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Alene Tchekmedyian, “Inspector general identifies 41 sheriff’s deputies who allegedly belong to gang-like groups,” Los Angeles Times, March 22, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-03-22/sheriff-deputies-executioners-banditos


Ukraine

There is a new blog post entitled, “Appeasement in defense of the appalling.”

The huge question raised in Christiane Amanpour’s interview with Dmitry Peskov, reported by Luke McGee and Claire Calzonetti, is whether Vladimir Putin regards the setbacks his invasion forces have faced in Ukraine as an existential threat, in Peskov’s light, rationalizing the use of nuclear weapons.[1] I think the answer, given that all talk of nuclear weapons has originated on the Russian side and in the context of Ukraine,[2] has to be ‘yes:’

Dmitry Kiselyev, a longtime Kremlin propagandist who is known as one of the most sulfurous personalities on Russian television, opened his state television program on Sunday with a rundown of Russia’s nuclear arsenal. “In total our submarines are capable of launching over five hundred nuclear warheads, which are guaranteed to destroy the U.S. and all the countries of NATO to boot,” he said. “That’s according to the principle, ‘Why do we need a world if Russia’s not in it?’ ” He went on, “We’re not even going to talk about the strategic rocket forces. . . .Putin warned them. Don’t try to frighten Russia.”[3]

Isaac Chotiner’s interview with Andrei Soldatov[4] is the second I’ve seen in which the subject doubts that Vladimir Putin is indeed a madman.[5] But Soldatov also points to 1) Putin’s seemingly psychopathic reaction when questioned about deaths he is responsible for; 2) Putin’s increasingly small circle of people he trusts, suggesting paranoia; 3) a hierarchy of power in which underlings are afraid to report truthfully to their superiors; and 4) Putin’s apparent conviction that he knows better than anyone else,[6] something also observed by Stephen Kotkin in David Remnick’s interview.[7] I’m not a psychologist but neither are these otherwise extremely well-informed folks affirming Putin’s sanity, and I think there are definitely questions here to be asked of a psychologist.

Read the interviews anyway; both are extremely insightful. And yes, I think it’s quite obvious that Putin is stark raving mad; indeed, anyone who threatens nuclear war ought to be regarded as such.[8]

Speaking of interviews, Julia Ioffe interviews a Russian kid, now out of the country, battling Putin’s propaganda. His mother has blocked him, promised to report him for “fake news,” and refuses any communication.[9]

Ashley Parker et al., “U.S. warns China not to assist Russia,” Washington Post, March 15, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/03/14/us-china-ukraine/

Yaroslav Trofimov and James Marson, “Russian Forces Kill Civilians, Loot for Supplies in Occupied Ukraine, Residents Say,” Wall Street Journal, March 14, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/russian-forces-kill-civilians-loot-for-supplies-in-occupied-ukraine-residents-say-11647267560

Jon Allsop, “The biases in coverage of the war in Ukraine,” Columbia Journalism Review, March 15, 2022, https://www.cjr.org/the_media_today/media_bias_ukraine_war.php

Associated Press, “China Says it’s ‘Impartial’ on Ukraine, Denies Aiding Russia,” Military.com, March 15, 2022, https://www.military.com/daily-news/2022/03/15/china-says-its-impartial-ukraine-denies-aiding-russia.html

Isobel Koshiw, Jon Henley, and Julian Borger, “Ukraine will not join Nato, says Zelenskiy, as shelling of Kyiv continues,” Guardian, March 15, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/15/kyiv-facing-dangerous-moment-amid-signs-of-russias-tightening-grip

Poppie Platt et al., “Volodymyr Zelensky says talks with Russia were ‘pretty good’ as Ukraine pushes for ‘a fair peace,’” Telegraph, March 15, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/03/14/russia-ukraine-war-latest-news-putin-refugees-zelensky/

Helene Cooper, Julian E. Barnes, and Eric Schmitt, “As Russian Troop Deaths Climb, Morale Becomes an Issue, Officials Say,” New York Times, March 16, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/16/us/politics/russia-troop-deaths.html

James Crisp, “Russia and Ukraine ‘draw up 15-point peace plan,’” Telegraph, March 16, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/03/16/ukraine-could-become-neutral-state-like-austria-moscow-kyiv/

