Ukraine Invasion Enabled by U.S. Right

I strongly suspect that the only thing that would stop Putin from further aggression is if the oligarch class in Russia rose up against him. That may be what the sanctions are designed to do. This is from a just-released fact sheet at, which is what President Biden said today.

Today’s actions include sweeping financial sanctions and stringent export controls that will have profound impact on Russia’s economy, financial system, and access to cutting-edge technology. The sanctions measures impose severe costs on Russia’s largest financial institutions and will further isolate Russia from the global financial system. With today’s financial sanctions, we have now targeted all ten of Russia’s largest financial institutions, including the imposition of full blocking and correspondent and payable-through account sanctions, and debt and equity restrictions, on institutions holding nearly 80% of Russian banking sector assets. The unprecedented export control measures will cut off more than half of Russia’s high-tech imports, restricting Russia’s access to vital technological inputs, atrophying its industrial base, and undercutting Russia’s strategic ambitions to exert influence on the world stage. The impact of these measures will be significantly magnified due to historical multilateral cooperation with a wide range of Allies and partners who are mirroring our actions, inhibiting Putin’s ambition to diversify Russia’s brittle, one-dimensional economy. 

Further down, there is this:

Additional full blocking sanctions on Russian elites and their family members: Sergei Ivanov (and his son, Sergei), Andrey Patrushev (and his son Nikolai), Igor Sechin (and his son Ivan), Andrey Puchkov, Yuriy Solviev (and two real estate companies he owns), Galina Ulyutina, and Alexander Vedyakhin. This action includes individuals who have enriched themselves at the expense of the Russian state, and have elevated their family members into some of the highest position of powers in the country. It also includes financial figures who sit atop Russia’s largest financial institutions and are responsible for providing the resources necessary to support Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. This action follows up on yesterday’s action targeting Russian elites and their family members and cuts them off from the U.S. financial system, freezes any assets they hold in the United States and blocks their travel to the United States.

Some commenters have pointed out that there are no sanctions yet on Putin himself. There are also complaints that Biden has not cut Russia off from the SWIFT Banking System, but that’s not something the United States can do by itself. Other nations would have to agree. Reuters reports that the EU nations in particular are unlikely to agree to cut Russia off from SWIFT because it would hurt them as much if not more than Russia. And, anyway, Russia has been building an alternate payment system.

And in addition to sanctions on Russian financial institutions, Belarus is facing penalties for allowing Russian troops to use it as a staging area.

This is good, although it’s not clear to me that this is all that could be done. In a fascinating interview by Greg Sargent of Edward Fishman, a former State Department official, Fishman talks about completely freezing all state-owned banks in Russia out of the global financial system. Some of that has been done, but I don’t know if all banks are affected. And Fishman says that all of the wealth held by the oligarchs outside of Russia must be identified and frozen. I sounds as if some of that is being done, but I can’t tell how much is being done.

Fishman says he believes Putin may be overconfident in his ability to absorb the costs of sanctions. Russia was sanctioned in 2014 and survived. This round of sanctions is going to be much, much harder. Fishman adds, “Substantial agitation among the Russian elite could potentially impact Putin’s calculus. It’s anyone’s guess what the right vector of influence is, but it’s incumbent upon the U.S. to try all of them.”

I trust that President Biden is examining every option very carefully and will put more into effect in the next few days. I think his position overall is correct.

The Right continues to blame Biden for being “weak” and allowing Putin to act up, as if any President could have stopped him. They have no specific ideas about what might be done differently, mind you; they just somehow think nothing bad would happen were Biden not such a noodle.

One strongly suspects that the American Right’s perpetual ridicule of Joe Biden factored in to Putin’s decision to move on Ukraine. Putin could count on much of the U.S. public not rallying around their President, and if that’s what he thought, he would have been right. Here’s a statement released today from Elise Stefanik, the third-ranking Republican in the House.

“After just one year of a weak, feckless, and unfit President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief, the world is less safe. Rather than peace through strength, we are witnessing Joe Biden’s foreign policy of war through weakness. For the past year, our adversaries around the world have been assessing and measuring Joe Biden’s leadership on the world stage, and he has abysmally failed on every metric. From kinetic and deadly attacks on our allies and partners, to the catastrophic withdrawal and surrender in Afghanistan, to the cyber attacks impeding American industry and infrastructure, to today’s Russian invasion of Ukraine, Joe Biden and his Administration have failed America and the world.”

It’s past time to turn this crap back on the Right, which is acting as a fifth column in service to Putin. Yesterday Alexander Vindman compared Tucker Carlson to Tokyo Rose; that’s a start.

My old buddy Josh Hee-Hawley has stopped insisting we should not extend any effort on behalf of Ukraine because we need to keep an eye on China. Today he said in a tweet that “I will introduce legislation on Monday when the Senate returns to session to lift Joe Biden’s shut down of the American energy sector and return American energy to full production. No more weakness.” The “shut down of the American energy sector” refers, I assume, to Biden’s shutting down of oil and gas leases on public lands.

