Alexander Ziperovich

Alexander Ziperovich is a Political analyst and Opinion columnist. He writes about politics, justice, foreign affairs, and culture, dissecting the larger historical and social context behind important events.

Ukraine Intercepts Barrage of Hypersonic Missiles

As Russia’s troubled invasion of Ukraine limps on, and the weaknesses of Vladimir Putin’s military machine are exposed, there was one weapon in Moscow’s arsenal that was supposed to be utterly unstoppable, impervious to any and all air defenses, the pride of the Kremlin: its Kinzhal or Dagger hypersonic missiles, capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear payloads.

They travel at more than five times the speed of sound, and represent the pinnacle of Russian weapon engineering. It was allegedly impregnable, a bulletproof weapon costing $10 million a piece, this fearsome blade.

However, 6 of those same missiles, launched in a ferocious barrage at Kyiv last night, alongside six Shahed drones, three Orlan drones, nine Kalibr cruise missiles launched from the Black Sea, and three other ballistic missiles, were reportedly all successfully intercepted. In other words, the attack, lasting about 20 minutes and launched at just after 3 in the morning, was a spectacular failure.

The sustained barrage is estimated to have cost Russia some $120 million, at least. The Ukrainians called the attack “exceptional,” despite what they said was a perfect record of interceptions.

Indeed, it was a stunning demonstration of Ukraine’s vastly improved air defense systems, and underscores the challenges Russia faces, as Kyiv’s partners supply Ukraine with some of their most advanced military technologies.

In the past year, the government in Kyiv has received numerous Patriot air defense batteries from the United States, alongside a slew of other sophisticated systems donated from allied Western countries. Those defenses are increasingly frustrating Moscow’s attempts to terrify and intimidate the Ukrainian population, and were targeted last night in Russia’s failed bombardment.

One of those Patriot batteries reportedly suffered an indirect hit, but remains operational, according to Ukrainian air force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat. The vaunted American system is merely one of many layered air defense systems now operating around the Ukrainian capital; each Patriot battery costs $400 million, with $690 millon for the missiles, totaling more than a billion dollars apiece.

For those living in Kyiv, it’s surely worth every penny.

The limitations of domestic repression

In related news, three of Russia’s top weapons scientists have been arrested and charged with high treason, provoking a rare outcry from Russian academics, who published an open letter denouncing the arrests. The three men worked on issues relating to hypersonic missile technology in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, and were well regarded in Russia’s academic research community.

Valery Zvegintsev, Anatoly Maslov and Alexander Shiplyuk worked at the Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, and are accused of passing classified secrets related to their research on hypersonic technology to China and Iran, apparently by publishing research in foreign publications.

Colleagues are adamant that the arrests were unjustified. Still, they’re neither the first nor the last Russians to be swept into Putin’s dragnet, as the Russian police state convulses in on itself, demanding victims.

In any case, they’re facing 20 years in a grim Russian prison colony, in an attempt to put the fear of god into scientists and officials working in Putin’s Russia, even as the CIA steps up its recruiting of Russian assets with a new video encouraging espionage, and a dark web address designed to mask the identities of spies and leakers.

The Kremlin has unleashed a wave of savage domestic repression since beginning its war in Ukraine, cracking down on what little remained of the free press and political dissent in authoritarian Russia, in moves that are reminiscent of Stalinist terror in the 1930s. At this point in Russia, you can be expected to be arrested for talking out of turn on social media, calling the war in Ukraine a war, or even mentioning the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact between the Soviet Union and the Nazis prior to World War II.

Nevertheless, domestic repression doesn’t win wars, and stifling Russia’s best scientists working within the military-industrial complex is hardly a winning strategy. As the Russian scientists themselves noted in their open letter to the Kremlin, these moves threaten to “collapse” weapons research in Russia, at a most inopportune moment.

A dark portent of things to come

As Ukraine gears up for its long-expected counteroffensive, and worsening fissures appear in the Russian leadership, it’s unclear how Russia might stanch the bleeding on or off the battlefield. The regime in Moscow increasingly appears to be in disarray, hamstrung and lacking initiative, and no amount of domestic repression is going to solve its problems.

Rather, it’s clear that Vladimir Putin has launched what appears to be a catastrophic and unwinnable war on Russia’s border, a merciless invasion that has claimed an estimated 200,000 casualties in the Russian military alone, and untold suffering across a battered but undefeated Ukraine. Of course, the war also remains a menacing peril for humanity at large, as the world’s largest nuclear superpower finds its conventional military options more limited by the day, even as Ukraine’s capabilities steadily improve.

Now, Moscow appears to be facing significant challenges to its wartime strategy of inflicting terror on Ukrainian civilians with long-range bombardments like the one stymied last night in Kyiv. It’s yet another grim setback for the Kremlin, in its war of imperial aggression, launched without provocation or reason. It’s unlikely to be the last, as the Ukrainian military prepares what it hopes will be a devastating counteroffensive, designed to push the Russians out of their country once and for all.

Fault Lines in the Russian Military Structure

The Ukraine will be an extremely painful problem. But we must realize that the feelings of the whole people are now at white heat.” — Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

If Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn acted as Russia’s moral conscience during his own lifetime, crying out against the cruelty of the gulag in his literature, and shaking the rotten totalitarian system to its very core, he seems to have been something of a prophet regarding Ukraine. As a Russian nationalist, he had complicated feelings about what was for him “a painful subject.”

“Russia and the Ukraine are united in my blood, my heart, my thoughts.”

And yet he spent enough time in the godforsaken labor camps with enough Ukrainians to understand their unquenchable desire for freedom, for independence from Moscow’s suffocating authoritarian grip. It was clear to him that, “We must leave the decision to the Ukrainians themselves.”

If nothing else, Ukrainians have made their wishes abundantly clear in this war, after 15 months of brutal combat, fighting what was once considered the second most powerful army on earth to a standstill outside Kyiv, before retaking Kharkiv, Kherson, and Lyman, and finally settling in for the winter along a largely static 600-mile frontline.

Quickly dispensing with Russia’s muddling springtime offensive, Kyiv is preparing to go back on its own offensive, in a campaign fueled by sophisticated heavy weapons from the United States, Britain, Germany, France, and a host of other countries, in a push designed to throw the Russians onto their backs, and out of Ukraine for good.

