Updated: Mar 1
Today, I’ve put together a consolidated list of headlines that give a more summarized review of news leading the day. Some of this is just breaking so I’m posting on Sunday night for your edification and understanding. None of this is my writing, these are all quotes from the links associated with each.
My video link for this article.
1. NATO’s Response (Feb 25, 2022)
In a move that can only be regarded as a major escalation, NATO officials announced on Friday that they would deploy troops from its Combat-Ready Response Force to support the Ukrainian regime in its war with Russia. The Alliance will also send additional weapons which will be used to blunt the Russian offensive that has already seized large parts of the country and obliterated most of Ukraine’s defensive capability.
It is impossible to overstate the gravity of NATO’s action which assigns such importance to preserving its ‘junta regime’ in Kiev that they would willingly pit NATO against a nuclear-armed Russia in what could become a much broader regional war. Clearly, the strategic objectives of this murky conflict go far beyond the mere control of an ethnically-divided, failed state situated between Europe and Asia. Ukraine is no longer just a geopolitical trophy for western elites, but a last-gasp effort for Washington to prove it still controls the levers of global power. Here’s the story from Reuters: https://www.unz.com/mwhitney/did-nato-just-declare-war-on-russia/
2. The West’s “Nuclear” Economic Option (Feb 27, 2022)
Russia currently holds about $640 billion in reserves. About 32% held in euros, 22% in gold, 16% in dollars, and 13% in Yuan. 1/
Most of that gold is held domestically and beyond the reach of sanctions. But about $300 billion in reserves are held abroad. Freezing those will prevent the Bank of Russia from using them for things like currency interventions or transfers to the Russian Treasury to spend. 2/
What happens if you have reserves but you can't access most of them for currency interventions? Or you're not allowed to exchange your dollars and euros for rubles? That's what sanctioning the Bank of Russia could do, and it would have the same effect: unchecked freefall. 11/
Rubles could (in theory) become close to worthless, with ordinary citizens conducting exchange in dollars. That would have to be on the black market, since it's technically illegal to pay for things with dollars/euros directly. Dollars will be scarce & precious on the street. 12/
But many Russians will probably continue to get paid in rubles, which won't be worth much for basic necessities. Remember those pictures from Weimar Germany of folks with carts full of worthless cash? It wouldn't look like that today, but the effect could be the same. 13/
This is just a *possible* scenario, and there are lots of factors that could influence things. China's willingness to exchange/transact in rubles might be one of them. Crypto is another. But until you can buy shashlyk on Arbat with bitcoin, you have to exchange it. 14/
3. Russia’s Nuclear Response (Feb 27, 2022)
Russia's space agency chief said that the sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies over Russia's invasion into Ukraine could potentially destroy cooperation on the International Space Station (ISS).
After President Biden announced Thursday that the U.S. would sanction major Russian banks and impose export controls on Russia to curtail high-tech imports, Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin tweeted that the ISS's current location is under Russian control.
"If you block cooperation with us, who will save the International Space Station (ISS) from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States or...Europe?" Rogozin said in one of his tweets. "There is also the possibility of a 500-ton structure falling on India and China. Do you want to threaten them with such a prospect? The ISS does not fly over Russia, therefore all the risks are yours. Are you ready for them?"
Currently, there are four NASA astronauts, two Russian cosmonauts and one European astronaut onboard the outpost, according to CNN.
A NASA spokesperson told CNN that they will continue "working with all our international partners, including the State Space Corporation Roscosmos, for the ongoing safe operations of the International Space Station."
"The new export control measures will continue to allow U.S.-Russia civil space cooperation. No changes are planned to the agency's support for ongoing in orbit and ground station operations. The new export control measures will continue to allow U.S.-Russia civil space cooperation," the spokesperson added.
Former NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman told CNN that the ISS, which is a collaboration among the U.S., Russia, Japan, Canada and the European Space Agency, cannot function if the U.S. and Russia don't cooperate.
