The Business of Disinformation – The West Gets Ready to Roll the Bones

Uncle Volodya says, "A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep. "

Uncle Volodya says, “A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep. “


It’s up to you how you wanna live: go out and have your fun
You don’t wanna be a fugitive from the things you never done;
Ain’t nobody gonna throw you a bone, to keep your hopes alive:
You got to walk like a big dog, baby, ’cause only the strong survive

Roll of the dice, put ’em in motion
Where they stop, nobody knows
Just a roll of the dice – ain’t nothin’ for certain

But if you feel lucky….go ahead and roll them bones

From “Roll of the Dice”, by The Fabulous Thunderbirds

The west plainly does not like its chances in the event that it confronts Russia militarily in the Crimea. So it is going to settle, for the moment, for making the presence of Russian troops look like a massive invasion that has left poor, decent Ukraine violated and sobbing with its skirts shredded around its thighs, just as democracy was about to flower. Don’t you believe it.

As a classic of disinformation, it’s hard to beat the work of professional obfuscators, and the BBC does not disappoint. Its maundering “Moscow’s Ukraine Gamble”  is a best-of-British effort to wrench things back on track to where the west dictates to Russia rather than the other way round.

Before we dig into it, let’s start from an anchor point few are exploring – the present government in Ukraine is illegal and illegitimate. Thanks to Natalie at Fluent Historian and a handful of other sites like Moon of Alabama, it is clear that the Patronage-Seats-to-the-Revolutionary-Soldiers “transitional Government” in Kiev did not come anywhere near following the rules to impeach Yanukovych, and he is consequently still the legal and elected President of Ukraine. Therefore any moves by the current McGovernment in Kiev to make bold decisions like signing the EU Association Agreement before the Presidential elections take place are null and void and no international body should be so foolish as to accept them as legally binding.

Well, let’s take a look at it. This, we learned, is in many ways like the last time Russia launched a brutal invasion – against peaceful Georgia, in 2008. They don’t come straight out and say it exactly like that, instead drawing the comparison and leaving you to conclude both actions were unprovoked invasions. The west, they say, was left largely on the sidelines in both instances. Is that so? Ha, ha; no. In both cases the west was fully involved beforehand, stroking and cuddling with the leaders and urging them on, which in Georgia’s case was sufficient to convince the sociopath Saakashvili that the west would ride to support him if he only got the ball rolling. In this case, too, the glorious revolutionaries who have awarded themselves plum postings in Kiev also appealed to NATO right away, perhaps believing the rush of billing and cooing from Foreign Ministers, diplomats, U.S. State Department officials and EU bigwigs to coax the revolution in to being and support its onjectives so vociferously in the press constituted a promise to send in the tanks should their shooting their mouths off result in Russia throwing a beer in their face.

There can be little doubt that western and EU elites encouraged this from a long time back. When they were still sure that Yanukovych was caught between a rock and a hard place and would sign the association agreement even though it meant freeing and pardoning Tymoshenko, the west growled at Russia like a dog with a bone between its paws, and made a lot of high-minded freedom-to-decide statements to the effect that sovereign nations must be left free from interference to make their own decisions, and that anything, anything Russia did that might affect that, even to musing that it might have to impose tariffs on some Ukrainian products in order to discourage dumping of products the EU would not buy would constitute bullying, and that if Russia knew what was good for it, it would just be supportive or else the EU and USA would find ways of punishing it for its reluctance to accept the new world order.

Well. Then Yanukovych executed a complete reversal, squibbed the agreement and threw it in the trash, and went to Moscow to strike a better deal, which he did in very short order. This was nothing more than a sovereign nation making its own decision, but right away the western elites swung into action to undermine, sabotage and ultimately re-reverse it.

Which brings us to the deployment of an augmentation of Russian troops to the Crimea, and widespread pro-Russia revolt throughout the East and South of Ukraine proper, while the Transition Circus Troupe in Kiev squeals belatedly for unity. The whole thing, according to the Beeb, is a battle of wills between Moscow and Kiev (in which the USA and EU are apparently uninvolved and blameless) which could turn into a civil war in Ukraine. Why, yes; it might. Whose fault is that? Russia’s? Are you kidding me?

But the west so saw it coming, because Russia’s moves were all right out of the “post-Soviet play-book”.

Just as if the west has not engineered a series of regime changes in quick succession, using the “Regime-Change Play-Book”. Seize on an incident, blow it out of proportion and cast it as a rebel group struggling for freedom against an apocalyptic dictator, promise the support of all those who love freedom while reminding all those people that freedom isn’t free and it is their duty to help their brothers achieve it, demonize the government beyond all recognition and blithely make up incidents of it firing into crowds of peaceful protesters, announce the invocation of the Right to Protect Civilians and the imposition of humanitarian corridors – which coincide with all the government’s possible defensive moves – for the purpose of evacuating fleeing civilians and then let mission creep do the rest. Badda-bing, badda-boom, new leader, new government, move on.

