Tag: Vladimir Putin

Finnish Intelligence Officer Explains the Russian Mindset

 

Former Finnish intelligence colonel Martti J. Kari.

Russia has always befuddled Western analysts, a fact best summed up by Winston Churchill who said the multicontinental colossus is “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” More recently, “experts” wondered why Putin was pushing forces to Ukraine’s border, then why he launched such a massive attack, and now why on earth he’s reducing cities to rubble and pushing civilians into mass graves.

Sam Brownback, a former senator and governor of Kansas, joined “Plugged In” host and former FERC chairman Neil Chatterjee to relate his experience wearing many different hats in government, including diplomacy, to the conflict in Eastern Europe and its impact on energy.

Brownback said as the war in Ukraine worsens and more sanctions are placed on Russian oil, President Vladimir Putin may look to China for a way out. 

The Don…and the Donbass

 

When The Godfather opened, fifty years ago this month, one thing that really made it hit home to so many Americans, especially “white ethnics” like me, and probably many of you, was its sense of rough urban justice; when crime is out of control and the police can’t or won’t protect you, there’s a strongman who’ll stand up for you and avenge the humiliations and injustices you’ve suffered, even if there’s always a price to be paid.

That was New York City in the Seventies; painfully aware of how far it had fallen, aware and bitter about how much of it had been the city’s own fault, defensive and angry about having it rubbed in our faces by outsiders.

The Devil Made Him Do It?

 

Putin apologists and propagandists are channeling the late Flip Wilson, blaming NATO for Putin’s war against Ukraine. They’re ignoring a few things.

Those of a certain age may remember the late comedian Flip Wilson, who tragically died in 1998 at age 64 from cancer. He was the first successful black host of a television variety show in the early 1970s.

“Geraldine (Jones), with Wilson in wig, high heels and a colorful minidress, was perhaps his most famous character. Her spunky catchphrases “The devil made me do it” and “What you see is what you get!” became part of the national language,” CBS News described in announcing Wilson’s death.

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While Royal Dutch Shell’s purchase of deeply discounted Russian Ural oil this week is most likely headed to Europe, I now can eliminate one source of retail gasoline for my vehicles. Shell is the most significant controller of retail gasoline sales in the U.S. – some 13% of our nation’s 105,000 retail outlets. B.P. and […]

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I don’t mean for cowardly reasons.  Here’s a thought.  At this point would it be better for Ukraine if Zelenskyy and the leadership escaped the country to set up a shadow government from outside?  It seems to me the shadow government would be considered thee legitimate government rather than any puppet regime Putin installs.   Either […]

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Тихая ночь в Москве: The End of Echo, No More Rain (Borscht Report #11)

 

I’m not quite sure how to start this. In fact, I’m not quite sure I’m going to post it. I write a lot about Russia, for Ricochet and in ‘real life.’ Watching the level of discourse about the war in Ukraine across American social media has been…well, let’s just go with ‘words I’m not allowed to say here because this is a family website.’ Maybe, if it were something that was less present in my everyday life, I would feel as though I could engage with this topic and not watch my temper rocket from zero to a hundred in record time. But it isn’t. 

As a historian, I have a sub-field specialty in Russia, and as a scholar with a professional interest in Jewish studies, Russia and Ukraine are vital research locations for me. As an undergraduate student, I spent three very difficult years going from my ABCs to fluency in Russian. As a Russian speaker, I’m sitting in an apartment filled with books, vinyl records, t-shirts, etc. in Russian. As a human being, I have people I love in Russia and Ukraine, and even more people I love have friends and family in both of those places. In the last week, I’ve seen a Ukrainian friend I studied with in London leave the safety of that city to fight for his country, and have watched from afar as a Russian friend’s life comes unraveled, her brother and father conscripted to fight, her Ukrainian family struggling with no hope of help, her avenues to the outside world growing narrower every day, and her activism a very real threat to her life. It’s entirely possible that he will die defending his nation, and she will go to prison for criticizing the megalomaniacal dictator that runs her country. A month ago, we were joking about our stress-obsessed former Russian teacher, or our shared taste in oldies underground rock. Now I’m just hoping that I won’t wake up one day and realize that yesterday would be the last time I ever heard from them. 

