“Russia treacherously attacked our state in the morning, as Nazi Germany did. As of today, our countries are on different sides of world history.”— Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky
In the inevitable fog of war, we don’t yet know the full extent of the horrors that Vladimir Putin has unleashed. But the losses are already massive, and they will get worse.
Shortly before the invasion of his country, Zelensky issued an emotional plea:
“War,” said Zelensky, is “pain, blood, mud, and death.” It is “a grave tragedy, and that tragedy has a great cost in all senses of the word.”
But he ended with steely determination.
We know for sure we do not need a war—not a cold one, not a hot one, not a hybrid one.
But if these forces attack us, if you attempt to take away our country, our freedom, our lives, the lives of our children, we will defend ourselves.
Not attack—defend. And in attacking, you are going to see our faces. Not our backs, our faces.
And then it was Ukraine. Alone.
A moment of high drama at the U.N. as Ukraine’s ambassador confronts his counterpart.
"There is no purgatory for war criminals," Ukraine's Sergiy Kyslytsya told Russia's Vassily Nebenzia. "They go straight to hell, ambassador."
So what happens now, and how will the world respond? Late last night, the Ukrainian foreign minister issued an urgent plea:
The world must act immediately. Future of Europe & the world is at stake.
To do list:
1. Devastating sanctions on Russia NOW, including SWIFT
2. Fully isolate Russia by all means, in all formats
3. Weapons, equipment for Ukraine
4. Financial assistance
5. Humanitarian assistance
But that is just a start, because this morning we wake up to a world order that has been shattered.
A ghastly night for the entertainment wing of the GOP
It would be almost hopelessly naïve to think that any of this will change the dynamics of Republican politics.
But, even by the debased standards of Trumpism, last night was a clusterf*ck for the ages. Let’s try to keep track (and bookmark) the worst:
We start with the former president himself, who went on the Laura Ingraham show, even as Putin’s assault began, and used it as an occasion to rant about stolen elections and Joe Biden.
Earlier in the evening, Trump delivered a speech to Mar-a-Lago club members in which he praised Putin, describing him as “smart” because he’s “taken over a country for $2 worth of sanctions.” On Ingraham’s show, Trump tried to lay blame for Putin’s aggression squarely at Biden’s feet, telling her ominously that the invasion couldn’t have happened during his presidency for “a very good reason, and I’ll explain that to you someday.”…
Here’s a transcript of Trump’s rant…
[Putin] sees the weakness and the incompetence and the stupidity of this administration. As an American I am angry about it and saddened by it. And it all happened because of a rigged election. This would’ve never happened. That includes inflation and that includes millions of people pouring in on a monthly basis, far more than three million people, they are coming from 129 different countries. We have no idea what’s happening and they are destroying our country.
But, it got worse. A lot worse.
Ingraham at one point mentioned a report she heard about Russian troops making an amphibious landing at Odessa. But the former president thought she was talking about American troops making a landing in Ukraine to fight Russians, and started criticizing the military for not maintaining better operational secrecy.
"You know what’s also very dangerous is you told me about the amphibious attack by Americans. You shouldn't be saying that, because you and everybody else shouldn’t know about,” Trump said. “They should do that secretly, not be doing that through the great Laura Ingraham.”
Ingraham corrected him.
“No, those are the Russians,” she said.
“Oh, I thought you said that we were sending people in,” he said. “That’ll be next.”
To paraphrase Winston Churchill: Oh, FFS.
Tucker Carlson, predictably, once again sided with Putin.
Our colleague Will Saletan was watching:
Make sure you read Will’s piece about Carlson in the Bulwark:
Tuesday, he impugned the patriotism of Alexander Vindman, a Ukrainian-American who came to the United States at age four, joined the military, and earned a Purple Heart in Iraq. Vindman “believes you have a moral obligation to defend his homeland,” Carlson told viewers, deriding Vindman’s objections to the invasion of Ukraine. In case anyone missed the dual-loyalty smear, Carlson added: “Your job is to take up arms in defense of Alexander Vindman’s home country, or else you’re evil.”
