The Long Tail of The Ukraine Invasion

The invasion of the Ukraine has begun. We are going to witness a war like we haven’t seen in decades. One sovereign nation has crossed the boundaries of another sovereign nation with tanks and bombs. People are fleeing the country with miles-long traffic jams leaving the capital.

What are the long term implications? At the bare minimum, we’re looking at higher gas prices, which is going to lead to inflation on everything. Worst case, this act of aggression emboldens others to grab land that they’ve coveted for decades, and we end up with another world war.

Are you paying attention? What’s your take on the situation?

33 thoughts on “The Long Tail of The Ukraine Invasion

  1. Inflation was 7.5% in January, the highest in 40 years. So, the Ukraine invasion is not the primary cause of the current inflation–the Fed’s reckless quantitative easing is.

    Oh, and the Biden administration’s steadfast war on US energy production is to blame. (Note that this article is from 2021.)

    I guess it depends on how determined the EU is to resist Russian rule. Germany pausing Nord Stream 2 was a good start–which I never thought would have happened. I guess tanks and missiles change the calculation of risks and benefits in relying on Putin for energy.

    Reports are surfacing that buyers are reluctant to buy Russian oil, or unable to open letters of credit:

    But, the aggression doesn’t embolden others. The perception of feckless leadership does.


  2. Wondered if you were going to open a thread on the topic. It is the topic in our home where the fact that our son just registered for selective service is on our minds. I think he was worried about having to fight in the Iraq war (or his cousin having to fight). He’s not really worried now, but I think as a mother advocating for military intervention means that i should think about sending my son to war.

    I’m always thinking about history, because I think nothing is ever unprecedented.

    Our kiddo is our “Russia hand” because he’s been taking Russian (and has a 2nd gen Russian friend).

    We also watched the first season of Zelnisky’s show on Netflix when it was available. It was a really good show and has skewed my (small) understanding of Ukraine. I’m still replaying the scene in my head when Zelinsky’s character thinks that he’s getting a call to join NATO, but it turns out that some other state (can’t remember which now) did. He’s so sad. Those fictionalized versions are infecting my brain and making me feel more connected but also lending a disconnect of fantasy.

    Spouse brought up Kuwait as another nation state that was invaded unprovoked and I do think that was a good history to bring up. I’ve seen Hungary in 1956 as a comparison and I am worrying about Finland.

    And, Taiwan.


  3. “But, the aggression doesn’t embolden others. The perception of feckless leadership does.”

    Don’t know what this means. I think successful aggression does embolden others. Most notably China, but also other Russian actions. The Israelis think Ukraine’s invasion it emboldens Iran.

    If feckless leadership means Russian success in its invasion, then, I agree. I do think Europe (and NATO, and not NATO as an American entity but as a European one) and what they are willing to risk plays a big role.

    The morning report said that a potential sanction was excluding Russia from the SWIFT system, but that they probably wouldn’t because Russia owes 10s of billion that it wouldn’t pay. So, are we willing to tolerate the shock? What will Germany do about its dependence on Russian resources (including the planned shutdown of nuclear plants)?


    1. Feckless leadership. The head of the German Army, Alfons Mais, posted the following on his personal Linkedin account (I used Google translate: You wake up in the morning and realize: There is war in Europe.
      Yesterday we held a “Day of Values” in the army. The core question was “what do we serve for?” It has never been easier to explain this to the generation that did not live through the Cold War.
      In my 41st year of peacetime service, I would not have believed that I would have to experience another war.
      And the Bundeswehr, the army that I am allowed to lead, is more or less blank. The policy options we can offer in support of the Alliance are extremely limited.
      We all saw it coming and were unable to get our arguments through to draw and implement the conclusions of the Crimean annexation. That doesn’t feel good! I’m eaten!
      NATO territory is not yet under direct threat, even if our partners in the East feel the constantly growing pressure.
      When, if not now, is the time to put the Afghanistan mission behind us structurally and materially and to reposition ourselves, otherwise we will not be able to implement our constitutional mandate and our alliance obligations with any prospect of success.

      The Germans have resisted living up to their Nato treaty obligations for a very long time.