The stakes are high.

However, Ukrainian forces have already begun making inroads on the outskirts of Bakhmut, the shattered city that’s taken on the mythical significance of Stalingrad, swallowing tens of thousands of soldiers into its fiery maw. These recent advances have caused significant anxiety among pro-war Russian bloggers, afraid they’re witnessing the beginning of Ukraine’s offensive, something Kyiv denies.

Meanwhile, the fractures in Vladimir Putin’s forces continue to widen.

The supply shortages and catastrophic troop losses continue to poison morale, as young Russian men continue to fight and die and kill for what seems to be an utterly lost cause. And yet, Putin clearly hasn’t relinquished his desire to subdue Ukraine, at nearly any insane cost, despite having suffered an estimated 200,000 casualties in his battered military machine, and inestimable damage to Russia’s global prestige.

Incredibly, drones recently appeared to bomb the Kremlin. Four Russian aircraft, two Mi-8 helicopters and two Sukhoi fighter jets, crashed and burned just inside of Ukrainian airspace in a single day near Bryansk. Putin’s mercenary chief is savagely belittling Russian generals, blaming the Ministry of Defense for the deaths of his soldiers, even as he’s consumed by his own treasonous intrigues, apparently offering to sell Ukraine’s military intelligence directorate information on Russian troop positions.

None of this bodes well for Putin.

Still, he seems to be tolerating Yevgeny Prigozhin’s outbursts for now, being unwilling or unable to do anything to silence the man fielding what is perhaps Russia’s most effective battlefield formation in the Wagner Group. However, the problems continue to pile up and fester, and a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive can be expected to further debilitate the battered Russian ranks.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky was on a whirlwind European tour last week, extracting promises of additional weapon systems and political support from governments in Berlin, Rome, London, and Paris. He finally secured critical long-range Storm Shadow missiles and drones from the British, armored vehicles and training from the French, and nearly three billion dollars in military aid from the Germans, a doubling of their commitment.

The Kremlin has already threatened “retaliation” for the long-range missiles, which are presumably causing significant anxiety in Moscow.

However, Zelensky continues to agitate for F-16 fighter jets from his most important backers in the Biden administration, who continue to resist sending them. Still, he’s gotten nearly everything else on his wish list, and analysts believe Ukraine is sufficiently armed to begin its next offensive.

“They all reek of expensive perfume”

Meanwhile, the world has been watching the war of words between Yevgeny Prigozhin and the upper echelons of Russia’s Ministry of Defense with a kind of horrified fascination. Prigozhin has posted scathing videos on social media, walking amid the bodies of his fallen fighters, calling out the Russian generals who “all reek of expensive perfume,” and who “think they will go down in history as victors while shaking their fat bellies.”

Rather, “They already went down in history as cowards,” according to him.

It’s the kind of fighting language usually reserved for one’s mortal enemies. However, as we’ve recently learned, Prigozhin has actually been consorting with Ukrainian military intelligence officers, meeting HUR agents in Africa, and offering to sell them Russian troop positions in exchange for a withdrawal from Bakhmut.

The Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed those allegations as a “hoax,” which surfaced in Air National Guard Jack Teixeira’s leaks of classified documents on Discord. Prigozhin called the Washington Post a prostitute, said the newspaper was trying to smear him, and suggested the information came from Russian elites attempting to sabotage him.

Nonetheless, there’s no denying his feud with Russia’s Ministry of Defense and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, which has become a fixture online, as new videos of Prigozhin hurling slurs at them and other Russian generals make the rounds on social media daily. However, the Discord documents also suggest there’s some validity to Prigozhin’s complaints about ammunition shortages, what he aptly calls “shell hunger,” as his fighters die by the thousands in Bakhmut.

At a bare minimum, all this noise is a humiliating distraction, particularly as Ukraine prepares to mount its next offensive operations. At worst, it’s the kind of growing political power struggle that could make one believe that Vladimir Putin is no longer capable of controlling his subordinates.

For his part, Putin’s stayed at a remove from the bickering between his military leaders, appearing to rise above the turmoil, projecting an air of calm confidence. As has been frequently noted, Putin allows factions underneath him to duke it out for political reasons, a tactic that’s worked well for him, keeping him at the apex of Russian power for decades.

But disunity of command is an entirely different animal on the battlefield, especially when the war is going so dismally, and factions are openly attacking each other. Still, all these theatrics may not matter as much as Putin’s ability to: field fresh troops, supply weapons and ammunition, and keep the Russian economy hobbling along.

At this point, it’s likely the Kremlin would merely like to maintain the status quo: a mostly static war of attrition, while awaiting a more favorable geopolitical situation , and a fracture in the Western alliance backing Kyiv. This requires time, something Putin believes is on his side, particularly with elections looming in the United States next year, a contest that could deliver the White House to a Republican Party skeptical of America’s commitment to Kyiv, and friendly to Moscow.

Still more important is the capacity of Ukraine to disrupt the Russian military on the battlefield, to demonstrate forward progress, and deny Putin a war of attrition. At this point, there’s every reason to believe that Kyiv’s coming offensive is going to cause significant problems for the Russians, both on the battlefield and back in the Kremlin.

Intelligence Leak Shakes US Government and Security Agencies


As a flood of secrets spills out onto the internet, and officials in Washington scramble to contain the damage and plug the leaks with FBI counterintelligence investigations and Justice Department referrals, it’s clear the United States has suffered what appears to be a catastrophic national security failure. While the damage is difficult to immediately quantify, it is extensive and ongoing, with grave implications for American and allied interests from Ukraine to Asia to the Middle East.

Indeed, anxious American officials are calling the leaks a “nightmare for the Five Eyes,” referring to the intelligence-sharing alliance between the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

Ominously, the origin of the leaks remains a mystery. The U.S. has begun tightening access and restricting the flow of information within the government, as it searches for the culprit behind the leaks. Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh announced that the Department of Defense (DOD) stood up an “interagency effort” to assess the damage to “U.S. national security and on our Allies and partners.”

The source or sources of the leaks remains unknown and unidentified, hidden somewhere within the upper echelons of America’s vast military and national security apparatus, an anonymous mole with a security clearance, access to state secrets, and a desire to inflict pain on the United States and its partners. The source could be a disgruntled insider betraying U.S. secrets for the pleasure of revenge, or a trained Russian asset, a penetration agent operating in the heart of the American government.

