Russia Drops the Policy Rate – What Does It Mean?

The ruble has stabilized at near pre-invasion levels, and the Central Bank of Russia drops the policy rate to 17%. What’s going on?


If one only looked at these two variables, one could be excused for thinking Russia had adeptly managed to stabilize the economy. However, these two variable are only two components of exchange market pressure (last discussed in this post), sometimes measured as:

EMP = αΔs – βΔres + γΔi

Where α, β and γ are parameters that are typically the inverse of the variance of the associated variable, and res (foreign exchange reserves normalized by money base) and i might be relative to the core country (typically the US).

What do reserves look like? The Central Bank of Russia was reporting this through until about March 25, when it stopped. Here’s a plot of what we thought Russia had as of that date (about $604.4 billion, shown as red dot in figure below, down $38.8 bn from end-February).

While this doesn’t look like an overwhelming drop, there are two things to remember. First, the $38.8 billion (reported) loss occurs in the space 3-1/2 weeks. Second, because lots of the reserves are held offshore with other central banks and private financial institutions, Russia does not have access to all the remaining $604.4 billion of international reserves.

How can we interpret the Russian action in the context of a Mundell-Fleming model? Back in February 22 (before the extent of the further invasion of Ukraine became apparent), I interpreted sanctions about to be levied thus:

That increase in interest rates (only 9.5% at the time) would push the Russian economy toward recession.  Subsequently, as the ruble collapsed, policy rates were pushed to 20%. Today, the rates have been dropped to 17% (Reuters).

The Russian central bank sharply cut its key rate to 17% on Friday and said future cuts were possible, as emergency steps had contained the risk to financial stability, brought deposits back to banks and helped limit the threat of inflation, it said.

I interpret the situation as follows:

The BP=0 curve has rotated, which allows the Central Bank some latitude to drop rates. So, temporarily, the highly distorted foreign exchange market looks stabilized, as does (as far as we know) reserves. But this is at the cost of imposing very tight capital controls. It’s not clear how much monetary policy will be able to offset the negative impacts of decreased exports, cuts in crucial imports of intermediate inputs necessary for domestic production (i.e., I’ve left out the supply shock that’s impacting prices).

As for inflation, here’s the most recent data (note: month-on-month CPI, not annualized), at 7.6%:

7.6% m/m annualized is 140.8%.





74 thoughts on “Russia Drops the Policy Rate – What Does It Mean?

  1. Moses Herzog

    I’ll state the obvious and say that Germany needs to cut off its imports of Russian natural gas and oil. Then we’ll be getting closer to “success”. And America needs to start talking tough with India if they aren’t playing ball with NATO. Maybe India can’t cut off Russian imports completely, but they need to curb or diminish the amount.

      1. Moses Herzog

        Krugman gave them hell during the Greece episode also. But it’s accurate and they deserve the harshness. Germans have a lot of penance to do after WW II. This is a chance for them to show international leadership and maybe in a small way make-up for the massive errors of ’33–’45. Why not take the opportunity to say “This is a different Germany” ?? But the message Germany is sending out to the world on Ukraine right now is “We are the same Germany, and learned nothing from the greatest crime ever committed on mankind”. I have German blood and it makes me feel shame.

    1. Macroduck

      India wants access to advanced weaponry from Russia, among other things. Problem is, trade controls will make it difficult for Russia to continue delivering anything with a chip in it.

      China might be able to provide Russia so.e of its tech import, needs, but why bother? China can capture the value added by making the finished good itself.

      Russia’s position as a weapons supplier isn’t looking good.

    2. c1ue

      I think it would be a great idea for Germany to destroy its economy by cutting off the single largest supplier of its energy – not just natural gas but oil and coal as well.
      A great idea in the form of an object lesson on how not to run an economy, that is.
      As for the inflation statistics – GIGO. On the ground reporting in Russia is telling me that there was a spike in prices after sanctions and the resulting devaluation – but not clear if that was due to actual supply or monetary issues as opposed to speculation and profiteering. Unlike the supply chain problems in the US and EU, there are no shortages of anything.
      The Russian economy is certainly being hurt by the sanctions, but the harm to the US and EU economies is very possibly an order of magnitude greater in absolute terms and still significantly higher in percentage terms.
      Let’s consider the gasoline price situation in the US. I had read elsewhere that each 1 cent in increase of US prices is $1 billion in additional cost to the US population. That number is certainly low given that US gasoline consumption is 144 billion gallons. AAA gas prices were in the $3.60 range prior to 2/24; the average price now is $4.123 after peaking at $4.333
      That’s at least $70 billion in cost right there.
      Then there’s the upcoming food problems due to Pozsar’s Bretton Woods III “bad commodities” bifurcation. Reports of “epic to Biblical” shortages in food and supply chain disruptions combined with a 23 state outbreak of avian flu.

