Vladimir Putin has dominated Russian politics for almost a quarter century. A former KGB officer, Putin entered politics after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, an event he describes as the greatest tragedy of the Twentieth Century. In 1996 he joined Boris Yeltsin’s administration; appointed as prime minister in 1999, he filled the role of acting president when Yeltsin resigned later that year, being elected to the office in 2000. At the time, Russia had a prohibition on an individual serving more than two consecutive terms as president, so after being reelected in 2004, in 2008 Putin swapped jobs with then prime minister Dmitry Medvedev for a term, only to assume the top spot again in the following election, four years later. That would have entitled him to two more terms, but Putin changed the law to allow himself to run for an additional two terms uninterrupted, potentially continuing his occupancy of the presidency indefinitely.
Tag archive: Ukraine
On Thursday, 24 February 2022, at approximately 5 AM local time, Vladimir Putin’s Russian Army invaded Ukraine, accelerating a process of intimidation and aggression that had begun eight years before with the illegal occupation and annexation of Crimea, and had continued with support for separatist movements in Ukraine’s easternmost sectors, bordering Russia, specifically portions of the oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk, in the Donbass region. Since the beginning of the year, a series of planetary stations had reflected the inexorable march to war, eight cosmic turning points which built upon each other like tumblers in a lock, eventually unleashing the conflict.
Tensions continue to increase on the border between Ukraine and Russia, where more than 100,000 Russian troops have recently been stationed, in what appears to be a build-up to an invasion. Russia began a piecemeal takeover of its neighbor in 2014 with the annexation of Crimea, followed by further border incursions into adjoining Ukrainian enclaves dominated by its military and local separatist groups wanting to reunite the two nations, as they were under Soviet hegemony. Reports that families of Russian diplomatic staffers in Ukraine were evacuated in early January heightened the sense of impending crisis.
With Nicnevin’s Night on the horizon, November 10th, named for an ancient Scottish goddess of witches, I thought now might be a good time to take an in-depth look at the leading players in the latest version of what Donald Trump terms the “Witch Hunt” against him. Three of these “witches”, like Macbeth’s cauldron-stirring trio, will be giving the first public testimony in the “blasted heath” of the House Impeachment Investigation next week, starting Wednesday, November 13th. These are acting US Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor, State Department deputy assistant secretary and Ukraine expert George Kent, and ousted US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
An emerging story casts further light on the Trump administration’s freewheeling, Mafia-style transactional interactions with foreign governments and its rampant stonewalling of congressional oversight. On August 12, 2019 a whistleblower from the U.S. intelligence community filed a complaint with the Inspector General that alleged some kind of wrongdoing at high levels of the U.S. government. The complaint was marked “urgent concern”, an unusual designation requiring immediate action, but the complaint hasn’t been made public, nor has it been shared with Congress, in direct contravention of the law.