Ukraine Update: 2/28/22 8:30 PM
• William Taylor, former Ambassador to Ukraine, is asked about Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons. Taylor says that Putin’s threat is “performance,” that Putin is trying to bully.
• Jake Tapper uses as evidence that Putin is “unstable” the meeting between Putin and his military officials when he announced the recognition of the Donbas. Tapper notes that Putin berated one of the officials in front of the cameras. Putin was filmed years ago berating Deripaska in a meeting with factory owners. This is a standard ploy of Putin to create the impression that he is standing up for the regular people against the elite, the government officials. (Note: Deripaska is now issuing statements against the war. He is the one Manafort tweeted about when he asked “how can we use this to make whole.” He was talking about his (Manafort’s) position with the Trump campaign.)
• Earlier in the night, CNN interviewed Josh Rogin, who said that “There is no dissent” from the people around, men around, Putin. He (Putin) has disabled all opposition. Putin is just tying to see what the West will do in return.
• Rogin: “We failed to deter Putin from invading Ukraine, he’s still deterred from attacking us.” “We would still win that war. He’s evil but not suicidal.” (Note: I find this an incredibly arrogant statement).
MSNBC: Ari Melber
• Zelensky put out another video today. “Don’t trust your propaganda.” He said this in Russian to the Russian people.
• Kharkiv is suffering the most attacks right now. Flattening 80 homes and killing civilians including children.
• Evelyn Farkas: Some of the Russian bodies are not being collected and sent home. The Russians planned to encircle Kyiv so they could get Zelensky. The plan has not unfolded as they wanted, but they have so much more air power and other power.
• Putin scheduling an emergency meeting with financial advisors.
• Putin issued a statement today in which he called the West an “empire of lies.”
• Videos of people waiting in line to get money from a bank.
• Singh, a Biden administration officials notes that communication is still possible when countries have been removed from SWIFT. But they have to use a phone call or a fax for every transmission, rather than clicking a key.
• Today, the ruble lost 30% of its value, making it worth less than a penny.
• Russia is likely to experience double digit inflation, recession, isolation from global economy, isolation from technology, the military fortificuation of the eastern flank, and countries moving away from fossil fuels at a more rapid rate.
• Putin has been banned from traveling for personal reasons. He can always claim that his travel is for government business. The U.S. Congress does this all the time.
• Interview with McCaffrey:
• The Russians are “surprisingly incompetent.” But the Russians are holding back attack on cities for fear of how it looks. But, now they are going to seize the major cities. McCaffrey then starts to criticize a “genuing expert” who says that Putin’s threats are performance art, that Putin is not really unstable. McCaffrey disagrees.
About Putin, McCaffrey says: “He’s going off the rails.” He has “difficulties making logical decisions.” Putin is “implying a threat of nuclear weapons over a failed conventional operation.” This is not a situation of an existential threat to the survival of the state. Putin understands that there is no winner in nuclear exchange. These decisions “don’t make any sense.” Putin is only “piling more fuel on the argument that NATO better rearm….better get scared.” Talking about Putin he says: “This guy is dangerous.” McCaffrey then talks about the fact that Putin knows the catastrophic implications of urban fighting. That sounds like logical reasoning.
• Melber then asks McCaffray if Putin would have realized the seriousness of the threat previously but not now. • McCaffray responds: Putin has “personally suddenly found himself immersed in a disaster….he never thought through this adequately….conventional invasion…gone wrong on him in ways he would have never anticipated.