      1. Macroduck

        Oh, lord, another Russia-hugger.

        You think consequences for Russia are “eh, who knows?”, but Germany is destroying its economy? Andd the cost to the U.S. is higher than some estimate you cite because you wrote down a big number? Brainless.

        Look, other not-very-smart trolls have already laid claim to this comments section. Peddle your nonsense somewhere else.

        1. pgl

          It seems the Russian hugging trolls have not heard the credit rating downgrade imposed by S&P.

        2. pgl

          Of course JohnH is Putin’s favorite apologist as JohnH repeats the lie that there were no war crimes in Bucha. I guess JohnH has not been paying attention to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz:

          The perpetrators of civilian killings in the Ukrainian town of Bucha were guilty of war crimes and must be held accountable, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Saturday. “This is something we cannot forget,” Scholz said, referring to the deaths of civilians in the town to the northwest of Kyiv. “We cannot overlook that this is a crime. These are war crimes we will not accept… those who did this must be held accountable.”

          1. JohnH

            Yet another lie from pgl. What I said was that in the furious propaganda war being waged, no one really knows what happened. Even the Pentagon can’t say for certain.

            To understand modern media propaganda, pgl should watch “The Revolution Won’t be Televised.” It carefully documents how people working for Venezuelan oligarchs videotaped events and manufactured news stories that were the opposite of what happened.

            After Vietnam and Iraq, you would think educated Americans would understand this. In Iraq aUS helicopter gunship picked off Iraqi reporters as if they were buffalo on the Great Plains. Not only were the events not reported by the media, who were embedded with the military, but Chelsea Manning, who leaked the war crimes was the only one held accountable.

            pgl and his ilk should start paying more attention to US behavior and to the power of modern propaganda, which often turns reality on its head.

          2. pgl

            April 9, 2022 at 5:52 pm
            Yet another lie from pgl. What I said was that in the furious propaganda war being waged, no one really knows what happened. Even the Pentagon can’t say for certain.

            JohnH the two faced weasel. He plays the Janus game a lot. No Johnny boy – you have been quite the Putin apologist so I did not lie. And I’m not going to watch something off topic simply because you say I should.

          3. pgl

            ‘To understand modern media propaganda, pgl should watch “The Revolution Won’t be Televised.” It carefully documents how people working for Venezuelan oligarchs videotaped events and manufactured news stories that were the opposite of what happened.’

            The topic is Ukraine not Iraq or Venezuela. Now tell us – do you really think the massacres in Bucha were staged or not? Take a stand two faced weasel.

          4. Noneconomist

            Hey John: in a previous post, you said we shouldn’t believe the government. Now you just said the Pentagon can’t verify events. So, which is it? Don’t believe the reports of American and European correspondents on scene , and certainly not the government. Instead, wait for verification by the, uh, government which you emphatically said we should not believe?
            As one of the stereotypical 1950’s western movie Indians might have put it: JohnH speak with forked tongue!

          5. baffling

            “no one really knows what happened. Even the Pentagon can’t say for certain.”
            now this is typically how a propagandist tries to apply misinformation, trump style. exactly what do we not know for certain john? there are absolutely no doubts that the russians have invaded a neutral country. they have reigned terror on that nations population through airstrikes and missile strikes. they have bombarded civilian populations indiscriminately with heavy artillery. they have killed thousands of civilians. perhaps some stuff in the media has not been confirmed. that does not mean you throw out the other 99% that we have no doubt occurred. do you deny any of the items i just listed, and no one really knows if they happened? foolish. quit defending the putin regime. they are murderers.

      2. Barkley Rosser


        “On the ground reporting” from whoever you are says there are no shortages? You are lying. Shortages are probably more dramatic than price increases, so my on the ground reporting says, almost certainly more accurate than yours, whoever the eff you are. Latest one that has a buying frenzy going on? Diapers.

      3. pgl

        On the ground reporting in Russia??? All :”news” in Russia is controlled by Putin himself. Look – your fellow Putin apologists may be incredibly stupid but take cheer – you are the dumbest of them all.

      1. pgl

        Why listen to this ding bat? She makes less sense than Marjorie Taylor Greene. Hey I’m Irish and this ding bat is a total embarrassment to the real Irish folks.

