Showing posts with label ukraine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ukraine. Show all posts

Saturday, July 29, 2023

29: Ukraine

Interbrand launches 2023 Breakthrough Brands Report revealing the emerging brands disrupting the global market

Friday, June 30, 2023

30: Ukraine


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Monday, June 26, 2023

26: Prigozhin, Navalny, Putin

Putin looked into the abyss Saturday — and blinked . After vowing revenge for what he called an “armed mutiny,” he settled for a compromise. The speed with which Putin backed down suggests that his sense of vulnerability might be higher even than analysts believed. Putin might have saved his regime Saturday, but this day will be remembered as part of the unraveling of Russia as a great power — which will be Putin’s true legacy. ........ Putin’s deal with renegade militia leader Yevgeniy Prigozhin is likely to be a momentary truce, at best. The bombastic rebel will head for Belarus, in a deal brokered by his pal President Alexander Lukashenko, in exchange for Putin dropping charges against him and his mutinous soldiers .......... This was a real coup, until it wasn’t. For much of Saturday, Prigozhin was marching units of his 25,000-man Wagner militia toward the gates of Moscow, rolling through Russia’s Ukrainian command headquarters at Rostov-on-Don and north to Voronezh. Sources tell me the Russian FSB put up roadblocks along the way, to little effect. Putin called up the National Guard to defend Moscow. ........... As Putin said in a blood-curdling address Saturday, this was becoming a 1917 moment, when the nation was reeling from another misbegotten war and, in Putin’s words, “Russians were killing Russians, brothers killing brothers.” ........... as the Wagner forces moved north, the regular army neither followed nor hindered them. .......... This was like a game of chicken where both cars swerve in the end, or a duel where both fighters shoot in the air, to fight another day. ......... Putin had only bad choices, and he knew it. Chechen forces commanded by Ramzan Kadyrov would have been the vanguard of his attack on Wagner in Rostov; that would have been a savage mess. Putin couldn’t be sure whether regular army units would obey his orders. He was walking into a situation he couldn’t control. Putin doesn’t do that — with the exception of his insane miscalculation invading Ukraine. ........... With his ice-blue eyes, he embodies the phrase “never let them see you sweat.” He lets others feud beneath him, refusing to intervene over the past year as Prigozhin lobbed almost daily insults at Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Putin acts as if it’s beneath him to dirty his hands in such petty quarrels........... Now as then, he said, the enemy was external. “Against us, the whole military, economical and information machines of the West are turned,” he said. That toxic mixture of Russian insecurity and national pride continues to be Putin’s fuel as a leader........... What comes next, surely, is more trouble for Putin in Ukraine. Prigozhin told the truth flat out in the days before his march on Moscow. Ukraine didn’t threaten Russia, and Russia’s invasion was unnecessary — a mistake of epic proportions. Even Putin, the ice man, can’t freeze the burning truth of his Ukraine disaster.

