Apologies for the light posting. Some travel (to Sweden, Denmark and London), work, and a need to decompress for a bit account for the absence.
I have kept a watch on things, though, and some Putinsanity has caught my eye.
A network of [foreign] organizations has ‘rummaged’ through the schools in the Russian Federation for many years under the guise of supporting talented young people. In reality, they simply hoover everything up like a vacuum
Note to Vlad: the reason that “talented young people” want to leave in droves is less that “foreign organizations” attract them, but that the state and society that you have constructed repel them.
Note the rampant insecurity here. I think that Putin knows that Russia has little to offer. But he can’t admit that, so he rages agains the West.
Item two: Surprise, surprise, surprise. The Russia-Turkey gas pipeline project is stalled because of a failure to communicate on price. Don’t say I didn’t tell you so:
Russia’s plan to build a new $15 billion pipeline to Turkey is at risk of delay because of a fight over gas prices, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
State-run OAO Gazprom and its Turkish counterpart Botas had a six-month period to agree on prices for gas supplies between the two countries, which expired on Monday. The Ankara-based company now has the right to take the matter to international arbitration, three of the people said, asking not to be named because the information is private.
The dispute over prices means there’s no immediate prospect of signing a binding pact for the new pipeline, the second between Russia and Turkey. An agreement could now be delayed until at least October, two more people said, also asking not to be identified.
The Russians think that you are stupid enough to believe that this is due to Erdogan’s defeat in the recent parliamentary elections, but that’s just a face saving cover story. Truth be told, the Russians are masters of vapor agreements. By my rough estimate, two of the last 100 announced gas deals have come to completion. And I’m being generous.
Anyone who believes anything Russia/Gazprom say about any pipeline project, deal, contract, etc., please contact me! Have I got a deal for you!
(As an aside, Erdogan and Putin are doppelgängers in a competition for the coveted titled of Most Insane Wannabe Autocrat Obsessed With Restoring Lost Imperial Greatness. May the best nut win!)
Next comedic moment: the Russia-Greece pipeline vapor deal, which is effectively contingent on a (non-existent) Russia-Turkey pipeline vapor deal. (BTW: Why is everybody freaking out about Russia courting Greece? Let Putin have them! Just what he needs. Another economic basket case, to join Abkhazia, Transnistria, South Ossetia, Donetsk, Luhansk. May the Orthodox nations enjoy every happiness! They deserve one another!)
Item three: Russia blasts the new US defense doctrine, which (realistically) identifies Russia as a threat to the sovereignty of its neighbors due to its willingness to use force as “confrontational.”
This is a perfect illustration of Pirrong’s Principle of Putinist Psychological Projection. Whatever the Russians say about the US is a pitch-perfect description of what the Russians are doing. They are the masters of projection.
This leads to my last observation: what will Putin do in Ukraine? He can’t go back: that would be a humiliating climbdown which he is psychologically incapable of, and which could actually threaten his power. Maintaining the status quo is the lowest risk, but offers the least potential for gain, and creates the real potential for a creeping collapse as the economic drain of sanctions and militarization saps the economy. Going forward and attacking Ukraine presents serious risks. Ukraine might be able to deny him a quick victory and impose serious losses. Even if he prevails operationally, the costs of occupation will be steep. These include the direct costs, which will be especially high if Ukrainians resort to historical precedent and wage a grueling guerrilla war (remember the Greens?). They also include the indirect costs of almost certainly escalated sanctions.
He’s in a fine mess, and I don’t know how he will react. Time is running out for a summer offensive, but time is not on his side generally. My fear is that he will follow Eisenhower’s dictum: “If a problem cannot be solved, enlarge it.” The question is: where? The Baltic-Finland, Sweden, Denmark, as well as the Baltic States-is a real possibility. Putinsanity is hard to predict, but nothing is beyond the realm of possibility.