Tuesday 23 December 2014

Now’s the time to shake hands with Vladimir Putin

By Tony Brenton

Russia’s president is here to stay and his weakened country is looking to do a deal

For a man whose country is reportedly on the economic rocks, President Putin looked remarkably confident at his annual press conference yesterday. These conferences have become a high point of the Russian political year. Putin, without notes, fields unscripted questions from more than a thousand journalists. This year, inevitably, the major issues were the economy and Ukraine. On the economy, he acknowledged problems caused by the collapse in the oil price but claimed that Russia would adjust within two years. On Ukraine, he was uncompromising. Russia’s actions were legitimate. Sanctions were wrong. The West wanted to “chain and defang” the bear, but would never be able to do so.

A brave performance. But in a week where the value of the rouble has oscillated by more than 30 per cent, how justified by the facts? To what extent were we looking at a sort of reincarnation of “Comical Ali” – the Iraqi information minister who continued to proclaim ultimate victory for Saddam Hussein even as Western tanks rolled into Baghdad? The list of problems that Russia now faces is formidable, from the halving in price of its principal export commodity to the imminent tightening of both the EU and US sanctions. To what extent are the skids under Putin and his regime?

Monday 22 December 2014

Viewing Russia From the Inside

By George Friedman

Last week I flew into Moscow, arriving at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 8. It gets dark in Moscow around that time, and the sun doesn't rise until about 10 a.m. at this time of the year — the so-called Black Days versus White Nights. For anyone used to life closer to the equator, this is unsettling. It is the first sign that you are not only in a foreign country, which I am used to, but also in a foreign environment. Yet as we drove toward downtown Moscow, well over an hour away, the traffic, the road work, were all commonplace. Moscow has three airports, and we flew into the farthest one from downtown, Domodedovo — the primary international airport. There is endless renovation going on in Moscow, and while it holds up traffic, it indicates that prosperity continues, at least in the capital.

Our host met us and we quickly went to work getting a sense of each other and talking about the events of the day. He had spent a great deal of time in the United States and was far more familiar with the nuances of American life than I was with Russian. In that he was the perfect host, translating his country to me, always with the spin of a Russian patriot, which he surely was. We talked as we drove into Moscow, managing to dive deep into the subject.

From him, and from conversations with Russian experts on most of the regions of the world — students at the Institute of International Relations — and with a handful of what I took to be ordinary citizens (not employed by government agencies engaged in managing Russia's foreign and economic affairs), I gained a sense of Russia's concerns. The concerns are what you might expect. The emphasis and order of those concerns were not.

Friday 19 December 2014

Russia's Moment of Crisis: Moscow Might Be Down, but Not Out

By Nikolas K. Gvosdev

Sanctions, falling oil prices and a plummeting currency will put tremendous strain on the Russian government. But to assert that Russia is on the verge of collapse seems a bit premature.

Western commentators reporting on events in Russia have a tendency to swing from one extreme to the next. Seven months ago, when oil prices were high and the Kremlin had seemingly amputated Crimea off from Ukraine without firing a shot, the narrative was about an unstoppable Vladimir Putin who would soon be overrunning all Eastern and Central Europe. Today, he is being placed on deathwatch, with prognosticators speculating about precisely when the Russian economy will collapse and Putin will be overthrown. With the precipitous fall in the value of the ruble—something a major interest-rate hike by the Russian Central Bank seemed unable to reverse—some pundits are even crowing that the Ukrainian hryvnia is doing better than the Russian currency.

It helps to step back and put the larger picture in perspective. The hryvnia is the currency of a country facing a major contraction in its GDP and on the verge of bankruptcy; investors are gambling that beyond the $27 billion aid package from the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the United States will fund an additional $15 billion bailout. Ukraine's energy supply is also quite tenuous, depending on a fragile agreement brokered with the Kremlin and conditional upon prepayment for supplies. Take out any of these factors from the equation and the hryvnia looks much less attractive as a bet.

The collapse in global energy prices, the impact of Western sanctions and the free fall in the ruble's value are all quite serious economic problems for Russia. They will put tremendous strain on the Russian government and may even force radical revisions in some policies. But to assert that Russia is on the verge of collapse seems a bit premature. Moreover, Putin believes that he can ride out the short-term turbulence without having to make serious concessions to the West.

Wednesday 17 December 2014

5 reasons you should care about Russia’s falling ruble

By Michael Birnbaum

Russia’s ruble was tanking on Tuesday faster than journalists could type, hitting levels against the dollar that were unimaginable even a week ago.

1)      So why should I care about a weak ruble?

Russia’s plummeting ruble is swiftly upturning the nation’s broader economy and threatening instability in a major world economy. When Russia defaulted in 1998, it helped set off a global financial crisis that caught fire in many emerging markets. So far, Russia’s problems are mainly confined to home. But that could change, and neighbors that are closely connected to Russia such as Belarus and Kazakhstan are already worrying. A weaker ruble makes it harder for Russian businesses to repay any dollars or euros they borrowed. Some businesses might not be able to pay anything back at all.

2)      What does this mean for Putin?

It’s unclear, although a plunging ruble certainly isn’t good for him. Russians have weathered worse – in 1998, many people’s life savings were wiped out.

Tuesday 16 December 2014

Interview with Dmitry Peskov

TNI Editor Jacob Heilbrunn spoke with Dmitry Peskov, a deputy chief of staff and the press spokesperson for Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Editor’s Note: Dmitry Peskov is a deputy chief of staff and the press spokesperson for Russian president Vladimir Putin. He spoke with TNI’s editor Jacob Heilbrunn about U.S.-Russian relations.

Heilbrunn: There are two views in America about relations with Russia. One is that we should try and reach a mutual accommodation and the other is that we need to pursue a more hostile containment policy. Do you believe that there is a mutual solution that can be found in Ukraine that could improve U.S.-Russian relations?

Peskov: Neither Moscow nor Washington can solve the problem of Ukraine, and neither Washington nor Moscow are part of the conflict. This is a conflict inside Ukraine, and it can be fought only by Ukrainians. We do not hide, and we are not trying to hide, our unwillingness to understand attempts by Washington to recognize and to facilitate the takeover that took place in Kiev.

We sincerely cannot understand why Washington was supporting those who took part in that takeover, in that coup, to get rid of the legal president of that country, and why Washington was very proud to acknowledge an illegitimate transfer of power that occurred in Kiev after the takeover. And we were sure that that takeover was the main reason for the whole mess that we witness now in Ukraine.

At the same time, I said previously that Russia in no way can be treated as a part of the conflict. Russia cannot make an order to those people in Donetsk, in Lugansk, saying that you should do that or you should do this. The understanding can be reached only between Kiev and those people, and the understanding can be reached only through dialogue. Unless we see a dialogue, we cannot hope for a really long-lasting solution. These days the only thing that we can do is to help them to ensure a sustainable situation in the region in order to make civilian populations safe from shelling by artillery. This will take huge efforts from all of us in order to rebuild mutual confidence. Now it’s very hard to expect that they would trust each other in terms of implementing conditions of an agreement, and we see how complicated the way is with implementing the conditions of the Minsk agreement.

Saturday 13 December 2014

Russia-NK Opening Sends Message to Region

By Dmitri Trenin

The recent visit to Russia by a special representative of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has highlighted Moscow's new opening to Pyongyang. It comes after other visits and meetings between Russians and North Koreans that have become more frequent of late. 

Evidently, Russia is bidding to play a more active role on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia as a whole. By reactivating its policy on Pyongyang, Moscow is sending messages to Seoul, Tokyo, Washington and Beijing. These should be properly understood.

The message to Seoul is that Moscow has regained a bit of influence in the North, which it can use in dealing with the South. This can refer both to stability-building economic projects, such as the proposed Trans-Korean gas pipeline and the rail link, and to security concerns such as the nuclear issue and the military standoff across the Demilitarized Zone.