Alexei Navalny: This is what a post-Putin Russia should look like The strategy should be to ensure that Russia and its government naturally, without coercion, do not want to start wars and do not find them attractive. This is undoubtedly possible. Right now the urge for aggression is coming from a minority in Russian society. ......... the problem with the West’s current tactics lies not just in the vagueness of their aim, but in the fact that they ignore the question: What does Russia look like after the tactical goals have been achieved? Even if success is achieved, where is the guarantee that the world will not find itself confronting an even more aggressive regime, tormented by resentment and imperial ideas that have little to do with reality? With a sanctions-stricken but still big economy in a state of permanent military mobilization? And with nuclear weapons that guarantee impunity for all manner of international provocations and adventures? ........ It is easy to predict that even in the case of a painful military defeat, Putin will still declare that he lost not to Ukraine but to the “collective West and NATO,” whose aggression was unleashed to destroy Russia. .......... he will vow to create an army so strong and weapons of such unprecedented power that the West will rue the day it defied us, and the honor of our great ancestors will be avenged. ......... And then we will see a fresh cycle of hybrid warfare and provocations, eventually escalating into new wars. ........... Russia must cease to be an instigator of aggression and instability. That is possible, and that is what should be seen as a strategic victory in this war.......... First, jealousy of Ukraine and its possible successes is an innate feature of post-Soviet power in Russia; it was also characteristic of the first Russian president, Boris Yeltsin. But since the beginning of Putin’s rule, and especially after the Orange Revolution that began in 2004, hatred of Ukraine’s European choice, and the desire to turn it into a failed state, have become a lasting obsession not only for Putin but also for all politicians of his generation. ........... Control over Ukraine is the most important article of faith for all Russians with imperial views, from officials to ordinary people. In their opinion, Russia combined with a subordinate Ukraine amounts to a “reborn U.S.S.R. and empire.” Without Ukraine, in this view, Russia is just a country with no chance of world domination. Everything that Ukraine acquires is something taken away from Russia............ Second, the view of war not as a catastrophe but as an amazing means of solving all problems is not just a philosophy of Putin’s top brass, but a practice confirmed by life and evolution. Since the Second Chechen War, which made the little-known Putin the country’s most popular politician, through the war in Georgia, the annexation of Crimea, the war in Donbas and the war in Syria, the Russian elite over the past 23 years has learned rules that have never failed: War is not that expensive, it solves all domestic political problems, it raises public approval sky-high, it does not particularly harm the economy, and — most importantly — winners face no accountability. Sooner or later, one of the constantly changing Western leaders will come to us to negotiate. It does not matter what motives will lead him — the will of the voters or the desire to receive the Nobel Peace Prize — but if you show proper persistence and determination, the West will come to make peace. ................ there are many in the United States, Britain and other Western countries in politics who have been defeated and lost ground due to their support for one war or another.

In Russia, there is simply no such thing.

Here, war is always about profit and success. ........... The elites simply know from experience that war works — better than anything else. ............ The war raises Putin’s approval rating by super-mobilizing the imperially minded part of society. The news agenda is fully consumed by the war; internal problems recede into the background: “Hurray, we’re back in the game, we are great, they’re reckoning with us!” Yet the aggressive imperialists do not have absolute dominance. They do not make up a solid majority of voters, and even they still require a steady supply of propaganda to sustain their beliefs....... (Several people were “drafted to the front” directly from the penal colony where I am.)........

(Several people were “drafted to the front” directly from the penal colony where I am.)

Wagner leader Prigozhin will move to Belarus following the mercenary group's uprising against Putin, Kremlin spokesman says The reported agreement comes after a paramilitary rebellion on Saturday in which the Wagner Group marched across Russia before suddenly turning around just 120 miles from Moscow. Prigozhin said he didn't want to shed Russian blood. ........ Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko, a close Putin ally who has also long known Prigozhin, spent all day Saturday negotiating with Prigozhin ........ "The war wasn't needed to return Russian citizens to our bosom, nor to demilitarize or denazify Ukraine," Prigozhin said. "The war was needed so that a bunch of animals could simply exult in glory."

Narendra Modi Is Not Who America Thinks He Is Of the 180 nations surveyed in the 2023 World Press Freedom Index, India sits at 161, a scant three places above Russia. Its position on the Academic Freedom Index has nose-dived since Mr. Modi took office, putting it on a course that sharply resembles those of other electoral autocracies. The Freedom in the World index has tracked a steady erosion of Indian citizens’ political rights and civil liberties. On the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index, India has tumbled squarely into the ranks of “flawed democracies.” ........ the government systematically harasses its critics by raiding the offices of think tanks, NGOs and media organizations, restricting freedom of entry and exit, and pressing nuisance lawsuits — most conspicuously against the opposition leader Rahul Gandhi, who was recently ejected from Parliament after his conviction on a ludicrous charge of having defamed everybody named “Modi.” It is no “perception” that Muslim history has been torn from national textbooks, cities with Islamic eponyms renamed and India’s only Muslim-majority state, Jammu and Kashmir, stripped of its autonomy. ........... The share of women in the formal work force stands at around a paltry 20 percent and has shrunk during Mr. Modi’s tenure. The share of wealth held by the top 1 percent has grown since he took office and is now 40.5 percent, thanks to crony capitalism resembling the Russian oligarchy’s. ........ In Edison, N.J., marchers in the annual India Day parade last August drove a wheel loader, which resembles a bulldozer, bedecked with images of Mr. Modi and a far-right Indian government minister who has ordered the razing of Muslims’ homes and businesses, rendering such vehicles symbols of hate as provocative as a noose or a burning cross at a Klan rally. ........... Across America there are now more than 200 chapters of the overseas arm of India’s fascist-inspired Hindu nationalist paramilitary organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or R.S.S., of which Mr. Modi is a longtime associate. .......... Healthier ways to engage with India begin with understanding that Mr. Modi’s version of India is no less skewed than Donald Trump’s of the United States

