Sorry that this is something of liveblog/stream-of-consiousness, with most of it being Razib and Samo with only slight commentary by me.
The first 30 minutes were taped after the last 90, which was at the time expected to be a standalone. Razib had interviewed Burja about world trends, including a lot of discussion of Russia/China/EU/US. Before he had put it up the events in Ukraine started, so he went back and interviewed Samo about those, then proceeded to the original podcast. That is what I am commenting on here.
Burja points out that the mechanised invasion, slow-moving and attempting to deny air supremacy, is very much in keeping with longstanding Russian practice. He does find the "gentleness" of the method, for example attempting to take airfields rather than destroy them, a bit surprising. He thinks it is Putin's idea to at least leave the door open for a quick surrender, though he does not expect it. because war is always a shitshow, we overread the value of signs of Russian failure. "If we had had smartphones during any major operation in 2003, in 1991...let alone smartphones during WWII, during the Blitzkrieg, we would have never-ending stream of video of abandoned vehicles, captured vehicles, vehicles out of fuel, soldiers deserting, and so on. War is just always a terrible, terrible mess." He speaks from schoolfriends' recent memory of Sarajevo and the like when he was growing up, and to a lesser extent, his own. He also speaks from diaries and recorded memories of many campaigns that supposedly went smoothly, if bloodily (like Normandy) that those there described as a clown show. People are hard to organise. Graded on a curve, even though the Russian efforts are a clown show, are a B-.
European views are mildly sympathetic to Ukraine, but this depends on where you are. In Spain and Portugal, people don't much care. If you are in Poland or Hungary, there is a view expressed in private, that Germany has gotten them into this mess, not spending on defense and buying Russian gas. He describes a meme going around of four flags with arrows. Poland to Ukraine: weapons. Ukraine to Poland, refugees. Germany to Russia: Euros; Russia to Germany: natural gas. Russia to Ukraine: Invasion. Germany to Poland: sanctions for violating EU rules. Yes, the EU just imposed sanctions on Poland and Hungary, not Russia. They are angrier about pushback for social issues like LGBTQ rights. Watch their hands, don't listen to their words.
I will insert here that my Romanian sons are reflexively anti-Russian, and thus are rooting for the Ukrainians even though they have no special affection for them. Neither of them analyzes the events much beyond that. The Russians have earned this attitude from their neighbors over many years. There are legitimate things one can point out about reprehensible behavior of Ukraine, or Hungary, or Romania. To focus on that is not straining at gnats, but it is swallowing a Russian camel. The Russians do not view themselves that way. Historically they view themselves as the beleaguered protectors of order among ungrateful and irresponsible nations that keep embracing dangerous ideologies. **
There is a discussion of how poorly GDP measures an economy's effect. Russia has an unbalanced economy, with its elite sector and natural gas affiliated doing very well. Because so many Russians are still impoverished, we think it must mean the whole mess is unstable, ripe for revolution or at least social pressure. They don't care. It is always this way, for centuries. Natural gas, not batteries, is the key point of support for green energy in Europe, because it can go on and off at will. The American experience of focus on battery improvement is not so important to them. Therefore, whatever they say, the Western European left will not oppose Russia in practice. They don't care about their other citizens either. They keep information from them in the media.* They care much more than the Russian elites about the peasants, sure, but nothing like American standards of even the most callous elitists here. Those people are expendable and always have been. That's why they fled to America.
Other economies, even if they approve of Russian sanctions this time are paying attention to its need to ally itself with some alternative system. India, Indonesia, and African nations all know that they might likewise need a backup plan some day. Alternative systems might be partly interactive, partly mutually exclusive with the "western" economy of North America, Europe, Australia, Japan. The current alternative offered by China still isn't that good, despite its efforts. But it's the only one out there, and it is likely to improve. Nations will quietly engage it as a backup plan. Iran has endured similar sanctions for years and waited them out while pursuing alternatives. You can do that more easily if you don't care about your citizens. The last time there was an international transition was from the European-centered to American-centered. We see that as essentially unified and cooperative now, but it was not always so.
There is some irony in that it was the US that has put in the most effort to integrate Russia into the Western Economy after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It's also why Nixon went to China. We thought that would work. We think other countries want democracy and free markets, only held down by autocratic elites, which we can pry them loose from. Maybe not.
We might picture that China has Russia by the short hairs at present, but Russia also offers some things to China. It still has resources and technology. But even more, it offers a back door into the European economy, especially into Germany, that exercises leverage on European nations that would seek to punish China. Europe is more dependent on globalisation than North America. The next five years will be tough on both Europe and North America, but in the end, the US can create the backup internal resources to the global economy (which we should have done before), while Europe cannot. Samo sees their future as impoverishment. France (nuclear power) and Great Britain (anglospheric connections) will do better than the others but still be badly harmed. Norway may be hurt least of all.
So does that mean we hurry to visit European tourist spots now while they are still roughly what we expect, or wait ten years until they are much cheaper and we stand in line with other tourists from China and India?
*Much to say in the future about this. Burja talks about how Western media also does this, left or right doesn't matter. There is the David Brockmeier report of the study about American partisan media followers being paid to watch opposing sources, and the news that Swedish media has not reported covid scandals they know to be true, and even appointed commissions have refrained from mentioning it. Sweden triaged early covid and would not admit people with comorbidities (read: old people especially) to ICUs at all. They got morphine and died instead.
** Is this Putin sensing and embodying the Soul of Russia in the same way Hitler did for Germany? Is that the hidden explanation why so many talking heads keep wondering if Putin is crazy because of what makes no sense about this invasion? Does he see this as his final legacy as he closes his career, to "restore" Russia to its proper place?