Biden Reversing Himself Again on Regime Change in Russia.
A few days ago in Warsaw, President Biden stated that President Putin “cannot remain in power.” Within hours the White House corrected the President saying that regime change was not White House policy(As if the policies of the President and the White House he lives in represent different branches of government).
The White House explained that the President was not calling for regime change and was just upset over Putin and Russia’s conduct in Ukraine.
Now, President Biden is repeating a previous claim that Putin is a “war criminal” and would be held to account which certainly would entail regime change first to charge and then try him before a UN War Crimes Commission or the International Criminal Court. If found guilty, he would certainly have to step down in order to serve his prison sentence. The White House is not walking it back this time or explaining what the President really meant to say but was unable to clearly say when he said it.
The administration’s previous stance before Putin was to be careful not to upset him for fear of provoking him to further military aggression directed at the West or NATO, but with a Russian army shot full of holes, demoralized and in retreat after a failed invasion, President Biden(and the apparently separate entity of the White House staff) may see Putin as a limping and wounded beast that can be picked off now.
By only naming Putin as a war criminal the administration may also be hoping that those closest to Putin might arrest him(or bump him off) to get themselves clear of being charged with war crimes themselves.
Russia softens its negotiating position and may be looking at May 9th as their off-ramp to end operations in Ukraine
Russia is no longer calling for the surrender of Ukraine or its “denazification” and appears ready to bend on demands that Ukraine not join NATO and instead is asking for the country to have official neutrality as Switzerland has.
President Zelensky for his part is willing to discuss Ukraine being neutral but not while Russian troops occupy the country and only with third-party security guarantees and a referendum vote by Ukrainians. He has rejected calls by Putin to disarm the country while saying he cannot risk WWIII by trying to take back separatist regions like Donbas.
Both Zelensky and Putin are running against the clock. Every day the war continues more and more of Ukraine is destroyed, along with its economy. Its military is rapidly burning through Javelins, Stingers, and other munitions that may not be easily replaced by the West. We understand the Stinger is no longer in production here in the U.S. and there is some question as to Raytheon being able to add the additional lines of production to keep up with demand not just from Ukraine but for US and NATO replacements of the systems already given to that country. Every day that goes by, Zelensky risks support eroding from the West which will most likely be asked to assist in rebuilding the shattered East of Ukraine as well. As time drags on Russia can try to consolidate and reconstitute its forces for a new offensive to take the entire country to the Dneiper River, effectively cutting it in half with its capital Kyiv right across that river from Russian tanks and artillery.
For Putin and Russia, each day that passes means growing discontent in Russia over the conduct of the war and the increased effects from economic sanctions imposed by the West on his population. Especially worrying ot Moscow would be giving the US enough time to work out a way to supply Europe with the oil and natural gas that was coming from Russia and represents the bulk of their hard currency in Euros and Dollars. Putin sees controlling the energy market in Europe as the key to controlling Europe itself and if he loses those customers to the US, he will have a very hard time getting them back. He probably doesn’t want the main foreingn currency coming into his treasury to be Yuans from China and Beijing manipulates the value of its currency internally, making it unattractive when it comes to exchanging it for Euros or Dollars, just like the Ruble.
Zelensky Would be a Fool to Accept any Security Guarantee From the US
As part of the talks, Turkey has offered to serve as neutral ground offering to host a face-to-face meeting with Zelensky and Putin. Among those being considered to serve as security guarantors of Ukraine the guarantors would be permanent members of the UN Security Council: the United States, Great Britain, France, China, and the Russian Federation. Zelensky also wants Turkey, Germany, Canada, Italy, Poland, and Israel among the guarantors.
In the parlance of international diplomacy, a security guarantor offers the explicit promise to protect adversaries during the treaty implementation period of any peace agreement. This means if Russia should renew its attack on Ukraine while a formal compromise is being worked out, they have to go to war with Russia.
You see the problem there right away, I hope. NATO has already stated quite clearly that it will not go to war to protect Ukraine. Removing NATO countries from that list, Ukraine is left with Russia, China, Israel, and an offer from the Vatican which has no army to send to their aid. He’s screwed that way.
Ukraine cannot rely on the US for any security guarantee. President Biden has expressly ruled out direct confrontation with Russia and it should be remembered, especially by Zelensky, that when Russia invaded his country, President Biden’s first impulse was to just hand the country over to Russia by offering Zelensky and his family a ride out of there, It was Zelensky’s now famous reply “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride,” that prompted the administration to change its stance and at last send substantial military aid to Ukraine. We may also look to the “crushing” and “extensive” sanctions that the President promised to impose prior to the invasion and note that new sanctions seem to be added every day. As of this writing, the most sanctionable thing in Russia is as yet unsanctioned. Gazprom continues to do business and rakes in billions in Euros and Dollars every week. Gazprom represents $90 Billion a year in revenue for the Russian economy. Oil and gas are 25% of Russia’s total exports. We are not hitting Russia where it really hurts while its oil and gas companies are still making money.
Russian Owners of Wargaming.Net Leave Belarus and Give Management Over to a Former Affiliate in Russia
Wargaming.Net the makers of popular online games like World of Tanks, World of Warships, and World of Warplanes announced on April 4th that it was shuttering its operations in Belarus, closing its studio in Minsk. On its LinkedIn account, the company made a statement that it was transferring the “World of..” series of games to Lesta Studios claiming they had no relationship with the company anymore following a years-long strategic partnership.
“Over the past weeks, Wargaming has been conducting a strategic review of business operations worldwide. The company has decided it will not own or operate any businesses in Russia and Belarus and will leave both countries.
