The Widdershins

Posts Tagged ‘Russia

Pooty Poop

It has been six long months since Russia invaded Ukraine, and – depending on who you ask – things are either exactly as Putin planned all along (Russians, Tucker), or Russia is on a verge of a military catastrophe (everyone else.) Over the past couple of weeks Ukraine has staged an offensive that has led Russian army to flee dozens of previously occupied towns and villages in the east. Their withdrawal was so hasty that they not only left behind tanks, stolen washing machines, and some of their own soldiers (who then had to flee on stolen bicycles), but also Russian teachers they brought in to begin teaching nothing but Russian curriculum to Ukrainian children. In the midst of all this, Putin has retreated to one of his homes in Sochi (more on that later), while some of his propagandists on TV continue to insist everything is going according to plan, and that if Russia really wanted to, they would take Kyiv in one day. Seems odd that Putin planned all along to bring his troops as close to Kyiv as Chernobyl (where they proceeded to radiate themselves after digging into polluted soil), and then retreat. And then retreat again. And again. And keep retreating, until they’re running back, leaving behind hard-won Ukrainian territories. Maybe that’s the genius of Putin, his 78 dimension chess is so complex none of us understand it. “We have them surrounded in their tanks,” Baghdad Bob once declared as Americans occupied Baghdad.

As hard as Putin’s most loyal propagandists (Solovyov, Simonyan) continue to insist Russia is winning its “special operation,” cracks are appearing on Russian TV. Some commentators are openly questioning what the hell went wrong, how officials managed to screw things up, how they overpromised glory and deliver humiliation. In this clip from Russian TV, many things are said that would have been unthinkable to speak out loud two weeks ago. But the one that struck me the most is the man who asks how Russia thought they could tell Ukraine they were not a real country, that their language does not exist, and then expect Ukraine to embrace them in return. Again, this is rhetoric that would be unthinkable on state television just two weeks ago. And the subdued responses to such criticisms from the more patriotic Russians is also extremely revealing because two weeks ago they would have screamed over any such words.

Meanwhile Putin cancelled a scheduled meeting with his military leaders and retreated to a vacation home in Sochi. A reporter for Kyiv Post added interesting information on what’s happening around Moscow and historical context:

And in St. Petersburg, some members of Parliament called for Putin to be prosecuted for treason. Their punishments so far have been possible dissolution of their districts and some fines. A few weeks ago it would have been arrest and prosecution.

Is there a coup happening? We won’t know until after it’s over. But it’s impossible to ignore the cracks in Putin’s wall.

Hello Widdershins!

Ever since You Know Who became POTUS all of our lives have been an endless whirlwind of news (usually bad) and events. We all hoped You Know Who leaving office would finally let us catch up on some sleep, but alas. The devastation left in is wake is ongoing. Besides the stolen top secret documents he was hiding in his basement (Republican say it’s ok, he is a former President and it’s perfectly safe… but do you remember where Hillary’s secure email server was??? That’s right, in a basement of a former President), anyway, Trump is just yelling non-stop against every government agency he remembers. FBI, IRS, I’m not sure he even knows the difference. At least we are seeing some progress from Merrick Garland. Some people point out that as a prosecutor Garland had a 100% conviction rate. Still, fingers crossed the DOJ not only continues its investigation, but they do it quickly because we have no idea what the midterms will bring, and certainly don’t know what 2024 will bring.

CNN has “fired” its Reliable Sources anchor Brian Stelter. They are cancelling the show. On one hand, Stelter was a both-side hack who allowed Republicans on the show to spew lies while asking about Hillary’s emails. On the other hand, the new chief of CNN basically thinks Stelter is too liberal for CNN. We should be worried about what this means not for Stelter, but for us because I think we will see CNN take a very noticeable right turn in the near future.

