Is It Too Early To Just Call The Game For Putin?

Uncle Volodya says,

Uncle Volodya says, “Hey, John; I had a dream about you. We were racing to see who could be the slowest person on earth. You were winning.”

“…Except in a very few matches, usually with world-class performers, there is a point in every match (and in some cases it’s right at the beginning) when the loser decides he’s going to lose. And after that, everything he does will be aimed at providing an explanation of why he will have lost. He may throw himself at the ball (so he will be able to say he’s done his best against a superior opponent). He may dispute calls (so he will be able to say he’s been robbed). He may swear at himself and throw his racket (so he can say it was apparent all along he wasn’t in top form). His energies go not into winning but into producing an explanation, an excuse, a justification for losing.”

C. Terry Warner, from “Bonds That Make Us Free

You know what makes a good loser? Practice“.

Ernest Hemingway

What’s the state of play in The Great Wreck The Russian Economy Invitational, hosted by the United States with support from Europe (especially the UK), Australia and Canada, having been in play since Euromaidan? Let’s look. Are sanctions having the desired effect?

They are not. In fact, consensus looks to be that sanctions are a dismal failure at everything except causing the income of ordinary Russians to fall for the first time since Putin took over the job of running the country. It’s hard to imagine that results could have been otherwise, given the effort the west put into it. But reducing the incomes of ordinary Russians was not an end in itself. No; they were supposed to blame Putin for their troubles, and rise up in revolution to throw him out. A new revolution in Russia is something the west wants so badly it makes its mouth water. It can almost taste it.

But the sanctions have had the opposite effect.

According to Ivan Nechepurenko, a staff writer for The Moscow Times – no friend of Putin – Putin is as popular among his voters now as he has been since 2008. Rather than blaming Putin for economic upset directed against Russia with a view to pushing its behavior in a direction the west wants it to take, civil society has instead rallied around national pride; “The logic was that as the country’s economic situation worsens, ordinary Russians will direct their anger at the government and at Putin himself, forcing him to withdraw his support for the pro-Moscow insurgents in Ukraine…When 85% of Russians say they approve Putin’s actions as Russia’s president, what they mean is that they approve and support the Russian state as such. According to leading sociologists from the independent Levada Center public opinion organization, by absorbing Crimea last March, Putin has made himself a symbolic figure who is viewed as not directly responsible for the economic perils of the country.”

Who do the Russians blame for their problems? Blame goes squarely where it belongs, to the EU and the United States.  But those entities are unprepared for how deep and how lasting that blame, and its attendant acrimony, will be. Anti-Americanism is at its highest levels ever in the Russian Federation, higher than those seen in the Soviet Union; a fact acknowledged by the Washington Post even as it pooh-poohs the sentiment as groundless and undeserved, since America is not doing anything to Russia and its interference in Ukraine is all in Russians’ heads. Hostility in Russia toward the EU’s leadership is hardly better, down to a paltry 6% approval in summer 2014 and doubtless scraping negative territory by now.

Western sanctions have had the effect of cementing Vladimir Putin’s position as the most powerful leader of his time, with over 85% approval ratings and an electorate among which 74% would vote for him. The efforts to ruin Russia have been blamed on the United States and European Union. What does that mean?

To the United States, not much at present. It now has, as the Washington Post described it, a shrinking pool of friendly faces in Russia, so its ability to influence policy in Moscow is now severely curtailed as being pro-American is viewed with suspicion and hostility. But it means much more to the European Union, which did a lot of trade with Russia and remains dependent upon it for energy supplies. And the EU, too, will come to blame America for the soured relationship with Russia that hurts it directly, which will make it that much harder for the USA to push Europe into a land war with Russia.

The USA’s trade with Russia has worked out to about the same as before, considering it regularly runs a trade deficit with Russia; both exports and imports have fallen steadily since 2011, but the USA continues to have little exposure to Russia. Not so the EU.

In the Eurozone, projected growth of .5% for the quarter is greeted with feverish excitement, the fastest growth in four years. Not only does this signal “the brightest spring in years”, and “a solid pace of expansion”, it will outpace quarterly growth in the USA, which eked out a miserable .1%. That staggering leap in European growth comes on the heels of ECB head Mario Draghi’s committing to a € 1.1 Trillion Quantitative Easing program which will flood Europe with cheap money as the bank prints more euros and buys up its own debt. You can see how well that worked in the USA. Well, maybe you can see it, but the mantra in European financial circles is “trust Mario”.

Is everyone satisfied that they understand what Quantitative Easing, or QE, actually is? No? Well, it’s printing money. No more complicated than that. Typically countries with a strong currency finance their operations by sales of government bonds to other countries, which is another way of saying, “borrowing from other countries”. But when your financial habits begin to get too embarrassing, other countries won’t buy your bonds. So the government just loans money to itself, by printing more. Have you seen that happen before? Yes, you have. And those who have come to know QE better than anyone else say it’s very easy to start, and unbelievably difficult to stop.

There are a couple of lessons there – one, the USA cannot engineer an economic war against Russia without affecting development, and subsequently the pace of economic activity, everywhere. Flooding the world with oil so as to drive down the price has had the effect of paralyzing the American shale extraction industry, which is expensive and not cost-effective in an atmosphere of low prices. Two, the west is in a singularly bad position to launch an economic war at all, considering the western “recovery” from the subprime meltdown is more a matter of inference than substance.

