Red Hot Jingoism, With a Side of Apple Pie

Uncle Volodya says, "Empty threats are for dreamers. And I fancy myself a realist.”

Uncle Volodya says, “Empty threats are for dreamers. And I fancy myself a realist.”

Peruse, if you will, this sabre-rattling pile of poop. Coming on the heels of recent articles which warn that the west sees a nuclear war as both winnable and possible, even probable, and the conviction that a new western strategy is the attempt to initiate a Kremlin palace coup  by Russian nationalist hardliners fed up with Putin’s squishiness because he will not respond more aggressively to NATO provocations on Russia’s doorstep, it’s hard not to conclude that the west has lost its mind. If the fear of a planet-devastating nuclear war – in which the two major world nuclear powers pull out all the stops in an unrestricted attempt to annihilate one another – no longer holds our behaviors in check…what’s scarier than that?

We seriously need to persuade our leaders, in the strongest terms, that they cannot talk smack like that.

Do the leaders of the free world need a refresher course in nuclear explosions? Hiroshima 1945, before and after what was, at the time, the greatest destructive force in the world fell upon it. The bomb which flattened Hiroshima had a yield of 15 kilotons, or 15 thousand tons of TNT. Modern Russian ICBM’s typically carry MIRV warheads, Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicles, of up to 250 kilotons yield; more than 16 times the destructive power – each – of the Hiroshima bomb. A MIRV carrier releases its warheads individually, post-boost-phase, and they reenter the atmosphere independently and not necessarily proceeding to the same target. Their accuracy is a few hundred feet CEP (Circular Error Probability); in the case of the RS 24 Yars, about 150 feet. Increased accuracy means less necessity for huge warheads, so more can be carried. At about the same time, the missile releases decoys, to make it more difficult to establish which are the real warheads. Finally, the payload accelerates to 15,000 mph for the sprint to the target. Anyone who tells you the missile shield can take care of a target traveling at 15,000 mph in any profile except coming directly at the missile shield’s launcher could probably sell you a bridge, if you believe them. The crossing rate is just too high.

Alternatively, the Topol M can carry a single 800 kiloton warhead – more than 53 times the destructive power of the Hiroshima bomb. Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Europe, Government, Military, Politics, Russia, Strategy, Vladimir Putin | Tagged , , , , , , | 311 Comments

Ask Not What Lithuania can do for You…

Uncle Volodya says, "None are so empty as those who are full of themselves.”

Uncle Volodya says, “None are so empty as those who are full of themselves.”

But you can’t make people listen. They have to come round in their own time, wondering what happened and why the world blew up around them.

Ray Bradbury; Fahrenheit 451

Hey, remember that annoying nineties phrase, “Don’t go there”? It meant, don’t even talk about it, thereby implying that the subject introduced – or some association with it – is so fraught with social unacceptability as to be unmentionable.

Well, Petras Auštrevičius  just went there.

Let’s back up for a second; addressing the European Parliament, Auštrevičius summarized the goals of the energy union: to wit,

“The Energy Union was launched by the European Commission with the intention of developing consolidated action that would provide benefits to everyone involved: secure energy for consumers at affordable prices, competitive market opportunities for suppliers and strengthened solidarity and trust between EU member states.”

Remember that; you’ll see why,  in a minute.

Auštrevičius then goes on to bad-mouth Russia and the Nord Stream pipeline in the fashion we have become accustomed to seeing from stuffed-shirt EuroBullshitters, including the favourite canard that Russia constantly uses energy as a political weapon. To hear him tell it, Nord Stream II will ruin the entire Energy Union concept, if Europe is so foolish as to not take stopping it in its tracks seriously.

And just about here, the wheels fell off Auštrevičius’s truthwagon.

“The EU is heavily dependent on imported natural gas. And while Russia’s share has decreased rather dramatically over recent years it still remains very high: Russia supplies 39 per cent, Norway 30 per cent and Algeria and Qatar far less. Twelve EU member states rely primarily on one source, with Russia supplying between 75-100 per cent of their supplies. “

Has Russia’s share decreased rather dramatically over recent years? As usual, the devil is in the details. You could probably pick a moment last year when imports were down – say, the first quarter. What’d the picture look like at the end of the year?

