Call and Response: Putin Demanded Greater Russia and Trump Agreed

Over the weekend, Putin and Donald Trump seem to have come to public agreement that, if elected in November, Trump would help Putin pursue Greater Russia.

In his session with Tucker Carlson, after all, Putin corrected the propagandist, informing him that, no, he didn’t invade Ukraine because of concerns about NATO expansion, but because he considers Ukraine — and much of Eastern Europe — part of Greater Russia. He subjected Tucker to a half hour lesson in his, Putin’s, mythology about Russia.

Tucker Carlson:Mr. President, thank you.

On February 24, 2022, you addressed your country in your nationwide address when the conflict in Ukraine started and you said that you were acting because you had come to the conclusion that the United States through NATO might initiate a quote, “surprise attack on our country”. And to American ears that sounds paranoid. Tell us why you believe the United States might strike Russia out of the blue. How did you conclude that?

Vladimir Putin:The point is not that the United States was going to launch a surprise strike on Russia, I didn’t say so. Are we having a talk show or serious conversation?

Tucker Carlson:That was a good quote. Thank you, it’s formidably, serious!

Vladimir Putin: Your education background is in history, as far as I understand, right?

Tucker Carlson: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: Then I will allow myself – just 30 seconds or one minute – to give a little historical background, if you don’t mind.

Tucker Carlson: Please.

Vladimir Putin: Look how did our relations with Ukraine begin, where does Ukraine come from.


Tucker Carlson: May I ask… You are making the case that Ukraine, certain parts of Ukraine, Eastern Ukraine, in fact, has been Russia for hundreds of years, why wouldn’t you just take it when you became President 24 years ago? Your have nuclear weapons, they don’t. It’s actually your land. Why did you wait so long?

Vladimir Putin: I’ll tell you. I’m coming to that. This briefing is coming to an end. It might be boring, but it explains many things.

And then, within a day, Trump told a fabricated story that served to promise that not only wouldn’t he honor America’s commitment to defend NATO states, but would instead encourage Russia to do “whatever they hell they want.”

One of the presidents of a big country stood up and said, “Well, sir, if we don’t pay and we’re attacked by Russia, will you protect us?,” I said, “You didn’t pay. You’re delinquent.” He said, “Yes, let’s say that happened.” No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You got to pay. You got to pay your bills.

Call and response.

I still owe you a post(s) about my full understanding of the Russian investigation, one of the last parts of my Ball of Thread before I describe how Trump trained Republicans to hate rule of law. But I want to point to some aspects of 2016 — how Russia used similar calls and response to lock Trump in as part of the help they gave him.

As Adam Schiff addressed to in the exchange where he walked John Durham through all the elements of what Schiff described as “collusion” of which Durham claimed to be ignorant, Trump first asked for help, then got it.

Mr. Schiff. Don Jr. when offered dirt as part of what was described as Russian government effort to help the Trump Campaign said, “if it’s what you say, I love it;” Would you call that an invitation to get Russian help with dirt on Hillary Clinton?

Mr. Durham. The words speak for themselves, I supposed.

Mr. Schiff. I think they do. In fact, he said, especially late in summer. Late in summer was around when the Russians started to dump the stolen emails, wasn’t it?

Mr. Durham. Late in the summer, there was information that was disclosed by WikiLeaks in mid to late July.

Only, it happened even more than Schiff laid out. And it happened in ways that ensured Trump would be stuck down the road.

The way it worked with the Trump Tower Moscow dangle may be most instructive (this is, obviously, a paraphrase).

Late 2015, Felix Sater to Michael Cohen: Do you want the biggest bestest tower in Moscow? Are you willing to work with a former GRU officer and sanctioned banks to get it?

Cohen: Yes.

January 2016, Sater: Okay, then call the Kremlin.

January 2016, Michael Cohen to Dmitry Peskov, writing on a server hosted by Microsoft: Can I have Vladimir Putin’s help to build the biggest bestest tower in Moscow?

[Peskov pockets proof that Cohen and Trump were willing to work with a former GRU officer and sanctioned banks. Before the first primary, Putin pocketed his first receipt.]

May, after Trump has sealed the nomination, Sater to Cohen: You should fly to St. Petersburg to meet with Putin.

Cohen agrees, but once the DNC hack is revealed, Cohen decides that’s a bad idea and calls it off. Already, the stakes of having agreed to work with a former GRU officer have now gone up considerably.