Speaking of recovery, how’s that spunky little star in the Euro-Crown, Ukraine, doing?Oooohh…not good, I am afraid. This BBC article takes a lot of words to say that Ukraine is doomed to living on international handouts for as far as the eye can see unless it (a) gets control of the eastern region, which now hates the Kiev government after months of shelling civilian population centres  and will never accept its rule, and (b) restores its trade with Russia. More cash from the IMF depends on reasserting Kiev’s control over the east, because it is the center of Ukrainian industry and grant money cannot be spent on war, while the EU has already made clear it is not in a position to buy Ukrainian goods which it formerly sold to Russia. The Kiev government has made zero progress against corruption and little progress on the reforms the IMF demands before it approves more grant money, although it has raised the price of gas what it reports as 50% even as the national currency tanks. Good times. But the west continues stubbornly trying to do it without Russia, because it is all about taking Ukraine away from Russia. Which will not be possible unless Russia helps, because the west can’t afford it. What are the chances?

Another unecessarily unanticipated effect of the west’s crusade against Russia has been the cementing of a powerful alliance between Russia and China. There is no way the alliance of the world’s second-largest economy and the world’s largest energy producer can bode well for a west bent on forcing the latter to submit to its will. The Russian and Chinese navies kicked off 10 days of war games in the Mediterranean yesterday, making the LA Times so excited that it forgot Russia and China agreed to a gas price last winter; saying instead that they had not yet agreed on a price, and that this means bad news for Russia because it is in a weak negotiating position. If it were true that they have not agreed on a price – which it isn’t – how would that indicate Russian weakness? Wouldn’t they just take whatever they could get, if their position was weak?

Russia has agreed to two major pipeline deals with China – the “Power of Siberia” line and the “Altai” western route. Between them they will eventually deliver 68 Bcm of gas to China, nearly half what Russia supplies to Europe. That also seemed to excite the LA Times into error, as they announced confidently that there was no way Putin would be able to begin supplying gas to China by the end of 2017. Probably not – good thing the contract, to which the LA Times is somehow not a signatory, says 2019. But you can see why the Times is excited; Gazprom supplied Europe with 161 Bcm of gas in 2013. How does Europe foresee replacing that supply, considering it is insistent it will wean itself off of Russian gas? Not from any suppliers they have identified thus far; not even close. Of the other sources from which Europe currently receives gas, mostly its own member states, only the UK, Poland, Italy and Germany have significantly increased delivery, while most others have declined markedly since 2005, some by nearly half.

Let’s summarize what we have concluded so far: (1) The western sanctions against Russia have failed to mobilize the Russian electorate, and have instead spurred patriotism, disempowered internationalists and made Putin more popular than he has been in the last 7 years; (2) The west is in a poor position to sustain an economic war against Russia, as the Eurozone is experiencing anemic growth – and even that appears to be due to false optimism over Quantitative Easing – while American growth is stagnant for the first quarter; (3) Europe is increasing its debt load markedly by embarking on a program of simply printing and circulating more money, while it will probably hurt the currency in the medium term; (4) Ukraine’s economy is imploding, while the west has insisted on taking responsibility for it although it remains unable to pull it out of its power dive. Kiev has not regained control over Ukraine’s eastern regions, which hate it more than ever. Ukraine will not be able to recover unless it regains access to its Russian markets; (5) The western sanctions have resulted in large-scale market replacement of European goods, and those markets are likely to remain closed to Europe for a generation at least, perhaps forever. Meanwhile, (6) Russia has been pushed into a powerful alliance with China, and has proactively negotiated new markets for its energy exports that depend far less on Europe’s tantrums and foibles. The knock-on effects of economic warfare between Russia and Europe have hurt European economies and resulted in European anger against the USA, making it more difficult for Washington to secure European cooperation.

The west is not winning. Since both sides can not be simultaneously losing, Putin must be winning.

How does the west react to losing? I’m glad you asked. Like this. The Telegraph chuckles uproariously at the antics of Russian soldiers attempting to load a tank onto the back of a flatbed truck. On the third attempt, the vehicle ends up too far to the right, and capsizes onto its roof as it falls off the truck. Oh, those Russians! Probably drunk, as usual.

Except the vehicle is not a tank, it is a self-propelled howitzer, an artillery piece. The source clearly identifies the operation as depicting a Ukrainian unit, and if you look just behind the three guys watching just as the howitzer falls off the truck, you will see an oil drum with a Ukrainian flag standing in it.

The first principle of Gambling For Idiots – when you’re losing, double down.

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1,718 Responses to Is It Too Early To Just Call The Game For Putin?

  1. Paul says:

    The premise that the West must be losing is a bit simplistic. If you made a list of perhaps ten goals that powerful Western groups may have had in this Ukrainian project, how many have been achieved? For example, one goal was to destroy businesses (and the military-industrial complex) that were oriented towards Russia. That has surely been largely achieved. Another goal was to radicalize the Ukrainian population against Russia. That has largely happened, as the TV says Russia stole the Crimea and is sending terrorists and bandits into the country. Look at all the banditry in the LPR. Another goal was to stress the Russian military with having to respond to too many problems in a short period of time, which may be relevant if and when the West hits on several fronts at once. Finally, the bankruptcy and transfer of the country from Ukrainian oligarchs to Western corporations is about to begin. Doubt Russia can stop that.

    Not denying that Putin and his circle have survived, and that the Russian economy is in better shape than most expected, but we should try to think long and hard about the pros and cons of the Kremlin’s approaches. They surely screwed things up in the Ukraine over the last ten years. Approximately zero soft power in a place that it should have been straightforward to create. People have been writing novels and articles for a long time about how the West could gin up a war in the Ukraine to start an attack on Russia or otherwise break the establishment in Moscow. It was fairly obvious.

