«Escalating military assistance from small anti-tank devices to artillery, Patriot missile defence systems to tanks, is a signalling strategy akin to that of incrementally raising the bet to convey a strong hand in poker. As they cross Russia’s “red lines” one after another, the US and its allies are sending a message about their resolve to provide Ukraine with the support it needs to repel Russia’s invasion.

….

While western leaders congratulate one another on excelling at this game of poker, Putin and his elites are not even playing at the same table. From Russia’s perspective, its current adversaries in the west are but momentary blips on its way to achieving its military goals. In two years’ time, the US president, Joe Biden, may no longer be there to ensure western unity in its support for Ukraine. And even a small crack may be sufficient to turn the tide for Russia.

….

Putin’s second advantage comes in the form of policy latitude. With no requirement to answer to the public, who bear the brunt of the war’s financial costs, Putin’s policy range is determined by competing interests in his small inner circle. And those mainly military and intelligence elites are fully on board with the war: to them, the benefit of reuniting Soviet territories far outweighs what they perceive as temporary costs.

….

What does this mean for Ukraine? It means that Russia will not relent. There’s a Russian folk saying that the first crepe in a batch usually does not pan out – in other words, succeeding at something usually takes some trial and error. The same seems to apply to its military campaigns. From the Soviet-Finnish wars to Chechnya, Russia has a history of initially failed military campaigns that succeeded on the second go.

….

Even if Ukraine chases every last Russian soldier from its land, Russia’s aggression will not end. Russia will continue to make claims to Ukraine’s territory, and will back them up with threats, intermittent missile launches and border skirmishes. There is no such thing as a decisive victory for the defender. 

….

The only way Ukraine can achieve lasting peace is by stockpiling the biggest guns it can find.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/jan/22/vladimir-putin-ukraine-west-russia-president

…and also chasing every last Russian soldier from it’s territory. Including Crimea. Maybe they can enter into a long-term lease agreement with Russia for Sevastopol. 🙂

Newsweek: Wagner Boss Says Troops Have ‘a Lot to Learn’ From Ukrainian Fighters

https://www.newsweek.com/wagner-group-boss-yevgeny-prigozhin-says-troops-have-lot-learn-ukrainian-fighters-1775128

«But earlier this week, Putin insisted during an interview that his “special military operation” in Ukraine was still going to plan.

“The dynamics are positive,” Putin said during the interview.»

Ah, I see, they’re turning the corner.

Michigan Woman and 2 Sons Freeze to Death After Days on the Street – The New York Times

This should not happen in this country.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/18/us/michigan-family-death-freezing.html

«Sheriff’s deputies found the woman, Monica Cannady, 35, and two of her children, Malik Milton, 3, and Kyle Milton, 9, dead from hypothermia on Sunday, the authorities said. They were in a wooded field where they had been sleeping in their hometown, Pontiac, Mich., a predominantly Black city of about 60,000 about 20 miles north of Detroit.

Ms. Cannady’s 10-year-old daughter survived and reported the deaths to a nearby resident, saying that her “family was dead in a field,” Sheriff Michael Bouchard of Oakland County said at a news conference on Monday. He said the accidental deaths had been preventable and that they represented a larger, systemic failure.

“This tragedy is fundamentally evidentiary of the breakdown of our mental health system in America,” he said. “We don’t give our mental health providers and systems enough support.”

….

Melanie Rutherford, a City Council member whose district includes the neighborhood where Ms. Cannady and her children died, said that Ms. Cannady’s refusal to seek mental health assistance reflects an anxiety that can persist among some Black people.

“When you think about the mental health issues, especially in the African American community, oftentimes we’re scared to tell anyone. And oftentimes we’re mislabeled,” said Ms. Rutherford, who is Black. “We have to come to the realization that mental health is real. Mental illness is real.”»

China’s population falls for first time since 1961, highlights demographic crisis | Reuters

https://www.reuters.com/world/china/chinas-population-shrinks-first-time-since-1961-2023-01-17/

«Much of the demographic downturn is the result of China’s one-child policy imposed between 1980 and 2015 as well as sky-high education costs that have put many Chinese off having more than one child or even having any at all.»

35 years of OCP plus… why are education costs so high in China?