Until he or she is arrested, we can only speculate about the motives and identity of this individual. As top secret information keeps trickling out of the U.S. government, the blowback will continue reverberating around the world, with unpredictable consequences.

Indeed, further embarrassing exposures are distinctly possible, and dangerous.

Ultimately, this information could enable hostile foreign intelligence agencies to unmask American spies working within foreign governments, cripple specific channels providing the U.S. with signals intelligence, poison relationships between the U.S. and its allies, and derail sensitive operations around the world by revealing American sources and methods.

A storm of secrets

A torrent of highly classified documents from internal Pentagon briefings, folded into small squares and quickly photographed, have been spreading like wildfire on the gaming platform Discord, the encrypted social media app Telegram, the message board 4Chan, and Twitter. Federal investigators are now trying to hone in on what amounts to a trail of digital breadcrumbs, no simple task.

Nevertheless, the Russians are likely ecstatic, overjoyed about receiving this precious gift from the inner sanctum of the “main enemy.”

The dates of sensitive documents assessing various aspects of the war in Ukraine are from late February to early March, and thus extremely timely and relevant from the perspective of Russian war planners preparing for Ukraine’s expected counteroffensive.

It’s going to be impossible to suppress or otherwise rid the internet of these revelations, now that they’ve circulated this widely, and with this much media attention. The secrets in the 100 or so photographed documents are now blown wide open, irrevocably exposed to the world. 

Meanwhile, there’s nothing to suggest that we’ve seen the end of these leaks, particularly with no suspected perpetrator in handcuffs. It’s a problem with real urgency, and no solution as of yet.

Friends & enemies

The documents confirm America’s widening involvement in the war in Ukraine, and U.S. intelligence’s widespread infiltration of Russia’s General Staff and GRU (military intelligence). But the documents also reveal America’s unsavory but somewhat predictable habit of spying on its friends and partners, nothing new in high-stakes international relations.

Apparently, the United States has been listening in on conversations among allied officials and politicians in Seoul, Kyiv, Jerusalem, and elsewhere. The documents contained details derived from signals intelligence capturing South Korean officials worrying that their deliveries of 155 mm artillery shells to the U.S. were actually destined for Ukraine, despite Seoul’s policy of not arming nations at war. The documents show that they were correct that the ultimate destination of the shells was Ukraine.

There was also delicate information about America’s closest Middle Eastern ally. The documents showed that the Mossad chief was urging employees at Israel’s storied foreign intelligence agency to join protests against Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial judicial reforms, as the country erupted into mass protests that ultimately forced him to delay the move. The Israeli government vehemently denied this.

There were also reports about discussions among top officials serving in Volodymyr Zelensky’s government in Kyiv, and stark U.S. predictions of a “stalemate” in the Donbas, and what they believe are the slim prospects for success concerning Ukraine’s upcoming offensive.

It’s all a bit reminiscent of when the Obama administration was caught tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone calls, which emerged during Edward Snowden’s release of a massive trove of NSA files in 2013. It was a serious embarrassment at the time, though it did no lasting damage to relations between Germany and the United States.

Inevitably, these new leaks are being compared to Snowden’s. Notably, the former NSA contractor lives in Russia, having sworn an oath of allegiance to Putin’s brutal authoritarian regime after the invasion of Ukraine. He gained Russian citizenship for himself, and shelter from the U.S. government, but lost any and all credibility as a whistleblower concerned with protecting democracy. 

Relevant revelations 

As David Sanger noted in his article in the New York Times today, the difference between this ongoing intelligence debacle, and Snowden’s and Wikileaks, is that these secrets are nearly current, and thus highly relevant to events on the ground in an active war.

Many of the dozens of documents are about America’s deepening involvement in Ukraine; they reveal America’s grim assessments of both the Ukrainian and Russian militaries, and offer potentially compromising information about the weapons, logistics, and battlefield planning of the Ukrainian military.

Still, the U.S. is doing nearly everything in its power to support Kyiv.

The documents make it clear that while America isn’t engaged directly in shooting at Russian troops, the U.S. is “heavily entangled in almost everything else,” as Sanger puts it. The U.S. is supplying the weapons, ammunition, logistical expertise, and precise targeting intelligence that’s allowing the government in Kyiv to effectively defend itself against Vladimir Putin’s genocidal aggression.

Unfortunately, these leaks are likely to complicate that daunting task, as Ukraine fights an existential battle to fend off what has been a savage Russian invasion and occupation, one that has already cost hundreds of thousands of lives, and shows no signs of slowing down or concluding. 

Cold warriors

The documents, drawn from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Operations Center, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and the Joint Staff’s intelligence arm, known as J2, provides an extraordinary look into some of America’s most sensitive deliberations, planning, and operations. 

The precise systems, munitions, and capabilities of Ukraine’s overstretched air defenses, complete with maps showing their exact locations, are part of the cache of documents. There’s concern that Ukraine’s stressed air defenses may soon collapse, enabling Russian warplanes to gain air superiority, something that could fundamentally change the course of the entire war.

That’s information the Kremlin can be expected to exploit, going forward.

In another revealing example, documents analyzing troop strength and casualties in the Ukrainian and Russian armies seem to have been doctored to exaggerate Ukraine’s losses and minimize Russia’s staggering number of casualties (estimated at more than 200,000). It’s precisely what you would expect from the Kremlin’s accomplished spin doctors, as Moscow manipulates unfavorable information into something the Kremlin considers more helpful. 

However, alongside these numerical fabrications appears plentiful evidence of American penetration of the Russian military’s General Staff and officer corps, and its military intelligence agencies. U.S. intelligence agencies have compromised Russia’s military to such an extent that Washington knows beforehand what and where Russia intends to strike, giving it a crystal clear picture of its strategic, tactical, and operational plans, and giving Ukraine the information it needs to defend itself.

Indeed, it’s often been noted that Washington has a much better idea about Russian plans and intentions than Ukraine’s, as the Russian government is riddled with American spies. However, these leaks may seriously compromise CIA spies and informants, and risk blowing the human intelligence sources the U.S. relies on to clarify the Kremlin’s thinking.

