SATURDAY 7 MAY 2022 (@cjjohns1951)
UKRAINE UPDATE: Day 73
Podcast: Daily Telegraph Podcast “Ukraine the Latest”
This is probably the best daily update podcast. It is well worth subscribing to.
Yachts, Oligarchs and the view from Washington
- The Russian effort in the Donbas is stalled.
- The Russians are consuming a lot of military equipment. (Note: From another podcast, the Soviet Union strictly depended on military equipment that was made of parts made in the Soviet Union. With the fall of the Soviet Union, this changed. Russia depends on parts that come from the West for its military equipment. Because of sanctions these parts are becoming more and more scarce. The interviewee in this podcast speculated that Putin would not know details like this.)
- Regardless of the original aims, the devastation of the military makes it disadvantageous for him to continue the war.
- The grain and wheat produced in Ukraine is important to the world food supply. This will affect the Middle East and North Africa especially in terms of higher costs.
- Germany is sending self-propelled Howitzers to Ukraine. This is important because these great guns can be moved. With current military technology, firing from a gun like a Howitzer can be located by the enemy within three minutes. So, it become essential that the gun can fire and then move quickly.
- In the east, each side is trying to push back the other’s artillery.
- Reports that another large Russian ship, south of Odesa, is on fire and sinking. There are US drones in the area monitoring events and also other Russian ships which are perhaps part of a rescue effort.
- Sanctions as a political weapon. There is a big difference between freezing assets and actually seizing them and turning them into funds to use. Using the assets requires changes in sanctions law. (Note: At times, the frozen assets must be maintained by the freezing country and not allowed to decrease in value. This can result in a lot of money being spent maintaining the sanctioned property, like a yacht.)
- Elites often buy yachts as ostentatious displays of their wealth, but also as assets that can be easily moved. A lot of these yachts are held in the names of other people so they cannot easily be targeted. (Note: Yachts as opposed to bank accounts have to, in some instances, be maintained. Money can just be frozen.)
- Roman Abramovich have five mega-yachts, worth around $1 billion.
- The yachts are also often owned by shell companies. They are also often registered in countries where the financial records are not transparent.
- The bar to actual confiscation is very high and likely to result in a protracted legal struggle.
- Financial Times coverage of sanctions.
- Loans for “luxury toys” are made to these oligarchs to help buy high end purchases. The banks now (Credit Suisse) are not being paid for the loans on these frozen assets.
- “Kleptopia: How Dirty Money is Conquering the World” book. https://www.amazon.com/s?k=book+kleptopia&adgrpid=1333708182580435&hvadid=83356999508486&hvbmt=be&hvdev=c&hvlocphy=74961&hvnetw=o&hvqmt=e&hvtargid=kwd-83357131359266%3Aloc-190&hydadcr=964_1014981060&tag=mh0b-20&ref=pd_sl_5ajun2kvdj_e
- Russia claims to be liberating areas and peoples in eastern Ukraine, but after months of shelling, even those who might have had sympathy with Russia no longer do.
- Zelensky warns Russia that they are ensuring that people will no longer want to speak Russian because it will be associated with this invasion.
- Putin’s girlfriend may soon be sanctioned by the EU. (Note: From Telegraph podcast, this sanctioning has a propaganda goal. A newspaper that covered the story about Putin’s girlfriend before the war, was closed down.)
- Another sanctioning target may be Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church.