Grown-ups do not speak of Putin's war . It is quite clear that the war was provoked by NATO and forced on the Russian government as an option less desirable than watching impotently as the Donbas was over run.

The nature of the NATO supported government in Ukraine is notorious- it is a fascist regime, far more authoritarian than anything seen in Russia for many years, supported by death squads and devoted to the cult of Bandera and those instrumental in the Holocaust by Bullets.

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While not disputing the technical data, the underlying thread (that Russia is in serious financial trouble) is hogwash. It has extremely low debt to GDP, the strongest currency last year, massive Gold hoard (yet to be deployed), high demand and strong prices for its energy, food, and weapon exports, and very strong support of its allies. (SCO/Brics). If you want to see serious financial trouble, you don't need to look far afield. (US, EU, UK, essentially the west). It has an economy and population perfectly designed for war - a warrior society. Watch which economy implodes when the BRICS initiate their new hard reserve currency. lol (oh, and BTW, Vlad has ~ 70% support, while Biden lucky to get 30% (ignorant delusional socialista remanant). Western leadership? Say what leadership. The west is doomed to failed state status. It will be a wake up call and a blessing for those who are ready. In God and Gold I Trust

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I am very surprised that Mr. Tooze has not brought up any of the papers written by Mr. Sergey Glazyev, the Commissioner for Integration and Macroeconomics within the Eurasian Economic Commission, the executive body of the Eurasian Economic Union, who had very harsh words about the policies pursued by the Russian National Bank and Mr. Putin's austerity approach and discouragement of productive investment in Russia.

I find such a lapse extremely disappointing, especially since the work of Mr. Glazyev has been translated into English. Has Mr. Tooze ever perused the big online list of publications made available by the Valdai Club? Relying ONLY on western sources might signal political correctness, but by gosh it is showing a huge and cultivated blind spot. Talking about Russian economy with only one unnamed former National Bank official is shoddy to cite from it is beyond lame and unprofessional and following such a trend could bring one on the level of gutter analysis that The Economist has been engaging for so many years. The cross on The Economist credibility was put by The Economist itself when, more than 10 years ago, they have stopped allowing online comments to their articles, because 95% of the comments were in total contradiction, in a very articulate and factual critical manner, with the message that the Economist wanted to push forward.

So when I see Mr. Tooze making such a copious use of excerpts from The Economist, my levels of confidence in his posting sink like the Titanic...

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Your sources for this article are well bogged into the US/NATO war camp Adam. They don’t come any less independent than the ‘ Economist.’ Alexandra Propenko writes for the Carnegie Endowment fund whose board of trustees chair is former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker, Carnegie’s Board of Trustees is peppered with corporate lobbyists from Nestlé, etc. The article itself is full of ‘what if’s’. Not your best work.

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A passing comment here reminds me of an issue that keeps arising in discussions of Russia's war. Prisoners were sent to the tank factories, as they have been sent to die on the front lines, and no doubt to other key functions. Do they have a choice? Are they paid? Or are they in fact slave labor? Is this another crime Russia will have to answer for?

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Mr. Tooze, if I were you I would disable comments. Learn quite a bit reading you and quick scroll through the comments expecting a somewhat intelligent discussion and it’s just a nonsensical firehose of Russian propaganda. Usually I leave your readings itching to learn more but after reading the absolutely disgusting comments I think I may avoid your Substack page for awhile. Shit is toxic.

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"Putin's war" phrase really insults the intelligence of anybody who had looked at the genesis of this conflict. Quick recap:

- US finally - after decades of sustained efforts - succeeds in color revolution in Kiev (Maidan) installing a neo-Banderista regime which proclaims the intent to ethnically clean Ukraine from anything Russian, from culture to actual people

- Civil war breaks out - some parts predominantly inhabited by Russians manage to break free from regime that wants to kill them

- Minsk agreements try to stop the civil war - we now know 100% for fact that West and Ukraine signed them not in good faith but to gain time for "final solution"

- NATO spends 8 years revamping the Ukraine Army with training, logistics, intelligence, purging pre-Maidan officers. Neo Nazi military units are part of Ukrainian Army and commit various crimes where they operate.

- US withdraws from ABM treaty, INF treaty and finally from Open Skies agreement - setting the perfect stage to deploy missile and nuclear forces close to the middle of European part of Russia critically tipping the balance of power

- West signals intent to bring Ukraine also formally into NATO (at this point it is already biggest army in Europe after Russia)

- Russia tries a wide diplomatic effort to re-negotiate European security, re-enforce Minsk and keep Ukraine neutral. It is met with derision and humiliation. The attempt is dismissed in most arrogant, non-diplomatic way.

- Kiev regime intensifies attack on Donbass, with plans to "solve the situation" by force. Documented by OSCE

- Russia intervenes to save Donbas and also to achieve strategic objective to establish a land connection between Russia and Crimea.

It is certainly not "Putin's war" because any other leader in Kremlin would not have decided differently - there was simply no other avenue left, beside complete humiliation and accepting of ethnic cleansing of Russians in land that they inhabited for centuries.

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To grossly oversimplify, there were two questions (among others, of course!) following the invasion: What would it and western economic responses do to Russia’s economy in the short term and what would it do in the long term.

Obviously, todays post pretty much -- but not conclusively? -- that first question. But there’s that second question to game out...

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Pretending that anywhere Russia invades becomes magically a part of Russia is a delusion shared only by Putin and those who long for a mythical glorious Soviet past.

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Come now. Not one person died from that. People are dying because Putin is a murderous thug.

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