Monday, February 28, 2022

YouTube: February 28

The End Of The Road For Putin

This is the end of the road for Putin. He will now lose power. The world has to prepare for a better transition than it did when the Soviet Union collapsed. The correct roadmap will be an interim government with the mandate to hold elections to a constituent assembly within a year of coming to power.

The problem is not that the Soviet Union broke up and lost territory. The problem remains that Russia did not lose enough territory. There are too many diverse nationalities still housed inside of Russia. I am not proposing a breakup of Russia. But I am proposing genuine federalism in a new Russian constitution. Russia is not Russia. It is a federation. There is an urgent need to devolve the power out of Moscow.

Russia deserves a genuine, full throttle, cacophonous democracy. Let the people vote. Let the people speak. Let the people organize. Let the people protest.

The genie is out of the bottle. I don't see how things can go back to where they were before Putin marched into Ukraine.

Now the only thing to do is to hasten the demise of the Putin regime. And the best positioned are the ordinary Russian citizens. They need to flood the streets. They need to do what the people of Ukraine did in 2014. Take over. Take Russia back from Putin.

February 28: Ukraine

Switzerland says it will freeze Russian assets, setting aside a tradition of neutrality. . Switzerland, a favorite destination for Russian oligarchs and their money ........ the country would immediately freeze the assets of Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, Prime Minister Mikhail V. Mishustin and Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov, as well as all 367 individuals sanctioned last week by the European Union. ....... Swiss national bank data showed that Russian companies and individuals held assets worth more than $11 billion in Swiss banks in 2020. As a hub for the global commodities trade, Switzerland also hosts numerous companies that trade Russian oil and other commodities. ........ Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which saw thousands of antiwar protesters march in Bern, Switzerland’s capital, over the weekend ........ Switzerland cherishes a reputation for neutrality that has established Geneva as a home to the United Nations and a host to peace talks in numerous conflicts, including the wars in Korea and Vietnam. Recently, Geneva was the venue for last year’s summit between President Biden and Mr. Putin. ......... Mr. Cassis told the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday that Russia’s attack on Ukraine was a flagrant violation of international law. .

Putin’s Historic Miscalculation May Make Him a War Criminal The West condemns Russia’s aggression as “barbaric” and “horrific,” as Biden warns that conflict could drag on for weeks or months. ......... In the eyes of the world and almost certainly history, Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on Thursday was an epic miscalculation, drawing comparisons to Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein for cold-blooded aggression ...... “Peace on our continent has been shattered,” the nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg told reporters.

“We now have war in Europe on a scale and of a type we thought belonged to history.”

.......... Putin “has much larger ambitions than Ukraine.” “He wants to, in fact, reëstablish the former Soviet Union,” Biden said. ........ Putin may now also qualify as a war criminal, according to the Geneva Conventions of 1949. War crimes include willful killing and extensive destruction of property “not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.” The term has been inconsistently interpreted and unevenly applied to leaders or countries—including to the U.S. and its officials—who have initiated aggression for reasons considered unjustified. In Ukraine, Putin’s “war of choice” has clearly violated international law through his invasion of a sovereign country and attempt to oust its government. ......... Putin has lied at every stage of the Ukraine crisis, insisting last year that he had no military ambitions in Ukraine even as he steadily amassed a force of nearly two hundred thousand troops on three fronts. ........ Putin’s invasion is based on wild accusations, including a claim that he needed to “denazify” Ukraine, a country led by President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is, in fact, Jewish. Putin vowed to end the “humiliation and genocide perpetrated by the Kiev regime,” when, in fact, separatists backed by Russia have for years waged a war in eastern Ukraine. Putin also claimed that the Kyiv government sought to acquire nuclear weapons when, in fact, Ukraine, once the third-largest nuclear power, denuclearized after the Soviet Union collapsed and it became an independent country again. He described the government in Kyiv as a “junta,” even though it was democratically elected in 2019. And Zelensky, in fact, won in a landslide with seventy-three per cent of the vote, defeating thirty-eight others who ran for President. ......... Russia experts and former U.S. officials increasingly question Putin’s stability, especially as he has surrounded himself with like-minded advisers and yes-men who encourage his ambitions to rewrite history. “Putin believes that in historical terms, as in Peter the Great and so on, blood will be forgotten and his legacy as the uniter of the ‘Russian lands,’ no matter the cost, will remain,” Nina Khrushcheva, an international-affairs professor at the New School in New York and the great-granddaughter of former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, told me. She said the Russian leader appears to “have lost all grip on reality, more so than I was willing to admit only yesterday.” She added, “I didn’t think he was suicidal, but he clearly is, and is taking the world and us with him.” She described Putin as a “ruthless megalomaniac with a giant imperialist agenda” akin to Stalin and Mao. ..........