July 27, Trump responding to some totally predictable questions, between asking Russia to hack Hillary some more and stating he would consider recognizing Russia’s seizure of Crimeia:

TRUMP: No, I have nothing to do with Russia, John (ph). How many times do I have say that? Are you a smart man? I have nothing to with Russia, I have nothing to do with Russia.

And even — for anything. What do I have to do with Russia? You know the closest I came to Russia, I bought a house a number of years ago in Palm Beach, Florida.

Palm Beach is a very expensive place. There was a man who went bankrupt and I bought the house for $40 million and I sold it to a Russian for $100 million including brokerage commissions. So I sold it. So I bought it for 40, I told it for 100 to a Russian. That was a number of years ago. I guess probably I sell condos to Russians, OK?


TRUMP: Excuse me, listen. We wanted to; we were doing Miss Universe 4 or 5 years ago in Russia. It was a tremendous success. Very, very successful. And there were developers in Russia that wanted to put a lot of money into developments in Russia. And they wanted us to do it. But it never worked out.

Frankly I didn’t want to do it for a couple of different reasons. But we had a major developer, particular, but numerous developers that wanted to develop property in Moscow and other places. But we decided not to do it.

[Peskov now has a secret with Trump and Cohen, that in fact this was a lie.]

By the time Trump told this lie, Roger Stone was already working on getting advance notice of the contents of the John Podesta emails, a more specific ask. And Konstantin Kilimnik was preparing his trip to meet in a cigar bar with Paul Manafort where they would discuss how to win the swing states, how Manafort could get paid, and how to carve up Ukraine.

Later Steele dossier entries, sourced through Olga Galkina, who had started working directly with Peskov, claimed that Cohen had direct contact with the Kremlin (he had!), and claimed he was fixing Trump problems (he was! Trump’s sex worker problem!), but instead claimed that Cohen was instead fixing a Russian tie problem.

By the time those October Steele dossier entries were written, and especially by the time the December one was, Russia had done the following:

  • Gotten Cohen (and through him, Trump) to agree to work with sanctioned banks and a former GRU officer to get the biggest bestest Tower in Moscow
  • Left evidence of this fact on Cohen and Sater’s phones, in Trump Organization call records, and Trump Organization emails hosted by Microsoft, where they would be discoverable in case of investigation
  • Established a secret between the Kremlin and Trump: that the statements Trump made on the same day Russia obliged his request to hack Hillary, denying that he had ongoing discussions with Russia, were a lie
  • Made the substance of the lie look far, far worse, thereby increasing the chances the lie would be discovered, which it was

Through a predictable mix of narcissism and sloppiness, then, Trump had compromised himself without even thinking through the consequences.

Trump always insisted that his request that Russia further hack his opponent on July 27, 2016 was just a joke (and never really accounted for the Crimea comment). But Roger Stone was inserting himself into Trump’s public foreign policy statements as early as April.

And, after two conversations with Trump on July 31, Stone scripted a number of pro-Russian tweets for Trump to post. Trump didn’t post the tweets Stone sent; his staffers were instead cleaning up from the “Are you listening” comment. But Stone may have posted the ones he drafted himself.

Of course the Russians hacked @HillaryClinton’s e-mail- Putin doesn’t want the WAR with Russia neo-con Hillary’s donors have paid for

HYPOCRISY ! @HillaryClinton attacks Trump for non-relationship with Putin when she and Bill have taken millions from Russians oligarchs

Trump wants to end the cold war and defuse out tensions with Russia. Hillary ,neocon wants war. Putin gets it. @smerconish @realDonaldTrump

,@RealDonaldTrump wants to end new cold war tensions with Russia-thru tough negotiation- #detente #NYTimes

That is, in 2016, days before Stone’s lifelong friend Manafort would discuss election help in the same conversation as carving up Ukraine, days before Stone himself got advance notice of the Podesta emails, the rat-fucker was promising that Trump would end cold and hot wars with Russia.

By the time Stone did get those advance Podesta emails in mid-August 2016, the operation had already linked Stone to two Russian intelligence operations: the use of Julian Assange as a cut-out (and his request for a pardon), and the Shadow Brokers operation releasing NSA files publicly. That is, by chasing the carrot of stolen Hillary emails, Stone linked himself inextricably with two sticks, association with the most effective attacks on the US Deep State in recent history. Stone and Trump would have happily targeted the Deep State anyway, but Russia didn’t leave that to chance.

First Trump and Cohen compromised themselves by asking for help. Then Trump personally and through Stone made policy commitments. Along the way, Russia kept pocketing one or another receipt that would help bind Trump to those commitments, or if not, ensure some kind of leverage over him.