And now, although he has stuck to the letter of the law thus far and even gone along with all the ridiculous artificial anchors the west has attempted to tie to his legs, Putin “risks losing all that goodwill” if he will not withdraw his forces and leave the Crimea to the tender mercies of the phony government in Kiev, so that they can deliver a complete trussed package to the EU. Because if he doesn’t, the EU might, you know, find its oil and gas supplies somewhere else. Just sayin’.

Tell you what; you do that, Sunshine.

Anybody believe Russia has brought in additional forces until the total in the region surpasses 25,000 troops (remember, we’re just talking Russian forces; the some 50,000 troops loyal to the Crimean Autonomous Region do not count), 161 aircraft and 388 warships? Oh, wait; do Ukrainian navy ships which have deserted and gone over to Russia count against their total?

I was being sarcastic – the total strength of the Russian navy including auxiliaries and submarines is less than 388 warships.

But wait; here comes my favourite part. “Any economic solution must draw in international financial institutions and Western governments too. That is going to involve some kind of partnership with Moscow and there is not currently going to be much good will towards the Kremlin.”

Got that? If Moscow does not immediately stop this fannying about, which is impeding the global recognition of an illegal and illegitimate government imposed by a violent coup, Moscow might not be invited to contribute financially to the goal of a united and Russia-intolerant Ukraine as an EU and NATO member!!

I have to stop here, because I can’t go on. I’m speechless.

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819 Responses to The Business of Disinformation – The West Gets Ready to Roll the Bones

  1. yalensis says:

    Meanwhile, Crimean authorities are dealing with many practical issues related to splitting away from Ukraine and joining Russia.
    One of these issues is the railroad thing.

    Previously, much of travel from Russia into Crimea happened via Ukrainian railroad routes.
    For example, Moscow to Kharkiv to Crimea.

    Now, the illegal faux government in Kiev is attempting to halt all railroad travel between any part of Ukraine and Crimea.
    Well, that was to be expected.

    Deputy P.M. of Crimean Autonomy, Rustam Temirgaliev, explains that they are looking to find ways of getting people from Russia into Crimea without having to go through Ukrainian territory. He says people will be looking to build a bridge between the Kuban and Crimean peninsulas.
    [yalensis: sounds like a good idea, but that will take some time to build]

    This recalls an earlier discussion we had, about how Crimea can be supplied with gas, if Kiev cuts their pipeline from Kharkiv. I am thinking that ship-based cargo and travel will become important, at least in the short run.

    Does anyone know if there are ferries that can bring people in from the mainland to Crimea?

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Only from Port Kavkaz to Kerch – that’s the quickest route by sea. When you enter the Crimea by land from the north, namely from Little Russia, you travel across a bleak, windswept, flat land that is full of swamps and salt marshes and lagoons. The railway line and highway run along a causeway at times. If tanks try to storm in that way – well, I’m not a military man, but it looks so wide open that I should imagine they’d get stonked by those self propelled howitzers shown in the clip I’ve just posted or by those killer helicopters that are there – not to mention the Russian air force. And if they tried a beach landing – well the whole of the Russian Black Sea fleet is just round the corner.

      When I first visited the Crimea and crossed that bleak area, I thought it was a bloody awful looking place: stunted trees and very few of them in flat wilderness. But to the west rears up a mountainous area, that’s where Yalta is, and the beaches are fine.

  2. yalensis says:

    Anti-Maidan revolution spreads through the East and South:

    In the city of Luhansk, Ukraine, pro-Russian militants seized the administration building, they tore down the Ukrainian flag and raised the Russian flag, demanding their own referendum, whether to join Russia.

  3. yalensis says:

    Ominously, though, blind seer Baba Vanga peer into her crystal ball and see 3 wery bad portents of war:

    (1) In Kyiv today was called extraordinary session of Supreme Rada, with Yats presiding. This cannot be good! Extraordinary session probably means people secretly voting for war.

    (2) Yats (who is busy man) also heading to Washington D.C. to confer with Bardak O’Bomber.
    I am guessing, O’Bomber will give Yats either thumbs up or thumbs down, whether to go to war. Then Yats is to audit himself and achieve a state of “clear”, after he has freed himself of pacifist engrams and the bland, reactive mind, and geared himself up as a Man of Destiny.

    (3) And, most ominously of all, Yats announced today that use of force against Russia was NOT an option on the table.

    This is reminiscent of Saakashvili crossing fingers behind back and signing onto truce with Ossetia, just before launching his surprise attack on Tskhinval.

    • kirill says:

      If the new regime goes to war then it will only because it has NATO assurances of military support. This would imply that NATO is run by lunatics. Russia’s red line is any attack on the eastern regions (not just Crimea). So there will be a military response from Russia.

  4. kirill says:

    The above video shows one of the diversants sent out by the Kiev regime in Crime after capture. He was trying to goad local Ukrainian military to attack Russian and pro-Russian forces.

  5. kirill says:

    Excellent information to refute “conspiracy theory” dismissals. Selection and coordination in organizations can be emergent processes and do not require a secret meeting.