“In the first 9 months of the year, imports from Russia were at the same level as for the comparable period of 2014 but the distribution of volumes throughout this period was markedly different: year-on-year, imports decreased by 22% in the first quarter, followed by 8% growth in the second quarter and 18% growth in the third quarter. The share of Russia from total extra-EU imports were 41% in the third quarter. This is lower than in the previous quarter (45%) but Russia remained the EU’s top supplier.”

Petras, you Lithuanian liar, you. You’re talking about eliminating your dependency on your main supplier. Do you know what those words mean? While we’re talking about shit you don’t understand, how about the fact that LNG imports decreased 7% year-on-year from 2014. But here’s Petras, shilling for Lithuania’s shiny new LNG terminal. According to Lithuania’s assessment, the fall in the price of Russian gas (in Lithuania) over 2014 was the result of Russian confusion over the introduction to Lithuania of Norwegian LNG – realizing it could no longer exercise political control over Lithuania, the dirty Russians backed down. It had nothing to do with a deliberate economic campaign, originating in Washington, to knock the bottom out of energy prices in an attempt to crash the Russian economy. Continue reading

Posted in Corruption, Economy, Europe, Government, Investment, Politics, Rule of Law, Russia, Trade | Tagged , , , , , , | 1,249 Comments

Second Annual Fern of England Photo Caption Contest

Five hundred Euros???? I'll do it for FREE!!!

Five hundred Euros???? I’ll do it for FREE!!!

Okay, this is a blatant play for time. So far I have not made a new post in April at all, and I know I need to do one but I can’t find the time. I have a 2.5-hour exam tomorrow in American National Standards Institute (ANSI) procedures and processes, and family eats up a lot of the weekends, which are the only occasions I really have the opportunity to write.  So it looks like a great time for the second annual Fern of England Photo Caption contest.

Those who were around for the first one probably vaguely recall the rules, but I’m sure we could all benefit from a refresher, as well as any newcomers – it’s open to all. Hopefully we can get Fern to judge it, as was the case in the first one. The prize is a MEGGITT Training Systems Canada baseball cap (MEGGITT is a Canadian company which makes remote-control gunnery and missile targets for the Canadian Forces, among other customers), which was not given away last time because Yalensis won it, and he is secretive about his address (probably because he is CIA or something, or perhaps an eccentric billionaire). Fern cannot win, which is just as well, because she loathes baseball caps. So, the rules. Your first comment must include an entry for the photo caption contest. After that, you can talk about anything you like, and you can enter as often as you like. Staff of The Kremlin Stooge (which is me) are not eligible to win (no skin off my nose, that ball cap has been sculling around my closet for about two years). The ball cap has a colourful history – I once offered one to anyone who could answer a particular question, I can’t even remember what it was now, and Yalensis was a little choked up because he didn’t win. The next time I saw MEGGITT’s Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) Special Projects officer, John Leblanc (which I did frequently, I used to work indirectly for MEGGITT, as Manager of the Target Cell for Maritime Forces Pacific), I asked him for a ball cap for Yalensis, which he duly gave me. So it’s brand new, never been worn, black with the MEGGITT logo on the front, one size fits all. If the winner does not work for the CIA and/or is not an eccentric billionaire, and will provide me – offline – with a mailing address (I’ll get in contact with the winner), then I will send you the ball cap by parcel post at my expense. Sound good? Let’s do it.

Posted in Corruption, Education, Europe, Government, Politics, Russia | Tagged , , , | 1,308 Comments

Having Failed to Achieve Any of Its Goals in Crimea, the West Resorts to Lying

Uncle Volodya says, "Sometimes you can learn things from the way a person denies something. The choice of lies can be almost as helpful as the truth.”

Uncle Volodya says, “Sometimes you can learn things from the way a person denies something. The choice of lies can be almost as helpful as the truth.”

NATO once had such plans for Crimea. It was all going to come together so beautifully. Once Ukraine had been wrenched from Russia’s orbit into that of Europe, Sevastopol would make a dandy NATO naval base on the Black Sea, while Russia was left scrambling for an alternative port. However, after polling public opinion in Crimea and finding a very healthy majority of Crimeans supported a return to Russian control and membership in the Russian Federation, a lightning referendum was held and Russia took back its gift to Ukraine. Disaster; Crimea had been the biggest prize the west was after in Ukraine. Just like that, it was snatched away, out of its reach and gone.

