Politico’s Afternoon Update on Russia and Ukraine

From politico.com:

Russia’s invasion is scrambling geo-politics and there are two smart pieces today that attempt to sort out the scale of change.

Francis Fukyama has what may be the most optimistic case for what the post-invasion world will look like. He makes several provocative predictions:

  • “Russia is heading for an outright defeat in Ukraine. … The collapse of their position could be sudden and catastrophic, rather than happening slowly through a war of attrition. … There is no diplomatic solution to the war possible prior to this happening.”
  • “The Biden administration’s decisions not to declare a no-fly zoneor help transfer Polish MiGs were both good ones; they’ve kept their heads during a very emotional time. It is much better to have the Ukrainians defeat the Russians on their own, depriving Moscow of the excuse that NATO attacked them, as well as avoiding all the obvious escalatory possibilities.”
  • “Putin will not survive the defeat of his army.”
  • “The invasion has already done huge damage to populists all over the world, who prior to the attack uniformly expressed sympathy for Putin. That includes MATTEO SALVINI, JAIR BOLSONARO, ÉRIC ZEMMOUR, MARINE LE PEN, VIKTOR ORBÁN, and of course DONALD TRUMP. The politics of the war has exposed their openly authoritarian leanings.”
  • “A Russian defeat will make possible a ‘new birth of freedom,’ and get us out of our funk about the declining state of global democracy. The spirit of 1989 will live on, thanks to a bunch of brave Ukrainians.”

In the NYT, Michael Crowley and Edward Wong argue that the “war in Ukraine has prompted the biggest rethinking of American foreign policy since … Sept. 11, 2001.” Among the changes:

  • The free world: The Russian invasion “has re-energized Washington’s leadership role in the democratic world just months after the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan ended 20 years of conflict on a dismal note. In the near term, Russia’s aggression is sure to invigorate Mr. Biden’s global fight for democracy against autocracies like Moscow, making vivid the threats to fledgling democracies like Ukraine.”
  • Climate: The war reinforces “the need for more reliance on renewable clean energy over the fossil fuels that fill Russian coffers.”
  • Autocrats: While the invasion has rallied the world’s democracies against Putin, oil politics are pushing the United States to soften relations with the authoritarians running three petro-states: Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
  • China: The war “creates a powerful new incentive for the United States to find ways of prying President XI JINPING of China away from Mr. Putin.”
  • Iran: The war has paused “talks with Iran that just days earlier seemed on the verge of clinching a return to the 2015 deal that limited Iran’s nuclear program.”
  • Europe: “Russia’s invasion has supercharged the Biden administration’s efforts to restore the morale of a NATO alliance that Mr. Trump undermined.”

More on Russia’s war in Ukraine: 

— Officials in Ukraine said this morning that “BRENT RENAUD, an award-winning U.S. filmmaker and former contributor to The New York Times, was fatally shot by Russian forces in Irpin,” The Independent’s Alex Woodward and David Harding report. “On 13 March, Russian forces opened fire on a car with foreign journalists inside near Irpin, targeted with intense shelling by Russian forces in recent days.”

— Biden on Saturday “approved an additional $200 million in arms and equipment for Ukraine,” in response to “urgent requests from President VOLODYMYR [ZELENSKYY],” per NYT’s Eric Schmitt.

“AP video shows tank and sniper fire in besieged Mariupol”

— While major companies have pulled their business out of Russia,“makers of drugs, vaccines and medical equipment continue to do business … saying they have an ethical responsibility,” write WSJ’s Denise Roland, Jared Hopkins and Peter Loftus.

— As restaurants, bars and stores across the U.S. try to make a statement by dumping “Russian” vodka and other products, the intended effect may be lost: “Americans consume hardly any products that are truly Russian,” NYT’s Jeremy Peters writes.

— WaPo explainer: “What to know about the role Javelin antitank missiles could play in Ukraine’s fight against Russia”

— Helpful clicker, via WSJ: “Russia’s War in Ukraine in Maps and Graphics”

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