Russia, Ukraine, Brian Mann discussed on Morning Edition

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An unsolved murder a suburban cul de sac a mess of an investigation I'm Nancy Solomon for two years I've been trying to find out what happened to John and Joyce Sheridan political insiders connected to several former governors But there is they're putting out there what happened It murders suicide This was just not the John and Joyce any of us knew Dead end a New Jersey political murder mystery from WNYC studios Listen wherever you get podcasts It's morning edition from NPR news I'm a Martinez in Los Angeles California And I'm Stevens keep in Washington D.C. We're almost three months into the war in Ukraine and Russia's giant air force has done no better than its giant army In fact the failure in the skies is added to Russian failure on the ground Russia does not control the skies which is one reason it's still possible for Ukrainian forces to keep fighting And piers Brian Mann has been hearing from some of those Ukrainian fighter pilots near defense crews I've been talking to Ukrainian fighter pilots including a guy who goes by the call sign juice for security reasons We can't use his real name And he told me they expected Russia's bombers and jets to hit really hard and fast We've already for much more effective threat from the Russian air force side and it's easy to see why an industry trade journal called flight global estimates the Russian air force has roughly 1500 military aircraft the Ukrainians by contrast have around a hundred Russian planes are also far more modern and lethal than the antique MiG 29 jets that juice flies It's great problem to fight fighters for us because they have a advantage in this technology Unfortunately our jets are not capable to be effective against them I also spoke with Mark kantian with the center for strategic and international studies And he says most military experts expected the start of this war to look something like the opening of the U.S. war in Iraq in 2003 Hammer them for 48 hours until there are defenses and there air forces were defeated And then get a priority if not actually in monopoly But Steve Russia didn't do that It's air campaign is essentially been a bust Well you've just listed the reasons they should have done that or so it seemed why did it go wrong for Russia Some experts think Russia's big fleet of aircraft just hasn't been well maintained and they also don't appear to have the logistical support the fuel and the spare parts to keep their jets flying But another factor is the Ukrainians in the years after Russia first annexed Crimea and invaded Donbass in 2014 Ukraine developed a pretty sophisticated air defense system using that fleet of fighter planes working in tandem with surface to air missile systems The Ukrainians I spoke to believe Russian pilots just don't have the training and experience to deal with that kind of threat Here's a Ukrainian MiG pilot who goes by the call sign moon fish Sometimes we are able to hear their communications When you hear those they actually really scared And if anything goes wrong they just turn away A senior U.S. defense official also told NPR the Ukrainian air force is being helped by real-time intelligence from the U.S. and experts think the Ukrainians are going to get better and better at defending their airspace in part because of better weapons that are coming in from the U.S. and Germany Okay but with all that said the Russians still have this enormous weight of numbers Are they enjoying any success They are Russian long-range bombers or launching cruise missiles hitting civilian and military targets is not a game changer experts say but that is a factor Ukrainian officials also acknowledge the Russians have established air dominance over parts of the Donbass region in the east where some of the heaviest fighting is underway But again Steve that's a tiny fraction of the country much of Ukraine remains effectively a no fly zone for Russian planes and pilots Can you just describe why that matters so much to the war on the ground Yeah everyone I talked to says this is huge You know Ukraine is a vast country and because the danger of Russian air attack is so limited Ukrainians can operate their trains Their roads are busy with supply trucks That means the military can bring supplies ammunition and weapons all the way to the front lines Supplies are also flowing to critical cities like Kyiv and Odessa experts say if Russian aircraft were patrolling overhead able to drop bombs at will the way they were able to do over Syria this war would look entirely different And pierce Brian Mann is just out of Ukraine east today in Zürich Switzerland Brian safe travels Thank you Steve Consumer prices are still climbing much too fast That's likely to be the headline when a new inflation report comes out this morning Although the report is expected to show annual inflation in April was a little lower than the month before that's really cold comfort to people whose paychecks just don't go as far as they used to At The White House yesterday President Biden said fighting inflation is now his top domestic priority I know the families all across America are hurting because of inflation I understand what it feels like I come from a family where when the price of gas for food went up we felt it It was a discussion at the kitchen table rising prices are at the top really around a lot of kitchen tables these days NPR Scott horsley joins us now Scott to annual inflation in March highest since 1981 what do forecasts think happen in April Last month's rate was probably a little bit lower than the 8.5% we saw in March That's partly because gasoline prices which soared in March after Russia invaded Ukraine came down a bit in April Unfortunately that relief didn't last Gas prices are now back up at record highs used car prices may have also fallen a bit last month But we're still talking about an annual inflation rate that's north of 8% So that's four times the Federal Reserve's long-range target All right so what's the outlook for the months to come Simple math should offer some relief We are coming up on the anniversary of the time when prices took off last year So even if those prices didn't come down very much the annual increase should look smaller But there are other factors that are keeping inflation up Air fares for example are likely to climb as people are traveling more this summer rent increases of only started to show up in the inflation data It may turn out that march was the peak month for annual inflation but the slide down from that peak could be pretty slow and pretty bumpy You know inflation has really deflated President Biden's approval rating So what if anything can he do about inflation Not a whole lot Biden has ordered the big oil releases from the strategic petroleum reserve but you can see how much good that's done He has tried to address some of the transportation snarls in this country The president was asked yesterday about lifting some Trump era tariffs which might lower the price of imports from China Biden said the administration is talking about that but hasn't made any decision Ultimately inflation is not something that president has a whole lot of power over Biden acknowledged the Federal Reserve has the key role to play here All right so what's the fed's key role Well it can use its sledgehammer It can raise interest rates to cool off demand The fed is now making it more expensive to borrow money in hopes that consumers will buy less and turn this boiling economy down to a simmer The Central Bank started raising interest rates in March and then they added another half point increase last week The fed has also signaled two more jumbo rate hikes are likely in June and July Now there's of course a lot of uncertainty about the fallout from this And that's caused some wild swings in the stock market Chris Waller who sits on the fed's board of governors says he and his colleagues are ready now to dish out some strong monetary medicine At this point I don't care what the reasons are Inflation is too high and my job is to get it down That means we have to raise rates We have to cool off demand and try to get inflation pressures down If we get some help from supply chain resolution that's fantastic But I'm not counting on it By the way Waller is soon going to have a new colleague on the Federal Reserve board Last night a closely divided Senate confirmed Lisa cook on a 51 vote with vice president Harris casting the tie breaking vote Cook will be the first African American woman to serve on the fed's House and a Senate.

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