So the west – led, as usual, by Washington, which is a damning indictment of the spoiled dilettantism which currently passes for leadership in Europe – announced that it did not recognize the results of the referendum: it was like it never happened, as so frequently occurs when people make a choice Washington does not care for. The whole business was just completely, entirely illegal under international law, although no specific violation was ever cited. And the west prepared a slate of punishing economic sanctions, which was supposed to inspire massive demonstrations of public anger at Vladimir Putin, resulting in the return of Crimea to Ukrainian control and perhaps even a death-blow to Putin’s rule. It is important to note here that this was completely deliberate – Washington intended to impose economic hardship upon the Russian people so as to force the only solution it knows to resistance: regime change. I mention it here because a malady of forgetfulness appears to have seized Washington. President Obama, especially, seems to have forgotten his initial restrained jubilation – expressed as regretful determination – that the United States was tanking the Russian economy,  triggered by the wild runaway of the ruble. For a couple of days, long enough for Washington to scent panic, it looked like it was working. But then attempts to prop up the currency were abandoned, and it was allowed to float, and Russia recovered its balance.  And Washington forgot it had ever been excited about wrecking the Russian economy, and pretended that had never been a goal at all. Washington is pretty good at pretending – it has had a hell of a lot of practice.

So sanctions failed to force Russia to hand back Crimea. And the west looked the other way and occupied itself with something distracting (reading international law, perhaps; ha, ha; I was just kidding) so that it did not have to see Ukraine cutting Crimea off from water, food and electricity in an attempt to force its surrender. Ukraine gated off the canal which supplied water. Ukraine imposed a blockade which prevented trucks from entering via the land route – which Ukraine exclusively controls – and food spoiled in the tractor-trailers as they idled at the roadside. Members of Ukraine’s ‘patriotic’ militia units, often thin cover for Nazi sympathies, blew up the pylons which carried the power cables to Crimea, and the west smirked behind its hand as Kiev called them ‘persons unknown’ although they had posed for pictures, and had used an anti-tank weapon – surely not all that common in private hands – to destroy the metal pylons.

And that didn’t work, either. Polls in Crimea revealed that the people were willing to accept severe hardship rather than return to Ukrainian rule. Russia moved quickly to provide alternate water and electricity supplies, and accelerated work on a massive bridge – 19 km long – across the Kerch Strait which will join Crimea and the Russian homeland and remove the last lingering dependence on Ukraine. Kiev’s attempts to bully Crimea into capitulation served only to harden hearts against its temporary and entirely unsatisfactory former master. Continue reading

Posted in Corruption, Economy, Europe, Government, Investment, Law and Order, Politics, Russia, Strategy, Trade, Vladimir Putin | Tagged , , , , , , | 2,373 Comments

European Gas Demand is Decreasing – A Dutch Fairy Tale

Uncle Volodya says, "Every morning you have to wake up, assemble this busy, dissembling monster, and get him on his feet again for another round of fantasy .”

Uncle Volodya says, “Every morning you have to wake up, assemble this busy, dissembling monster, and get him on his feet again for another round of fantasy .”

Gonna use my arms
Gonna use my legs
Gonna use my style
Gonna use my sidestep
Gonna use my fingers
Gonna use my, my, my
Imagination…

The Pretenders, from, “Brass in Pocket

The remarkable thing about Brussels and Washington’s stubborn and increasingly panicky resistance to the Nord Stream II gas pipeline, which is to be laid in parallel to the existing Nord Stream pipeline from Russia to Germany, is the necessary suspension of disbelief you are required to adopt. It is as if you cannot read, are incapable of thinking for yourself, cannot puzzle anything out.  You are simply invited to assume a set of ‘facts’ as if they were actually true, and from that foundation a storyline emerges which would make a great deal of sense. If the ‘facts’ on which it rests were true. But they are not, and they are easily disproved. Which is what we are going to do. Ready?

