Russian Military Operation in Ukraine Roils Markets
🔽 STORY HERE
✪ Investors rushed for safety, pushing down stocks and lifting the prices of oil, gold and government bonds, after Russian missiles and airstrikes hit Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and more than a dozen other cities across the country.
Futures tied to the S&P 500, Nasdaq-100 and Dow Jones Industrial Average fell between 2.4% and 3.1%. The pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 tumbled over 3%. Asian stock indexes also fell sharply, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dropping nearly 3%, and Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average closing at its lowest since November 2020.
The Russian attack—swiftly condemned by President Biden—heightens the pressure on a global economy already reeling from snarled supply chains and some of the highest inflation in years, with Europe likely to bear the brunt of the economic impact.
“This is what appeared unbelievable to most investors, and this is actually happening,“ said Slava Smolyaninov, Moscow-based chief strategist at BCS Global Markets. “It’s a complete change of everything; we are in a different world right now.”
Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, topped $100 a barrel for the first time since 2014, with the front-month contract rising 6% to $102.68. Prices for its U.S. equivalent, West Texas Intermediate, also jumped.
Some other commodities markets convulsed. Natural-gas futures in Europe surged 30% and benchmark prices for aluminum and nickel, two metals for which Russia is a major producer, surged to their highest levels in about a decade. Wheat and corn futures also advanced to multiyear highs, since both Russia and Ukraine are major grain producers.
Investors were likely to remain cautious for some time, said Daiwa Securities economist Mari Iwashita, pointing to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
“For now, markets are just worried and risk-averse, but in March, it will likely become a reality as [inflation] data from the U.S. and Europe are expected to show the impact of oil-price increases in February,” she added.
Gold and U.S. Treasury bonds, which both typically rally in times of stress, rose in price. The most actively traded gold futures contract added 1.8%, to about $1,945 a troy ounce.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note declined 0.092 percentage point to 1.885%, according to Tradeweb. Bond yields fall as prices rise.
The dollar strengthened, with the ICE U.S. Dollar index gaining 0.41% to 96.585, according to FactSet. Currencies considered to be havens, such as the Japanese yen, also firmed, while cryptocurrencies tumbled, with bitcoin falling nearly 9% to about $34,300.
The Russian ruble weakened to a record low, declining as much as 9% against the dollar and trading at 90 rubles to $1. The Russian central bank said it would start intervening in the foreign exchange market.✪
The Kremlin Invades Ukraine
🔽 STORY HERE
✪ It’s official. The oft-repeated warning from the Biden Administration that a Russian invasion of Ukraine was imminent has come to pass.
On February 21st, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent so-called “peace-keeping” forces across Russia’s border with Ukraine into two eastern Ukrainian provinces, Donetsk and Luhansk, in the Donbass region. These provinces have been controlled by Russian-leaning Ukrainian separatists who have served as Russia’s proxies since 2014. However, to the rest of the world they are still considered within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders.
Putin’s initial move in invading Ukraine followed his unilateral recognition of the “independence” of areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres denounced this decree as “a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and inconsistent with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”
But Putin could not care less what the UN Secretary General or the international community as a whole thinks. In his blistering speech on February 21st, the Russian president claimed that all of Ukraine belongs to Russia and should never have been created as a separate country in the first place.
Early in the morning of February 24th (Ukrainian time), Putin broadened the theater of war in Ukraine. He declared a “special military operation” in the country on the pretext of helping the people of Donbass. It was the equivalent of a declaration of war on all of Ukraine, punctuated by explosions that were heard in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, in the aftermath of Putin’s “special military operation” order. Missile attacks and ground troop assaults are undoubtedly on the way.
Putin pulled the trigger for a full-scale invasion at about the same time that Secretary General Guterres pleaded with Putin, during the second emergency session in a week of the UN Security Council, to step back from the brink of war. “I have only one thing to say from the bottom of my heart: President Putin,” the Secretary General said, “stop your troops from attacking Ukraine. Give peace a chance. Too many people have already died.”
The White House issued a statement Wednesday night condemning Russia’s “unprovoked and unjustified attack on Ukraine” and warning Russia of severe consequences. But this rhetoric is simply more of the same.
