Vladimir Putin has decided to put his own people in a vise. He lies to them that he is “freeing” their neighboring sister state, “liberating” it from Nazis and fascists and that the people of Ukraine welcome his help. It’s complete fantasy and Putin knows it, ergo why would he be so anxious to cut off social media and pass bills which imprison journalists who print anything other than the official Russian government narrative?
That’s with respect to the war front. With respect to the domestic, the Russian economy is being crushed like a Faberge egg. Mastercard and Visa suspended operations in Russia yesterday, while the World Bank is making plans to provide immediate financial support to Ukraine. Putin is left with one option: win in Ukraine while Russia can still support a war effort. And so far that’s not happening.
Putin can’t keep the truth of his invasion of a democratic state a secret from his own people for very much longer. Watch this amazing video of a captured Russian soldier. The man is down to earth and highly articulate. It runs nine minutes but is worth the time spent.
This, out of #Ukraine, is 100% one of the most incredible videos I have ever seen.
This Russian POW has the heart of a lion ? pic.twitter.com/KIx1rsN0CZ
— Jackie Singh ?? ?? (@hackingbutlegal) March 6, 2022
This war of Putin’s is a disaster on a public relations level and it is equally ineffectual on a military level. Letters From An American:
There are suggestions, too, among those who study military strategy that the Russian invasion has been far weaker than they expected. The Russian forces on paper are significantly stronger than those of Ukraine, and by now they should have established control of the airspace. Ground forces are also not moving as efficiently as it seems they should be.
Today, Phillips P. O’Brien, Professor of Strategic Studies at University of St Andrews, outlined how the Russian military, so impressive on paper, might in fact have continued the terrible logistics problems of the Soviet Union. On the ground, they appear to have too few trucks, too little tire maintenance, out-of-date food, and too little fuel. In the air, they are showing signs that they cannot plan or execute complicated maneuvers, in which they have had little practice.
Russia expert Tom Nichols appeared to agree, tweeting: “Ukrainian resistance has been amazing, but I am astonished—despite already low expectations—at how utter Russian military incompetence has made a giant clusterf**k out of an invasion against a much weaker neighbor.”
Meanwhile, Russians are now aware that they are at war—something that Putin had apparently hidden at first—and a number are protesting. The government has cracked down on critics, and rumors are flying that Putin is about to declare martial law. It appears he is already turning to mercenaries to fight his war. The U.S. government has urged all Americans to leave Russia.
And so, time is a key factor in this war: will Russian forces pound Ukraine into submission before their own country can no longer support a war effort?
The US and European allies have chosen to squeeze Russia’s economy, which in turn squeezes ordinary Russians. It’s going to get bad fast, said Maxim Mironov, a professor of finance at the IE Business School in Madrid. “The inhabitants of Russia, even the educated, for the most part do not understand what awaits them,” he said Wednesday.
“Many people ask me to comment on the sanctions,” he said in Russian, according to Google Translate. “In short, my scientific conclusion as a professor of finance, doctor of the University of Chicago is FUCKED.”
Mironov said employment will fall while prices rise. Meanwhile, he said, “the Russians will face a shortage of basic products. I’m not talking about all kinds of iPhones, the import of which has already been banned, but food, clothes, cars, household appliances, etc.”
As one wag put it, it’s “Back to the USSR.”
It’s no joke, though. The point of sanctions is to punish Putin for invading Ukraine. Moreover, it’s to create conditions by which ordinary Russians can agitate for reforms even more than they already are. (Another theory is that those conditions might spark a coup d’etat.)
Martial law? Coup d’etat? We had rumors of the first and our own version of the second in this country last year. Now it’s Russia’s turn. We live in interesting times.