Morning Bullets Health Rumors Swirl Around Vladimir Putin
Author: Greg Valliere
December 13, 2022
RUMORS ARE SWIRLING around Putin, who quite clearly has appeared unsteady and swollen in recent days. The New York Post and Newsweek are reporting that he needs surgery for an intestinal illness; Russian officials have issued denials.
THE MORE LIKELY EXCUSE for cancelling the annual press conference is that the war continues to go poorly — Ukrainian air strikes over the weekend killed dozens of the feared “Wagner group” mercenaries who are fighting for Russia.
IF PUTIN REALLY IS SICK, his puppet successor — Russia’s obscure tax collector, Mikhail Mishustin –, is his hand-picked successor. But former President Dmitry Medvedev would quickly enter the picture.
WHOEVER SUCCEEDS PUTIN would have an opportunity, most experts believe, to seek an exit ramp. Medvedev is a hawk but would have an opportunity to negotiate an end of the disastrous war, which has killed at least 50,000 Russian troops, crippled the country’s economy and driven thousands of young Russians to cities like Helsinki and Istanbul. A press conference would simply highlight the extent of this disaster.
UKRAINE, MEANWHILE, WAS GIVEN FIRM ASSURANCES yesterday of more aid from G-7 countries, with more pledges expected today. Putin was counting on dissension in Kyiv and the West as long, cold winter approaches, but the Ukrainian people and the West will not waver.
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DAYS TO GO ON BUDGET DEAL: As expected, Chuck Schumer announced yesterday that still another extension — called a continuing resolution — will be necessary ahead of this Friday’s deadline. Without a budget by then, the government theoretically could shut down.
BUT THAT WON’T HAPPEN, SINCE SCHUMER HAS THE VOTES to extend the deadline until Friday Dec. 23 — the beginning of Christmas weekend. This has angered members of both parties, who had planned to spend time with their families during the holidays.
BUT THE DEMOCRATS think they’re getting closer to passage of a massive “omnibus” package that could include a revived child tax credit, corporate tax breaks and dozens more holiday gifts. A Pentagon funding bill, plus aid to Ukraine, may be stripped out of this mess and enacted separately by early next week.
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