Situation Report: Past is Prologue, Part 2

A Prayer for Ukraine

In Part 1 of this week’s update, I covered the ongoing truck blockades. Now it’s time to focus on the very real, very dangerous situation that is emerging in Ukraine. We must remember that Ukraine is home to over 40 million people trying to live their lives in what they had come to believe was a sovereign nation with a functioning democracy. This isn’t a game, it’s not a football to be passed around for ideological gains elsewhere; this is about a madman fixated on a singular goal, and whose ambitions will potentially kill thousands or even millions of people. We pray for peace; we pray for peace even if it is impossible; we pray for mercy for those who may be harmed; we pray for de-escalation and all those who are working to deter aggression through strength.

For a reminder of the very real people we’re talking about here, please watch this video from Ukraine, where people are working very hard to “keep calm and carry on,” and do everything possible to avoid further escalation. They deserve our full support and sympathy.

Where Things Stand Now

Only Putin knows what may happen next, but several sources report that US intelligence believes that Putin has likely made the decision to move forward with an invasion.

Yesterday, Macron and Putin spoke, as did Biden and Putin, and no diplomatic breakthroughs have been announced. The US and Canada have removed their troops from Ukraine, and the US and Russia have drawn down their diplomatic personnel and told them to leave. All available intelligence suggests that invasion is imminent and could happen at any moment.

Importantly, US intelligence is sharing this assessment not to provoke a war but rather to try to deter invasion by telegraphing Putin’s moves before he can make them, thus removing any element of surprise.

US intelligence has also reported that Russia would stage a false-flag attack, and claim that Ukraine had acted against Russia, providing a ‘casus belli,’ or pretext to launch its invasion.

This morning, it appears that this has happened. Russian state TV claims “Rada accused Zelensky of preparing a ‘massacre of Russians’ in Ukraine,” complete with gruesome photographs. This may be sufficient for them to move, or it could be the first in a series of events designed to provide that justification.

It seems that Putin is not willing to return to the prior status quo, despite objections from his own hardline military advisors. My friend Wes Clark, Jr. says:

General Ivashov, in his ballsy letter against starting a war in Ukraine, correctly diagnoses the Russian internal problem as “complete incapacity and unprofessionalism of the system of power and management.”

Other developments in recent days:

  • The US has sent 3,000 troops to join 1,700 from the 82nd Airborne Division in Poland.
  • European Union, Japan, Israel and other countries are evacuating citizens from Ukraine.
  • Russia has said it will not attend the upcoming Munich security conference, February 18–20, for the first time in over 20 years.
  • Belarus has effectively fully surrendered its sovereignty to Russia in recent weeks as part of its use as a staging ground for the Ukraine operation.
  • Russia has deployed a variety of naval assets in the Black Sea.
  • Malcolm Nance posted a list of things to look for that would confirm an invasion is underway.
  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has advised Germans to leave the country, and will be traveling Monday and Tuesday to both Kiyv and Moscow to seek diplomatic resolutions that may avert a further crisis.
  • Given that US intelligence is seeking to avert a war and assesses that the decision to invade has already been made, the question now is when. It could happen at any time. Wednesday, February 16, has been floated as one possible date; or Putin may stick to previous forecasts that place an invasion after the olympics on February 20. Either way, it seems the time for a decision is near.

Ukrainians, especially president Zelinsky, are trying very hard to stay calm and avoid inducing panic; this is somewhat difficult to square with the US strategy of trying to telegraph the best intelligence they have about Russia’s intentions, and the situation is understandably delicate. And some analysts still see the likelihood of a full-blown invasion as low.

Even as signs of escalation are everywhere, we should be pushing back against Putin with force and strength; not to incite conflict, but to prevent it, as power is the only language he understands. “Progressives” who misunderstand this are playing with the lives of Ukrainians and the sovereignty of a nation.

Black diplomat Terrell Jermaine Starr makes solid arguments in two essays on why progressives and black people should care about what’s happening in Ukraine, and help defend it.

A more realpolitik view is that Putin never wanted diplomacy, and indeed could never be satisfied with any proposed concession, and that he used the time to continue building up forces at the Ukraine border and to look for faultlines in the opposing alliances. I believe this is likely the most accurate read, and that US and European media and officials have largely been misled by Putin’s diplomatic theater.

The situation now calls for immediate sanctions on commodities such as metal exports, as well as seizure of assets of oligarchs, and additional support to Ukraine. The much-discussed move of removing Russia from the SWIFT banking network seems to be underway, even as some reports suggest it is off the table. The reality will likely soon become clear.