Putin has a clear end game in mind: He wants to take over all of Ukraine and is intent on achieving his objective on his own timetable. And he is very much willing to watch the Russian people suffer as he tries to restore several parts of the former Russian empire. Biden is merely reactive and playing with a very weak hand.
The U.S. President talked tough before Russia’s invasion, giving the impression that very severe sanctions would be ready to go into force as soon as the first Russian troops and tanks crossed the Ukrainian border. All that Biden did right away, however, was to issue an executive order barring Americans from doing business in the Donetsk and Luhansk areas.
It took hours before a senior Biden Administration official even used the word “invasion” to describe what was already underway. At first, the administration tried to downplay Russia’s military move into Ukraine, reminiscent of Biden’s attempt during a January press conference to draw a distinction between a minor “incursion” versus a full scale “invasion.”
German Chancellor Olaf Sholz took the initiative and suspended certification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, at least for now. Germany has more to lose economically than the United States in taking that action (although natural gas from Russia is still flowing to Germany through existing pipelines).
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted that the Biden Administration welcomed Germany’s announcement and said that the administration would be “following up” with its own measures. That’s precisely what Biden ended up doing, following Chancellor Sholz’s lead from behind.
When Biden spoke to the country Tuesday afternoon, he announced what he described as the first “tranche” of sanctions. “We’ll continue to escalate sanctions if Russia escalates,” he said.
Biden announced that the United States is imposing “full blocking” on two Russian banks and “comprehensive sanctions” on Russian sovereign debt. “That means we’ve cut off Russia’s government from Western finance,” Biden said. “It can no longer raise money from the West and cannot trade in its new debt on our markets or European markets either.” Biden also decided to impose sanctions on several Russian oligarchs and their families.
In addition to the sanctions that Biden announced, he said that he has “authorized additional movements of US forces and equipment, already stationed in Europe to strengthen our Baltic allies: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.” These countries are currently members of NATO. Ukraine is not. While declaring that the United States has no intention of sending American troops to fight Russia in Ukraine, he said that the U.S. “will defend every inch of NATO territory and abide by the commitments we made to NATO.”
Critics of President Biden’s handling of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine believe that Biden did not go nearly far enough in punishing Putin and his regime economically for initiating Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It took less than 36 hours for Putin to expand his invasion of Ukraine.
Why, for example, didn’t Biden immediately impose any sanctions directly on Putin himself and his family members?
Why didn’t Biden add to the sanctioned Russian banks that he announced on February 22nd another large Russian bank, Sberbank, which has been accused of transferring several million dollars from monies deposited in Ukraine to separatists fighting for Russian occupation? A senior U.S. administration official told reporters that U.S. sanctions against Sberbank could come later if Russia continues with its invasion of Ukraine. Let’s see what happens now that Russia has continued with its invasion.
Why didn’t Biden immediately impose export controls to cut off Russia from sophisticated technologies it needs to keep its warplanes flying and its communications systems working? Why didn’t Biden immediately require any firms using U.S. equipment or software in order to make technological products overseas to obtain a U.S. license before shipping them to any Russian companies that support Russia’s military-industrial complex even indirectly? Better yet, why not prohibit such shipments altogether?
Biden tried in his remarks on February 22nd to prepare the American people for the “costs” they will bear “in defending freedom” for Ukraine. He had in mind the impact on energy prices and “the pain the American people are feeling at the gas pump.” But the U.S. president failed to answer two fundamental questions.
Biden has not explained why the American people should sacrifice to preserve the borders of Ukraine when the U.S. president has opened the U.S.-Mexico border to droves of illegal immigrants and dangerous drugs such as fentanyl. Biden has decided to sacrifice Americans’ safety at home in pursuit of his radical pro-illegal immigration policies, while asking Americans to accept “costs” in order to safeguard the Ukrainians’ “freedom.” Former President Donald Trump’s America First policies would not have entertained such perverted priorities.
Biden has also not explained why Americans should swallow even higher costs at the gas pump to defend Ukraine’s “freedom” so long as Biden’s war on fossil fuels continues to drive the rise in gas prices. The United States had achieved energy independence on Trump’s watch, which Biden sabotaged with his radical green agenda.
The U.S. president said during his February 22nd remarks that his administration is “using every tool at our disposal to protect American businesses and consumers from rising prices at the pump.” He added, “We’re executing a plan in coordination with major oil-producing consumers and producers toward a collective investment to secure stability and global energy supplies.”
