George Soros, arguably the most outspoken liberal billionaire financier, went berserk at the world’s financial elite gathering in Davos, Switzerland. Speaking at the World Economic Forum this week, the man who broke the Bank of England in 1992 has raised concerns over not only economic meltdown, but also has warned the possibility of an end to civilization on planet Earth.
As expected, Soros blames two countries – Russia and China. Warning that the current inflation could lead to a global depression as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he also said the World War III could have begun, and “our civilization” may not survive it. The best and perhaps only way to preserve our civilization is to defeat Russian President Vladimir Putin, says him.
The billionaire then trained his gun at Chinese President Xi Jinping, blaming his “Zero-Covid
” policy and the continuing lockdowns as the trigger that have pushed the Chinese economy into a “freefall” since March. China’s declining economic activity would disrupt supply chains, feeding the global inflation, which will turn into global depression – unless the Chinese leader makes a U-turn.
Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser said the world is facing problems caused by “three R” – Russia, Recession and Rates. She said Europe will definitely see a recession. IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said skyrocketing food prices and economic problems are due to Russia-Ukraine war, tightening financial conditions, dollar appreciation and a slowdown in China.
Interestingly, Henry Kissinger, who celebrates his 99th birthday this week, has suggested that Ukraine should cede territory to Russia to help end the Ukraine war. The former U.S. Secretary of State and National Security Advisor under the presidential administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford told the West to stop trying to inflict a crushing defeat on Russia.
Lecturing participants at the World Economic Forum, Kissinger said Russia had been an essential part of Europe for 400 years and had been the guarantor of the European balance of power structure. He warned of disastrous consequences for the long term stability of Europe if the war drags on, which would not be about the freedom of Ukraine, but a new war against Russia itself.
Despite conflicting opinions from Soros and Kissinger, with both trying to defend the Western civilization in their own ways, the gloom and doom views offer the answer that Ukraine is not winning the war as widely reported by almost every single Western news media since the invasion started on February 24. If Russia is losing, why did Soros whine and bitch about the end of the world?
Of course, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was not impressed with Kissinger’s proposition. Mocking the old man who served as the 56th Secretary of State until 1977, Zelensky said Kissinger’s calendar appeared stuck in 1938, the year Munich Agreement was signed by Britain, France, Italy and Germany that paved the way for Nazi Germany to annex western Czechoslovakian territory.
Zelensky insisted his leadership will not give up an inch of Ukraine territory, let alone Crimea or two eastern regions occupied by Russian forces. In his latest criticism, Zelensky told the West to stop playing around with Russia and impose tougher sanctions on Moscow to end its “senseless war” in Ukraine. He was complaining about disagreements within the E.U. on more sanctions against Russia.
But not only some members of the European Union, including Hungary and Slovakia, are against a total sanction on Russian oil, the application by Finland and Sweden to join NATO has been blocked by Turkey. Even within the U.S., sign of a split was glaring when 11 Republican senators and 57 congressmen voted against the massive US$40 billion aid package for Ukraine.
For more than 3 months since the conflict started, not only the West had shut down Russian media from offering an alternative news, they have been spreading propaganda that the brave and courageous Ukrainians are winning the war against the Russian. The Western media kept reporting that thousands of Russian helicopters, aircrafts, drones and whatnot were dropping from the sky every day.
Even NATO reported up to 40,000 Russian troops have been killed, wounded or taken prisoner in Ukraine. Putin was also said to have lost thousands of tanks, armour vehicles and other war machines. The Ukrainian forces reportedly have attacked the Russian military so fiercely that not only Ukraine suffers zero lost, but also saw Russian forces surrendering without a fight.
In fact, tons of American and British tabloids said Vladimir Putin had gone mad, mentally ill, dying of cancer or even so terrified of losing the war that he had gone hiding under some secret bunkers. Yet, despite the perception that Ukraine is winning the war, Ukrainian President Zelensky concedes that his country will not join NATO and agreed to engage in peace negotiations.