Of course, that’s merely one piece of the smoking aftermath of these leaks. There’s also the question of how these documents might impact America’s alliances, Ukraine’s upcoming offensive, and the war in Ukraine more generally. 

In other words, when the United States leaks, entire nations get wet. That’s particularly true during this bitter war of aggression, as two nuclear superpowers face off on either side of the divide, with little room for error.

The Trump Effect: How One Man Changed American Politics Forever

In a geopolitical earthquake, Finland officially joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization yesterday, even as the United States found itself consumed by its own lurid domestic drama. So, even as America’s already enviable position in the world continues to expand and consolidate, primarily as a result of Vladimir Putin’s botched invasion of Ukraine, our domestic travails continue to distract and disorient us, even as they threaten to unravel America from within.

This strange dynamic of simultaneous global dominance and domestic unraveling was on stark display in the split-screen of downtown Manhattan and NATO headquarters in Brussels, where Finland’s national flag was raised to signal its place in the American-led alliance even as the first American president was arraigned on criminal charges in New York City.

In any case, it’s clear the radical homegrown authoritarianism embedded in the Republican Party, and personified by Donald Trump, are far more dangerous to us than even our most potent global adversaries in Beijing and Moscow. Of course, those threats also feed off one another, as in the case of Putin and Trump’s long and fruitful political alliance, which continues to this day.

As prosecutors attempt to hold Trump accountable, in the run-up to 2024, the gravest danger to our democracy will continue to threaten us from within. It’s a threat that will crystallize as we approach our next national election, one in which Trump may be both a criminal defendant and the Republican nominee, as Beijing and Moscow do what they can to stir up dysfunction in our fragile democracy.

Prosecuting a president

Indeed, Americans were intently focused on the spectacle in New York, as Donald Trump was indicted for making hush money payments to silence a pornstar before the 2016 election, resulting in 34 criminal charges against the former president and current Republican frontrunner. Trump was indicted, arrested, and arraigned yesterday in a Manhattan courtroom, amid a deafening media circus, becoming the first American president, current or former, to be indicted on felony charges.

However, the indictment seemed to be based on something of a novel legal theory, amid serious questions about whether or not it would stand up in a court of law. Regardless, the indictment has allowed Donald Trump to rapidly consolidate his control over the Republican Party, galvanizing his followers, and raising an extraordinary amount of money. 

In the short term, it seems the dominance of his authoritarian movement in the GOP is all but assured, with few Republicans willing to take him on as he’s facing criminal charges, particularly with those charges seeming weak.

Indeed, there’s been nearly universal concern from lawyers and political analysts about the weakness of the case, and anxiety that a failed prosecution would be “rocket fuel” for Trump’s third bid for the presidency, in the words of John Bolton, his former national security adviser turned conservative critic.

In any case, all eyes were on New York yesterday, and will remain trained on the Trump reality television saga for the foreseeable future, even as at least three other simmering criminal investigations threaten to produce their own indictments against the former president.

Thus, there was little reporting about the earth-shaking international developments affecting America’s position in Europe, despite the fact that Finland’s accession to full NATO membership carries with it profound implications for European and American security, with Washington and a newly belligerent Russia on opposing sides of a brutal war of aggression in Ukraine. 

Indeed, it was a reminder that America’s own domestic dysfunction, and Washington’s tendency toward self-absorption, can overtake even the most advantageous strategic situation. In an increasingly tense and multipolar world, we may not have that luxury for long.

Finland joins NATO

Indeed, NATO’s border with Russia has just doubled in length. NATO gained 832 miles of border along the Russian-Finland frontier, and a new ally with one of the strongest militaries in Europe, and extensive historic experience in the art of resisting its massive Russian neighbor. Neutral throughout the Cold War, Finland is now officially under Washington’s nuclear umbrella, and if the country is attacked, can expect NATO’s Article 5 protection. 

Likewise, Sweden looks set to join sometime before the next NATO summit convenes in Vilnius, Lithuania in July 2023. 

It amounts to a major strategic headache for Russia, and a black eye for the Kremlin on the international stage. Finland is deep in the heart of what the Kremlin considers its natural sphere of influence, and the fact that it’s joined NATO after decades of neutrality is a humiliating strategic reversal for Russia, and Vladimir Putin personally.

After all, Putin launched his vicious war of aggression in Ukraine partly because of his fears of NATO enlargement choking off Russia’s geo-strategic position; the idea that his botched invasion has now led NATO onto much of his border, and has effectively reduced the Baltic Sea to a NATO lake, must have been beyond his imagination. 

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was a “violation of our security and our national interests.” He said the Kremlin would be “watching closely,” even as Putin indicates that he’ll soon be placing tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, a reminder of the global stakes of these developments.

A showdown over Taiwan

Meanwhile, a newly assertive China is protesting the meeting between House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing Wen. China has declared meetings between Taiwan and the U.S. verboten, a breach of the One China policy that America sometimes adheres to, and sometimes does not. With President Biden having issued numerous solemn promises to come to Taiwan’s defense in the event of a Chinese invasion, the issue is a live ball, and a perilous one for all involved.

However, it seems somewhat unlikely that Beijing will launch another fearsome show of military force, as it did when Nancy Pelosi visited the Taiwanese leadership, sparking a major showdown between China and the United States that continues to claw at the superpower relationship. 

In any case, with Xi Jinping clearly eyeing Taiwan, and Vladimir Putin continuing to pursue his catastrophic invasion of Ukraine, it’s an increasingly dangerous world, particularly as Beijing and Moscow seal their somewhat shaky alliance. Still, this tense geopolitical climate does nothing to negate the fact that America’s biggest problem is here at home. 

The Republican Party is still caught in a destructive whirling cult of personality, led by a sociopathic madman who’s already shown he’s more than willing to use political violence to get what he wants. As he’s prosecuted for his crimes, Trump can be expected to do as much as damage as possible, at the head of the Republican Party that he dominates.

Thus, it feels as though international and domestic tensions are rising together, inextricably linked by personalities, politics, and passions. It’s enough to make even the most jaded analysts somewhat nervous, as powerful forces converge, and potentially erupt, with unknown consequences.

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The Reckoning with Donald Trump


The Manhattan grand jury voted to indict Donald J. Trump today, in connection with his payment of hush money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, in a truly historic move against a former American president who is again seeking reelection. Trump is expected to be booked and arraigned sometime next week in downtown Manhattan, although the exact timing and charges remain unknown right now, because the indictment remains sealed.