Here is one detailed analysis from RealClearDefense of what a Russian invasion plan would actually look like. I won’t mince words: it would be horrific, and the largest, most violent military operation since World War II. Americans alive today have seen nothing like it in their lifetimes.

On Friday, I was honored to host a Twitter Spaces audio conversation with warfare expert Monique Camarra, which also included Ukrainian Ambassador Olexander Scherba. He told a deeply moving story: he had never in his life touched a gun, and as a diplomat had an aversion to do so, but this week had purchased a rifle. Our hearts are with Ambassador Scherba and the Ukrainian people.

I strongly encourage everyone to listen to this detailed two hour discussion that also covered ongoing the Fifth Column operations in Canada, the US, and Europe.

But… Why?

Many people simply don’t understand Putin’s logic for starting this war, and indeed, given the very high costs he will face it is nearly impossible for any sane person to contemplate such a move.

As someone who has been dragged into studying this for the last several years and warned about it (twice) exactly 5 years ago this week, I’ll share my opinion about what he is thinking about most.

  • Ukraine is the homeland of the ‘Rus’ people, and Putin sees himself as a historic character destined to bring the Ukrainian and Russian nations back together as one—whether they want it or not. But don’t take my word for it: he wrote about this himself in a lengthy 5,000 word essay in July 2021.
  • Putin places ‘traditionalism’ at the core of his geopolitical agenda and believes this drive, and an alliance between global traditionalist factions, will reorient the world. There is some reason to believe this is correct. See this video from PBS about Putin’s traditionalist aims. Also see my recent “The Man Who Would Be Tsar” report for more references to Dugin and Ilyin.
  • Putin is leveraging his relationship with the Orthodox church and their belief in the “Third Rome” (Moscow) prophecy and the Third Secret of Fatima mystic catholic teaching to animate the drive towards traditionalism. This may ultimately spark a schism in the Catholic church between the Jesuit (Pope Francis) wings and the Opus Dei traditionalist faction (Viganò, Burke).
  • There is some desire to remake the old Soviet empire by reclaiming any countries in Putin’s near-abroad. Even more importantly, though, he wishes to establish the historical Romanov Tsarist empire, as I have written previously.
  • Putin wants to open up arctic shipping routes and Arctic oil. This is aided by global warming. Russia shill Jack Posobiec posted this week in Telegram about Arctic shipping routes (bypassing the Suez Canal), and Russia-ally Exxon has been prepping for increased access to Arctic oil for some time.
  • Putin is banking on second-order effects from a Ukraine invasion. As occurred in 2015, the outflow of refugees will likely destabilize western Europe and open new possibilities for other shifts, including possible designs on the Baltics and in the Balkans.
  • Putin’s apparent alliance with China opens up the possibility for a land-based sphere of influence across “Eurasia,” for those two nations, as described in Aleksandr Dugin’s “Foundations of Geopolitics.” While Kremlinologists repeatedly discount Dugin’s influence, it is factually remarkable that Putin is doing exactly what’s described in Foundations—however one might explain it.
  • The thirst for a return of Russia’s near-abroad has been expected for some time, and concerns about Russian revanchism are outlined here nicely by former Estonian President Lennart Meri in February, 1994 — nearly 28 years ago. This was all predictable, and but for appeasement, apologism, fifth columnists, and professional verstehers, this would not be happening.

My friend Olga Lautman says it best.

Americans should expect widespread cyber attacks (as CISA says, “Shields Up”), even as they may not occur. It would be wise to acquire some cash and perhaps a few days supply of food. There is no need to panic, but it is wise and prudent to expect disruptions and be prepared to meet them. Our banking and communications networks will be most vulnerable, so be thinking about contingency plans if internet-based communications systems are knocked out.

There’s more to be said… mostly about cryptocurrencies and financial system attacks we may face. We’ll be back for an (unprecedented) Part 3 in this week’s update tomorrow.

Pray for peace, even now at this late hour. Pray for understanding of how to achieve it, now and in the future, and to avoid the endless mistakes we insist on making — again, and again, and again.

We’re interested in the major historical trends that shape current events. Tips? Ideas? Drop us a line via email or Twitter DM. Please note: this analysis is historical and political in nature; it is not intended as financial advice and should not be taken as such. If you enjoy my work, please consider making a donation to World Central Kitchen, to support their work feeding people in times of need.

For an even deeper dive, check out my series, The Big History Behind January 6th and my audio series Oil, Gold, Crypto, and Fascism: How We Got Here and How to Fix It.

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Dave Troy

Dave Troy

Investigative journalist addressing threats to democracy. Public speaker, writer, podcaster. @davetroy on Twitter. See davetroy.com for contact info.