Despite Washington’s US$40 billion new package in additional military, economic and humanitarian aid to Ukraine – on top of US800 million weapon package rushed in April – Russia is still alive and kicking. Inclusive of US$13.6 billion (including US$3.4 billion in military aid) pledged earlier, the US$40 billion new aid would bring the total aid to Ukraine to a whopping US$53.6 billion.
In fact, the Russian currency – ruble – has so far strengthened to 65.75 to a dollar, more valuable than pre-war level. That’s an incredible performance considering that ruble plunged to its record low of 151 to a US dollar on March 7. The currency has appreciated so much that the Russian central bank has cut its interest rate to 11% from 14% (in April), after it hiked the rate to 20% from 9.5% when sanctions were first imposed.
There was a wise saying from Lao Tsu that goes – “Those who know do not talk. Those who talk do not know”. It means people who talk too much are usually empty vessels. Backed by the U.S., whose agenda was to use Ukraine to engage a proxy war with Russia, the gullible Zelensky spoke too much about easy victory, made worse by the Western media’s propaganda.
Embarrassingly, after weeks of blowing his own horn, the Rambo of Ukraine reluctantly surrendered Mariupol on May 20. To save face, some western analysts called the loss of the major strategic city as merely “symbolic victory” to Russia, despite the fact that it was the largest city in the Ukrainian-controlled portion of Donetsk Oblast, not to mention Mariupol is a major industrial hub.
Crucially, Mariupol is the home of the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works and is the largest city on the Sea of Azov. Mariupol is located between Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, and the region of Eastern Ukraine called Donbas. The loss means Ukraine no longer controls its port on the western shore of the Sea of Azov, allowing Moscow complete control of the Sea of Azov and a land route to Crimea.
By preventing Ukraine’s access to the Sea of Azov, Putin can easily cripple Ukraine’s trade and economy. Mariupol has been one of Russia’s major goals from the beginning of the invasion. For months, the Western media and analysts had been laughing at Moscow’s failure to capture Kyiv. When Putin’s forces shifted away from Kyiv, Zelensky foolishly popped champagne and claimed victory.
The earlier onslaught on Kyiv was to damage – not destroy – the capital of Ukraine. Call it a distraction or one of the Sun Tzu’s Art of War strategy to “appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak” or whatever you like. After 3 months of assault, Russia pushed Ukrainian forces farther and farther back until they were pinned inside the Azovstal plant, their backs to the coast, with nowhere else to retreat.
At the end, at least 1,730 complacent or over-confident Ukrainian troops have surrendered in Mariupol. Russia called the operation a mass surrender. The Ukrainians, to save face, said its garrison had completed its mission. Analysts were speechless at how devastatingly effective direct fire from Russian tanks during the battle of Mariupol, after the same tanks were initially ridiculed.
But the invasion did not end with Mariupol. Now, Western military analysts see the battle for Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk as a turning point in the war. When Russia captures these two big twin cities, then all of Luhansk would be under its control. Just before he launched the special military operation, President Putin recognised all of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent of Ukraine.
Russians have already occupied the city of Kherson in southern Ukraine since the early days of the invasion, which is important to guarantee the security and water security of Crimea – suggesting that Moscow knew what it was doing all along. After liberating Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and neighbouring Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) – an area collectively known as the Donbas, Russian forces may move west.
Next, Russian forces may push to the Dnieper Valley. If the Russians capture the entire Zaporizhzhia, they will be well-positioned to cut the Dnieper, an important navigable waterway and a key economic transit corridor for Ukrainian shipping into the Black Sea. With Mariupol and the Kherson region effectively under Russian control, Moscow could assault Mykolaiv.
Mykolaiv is not only a major shipbuilding centre east of Odesa, but also Ukraine’s third-largest city and major port hub. From here, Russian forces will definitely move on to secure the Black Sea port of Odessa. U.S. military intelligence has expressed fear that Odessa could fall in July, essentially cutting Ukraine from access to the Black Sea, after having cut off from the Azov Sea.
