruction of a nation and a culture.

Even climate control zealots concede that its potential “existential threat” from climate change is decades away.

=============

Severity

Climate control zealots say that, unchecked by draconian mitigation, the planet will be a degree or two warmer in 50 years … and that’s enough to end life as we know it.

Let’s assume that’s true.

Some might argue that the Putin threat is localized and contained.

The Ukraine invasion is tragic and sad, but c’mon man, it’s just Ukraine.

Once Putin gets to the Polish border, the U.N. and NATO will stop him in his tracks.

Might be true.

But, what if Putin is, in fact, crazy and, when cornered, he starts lobbing nukes.

Suddenly, we’re looking at a level of global destruction that gives climate change a run for its money.

==============

Likelihood

So, what is the likelihood that climate change puts planetary existence at risk?

Sure, clean energy beats dirty energy and a green mindset makes sense.

But, the case for climate change ending the planet’s existence is a reach.

It is disputable whether the “data is clear” and that “the science is settled” on the consequences of climate change.

For details, see 16 Reasons why I’m lukewarm on climate change

Personally, I’d score the likelihood of Putin unleashing planet-destroying nukes higher than a climate existential threat.

Update: Yesterday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a dire appeal for help as Russia’s attacks across the country intensified and the Russians set afire the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.

In Zelensky’s words: “The end of the world has arrived.” 

=============

Mitigation

This is where things get dicey.

I’m confident that the U.S. will become increasingly green.

That’s a good thing.

I believe that American ingenuity and technology will — sometime and somehow over the next 50 years — provide game-changing climate control remedies.

But, as Igor Sechin, CEO of Russia’s state-owned Rosneft, has warned

Some ecologists and politicians urge for a hasty energy transition, yet it requires an unrealistically fast launch of renewable energy sources and faces issues with storage, ensuring reliability and stability of power generation. WSJ

And, to this point, climate control initiatives in the U.S. and Europe have largely been virtue signaling … outsourcing fossil fuel production to other countries (most notably Russia!) … putting the U.S. and Europe in a vulnerable security position.

Question: Is Russian oil cleaner than U.S. or Canadian oil?

Answer: Nope!

So, the pivotal question is how to “mitigate” the Putin threat.

Well, maybe Putin can be jawboned and shunned … and will come to his senses and rein in  his destructive tendencies.

My opinion: Odds of that are essentially zero.

Maybe the rational Russian people will rise up and take him out.

I’m betting the under on that one, too

Let’s try diplomacy.

How’s then been working out?

Not to worry, NATO will ultimately use military force to contain the Putin risk at the Polish border.

English translation: NATO nations will encourage the U.S. to kick Putin’s ass when the time comes

Military containment might be doable … but, at a high cost with the incumbent risk that a crazy Putin starts a nuclear war.

=============

So what to do?

Oh yeah, there are other Putin-mitigating options.

How about draining his war-mongering financial resources with sanctions?

In logic-speak: necessary but not sufficient … especially since the current sanctions explicitly rule out any transactions related to the flow of Russian oil.

According to Biden’s Deputy National Security Advisor Daleep Singh:

“To be clear, our sanctions are not designed to cause any disruption to the current flow of energy from Russia to the world” Source

Say, what?

Bottom line: The only non-military way to cripple Putin’s war mongering is to use U.S. oil & gas production as a geo-political strategic tool … the geo-political strategic tool!

As one right-leaning pundit puts it:

Putin’s power comes from money, most of Putin’s money comes from oil and gas.

It stands to reason that if you’re trying to punish him, hitting him in the wallet is the most effective way to do it.

So why would our President specifically exempt what is the best, most effective, and really only significant way to hurt Putin in way that might impact his behavior?

Of course, there’s an explanation…

Biden is boxed by his party’s far left climate control zealots.

Nonetheless, as we’ve said before:

It’s time to reprioritize energy security and independence by unleashing U.S. oil & gas production!

He has to do an objective risk assessment (see above), stiff-arm his parity’s uber-left loons, restore U.S. energy superiority by unleashing our oil & gas industry.

It’s as simple as that!

 

Greater threat to the planet: Putin or climate change?

February 28, 2022

Putin is the clear & present danger … so, unleash our oil & gas industry, Joe.
=============

Analytically speaking, risk assessment boils down to a couple of decision criteria:

> How immediate is the threat?

> How severe are the potential consequences?