“There are many parallels between Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939 and Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022”

............. Putin no longer appears to be a rational actor on the international stage ...... “I hate comparing people to Hitler, but Putin’s crazy talk is making it hard to avoid,” Stephen Sestanovich, a Russia expert at Columbia University, told me. “Did he think forcing all of his advisers to stand up on television and say, in such obvious discomfort, that they agreed with him would make the decision for war look careful and deliberate? My Russian friends suggest something different—is this guy losing it?” .......... The Ukrainian government has called up reservists and promised weapons to civilians to form a public resistance force. ......... “But history has shown time and again how swift gains in territory eventually give way to grinding occupations, acts of massive mass civil disobedience, and strategic dead ends.”

How will Russia’s invasion of Ukraine hit the global economy? Soaring energy prices alone could tip the world into a second recession in three years ......... A conflict that could develop into Europe’s biggest since the second world war has shattered hopes of a strong global economic recovery from coronavirus at least in the short term. ........ Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Thursday shook financial markets and the increased geopolitical tensions are set to exacerbate high inflation and supply chain bottlenecks. ........ If energy prices continued to soar, for example, it could easily tip the global economy into a second recession in three years. ........ Putin’s desired endgame is unclear. Analysts are considering several scenarios that range from a change of government in Kyiv to a Moscow-friendly regime to a wholesale attempt to redraw the international boundaries of Europe and beyond. ........... China, which has signalled its willingness to help Russia manage the financial fallout from its military actions. ...... the market reaction was orderly and not indicative yet of expectations of a wider war across Europe. ........ The country supplies about 40 per cent of the world’s palladium, a key component of catalytic converters in petrol-powered vehicles as well as electronic devices. ...... Europe is highly dependent on gas from Russia and cannot quickly find alternative supplies if pipelines are cut. ....... “Our modelling suggests that in a worst-case scenario oil prices could rise to $120-140 a barrel,” said Capital Economics’ Shearing. “If sustained through the rest of this year, and we see a corresponding increase in European natural gas prices, that would add about 2 percentage points to advanced economy inflation — more in Europe, less in the US. So that’s an additional squeeze on real incomes.” .

US governors order state-run liquor stores to stop selling Russian vodka Governors of Ohio, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Utah say symbolic move shows support for Ukraine .

Would Vladimir Putin actually use nuclear weapons? Russian president has ordered nuclear deterrence forces on high alert. We look at what that means ....... the threat, though it had gone up a notch, remained at a low level. ....... this was, in a way, “analogous to the British system”, where the commanders of Trident nuclear submarines are given letters of last resort, signed by the prime minister, of instructions on how to act if it is believed that the UK has been destroyed by an all-out nuclear attack. ........ Putin’s phrasing was deliberately ambiguous. ...... The move was, he said, designed to scare the west and “remind the world he’s got a deterrent” and that it was a distraction designed to ensure that the west was “talking about it rather than the lack of success they are having in Ukraine”. ......... There was a signal, from the Kremlin itself, on Monday that its statement was primarily a form of high stakes diplomacy. The Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said the decision came in response to various western warnings there could be “collisions and clashes between Nato and Russia”. He added: “I would not call the authors of these statements by name, although it was the British foreign minister.” ....... simple intimidation – “we can hurt you, and fighting us is dangerous” – and a reminder to the west, which is increasingly arming the Ukrainians, not to go too far. “It could be Russia is planning a brutal escalation in Ukraine and this is a ‘keep out’ warning to the west” .

Stocks fall, ruble dives as Russia sanctions hit world markets . The Russian ruble fell to fresh record lows on Monday while world stocks slid and oil prices jumped, as the West ramped up sanctions against Russia over its Ukraine invasion, with steps including blocking banks from the SWIFT global payments system. .

Russia faces financial meltdown as sanctions slam its economy . President Vladimir Putin was due to hold crisis talks with his top advisers after the ruble crashed to a record low against the US dollar, the Russian central bank more than doubled interest rates to 20%, and the Moscow stock exchange was shuttered for the day. ......... The European subsidiary of Russia's biggest bank was on the brink of collapse as savers rushed to withdraw their deposits. Economists warned that

the Russian economy could shrink by 5%.

