Putin Won’t Back Down

Russia’s missile test fuels U.S. fears of an isolated Putin

The Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile launches at Plesetsk testing field in Russia on Wednesday. | RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY / VIA AFP-JIJI

by David E. Sanger/The New York Times

WASHINGTON – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s calculated move Wednesday to test-launch a new intercontinental ballistic missile, declaring it a warning to those in the West who “try to threaten our country,” fed into a growing concern inside the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden: that Russia is now so isolated from the rest of the world that Putin sees little downside to provocative actions.

In private, U.S. officials have been more direct about the potential for an isolated Russian leader to lash out in further destabilizing ways. “We have been so successful in disconnecting Putin from the global system that he has even more incentive to disrupt it beyond Ukraine,” one senior intelligence official said in a recent conversation, insisting on anonymity to discuss intelligence assessments. “And if he grows increasingly desperate, he may try things that don’t seem rational.”

Mad Vlad Putin https://www.drudgereport.com/

Putin, assessments delivered to the White House have concluded, believes he is winning, according to a senior U.S. official who asked for anonymity to discuss intelligence findings.

It is hardly surprising that Putin has not backed down in the face of economic sanctions and measures to cut off his country from technology needed for new weapons and now some consumer goods. He has often shrugged off Western sanctions, arguing he can easily manage around them.

“We can already confidently say that this policy toward Russia has failed,” Putin said Monday. “The strategy of an economic blitzkrieg has failed.” (https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/04/21/world/russia-missile-test-fuels-us-fears/)

Putin’s Puppet Sergey Karjakin

https://www.chessdom.com/russian-president-vladimir-putin-met-sergey-karjakin/

In a new article at Chess24, Carlsen on Karjakin: “These types of attitudes can’t be accepted”, the first comment was by “ProudPawn”:

“Dubov’s comment is pretty to-the-point. Karjakin no longer believes that he can do anything especial in chess realm, thereby trying to switch lines for the next phase of his career: being another Putin’s puppet in the Russian parliament!” (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/carlsen-on-karjakin-these-types-of-attitudes-can-t-be-accepted)

Dedicated to Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam

Vishy Anand Dances With The Devil

Evidently former World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand has lost his mind. This writer was stupefied after seeing this headline at Chess24: Vishy Anand joins Dvorkovich’s bid for second term as FIDE president (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/vishy-anand-joins-dvorkovich-s-bid-for-second-term-as-fide-president). Since the article was dated April 1, 2022, April Fools’ Day, I assumed it was some kind of sick April Fools’ joke. Unfortunately it was not a joke.

Of all the living former World Champions, Vishy, as he is known in the Chess world, had the best reputation of the small, select group. That reputation has been incontrovertibly tarnished. Russia has become a pariah country. Russia has committed, and continues committing, unimaginable atrocities in Ukraine, and will continue so doing until Russian strongman Vladimir Putin is deposed. The aftereffects of the needless war will linger for decades, if not centuries, especially when the truth of what kind of monster is the Russian state is revealed. Why would Vishy Anand smear his own reputation by aligning himself with FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich? What’s in it for Vishy?

Who is Arkady Dvorkovich?

Arkady Dvorkovich once served as a deputy prime minister and is currently chair of the International Chess Federation, or FIDE. He criticized the war with Ukraine in comments made to Mother Jones magazine on March 14 and came under fire from the Kremlin’s ruling party. (https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2022/03/chess-grandmasters-putin-russia-ukraine-war/)

“Wars are the worst things one might face in life. Any war. Anywhere. Wars do not just kill priceless lives. Wars kill hopes and aspirations, freeze or destroy relationships and connections. Including this war,” he said.

Putin shakes hands with Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich during a meeting at the Kremlin in April 2018. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/The Associated Press)

Dvorkovich added that FIDE was “making sure there are no official chess activities in Russia or Belarus, and that players are not allowed to represent Russia or Belarus in official or rated events until the war is over and Ukrainian players are back in chess.”

FIDE banned a top Russian player for six months for his vocal support of Putin and the invasion.

