Here’s Your Latest Russia-Ukraine Update, Before Sh*t Gets Even Worse

Ukraine
Here’s Your Latest Russia-Ukraine Update, Before Sh*t Gets Even Worse

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan made the morning talk show rounds today explaining that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is pretty much inevitable. No one wants to hear this over their first cup of coffee. We’d prefer to watch Sullivan cook borscht with Savannah Guthrie.

During a “Today” show appearance, Sullivan was asked if there was a potential for violence if Russia invades a sovereign nation. Sullivan confirmed this wouldn’t be one of those pacifist invasions, and that the situation could become “extremely violent.” The US government says it has “credible information” that Russian forces have compiled a post-invasion list of Ukrainians to kill or detain (or kill after they’ve been detained). The list’s likely targets are reportedly "people opposed to Russian actions, including dissidents from Russia and Belarus living in Ukraine, journalists, anti-corruption activists and members of ethnic and religious minorities and the L.G.B.T.Q. community."

Sullivan had more bad news:

We also have intelligence to suggest that there will be an even greater form of brutality because this will not simply be some conventional war between two armies. It will be a war waged by Russia on the Ukrainian people, to repress them, to crush them. to harm them, and that is what we laid out in detail for the U.N., because we believe that the world must mobilize to counter this kind of Russian aggression should those tanks roll across the border, as we anticipate they very well may do in the coming hours or days.

On “Good Morning America,” Sullivan told co-anchor Michael Strahan, "All signs look like President [Vladimir] Putin and the Russians are proceeding with a plan to execute a major military invasion of Ukraine.” So, that seems clear. President Joe Biden will make every attempt at sane diplomacy, but he’s dealing with a madman. Diplomacy has its limits, and we can’t just let Putin butcher innocent people because he’s turning 70 this year and wants to check off some more massacres on his bucket list.

Sunday evening, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden had “agreed in principle” to a summit with Putin later this week. This would follow a separate meeting between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. It’s also dependent on Putin not acting a fool and invading Ukraine.

“As the President has repeatedly made clear, we are committed to pursuing diplomacy until the moment an invasion begins,” Psaki said in a statement. “President Biden accepted in principle a meeting with President Putin following that engagement, again, if an invasion hasn’t happened. We are always ready for diplomacy.”

We hope this summit takes place, but there’s not much reason for optimism. This morning, Putin said he would decide by day’s end whether to recognize the independence of the separatist regions Luhansk and Donetsk in southeastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed rebels have fought Ukrainian troops since 2014. The Kremlin announced minutes ago that Putin in fact would recognize those regions' independence. US officials fear (for good reason) that Putin would use such a move as pretext for full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Hit that last link for a good New York Times explainer of why Luhansk and Donetsk and this announcement matter so much, and why this could be the thing that sets off real war.

French President Emmanuel Macron had reportedly convinced Putin to agree to meet with Biden, but then he Lucy Van Pelted him as part of his overall goal of dividing Western alliances. Russian state media confirms that Putin’s already informed France and Germany that he plans to “recognize” his own illegal occupation. (Because if those regions are "independent" then Putin will have to "defend" them from mean old Ukraine! See the play here?)

About an hour ago, Putin delivered an unhinged address to the world. Therein he wilded out about how the very idea of Ukraine is a "fiction," and railed against the fact that the rest of the former USSR satellites were even allowed to leave in the first place:

Mr. Putin also laid out a long history of grievances since the fall of the Soviet Union and the loss of the states that once made it up.

“We gave these republics the right to leave the union without any terms and conditions,” he Putin said. “This is just madness.”

Yeah, this is some madness, all right.

We appreciate the arguments that this is his last-ditch desperate gambit for lost glory. We just wish people didn’t have to die. War sucks that way.

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[CNBC / New York Times / ibid.]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."

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