........ The ruble lost about 20% of its value to trade at 100 to the dollar ....... The latest barrage of sanctions came Saturday, when the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada said they would expel some Russian banks from SWIFT, a global financial messaging service, and "paralyze" the assets of Russia's central bank. ........... "The ratcheting up of Western sanctions over the weekend has left Russian banks on the edge of crisis" ...... Putin's government has spent the past eight years preparing Russia for tough sanctions by building up a war chest of $630 billion in international reserves including currencies and gold, but at least some of that financial firepower is now frozen and his "fortress" economy is under unprecedented assault. ........... "Our strategy, to put it simply, is to make sure that the Russian economy goes backward as long as President Putin decides to go forward with his invasion of Ukraine" ....... about 40% of Russia's reserves are now off limits to Moscow. ........ "External conditions for the Russian economy have drastically changed," the Russian central bank said. "This is needed to support financial and price stability and protect the savings of citizens from depreciation," the bank added. .......... Russia is a leading exporter of oil and gas but many other sectors of its economy rely on imports. As the value of the ruble falls, they will become much more expensive to buy, pushing up inflation. ......... Putin was due to meet his prime minister, finance minister, the head of the Russian central bank and the head of Russia's top lender Sberbank to discuss "economic matters" ........ "For a long time, Russia has been methodically preparing for the event of possible sanctions, including the most severe sanctions we are currently facing," Peskov said. "So there are response plans, and they are being implemented now as problems arise." ....... the turmoil could lead to a run on Russian banks, as savers try to secure their deposits and hoard cash. ......... no G7 banks will be able to buy Russian rubles, sending the currency into free-fall, with the end result

we could see a huge inflationary shock unfold inside Russia

....... Sberbank (SBRCY) shares listed in London fell by nearly 70%. Other Russian companies with foreign listings were also hammered. Gas giant Gazprom (GZPFY) dropped 37% in London trading, while shares in internet service provider Yandex (YNDX) were poised to open down 20% in New York. ....... "The [Russian central bank] has this morning raised interest rates to 20% but other measures (e.g. limits on deposit withdrawals) are possible later today. All of this will accelerate Russia's economic downturn — a fall in GDP of [about] 5% now looks likely."

Western companies head for the exit in Russia as sanctions tighten . BP to exit Rosneft stake worth $25 billion ...... Europe, Canada close airspace, Russia retaliates ........ Energy giant BP, global bank HSBC and the world's biggest aircraft leasing firm AerCap joined a growing list of companies looking to exit Russia on Monday, as Western sanctions tightened the screws on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. ...... and restricting Moscow's ability to use its $630 billion foreign reserves. ........ The rouble plunged as much as 30% to an all-time low, while the central bank doubled its key interest rate to 20%, kept stock markets and derivative markets closed and temporarily banned brokers from selling securities held by foreigners. ....... BP , Russia's biggest foreign investor, abruptly announced at the weekend it was abandoning its 20% stake in state-controlled Rosneft (ROSN.MM) at a cost of up to $25 billion, cutting the British firm's oil and gas reserves in half and production by a third. ........ Large parts of the Russian economy will be a no-go zone for Western banks and financial firms after the decision to cut off some of its banks from SWIFT, a secure messaging system used for trillions of dollars' worth of transactions around the world. ....... Shipping group Maersk (MAERSKb.CO) said it was considering suspending all container bookings in and out of Russia. ........ Russia said it was barring airlines from 36 countries from its airspace, including European nations and Canada which had earlier shut their airspace to Russian aircraft. U.S. officials said Washington was considering a similar move. ......... Leasing firms said they would terminate hundreds of aircraft leases with Russian airlines because of sanctions. Russia has 980 passenger jets in service, with 777 leased and 515 rented from foreign firms .

Legitimate Russian Grievances

There are legitimate Russian grievances. 

It was Boris Yeltsin who ended communist rule in the former Soviet Union and made Russia an independent country, not the United States or the West. The US takes too much credit. Yeltsin did right. But he disappointed in the subsequent years in power. 

Democracy did not deliver. But it was Putin who did not let the democracy delivery happen. Democracy was not allowed to take root. Putin is an autocrat by instinct. Putin is the reason there is no democracy in Russia. 

A country the size of Russia is and will continue to be a world power. That Russia will have a sphere of influence just makes sense. But that "influence" needs to respect the sovereignty of other countries, especially the small countries in the neighborhood. 

The Cold War ended and Russia lost. It is unrealistic for Putin to expect Russia to have the same stature as the former Soviet Union. Ends up even that stature was hollow. 

The logical thing to do was to accept the new reality and build the Russian economy. Putin instead is going in the other direction. He is hurting the Russian economy left and right. Italy is a bigger economy than Russia and Italy is not even that big. 

Russia's return to greatness will be through democracy, rule of law, and a free-market economy, and Putin stands in the way. 

I Am No American Mouthpiece On Ukraine

I am no American stooge. I am not in contact with anybody officially in power in the US. I am on US soil, but that only gives me perspectives that make me no fan of the American political system as it stands today. I think America teeters on the brink of both fascism and apartheid if that is possible, but one misguided hateful fool can turn an applecart upside down, and I will let Robert DeNiro take it from here.