    • I’m afraid the West would like to start start wars in multiple fronts at the same time making it very hard for Russia to respond.
      – Kiev would start a major offensive against Donetsk and Lugansk.
      – Transdnistria is currently blockaded by Moldova and Ukraine with no food supplies allowed to pass. Moldovan military operation might follow and Russia would be mostly unable to respond by other means than missile strikes against Moldova – which Russia under extremely cautious Putin would never do.
      – Azerbaijan would launch an offensive against Armenia in Nagarno-Karabakh. Russia lacks common border with Armenia so Russia’s options would again be limited.
      – Albanian proxies, supported and trained by the West, would start military and terrorist attacks against Macedonian authorities.
      – NATO would start to bomb Syrian military and capital to oust and kill Assad.
      – Georgia might start another military operation against South Ossetia in parallel with others if it thinks Russia is too preoccupied to respond.
      – NATO-funded and -trained islamic militants would attack authorities in Central Asian countries like Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

      If the West could pull all this through at the same time Russia would be forced to either capitulate on most fronts or start a major war. Russia could not answer to these threats with conventional ways so the options for Russia would be to use nuclear weapons or accept a major geopolitical defeat.

      • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

        Yes, ‘If’.

        Georgia and Azerbaijan are not likely to cooperate, Ukraine’s offensive capability is minimal, the Americans are not any more eager to attack Syria than they were two years ago, and the Islamist threat to Central Asia is presently contained.

        The Moldovan army is not capable of defeating Transdnistria by itself, so victory would require NATO troops to join in the attack. And if it comes to the point where NATO is willing to directly assault Russian forces, then there’s no reason to hold back anyway.

    • et Al says:

      Here’s my take for what it is worth:

      The West plays the short game, so initially it may look like they have achieved much, much like their foreign policy successes at first, which then turn out to be disasters with the West reduced to firefighting.

      1: ..destroy businesses (and the military-industrial complex) that were oriented towards Russia.

      This has not succeeded. It has without doubt caused problems and will affect some Russian military effectiveness in the short term, but no. For example, though some products were actually made in the Ukraine, many of those businesses contracted out the production of components to Russia.

      2: ..radicalize the Ukrainian population against Russia.

      True, but again a very short term achievement. Food on plates and jobs don’t grow on trees. What we do have is the ones in the middle who gravitated to the traditional russophobes, aka swing voters, but things are only going to get worse in the Ukraine and the nazi junta cannot deliver. Those swing voter will swing the other way, not a Russia love in, but a pragmatic middle ground. That is where they started.

      3: Another goal was to stress the Russian military..

      What evidence is there of this? Apart from quite a number of massive snap military exercised that Russia has pulled off and impressed even the Russo-skeptic military crowd at RUSI and other MIX fronts, it is quite efficient to fly 50 year old Tu-95 bombers around Europe wearing out expensive western military equipment that will need to be replaced much sooner now than later. All those austerity plans that call for holding off on major defense spending in Europe are messed up. Money going in to weapons is money going away from jobs and the economy. Ukraine’s rocket cooperation with Brazil is dead (now switched to Russia) and also with other partners. So far the US has not actively banned commercial satellites from being launched from Russian rockets, but the US cannot get its billion dollar spy sats in to space without Russian rocket engines. No-one has yet pulled the plug…

      NATO is not going to do anything apart from make as much noise and fearmaking as possible. It’s one thing to scream and shout, its another to drop their trousers. It is quite the paper tiger. The USAF is set to rapidly shrink according to their own admission. The F-35 is designed to replace 5 aircraft – hubris or what? The F-15, F16, AV-8B, A-10 & the F-18. It’s a pig of an aircraft that will perform those missions worse, in most cases, than those designed in the late 1960s early 1970s. The American military industrial complex has screwed itself in a bid to make more money! Their space programs are not exactly brilliant either.

      4: the bankruptcy and transfer of the country from Ukrainian oligarchs to Western corporations is about to begin.

      Almost inevitable, but there are several factors at play here. Western investors will have to deliver rather than just asset strip and run; domestic political repercussions will be huge at least in the medium to long term. This is exactly what almost happened to Russia and then look how things turned out. Ukraine is of course a different case and the West will certainly try and manage it to their advantage, but it won’t work if it is not for sustained profit. Either way it is the West of the Ukrainian citizen who will pay, for a long long long time. This is long before we throw any legal questions in to the mix. Whoever is in power now will pay the political price in future sooner or later. All Russia needs to do is be fair and reasonable and step in at the right moment.

      As to Moscow screwing up the Ukraine over the last ten years, I think that may be a bit harsh. Sometimes the best option is to keep your hand out of the viper’s nest and do nothing as much as possible, only intervening when critical.

      Part of the problem with western politics and the Pork Pie News Networks of the last 25 years is the we must do something now mentality. Let’s put it this way, you go in to hospital for a non-critical undiagnosed condition. Would you a) want to have the tests done and the best course of action chosen with your consent, or b) panic & be rushed to the operating theater so that they can just have a look around? To be honest, Western foreign policy has rarely been panicked, but is always exploitative. If the opportunity arises, it will jump in having prepared the PPNN to scream that something must be done.

      In short, as it is written on the cover of the good book, DON’T PANIC!

      • Paul says:

        No panic here. Just my opinion that the Kremlin needs to study how the ex-Soviet sphere has played out and deal with things like NGOs and educational, cultural, and media matters. The science of mind manipulation has made great progress over the last century. It is a big mistake to just deal on an oligarchical level. Ukrainians have a legitimate gripe that their country is insanely corrupt and they can easily blame Moscow. That being the case, measures needed to be taken. And not creating any semblance of a pro-Russian political or intellectual class was similarly stupid.