I’m very reluctant to accuse people of the worst acts or motives: racial animus, betraying the United States and its values, serving the interests of a hostile foreign power.
Give me any other explanation for their behavior, and I’ll take it. But for Carlson, there’s no longer any other explanation. This is what he is.
And, as a sign of what has happened to “conservativism,” Putin-apologist Tulsi Gabbard is a featured speaker at this week’s CPAC. Last night, she also blamed Biden and our allies for Putin’s aggression.
In case you have any doubt where MAGA World is on all of this:
So curious minds want to know: Does Putin’s brutal invasion change anything? Persuasion editor Yascha Mounk tweeted:
But, as I wrote last night, unfortunately, no. Which simply compounds the horror. And the tragedy.
Join Amanda, Bill, Charlie, and our special guest, Tom Nichols, at 8:00 p.m. ET TONIGHT. We’ll break down the latest news from Ukraine… and vent.
Exclusively for Bulwark+ members!
The world reacts
Brave Finland, right on Russia’s borders:
The Lithuanian foreign minister:
Is It Amnesia or Hypocrisy That Fuels the GOP’s Crazy Response to Putin?
David Corn, writing in Mother Jones:
Throughout Trump’s presidency, Republicans assisted or excused their leader’s profound betrayal. They echoed his claims that any investigation of Putin’s attack and the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russians was just a witch hunt. They concocted conspiracy theories—the real scandal was Ukraine helping Hillary Clinton!—to deflect attention. They endeavored to turn the investigation of the Trump-Russia scandal into the real scandal. (Trump was spied on!) They never acknowledged the commander-in-chief had helped a foreign government conduct clandestine information warfare against the United States and that they had all gained from this attack.
Now the Trump cult glorifies the despot who assaulted American democracy. Or they condemn an American president for being weak in the face of Putin’s aggression. Or both. There’s a Russian proverb: Hypocrites kick with their hind feet while licking with their tongues. These days, Republicans and conservatives are quite busy with both ends of that equation.
Rich Lowry, call your office.
I cannot stress enough how many Javelin rockets and launchers need to get sent to Ukraine TODAY. Raytheon and Lockheed need to start cranking them out under blank check federal purchasing conditions and then we need to send them out AFAHP.
This is a clear example of why Trump was a threat to our national security, not only while president, but also post-presidency. He needs to keep his mouth shut, but that won't happen until he's either in a cell or six feet under.
First, he makes some idiotic remark to Ingraham about our southern border, listing highly specific details (that he made up) such as 3 million people crossing the southern border from 129 different countries, and in the same breath says we have no idea what's happening. If we know they're coming from 129 different countries, doesn't it sound like we might know what's happening?
Then, when he rebukes Ingraham for saying Americans were making an amphibious attack, saying that should be secret and not broadcast on television, she corrects Trump and says that's not what she said. Then Trump says, well, that will be next (didn't you just tell Ingraham not to say what you just said?).
This is positively infuriating. As a former president, Trump still has access to classified information. Intelligence reports even, should he wish to access them. And he gets on national tv talking about secret missions that cable news pundits shouldn't have access to, and even after that pundit tries to change the subject, Trump doubles down and says "Well, the assault is coming anyway." The Bulwark has made it very clear that they're just blaring Fox News's prime time propaganda line up on Russia State tv, so Russia is not only seeing this, but studying this.
And it's just a reminder that Trump is excessively venal, he's about to be stripped of any access to bank loans because his businesses are thoroughly corrupt, and he has access to very sensitive state secrets if he chooses to indulge himself. One of the commentators on Beg To Differ, I think Linda Chavez, smartly pointed out on a recent episode that she was pretty certain Trump stole all of those White House documents and brought them to Maralago so he could sell them, and I can't think of why she would be wrong. This menace has access to a treasure trove of sensitive information, zero scruples, an insatiable appetite for money, and connections with very generous potential buyers.