Russian fascist/neo-Nazi Alexander Dugin

And on the front of Russia’s war on Ukraine – an interesting development overnight. Alexander Dugin is a Russian professor who is a dedicated fascist and white supremacist/nationalist. For years he has been calling for the extermination of Ukrainians (and many others) in the name of Holy Mother Russia. He is something of a spiritual guide to Vladimir Putin. Though officially Dugin is not welcome in polite Russian society, like David Duke and Steve Bannon, Dugin enjoys the notoriety, inspires numerous psychopaths, and enjoys a winking relationship with the Kremlin. Well, last night it seems someone tried to assassinate him. His car was blown up, although at the time it was driven by his daughter Darya. Now, before one feels sorry for Darya, she is neo-Nazi/fascist nationalist as much as her father is. Though not as famous as her dad, she was a loyal follower of his teachings, holds rallies and delivers lectures to spread the Dugin gospel. Who tried to kill Dugin and killed Darya remains to be seen. It could literally have been done by anyone, including Ukraine and Russia. But Ukraine makes no sense here. If they wanted to take out a Russian propagandist deep in the heart of Russia and in a place where people like Putin have a home, Dugin wouldn’t be the first choice. Russian TV people like RT head Margarita Simonyan would have been my first choice. Any of the hosts on Russian TV would be a close second. It’s possible the bombing was carried out by the Kremlin/Putin. Frankly, it could have been carried out by Dugin himself. There was a lecture by Dugin in which he discussed how people having daughters was destroying Russia, and that it was time to start sacrificing some of them. It’ll be interesting to watch how this plays out.

This is an open thread.

War con’t

Posted on: April 12, 2022

Marc Chagall’s “The Ukrainian Family” (painted 1940-43)

The War in Ukraine continues. Putin’s endgame is really unclear. He wanted to take Ukraine, but that plan failed spectacularly. He will probably try to settle for officially keeping Crimea and the Donbas region. That’s where Western intelligence agencies believe the final battles of this war will be fought. And they predict it will be bloody. Either Putin wins there and declare victory. Or thousands will die and he will be “deposed” at home because such a humiliating failure (he is already quite embarrassed by how poorly his war has gone) won’t be tolerated in Russia. The long-term problem, of course, is that Ukraine can never trust Russia again. Even without Putin in charge Russian people have shown themselves to be quite excited about what Putin is doing. Going forward Ukraine will have an angry and humiliated enemy on its border. European Union says they are expediting Ukraine’s membership in the EU. They plan to have a meeting (you know, a meeting to plan more meetings) within the next few weeks. That will be a great symbolic gesture, which is important. But it won’t stop Russian aggression in the future. NATO is not and never will be interested in accepting Ukraine. So whichever way this particular conflict ends – and whenever that is – Ukraine will have an enemy right next door. An enemy that will want vengeance.

Hello Widdershins!

Can you believe it’s still March of 2022? This has been another year of nothing but shenanigans. It feels like we haven’t stopped falling off a cliff since 2016. Just when you think things won’t get crazier, they do. It’s like that old Russian saying: We thought we hit rock bottom. Then someone knocked from underneath.

Speaking of Russia: today in his powerful speech from Berlin, Joe Biden said that Putin can’t remain as leader of Russia. Naturally the media is now tripping over itself that Biden was calling for a regime change in Russia. Well duh. But he wasn’t really saying that, although we are all thinking it. Except Hungary’s mini dictator Viktor Orbán. He’s fine with everything as is. But everyone else knows that nothing will get better in Europe until Putin is gone. We don’t care where he goes, but he can’t stay there. I don’t know if he’s a madman or not, but people are finally realizing he’s not really that bright. His invasion of Ukraine was a clusterfuck from day 1. The estimates of dead Russian soldiers is as high as 15,000 (that’s the Ukrainian estimate; NATO’s estimate is a little lower, but still astronomical.) For reference: if the number is close to 15,000 dead Russian soldiers, that’s as many dead soldiers in 4 weeks as Russia lost in Afghanistan in 10 years of its disastrous occupation there. Putin clearly expected a) Zelenskyy would flee and that b) Ukrainians would welcome him with open arms. Neither thing happened. If Putin expected to win Ukrainians’ hearts and minds, he instead of killed decades of brotherly love between the two peoples. It’s not coming back. Ukraine now sees Russia on par with Nazis. And with good reason.

