Link back to the discussion thread.
- Two or three rate hikes this year appropriate, says policymaker in the European Central Bank. src
“I think it would be appropriate to take at least two or even three steps. These could be smaller ones, i.e. 0.25 percentage points each. If this were to happen by December, it would have the effect that by 2023 the deposit rates for banks, which are now minus 0.5 percent, would be in positive territory,”
Ukraine hopes to boost export capacity by 50% in coming months src
Adidas reports nearly 40% drop in profits. Here’s why src
The company said the decline was caused by a “challenging market environment” in China, where sales fell 35%, as well as supply chain disruptions.
- Germany’s Military Industry Gears Up to Restock Its Own Forces src
After decades of budget cuts, the German military is woefully short of basic supplies, whether they’re bullets or backpacks. But galvanized by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz has pledged to spend 100 billion euros, or $105 billion, to modernize the force, nearly tripling military spending from the previous year.
As impressive as that sum sounds, it will not be enough for Germany to make up for years of inadequate spending, according to the Ifo Institute, an economics research organization in Munich. To meet its North Atlantic Treaty Organization quota in the long term, Germany must commit another €25 billion a year, Ifo economists said in a recent report.
Russia publishes list of ‘parallel imports’ goods. This was also discussed in the megathread 2 days ago. src
Russia’s Sovcomflot says it plans to sell part of its fleet src
Sovcomflot said the “rumours” about the sell-off of a third of its fleet were “exaggerated”.
- RT: Mystery of the rising ruble revealed src
Kopylov explained that the strengthening of the ruble is due to the fact that it is now based purely on exports and imports, and its value is determined by its purchasing power parity (PPP). The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated the Russian currency’s PPP at the end of 2021 at 29.127 rubles per one dollar. According to the Big Mac Index, that rate stood at 23.24 rubles to the dollar.
“Expert assessment shows that under these conditions, the ruble may strengthen to the level of 45-to-50 rubles per one US dollar if there is no adjustment in monetary policy,” Kopylov concludes.
- Inflation in Estonia has accelerated to 18.8%, electricity for household consumers has risen in price by 119%, heat by 57.7%, and gas by 237.2%, according to the Estonian Statistics Department.
Asia and Oceania
India to reopen abandoned coal mines as heatwave hits supply src
Russia Boosts Crude Sales To India’s Top Refiner src
Inflation Reaches Over 9 Percent in Laos src
Laos to Seek Oil From Russia src
Cambodia benefits immensely from China’s BRI projects src
“These projects have provided and will continue to provide a lot of tangible benefits to the economy and people of Cambodia,” Vasim Sorya, undersecretary of state and spokesman for the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, told Xinhua.
“The BRI projects here are sincere with no strings attached, and their aim is to help boost our socio-economic development and improve our people’s livelihoods,” he said.
- China debt: is Beijing using a ‘shadow stimulus’ to shore up flagging economic growth? src
As China doubles down on its drive to eliminate the coronavirus, it is increasingly relying on local governments to shore up growth amid deteriorating financing conditions for regional economies.
“That’s precisely the question that we – and Beijing – are struggling with. So far, they’ve been toughing it out by not providing a big stimulus,” he said.
Collier said a shadow stimulus meant the central government could avoid increasing debt, while allowing the central bank and state banks to keep their balance sheets clean.
- Decline in housing prices in Iran to continue in next 2 years src
- South Africa launches world’s biggest hydrogen-fuelled truck. We discussed hydrogen energy and how it’s generally a scam in the last megathread. This one at least uses solar power and seems plausible. src
“What we are launching is not merely an impressive piece of machinery, it is the genesis of an entire ecosystem powered by hydrogen,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said at the launch on Friday.
It will use solar power to provide the fuel, using the energy to split water into its component atoms of hydrogen and oxygen.
“Over the next several years, we envisage converting or replacing our current fleet of diesel-powered trucks with this zero-emission haulage system, fuelled with green hydrogen,” chief executive Duncan Wanblad said.
“If this pilot is successful, we could remove up to 80 percent of diesel emissions at our open-pit mines by rolling this technology across our global fleet.”
- Why US politicians are trying to break the world’s oil cartel now src
A US Senate committee on Thursday passed a bill that could expose the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its partners – most prominently Russia — to lawsuits for collusion on boosting oil prices. The vote took place just hours after the cartel and its allies rebuffed the West once again and stuck to plans for a moderate modest ramp up in production.
The bipartisan bill, the “No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act of 2021” or “NOPEC,” would strip OPEC and its national oil companies from sovereign immunity that has protected them from lawsuits for decades. This means that oil states would no longer be immune from the jurisdiction of US courts if they breach terms of the bill if it turns into law.
Man, Saudi Arabia doesn’t return your calls ONCE and suddenly they’re dictators running a cartel again.
- The Fed could have trouble avoiding a double-dip recession src
The Federal Reserve finally seems prepared to whip inflation. The last time the Fed faced surging prices like this, it jacked up interest rates and the US economy endured multiple slowdowns. Do Americans need to fear a repeat of the early 1980s?
- Amazon Fires Managers at Recently Unionized Warehouse src
“If you can’t fire your recently unionized warehouse staff for unionizing, then I guess you fire the warehouse managers for failing to stop the unionization instead.”
- Russia is still sliding towards a bond default in the coming weeks. It’s up to the US Treasury whether it actually happens. src
Up until now, Western bondholders have only been allowed to receive sovereign bond payments from Russia because of a special rule put in place by the US Treasury in late February.
The exemption — officially called General License 9A — “authorizes US persons to receive interest, dividend, or maturity payments on debt or equity” of the Russian government. It has allowed money to squeak out of Russia, despite the increasingly thick layer of sanctions suffocating the country’s financial system.