> How likely are the consequences?

> How might mitigation change the odds?

Applying these risk assessment criteria, the answer to the headlined question is pretty clear (to me).

Putin is demonstrably a clear, present, proven and potentially nuclear danger.

Just turn on your TV to watch the slaughter of innocent people and the destruction of a nation and a culture.

He’s maniacal (and probably crazy), determined and has planet-destroying nuclear weapons that he might use if he’s cornered.

The climate change threat is murky and prospective (decades off) … with uncertain but potentially severe consequences.

Bottom line: If the choice is binary, Putin must be stopped ASAP.

If the threats need to be “balanced”, then the scale should be tilted to stopping Putin.

Putin is clearly the more immediate threat.

Climate control can wait.

Let’s go through the decision criteria…

=============

THREAT ASSESSMENT

Immediacy 

The Putin threat is happening now.  Just turn on your TV right now and watch the slaughter of innocent people and the destruction of a nation and a culture.

Even climate control zealots concede that its potential “existential threat” is decades away.

=============

Severity

Climate control zealots say that, unchecked by draconian mitigation, the planet will be a degree or two warmer in 50 years … and that’s enough to end life as we know it.

Let’s assume that’s true.

Some might argue that the Putin threat is localized and contained..

The Ukraine invasion is tragic and sad, but c’mon man, it’s just Ukraine.

Once Putin gets to the Polish border, the U.N. and NATO will stop him in his tracks.

Might be true.

But, what if Putin is, in fact, crazy and, when cornered, he starts lobbing nukes.

Suddenly, we’re looking at a level of global destruction that gives climate change a run for its money.

==============

Likelihood

So, what is the likelihood that planetary existence at risk?

Sure, clean energy beats dirty energy and a green mindset makes sense.

But, the case for climate change ending the planet’s existence is a reach.

It is disputable whether the “data is clear” and  “the science is settled” on the consequences of climate change.

For details, see 16 Reasons why I’m lukewarm on climate change

Personally, I’d score the likelihood of Putin unleashing planet-destroying nukes higher than a climate existential threat.

=============

Mitigation

This is where things get dicey.

I’m confident that the U.S. will become increasing green.

That’s a good thing.

I believe that American ingenuity and technology will — sometime and somehow over the next 50 years — provide game-changing climate control remedies.

But, as Igor Sechin, CEO of Russia’s state-owned Rosneft, has warned

Some ecologists and politicians urge for a hasty energy transition, yet it requires an unrealistically fast launch of renewable energy sources and faces issues with storage, ensuring reliability and stability of power generation. WSJ

And, to this point, climate control initiatives in the U.S. and Europe have largely been virtue signaling … outsourcing fossil fuel production to other countries (including Russia!) … leaving the U.S. and Europe vulnerable.

So, the pivotal question is how to “mitigate” the Putin threat.

Well, maybe Putin will come to his senses and self-control his destructive tendencies.

Odds of that are essentially zero,

Maybe the rational Russian people will rise up and take him out.

I’m betting the under on that one, too

Let’s try diplomacy.

How’s then been working out?

Not to worry, NATO will ultimately use military force to contain the Putin risk.

English translation: NATO nations will encourage the U.S. to kick Putin’s ass.

Military containment might be doable … but, at a high cost with the incumbent risk that a crazy Putin starts a nuclear war.

=============

So what to do?

Oh yeah, there are other Putin-mitigating options.

How about draining his war-mongering financial resources with sanctions?

In logic-speak: necessary but not sufficient … especially since the current sanctions explicitly rule out any transactions related to the flow of Russian oil.

According to Biden’s Deputy National Security Advisor Daleep Singh:

“To be clear, our sanctions are not designed to cause any disruption to the current flow of energy from Russia to the world” Source

Say, what?

Bottom line: The only non-lethal way  to cripple Putin’s war mongering is to use U.S. oil & gas production as a geo-political strategic tool … the geo-political strategic tool!

As one right-leaning pundit puts it:

Putin’s power comes from money, most of Putin’s money comes from oil and gas.

It stands to reason that if you’re trying to punish him, hitting him in the wallet is the most effective way to do it.

So why would our President specifically exempt what is the best, most effective, and really only significant way to hurt Putin in way that might impact his behavior?

Of course, there’s an explanation…

Biden is boxed by his party’s far left climate control zealots.

Nonetheless, as we’ve said before:

Biden’s only realistic option is to reverse his dumbest decisions.

