Background Briefing: March 20, 2022


Hitting Back at Putin Where it Hurts

We begin with an update on efforts to hit back at Putin where it hurts by going after his money and that of his oligarchs who act as fronts for his money. Perhaps the sanctions in response to his brutal attack, wanton killing of women and children and destruction of Ukraine are getting to him as the Russians appear to be interested in peace talks although it may have more to do with how the Ukrainians have fought them to a standstill. Joining us to discuss the seizure of super yachts and mansions which are being “liberated” by Ukrainian activists in London is Casey Michel, a journalist who writes about offshoring, kleptocracy, and financial secrecy. He is a member of the advisory council for the Hudson Institute’s Kleptocracy Initiative, and has contributed research pertaining to offshoring, illicit finance, and foreign interference to the German Marshall Fund, the Human Rights Foundation, and others. He is the author of the new book American Kleptocracy: How the U.S. Created the World’s Greatest Money Laundering Scheme in History, and we discuss his article at The Atlantic, “How the West Undermines Its Own Sanctions” as well as another at Politico, “Sanctioning Russian Oligarchs May Not Stop Putin, But It’s Still a Huge Deal.


How Long Will the Xi – Putin Bromance Last?

Then we take a deep dive into the Eurasian landmass now united as Russia and China celebrate their new alliance which just before Putin invaded Ukraine had Xi Jinping extolling Putin saying “President Putin is the leader of a great country who is influential around the world. He is my best, most intimate friend.” “No matter what fluctuations there are in the international situation, China and Russia have always firmly taken the development of relations as a priority and the two countries have also resolutely supported each other’s core interests.” Joining us to discuss the geopolitics of this new alignment and how the Ukraine war might impact it is Alfred McCoy, who holds the Harrington Chair in History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The author of Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State and In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, his latest book is To Govern the Globe: World Orders and Catastrophic Change. And we discuss his article at TomDispatch, “Geopolitics and the Ukraine War in a World on Fire” and another at The Nation, “Russia and China, Together at Last.”