      In 2018, the Parliamentary Armed Forces Commissioner Hans-Peter Bartels pointed out enormous problem areas:

      What’s wrong with the Bundeswehr?
      Bartels pointed to “big gaps” in personnel and equipment. At the end of 2017, no submarines and none of the air force’s 14 large transport planes were available for deployment due to repairs.
      Other equipment, including fighter jets, tanks and ships, was outdated and in some cases not fully operational because of bad planning or a lack of spare parts. Some air force pilots were unable to train because too many aircraft were being repaired.
      Soldiers have experienced increasing levels of stress and there was a lack adequate leadership due to some 21,000 vacant officer posts.
      The report said the government needed to pursue reforms “with greater urgency” and increase defense spending.
      A lack of funding and inefficient management structures and planning were behind the problems. Germany has cut defense spending since the end of the Cold War. In 2017, it spent about 1.2 percent of its economic production in 2017 on the armed forces, which is below the 2 percent target recommended by the NATO alliance.


    1. I said it–encourage US energy development. Russia is a one-product state. That means not cutting off the supply of oil and natural gas in this country. Allowing pipelines. Signing leases for natural gas and oil exploration. Every army is expensive to run. Cut off the funding, which means lowering the price of energy and fossil fuels. Biden should do that today.

      The Russians have apparently gained control of Chernobyl. The BBC has live updates. Russia is invading on three fronts.

      Cutting Russia off from Swift is only a start. Holding the line on countries breaking sanctions is imperative.

      One more thing–we need a cyber defense force. We should have a service academy for cyber defenders. They don’t need to be riflemen, nor to be able to lift anything heavier than a can of Coca Cola. They do need to be able to stop cyber attacks on things like water, energy supplies, communications, hospitals. I would be happy to find out that we have one.

      As Clinton apparently promised the Ukraine NATO would protect them if they gave up their nuclear weapons, it’s rather morally imperative that we hold the line. As a mother, I would love to say that we have no dog in this fight, but we do.

      Oh, it would have been nice not to talk about tolerating a “minor incursion.” Doing that was feckless.


      1. Cranberry wrote, “One more thing–we need a cyber defense force. We should have a service academy for cyber defenders. They don’t need to be riflemen, nor to be able to lift anything heavier than a can of Coca Cola. They do need to be able to stop cyber attacks on things like water, energy supplies, communications, hospitals. I would be happy to find out that we have one.”

        Yeah, we had some really bad cyberattacks in the US this past summer.

        This stuff should not be happening.


    2. “I said it–encourage US energy development. ”

      Saying what we should have done is worth noting, but doesn’t tell us what we should do now. Would we be better able to manage the current invasion if we declared that we would open Keystone pipeline now?

      I agree that we have to be hard line. Nations are the currency of international relations and Russia has violated that rule which is a serious slippery slope to international chaos. And, yes, I agree about SWIFT, even if it costs us and holding a hard line on sanctions (and on countries that would chose to violate them).

      India is taking a “watch and see” approach, which is unhelpful.

      A Russian policy propagandist (from IMEMO?) is quoted in an Indian interview saying, “‘For us, Ukraine is the same as Pakistan for India. And so we are going to have our peaceful Pakistan, and pro-Indian Pakistan on our border’
      Alexey Kupriyanov, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, spoke to Nirupama Subramanian”

      Kiddo showed me a tik tok from a Russian he follows (Russian does the same dance in different places in Russia, mud, snow, ponds, is fairly viral, and was entirely apolitical). His latest post calls for peace.



        I don’t know if this will be behind a paywall.

        The last paragraph: As of today, the West is actually financing Putin’s war in Ukraine, buying hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Russian natural resources every day. Either stop buying them, or find a way to stop the payments, including disconnecting Russia from SWIFT, the global inter-bank payment system. It’s the only thing that he’s unlikely to have priced in. It may be too late to prevent the invasion. But there’s still time to keep him from pushing toward Kyiv.