    • Jen says:

      The example of the ant colony illustrates a self-regulating system relying purely on feedback and the interactions that result and this is one basis of systems theory. We’re making the assumption though that ants don’t have memory or at least not enough memory and cognitive awareness to be able to make assumptions about how their fellow ants act and react, and on that basis make predictions about other ants’ behaviour and modify their own behaviour as a result to achieve desired feedback which in turn directs other ants’ behaviour into certain pathways that create a trend. Humans on the other hand have these capabilities; moreover they can deduce a great deal about one another’s characters and thinking just from observing feedback from people. So you can predict how certain people will react in novel situations.

  6. Moscow Exile says:

    Recognize the one with the flowers in his hair?

    It’s he who got “assaulted” by bogus paras in St.Pete last year on Paratroopers’ Day.

    The text reads:

    In St. Petersburg in support of the Bandera “Right Sector” has appeared the Russian “Arse Sector”.

  7. kirill says:

    This is only tangentially relevant to this thread, but Russia’s economy is showing dynamics that are inconsistent with it being stagnant. Every year the level of development in Russia increases and this has political implications. At some stage countries like Ukraine may see that economic focus on Russia is better for them than trying to get into the mythical EU and end up like Greece. So NATO is in a hurry to establish facts on the ground.

    The amount of housing released on the St. Petersburg market has gone up by 70% compared to the same period in 2013. In the US, housing starts are a very, very important part of the economy (not military production or manufacturing in general). The St. Petersburg market is actually behind Moscow, which more than doubled its housing on offer stock. This is not some rebound effect since we are six years removed from the 2008 financial meltdown.

    • Drutten says:

      I know too little about economy to comment on that part, but I have to say that it’s interesting from a development point of view (what is happning in Piter, that is). They’ve been aching for going on a construction frenzy but it’s been difficult seeing the city’s historical heritage and the strong (and justified) calls for preserving its wonderful classical skyline.

      So things are being moved out. The brand new ferry terminal is largely finished, built on an artificial island out there. According to the models in your link, they intend to create more artificial islands next to it for some more fancy seaside construction to come.

      Adding to this, they’re building a bridge/viaduct that will cut across little Neva’s mouth and pass by the edge of Krestov Island, where there’s a huge football stadium being built now. It’s visible in the model above too, and as can be seen here:

      …It’s currently under construction, with the pillar foundations being built now. Right across the bay in Lakhta, a soon-to-be iconic >460 meter skyscraper is under construction too. Just wow.

  8. marknesop says:

    A very interesting analysis of the coup and its underpinnings, from Ari Rusila’s BalkanBlog. Some we already know, but I was interested in the Opposition’s connections: ie Vitaliy Klitschko, connected to U.S. strategic-communications company PBN, and particularly Fiona Hill of the Eurasia Foundation. Also this pungent quote, from Mark Almondin’s “Parade of Losers”.

    “Once you’d say that what should determine who rules is the crowd in the street, not the ballot box, then of course, in almost any society there are reasons why 50-70,000 people might be discontent with the government, might go into the streets if they get sympathetic coverage in the media, you could inflate the numbers to hundreds of thousands. But even hundreds of thousands are only a small number in a country of 46 million people. And I think whether it is Ukraine today, whether it could be Italy or Spain tomorrow, once you start saying that the ballot box can be trumped by the street that is a deep threat to democracy. Far from promoting EU values and democracy and the rule of law, we seem to be able to throw them out the window in order to get our man into power. “

  9. Warren says:

    CrossTalk: Crimea’s Fait Accompli

    Published on 9 Mar 2014
    Will people of Crimea have a right to self-determination? What is Europe’s attitude to Ukrainian radicals? And, will Ukraine ever solve its economic problems? CrossTalking with Ben Aris, Mark Sleboda and Patrick Henningsen.

    • marknesop says:

      Covered all the high points and then some: Mark Sleboda “went there” and highlighted – as we discussed earlier – that the partition of Kosovo on a unilateral declaration of independence was enthusiastically supported by the west, which in so doing threw away any credible objection to Crimea doing the same. I particularly enjoyed Patrick Henningsen’s caustic rejection of western reasoning; how can the west continue to stick by its feeble and discredited narrative that Crimea’s actions are a violation of international law? Peter Lavelle also eviscerated the notion that the unelected “government” in Ukraine is legitimate.

      • cartman says:

        You can also include the further partition to produce Montenegro as a fiefdom of the west. It is a favorite of Western elites, despite their PM’s mafia connections and the fact that he’s ruled the country for 23 years.

    • yalensis says:

      Excellent discussion. Participants made absolutely clear that the Maidan putsch government in Kyiv has zero legitimacy.
      And yet, Western MSM are already referring to it as a “fledgling democracy”. I like that word “fledgling”, Cheney used it for his Iraq puppet government too. It makes illegal governments sound so cute, like a little birdie just starting to grow his feathers.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        The comment that “war is a way of teaching Americans geography” made me chuckle!