"The Russian segment can't function without the electricity on the American side, and the American side can't function without the propulsion systems that are on the Russian side," Reisman said. "So you can't do an amicable divorce. You can't do a conscious uncoupling." https://news.yahoo.com/russian-space-chief-threatens-international-231359708.html
In a dramatic escalation of East-West tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian nuclear forces put on high alert Sunday in response to what he called “aggressive statements” by leading NATO powers.
The order means Putin wants Russia’s nuclear weapons prepared for increased readiness to launch and raises the threat that Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and the West’s response to it could boil over into nuclear warfare.
Amid the worrying development, the office of Ukraine’s president said a delegation would meet with Russian officials as Moscow’s troops drew closer to Kyiv. https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-kyiv-business-europe-moscow-2e4e1cf784f22b6afbe5a2f936725550
4. Russia-China’s Response (Feb 05, 2022)
The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing are off to a strong start for America’s enemies.
During the first day of the Winter Olympics, China and Russia declared a “no limits” partnership. Chinese and Russian leadership agreed to support each other in their respective efforts to expand their borders to include the currently independent nations of Taiwan and Ukraine.
According to Reuters, Chinese President Xi Jinping hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the two came to the consensus that their new relationship was “superior to any Cold War-era alliance” and that the two nations “would work together on space, climate change, artificial intelligence and control of the internet.”
Reuters reports that Xi Jinping supported Russia’s demands to exclude Ukraine from NATO and Vladimir Putin agreed to oppose any form of national independence for Taiwan. Both China and Russia have become increasingly aggressive as they seemingly prepare to invade sovereign nations they believe are theirs to reclaim. https://www.theblaze.com/news/russia-and-china-agreed-to-a-no-limits-relationship-at-the-beijing-olympics
5. Russia – Israel Update
Russia denounced Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday, hours before it launched its invasion of Ukraine.
“We are concerned over Tel Aviv’s announced plans for expanding settlement activity in the occupied Golan Heights, which directly contradicts the provisions of the 1949 Geneva Convention,” said Russia’s United Nations envoy Dmitry Polyanskiy in a statement. “Russia doesn’t recognize Israel’s sovereignty over Golan Heights that are part of Syria.”
These were Russia’s first comments about Israel in the hours since the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement voicing support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity on Wednesday, without mentioning Russia by name, in what was seen as an effort not to anger Moscow, which has allowed Israel to operate with a large degree of freedom in its attacks on Iranian targets in Syria. https://www.jns.org/at-un-russia-denounces-israels-sovereignty-in-golan-heights-after-jerusalem-backs-ukraine/
6. Ukraine: The “So What” (Feb 23, 2022)
Everyone wishes to maximize their own autonomy, and Ukrainians aren’t that different in that respect. The calculation that Ukrainians have made in the past and continue to make going forward is that by tying themselves to the world’s superpower, the USA, they will protect their own state and sovereignty, even if they have to make some painful concessions to the Americans (such as economic and political reforms, and cultural reforms like gay pride parades in this very conservative country).
Therefore, get away from Russia > being under the American thumb. The Ukrainians took one look at their neighbours in Poland, Lithuania, and Romania and saw that NATO membership protected them from unwanted Russian advances. They also saw that Georgia was partitioned in between the two para-states known as Abkhazia and South Ossetia, with rump Georgia, a state that wasn’t under the NATO umbrella.
Ukraine’s calculation failed because it didn’t take into account three important points:
historical-cultural ties between it and Russia
Ukraine’s sheer size and geographic position
the fact that the two points above make Ukraine, unlike the other states listed, an existential matter to Russia
There is a fourth point which completely tanks Ukraine’s position:
President Joe Biden has consistently and loudly stated that the American and NATO calvaries are not coming to Ukraine’s rescue if the Russians do invade. The USA, the prime mover in this crisis, is openly stating that it is willing to sacrifice Ukraine and Ukrainian lives for its own larger objectives. Since the 2014 Maidan Revolution, Ukraine has seen the following happen to it:
Crimea annexed by Russia
Donbass now effectively Russian
Russia stating that Donbass extends into presently-held Ukrainian territory
Millions of Ukrainians fleeing/emigrating Ukraine
Economic and political reforms stalled
Collapse in birth rate (happening everywhere, of course)
What has Ukraine gained since the Maidan revolution? This is a fair question to ask. Another fair question to ask is “how are you going to get your occupied territories back, since doing so means war with Russia?”