He has to do an objective risk assessment (see above), stiff-arm his parity’s uber-left loons, restore U.S. energy superiority by unleashing our oil & gas industry.

It’s as simple as that!

News flash: Putin puts his nuclear forces “on alert”.

February 27, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a televised statement today that he was ordering Russia’s nuclear  forces on alert.

According to Axios:

  • This is the second time Putin has alluded to Russia’s nuclear arsenal while effectively warning the West to back off.
  • In a statement at the onset of the invasion, Putin said anyone who tried to “hinder us” would face “such consequences that you have never encountered in your history.”
  • Fear of a standoff between nuclear powers is a large part of the reason the U.S. and its NATO allies have been so adamant that they will not send troops to Ukraine.

C’mon, Joe. It’s “game on”.

Unleash our oil & gas industry to stop funding Putin’s aggression (and slow the rate of inflation here at home).

For background (and data), see:

Biden’s only realistic option: reverse his dumbest decisions and…

Biden channels Meatloaf: He will do anything to curb inflation (but he won’t pump oil)

One cartoon says it all … with only one inaccuracy.

February 25, 2022

image

The inaccuracy: In real life, Putin’s playing 3-dimensional chess.

=============

Thanks to KZ for the feed

Putin says he doesn’t want to share a border with a NATO member, but …

February 25, 2022

If he takes all of Ukraine, he’ll share a border with Poland and Romania … both NATO members!
=============

Last night, many pundits were saying that Biden (and Ukraine … and NATO) should just concede that that Ukraine will never be granted NATO membership.

Their logic: Putin has intimated that the potential of Ukraine joining NATO is his red lines.

Since there are no known intentions of Ukraine applying for NATO membership … nor of NATO granting membership if Ukraine does apply …  then it’s a moot issue … so why not concede the point and watch the Russian tanks roll back to Mother Russia?

Unfortunately, there are a couple of holes in that argument.

First, if shared borders with a NATO member is really Putin’s flashpoint issue, then taking all of Ukraine doesn’t solve his problem … if he succeeds, Russia will be sharing borders with Poland and Romania.

Both are NATO members!

image

Second, Putin has also been demanding that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, former USSR republics, currently in NATO, get booted out of NATO.

The consensus of pundits seems to be that’s a non-starter.

What a mess…

==============

For the record:

At present, NATO has 30 members. In 1949, there were 12 founding members of the Alliance: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States. The other member countries are: Greece and Turkey (1952), Germany (1955), Spain (1982), the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland (1999), Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia (2004), Albania and Croatia (2009), Montenegro (2017) and North Macedonia (2020). Source

In its final years, the USSR consisted of 15 “republics”: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belorussia (now Belarus), Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kirgiziya (now Kyrgyzstan), Latvia, Lithuania, Moldavia (now Moldova), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

In 2004, three former Soviet republics — the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were admitted to NATO. Source

Also in 2004, three former Warsaw Pact countries — Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia — joined NATO. They were not part of the USSR, but were politically aligned with it, Source

Poland — a NATO member since 1999 — was an “Eastern Bloc satellite state in the Soviet sphere of interest”, but it was never a part of the Soviet Union.

So, why is Putin so keen on Ukraine?

February 18, 2022

Seems like something that we should know, right?
=============

In a nutshell, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies:

Russian annexation of some or all of Ukraine would increase Russian strategic landmassskilled manpower, industrial capacity, and natural resources to a level that could make it a global threat.

Let’s drill down on some basics…
=============

Large landmass

Russia is the largest country in the world, covering about 6.6 million square miles, which is one-eighth of Earth’s inhabitable landmass and  almost double the U.S and China.

image

Ukraine is the largest country entirely within Europe.

The country covers an area of 231,661 square miles, which is about twice the size of Italy and slightly smaller than Texas.

Importantly, Ukraine is a buffer between Russia and NATO allies. Specifically, Ukraine (not a NATO member) separates Russia from Poland (a NATO member).

Paradoxically, if Russia were to annex all of Ukraine, there would be no buffer between Russia and NATO nation Poland.

=============

Skilled workforce

Russia’s population is about 150 million. Ukraine’s population is about 45  million .

Ukraine’s workforce — commonly reported to be highly skilled  — is the product of the country’s educational system.  Source 

Over 70% have secondary or higher education, the literacy rate is near 100% among its youngest generations and the workforce has one of the highest levels of English proficiency in post-Soviet countries.  Source

The Ukrainian education system is intensely focused on technical and scientific disciplines.