        I should stress, however, that I am sure that not all Americans are ignorant of the rest of the world, but many, I am sure, are; the same goes for my fellow countrymen, which leads me to quote the following comment by a US citizen that appeared recently on a site (can’t remember now which one exactly, perhaps that of Adomanis):

        Full disclosure, my wife is a pure blooded Ukrainian—native speaker, although her birthplace is Canada. She has been active in Ukrainian/American groups, although she doesn’t have the full historical viewpoint, never having lived there. Our family is following this closely.

        I’ve told this story before, but I’ll repeat it, as it’s certainly relevant. When we first met (1970) we went through the usual conversations—where are you from? what’s your religion? what’s your nationality? Canada, Catholic, and Austrian were the answers. Cool, I don’t think I ever knew an Austrian.

        Then one day shortly after garnering those answers, I overheard her talking on the phone in some language that was decidedly not Germanic (which I expected Austrian to be). I asked her when she got off the phone and learned she was talking to her mother and the language was Ukrainian (both of her parents came over on the boat).

        That set me off exploring (pre-internet, mind you) and discovered that her mother had been born in a small hamlet on the Dneister River in what was then (1910) Austria-Hungary. Ah, ha! That’s why Austria. It would have been only natural for someone to fathom their nationality based on what was on the sign on the village post office.

        At some point 25 or so years ago, I read Michener”s Poland, which has a fairly deep discussion about Poland, Ukraine, and Austria-Hungary. I got my wife to read it recently, and it helped.

        He expected “Austrian” to be Germanic.

        Clearly, he never knew (perhaps still does not) of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and that a certain Stepan Bandera was also an “Austrian”, in that he was born a subject of that long gone state.

        I wonder what exactly constitutes a “pure blooded Ukrainian”?

        Not one drop of Moskal blood, perhaps?

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Reminds me of when my union branch secretary asked me to go to Portugal and bring back from there money that had been donated by trades unionists to support us British miners, who were then on strike. I didn’t want to go because I’d only just come back from Germany, where I had been sent for the same reason. The conversation with my secretary went something lie this:

          Exile: Why can’t you send someone else?

          Secretary: Because you can speak French.

          Exile: Only a few words and expressions.

          Secretary: But it’s enough to get by with…

          Exile: Well, yes … but they don’t speak French in Portugal.

          Secretary: Yeah, I know … but Spanish is like French, isn’t it.

          Exile: No, it isn’t. And in any case, they don’t speak Spanish in Portugal.

          Secretary: So what do they speak there then?

          Exile: Well, this might come as a surprise to you, but in Portugal they speak Portuguese.

  10. Warren says:

    Why the EU Has No Leverage Over Russia in This Ukraine Stand-off

    Andrew McKillop
    21st Century Wire

    The EU’s bark is much worse than its bite. Ditto for Washington DC.

    Putting geopolitical and military maneuvering aside, the real issue regarding the Ukrainian crisis has nothing at all to do with spreading freedom and democracy to the frontiers of Europe, but rather, has everything to do with regional and global energy realities.

    It’s a mad dash alright, and a long game of economic attrition. Not surprisingly, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is also well-entrenched into this oily mix as well.

  11. marknesop says:

    Here’s a funny one, which illustrates how if you come up with a technical term that has a nice ring to it, government leaders will announce their willingness to participate rather than ask, “What does that mean?”. EU countries line up to say they will be happy to supply Ukraine with gas through “reverse flows” if Russia makes good on its threat to cut it off for non-payment of its gas bills. An industry expert flatly says the flow is designed to be one-way, and that “reverse flow” is “not going to happen”. Meanwhile, the USA is chomping at the bit to get at the export market with its boundless cheap gas. We’ll see if they can do it cheaper than Gazprom, shall we?

    • kirill says:

      There are not enough LNG ports in the EU to take enough LNG even in the fairy tale case of it being available in sufficient amounts. It would take several years just to ramp up the infrastructure. How many months can a country go without gas? Years is simply out of the question.

    • yalensis says:

      I read about this plan somewhere else. They want to reverse the flow of gas back from West to East, using pipes that were designed to go East to West.
      There are doubts about the technical feasibility of such a hare-brained scheme:
      However, European officials and energy experts concede there are doubts over whether it would be technically possible to transfer sufficient gas through the continent, west to east… and:

      Speaking on the condition of anonymity, one senior executive said reversing gas flows would be an extremely complex move. “This is not easy to do. Certainly the Gazprom export pipeline is built to move gas only in one direction, and it would involve a lot of time and money to reconfigure for imports,” the executive said. “You would also have to get the agreement of dozens of commercial and other organisations. It is not going to happen.”

      In other words, this is a pipe-dream ! ha ha (I made that one up…)

      • yalensis says:

        P.S. if this was a Doctor Who episode, they would talk about “reversing the polarity of the gas flow…” (instead of “reversing the polarity of the neutron flow…” – get it?)