If that were so, why didn’t Biden issue an executive order immediately reinstating the permit to enable completion of the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline? Why didn’t he offer financial assistance to the pipeline’s Canadian developer to restore the project that it had abandoned because of Biden’s cancellation of the U.S. permit? Shouldn’t that have been part of Biden’s self-proclaimed “collective investment” to secure global energy supplies?
Why didn’t Biden immediately open up federal lands and waters to oil and natural gas exploration and drilling? Just days before Biden’s February 22nd remarks, the Biden administration did the very opposite.
The New York Times reported that the administration “is indefinitely freezing decisions about new federal oil and gas drilling as part of a legal brawl with Republican-led states that could significantly impact President Biden’s plans to tackle climate change.” The administration is insisting on including the “social cost of carbon,” which, according to the Times article, “is designed to underline the potential economic threats from greenhouse gas emissions so they can be compared to the economic benefits from acts like oil drilling.”
After a federal district court judge halted the use of a social cost metric because it would “artificially increase the cost estimates” of oil and gas drilling, the Biden administration decided to delay indefinitely the permitting and leasing for such drilling on federal properties. A spokesperson for the Biden Interior Department explained that her agency “is committed to ensuring its programs account for climate impacts.”
Biden could have easily reversed this decision as part of his response to the Russian invasion. This would have concretely demonstrated his self-proclaimed intent to “limit the pain the American people are feeling at the gas pump.” But the U.S. president chose to stick with the far-left green energy activists rather than help the American people pay for their necessities here and now.
With energy independence, the U.S. would have far more leverage to blunt Russia’s efforts to weaponize its energy resources. Biden has taken that away. According to Global Energy, “Russia producers nearly tripled shipments of oil to the United States in 2021.”
The sanctions imposed so far, and the threat of tougher sanctions to come, are obviously not deterring Putin as he proceeds with his extensive attacks on Ukraine. Putin has China to back up the Russian economy with purchases of Russian oil, technology exports, and financial assistance. Moreover, oil prices remain high while Europe and the U.S. remain dependent on Russian energy resources. Russia’s coffers are filling up with revenues to pay for Putin’s pursuit of his territorial ambitions.
Putin is ready to retaliate against sanctions by shutting off the supply of oil and natural gas from Russia to the U.S. and Europe, upon which they have become so dependent. Putin’s arsenal also includes potential cyberattacks against key U.S. and European infrastructure facilities.
President Biden expects that the American people will bear “costs” in defending Ukraine’s “freedom.” Many Americans are not eager to make such sacrifices, especially after Biden has already managed to impose significant costs on the American people all by himself. ✪
Missiles & Aircraft From Russia En Route To Carry Out Strikes
🔽 STORY HERE
✪ Russia has reportedly started to launch long-range missiles toward Ukraine and has aircraft en route to carry out additional strikes during the initial hours of the early morning full-scale invasion into Ukraine.
“Ukrainian officials said an initial wave of strikes targeted military installations, airfields and government facilities across the country, as well as border force installations. Ukraine’s border service said its troops came under attack all along the country’s frontiers with Russia and Belarus,” The Wall Street Journal reported. “Kyiv didn’t immediately offer any official estimate of casualties. But a senior Ukrainian official said he believed hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers had died in Russian airstrikes and missile attacks that began at 5 a.m. local time.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, tweeted out details of the attack seemingly before they were reported elsewhere.
“Russian aircraft are now en route to conduct additional targeted strikes on a number of key defense sites through all of Ukraine,” Rubio wrote. “Long range missile launches from #Russia are now underway[.] They are headed towards various pre-selected military sites throughout Ukraine.”
“What is underway is a full scale & comprehensive military assault throughout Ukraine,” Rubio added. “Airborne & amphibious landings, missile strikes from air, ground & naval forces, electronic & cyber attacks & a large ground force to occupy a large swath of territory.” ✪
Victor Davis Hanson: Putin’s Predictabilities
🔽 STORY HERE
✪ For all his caginess, dissimulation, and opportunism, Vladimir Putin is more or less predictable. It is easy to predict what the Russian president will do in any given situation. Biden is making it easier for Putin to act with aggression.
When does he strike?
