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Putin vs the people: how the ‘heroes’ of the Motherland have switched target. GLOBAL ROUND-UP

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Courtesy of Muck Rack, a superb media database that scans the globe.

After failing to achieve a quick victory, Moscow is shifting its approach toward heavy bombardment of cities. The latest from Yaroslav Trofimov of The Wall Street JournalRussian Forces Target Ukrainian Civilian Areas as Missile Hits Central Kharkiv

Trofimov writes that Moscow has “switched to a new strategy of pummeling civilian areas in an attempt to demoralize Ukrainian resistance.”

Or as Dan Eberhart explains it, “Putin has become more unhinged as his invasion drags on. He thought he’d be out of Ukraine by now. So now he’s sending rockets into hospitals, schools, and civilian centers. Putin is a war criminal.”

The New York Times also reported that an explosion rocked Kharkiv, a day after shelling in a residential neighborhood in the city. Tweets Jim Roberts, “Rocket strike hits central Kharkiv, Ukraine’s 2nd largest city, directly in front of the city’s administrative building. *Mayor said there were dead and wounded. *CCTV shows rocket striking in front of building, creating massive fireball.”

Isabelle KhurshudyanSteve HendrixRachel PannettAmy Cheng and Ellen Francis of The Washington Post report that Kharkiv remains under Ukrainian control, but it is “surrounded” by Russian troops, and Russian forces have “gathered menacing strength.”

https://www.ft.com/video/20f4f829-4ba6-4f25-9e51-8c19a2a8825b  

At the same time, a 40-mile convoy of hundreds of Russian tanks and other vehicles advanced on Kyiv, in what’s feared to be a bid to topple Ukraine’s government and install a Kremlin-friendly regime. That story, by Yuras KarmanauJim HeintzVladimir Isachenkov and Dasha Litvinova of The Associated Press, reveals, “In a worrying development, Human Rights Watch said it documented a cluster bomb attack outside a hospital in Ukraine’s east in recent days.”

Putin’s mindset

To understand better what’s behind this shift in strategy, Michael Fullilove links to some “Fascinating reporting here” from Ken DilanianCarol LeeCourtney Kube and Dan De Luce of NBC NewsFrustrated Putin may order escalation of violence in Ukraine, U.S. officials say

“Western intelligence agencies have good visibility into Putin right now and are closely watching his moves for any significant behavioral changes,” they report. Sources tell them Putin has lashed out in anger at underlings while remaining largely isolated because of Covid concerns.

Zack Beauchamp says, “This intel makes me a little less concerned about nuclear war – and a lot more worried about mass slaughter in Kyiv.”

And “Keep in mind, thus far U.S. intelligence has sadly been spot-on,” tweets David Douglas. As Teri_Kanefield says, “Imagine how someone as paranoid as Putin would feel to have U.S. intelligence know exactly what he’s doing. It puts him into a box: If he escalates the violence, he confirms the narrative that he’s frustrated.”

CNN is also reporting that U.S. intelligence agencies are prioritizing understanding Putin’s state of mind. According to what sources tell Zachary CohenKatie Bo Lillis and Evan Perez, Putin is extremely angry about the sanctions, which he feels have been too much, too fast. But also, “officials have been on guard for the possibility that Putin’s strategy may well be to project instability, in an attempt to push the US and allies to give him what he wants for fear that he could do worse.”

Meanwhile, Josh Lederman of NBC News reports that U.S. officials fear Putin’s government may retaliate for the sanctions by arresting Americans in Russia and holding them as pawns in the conflict.

A must read on the psychology of Putin

For further analysis of what’s going on inside Putin’s head, check out the interview by Maura Reynolds of Politico with Russia expert Fiona Hill, who shared her view: ‘Yes, He Would’: Fiona Hill on Putin and Nukes

Probably too late for this warning, but as Arthur Goldstein says, “In case you’re looking to read something really disturbing, try this.”

Denise Schipani points out, “Fiona Hill knows more than anyone what Putin is thinking, the context, the history, the consequences. This is so important, but also completely terrifying.”

Adds Brianna Wu, “This Politico piece with Fiona Hill is a must read on the psychology of Putin. Yes, the war is going badly for Russia. Don’t think that means the world is out of danger. I was especially surprised to learn about his use of radiological poison.”

Decades of European policy, flipped in days

Speaking of shifting strategies and states of mind, in just 72 hours, Europe overhauled its entire post-Cold War relationship with Russia.

As Michael BirnbaumMissy Ryan and Souad Mekhennet observe at The Washington Post, “over just a handful of days, Europe has been shocked out of a post-Cold War era — and state of mind — in which it left many of the democratic world’s most burning security problems to the United States.”

“Decades of European policy, flipped in days,” tweets Birnbaum. “‘What you grew up in, the last 30 years, is over,” @IlvesToomas said. ‘We are somewhere else.’”

Paul McLeary of Politico reported last night that Ukrainian pilots have arrived in Poland to start the process of taking control of fighter planes they expect to be donated by European countries.

More than 100 diplomats from some 40 Western countries and allies including Japan walked out of a speech by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to the top U.N. human rights forum on Tuesday in protest over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Stephanie Nebehay of Reuters reports.

Stephanie Baker of Bloomberg higlhights how The List of Foreign Companies Pulling Out of Russia Keeps Growing.