Two days after Dvorkovich’s comments, a top official in the United Russia party demanded that he be fired as chair of the state-backed Skolkovo Foundation. Last week, the foundation reported that Dvorkovich decided to step down. (https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/prominent-anti-war-russians-1.6398505)

In an article at Chess24, Vishy Anand joins Dvorkovich’s bid for second term as FIDE president, one reads: “Indian great Vishy Anand has made a dramatic entrance into chess politics by joining Arkady Dvorkovich’s campaign to be re-elected as FIDE President, it was announced today. The five-time World Champion was pictured alongside Dvorkovich at an event in Delhi today to sign the contract for the 2022 Chess Olympiad, which will start in Chennai this July. Dvorkovich later said India’s most decorated chess player will be a “huge part of our team”. It follows FIDE’s decision to strip Russia of its flagship international team event on February 25, one day after Russia invaded Ukraine. The Olympiad was subsequently awarded to India at a meeting of the FIDE Council on March 15, following a swift bidding process. (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/vishy-anand-joins-dvorkovich-s-bid-for-second-term-as-fide-president)

No doubt former World Chess Champion Anand will “…be a “huge part of our team”. The Russians will use Vishy Anand as a “showpiece.” Vishy will become the “face” of FIDE. Everyone admires and respects Anand, so what’s not to like, especially if you are a Russian.

In an article by Peter Doggers, at Chess.com, Dvorkovich To Run For 2nd Term, Supported By Anand,

Dvorkovich (left) and Anand on Friday in New Delhi. Photo: FIDE. (https://www.chess.com/news/view/dvorkovich-to-run-for-2nd-term-supported-by-anand)

one finds: GM Viswanathan Anand is supporting FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich in his bid for a second term as FIDE President. Both were present at a press conference in New Delhi on Friday, where Dvorkovich announced that he will be running for re-election.

The decision to run for a second term is somewhat controversial in light of Dvorkovich’s recent statements on the war in Ukraine and his background as a Russian politician. Initially, the FIDE President seemed to be holding an anti-war point of view, saying to the American website Mother Jones on March 14: “Wars are the worst things one might face in life… including this war. My thoughts are with Ukrainian civilians.”

A day later, however, a different and rather nationalistic statement was published, and Dvorkovich said he was “sincerely proud of the courage of our soldiers” and that there is “no place for either Nazism or the dominance of some countries over others.” He made the latter statement as the chairman of the Skolkovo Foundation, a position Dvorkovich no longer holds.

The Ukrainian Chess Federation and some Ukrainian top players have called for a full ban on Russia and expressed a desire for a new FIDE leadership, but they seem to have received little support for their—however understandable—point of view.

“Yes, I am committed to run for re-election and Anand will be a huge part of our team,” said Dvorkovich today.

Anand said he would be actively supporting the FIDE President, but at the moment it’s not exactly clear how. “We have had a good discussion, but we haven’t decided yet in what role or capacity I will be involved,” said Anand.

“I am willing and determined to work with this team. It is a wonderful team led by Dvorkovich, and they have done a lot for the sport. As and when a decision is taken, I will let you know.” (https://www.chess.com/news/view/dvorkovich-to-run-for-2nd-term-supported-by-anand)

Reading the above almost caused me to hurl…especially the part about there being “no place for either Nazism or the dominance of some countries over others.” It is more than a little obvious Dvorkovich will say and/or do anything to stay in power at FIDE. The Dork, as he is known in the world of Chess, talks out of both sides of his mouth. It is difficult for Dvorkovich to express what Anand will do because how does one say, “We want to use the good reputation of Vishy Anand because the recent damage done to the Russian reputation is irreversible.”

In another article, Statement by Chairman of the Skolkovo Foundation Arkady Dvorkovich,

https://sk.ru/news/zayavlenie-predsedatelya-fonda-skolkovo-arkadiya-dvorkovicha/

which had to be translated by Google translate, one reads:

“Today, Russia continues to live under harsh but senseless sanctions. But we will rise to this challenge. We are ready to respond with technological breakthroughs and our own development. It has always been so.

While working in the government, I did everything to ensure that sanctions were not an obstacle, but an opportunity to create our own economy. And the results of this work in many sectors have made it possible to create the springboard for ensuring national security that we have today – in agriculture and construction, in energy and petrochemistry, in infrastructure development.

I cannot respect foreign companies that have left the Russian market. Some of them lost him for a very long time, perhaps forever. Our main task is to get rid of technological dependence. This can only be achieved through teamwork, in which everyone who is capable of being a leader will be involved – each in his own place.

Skolkovo has always been at the forefront of innovation in Russia, and today it is ready to make every effort to build its own competitive economy in our country.” (https://sk.ru/news/zayavlenie-predsedatelya-fonda-skolkovo-arkadiya-dvorkovicha/)

The Russians in Chess are like termites in the woodwork of the House of Chess. They, and all of their fellow travelers, like Vishy Anand, must be eradicated from the Chess House, known as FIDE. The Russian infestation of Chess must end and it must end NOW! All Russians, and those who support them, must be cast out of the House of Chess for the good of the game. To allow the nefarious, genocidal Russians to remain involved with Chess will end the recent Chess boom and send it to where one now finds Checkers, if Chess is fortunate. It will be ironic if a former World Chess Champion began the down hill slide into oblivion for Chess. What the hell could Vishy Anand have been thinking? Maybe Vishy will attempt an explanation in the near future. Vishy, my man, if you lie down with dogs, you will get up with fleas.

