As Russian tanks and missiles roll into east Ukraine, Russia’s account in the Cosmic Bank of Karma is way overdrawn.
Russian officials have spent the last couple of weeks trying to calm Russians and telling them not to hoard foreign currency. And Russians are, understandably, freaking out.
… The problem, though, is that the pressure inside the system is rising. Food prices are jumping and, though so far, Russians mostly blame the West for their country’s economic malaise, it’s not clear how long that will last.
… The ruble crashing won’t change anything today or tomorrow, but this is just the system starting to eat itself, this is just the system starting to crack. As I’ve written before, historically, economic crisis triggers political crisis in Russia. No one knows when one of those cracks brings the whole thing down, but there’s a growing sense in Moscow that it will happen sooner than we all think. Putin seems intent on it. __Freaking in the Motherland
It doesn’t help for Putin to tell his loyal serfs not to worry, when everything he is doing is leading to a wider scale war that may spell the end of Russia as we know it.
According to Ukrainian sources, “32 tanks, 16 howitzers and 30 trucks hauling ammunition and fighters crossed into the Luhansk region from Russia.” _New York Times
“Recently we are also seeing Russian troops moving closer to the border with Ukraine, and Russia continues to support the separatists by training them, by providing equipment, and supporting them also by having special forces, Russian special forces, inside the eastern parts of Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said.
Other officials said both intelligence and social media reports in recent days revealed an increase in Russian deployments.
The missile systems being deployed were described as conventionally armed, short-range ballistic missiles, multiple launch rocket systems, and BM-21 Grad multiple rocker launchers.
Additionally, Russian military forces are moving towed artillery pieces closer to the border…
… Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is part of a program by Russian President Vladimir Putin to gain control or hegemony over former Soviet bloc states described as the “near abroad.”
Putin is seeking to restore Russian power with territorial seizures, along with a large-scale nuclear and conventional forces buildup. __Russia Ups the Ante
Putin is trying to reconstruct an all-powerful Russian empire that never existed except in his fantasies. Both the Tsarist Empire and the USSR fell apart like shanties of rotten cardboard. The same is likely to happen to Putin’s tattered “empire” of fairy dust.
The main question is: How much of the rest of the world will Putin take with him when he disappears in a toxic cloud?
Poland has responded to the ceasefire by realigning its entire force structure east, to fight the Russians in case of invasion. Both Sweden and Finland are examining ways to deepen cooperation with NATO, and Moldova is edging towards changing its traditionally neutralist stance.
In one form or another, these states are preparing for war. Eventually, one or many – but most likely the Poles – are going to push back against Russian aggression in Ukraine, either surreptitiously with “volunteers” or overtly with some sort of joint units. And then there will be a crisis, because some NATO states will be in a war and others will back them up. __Europe Fits Itself for War
Would Russia still be Russia without Siberia? Inquiring minds wish to know. On the sidelines,China watches, and smiles. When the Bank of Karma comes to collect on Putin’s debt, a diminished Russia will be all to China’s benefit.
Remembering the lessons of the Berlin Wall, as Putin attempts to build a new iron curtain of slavery across formerly independent lands.
Putin has played a halting, fumbling game in Ukraine, despite holding the upper hand in overwhelming fashion from the start. His many mistakes and misplays are flashing back across the Russian landscape like a slashing flail of flames. After playing himself into a corner, and petulantly threatening nuclear war against the entire world, what course of action will Putin’s inner muse suggest next?
More: As body bags return to Russia, Putin sets the stage for a long-term destabilisation of Ukraine and beyond.
The challenge of re-building Russia’s “Potemkin” military:
“There is a danger that in focusing too much on strengthening military defenses, the Baltic states and NATO will neglect the non-military tools in Russia’s toolkit, including promoting and funding Euroskeptic political movements, encouraging radical groups to commit violent acts to create an environment of disorder, and using information warfare techniques to strengthen anti-government and anti-EU attitudes among minority populations,” he told CFR. _CFR
And of course, that is the key to public perception of Russia’s strengths: Russia’s massive and powerful disinformation systems, spread across a number of bureaucratic structures. The Kremlin’s propaganda machine may be the only Russian machine that still works to specifications.