engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world,” then Vladimir Putin joins Kaiser Wilhelm and Adolph Hitler in authoring his very own World War.
By design, NATO nations …
NATO stands for North Atlantic Treaty Organization. I only mention that because it occurred to me over the weekend that I had no idea what NASCAR stands for.
It not North Atlantic Sports Car Auto Runners. It is the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing.
… have declined to send ground troops into Ukraine. Putin is very fearful of NATO (and maybe NASCAR) and the feeling among the military experts I spoke to in the Safeway checkout line a frightened Putin is like a frightened pit bull.
Actually, Tom Friedman who was not at the Safeway when I was, wrote in the NY Times:
“[B]ecause this is solely his war and he cannot admit defeat, he could keep doubling down in Ukraine until … until he contemplates using a nuclear weapon.”
According to the website thebulletin.org,
“Russia has a stockpile of approximately 4,477 nuclear warheads assigned for use by long-range strategic launchers and shorter-range tactical nuclear forces, which is a slight decrease from last year.”
Sort of glad the folks at thebulletin.org rounded it off to “approximately 4,477” nukes.
The World Population Review, which also tracks this sort of thing, writes that the U.S. has 5,550 nuclear weapons of which 2,361 are “available.” The remaining 3,189 must be, as we nuclear physicists like to say, “in the shop.”
One of the ironies of the Putin/NATO story is that Putin was perfectly happy to have Donald Trump dismantle the alliance, which would have also pleased Donald Trump. But, by invading Ukraine and having Joe Biden in the White House, NATO is as unified as it has been since the earliest days of its founding in April of 1949.
NATO countries and the European Union (overlapping, but not the same thing) are sending lots and lots of weapons to Ukraine, perhaps in response to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s soon-to-be-immortal line in response to an offer to move him and his family to a safe haven, “I don’t need a ride, I need ammunition.”
According to the Wall Street Journal:
Germany already approved the shipment to Kyiv forces of 1,000 anti-tank missiles and 500 U.S.-made anti-aircraft weapons known as Stingers.
Germany will add 2,700 anti-aircraft missiles, called “Strela” missiles. The shoulder-fired weapons can be used against helicopters and airplanes.
Still on those Strela missiles, via the WSJ: “The Soviet-made rockets belonged to the armed forces of the former East Germany and are among the most widespread weapons of that type in the world.”
Strelas: Land mines of the skies.
We have declined Poland’s offer to have their Russian-made fighter jets flown to a U.S. base in Germany if we will replace them with U.S.-made fighter jets because the Biden Administration thinks that would look to Putin like NATO is joining the fight. In addition, the Ukrainian pilots, along with the aforementioned missiles are keeping the Russians from owning the sky.
Putin can’t keep pouring men, machines and munitions into Ukraine for fear that the dreaded NATO would recognize the lack of defensive forces left in the Motherland and attack. I (and the Safeway crowd) don’t think that would happen but the dairy section isn’t driving that train of thought.
FINALLY, back to the World War thing.
We know that Russia is a big exporter of corn. What might not be as well established is that China is a big IMporter of Russian corn. Add to that, the Chinese winter wheat crop is failing.
According to Reuters:
“China’s agriculture minister said over the weekend that the country’s wheat crop conditions could be the worst in history after heavy rainfall delayed planting last fall.”
If China can’t export wheat, it’s balance of payments will suffer and it might well have to pull back on its long-range plan to use Africa as its natural resource provider. China is Africa’s largest trading partner.
The U.S. is talking to Russia’s best buddy in the Americas, Venezuela, about an oil deal. West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) is priced as I type this at just under $110/barrel. That’s down from $123 earlier this week, but way up from $58 late March 2021.
Oil. Crops. Missiles. Asia. Africa. Americas. Europe. I think that meets the Merriam-Webster definition of a World War.
See you next week.