The problem for Moscow is that the exemption runs out on May 25. That’s two days before it must send investors $71 million in coupon payments on a dollar bond, and 36 million euros ($38 million) on a euro bond.
- James Galbraith: The Dollar System in a Multi-Polar World src
… let’s assume that the end of the world does not happen, and that relative restraint prevails until the fighting dies away in Ukraine. It appears that the next turn of the global financial screw will occur in Europe, most notably in Germany, as the implications of high energy prices and perpetually short supplies become clear. Germany’s competitiveness is tied to Russian resources and Chinese markets; its politics and financial links are with the Atlantic alliance. Though stranger things have been known, it is hard to believe that Germany would permanently subordinate itsindustry, technology, commerce, and general welfare to Washington and Wall Street, even for the sake of the high principles now being so eloquently stated by her politicians and press.
… while the dollar/euro-based global financial order is unlikely to fall immediately or in a single cataclysm, it seems plausible that it will lose exclusive hold over at least one more major participant and her economic satellites – perhaps sooner rather than later.
- Oil Profits Soar, but the Industry’s Path Forward Remains Uncertain src
The war in Ukraine has been good for oil companies. Look no further than Shell’s first quarter earnings. It made record profits in the first three months of the year: $9.1 billion, nearly three times what it made in the first quarter of 2021. … So what do these upbeat earnings mean for our future on a climate-changed planet?
History moves in a jagged line. This time last year, Big Oil was under unusual pressure. A court in the Netherlands, where Shell was based, told Shell to sharply cut greenhouse gas emissions from all its global operations by 2030 — in effect, to change its core business — on climate grounds. (Shell said it would fight the ruling. It has since moved its headquarters from the Netherlands to Britain.)
Big Oil’s future is still uncertain. Two things can be true at the same time. That’s how the world works.
Oil companies aren’t rushing to drill for more oil. Not quite yet. They’re cautious, as my colleague Clifford Krauss wrote recently. They fear prices won’t remain high for long enough for them to justify opening new wells. Many investors are instead opting to put their money on clean energy. Exxon isn’t planning on changing its drilling strategy, as Cliff explained, based on what it said was “high short term demand.”
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission is poised to release new rules compelling companies to release more data about their climate plans.
There’s still mounting pressure on Big Oil. … In the past couple of weeks, amid news of oil company profits, came renewed calls for extra levies. “Anyone wondering why US and Europe don’t tax windfall profits?” Robert Reich, a former U.S. secretary of labor, wrote on Twitter.
So that’s the pressure? We’ve got the US asking oil companies to please give us more information about how they’re causing the next mass extinction, if they don’t mind, sir - and tweets?
- Oil Product Tankers Outperform Crude Tankers src
As U.S. diesel prices soar, U.S. exports continue to rise significantly on skyrocketing demand, refined oil product tankers are now outperforming crude tankers, which continue to operate below their break even point, according to FreightWaves.
Ukraine’s wheat harvest may fall by 35%, raising fears of global shortage src
Nearly 25 million tons of grain are stuck in Ukraine, and the UN says it doesn’t know when it can be accessed src
World food prices fall 0.8% from record high over Ukraine war src
Globalization Isn’t Dead, It’s Just Not American Anymore src
Diplomatically and Politically
Involving Ukraine or Russia
Turns out that Putin did not in fact offer an apology to Israel, as RT reported, but they did have a conversation and the parts of the conversation that RT mentioned were said, so I’m assuming that the apology was implied? idk. src
DPR, LPR Designate Ambassadors to Russian Federation src
LPR is renaming Lugansk to Voroshilovgrad, which is what it was called from 1970-1990.
Zelenskyy says Russia hasn’t burned all its bridges with Ukraine yet as he details his demands for a peace deal. Oh, Zelensky, come down from the mountain and give us your demands! Perhaps we can end this war once and for all! src
Zelenskyy said Russian forces would have to retreat to where they were before Russia launched its invasion in order for him to accept a peace deal, the Ukrainian president said during a conversation with UK think tank Chatham House on Friday.
Ah, nevermind then.
Masterminds behind terror attacks on Transnistria fail to sow panic, says the republic’s head src
G7 leaders to hold video conference with Zelensky on Sunday src
Russian-linked forces ‘tortured’ and ‘executed’ civilians in Central African Republic since 2019, HRW says src
Serbia will not join NATO, might restore conscription, says president Vucic src
Posters in Moscow accuse famous Swedes of backing Nazism src
Outside the Swedish embassy two posters affixed to a bus stop featured photographs of Swedish King Gustaf V, writer Astrid Lindgren, film director Ingmar Bergman, and IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad with the message: “We are against Nazism, they are not”.
‘This Russia is totalitarian, it’s nationalistic, it’s imperial’, warns Poland’s PM src
Poll reveals Austrians’ stance on joining NATO - 75% oppose the idea of joining src
Ukraine war raises hard questions for Switzerland’s neutrality src
For decades, neutrality has enjoyed almost universal support among the Swiss - opinion polls have shown approval ratings of well over 90%. But now, says Mr Haefliger, the Swiss are soul-searching. “They ask themselves how can you stay neutral in a war like Ukraine? It’s so clear who is the good guy and who is the bad guy.”
Britons flee to seek ‘cheaper’ life abroad: Interest in emigration is up by 1,000% as UK taxes and prices rise, lawyers and financial advisers told the media src
Germany banned the demonstration of Ukrainian flags and Russian flags on May 9th.