We also got some banana fireworks at the Senate confirmation hearings of Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson. She is likely going to be confirmed, but that didn’t stop Republicans (their brightest stars: Cruz, Graham, Hawley, Blackburn, Sasse, Cotton, Grassley!) from making asses of themselves, foaming at the mouth, and throwing QAnon at KBJ. They tried, they really tried, to break her down. She didn’t budge. Though I can’t even imagine how horrific those days of testimony were.

And speaking of horrific and foaming at the mouth: Ginni Thomas. WT actual F? We knew she was a rabid QAnon clown, and we knew she paid for some busses to take people to the insurrection on 1/6. But the 1/6 Commission released text messages between her and Mark Meadows in which she urged him to not allow Biden to become POTUS. Clarence Thomas, conveniently, got an infection just as the story broke. He spent a mysterious week at the hospital, nobody saying what actually he was sick with. He was probably sick with the case of Ginni Thomas. And let us never forget Thomas voted – the only justice to do so – to not allow 1/6 related text messages to be turned over to the 1/6 Commission. I mean, does anyone believe it was a coincidence that he voted to block release of those messages and we find out his wife was an active participant in all the texting? Well, Republicans don’t care. Even though Ginni Thomas is everything Republicans think Hillary Clinton is. There is no accountability for Republicans.

This is an open thread.

Hello Widdershins,

These has been a difficult week. As you know I was born and raised in Kyiv. And now we watch Russian army slowly approaching the capital of Ukraine, and seemingly we are all powerless to stop it. Though Putin and Russia have suffered many casualties and have not managed to take control of any major Ukrainian city after 11 days since they started this war, they have inflicted an astonishing amount of damage, in terms of human life and infrastructure. Taking Kyiv was always the number one priority since it’s the capital where the government is based. What happens when Russian troops – now apparently with Syrians to help them – finally arrive?

Nothing in this war has gone as Putin expected, even though he claims thing are going exactly as planned. Big Baghdad Bob energy there, obviously. But Putin lies as easily as he breathes. He continues to maintain this isn’t a war, but a “special operation” to put down the Nazis. Or to stop Ukraine developing nuclear bombs. Or developing chemicals. Or picking on Russians. Putin’s reasons change because none of them are sticking outside of Russia itself. Putin expected to take Kyiv within 48 hrs of the invasion and have a new puppet government installed within 72 hrs. That did not happen. I think Putin did not expect a few things: 1) Putin did not expect President Volodimir Zelenskyy to stay in Kyiv and remain defiant. 2) He did not expect Ukrainians to resist as Russian troops marched across Ukraine. And 3) He did not expect the West to finally do what they should have done in 2014 when Putin invaded Ukraine for the first and then second time (Crimea and Donbas, respectively.) Putin did not expect the West to shut down Russian money flow. If the West and the US had done this in 2014, Putin wouldn’t be in Ukraine now. Alas, the West has been appeasing Putin for more than a decade. One can almost not blame him for thinking he’d get away with it again. If Zelenskyy had fled Kyiv, it would have been over by now. Who expected a former TV comedian to stand up to Putin and Russia. Zelenskyy’s defiance was what opened the dam of Ukrainians in general and then the West finally defying Putin. Is it too late? I don’t know, honestly.

What can the West do now besides cut off Russia from the world and turn it into North Korea? They have pretty much ruled out a no-fly-zone and direct engagement with Russia. I understand the thinking, they fear Putin using nuclear weapons. But Fiona Hill has argued that the threat of Putin going nuclear increase with time, the further he gets. For Putin to argue “Now that the West is directly involved, I’m justified in using nukes” is irrelevant. Putin clearly does not care about any treaty or any logic. He invents his own logic and when it’s transparently absurd, it doesn’t matter. Putin will do whatever he will do. And no one thinks he will stop with Ukraine. Putin has already wagged his finger at Finland and Sweden. And Moldova is likely on his list as well. So does the West risk nuclear war by confronting Putin directly in Ukraine? I have no idea and I’m glad I don’t have to make this decision. Once upon a time JFK confronted Russia directly and Russia backed off. Would Putin back off? I don’t know… But Putin continues to dictate the terms of this conflict as he always has. “Nuclear deterrence” works one way right now. Putin is not deterred by anything.

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