Once upon a time, there was a Dutchman. His name was Sijbren De Jong. He worked for a think tank called the Hague Center for Strategic Studies, where he was a strategic analyst. Mr. De Jong claimed, as his area of expertise, “Eurasian (energy) security and the EU’s relations with Russia and the former Soviet Union”. As you will soon see, his views on the aforementioned relations with Russia and the former Soviet Union are very one-sided indeed, and in the ideal world he envisions,  Russia would be seen and not heard, and would be obedient to Europe as the latter ordered it smartly around, and told it what was good for it.

I should mention at this point that what Mr. De Jong writes in the referenced article comes under the heading, “Opinion”. However, I think you will agree that certain premises are presented as if they are facts, rather than just something he thinks.

And chief and most problematic among those is his statement that Europe should fight Nord Stream II because “gas demand in Europe has gone down due to the competition from renewables and coal.”

Oh, dear. Mr. De Jong is full of stront, because that is what the cockneys call a porkie-pie, which is to say, a lie.  It’s one people like Mr. De Jong will tell you over and over, because they want you to internalize it, just like that red herring about the current Nord Stream pipeline only operating at half-capacity. These two powerful facts – Europe is using less gas now than it once did, this is a trend which can be expected to continue, and the Nord Stream pipeline which is currently operational is only using half its capacity – lock down an ironclad case for there being no need to twin the Nord Stream pipeline. Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Europe, Government, Investment, Politics, Rule of Law, Russia, Strategy, Trade, Ukraine, Vladimir Putin | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2,209 Comments

On the Art of Noticing the Obvious, and Invisible People, Part II

Uncle Volodya says, "Why does shame and self-loathing become cruelty to the innocent?”

Uncle Volodya says, “Why does shame and self-loathing become cruelty to the innocent?”

As promised, we’re going to press on with the conclusion of Lyttenburgh’s piece. So far the first part has racked up 4,404 hits and attracted 996 comments; not bad at all.

The premise that Russian liberals are fifth-columnists who are stubbornly committed to the destruction of the Russian Federation as we know it – ostensibly so they can build it anew with western help into a good global citizen that is as democratic as you can imagine – has understandably attracted some controversy. From my personal point of view, it is hard to reconcile their courting of Ukraine’s oligarchic, cluster-fuck government (including the corpulent and egotistical Saakashvili fan who currently occupies the governorship of Odessa) with any serious nation-building chops, and they come across much more like spoiled kids who are deliberately courting a reaction by behaving outrageously, always with one eye on the parent to gauge the effect of their posturing.

Whatever the case, it is difficult to argue away the fact that each of these individuals is far more popular in the English-speaking west than among their countrymen, and their support in Russia is limited mostly to single digits, although those supporters are among the most vociferous and self-promoting of Russians – this makes it easier for their supporters to imagine they are a great deal more influential than they actually are.

Anyway, lead us onward, Lyttenburgh.

Part III

Case in point: former editor of the eXile magazine, Mark Ames, still red-hot butthurt at Evul Putin for closing his rag way back in 2008. Here is his more-or-less balanced analysis of the Charlie Foxtrot that came to be known now as the “Post-Maidan Ukraine”, and it’s here that Mark Ames literally shits rainbows into his own mouth with this:

“The important thing to remember is this: Russia’s liberal intelligentsia and its big city yuppie class is small in numbers, outsized in influence and importance… and hated by the rest of Russia. And there’s a lot to hate: intelligentsia liberals and Moscow yuppies are elitist snobs on a scale that would turn anyone into a Bolshevik. They even named their go-to glossy “Snob”— and they meant it. It’s not just the new rich who are elitist snobs — liberal journalist-dissident Elena Tregubova’s memoir on press censorship interweaves her contempt for Putin with her Muscovite contempt for what she called “aborigines,” those provincial Russian multitudes who occupy the rest of Russia’s eleven time zones. Tregubova flaunted her contempt for Russia’s “aborigines,” whom she mocked for being too poor and uncivilized to tell the difference between processed orange juice and her beloved fresh-squeezed orange juice. I’m not making that up either.

