In the past few days there has been a spate of news describing escalating tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
First, NATO announced a new strategic deterrence concept aimed at the Russia-China alliance, while President Biden warned Putin about escalating the Ukraine conflict saying, “Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. You will change the face of war unlike anything since World War II.”
Calling the moves “urgent, necessary steps to defend the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Russia,” Putin said that Russia is fighting the full might of NATO. The US and its allies, he said, are seeking to “destroy” Russia.
How does this or could this affect you? While Ukraine has had political and economic issues for many years, now, it is still an agricultural powerhouse. When it was part of the Soviet Union, Ukraine was responsible for 25% of the entire agricultural output of the USSR. If Russia was able to control the entirety of Ukraine, it would approximately double its wheat and corn and production. Even without controlling the entire country, the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine grow the most wheat. Combining just the exports of wheat by Russian and Ukraine, the two would more than double the amount of the second place exporter – the US.
We’ve seen Europe’s dependence on Russian fuel and how the conflict has caused fuel prices to rise worldwide, but especially in Europe. Should Russia also start controlling the food, it’s hard to predict specific outcomes, but food prices have already risen as a result of uncertainty over Ukrainian wheat exports.
Russia may be seeking a second lever in its geopolitical arsenal, adding food to fuel. Or it may be preparing for a period of imposed international isolation by “stocking up” on its neighbor food and fuel. Either way the effects on food and fuel will be upward moving prices even without the conflict going nuclear or spreading to additional countries.
Here is Mike Shelby/Sam Culper of Forward Observer and Grey Zone Activity taking briefly about the importance of community building. At the beginning of this clip, he’s finishing up talking about the chances of upheaval around the 2024 elections. He answers the question about community/mutual assistance groups around the two minute mark.
In this video Mike Shelby, aka Sam Culper of Forward Observer and Grey Zone Activity, talks about building social bases, which are areas which are capable of resisting tyrannical rule, but such community mobilization and structure can also provide relief post disasters or catastrophes.
Following are a few articles and videos on the Ukraine invasion and the effects on the rest of the world. First up is a video from S2 Underground. In their video On the Steppe, they give a good and heavily-mapped overview of what is happening on the ground in Ukraine. They also spend some time talking about what NATO is doing or not doing, and a little bit on the effects of sanctions, such as the price of fertilizer. Following the S2 video is an article by investment banker and market analyst Bill Blaine talking about how the world has changed with the invasion, especially focusing on market matters.
After Blaine’s article is a video of Ukraine President Zelenskiy calling on able Ukrainians to come forward so that Kiev an arm them. The general mobilization prohibits any male citizens aged 18 to 60 from leaving the country.
Forward Observer’s daily situational awareness video discusses soaring wheat prices. Following that is a short article from the BBC on prices which may increase as a result of the war, and then a longer article/interview from WWD on Russia’s motivations, goals, and implications for various future problems.
For the next 10-14 days – for that is how long it will likely take Russia to subjugate Ukraine – it will be wall to wall coverage. Already some fatigue with the streets of Kyiv is setting in. Our shock, horror and outrage will continue to be blunted – and by the time it’s over, other topics will be filling the screens.
Probably these other things will be surging inflation, soaring food prices, unimaginable energy bills, tensions in the Taiwan straights, and Europe bickering across every imaginable policy decision. For the next few years expect horror reports about brave Ukraine resistance fighters being massacred – or terrorists being dealt with if you watch Sputnik TV.
The reality is the world fundamentally changed yesterday:
There are the obvious issues; prolonged inflation for longer. We’re all aware that food prices will be impacted long-term. Russia is a major supplier of fertilisers, Ukraine is the number one sunflower seed producer, no 2 in Wheat and massive across agricultural commodities. (Some readers have already asked if it’s a “Ukrainian Chicken Farm moment” – the absolute top of the corporate cycle, named for the said poultry farm that launched a massively oversubscribed bond deal at an insane price, just days before SARs and Bird Flu caused it to shut with uninsured losses – but that is a story for another day…)
Energy is the other talking point – massive spikes in European Gas as we wonder where it’s going to come from. European nations are all eyeing each other – nervous the rest might cut a deal with the Kremlin to secure their own supplies.
It also confirms the critical effect of Geopolitics – and it confirms a massive tectonic shift has occurred as the world splits into new plates with their attendant conflict zones.
Putin is aware reproachment with the West will be a long-term play – and he won’t be counting on it happening soon. He’s pivoting (what a great word) to Asia – setting up Gas, Energy and Food deals with China.
China is happy to continue building its co-prosperity sphere in Asia. The more Russia and Europe can distract the US, the happier Xi will be.
The “West”, including our outposts in Japan and Oz will be wondering where they should stand.
The pundits expect Trump or a Trump Clone to lead the US into isolationism in 2025.