Liberty asks for eternal vigilance. As in, you don't get it in inheritance. You could easily lose it from one generation to the next. And right now, America is busy losing it.

I don't think Ukraine or Russia should learn from the United States. I think the United States should see this as an opportunity to rejuvenate democracy inside America. This is your chance. Take it. Seize the moment. Support Ukraine in every way you can. Support the Russians in their streets. 

There is so much the US and the West and the rest of the world could do. Beam unfettered Internet down satellites all across the former Soviet Union. Get the Russian diaspora hyper-organized. Freeze the Kremlin criminal syndicate's assets everywhere. Organize a truckers' strike in Poland if necessary. 

Anything to get the Russians to come out into the streets in the hundreds of thousands. What Russia needs is a color revolution. There is a point at which Putin gives up. I think that is 500,000 people out in the streets of Moscow refusing to vacate. 

Find him a safe way to get to Belarus. 

America got rid of Trump. Russia's turn to get rid of Putin. 

Russia deserves to become a $5 trillion economy. I think a free trade area encompassing the former Soviet Union would be a great idea. A democratic Russia robustly trading with all its neighbors would make NATO irrelevant. I think Germany will enjoy spending less on defense. 

Russia will continue to be a global power. 

Sunday, February 27, 2022

YouTube: February 27

Human Warfare Is People Coming Out Into The Streets Of Moscow In Large Numbers

Putin's supposed nuclear deterrent is going to be helpless in the face of hundreds of thousands of Russians flooding the streets of Moscow. I think that is how this war will end. The Russian people are in shock that Putin did what he did. Nobody really believed he might do it. And he did it. And this is not going to go down well.

The Putin regime is a dictatorship for sure. But the Soviet Union was much more of a dictatorship and the Russian people faced it down. To them the Putin regime is a child's play.

This is not about wanting the West, or joining the West. This is about liberty ringing in the human heart. It also rings in Russian hearts. The battle of hearts has begun. With every TikTok video of Putin's aggression that circles the globe, Putin is getting hemmed in. He has already lost the battle of hearts and minds.

Putin has been in power long enough. It is time for him and his entire clique to go. The KGB needs to go the way of the Soviet Communist Party. They need to vacate the scene. Let the Russian people elect their new set of leaders. This has gone far enough.

The tide has turned. Liberty is on the march again.

A democratic, prosperous Russia that actively trades with all its neighbors and the world at large will be a major power for a long time to come. That is a given. Nobody wants to take that away.

February 27: Ukraine

Russia faces major disruptions to oil, commodities flows without SWIFT Russian exports of all commodities from oil and metals to grains will be severely disrupted by fresh Western sanctions, dealing a blow to Russia's economy and hurting the West with a spike in prices and inflation ........ SWIFT, or the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, is a secure messaging system that facilitates rapid cross-border payments, transferring trillions of dollars a year in what has become the principal mechanism for financing international trade. .......... Russia produces 10% of global oil and supplies 40% of Europe's gas. It is the world's largest grains and fertilisers exporter, top palladium and nickel producer, third-largest exporter of coal and steel, and fifth-largest wood exporter. ....... The bid to exclude from the trading system whole chunks of the world's 11th largest economy - and supplier of one-sixth of all commodities - has no precedent in the globalised age. ........... Russian energy and commodity flows to Asia, especially to China, will likely continue. ....... Both China and Russia have been developing alternatives to SWIFT. Beijing has been encouraging the use of its homegrown alternative, known as the CIPS clearing and settlement services system, while Moscow has set up its own banking messaging system, known as SPFS. ....... Russian officials have said the country can re-route its exports to China in case flows to the West are disrupted. But analysts have said gas cannot be re-routed at all, while Beijing's capacity to take more oil is limited.