Asia and Oceania
West uses Ukraine as “cannon fodder” to weaken Russia, says China’s vice foreign minister. src
China to ban minors from tipping livestreamers, watching after 10 p.m. src.
China Orders Government, State Firms to Dump Foreign PCs src
Staff were asked after the week-long May break to turn in foreign PCs for local alternatives that run on operating software developed domestically, people familiar with the plan said. The exercise, which was mandated by central government authorities, is likely to eventually replace at least 50 million PCs on a central-government level alone, they said, asking to remain anonymous discussing a sensitive matter.
- Chinese Children Will Now Learn to Farm and Cook at School src
The country’s top education authority has ordered all primary and secondary schools to set up compulsory “labor” courses under a newly revised national curriculum, domestic media Guangming Daily reported Thursday. Starting September, students will take at least one such class every week.
- State of emergency declared in Sri Lanka as strike halts country src
Sri Lanka’s president has declared a state of emergency for the second time in five weeks, giving security forces sweeping powers as a nationwide strike by angry demonstrators crippled the country.
- Filipino inquiry finds big polluters ‘morally and legally liable’ for climate damage src
It concluded that the world’s most polluting companies are morally and legally liable for the impacts of the climate crisis because they have engaged in wilful obfuscation of climate science and obstructed efforts towards a global transition to clean energy.
- China installing former security chief as Hong Kong leader src
China is installing a career security official as the new leader of Hong Kong in the culmination of a sweeping political transformation that has gutted any opposition in the Asian financial center and placed it ever more firmly under Beijing’s control.
Australia seeks friendship with Solomons despite China pact src
Washington’s Indo-Pacific “Allies” Refuse to Host US Missiles src
- Why Erdogan is in a Rush for Peace with Saudi Arabia? src
Facing the increasing problems and realizing that Turkish economy is not ready for the ambitious previously held by the Turkish leader, Erdoğan took the course towards reconciliation with some of his regional opponents, using said rapprochement to support his lately declining ratings inside and outside the country.
That is why it doesn’t come as a surprise that before his visit to Riyadh Erdoğan began talking about his hope to start a new era in the bilateral relations, strengthening collaboration in defense and finances. The last aspect has been highlighted by many analysists especially given the prolonged economic crisis in Turkey with record levels of inflation and significant decrease of the national currency.
- Syria ready to provide assistance to Donbass republics, envoy says src
South Africa: 50% more cases of Covid reported in 24 hours src
Congo: First round of legislative elections set for July 10 src
Rescuers look for victims at Cuba hotel after blast kills 22 src
Ex-spies and diplomats say the Biden administration needs to ‘shut-up’ after NYT report about US intelligence helping Ukraine kill Russian generals src. Also: - US intelligence told to keep quiet over role in Ukraine military triumphs src
Former US officials and diplomats in recent days have sharply criticized the Biden administration over a New York Times report based on conversations with senior officials that said US intelligence was helping Ukraine kill Russian generals. “Shut up about it,” John Sipher, a former CIA officer who served in Russia, said in a tweet on the Times report.
U.S. lawmakers to open chips, China bill negotiations src
TikTok users are planning a Mother’s Day strike in support of abortion rights src
Mexico’s President in Honduras as Part of Central American Tour src
AMLO Calls For Latin American Unity To Face Migration Crisis src
“Leaving ideologies aside, we must put an end to the hegemonic policy that has prevailed for over two centuries in our continent and promote economic and cultural integration to solve problems such as migration,” AMLO stated.
- Lula To Launch His Presidential Candidacy on Saturday src
Russia presents at UN vast evidence of crimes by Ukrainian military src
Biden expected to sign new $100 million weapons package for Ukraine, officials say src
Pentagon sending Ukraine laser-guided rockets, surveillance drones src
US reveals date of major step in arming Ukraine src
The authorisation will take place on May 9, or “Victory Day” – when the defeat of Nazi Germany is celebrated annually in Russia. The symbolism will almost certainly raise eyebrows in Moscow.
Biden is sending Ukraine billions of dollars of weaponry it can’t use properly src
Moon of Alabama: U.S. Pushes Fake Stories To Goad Russia Into Escalation src
The story is obvious bullshit because there are only two Russian generals who have died so far during the Russian campaign in Ukraine.
Russia does not hide the death of high officers. It is impossible to do so over longer periods as such men are known by many others. It would be bad for any government to get caught in such a scheme. There is also no reason to do so.
Russia will not react to such stupid stories. It knows that the U.S. is pushing all kinds of battlefield information as well as weapons to the Ukrainians. It is also assumed that foreign generals are ‘consulting’ the general staff of the Ukrainian forces. Neither will help the Ukraine to win the war.
Intelslava saying that the Ukrainians are taking videos in territory not yet being attacked by Russia that show vehicles with the Z on them firing at residential buildings, to show how bad the Russians are.
Some ‘Phoenix Ghost’ drones have been captured near Kharkov, after Ukrainians attempted to use them. Also footage of Switchblade drone strikes completely missing the Russians. Whether this is US technology being useless or the Ukrainian troops not being trained - or both - I don’t know.
Ukraine attempts counteract in LPR, loses manpower and equipment, fails
LPR begins attacking Voevodovka, between Rubizhne and Severodonetsk, which would then allow them to attack the northern side of Severodonetsk.
Plant in Kramatorsk is blown up.
Ukraine says that it plans to strike the Crimean Bridge on May 9th.
