~ 10:52 EST — There are many other angles, but I buy the analysis that Putin’s ego and attempting to exploit Soviet-era World War II pride and shame (if not subsumed into it himself)) is part of it.
When I visited my sister studying in Moscow the most common question we were asked by Russians was if we were related to a famous WWII General with the same family name.
That sister and another now live in Vienna, Austria.
I’m reminded that Slovakia — between them and Ukraine — is not a large country. With missiles falling in Western Ukraine, they’re as close as if they were on the far North side of the Adirondacks back home and bombs were hitting Northern New Jersey or so.
This doesn’t put them in the middle of it, and isn’t meant to imply any personal ownership or intimate knowledge or expertise with regards to the Ukraine conflict, but my knowledge of that geography as well as our home geography reminds me of the privilege of sense of scale and remove that I and most of my fellow US citizens have. That said: With the news that Russian and Ukrainian forces are battling over Chernobyl, and the worries that artillery hits might disturb and spread radioactive dust over the region, suddenly Vienna doesn’t seem far enough away.
~ 1200 EST — From a friend who lived in Russia in the early aughts: “There’s all this talk about going after the Russian oligarchs. I’m certainly for it, but I think we should strike the modifier ‘Russian’ and go after all oligarchs.” Amen. (Later I was reminded this friend and Putin were once in the same room together, along with George W. Bush, in St. Petersburg. Nothing high-powered; simply because of a program he was involved in, he became part of an obligatory audience and backdrop for them.)
~ 14:00 EST — I’m reminded my mother visited the Soviet Union as part of an extended student tour, and her visit included Kiev and “the Ukraine” at that time. (I’m surrounded by family and friends with various Russian and Soviet life experiences, echoes of the cold war influence on the boomer generation in various ways and not deep hereditary ties, really.)