Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
There are Twitter rumours that Putin is ill, possibly terminally (probably Parkinson's, perhaps also cancer, some possibility of dementia) and is on a confusing cocktail of drugs.

Speculatively: we know that Putin considers the fall of the Soviet Union the worst event in his life. If he is on a mission to undo that and he has limited time left, his ability to assess outcomes rationally won't be good.

Retrospectively the signs were certainly there, from his enthusiastic support for innovation in Russia's nuclear forces, to his upgrading of Russia's civil defence system, to his promotion of cyberwar and especially infowar and subversion of the UK, EU, and US, and his previous actions in the Crimea, Georgia, Chechnya, and elsewhere.

The suggestion that this is somehow NATO's fault is the standard DARVO you'd expect from a bully. NATO has never been likely to launch a first strike or invasion of Russia without provocation.

US policy elsewhere since 2001 has been an utter catastrofuck in every possible way - except for the defence contractors who benefited from it financially.

But it's been based on invading smaller petrostates and "deterring socialism" in South America (and the UK.) Not on attacking rival superpowers who aren't a pushover.

So - we're in big trouble. Putin is an angry paranoid kook with a superpower's armed forces and the largest collection of nuclear weapons on the planet.

He has fantasies of rewriting history, based on a vendetta that is very personal to him. And he's in a hurry.

I will be very relieved indeed if we're all still here two weeks from now.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 24th, 2022 at 10:26:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There have been rumors about that with Putin for some years now, and the cautiousness of the western powers makes me think there might be some truth to them.

Doubly so, as I think the last couple weeks of the various intelligence agencies basically just calling Russian moves as (or even before) they're made in real time demonstrate that the sourcing is probably...about the best you're going to do in that world.

This is all really worrying.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Feb 24th, 2022 at 11:52:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Also, too, while I think there's plenty of obviously fair criticism to be leveled at the US/NATO/etc, I think the western powers have been pretty levelheaded in this crisis.  If anything, the mistake seems like it may have been assuming levelheadedness on Putin's part.

I don't know that I would've done anything differently from Biden here, honestly.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Feb 25th, 2022 at 03:17:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Putin's health is just speculation at this point: we cannot know for sure (until he eventually keels over, that is).

The only thing we can see is that he is acting like a man in a hurry. There can be plenty of reasons for that, such as a disastrous demographic trend in the Russian population (aggravated by the Covid deaths), but this is long term. Many things could explain why Putin thought that this was now or never...

(and yes, levelheadedness might be the only thing that could keep us on this side of nuclear war)

by Bernard (bernard) on Fri Feb 25th, 2022 at 09:29:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hopefully levelheadedness keeps us on that side.  The NATO footprint is clearly a red line though.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Feb 25th, 2022 at 09:55:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The demography of Russia's oil reserves is also an important factor. Production will probably peak in the next few years, and surplus available for exports is only going to decline from now on (unless they go big on fracking)

These numbers are from the Ministry of economic development of the Russian Federation

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sat Feb 26th, 2022 at 12:12:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That was Jordan Peterson. Word on the street is, He's out of the alleged RU de-tox asylum now and back in neolithic YouTube space-time continuum.

Conversely, PUTIN's MIND is stuck in a Shakespearean loop, according to The Moscow Times: King Lear with Castilian accent impersonating Musk, Blofeld, Louis XIV or Napoleon-- depending on the audience of Putin's audience.

The real drama lay with those who could not count on that favour. In some ways this was a grey-suited re-run of King Lear, when the self-indulgent monarch demands his daughters compete in the over-the-top avowals of their love and obedience. This time, though, the contest is not for new lands but to retain old jobs.
When Putin specifically asked whether anyone disagreed with his understanding of the situation, the silence was deafening. Nonetheless, it was clear that there were grandees there who were less enthused by the opportunity of openly violating international law and inviting more sanctions.
When Kozak wanted to weigh in on the wider question of the future of the Donbas, though, Putin cut him off quickly and curtly, not once, but twice. Overall, one got the sense that Putin is really not passionate about human relations best practice < wipes tears >. If he never faces a war crimes tribunal, he at least ought to face an industrial one, as he definitely seems to cultivate a toxic and unsafe work environment.
[... trans.]
Prof. Mark Galeotti is a senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute and an Honorary Professor at the UCL School of Slavonic & East European Studies. He is the author of "We Need To Talk About Putin."

Naturally, Politico published a flex-box automated edition for media savvy ROLE-playing scenario modelers, Politico | WHAT DOES PUTIN REALLY WANT?, 25 Feb

(expanded game board)

See what I see? R2P is not an option!

by Cat on Fri Feb 25th, 2022 at 09:47:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
US employs unusual intel strategy to counter Putin: anti-propaganda propaganda
Russian officials on Friday took moves to restrict Facebook, in an action the social media company said was retaliation for countering disinformation and as a tool for activists to organize protests.  

"Ordinary Russians are using [Meta Platform Inc's.] apps to express themselves and organize for action. We want them to continue to make their voices heard, share what's happening, and organize through Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger," Nick Clegg, Meta's vice president of Global Affairs wrote on Twitter [LOL!].

That's good, right?
by Cat on Fri Feb 25th, 2022 at 10:52:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As far as I know, Meta is apolitical, and answers only to its shareholders and paying customers. I assume this was a business decision, balancing the loss of Russian monetization revenue streams against reputational costs.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Sat Feb 26th, 2022 at 12:30:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Cat on Sat Feb 26th, 2022 at 02:30:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Occasional Series