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Dartmouth Research Takes Aims at Russian Wealth Managers

Instead of tracking down the super yachts, the Italian villas, and the secret off-shore bank accounts owned by Russian oligarchs’ key to Vladimir Putin’s power, western governments should target the money men, according to a new study led by Dartmouth College researchers. 

“Rather than playing whack-a-mole with each individual oligarch, you take out one wealth manager and you effectively take out several oligarchs in one fell swoop,” says co-author Brooke Harrington, a professor of sociology at Dartmouth.

With the United States leading a coalition of western governments aiding Ukraine’s fight for survival against Russian troops, stopping the money that fuels Putin’s regime has taken on heightened importance. The problem is there are many billionaires in Putin’s networks of kleptocrats who help shuffle money.

Using leaked documents that detail the flow of Russian cash through off-shore accounts, the Dartmouth-led study concluded targeting his money managers could cripple Putin’s regime.

The researchers studied connections between more than 1.9 million wealth managers and their clients from Russia, China, the United States, and Hong Kong. The research showed going after a relatively small number of money managers in a network could cripple it to the point of collapse.

Ultra-wealthy people from autocratic countries like Russia tend to use fewer money managers than their counterparts in the free world, according to the research. Most Russian money managers are located in the United Kingdom and Europe, making their financial networks particularly vulnerable if the West chooses to act on the research. 

“Awareness of wealth managers and what they do is still in its infancy in terms of public policy. To end the invasion, there’s an urgent need for sanctions informed by systematic evidence of the asset structure supporting Russia’s campaign—our paper provides that evidence,” Harrington said.

The researchers used the Offshore Leaks Database maintained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which identifies wealth management professionals and ultra-rich individuals revealed through high-profile information leaks such as the 2016 Panama Papers, the 2017 Paradise Papers, and the 2021 Pandora Papers.

Combining sociology and networked science, the researchers mapped the money’s movement and even created a visual map of the various financial networks.

“This allows us to be extremely precise about who and what we can target. We can even estimate the impact of specific sanctions and are developing metrics to identify new targets,” said Dartmouth Professor Feng Fu.

Putin, his government, and his cronies have been subject to punishing sanctions imposed by the U.S. and EU since the start of the war more than a year ago. The aim has always been to stop Putin’s ability to wage war against Ukraine, but Putin has continued to send in troops and launch missiles at civilians throughout the war.

A report from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace predicted the Russian economy’s development will be in reverse for at least the next three to five years. However, it also acknowledged that “the predicted collapse has been avoided, and the forecasted 8–10 percent fall in GDP for [2022] has been reduced to a 3–4 percent drop.”

One reason has been Putin and his oligarch’s continued ability to access billions overseas in their hidden accounts.

Governments in the West have been sending billions worth of cash and weapons to Ukraine, which has managed to push Russian troops out of the Northern part of the country and is now fighting hard in the strongly held Donbas region.

The west can now use the data in the Dartmouth-led study to put a stop to the money funding Putin’s regime, and hopefully stop his war machine.

“To use a military analogy, we are providing a financial missile-guidance system for the countries trying to stop the war in Ukraine,” Harrington said. “A more targeted use of state-backed sanctions means a shorter war and less loss of life.”

Bolduc’s ‘Reckless’ Comments About Russia Spark Criticism, Calls to Withdraw

Gen. Don Bolduc’s appearance on Fox News was meant to highlight his military bona fides. Instead, it sparked a backlash from a respected Pentagon reporter and a call for him to drop out of the U.S. Senate race from at least one prominent Republican.

“Don Bolduc made reckless, dangerous, irresponsible comments regarding the escalation of the Ukraine war which renders him unqualified to serve as a U.S. Senator,” said Republican Corky Messner. “There are 100 Senators who will be called upon during these times to make critical decisions. Bolduc cannot be trusted to make those decisions.”

Messner defeated Bolduc in the 2020 GOP primary before going on to lose to incumbent Democrat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. He was outraged by Bolduc’s comments on “The Next Revolution with Steve Hilton” Sunday night. And he wasn’t alone.

In the interview, Bolduc repeatedly claimed there were direct military actions the U.S. and NATO could take against Russian forces in Ukraine. He suggested the CIA or military could “get in there on the ground” in Ukraine, using “indirect fires and direct capabilities” to attack Russian targets. At one point, he said the U.S. could use “special operations troops in a way that we get in there,” though without “boots on the ground.”

His comments were viewed as so extreme, Fox News Pentagon correspondent Jennifer Griffin called them out when she appeared on the show a few minutes later.

“I have to respond to comments from Gen. Bolduc,” Griffin said. “He really was way off the mark talking about what the U.S. really could do on the ground.

