Vladimir Putin doesn’t have many supporters in the world, but he does have nuclear weapons.
Clearly, the global community’s original plan was a tough set of banking sanctions that did not include SWIFT, the central bank, or oil and gas. Militarily, the initial approach was largely hands-off and, in many cases, explicitly non-interventionist.
In just one week, those rules were torn up. The Russian financial system has been crushed.
Russia faced strong resistance and Ukraine won the PR war. The result has been growing pressure on politicians around the world to do more to punish Russia and Putin. This pendulum keeps swinging and I don’t know where it ends.
Ukraine is pushing for a no-fly zone over Ukraine. Today, hedge fund manager Bill Ackman argued for sending in US troops.
Putin reacted by putting his nuclear forces on high alert.
So far, the United States has resolutely and clearly stated that it will not intervene militarily. Putin warned from the outset that Western interference would lead to “such consequences as you have never encountered in your history”.
Anyone who tries to hinder us, and even more so, to create threats for our country, for our people, must know that Russia’s response will be immediate. And it will lead you to such consequences that you have never encountered in your history, said the Russian president.
Where exactly is this line? Germany pledged this weekend to send Javelin missiles and Stinger air defense missiles. The EU is also in talks to send fighters.
The Russian Foreign Minister said today that those who supply lethal weapons to Ukraine will bear responsibility if these weapons are used during Russian military operations.
At home, sanctions are increasing against the Russian oligarchs, no doubt in the hope that they will try to oust Putin.
US Senator Marco Rubio has recently become an invaluable source of information. He relayed information – likely due to his seat on the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence – and it paints a grim picture.
He then clarified exactly what those risks were:
He went on to say that it is a mistake to take Putin’s nuclear warnings as posturing and that Russian military doctrine calls for an escalation of force if they end up losing a conventional war.
He also said this:
What scares me about this is that as the clock ticked down to the invasion, Rubio was absolutely right about what was to come next, almost to the minute. Since the bombs fell, he has provided intelligence on how the attacks unfolded, in detail. He’s clearly someone with real sources.
His latest tweets suggest Putin has ordered a siege of Kiev, cutting the city off from food, fuel, electricity, communications and supplies.
“We need to start thinking about what we can and want to do to prevent such a barbaric crime,” he said.
There is a non-zero chance of nuclear war here. It would be wonderful to oust Putin from Russia, but not at the cost of a nuclear holocaust.
I will repeat the axiom I wrote over the weekend. What about nuclear war reports? You’re buying the dip because if it’s not true, you’ll cut it. And if that’s true, money doesn’t matter anyway.
That said, I would much rather not be able to have to make that decision.