Poems in a Time of Crisis

Rather than publish excerpts I decided to print the entire articled because, “Ilya Kaminsky (@ilya_poet) is the author of “Dancing in Odessa” and “Deaf Republic.” Born in the Soviet Union, he lives in Atlanta, where he teaches at Georgia Tech.

Poems in a Time of Crisis

March 13, 2022

By Ilya Kaminsky

Mr. Kaminsky is a Ukrainian American poet and the author of “Dancing in Odessa” and “Deaf Republic.”

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/ukrainian-american-poet-ilya-kaminsky-on-his-viral-poem-and-watching-a-war-from-afar/ar-AAUC5dr

Two weeks into the war, the Russians are still menacing my birth city, Odessa, in southwestern Ukraine. It sits on high bluffs above the Black Sea, its famous steps leading from the water to a square.

I don’t want to imagine soldiers chasing civilians through my city. Some part of my brain turns it into a farce, based on something I remember from my own childhood: In 1984, in a village just outside Odessa, I’m a 7-year-old deaf boy running in the government’s corn field. Behind me, waving his arms, runs a policeman. My grandmother, in her 60s, sprints in front of me.

We are stealing corn from the government, my grandmother and I. We get away, and we don’t stop at corn. A different day, Grandmother hauls me up onto the roof of the state farm so my long arms can reach into the branches of the plum trees. Her lips say, “Pick only the ripest.” She makes jam. Years later, I read the Russian poet Inna Kabysh: “Whoever is making a jam in Russia / knows there is no way out.”

Now I spend most of every day online, in America, trying to find ways out for Ukrainian poets and translators. Many literary organizations are willing to open their doors, bring in refugees, but unlike my grandmother and me, lots of Ukrainians writers don’t want to leave. They want their freedoms. They want their own languages — Ukrainian and Russian — in their own streets. I understand. My Jewish family keeps running from Odessa — and then returning.

Since the war began, I have received emails from journalists asking me to explain my poem “We Lived Happily During the War,” which went viral on the day Vladimir Putin’s troops began bombing my birth country. The poem was published on Poetry International in 2013, the same year the Maidan protests began in Ukraine. Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s president at the time, was trying to lean closer to Putin and crush protests. Ukrainians rejected him; Putin stole Crimea; and the war in Donbas began.

“We lived happily during the war,” the poem begins, “and when they bombed other people’s houses, we / protested / but not enough, we opposed them but not / enough.” As I was writing the poem, my adopted country, the United States, was in the middle of its own “freedom” campaigns.

How are Putin’s bombardments of Kyiv different from George W. Bush’s bombardments of Baghdad? Both invasions used false premises: imaginary weapons of mass destruction in Bush’s case, and imaginary protection of the Russian language, among other justifications, in Putin’s. Odessa is a largely Russian-speaking city and Putin is sending troops to bombard Russian speakers — that is how he “protects” the Russian language.

“I woke up because of explosions,” my cousin Petya emailed me recently. “They were bombing the beach. Who do they think they’ll hit? This isn’t vacation season!” His jokes are typical of Odessa, a city of good humor, where April 1 is one of the most important holidays.

When I think of Russian troops arriving at the bay, I imagine them in their heavy gear, trying to huff and puff up the stairs, while Ukrainians throw Molotov cocktails and stones. My grandfathers fought the German tanks on tractors. This war feels like something out of a movie or a poem — but it is real. The city trembles.

“And when they bombed other people’s houses,” the poem goes. Who remembers the blitz of Grozny, Chechnya’s capital city, now? American politicians shouted for a bit. Then they forgot. It is lucrative to forget. The oil companies like doing business with Putin. “In the street of money in the city of money in the country of money,” the poem says, “our great country of money.”

And yet on the first day of March, over 800 people gathered for a Zoom poetry reading bringing together Ukrainian and American poets. It was one of the largest poetry readings I have witnessed. Why did so many turn to poetry in this time of crisis?

While we read poems, the 40-mile Russian military convoy threatened north of Kyiv. The West watched as young civilians took up guns, sand bags, Molotov cocktails. It’s not an especially large country, only 44 million people. There’s no one to fight for us but us.