        As for my view that NATO wants to stress Russia, well, I suppose it comes down to your Weltanschauung. I think the US has to take Russia down to some degree, even if it is just smashing Syria. You aren’t a superpower if someone can get away with things like grabbing the Crimea without paying a cost. Plus, Russia provides China with protection till China can develop a decent military. So the US has a limited amount of time before locking things up. Call it the Wolfowitz Doctrine if that is your preferred way of looking at it.

        If I am right that the US has to tie Russia up, the logical way is to create as many problems on the periphery as possible. Could be Georgia; could be Central Asia; could be Transnistria. What would be your advice to those in US think tanks who are trying to keep domination of the world? What would be a good strategy? And, for what it is worth, I wouldn’t take the problems with certain fighters to mean the US hasn’t got great technology in its black projects. That is where all the money and technology have gone for the last 30 years. Do you really think the US would struggle to get to the Moon now and did it in 1969? Be serious – all technology is tremendously better today.

        As for Ukrainians losing their anti-Russian religion, well, perhaps. But as long as Russia occupies the Crimea, that could take a long time. My bet is the anti-Russian sentiment will last a lot longer than the Ukraine does.

        • et Al says:

          Regardless of the think tank, one thing the US can no longer ignore is their pocket. That’s where to hit them. Even Osama Bin Laden understood this and was his primary goal to cause the US to over-extend itself politically & financially.

          The US want to do more but it can’t do it the old expensive way – it has less means but it wants to achieve more. Something has to give. The US has barely started addressing the problem. That’s even before we consider the move of some oil trading out of the US dollar.

          And what of the growing number of home grown jihadists that all NATO’s wars have created? For all their support by western foreign policy to undermine Russia, it’s a monster that will bite anyone and is increasingly looking at the West. As others have written before me, does the West want a reliable partner in Russia whilst it is under threat of jihadism or another big problem on their plate they can’t quite manage?

          I have no doubt that the US has been trying to tie up Russia, but it is just more frenetic than before, the main planks of NATO enlargement (and weakening) resolved, but the rest has gone a bit wrong. The West is growing increasingly desperate and is trying all sorts of things to undermine Russia, but it could be much, much worse from a sanctions point of view. Level heads in the West understand that trying to pull the rug out completely from under Russia is a massive risk and one they are very careful in making.

          As for their wonder-weapons, the US cannot afford enough of them or make them cheap enough for their allies to buy in sufficient numbers. It is much easier and cheaper to upgrade the sensors and missiles on a SAM system than to design and bring to production standard a brand new wonder-weapon. The old days of easily blinding air-defenses are almost over when you can have a lot of cheap distributed sensors providing the information, passively & actively. The countermeasure is a lot cheaper.

          In al, Money Money Money – and every passing day the US has less to leverage and has to spread it far and wide:

        • davidt says:

          For what its worth, I agree with most of what you have written and accept that Russia, along with many others has “lost”. On the other hand, the Russians were probably always going to lose and they have at least recovered Crimea and secured Sevastopol. Moreover, the Russian people, including, the elites have rallied behind their government, quite possibly for the long haul. Putin might have missed earlier opportunities to influence attitudes in Ukraine but he has played his hand more recently very well. The big “loss” to the US is “China”. Many predicted that Russia and China would align forces because of the US’s behavior, but the speed of this geopolitical realignment is truly impressive. My advice to US think tanks would be that the world is changing, and that they would do better to accept that and to put more efforts into improving things at home. I suppose I could give them a list of things to “smash” but why bother.

          • yalensis says:

            Dear David:
            I agree with your assessment. Over the last 2 decades Russia, due to many mistakes and missed opportunies “lost” Ukraine. That should be evaluated in clear-eyed fashion as a loss and defeat. Obviously, instead of supporting Party of Regions (as the lesser of 2 evils), Russia should have set up its own pro-Russia political party, based in Donbass. Russia could have manipulated the Ukrainian political system, the same way as the West does. Russia doesn’t normally do that sort of thing, they usually just work with whatever party is in power. But that’s old-school Soviet-type thinking, and doesn’t work in the modern world any more.

            On the other hand, it was almost worth having Ukraine blow up (to Russia, not to Ukraine), just to get Crimea back and secure Sevastopol.

            And also, there is no reason to fixate on the past, as Karl does. What’s done is done. Now that the lessons have been learned, it is necessary to proceed from this point in time onward.

            Afer all, as Scarlett says, tomorrow is another day! So everybody gear up and get going – those slaves aren’t going to whip themselves!

            • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

              Suppose Yanuk had rode out the storm and cleared the Maidanauts from Kiev – there was no stopping the descent into civil war by then. There would have been an uprising at least in Lvov, and probably as far east as Vinnitsa as well, and the Ukrainian government would have fought it just as ineptly as it fought the Donbass rebellion. The part of Ukraine being destroyed would not have been the economically productive part, but Ukraine would have exhausted and bankrupted herself waging the war just the same. And it would have been Russia obliged to bail her out.

              • yalensis says:

                I agree. By then, it was already too late.

                If Russia had wanted to avert the whole mess, then she should have started way back in the early 2000’s. Most certainly as early as 2005. And should have supported their own candidate, not Yanuk. Woulda shoulda coulda…

      • Phil K says:

        In addition to the items listed above, the US has also realized that it may no longer be able to get Plutonium-238 (for reactors) from Russia, so they’ve had to redirect some of the facilities at the Oak Ridge Nuclear Laboratory in Tennessee. I only know what’s been in the papers, and the papers don’t say what those facilities are used for now, but if they’re currently making Plutonium-239 (for bombs), they’ll soon be making less of it.