Russia-Ukraine war: Putin’s new flagship warship, the Admiral Makarov, ‘on fire’ following missile strike weeks after Moskva sunk [src](https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world russia-ukraine-war-putins-new-flagship-warship-on-fire-following-missile-strike-weeks-after-moskva-sunk/WH3QTI2QHZCJMO7RRANWDD2EHI/?c_id=2&objectid=12522694&ref=rss)
Zelenskyy says Mariupol can’t fall apart because ‘it is already devastated’. src
“There is nothing there to fall apart,” Zelenskyy said. “It is already devastated. There is no place, there is no structure, it is all destroyed completely.”
- Problems of food, drinking water supplies solved in Mariupol, says the mayor src
“The question of food and humanitarian aid deliveries does not arise now. In my opinion, it has not arisen for already about two weeks. Everything has been resolved. Food kits are being distributed both at the aid points and to the bed-ridden patients,” he said.
Ivashchenko said that the problems with water supply had the biggest impact on residents of apartment buildings. He pointed out that the city authorities had set up more than 50 drinking water distribution points, where from 52 to 80 tonnes of water were brought daily.
According to Ivashchenko, the city is gradually reviving the operation of key services, for instance, the waste management services are already working. On May 4, the first bus route was reopened, and two more routes will be added on May 9. Four markets are expected to be operating by May 12. Moreover, three schools have again opened their doors to a total of 3,000 students.
There’s videos of Azov militants, and their injuries, in Azovstal after an attempt of a breakout. Not pretty. Lots of blood and bandages.
Another 50 people were evacuated from Azovstal in Mariupol today.
The Secretary General of the United Russia goes to Kherson to meet with the region’s admin; says “Russia is here forever!”
The Kherson region will return the coat of arms of the times of the Russian Empire.
Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions will be able to receive gas and electricity through the territory of Crimea.
Dipshittery and Cope
Trump May Have Missed His Opportunity to Stick It to Hillary Clinton. I don’t usually do too much US domestic politics and especially not Trump, but this one caught my eye, because, well, lol. src
If democracy survives, thank a federal employee src
The assault on government, coupled with other deleterious phenomena (e.g., social media, scandals), has taken its toll. The Partnership for Public Service in March released a poll on trust in government. The results were dismal. “America is experiencing a lack of trust in major institutions — particularly the federal government,” the survey found. “Only 4 in 10 Americans say they trust the federal government to do what is right at least some of the time.”
There were, as one might expect, dramatic partisan differences. “Democrats are far more likely to trust the government (60%) than Republicans (27%) and independents (26%).”
It was not all dreadful. “A majority of respondents (57%) said federal employees are doing public service, and 56% said they are hard workers. Half thought that federal workers are committed to helping ‘people like me’ compared with 33% who say they are not.
When it comes to specific agencies such as the National Park Service or the Social Security Administration, approval rankings were much higher than for the nebulous “federal government.”
Without an engaged, competent workforce, faith in government, and in democracy itself, is likely to continue eroding. “Supporting federal employees and retaining their deep knowledge and expertise on a wide range of important national issues is critical to ensuring a responsive and well-functioning government, the central institution of our democracy,” Stier says. “While power routinely shifts from one political party to another, the nonpartisan civil service provides professionalism, stability and continuity across administrations, especially during times of turmoil and upheaval.”
To repair the damage wrought by the Trump administration requires a restoration of faith that democracy can offer rule-based, clean and competent government. That should spur both political parties to recognize high performers and to embrace a variety of reforms aimed to combat cronyism, conflicts of interest and politicization of scientists’ and prosecutors’ work. Our democracy depends on it.
What does that MEAN, though? Those are just words! You’ve just said the mandatory buzzwords and then neglected to actually give any kind of material solution!
- Can Britain find a new source of identity in a post-Elizabethan age? At no point does this article even suggest that we might not need the monarchy. src
The queen’s frailty is, needless to say, much more than a personal or family matter. The monarchy, though it sometimes looks like a waxwork on the tourist trail, is a cornerstone of British identity, one of the few remaining bridges between today’s Britain and its imperial past. A post-Elizabeth monarchy will look nothing like hers. You don’t need polling (or “The Crown”) to tell you that many British people do not regard the next-generation Windsors as worthy successors.
A devalued monarchy will leave stranded the question of national identity that has bedeviled Britons and their leaders since the end of World War II, when decline and decolonization completed the undoing of what had once been the largest empire on Earth.
Ever since, the United Kingdom has struggled to define its role in the world. In 1998, Prime Minister Tony Blair said he saw a Britain that was “emerging from its post-empire malaise.” His prescription was for Britain to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States while playing a leadership role in the European Union.
The article then talks about Tony Blair, Boris Johnson, and the Queen’s failchildren, then:
The fragility of the monarchy and the Commonwealth, the obsequiousness of the lopsided “special relationship” with the United States, the smoke-and-mirrors marketing of Brexit — against this backdrop, Britain’s determination to construct a national identity beyond its means looks like overreach. This is a nation with assets envied by the rest of the world: the near universality of its language, its deep-rooted democratic and educational institutions, the BBC, a financial center on a par with New York. Vainglorious attempts to resurrect an empire that’s long gone are as unseemly as they are unnecessary.
I’m reminded of that Irish Times article. In fact, I’ll quote some of it below. src
Having a monarchy next door is a little like having a neighbour who’s really into clowns and has daubed their house with clown murals, displays clown dolls in each window and has an insatiable desire to hear about and discuss clown-related news stories. More specifically, for the Irish, it’s like having a neighbour who’s really into clowns and, also, your grandfather was murdered by a clown.
The contemporary royals have no real power. They serve entirely to enshrine classism in the British nonconstitution. They live in high luxury and low autonomy, cosplaying as their ancestors, and are the subject of constant psychosocial projection from people mourning the loss of empire. They’re basically a Rorschach test that the tabloids hold up in order to gauge what level of hysterical batshittery their readers are capable of at any moment in time.