Reject Two Big Lies

 

Especially during military conflicts, propaganda is usually easy to spot and easier to ignore. But two things have me seething over some propaganda we’ve had to endure or likely to hear about Russia’s evil dictator, Vladimir Putin, and a falsehood (among many) we’re likely to hear from Joe Biden on Tuesday night during the annual State of the Union address.

First, I’m offended by the notion that Putin is somehow is a “man of faith” and a great defender of Christian values. No Christian would behave the way he is right now or has with his poisoning and murdering of people in places like Ukraine (its former President, Victor Yuschenko) and Alexander Litvinenko in England. He kills or tries to kill political opponents (e.g., Alexei Navalny, now a political prisoner).

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My 90-year-old dad had some wise advice for Putin this morning when he heard that Russia had invaded Ukraine, “Putin should go home and plant a garden. Then he could feed the hungry instead of making more people hungry.” Sadly, I doubt that Putin will follow Dad’s advice. Preview Open

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“I would like to emphasize again that Ukraine is not just a neighboring country for us. It is an inalienable part of our own history, culture and spiritual space. These are our comrades, those dearest to us – not only colleagues, friends and people who once served together, but also relatives, people bound by blood, by family ties.” This was the opening salvo of Russian Thug Bully […]

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I write today in defense of Vladimir Putin, Tsar of all the Russias.  Hear me for my cause. This is a strange thing for me to do.  My motivation is a comment earlier today by our friend KirkianWanderer.  After providing a very helpful translation of an inspirational and macho Russian military recruiting ad — which […]

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Join Jim and Greg as they enjoy hearing HHS nominee Xavier Becerra squirm as he insists he never sued the Little Sisters of the Poor, just the federal government for giving a contraception mandate exemption to the nuns. They also peel back the sexual harassment allegations against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and discuss the growing number of Democrats coming out to denounce him. And they hammer Amnesty International for removing its “prisoner of conscience” label for Russian political figure Alexei Navalny over comments Navalny made 15 years ago.

 

Join Jim and Greg as they wonder what could possibly qualify Pete Buttigieg to be the next Secretary of Transportation. They also react to Russian President Vladimir denying his government killed a prominent critic because his people would have finished the job. And they unload on the frauds at the Lincoln Project, who finally admit they’re now an anti-Republican outfit.

‘You Two Deserve Each Other’: Russia, China, and the Impending Fight Over Vladivostok

 

It seems that Xi Jinping’s move to a more openly aggressive foreign policy is extending in every direction, not just to his Southwestern neighbor India, but to his Northern ally, Russia. The PRC is now claiming past (and hinting at proper present) ownership of one of Russia’s major Pacific port cities, Vladivostok (Владивосток), on the basis of Qing rule in the territory. (For those who are unfamiliar with Chinese dynasties, the Qing were the final emperors of China and ruled from 1644 until 1912, but the territory under question was annexed by Russia in the 1860 Treaty of Beijing and Han people, who constitute(d) the majority of China’s population, had long been banned from entry by their Manchu rulers. Additionally, the Chinese Empire was not the first or last territorial entity to claim or assert ownership in the region). What does this bode for Russia and China individually, and their mutual relations?

>As a disclaimer, I understand very little Chinese, basically nothing beyond the ability to politely navigate a grocery store/restaurant and introduce myself, so my analysis will mostly fall on the Russian side of the issue, where I have a far superior linguistic arsenal. But, let’s begin by situating this (maybe) surprising turn of events within a broader context. For the sake of some minimal amount of brevity, I’ll summarize the pre-1949 relationship by saying that it was a mixed bag at the official level (borders were not firmly set in the pre and early modern worlds, and even beyond then people at a local level generally continue to interact regardless of their government’s wishes), and by the late 19th century favored Russia as the richer and more Westernized/militarily superior power.