        If this does not lead to a larger war in Europe, Putin is there long-term, so yes, it is what we should do now. It isn’t a case of “too late, can’t do it.” Even if Putin were pushed out, someone would take over who would be tempted to use the Russian army to conquer neighboring countries. Just because conquering through warfare would be unpopular in Western capitols doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

        The US government should encourage US shale producers to increase output, as a matter of national security:

        Energy prices will rise here at home. I know they are much higher in Europe. As of two days ago, the price of natural gas in Europe was 6.5 times the level in the US:


      2. We largely agree. I think we should stop buying Russian oil and gas.

        I agree that in the longer run we should pump up natural gas production here as well (we support natural gas in bj household because it is better for climate change than coal, regardless of the concern about Russia’ extraction wealth). Also think we have to maintain the current nuclear power capabilities in the longer run; four gigawatts are projected to shut down in German within the year (which would close all their plants).

        Other short term goals? I think we have to be twisting arms throughout the diplomatic world and targeting non-resident foreign nationals and their property from Russia. Does this include Russian celebrities?

        The Russian family we know has been concerned (and, they are residents) and I don’t want to target them. No fomenting of random anti-Russian ethnic targeting. But, I do want to make it hard for the Russian internationals to participate in western society (i.e. celebrities, oligarchs, and their families).


      3. I understand the desire to “do something,” but I feel the targeting of foreign nationals is an expression of xenophobia, rather than an action that would have any positive influence in the world. Seizing property is an invitation to corruption. It also diverts resources that could be put to better use to maintaining control of whatever assets are seized.

        As to forbidding participation in Western society, that runs counter to the traditional feeling that diplomatic contact is useful. Would you deny access to treatment in Western medical centers to the young children of Russian politicians?


      4. “I understand the desire to “do something,” but I feel the targeting of foreign nationals is an expression of xenophobia, rather than an action that would have any positive influence in the world.”

        Yes, indeed I understand that xenophobia is a real worry and that targeting people like my friend’s family (if they weren’t permanent residents of the US, and even if they are, if their family were unable to travel to visit them) is a cost that may have no international benefit.

        But, if we are unwilling to make the invasion of Ukraine a hot war we need to willing to impose costs on Russian nationals as we did, on South Africa and its people. And, yes, I would be willing to apply rules similar to those we have for Cuba, Iran, and Syria to Russian nationals (even though I’m not entirely sure I support them for those other countries).


      5. But, if we are unwilling to make the invasion of Ukraine a hot war we need to willing to impose costs on Russian nationals as we did, on South Africa and its people.

        Um, why? Given that journalists and urban professionals, for example, regularly fall out of windows, what would we be willing to do to Russian citizens that would make any difference in Russia’s national policies? Individuals don’t have the freedom to influence the Russian government. It would be pointless and cruel. It’s primitive to think that something like international shunning would make a difference to Putin’s crew.

        That doesn’t mean I have anything against UBS’ margin calls on accounts with Russian bonds: Letting that happen would be more effective than tormenting private citizens.

        An addition to my comment above–in terms of cyber defense, I didn’t mean cyber offense. This has the potential to be extremely destructive:

        I agree with an expert quoted in the piece: “The last thing we want to see is a cyber tit for tat between the U.S. and Russia to see who can destroy one another’s critical infrastructure,” said Dmitri Alperovitch, a cybersecurity expert at the Silverado Policy Accelerator. “I think it is horribly escalatory, can have devastating impacts to our security, and could drag us into a war.”


  4. I don’t have time to write at length, but I wanted to mention the @DarthPutinKGB twitter account.

    Some quotes from his (?) stickied thread on “How to Tankie”:

    “1. Russia never invaded anyone, ever. Instead we:
    -Protect compatriots abroad
    -Enter when country has recently ceased to exist
    -Attacked then defending ourselves
    -False flag
    -Invited to assist by “legitimate government” we invented.”

    “4. All Russia wants is “respect”. It does not matter if this means treating our buffer states with disrespect. They have fewer rights.”

    “5. It is a genuine mystery why so many of our former colonies want to join NATO. Russia is peaceful country surrounded by ceasefires.”

    “6. The Warsaw Pact was a mutual defense alliance that kept attacking itself. Who can explain why as soon as they could our colonies all left and told us to go home.”

    “8. A secure international border has Russian troops one both sides of it.”