  2. ltr

    April 7, 2022

    How Germany Became Putin’s Enabler
    By Paul Krugman

    Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression runs on the money Russia gets by selling fossil fuels to Europe. And while Ukraine has, incredibly, repelled Russia’s attempt to seize Kyiv, Putin won’t be definitively stopped until Europe ends its energy dependence.

    Which means that Germany — whose political and business leaders insist that they can’t do without Russian natural gas, even though many of its own economists disagree — has in effect become Putin’s prime enabler. This is shameful; it is also incredibly hypocritical given recent German history.

    The background: Germany has been warned for decades about the risks of becoming dependent on Russian gas. But its leaders, focused on the short-run benefits of cheap energy, ignored those warnings. On the eve of the Ukraine war, 55 percent of German gas came from Russia.

    There’s no question that quickly cutting off, or even greatly reducing, this gas flow would be painful. But multiple economic analyses — from the Brussels-based Bruegel Institute, the International Energy Agency and ECONtribute, a think tank sponsored by the Universities of Bonn and Cologne — have found that the effects of drastically reducing gas imports from Russia would be far from catastrophic to Germany.

    As one member of the German Council of Economic Experts, which fills a role somewhat similar to that of the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers, put it, an embargo on Russian gas would be difficult but “feasible.”

    The ECONtribute analysis offers a range of estimates, but their worst-case number is that an embargo on Russian gas would temporarily reduce Germany’s real G.D.P. by 2.1 percent. I’ll put that number in context shortly.

    Now, German industrialists refuse to accept economists’ estimates, insisting that a gas embargo would indeed be catastrophic. But they would say that, wouldn’t they? Industrial leaders everywhere always claim that any proposed restriction on their activities would be an economic disaster….

    1. ltr

      April 8, 2022

      Wonking Out: Russian gas, acid rain and industrial scaremongers
      By Paul Krugman

      In yesterday’s column I highlighted Germany’s infuriating unwillingness to wean itself from Russian gas, something that would be costly but not devastating to the nation’s economy. Part of my point was the hypocrisy: Germany was willing to demand almost inconceivable pain from southern European countries that, the Germans claimed, had borrowed irresponsibly — but is unwilling to accept far smaller penalties for its own feckless policy of relying on Russian energy, despite decades of warnings about the risk this policy created.

      The other part of my point, however, was the foolishness of German politicians in attacking economists — including German economists — who say that the costs of a gas embargo would be tolerable, and believing the dire claims of industrialists instead. As I suggested, there’s a strong parallel here with the history of environmental protection. Industry always claims that proposed regulations will have a devastating economic impact. These predictions have never, to my knowledge, been remotely right. So the lesson should be clear: Never trust policy advice from big businesses that are talking their own book.

      In today’s newsletter I want to expand on that point, first with a discussion of the history of America’s acid rain policy, then with some broader considerations.

      Background: In 1990, more than half of America’s electricity was generated by coal-burning power plants (a number that was down to 19 percent as of 2020). These plants released sulfur dioxide, which combined with atmospheric water to produce sulfuric acid — something you really don’t want raining down on your farms, forests and people. So the 1990 amendment to the Clean Air Act introduced a system to reduce, though not eliminate, acid rain: Power plants were allocated rights to emit limited amounts of S02, but also allowed to sell emission rights they weren’t using to other plants that were having a harder time cutting their sulfur emissions.

      This cap and trade system greatly reduced the damage from acid rain. Here’s a map of pollution before the new system went into effect:

      The acidic America that was.

      And here’s what it looked like more recently:

      The cap and trade difference….

  3. Ivan

    That inflation is what will become a huge liability for Putin in the next few months. Pensioners not being able to afford food, clothes, utilities and shelter will get them out on the street. I doubt a lot of them will agree that “denazifying” Ukraine is more important than food on the table.

      1. pgl

        ‘Ukraine and several Western governments have accused Moscow of war crimes after the bodies of civilians shot at close range were found in the town of Bucha following a Russian withdrawal. The Kremlin denies its forces were responsible for the deaths and said on Tuesday that Western allegations Russian forces committed war crimes were a “monstrous forgery.”‘

        Forgery is their new word for deny, deny, deny? They are fooling no one outside of Russia (well except for our Russian bots here) and let’s hope the truth is somehow being told to the Russian people.

        Thumbs up to Rusal!

        1. Ivan

          Yes those dead people are supposedly all crisis actors.

          Denying the undeniable is as pathetic there as it is here.