Skipping a bit ahead, relations between the PRC and the USSR were often about as cosy as the climate of the Russian Far East. Naturally, the two largest Communist powers in the world were allies, and the Soviets sent aid to Mao when he was fighting the Kuomintang, but even then Stalin was stingy in the amounts that he sent, and as the years went on he hardly became more friendly. Mao, when he visited Russia, was made to feel like a lesser entity in all of his meetings with Uncle Joe, something that was particularly damaging to relations when the Chinese despot had such singular control, and in general the Soviets did not hesitate in displaying a paternalistic attitude towards the newer members of the Marxist-Leninist camp, encouraging technological and educational exchange programs but also emphasizing their superiority as longer standing, stricter communists and a more advanced society. 

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U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell on Iran Sanctions Snapback, America’s Energy Competition with Russia in the EU, Chancellor Merkel U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell occupies one of the most critical positions in American diplomacy, not only because Germany represents the EU’s largest economy and has disproportionate influence on the continent, but because of […]

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Michael Ledeen on the Potential Collapse of Iran’s Khomeinist Regime

 

For this week’s Big Ideas with Ben Weingarten podcast, I had historian, Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, former Special Advisor to the Secretary of State and consultant to the National Security Council during the Reagan administration, author of 38 books and most pertinent to today, Iran expert, Michael Ledeen on the podcast to discuss among other things:

  • The impending collapse of the Khomeinist regime and what the U.S. can do to accelerate it
  • The false narrative about alternatives for Iran being either appeasement or war
  • The history of U.S. intelligence failures in Iran
  • How secular and liberal Iran’s dissidents actually are
  • Whether there is a wedge that can be exploited between Iran and Russia
  • What will become of Hezbollah if the Iranian regime collapses
  • The allegedly political witch hunt against Iran hawk and Israel supporter Larry Franklin as an illustration of historic anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in the foreign policy and national security establishment
  • Ledeen’s theory that Gen. Michael Flynn — with whom Ledeen co-authored the book, The Field of Fight — falsely pled guilty, and the real reason why Gen. Flynn was targeted in the first place

You can find the episode on iTunes, everywhere else podcasts are found, download the episode directly here or read the transcript here.

Putin Speaks Code. Does Trump Understand?

 

Back when word first leaked that Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and Donald Trump, Jr., had met with a Russian lawyer and others offering dirt on Hillary Clinton, President Trump seemed to think he was supplying an exculpatory cover story. Flying home from Germany on Air Force One, Trump reportedly instructed Don Jr. to claim that he and the Kremlin-linked lawyer had “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children.” There is apparently some debate about whether that misleading statement places the president in any legal jeopardy, but there is another aspect to the story that has received less attention. It came up again during the Helsinki debacle – Putin, the world’s richest man and most successful thief, is obsessed with the Magnitsky Act.

In fact, the very mention of Russian adoptions was a tipoff that Ms. Veselnitskaya was probably representing Vladimir Putin. Whether Trump knew this at the time is unclear. After all, he could not say what the nuclear triad was and endorsed “Article XII” of the U.S. Constitution. Maybe he thought mentioning that they discussed Russian adoptions was the most anodyne-sounding explanation for the meeting.

Except it wasn’t. If they spoke of adoptions, it means they spoke of the Magnitsky Act, the sanctions bill the U.S. enacted at the urging of William Browder, a hedge fund manager and, at one time, the largest foreign investor in Russia. Funny, Browder’s name came up again in Helsinki, when Putin accused him of tax evasion and theft and contributing to the Hillary Clinton campaign (all totally false) and suggested that the U.S. should hand him over for questioning in exchange for permitting Robert Mueller to question the 12 GRU agents just indicted for meddling in our election. Putin later added former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul to the list of those his goons would interrogate. Our stable genius president leaped at this as an “incredible offer.” A few days later, he scaled back.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are amazed that more than 90 percent of House Democrats either opposed a resolution supporting Immigration and Customs Enforcement or refused to vote on it at all.  They also grumble as deficit projections once again head north of a trillion dollars and the number of food stamp recipients remains stubbornly high in a strong economy.  And they denounce Vladimir Putin’s proposal to allow U.S. investigators to interview the 12 Russians indicted for meddling in the 2016 elections in exchange for allowing the Russians to interview a former U.S. ambassador.