    • marknesop says:

      Western corporations will only plunder the country if they can get a return on their investment, and except in the case of what they can strip from it – like the black earth – and take away, that does not seem very likely to me. However, I would agree, and have done since some time ago, that the west’s biggest success was turning Ukraine and Russia into enemies.

      NATO has not quite given up trying to turn Ukraine into a prosperous western democracy within its own orbit, but the enormity of the task and the hidden factors that make it so is beginning to dawn and enthusiasm in Europe is well on the wane, remaining strong only in Washington which does not have to do much of anything but manage.

      I think it is clear to Brussels and Washington that Moscow will see Ukraine destroyed and a failed state before it will allow it to be a NATO satellite snuggled up against its southwestern borders. The part that NATO is having trouble with is getting Russia to destroy it, so that it will be in the minds of Ukrainians for generations who did this to them. NATO is running a steady propaganda campaign about Russian aggression, but I don’t know how well that is actually selling outside Galicia, while it must be clear to a lot of Ukrainians what a failure the promise of western largesse was.

      • Paul says:

        That’s all reasonable, though it is hard to believe that there isn’t a lot more than just some black earth to expropriate.

        My limited knowledge of the situation inside the Ukraine is that a lot of Ukrainians do blame Russia. Why not? That is what the TV says. It is very hard to get someone to admit he made a mistake.

        • marknesop says:

          That’s true enough, and it appears there has always been a certain amount of hostility to Russia west of the Dneipr, so they perhaps did not need too much coaxing. My main point in rubbing the west’s nose around in it is not that they have conclusively lost, because it is indeed early days to make such a judgement, but that it has not won easily as it bragged it would do. The country it said it would confidently bat aside in its confident stroll to victory has not only weathered western attempts to crush its economy and put in place safeguards which will hurt western business opportunities in future, it has strengthened a powerful alliance with Asia and garnered considerable international sympathy, which implies increased hostility toward the west. Meanwhile, the country the west bragged it would snatch from Russia’s orbit and make a model of a prosperous western democracy is miserable, poor and angry.

          The west does a poor job of managing expectations generally, and it has done abyssmally this time around. It has no intention of curbing oligarchs in Ukraine and little interest beyond lip service in genuine reform in Ukraine. For their part, Europe should proceed cautiously with plans to integrate Ukraine more closely, because it is plain that the interest of Ukraine’s oligarchs in such a course is to broaden their opportunities for stealing and increasing their wealth.

          There are plenty of opportunities for the west to steal Ukraine blind, but few that involve a product or entity that the west can buy, remove and sell somewhere else. Many such opportunities rely on western interests taking over Ukrainian businesses and asset-stripping them like crazy; however, the main buyer in many cases would be Russia, which has no interest in making western businesses rich, or other western buyers who would have to take over and run a Ukrainian business in a very uncertain environment in which its biggest market is Russia.

  2. Pavlo Svolochenko says:

    A copypaste from Auslander (formelry of MPnet), originally from Saker’s blog:

    “This is not the first time such atrocities [the mutilated rebel prisoner] have happened in this conflict and it will not be the last.

    The Trade Union Building on maidan square was found to be full of the burned remains of Berkut prisoners chained to the batteries and pipes after right sector set the building on fire. The Berkut were burned alive, left to their fate in the very two floors that right sector called their own during the maidan debacle.

    The Trade Union Building in Odessa also had people burned alive, the total death toll there was almost 300. The sub basement was a charnel house of corpses including women and children. I know the official death toll and I know the real death toll. We also lost a friend in that atrocity, not in the building but at the far end of the square, beaten to death because he was walking home from work at the wrong place and the wrong time. Why was he beaten to death? He had a speech impediment and when he got nervous he literally could not talk. Since he could not say ‘salo yucrane’ 5 right sector boys beat him to death in broad daylight.

    Over 200 citizens were killed in Mariupol the following weekend, shot down or burned to death in Militsiya HQ. In this incident at least a few of the perpetrators were destroyed in an ambush by Opolchensya as Opelchensya were leaving the city, ordered out as they were too few to defend the berg.

    The killings of innocents and not so innocents have been ongoing since the beginning and well before the beginning of the conflict that let to what is now Novorossiya. One can not morally justify killing all the UAF because of the acts of a relative few, but you can rest assured that documentations are being kept for all who can be identified as committing either individual or mass atrocities.

    To expand on the documentations a tiny bit, do you think all those artillerists who when captured to a man scream that they did not know they were bombarding and killing thousands of our civilians are believed? Not hardly. They knowingly committed crimes and they will pay for their crimes. Do you think all those ‘people’ who commit atrocities and then post photos of the atrocities and openly brag about them on social media will walk away unscathed? Again, no hardly. Do you think we don’t know who was and is abducting young women and even
    girl children for their use and then killed and discarded them like less than animals? They are known.

    I can go on for reams but you get the idea. These are crimes being committed by a relative few of UAF, and for the record anyone fighting for Ukraine against Novorossiya is a member of UAF, their military unit does not matter. In the end justice will be done, by the law and with due legal process where possible. Where not possible, justice will still be done. Justice, like revenge, is a dish best served cold.

    As for those few of you who are still aghast at the total and deafening silence from USEU over these ongoing atrocities and crimes, I urge you to forget any chance of anything being said about we untermenschen being slaughtered by those civilized denizens of USEU. It is not going to happen so stop complaining about it. Never forget, never forgive, always remember, but don’t complain, it’s useless.”