With over 130,000 engineering graduates annually, Ukraine is home to the largest IT engineering force in Central and Eastern Europe. Source

==============

Natural resources

Ukraine has extremely rich and complementary mineral resources that are highly concentrated and in close proximity to each other.

The country has abundant reserves of coal (12th in the world), uranium (10th in the world), natural gas, oil, iron ore, titanium and nickel. Source

And, the rich dark soil and the vast fields of wheat and other food products have earned Ukraine the nickname “bread basket of Europe.”

According to the CIA World Factbook, Ukraine produced 25% of all agricultural output in the former Soviet Union.

Today, Ukraine exports substantial amounts of grain, vegetables, sugar beets, sunflower seeds, milk and meat to Russia and the European Union.

In addition, food processing, especially sugar processing, is an important industrial segment.

Nearly one out of four workers in Ukraine is employed in agriculture or forestry related endeavors. Source

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Language

One measure of cultural affinity is language.

About 85% of the population speaks Ukrainian (68% only Ukrainian, 17% Ukrainian and Russian).

About 30% of the population speaks Russian (13% only Russian, 17% Ukrainian and Russian).

Russian-speaking is concentrated in the southern (Crimea) and eastern parts of the country (along the Russian border). Source

  • Note: Ukrainian and Russian languages are significantly similar. Both are written in close forms of the Cyrillic alphabet and about 60% of their vocabularies are common. But, linguists consider Ukrainian to be closer to Polish (Ukraine’s western neighbor state) than to Russian. Source

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Religion

Another measure of cultural affinity is religion.

In rough numbers, slightly less than half of the Ukrainian population classify themselves as “non-religious believers” or atheists.

Of the half that is religious, about 90% are Ukrainian Orthodox (a variant of Eastern Orthodoxy) and the remainder are Greek or Roman Catholic.  Source

In contrast, Poland is about 85% Roman Catholic.

In Russia, about 1/3 are non-believers or non-religious; about 75% of the religious are Russian Orthodox.

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So what?

Again, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies:

Russian annexation of some or all of Ukraine would increase Russian strategic landmass, skilled manpower, industrial capacity, and natural resources to a level that could make it a global threat.

An invasion and annexation would mark a significant change in international politics, creating a new “Iron Curtain” that begins along Russia’s borders with Finland and the Baltic states and moves south through Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central and South Asia, and finally to East Asia along China’s southern flank.

Ostensibly, Russia wants “an exclusive sphere of influence in Eastern Europe and the south Caucasus is to meet its security interests.”

Putin’s primary goal is a certainty that Belarus, Ukraine, and Georgia will never belong to a military or economic bloc other than the ones Moscow controls.

So, the Kremlin’s demands are for an end to NATO expansion, a rollback of previous expansion and the removal of American nuclear weapons from Europe.

“In essence, this conflict is about whether 30 years after the demise of the Soviet Union, its former ethnic republics can live as independent, sovereign states or if they still must acknowledge Moscow as their de facto sovereign.”

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Want more?

Read the Center for Strategic and International Studies brief “Russia’s Possible Invasion of Ukraine”.

It backgrounds the situation, outlines Russia’s possible military moves and opines on Western response options.

It’s a good read that cuts through the blah-blah being served up by the mainstream media (and Fox).

Red Notice: A timely book to read…

July 20, 2018

One of the early advantages about retirement is finally having time to read books that have little or nothing to do with my courses…

First up: was Red Notice.  Recommended by my son, long before this week’s Russia events and reactions..

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This was an engaging read … and provides an interesting back-drop to the current Russia bruhaha…

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In a nutshell:

Browder was a brash, recently minted Stanford MBA who moved to Russia and built Hermitage Capital … a hedge fund that rose to prominence as the biggest foreign investor in Russian businesses.

Browder leveraged keen financial analysis to identify market anomalies and undervalued assets … and had brass balls, utilizing aggressive strategies against Russia’s oligarchs and Putin’s government.

Predictably, taking on Putin ended badly.

Browder – and most of his team- got out of Russia, avoiding incarceration and physical harm.

But, one of his lawyers – Sergei Magnitsky – was jailed by the Russians, tortured in an attempt to get him to turn on Browder, and eventually beaten to death.

