Speed Reads

Last Night on Late Night

Late night hosts laud the Ukrainian ballerinas, families, comedians, and soldiers denying Putin victory

"When Putin launched his monstrous war, everyone was saying Kyiv would fall within 48 to 72 hours, but it is Day 15 and they are still standing strong," Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show. "The failure of the vaunted Russian war machine to overwhelm the much-smaller Ukraine has shocked the world," he said, but "apparently, Russia's military problems go deep," from rations that expired in 2002 — "it's never a good sign when your dinner is old enough to enlist" — to fuel shortages and cheap Chinese tires.

"But the biggest reason the Russian military is bogged down is the casual courage of their Ukrainian opponents," Colbert said. "And a new group just joined the fray, because Ukrainian ballerinas are leaving the stage for the front lines. Putin doesn't stand a chance — these are the same people who took down the Mouse King."

The Late Show also made another Nutcracker joke at Putin's expense.

"While the Biden administration is doing everything possible to counter Russia's invasion of Ukraine while avoiding a direct military confrontation that would spiral out of control, Republicans and right-wing pundits are pitching increasingly reckless ideas that would drastically escalate the conflict — oh, and Donald Trump is blaming it on windmills," Seth Meyers said on Late Night. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is the rare comedian to see dialogue — not monologue — as the solution, he joked, And "if even Zelensky still believes in the power of dialogue, then the rest of us should too, because he's right: that's the only way this horrific conflict can end."

"Today, Russian and Ukraine held their first high-level peace talks, but please do not get your hopes up," Trevor Noah said on The Daily Show. "Not only did Russian not agree to end the war, it wouldn't even admit that it started a war." And now that war is "even spilling over into space," he said. "Russia is so mad about sanctions that it's threatening to abandon an American astronaut in space and allow the International Space Station to crash into Earth."

"All of this suffering can be laid at the manicured feet of one deranged man-baby who's been waiting for this moment since the early '90s," Samantha Bee said on Full Frontal. She lauded the Ukrainians "refusing to give Putin the easy victory he expected," from the men and women staying to fight to the families "torn apart and forced to leave their entire worlds behind, which is just unimaginable. My kids used to melt down if we just went to the grocery store and left behind their favorite stuffed animal. "