    • Auslander is living in a denial. The perps of these crimes will never face any punishment because there is nobody to carry out such punishments. Novorossiya is a tiny portion of Ukraine and the rest is ruled by the Kiev thugs. Novorossiya can never reach the criminals there.

      • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

        Never is a strong word.

        • Well, in their lifetime anyway. Russia will not invade and Novorossiya is currently limited to defending their land against Kiev attacks unable to even liberate Sloviasnk and Mariupol. And it would be against the nature of Russia (or NAF) to send partizans to kill the perps in Kiev or Lvov. Russians simply do not behave that way nowadays.

          • kat kan says:

            He says “In the end justice will be done, by the law and with due legal process where possible. Where not possible, justice will still be done. Justice, like revenge, is a dish best served cold.”

            I do believe various people involved in Odessa have disappeared – or turned up. Dead. Some have had to go to ground. Some have “died” under unbelievable circumstances, but their new name will probably still have the same face. The biggest obstacle will be all this wearing of masks, but with more recent atrocities, where they are garrisoned in the cities for months, they’d be known anyway..

            The spirit of Novorossiya will be expanding (not yet). Things may slowly go back towards normal. But fully normal it can never be, while murderers and torturers walk free by the hundreds. It is going to be a very long headache for Ukraine.

    • marknesop says:

      I wonder if he has any substantiation for those numbers. Some sources have always said that hundreds more died in the Trade Unions building in Odessa than were ever officially acknowledged, but I don’t recall hearing about anyone dying in the Trade Unions building on Maidan, and I thought the death toll in Mariupol was just a few police (not to make it sound like that’s nothing) rather than hundreds. And I follow the situation in Ukraine fairly closely – this would not even register on those who get all their news from CNN.

      • kat kan says:

        He’s spent a year running a refugee escape route, he has a lot of contacts and hears a lot. Lives in Crimea with local wife..Always writes circumspectly. There are people recording all they can, in detail.

  3. Moscow Exile says:

    From the Brain-Dead Centre of the International Community:

    Some comments:

    – russians are very friendly people this story is all fake

    – Yeah! And we’ll kill anyone who disagrees!

    – Russians ARE the blacks of europe. (no offense to russians, blacks, or eurpeans ofc)

    – … The scariest white people are Americans who make fictional Russian accents

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      Actually it was my net-aquaintances from Serbia and Bulgaria who were arguing with each other who is more deserving the tytle of “niggers of Europe”.

      Serbian guy was winning, using the ultimate proof that
      Tupak is alive in Serbia

  4. et Al says:

    Thompson Reuters Foundation: West, Africa trade barbs on UN appeal against illicit small arms
    http://www.trust.org/item/20150522225618-1kuew/?source=gep&google_editors_picks=true

    …The resolution, which was drafted by this month’s council president, Lithuania, passed with nine votes, the minimum needed for adoption. Six countries – Russia, China, Angola, Chad, Nigeria and Venezuela – abstained, citing a failure of the resolution to address the issue of non-state actors…

    …Angola, Chad and Nigeria, the three African council members, sharply criticized Western countries, accusing them of ignoring African concerns. They were particularly incensed that the text did not include language on “non-state actors.”

    It was a view that Russia echoed in the council meeting. Several Western diplomats said the Russians had lobbied hard over the past week to persuade fellow council members not to support or the draft resolution.

    Chad’s U.N. ambassador, Mahamat Zene Cherif, said he was “deeply disappointed and shocked” about what he suggested was blatant disregard for the African positions.

    U.S. Deputy Ambassador David Pressman dismissed the complaints of the Africans, saying they appeared to have an “ulterior political objective.” He offered no detail.

    British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said there was no need for “ill-defined and practically unenforceable new statements … on the subject of ‘non-state actors.'”..

    …African delegates suggested private security companies were non-state actors to be concerned about. Murmokaite dismissed that as well.

    “It is not private security companies which are killing, maiming, raping and recruiting children,” she said. …
    ####

    So there it is, yet again at the highest possible level – The West that preaches Human Rights, Life and Liberty for all refuses any control on ‘non-state actors’, i.e. their mercenary outfits like Blackwater/Academi/MPRI who act as facilitators of western foreign policy meddling around the world that those capitals can hold at arms length and claim that they have nothing to do with what is going on.

    Just read the US & UK comments, a) African’s have an ulterior political objective – colonialism isn’t dead; and b) ll-defined and practically unenforceable new statements – from the British who always take extreme care to craft legislation that always provides sufficient loopholes specifically for their own purposes. “But darling, it could mean anything! We can’t leave common sense to the hoi palloi and the great unwashed. They need to be curated!”.

  5. et Al says:

    Neuters: Bombing exposes Saudi failure to curb sectarian strains
    http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/05/26/uk-gulf-security-sectarianism-analysis-idUKKBN0OB1GJ20150526

    ..Islamic State, which claimed Friday’s attack on a Shi’ite mosque, is trying to stir up sectarian confrontation as a way of hastening the overthrow of the ruling Al Saud, and is keenly aware of the war’s potential for pitting Sunni against Shi’ite.

    At stake is the stability of the world’s top oil exporter, a U.S. ally that has escaped the post-Arab Spring turmoil tearing up Iraq, Syria and Libya.

    Saudi authorities have avoided using openly sectarian terms to describe the Houthis, allies of Iran who adhere to the Zaydi sect of Shi’ite Islam, but many journalists, clerics and social media users have shown no such restraint…

    …IRAN FEARS

    Now with the mosque attack, sectarian relations could feel more strain. While Saudi authorities wish to discourage violence on home soil, there are limits to how much they can rein in anti-Shi’ite rhetoric given the fears aroused by an assertive Iran.