The most important question to ask Ukrainians is: “In light of all the things that you have lost and in light of the USA openly saying that they will not defend you, is ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ really worth it, considering that you might even lose more than you have already?
Nordstream 2 represented a nightmare scenario for US policy planners: Russia and Germany engaging in cooperation outside of US monitoring. With Russia turning towards China, the apocalyptic vision of a China-Russia-Germany alliance begins to unfold in Washington, DC. Not allowed!
Vladimir Putin’s speech on Monday reflected the exasperation with the West and the USA in particular. The most important highlights were:
The USA is agreement incapable (meaning it will constantly renege as it changes administrations)
Russia expects sanctions no matter what it does
The USA does not respect Russian national security concerns
So for Russia, this is apparently an existential crisis. “Many Ukrainian airfields are located close to our borders. NATO tactical aircraft stationed here, including carriers of high-precision weapons, will be able to hit our territory to the depth of the Volgograd-Kazan-Samara-Astrakhan line. The deployment of radar reconnaissance assets on the territory of Ukraine will allow NATO to tightly control the airspace of Russia right up to the Urals.”
The complete rejection of all Russian points by the USA seems to have now cemented the final victory in Moscow of the Siloviki (state security chiefs) over the westernizers, with the most western of faces throwing in the towel: Niccolo. substack (Caution: Vulgar Language alert)
7. Germany’s Response
(Bloomberg) -- Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced plans for a massive boost in defense spending in the latest historic policy shift in Germany triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Germany will channel 100 billion euros ($113 billion) this year into a fund to modernize the military, Scholz said Sunday in a speech to a special session of the lower house of parliament. By 2024, the government will spend at least 2% of gross domestic product each year on defense, he added, in line with a NATO target that Berlin has consistently failed to meet.
Scholz had been widely criticized by opponents and allies alike in recent weeks for what they perceived as dithering and weakness in the face of Russia’s mounting aggression toward Ukraine. In the past few days he has announced a series of radical changes to long-entrenched German policies following the full-scale attack ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin on the former Soviet republic.
8. Globalist American Empire’s Response (GAE)
GAE’s histrionic meltdown is in sharp contrast to Russia, which has approached the conflict with the gravitas one would expect for a major conflict. Westerners have called Putin’s two major speeches before the invasion things like “raving,” a “screed,” “unhinged,” an “hour-long rant.” In reality, Putin’s speeches are none of those things. They draw heavily on decades of Soviet history, as well as the history of Russian relations with the West. They make real rhetorical concessions (Putin admits the 2014 Euromaidan revolution was motivated by valid anger against a corrupt Ukrainian government).
Certainly, Putin’s speeches are partisan. He is a politician justifying a major military effort, not a historian pursuing an ideal of objectivity. But this is also true: Putin’s speeches about Ukraine are more detailed, and more substantive, than any foreign policy speech delivered by an American president in decades.
9. China’s Response
WASHINGTON — Over three months, senior Biden administration officials held half a dozen urgent meetings with top Chinese officials in which the Americans presented intelligence showing Russia’s troop buildup around Ukraine and beseeched the Chinese to tell Russia not to invade, according to U.S. officials.
Each time, the Chinese officials, including the foreign minister and the ambassador to the United States, rebuffed the Americans, saying they did not think an invasion was in the works. After one diplomatic exchange in December, U.S. officials got intelligence showing Beijing had shared the information with Moscow, telling the Russians that the United States was trying to sow discord — and that China would not try to impede Russian plans and actions, the officials said.
The previously unreported talks between American and Chinese officials show how the Biden administration tried to use intelligence findings and diplomacy to persuade a superpower it views as a growing adversary to stop the invasion of Ukraine, and how that nation, led by President Xi Jinping, persistently sided with Russia even as the evidence of Moscow’s plans for a military offensive grew over the winter. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/25/us/politics/us-china-russia-ukraine.html?smtyp=cur&smid=tw-nytimes
10. China Flashback
Chinese media outlets carried threats to Taiwan and criticisms of the U.S. during the chaotic American withdrawal from Kabul.
