UPDATE: See latest-breaking move by Putin at the bottom.
There’s nothing more tedious than listening to an interpreter translate Vladimir Putin talking for 45 minutes about Russian history and Ukraine.
But after the lengthy intro, Putin moved to the briskly-paced Act Four an hour and change later, signing decrees recognizing Donetsk and Luhansk (Donbas) as “People’s Republics,” and concluding Russian cooperation agreements with them.
The “presidents” of the so-called independent Donetsk and Luhansk were present for the event, albeit at the other end of the football field.
The lengthy intro may have come across as self-indulgent – Putin’s case for ultimately subverting the sovereignty of Ukraine could have been made in 15 minutes – but while he’s got the world’s attention, he presumably will make the most of it.
Two aspects of his presentation were in tension. On one hand, Putin addressed the world from a position not just seated but leaning back, for much of his speech, and almost slumped. This was not a world leader anxious to show respect or special earnestness to his audience.
On the other hand, he went to the bother of laying out that lengthy case. His affect may have been a bit cavalier, but he wanted to establish a narrative, and he didn’t take peremptory shortcuts to do it.
He kept a straight face throughout Monday, for the most part. He didn’t have to. He’s well inside America’s and NATO’s OODA loop, and he knows he’s put the ball squarely in Biden’s court. Now it’s Zelensky’s “fault” if there’s some armed reaction to today’s declarations, and Biden’s pretty much no matter what happens.
Will Putin have to invade Ukraine, as the laggards in Western capitals keep talking about? That remains to be seen. But now what to do next is Zelensky’s problem, not Putin’s, and if the “presidents” of Donetsk and Luhansk invite Russia in, we already know NATO isn’t going to respond with force. NATO probably won’t respond with a turn-off of Nord Stream 2 either.
The Nord Stream 2 measure, along with other sanctions, should already have been implemented, weeks ago. If it was going to work, the time to do it was when Russia was heavily committed to using up fuel, and needed foreign currency reserves to avoid significant impact to the civilian economy.
That window has passed. It’s probable that Putin is about to prove he doesn’t actually have to formally invade Ukraine to dunk Ukraine. If he deploys any forces into Donetsk and Luhansk, it could well be only tactical defensive weaponry and relatively small numbers of “little green men” for local security. He can run tanks and APCs across the border quickly if that becomes necessary, and operate support aircraft from Russia – and those measures will only be necessary if Kyiv visibly moves first.
None of Ukraine’s passive well-wishers wants Kyiv to move first. Zelensky has been dealt a rotten hand, trying to actually be independent while Putin wants him out (because he’s not aligned with Russia) and Team Biden doesn’t care for him (because Zelensky’s been willing to pursue Burisma and other lines of legal investigation that endanger Biden’s interests).
NATO, although its response force is on “higher alert,” is an inert quantity. There is no will in NATO to move in unity; there is only unity for a non-moving posture.
Biden has agreed to talk to Putin about Ukraine, if Putin refrains from invading. If you haven’t figured out by now that Putin doesn’t have to invade, as NATO defines it, I don’t know what to tell you.
Oh, and Biden plans to retaliate with sanctions against…Donetsk and Luhansk. Think for a few seconds and realize how useless that is. It’s not even executable; one way or another the economic arrangements of Donbas (to the extent they matter in the next few weeks) rely on a party that is not under sanctions. In a less freighted situation it would be a Monty Python joke.
Yes, yes. Sudetenland. Choose your analogy. A meme probably runs through our future.
UPDATE: And there it is. Putin announces a “peacekeeping” mission into Donbas. He’s deep inside the OODA loop, moving fast now.
Feature image: Vladimir Putin address a waiting world from the Kremlin, 21 Feb 2022. Sky News video, YouTube.
10 thoughts on “Russia-Ukraine: Putin announces his presence from inside the OODA loop”
hilarious biden/munich photoshop.
I absolutely don’t believe we should get into a war with Russia over Ukraine, but it now looks like Putin wins without any more shots fired or any other real consequences.
These break-away provinces were already completely isolated and dependent on Russia so slapping sanctions only on them and not Russia itself is completely useless and nothing but a talking point for Biden so he can look tougher without actually doing anything. We essentially are also indirectly recognizing these provinces as independent from Ukraine by slapping sanctions only on those provinces. This seems pre-negotiated to me. Uncle Joe went “toe to toe” with Putin all right….by dancing with him.