EU shuts airspace to Russian airlines; will buy Ukraine arms . The European Union’s chief executive says the 27-nation bloc will close its airspace to Russian airlines, fund supplies of weapons to Ukraine and ban some pro-Kremlin media outlets in response to Russia’s invasion. ...... “for the first time ever, the European Union will finance the purchase and delivery of weapons and other equipment to a country that is under attack.” ......... “we are shutting down the EU airspace for Russians. We are proposing a prohibition on all Russian-owned, Russian registered or Russian-controlled aircraft. These aircraft will no more be able to land in, take off or overfly the territory of the EU.” .......... the EU will ban “the Kremlin’s media machine. The state-owned Russia Today and Sputnik, as well as their subsidiaries, will no longer be able to spread their lies to justify Putin’s war and to sow division in our union.” .......... the EU will also target Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko for supporting Russia’s widespread military campaign in Ukraine. “We will hit Lukashenko’s regime with a new package of sanctions,” she said. .......... In one of the most significant shifts in European security policy in decades, Germany announced Sunday it was committing 100 billion euros ($113 billion) to a special armed forces fund and would keep its defense spending above 2% of GDP from now on, a move brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. ............ how Russia’s war on Ukraine was rewriting Europe’s post-World War II security policy in ways that were unthinkable only a few weeks ago. ........... The German policy shift also came as Italy, France, Austria, Malta, Canada and Belgium joined other EU countries in closing their airspace to Russian aircraft, carving up the skies over Europe. .......... Anti-war protesters, meanwhile, took to the streets in Berlin, Rome, Prague, Istanbul and other cities — even Russian cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg — to demand an end to the war, the largest ground offensive on the continent since WWII. .......... A day earlier, Germany announced another major shift in policy, saying it will send weapons and other supplies directly to Ukraine, including 500 Stinger missiles, which are used to shoot down helicopters and warplanes, and 1,000 anti-tank weapons. .......... Israel, meanwhile, announced it was sending 100 tons of humanitarian aid — medical equipment and medicine, tents, sleeping bags and blankets — to help civilians caught up in the fighting in Ukraine. ........ Israel also offered itself as a potential mediator during a phone call between Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Putin, the Kremlin and Israel said.Bennett spoke also Friday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is Jewish. ......... more than 368,000 people had fled Ukraine and estimated that 4 million could flee if the fighting spreads. ........ To bolster its military training and support missions around the world, the 27-nation bloc has set up a European Peace Facility, a fund with a ceiling of around 5.7 billion euros ($6.4 billion). Some of the money can be used to train and equip partner countries, including with lethal weapons. Providing weapons to Ukraine that were bought with EU money would be unprecedented. ........... Turkish officials termed Russia’s invasion a “war,” a categorization that could lead Ankara to close down the Turkish straits to Russian warships, as Kyiv requested earlier this week. The 1936 Montreux Convention gives Turkey the right to bar “belligerent states” from using the Dardanelles and the Bosporus during wartime but provides an exception for Black Sea vessels to return to port. ............... Japan joined the United States and European nations in cutting key Russian banks from the SWIFT international financial banking system. Japan will also freeze assets of Putin and other top Russian officials, while sending $100 million in emergency humanitarian aid to Ukraine ............ Catholic and Orthodox religious leaders, meanwhile, prayed Sunday for peace, voiced solidarity with Ukrainians and denounced the Russian invasion. ......... “Those who make war forget humanity,” Francis said, adding that such a mentality “relies on the diabolical and perverse logic of weapons, which is the farthest thing from God’s will.” ....... the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople described Russia’s invasion as “beyond every sense of law and morality” and pleaded for an end to the war. ....... Patriarch Bartholomew is considered the spiritual leader and first among equals of Eastern Orthodox Christians worldwide. He granted the independence of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which severed it in 2019 from the Russian church to which it had been tied since 1686. The Russian Orthodox Church severed relations with him as result.

Finland, Sweden brush off Moscow’s warning on joining NATO . Finland has a 1,340-kilometer (830-mile) land border with Russia — the longest border shared by any European Union member state and Russia. ....... “I want to be extremely clear. It is Sweden that itself and independently decides on our security policy line” .......... Though not members, Finland and Sweden closely cooperate with NATO, allowing, among other things, the alliance’s troops to exercise on their soil. Helsinki and Stockholm have also substantially intensified their bilateral defense cooperation in the past years, and secured close military cooperation with the United States, Britain and neighboring NATO member Norway.

Putin waves nuclear sword in confrontation with the West . It has been a long time since the threat of using nuclear weapons has been brandished so openly by a world leader, but Vladimir Putin has just done it, warning in a speech that he has the weapons available if anyone dares to use military means to try to stop Russia’s takeover of Ukraine. ........ “Moreover, it has a certain advantage in several cutting-edge weapons. In this context, there should be no doubt for anyone that any potential aggressor will face defeat and ominous consequences should it directly attack our country.” ......... no country has used nuclear weapons since 1945, when President Harry Truman dropped bombs on Japan in the belief that it was the surest way to end World War II quickly ....... It did, but at a loss of about 200,000 mostly civilian lives in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Around the world, even today, many regard that as a crime against humanity and question if it was worth it. ......... When former U.S. President Donald Trump made an implicit threat to use nuclear weapons against North Korea in August 2017, many were shocked. ..... “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Trump told reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” ........ “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Trump told reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”.......... the United States would not take on the Russians militarily over Ukraine, and instead rely on extraordinary sanctions to gradually strangle the Russian economy. ......... Putin talks repeatedly about the humiliation of Russia after the Soviet collapse. By waving his nuclear sword, he echoed the bluster with which the Soviet Union had stared down the United States and earned, in his mind, respect. ....... Putin’s language touches a raw nerve in the Pentagon because it highlights a longstanding concern that he might be willing to use nuclear weapons in Europe preemptively in a crisis. ........ Washington has tried for years, without success, to persuade Moscow to negotiate limits on so-called tactical nuclear weapons -– those of shorter range that could be used in a regional war. Russia has a large numerical advantage in that weaponry, and some officials say the gap is growing.

