Will the last one leaving Russia please turn off the lights and let the cat out?
You know, if you buy the popular culture line about the KGB, it’s like joining the old American Mafia. You walk in on your feet, and you go out on a slab. Being the last of that KGB breed, this Ukraine war is Putin’s Die Gotterdammerung, and let’s just hope it doesn’t take as long as that stupid opera, which went on for like 9 goddamn hours.
Putin badly miscalculated. And so did pretty much everybody else. When Biden and NATO talked about crippling sanctions against Russia, everybody rolled their eyes and said, Here we go again! Sanctions have always been levied at Russian officials, oligarchs, state owned and run entities, and large Russian corporations. And since they spread their wealth the way a dog buries bones in a yard, almost nobody even knew they were there.
But not this time. This time the west found the secret sauce. They sanctioned Russian banks from world banks, cutting off their trading and liquidity. They banned Russian Airliners from EU and US airspace, which required most European airlines to cancel their codeshare agreements with Aeroflot, since even a British Airways flight with an alternate Aeroflot flight number would be considered a Russian airliner.
Russian stock markets remain closed after they lost 50% of their worth in one day. There are hours long lines to get to an ATM to get rubles you can wipe your ass with, since they’re worth less than a penny on the international market. Apple has pulled out, and Starbucks is no longer dishing out Vente Mocha Lattes.
But you know what? People will put up with a whole lot of shit just so long as their basic needs are satisfied. Just look to the lengths that major US sports organizations went to to ensure that their sports went on, even if in front of empty stadiums. NBA players basically lived in a dome for the duration of their season. But the Finals were held. MLB played an abbreviated schedule in empty stadiums, and sputtered, but the World Series was played. There was no March Madness, but the NHL had domed cities, in empty stadiums, but the Stanley Cup was awarded. The NFL had a miserable season in empty stadiums, but the Super Bowl was played. And people sick of isolation tuned in and watched.
But now, in Russia, Putin is taking away even the simple pleasures that a population sick of two years of Covid isolation and shitty vaccines can enjoy. Just look what has happened in the last couple of weeks;
- FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, has banned Russian and Belarus teams from competition in the upcoming World Cup, and relocated any preliminary matches that were to be held in those countries. Remember, Soccer is to Russia and Europe what football is to the US
- The IOC, the International Olympic Committee is considering barring Russia and Belarus from future Olympic games. The olympics are almost as big in Russia as soccer
- Today, Visa and Mastercard announced that they are ceasing operations in Russia. Within a week, those cards will no longer work in stores or ATM’s in Russia. And more importantly, Russian bank issued cards will no longer work outside of Russia either. Remember all those young Russian yuppies cramming trains for Helsinki and Brussels? I hope they brought a shitload of cash, because in less than a week, their Russian bank issued Visas and Mastercards aren’t going to work
- Despite his shutting down independent Russian radio, television, and newspaper outlets, Puting is losing the media war. As a result, he has shut down Facebook and Twitter within Russia. Younger Russians are just as addicted to their social media as Americans. But what Putin can’t shut down are the community blog sites, and the Ukrainian social media posts of russian atrocities continue to come in
- It was reported today that WNBA star Brittney Griner was detained in Russia weeks ago in Russia for having cylinders of cannabis oil for vaping in her luggage. She is under criminal investigation for drug trafficking. There is nothing unusual about Griner being in Russia. The WNBA plays in the summer to avoid competing with the NBA. Many of those same start play in Europe and Russia in the winter, where the pay rate is actually better than in the US. Even if Griner goes home, Putin has just assured that no WNBA stars will be playing in Russia for years to come.
- And here’s the icing on the cupcake. Morale in the Russian military is already low, with many Russian soldiers never even being told that they were invading Ukraine when they went over the border. But what do you think morale in the military is going to be like now that the Russian state military bank is shut off from foreign funds, and Russian conscripts stop getting paid?
- In the weeks leading up to the invasion, Biden was repeatedly able to frustrate and kick Putin’s ass by declassifying intelligence and blowing up Putin’s bogus excuses for going into the Ukraine. Now that the country is coming apart at the seams, what kind of intel do you think that US intelligence will get from this Cardinal in the Kremlin to keep Putin from launching into a global nuclear global war?
There was reporting today that showed that Americans, as pissed off as they are at the price of gas, would pay even more if it was because the US and NATO had embargoed Russian oil from the markets. People don’t mind suffering for a good, humanitarian cause. But what cause has Putin provided to Russian citizens.