Alright, back to the same three articles that the media pumps out every fucking day.
Why Russian Conscripts Can’t Subdue Ukraine. It’s very strange knowing that thousands of Ukrainians are, as I type this, being blown to pieces and permanently traumatized by their experiences, and yet the media exists in a totally hermetically-sealed bubble of delusion. We’re pretending that there isn’t a hurricane outside even as it’s tearing the roof off, because “that’s just what roofs sometimes do!" src
When Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine, few analysts predicted that days later Russian troops would be crying on camera, texting their parents for help, and voluntarily surrendering to Ukrainian forces.
One common explanation for this surprising turn of events emphasizes the Russian military’s use of conscripts with limited skills and low morale, which may signal Vladimir Putin’s desperation and show that he has few options. But the Ukrainian military also includes conscripts and does not seem to have suffered from similar personnel problems.
Western media has paid the most attention to how conscription might shape battlefield outcomes. Russia’s failure to secure a quick victory supports research showing that conscript armies are worse at fighting wars than professional militaries staffed with volunteers. High casualty counts support the claim that governments treat conscripts as more easily replaceable than volunteers. Conscript armies can also suffer from lower morale for the simple reason that their soldiers do not want to be on the battlefield. This is particularly the case when militaries reflect societal inequalities, as when conscripts from disadvantaged backgrounds serve alongside more-privileged volunteers. Conscription can also create major disciplinary problems, such as increased desertion and mass defection or even mutiny.
That Ukraine’s military seems to have avoided these problems so far is owing largely to the overwhelming popularity of the war among both its soldiers and population. While in many cases Russian soldiers felt duped into war by their leaders, Ukrainians are now benefiting from a patriotic rush of volunteers. Former Ukrainian conscripts constitute the basis of an experienced reserve force that has supplemented these volunteers to great effect. So far, this has allowed Ukraine to avoid conscripting untrained, unwilling civilians for this war.
By contrast, Russia must call up new cohorts of conscripts who have limited training and typically do not serve longer than one year—hardly any time to develop the skills necessary for complex modern military operations. If the war drags on to a bloody stalemate and Ukraine needs to replace heavy casualties among soldiers more quickly, Ukrainians may find themselves suffering from many of the same problems on the battlefield as the Russian military.
Conscripts are not only ineffective on the battlefield but also potentially dangerous at home. Although the Russian media’s portrayal of the war is tightly managed, Mr. Putin can’t hide the reality of soldiers not returning from war. There is already a domestic Russian outcry over the use of conscripts. This could prove to be a political challenge for Mr. Putin, leading to a reluctance to commit more troops—or, conversely, a push to go all-in on the war to silence domestic dissenters. Either option could have implications for the stability of the Russian state and Mr. Putin’s tenure.
And that’s in the short term. The large-scale use of conscripts can also have consequences for society after war. With a large number of veterans potentially returning with injuries that cause lifelong disabilities, the state would face financial pressure to provide welfare, and the country would suffer economically from the loss of those people from the economy. Conscripts returning home from war could also create social unrest and mobilize around their disillusionment with the government.
Beyond Russia’s border, other countries are likely to feel the ramifications of this war’s use of conscripts. European militaries have been trending away from conscription and toward smaller, more professional volunteer forces. Yet the draft has made a comeback over the last few years, with several countries that eliminated conscription either reinstating it or debating doing so.
Fear of additional Russian aggression could pressure more countries to adopt conscription. They may view having larger armies and the ability to call up more troops quickly as the most effective deterrence. Even countries that are not directly threatened by Russia may follow suit, because countries often design their militaries around demonstratedbest practices. But if countries such as Germany feel pressured to reinstate conscription, it could limit the ability of their partners to operate together as a combined force. For years, countries aspiring to work with or join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have shifted away from using conscripts to invest more resources in the highly trained, capital-intensive militaries favored by the alliance’s most powerful members.
We have already seen one recent war between conscript armies. While conscription does not appear to have played a major role in the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War in 2020, the current war in Ukraine already has lasted longer than it did and will certainly replace that conflict as the primary lesson planners use. China, with a large conscript army of its own, is likely drawing lessons from Russia’s performance as it considers potential military adventurism in the Pacific. Given the success of the Ukrainian military against Russia’s conscript army, some are calling for Taiwan to form a standing all-volunteer force modeled after Ukraine’s. Doing so could signal resolve, as well as indicate to China that any attempt to take the island would result in a prolonged war of attrition that a conscript army may be ill-equipped to fight.
Other countries should take notice of Russia’s challenges in Ukraine and rethink plans to turn away from the all-volunteer force model that has proven successful in the modern era.
Putin may hold the fate of humanity in his hands. I already mentioned this in the last megathread, I’m just putting it here for completeness. src
How Does Russia Lose in Ukraine? Putin May Tell Us Monday src
Only one of Vladimir Putin’s bets is paying off: His oil and gas revenues are still intact and even benefiting from higher prices. His most characteristic miscalculation, after witnessing Ukrainians mobilizing by the hundreds of thousands in 2004 and again in 2013-14 to protect their country against political dominance by Russia, was to believe they wouldn’t defend it militarily. He told himself these earlier demonstrations weren’t real, they were foreign-organized and -financed, just as he tells himself the same about protests in Russia.
It’s worth pausing to note how thoroughly nothing is turning out the way he planned. Tens of thousands of dead, whole cities reduced to rubble, horrific war crimes, the Russian economy in tatters, now a burgeoning series of direct attacks by Ukraine air power on Russian soil. Thousands of military-age Russians are reported to be fleeing the country to avoid becoming fodder in his military debacle.