Here we are, eight years later, and that formula has only gotten more overt. At a time when winning the election is an existential necessity for Trump, one day after Putin made clear he is seeking not just Ukraine, but Greater Russia, Trump overtly promised to allow Russia to carve up NATO.

Past history suggests that may be no coincidence.

Update: Fixed a reference to Manafort.

83 replies
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  2. MsJennyMD says:

    “Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow — if so, will he become my new best friend?”
    Trump, June 8, 2013 on Twitter.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      LOL. If only someone had pointed out that Trump does not have “friends.” Those he calls friends are the ones of use at the moment. When their usefulness wanes, the pretense of friendship evaporates. Because with a narcissistic sociopath, it is always a pretense.

      Putin, of course, has understood this from the start. That quote, MsJennyMD, would have told him all he needed to know–if he hadn’t already deduced it. He has played Trump’s Daddy issues like the proverbial violin.

      We should never again elect a president who hasn’t gone through therapy.

  3. Critter7 says:

    Good observation, Marcy. Putting 2+2 together like you often do is so valuable, thank you.

    It still stuns me, while still living through this for so many years, that Trump is such a traitor and that so much of the American public and media don’t pick it up.

    I see that as a tribute of sorts to the “firehose of falsehoods” technique of propagandizing that Trump so skillfully employs. As Hannah Arendt said it, the goal is not always for people to believe the lies, but to overwhelm so that the their ability to take it all in and respond rationally shuts down. Trump excels at that and we are living the consequences.

  4. JeoparDiva says:

    Thanks for choosing the picture that accompanies this post — it’s a stunning reminder of how much Putin owns Trump. The body language is everything!

    • yydennek says:

      “How much does Putin own” JD Vance?
      Or, in Vance’s example, do right wing Christian/Catholic, White men in politics, merely, have adjacent beliefs in the, “strong White man,” governance model?
      NYT-“Vance-backed company gives platform for Russia Propaganda.” Vance attempts to torpedo US aid to Ukraine.

      Hardcore, politicized, right wing religion with Christ at the center is one of the cultural links between Putin, Vance and Republicans. The Hallow App which accompanied the “He Gets Us” ad during the Super Bowl is the creation of Vance. Vance converted to Catholicism in 2019, similar to the timing of his political ambitions. Trump’s pick for RNC is Michael Whatley. Whatley identifies himself first, as a Christian. Pundits should be watching right wingers launched from Notre Dame. Whaley has a JD from Notre Dame and masters in theology from the school. Whatley volunteered for Jesse Helm’s campaign while he was in high school (1984). Three years earlier, Carl Anderson was a legislative aide to Jesse Helms. Anderson retired recently after a long tenure heading the Knights of Columbus.

      • yydennek says:

        The demographic shift from Democratic to GOP voting by a concerning number of Black and Latino men can be explained by their embrace of the strong man model. Unfortunately, they overestimate the willingness of White men to share their power.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Notre Dame risks becoming Hillsdale South, plus graduate programs. Amy Coney Barrett was such a feather in the NDLS cap that since her promotion, the other RW justices have made pilgrimages back to her alma mater as a “safe space” to bleat their worst propaganda.

        yydennek, you are keeping your eye on an absolutely critical ball here. I’m not the only one who appreciates it, but I value it tremendously. You relieve so much of the pressure I’ve long felt to get my own similar research out there.

        • Rayne says:

          I’m going to add a cautionary note here, though — there are schisms within the Catholic Church. Lumping all Catholics together would be a huge mistake just as lumping all Protestants together would be.

  5. Benji-am-Groot says:


    “One of the presidents of a big country stood up and said, “Well, sir, if we don’t pay and we’re attacked by Russia, will you protect us?,” I said, “You didn’t pay. You’re delinquent.” He said, “Yes, let’s say that happened.” No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You got to pay. You got to pay your bills.”



    That is the tell when the Orange Florida is pulling a fabricated story out of thin air – use of the word ‘sir’. Or am I reading this wrong?

    Pavlov’s Rapethuglican®️ – bought and paid for or is there indeed Kompormat?

    And I agree 100% with JeoparDiva’s notice of who is the bitch in their relationship. And his base thrives on that. WTF, over?

    Vote people – it is not a game.

    • emptywheel says:

      The “sir” is one tell. The claims about payments, which get NATO wrong, is another. This is a wildly embellished retelling of other events.