“Clearly, Brig. Gen. Bolduc is not a student of history. He’s a politician. He ran for Senate in New Hampshire and failed. He is not a military strategist. To suggest the U.S. would put an indirect fire or special operations or CIA on the ground to give Putin any excuse to broaden this conflict is extremely dangerous talk at a time like this.”

“I was surprised to hear it,” the host replied.

It was not Bolduc’s first media misstep. In November, he was roundly criticized for calling Republican Gov. Chris Sununu a “Chinese Communist sympathizer” whose family business “supports terrorism.” Bolduc also claimed he drove the governor from the U.S. Senate race.

Messner says enough is enough.

“Politician Bolduc has a reputation for outrageous, divisive political comments which demonstrates that he has very poor judgment. In the past, Bolduc’s comments could be laughed off, walked back, or cleaned up by his supporters,” Messner said.

“But now, Bolduc’s extreme comments are dangerous to all Americans, your sons and daughters, Ukraine, Europe, and the world. Politicians must have the prudence and judgment to avoid statements that potentially could push the Ukraine conflict to a wider war. Don Bolduc does not have that prudence and judgment.

“I am calling for politician Don Bolduc to withdraw from the New Hampshire U.S. Senate race and to end his campaign.”

Not surprisingly, the Bolduc campaign is not ready to fold up its tent. Asked about Jennifer Griffin’s criticism, the campaign declined to comment.

UPDATE: After this article was published, Bolduc’s spokesperson Jimmy Thompson sent this statement:

“If recent world events have taught us anything, it’s that American leadership matters on the international stage. As usual, Senator Hassan has been missing in action, and needs to be replaced. But you can’t defeat a career politician like Senator Hassan with another career politician like State Senator Morse or Town Manager Smith. It’s going to take a true outsider like General Bolduc, and that’s why he is the frontrunner in this race.”


‘Saddened, Not Surprised:’ NH Ukrainians React to Russia’s Invasion

Ukrainian Americans in the Granite State are hopeful that their home country will stand strong against Russian aggression.

“They are fighting for their lives, and they are fighting for the rest of the world,” said Christina Pasicznyk Vogel of the Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church in Manchester.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of neighboring Ukraine this week after years of aggression. Vogel said Ukraine has been the victim of Russian antagonism since 2014, when the Ukrainians overthrew the Russian-backed government. 

“I’m saddened but not surprised,” she said.

Vogel is part of the New Hampshire Ukrainian community, watching in horror as their home country is under siege by Russian military forces. 

Jonathan Messer, who is studying to be a deacon in the Ukrainian Catholic Church, said Putin’s incursion into Ukraine could be the start of a third world war. It is reminiscent of Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939.

“It is horrific and unprovoked. I think Putin is being a madman,” he said. 

On Monday, Putin delivered what historians and political scientists described as a “bizarre” speech laying out his justifications for taking military action against Ukraine. He described Ukraine as “historically Russian land” that was stolen from the Russian empire and has since fallen into the hands of neo-Nazis and corrupt “puppets” controlled by the West. He also described the country as an invention of the U.S.

Ukrainian member of parliament Natalya Pipa, an outspoken Putin opponent who deals with education policy in the government, gave Putin’s history lesson a failing grade during an interview on the NHJournal podcast Thursday.

“Ukraine has been a country for ten centuries. Our church is from the year 1019 A.D. It’s older than Moscow,” Pipa said. “It could be funny if it would be not so sad.”

Vogel said there are things the West, and the United States in particular, can do to counter Putin, 

“Sanctions are a start,” she said.

President Joe Biden announced new sanctions on Russia on Thursday, though he has to impose sanctions on Putin himself and specifically excluded Russia’s energy sector. It could take weeks or months to know if the sanctions work. In the meanwhile, Ukraine is on its own to defend itself.

Russian tanks were reportedly within 20 miles of the capital, Kyiv, on Thursday night.

“Putin is a war criminal,” Vogel said. ‘He is engaging in crimes against the international community and crimes against humanity.”

Messer said the western nations need to do more. Ukraine needs military assistance, and the Ukrainian people need humanitarian assistance.

“The western powers aren’t doing enough,” Messer said. “Boots on the ground is what is needed, and unfortunately it would lead to World War III,” he said.

Vogel said the Russian people do not want war, and she hopes Russian soldiers will turn away from the violent invasion.

Messer has been trying to get aid to a Ukrainian orphanage, but the last few weeks of tension with Russian have made the effort difficult. The package of medicine and clothing has been shipped to the 30 to 40 orphans, but not yet delivered, he said. It may never get to the children now with the invasion underway.

Biden has pledged that no U.S. soldiers would be deployed to Ukraine, but the U.S. would lend military assistance to NATO allies.

Ukraine has been targeted by Russia and other countries for centuries, Vogel said. She thinks the only reason for the continued existence of Ukraine is the faith of the Ukrainian people.

‘It’s a miracle they still exist,” she said. “The reason there is still a Ukraine is they have not forgotten God.”