I will not comment on the details of the current war as there are many good analyses elsewhere.

As international cooperation with Russia almost stopped, Russia can now "sell" only one "good": the lack of global catastrophes. By selling I mean using them as a topic of negotiation. 

Russia can deliberately generate four types of such catastrophes:

1. Global nuclear war or nuclear doomsday machine

2. Biological

3. Global hunger based on limiting the export of grain and fertilisers

4. Artificial “peak oil” based on limiting the export of energy and metals.

 

More about it: 

1. As Putin can’t afford to lose in Ukraine, and Ukraine is not inclined to sign a ceasefire, he has two options: large scale mobilization of conscripts or the use of tactical nukes. He constantly claimed that as it is not “war”, there will be no mass mobilization. This increases the chances of the second option: tactical nukes. But there are no useful military targets for them, except roads to borders by which western military aid is coming. A nuclear attack near NATO borders would be very escalatory.

There could be other escalations: resuming the nuclear tests and the start nuclear tests above ground. These all increase chances of the mentioned above preemptive strike against Russia as at some point costs and risks will look justified.

2. No public information about Russian biorisks.

3. Food crisis seems to be already brewing as a large part of the seed material in Russia is imported from the West, and, for example, seeds for sugar beet it wasn’t completely imported for 2022. Anticipation of sugar shortages resulted in panic buying which increased shortages.

Russia is a big exporter of wheat and fertilizer and such export was halted. Ukraine export also stopped and sowing may not happen in the East part of the county. Russian fertilizers are crucial for places like Brazil, and Bolsonaro visited Moscow in early Feb to ensure that delivery will continue.

4. While Russia produces only 10 per cent of global oil output, its export, 7.8 mln barrels per day, is a much large share of the total internationally traded oil.  See also  Export land model

The risks from Russian unfriendly AGI is now lower as there will be no new supercomputers because of export limitations.

As most oil is consumed domestically by different countries, only around 30 mbd are traded internationally, and Russian export is around 25 per cent of this. Russian export could decline not only because of not yet happened trade ban but because oil service companies already decided not to provide materials for the service of Russian oil wells, which are already significantly depleted and require extensive maintenance.

This will not be the end of the world for rich countries, but poor countries will be cut from oil because of its high prices and will have difficulties in maintaining agricultural production which will again contribute to the global food crisis.

One thing which worries me: as Russian public image is very bad, the first strike on Russia will look justified for some Western policymakers and the public – if they will be sure that there will be no retaliation. The US and other Western countries in Feb asked all its citizens immediately leave Russia, claiming some obscure terrorism risks. This looks ominous. Even if decapitating strike is possible, some retaliation could happen anyway, in the form of tactical nukes on drones, biological agents etc.

 

Other news:

- Total excess mortality from covid reached 1 million people in Russia around New Year's Eve. Deaths and cases are now declining but still are around 500 people die a day according to official sources.

- Kriorus (under Valeria) bought its own liquid nitrogen generator.

- Kazakhstan experienced a coup in January, with some Russian help. Previous president Nazarbaev was very interested in life extension and after several failures with local scientists played – via his daughter – with now inmate Peter Nygard in stem cell research in the Bahamas. I think that now all this research has stopped.

- Russian state investment company Rosnano built under influence of the idea of nanotechnology in the 2000s has defaulted on its bonds in autumn. Its mastermind Chubais left Russia in spring.

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One thing which worries me: as Russian public image is very bad, the first strike on Russia will look justified for some Western policymakers and the public – if they will be sure that there will be no retaliation. The US and other Western countries in Feb asked all its citizens immediately leave Russia, claiming some obscure terrorism risks. This looks ominous.

Russia has nukes on submarines that (just like the subs of the US, Britain, France, China and India) are invulnerable to first strikes.

Those nukes on Russian subs are "modernized": Russia has dismantled about 88% of its Soviet-era nuclear bombs and replaced them with new bombs, re-using only the most expensive component, namely, the fissile material.

My point is that there is no way anyone can nuke Russia without massive Russian retaliation, and Washington definitely knows that.

I heard that US has secret way to locate submarines in oceans. Space radars? In that case, they will be all destroyed first.

If the US knew of a way to locate subs, then it would worry that Russia or China would figure it out, too, making US subs vulnerable, but the US is building a new model of sub for carrying nuclear-tipped missiles, called the Columbia class. As of 3 weeks ago, construction of this new model of sub continues.. The US plans to spend $110 billion on this new model (which is scheduled to enter service in 2031).

Maybe the US is willing to spend all that money to lull adversaries into a false sense of nuclear security or to trick them into wasting money on sub-launched nuclear-tipped missiles, but that seems unlikely to me, and I know of no instance in which the US pretended to spend billions of dollars on a weapons system for the purpose of deceiving adversaries (which makes sense when you realize that the US military is acutely dependent on Congress for money, Congress members are acutely sensitive to voters, and a large fraction of voters are receptive to arguments that this or that weapons system is a waste of money.)

