“Putin was Playing Chess While the Rest of the World was Playing Checkers”

Lev Parnas on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Three weeks ago, I discussed the situation in Ukraine with Lev Parnas. Parnas, remember, is the Ukrainian-American businessman who, with Russian-born businessman Igor Fruman, worked with Rudy Giuliani to achieve a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine for the Trump administration, essentially to try to target the Bidens. Parnas and Fruman’s efforts were stopped when, on October 9, 2019, both men were arrested and charged with federal campaign finance violations. Parnas subsequently blew the whistle on much of the clandestine operation around the time Congress held impeachment hearings over the matter.

The last time I spoke with him, Parnas told me he thought Russian President Vladimir Putin was posturing and would not invade Ukraine.

Now, Parnas explains why the picture has changed. I spoke to him hours after Putin, in a rambling speech, declared two Ukrainian states—Donetsk and Luhansk—to be “independent” despite parts being under Ukrainian control, and President Joe Biden consequently announced the “first tranche” of sanctions including full blocking sanctions on two significant Russian financial institutions (which collectively hold over $80 billion in assets) and on five Russian elites and their family members.

Read our conversation on my Substack.