Zelensky really has been dealt a rotten hand and is in an impossible situation.
I have for some time now thought that one of the primary short term goals for BOTH sides is to create a pressure campaign on Zelensky to get him out so one side or the other could attempt to install a puppet they could control. Russia and factions in the U.S., want to control Ukraine politically for their own goals. If Zelensky fights they will probably lose and he gives Russia an excuse to take even more. If he doesn’t he looks powerless to do anything to stop his country being carved up. Neither choice likely bodes well for him in the next election. I think a situation has now been created that is ripe for someone new to be installed who will give either Russia or U.S. what they want in the future.
Putin can save Transnistria for October. That frozen conflict with Moldova since 1992, is another ‘loose end’. Local self-determination does not count when they are Slavs.
But the Squad in the House has elevated the Polisario of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) as a reason to cancel US recognition of Western Sahara as part of Morocco. < 300,000 Sahrawis!
Feb. 18, 2022:
Have followed Western Sahara in great detail past year. Algeria is now sole supporter of SADR self-determination, so, this week, my question is who’s paying off the NGOs who pay off the DSAs in Congress?
I am not an expert on this part of the world but what I do see is a VERY corrupt Ukraine with a questionably installed government and two breakaway areas that very clearly do not want to be part of the Ukraine nightmare so in my opinion, this is a good outcome.
Well, we have the Demented being challenged by the Paranoid Psychopath. The Munich analogy is apt, and it probably is a window into the increasingly violent insanity boiling in the pressure cooker labeled Putin. Tsar Vladimir has murdered and imprisoned his way to the top, like so many Russian despots before him, that the blood on his hands has driven him quite mad. You can see the paranoia increasing and the connection with rational understanding fading.
NATO is only a defensive threat to Putin’s expansionist drive to rebuild the Soviet Empire. This is an old friction -Ukraine has never wanted to be a part of the Russian Pan Slavic dream (nightmare?). It has always been an unwilling vassal state, and the Russian despots have always demanded its slave status.
But the time for effective defensive action is probably over, for now. The time to have protected Ukraine was in the 1990s expansion of NATO to the former Soviet vassal states of the Warsaw Pact. Before the mad mid-grade agent of murder became the absolute dictator of the Russian Empire that he feverishly dreams to rebuild.
So, it’s time for NATO to sit down, renegotiate and reorganize to form a more coherent and better understood purely defensive alliance built to keep the Krauts under rational control, and keep the Russians out. Communism was always a chimera Russia remains a 18th/19th Century expansionist empire.
When you drilled into the reality of the nub of the argument… The Slavophiles and the Westernizers never really had an argument over more than which group would rule. The Slavophiles clung to Divine Right and Russian Orthodoxy. The Westernizers were a hodge-podge of atheists and agnostics who desired the religion to be the state. Vladimir Putin is merely a Tsar like Boris Godunov – a brutal thug who insinuated himself into the divine right stream and murdered his way to the top. When Putin passes – and he will all humans die- chaos will return to the evil insanity we know as Russia.
Death by a thousand Kosovos is in store for the Ukraine now.
No points for guessing which defensive alliance wrote that playbook. . . -jg
Finlandization is probably the best we can hope for.
“There is no will in NATO to move in unity;”
So NATO is essentially dead.
As for me, I’m more concerned that what Trudeau is doing in Canada is a WEF test run.
I believe I saw Apaches flying yesterday on the way to the Baltic, and thought to myself, now that grandpa Joey has decided to send more of our kids to the suburbs of Saint Petersburg, what, pray tell, will their orders be when the inevitable civil unrest breaks out in the Baltic States’ respective Russian Quarters? Are they going to shoot rebelling ethnic Russian civilians?
Somebody really should have thought out this NATO expansion business a little better. . . did somebody really expect we’d be able to break up the Russian Federation into bite sized pieces, or roll back the Bear behind the east bank of the Volga?
My info from inside the Ukraine. Mariupol and Berdyansk both probably under Russian control already. Dnepropetrovsk and Zaporozhye military installations under air attack. Azov battalion and Right Sector ‘patriots’ nowhere to be found defending anything. 18-year old boys being shanghaied off the streets into makeshift units . . .
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