TOC Ready Room 9 April 2022: Russia-Ukraine, Adieu mon status quo; Echoes of info ops dance in our heads

What’s wrong and right with the world.

The first order of business in the Ready Room is the state of the status quo six-odd weeks into the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Per our RR convention, this won’t be an in-depth look.  But it’s important to point out that the status quo has already changed, in ways that are likely to be irreversible, and that have been flying under the radar up to now.

I think a lot of people realize this is happening, even if they can’t readily think what the specific details are.  Only one border has been breached so far, after all.  NATO hasn’t been drawn into “World War III.”  How bad can it be?

We’ve looked at one detail already:  the immediate failure of NATO’s missile defense linchpin. Continue reading “TOC Ready Room 9 April 2022: Russia-Ukraine, Adieu mon status quo; Echoes of info ops dance in our heads”

The unclubbable Mr. Trump: China, Ukraine, and a surprise banking oversight action

A world, disrupted.

On 20 March, we checked in with a story from the period 2014-2016, when the French bank BNP Paribas was, initially, greenlighted by the Obama administration to do business with Iran, as sanctions were relaxed, and then months later was hit by U.S. government authorities with the biggest settlement forfeiture in banking history for a prior record of sanctions violations (including sanctions on Iran).

In the interim between the first development (January 2014) and the second (June 2014), BNP Paribas flagged – to UK officials – a suspicious transaction by the owner of Burisma, Ukrainian oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky.  The date of the notification, March 2014, fell in the period when Vice President Joe Biden was holding frequent phone conversations with top Ukrainian officials as the “Maidan Revolution” crisis expanded.  About a month after BNP Paribas alerted the UK to Zlochevsky – who had fled Ukraine in February 2014 – Hunter Biden and Devon Archer joined Burisma’s board, and payments from the company began flowing to them. Continue reading “The unclubbable Mr. Trump: China, Ukraine, and a surprise banking oversight action”

TOC Ready Room 28 March 2022: Russia-Ukraine and the breakup of NATO; Biolabs and viruses

What’s wrong and right with the world.

Two main points for this post regarding Russia and Ukraine.  One is that, as most readers will be aware, Russia has declared a new phase of operations, which according to the Russian video brief is to concentrate on consolidating Russia’s territorial gains in Donbas.

This is being presented by Western media as evidence that the invasion so far has been an unmitigated disaster for Moscow.  That’s obviously not true.  An unmitigated disaster would be one in which Russia, after suffering some apparently significant personnel and equipment losses (I remain wary of going with either side’s numbers on that), had no territorial gains to consolidate. Continue reading “TOC Ready Room 28 March 2022: Russia-Ukraine and the breakup of NATO; Biolabs and viruses”

Big bank, big bust: Another dot-path connected with Ukraine and the suddenly legitimate laptop

Another timeline gets interesting.

The New York Times’s admission this past week that the Hunter Biden laptop was not Russian disinformation has come at an opportune time.  It’s an obscurely opportune time, to be sure.  But it’s opportune nonetheless.

What makes it so is a reminder that the seed money used to start a cybersecurity non-profit called Global Cyber Alliance (GCA), whose interests and personalities rather remarkably replicated those of Russiagate and Alfa-gate in 2015 and 2016, came from an asset forfeiture settlement with the French banking giant BNP Paribas.

Those dots connect.  Some readers already know how. For others, here’s the BNP angle. Continue reading “Big bank, big bust: Another dot-path connected with Ukraine and the suddenly legitimate laptop”