First, Putin moves on neighboring former Soviet republics when the world price of oil is high, and his coffers are full. So he went into Georgia in 2008 and into Eastern Ukraine and Crimea in 2014 when he thought he had the financial wherewithal and public support to do so.
But when the world is awash in oil, prices dip, and the United States reigns as the largest gas and oil producer, he hesitates. So he remained static between 2017 and 2020.
Second, when the United States increases the defense budget and deters its enemies, Putin also pauses. In contrast, when America “resets” or appeases, he is emboldened.
In 2008, the United States was battered by sky-high oil prices and bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then between2009 and 2016, President Obama went on an apology tour, cut defense spending, boasted of a new “Russian reset,” contextualized Iranian and North Korean aggression, and begged Putin to behave until Obama was reelected in 2012—in exchange for dismantling U.S. missile defense programs in Eastern Europe. Obama then invited Russia into the Middle East after a 40-year absence.
As a result, during all those years Putin formally invaded Georgia, Eastern Ukraine, and Crimea. But between 2017 and 2020, Putin was quieter.
In 2018, the Trump Administration killed attacking Russian mercenaries in Syria. It got out of an unfavorable missile deal with Russia in 2019. It sold offensive weapons to Ukraine. It maintained sanctions on Russian oligarchs. And it greatly increased defense spending.
No surprise that Putin then did not threaten his neighbors with military mobilizations on their borders.
Third, when NATO is in disarray, Putin also turns aggressive.
The United States and NATO began bickering over Iraq and Afghanistan between 2006 and 2008. By 2009-2010, the Obama Administration was complaining that NATO members were “free riders” for not meeting their promised 2 percent annual budget investments in military readiness.
Germany and Turkey became more belligerent and more anti-American.
In contrast, by 2020, an unpopular and tough-talking Trump had nevertheless jawboned a petulant alliance into investing an aggregate $100 billion more in defense. More countries met their promised defense spending goals.
Trump had sanctioned the Putin-Merkel Nord Stream 2 pipeline project that would bind Germany to fickle Russian energy deliveries.
Again, Putin stayed mostly still.
Fourth, when a U.S. president talks trash and yet proves anemic, Putin loses his cool at such empty bombast and turns aggressive.
Obama repeatedly ridiculed Putin with putdowns of the Russian country and people: “Their economy doesn’t produce anything that anybody wants to buy, except oil and gas and arms. They don’t innovate.”
Yet Obama was afraid even to sell defensive weapons to Ukraine to combat Russian aggression and had implored Putin to give him “space.”
Similarly, Joe Biden constantly attacks Putin in personal terms, labeling him a “bully” and “killer.” Yet when Putin brazenly allowed Russian-affiliated hackers to attack U.S. companies and agencies, Biden urged Putin to please ask the hackers at least to make 16 critical American “entities” off-limits.
When Biden slashed U.S. oil and gas production, prices skyrocketed. Biden then begged the “killer” to please pump more of his “dirty” fuel to help American commuters.
In contrast, Trump expressed guarded willingness to work with Putin, especially in realist terms of triangulating to check Chinese aggression.
But such diplomatic and measured talk was juxtaposed with tough deterrence. Putin never knew quite what Trump might do in any given crisis, other than that it would be unpredictable, in U.S. interests, and possibly deadly.
Again, the result was that Putin did not mobilize for invasion between 2017 and 2020 as he is doing now—and did prior to 2017.
What do we learn about Putin’s opportunistic foreign policy?
Pumping lots of oil and lowering the world price of it makes Putin worry about insolvency rather than invasion and ensure the West is less dependent on him.
When the United States appeases Putin and is wracked by internal dissension and social turmoil, Putin pounces.
Prod NATO to bolster their defenses and Germany to stop enriching Putin—and then Russia is circumspect rather than recklessly aggressive.
Speaking softly while carrying a club rather than loudly with a twig better persuades Putin not to try something dangerous. To the degree America embraces all four of the strategies above, Putin will likely not attack anyone.
If we at least embrace one or two of the above protocols, he may still stay put.
But if we ignore all of these time-proven antidotes, then we can almost guarantee that Putin will either mobilize against or actually invade a former Soviet republic.