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Inside Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Money-Making Machine The man who led a rebellion against President Vladimir Putin built a multinational commercial enterprise that helped fund his military operations. ...... experts expect the Kremlin to squeeze the man who launched the biggest challenge to Mr. Putin’s authority in his 23 years in power ....... Europe and the United States have been trying to shut down Prigozhin’s sprawling business operations for years. On the F.B.I.’s most wanted list, Mr. Prigozhin rose quickly in Putin’s Russia — from being the president’s favored caterer to winning major contracts that bankrolled Wagner Group, his private mercenary operation. Founded in 2014, Wagner fights wars and trains militias in politically restive countries, and it has been Mr. Putin’s go-to force when military campaigns go awry, such as in Syria and Ukraine. And Wagner’s internet troll farms target Western democracies and elections, including the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. ....... Wagner is a “brutal” transnational criminal organization, according to the Treasury Department. Evro Polis, a Prigozhin-linked company, that won energy concessions in Syria in return for military support. In Sudan and the Central African Republic, Wagner has muscled in on mining operations to help bankroll its operations. ......... To avoid sanctions and conceal its finances, Wagner often demands payment in gold, diamonds and shipments of oil and gas. The Financial Times estimated that between 2018 and 2021, revenues from Wagner’s holdings in natural resources were roughly $250 million. ............

Mr. Prigozhin also relies on a global network of corporate lawyers to fend off Western authorities

.......... “Unless he can show he’s so brutal that everyone needs to deal with him, this is the beginning of the end. Recovery will require a huge crackdown” ......... “This might be another demonstration of dysfunctionality, but he’s very good at finding a way to adapt and survive. His major talent is staying in power.”

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Wednesday, June 21, 2023

21: Ukraine

Trump Seems to Be Afraid, Very Afraid That was the big revelation of his interview with Fox’s Bret Baier. .

China hits out at US after Joe Biden calls Xi Jinping a ‘dictator’
Ukraine war: Zelensky admits slow progress but says offensive is not a movie Mr Zelensky said the military push was not going easily because 200,000 sq km (77,220 sq miles) of Ukrainian territory had been mined by Russian forces...... Ukraine's economy shrank by 29.2% in 2022 and earlier this year the World Bank estimated the cost of reconstruction and recovery at $411bn (£339bn). ....... he made clear that "victories on the battlefield are necessary" and that Ukraine would never sit down, whoever was president in Moscow, if Russia remained on Ukraine's territory........ "No matter how far we advance in our counter-offensive, we will not agree to a frozen conflict because that is war, that is a prospectless development for Ukraine." ...... Russia announced a few days ago that it had moved tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus and

President Joe Biden has warned that the threat of Vladimir Putin using them is real.

.......... "He will talk about the use of nuclear weapons, I don't think he is ready to do it because he is scared for his life, he loves it a lot. But there is no way I could say for sure, especially about a person with no ties to reality, who in the 21st Century, launched a full-scale war against their neighbour." ........ "It's like he doesn't fully understand his words. Apologies, but it's like he is the second king of antisemitism after Hitler. ........... "This is a president speaking. A civilised world cannot speak that way. But it was important for me to hear the reaction of the world and I am grateful for the support."

US-China tensions: Biden calls Xi a dictator a day after Beijing talks China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning called Mr Biden's remarks "extremely absurd and irresponsible". Speaking at a regularly scheduled press conference on Wednesday, she said that the comments were "an open political provocation" that violated diplomatic etiquette. ........ Mr Xi said some progress had been made in Beijing, while Mr Blinken indicated both sides were open to more talks. Major differences, however, remain between the two countries. Relations have plummeted in the wake of a Trump-era trade war, Beijing's assertive claims over Taiwan and the shooting down of the alleged spy balloon.