      • yalensis says:

        P.P.S. and if this was a South Park episode, then it would be the one where Cartman stuffs a chicken up his ass and then craps out of his mouth:

        • Jen says:

          In the same episode, Kenny meets his maker yet again when he, uh, disappears up his mum’s skirts in emulation of the chicken and becomes a twinkle in his dad’s eye. For the first time ever in a South Park episode, Kenny leaves no carcass.

    • patient observer says:

      Technical problems include check valves would need to be flipped, piping around compressors would need to be reversed, control valves may not work under reverse pressure and flow meters may loose accuracy with reverse flow. In other words, virtually every component needs to be changed and tested. Also if the pipe wall thickness distribution takes advantage of the pressure losses along the length of the pipe (high pressure at one end (thick walls) and steadily reducing pressure along its length from frictional losses (thinner walls)) then reverse flow at any useful pressure is simply not possible due to the reverse pressure gradient. Probably more problems are lurking in the details.

      These politicians must be high on laughing gas.

      • patient observer says:

        The politicians and media types thought it was so wonderfully clever of themselves to use the Russian piping network against the Russians. They never let facts get in the way of their fantasies.

      • marknesop says:

        But…..but….the term “reverse flow” is so…so catchy!!! All the other European leaders say they can do it, we can’t be the only country that can’t do it. Just do it, and hope nothing happens that can be traced to us.

  12. kirill says:

    According to this Maidan militant from Russia who runs a blog (don’t know if believable) various “sotniks” are killing each other in Kiev. From other fora I have read comments from people with relatives and friends in Kiev (credible) who say the situation there is lawlessness. Amnesty International and the western media are too busy fixating on peaceful Crimea to cover the bloody mess in Kiev.

    • marknesop says:

      We just attended a birthday party yesterday evening at which two couples were from western Ukraine, one woman was from Kiev but has her roots in west Ukraine (Lviv, I think), one couple was from Odessa and one was Russian, from Rostov-na-Donu. The woman from Kiev professed to be very worried for her relatives in Lviv and calls every day to make sure they are OK, while they for their own part profess to be frightened of what is happening, but she mentioned nothing of what is going on in Kiev. I talked with her briefly, during which she announced her dislike for Putin, which no longer surprises me. When I pointed out what a shitty deal for Ukraine the EU agreement was, and that Russia was much more up-front with the money and support, she countered with “people in West Ukraine do not want to be under Russia”. I’m not sure how common that attitude is, but it speaks volumes if it is; people are willing to endure privation, exploitation and a sharp cut in living standards just to be free of the hated yoke of Russia.

      • kirill says:

        That is the generic sentiment of post WWII Ukrainian immigrants to Canada, they are mostly political refugees who fled because they allied with the Germans. Lviv is the Svoboda bastion. My Ukrainian part of the family comes from Rivno where Svoboda got less than 7% support. Kiev has a lot of Russian speakers (not necessarily ethnic Russians) and the sentiment there is not a copy of Lviv.

        The PEW poll on NATO membership I posted before is a good metric of the split in Ukraine.

        Central Ukraine (Kiev included) was 33% in favour and 51% opposed. In the western Ukraine it was 59% in favour and 11% opposed. The east and south only had 11% in favour. So western Ukraine is quite distinct and your dinner guests reflect this even more sharply (I am not accusing them of being UPA, just that they carry a certain diaspora baggage).

        The above poll on NATO membership actually mirrors the political split as well. Svoboda has/had almost no footprint outside of western Ukraine. Timoshenko’s Fatherland Party managed to straddle the divide but after its participation in the coup it will lose support. Ukraine is no highly polarized. I would treat any election result that looks like the 2010 or earlier results with total skepticism.

      • Jen says:

        The likely way in which people would be forced to accept privation is one in which everyone is called on to make necessary sacrifices for the good of the nation and that good ultimately being future material wealth for everyone independent of Russia. Of course, no deadline for reaching that future Promised Land will ever be set and people will not be told how much they’ll have to give up. It’ll be a gradual process in which, once you’re accustomed to a certain level of poverty, you’ll be asked or forced to give up even more incrementally. Even educated people can be encouraged to believe this fable. It’s that old boiling-frogs-in-hot-water scenario in which you turn up the heat gradually and slowly kill your victim.

  13. Fern says:

    On Sunday, Putin spoke with Merkel and Cameron. All three reiterated their position – or, in Cameron’s case, echoed Obama’s. Putin = the coup was an illegal seizure of power and the governing authorities in Kiev are not legitimate; Merkel = the planned referendum in Crimea violates international law. At least all three agreed that de-escalating the situation was essential. Vitaly Klitschko, however, doesn’t appear to have gotten the memo. According to RT, he was interviewed by BBC Ukraine who asked him about the calls for referendums in eastern Ukraine. His reply is bit worrying – he allegedly said those making such calls were “citizens of another state’ for whom “the borders of the country must be closed”. Like reaching out but different.

