Putin Steers Russia Into The Abyss
The alliance is rising to the occasion while Putin's offensive falters and looks to cost him more than he likely expected. The stakes are now astronomically high and Putin will have to double down on a path that leads to destruction or pull back and face a humiliating defeat. He has no good options.
The first round of sanctions were an impressive show of allied unity. However, they weren't as devastating as many were hoping for. Just 24 hours ago there were still clear signs of foot dragging from the Germans and others. I said then, and still maintain now, that at this stage allied unity matters above all else - even the strength of the sanctions. That's why this sudden (and absolutely warranted) surge into more extreme measures is so impressive.
It's clear that the magnitude of the Russian threat has hit home. This isn't an emotion driven show of solidarity for Ukraine (although it is often presented that way). This is recognition that Putin presents an immediate and credible threat to the world order. Every allied nation has skin in this game and they are starting to act like it. Nobody gets out of this without having to pick a side. Just a few hours ago Germany made their position quite clear:
This was a historic announcement:
But there was more:
And it isn't just Germany. There are other less visible but still historic shifts underway:
We're seeing real unity and real leadership across a block of dozens of nations with competing priorities and risks and it is, quite frankly, surprising.
Which brings us to the next surprise, an extremely rapid and significant escalation of the sanctions package:
Again, this fight is much bigger than Ukraine and it will rage as long as Putin is in power. We'll have to fight this on two tracks. First, we must head off an immediate threat to Ukraine with all means short of kinetic. The second, and more challenging task, is to marshal the foresight and fortitude required to build an alliance capable of sacrificing self-interest and staring down a madman with 6,000 nuclear weapons until he is no longer in power.
We're off to a good start. We still have non-kinetic levers that we can pull. That's important because Russia is unlikely to reverse course soon and we still have alliance building to do. But with these enhanced measures, Putin has already doomed the entire Russian economy. Businesses will fail, industry will be crippled, their already faltering military will rapidly diminish, the ability to project power and buy influence will fade, hundreds of billions of dollars in assets will be frozen or seized. Fear has already gripped Russia:
Yes, China is still a wildcard that could potentially offer some shelter but at this rate it is unlikely to be enough. And what will the Kremlin have to sacrifice for that support if it is offered? Everything? Russia may have thought they were entering into their recent pact with China as a co-equal partner set on world domination but right now they're on a path that will have them looking more like a Chinese client state in a few years.
That pact is already starting to look more and more like an epic double cross.
Here are a few more takes from Twitter:
Despite all of this, and the suffering that will be felt across Russia (by completely innocent Russian citizens), Putin is unlikely to pull out of this dive soon:
Putin is ruthless and he clearly knows how to hold onto power but I don't know how he will sleep at night knowing that he's bankrupted every other ruthless man in Russia.