  4. Barkley Rosser

    I note that Nabiullna has imposed massive exchange controls. Russian citizens are simply not allowed at this moment to unload rubles. There is much more. This is a “Plotemkin ruble,” only holding at this value due to all these controls, although obviously the ability to continue to sell stuff to China and India as well as natural gas to Europe helps a lot. I have not double checked the black market rate recently, but given the extreme controls on official exchanges there is no doubt it is still very different from the official rate.

  5. rsm

    How high was inflation in Syria, and why is Assad still the head? Does any strongman care about inflation, since they just print money?

    1. Anonymous

      don’t need any javelins or turk drones……

      a couple dozen well placed rpg 7 shots would cut off the gas flow to east and central europe.

      why don’t usa tell zelenskyy to shut it down?

    2. Barkley Rosser

      As of August 2021 the rate of inflation in Syria reached 139 percent. The economic situation in Syria has been very bad for a long time. But then Assad and his late father have been dictators who have nor hesitated to kill anybody opposing their rule for a long time. Heck, the war in Syria has been about people rising up against the government and trying to overthrow it, only to be put down with the active assistance of the Russian military.

      1. pgl

        OK you bit on rsm’s trolling. Syria has seen 139% inflation but as our host notes Russia’s inflation exceeds 140% on an annualized basis.

        I guess rsm will mansplain to us why 139 is greater than 140.

    3. Macroduck

      Well, there was that Mubarak fellow in Egypt. Let’s see, um, Ben Ali in Tunisia? Said al Said in Oman? And it was kinda dumb of you (nothing new) to bring up Syria, given that Assad was threatened with overthrow in some measure due to food prices. He’s still in power because, oh yeah, Russia saved his bacon. “Strongman” Assad wasn’t strong enough to resist the effects of food price increases on his own.

      Any other questions that that even a slight exposure to reality can answer for you?

  6. pgl

    Look – I do not buy that weak and overpriced tea produced by Starbucks but if I did – I would have to boycott this company in light of its CEO absurd claim that paying workers decent wages is an assault on his precious company:

    Even if you have to go to some coffee shop to get your morning Joe do not pay a single dime to these anti-union sleazeball until he allows unions.

    1. T. Shaw

      Stock up on coffee. There likely will be supply issues.

      When I’m on the road, I get free coffee in the hotel.

      The Warden [I pretend to be asleep when she gets up] makes it for me.

      FYI – The Warden isn’t in a union but she controls 99% of the money and 100% of me.

      “Yes, dear!”

  7. rsm

    Luuucieee, please ‘splain why inflation just doesn’t matter to dictators, despite economics predicting the state must fail if inflation rises?

    Is it possible that inflation is just not the constraint economics says it is, because governments just print money faster than prices rise?

    1. Macroduck

      There you go again, pretending to ask questions when you really just want to say something stupid.

      Economics doesn’t predict the fall of governments. Only an idiot or a liar would write such a thing. The conditions under which governments operate is the subject of political science.

      And yes, governments can “print money” in response to inflation, but only an idiot or an Erdogan would see that as a way to improve public welfare in the face if inflation. I’m pretty sure you aren’t an Erdogan.

  8. macroduck

    The central bank is not independent, and is less independent now than before sanctions went into effect. A rate cut may not be what an independent central bank would have chosen. A Friday rate cut may not last till Wednesday.

    The impossible trinity is at work. It may be that exchange controls are sufficient to allow lower rates and a stable ruble. Exchange controls may not be that big a deal for an economy headed in the direction of imposed autarchy. Consumer goods would be nice to have, but there’s little need to pay for industrial inputs when you can’t have ’em and can’t afford ’em.

    1. Barkley Rosser


      Indeed, the lowering of the rate does indicate that the combination of the intense exchange controls plus the continuation of some of Russia’s exports are sufficient for maintaining the official exchange rate, if not the black market one, so that the rate can be lowered somewhat. Needless to say maintaining the exchange rate at something like its former value helps restrain the inflation rate, although sanctions blocking various goods from being sent to Russia at all add to that.

    2. Ivan

      That is an important point. Russias central bank is not independent and may not change policy according to facts. It is very possible that they were forced to lower the rates by Putin – and that he is not able to understand the risks of that reduction. Looking at the inflation rate some may have said they should have raised rates to 30%, but looking at the economy Putin may have said reduce it. A few months of hyper-inflation will lose Putin a lot of political support. But he may bet on having his victory parade in a month.