Julia Ioffe, “Inside Biden’s Ukraine War Room,” Puck News, March 16, 2022, https://puck.news/inside-bidens-ukraine-war-room/

Molly Jong-Fast, “The Far Right Is Now Anti–anti-Putin,” Atlantic, March 16, 2022, https://newsletters.theatlantic.com/wait-what/62323220199fdd002140baa5/gop-tucker-carlson-putin-propaganda/

Rick Noack, “U.N. court orders Russia to halt its invasion of Ukraine, in a largely symbolic ruling,” Washington Post, March 16, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/03/16/icj-ukraine-russia-genocide/

Grace Segers, “‘There Was Barely a Breath’: How Capitol Hill Reacted to Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s Plea for Help,” New Republic, March 16, 2022, https://newrepublic.com/article/165759/volodymyr-zelenskiy-congress-reaction-ukraine

Daniel Boffey and Dan Sabbagh, “Vladimir Putin accused of war crimes as school and theatre are hit in Ukraine,” Guardian, March 17, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/17/kyiv-ukraine-says-moscow-russia-must-accept-ceasefire-as-west-doubts-putin-sincerity

Larisa Brown, Charlie Parker, and Richard Spencer, “Ukraine forces ‘counter-attack’ as Russia loses estimated 7,000 troops and 230 tanks,” Times, March 17, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ukraine-crisis-world-war-three-may-have-already-started-warns-zelensky-f5fs72vq5

Isabel Coles, Alan Cullison, and Yaroslav Trofimov, “Ukraine Awaits Word of Deaths, Survivors After Russia Hits Theater Turned Bomb Shelter,” Wall Street Journal, March 17, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/russian-forces-attack-theater-in-southern-ukraine-where-civilians-were-hiding-11647511730

Yuka Hayashi and Eliza Collins, “House Passes Legislation to End Normal Trade Relations With Russia,” Wall Street Journal, March 17, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/house-passes-legislation-to-end-normal-trade-relations-with-russia-11647545860

James Mackenzie, Natalia Zinets, and Oleksandr Kozhukhar, “Russia getting bogged down in Ukraine, Western nations say,” Reuters, March 17, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/shells-hit-theatre-sheltering-ukraine-civilians-biden-calls-putin-war-criminal-2022-03-17/

Loveday Morris, “In Ukraine’s second city, a furious rain of bombs and rockets takes a toll: ‘There are no coffins left,’” Washington Post, March 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/03/17/kharkiv-bodies-human-toll/

Rachel Roubein with McKenzie Beard, “Health care is becoming a target in Ukraine,” Washington Post, March 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/03/17/health-care-is-becoming-target-ukraine/

Dan Sabbagh, “Is an outright Russian military victory in Ukraine possible?” Guardian, March 17, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/17/is-an-outright-russian-military-victory-in-ukraine-possible

Joshua Goodman, “American gunmakers help Ukrainians fight back against Putin,” Associated Press, March 18, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-american-gunmakers-3c5fa03742ebc5806293a84a0e2b73cd

Justin Ling, “How ‘Ukrainian bioweapons labs’ myth went from QAnon fringe to Fox News,” Guardian, March 18, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/media/2022/mar/18/ukrainian-bioweapons-labs-qanon-fox-news

Rebecca Ratcliffe and Abené Clayton, “Russia-Ukraine war: what we know on day 24 of the invasion,” Guardian, March 18, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/19/russia-ukraine-war-what-we-know-on-day-24-of-the-invasion

Michael Levenson, Marc Santora, and Valerie Hopkins, “Deadly Strike on Ukraine Barracks Punctuates Russian Military Gains,” New York Times, March 19, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/19/world/europe/mariupol-russia-ukraine-war.html

Warren P. Strobel and Michael R. Gordon, “Reported Detention of Russian Spy Boss Shows Tension Over Stalled Ukraine Invasion, U.S. Officials Say,” Wall Street Journal, March 19, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/reported-detention-of-russian-spy-boss-shows-tension-over-stalled-ukraine-invasion-u-s-officials-say-11647687601

Devan Cole, “Zelensky: “I’m ready for negotiations’ with Putin, but if they fail, it could mean ‘a third World War,’” CNN, March 20, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/03/20/politics/zelensky-putin-ukraine-negotiations-war-cnntv/index.html