Anti-war sentiment grows in Russia despite govt crackdown . Street protests, albeit small, resumed in the Russian capital of Moscow, the second-largest city of St. Petersburg and other Russian cities for the third straight day, with people taking to the streets despite mass detentions on Thursday and Friday. According to OVD-Info, rights group that tracks political arrests, at least 460 people in 34 cities were detained over anti-war protests on Saturday, including over 200 in Moscow. ......... Open letters condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine kept pouring, too. More than 6,000 medical workers put their names under one on Saturday; over 3,400 architects and engineers endorsed another while 500 teachers signed a third one. Similar letters by journalists, municipal council members, cultural figures and other professional groups have been making the rounds since Thursday. .......... A prominent contemporary art museum in Moscow called Garage announced Saturday it was halting its work on exhibitions and postponing them “until the human and political tragedy that is unfolding in Ukraine has ceased.” ........... An online petition to stop the attack on Ukraine, launched shortly after it started on Thursday morning, garnered

over 780,000 signatures

by Saturday evening, making it one of the most supported online petitions in Russia in recent years. ......... Statements decrying the invasion even came from some parliament members ........ His fellow lawmaker Mikhail Matveyev said “the war must be immediately stopped” and that he voted for “Russia becoming a shield against the bombing of Donbas, not for the bombing of Kyiv.” .......... Moscow may respond to Western sanctions by opting out of the last nuclear arms deal with the U.S., cutting diplomatic ties with Western nations and freezing their assets. .......... The Western sanctions imposed new tight restrictions on Russian financial operations, a draconian ban on technology exports to Russia and froze the assets of Putin and his foreign minister. Russian membership in the Council of Europe was also suspended. ........... even tougher sanctions are possible, including kicking Russia out of SWIFT, the dominant system for global financial transactions. .......... Medvedev noted that the sanctions offer the Kremlin a pretext to completely review its ties with the West, suggesting that Russia could opt out of the New START nuclear arms control treaty that limits the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals. ......... Medvedev also raised the prospect of cutting diplomatic ties with Western countries, charging that “there is no particular need in maintaining diplomatic relations.” Referring to Western threats to freeze the assets of Russian companies and individuals, Medvedev warned that Moscow wouldn’t hesitate to do the same. ........... On Saturday, Russian internet users reported problems with accessing Facebook and Twitter, both of which have played a major role in amplifying dissent in Russia in recent years.

More countries ban Russian flights from their airspace.
Two of Russia's billionaires call for peace in Ukraine . Two Russian billionaires, Mikhail Fridman and Oleg Deripaska, called for an end to the conflict triggered by President Vladimir Putin's assault on Ukraine, with Fridman calling it a tragedy for both countries' people. Billionaire Fridman, who was born in western Ukraine, told staff in a letter that the conflict was driving a wedge between the two eastern Slav peoples of Russia and Ukraine who have been brothers for centuries. .......... "I was born in Western Ukraine and lived there until I was 17. My parents are Ukrainian citizens and live in Lviv, my favourite city," Fridman wrote in the letter, excerpts of which Reuters saw. "But I have also spent much of my life as a citizen of Russia, building and growing businesses. I am deeply attached to the Ukrainian and Russian peoples and see the current conflict as a tragedy for them both." ........ Russian billionaire, Oleg Deripaska, used a post on Telegram to called for peace talks to begin "as fast as possible"...... On Feb. 21, Deripaska said there would not be a war. ........ Russia's so-called oligarchs, who once exercised significant influence over President Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s, are facing economic chaos after the West imposed severe sanctions on Russia over Putin's invasion of Ukraine. ........... The Ukrainian president's office said negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow would be held at the Belarusian-Ukrainian border. ......... One of Fridman's long-term partners, Pyotr Aven, attended a meeting at the Kremlin with Putin and 36 other major Russian businessmen last week, the Kremlin said. ...... Another Moscow billionaire told Reuters on condition of anonymity that the war was going to be a catastrophe. "It is going to be catastrophic in all senses: for the economy, for relations with the rest of the world, for the political situation," the billionaire said. The billionaires who gathered for a meeting with Putin in the Kremlin on Thursday were silent, he said. "Businessmen understand very well the consequences. But who is asking the opinion of business about this?"