Clearly, Moscow expects Seoul to stay away from the US-led sanctions drive against Russia. The Kremlin regards the sanctions as a means of war, and considers the sanctioning countries as unfriendly.

Tuesday 9 December 2014

New York Times Exposed: Finally the Truth about Ukraine and Putin

By Patrick Smith (Salon.com)

After a prolonged propaganda campaign, a rare breath of fresh air from The Washington Post, Foreign Policy and Henry Kissinger

Well, well, well. Gloating is unseemly, especially in public, but give me this one, will you?

It has been a long and lonely winter defending the true version of events in Ukraine, but here comes the sun.

We now have open acknowledgment in high places that Washington is indeed responsible for this mess, the prime mover, the “aggressor,” and finally this term is applied where it belongs. NATO, once again, is revealed as causing vastly more trouble than it has ever prevented.

Washington, it is now openly stated, has been wrong, wrong, wrong all along.

The commentaries to be noted do not take on the media, but I will, and in language I use advisedly. With a few exceptions they are proven liars, liars, liars — not only conveying the official version of events but willfully elaborating on it off their own bats.

Memo to the New York Times’ Moscow bureau: Vicky Nuland, infamous now for desiring sex with the European Union, has just FedExed little gold stars you can affix to your foreheads, one for each of you.

Thursday 4 December 2014

Why Putin Is Winning The New Cold War?

By Rakesh Krishnan Simha

The US wants to bring Russia down but it can’t get past Vladimir Putin

There are 7.2 billion people on this planet but the United States fears only one man — Vladimir Putin. That’s because on virtually every front of the new Cold War, the Russian president is walloping the collective challenge of the West. Fear can make you do strange things — for the second year running, Forbes magazine has named Putin as the world’s most powerful person.

It is said about the Russians that they take a long time to saddle their horses, but they ride awfully fast. After patiently nursing the collapsed Russian economy back to health from 1999 to 2007, Putin started pushing back against the western encirclement of his country. In Syria, Crimea and Ukraine, the West has faced humiliating setbacks and melted away at his approach. In the high-stakes game of energy, it will be Russian — not western — pipelines that will dominate the Eurasian landmass.

But instead of scorekeeping, a more instructive exercise would be to try and understand how Putin has managed to keep Russia ahead in the game.

More than any other leader, the Russian president by virtue of his KGB experience understands how the US operates. The American modus operandi — in sync with the British — is to organise coups, rebellions and counter-revolutions in countries where nationalist leaders come to power. Iran, Chile, Ecuador, Venezuela, Panama and Ukraine are the classic examples.

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Bottoming Out in Europe

By Andrew A. Michta

Europe is mired in deep denial about the historical currents driving Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Europe’s policy towards Ukraine is in disarray, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the growing divergence of priorities among key European players, and of late the deepening polarization within Germany’s coalition government over how to deal with Russia. The deadlock is fundamentally this: a political solution to the Russian-Ukrainian war, short of just conceding Russia a sphere of influence in Eastern Europe, has been exhausted. Few among Europe’s leadership elite are inclined to draw the obvious conclusions from the events following the failed Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius in 2013. Instead, Europe clings to the notion that somehow there is a fix out there; the reality that it confronts in Russia a revanchist state bent on a revisionist project is too difficult to accept. And thus Europe continues to believe that—notwithstanding the stern denunciations leveled at Putin, most recently in Brisbane—the only path forward is to try harder.

Germany, one country with the ability to take the lead, is deadlocked over intra-governmental differences on policy and continues to cycle through old mantras, as when Chancellor Merkel condemned “spheres of influence” thinking at the last G20 summit. With persistence worthy of a better cause, Europe continues to drift into collective Micawberism, hoping that somehow a political solution that doesn’t amount to all-out surrender on Ukraine will just turn up. The harsh truth is that it won’t; it’s time either to develop a real comprehensive strategy to contain Russia, or to stop pretending there is already such a strategy in place.

Monday 1 December 2014

How Russia outmanoeuvred the west in Ukrainian finance

By John Dizard

“F*** the EU!”
Victoria Nuland, US assistant secretary of state, commenting on Ukrainian
policy on her mobile phone, as recorded and publicly distributed by the Russian
special services in February 2014

“Treason is a matter of dates.”
Attributed to Prince Charles Maurice
de Talleyrand-Perigord, drawing up European borders at the Congress of Vienna, 1815

The quality of US representation in eastern Europe seems to have declined, sadly, since the days of George Kennan and George Marshall in the 1940s and 1950s. European diplomacy, though, appears to have maintained the tradition of ethical flexibility that Prince Talleyrand embodied.
Whatever your opinion of the morality of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, or whether the Putin government’s larger strategy will have more gains than losses for the Russian state, there is no doubt the Russians have tactically outmanoeuvred the US and Europe in the financial markets. I am told the Pentagon is already studying Russia’s financial market moves in Ukraine to see how similar tactics might be used in future military crises.

Friday 28 November 2014

Rethinking the cost of Western intervention in Ukraine

By Katrina vanden Heuvel

Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, recently cautioned Americans against intervention fatigue: “I think there is too much of ‘Oh, look, this is what intervention has wrought’ ... one has to be careful about overdrawing lessons.” Say what? Given the calamities wrought in Iraq, Libya and now Ukraine, one would think that a fundamental rethinking and learning of lessons is long overdue. The United States needs a sober look at the actual costs of supposed good intentions divorced from realism.

Power’s comments come as Ukraine marks the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the Maidan Square demonstrations in Kiev, surely an occasion for rethinking and changing course. One year after the United States and Europe celebrated the February coup that ousted the corrupt but constitutionally elected president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, liberal and neoconservative interventionists have much to answer for. Crimea has been annexed by Russia. More than 4,000 people have lost their lives in the civil war in Ukraine, with more than 9,000 wounded and nearly a million displaced. This month, the Kiev government acknowledged the de facto partition of Ukraine by announcing it was ending all funding for government services and social benefits including pensions and freezing all bank accounts in the eastern districts that are in revolt. The Ukrainian economy is near collapse with nowhere near the billions needed to rebuild it at hand. How Kiev or the cut-off eastern regions will provide heating and electricity to their beleaguered people as winter approaches remains to be seen.

The European Union and the United States have imposed sanctions on Russia, with threats of more to come. Many observers have rightly suggested that we are witnessing the beginnings of a new Cold War. U.S. and NATO forces are being dispatched to buck up the purportedly nervous Baltic nations, now part of NATO’s security guarantee. Meanwhile, the sanctions have added to Europe’s economic woes. Vladi­mir Putin’s popularity has soared within Russia, even as the nation’s economy has suffered. European unity has begun to fray, with several countries worried about the effect of sanctions on their own economies, and officials questioning the sanctions’ effectiveness.

Monday 24 November 2014

"Kiev will join Novorossiya in 2017"

By Yury Kot Journalist, social activist, UKRAINA.Ru Author

"It’s my 10-page forecast of Ukraine’s near future, based on facts and other things I can so far speak about only allegorically," journalist Yury Kot writes.

Making predictions is a thankless job. The most dangerous part of it is the temptation to indulge in wishful thinking or self-deception. So instead of being guided by my wishes or fears, I will try to remain unemotional and impartial. I’ll only stick to the facts and possible scenarios for what comes next.

Two landmark events occurred over the weekend, which will shape the course of events not only in Ukraine, but throughout the world: a G20 meeting in Australia and a protest rally in Bratislava. The first witnessed some unpleasant but remarkable events involving Vladimir Putin. The second was attended by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. And then the two men each made statements, as an afterthought. In an interview with the German TV channel ARD, Putin warned the world about the danger of rising neo-fascism in Ukraine, while Poroshenko declared that Ukraine was prepared to war with Russia.

