This week, German authorities seized Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov’s 512-foot yacht “Dilbar.” The bold move by the Germans will deny the oligarch of accessing the largest swimming pool ever built on a yacht, his two helipads, beauty salon, gym, and probably a few Russian models. Additionally, the vessel’s staff of 96 will have to file for unemployment. That will teach him!
Despite freezing that sea-going asset, on that same day of the seizure, the estimate of refugees fleeing Ukraine topped one million, and the invading Russian army seized control of Ukraine’s port city of Kherson. Another vital port city of Mariupol, and Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv, are within days of falling into Russian hands.
A 40-mile-long convoy of Russian troops and military hardware is approaching the capital of Kyiv. Among its arsenal are “hypersonic missiles,” undetectable by radar.
According to Forbes, “the Kinzhal (“Dagger”) missile — designated the Kh-47M2 and more recently the 9-A-76609 in Russian sources — has a reported range of 1,240 miles and can carry either a 1,100-pound fragmentation warhead or up to a 500-kiloton nuclear warhead with 33 times the yield of the Fat Man bomb dropped on Hiroshima.”
But Usmanov’s yacht!
Despite the ongoing slaughter ravaging the sovereign nation of Ukraine, symbolic gestures continue to pour in as corporate public-relations firms trip over each other to show their brand’s solidarity with Ukrainians and, more importantly, to keep consumers buying their products.
These goodwill acts have spilled over into sports, entertainment, and feline competitions. This just in! The Fédération Internationale Féline has banned those evil Russian cats from competing in its hundreds of shows. (The creatures are probably juicing anyway.) Meow! A good old-fashioned cat fight.
The International Paralympic Committee banned Russian and Belarussians from competing in this year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing. Take that all you wheelchair athletes!
The always “reputable” soccer organizations of FIFA and UEFA have banned Russian teams from all competitions, well, until further notice. I believe a gesture like this is referred to as “kicking the ball down the road.”
Because of her support for President Vladimir Putin, Russian soprano Anna Netrebko has been kicked out of the NYC’s Metropolitan Opera. Well, for this season anyway, Ms. Netrebko might have to turn to busking at New York City subway stops. Quite a swan song for the diva.
IKEA courageously imposed — wait for it — a “temporary pause” in its business with Russia and Belarus. In a too-carefully crafted tweet, IKEA stated, “The war in Ukraine has both a huge human impact and is resulting in serious disruptions to supply chain and trading conditions, which is why the company groups have decided to temporarily pause IKEA operations in Russia.”
On behalf of all of us in the free world that depend on your Swedish meatballs and convoluted furniture assembly instructions, we would like to offer our sincerest sympathies for the disruption in your supply chain.
At Tuesday’s State of the Union Address in Washington, small Ukrainian flags were available for members of Congress to flutter for the cameras. The Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, sat next to first lady Jill Biden. They hugged! The Daily Mail breathlessly reported that, “First lady stuns in blue…She had an embroidered appliqué of a sunflower, the national flower of Ukraine, sewn into the sleeve of her dress, the White House said.” Good optics, as they say.
In the same vain (and vain is the appropriate word), this year’s Oscars should be just as fraught with celebrity poignancy as the Hollywood glitterati will clothe themselves in yellow-and-blue couture as they applaud each other during their precious little speeches condemning the invasion.
Already the heroic suits that lord over Hollywood’s most prestigious movie studios are holding back their much-anticipated films from the Russian consumer. Will those film buffs take to the streets of Moscow and Saint Petersburg to rally against their president when denied the pleasure of enduring Disney’s “Turning Red,” Paramount’s “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” and Warner Bros.’ “The Batman”?
These are well-meaning made-for-TV gestures but will do nothing to slow the illegal slaughter, the destruction, and inevitable conquest of a European democratic nation by a country led by a five-foot-seven madman. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who remains in Kyiv despite having a price on his head, is thankful for all these acts, but notes that, “It’s very serious, it’s not a movie.” Yet, we will consume the images of the invasion as if it is a binge-worthy Netflix series.
What Ukraine needs more than useless thoughts and prayers, temporary sanctions, and asset seizures that will work only in the near-term and slick but ineffective speeches, is for NATO to begin to flex its military might as soon as possible, not after Putin moves beyond Ukraine’s border to Poland, Finland, Sweden and elsewhere. How about a no-fly zone?
The moment is upon NATO to act. Does it have the will? Or will it stand flaccidly by as the end of Europe begins, an end for all of us to witness in prime time, or, if we’re too terribly busy, to DVR?Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The Globe Post.