Europe will remain a tired, broke little grab-bag of ill-assorted nations pretending the like each other, at the end of very long supply chains dependent on what Russian Energy they can beg, borrow or steal.. (Steal in this context being breaking the climate change agenda to re-invest in Energy Security by opening coal, oil and gas facilities – prompting fury from climate activists who will accuse governments of stealing from future generations.)
That leaves Africa and South America up for play – the Chinese have learnt their debt lesson and will be loath to rely on further soft-power through lending. They may get… “outward bound”… As resources dip, populations rise, and climate change fries Africa the refugee crisis will further destabilise Europe.
I’m sorry if it sounds like a Game of Risk – but it’s beginning to look that way..
The Russia-Ukraine conflict is expected to drive these [energy and fuel prices] even higher and has already caused the oil price to jump to its highest level in more than seven years, while future gas prices have increased 60% in just one day.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has profoundly shaken the world order (such as it is) and raised a host of questions about Putin’s endgame, the West’s response, the alternative courses that neither side took, and the consequences for Ukraine, Russia, and nearly everyplace else. In search of some preliminary answers, Prospect editor at large Harold Meyerson and managing editor Ryan Cooper talked to Anatol Lieven, senior research fellow on Russia and Europe at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft and author of Ukraine and Russia: A Fraternal Rivalry. An edited transcript follows.
Harold Meyerson: What is Putin’s endgame, as far as you can discern it?
Anatol Lieven: Up to this morning, I would have said, on the basis of my conversations with people in Moscow, officials and former officials, that what they were going to do was take the Russian-speaking areas of the country in eastern and southern Ukraine and then, basically, offer to reunite Ukraine on the basis of federalism—in other words, basically propose the Minsk agreement for the Donbas, but into a kind of confederal state in which pro-Russian areas would have de facto control over Ukraine’s international alignment. And accompanying that with a treaty of neutrality. Now—and I think it’s still too early to say for sure—but after Putin’s speech and given what looked like Russian moves towards Kyiv, it may well be that they want more than that, they want to replace the government in Kyiv with a pro-Russian government.
Putin’s talk about denazification, demilitarization, punishment of Ukrainian criminals points in that direction, and the fact that they seem to have crossed the border on the ground from Belarus heading for Kyiv. The Russian bombardments, of course, extend across the whole of Ukraine, but that’s what you would have expected, a classic military offensive to knock out the military infrastructure through air power and missiles. But in the end, the political fate of Ukraine will be determined by what territory the Russian army occupies on the ground.
In the video below, intelligence analysts at Forward Observer in their daily situational awareness video discuss activity in the Ukraine war as well as some domestic moves to increase social media platform control over discussions.
Here are three short videos from intelligence analyst Sam Culper of Forward Observer and Gray Zone Activity. In the first video, Sam discusses the USA as a “gray zone” — an area where foreign countries intervene and propagandize to undermine US power.
Good morning. It’s Sam Culper with this week’s Forward Observer Dispatch.
Last week, I wrote about the reasons why conflict is virtually certain to escalate with China, leading to either a shooting war or a financial, monetary, and cyber conflict, which could lead to a shooting war. The history lesson is that monetary wars lead to military wars.
Either way, this is going to be a messy 10-20 years.
I’m picking my way through another chapter of Unrestricted Warfare, the 1999 essay/manual written by two People’s Liberation Army officers.
I want to share a key takeaway from the chapter:
The authors discuss how technology is changing the nature of warfare, from a “line” to an “area” and eventually to the entire world. Here’s the money quote:
“Just think, if it’s even possible to start a war in a computer room or a stock exchange that will send an enemy country to its doom, then is there [a] non-battlespace anywhere?”
“Where is the battlefield?” the authors ask. “The answer would be: Everywhere.”
The authors go on to write that, in light of this, the future protagonist of war is not the professional soldier, but the hacker.
This is exactly the kind of mindset and activity we’re seeing today, re: Chinese hacking campaigns.
At some point in the next four years, perhaps coinciding with the 2024 election, the U.S. could be forced to decide and act on going to war with China over Taiwan. I’m not advocating for or against it, but simply pointing out that a decision will be made.
This is one reason why Trump tried to pull U.S. Forces from the ends of the Earth.
Chinese military leaders privately say they’re within two years of being able to invade Taiwan.
The commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command is requesting missiles be deployed to Taiwan, Japan, and the Philippines to counteract what he describes as a shifting balance of military power that has become “more unfavorable” for the United States.
I want to encourage you, if haven’t already, to consider how prepared you are for systems disruption. If we go to war with China, we’re going to feel the effects here at home: disruptions to power, internet, communications, transportation, the stock market and financial services, etc.
According to Unrestricted Warfare, the key to beating the United States is to make them prioritize self-preservation ahead of geopolitical goals. Prepare accordingly.
This Tactical Intelligence Course is two days of instruction and exercises to prepare students to gather and analyze information in emergency situations. Each training day begins at 0900 and ends approximately 1700 (5pm).