Tregubova’s contempt is typical for the liberal intelligentsia. Stephen Cohen quoted well-known Russian liberal intellectuals blaming the misery and poverty of post-Soviet Russia on the Russian masses who suffered most: “the people are the main problem with our democracy” said one; another blamed the failures of free-market reforms on “a rot in the national gene pool.” Alfred Kokh, a Petersburg liberal fired by Yeltsin for taking bribes from banks while heading the privatization committee, openly relished the misery suffered by the Russian masses after the 1998 financial markets collapse forced millions into subsistence farming for survival:

“The long-suffering Russian masses are to blame for their own suffering…the Russian people are getting what they deserve.” Continue reading

Posted in Alexei Navalny, Boris Nemtsov, Education, Europe, Government, Law and Order, Russia, Slavs, Vladimir Putin, Yulya Latynina | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 266 Comments

On the Art of Noticing the Obvious, and Invisible People

Uncle Volodya says, "There is a noticeable element of the pathological in some current leftist critiques, which I tend to attribute to feelings of guilt allied to feelings of impotence. Not an attractive combination, because it results in self-hatred.”

Uncle Volodya says, “There is a noticeable element of the pathological in some current leftist critiques, which I tend to attribute to feelings of guilt allied to feelings of impotence. Not an attractive combination, because it results in self-hatred.”

One  principal advantage this blog enjoys over many other Russia-focused blogs in English is the participation of some ethnic-Russian and extremely competent speakers of English, some of whom still live in Russia. We are therefore offered direct access to at least some opinion which comes from the country which is our focus of interest, rather than being told what Russians think by English-speaking journalists such as Shaun Walker, Roland Oliphant, Edward Lucas and thoroughly-westernized Russian émigrés like Julia Ioffe and Leonid Bershidsky. The importance of that unfiltered opinion cannot be exaggerated, because the foregoing journalists and émigrés frequently sample only the opinions of groups likely to provide the soundbites they are looking for, or simply make them up. This offers the comforting – for some – picture that there is widespread discontent within Russia of the current government, wages have remained stagnant for decades and Russians envy and covet western freedoms, which we must acknowledge is a popular narrative in the Anglosphere. Our only opportunity to rebut it comes from passionate Russians who can express themselves competently in English, and substantiate, flesh out and bring to life the alternative reality we know exists.

This, of course, is leading into another post from the erudite native Muscovite we know as Lyttenburgh. I am delighted to be able to offer it here. Lyttenburgh, it’s all yours.

Prologue:

Prince Andrew was somewhat refreshed by having ridden off the dusty highroad along which the troops were moving. But not far from Bald Hills he again came out on the road and overtook his regiment at its halting place by the dam of a small pond. It was past one o’clock. The sun, a red ball through the dust, burned and scorched his back intolerably through his black coat. The dust always hung motionless above the buzz of talk that came from the resting troops. There was no wind. As he crossed the dam Prince Andrew smelled the ooze and freshness of the pond. He longed to get into that water, however dirty it might be, and he glanced round at the pool from whence came sounds of shrieks and laughter. The small, muddy, green pond had risen visibly more than a foot, flooding the dam, because it was full of the naked white bodies of soldiers with brick-red hands, necks, and faces, who were splashing about in it. All this naked white human flesh, laughing and shrieking, floundered about in that dirty pool like carp stuffed into a watering can, and the suggestion of merriment in that floundering mass rendered it specially pathetic.

[…]

“Flesh, bodies, cannon fodder!” he thought, and he looked at his own naked body and shuddered, not from cold but from a sense of disgust and horror he did not himself understand, aroused by the sight of that immense number of bodies splashing about in the dirty pond.

– L. Tolstoy, “War and Peace”, volume 3, Book 10, Chapter V.

Part I.

I was “triggered” into writing this article by two factors. First – by a somewhat “popular” in narrow circles writer, Lyudmila Ulitskaya (a regular of “intelligentsia gatherings” organized by Mikhail Khodorkovskiy) who just recently compared Russians to “filthy, sick savages”. Not something out of the ordinary, really – sadly, this is just another example of the self-proclaimed members of the “Nation’s Conscience” passing judgment on the rest of the people, who might (o, horror!) disagree with them and their foreign sponsors. Continue reading

Posted in Alexei Navalny, Boris Nemtsov, Caucasus, Corruption, Government, Khodorkovsky, Law and Order, Politics, Vladimir Putin, Yulya Latynina | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1,105 Comments