Biden has managed to violate all four principles. Is it then any surprise that a predictably opportunistic dictator has launched an invasion? ✪
Putin Announces ‘Special Military De-Militarization Operation For Ukraine’
🔽 STORY HERE
✪ Russian President Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine in a surprise television announcement at roughly 6:00 a.m. Moscow time, 10:00 p.m. Eastern. The Russian dictator described the unprovoked attack as a “special military operation for the de-Militarization and de-Nazification of Ukraine.”
“I’ve made the decision to conduct a special military operation,” Putin said. “Our analysis has concluded that our confrontation with these forces in Ukraine was inevitable.”
“This is the red line that I have spoken of many times. They have crossed it,” he said, accusing the Ukrainians of “genocide” for attacking the two new “independent republics” he unilaterally conjured into existence on Monday.
“Russia cannot feel safe, develop, and exist with a constant threat emanating from the territory of modern Ukraine,” he said.
Putin bizarrely claimed Russia’s plans “do not include occupation of Ukrainian territory” and “we are not going to impose anything on anyone by force,” even as Russia launched missile attacks at targets across Ukraine, including its capital city of Kyiv.
“A couple of words for those who would be tempted to intervene. Russia will respond immediately and you will have consequences that you never have had before in your history,” he warned.
“As for the military sphere, modern Russia, even after the collapse of the USSR and the loss of a significant part of its nuclear potential, is today one of the most powerful nuclear powers. And moreover, it has certain advantages in a number of the latest types of weapons. In this regard, no one should have any doubt that a direct attack on Russia will lead to defeat and dire consequences for a potential aggressor,” he said, making it clear that he was threatening nuclear retaliation against the U.S. and NATO if they interfere with his attack on Ukraine.
“All responsibility for bloodshed will be on the conscience of the ruling regime in Ukraine,” Putin insisted, calling on Ukrainian forces to surrender.
“I urge you to immediately lay down your weapons and go home. All servicemen of the Ukrainian army who fulfill this demand will be able to freely leave the combat zone and return to their families,” he said.
Various observers noted that Putin delivered these remarks while wearing what appeared to be the same suit and tie he wore on Monday night when he delivered a long, delirious tirade against the legitimacy of Ukraine as an independent nation. There is some evidence that the Putin announcement televised on Wednesday night was actually recorded in advance. ✪
Putin Threatens ‘Consequences You Have Never Seen’ to Countries Who Interfere
🔽 STORY HERE
✪ Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday announced a military operation in Ukraine and warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to “consequences you have never seen.”
He said the attack was needed to protect civilians in eastern Ukraine — a claim the U.S. had predicted he would falsely make to justify an invasion.
In a televised address, Putin accused the U.S. and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demand to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and offer Moscow security guarantees. He said Russia doesn’t intend to occupy Ukraine but will move to “demilitarize” it and bring those who committed crimes to justice.
As Putin spoke before dawn, big explosions were heard in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odessa and other cities across Ukraine.
U.S. President Joe Biden in a written statement condemned the “unprovoked and unjustified attack” on Ukraine and he promised that the U.S. and its allies “will hold Russia accountable.” Biden said he planned to speak to Americans on Thursday after a meeting of the Group of Seven leaders. More sanctions against Russia were expected to be announced Thursday.
A full-blown Russian invasion could cause massive casualties and topple Ukraine’s democratically elected government. And the consequences of the conflict and resulting sanctions levied on Russia could reverberate throughout the world, affecting energy supplies in Europe, jolting global financial markets and threatening the post-Cold War balance on the continent.
As he unleashed the military action, Putin issued a stark warning to other countries not to meddle.
“I have a few words for those who could feel tempted to interfere with ongoing developments: whoever tries to impede us, let alone create threats for our country and its people must know that the Russian response will be immediate and lead to the consequences you have never seen in history,” he said.
Putin urged Ukrainian servicemen to “immediately put down arms and go home.”
Putin announced the military operation after the Kremlin said rebels in eastern Ukraine asked Russia for military assistance to help fend off Ukrainian “aggression,” an announcement that the White House said was a “false flag” operation by Moscow to offer up a pretext for an invasion.
Putin’s announcement came just hours after the Ukrainian president rejected Moscow’s claims that his country poses a threat to Russia and made a passionate, last-minute plea for peace.