These two statements were preceded by events in Australia and Slovakia. Thus, cold and danger were in the air on the warm continent, so thick you could cut them with a knife. The US and its puppets (now it’s clear where the trillions of dollars went, turning the US into a giant debtors’ prison for ordinary Americans) staged a “show bashing” for the leader of the Russian world. They acted downright boorishly, doing all they could, first, to anger the imperturbable and enigmatically smiling head of the Russian Federation, and second, to endear themselves to the host with his million-dollar smile.

Tuesday 18 November 2014

The G20 Summit

So what did in fact happen at the G20 summit?

The short answer is that it was a shriller rerun of the ASEM summit in Milan. The same line up of European leaders joined this time by the Australians and the Canadians (Obama and Putin barely met) tried once again to bully Putin into doing what they wanted in the Ukraine, believing on this occasion that the fall in oil prices and in the rouble would make him more amenable. In order to drive the point home a media blitz of quite extraordinary intensity was also orchestrated.

To their collective bafflement and anger, Putin refused to move an inch. On the contrary Putin's position has if anything hardened since Milan as he made clear in the interview he gave to German television in Vladivostok (before the summit) in which (as I pointed out previously) he pointedly reminded the European leaders that it is within Russia's power to bring the entire Ukrainian financial edifice crashing down by calling in its loans and in which he also gave the clearest possible warning that Russia would not allow Novorossiya to be overrun (see below on this Page). The further news on that today by the way is that Russian Economics Minister Ulyukaev has confirmed that the rouble will be allowed to circulate in the DPR/LPR, strengthening their integration with Russia.

Monday 17 November 2014

This "Putin Isolated" Nonsense Is Dangerous

These headlines are silly:

India Times - Barack Obama says Russia will remain isolated if it continues to destabilise Ukraine
Yahoo - Cameron warns Russia of isolation, further sanctions over Ukraine
LA Times - Putin faces isolation at G-20 conference
NY Times - Putin Gets a Cool Reception From G-20
Vice - World Leaders Snub Putin at G20, Exile Him to 'Social Siberia'
Reuters - G20 commits to higher growth, fight climate change; Russia isolated over Ukraine
Guardian - Isolated Putin leaves G20 summit

Even more silly then those headlines was the German prime news Tagesschau which used a picture of Putin seemingly sitting alone at a lunch table to prove his "isolation". But news service pictures show that he is sitting with the Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff waiting for the other lunch guests to sit down next to them. These were simply not visible in the frame Tagesschau selectively used.

Thursday 13 November 2014

Russia To Dump SWIFT Within a Few Months

Russia intends to have its own international inter-bank system up and running by May 2015. The Central of Russia says it needs to speed up preparations for its version of SWIFT in case of possible ”challenges” from the West.

"Given the challenges, Bank of Russia is creating its own system for transmitting financial messaging... It’s time to hurry up, so in the next few months we will have certain work done. The entire project for transmitting financial messages will be completed in May 2015," said Ramilya Kanafina, deputy head of the national payment system department at the Central Bank of Russia (CBR).

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Stakes are high as US plays the oil card against Iran and Russia

Washington is trying to drive down prices by flooding the market with crude but risks collateral damage to its own shale industry

Imagine that at the start of 2014 you were an investor who liked to dabble in the commodity markets. You could sniff something going seriously wrong in Ukraine and you were alarmed by early reports of groups of militants marauding across northern and western Iraq.

With hopes that the global economy would continue to strengthen, the smart money would have been on oil prices continuing to climb. That’s what geopolitical tension plus robust demand usually means.

On this occasion, though, the smart money was wrong. After standing at well over $110 a barrel in the summer, the cost of crude has collapsed. Prices are down by a quarter in the past three months. More oil has been pumped at a time when the global recovery has faltered, with traders caught unawares by the slowdown in China and renewed stagnation in the eurozone.

That, though, is not the whole story. The fourfold increase in oil prices triggered by the embargo on exports organised by Saudi Arabia in response to the Yom Kippur war in 1973 showed how crude could be used as a diplomatic and economic weapon. History is repeating itself.

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Asia for the Asians

Why Chinese-Russian Friendship Is Here To Stay

Recently, China and Russia have challenged the international order by giving each other diplomatic backing to confront Ukraine and Hong Kong, respectively. But Western observers have mostly misunderstood the countries' reasons for building closer ties with each other. They have been motivated less by shared material interests than by a common sense of national identity that defines itself in opposition to the West and in support of how each views the legacy of traditional communism. Moscow and Beijing have disagreements about the future order they envision for their regions. But they agree that the geopolitical order of the East should be in opposition to that of the West—and that has led to significantly closer bilateral relations.

Some Western observers have placed an excessive emphasis on Sino-Soviet tensions during the Cold War era, also arguing that the relationship between Beijing and Moscow is likely to remain fragile because of developments in both countries since the 1990s, including democratization in Russia, globalization in China, and the rapid rise of a middle class with access to outside information in both countries. To the extent that China and Russia built ties, these observers believed that the relationship would be a marriage of convenience that would be trumped by other national interests, including good relations with the West.

But most Westerners have failed to understand that, since the 1990s, officials in China and Russia have deeply regretted the Cold War tensions between their countries. They understand that the problem was less a lack of overlap in national interest than national identities skewed by ideological claims to leadership. Moscow made a critical mistake in expecting that Beijing would acquiesce to its leadership, accepting a role as a junior partner. China's  leadership did not accept that role, given its obsession with ideological superiority.

Sunday 2 November 2014

A real counterweight to US power is a global necessity

Conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine will spread without effective restraint on western unilateralism

Where is the end of history now? Across three continents, conflicts are multiplying. An arc of war, foreign intervention and state breakdown stretches from Afghanistan to north Africa.

In Iraq and Syria, the so-called Islamic State – mutant offspring of the war on terror – is now the target of renewed US-led intervention. In Ukraine, thousands have died in the proxy fighting between Russian-backed rebels and the western-sponsored Kiev government. And in the far east, tensions between China, Japan and other US allies are growing.

British troops finally finally ended combat operations in Afghanistan on Sunday after 13 years of disastrous occupation. The bizarre claim, despite al-Qaida’s global spread, is that the mission was “pretty successful” — in a country where tens of thousands have been killed, the Taliban control vast areas, violence against women has escalated and elections are a fig leaf of fraud and intimidation.

Monday 27 October 2014

G20: feelings about MH17 and Ukraine will have to be put aside for any productive discussion to happen

If Ukraine is to be a cohesive, peaceful, prosperous country, the pro-Europeans and the pro-Russians will need to cooperate together and learn the art of compromise

If the G20 is to operate as an effective organisation, its membership must learn to behave with civility to each other.

How Australia’s prime minister Tony Abbott and Russia’s president Vladimir Putin react to each other in Brisbane this month will be interesting. It may be more difficult for Abbott than for Putin: so many words have been used on the Australian side, words which in normal circumstances would be construed as quite unfriendly to Russia and particularly to Putin.

When Australia sits down as chairman and calls the meeting to order, how can it guide a productive and useful discussion? It will be essential for all participants to put aside rhetoric, to try and look at the facts, and to understand each other’s point of view.

Western aggression in Ukraine

If Ukraine is to be a cohesive, peaceful and prosperous country, the pro-Europeans and the pro-Russians will need to learn the art of compromise.

Australia reacted demandingly, and even aggressively, to the shooting down of the Malaysian MH17 aircraft. Russia has been blamed almost universally in the Australian media, described not as the one who pulled the trigger, but as the one who carried ultimate responsibility.

Saturday 25 October 2014

Ukraine crisis - the view from Russia

A good article to read if you want to know another view.