Listen to the statements or tweets of his most Western-facing servants, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and all-purpose lapdog Dmitri Medvedev. They don’t bother suggesting the war isn’t a disaster for Russia, only that it can become a disaster for the West too.
Jack Watling and Nick Reynolds, authors of an analysis published by the U.K.’s Royal United Services Institute, share an intuition of this column: In mid-March, Mr. Putin passed up an opportunity to cut his losses. “Instead, the decision was made to not only continue with the narrative of a struggle against Nazism in Ukraine, but to expand the scope of ambition to one of systems confrontation”—i.e., between Russia and NATO, which Mr. Putin, in a fact that is perhaps not widely appreciated, has always acknowledged to his people greatly outclasses Russia in conventional military power.
Whatever Mr. Putin has in mind, his annual Victory Day speech on Monday, marking the collapse of the Hitler regime in 1945, is expected by military analysts to frame what comes next. Meanwhile, commentary in the U.S. seems to accept as inviolable President Biden’s pledge that U.S. troops will not become directly engaged. Are we still quite sure about this?
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has made no bones about it: He is eager for NATO intervention. What’s more, he currently faces military-cum-political choices—about whether to trade ground or risk his troops on the attack—that can’t help but be influenced by a suspicion that the Biden administration no longer is willing to let Ukraine fail.
- Europe Is Punching Russia Where It Hurts. Dude, I swear, THESE sanctions will be the ones that do it. Bro, I promise, these will actually end it this time. I was joking the other times, but bro, this time I’m serious. No, dude the ruble isn’t rising and euro isn’t falling, that just them making it up. src
The whisper in the oil market is that Russia is currently producing fewer than 9.5 million barrels a day, down from 11.1 million barrels in February. Sanctions introduced after the invasion of Ukraine are starting to bite. But there’s a risk that Vladimir Putin will retaliate with an oil-for-friends initiative, selling discounted crude to replace unwilling buyers with newfound friends.
The European Union has been hesitant to introduce secondary sanctions to stop other countries and regions from buying Russian oil and subsidizing Putin’s war, but diplomats in Brussels acknowledge that cutting off Russia’s oil revenue, not just its flows, is essential to starving the country of dollars. It’s a tactic the U.S. employed successfully against Iran, and one that the EU looks set to embrace, albeit reluctantly, argues Javier Blas.
The one-two punch of banning oil imports into Europe, and then barring EU-based companies from facilitating Russian oil sales to the likes of India and China, is designed to deliver “an economic knockout,” says Javier. “I believe that the U.S. and Europe will use tools akin to secondary sanctions, plus diplomatic pressure, to force Russian oil production down, rather than passively witness all the Russian oil they once bought going elsewhere.”
Our democracy at home depends on preserving freedom in Ukraine. God, that sucks for you then, doesn’t it. Wait, this was written by Liz Cheney and Jake Auchincloss! It’s all a big party and we’re not invited. src
As a Republican congresswoman from Wyoming and a Democratic congressman from Massachusetts, we have firsthand experience with the partisan clashes in Washington. The two of us have frequently been on opposite sides this term, including on national security issues such as President Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, which one of us (Cheney) opposed and the other (Auchincloss) supported.
But on the issue of Ukraine, there is no daylight between us. And there should be no partisan divide among members in Congress. It must be the policy of the United States that the strategic objective in Ukraine is victory for a free and democratic Ukraine, and defeat for Vladimir Putin. The strength of our democracy here at home depends on it.
The war in Ukraine entered a pivotal new phase on April 19. Russia is now fighting for complete control of Donbas and southern Ukraine. If successful, Putin’s forces will landlock and dismember the country — and may attack the capital again. What began as a war of maneuver, in which speed and mobility were critical, is becoming a war of attrition, in which firepower and willpower are ever more important.
The United States is critical to sustaining both for our Ukrainian allies. To balance the disparity in firepower, the U.S. government must guarantee weapons, training and intelligence support that Ukrainian forces can use. And it should work closely with European allies to wield primary and secondary sanctions to blockade Russian oil exports to reduce Moscow’s ability to fund its war machine. To buttress Ukrainian willpower, the United States should rally its NATO allies to make it clear that the sovereignty of Ukraine is not negotiable, and Putin must not benefit from his aggression.
We in Congress have an important role in this commitment. Last week, we both voted for the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act, which, like its namesake from World War II, will enable more materiel support for an ally whose cause is existential. With our voices and votes, members of Congress must demonstrate bipartisan support for a policy of victory for the people of Ukraine.
Putin, in particular, must be under no illusion about U.S. resolve. The Russian president has long sought to divide, disorient and demoralize the U.S. body politic. His efforts will not succeed. Neither the United States nor the world will sit silently by as Russia commits atrocities and war crimes across Ukraine. We will not remain neutral in this fundamental battle for freedom. In the United States, across party lines, we know that our own security requires the survival of freedom and the defeat of Russian forces in Ukraine. In this, we are united.
Since 1945, the United States has been the linchpin of the postwar, rules-based international order. In this order, might does not make right; under this order, freedom, prosperity and human rights have all advanced. If the United States and its allies cannot prevent and punish war crimes right on NATO’s border, then enemies further afield, big and small, will be emboldened.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) wants to see the United States and NATO fail in this effort. The CCP opposes the postwar order and seeks to replace it with a global surveillance state that would extinguish freedom. Hong Kong has been the most notable casualty of the CCP’s targeting of the postwar order. Many experts predict Taiwan is their next target.
