Does Vladimir Putin putting his nuclear forces on high alert count as an oligarch squealing?

Ukraine

The headline, “Analysis: SWIFT block deals crippling blow to Russia; leaves room to tighten,” on the Reuters analysis of moves to block some Russian banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) could be—we don’t actually know—horribly misleading: We don’t know which banks will be excluded and whether this amounts to anything meaningful depends heavily on that.[14] They’re trying to exclude energy payments, to let those through, you know, so Germany can still get Russian gas.[15] Similarly, it remains to be seen how seriously Britain will crack down on London’s collusion with Russian money laundering.[16]

Apparently somewhat more significantly, the U.S. and European Union have announced sanctions on the Russian central bank:[17]

Central-bank sanctions are a weapon so devastating, in fact, that the only question is whether they might do more damage than Western governments might wish. They could potentially bankrupt the entire Russian banking system and push the ruble into worthlessness.[18]

David Frum goes on to explain that this is about the liquidity needed to convert between the Russian Ruble and western currencies:

What does it mean that Russia “has” X or Y in foreign reserves? Where do these reserves exist? The dollars, euros, and pounds owned by the Russian central bank—Russia may own them, but Russia does not control them. Almost all those hundreds of billions of Russian-owned assets are controlled by foreign central banks. Russia’s reserves exist as notations in the records of central banks in the West, especially the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve. Most of Russia’s reserves are literally IOUs to the Russian central bank from Western governments.[19]

Which is fairly bluntly to say that the U.S. and European Union can freeze those assets. Frum paints a pretty dire picture for Russians generally and this, of course, would be why, as Frum wrote, “they might do more damage than Western governments might wish.” Indeed, “[t]he central-bank weapon is so strong that it might indeed provoke Putin into fiercer aggression as a desperate last gamble.”[20] I don’t know if the timing is right but this might explain why that fun-loving alpha male, Vladimir Putin, has put his nuclear forces on high alert:[21]

Speaking at a meeting with his top officials, [Vladimir] Putin asserted on Sunday that leading NATO powers had made “aggressive statements” along with the West imposing hard-hitting financial sanctions against Russia, including the president himself.[22]

It’s hard to escape that globalization, with so-called “free” trade, has otherwise made economic sanctions against Russia nearly impossible. It has been said that “the capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.”[23] Putin might have been thinking that of the West.

Robert Thweatt refers to some Trumpists, like Tucker Carlson, who root for Europe’s alpha male[24] simply because he’s an alpha male:


When I was researching my dissertation,[25] I came across the field of political psychology. Their methodology, at least what I found at the time, was entirely quantitative but they described a personality trait called “right wing authoritarianism” (RWA). Because they’re quantitative, they had devised tests (“instruments”) for the trait and it correlates with a number of other conservative personality traits, like fear of uncertainty. That’s not, by any means, to say that all conservatives are right wing authoritarians, but rather that some are.

Right wing authoritarianism isn’t quite what it sounds like. People with this personality trait want to follow authoritarian leaders. The complement, a desire to exercise authoritarian power over others, was called at least at that time, social dominance orientation (SDO). I think they were moving away from the “disorder” label, in part, I perceived, to avoid the accusation of politicization, but we are clearly seeing right wing authoritarianism among those Trumpists who also admire Putin.

In my dissertation, I was attempting to avoid treating conservatism as a psychological condition. I wanted to deal with their arguments.[26] But with Putin, we now probe the limits of delusion and derangement. I can’t say where this guy is going to stop.

Anne Applebaum, “There Are No Chamberlains in This Story,” Atlantic, February 20, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/02/munich-security-conference-chamberlain/622872/

John Hudson and Missy Ryan, “U.S. claims Russia has list of Ukrainians ‘to be killed or sent to camps’ following a military occupation,” Washington Post, February 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/02/20/ukraine-russia-human-rights/

David Ignatius, “Surprising cracks, if small ones, appear in Kremlin support for Putin on Ukraine,” Washington Post, February 21, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/02/21/putin-ukraine-invasion-kremlin-support/

Dan Sabbagh and Rowena Mason, “UK says ‘serious doubts’ exist within Russian military about invading Ukraine,” Guardian, February 21, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/21/uk-says-serious-doubts-exist-within-russian-military-about-invading-ukraine

Ann M. Simmons, Yaroslav Trofimov, and Matthew Luxmoore, “Putin Orders Deployment of Troops to Breakaway Regions in Ukraine,” Wall Street Journal, February 21, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/russia-alleges-ukrainian-incursion-kyiv-says-moscow-makes-up-fake-incidents-11645453512

Jon Allsop, “The weight of words in the Russia-Ukraine story,” Columbia Journalism Review, February 22, 2022, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/russia_putin_recognition_ukraine.php