Former Russian spy chief Nikolai Patrushev challenges western perspectives on the standoff between Moscow and Kiev in an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta

"Ukraine simply cannot prosper without Russia, whether it likes it or not ... The complete severing of these ties would be a painful blow for Russia but it would be a catastrophe for Ukraine"

The Guardian

Tuesday 21 October 2014

The Hunt for Black October

The Swedish Navy is desperately trying to find a Russian submarine prowling off the coast of Stockholm. What’s Vladimir Putin up to?

What first sounded like something straight out of a Tom Clancy novel is turning out to be Moscow's first serious test of Western resolve since the invasion of Crimea earlier this year. While details are patchy and the situation is still unfolding, three separate credible eyewitness accounts and a photo showing a dark structure descending into the shallow waters of the Baltic Sea seem to confirm the presence of a foreign submarine or mini-sub some 30 miles from Stockholm. If so, this would be a major escalation of tensions in the Baltic Sea region.
Adding to the mystery are other reports of a North Sea-bound Russian container ship sailing under a Liberian flag hovering outside Swedish territorial waters. Defense analysts have speculated that this might be the submarine's mother ship. In response to these chilling developments, the Swedish military has launched one of its biggest military operations in decades, involving some 200 men, a number of stealth ships, minesweepers, and helicopters to locate the suspected sub and its crew. Sweden has five submarines of its own, down from 12 in the late 1990s.
While the Swedish government has not yet confirmed exactly who is behind this "foreign underwater activity" (as the incident is officially labeled), the obvious suspect is Moscow. If so, this would not be the first time that a Russian submarine has been spotted in Swedish waters. During the heyday of the Cold War in the 1960s to 1980s, the waters off Sweden's coast were a favorite playground for Soviet submarine activities. The most notorious case was the "Whiskey on rocks incident" in October 1981, when a nuclear-armed Soviet submarine became stranded in Swedish waters near one of the country's most important naval bases. After a 10-day standoff, the situation was eventually resolved peacefully and the submarine tugged back into international waters, where it was handed over to the Soviet navy.

Saturday 18 October 2014

“Pardon Us For Our Country’s Existence in the Middle of Your Military Bases” – Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov’s Speech at the UN

In a courageous and brilliant speech to the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, 2014, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pierced the veil of obfuscation that characterizes too many speeches at the United Nations, and delivered a scathing denunciation of Western imperialism, imperialism that can only be accurately described as global theft.  Lavrov, on behalf of the Russian Federation implicitly warned that US/NATO is risking global war in embarking on its campaign to seize and dominate huge territories, while inexorably and ruthlessly determined to conquer and subjugate Russia, having learned nothing from the historic reality that Napolean’s effort to dominate Russia led to the collapse of Napoleonic France, and Hitler’s attempt to subjugate Russia led to the obliteration of his Third Reich.

Perhaps this third attempt to conquer and subjugate Russia may lead not only to war encompassing huge territories of the globe, but, dialectically, may be the catalyst leading to the ultimate decline of capitalism, an economic system which thrives almost entirely on imperialism, and is undergoing a possibly terminal crisis, as described by the French economist, Thomas Piketty in his best-selling work “Capital in the 21 Century.”  In desperation, dysfunctional Western capitalism is lashing out recklessly and irrationally, unwilling and unable to preclude the disastrous consequences of its myopic policies.  And one possible consequence of current US/NATO policies is thermonuclear war.

Lavrov stated:  “The U.S.-led Western alliance that portrays itself as a champion of democracy, rule of law and human rights within individual countries, acts from directly opposite positions in the international arena, rejecting the democratic principle of sovereign equality of states enshrined in the UN Charter and trying to decide for everyone what is good or evil.”

Wow, Hillary Clinton Really Can't Stand Vladimir Putin. It's Personal.

In a Las Vegas fundraising speech on Monday, she reveals her distaste for his "personality"

Incompetent in international affairs. Its going to hurt her chances of becoming 
president, something she desperately wants...

This is very interesting. Speaking at a fundraiser in Las Vegas on Monday, Hillary Clinton ripped into Putin, and lectured Europeans on being too soft on him.  Her remarks suggested a deep personal distaste for the man.

More than anyone else, Clinton is the author of the confrontational US approach to Russia, and the current debacle in Ukraine. 

Under her watch as Secretary of State, from 2009 to 2013, the US steadily increased its anti-Russian line, and pushed for Ukraine to choose between Europe and Russia, plowing $5 billion into anti-Russian civil society groups in the Ukraine. 

The disastrous previous US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, was her man in Moscow.  Victoria Nuland, whom she made State Dept spokesman, was and remains one of her closest advisors on Russia. She promoted the career of US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, who is also very close to her.  He also pushed very hard for the tragic split of the Ukraine.

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Russia Can’t Be Blackmailed Over Ukraine, Putin Says

It’s futile for the U.S. and its allies to “blackmail” Russia over the Ukraine crisis, President Vladimir Putin said in a newspaper interview today.

Russia’s partners should remember the risks involved in disputes between nuclear powers, Putin said. He accused Barack Obama of adopting a “hostile” approach in naming Russia as a threat to the world in the U.S. president’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 24.

“We hope that our partners will realize the futility of attempts to blackmail Russia and remember what consequences discord between major nuclear powers could bring for strategic stability,” Putin told Serbia’s Politika newspaper on the eve of his visit to the Balkan nation today.

Tuesday 14 October 2014

European Business in Russia Is Sacrificed Over Ukraine

Sanctions, sanctions...

European business interests in Russia are being hurt badly over Ukraine, according to Philippe Pegorier, chairman of the Association of European Business lobby group in Moscow.

“The European business community is angry that it is being sacrificed by both the European and Russian authorities,” Pegorier, who is also president of the French power equipment maker Alstom SA (ALO) in Russia, told AEB members at a briefing today. “The EU sanctions hurt very hard our business in all the sectors. The Russian retaliation also hurt our companies hard and does not meet Russia’s commitments under the WTO.”

European Union direct investments in Russia amount to 170 billion euros ($215 billion), or 75 percent of all FDI inflows into the country, said Pegorier, whose AEB represents about 600 European companies. Russia is the EU’s third-largest market for exports and the EU is the top destination for Russia’s products, he said.

Monday 13 October 2014

Putin, parliamentarianism and the desirability of monarchies

A recent controversy in Italy over Putin illustrates how the democratic system is frowned upon by the majority of Europeans.

While public opinion polls in France and Germany show that Putin would win presidential elections in both countries; Italy is divided between supporters and detractors of the Russian President.

Two Italian websites which are geared at a Catholic audience, for example, have opposing positions: while La Torre (“The Tower”) praised Putin’s economic and social policy, Nuova Bussola Quotidiana (“The New Daily Compass”) believes that Putin cannot be considered a good ally.

On the latter website, Luigi Geninazzi, who has worked as a reporter in East Europe for Avvenire and Il Sabato (the most popular Catholic daily in Italy) and written several essays the on ex-Soviet world, criticizes Putin’s pan-Slavism: he argues that, in the Ukraine crisis, the only fault of the EU has been its indifference, because the EU does not really want Ukraine to enter Europe. However, beyond the geopolitical evaluations of Geninazzi’s article, there is a particularly interesting passage. Why, the author asks himself, do Catholics (and others) appreciate Putin so much, even though the Russian President looks out for Russia’s interests regardless of the opinion of the rest of the world?

Friday 10 October 2014

‘Non-Sanctioned’ Countries Rush To Meet Demand In Russian Food Market

Russia is dramatically enlarging imports from third countries following the ban on food from the United States, Canada, the European Union, Norway and Australia. Turkey is providing poultry and fish, Switzerland is delivering dairy products, and Uruguay is supplying fish, and a lot of it.

Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) head Sergei Dankvert made a statement to that effect to Interfax, referring to the September data from the Argus automated system recording deliveries.