The Relationship Between BPD Disassociation and Gaslighting How memory gaps may affect relationships and people with borderline. ......... Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse where efforts are made to make someone feel crazy for believing what is true. When successful, this undermines a person’s self-confidence and weakens their ability to function, making them more vulnerable to manipulation and control by others. ........ Gaslighting is by no means unique to individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD), but certain symptoms make it more likely for people with BPD to feel gaslighted by others and create circumstances where others feel gaslighted by them. ....... Many individuals who cope with symptoms of BPD experience periods where they become less aware of their surroundings while they become inwardly focused or non-focused. Dissociation is also common in other disorders, most notably posttraumatic stress disorder and dissociation disorder, where it is a primary symptom. ......... While experiencing these periods of reduced awareness of their environment, individuals miss events and conversations or parts of events or conversations, resulting in gaps in their recollections. Through the unconscious process of confabulation, they often fill in the gaps with things that might have happened or were said, resulting in a distorted memory of events. When discussing these events with others present, there is often disagreement about the details, resulting in conflict. .......... but she also copes with paranoia, another symptom of BPD. It causes her to choose the most malignant explanation when in doubt. ........ A core symptom of BPD is a pattern of unstable relationships associated with alternating between idealization and devaluation. ........ the dissociation, a symptom of BPD, set up the gaslighting. Once this spark is ignited, other symptoms of BPD make the experience and the relationship worse. BPD is a perfect storm for introducing gaslighting into relationships. ........ Unfortunately, many individuals with symptoms of BPD do not acknowledge these symptoms as this makes them feel flawed. This adds to the tendency to see other people gaslighting them and makes them generally untrusting. ...... To avoid gaslighting, it is suggested that you not challenge accusations based on gaps. A better outcome will be achieved if you validate their feeling. You should never validate an untrue fact, but you can validate the feeling.

Pentagon wants Moscow back channels to prevent nuclear escalation As the U.S. and NATO rush weapons into Ukraine, DoD officials want more military channels to Putin’s top leaders. But Russia’s not picking up the phone. ........ When Gen. Mark Milley emerged from six hours of tense talks with his Russian counterpart in Helsinki last September, the Joint Chiefs chair looked almost buoyant. Or at least as chipper as the gruff soldier of more than 40 years ever gets in public. “When military leaders of great powers communicate, the world is a safer place,” Milley said, striking an optimistic tone. ............ Putin ordered his nuclear forces on high alert after a series of what he called “aggressive statements” by NATO powers. .......... But with the U.S. and other NATO militaries resupplying Ukrainian forces, that demarcation seems fuzzy at best. Western powers, while committed to not putting troops into direct conflict with Russia’s invading army, have been overt in recent days about backing Ukraine’s war effort. And with two nuclear powers just a border away from a potential shooting war, the potential for conflict is real — as is the necessity for a de-escalation process, say officials. .......... Current and former officials and experts said the links at the highest levels of the U.S. and Russian military commands are proving increasingly important as the fighting in and around Ukraine expands and as the world’s two largest nuclear powers have cut off most diplomatic engagements. ........ Putin has consistently accused the United States of stoking the conflict and pressuring Russia into a war as a pretext to cripple its economy, while President Joe Biden has labeled Russia’s assault on Ukraine as a “war of choice” without any justification. .......... the risk of direct confrontations between NATO forces and Russia is only growing as the conflict intensifies ....... The U.S. and its allies are stepping up air patrols along NATO’s eastern region and on Saturday announced a slew of new arms shipments for Ukrainian forces. ........ In a sign of growing concern these actions could escalate the conflict, the Pentagon on Saturday publicly pushed back on Russian claims that U.S. forces were assisting the Ukrainians in defending their territory on the Black Sea, where a flotilla of Russian warships carrying troops has opened another front. “Chalk this up to just one more lie by the Russian Ministry of Defense,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby tweeted. .........

There is deepening uncertainty about Putin’s ultimate intentions — particularly whether he intends to violate the territory of NATO members.

Any such incursion would trigger Article 5 of the NATO treaty that stipulates an attack on one is an attack on all. ..... “Beyond Ukraine, we see provocative Russian military activities near NATO’s borders stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea,” it said. That includes “irresponsible and aggressive nuclear rhetoric,” along with “military posturing.” ........ The Biden administration has also made it clear to Russia that it will not sit out the conflict if Russia attacks a NATO ally. ......... But the rhetoric out of Moscow has only grown more bombastic. “It’s time to padlock the embassies and continue contacts looking at each other through binoculars and gun sights,” said Dmitry Medvedev, the former Russian president who is now the deputy head of Russia’s security council, on Saturday. ..........