Philip Bump, “‘Genius,’ ‘Savvy’: Trump reacts to Putin’s moves on Ukraine exactly as you’d expect,” Washington Post, February 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/02/22/trump-reacts-putins-invasion-ukraine-exactly-youd-expect/

Anthony Faiola, “The moment when Putin got real,” Washington Post, February 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2022/02/22/putin-speech-analysis-ukraine-russia/

Julia Ioffe, “Will Putin Get His World War III?” Puck News, February 22, 2022, https://puck.news/will-putin-get-his-world-war-iii/

Frank Jordans, “Ukraine-Russia: Germany suspends Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline,” Associated Press, February 22, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-business-germany-europe-berlin-79e3dafb0d231f6a033613b7dab78cdf

Andrew Restuccia and Tarini Parti, “White House Calls Russian Moves an Invasion After Initially Refraining From Using Term,” Wall Street Journal, February 22, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/white-house-calls-russian-moves-an-invasion-after-initially-refraining-from-using-term-11645549648

Eli Stokols and Tracy Wilkinson, “Biden announces sanctions against Russia for invasion of Ukraine,” Los Angeles Times, February 22, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-02-22/biden-allies-taking-calibrated-approach-in-response-to-putin-as-russian-tanks-invade-ukraine

Ann M. Simmons, Alan Cullison, and Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia Begins Military Operation in Ukraine,” Wall Street Journal, February 23, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-shifts-to-war-footing-tells-citizens-to-leave-russia-11645616181

Jonathan Swan and Zachary Basu, “Top senator warns Putin cyberattacks could trigger bigger war,” Axios, February 23, 2022, https://www.axios.com/mark-warner-putin-cyber-attacks-ukraine-40c5e959-5093-4d79-bf24-8d4731edb293.html

Jon Allsop, “Propaganda, confusion, and an assault on press freedom as Russia attacks Ukraine,” Columbia Journalism Review, February 24, 2022, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/propaganda-confusion-and-an-assault-on-press-freedom-as-russia-attacks-ukraine.php

Miriam Berger, “Putin says he will ‘denazify’ Ukraine. Here’s the history behind that claim,” Washington Post, February 24, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/02/24/putin-denazify-ukraine/

Julian Borger and Angelique Chrisafis, “Decision to invade Ukraine raises questions over Putin’s ‘sense of reality,’” Guardian, February 24, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/24/putin-russian-president-ukraine-invasion-mental-fitness

Shira Hanau, “Declaring war on Ukraine, Russia’s Putin cites goal of ‘denazification’ of country with Jewish president,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, February 24, 2022, https://www.jta.org/2022/02/24/global/declaring-war-on-ukraine-russias-putin-cites-goal-of-denazification-of-country-with-jewish-president

Chico Harlan and Taylor Telford, “Stocks claw back after Russia’s attack on Ukraine roils markets,” Washington Post, February 24, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/02/24/ukraine-europe-markets-russia/

Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s New Iron Curtain,” Puck News, February 24, 2022, https://puck.news/putins-new-iron-curtain/

Matthew Karnitschnig, “How Germany helped blaze Putin’s path into Ukraine,” Politico, February 24, 2022, https://www.politico.eu/article/how-germany-helped-blaze-vladimir-putin-path-into-ukraine/

Arshad Mohammed and Jonathan Landay, “Explainer: Why Russia and Ukraine are fighting for Chernobyl disaster site,” Reuters, February 24, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/why-russia-ukraine-are-fighting-chernobyl-disaster-site-2022-02-25/

Reuters, “Factbox: How Ukraine’s armed forces shape up against Russia’s,” February 24, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/business/aerospace-defense/how-ukraines-armed-forces-shape-up-against-russias-2022-02-01/

Reuters, “Oil soars past $105 as Russia’s attack on Ukraine rattles markets,” Al Jazeera, February 24, 2022, https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2022/2/24/oil-soars-past-105-as-russias-attack-on-ukraine-rattles-markets

Adario Strange, “Kyiv or Kiev? How to pronounce the name of the capital city of Ukraine and why,” Quartz, February 24, 2022, https://qz.com/2133021/this-is-why-the-name-of-ukraines-capital-is-kyiv-not-kiev/

Robin Wright, “Putin’s Historic Miscalculation May Make Him a War Criminal,” New Yorker, February 24, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/putins-historic-miscalculation-may-make-him-a-war-criminal

Yuras Karmanau et al., “Ukraine’s capital under threat as Russia presses invasion,” Associated Press, February 25, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-vladimir-putin-volodymyr-zelenskyy-boris-johnson-business-08f569df695831ee467979527ea2e241