      1. Moses Herzog

        In his age group Gilmour may be the best ever, because his style is not so dependent on speed, but he can give you these incredible deep emotions from his playing.

        My ranking of the best ten off the top of my head:
        1. Jimmy Page (also good at bending and could intentionally play a note off-key and still make it sound good)
        2. Hendrix
        3. Gilmour
        4. Jeff Beck
        5. Zakk Wylde
        6. Steve Vai
        7. Edward Van Halen (giving him lower grade because attitude to bandmates)
        8. Brent Hinds
        9. Santana
        10. Chuck Berry (If you created an entire new genre of Music, “rock and roll”, that gets you automatic in the top 10)

        Honorable mentions: John 5, Jason Becker

        1. baffling

          stevie ray vaughn should be in any top 10 list. and a couple of years ago i would have had clapton fighting for position number 1. but his odd behavior through the pandemic leads me to question many things about him.

      2. Moses Herzog

        Also, just so Menzie doesn’t give me a hard time today, Lita Ford gets honorable mention. There are some very good female guitarists but their names escape me at the moment (no sarcasm)~~I’ll put 4-5 of them here in the thread when they hit me later.

      3. Moses Herzog

        @ macroduck
        What’s really weird about Watching and listening to David Gilmour for me , this fits under “TMI” category, Is that David Gilmour’s face, aside from my Dad’s more extreme “male pattern baldness”, Gilmour’s face looks similar to my Dad’s older face right before he died. Not a “twin” or “deadringer” but pretty close to the same type face. So when I watch these YT videos with Gilmour, I keep thinking about my Dad, who was anti-marijuana, anti everything, nearly, Gilmour and late ’60s music artists stood for. It’s very weird.

        My Dad also died INSIDE of a metro hospital. Avoid that if you can. Certainly if you felt that friend/relative didn’t want/desire to die in a hospital.

    1. T. Shaw

      We must do all we can to aid Ukraine.

      On Monday 11 April 2022 at 11AM eastern, let’s all in unison sing, “Imagine.”

      That’ll show Putin.

      1. Menzie Chinn Post author

        T.Shaw: You made this same crack about “Imagine” 19 days ago. Have you no imagination yourself, or are you going to repeat yourself delighting in your own perceived sense of wittiness?

        At the same time, you have been pooh-poohing sanctions. What would make you happy as an effective measure? A tac nuke lobbed into Russia?

        1. Moses Herzog

          I say we send Putin a large tin container of popcorn with a special flavor coating on the outside of the popcorn. Who’s with me people??

          This is said respectfully, I think Shaw is just aiming to “push buttons” here emotionally with people, which is easy to do when making crass statements about thousands of peoples’ un-humanitarian deaths.

          1. Moses Herzog

            This is said by a guy with about 50% German blood and a German last name:

            I’ll tell you who the real “bad party” here is, and it’s not Biden. It’s Germany for continuing on purchasing Russia’s exports of oil and natural gas./

            Could we get sardonic funny boy “T Shaw” to admit Germany (among the NATO members) is the bad actor here?? Can “T Shaw” admit that much?? Or are cheap/uninformed jokes all that “T. Shaw” is capable of???

        2. Moses Herzog

          Are you being sarcastic?? If you’re aiming that comment at me, you probably hit the target dead center. If you’re aiming that econbrowser commenters, you deserve derision./ I don’t even know why you’re here. To provide “humor” to the few fans of Putin here??

  9. Vasja

    It is also a neat example of the impossible trinity. It states that it is impossible for a country to simultaneously control its (i) exchange rate, (ii) monetary policy (interest rate) and (iii) have free capital movement. One of them needs to go if one wants to control the other two. Market forces crashed the ruble. Russia “regained control” over its exchange rate and monetary policy by blocking free capital movement. While this might look like a “success story” on the outside (ER is back to pre-crisis level, the interest rate is decreasing), I do not think that their position has improved. ER ratio is almost pointless when capital controls are in place. Almost no one trades at those rates. I would love to see how liquid the ruble market is at this point. My guess is, liquidity has dried up. The interest rate might be decreasing. But let us wait and see how many new loans will be issued under these rates. Given the likely prospects of inflation and non-performing loans, the retail lending market might be in a freeze.

    Bottom line, Russian CB regained control of the nominal values of the exchange rate and interest rates by freezing capital flows. This might look nice on paper but the market is probably dysfunctional and these two rates are not indicative of health of the Russian economy.

