Spotty sunshine with thick, white cloud cover this late-afternoon Monday here in California’s Central Valley — also, a brisk breeze all day long has kept the outside ambiance remarkably cool.
Reportedly expected to stay this way all week with more-seasonable weather (i.e., hot!) forecast for the weekend, and most-likely to continue warming up until triple-digit temperatures by Memorial Day.
Summer in the city while in the valley.
Ukraine still flourishes as the war there continues to descend into a slogfest with Vlad Putin too proud to pull the plug, despite his horrible example of an army fluttering and faltering and spinning its wheels in horrible, destructive incompetence. Today was supposedly Victory Day in Russia (ending WWII), but Putin’s speech to mark the occasion was actually that of a loser (Daily Beast):
Putin repeated his oft-debunked accusations that the Ukrainians and the West are responsible for the current war. But the speech was perhaps more notable for what was not said.
Some Western analysts expected Putin to use the occasion to announce a major escalation of the conflict. But not only did that not come, but his reversions to stale nationalist rhetoric also suggested that this may be a leader who is running out of options.
Who knows what kind of celebrations Putin may once have envisioned for this week when he initially launched his invasion. Perhaps he had hoped the parade would feature spoils of victory, claimed weapons, perhaps a corresponding celebration before his generals in a Kyiv that was returned to its “rightful” place as a part of greater Russia. But there was precious little good news for Putin to celebrate given his defeats and enormous losses in Ukraine.
Putin didn’t help matters when he echoed the language of losers elsewhere on the planet (especially right here in the U.S.) by talking about “cancel culture” and making a mockery of references to “traditional values.”
Meanwhile, back in Ukraine, evidence of a different kind of spirit was manifest this week, not just through Zelensky’s addresses but with visits from luminaries as diverse as U2’s Bono (who performed in a subway station) and U.S. First Lady Jill Biden.
War for Putin’s boys has become the shits:
This was the problem with this stage of Russia's operation. Russia could rebalance its forces to focus on the Donbas, but so could Ukraine. Difficult to have success assaulting fortified defensive positions without a numerical advantage on the ground or air superiority. https://t.co/UuxBWL0fVt
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) May 9, 2022
No matter what Vlad blubbered about in Red Square this morning, the Russian army in Ukraine is losing its ass — Putin literally shit in his mess kit with the invasion.
Although he didn’t warp-up the war effort in his speech, he glory-holed the reality (The Hill):
Russian forces have not made any significant progress in Moscow’s new offensive in eastern Ukraine, a situation partly due to poor morale and some troops “refusing to obey orders,” a senior U.S. defense official said Monday.
“We still see anecdotal reports of poor morale of troops, indeed officers, refusing to obey orders and move and not really sound command and control from a leadership perspective,” the official told reporters.
The official later said “midgrade officers at various levels, even up to the battalion level” either have refused to obey orders “or are not obeying them with the same measure of alacrity that you would expect an officer to obey.”
Russian forces have struggled to make major gains in the Donbas region of Ukraine since beginning a new offensive in the area last month.
On top of dealing with morale issues that have lingered since the start of the war on Feb. 24, the Kremlin also is struggling to resupply its troops and move its weapons and equipment in muddy spring weather, the official said.
So what comes next? As noted above that Putin has seemingly run out of options with the only face-saving move is to just continue with the carnage.
Max Boot at The Washington Post this afternoon offered Putin’s the-most-likely (and only-real) move — hunker down and carry on. Boot concludes:
Putin is now in a strategic quandary that should be familiar to Americans after our misbegotten wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq — only many times worse.
Russia has launched a “war of choice” based on bad intelligence (such as the assumption that Ukrainians would welcome the Russians as liberators). The war is going badly, but once troops are committed, emotions run high and national prestige is on the line.
Both escalation and withdrawal are too painful to contemplate. The easiest thing to do is to continue doing what you’ve been doing, even if there is scant hope that the results will get any better.
It often requires a new leader to extract a nation from such a quagmire. That’s what Richard M. Nixon did in Vietnam, Mikhail Gorbachev did in Afghanistan and, more recently, Joe Biden did in Afghanistan.
The West should signal to Russia’s siloviki (the security and military elite) that if they want to live the good life again, then they need to get rid of Putin and get out of Ukraine. But Putin has had an iron grip on power for more than 22 years, and there is no reason to expect that he will be toppled anytime soon.
That means the most likely outcome in Ukraine is another frozen conflict — the situation that prevailed between 2014 and 2022.
The major issue now is how far east the front line will run. That is far from ideal, but if Ukraine can return its borders close to where they were on Feb. 24, while sanctions continue to erode the Russian economy, it will be a tremendous victory for the West and a terrible defeat for Russia.
Putin’s Victory Day speech might indicate he is groping for a way out, as the British defense minister suggests, but there is no easy exit from the disaster he created.
Yet a shitload of people will continue to die.
And the end is always the same — mad, monster idiots in their idiotic bunkers:
And back to the future as once again here we are…