“The West is watching us,” a friend writes. “This is their reality TV war, they are curious to see whether we will go on living, or die.”

Another friend emails: “We saw fighter aircraft, helicopters and Russian paratroopers from our window. But we walked for miles.” He tells me that they’re safe now: His wife is in Poland and he’s in Ukraine. He sends photos of the city where they lived.

A different day, a friend from Kyiv writes: “Am in Bukovina, took 2 dogs and 1 cat with me, Sophie’s choice, left 3 cats behind, being cared for by a neighbor.” It’s unbearable, she tells me. She is 12 miles from the Romanian border. Eventually, she crosses with only one dog.

An Odessa friend contacts me to say: “I’ve seen today 10-km queue in Palanca and approx 500-600 people that were walking by feet. Mamas with kids and it’s snowing and some kids crying, others have serious men’s eyes.”

Another friend, who remains in Odessa, tell me he just got back from the store: “People are grabbing any food they can find. I’m trying to do art. Read out loud. To distract myself. Try to read between the lines.”

I ask how I can help. Finally, an older friend, a lifelong journalist, writes back: “Putins come and go. If you want to help, send us some poems and essays. We are putting together a literary magazine.”

In the middle of war, he is asking for poems.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/13/opinion/ukraine-odessa-poems.html

#FUCKRUSSIA

https://www.blabbermouth.net/news/dee-snider-absolutely-approves-of-ukrainians-using-were-not-gonna-take-it-as-their-battle-cry-fk-russia/
https://www.blabbermouth.net/news/dee-snider-absolutely-approves-of-ukrainians-using-were-not-gonna-take-it-as-their-battle-cry-fk-russia/

‘We’re not gonna take it’: Could Twisted Sister’s anthem become the protest song for Ukraine?

Dee Snider schooling the rock masses, as usual   –   Copyright  MARIO SURIANI/AP

By Jez Fielder

“We’re not gonna take it. No, we ain’t gonna take it!.”

This is the mantra. It’s the absolute rock n’ roll answer to THE MAN. And it looks like Twisted Sister’s 1984 smash is now directed at Vladimir Putin.

https://www.euronews.com/culture/2022/03/02/we-re-not-gonna-take-it-could-twisted-sister-s-anthem-become-the-protest-song-for-ukraine

‘SNL’ Opens with Emotional Performance From Ukrainian Chorus

The Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York sang behind a table of candles that spelled out “Kyiv”

By Ilana Kaplan

While Saturday Night Live more often than not opts for comedy in its cold open, this week, the laughter was on hold.

Given the devastating Russian-Ukrainian conflict, this week’s episode began on a somber note. The Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York, introduced by Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong, performed instead. They delivered a mournful song for the audience with “Prayer for Ukraine” before the camera panned to a table of candles surrounding the name of the Ukrainian capital, “Kyiv.”

According to Ukrainian Weekly, the chorus was founded by Ukrainian immigrants in the 1940s in order to “preserve and cultivate the rich musical heritage of Ukraine.” The decision to feature an emotional tribute from the folk chorus followed the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, spearheaded by Russian President Vladimir Putin. (https://www.rollingstone.com/tv/tv-news/snl-skips-cold-open-comedy-for-tribute-to-ukraine-while-john-mulaney-enters-five-timer-club-1313279/)

Slava Ukraini

Like most of you the AW spent his morning transfixed by what was being seen on the internet. The question is why has the United States Chess Federation NOT left the Russian controlled FIDE?

As things stand there are what I have come to think of as the “Big Three” Chess websites; Chessbase, Chess24, and Chess.com. Two of the three have articles concerning the naked aggression demonstrated by Russia when invading Ukraine. Chessbase, based in Germany, has published absolutely nothing on the crisis, which could quickly develop into World War III. This writer cannot help but wonder why?

Chess24.com led with an excellent article, FIDE under pressure to strip Russia of Chess Olympiad (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/fide-to-review-moscow-olympiad-as-pressure-grow-to-act-on-ukraine-invasion), in which many Grandmasters condemned the action of Vladimir Putin on behalf of the Russian people. From the article:

https://chess24.com/en/read/news/fide-to-review-moscow-olympiad-as-pressure-grow-to-act-on-ukraine-invasion

Chess.com displays the Ukraine flag in an excellent article, In Support of Ukraine:

https://www.chess.com/blog/CHESScom/in-support-of-ukraine

The lead article found at Chessbase this morning was:

Averbakh on Averbakh: How it all began (https://en.chessbase.com/)

It contains this picture of the Russian GM Yuri Averbakh:

https://en.chessbase.com/post/averbakh-on-averbakh-how-it-all-began

Today this writer visited Chessbase for the last time.