Farrah Tomazin, “Biden calls invasion ‘a dangerous moment for freedom around the world,’” Sydney Morning Herald, February 25, 2022, https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/biden-calls-invasion-a-dangerous-moment-for-freedom-around-the-world-20220225-p59zk0.html

Adam Gabbatt, “Tucker Carlson leads rightwing charge to blame everyone but Putin,” Guardian, February 26, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/media/2022/feb/25/tucker-carlson-fox-news-russia-putin

Juliette Garside, “Swift action at last brings meaningful sanctions against Putin regime,” Guardian, February 26, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/27/swift-action-at-last-brings-meaningful-sanctions-against-putin-regime

Roman Goncharenko and Andreas Illmer, “Ukraine: What will the next days bring and what is Russia’s overall plan?” February 26, 2022, https://www.dw.com/en/ukraine-what-will-the-next-days-bring-and-what-is-russias-overall-plan/a-60927957

Luke Harding, “How Ukrainian defiance has derailed Putin’s plans,” Guardian, February 26, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/26/how-ukrainian-defiance-has-derailed-putins-plans

Reuters, “Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now,” February 26, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/ukraine-russia-what-you-need-know-right-now-2022-02-26/

Emily Schultheis, “Ukraine invasion: What to know as Russian forces target Kyiv,” Associated Press, February 26, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-conflict-updates-today-c489b6f56d84f9483802dc3f142cbc8e

Catherine Belton, Paritosh Bansal, and Megan Davies, “Analysis: SWIFT block deals crippling blow to Russia; leaves room to tighten,” Reuters, February 27, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/markets/europe/swift-block-deals-crippling-blow-russia-leaves-room-tighten-2022-02-27/

David Frum, “Can Putin Recover From This?” Atlantic, February 27, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/02/how-russian-sanctions-work/622940/

Yuras Karmanau, “Putin puts nuclear forces on high alert, escalating tensions,” Associated Press, February 27, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-kyiv-business-europe-moscow-2e4e1cf784f22b6afbe5a2f936725550

Jon Ungoed-Thomas and Shanti Das, “Boris Johnson under pressure to widen sanctions on more oligarchs in London,” Guardian, February 27, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/27/boris-johnson-under-pressure-to-widen-sanctions-on-more-oligarchs-in-london


COVID-19 Pandemic

Doctors and charlatans

Sergio Olmos, “‘Don Quixote-like quest’: Ukraine attack and easing Covid mandates leave US trucker protest on the fringe,” Guardian, February 27, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/feb/27/america-peoples-convoy-trucker-protest


  1. [14]Catherine Belton, Paritosh Bansal, and Megan Davies, “Analysis: SWIFT block deals crippling blow to Russia; leaves room to tighten,” Reuters, February 27, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/markets/europe/swift-block-deals-crippling-blow-russia-leaves-room-tighten-2022-02-27/; Juliette Garside, “Swift action at last brings meaningful sanctions against Putin regime,” Guardian, February 26, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/27/swift-action-at-last-brings-meaningful-sanctions-against-putin-regime
  2. [15]Juliette Garside, “Swift action at last brings meaningful sanctions against Putin regime,” Guardian, February 26, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/27/swift-action-at-last-brings-meaningful-sanctions-against-putin-regime
  3. [16]Jon Ungoed-Thomas and Shanti Das, “Boris Johnson under pressure to widen sanctions on more oligarchs in London,” Guardian, February 27, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/27/boris-johnson-under-pressure-to-widen-sanctions-on-more-oligarchs-in-london
  4. [17]David Frum, “Can Putin Recover From This?” Atlantic, February 27, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/02/how-russian-sanctions-work/622940/
  5. [18]David Frum, “Can Putin Recover From This?” Atlantic, February 27, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/02/how-russian-sanctions-work/622940/
  6. [19]David Frum, “Can Putin Recover From This?” Atlantic, February 27, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/02/how-russian-sanctions-work/622940/
  7. [20]David Frum, “Can Putin Recover From This?” Atlantic, February 27, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/02/how-russian-sanctions-work/622940/
  8. [21]Associated Press, “Putin puts Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces on alert,” Politico, February 27, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/02/27/russia-putin-nuclear-weaponry-00012108
  9. [22]Associated Press, “Putin puts Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces on alert,” Politico, February 27, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/02/27/russia-putin-nuclear-weaponry-00012108
  10. [23]Quote Investigator, “The Capitalists Will Sell Us the Rope with Which We Will Hang Them,” February 22, 2018, https://quoteinvestigator.com/2018/02/22/rope/
  11. [24]Adam Gabbatt, “Tucker Carlson leads rightwing charge to blame everyone but Putin,” Guardian, February 26, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/media/2022/feb/25/tucker-carlson-fox-news-russia-putin
  12. [25]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  13. [26]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).

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