    Mark, regarding the attitudes of your fellow birthday party guests, after listening to interviews with Ukrainians over the last few months, I’ve been left wondering – and I don’t mean this to sound patronising – about the extent to which the man or woman in the street understands what the EU Association Agreement and IMF ‘deal’ is going to mean for them. I listened to one woman who’d been in the Maidan from the beginning – she wanted the new regime to reintroduce the free clinics which Yanukovich’s government had closed. Another guy, this time in one of the Russian-speaking areas, wanted a reversal of the recent pensions legislation which had seen a hike in the retirement age – legislation passed by the old government under pressure from the IMF. Neither of those things are likely to happen and, well, just how prepared are people with these sorts of expectations for the cuts in pensions, benefits, social security safety nets, health services, education etc that are inevitable?

    • marknesop says:

      Everybody spoke Russian, which made it a bit easier to understand because I don’t understand Ukrainian, but I tried hard to stay away from politics entirely because it made one of the men so upset the last time that I thought he was going to ask me to leave (we were at his house). Both the men work for Oracle, the software giant, and are extremely well-educated and smart; the one from Ternopil is the son of a high-school Principal. The other is from Chernihiv, north of Kiev. Their wives are mostly apolitical although I believe they are from the same regions as their husbands, and just kind of roll their eyes at the political talk. But on an earlier occasion wer had an in-depth discussion of the political situation – this would have been after the Maidan but while Yanukovych was still in power and still in Ukraine, and I got nowhere with the argument that the EU deal was bad for Ukraine, although it should have been common knowledge even then. Their contention was that Ukraine would enjoy a standard of living similar to Poland, and that this is all Ukrainians want. They continued to maintain that the protesters’ numbers had reached a million, and that Yanukovych and his cronies personally owned 80% of the businesses in Kiev through hostile takeovers. One described how it works; I think I mentioned it before. Someone from the government comes to visit you, and says there are some irregularities with your business, you need to go to court to straighten it out. The case is being heard in a faraway region, you need to leave town for a few days. By the time you get back, your business has been asset-stripped and nothing is left of it. It’s plausible, I suppose, but it seems most owners would send their lawyer rather than attend in person, and after this happened a few times, would people not refuse to leave town, knowing what was going to happen? Where do all the business owners go after Yanukovych has stolen their business? Anyway, the long and the short of it is that they believe unquestioningly that Ukraine had to overthrow Yanukovych and drive him out because he had so bastardized and rigged the parliamentary system that even though everyone hates him, he stood a good chance of not being dislodged in the next election, entirely through trickery. They believe new economic opportunities will come with EU association and that even if things are a bit tough at first, Ukraine would rather suffer than take money from Russia, because Russia just wants to control Ukraine.

      As I said, these are smart guys, aware and informed rather than dumb followers. They’re nice guys, too, which is why I don’t want to antagonize them unnecessarily, and our wives are all good friends. I heard them discussing the sniper issue, so I know they’re aware of it. But they just seem like guys who get all their news from the Kyiv Post or something like that, a source which is a slave to the opposition.

      It is fact, at least according to polling data I published earlier, that the great majority of Ukrainians who said they wanted to join the EU – whether it was now or 5 or 10 years from now – wanted it for economic reasons. Obviously they assume the economy is going to improve; they would hardly vote to adopt an agreement which was going to make it worse. But that’s exactly what is going to happen.

  14. Moscow Exile says:

    “The Return of the Ukrainian Far Right” by Per Anders Rudling.

    Rudling, a Swedish Communist Party Member, is a source referenced by Patrick Armstrong on Anatoly Karlin’s blog.

    AP bounced back, saying “ … since there are actual experts on these topics, why – if one truly wants to be objective – link to dubious sources such as the Swedish Communist Party member journalist or the anti-war activist (Raimondo) who are laypeople with no background, and moreover with ideological biases?

    AP also adds: “In terms of party preference, Svoboda gets 4.3% (6.5% among likely voters). There is a good chance the the moderate opposition parties wouldn’t even have go into coalition with Svoboda to keep a majority.

    • Southerncross says:

      How the hell is any kind of free or fair election supposed to take place under these conditions? Who is going to vote for the allegedly moderate opposition with Sashko standing outside the polling booth? What will stop the goons in the ski masks from barging in and tampering with the ballot boxes under the pretext of “preventing fraud”? How many current political parties will still be legal in May?

      How can anybody be sure the elections will ever happen? Ukraine could be at war by next week! Inter arma enim silent leges…

      • Moscow Exile says:

        And as regards the munificence of the EU: Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes!

        Which reminds me, where has our Greek oracle gone?

      • Al says:

        The OSCE will send observers. They will say that there have been a few irregularities, but mostly in regions outside Kiev’s control and not enough to change the outcome and so, the vote is legal. As long as the right people win the vote that is. The OSCE is hardly neutral and come under immense pressure to say yay or nay regardless of the actual facts or are simply asked to look the other way.