Effective March 31 the company transferred its live games business in Russia and Belarus to local management of Lesta Studio that is no longer affiliated with Wargaming. The company will not profit from this process either today or going forward. Much to the contrary we expect to suffer substantial losses as a direct result of this decision.”
It does not say the business was sold to Lesta, only that it had transferred the management of its live games business to Lesta which is itself a Russian company based in St Petersburg. Two days after the invasion began, Creative Director of Wargaming Sergey Burkatovskiy was forced to resign after voicing his support of the war. The company has more than 500 employees in Ukraine and has provided assistance to them in relocating along with a $1 million donation to the Red Cross for Ukrainian relief.
Wargaming had a $1.5 Billion evaluation in Forbes in 2014 with revenue in the $500-600 million range annually.
Did Actor Sean Penn Accidentally Tell Sean Hannity How the Polish Mig Deal Fell Apart?
Last night, Fox News commentator Sean Hannity interviewed actor Sean Penn who has made repeated trips to Ukraine and sat with President Zelensky while filming a documentary about the country. He was with Zelensky the day of the invasion. During the interview, Hannity mentioned the failed deal that would have seen some twenty-nine Polish Mig-29s transferred to Ukraine to bolster its beleaguered air force in the fight against Russia. Hannity blamed President Biden for not seeing the deal through which would have involved sending the Migs first to a US base in Germany(Probably Ramstein AFB) and then on to Ukraine. This would have given political cover to Poland by making the transfer appear to have been done by NATO as a block and not just by Poland as an individual country.
Penn took issue with blaming it on President Biden saying it was his understanding that the deal was supposed to be done secretly and was leaked to the press, and that effectively ended the chances of it being done. This is an entirely new angle on the subject and given the access had to President Zelensky at the time, it is not at all implausible that he heard it from Zelensky himself or one of his staffers.
Donated Medical Supplies to Ukraine are Not Getting to Their Troops in the Field
We are in contact with a US organization that is screening applicants who wish to join the foreign legion augmenting the Ukrainian army in repelling the Russian invaders. They tell us that donated medical supplies are subject to a 25% VAT tax on their value by the EU because the organizations sending them are not registered charities or NGOs that would be exempted. The paperwork to register as such can take months. Quite a bit of the supply that does get through are bottlenecked in Ukraine. It would seem that all of it is going to hospitals in Ukraine as supply hubs, but the hospitals are stockpiling the supplies for their own uses anticipating a greater need exists among civilians instead of sending it on to the army. We will continue to watch this.
General Milley Says the War in Ukraine Could Go on for Years.
To which we would reply, “How would he know?”
The Intelligence Agencies reporting to General Milley, the Joint Chiefs, and the President have been spectacularly wrong lately.
In Afghanistan, they told us that the Afghan army could hold out for months as the Taliban were literally rolling into Kabul unopposed.
It claimed the invasion of Ukraine was “imminent” (occurring at any moment) for months, like a National Inquirer psychic making the same prediction every day until it finally comes true and saying “AH-HA! We told you so!”
It was mocked by the Russians after the predicted February 16th invasion date came and went quietly.
Then the President announced he was absolutely certain that Putin had made the decision to invade at some future date, but was not certain enough to impose the crushing sanctions he promised should an invasion occur,
The intelligence agencies also played a hand in telling the President that these sanctions would deter Putin from invading which also proved to be untrue. In December of last year, we said that sanctions would not deter Putin but US weapons would.
Finally, when the invasion did occur, the consensus of our intelligence agencies was that the capital Kyiv would fall to the mighty Russian army for three days. It neither fell nor was the Russian army proved mighty.
If we want to set the Wayback Machine to October 2020, More than 50 senior intelligence officials signed their names to a letter saying that the Hunter Biden laptop story had the classic earmarks of a Russian disinformation campaign,. In others words, it was entirely made up. We now know they were totally wrong about that too. More than 50 of them couldn’t get it right.
Look at the names of the people who signed that letter out of strictly partisan interest and not our national security if you want to know why they can’t seem to predict the outcome of a one-horse race.
If they are telling Gen Milley the Ukraine war will drag on for years, there is every likelihood that it will end tonight, given their past record of failed prognostications. May we suggest using one of those Mystery Magic 8-Balls to improve their future accuracy?
Putin May Be Looking at May 9th as an Exit Ramp from Ukraine
There are unconfirmed reports(how could they be confirmed really?) that Putin may be wanting to be done and out of Ukraine before May 9th of this year. May 9th or Victory Day has replaced May 1st as its most important holiday since the fall of the Soviet Union. May 1st used to be the day the Communists in the Kremlin called on the workers of the world to unite and overthrow the Capitalist system that was oppressing them. They can’t very well do that now since Russia pretends to be a Capitalist(Really Crony Capitalist) society.
I have heard several people who have visited say that in Russia, “WWII ended yesterday” referring to the endless monuments of the Soviet victory in the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945). Germany surrendered to the Soviets on May 9th and it tends to be a week-long holiday in the country with a huge military parade in Red Square(Maybe not so big this year).
In the post-Soviet Era, May 9th became their 4th of July, a pure expression of nationalism and a reaffirmation of Russia’s identity as a people and even their destiny going forward. It would not be good if it was marred by anti-war demonstrations or if the celebration was dampened by a bloody, costly war against their “brothers” in Ukraine still going full tilt. Having millions of pissed-off people in Red Square is not something the Kremlin wants, revolutions have begun that way and they don’t dare cancel it either. For President Putin, the holiday represents the opportunity to shore up his flagging support within the country and get the populous back on track If Putin really wants to get out of Ukraine with some semblance of their national dignity still intact, May 9th would be a pretty good day to be out by.