Here we are on day whatever of this eastern Europe thing
. It's kind of interesting though, here's what I'll talk about:
- Recent developments
- A blueprint for the future of conflict?
- The meta
- Global macro/investor's concern/opportunity
Depending on who you ask, NATO's either played this very well or very poorly.
What do world leaders get out of continuously publicly espousing speculation on the potential date of invasion, especially if such claims have been contradicted multiple times and been without acknowledging what intel led to these conclusions? I've heard people say it's to call Putin's bluff, but if anything, aren't statements like this just going to be used to paint the West as beating the war drum and lying about Russia? Is it to accelerate pressure for peace talks?
It is an attempt to remove any possible political cover for Russia and paint them unequivocally as the aggressors in a war of conquest. That in turn puts a lot of pressure on other nations to condemn their actions and acquiesce to sanctions. Which makes it a tougher choice for Putin to make, knowing the costs of invasion.
So yes, it is a way to avert war. And if it fails then it likely strengthens the international response.
While the US listed the 16th as the day (or beginning of the window), in my armchair I simply did not see Putin risking Xi's ire
. While there are other factors that might have made it worth his while, I was confident enough to hold long positions through Friday.
But now here we are on the back side of the closing ceremonies and, by varying accounts:
- Per US disclosures to media, Russia has moved 75% of its ground forces to the theatre.
- Russia issued a no-fly zone in the Sea of Azov, adjacent to eastern Ukraine.
- Various countries and companies have temporarily evacuated/suspended service in Ukraine.
- Per Twitter photos, *some* Russian warships entered the Sea of Azov.
- Per Twitter accounts, breakaway areas have seen forced conscriptions of young men.
- Per Twitter videos, some contested areas have been shelled.
A blueprint for the future of conflict?
"Per Twitter". Right?
It's both a source of unfiltered (but localized) primary information and a hub of propaganda. It's also rife with uninformed speculation *looks directly into camera*. And it seems both the platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Reddit) and journalists (who cannot easily validate the source data) either ignore these posts/videos or present them with a heavy "as is" disclaimer.
Kind of a shame that all this live information is lost to the fact that it's difficult to validate
. Let's solve it with blockchain, amirite?
On the other hand, realtime satellite surveillance is no longer the sole domain of nation-states
, so news and think tanks can track armor and artillery movement. And the internet brings live information from everywhere, including the blue force barracks - how does one even pull off a Normandy these days?
/r/Russia went from "Ukraine overreacting" to "the world's a liar" to "oh so every other country can go to war but we can't".
Putin seems to be following the George Orwell/Aleksandr Dugin/Roger Stone blueprint of simply hamstringing his opponents but turning bureaucracy and democracy against them
. This may work against Ukraine - eat a chunk of territory, wait until it's the new normal
, repeat - but I'm not sure it'll work against a NATO member. That's probably why he's so focused on undermining NATO.
The main world news subreddit created an ongoing (multipart) discussion thread for the Ukraine crisis
. It's an interesting naptime read. Participants consist of a weird mix of earnest contributors, bored otaku-types, people morbidly wanting to 'be there' for the start of the war, and people shocked or amused by the rest. See: the Reddit and the Boston Marathon.
For people called Russians they sure are taking their time.
Naturally, with the slow drip of news, the discussion turned into memeing
. One night everyone began watching US, Russian, and Ukrainian planes on flight radar, cheering on Homer and Forte. Meme facts like the Global Hawk flight time were thrown about like Chuck Norris facts and trebuchet stats.
Redditors speculated on the more conspicuous transponder signatures. But discussions featured some legitimate-sounding sources of knowledge
such as Ukrainians and ex-military. They're difficult to validate, of course, because no blockchain :(
To paraphrase, "Hey guys, I found flight radar for boats
And anything popular eventually gets its own meme.
Global macro/investor's concern/opportunity
In the parlance of our times: positions or ban. Seeing that the Olympics were ending on Sunday and Monday is a holiday, I opened/held a few positions with exposure to a major geopolitical event.
Energy crisis: BOIL, IXC, USO
Inverse/Volatility: RWM, SH, SPXS, UPRO Feb 25 '22 $58.50c, UVXY
???: Cash, existing positions
With the Olympics and Ukraine crisis ongoing, it seemed reasonable to watch Icarus. The tldw is that a cycling enthusiast wanted to prove that doping is prevalent in international competitions. In the process of trying to win a major amateur cycling competition then admitting he had beaten doping tests, he found himself setting up a safe house for a major Russian perpetrator/whistleblower
. The documentary did a great job of covering how prevalent and state-sponsored the Russian doping program is, as well as the major governing bodies' toothless response to Putin's unapologetic cheating.
If you can get past the first 20 minutes of cycling-oriented content, it's a pretty neat doc.
Life goes on ten thousand miles away
Local news: Dani
had a birthday, Regents had Pliny the Younger, Shar came to visit, and I tried JITB mini tacos.