Each potential flash point is different. But from East Asia to Europe, Africa to Latin America, they are threaded together by the same existential question: Is democracy on the march, or in retreat? The outcome in Ukraine will reverberate across the world. The United States — and Congress — must continue to deliver a strong and unequivocal answer, because democracy everywhere is fragile. Strains of authoritarianism here at home make that painfully clear. Democracies, though, draw succor from one another. In defending Ukraine’s democracy, we stand up for our own. In combating tyranny overseas, we strengthen our freedom at home.
So, yes, the partisan temperature is high. The parties disagree on plenty.
But from deep-red Wyoming to deep-blue Massachusetts, Republicans and Democrats must demonstrate to our allies and our enemies alike that there are no half-measures on the front lines of the free world. The United States must stand with the people of Ukraine.
They are not just fighting for their own freedom. They are fighting for ours, too.
Eat a brick.
The War Is Getting More Dangerous for America, and Biden Knows It. Now, for an article by Thomas Friedman. src
If you just followed news reports on Ukraine, you might think that the war has settled into a long, grinding and somewhat boring slog. You would be wrong.
Things are actually getting more dangerous by the day.
For starters, the longer this war goes on, the more opportunity for catastrophic miscalculations — and the raw material for that is piling up fast and furious. Take the two high-profile leaks from American officials this past week about U.S. involvement in the Russia-Ukraine war:
First, The Times disclosed that “the United States has provided intelligence about Russian units that has allowed Ukrainians to target and kill many of the Russian generals who have died in action in the Ukraine war, according to senior American officials.” Second, The Times, following a report by NBC News and citing U.S. officials, reported that America has “provided intelligence that helped Ukrainian forces locate and strike” the Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet. This targeting assistance “contributed to the eventual sinking” of the Moskva by two Ukrainian cruise missiles.
As a journalist, I love a good leak story, and the reporters who broke those stories did powerful digging. At the same time, from everything I have been able to glean from senior U.S. officials, who spoke to me on condition of anonymity, the leaks were not part of any thought-out strategy, and President Biden was livid about them. I’m told that he called the director of national intelligence, the director of the C.I.A. and the secretary of defense to make clear in the strongest and most colorful language that this kind of loose talk is reckless and has got to stop immediately — before we end up in an unintended war with Russia.
The staggering takeaway from these leaks is that they suggest we are no longer in an indirect war with Russia but rather edging toward a direct war — and no one has prepared the American people or Congress for that.
Vladimir Putin surely has no illusions about how much the U.S. and NATO are arming Ukraine with material and intelligence, but when American officials start to brag in public about playing a role in killing Russian generals and sinking the Russian flagship, killing many sailors, we could be creating an opening for Putin to respond in ways that could dangerously widen this conflict — and drag the U.S. in deeper than it wants to be.
It is doubly dangerous, senior U.S. officials say, because it is increasingly obvious to them that Putin’s behavior is not as predictable as it has been in the past. And Putin is running out of options for some kind of face-saving success on the ground — or even a face-saving off ramp.
It is hard to exaggerate what a catastrophe this war has been for Putin so far. Indeed, Biden pointed out to his team that Putin was trying to push back on NATO expansion, and he’s ended up laying the groundwork for the expansion of NATO. Both Finland and Sweden are now taking steps toward joining an alliance they’ve stayed out of for seven decades.
But that is why U.S. officials are quite concerned what Putin might do or announce at the Victory Day celebration in Moscow on Monday, which marks the anniversary of the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany. It is traditionally a day of military parades and celebration of the prowess of the Russian Army. Putin could mobilize even more soldiers, make some other provocation or do nothing at all. But no one knows.
Alas, we have to be alive to the fact that it’s not only the Russians who would like to involve us more deeply. Have no illusions, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has been trying to do the same thing from the start — to make Ukraine an immediate member of NATO or get Washington to forge a bilateral security pact with Kyiv. I am in awe of Zelensky’s heroism and leadership. If I were him, I’d be trying to get the U.S. as enmeshed on my side as he is.
But I’m an American citizen, and I want us to be careful. Ukraine was, and still is, a country marbled with corruption. That doesn’t mean we should not be helping it. I am glad we are. I insist we do. But my sense is that the Biden team is walking much more of a tightrope with Zelensky than it would appear to the eye — wanting to do everything possible to make sure he wins this war but doing so in a way that still keeps some distance between us and Ukraine’s leadership. That’s so Kyiv is not calling the shots and so we’ll not be embarrassed by messy Ukrainian politics in the war’s aftermath.
The view of Biden and his team, according to my reporting, is that America needs to help Ukraine restore its sovereignty and beat the Russians back — but not let Ukraine turn itself into an American protectorate on the border of Russia. We need to stay laser-focused on what is our national interest and not stray in ways that lead to exposures and risks we don’t want.
One thing I know about Biden — with whom I traveled to Afghanistan in 2002 when he was a senator heading the Foreign Relations Committee — is that he is not easily romanced by world leaders. He has dealt with too many of them over his career. He’s got a pretty good sense of where U.S. interests stop and start. Ask the Afghans.
So where are we now? Putin’s Plan A — taking Kyiv and installing his own leader — has failed. And his Plan B — trying just to take full control of Ukraine’s old industrial heartland, known as the Donbas, which is largely Russian speaking — is still in doubt. Putin’s freshly reinforced ground forces have made some progress, but it’s still limited. It is springtime in the Donbas, meaning the ground is still sometimes muddy and wet, so Russian armor still has to stay on roads and highways in many areas, making them vulnerable.
As America navigates Ukraine and Russia and tries to avoid being ensnared, one bright spot in the effort to avoid a wider war is the administration’s success at keeping China from providing military aid to Russia. This has been huge.