“The people of Ukraine and the government of Ukraine want peace,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an emotional overnight address, speaking in Russian in a direct appeal to Russian citizens. “But if we come under attack, if we face an attempt to take away our country, our freedom, our lives and lives of our children, we will defend ourselves. When you attack us, you will see our faces, not our backs.”
Zelenskyy said he asked to arrange a call with Putin late Wednesday, but the Kremlin did not respond.
In an apparent reference to Putin’s move to authorize the deployment of the Russian military to “maintain peace” in eastern Ukraine, Zelensky warned that “this step could mark the start of a big war on the European continent.”
“Any provocation, any spark could trigger a blaze that will destroy everything,” he said.
He challenged the Russian propaganda claims, saying that “you are told that this blaze will bring freedom to the people of Ukraine, but the Ukrainian people are free.”
At an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council called by Ukraine because of the imminent threat of a Russian invasion, members still unaware of Putin’s announcement appealed to him to stop an attack. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened the meeting, just before the announcement, telling Putin: “Stop your troops from attacking Ukraine. Give peace a chance. Too many people have already died.”
Anxiety about an imminent Russian offensive soared after Putin recognized the separatist regions’ independence on Monday, endorsed the deployment of troops to the rebel territories and received parliamentary approval to use military force outside the country. The West responded with sanctions.
Late Wednesday, Ukrainian lawmakers approved a decree that imposes a nationwide state of emergency for 30 days starting Thursday. The measure allows authorities to declare curfews and other restrictions on movement, block rallies and ban political parties and organizations “in the interests of national security and public order.”
The action reflected increasing concern among Ukrainian authorities after weeks of trying to project calm. The Foreign Ministry advised against travel to Russia and recommended that any Ukrainians who are there leave immediately.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Wednesday the Russian force of more than 150,000 troops arrayed along Ukraine’s borders is in an advanced state of readiness. “They are ready to go right now,” Kirby said.
Early Thursday, airspace over all of Ukraine was shut down to civilian air traffic, according to a notice to airmen. A commercial flight tracking website showed that an Israeli El Al Boeing 787 flying from Tel Aviv to Toronto turned abruptly out of Ukrainian airspace before detouring over Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland. The only other aircraft tracked over Ukraine was a U.S. RQ-4B Global Hawk unmanned surveillance plane, which began flying westward early Thursday after Russia put in place flight restrictions over Ukrainian territory.
Another wave of distributed-denial-of-service attacks hit Ukraine’s parliament and other government and banking websites on Wednesday, and cybersecurity researchers said unidentified attackers had also infected hundreds of computers with destructive malware.
Officials have long said they expect cyberattacks to precede and accompany any Russian military incursion, and analysts said the incidents hew to a nearly two-decade-old Russian playbook of wedding cyber operations with real-world aggression.
Even before Putin’s announcement, dozens of nations imposed sanctions on Russia, further squeezing Russian oligarchs and banks out of international markets.
Biden allowed sanctions to move forward against the company that built the Russia-to-Germany Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and against the company’s CEO.
Germany said Tuesday that it was indefinitely suspending the project, after Biden charged that Putin had launched “the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine” by sending troops into the separatist regions. The pipeline is complete but has not yet begun operating.
Even before the Russian military attack on Ukraine began, the threat of war had shredded Ukraine’s economy and raised the specter of massive casualties, energy shortages across Europe and global economic chaos.
European Union sanctions against Russia took effect, targeting several companies along with 351 Russian lawmakers who voted for a motion urging Putin to recognize the rebel regions and 27 senior government officials, business executives and top military officers.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has shrugged off the sanctions, saying that “Russia has proven that, with all the costs of the sanctions, it is able to minimize the damage.” ✪
Trump On Ukraine Invasion: ‘This Should Have Never Happened’
🔽 STORY HERE
✪ Wednesday, on the heels of reports that Russia had launched a “full-scale invasion” of Ukraine, former President Donald Trump proclaimed Russian President Vladimir Putin would not have acted in this way under his leadership.
Trump blamed the Biden Administration, and the show of what he suggested was weakness, which started with the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“This is something that should have never happened,” he said. “This would not have happened during my administration. In fact, some people were saying, why didn’t this take place over the past four years during my administration? And it didn’t for a very good reason. I’ll explain that to you someday. But it wouldn’t have taken place, and it wouldn’t have taken place right now. It’s a very sad thing for the world, the country, and it is certainly sad for a lot of people that are going to be needlessly killed.”