Putin Playing Russian Roulette

Why the Chess Metaphor for Putin Is Wrong

The problem with Russia is not a game.

By Daniel B. Baer, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

https://foreignpolicy.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Putin-chess-metaphor.jpg?quality=90
Foreign Policy illustration/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision in late 2021 to amass more than 100,000 soldiers on the Russian border with Ukraine and then to send thousands more into Belarus last month—ostensibly for exercises—has seized the West’s, if not the world’s, attention. The precedent seems clear: In 2014, Putin invaded Ukraine, purportedly annexed Crimea, and set up a proxy occupation of two regions in Ukraine’s east, fueled by Russian money, directed by Russian officials, and supported with Russian military and intelligence personnel. Now, he looks poised to come back and take another, even bigger, bite out of Ukraine.

The menacing move has triggered multiple vectors of diplomacy, with Washington offering Moscow serious talks about security concerns while simultaneously rallying partners and allies to be prepared to impose costs—an effort to deter a possible invasion but also to ensure it does not happen with impunity. So far, Putin’s behavior has not encouraged confidence in a diplomatic outcome. In December 2021, the Russians published demands to, effectively, rewind the clock on most of the last quarter century of developments in European security. Sergei Ryabkov, the deputy foreign minister responsible for representing Russia in talks with the United States in mid-January, had no authority to engage on any topics at all unless Russia’s maximalist demands were accepted ex ante. That isn’t the position of a diplomat who has come to do diplomacy; it’s the position of a guy who’s part of a setup.

All of this—and the attempt to avert an invasion—has set off a new round of guessing at what Putin’s objectives are and subsequent conjecture about how to mollify him in an acceptable way. It has become a kind of parlor game in Washington, Berlin, Brussels, London, and Paris to unravel a presumed multistep play, where they imagine Putin hived away in the Kremlin and calmly managing a complex strategy, always half a dozen steps ahead. An endless analysis of ulterior motives by the pundits gets mixed in: Putin wants to restore the Soviet Union, prevent Ukraine from pursuing a European future, draw a red line around NATO, drive a wedge into the West, distract from his failings at home, respond to a genuine—if unwarranted—sense of threat, make things difficult for U.S. President Joe Biden by bringing back former U.S. President Donald Trump, or any combination of the above. Add a few references to the Cold War and its long-game complexities, and it’s easy to see why the chess match metaphor is never far away.

But, as political scientist Eliot Cohen has eloquently noted, the cliche of Putin as a master chess player thinking multiple steps ahead—and the metaphorical corollary of his Western counterparts playing mere checkers—is tired. If anything, it was never apt at all, in no small part because it attributes to genius what is better attributed to base thuggery. And the thing about thuggery is it doesn’t take enormous amounts of strategic thinking to make it effective. It is essentially opportunistic and asymmetric.

Putin exercises power in international politics by destroying things. He invades and occupies countries. He throttles the supply of gas to threaten freezing European families in the middle of winter. His diplomats at the United Nations and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe are clever international lawyers enlisted in a cynical mission to sabotage the efforts of more responsible countries to build international institutions and tackle common regional and global challenges based on universal human rights. The infrastructure of world peace and prosperity takes time, patience, and skill to build. Knocking the pieces over is easy.

Putin’s genius as a strategist is often overstated. But there are two additional flaws in the chess metaphor that lead to even more consequential analytical mistakes. The metaphor—and others used to describe the high-stakes interaction between Biden and Putin—risks distorting not only the search for policy solutions but also the world’s understanding of the stakes.

The chess metaphor also obscures the moral stakes. Indeed, the discussion in the United States and Europe about the current standoff often seems dangerously detached from any moral worldview. It approaches with intellectual remove the question of whether some sort of agreement can be reached and implicitly encourages indulgence in moral relativism as if the two sides were moral equals. Strikingly, the most powerful condemnation in recent weeks has come—with immense courage—from inside Russia, when Russian human rights activists, artist, and intellectuals signed a public petition to condemn Putin’s threats to invade, stating: “Promoting the idea of such a war is immoral, irresponsible, and criminal, and cannot be implemented on behalf of Russia’s peoples. Such a war cannot have either legal or moral goals.” The petition is an important reminder that what Putin is doing is morally outrageous. He is threatening to kill even more Ukrainians than the 14,000 individuals who have already died since the 2014 conflict began. Ukraine has not threatened Russia or its citizens. Putin is threatening a war of aggression. (https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/02/05/putin-chess-metaphor-russia-ukraine/)