If Ukraine is reduced to a landlocked state, with no access to sea ports whatsoever, it will force Zelensky to reach a settlement with Putin. The fact that the American and British press has reduced their propaganda substantially on how the Ukrainian forces were butchering Russian forces speaks volumes that Russia – not Ukraine – is winning the war.
That explains the abrupt decision by President Biden to send the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) or the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) to Ukraine. If Ukraine has been winning, exactly why does the U.S. need to hurriedly send such advanced long-range rocket system to fight the Russians, a move that risk serious escalation from Moscow?
It’s worth noting that on May 13, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin called Russian Defense Minister General Sergei Shoigu, urging his counterpart to consider a ceasefire in Ukraine. It was the first call initiated by Washington since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, the call, lasted an hour, had failed to solve any specific issues.
A week later (May 19), General Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called his Russian counterpart, General Valery Gerasimov. Again, this is the first conversation between the two since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It could be another attempt by Washington to push again for a ceasefire after U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s failure.
The burning question is – why is Washington suddenly so eager to hatch a ceasefire how? From the military point of view, Pentagon could see clearly how Russians are luring Ukrainians into a trap in Donbas. Despite two phone calls, Moscow apparently refused to entertain any ceasefire – sending alarms to the White House that its game-plan in Ukraine could backfire.
Biden had many reasons when he provoked Putin to start the war, ranging from covering his disastrous Afghanistan
withdrawal to rallying NATO allies behind the U.S., and from shifting Europe’s gas dependency to selling weapons. If Ukraine could win the war, Biden would walk away a big hero and boost the Democrats midterm election this year and his re-election in 2024.
But even if Putin agrees to a ceasefire, which he won’t as nothing short of a grand victory will boost his ratings at home, it would be hard for Zelensky to cut loss at this moment. He had overplayed his hand. Even if he wanted to, he can’t. A survey conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology in May found that 82% of all respondents said they did not want to cede land to Russia.
Zelensky’s reputation would take a hit if he agrees to give away half of Ukraine land to the Russians. The former comedian might not be very bright, but he is smart enough to understand his political career is over if he accepts the terms and conditions that show a humiliating defeat. He will order his boys to fight as long as he could instigate the U.S. to send him weapons.
Kissinger could be right. Russia cannot and will not be humiliated. Putin still has many cards up his sleeve. If the U.S. continues to send more advanced weapons to Ukraine, Moscow could be forced to launch a surgical strike on NATO logistics hub identified to provide weapons to Ukraine in southeast Poland, turning the table and provoking NATO to retaliate.
Alternatively, Russia could quietly use chemical weapons along the border of Poland while simultaneously mobilizing troops to threaten the Baltic states. Already, Russian fighter jets had been sent to deliberately violate Swedish and Danish airspace. All these provocations could spook stock markets and worsen the current gloomy world economy.
Putin has nothing to lose but going full force if the U.S. shows signs of toppling him. Besides energy, Russia’s new tactic of threatening the world’s food supply by blockading Ukrainian ports is working very well. The inflation has skyrocketed around the world just because 20 million tonnes of grain is trapped inside Ukraine, which Moscow has blamed on Western sanctions.
As the world leader, it’s the responsibility of the U.S. – not Russia – to help other countries or allies when food shortages and even famines plagued the world if the war prolongs. The social unrest and political instability could be some collateral damages that the U.S. has not anticipated. Even the U.S., the E.U. and U.K. are struggling with inflation and high fuel prices.
Thanks to sanctions on Russia, the Kremlin earned roughly US$20 billion each month in 2022 from combined sales of crude and products amounting to about 8 million barrels a day. Hence, Putin is well prepared for a long war, but the same cannot be said about the U.S and Europe. How many US$40 billion aid packages are Congress prepared to pass, before Zelensky asks for more?