Patterico's Pontifications


In Appreciation of the Ukrainian People

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:53 pm

[guest post by JVW]

The Ukrainians people and their leaders appear to be facing the Russian attack with great bravery and fortitude. And the neighboring nations are doing their part in taking in Ukrainian mothers and children who have fled for safety. We can all only hope that the defenders of their homeland can hold out long enough for the pressure on Vladimir Putin, both from inside and outside of Russia, to become so bad that he is forced to reverse course. The recent resolve shown by Europe — a development the likelihood of which I pooh-poohed last week — has been most welcome, though it’s entirely fair to wonder if Europe’s commitment to the cause will hold out. Over at Hot Air, Allahpundit has a great piece discussing whether this heralds a new age of Europeans taking a greater role in protecting their continent or if Uncle Sam is quietly pulling the strings behind the scenes.

If Vietnam was the network news war and the First Gulf War was the CNN war, then this Ukrainian-Russian War has become the first TikTok war. I’m not a fan of TikTok since I see it as an incursive and malevolent creation of the Chinese, and it would seem that it is contributing mightily to the shortened attention spans and mindless narcissism of the social media generation. That said, though, TikTok videos posted by Ukrainian soldiers and citizens are giving us a valuable insight into what is going on thousands of miles from our safe perch here, though at the same time it is also unsurprisingly spreading its share of misinformation and garbage.

But I feel a whole lot better today about the prospects for a Russian defeat, certainly diplomatically and perhaps even militarily, than I did last week. And I think the Russians need to figure out that when the country you invade has cute young social media influencers who are willing to make TikTok videos on how to operate an abandoned Russian tank, why then you may have bitten off substantially more than you can chew.


Russia’s Economy Cratering; It’s Past Time to Hit the Rich Guys

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:28 am

If you missed my interview with Bill Browder over the weekend, read it now. His top recommendations for dealing with Putin were to disconnect Russian banks from the SWIFT payment system and to go after Putin’s top oligarchs.

The U.S. and EU took his recommendation regarding SWIFT and cut off select Russian banks, including Russia’s central bank, from SWIFT. That was necessary but the fallout will be bad for the Russian people, who largely seem not to support Putin’s aggression. The ruble crashed overnight and lines are forming for a classic Depression-style run on the banks:

It is indefensible that the Russian people are being made to suffer while at the same time the Biden administration has failed to target Putin’s top oligarch trustees. Both Browder and Garry Kasparov, who are steeped in this information, are saying Biden’s sanctions have thus far missed some of the most important figures. I asked Browder if he thinks Biden and the Treasury Department know who these people are, but are taking no action, or don’t know. He seems to think the latter, but thinks that will change.

Do you agree with Kasparov that the sanctions so far have ignored Putin’s worst oligarchs?

The list of oligarchs who are currently sanctioned is woefully small, and doesn’t address the lion’s share of Putin’s capital and the capital that’s been stolen from Russia. And so there’s a very long list of high-profile, well-known oligarchs from Russia who still need to be sanctioned. And I hope that as the crisis continues to unfold, the next step in the sanctions program is to add those people to the sanctions list.

Do you think the Treasury Department and President Biden don’t know who those people are, or do you think they do know who they are and just haven’t taken the steps to sanction them yet?

Well, I think everything is happening so quickly that it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that they’re not at the level of knowledge that I have, or Garry Kasparov has, because the people work on a lot of different issues, not just Russia. But many people from different governments and different lawmaking bodies have reached out to me asking for assistance in this area, so hopefully as the knowledge level increases, we will see some more of the high-value targets getting sanctioned.

As Gunnery Sergeant Hartman says in Full Metal Jacket:

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