Russian president has nearly 200,000 troops, supporting artillery and air power encamped on eastern Ukraine border for “national security” purposes; rump state of extinct USSR demanding NATO back out of eastern, central Europe; onetime super power – now mere “regional power” with world’s 11th largest economy but some 6,400 nukes – feeling “threatened” by Ukraine military, one-fourth size of Russia’s and with no nukes; Putin wants iron-clad guarantees from West – and adds few ideas to his Christmas wish list
December 19, 2021
By Andrew Squibley and Arthur Bushwhacker, Think “Birds Aren’t Real” Claim Could Move QAnon Conspiracies Into Mainstream
“Democracy Dies in Darkness….and Mark Meadows’ Smart Phone”
WASHINGTON (Rueters) – US President Joe Biden, squaring off with a recalcitrant Vladimir Putin, has offered the Russian president some Christmas perks as incentives to relax tensions along the Russia-Ukraine border and smooth the way for turning down Putin’s squirrely demands of the US and NATO, Rueters has learned exclusively.
Russia has told the US and NATO it wants a legally binding guarantee that NATO would give up any military activity in eastern Europe and Ukraine, part of a wish list of security guarantees it wants to negotiate with the West, guarantees that have “zero chance” of being made, a NATO spokesman said.
Biden, taking advantage of the holiday season and feeling somewhat sympathetic toward Putin’s “schoolboy tantrums” to be taken more seriously, has awarded the Russian the previously vacant 2020 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, a White House source told Rueters. An official announcement will come Christmas Eve, Rueters learned.
“The fucking guy is hilarious,” the source said. “Just read what he expects the West to do. Pull NATO out of central and eastern Europe? Stop supplying Ukraine military assistance?
“He’s the natural choice to get the Twain award,” the source continued. “We didn’t give it to anyone last year because of Covid. But, there’s no reason to leave it unawarded permanently and we know Putin is begging for attention.”
Putin, 69, and the first Russian to be awarded the prize named for the famous 19th-Century American humorist, also has been offered his own “Night of Recognition” in a special production of Kennedy Center Honors, insiders at the center told Rueters.
“We haven’t lined up anyone yet to honor President Putin,” said the source at the Kennedy Center, “but we’re thinking maybe (former USSR President Mikhail) Gorbachev, the comedian Yakov Smirnoff, although he’s Ukrainian, it turns out, and maybe that Borat guy. He’s Russian, right?”
Russia recently published draft security demands that NATO deny membership to Ukraine and other former Soviet territories such as Georgia and Azerbaijan, and roll back the alliance’s military deployments in central and eastern Europe — bold ultimatums that are almost certain to be rejected by the U.S. and its allies.
The proposals, which have been submitted to the US and its allies, also call for a ban on sending US and Russian warships and aircraft to areas from where they can strike each other’s territory, along with a halt to NATO military drills near Russia.
The demand for a written guarantee that Ukraine won’t be offered membership already has been rejected by the West, which said Moscow doesn’t have a say in NATO’s enlargement.
Biden, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and NATO leaders don’t want to completely ignore and rebuff Putin, however, State Department sources confirmed to Rueters.
“We’re thinking maybe we can give him some territory he might find acceptable, at least at this point. He’s not getting Ukraine, but Lithuania could be on the table.”
NATO insiders are particularly anxious to offer non-member Finland to quiet Putin for now. “If he was so anxious to get Crimea (in 2014), why wouldn’t he be happy with Finland?” a source said. “It has all the reindeer he could hunt, all the Laplanders he could send to work camps in Siberia and tasty herring.”
Putin is “trying to get the band back together,” a State Department leader told Rueters. “There were eight members of the Warsaw Pact. Know how many joined NATO? All of them — except the USSR which, of course, no longer is with us.”
Biden is likely to keep up the pressure on Putin, offering him gifts, respect and recognition he so desperately wants. “We know he has an edifice complex. Have you seen his Black Sea palace?” a White House senior aide told Rueters.
“So we thought we could offer him some free timeshares at several European castles and palaces. You know, just to give him a taste for what good, stable relations with his neighbors could mean for him. Putin wants to reassemble the Soviet Union. He’s the problem, not Russia.”
An aide close to Biden said the president has a number of ideas for placating Putin in the face of certain rejection of his demand for NATO pullbacks and, in effect, reversing the 30-member organization’s growth since the USSR dissolved in 1991.
“Believe it or not, we’re talking with New York City officials about a ticker tape parade for the guy. Can’t you just see it? Putin cruising down Broadway, sitting on the back of a Tesla, waving to everyone. Great theater. That’s what he thrives on. Oh, and we have the photograph which we’re sure he’ll love.”
NEW NEWSMAKERBLOG FEATURE:
Andrew Squibley. Why is
this man smiling?
Q: Dear Mr. Squibley, do birds really exist or have they been gone for 50 years, like the Internet tells me? Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. Signed, Wondering in Delaware
A: Dear Wondering, who do you think shat on my car this morning, some fifth-grader on his way to school, you moron?