“There are lots of opportunities for things to escalate. It could get dicey.”

....... Only NATO and Russian military officials can effectively “deconflict” their forces in the region and ensure clear “signaling and intent,” Rusten added. “The military-to-military links are the most important.” ......... That leaves the generals and commanders close to the fight to avoid a larger war. ......... Washington and Moscow first set up a direct “hotline” in 1963 after the Cuban missile crisis, when the two sides came perilously close to nuclear war. (They only learned later how close to Armageddon that faulty intelligence and miscalculation had brought them.) ........... The hotline was originally in the form of a teletype, then a facsimile machine; it is now a secure email link located in the National Military Command Center, the 24-hour operations hub in the Pentagon. ......... A number of people cited the Russian separatists’ deadly shootdown of a commercial airliner over eastern Ukraine in 2014 as one example of how “the fog of war” could lead to a direct confrontation between NATO and Russian forces. ...... As for a nuclear miscalculation, that is seen as highly unlikely but not out of the question.

Cheney Rips Trump, Pompeo for 'Praising' Russian President: 'Putin Is Evil' . Trump controversially described Putin as a "genius" as the invasion of Ukraine commenced this past week. Pompeo in recent interviews described the Russian president as "savvy" and "talented," he also said he had "enormous respect" for Putin. ........ "As Russian forces invade Ukraine, Russian TV features Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo and Tucker Carlson praising Putin," Cheney tweeted. "Putin is evil. Every American watching what's happening in Ukraine should know that." ..... Meanwhile, Carlson drew backlash after he questioned why Americans should dislike Putin during his Fox News program on Tuesday. "It might be worth asking yourself, since it is getting pretty serious, 'What is this really about? Why do I hate Putin so much?' Has Putin ever called me a racist? Has he threatened to get me fired for disagreeing with him?'" he asked his viewers. ....... Carlson criticized Putin for moving forward with the invasion of Ukraine and launching a war. Putin "is to blame for what we're seeing tonight in Ukraine," he told his viewers on Thursday, warning the situation "could become a world war." ....... President Joe Biden knocked Trump's praise for Putin in an interview with Brian Tyler Cohen this week. "I put as much stock in Trump saying that Putin's a genius as I do when he called himself a stable genius," the president said.

Trump warns 'world war' could be next as Russia continues invasion in Ukraine Trump says Putin's multi-front invasion in Ukraine could lead to the next world war ....... Trump said "you never know how it starts, in a world war." ....... "You never think a war is going to come out of it," he continued. "All of a sudden, you end up in a world war." ...... Trump, reacting to the sanctions, told Fox News Digital: "They’re going to have to do more than just sanctions, I suspect." "But sanctions are not, you know, Putin—he understands how to avoid sanctions, and he goes through other countries," Trump told Fox News Digital. "He goes to China as an example." ......... Trump, though, said the sanctions "have to be strong, and they have to be swift, OK, to use a word, because that is a very powerful sanction, as you know, SWIFT." ...... Meanwhile, Trump told Fox News Digital that China has been emboldened by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in regard to its aspirations to take Taiwan. "I do. I think that China would do that anyway," he said. ........ But the former president pointed to the "way" the Biden administration withdrew U.S. troops and military assets from Afghanistan, calling it a "surrender." "Getting out was a good thing. I had it down to two thousand soldiers," Trump said ...... "We were going to get out with strength and dignity, but to take the soldiers, the great Army out first— we took our Army and Marines—we took them out first to do that and leave the Americans behind, leave other people behind, leave $85 billion worth of equipment behind." ........ "I really think that was the most embarrassing—one of the lowest points in the history of our country," Trump said. "And President Xi and Putin, they watched that, and I think they probably came up with ideas that they didn't have before seeing it, because it was grossly incompetent." ....... Trump was asked if the Russian invasion of Ukraine occurred under his administration, what he would do, but told Fox News Digital that he couldn’t say "right now." "Well, I tell you what, I would do things, but the last thing I want to do is say it right now, because if somebody asks me that is in a position where they can utilize whatever it is I give them," Trump said. "But I certainly wouldn't want to be talking about it on television or to the media too much." ......... He added: "But there are things you can do that would be very powerful." ........ Meanwhile, shifting to social media, Trump, who has been banned from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat and has launched a social media company of his own,


, was asked for reaction on Putin’s ability to use the platforms as he wages war. ........ Trump criticized social media companies for allowing "stone-cold murderers and thugs and dictators at a very dangerous level" on their platforms, but "the President of the United States and other people are not allowed to be on."

Trump calls the US a ‘stupid country’ and praises Putin as ‘smart’ in latest Ukraine comments Former president doubles down on praise of Putin even as Russia presses on with invasion