In the news today, from Ukrinform, Canada announces it will seize, and pursue the forfeiture of $26M belonging to the oligarch Abramovich. Canada is the first G7 country to pursue such a measure, and if approved, the assets will be given to Ukraine as part of their reconstruction compensation. Then they would only be short about about $999,974,000,000 according to recent estimates.

From the same site, there are numerous references to the meeting of Putin and Lukashenko in Belarus yesterday.  US and German monitors- and I am sure many other countries- are following the developments, but all indications from the Belarussian government are that the country “wants no part in Putin’s war”. With that said, Russia does have airfields in Belarus cleared for their use, has troops in the country, and has suggested working together against US and western sanctions.  There is also a report on the visit on Aljazeera.

I have just started reading Vladislav Zubok’s history of the Soviet collapse, aptly named “Collapse: The Fall of the Soviet Union.” The overall history is well know to everyone, or should be. The more unknown aspects such as the infighting, paranoia, ideological attacks, as well as the economic aspects and countless attempts at reform, creation of new governments, and in the end the chances that were had and lost because of fear, greed, and ignorance are disturbing. I can only summarise so much of the 500 pages, and suggest it be added to the reading list of anyone who wants to understand the historic and enduring disfunctionality of Russia/the USSR/the Russian Federation.  You can purchase Zubok’s Collapse at Yale University Press. Here is a book review from the London School of Economics.

There is one quote from the book that I must include. From the Russian philosopher Alexander Zinoviev, exiled from the USSR in the 1970’s, “You can create one thousand political parties in the Soviet Union, and all of them would degenerate into political mafias.” That fairly sums up Russia, no matter what it calls itself.

Russian combat losses as of today, from Ukrinform. The 100,000 deaths threshold is just a day or two away:

Russian combat losses in Ukraine as of 20 December, 2022

Russian combat losses as of 20 December, 2022