He is known as an accomplished author and pie-eating champion, Thomas Friedman is also celebrated as a highly-authoritative gossip columnist for The New York Times. And it is his most recent gossip scoops which sparked your correspondent's curiosity and admiration.
According to him "Czar Putin"—we are now quoting directly from Friedman—"is now almost entirely dependent on oil and gas exports, so he’s really hurting with the oil price collapse."
However, this conundrum is easily remedied, or so we are led to believe:
If Putin decides to fully invade Ukraine, or worse, one of the Baltic states, and test whether NATO will really fight to defend either, the price of oil will go up.100% brilliant. All Putin needs to do is invade "one of the Baltic states"—any Baltic state, it doesn't really matter which one—and then abracadabra!, back to $100 oil and caviar for breakfast. The beauty of this plan is in its remarkable simplicity.
But there's something we don't quite understand. What does Professor Friedman mean by Czar Putin "fully" invading Ukraine? Is there such a thing as a "half" invasion? Or 1/3 invasion? The Gospel According to Friedman tells us:
Putin’s use of Russian troops wearing uniforms without insignia to invade Ukraine and to covertly buttress Ukrainian rebels bought and paid for by Moscow — all disguised by a web of lies that would have made Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels blush...I’d support increasing our military aid to Ukraine’s Army now so it can better defend itself from the estimated 9,000 troops Putin has infiltrated into Ukraine.Thomas Friedman is a scholar who writes in an Olde English/Shakespearean style which is sometimes hard to decipher. But here is a rough translation of the last quotation:
Attention, Czar Nicholas Putin II! Joe Goebbels would blush with shame if he knew that you couldn't prove that Poroshenko didn't say that 9,000 Russian SS Waffen have half-invaded Ukraine. Also, Ukraine needs more guns. Immediately. Furthermore, I am now talking directly out of my bung-hole. End of transmission.Yes. Putin hasn't "fully" invaded Ukraine yet because, as The Guardian points out, "Ukraine has not offered any evidence that would suggest Poroshenko’s 9,000 figure is accurate." Clear?
We feel a bit cheated because at the very end of his rambling yarn about Putin's imperial ambitions and how George Soros and the IMF will save Ukraine with high-interest rainbows, Friedman offers his readers a summary of The Big Picture:
In sum: Today’s oil price will be most affected by two men — King Salman and how he uses his spare capacity to produce oil and Czar Putin and how he uses his spare capacity to produce trouble.