“I do know him, and I do know him very well,” Trump added. “We’ve had many, many times together. I got along with him fantastically despite the fact that I shut down Nord Stream 2. Nobody would have heard of Nord Stream 2 if it weren’t for me. I’m the one that shut it down, and I’m the one that told Angela Merkel you’re doing a terrible thing by doing this, and they were going to get 75%, not 30% — 75% of their energy from Nord Stream 2. It was ridiculous.” ✪
Putin Demands Kyiv Forces Surrender
🔽 STORY HERE
✪ Russian President Vladimir Putin authorised a military operation in eastern Ukraine on Thursday in what could be the start of war in Europe over Russia’s demands for an end to NATO’s eastward expansion.
Shortly after Putin spoke, a Reuters witness heard the sound of what appeared to be explosions in the distance from the capital, Kyiv.
Explosions also rocked the breakaway eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk and civilian aircraft were warned away as the United States said a major attack by Russia on its neighbor was imminent.
In comments reported by Russian media, Putin said he had authorised a special military operation in breakaway areas of eastern Ukraine and clashes between Russian and Ukrainian forces were only a matter of time.
Hours after pro-Russian separatists issued a plea to Moscow for help to stop alleged Ukrainian aggression – claims the United States dismissed as Russian propaganda – Putin said he had ordered Russian forces to protect the people and demanded Ukrainian forces lay down their arms.
He repeated his position that NATO expansion to include Ukraine was unacceptable.
At the U.N. Security Council, the United States said shortly before Putin’s announcement that an invasion was imminent.
“We are here tonight because we believe, along with Ukraine, that a full-scale, further invasion into Ukraine by Russia is imminent,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told an emergency meeting.
“Tonight we’re seeing the Russians close airspace, move troops into Donbas, and move forces into combat-ready positions. This is a perilous moment.”
Ukraine restricted civilian flights in its airspace due to “potential hazard,” hours after a conflict zone monitor warned airlines should stop overflights over the risk of an unintended shoot down or cyber attack.
An El Al flight from Tel Aviv to Toronto and a LOT Polish Airlines flight from Warsaw to Kyiv turned out of Ukraine’s airspace around the time a notice was issued, according to flight tracking website FlightRadar24.
Russia also partially closed its airspace in the Rostov flight information region to the east of its border with Ukraine “in order to provide safety” for civil aviation flights, according to its notice to airmen.
Convoys of military equipment including nine tanks were seen moving towards Donetsk earlier on Wednesday from the direction of the Russian border, a Reuters witness reported.
Shelling has intensified since Russian President Vladimir Putin this week recognized two separatist regions as independent and ordered the deployment of what he called peacekeepers, a move the West calls the start of an invasion.
The U.N. Security Council met to discuss the stand-off on Wednesday night, in the 15-member body’s second late night meeting on the crisis this week.
A draft resolution calling out Moscow over its actions toward its neighbor is doomed to fail due to Russia veto power, however a Security Council diplomat said it would put Russia on notice that it is “not in compliance with international law.”
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen spoke separately with her counterparts from Britain and Canada, while G7 leaders are also due to talk on Thursday.
Moscow has long denied that it has plans to invade despite massing tens of thousands of troops near its neighbor.In the comments reported by Russian media, Putin said.
A total of 80% of the Russian soldiers assembled are in a position to launch a full-scale invasion on Ukraine, a senior U.S. defense official said.
Satellite imagery taken on Wednesday showed new deployments in western Russia, many of them within 10 miles (16 km) of the border with Ukraine and less than 50 miles from the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, U.S. satellite company Maxar said.
The images showed field deployment, military convoys, artillery and armored personnel carriers with support equipment and troops. The images could not be independently verified by Reuters.
A 30-day state of emergency in Ukraine restricting the freedom of movement of conscripted reservists, curbing the media and imposing personal document checks, according to a draft text, begins on Thursday.
The Ukrainian government has also announced compulsory military service for all men of fighting age.
While the West has held off the most stringent sanctions measures it could impose, the United States stepped up the pressure by imposing penalties on the firm building the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and its corporate officers.