According to him, Brazil delivered 39,000 tonnes of beef in September of this year compared to 28,000 tonnes in September 2013, Argentina - 3,500 tonnes as against 1,000, and Uruguay - 2,600 tonnes as against 1,500.

Wednesday 8 October 2014

IMF Loans Will Destroy Ukraine Economy

In the video below, distinguished professor and Wall Street financial analyst Michael Hudson discusses IMF loans for Ukraine.

His main points are:

  • Ukraine is not meeting the IMF conditions nor is the IMF meeting its own conditions.
  • According to IMF articles of agreement, it is not allowed to lend money to a country that is not able to pay.
  • Repayment of IMF demands will devaluate Ukrainian currency, make imports much more expensive, increase the cost of living, unemployment will rise, etc.
  • Internally, IMF economists are complaining that what they plan to do in Ukraine has already been done in Greece - leading her to economic suicide

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Bloomberg Lied About the Ruble and Manipulated the Market


Yesterday Bloomberg ran a piece saying that the Russian Central Bank was considering imposing capital controls.

As a result of the story, the ruble came under heavy selling pressure and the central bank was forced to intervene for the first time in months in the currency market.

Over-night the Central Bank have not only rubbished the claims as pure lies but have opened an investigation into market manipulation. The Russian government has also come out and said that capital controls are completely off the table, and yet, the western media continues to run stories of how Russia is considering imposing them.

There was an excellent piece last week by a colleague of mine on this site on why Russia is bringing in new legislation against foreign media.

These events as a whole are precisely why a group of us expats decided to get together to start this website.

That CNN simply repeats US government talking points is widely accepted by most people outside the US, and few people (outside the US), pay them much mind, or watch them.

However, misleading news on Russia from the likes of Bloomberg, The Economist and The Financial Times is very troubling because many people view them as legitimate and accurate. Their teams which cover business news in the West are more or less propaganda-free and often extremely accurate and insightful.

Unfortunately the same can not be said for their Russia coverage.

Monday 29 September 2014

Russia Won't Cry Uncle to U.S. Sanctions

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attended the UN General Assembly in New York last week, where he commented on everything from the peace process in Ukraine to Iran's nuclear talks and U.S. air strikes in Syria. On Saturday, Lavrov sat down with Bloomberg's Olivia Sterns in an exclusive interview to recap his thoughts on Russia's role in a tense geopolitical landscape.

Watch video

Thursday 25 September 2014

It's China-Russia vs. Japan-America. Too bad for Japan.


Threatened by deep, fundamental changes about which they can do little, men will reliably choose denial as a last line of defense.  Given the Orwellian nature of the Western political discourse, it is not surprising that the secular rise of China has spawned a veritable cottage industry of Sinophobes, who for the past several decades have issued increasingly dire warnings of the upcoming collapse of the upstart Dragon – which in the meantime has grown its economy nearly ten-fold.

The arguments range from the cogent (trees do not grow to the sky) to the patently absurd (“China will emulate Japan” - although the similarities between the two are largely confined to use of chopsticks and the sharing of a pictographic script…) China has, of course, tacitly encouraged this blather, which coupled with convenient and reassuring myths about win-win outcomes, the inability of Asian to innovate and platform companies - has blinded Western elites to the challenge posed by the reemergence of China.

China’s relationship with Russia is a special case. The present author has been spinning his “Bear and Dragon yarn” since the turn of the millennium - at long last, he finds himself vindicated by Russia’s growing alignment with the People’s Republic, greatly accelerated by the aggressive posturing of the NATO countries as their coup d’état in Kiev reaches an increasingly sticky outcome.

Obama Says US to Lift Sanctions if Russia Backs Ceasefire in Ukraine

Agree with Truth & Beauty (and Russian Finance): "This would be a potential disaster! We have to hope he keeps the sanctions in place - these literally force Russia to do what should have been done a decade ago. It is vital that Moscow continues to rebuild its independence against potential Western economic blackmail. When it has a geographically diversified, balanced economy based upon trading and financial relations with the BRICS, and especially, with the Dragon - then it can turn around and trade freely for commercial gain with The Empire."

The united States President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that the country would lift the sanctions imposed on Russia in case it chooses a peaceful course in Ukraine.

Tuesday 23 September 2014

The Seething Anger of Putin's Russia

The truth is out there...

How U.S.-Russian relations became so dysfunctional—and dangerous

MOSCOW—The standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine is a relatively recent development, but it is sickeningly familiar to anyone who grew up in the Cold War decades. It is, most of all, uniquely ominous: When nuclear-armed America and Russia quarrel, peace and life as we know it are threatened the world over. The risks of errors, miscalculations, unintended escalation, and culture-based misunderstandings loom large—especially when mutual trust has been shattered and little remains of a working relationship between Washington and Moscow. 

Such risks are especially high right now. NATO and NATO-allied forces are conducting military exercises in western Ukraine, while Russian-backed separatists and Russian troops remain entrenched in that country’s east. Last Wednesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu warned that “the situation in Ukraine has escalated sharply and the presence of foreign military has increased in the immediate vicinity of our borders,” while announcing the deployment of the first of six stealth submarines to its Black Sea fleet. This came just days after Russia’s successful submarine-based test launch of a Bulava ICBM—a long-range nuclear missile designed to hit targets in the United States. Russia’s $700-billion defense buildup, scheduled to be completed in 2020, continues unabated. 

Ukraine isn’t the only potential hot spot. Earlier this month, a representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, addressing Russian residents of Riga, the capital of NATO member Latvia, announced, in words similar to those it has used to describe the situation in Ukraine, that as a result of “neo-Nazi sentiments ... whole segments of the Russian world ... face serious problems in securing their rights and lawful interests,” and warned that Russia “will not tolerate the creeping offensive against the Russian language” underway in the Baltics. In a speech several weeks ago in the Estonian capital of Tallinn, President Obama declared that “the defense of Tallinn and Riga and Vilnius is just as important as the defense of Berlin and Paris,” and that NATO forces, including those of the United States, would defend the Baltics if they were attacked. The prospect of Russia taking measures—which could include closing its airspace to Western countries—to retaliate against the latest round of Western sanctions against it now seems like the least of our problems. (Ironically, the West’s crisis with Russia, though deepening, may all be for naught: The Kremlin has successfully pressured Ukraine into delaying a key free-trade provision in a newly ratified association agreement with the EU and offering its rebellious eastern provinces three years of self-rule.)

Saturday 20 September 2014

Putin Would Win Elections in France and Germany


"Public opinion polls in Germany and France showed that Putin would win the presidential elections in both countries ..." — this idea was voiced on the sidelines of the International Forum "The large family and the future of humanity", which concluded on September 12 in Moscow. In an interview with the Russian TV channel "Tsargrad", Konstantin Malofeev, chairman of the board of trustees of the St. Basil the Great Charitable Foundation and one of the organizers of the Forum spoke on the issue.

Thursday 18 September 2014

Decoding Russian criminal tattoos – in pictures

From the 1960s to the 1980s, Arkady Bronnikov visited correctional facilities all over the Soviet Union and photographed thousands of tattooed inmates to decode their body art – and helped solve many crimes by identifying criminals based on their ink. Here, you can learn what roses, snakes and cowboys really mean …

See more

Friday 12 September 2014

24 hours in Moscow - in pictures

I Love Moscow!

To celebrate the Russian capital’s birthday, The Moscow Times photojournalist Pascal Dumont documented a 24-hour journey across the city. Starting on Friday evening in Rechnoi Vokzal (River Station) in the north and finishing at sunset in the south in Butovo, Dumont captured the metropolis’ dynamic character through it’s daily cycle

See more

Thursday 11 September 2014

German TV Shows Nazi Symbols on Helmets of Ukraine Soldiers


Germans were confronted with images of their country’s dark past on Monday night, when German public broadcaster ZDF showed video of Ukrainian soldiers with Nazi symbols on their helmets in its evening newscast. In a report on the fragile cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, Moscow correspondent Bernhard Lichte used pictures of a soldier wearing a combat helmet with the "SS runes" of Hitler’s infamous black-uniformed elite corps. A second soldier was seen with a swastika on his gear. “Volunteer battalions from nearly every political spectrum are reinforcing the government side,” the ZDF correspondent said in his report.