Meanwhile in France, from Nicolas MassolTristan Berteloot and Chez Pol of LibérationCette photo Le Pen-Poutine qui gêne au RN, and, well, you can see why. Tweets Stanley Pignal, “Marine Le Pen’s party is binning its 8-page electoral tract, which features a picture of her shaking hands with Vladimir Putin. Apparently that’s not a vote-winner any more! 1.2 million copies had been printed.”

More Ukraine-Russia news

“Cue: world’s smallest violin,” tweets Scott Rose, and in this case, the cliché is right on the money. Javier C. Hernández of The New York Times reports that Putin ally Valery Gergiev has been fired as chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic. Russian opera singer Anna Netrebko, who also has ties to Putin, has seen her appearances canceled as well.

Russian oligarchs are moving their yachts as the U.S. moves to ‘hunt down’ and freeze assetsCNBC’s Brian Schwartz reports that data from Marine Traffic shows at least four massive yachts owned by Russian business leaders have been moving toward Montenegro and the Maldives in recent days.

New from David SangerJulian Barnes and Kate Conger at The New York TimesAs the Tanks Rolled into Ukraine, So Did Malware. Then Microsoft Entered the War. “Interesting piece on the gov-private sector partnership that is defending the United States and its allies from cyberattack +discussion of an imp question…where have the Russian cyber warriors gone?” tweets Mark Piesing.

With her piece Checkpoints, guns and a resolve to fight RussiansIsabelle Khurshudyan of The Washington Post gives us a taste of what it’s like to be on the road in Ukraine right now. She shares, “Wrote about our hairy drive from Kharkiv to Dnipro, in which an armed militia surrounded our two-car convoy and my car got pulled aside at one armed checkpoint because someone reported us for suspicious activity.” 

David Remnick of The New Yorker interviewed a resolute Dmitry Muratov, editor of the Nobel-prize-winning Novaya Gazeta, who discussed How Russia’s Nobel-Winning Newspaper Is Covering UkraineMichiko Kakutani highlights some of “Putin’s Orwellian pressure on Russia’s Nobel-Winning newspaper: ‘It’s got to the point of absurdity. We received an order to ban the use of the words ‘war,’ ‘“occupation,’ ‘invasion.’ However, we continue to call war war. We are waiting for the consequences.’”

Nadine White of The Independent reports that the United Nations has admitted that Black and brown refugees have faced racism at Ukraine borders after their experiences were dismissed as lies and “Russian disinformation” by online commentators.

Some U.S. headlines

And that brings us to the U.S. Richard Fausset and Tariro Mzezewa of The New York Times spoke with the only Black man on the jury in the Ahmaud Arbery hate crimes trial. What he saw: ‘So Much Hatred’: Jury Foreman Shaken by Evidence in Arbery Trial. “Being Black in America is exhausting,” tweets Mara Gay.

Saying it’s too close to the May 24 primary to make court-ordered redistricting changes, a federal judge ruled that Georgia’s redrawn political maps can remain in place for this year’s elections. As Mark Niesse of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, the decision allows this year’s elections to proceed with new congressional districts designed for Republicans to gain a north metro Atlanta seat.

As J. P. Gownder says, “They don’t act like it but…” most Americans say the coronavirus is not yet under control and support restrictions to try to manage it. That’s according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. As Amy Goldstein and Emily Guskin of The Post report, bipartisan majorities think the virus is only “somewhat under control” or “not at all” controlled.

A few more…

GMG Union, which is comprised of the unionized workers at GizmodoJalopnikJezebelKotakuLifehacker and The Root, is striking and here’s whyJason Schreier adds, “If you want to contribute to the anti-herb fund you can do so here”: Support Striking GMG Union Workers, organized by GMG Union.


Looking for a diversion today? Symeon Brown shares, “‘In other news’ you can read edited extract of ‘Get Rich Or Lie Trying’ in @gdnlongread on hip hop, hustle culture, exploitation and how the influencer influencer industry grew during a generational economic crunch.” 


The Guardian has published an edited extract of Brown’s “Get Rich or Lie Trying: Ambition and Deceit in the New Influencer Economy”: Hustle and hype: the truth about the influencer economyMichelle Peters-Jones says, “This is a long read, but absolutely fascinating.” Also though, “Everything about this is depressing,” Athena Kugblenu notices.


Not depressing: Allecia Vermillion’s profile of chef and food writer J. Kenji López-Alt for Seattle MetJ. Kenji López-Alt Applies His Scientific Method to Seattle’s Food Scene. As Benjamin Cassidy says, “A lot going on today obviously, but if you need a break from your timeline, may I point you to this profile of J. Kenji López-Alt by @alleciav.”

Adds Nancy Leson, “What a superb, enlightening, honest and charming profile of Seattle’s fabulous food dude, Kenji Lopez-Alt, by @SeattleMet’s profile queen @alleciav. Grab a cup of coffee and read it!”



Last up, Mardi Gras has been back in full force in New Orleans this year, including this year’s 150th anniversary Rex proclamation and today’s Fat Tuesday finale. You may not be able to be there in person, but you can still get in the spirit by downloading DJ Sister’s Mardi Gras playlist: ‘There’s no Mardi Gras without music.’

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