Germany on Tuesday froze approvals for the pipeline, which has been built but was not yet in operation, amid concerns it could allow Moscow to weaponize energy supplies to Europe.
While both sides have said they are still open to diplomacy to resolve the crisis, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said earlier Moscow had approved an offensive and not replied to an invitation for talks.
“Today I initiated a telephone conversation with the President of the Russian Federation. The result was silence,” he said.
Ukrainian government websites, which have experienced outages in recent weeks blamed by Kyiv on cyber attacks, were again offline on Wednesday. Ukraine’s parliament, cabinet and foreign ministry websites were affected. ✪
Democrat Presidents Paved The Way For The Ukraine invasion
🔽 STORY HERE
✪ It is not a surprise that Ukraine is under siege. After all, the O-Biden Administration has been saying for some time, that Russia would invade. So, are we surprised? Should we be surprised? We should not.
We should not be surprised that Putin has the stones to take “Russian territory” back. We should not be surprised that our Climate Change bona fides have done nothing to affect sea levels or carbon loads, but we did in fact, line the pockets of regimes that hate us. We trashed thousands of Keystone Pipeline-related jobs, touched off the biggest increase in inflation since Jimmy Carter, and hurt the little guy more than the big bankers and tech giants.
Energy independence achieved under Donald Trump did more than prime our economy, allow jobs to flourish for every stratum of Americans, and allow affluence to grow more in lower income strata than in the top earner echelons. Perhaps an equally important outcome of our energy effort was the effect the price of oil had on our enemies.
Fracking was the key to taking money from the oil exporters we classify as enemies of our American way. Russia, Iran, and Venezuela come to mind. The price of a barrel of oil during Trump’s stewardship hovered between $40 and $60 per. It is now about $100 and it is likely going to go up some more. Russia alone has profited approximately $50 billion in the time the O-Biden Administration has been “in charge.” That will buy a lot of military hardware.
Was it known that American energy independence was causing hardship to our enemies? Certainly “the smartest people in the room” were aware. While disparaging Trump for being soft on Russia, the current clowns in charge decided to bless NordStream 2, give Putin’s Russia a big-time payday with record oil prices, and kicked our signature on the Budapest Memorandum into the toilet.
What is the Budapest Memorandum? You should look it up but you’ll learn that when Clinton was president, we (among other countries) guaranteed Ukraine’s sovereignty if they would give up the nuclear weapons the failed Soviet Union had placed there behind the Iron Curtain. It was December of 1994 when we “stood up” for Ukraine’s sovereignty. So much for what we “guarantee” — our words and deeds are not worth the paper we sign the dotted line on. In my youth it was popularly regarded as speaking with a forked tongue by our thespians portraying American Indians.
The news media appears to be in fine form, bringing us the lowdown on what ’s going down in Ukraine. They have glommed on to the “crisis” that we won’t lift a finger for, so that they can be journalists! What could be more opportune to lift the disapproval of the media than a real honest to goodness war? The reporters now on the street are reminiscent of the reporters blowing in the wind at hurricanes, tilting in the horizontal rain and trying to be relevant.
Will we be surprised if China decides now is the time to harvest Taiwan? Hardly. We will be surprised if China does not leverage O-Biden fecklessness while the iron is tepid? Is Iran encouraged by American weakness? It may be that we are seeing the germination of a new world order, allowed and encouraged by the O-Biden elite. What shoe will drop next?
Once again, Democrat foreign policy is instructive as in: this is how not to do it. World War I went down when Woodrow Wilson decided isolationism was the hot ticket. Ditto for World War II when Franklin Roosevelt did his Woodrow Wilson impression. Democrats did an about face with John Kennedy’s State of the Union address when he suggested we would pay any cost, bear any burden, to promote freedom and to avoid being surprised when the world blew up in war yet again. I wonder what they’ll do if they are sitting on their hands again if we get World War III?
Democrat foreign policy has been the gift that keeps on giving, like an unwelcome rash. Obama piled out of Iraq exactly when we could have claimed victory, and started treating Iraq exactly as we treated Germany and Japan, who are now considered friends (at least Japan is). An opportunity missed, by a mile. Instead, we got ISIS.
What have we got now? A hot mess that we have no control over. And we have Democrat foreign policy reminding us that they are large and in charge. We should all be worried. I know I am. ✪
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