After all, it was just Feb. 4 when China’s president, Xi Jinping, hosted Putin at the opening of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, where they unveiled all sorts of trade and energy agreements, and then issued a joint declaration asserting that the friendship between Russia and China “has no limits.”
That was then. After the war started, Biden personally explained to Xi in a lengthy phone call that China’s economic future rests on access to the American and European markets — its two largest trading partners — and should China provide military aid to Putin, it would have very negative consequences for China’s trade with both markets. Xi did the math and has been deterred from helping Russia in any military way, which has also made Putin weaker. The Western restrictions on shipping microchips to Russia have begun to really hobble some of his factories — and China has not stepped in, so far.
My bottom line echoes my top line — and I can’t underscore it enough: We need to stick as tightly as possible to our original limited and clearly defined aim of helping Ukraine expel Russian forces as much as possible or negotiate for their withdrawal whenever Ukraine’s leaders feel the time is right.
But we are dealing with some incredibly unstable elements, particularly a politically wounded Putin. Boasting about killing his generals and sinking his ships, or falling in love with Ukraine in ways that will get us enmeshed there forever, is the height of folly.
Amid Ukraine’s ruins, Russia is rebuilding totalitarianism src
Each day brings fresh information about the extent of Russian atrocities in Ukraine; though it is difficult to keep up with the news, it is important never to grow numb.
Yeah, it would suck if you became numb and indifferent to a growing pile of bodies. Anyway, time to get rid of masks!
Horrific as they are, the destruction and killing are not entirely wanton. They are being carried out in pursuit of a political objective: to erase Ukraine not only as a state but even as a concept.
Demonstrations against the occupation in Kherson have ended because organizers have been arrested. Statues of Lenin have been reinstalled in various localities near Kherson from which they had been removed.
The Ukrainian government has said that many thousands of its people have been forcibly removed to Russia, a claim Russia’s own state-run news service, TASS, indirectly lent credence to Wednesday when it reported that 1.1 million people, including approximately 300,000 citizens of Ukraine and other countries, have been taken from Ukraine to Russia during the war. The historical echo in this case is of the mass deportations carried out by the Soviet regime during the early 1930s, as part of a campaign by Joseph Stalin to subdue Ukraine through political repression and forced agricultural collectivization and the famine it caused.
One should not overstate the parallels to the Soviet-era famine, in which 3.9 million Ukrainians — out of a total of 5 million in the U.S.S.R. as a whole — lost their lives. The death toll in today’s war, substantial as it is, does not approach that. But one should not understate the parallels, either.
Will Putin Declare War on Ukraine? West’s May 9 Hype Could Prove Overblown src
Germany Should Stop Buying Russian Gas src
Germany’s position is crucial — because of its influence within the EU, the size of its economy, and its disproportionately heavy dependence on Russian energy. Its change of heart on oil is welcome, but its efforts can and should go further. In particular, it needs a plan to shut down imports of Russian gas.
Despite what skeptics say, it’s feasible to halt German imports of Russian gas this year. While there’s no easy fix, and such an abrupt change would impose costs, smart planning would make the burden bearable. One respected German think tank has explained what would be required.
First, Germany would need to import gas from elsewhere. This is harder than switching away from Russian oil and coal, because gas requires more infrastructure — and, sadly, Germany has spent years building gas-supply pipelines according to the Kremlin’s master plan. Even so, supplies piped from Norway can be increased. LNG terminals elsewhere on Europe’s northern coast have spare capacity, allowing gas from other suppliers to be shipped in and piped through the existing network. Building new fixed terminals wouldn’t make sense, because it takes too long and demand for natural gas needs to fall once this crisis is over.
On conservative estimates, these steps could quickly replace roughly half of the gas still being imported from Russia. On more optimistic (but not implausible) assumptions, they could replace all of it.
Next, the remaining gap, if any, could be bridged by curbing demand. Higher energy prices have already led industry and consumers to economize — but there’s room to go further. More Germans can insulate their homes and install heat pumps, for instance, while many industrial consumers have scope to switch to alternative sources of power, including electricity and/or renewables.
The bottom line is that Germany, by the end of this year, can find a way to live without Russian gas. To be sure, changes like these are bound to be disruptive and, whether voluntary or imposed by Moscow, would impose an economic cost.
German industry has understandably taken a more pessimistic view. But given the will, the strains should be tolerable in the short term and more than rewarded in the long term.
Angola invests in agricultural training for local communities src
Landmark Inquiry in Philippines Backs Accountability for ‘Climate-Polluting’ Corporations src
‘Nature doesn’t fix itself fast’: Greenland weighs up economy v climate crisis. The article talks about mining in Greenland, and those resisting it. src
From India’s highs to Thailand’s lows, Asia’s weather is hitting extremes src
Empty pledges to plant more trees will not save the Congo Basin src
‘Record after record’: Brazil’s Amazon deforestation hits April high, nearly double previous peak src
Green Groups Blame Bolsonaro Policies as Amazon Deforestation Sets New Monthly Record src
The two largest reservoirs in California are already at ‘critically low levels’ and the dry season is just starting src
I Thought I’d Mention
Coronavirus wave this fall and winter could potentially infect 100 million, White House warns src
CDC says 5 kids have died and 109 have been sickened in connection with the mysterious hepatitis outbreak src
Dr. Jay Butler, deputy director for infectious diseases at the CDC, told reporters on a call that the agency is investigating 109 unusual hepatitis cases across 24 states, plus Puerto Rico. At least five of those cases have been deadly, and 14% required liver transplants, demonstrating how serious these cases can be, though they are still quite rare.
- Multipolarista article on NATO and Operation Gladio src