    “There are those who are trying to divide Saudi society on a sectarian basis,” said Tawfiq al-Seif, a Saudi thinker.

    He said the bombing, the second significant attack against Shi’ites in six months, “rekindles a feeling of fear that we are not looking at isolated incidents”.

    Kuwaiti analyst Ghanim al-Najjar said the bombing occurred “in the context of turning a blind eye to the discourse of hate throughout the region”.

    “This discourse of hate is the incubator of this violence.” …

    …Shi’ites complain that some Sunni clerics, with hundreds of thousands of online followers, regularly attack members of the minority sect as apostates, rejectionists and Safavids — a reference to a 16th century Persian ruling dynasty that introduced Shi’ite Islam to what is now Iran.

    Analysts say sectarian discourse escalated after the Saudi-led military campaign against the Houthis began on March 26.

    “Labels such as enemies and traitors are regularly used. These give an excuse for militants to target Shi’ites,” said Waleed Sulais, a researcher at the Saudi Adalah Centre for human rights who is also a Shi’ite.

    Some have called for the arrest of prominent Shi’ite figures in Saudi Arabia, including al-Seif, while others launched what they called the “Storm of Deletion” — to push for getting Shi’ite television stations off the air…
    ####

    I was quite impressed how they worked in the I-ran angle there. I-ran has f/k all to do with Saudi religious bigotry, their funding of global jihad or these terrorist attacks. The Saudi’s can’t control their monster any more and the game is up! Boom!

    • marknesop says:

      Labels such as enemies and traitors are regularly used. These give an excuse for militants to target Shi’ites,” said Waleed Sulais, a researcher at the Saudi Adalah Centre for human rights who is also a Shi’ite.”

      I’m sure I have seen that technique employed somewhere else recently, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. And let’s take all their television stations off the air! My, yes, that’s freedom of speech you can sign on to! Any of this registering, Washington? Or are you too occupied reaping the whirlwind?

  6. et Al says:

    Neuters: Analysis – Poll surge raises election win prospect for Canada’s leftist NDP
    http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/05/26/uk-canada-politics-analysis-idUKKBN0OB09G20150526

    …The New Democratic Party (NDP) scored a stunning upset in Alberta’s provincial election this month, ending four decades of Progressive Conservative rule. And after two years at a distant third in national polls it is now at or near the top…

    …But the fact that people are talking about the possibility of a federal NDP government is a shock, said University of Toronto political scientist Nelson Wiseman.

    “I would have given 1,000 to one (odds) to anybody – four months ago – that the NDP wouldn’t form a government,” he said.

    The NDP has pledged higher taxes on corporate profits and stock options, tougher climate change action, increased minimum wage in federally regulated industries, and a pull-out from the coalition fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria…

    ..An Ekos poll released on Friday put the Liberals in third at 26.1 percent, behind the NDP’s 29.6 percent and the Conservatives’ 28.1 percent.

    Ipsos Reid pollster Darrell Bricker likened the electorate to a hibernating bear, often inattentive, but said the Alberta election “seems to have caught the bear’s attention.”…

    …Still, many investors are sceptical NDP support will hold into October. Pollsters note that up to a point, NDP strength can help the Conservatives by drawing votes from the Liberals.

    By contrast, in Alberta the right-wing vote was split, helping the NDP…
    ####

    Who knows, maybe Harper can invite the US National Guard over the border if things get a bit ropey. Just point them towards the students…

    • marknesop says:

      Put me down for skeptical as well. Harper is probably encouraging these reports because of their vote-splitting mojo. People are pissed off, but when the time comes to mark the ballot they will chicken out as they always do. The NDP has never run anything bigger than Ontario, but maybe they would do all right; who knows. I certainly wouldn’t vote either conservative or liberal.

  7. et Al says:

    EU Observer: Boat-sinking operation poses ‘risk’ to EU image
    https://euobserver.com/justice/128823

    The paper, drafted by the EU’s military committee, a branch of the foreign service, on 12 May was published on Monday (25 May) by whistleblower site Wikileaks.

    It calls for “an EU information strategy” targeting Libya and north Africa “to facilitate expectation management”.

    It says there’s “a risk to EU reputation” if “loss of life be attributed, correctly or incorrectly, to action or inaction by the EU force”.

    It also says military activity in Libya risks “destabilising the political process by causing collateral damage, disrupting legitimate economic activity, or creating a perception of [the EU] having chosen sides” between Libya’s rival authorities.

    It adds: “the information strategy should avoid suggesting that the focus is to rescue migrants at sea but emphasise that the aim of the operation is to disrupt the migrant-smuggling business model”. ..

    …On the communications front, it adds that Frontex “rescue operations … should not be publicised in order to avoid providing an incentive to migrants”.

    The military committee’s warnings speak to complaints voiced against the EU plan in recent weeks.

    The UN’s migration chief and leading NGOs have criticised the EU for putting migrants in the line of fire.

    They’ve also criticised the small scale of Frontex’ humanitarian operation compared to the naval might being deployed to sink boats.

    The military paper notes the warships, despite their mandate, will be in a tricky position if they encounter migrants whose safety is at risk, because “preservation of human life at sea is a legal obligation” under international law.

    It also acknowledges criticism that if the Libyan coastline is locked off, migrants will embark from other points.

    “The confrontation of migratory flows in the southern central Mediterranean could lead to the increase of migratory flows in other areas, especially in the western and eastern Mediterranean”…

    …It notes that “Nato, AU [African Union], Arab League, third states’ (inter-alia Egypt, Tunisia, and, when feasible with a Libyan legitimate government)” assets should also be used.