Michael R. Gordon and Alex Leary, “Russia, Failing to Achieve Early Victory in Ukraine, Is Seen Shifting to ‘Plan B,’” Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/russia-failing-to-achieve-early-victory-in-ukraine-is-seen-shifting-to-plan-b-11647824374

Loveday Morris, Annabelle Timsit, and Jennifer Hassan, “Russia bombs Mariupol art school where 400 people in besieged city were sheltering, Ukrainian officials say,” Washington Post, March 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/03/20/mariupol-art-school-civilians-russia/

Liz Sly and Dan Lamothe, “Russia’s war for Ukraine could be headed toward stalemate,” Washington Post, March 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/03/20/russia-ukraine-military-offensive/

Nataliya Vasilyeva, “Russians borrow from Nazi playbook with forced deportation of Ukrainian civilians,” Telegraph, March 20, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/terror-and-security/russians-borrow-nazi-playbook-forced-deportation-ukrainian-civilians/

Larisa Brown and Richard Spencer, “Struggling Russians ‘plant mines’ and dig in for a long war,” Times, March 21, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/retroville-mall-a-symbol-of-new-kyiv-is-destroyed-by-cruise-missile-0znsr9zc9

Samantha Lock, Jennifer Rankin, and Julian Borger, “‘Clear sign’ Putin is weighing up use of chemical weapons in Ukraine, says Biden,” Guardian, March 21, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/22/clear-sign-putin-is-weighing-up-use-of-chemical-weapons-in-ukraine-says-biden

Isaac Chotiner, “The Purges in Putin’s Shrinking Inner Circle,” New Yorker, March 22, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/the-purges-in-putins-shrinking-inner-circle

Julia Ioffe, “Hacking Through Putin’s Media Cult,” Puck News, March 22, 2022, https://puck.news/hacking-through-putins-media-cult/

Luke McGee and Claire Calzonetti, “Putin spokesman refuses to rule out use of nuclear weapons if Russia faced an ‘existential threat,’” CNN, March 22, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/03/22/europe/amanpour-peskov-interview-ukraine-intl/index.html

  1. [1]Luke McGee and Claire Calzonetti, “Putin spokesman refuses to rule out use of nuclear weapons if Russia faced an ‘existential threat,’” CNN, March 22, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/03/22/europe/amanpour-peskov-interview-ukraine-intl/index.html
  2. [2]Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s New Iron Curtain,” Puck News, February 24, 2022, https://puck.news/putins-new-iron-curtain/; 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; Tom Nichols, “How Should the U.S. Respond to Putin’s Nuclear Provocation?” Atlantic, February 27, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/02/how-the-west-should-respond-to-putins-nuclear-provocation/622943/; Jordan Michael Smith, “Would Putin Really Go Nuclear? Well …,” New Republic, March 7, 2022, https://newrepublic.com/article/165634/putin-nuclear-weapons-ukraine-us-response; Robin Wright, “What Does Putin’s Nuclear Sabre Rattling Mean?” New Yorker, March 1, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/what-does-putins-nuclear-sabre-rattling-mean
  3. [3]Robin Wright, “What Does Putin’s Nuclear Sabre Rattling Mean?” New Yorker, March 1, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/what-does-putins-nuclear-sabre-rattling-mean
  4. [4]Isaac Chotiner, “The Purges in Putin’s Shrinking Inner Circle,” New Yorker, March 22, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/the-purges-in-putins-shrinking-inner-circle
  5. [5]Isaac Chotiner, “The Purges in Putin’s Shrinking Inner Circle,” New Yorker, March 22, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/the-purges-in-putins-shrinking-inner-circle; David Remnick, “The Weakness of the Despot,” New Yorker, March 11, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/stephen-kotkin-putin-russia-ukraine-stalin
  6. [6]Isaac Chotiner, “The Purges in Putin’s Shrinking Inner Circle,” New Yorker, March 22, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/the-purges-in-putins-shrinking-inner-circle
  7. [7]David Remnick, “The Weakness of the Despot,” New Yorker, March 11, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/stephen-kotkin-putin-russia-ukraine-stalin
  8. [8]David Benfell, “Vladimir Putin is a fool,” Not Housebroken, March 2, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/01/24/vladimir-putin-is-a-fool/
  9. [9]Julia Ioffe, “Hacking Through Putin’s Media Cult,” Puck News, March 22, 2022, https://puck.news/hacking-through-putins-media-cult/

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