    I was recently reading transcripts of Putin public statements from the Kremlin. Very interesting if you have the time!

    There are anti-war demonstrations happening across Russia. I believe the Navalny protests were about a year ago.


  5. Last week I watched a lecture by John Mearsheimer (Univ. of Chicago), where he goes into some history of Ukraine–his talk was in 2015, after the 2014 annexation of Crimea by Russia.

    Here is the link if you want to watch:

    “This video, despite being from 2015, provides clarity on the current Ukraine crisis. Putin quite clearly will not stand for NATO being on Russian’s border. Mearsheimer advocates a neutral Ukraine—a buffer state between Western Europe and Russia and argues that Putin will try to bring Ukraine to its knees rather than let it be in NATO. This is apparently happening now.”

    His biggest point is that Ukraine is of vital strategic importance to Russia.
    And that Ukraine is–very much– NOT of vital strategic importance to the US.

    He also argues how foolish it would be to push Ukraine into NATO. It seems he was prescient about the outcome of Western pressure on Ukraine joining NATO and sending them hundreds of millions of dollars of weapons.

    I don’t want Americans dying there (even if the price of oil goes up). And we, as a country, were wrong to entice the Ukranian government into thinking we would fight and die for the country. At least I hope we don’t fight and die for Ukranians to be part of NATO. Or get into a nuclear war over it.

    I am, of course, very sorry for the whole area.


    1. And those are very, very similar to the arguments used about Czechoslovakia in the Sudetenland Crisis in 1938.

      What makes anyone think that Putin will stop if this invasion of Ukraine is successful?
      Already hearing reports that the troops in Belarus are here to stay (occupation by stealth, rather than by force). How secure do you think Estonia & Latvia are? Not to mention Finland and Poland?

      And how will a successful invasion of Ukraine change the international behaviour of China and India – both of whom have irritating neighbours who they’d like to take out?


      1. China has been nibbling at India’s borders. I would plan for that nibbling to accelerate in the light of a successful Russian invasion.


    2. I think the key question here is whether nations respect the national sovereignty of other nations. Ukraine has a better case, internationally, than Taiwan. I think if Ukraine falls without permanent consequences to Russia (and, no, I don’t want a nuclear war, either) we can expect China’s detente (aggressively not recognizing Taiwan, but not invading them) to change, if not now, in the years to follow.

      And, though India would probably love to have a demilitarized and pro-India Pakistan (as the Russian states in an Ukraine analogy as quoted above), they won’t invade (even with the increasingly belligerent sentiments there), because, effectively, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons make it immune. Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons with the expectation that Russia would not invade. The invasion makes clear that nuclear weapons should be acquired if they can at all.

      I’ve commented on the end of the American century before, and abandoning the concept of national sovereignty will accelerate its end, not just in military power, but economic and cultural.

      Russia has invaded Ukraine. Would they have invaded if Ukraine was a part of NATO?


    3. cy wrote, “His biggest point is that Ukraine is of vital strategic importance to Russia.”


      If Russia were willing to be a good neighbor, Ukraine wouldn’t matter. There also wouldn’t be such a stampede into NATO by various other Eastern European countries.

      “He also argues how foolish it would be to push Ukraine into NATO.”

      As people have been pointing out, Ukraine first applied for NATO membership in 2008.

      Any time now…

      “And we, as a country, were wrong to entice the Ukranian government into thinking we would fight and die for the country.”

      Did we do that? Which US president made those promises? I don’t recall that happening.


  6. Apologies for not being caught up, but I had to share this tweet from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    “President #Putin: The purpose of this operation is to protect people who, for 8 years now, have been facing genocide perpetrated by the Kiev regime.
    To this end, we will seek to demilitarise & denazify Ukraine, bring to trial those who perpetrated bloody crimes vs civilians.”


  7. I was just reading this thread by Aaron Astor:

    “Nobody is saying this, but I will: This war will end in regime change – in Moscow. It won’t be from an external military invasion into Russia. It will be mutiny and internal collapse that will bring Putin’s regime down. It won’t be overnight but it will happen.”