The video was shot last week in Ukraine by a camera team from Norwegian broadcaster TV2. “We were filming a report about Ukraine’s AZOV battalion in the eastern city of Urzuf, when we came across these soldiers,” Oysten Bogen, a correspondent for the private television station, told NBC News. Minutes before the images were taped, Bogen said he had asked a spokesperson whether the battalion had fascist tendencies. “The reply was: absolutely not, we are just Ukrainian nationalists,” Bogen said.

Ukrainian soldiers with Nazi symbols on their helmets, including the swastika and the SS runes of Hitler's infamous black-uniformed elite corps.

Sunday 7 September 2014

Crisis in Ukraine is ‘all EU’s fault’ – France’s Marine Le Pen


Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front party, says the EU is to blame for the crisis in Ukraine as it forced the situation where Kiev had to choose between East and West.

Now that France is joining sanctions against Russia over the alleged direct interference in the political crisis in Ukraine and Paris is considering suspending the €1.2 billion deal of two Mistral helicopter carrier ships ordered by Russia, the leader of the biggest parliamentary faction of the French parliament has her own opinion on Ukraine’s turmoil.

“The crisis in Ukraine is all the European Union’s fault. Its leaders negotiated a trade deal with Ukraine, which essentially blackmailed the country to choose between Europe and Russia,” Le Pen told Le Monde daily in an interview.

Le Pen has been a long-standing critic of Europe’s foreign policy and does not see how Ukraine could join the bloc.

Thursday 4 September 2014

Ukrainian president would order ceasefire if Minsk peace talks confirmed

Petro Poroshenko's announcement comes after a phone conversation he had with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin

The Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, said he would order a ceasefire to begin at lunchtime on Friday if peace talks that are planned to be held in Minsk, Belarus, are confirmed.

Speaking on the sidelines of a Nato summit in Wales, Poroshenko said: "At 2pm local time [11am GMT] on Friday, provided the [Minsk] meeting takes place, I will call on the general staff to set up a bilateral ceasefire and we hope that the implementation of the peace plan will begin tomorrow."

The announcement comes after a phone conversation between Poroshenko and Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. The Russian president later released a seven-point "peace plan" for eastern Ukraine.

Tuesday 2 September 2014

How can you tell whether Russia has invaded Ukraine?

And 'two weeks' seem a bit overstated :)


Last Thursday the Ukrainian government, echoed by NATO spokesmen, declared that the the Russian military is now operating within Ukraine's borders. Well, maybe it is and maybe it isn't; what do you know? They said the same thing before, most recently on August 13, and then on August 17, each time with either no evidence or fake evidence. But let's give them the benefit of the doubt.

You be the judge. I put together this helpful list of top ten telltale signs that will allow you to determine whether indeed Russia invaded Ukraine last Thursday, or whether Thursday's announcement is yet another confabulation.

Because if Russia invaded on Thursday morning, this is what the situation on the ground would look like by Saturday afternoon.

The Chart Obama Does Not Want Merkel To See


The weekend's headlines reeled from the collapse in global manufacturing PMIs and with them the last best hope for the world's economies to reach escape velocity all on their own. However, there was one nation that did not plunge... there was one country whose growth (based on the soft survey data) is at 10-month highs. Perhaps this is the chart that President 'we need moar sanctions and costs' Obama does not want Angela 'umm, wait a minute' Merkel to see...

Since sanctions began the plunge in Euro-Area PMIs has been commensurate with the rise in Russia's (oh and according to survey-data, US is as good as it has ever been)...

Seems pretty clear who is paying the price and suffering the costs of Western sanctions...

When does Europe draw its own red line around Obama's sanctions?

Monday 1 September 2014

Russia's Manufacturing Sector Grows Despite Western Sanctions Over Ukraine

August PMI Increases for Second Consecutive Month

Russian manufacturing showed a second consecutive month of growth in August, propped up by new orders, suggesting that Western sanctions haven't yet impacted the sector, the HSBC Manufacturing Purchasing Manager's Index showed Monday.

The headline manufacturing PMI index reached 51.0 in August, unchanged from the July level and remaining above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction.

The August figure was the third positive reading in the past 14 months, hovering just below a long-run average of 51.0

Friday 29 August 2014

The European Union Isn't Going To Bail Out Ukraine

The European Union has had a pretty rough run over the past seven years. Economically, things are simply catastrophic. The Eurozone is not only experiencing an output slump that is even worse than the great depression, it is also teetering dangerously close to outright deflation. Unemployment remains persistently high everywhere except Germany: it is still above 25% in both Greece and Spain, and above 10% in Portugal, Italy, and France. The forecasts are hardly encouraging, with expectations of little or no growth in 2014 and an exceedingly modest rebound predicted for 2015. The situation is so desperate and hopeless that respected economists like Tyler Cowen have started to compare the performance of the more sclerotic European economies with the de-industrialization of 19th century India.

Politically, things aren’t a whole lot better. The most recent elections to the European Parliament in late May saw Euroskeptics and radicals of various stripes storm to unprecedented victories...

Continue reading

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Sanctions Costs: German Exports To Russia Collapse, "Risk 50,000 Jobs"

Just a month ago, Germany's powerful business lobby threw its weight behind tougher sanctions against Russia (dropping its previous objections). It appears they are now regretting that decision. As The Federation of German Industry (BDI) reports today, exports to Russia in H1 2014 dropped 15.5% from 2013 and "may drop by as much as 25% - posing a risk to 50,000 German jobs." We are sure, as Zee Germans look across the pond at the S&P 500 hitting record highs, BDI's conviction that Russia's action must face significant consequences may just fall apart again.

Just 3 weeks ago, Germany’s powerful business lobby has dropped its opposition to tougher sanctions against Russia ahead of today’s crunch EU ambassador meeting in Brussels.

BDI chief Ulrich Grillo said sanctions could would come at a “painful” cost to European business, and to German exporters, but that the game had changed with Russia.

“The BDI and I personally have become convinced that the behaviour of the Russian government in the Ukrainian conflict of secession must have noticeable consequences for Moscow, ”

And now... (as Bloomberg notes),

Continue reading

Saturday 23 August 2014

Trust in Kiev evaporates as fighting causes refugee exodus to swell

It took 4 months for the western press to finally report what really is happening in Eastern Ukraine!

Financial Times

By Courtney Weaver in Kamensk-Shakhtinsky and Roman Olearchyk in Kiev

Last September Olga Laskireva dropped off her 20-year-old son in Kiev for his obligatory military service in the Ukrainian army. Nine months later she returned to the capital to pick him up and bring him home.
As residents of Krasnodon, an eastern Ukrainian town less than 20km from the Russian border, the Laskirev family has tried to stay neutral as the Ukrainian army and Russian-backed separatists battle for the Lugansk region. But over the course of four months of heavy fighting, they have begun to blame Ukraine’s new president and the government in Kiev for the conflict.
“Who gives a son a weapon so that he can go and shoot his own mother?” Ms Laskireva says. “That is not right.”

The fate of flight MH-17: in case you’ve forgotten, let us remind you


Downed almost a month ago, the MH-17 airliner tragedy was given the impact scale of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, it should have gathered strengthening outrage and grown into a justifiably scandalous international event, but somehow this didn’t happen. The world has still to get a clear answer to the question “who shot down this airliner?” And the investigation by the media has been slothful at best.

Let’s sort out what we already know.