Browder turned Magnitsky’s death into a human rights case against Russia … and was the driver behind the Magnitsky Act which banned the perpetrators from the U.S. – establishing a blueprint for other human rights violators.

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The biggest takeaways were Browder’s keen investment analyses … and his gross underestimation of Russian brutality against perceived enemies of the state.

No doubt about it … Putin is one mean & nasty dude…

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Update: For more detail, see today’s WSJ editorial Donald Trump, Meet Bill Browder

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Rand Paul cuts to the chase re: meddling…

July 18, 2018

Though often annoying, Rand Paul is consistent on a couple of important issues (think privacy and non-intervention) … and has an ability to to hone in on pivotal conclusions.

This week — after the Trump-Putin meeting — Sen. Paul cut to the chase on Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections…

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What if the undocumented 12 million were Russian … instead of Hispanic ?

March 13, 2018

Would everyone keep their same views re: immigration?  I think not.
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When President Trump said “take away the guns (from the mentally ill) and worry about due process later” … the MSM had a field day.

“What if President Obama had said that? Everybody on the right would be screaming that he’s coming for our guns.”

Maybe so, but that’s not the point.

I love playing what I call the “Control H” game … tech talk for replacing one word for another.

You know, substitute Obama (or Clinton) for Trump and ask: “would the press be as outraged?”

Usually the answer is “no.”

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I recently played a variation of the Control-H game with a buddy who was spewing all of the left-leaners’ talking points about DACA, Sanctuary cities and immigration laws  in general…

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Macedonian bot farms sigh relief …

February 19, 2018

Feds nail Boris & Natasha for trolling the internet.
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Seriously, this is like something out of Rocky & Bullwinkle.

Friday was a very, very bad day for the DOJ / FBI.

First, it was disclosed that they failed to act on a very hard tip that the Florida school killer was literally locked, loaded and intending carnage.

Then, in an apparent attempt to deflect attention away from that egregious miss, the DOJ / Special Investigator held a spur-of-the-moment press conference to announce that a handful of Russian companies and individuals were being indicted for “sowing discord” and “meddling” in the Presidential election.

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Rather than just taking the talking heads at face value, I decided to read the indictment.

Honestly, it brought back memories … of Dudley Do-Right foiling the feeble plots of Boris and Natasha on Rocky & Bullwinkle.

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Let’s go through some of the details …

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Intel Report: Like a typical Chinese meal …

January 9, 2017

Fortune cookie was the best part … and I’m hungry again.

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Over the weekend, we posted : Intel Report on Russian hacking … my take.

Now that the dust has settled, I’m getting that “where’s the beef feeling”?

Best I can do is:

Key points: Russians were more #NeverHillary than pro-Trump … no evidence that the election was impacted …  none of the purloined emails were fakes or forgeries … Russians held back some of the juicier information-bombs to drop during Clinton’s expected presidency (and, they still have those morsels stockpiled).

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click to view report

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My questions:

1) How were the sleuths able to able to find cyber-prints in this case but came up empty on the Clinton server (though the FBI reported that there was a high probability the enemy agents hacked that server, too)?

2) Wasn’t there any evidence of other foreign forces hacking into the same information bases, say the Chinese or North Koreans? Or, did our spies succumb to “fixation bias” (with a little “confirmation bias” thrown in) and only looked at a Russian connection? Maybe the problem is bigger and broader than reported.

By the way, what’s up with the Feds failing to haul in the suspect computers & servers and analyzing them for clues and evidence? Geez, on every episode of American Greed, the cops haul off the perp’s computer …

3) What info are the Russians holding in storage, waiting for an opportune time to cause some real havoc? Hmm. Maybe they have some of the classified material that was held safe (?) on Clinton’s and Weiner’s computers. Isn’t anybody worried about that?

Those are the questions that I’d like to see answered.

I’m not holding my breath …

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Though it was generally superficial and disappointing, I did ID one useful part of the report (seriously) …

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NY Times: FBI clears Trump of Russian ties …

November 1, 2016

… and, says Russian hacking intended to disrupt election, not boost Trump

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Trying to shift attention off Weiner’s email stash, Team Clinton started flashing the Russian shiny object yesterday:

You know, Trump and Putin are in collusion.

Well, even the Dem newspaper of record – the NY Times – concedes that there’s no “there” there.

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Here’s the relevant snippet from the Times article …

(more…)


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