Could Russia really play nuclear roulette in Ukraine? "I worry about Putin using tactical nuclear weapons," the US president said this week. He believes the danger is "real". ......... In order to "break the West's will", Russia "will have to make nuclear deterrence a convincing argument again by lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons". ........... "The enemy must know that we are ready to deliver a pre-emptive strike in retaliation for all of its current and past acts of aggression in order to prevent a slide into global thermonuclear war. ........... "But what if they do not back down? In this case, we will have to hit a bunch of targets in a number of countries in order to bring those who have lost their mind to reason." ....... President Putin has confirmed that Russia has already stationed a first batch of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, a move the Russian leader says is designed to remind anyone "thinking of inflicting a strategic defeat on us". .......... arguing the pluses of a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the West? That's a whole new level. ........... Penned by another group of Moscow-based foreign and defence policy experts, the Kommersant article explains why they believe Sergei Karaganov has got it wrong. Dangerously wrong. ......... Mr Karaganov's proposal for a pre-emptive nuclear strike was so shocking that other Russian academics felt they just couldn't stay silent............ Or it may be that this whole debate is designed to grab the West's attention, to make President Putin look like good cop to Mr Karaganov's bad cop. After all, the Kremlin leader himself hasn't called for a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the West. And so - the argument goes - better sit down and make peace with him, before hardliner Karaganovites win the day and press the nuclear button.

8 ChatGPT Prompts To Finish Hours Of Work In Seconds

Russia Sends Out Dire Ukraine Warning as Preparations Made to Evacuate—Kyiv .Ukraine's armed forces have said Russian occupiers in a city in the southern Kherson region are telling locals where to evacuate in the event of a breakthrough by Kyiv.

AMERICA IS DANGEROUSLY LONELY. The film follows the perfectly named Theodore Twombley (played by Joaquin Phoenix), a sad-sack introvert with a submerged streak of narcissism, as he falls in love with an A.I. named Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), who begins as his personal assistant, becomes his friend and muse, turns into his lover and companion and then — well, I don’t want to ruin it. .......

These systems are going to upend our relationships long before they remake our economies.

The magic of large language models is that they can talk about anything, in the style of anyone, for as long as you might want to converse with them. The problem is that they make things up. ........ You can already procure an A.I. companion, complete with a sexy avatar, from Replika. Inflection AI just released Pi, a chatbot designed for emotional support and connection. This isn’t coming; it’s here......... this technology will come in a particular context: America is lonely. ......... “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation.” From 1990 to 2021, the number of Americans who said they have five or more close friends fell by 25 percentage points. Young adults report being even lonelier than the elderly. America is, by any historical standard, unimaginably rich and powerful, and yet we’ve lost what matters most: community and connection. ........... We worry about 12-year-olds today because they don’t see enough of their friends in person. ............ “Her” ends abruptly, in a reverse deus ex machina. The A.I.s leave us behind to form a community with one another.

China hits back after Biden calls Xi a 'dictator' Biden also said Tuesday China "has real economic difficulties". ........ Biden as president has previously referred to China as "essentially" a dictatorship and "a place for the autocrat, the dictator," while saying no other world leader wants to be Xi. But Tuesday's remarks were some of his most direct on how he sees the Chinese leader. ......... China's previous explanation that the passage of the balloon through U.S. airspace had been unintended and caused by circumstances beyond its control. ........... "And the Chinese will not want to blow this out of proportion, ruining the prospect of a process leading to Xi’s bilateral summit with Biden in November." ...... Xi told Biden during a November 2022 meeting that China has "Chinese-style democracy" ......... Biden said later on Tuesday that U.S. climate envoy John Kerry may go to China soon. ........... Other world leaders seemed reluctant to get involved. Asked repeatedly about the situation, the spokesperson of German chancellor Olaf Scholz said only: "The Federal Government has taken note of the American President's statement." .