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault

Good reading


The Liberal Delusions That Provoked Putin
By John J. Mearsheimer

According to the prevailing wisdom in the West, the Ukraine crisis can be blamed almost entirely on Russian aggression. Russian President Vladimir Putin, the argument goes, annexed Crimea out of a long-standing desire to resuscitate the Soviet empire, and he may eventually go after the rest of Ukraine, as well as other countries in eastern Europe. In this view, the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 merely provided a pretext for Putin’s decision to order Russian forces to seize part of Ukraine.
But this account is wrong: the United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis. The taproot of the trouble is NATO enlargement, the central element of a larger strategy to move Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit and integrate it into the West. At the same time, the EU’s expansion eastward and the West’s backing of the pro-democracy movement in Ukraine -- beginning with the Orange Revolution in 2004 -- were critical elements, too. Since the mid-1990s, Russian leaders have adamantly opposed NATO enlargement, and in recent years, they have made it clear that they would not stand by while their strategically important neighbor turned into a Western bastion. For Putin, the illegal overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected and pro-Russian president -- which he rightly labeled a “coup” -- was the final straw. He responded by taking Crimea, a peninsula he feared would host a NATO naval base, and working to destabilize Ukraine until it abandoned its efforts to join the West.
Putin’s pushback should have come as no surprise. After all, the West had been moving into Russia’s backyard and threatening its core strategic interests, a point Putin made emphatically and repeatedly. Elites in the United States and Europe have been blindsided by events only because they subscribe to a flawed view of international politics. They tend to believe that the logic of realism holds little relevance in the twenty-first century and that Europe can be kept whole and free on the basis of such liberal principles as the rule of law, economic interdependence, and democracy.
But this grand scheme went awry in Ukraine. The crisis there shows that realpolitik remains relevant -- and states that ignore it do so at their own peril. U.S. and European leaders blundered in attempting to turn Ukraine into a Western stronghold on Russia’s border. Now that the consequences have been laid bare, it would be an even greater mistake to continue this misbegotten policy.
U.S. and European leaders blundered in attempting to turn Ukraine into a Western stronghold on Russia’s border.

Sunday 17 August 2014

The Russian appeal to Germany


My name is Egor Prosvirnin, I am the chief editor of the Russian site www.sputnikipogrom.com which advocates European values. I’ve heard that one of the aspects of life that Europeans, and Germans especially,cherish is history. If we were to recall recent history, we would remember that a vast army of 300,000 Soviet troops along with 5,000 tanks, 1,500 aircraft and 10,000 artillery pieces (including tactical nuclear weapons) simply left the then just-united Germany without firing a shot.
It was an operation unprecedented in scope and brevity, when the entire Soviet army withdrew literally to open fields. Tens of thousands of Soviet officers, obeying the orders of the supreme command, went from their warm barracks to live in moldy tents set up in the middle of sodden snow-covered fields. In many instances along with their families.

For what?

Monday 11 August 2014

A brief guide to the Russian psyche


The collapse of the American designed and built Iraq, the American intervention into the Ukraine sparking civil war, the collapse of Libya, the victory of the anti-American Assad in Syria, and the thousands of victims of US-backed military repression in Egypt has given rise to a reasonable conclusion: that the great American nation has a poor understanding of the world around us. In particular, it is evident that Americans believe that the rest of the world and its many peoples are exactly the same, just struggling at different stages of development. Roughly speaking; Iraq — is the same as America, it just needs developmental help and advice in order to fully achieve democracy, like throwing out its bloody dictator. Where that view led to is now well known.

Saturday 9 August 2014

Just imagine... If Russia had toppled the Canadian government


Just imagine if the democratically-elected government of Canada had been toppled in a Russian-financed coup, in which far-right extremists and neo-Nazis played a prominent role.

That the new unelected 'government' in Ottawa cancelled the law giving the French language official status, appointed a billionaire oligarch to run Quebec and signed an association agreement with a Russian-led trade bloc.

Just imagine…

Friday 8 August 2014

Putin isn’t trying to win the Cold War - he’s refighting the battles of World War I

It's a must read. Learn the facts!


World War I was not only one of the longest and bloodiest conflicts in history, but arguably the most seminal. The war was a catalyst for the Great Depression, the rise of the brutal ideologies of Nazism, Communism, and Fascism, numerous regional wars over scraps of bygone empires, and, of course, World War II. How Europe's leaders stumbled into the disastrous war remains one of the great unresolved puzzles in modern history. Mountains of books and articles have tried to explain how an assassin's bullet fired in Sarajevo ignited the great catastrophe of the 20th century.

The answers never seem satisfactory. Crude explanations designed to establish German guilt, popular until the 1990s, have gradually been replaced with a more nuanced picture, where the other belligerents, including Britain and France, share the burden of responsibility more equally for launching a war that killed more than 10 million people. But the focus on what happened in London, Paris, and Berlin has masked the importance of the events in the East. Russia, too, shares responsibility for the catastrophe in Europe. As the world remembers the start of the war 100 years ago this week, understanding Russia's strategic calculus at the time can help decode Moscow's recent behavior in Ukraine.

Europe Furious That Putin Dares To Retaliate To Sanctions, Blames Economic Slide On Kremlin


Either Europe is run by a bunch of unelected idiots, or... well, that's about it.
After blindly doing the US' bidding over all propaganda matters Ukraine-related, and following just as blindly into round after round of US-inspired sanctions, sanctions to whose retaliation Europe would be on the frontline unlike the largely insulated US, Europe appears to be absolutely shocked and is apoplectic that after several rounds of sanction escalations, Russia finally unleashed its own round of sanctions and yesterday announced a 1 year ban on all European food imports, something which will further push Europe into a triple-dip recession as already hinted by Italy yesterday.
In fact, Europe is so stunned by this unexpected "politically-motivated" retaliation by Russia, it issued a press release.
Statement by Commission spokesman on the announcement of measures by the Russian Federation

The European Union regrets the announcement by the Russian Federation of measures which will target imports of food and agricultural products. This announcement is clearly politically motivated. The Commission will assess the measures in question as soon as we have more information as to their full content and extent. We underline that the European Union's restrictive measures are directly linked with the illegal annexation of Crimea and destabilisation of Ukraine. The European Union remains committed to de-escalating the situation in Ukraine. All should join in this effort. Following full assessment by the Commission of the Russian Federation's measures, we reserve the right to take action as appropriate.
Surely, Putin is waiting for the European Commission to also issue a #hashtag before he starts shaking in his boots.

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Imperial Washington Is Intoxicated By Another Big Lie


Imperial Washington is truly running amuck in its insensible confrontation with Vladimir Putin. The round of new sanctions is a counter-productive joke. Apparently, more of Vlad’s posse will be put on double probation, thereby reducing demand for Harry Macklowe’s swell new $60 million apartment units on Park Avenue. Likewise, American exporters of high tech oilfield equipment will be shot in the foot with an embargo; and debt-saturated Russian state companies will be denied the opportunity to bury themselves even deeper in dollar debt by borrowing on the New York bond market. Some real wet noodles, these!

But it is the larger narrative that is so blatantly offensive—that is, the notion that a sovereign state is being wantonly violated by an aggressive neighbor arming “terrorists” inside its borders. Obama’s deputy national security advisor, Tony Blanken, stated that specious meme in stark form yesterday:

“Russia bears responsibility for everything that’s going on in Eastern Ukraine” and “has the ability to actually de-escalate this crisis,” Blinken said.

Puleese! The Kiev government is a dysfunctional, bankrupt usurper that is deploying western taxpayer money to wage a vicious war on several million Russian-speaking citizens in the Donbas—the traditional center of greater Russia’s coal, steel and industrial infrastructure. It is geographically part of present day Ukraine by historical happenstance. For better or worse, it was Stalin who financed its forced draft industrialization during the 1930s; populated it with Russian speakers to insure political reliability; and expelled the Nazi occupiers at immeasurable cost in blood and treasure during WWII. Indeed, the Donbas and Russia have been Saimese twins economically and politically not merely for decades, but centuries.

