Friday, April 19, 2024

The Odd Timing of the Death of Alexei Navalny

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny died on Friday after a lengthy stay in Russia’s infamous IK-3, a harsh penal colony located above the Artic Circle known as “Polar Wolf”.

A demonstrative and vocal critic of the Putin government, Navalny was poisoned in 2020 while on a business trip to Tomsk in Siberia. After a lengthy investigation, it was determined he unknowingly ingested Novichok, which is a military-grade nerve agent. Ultimately, Navalny survived because of the exceptional care he received in Germany.

Upon his return to Russia, Navalny was arrested in 2021 for parole violations stemming from a previous conviction for fraud, extremism and contempt of court. Navalny was serving a 19-year sentence when he died.

While it is entirely possible, perhaps probable, that Navalny was assassinated, the timing deserves at least a cursory raise of an eyebrow. The reality is that the death of the Russian dissident doesn’t benefit Vladimir Putin politically in any way. In fact, the primary beneficiaries are Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Slow Joe Biden.

With the Ukraine aid bill stalled in the U.S. House of Representatives, a brutal act of tyranny by Putin was exactly what Biden and his neocon supporters needed to regain the momentum in their effort to secure another $60 billion in borrowed money they want to piss away on the unwinnable war in Ukraine.

Biden was not about to squander the opportunity to demagogue Navalny’s death:

It’s about time they (the Republican controlled House of Representatives) stepped up, don’t you think? Instead of going on a two-week vacation? Two weeks and walking away. Two weeks! What are they thinking? My God. This is bizarre. And it’s just reinforcing all the concern – and I won’t say panic, but real concern – about the United States being a reliable ally.

Democrat and Republican forever war supporters were quick to ride Biden’s coattails.

Representative Bill Keating (D-MA) said the tragedy “underscores the brutal authoritarian rule of Putin and what’s at stake as the Speaker of the House refuses to put the Ukraine funding package on the floor bending to extremist House members and Donald Trump.”

Representative Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) seemed to blame Trump for Navalny’s death, saying that “Donald Trump has openly encouraged Putin to attack America’s allies and republicans are blocking aid to Ukraine.”

Anti-Trump Republicans like Mike Pence were quick to take a cheap shot. “There is no room in the Republican Party for apologists for Putin.”

Translation: Anyone who questions America’s participation in a proxy war that is doomed to fail, and should never have started in the first place, is a traitor who should be expelled from the Republican party.

What was Putin Thinking?

Certainly, Vladimir Putin had to know the consequences of taking out Navalny at such a crucial moment in the Ukraine conflict, which makes the death of the dissident all the more inexplicable. Recently, all the cards were falling in Putin’s favor. Ukraine’s spring offensive failed miserably. They are running out of soldiers to fight the war, and without more armaments from the U.S., it seemed like it was only a matter of time before Ukraine conceded the land Putin demanded before the war began. The Russian president merely had to run out the clock.

But now this.

Navalny’s death will almost assuredly pressure America First Republicans in the House to support the Ukraine aid package, leading to a further protraction of the war. As a result, it’s unlikely Biden will have to deal with the consequences of the coming disaster in Ukraine any time soon. In fact, he only needs to delay the inevitable collapse in Ukraine until after November 5th, and $60 billion in new weapons for Zelenskyy should lock that in.

Vladimir Putin may be a great tyrannical dictator, but I wouldn’t hire him as a PR manager. There were only a few adverse events that could delay a Russian victory in Ukraine, but killing off the opposition leader was certainly one of them.

It makes you wonder if the orders for the assassination, if that’s what it was, came from Putin or some rogue operative in the SVR. The whole affair is eerily similar to Navalny’s poisoning. The logistics and optics were sloppy and poorly conceived. Why would Putin poison an adversary and then allow him to receive life-saving treatment in Omsk and Berlin? Why would Putin order the assassination of Navalny right before a crucial vote on aid to Ukraine in the U.S. House of Representatives?

What was in it for Putin?

None of it makes any sense, but there is one thing that is certain: Navalny’s death is more good news for Good News Joe Biden. And best of all? Biden can preach sanctimony because he only advocates jailing his political opponents rather than killing them off.