    “Of course, he is 69 years old and might not last long anyway. But at some point the oligarchs that he brought inside the tent are not going find him useful any longer. And he has crossed every line that once marked him a “cunning” and “clever” leader.”

    Maybe it would be possible to pull off some sort of diplomatic settlement with Ukraine and wind up with a strip of eastern Ukraine down to Crimea–but anything more ambitious than that is going to be very risky, especially long-term.

    There were a lot of large demonstrations in Russia last year in support of Navalny (the Russian guy who got poisoned and arrested), so there’s already a certain amount of know-how with regard to how to put together a successful demonstration. I don’t know where the Russian protests are headed, whether they will grow or fizzle, but there were anti-war demonstrations virtually immediately with the chant “Nyet voynye”–No to war. There’s a clip here showing some protests in Russia:

    Very importantly, the signs are almost all in Russian. This is not for foreign consumption–this is Russians talking to each other.

    That news piece says that Navalny was on trial again that day and that he spoke up in court against the war. Navalny said that the government was robbing Russians of their future.

    More personally, I have one old friend left in Russia. She and her family have been trying to emigrate for some time. The unfortunate thing is that it’s very likely that sanctions or diplomatic measures (like closing down embassies) will trap them in Russia for some time to come. They have felt for some time that there is no future for them in Russia, and that their country is going to become poorer and poorer and more and more repressive.

    If enough young Russians feel that way (that their future is being stolen and that they are being trapped in a country with no opportunities for them), who knows what will happen.


    1. This is a really unique situation in that there are a lot of personal connections between people living in Russia and people living in Ukraine, and there’s no language or cultural barrier between Russian soldiers in Ukraine and the locals in the areas they are occupying.

      Who knows how that will go, but there’s at least a possibility that it will turn out very differently than expected.

      Putin’s accusations about Ukraine have been so outlandish (genocide! Nazis!) that it might take very little reality to break through the lies.


    2. If you’re a young Russian, and you’re not in the oil industry and you’re not working on cyberattacks or in the invading Ukraine industry–what is there for you in Putin’s Russia? Nothing.

      The more Putin turns Russia into a pariah state, the more foreign businesses will fear to deal with Russia and the fewer opportunities there will be for young Russians who want to live normal, productive lives.


  8. Not to be a thread hog, but I just got an email from Russia, and I think there has been a terrible miscalculation on Putin’s part with regard to how the invasion is going over with the Russian public.

    These things are always dicey–but this could be what finally brings him down.


    1. His enablers have to decide that they would be better off without him, especially the ones who run the security services & army & other wealth centers. It happens, but not very often.

      I don’t know how much the average person’s unhappiness would matter (loss of jobs, access to internet, . . . .), but access to those things by people with power might. After all, how did the soviet union fall in the first place?


  9. bj said, “His enablers have to decide that they would be better off without him, especially the ones who run the security services & army & other wealth centers. It happens, but not very often.”

    I have to say, he’s 69 and he doesn’t look that good these days.


  10. I’ve been watching the evolution of stated Putin’s war aims with interest.

    This isn’t complete, but he started out talking primarily about support for Donetsk and Luhansk and then within a couple of days, he slid into talking more generally about denazifying and demilitarizing Ukraine, a much bigger, more intrusive project.

    Putin has also talked about having Ukraine agree to be a neutral power, which is consistent with the demilitarization plan. I suspect that “neutrality” will involve a large Russian garrison, but we shall see.

    A lot depends on Zelensky’s fate. If Zelensky is available to negotiate, the deal with have some legitimacy, even if it’s achieved under duress. If he is killed or slips away to the West, any “agreement” will look a lot less legitimate.


    1. This is not my turf (hi, Steve!), but it suddenly occurs to me that denazification is a historical term for the post-war purging of Nazis from German institutions.

      So if Putin wants denazification of Ukraine, he may mean a top-to-bottom purge of personnel from Ukrainian institutions.

      Again, that sounds really intrusive.



    It looks like the Russian Army intends to use thermobaric weapons on large Ukrainian urban areas.

    “Earlier, Moscow urged residents to leave Kyiv while a huge Russian convoy of armoured vehicles, tanks and other military equipment spanning more than 40 miles has been seen in satellite images approaching the city.”


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