    1. AndrewG

      It’s true that this is an example of the constraints of central banks and fiscal authorities, but the capital controls were also imposed from the outside, which is what’s making it hard for Russia to pay its external debt. This isn’t Russia’s own doing. If they could, Russia would start flooding the market with their US dollar warchest (third graph above) to get their currency back in shape. But they can’t (they’re blocked from the outside). So instead, they hike their interest rates through the roof. Sure, it’ll cause a depression, but it’ll make the ruble great again.

  10. ltr

    April 9, 2022

    Chinese mainland reports 1,350 new COVID-19 cases

    The Chinese mainland recorded 1,350 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Friday, with 1,334 linked to local transmissions and 16 from overseas, according to data from the National Health Commission on Saturday.

    A total of 23,815 new asymptomatic cases were also recorded on Friday, and 174,015 asymptomatic patients remain under medical observation.

    Confirmed cases on the Chinese mainland now total 163,042, with the death toll at 4,638.

    Chinese mainland new locally transmitted cases

    Chinese mainland new imported cases

    Chinese mainland new asymptomatic cases

        1. pgl

          Ah yes – Brucie boy who told us this virus would wash away by Easter 2020. Look – your record on this issue is beyond pathetic so one would think you should be banned from commenting on any aspect of this issue.

      1. Bruce Hall

        A different perspective on China.

        Oh, The New York Times? Nada.
        The Washington Post? Zilch.

        I guess those other rags were just making it up.

  11. ltr

    April 7, 2022

    U.S. life expectancy continued to drop in 2021, new analysis shows
    By Joel Achenbach and Dan Keating – Washington Post

    Life expectancy in the United States, which declined dramatically in 2020 as the coronavirus slammed into the country, continued to go down in 2021, according to a new analysis * that shows the United States faring worse during the pandemic than 19 other wealthy countries — and failing to see a life expectancy rebound despite the arrival of effective vaccines.

    The study, written by public health experts in Colorado, Virginia and D.C. and posted online but not yet peer-reviewed, found that the continued decline in life expectancy in 2021 came largely among White Americans.

    That was a reversal of the trend from 2020. Then, the dramatic decline in life expectancy among all Americans was far more pronounced in Hispanic and Black Americans than in Whites, a reflection of the disproportionate impact of the virus on communities of color and chronic health disparities. But the 2021 data turned that trend on its head.


  12. pgl

    Marjorie Taylor Greene supported the 1/6 insurrection. One would hope in a sane country that she would never be allowed to run for Congress again. Well it seems a few citizens of Georgia are asking the courts to ban this ugly Witch with a B from running and a judge is allowing this to move forward!


      Greenberg also is a large importer of illegal immigrants. Con’s con. Just like the entire Republican party.

  13. pgl

    “As for inflation, here’s the most recent data (note: month-on-month CPI, not annualized), at 7.6%”

    And as you note annualized this exceeds 140%. But the Putin bots here are trying to tell us Russian inflation is not that bad. Seriously?

    1. Ivan

      Another Putin blunder. If you fail to identify the problem, you are not going to solve it. The military problem is not a lack of brutality, it’s a lack of morale. Russian soldiers simply don’t believe they are fighting for something worth risking their lives for. On the other hand the brutality and targeting of civilians is just inspiring a more fierce and hateful fighting from the Ukrainians. It makes the enemy fiercer and more dangerous. The civilian casualties also solidifies NATO support and their willingness to provide more and better weapons to Ukraine (and to make bigger sacrifices with sanctions). But then Putin is a sociopathic bully so its not surprising he wouldn’t understand when sociopathic bullying would be the wrong strategy.

      1. Ivan

        When a soldier see those from his own army dead or dying he will ask the question “is this worth dying for”. For the soldier who’s country is being invaded and who see woman and children killed and brutalized by the enemy the answer is “yes” in a split second. For the invading army soldiers it is much harder to get to a yes.

  14. pgl

    “The reported poisoning of Russian oligarch and now unofficial-emissary Roman Abramovich is another potential instance of zealous groups in the ecosystem of the Russian state acting on their own initiative. Abramovich, whose intermediate role in bilateral talks between Russia and Ukraine was confirmed by Russian Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, experienced symptoms consistent with chemical weapons poisoning between March 3-4 along with two other negotiators. Other reporting has suggested that Abramovich’s poisoning may have been conducted by a hardline group within the Russian government that seeks to derail talks with Ukraine to continue the war. This would be highly characteristic of Russia’s system, where groups within the Russian government have incentives to act autonomously to protect their own interests against those of the political center or other rival groups.”

    And we thought the Trump Administration was dysfunctional!

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