We begin by exploring and analyzing the threats we’re likely to face during an emergency scenario, and then we get into how we should configure our intelligence section. This is the ‘brain’ of community security. We work on understanding our mission and conduct some threat analysis to identify what we should be preparing for. Then we build our intelligence team around the mission.
You’ll have the opportunity to do group or individual work where you’ll navigate the Intelligence Cycle and complete relevant intelligence products for your situation. We discuss Intelligence collection and then we collect. Then we discuss Intelligence analysis and we analyze incoming information in order to produce intelligence.
What we do over these two days is train students to become the ‘intelligence officer’ during an emergency scenario. The student will have an understanding of his/her roles and responsibilities, be able to direct collection and then produce threat intelligence. That’s our number one goal for any scenario — produce early warning and threat intelligence.
This training course is taught by intelligence professionals, so please arrive prepared and ready to engage. You’ll receive a link to begin the online training portion of this course upon receipt of your deposit.
Introduction to Intelligence
Understanding the Operating Environment
Understanding the Intelligence Cycle
Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield
Area Study Production
Intelligence analyst Sam Culper of Forward Observer has another Q & A video. This is a recording of a live stream with live questions texted in, so there is some less useful stuff, but also some good nuggets of information.
Intelligence analyst Sam Culper of Forward Observer talks about some upcoming events to keep an eye out for in Beware the Ides of March.
“Beware the Ides of March” was the soothsayer’s warning to Julius Caesar, foretelling his death in Shakespeare’s play.
It’s just 13 days until the Ides of March 2021, and… beware of these events coming up.
First, this weekend is the “Autonomous Day of Action,” a series of anarchist riots planned for several cities across the country. We’re looking at Portland and Seattle as ground zero, but demonstrations are likely to happen in a few other cities.
Second, the trial of Derek Chauvin starts next week. As the city of Minneapolis builds security barriers around Hennepin County Courthouse and brings in National Guard and out-of-state law enforcement, Leftist groups are building momentum for protests and riots if (or when) Chauvin isn’t convicted of murder. A final verdict isn’t likely until April or May, but unrest is likely throughout the process.
Third, as I emailed you last week, there’s a speculative bubble in the market, and some hedge fund managers are concerned about bubbles in other parts of the economy. “They can last longer than you can remain solvent,” as the saying goes, but they all end in tears.
Fourth, the House is set to pass a major gun control bill. Maybe it will be killed in the Senate! Still, it’s very likely to roil gun rights groups, and is virtually certain to lead to a growing sense of unease among the Right.
Fifth, Leftist groups continue to plan and conduct “direct action” demonstrations against ICE facilities. Over the weekend, rioters in Portland attacked stores (some with customers inside) and vandalized a U.S. Customs and Immigration Services building. (I must have missed this story on CNN.)
Sixth, well, I could go on. In fact, I do in my Early Warning report.
In today’s Early Warning report, I discussed a number of prominent asset managers who are warning of another market bubble. (Get access to my daily Early Warning intel brief here.)
Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell brushed off a question about it during Congressional testimony this week, but it’s clear that the Fed’s easy money policies are inflating yet another financial bubble.
“It will end in tears,” says one investment manager.
But something else caught my attention…
Dr. Michael Burry — the trader who foresaw the 2008 financial meltdown, made famous in the book and movie The Big Short — is warning about the risk of hyperinflation.
He drew a number of comparisons between pre-collapse Wiemar Germany and the United States today.
We’ve heard these predictions of imminent collapse and hyperinflation for the past decade. I’ve been skeptical and doubtful that the threat was ever imminent, but here’s the thing…
THESE GUYS ARE EVENTUALLY GOING TO BE RIGHT.
The window for this happening is likely somewhere between 2024 and 2044, for reasons I described in this morning’s Early Warning brief.
But I want to draw your attention to what you can do to prepare.
I don’t know the exact solution yet, but I can tell you that I’m actively doing four things:
1. Growing my local community and fostering a culture of preparedness.
2. Getting plugged in with local farmers and ranchers, farmer’s markets, and agricultural co-ops, and thinking about how to foster a functioning local economy once the dollar goes.
3. Getting my home and family as self-sufficient and self-reliant as I possibly can.
4. Making sure that I develop contacts for local information-sharing in case the worst case scenario does happen.
Intelligence reduces uncertainty about the future and it fills in “blind spots” we’re going to have during an emergency, however brief or protracted it is. (And I do think we’re headed for multi-year, if not decade-long, emergency.)
Earlier this month, my new training company Gray Zone Activity went live. It’s the online platform where I’m teaching the intelligence and security skills required to navigate this country’s Gray Zone future.
In the following two “videos” intelligence analyst Sam Culper of Forward Observer talks about intelligence concepts. I put videos in quotes because you can’t really see anything. Also, the audio is not very good because he recorded in a car.