But, you know, if the Right all this time had not been fighting the inevitable, and instead had supported robust investment into renewable energy technology these past several years, we wouldn’t be in the fix we’re in now about petroleum prices, would we? Righties want to keep us tied to fossil fuel, and it keeps getting us into trouble because it keeps us dependent on countries controlled by despots, or else it requires risking other resources, such as coastlines, wildlife, air, water, and the entire freaking planet. I guess that petroleum industry money is a resource they just can’t quit.

Jennifer Rubin, who almost seems a different columnist from what she was in the Bush years, writes  Dear media: Ask Republicans why they are normalizing support for Putin. “Most Republicans remain cultishly devoted to defeated former president Donald Trump, even as he openly praises Vladimir Putin for dismembering Ukraine, a democratic ally,” she writes. “Imagine a leader of an American party praising the Soviets as their troops crushed the Hungarian uprising in 1956.”

See also Putin’s Useful Idiots by David Graham at The Atlantic.

And meanwhile, in Russia, thousands of Russians took to the streets to protest their nation’s invasion of Ukraine. And thousands were swiftly detained. The Associated Press reports,

In Moscow and other cities, they moved swiftly to crack down on critical voices. Litvinovich was detained outside of her residence shortly after posting the protest call. OVD-Info, a rights group that tracks political arrests, reported that 1,745 people in 54 cities had been detained by Thursday evening, at least 957 of them in Moscow.

Russia’s Investigative Committee issued a warning Thursday afternoon reminding Russians that unauthorized protests are against the law.

Meanwhile, a bunch of mostly white men in big trucks are heading to Washington DC to clog up traffic and otherwise cause trouble because they think they’ve been denied their “freedoms.” Although the trucker convoys are ostensibly about covid restrictions,  “they’re also demanding action on a lot of issues that have nothing to do with COVID-19, ranging from ‘justice’ for January 6 insurrectionist Ashli Babbitt to reversing the renaming of two streets in Scranton in honor of President Joe Biden,” Margaret Hartmann writes at New York magazine.

But the “freedom” activists do love them some Vlad Putin, because he’s a friend of Donald Trump, you know.

10 thoughts on “Ukraine Invasion Enabled by U.S. Right

  1. First off:  A reminder to everyone that the results of any sanctions we put on Russia today, may not, most likely WILL NOT,  be noticeable, let alone effective, tomorrow.

    Sanctions take time.  Eventually:

    If one of the Kleptocrat's kids totalled his Ferrari, and wants another one? "Sorry, Sir!  No, no replacement parts.  And we can't sell you a new one because… youse on da list… that Ukraine list.  Call me when ya's clean!"

    Have a new mistress, Mr. Kleptocrat, but no mansion to store her?  All 4 of the ones you have are for the Mrs, and the 3 other former strippers – but now mistresses (Official Title:  Entertainment Coordinators!).  Need to build a new mansion?  "Well, Sir, we don't have all of the materials we used on you first 4, Sir.  Like, any materials.  We don't have anything.  Or, nothing from America or Europe.  We do have RUSSIAN materia…  No, it is better not to build then… We willnot discuss…   Well, if you must know:  'You're on the lisf.  The Ukraine list."

    In the meantime…

    Let's keep out fingers crossed.

    • The sanctions will hit ordinary people the most, as prices go out of control. They'll also hit everyone in the US and Europe as energy becomes more expensive. Inflation is already bad here, it will get worse. Recession, here we come.

      The kleptocrats, not so much, and it will be interesting to see what sort of internal battles occur within Russia as some of them may vie to take down Mad Vlad.

      BTW, all of this helps explain French Premier Macron’s move a few weeks ago to expand nuclear power in France. Europe has to find a way to get out from under the Russian energy spigot.

      • Kleptocrats can always get their hands on stuff in Russia through third parties. The leverage is where their lives touch the West. That glamorous yacht vacation in the South of France? Bank accounts beyond the reach of Putin? Their kid wanting to go to Oxford? All gone now, you're a pariah outside Russia's borders, and it's all due to the big ego of Vladolf Puta.

      • "I'm with Mike" 😉 – IDK about the mainstream US view about these particular sanctions.  From what I understand, SWIFT sanctions would have had more negative impacts on Russia's general population. 

        Energy prices were returning to pre-COVID levels this past autumn when Putin and MBS had "OPEC+1" lower crude production this past autumn.  The worldwide investment community is at least somewhat aware of that fact, despite gaslighting the public otherwise.  Faux Newz skews public and mainstream network opinion a lot due to its unfair and unethical (previously illegal) pirate TV cable dominance on all US things economic and political. We'll see if our 'new' inflation will remain out of proportion.  (Again, IDK, but before COVID, many serious folks were concerned about deflation causing problems.)