      • jecojeco says:

        Stories like this are childish, hallucinatory, they’re targeted at his undereducated, cable addicted true believers. Fortunately they are less than half the voting population but unfortunately a major US political party has gone all in on supporting a treasonous wannabee strongman. They seem totally willing to abamdon/defy the US Constitution to do this and political violence up to and including civil war have crept into their public musings. How did we sink so far, so fast?

        Relying on the integrity of this SCOTUS to keep us true to our Constitution gives me chest pains.

    • c-i-v-i-l says:

      It’s not totally out of thin air, though it’s certainly a manipulated “sir” story. There’s an element of what Trump has privately said in the past:

      “You need to understand that if Europe is under attack, we will never come to help you and to support you,” Trump told European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in 2020, according to French European Commissioner Thierry Breton, who was also present at a meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos. “By the way, NATO is dead, and we will leave, we will quit NATO,” Trump also said, according to Breton. “And he added, ‘and by the way, you owe me $400 billion, because you didn’t pay, you Germans, what you had to pay for defense,’” Breton said about the tense meeting, where the EU’s then-trade chief Phil Hogan was also present.

      John Bolton … wrote in his memoir that Mr. Trump had to be repeatedly talked out of withdrawing from NATO. In an interview, Mr. Bolton said “there is no doubt in my mind” that in a second term, Mr. Trump would withdraw the United States from NATO.

      Trump seems to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of NATO and the 2% guideline for defense expenditures. He’s also ignorant about the fact that the single time Article 5 of the Treaty has been invoked was after 9/11.

      • Rayne says:

        I think it’s a mistake to assume Trump misunderstands NATO, especially after Bolton was his NSA. Further, it’s a mistake to assume he isn’t doing something criminal in our faces: applying extortive pressure on NATO.

        In other words, pay him and/or Putin or Putin will be let off the leash. Why have we refused to see this threat though we recognize his extortionate behavior even in a social media comment aimed at Taylor Swift?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        You write as if Trump did not regard the world as a jumble of things, stock on the shelves, for Trump to take down and manipulate to suit his needs. Facts, truth, logic, custom and tradition, are for suckers, because they restrain self-interested behavior.

        Trump needs the presidency more than he’s ever needed anything. It’s a get-out-of-jail-free card, a ticket for endless grifting, and the weapon he needs to exact revenge. He may stop at nothing to get it. Once he has it, than hell hath no fury like an unrestrained Donald Trump.

        • c-i-v-i-l says:

          I absolutely agree that Trump says and does whatever he believes to be in his self-interest. But Trump believing that “Facts, truth, logic, custom and tradition, are for suckers, because they restrain self-interested behavior” does not imply that he is incapable of understanding the difference between truth and falsity, between facts and invention, etc. It means that he doesn’t care about the distinction when he’s better served by falsity/invention.

          There may be times when he cannot bring himself to recognize a truth in his own mind — when it poses too great a narcissistic injury — but I do not believe that’s true in general. And there are times he fails to understand something, as is true for all of us. However, his willingness to ignore truths can make it hard to distinguish between times when he fails to understand something vs. purposefully misportraying it to better serve his own needs. That’s part of what Rayne was saying to me: that what I called a misunderstanding isn’t one.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            We’ll have to agree to disagree. Trump is remarkably ignorant. His feral predatory sense might be the only part about him that is more remarkable.

            He fills in the blanks in his knowledge and understanding with invention, rather than inquiry. It’s infinitely easier and avoids the cognitive dissonance that might affect us, but which Trump considers a mortal peril. Lies and inventions protect him from that existential threat.

            Consequently, “misportraying” things to serve his own needs is his stock in trade. He doesn’t wrestle with whether something is true or false, only with how he can turn it to his immediate advantage. He may often know the difference, but it doesn’t much affect his conduct, except when he’s under oath.

            • timbozone says:

              Yes, like when he took asserted his 5th amendment privilege to not self-incriminate himself 400+ times in a deposition. He’s not sure what he did that might self-incriminate himself, only that his lawyers are asserting that he’s in a lot of potential legal jeopardy when answering any question under oath, truthfully or not.

            • RipNoLonger says:

              When does this level of normal brain dysfunction become something that could form the basis for an insanity defense? I know it’s been argued that he would never voluntarily choose that path, but it seems that it could be another way to cheat the “system” – which would be another big win for him.

    • Rugger_9 says:

      Carlson is one of the contenders for the VP slot. This might have been a 2-way interview, so to speak. If Vlad approves, look for Defendant-1 to put Carlson in.

        • Rayne says:

          After the observation shared in social media by someone who was with Carlson, that Carlson had attached his phone to a network there, yeah. Data mule, and really in our faces about it.