It’s hard to overstate the gravity of this development, which apparently came as something of a surprise to Trump’s team at Mar-a-Lago, despite nearly constant swirling rumors that charges would be brought.

For his part, Trump already released a lengthy grievance-soaked statement decrying what he called “Political Persecution and Election Interference,” offering a false narrative of his own victimhood, and attacking Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg as a tool of “Radical Left Democrats.” 

This is likely only to be the first shot fired in Trump’s verbal offensive, with far more to come as he embarks on the rhetorical war path.

A political earthquake

This is the first time a current or former American president has ever been charged with a crime, and it can be expected to shake American politics and jurisprudence to its very core. Certainly, the implications of this case will reverberate deep into Republican politics, and scramble America’s upcoming presidential election in 2024, with entirely unpredictable fallout.

Trump’s legal team has indicated that he will voluntarily surrender to authorities in New York, where he will presumably be arrested, booked, and asked to plead guilty or not guilty before a judge in Manhattan district court. He’s certain to try to turn this event into a media circus, and he will work hard to inflame his supporters to come out and defend him, perhaps with additional calls for violence.

Indeed, he’s already demanded that his supporters “PROTEST! PROTEST! PROTEST!” in numerous fiery Truth Social posts predicting this indictment. He held a somewhat sparsely attended rally at Waco, Texas, which was the site of the infamous siege against the Branch Davidian sect, an important symbol of violent far-right rebellion against the federal government. The symbolism was lost on no one.

Lately, Trump’s been explicitly promising “retribution.” He predicted “death and destruction,” were he to be indicted, and now that he has been, aftermath is all but assured.

Grievance politics

For some time, Donald Trump has spoken flippantly about this moment, claiming that an indictment would actually benefit him politically with his bitterly aggrieved voters. However, the real question now seems to be how this prosecution might alter the larger political landscape within the Republican Party, and whether or not and to what degree the GOP coalesces around the former president.

It’s unknown.

And yet some quarters of the Republican Party are certain to remain in his corner, particularly in the GOP’s radicalized congressional caucus. Indeed, Kevin McCarthy’s House Republicans have already been lacerating Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, and subpoenaing his documents, on behalf of the former president, in what appears to be a blatant effort to obstruct this very prosecution.

Congressional Republicans like Jim Jordan and Elise Stefanik have already been vociferously denouncing what they’ve called a “sham prosecution” and “outrageous,” without even seeing the indictment, in a sign of how little the underlying facts and evidence matter to them. But other Republicans may be harder to pin down, particularly those who might wish to defeat Trump in the upcoming primaries.

Will prominent presidential aspirants like Mike Pence, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Mike Pompeo finally turn on Donald Trump, or will they continue to be his reliably sycophantic supporters, terrified of incurring his wrath? Will these leading Republicans adopt Trump’s own poisonous rhetoric describing this indictment as a “political witch hunt,” and could this prosecution galvanize his support in the GOP ahead of 2024? 

We simply don’t know how this will ultimately play out, politically or legally.

However, in the near term, Trump can expect a boost in support, as elected Republicans rally around their former boss. The long term consequences of an indictment are much harder to predict, as a combative former American president defends himself against felony charges in a criminal trial.

A cascade of charges

Of course, there are other simmering criminal investigations that are felt to be far more serious than this hush money affair, particularly Fulton County DA Fani Willis’s inquiry in Georgia, currently examining Trump’s efforts to fraudulently flip votes. There’s also the federal inquiry at the Department of Justice, led by special counsel Jack Smith, into Trump’s hoarding of classified documents, for which a federal search warrant was executed at Mar-a-Lago.

The question then, is whether or not these Manhattan charges might crack open the doorway to other far more consequential prosecutions, and what kind of compounding effect multiple simultaneous prosecutions would have on Trump’s support in the Republican Party.

Again, it’s all unknown.

Right now, what is known, is that a single prosecutor is finally attempting to hold an utterly lawless former leader of the free world to account for one small part of his long record of wrongdoing, with no guarantee of success. With that said, there’s every reason to pursue Trump in court, should evidence of crimes exist. 

Without the rule of law, our democracy will fail. Period.

Donald Trump has evaded justice for decades, for racist housing policies at his residential buildings in Queens, for obstructing the Mueller investigation into Russian election interference, for blackmailing the president of Ukraine into providing dirt on Joe Biden, for trying to overturn a valid American election with lies, and ultimately inciting a lethal insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

He was acquitted after two righteous impeachments during and after his presidency because of the cowardice of elected Republicans, and he has thus far escaped state and federal charges for his well-documented efforts to incite a coup d’etat, and his hoarding of mounds of classified documents at his home at Mar-a-Lago.

Donald Trump is a cancer on the American body politic, fueled by his own sense of impunity. That impunity is finished.

Perhaps finally, justice will prevail over this destructive and narcissistic criminal, who’s brought this country so low. Perhaps finally, American democracy will be safeguarded from a would-be dictator who would like nothing better than to obliterate our freedom, and replace the rule of law with the rule of the strong, connected, and wealthy.

Of course, whether or not this prosecution is successful will have the gravest possible national implications for the country. Trump and his minions will do everything in their power to tear America apart, and obstruct the successful pursuit of justice.

That much is assured.

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Putin and Trump Grapple with Legal Challenges


In the span of only about a week, Vladimir Putin was issued an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court for ongoing war crimes, while Donald Trump looks set to be indicted on felony charges in a Manhattan courtroom. These twin developments seem to signal the beginning of the end of impunity for the world’s two most destructive, authoritarian leaders in a generation, the Hitler and Mussolini of our day, as the democratic world responds to this new breed of violent fascism.

Their crimes are numerous, and extensively documented, and perhaps finally the law will confront these two autocrats with a fondness for unleashing political violence, and terror.

Indeed, Putin launched a brutal war of aggression in the heart of Europe, starting the largest and bloodiest conflict since the Second World War. Trump attempted to defy America’s voters, and keep himself in office with lies, pressure, political violence, and ultimately a siege of the U.S. Capitol, unsuccessfully attacking American democracy from within. 