Also, about 2 thirds of the US's 1357 "strategic" (capable of incinerating the heart of a major city) nuclear warheads are currently on subs, rather than in missile silos or on bombers, which again would be a strange choice if the US considered it possible that Moscow or Beijing could disable them in a sneak attack (i.e., first strike) -- and if Washington is currently successfully hiding its anti-submarine capability, why would it not worry that Moscow or Beijing is doing the same?

I can provide URLs in support of many of the statements in this comment if there is interest.

I would also be happy to explain why Washington wouldn't choose to launch a nuclear first strike on Russia even if it could, but that would require a series of posts, not just a comment or 2. In short, although it is natural for most observers (even extremely rational ones) to be perplexed by US government's actions, the US government is actually highly predictable, at least on decisions as momentous a nuclear war, although it is complicated.

Maybe the US is willing to spend all that money to lull adversaries into a false sense of nuclear security or to trick them into wasting money on sub-launched nuclear-tipped missiles, but that seems unlikely to me, and I know of no instance in which the US pretended to spend billions of dollars on a weapons system for the purpose of deceiving adversaries (which makes sense when you realize that the US military is acutely dependent on Congress for money, Congress members are acutely sensitive to voters, and a large fraction of voters are receptive to arguments that this or that weapons system is a waste of money.)

I think this is a fair description of the space shuttle program, tho it was for purposes of self-deception instead of other-deception. I think it would be more surprising to learn that the USG had noticed that its sub-detection systems could detect their own subs, and thus stop building new subs, than that they were merrily making things that were useless.

[For example, the number of submarines built is set by Congress, specifically the representative for the area economically dependent on submarine manufacturing, and has been higher than the number of subs the Navy would like to use for decades.]

Clearly you believe that the US government is incompetent in military matters, then.

In your opinion, how far back in time does that incompetence go?

I think it's not very clarifying to round up to "military matters." I think the US's track record there for the last seventy years has not been very impressive, but the thing I specifically care about is the question: "does the USG spend lots of money on things that some part of it knows are a waste of money?", to which the answer is: "yes, obviously." Thus an argument that relies on "surely they wouldn't waste money in this way" is just not in line with the evidence that we see. 

If the US knew of a way to locate subs, then it would worry that Russia or China would figure it out, too

There are many conceivable ways to track subs and this is only part of the problem because subs still need to be destroyed after being located. Russia and China combined don't have enough nuclear attack subs to credibly do this to the US. The US does have enough nuclear attack subs to credibly destroy Russia's deterrent fleet, if they can be tracked, with attack subs left over to defend our own ballistic missile subs. A primary mission for nuclear attack subs is to shadow nuclear ballistic missile subs. That Russia is (allegedly) developing weapons like Status-6 and Burvestnik suggests they are not satisfied with the ongoing deterrent capability they already have.

Also, about 2 thirds of the US's 1357 "strategic" (capable of incinerating the heart of a major city) nuclear warheads are currently on subs, rather than in missile silos or on bombers

The number of weapons deployed, and where they are deployed simply isn't verifiable. Keep in mind that it is widely held, and codified in public law, that use of nuclear weapons by the US including for retaliatory purposes must follow the kind of centralized authorization that could be extremely difficult to guarantee under a surprise nuclear attack. This would open us up to surprise decapitation attack so the probability it's true in practice is very low. 

Epistemic status: wild guessing:

  1. If the US has submarine locators (or even a theory or a work-in-progress), it has to keep them secret. The DoD or Navy might not want to reveal them to any Representatives. This would prevent them from explaining to those Representatives why submarine budgets should be lowered in favor of something else.

  2. A submarine locator doesn't stop submarines by itself; you still presumably need to bring ships and/or planes to where the submarines are. If you do this ahead of time and just keep following the enemy subs around, they are likely to notice, and you will lose strategic surprise. The US has a lot of fleet elements and air bases around the world (and allies), so it plausibly has an advantage over its rivals in terms of being able to take out widely dispersed enemy submarines all at once.

  3. Even if others also secretly have submarine locators, there may be an additional anti-sub-locator technology or strategy that the US has developed and hopes its rivals have not, which would keep US submarines relevant. Building a sub-locator might be necessary but not sufficient to building an anti-sub-locator.

One also should be able to hit these strategic submarines, so a country has to have a lot of attack submarines.

Anyway, if nuclear war is inevitable, it is better to strike first.

2. No public information about Russian biorisks.

Because you think the info from defectors is out of date, untrustworthy, or something else? 

No new information about the topic, and the story about Bioprep arat is decades old.

I did not know about the subjects of the last two other news items. It appears https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rusnano should be updated; the Russian version seems to have updates about financial difficulties pending review. I guess https://research.nu.edu.kz/en/organisations/laboratory-of-human-microbiome-and-longevity is a relevant page for the last? Is there any overall writeup?

About Kazakh thing it was common knowledge on longevity conferences, but I don’t have a review in hand.

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