    • marknesop says:

      Rudling has footnoted all his work with references which support his claims. It isn’t just a “dubious source such as the Swedish Communist Party member journalist”, but a summary by that individual together with his conclusions, supported by the academic work of others. Are they all disreputable Swedish communists as well?

      What he means when he says there are “experts in these subjects” is “there are people who support what I say, which is that the far-right component of the group which has seized power is inconsequential and will be easily sidelined and marginalized once our new streamlined Eurocentric government gets properly up and running with the injection of borrowed western cash; after that, Poland-style standards of living are just a skip away. Meanwhile we will leave the dirty Russians in the dust, and if the Southeast does not want to come along it will be dragged along for the common good”.

  15. Moscow Exile says:



    Donetsk 09.03.2014

  16. Moscow Exile says:

    No show without Punch!

  17. The West seems to be going after money of private Russian citizens. I read from Finnish media that they are trying confiscate property of Gennadi Timchenko, one of the richest men in Russia. He is a Finnish citizen and keeps his money in Swiss banks. And he is close to Putin.

    • Fern says:

      While I’ve no sympathy whatsoever for oligarchs – of any nationality – I wonder how legal these asset grabs are. If the right of an entity like the EU or any member state to seize the assets of private individuals who are not charged with the commission of a crime for which asset confiscation is a penalty was tested in a court, would it stand up?

      • These things can be decided politically. If a wealthy individual has a close connection to Putin his property can be confiscated. This is one way for the West to threaten Putin: If you take Crimea we will make your wealthiest friends hate you and they will turn against you.
        I guess there is a learning for every wealthy Russian individual: putting your money in a Western bank carries a big political risk.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          I have an account with Sberbank and VTB, both of whose main shareholder is the government of the Evil Empire.

          I’ve been boycotting the West for years now.


        • marknesop says:

          “Political” is not in any way a substitute for “legal”, and the west will soon find it is rubbing up against something dangerous if it decides to mess with Gennady Timoshenko. Look at it logically – nobody would ever put their money in western banks or invest in western business ventures if they thought that somewhere down the road the U.S. government would have a beef with their government, and would just start stealing the wealth of private citizens until it got its own way. There is nothing legal about that, and Gennady Timoshenko already backed the west down once just by threatening to sue.

          Investments always carry a degree of risk, but we keep hearing that nobody wants to invest in Russia because their money isn’t “safe”. How much sense does it make to tell the world your money isn’t safe in any western bank if a western government decides to use you as a lever against your government to coerce its decision-making?

          The British have already made it clear they will not be going after any wealth in British banks which belongs to Russian oligarchs who are British citizens. The distinction is clear, and I find it hard to believe Russian oligarchs would choose British citizenship to protect their wealth rather than simply moving their money elsewhere.

          • I agree. Part of me hopes that they confiscate some of the fortune of these Russian oligarchs. It would serve two purposes.
            First, it would be just punishment for them for taking billions of dollars out of Russia.
            Second, it would discourage Russians to take money abroad in the future.

          • cartman says:

            That includes Alisher Usmanov – probably one of the dirtiest oligarchs. He’s a British citizen, even though they (British papers) like to use his ownership of internet companies as an example of the Kremlin “putting the squeeze” on the internet.

        • Jen says:

          Problem is how to determine what a “close connection” to Putin is. Presumably if your connections put you closer to Putin than to Kevin Bacon, then you must be showing symptoms of Putinium contamination and your assets are to be confiscated.

          • marknesop says:

            That might work for some, but Gennady Timoshenko can hire lawyers who will hand you your ass in such a way that you will thank them as if it was a gift. Besides, I think the Russian government is in the process of compiling information on western assets and property in Russia which would be subject to confiscation in that event, and it would certainly drive some companies away never to return.

    • marknesop says:

      Going to be kind of hard to connect him with “impeding democracy in Ukraine”, though, isn’t it? Unless the western strategy is just to identify rich people and steal their money. The idea, of course, is to force the oligarchs to turn against Putin the way they did against Yanukovych, because the west is slow to learn and when it discovers something that works it does it exactly the same way until it doesn’t work several times. But Timchenko has no connection at all to the puppet government in Ukraine, or the alleged repression of same. At least, not that I’ve ever heard – maybe America knows better.

  18. Al says:

    Gerhard Schroder admits that Germany broke international law to bomb Serbia.

    …No shit Sherlock! Everybody knows this, everybody said it, the West said it didn’t care.

    Why is he coming up with this now? I think he’s deliberately stirring it against Frau Merkel and siding with German businesses who don’t want any form of effective sanctions on Russia.

  19. Moscow Exile says:

    Тимошенко прятала деньги в Великобритании

    Tymoshenko hid money in the UK

    The former Ukraine prime minister and members of her family had 85 UK bank accounts worth tens of millions of dollars

    London law firm Lawrence Graham has concluded an investigation to find $200 million which were missing from the Ukraine budget. The foreign experts had been hired by Viktor Yanukovych. The British task was to find where Tymoshenko and her predecessor as prime minister, Pavlo Lazarenko, had placed such a substantial sum. The money disappeared in the mid-1990s. Lazarenko headed the government at that time and Tymoshenko ran United Energy Systems of Ukraine. This organization received the monopoly right to import Russian gas.