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Friday 25 July 2014

Who Shot Down the Malaysian Airliner?

Two links from Oliver Stone (three in fact, but I've posted one already):

"This is too good to be true. After this massive rush to judgment by US media, please read these fascinating dissents from 2 honest investigative journalists who probe deeper than our propagandizing fourth estate. This is an unnecessarily dangerous situation brewing because of US politics--

Link: Airline Horror Spurs New Rush to Judgment by Robert Parry

Link: It was Putin’s Missile! by Pepe Escobar"

Thursday 24 July 2014

Western powers largely alone in condemnation of Russia


In Kiev, Brussels, Washington and Ottawa, the response to the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was angry and almost unanimous: The evidence was seen as clearly pointing at Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine, which means Moscow itself was at least partly to blame.

But while Western powers like to refer to the “international community” when mustering a case they believe in, such solidarity doesn’t really exist. Among Russia’s allies – most crucially, its fellow members of the BRICS club of emerging powers (Brazil, India, China and South Africa) – the initial response to the tragedy was silence, followed by increasing skepticism of the evidence presented by the U.S. and Ukrainian governments.

That means Russia – even as Western governments move to punish the Kremlin for its continued support of the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic by escalating economic sanctions – will still have an escape valve for its economy. As markets in the West close, Moscow can turn east and south, a process under way since March, when the first Western sanctions were implemented in response to Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.

Wednesday 23 July 2014

What the Media Won’t Report About Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17


Just days after the tragic crash of a Malaysian Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine, Western politicians and media joined together to gain the maximum propaganda value from the disaster. It had to be Russia; it had to be Putin, they said. President Obama held a press conference to claim – even before an investigation – that it was pro-Russian rebels in the region who were responsible. His ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, did the same at the UN Security Council – just one day after the crash!

While western media outlets rush to repeat government propaganda on the event, there are a few things they will not report.

They will not report that the crisis in Ukraine started late last year, when EU and US-supported protesters plotted the overthrow of the elected Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych. Without US-sponsored “regime change,” it is unlikely that hundreds would have been killed in the unrest that followed. Nor would the Malaysian Airlines crash have happened.

Tuesday 22 July 2014

What Did US Spy Satellites See in Ukraine?

Definitely worth reading!


Exclusive: The U.S. media’s Ukraine bias has been obvious, siding with the Kiev regime and bashing ethnic Russian rebels and Russia’s President Putin. But now – with the scramble to blame Putin for the Malaysia Airlines shoot-down – the shoddy journalism has grown truly dangerous, says Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

In the heat of the U.S. media’s latest war hysteria – rushing to pin blame for the crash of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet on Russia’s President Vladimir Putin – there is the same absence of professional skepticism that has marked similar stampedes on Iraq, Syria and elsewhere – with key questions not being asked or answered.

The dog-not-barking question on the catastrophe over Ukraine is: what did the U.S. surveillance satellite imagery show? It’s hard to believe that – with the attention that U.S. intelligence has concentrated on eastern Ukraine for the past half year that the alleged trucking of several large Buk anti-aircraft missile systems from Russia to Ukraine and then back to Russia didn’t show up somewhere.

Yes, there are limitations to what U.S. spy satellites can see. But the Buk missiles are about 16 feet long and they are usually mounted on trucks or tanks. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 also went down during the afternoon, not at night, meaning the missile battery was not concealed by darkness.

Monday 14 July 2014

FIFA World Cup 2014

They deserved it by the work carried out in the past 12 years


Saturday 28 June 2014

Some sobering truth about the life in Ukraine after western governments supported the russophobic regime

June 24, 2014

No one ever thinks about the water. Or the toilet paper, as it were.

But these are among the many, many staples that become luxuries when one's nation is in crisis.
Hours ago, the local gas company in Kiev (Kyivenergo) announced that they would be shutting off the hot water supply to most of the city.

While the official reason for the hot water shutoff is that Kyivenergo (the energy supplier to Kiev) owes a debt to the Ukrainian state gas company (Naftogaz) of over $100 million.

It's just a quirky little coincidence that this debt suddenly became materially important only one week after Russia shut off natural gas supplies to Ukraine.

Funny thing is that Ukrainian politicians for years had been telling people not to worry about this.
You see, Ukraine has its own domestic natural gas supplies. And they tell people that the domestic gas is strictly for the people and their utilities (like hot water).

Russian gas, according to this story, is imported for businesses to use. But that domestic gas is sacrosanct, only for the people.

Saturday 21 June 2014

Russia's World Cup Record

Russia is not known as a soccer powerhouse. But it does have a devoted fan base, is set to host the 2018 World Cup, and has the highest-paid coach at this summer’s World Cup. Russia’s squat has been ranked #18 in the games by FIFA and is not predicted to win the world’s most popular sporting event. In fact, some experts believe that the Russian national team, which has only qualified for two World Cup games in the past, will be hard pressed to make it out of its group round, where they face off against Belgium, South Korea and Algeria.

But, all that aside, back in 1994, at Russia’s first World Cup games, a member of the Russian team made history...

Continue reading

Saturday 31 May 2014

Great pic!

Railway construction in 1892, near Pripyat, future site of Chernobyl

Wednesday 28 May 2014

How Soviet Kitchens Became Hotbeds Of Dissent And Culture

When Nikita Khrushchev emerged as the leader of the Soviet Union after Stalin's death in 1953, one of the first things he addressed was the housing shortage and the need for more food. At the time, thousands of people were living in cramped communal apartments, sharing one kitchen and one bathroom with sometimes up to 20 other families...

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Monday 26 May 2014

Where the World's Unsold Cars Go To Die


Above is just a few of the thousands upon thousands of unsold cars at Sheerness, United Kingdom.  Please do see this on Google Maps....type in Sheerness, United Kingdom.  Look to the west coast, below River Thames next to River Medway. Left of A249, Brielle Way.

Timestamp: Friday, May 16th, 2014.

There are hundreds of places like this in the world today and they keep on piling up...

Monday 19 May 2014

World Cup :)

Russia announces World Cup 2018 hosting cities

Opening match will be played in Warsaw

 The opening match of the FIFA World Cup 2018 will be played in Warsaw. The final is scheduled four weeks later in Kiev. This was announced yesterday by the Russian Football Union. The other world cup matches will be played in Moscow, Tallinn, Bucharest, Minsk, Kaunas, Riga, Stalingrad, Odessa, Sochi and Krakow.

Nikolaj Tolstych, head of the Russian football association, is pleased: ‘We have the opportunity to show the real Russia: from the vast plains near the Gulf of Finland to the Black Sea, with idyllic regions such as the Volga valley and eastern Europe.’

Thursday 15 May 2014

TV series time!

A Roundup of Littlefinger’s Many Lies on Game of Thrones

Lord Petyr Baelish, a.k.a. Littlefinger, has told so many lies, half-truths, distortions of the truth, and lies of omission that it can be somewhat difficult to ever believe him, even when he’s being genuinely sincere. Then again, Lord Petyr Baelish has certainly given us plenty of clues all along that he is not a man to be trusted; this is the same guy, after all, who told Ned Stark back in season one that “distrusting me was the wisest thing you’ve done since you climbed off your horse.” He even deceived his lifelong, unrequited love, the late Catelyn Stark. (Ever notice how many people who trust him end up dead?) Now that Lysa Arryn has revealed that some dastardly deeds originally attributed to the Lannisters — most notably, the murder of the late Hand of the King Jon Arryn, which set into motion a series of events that led to the War of the Five Kings — were actually schemes cooked up by her ambitious fiancée, we figured it was time to look back and assess other Littlefinger lies.