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.