    During the investigation, lawyers checked nearly three hundred suspicious bank accounts in 26 countries. It turned out that in British banks alone Tymoshenko and her relatives had 85 large deposits. Dirty money of Ukrainian origin was also found in Swiss and United States banks. At this point, according to a Lawrence Graham report, most of these accounts have been closed.
    Tymoshenko’s lawyer Serhiy Vlasenko hastened to label the results of the investigation a falsification. According to him, Yulia Tymoshenko had not conducted any financial affairs after 1997, when she began her political career.

    As for the former Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, he is serving time in a California gaol. A U.S. court sentenced him to eight years in prison for money laundering, theft and the concealment of public funds. At the trial, the prosecutor, Martha Boersh, claimed that she had proof of the involvement of Yulia Tymoshenko’s companies in criminal schemes to withdraw capital on Lazarenko’s account. However, American justice was not interested in this turn of events.


    As Lady Ashton would say.

    • marknesop says:

      The activities and shenanigans of the Ukrainian gentry continue to disappoint, what?

      While it may be true that American justice appeared disinterested in prosecuting Tymoshenko, who was not the focus of their investigation, they did keep detailed records of the financial maneuverings of Lazarenko’s associates wherever they bore on Lazarenko’s dealings, and consequently it was inevitable that they would have incriminating material on Tymoshenko. Somebody in Ukraine, somewhere in this thread (I remember posting it in a comment but not where it is) claimed to have a trove of material from FBI files which he threatened to publish if Tymoshenko actually dared to run for President.

      Lazarenko paid his debt to society and was released upon completion of his sentence, in November 2013. He has gone back to a life of idleness and sloth on his $6.7 Million estate in Novato, Marin County, California. Although he is not eager to return to Ukraine, if it transpires that pizza-braids does not attain the Presidency, he might suddenly remember a great deal to do with corruption on her part.

  20. marknesop says:

    And in other news, slightly related, good to see that the coalition effort in Libya resulted in a stable, prosperous, western-oriented market democracy. I guess interventionism does have its little victories.

    Nice one, boys.

    • Foppe says:

      Has anyone seen this two-part discussion of the various interest groups? I found it a quite compelling read; the only thing that really seems missing (and this strikes me as a weakness as well as a strength of his piece) is a discussion of which oligarchs (and agendas) are bankrolling which players, and how the EU/US (also via Omidyar) fit into the picture.

      • Foppe says:

        (whoops, didn’t intend this to be a reply.

      • marknesop says:

        I found what was weak about it right out of the gate was that it based its entire argument on the premise that Maidan was a populist movement reacting to police brutality and that the government was guilty of hiring mobs of paid Titushki and snipers who fired indiscriminately into the crowd. There is considerable doubt that this is what happened, and ample suggestion that it was another scripted western-backed regime change event. As far into it as I read, it sounds like AP wrote it.

  21. Al says:

    Daily Telegraph: ‘We cannot let Putin get away with this,’ says Polish minister

    Is it just me, or does the husband of Anne Applebum sounds a bit desperate? Is the bag holding his marbles really that secure?

    I’m not really sure how talking to Little Willie Hague will help.

    As for opening borders in Europe, hasn’t Europe recently agreed to allow the ‘temporary’ re-introduction of visa and border controls???

    As if anything is Europe is as one. 28 members, one challenge. Result: Camel.

  22. Al says:

    Reuters: EU finds complications as it pressures Russia on Ukraine

    ” At an emergency summit last week to discuss how to respond to Russia’s seizure of Crimea, the EU decided to split its original plan for a far-reaching free trade and association agreement with Ukraine’s new rulers into two parts.

    The political aspects would be signed “very shortly”, with officials indicating that a ceremony could be held with Ukraine’s interim prime minister, Arseny Yatseniuk, as soon as March 20-21, when EU leaders next meet in Brussels…”

    Hoping to isolate Russia, US woos China on Ukraine–politics.html

    “…U.S. officials believe China may be viewing the situation in Crimea through the prism of its own ethnic minorities in border regions. The officials say they were buoyed by comments last week from China’s ambassador to the United Nations, who emphasized Beijing’s support for non-interference while not directly taking a side in the dispute…”

    Lots of gasping at straws by the West.

    • Jen says:

      I should think China is more concerned about possible contacts between Uyghur separatists and jihadis sponsored by Turkey and the US. The Chinese govt will not want a repeat of the Kunming mass knifing attacks that left about 30 people dead in any other city in China. It will be more interested in observing Russian and Kazan Tatar attempts to placate the Crimean Tatars and turn them away from the Erdogan government with infrastructure investments and cultural contacts, and how well these succeed.

  23. Moscow Exile says:

    From Rostov with love!

    They’ll be shipped from Rostov-on-Don across the Sea of Azov to Sevastopol.

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