          • vigetnovus says:

            I can’t remember, was it widely known that Carlson was going to Russia to do an interview in the lead up to his trip, or was he exposed while he was out there?

            If this was supposed to be a secret trip, perhaps there never was a plan for an interview in the first place, and it was only after exposure that the Kremlin had to come up with a raison d’etre for Tucker’s trip. Which would make me think that the real purpose of the trip was to be a data mule.

  6. vigetnovus says:

    Speaking of Kremlin receipts, don’t forget the intercepts in December 2016 with Kislyak, in which I am sure Flynn discusses how angry the Trump team is at al-Sisi for putting them in a bad spot regarding the Israeli settlements resolution at the UN, while he lobbies Russia to vote no (or at least abstain) on the Egyptian measure.

    Given Flynn isn’t the sharpest tool either, I wouldn’t be surprised if he actually admitted to Kislyak that the Trump campaign got foreign monetary assistance from Egypt. At the very least, even if he didn’t admit that to Kislyak, it has been reported that Flynn had discussions with high-level Egyptians later that day (I believe he was in the Dominican Republic at the time), where he expressed his displeasure regarding the resolution. Since Flynn was not on US soil, these could have been fair game for NSA intercepts, and Flynn might have said something more explicit regarding any campaign aid with the Egyptians.

    I am sure that Kislyak knew he was being monitored and expected this conversation to ring red alert klaxons within the IC, which of course would give them even more kompromat to use against Flynn/Trump.

  7. bgThenNow says:

    I was just alerted to this interview that I think is worthwhile, in the context of this post, I hope. I think there have been discussions about a national pathology going around that may also be linked, but I have not looked at that. I’m disclosing the source is Midas Touch, but aside the ads which you can fast forward through, it seems a straightforward interview with Dr. Bandy Lee on the spread of the Trump illness/criminal violence in our land. Part of the ball of thread, I think.

    • bgThenNow says:

      In case people have forgotten, Bandy Lee was the Yale-educated psychiatrist (and Yale faculty member) who put together the behavioral analysis of TFG, lost her job afterwards, the history of which she explains in the interview. Her area of expertise is violence, prison violence, gang violence. She is more adamant of the danger of TFG to our culture/society now than ever. I do think it is worth a listen.

          • timbozone says:

            It is perhaps true that Hur’s report should have not been accepted by Garland in its current form. Unfortunately, once there is a draft opinion with objectionable things in it, attempting to quash sections and phrases that one believes are unwarranted would likely not result in a quashing of them if the draft was leaked as a counterpoint to a cleaned up final report. Etc.

        • bgThenNow says:

          Yes, she explains all of that, why she lost her job. I do think it is worth listening to her. What she is talking about is the effect of this behavior on groups. She talks about how gang leaders (or whatever kind are promoting violence in a prison system, for example, something she has extensively researched and studied) build followers and how it is dealt with, perhaps you are familiar with some of that. She discusses the violence that she identified from the get go in the Trump campaign, and since. She is not a crackpot.

          • c-i-v-i-l says:

            I agree. As she points out, mental health professionals have access to much more data with Trump than they do with almost any patient, so I simply don’t buy that the Goldwater Rule must take precedence, especially if they’re not making a diagnosis, only pointing out the danger. The APA never grapples with the issue: what can mental health professionals do when the public data indicate that the person is dangerous, especially when Trump can choose someone like Ronny Jackson as his physician? The APA’s “confidence that his physician will follow the standard of care in examining all systems, which includes an age-appropriate medical and mental health evaluation” was misplaced.

            • Rayne says:

              Hey c-i-v-i-l, did you attempt to publish a comment you haven’t seen post yet? I have one in the bin and I can’t tell if you deleted it or if it was blocked by the algorithm because of a trigger. Let me know and I’ll take it from there, thanks.

        • coalesced says:

          This. Regardless of my opinions on the subject/individual, to “analyze”, diagnose, suggest, opine publicly on the mental status/health of someone who I had not personally evaluated would be a pretty significant ethical violation. To speak publicly even if I had personally evaluated the patient would be even worse.

          • bgThenNow says:

            I think if you actually would listen to what she is saying, you would have a different sense of the danger she is talking about. It is not his mental health or a diagnosis so much as the effect of his (or anyone’s) violent language on masses of people who validate his world view and follow him. Her expertise is on violence in prisons, by gangs and the like, how the leaders of the “pack” of whatever content need to be removed for the safety of the whole. How the violent language affects bigger groups and the impact of the various medias to broadcast it. She is a scholar whatever you think of her prior notoriety of her (and her collaborators) writings.