An editorial by the Global Times, a Chinese state-run outlet, took aim at Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party and President Tsai Ing-wen.
“From what happened in Afghanistan, [the DPP] should perceive that once a war breaks out in the Straits, the island’s defense will collapse in hours and the US military won’t come to help,” the editorial states. “As a result, the DPP authorities will quickly surrender, while some high-level officials may flee by plane.”
The editorial called on the DPP to “keep cross-Straits [of Taiwan] peace with political means, rather than acting as strategic pawns of the US and bear the bitter fruits of a war.”
Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin also commented on the Afghanistan withdrawal on Twitter.
“After the fall of the Kabul regime, the Taiwan authorities must be trembling,” Hu wrote. “Don’t look forward to the US to protect them. Taipei officials need to quietly mail-order a Five-Star Red Flag from the Chinese mainland. It will be useful one day when they surrender to the PLA.”
In a separate tweet, Hu wrote, “Chinese netizens joked that the power transition in Afghanistan is even more smooth than presidential transition in the US.”
The head of China Daily‘s E.U. bureau, Chen Weihua, encouraged CNN anchor Jim Sciutto to explain to his son that the U.S. clearly lost the Afghanistan War.
11. Russia Struggling to Take Control
There has been much talk over the last ten years about the Russian army’s modernization and professionalization. After suffering severe neglect in the ’90s, during Russia’s post-Soviet financial crisis, the army began to reorganize and modernize with the strengthening of the Russian economy under Putin. First the army got smaller, at least compared to the Soviet Red Army, which allowed a higher per-soldier funding ratio than in previous eras. The Russians spent vast sums of money to modernize and improve their equipment and kit — everything from new models of main battle tanks to, in 2013, ordering Russian troopers to finally retire the traditional portyanki foot wraps and switch to socks.
But the Russians have also gone the wrong direction in some areas. In 2008, the Russian government cut the conscription term from 24 to twelve months. As Gil Barndollar, a former U.S. Marine infantry officer, wrote in 2020:
Russia currently fields an active-duty military of just under 1 million men. Of this force, approximately 260,000 are conscripts and 410,000 are contract soldiers (kontraktniki). The shortened 12-month conscript term provides at most five months of utilization time for these servicemen. Conscripts remain about a quarter of the force even in elite commando (spetsnaz) units.
As anyone who has served in the military will tell you, twelve months is barely enough time to become proficient at simply being a rifleman. It’s nowhere near enough time for the average soldier to learn the skills required to be an effective small-unit leader.
Yes, the Russians have indeed made efforts to professionalize the officer and the NCO corps. Of course, non-commissioned officers (NCOs) have historically been a weakness of the Russian system. In the West, NCOs are the professional, experienced backbone of an army. They are expected to be experts in their military specialty (armor, mortars, infantry, logistics, etc.) and can thus be effective small-unit commanders at the squad and section level, as well as advisers to the commanders at the platoon and company level. In short, a Western army pairs a young infantry lieutenant with a grizzled staff sergeant; a U.S. Marine Corps company commander, usually a captain, will be paired with a gunnery sergeant and a first sergeant. The officer still holds the moral and legal authority and responsibility for his command — but he would be foolish to not listen to the advice and opinion of the unit’s senior NCOs.
The Russian army, in practice, does not operate like this. A high proportion of the soldiers wearing NCO stripes in the modern Russian army are little more than senior conscripts near the end of their term of service. In recent years, the Russians have established a dedicated NCO academy and cut the number of officers in the army in an effort to put more resources into improving the NCO corps, but the changes have not been enough to solve the army’s leadership deficit.
Now, let’s talk about the Russian failures at the operational and tactical level.
It should be emphasized again that the Russian army, through sheer weight of men and materiel, is still likely to win this war. But it’s becoming more and more apparent that the Russians’ operational and tactical choices have not made that task easy on themselves.
12. Trump’s Response
TRUMP AT CPAC: "You can't defend Western Civilization if you would not be able to defend your own civilization—and that means we need borders that work, elections that are fair & free & not rigged, & crime that must be immediately stopped in our cities."