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Putin’s closing of ranks is lost on no Cold warrior. As Putin targets senior military and intelligence officials, the parallels to the last days of Stalin (and Hitler, for that matter) are stark. Further, Putin’s increasingly paranoid grounds for detention recall Stalin’s during the Great Purge – memories of which still haunt surviving family members.
Despite yet another uptick in COVID cases, US agencies will no longer enforce mask mandates for domestic travelers. This came in the wake of yesterday’s federal ruling. Paradoxically, US citizens returning from countries with mask mandates are required to wear a mask and take an antigen test.
Far-right wing conspiracy peddler and occasional Russian PR arm, InfoWars, declares bankruptcy. Zelensky asks Biden to declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, a designation with crippling ramifications.
In economic news, US monetary policy is having a ripple effect on global bond funds as other central banks consider following suit. Volatility in key commodities markets is so far a non-issue for US banks. While many banks have increased commodity trading exposure, they’re still finding ways to make money and mitigate risk.
Watching the markets react to the conflict has yielded a few insights. Especially with respect to commodities, many professional investors remain comfortable with moral agnosticism. However, where investment goals happen to align with broader values (e.g., green energy, new minerals markets), companies are all in with the PR benefit.
Europe and Central Asia
Russia considers new measures to lessen the impact of ‘economic upheaval.’ LePen spins her relationship with Putln as a security play against China. The Archbishop of Canterbury condemns England’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda. The war continues to divide the Orthodox faithful as Easter approaches.
The religious element of the conflict remains noteworthy. As Grant Haver reminded us leading up to the conflict, the majority of Ukrainians are also Orthodox Christians. Putin’s pretexts around ethnicity, language and religion are pure artifice, aimed at stoking hatred toward an enemy ‘other.’ Patriarch Kirill remains a willing shill for Putin’s shameful agenda. Fortunately, there is plenty of opposition within the Russian Orthodox community and Kirill is being taken to task by faith leaders from around the world.
Chocolatiers will stop sourcing palm oil from Malaysia after reports of forced labor. The controversy around Tesla’s potential benefit from slave labor in the Xinjiang region seems to have fallen off the news radar.
While the world focuses on divestment from Russia, it is important that human rights issues elsewhere don’t take a backseat. It is also important that a perceived, if self-serving, good in support of Ukraine does not wipe the slate clean for past actions.
The Middle East and Africa
Israel tested its new ‘Iron Beam’ laser system days before it claims to have shot down a missile from Gaza. Meanwhile, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price announced preparations for a ‘mutual return’ to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement with Iran.
It will be interesting to see if and how tensions with Israel over the Iran deal are resolved, and the extent to which the move away from Russian energy will influence the deal. Stay tuned as Deep State Radio regulars and national security experts weigh in.
Tune in to tomorrow’s podcast for new and evolving stories.
The DSR Network Team (Chris Cotnoir, Grant Haver, and Katherine Hill)