For years, they’ve been intimate partners, bound together in their mutual loathing for Western democratic values, and their violent lust for absolute power. Putin played Trump’s political benefactor, interfering in the 2016 election on his behalf, and enabling his rise to power. In office, Trump returned the favor by weakening America on the global stage, and groveling before Putin in public, siding with him over his own intelligence agencies. He nearly destroyed NATO, and savaged America’s traditional alliances, even as he offered rhetorical and political support to his patron in the Kremlin.

These two men represent humanity’s darkest impulses, toward violent domination, autocracy, political extremism, war crimes, hatred, and genocide. Their poisonous partnership is the nexus of modern global fascism, and right-wing radicalism, on both sides of the Atlantic.

Now, the two aging tyrants are finally facing at least the prospect of justice for their crimes, as one prosecutes a cataclysmic failed war in Ukraine, while the other attempts to finish off the ailing democracy he once led, with a third run at the presidency. It’s a moment of hope, and peril.

An element of genocide

“What the nations can offer in the way of good blood of our type, we will take, if necessary by kidnapping their children and raising them here with us.” 

That’s SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler speaking at an infamous secret address in Posen in October, 1943, where he discusses the Third Reich’s policies of ethnic annihilation. The abduction of children en masse is a classic feature of genocide, as articulated by the 20th century’s great genocidaire innovator, Himmler, in a Nazi policy now being widely replicated by Putin in Ukraine.

Indeed, Putin was issued an arrest warrant last week for his role in the abduction of tens of thousands of Ukraine’s children, treated as spoils of war by his regime, and forcibly resettled in Russia at gunpoint. However, this is merely one element of the Kremlin’s larger policy of national and cultural extermination, amid the raining bombs and bullets, as Putin attempts to erase Ukraine from the map. 

The Russian dictator has declared the “historical unity” of Russia and Ukraine, arguing that Ukraine as such does not exist, as he goes about trying to annihilate Ukrainians physically, politically, culturally, linguistically, and nationally. He’s razed their cities, slaughtered their civilians, stolen their children, and annexed their territory, using his nuclear weapons to guarantee freedom of action, in what amounts to the gravest threat to global peace and stability since Adolf Hitler’s Wehrmacht began to devour Europe.

But the Russian military has been utterly unable to stanch fierce resistance, consolidate territorial gains, nor defeat Ukraine’s forces on the battlefield, leading to a protracted bloodbath, as the Western world arms Ukraine to fight back. As the Biden administration leads a coalition of countries to defy Russian aggression, by arming Ukraine to the teeth, Putin’s campaign is in serious jeopardy.

He has failed to subdue or absorb Ukraine, instead embroiling Russia in a strategic nightmare, producing a catastrophic waste of human life, losing hundreds of thousands of his soldiers to casualties, while inflicting mass terror on Ukraine’s towns and cities. After a long delay, the West is now speeding main battle tanks, air defense systems, and long range missile systems into Ukraine, as the war reaches a critical turning point, amid expected Ukrainian counteroffensives.

But Putin has several cards left to play. He was meeting today with his most important international partner, Chinese President Xi Jinping, during a warm three-day summit at the Kremlin in Moscow, where he was received with endless pomp and circumstance. Amid the touted diplomatic friendship, there’s still no sign the Chinese intend to deliver weapons or matériel to Moscow; instead, Xi’s providing crucial political and economic support, or what Secretary of State Antony Blinken called “diplomatic cover” for Putin’s war crimes.

However, Putin has other well-placed allies.

His ideological partners in the United States are beginning to reassert themselves in Washington, as Donald Trump and his lesser protege, Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis, enter the presidential race by declaring they would end American assistance to Ukraine, effectively handing it over to Putin. 

The Trump case

Thus, Donald Trump’s possible criminal indictment is reverberating from Washington to New York to Moscow to Kyiv. If the expected indictment does go through, it’s likely to carry inherently unpredictable effects into the budding presidential race, particularly within the Republican Party.

Presumably, it could either strengthen or weaken Trump’s chances in the upcoming primaries, and lead to far-reaching political consequences in the United States of America. Certainly, the Kremlin will be paying extraordinarily close attention, at a moment that could be pivotal for its war effort in Kyiv, and much else.

An indictment could potentially spell the beginning of the end of Trump’s long stranglehold over the Republican Party, offering an opening to DeSantis and others eager to move on from his poisonous leadership, or it could strengthen his grip. After all, he’s survived numerous crises that would’ve permanently ended the careers of most politicians several times over.

And yet, he’s never been arrested, or tried. 

It’s something he’s been afraid of his entire life, apparently, leading him to burnish his links with prosecutors in New York. But he has no way to prevent the prosecutors now pursuing him.


This could be the beginning of a ferocious power struggle in the GOP, and see the morphing of Trumpism from a mainstream political movement into a violent right-wing insurgency, to the extent it already isn’t one.

It’s impossible to predict, especially with an uncertain future outcome in court. It could presage a further cascade of criminal charges, with at least four extremely serious criminal investigations currently pending, for hoarding classified documents and instigating a failed coup d’etat, among other inquiries, whereas a failure could doom efforts to hold Trump accountable.

In any case, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin’s destinies remain intertwined, as ever, as both men face the first real consequences from their long and ruthless political careers. Suddenly, Putin faces limitations on his movements, and a barrier to travel in the 123 nations that have signed the Rome Statute (China, U.S., and Russia have not signed those accords).

Trump, for his part, faces the real prospect of being fingerprinted, possibly even handcuffed, and of course incarcerated, however unlikely that might be. Still, it’s something that is reportedly giving him great anxiety, although he apparently craves a “perp-walk” to enrage and galvanize his followers, telling associates it would be a fun experience, according to the New York Times.

Certainly, these legal developments are historic, carrying grave implications for American democracy, but also geopolitically. It’s a moment that’s fraught with tension, and truly unprecedented, as a former American president again seeking the presidency faces the prospect of arrest, and trial.

For a country that’s been traumatized, and battered, by Trump and his minions, it’s been a long time coming. It’s a moment of anxiety and high hope, that finally justice will hold this sociopathic criminal accountable for his wrongdoing, and protect American democracy from a would-be dictator.

But with House Republicans already trying to obstruct justice, and interfere with the prosecution that hasn’t even begun, there are also dark possibilities to contemplate. The United States would be deeply destabilized by a failed prosecution, leaving Trump more powerful, his radicalized party more united around him. 

