Matt Taibbi’s take on Putin, the war, and U.S. propaganda. From Taibbi at taibbi.substack.com:
Farida Rustamova of the BBC’s Russian service, in a piece written for Substack, described the demeanor of Putin’s closest advisors days before the invasion:
As a former security officer, [Putin] always wants to take everyone by surprise… We saw this during an emergency extended meeting of the Security Council three days before the war. The stammering of Foreign Intelligence chief Sergei Naryshkin, the disorientation of the deputy head of the Kremlin administration, Dmitry Kozak, and the anxious face of Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, were more than eloquent.
The most influential people in Russia sat in front of Putin like schoolchildren before a teacher who suddenly announced a test. And this meeting this meeting after all wasn’t even about the war, they discussed only the recognition of the self-proclaimed DPR [Donetsk People’s Republic] and LPR [Luhansk People’s Republic].
Rustamova went on to quote a source close to the discussions describing the reaction among the officials: “They carefully pronounced ‘p——ts.” The missing word is pizdets, not an easy word to translate — like a more profane and dire version of clusterfuck. She noted that “according to him, the mood in the corridors of power is altogether not rosy, many are in a state of stupor.” Another source told her, “Nobody is thrilled, many understand that this is a mistake, but out of duty they come up with rationalizations for themselves in order to make it work in their heads.”