  8. TooLoose LeTruck says:

    Shorter Trump, to NATO…

    “Nice continent ya got here… be a shame if something happened to it…”

    Trump’s deliberately sounded like a gangster wannabe for a long time, and now it’s getting more blatant…

    And like others here, I can’t help but wonder if Tucker is now acting as a go between for Trump and Putin…

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump has always incurred more debt than he could ever, or intended, to repay. Stiffing creditors is his favorite hobby, after stiffing the tax man. His debt to Putin stands out as the one debt he would never not repay on time and in full.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump had compromised himself without even thinking through the consequences.

    Does Trump ever think through the consequences?

    • wa_rickf says:

      Wouldn’t thinking things through require Trump to possess the ability to think and reason and analyze situations? That’s the issue right there. Trump has never shown ability to do any of that.

      Trump’s daily presidential briefings had to be graphs and charts (…and stick figures) for pete’s sake. Being a stellar thinker is not Trump’s forte in life.

  11. Local Oaf says:

    I called Maggie to leak it. You gave me her number last night. Remember?

    Perhaps I’m not cynical enough, but to see this in writing is an eye-opener.

    • emptywheel says:

      I’ve written about it before. She always gets furious when I comment about the explicit references to people using her like this.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The sad-funniest thing the multi-bankrupt Donald Trump said in his bluster about NATO was, “You gotta pay your bills.”

      • jecojeco says:

        Like bankrupt buddy Rudy who he owes $2M?

        How long can his trailerpark legions keep footing his legal bills? Now that trump has planted his select leader at RNC will he not drain every single GOP penny for his own personal needs? He has absolutely no political concerns beyond doing whatever is necessary to avoid prison, downticket damage is not his concern.

        Don Jr had a flash of lucidity a few years ago when he said his pops had “staged a hostile takeover” of the GOP. At this point I’d say he’s taken the GOP private and is running it like a mutant branch of trump Org!

        • Rayne says:

          The parallels between Musk’s acquisition of Twitter and Trump’s acquisition of the GOP are rather amusing. Twitter/GOP believed they were just doing business as usual entertaining reasonable offers only to find themselves occupied territory if not dispossessed.

  13. OldTulsaDude says:

    Our freedom might be our undoing; so many seem willing to serve a master than govern themselves, perhaps because that way all they have to do is pick a side.

  14. bgThenNow says:

    There is one good thing about the NATO remarks and that is they have supplanted the poor old guy with memory issues stories. It is kind of a BFD.

  15. Spencer Dawkins says:

    Usually, I come away from Emptywheel posts with 70 percent of my admiration for your absolutely amazing skill at sifting through large piles of hay and coming out with needles, and 30 percent of my admiration for the analysis you base on those needles. And I mean that as a compliment – I couldn’t do the sifting, and if lots of people could do it, they’d be doing it.

    For this post, my admiration is 30 percent for sifting, and 70 percent for analysis. I kept muttering “OMG, I see it, OMG, I see it” from the beginning to the end.

    Thank you.

  16. wetzel-rhymes-with says:

    What’s not enlightening is how the media treated Putin’s content as some kind of bizarre trick, like a joke he is playing on Tucker Carlson. What is Putin actually saying? We all treat Putin as if it were all word salad, which it is, it’s like a big delusion of reference, but it’s all coherent within the White Russian fascist philosophy of Ivan Ilyin (1883-1954) ( But nobody in the Western media is going to read that shit even though Putin has said Ilyin is his favorite philosopher. From what I can gather, Ilyin made a Hegalian justification for the social construction of the new Russian person through Christian terror. The nation is Christ purified, so there is also a dialogue with Stalinism in Ilyin, the purge, and Putin embodies the state as a purified animus. I think the Hegelian underpinnings are conducive to a game theory where endless war to purge Ukraine destroys Russian individuality and gives rise to a new terror state.

    So Ilyin’s philosophy provides a framework where the Ukraine War is “natural”. (from Wikipedia on Ivan Ilyin) “. . . the lands of the Russian Empire, and then of the Soviet Union, formed a natural unity, making Russia a distinct civilization . . . in a short but significant article, Ilyin wrote: “Little Russia and Great Russia are bound together by faith, tribe, historical destiny, geographical location, economy, culture and politics”, and predicted: ‘History has not yet said its last word’ . . . Ilyin disputed that an individual could choose their nationality any more than cells can decide whether they are part of a body, . .