In other words, there are real risks to indicting the Republican frontrunner, and a former American president. However, the risks of not indicting Trump are clear: a lawless nation without recourse to justice, or the rule of law, and the death of our democracy. It’s the kind of country Trump wishes America to be, where the strong cull the weak, and powerful men get away with murder.

If we want to avoid living in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, this is the price. It’s the price of democracy, and freedom from tyranny. Of course, Trump is already wielding his supporters like a cudgel, and he will do everything in his power to obstruct justice, and destabilize the country.

It won’t be easy, but democracy never is. 

Views expressed are the author’s own

Russia & U.S. Clash in the Sky: Officially Enter World War III?


The relationship between Washington and Moscow is already near the breaking point, and early this morning, risked spinning entirely out of control, when a pair of Russian jets first harassed and then attacked an unarmed American MQ-9 Reaper surveillance drone flying over the international waters of the Black Sea. The two Su-27 fighters dumped fuel on the drone, apparently trying to blind its sensors, before colliding with its propeller, bringing the $32 million piece of military hardware crashing down to the water below.

Predictably, Russia’s Ministry of Defense offered a different account of what took place, saying the drone’s own maneuvers caused it to rapidly lose altitude and crash. In any event, it was the first documented physical clash between the armed forces of the United States and Russia resulting from the war in Ukraine, a perilous precedent that should give everyone some pause.

Apparently, these kinds of high-altitude confrontations between the U.S. and Russia are “not an uncommon occurrence,” according to John Kirby, the National Security Council spokesman. Still, Kirby acknowledged this incident as “noteworthy because of how unsafe and unprofessional it was,” to say nothing of how the “reckless” attack further inflames an already tense atmosphere, and adds to the danger of a direct clash between the United States and Russia.

Notably, the U.S. and Russia had no communication during the incident, and thus no way to deescalate, or express intentions. Afterward, the Russian ambassador in Washington was summoned to receive formal American objections to the attack, which Ned Price at the State Department called a “brazen violation of international law.” 

Certainly, incidents like these add to the grave risk of mistakes and miscalculations between the two nuclear powers, and the danger of unintended escalation, with all that entails. Relations between Moscow and Washington are already at an all-time low, amid Vladimir Putin’s catastrophically botched invasion of Ukraine, and Joe Biden’s arming of Kyiv, and it likely wouldn’t take much to send things spiraling further downward.

The danger of accidental escalation is real

The aerial run-in merely reinforced the sense that any errant spark could lead to serious and unintended consequences, a complete rupture in relations, and the possibility of armed conflict. The downed Reaper was unmanned; what if it had been a manned surveillance flight, and the U.S. incurred casualties as a result of Russian aggression? 

Clearly, it would be a different story, and an incredibly dangerous one.

Still, the White House seemed keen not to allow the incident to devolve into a tit-for-tat cycle of mutual escalation, and apparently resisted calls to respond with military force. As New York Times reporter David Sanger said on CNN today, the White House wanted to respond “calmly,” and avoid the prospect of unintended escalation, particularly because the drone was unmanned.

Nonetheless, it’s clear, Sanger said, that the Russians have a mounting appetite to take on the Americans on the sidelines of the war in Ukraine, even as Russia struggles desperately on the battlefield. Russia’s recent offensives in Bakhmut and elsewhere have resulted in meager territorial advances, and at a staggering cost in human life, particularly the life of Russian conscripts and mercenaries, who have been engaged in suicidal assaults to inch forward against Ukraine’s fortified defenses. 

After losing an estimated 200,000 casualties and counting in its disastrous campaign to subdue and absorb Ukraine, the Kremlin has increasingly characterized the war as an existential conflict between Russia and the United States. Incidents like the one today show the danger of that notion coming to fruition, in what would be an apocalyptic nuclear confrontation humanity would be unlikely to survive, should one begin.

A light in the darkness for Putin

Meanwhile, favorable developments amid early presidential posturing have given Vladimir Putin something to smile about, as presidential frontrunner Gov. Ron DeSantis went on Tucker Carlson’s show and argued that defending Ukraine was not in America’s vital national interest. He referred to Putin’s wanton aggression as a “territorial dispute,” and made it clear that if elected, American aid to Ukraine would quickly evaporate.

Clearly, the Florida governor is aligning himself with Donald Trump’s isolationist MAGA bent, even as he prepares to take on the former president for the Republican nomination in 2024, as Trump faces the prospect of criminal indictments.

DeSantis’s view stands in sharp contrast to many of the elected leaders of the Republican Party, and provoked a round of heated criticism from Marco Rubio, Lyndsey Graham, Liz Cheney, Mitch McConnell, and other leading lights in the GOP, who have argued that the United States should be doing even more for Ukraine, and certainly not less.

However, Ron DeSantis has always fashioned himself in Trump’s tainted image, as a combative culture warrior, and jingoistic “America First” nationalist, so his view on Ukraine should come as no surprise. Rather, it shows DeSantis’s strategy is to mimic Donald Trump and his ever evolving political positions, while keeping himself free of the toxic drama and criminal investigations that constantly engulf the former president.

In any case, it’s a major win for the Kremlin, and Vladimir Putin himself, who has been banking on a change in leadership in Washington to bail him out of his dismal war in Ukraine. If DeSantis, or god forbid, Trump were to retake the White House, and military and financial aid to Kyiv dried up, Putin’s path to victory would suddenly become far more clear, and plausible.

For his part, Vladimir Putin can be expected to do everything in his power to assist his allies in the MAGA wing of the Republican Party to achieve electoral victory in 2024, and Ron DeSantis is now on that short list. Presumably, the Kremlin will intervene vigorously in the next American election, by carrying out cyberattacks, hacking, and targeted propaganda to elevate a pro-Putin candidate, much like in 2016.

However, this time, America’s national security establishment has no excuse not to see it coming, and should be prepared to counter the Kremlin’s machinations forcefully, and from the outset. The Biden administration has every incentive to prevent Putin from sabotaging American democracy, and everything to lose should they fail.


