Fixed My Shoe
The seam on the left heel side of my right shoe fell apart a couple of weeks ago. Ordinarily, I would have chucked out the pair and bought new shoes. But Putin decided to invade and all the shoe repairmen are busy killing orcs. So, I stitched it up myself last night with super strong thread, poured hot wax on the wound and smothered it all in black shoe polish.
In other news, there was lots of fighting and needless death in and around Irpin and Bucha and Borodyanka yesterday. Residents there - even little kids - were killed by the orcs when they tried to evacuate. Same in Volnovakha and Mariupol. A horrible, horrible tragedy that makes me feel guilty for being located nearby but in a secure location.
The NYT provides a nice map here.
So, we’re very angry at the orcs this morning.
I listened to Feygin Live w/ Illarionov and Latynina’s chit chat with Podoliak. Glad to hear both guests say “I made a mistake” by not believing months of Tiger Team warnings about Putin’s intention to further invade Ukraine. Admitting fuck-ups makes it less likely they will repeat them. Same goes for Fred and Kimberly at the Institute for the Study of War, which posts an update on the current tactical situation. ISF analysts are probably hoping everyone has forgotten their counterfactual “bounds of Putin’s rationality” bullshit.
Practicing London-based philosopher Vladimir Pastukhov has written another pragmatic-sounding article about the current mess. Find my quick xlation of it below.
Apocalyptic Scenarios: Putin prepares an “act of savagery,” but is keeping an eye on Belovezhskaya Pushcha
Knowing Putin, his words “everything is going according to plan” should be read “everything went wrong,” the words “we will not use conscripts” should be understood as “we are already using conscripts, forcing them to sign a contract by force before being sent into battle” and the words “we are not going to introduce martial law and call up reservists” should be understood as “we are very serious about this now, we think."
In general, the president’s latest public appearance and strange entourage (surrounded by Amazons frozen like statues) does not add optimism. Although Putin tried to broadcast several conflicting signals to the outside world at once, reflecting the imbalance of the twilight state of his soul, the overall vector remains negative: We will bury you. This, of course, is Putin putting a brave face on an already awful situation. Nevertheless, purely theoretically, he still has a ghost of a chance to slip out of the mousetrap.
Zelensky has to keep in mind two objective circumstances: the ability and readiness of Russia to launch one or more limited-yield nuclear strikes with virtually impunity. The West’s position non-intervention under no circumstances has already been voiced, i.e., NATO's refusal to resolve the issue of a “no-fly” zone over Ukrainian skies, NATO proclamation that it is not a party to the conflict. Despite the resistance of the Ukrainian army and volunteer fighters against Russian invaders, which exceeds the wildest of expectations, the continuation of the war will lead to colossal casualties for the Ukrainian people. Therefore, despite all the atrocities Russia has already committed in Ukraine, Zelensky has to think about the possibility of a compromise.
But Putin's situation is not the rosiest. He has about a month left before the effect of sanctions will hit home. It will no longer be possible to fully compensate for them (until Russian citizens, for the most part, understand what, in fact, all the talk is about). The information bubble about Russia’s pinpoint strikes on military targets and small casualties will begin to burst, and prolonging the conflict will disabuse people of the notion that Russia is waging a “war of liberation.” How Russia’s population will react to repackaging his “special military operation” into a war against the “Ukes” is difficult to predict.
Of course, Putin would have preferred to quickly end the operation with one technical salvo, but this has not happened. As fatigue sets in among Russian troops, such an outcome, even for Putin, should look unlikely. It seems that the Kremlin is planning another “savage act” for the sake of achieving a quick victory. To pull it off, it is necessary to use a "painful technique" - either carpet bombing with simple weapons, or precision strikes with nuclear weapons. It is not a hard decision to make. In practice, though, it is to equate oneself with Milosevic in Srebrenica. I think there’s only a quarter of a step left, but a certain psychological barrier has to be overcome - Milosevic didn’t end well. That is why Putin also is keeping an eye on what happens during talks in Belovezhskaya Pushcha [read: some kind of negotiated truce one settlement or armistice or understanding].
The success of the negotiation process is directly proportional to the level of Putin's adequacy and inversely proportional to the level of fear of senior military and civilian officials. In any case, they are "near zero," but not yet equal to zero. If the negotiation process ends with anything, the regime can continue bargaining for a couple years. But if talks fail, then a zero-sum game begins: either a coup before the third world war erupts, or a full-blown third world war before the coup. The odds are roughly equal. Plus, it’ll happen pretty fast. I estimate it will all play out in the next six months.