        • Lisa in NC says:

          That essay is a distillation of Snyder’s excellent book _The Road to Unfreedom_ which explains in extensive detail the roots of Putin’s revisionist history and the implications for modern politics. It’s terrifying, tbh. Incredibly helpful for understanding the atrocities against Ukraine and the intransigence with which Putin in confronts NATO…

        • dopefish says:

          There’s a talk from a year ago by Mike McFaul, available on youtube, that I think got to the root of the real reasons why Putin thought he could and should try to conquer Ukraine.

          (Note that back just before the full-scale invasion, Russia was still claiming “NATO expansion” as an excuse for the invasion. In his recent interview with Carlson, Putin has now admitted that wasn’t the reason.)

          • Rayne says:

            Thanks for sharing the link. While McFaul is a pretty sharp guy, there’s a fundamental error he makes in his analysis.

            Putin is a crook. He’s the head of a transnational organized crime body, masquerading as a nation-state. The three reasons McFaul examines are the excuses Putin uses on the nation-state of Russia and the world to explain why he wants Ukraine (or Crimea, or Georgia, or…). They help keep people inside and outside Russia looking at political rationales rather than a very simple, dirty one: Putin wants both power and wealth, and the biggest easiest source of wealth is control of resources like oil, gas, and agricultural production.

            Putin’s not stupid; he was up to his ears in spying on the P5+1 JCPOA with Iran because that one deal alone cost him/Russia about a trillion USD. But that’s more enough reason to want to fuck with a country’s elections, more than enough reason to want to claw back resources by taking control of the pipelines running through Ukraine which fuel Europe. The loss of Nordstream pipes to sabotage offered even more reason for scrabbling along through a war of attrition.

            • dopefish says:

              I don’t really disagree with your points, but I do think McFaul is right about one big thing: Ukraine moving towards joining the West, embracing Western culture and values and being on a path to eventually becoming prosperous and successful, was very threatening to Putin and those who think like him, because one day Russians might notice that things were much better over there, and start to want change within Russia. To maintain his power, Putin needed to keep Ukraine under Russia’s thumb and keep them from turning to the west. Having failed at that, he now needs to annihilate the evidence. He has not changed his goals much since Feb 2022; he still aims to “de-nazify” Ukraine and genocidally wipe out its culture and remake it as Russian.

              I really hope Western countries (and particularly the U.S.) don’t lose interest in supporting Ukraine, because they need all the help they can get resisting this profound evil from their neighbor Russia.

              Because the world really can’t afford to let Putin win in Ukraine. The last time it led to WW2, and this time Russia has a nuclear arsenal. What will happen when Russia attacks a NATO country? WW3 will happen. He needs to be stopped now.

              [Edit: sort of related, here’s part of an interview with historian Stephen Kotkin about how Ukraine might be able to lose the war but still win the peace. Kotkin has kind of right-wing politics but he understands Russia very well and he has a clear-eyed view about the whole war in Ukraine.]

    • wa_rickf says:

      Putin’s thinking on the Ukraine War he chose to enter, is akin to toxic male “ownership” of his romantic counterpart. (She’s mine. And if I can’t have her, nobody will have her.) She sees the relationship as domestic abuse that will end in her death by his hand, eventually – if friends don’t try to save her.

      Putin will never understand that she’s just not onto him, as toxic males like Putin fail to grasp.

    • Lit_eray says:

      Kamil Galeev says that what Putin said was not out of the ordinary “… 95% of it was a standard Russian History textbook for 13-15 years old …”
      h ttps://

        • Lit_eray says:

          Do not understand your comment. Is Galeev not qualified to point out Russian cultural details? I am somewhat aware of his background based mostly on what he has revealed. Would appreciate your sources.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            I don’t understand your comment. For starters, Kamil Galeev is, at best, a right wing libertarian, which should call into question his objectivity. And it’s hard to remain an “independent journalist” in Moscow, as Galeev clamis to be, if you’re remotely critical of Putin. Ask the WSJ staff.

            In the quote you used, Galeev seems to have left out the most important part. Sure, Putin’s comment is “not out of the ordinary,” because it reflects what’s been taught in Russian textbooks 15 years. But who approved those textbooks? Vladimir Putin.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            The Timothy Snyder article, referenced up thread at 12.31am, would be a good place to start in appreciating why Kamil Galeev seems to be full of it.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            In the Carlson interview, Putin makes the claim that Ukraine is part of Russia because Ukrainians speak Russian. Snyder makes mincemeat of the claim.