        I am encouraged by the Ukrainian real-time new media awareness and responses, despite Russian cyber warfare,  plus early indications of Ukraine success against seasoned Russian professional units.  Hopefully, brave Russians will take advantage of mild winter weather this weekend to let Vlad know no one likes him.  Russian tanks and troops have already entered Kyiv, but today some brave Duma representatives have officially called out against their country's aggression.

        p.s. If the U.S. nuclear power program was run as well as France's, I would support the same or better here, but I helped shut ours down more than 40 years ago (OK, it was just capped at then-current capacity by politicians + industry), because our leaders and 'power companies' did not want to do the right things for clean energy.

  2. I’m a little optimistic that people in the US will be more ready for the “Freedom Convoy” than they were in Canada. Take away their coveted CDL licenses, and impound those expensive trucks, teach these clowns that they don’t get to terrorize the country using the public highways.

    Great article about this on Ruth Ben Ghiat’s blog.

  3. moonbat,

    Putin doesn't give a Siberian shite about the people of Russia.  Or Ukraine.

    Putin only cares about Putin, and holding onto power.

    The sanctions we're putting in place will effect not just Putin and Russia's Kleptocrats, but Europe and us, too.

    Actually, I'm quietly a bit optimistic that this invasion will come back and bite Putin's scrawny ass. 

    Today, over 1,700 Russians in 54 cities were arrested for protesting Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

    Russians were specifically told not to protest, and that protesters will be treated like terrorists.

    Think about it:  1,700 arrested!  In 54 cities!  In Russia!  Those numbers are astouunding!  Simply astounding!!!

  4. I may be WAY wrong here but Biden is likely to stake out an effective and popular position with voters on responding to the invasion. My read is that people in the US do not think we should stand by while Putin engages in the conquest of an emerging democracy.  My read is also that most people do NOT want US soldiers in a foreign conflict which will result in thousands of US casualties. A few Americans understand the prudence of not directly confronting Russia in a shooting war. The only exception I can recall is/was the Cuban Missile Crisis when Russia was directly threatening the Eastern Seabord with nukes. Even then, our response was a blockade, not a shooting war. (But it was a hair's breadth from a shooting war.)

    To return to my opening thesis – Biden is likely to strike mostly popular decisions – popular with voters, I mean. Some Republicans will be in knee-jerk opposition to anything Biden does, but that leaves them… where? Sympathetic to the invasion? Even if Putin starts exterminating civilians? Or do you bang the table and demand we send US troops to shoot Russians with a nuclear response a distinct possibility?  Or do you back what Biden's doing but complain he's doing it badly… 

    Which leaves Biden in a position to invite specific, constructive suggestions or STFU in a time of conflict. And potentially make it stick with a LOT of voters.  Yeah, this plays into the election strategy – if Putin has to back down, does he time it to protect the Democrats and their majority, or delay a withdrawal in the hope of Republicans getting control?  If leading GOP contenders (2024) want Vlad's head on a stick for war crimes, might Putin try to make Biden look good? (And I'm concerned there will be documented war crimes in Ukraine against an underground resistance.) It would be a role reversal for Republicans to defend Russian aggression and offer Putin a pass for mass murder (and the Democrats demand Nuremburg-style trials.) 

    It's too early for polls of US sentiment, especially looking at the 13% of voters who voted for both Obama and Trump. If that group lines up AGAINST Putin, it will be dangerous politically, even in a red state, to back Putin or perpetually bad-mouth Biden if the Biden policies work.  

    If the Saudis want to take Putin down, they can tilt the entire field by flooding the market with gas that Putin is threatening to withhold. But will they?

  5. Just forty or so years ago any mention of the U.S. right wing enabling any action by Russia could have gotten you a visit by the men in little white coats.  Everyone knew the right wing hated Floride in the water supply and anything Russia did.  Russia was the epicenter of godless communism and all evil.  Today we have no more men in little white coats and the Trump crime family is running the CPAC conservative gathering, singing praises of Putin and his war crime activities.  

    At that point in time, forty or so years ago, Russia was as far on the political left as you could get.  I guess that all changed when they let a few Russians get a lot of money, learned how to launder Rubles, and write checks to Republican Congressmen and perhaps a blue-dog democrat or two.  Some suspect other high level political interference in the U.S. that shows Russian fingerprints.  I personally agree and see more evidence that my Senators and Representatives are working hard for social issues more favored by Russia than by most of their constituents.  That may be just because they both occupy similar spaces in the hate spectrum though, who is to say how and why we got from there to here.  It has all come a long way from where it once was, that is for sure. 

  6. Doug Ducey, my Gov and the newcomer from Ohio, has said that he is a committed white nationalist. His ideological partner is wiping out a European democracy so I know where they stand: with the person and gunmen who are killing my people. In Europe. But,… I know where I stand now, too, more so than ever.


Comments are closed.