The Anniversary of a Nightmare

It has been a year of fire, raining steel, smoke, bloodshed, and ruination, like nothing since Adolf Hitler’s stormtroopers blitzkrieged their way through Europe in 1940. Likewise, Vladimir Putin’s invading troops have cut a swathe of wanton destruction and murderous carnage, in a war of utterly unprovoked aggression, torturing and slaughtering unarmed civilians, kidnapping tens of thousands of young children, and flattening entire cities into dust, leaving nothing but the charred skeletons of buildings and human bodies where they stood.

And yet for all its unspeakable cruelty, the Russian military has gained pitifully little for its efforts. From the outset, the Russian army has been and remains plagued by dysfunction, disorganization, a dire lack of supplies and ammunition, sunken morale, and truly astonishing numbers of dead and wounded soldiers, estimated to be somewhere north of 200,000 men, to say nothing of Ukraine’s tens of thousands of maimed and dead.

For that terrible price, Russia has bought itself a tenuous hold over about 20% of Ukraine, in the eastern Donbas region, and a so-called land bridge connecting Russia proper to Crimea, after Ukraine’s withering summertime counteroffensive retook much of what they initially conquered, including Kharkiv and Kherson, the two major cities sacked by Russia in the first days of the war.

Of course, the Kremlin has also secured the undying hatred of the Ukrainian people, their supposed Slavic brethren, alongside punishing geopolitical isolation, and economic sanctions. Millions of middle class Russians fled the country to avoid being drafted during Putin’s “partial mobilization,” leaving behind a severe brain drain that will hobble Russia far into the future.

To call what the Kremlin still coyly refers to as its “special military operation” a debacle rather understates things. It is a historic disaster, a global confrontation that risks starting a third world war, in what would be the nuclear death knell for humanity. Putin has fanned those flames, lacing his speeches with unsubtle threats to deploy his weapons of mass destruction, in a vain effort to keep the West from arming Ukraine to resist his predations.

Still, the Biden administration, along with their European allies, have begun to shake off their fears of provoking the Kremlin, and they’re arming Ukraine ever more forcefully, sending constantly improving military hardware. They’ve sent Patriot air defense batteries, and HIMARS long range missiles; they’ve promised M1 Abrams main battle tanks, and are reportedly considering sending F-16 fighter jets. They’re training Ukrainian troops in Oklahoma, and are continuing to share vital intelligence that’s enabling Ukraine to target and kill Russians on the battlefield.

And yet this war is nowhere near over.

As Russia feeds more and more of its young men into the meat grinder, sacrificing the lives of an entire generation on the altar of Putin’s insanity, he is building nothing better than a monument to the dead, to utterly wasted lives. However, Putin believes his dream of reviving a zombie proto-Soviet-Russian empire out of the ashes of history remains within his reach. He believes that he can simply wait out the Americans, until a Republican more amenable to him retakes office, and the European alliance fractures under the economic and political pressure.

Year two

On this first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the onset of the kind of global hostilities not seen since at least the Cold War, and probably earlier, the world finds itself at a critical and dangerous precipice. Both Ukraine and Russia are digging in for a protracted and progressively bloodier fight, with little serious discussion of negotiations, ceasefires, or settlements.

Rather, Ukraine’s Western backers have called on the Kremlin to pull its murderous troops out, and are increasingly comfortable delivering high tech American arms to the government in Kyiv. To mark the one year anniversary, President Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Kyiv, in a potent show of Washington’s mounting support for the Zelensky government.

Meanwhile, both sides are promising fresh offensives. Russia has reportedly already launched its own push to consolidate the Donbas, though if the last few weeks are any indication, that may be a heavy lift. The Russian military remains saddled with dire problems, and continues to suffer incredible numbers of casualties.

Moreover, factional infighting between Wagner mercenaries and the Ministry of Defense continues to worsen, as they duke it out in a bitter public feud over increasingly scarce military supplies. Yevgeny Prigozhin recently posted macabre photos of a mound of his dead men, as he tries to secure ammunition for his fighters, and undercut his enemies at the top of the Russian military.

It’s not exactly a picture of a healthy political nor military situation, and can only be expected to deteriorate as supplies further dry up, and more men perish in the vicious fighting. Of course, the advantage of Putin’s soulless calculus, and his utter disregard for human life, are such that he has no compunctions about sending his young men to die. Diminishing weapons and ammunition are another story entirely, which is why he’s carefully tending to his budding alliance with China.

According to recently released American intelligence, Beijing is seriously considering sending lethal aid to their beleaguered partners in the Kremlin, which has been forced to beg artillery shells off North Korea and missiles from Iran. Washington has warned China of severe repercussions if it follows through, amid rapidly rising tensions between both superpowers.

But if the anti-Putin protests in cities around the world today were any indication, Vladimir Putin’s war is damned unpopular, to put it mildly. Xi Jinping aspires to global leadership, not global pariahdom, like his partner in the Kremlin has achieved for himself. If China began sending weapons to Russia’s murderous forces, Beijing’s meticulously built prestige would melt away just as quickly, and completely. The economic toll would also be grievous for China, amid promised American sanctions and the withering away of trade with Europe.

Meanwhile, China released a 12-point peace plan today that was roundly dismissed as unserious and unworkable, in what amounted to a plan to lock in Russian gains. Of course, Moscow lauded the plan. But if Beijing truly wants the war to end, they might stop supporting the Kremlin politically and diplomatically, and apply pressure to their erstwhile ally to desist from their catastrophic war.


After a year of immense bloodletting, the war in Ukraine is a terrifying reality that shows no signs of abating, or slowing down. Rather, it continues, on and on, as lives are lost, towns are torched, and people are maimed.

The horror seems endless.

Putin’s invasion has rocked the global order, as he attempts to rewrite the global security architecture, and raise the Soviet Union’s lost power and prestige from the grave. His war of national annihilation has thus far failed, due to Ukraine’s fighting prowess and bravery, Russia’s incompetence, and the West’s political and military support.

But as we enter the second year of war, this conflict is every bit as perilous as it was at the beginning. All sides are absolutely entrenched, and after Russia’s countless atrocities, committed so flagrantly and constantly as to blur together, it’s difficult to imagine any Ukrainian government ever negotiating with Putin.

And yet eventually, negotiations must happen. It’s nearly impossible to imagine this war ending otherwise, as the specter of nuclear escalation hovers in the air like an unclean ghost, threatening humanity’s very survival.

God forbid.

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