It’s been a couple days. It hasn’t affected him at all. It hasn’t affected his country at all. I can’t speculate why he would activate his nuclear capability, but you can be sure that as he does that, we do that as well, and he knows it. Perhaps he doesn’t care, and perhaps he’s just a fool.
I hope that there are back channel conversations going on, as we saw happened recently between generals of sounder mind to forestall any actual use of such weaponry. I can about guarantee that if something on this scale would happen it would be the biggest market shock in history, not to mention the genocidal and moral aspects of it.
I don’t know what Putin is thinking, but we can make some observations. One is that the war isn’t going the way it was supposed to. Two Russian armored columns penetrated Kharkiv on Sunday, and both were smoking ruins by noon. I don’t know what went wrong, but there clearly needed to be more than two columns. An advance on Irpin outside of Kyiv also ende with burning vehicles and Russian weapons and ammunition being inventoried by their new owner, the Ukrainian army. That seems to be an anecdote for the whole war thus far. Despite an overwhelming numerical advantage, Russia has failed to capture any major objectives. Putin seems to have underestimated the Ukrainians’ resolve.
Putin also seems to have underestimated the world’s resolve. Europeans are turning out in marches numbering hundreds of thousands to protest. Their leaders are listening. Aid is pouring in from all sides, including just today the promise of fighter jets from the EU. The Germans are sending offensive weapons for the first time since WWII. The Czechs just sent a train laden with one million bullets with more on the way. It was a bit slow to start, but there seems to be a real resolve to stop Putin in Ukraine before he goes farther.
In the US, a wing of the chattering class has long been enamored with Putin. Putin wrestles with bears and drills for oil, they say, what’s not to like? In the days and weeks leading up the war, a prominent pundit whose names rhymes with “Pucker” and his network colleagues lavished praise on Putin. He’s just misunderstood. Putin never harmed us. And talk of an invasion is just a fabrication designed to distract us from inflation.
Now we know the invasion isn’t a fabrication like they told us, that wing of the chattering class is backing off their prior support of Putin. At a big political conference in Florida last week his his formerly unwavering allies in the United States started wavering. They still like Putin, just not as much as they did.
The ruble fell by 30% and the Russian stock market didn’t open today. Russian debt is now rated as junk. Thousands have taken to the streets in Russian cities and despite thousands of arrests, the protesters keep returning. Putin is in trouble and he knows it. Hopefully, saner heads will prevail.