            The basic refutation is that many inhabitants of occupied countries speak the language of their occupiers. Many Nigerians, Egyptians, and Kenyans speak English. Older Algerians may speak French, Indonesians Dutch, and Koreans Japanese. But you’d be hard-pressed to find a Korean, for example, who thinks that makes them part of Japan.

            • Lit_eray says:

              Do you have a reason to doubt the accuracy of what I quoted. It seems a simple statement of fact. Either dispute it or go away.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                I am disputing it, as did Rayne.

                Galeev didn’t just bury the lede; he elided it. He is deceptive because of what he left out. Russian textbooks agree with Putin’s perverted history because Putin and his allies wrote them that way.

            • Rayne says:

              Putin is manufacturing or supporting a manufactured history because Russia speaks the language of Kyivan-Rus — Kyivan, as in Kyiv. Rus, as in the original Rus which is where Ukraine is today. He’s completely flipped history on its head.

              • Lit_eray says:

                I am not supporting Putin’s historical recitation. Galeev points out that Russians are taught what he said. Putin may or may not believe his own version. – not the point. My opinion is that he could not care less how folks like us react to his historical nonsense. The audience he cares about is Russian. He was singing to the choir. Any angst he causes us is lagniappe.

                It seems to me that dislike for the messenger, Galeev, caused focus on the messenger rather than the message.

                I have gained a lot of knowledge about Russia from Galeev. Especially recently about how its defense industry continues to produce high tech weapons items because critical machining equipment and controls are still being supplied from western companies. Galeev claims that we are sanctioning the wrong stuff.

                I am still very interested in the source(s) that influence your views of Galeev. Perhaps my opinion needs adjustment.

                • Rayne says:

                  First, my point was that Putin is telling the choir what to sing, not “He was singing to the choir.” Russia’s textbooks aren’t going to teach anything Putin doesn’t want the public to learn.

                  Second, I wasn’t the one who took issue with Galeev. I like Galeev’s work but I also know that he’s a fallible human with limits. I don’t know that I agree with his premise about sanctions, a topic you are injecting into this discussion — not when there are arrests being made wrt violations of sanctions.

                  If anything needs to be adjusted it’s your reading.

  17. wa_rickf says:

    Trump telling a leader of a country, that the country needs to pay up, or he’ll let Russia absorb them, is rich.

    The audacity of Trump telling ANYONE to pay their bills, when Trump himself is a nortorious, cheap and chintzy welcher, who selectively pays some people and not others for the work they perform him, or Trump weaseling out on paying taxes, is the greatest irony of this story.

  18. yydennek says:

    The latest justifiable outrage from Sen. Wyden about intelligence gathering and privacy violations is focused on anti-abortionists (they’re always Trump supporters and were a huge presence on Jan. 6). The issue is individualized data about visits to Planned Parenthood. Politico posted the story today.

  19. N.E. Brigand says:

    “Trump always insisted that his request that Russia further hack his opponent on July 27, 2016 was just a joke (and never really accounted for the Crimea comment).”

    Not quite always. Setting aside that the initial “Russia if you’re listening” statement never sounded like a joke to many listeners, Trump himself didn’t treat it that way later in the very same press conference. Commenter MB_Drapier noted that fact here in response to a post last February,* helpfully transcribing an exchange between Trump and Katy Tur. Tur asked Trump if he had any “qualms about asking a foreign government … to interfere, to hack into a system of” an American. Trump said, weirdly, “That’s up to the President” and added “He [Putin?] has no respect”. Tur tried again to note the impropriety of Trump’s request, and he responded, “Well they probably have ’em. I’d like to have ’em released”. Tur tried once more, asking, “Does that not give you pause?” and Trump again said no: “If they have ’em, they have ’em, we might as well find [out],” before adding that he’s more bothered by Hillary Clinton having deleted her emails. And he repeats his initial request: “If Russia or China or any other country has those emails, I mean to be honest with you: I’d love to see ’em.”

    As MB_Drapier goes on to note, Trump was claiming by the next day, to the incredulity of reporters (there’s a link to a July 28, 2016 piece in the Washington Post), that he was only kidding. Regrets, he’s had a few. But not immediately.


    The video of the full press conference linked in that comment has since been deleted, but other copies are still on Youtube, e.g.:

    Trump’s exchange with Tur starts a little over 36 minutes into that video.

    Yikes! I just realized that’s the same press conference where Trump (just before responding to Tur) said this about John Hinckley, the man who tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan in 1981 (one of the first news events I can clearly remember as a child): “David Hinckley should not have been freed.” That remark has been cited lately as yet another example of Trump getting names wrong.

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