    It adds that “a potential force multiplier could be to utilise MS [member states’] naval assets transiting through the southern Med en-route to other areas of operation”.

    It also contradicts EU foreign service press statements there won’t be military activity on land.

    Its list of tasks includes: “seizure of vessels … neutralisation of smugglers’ vessels and assets … hostage rescue … temporary detention of those posing a threat to the force or suspected of crimes”.

    But it says smugglers’ land-based “enabling assets (logistical facilities, fuel, communication equipment)” are also targets…

    ####
    Avanti Fortress EU!

    It’s just the usual military ‘what if’ bollox, but clearly the boat sinking plan is cretinous and goes against the values that the EU claims to uphold, but, the most interesting aspect about the article above is that someone leaked it deliberately (less than two weeks after it was created). I think we can assume that quite a number of people high up think that the EU’s plan is cretinous too but as ever, projecting a unified European position takes precedence over democracy and open debate. Keeping face, if you will.

  8. et Al says:

    EU Observer: Poland to relocate Christians from Syria
    https://euobserver.com/tickers/128832

    Poland, which is against binding EU quotas for asylum seekers or refugees, has said it will relocate an initial number of 60 families of Syrian Christians, AFP reports. “Christians who are being persecuted in a barbaric fashion in Syria deserve Christian countries like Poland to act,” PM Ewa Kopacz said.
    ####

    I thought this was worth posting for some light comedy relief! J.F.C.! They’re onboard to regime change a country that protects minorites and has killed tens of thousands so far, but somehow this makes it all ok? Even the gesture is pathetic (not for the families involved of course) and very late. Most of the Armos saw what would happen in the beginning and got hell out. And here, the lo-land of Poland is showing its Christian values when there really aren’t many left in Syria. Sick.

  9. Tim Owen says:

    Yeah that’s laughable. On the other hand…

    The election of Poland’s new president spells big problems for Ukraine. The issue is “de-heroization” of OUN-UPA militants whom Ukraine just recently granted the status of the liberators of Europe from fascism. But unlike Komorowski, who forgave the Ukrainian heroes the Volhyn Massacre in which the Banderites slaughtered over 200 thousand Poles, the conservative Duda does not intend to sacrifice his principles.

    http://fortruss.blogspot.ca/2015/05/polands-new-president-demands-ukraine.html

    Of course J Hawk’s take is probably on the money:

    J.Hawk’s Comment: Not so fast. I’m not so sure that Duda wants to do any of the things described above. One of the major reasons Duda won is the defection of the rural voters, whose average income declined by 14% in 2014 in large measure due to Russian food embargo. Since Duda knows on which side his bread is buttered (no pun intended), deep down he also realizes the importance of that embargo lifting. His UPA criticism may well be only an excuse, a pretext to allow himself to maneuver out of his election campaign pro-Ukraine position while saving face. Because, ultimately, what is the likelihood that the Rada will actually pass a law that “de-heroizes” UPA to a sufficient degree? And even if it does, will Bandera monuments start disappearing from Lvov and other parts of Western Ukraine?

    • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

      This is so. A state must have myth and Ukraine has already rejected the Soviet myth. Junk the Bandera myth as well, and what is left? ‘Slava Ukraini’ hasn’t been brilliantly effective in motivating Ukrainians to fight, but would they have done better with a slogan like ‘for the preservation of ill-gotten capital!’?

  10. Northern Star says:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/putin-puts-novorossiya-project-put-on-hold-2015-5

    “Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the Russian state-owned newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta that “we say that we want [these republics] to become part of Ukraine.”

    “That dream, however, has now been paused indefinitely. Russia’s domestic economy has suffered from a combination of international sanctions and the collapse in global oil prices and, it seems, there now seems to be little appetite left to further the standoff over Ukraine.
    How that will play with separatist leaders is an open question.”
    Really?????

    “Last year, separatist leader Oleg Tsarov ruled out the possibility that the rebel-held regions could find a mutually acceptable compromise with Kiev, saying “the reattachment of Novorossiya to Ukraine is not possible … it is not possible given the current government in Kiev.” He said those who had “experienced artillery bombardments, and who have lost comrades, who have lost relatives, whose homes have been destroyed,” would never accept the current administration”.

    http://fortruss.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/head-of-novorossia-parliament-oleg.html

    Maybe some of you have a more firsthand intimate ken of the Ukrainian psyche..so a proposed reunificarion of the DonBass with (under) the fascist puppet regime installed by the West is somehow feasible….I simply just don’t see how this could pan out…

    “Another characteristic typical of fascist states is the conflict of interest between the business community and the ruling political party. Enterprise and private profit are typically encouraged within the context of service to the state. It has been well established that many of the country’s top business leaders have close ties to Putin, and earlier this year, the Kremlin announced that members of Putin’s cabinet would begin to serve on the boards of directors of ostensibly private companies.”

    OK…closed book pop quiz..What other rather large nation on the planet comes to mind when reading the above sans the Putin name..???? Hint: MIC

    http://www.businessinsider.com/putin-isnt-reviving-the-ussr–hes-creating-a-fascist-state-2015-5

    • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

      Everybody’s a ‘Fascist’ except the blokes in the swastikas.

    • Paul says:

      Diplomacy is the art of lying. Don’t get all worked up about the latest spin or lie coming from Moscow or one of its puppets in the Donbass.

      The Kremlin has wanted a united Ukraine, but that is now hard to imagine. Imagine a parliament with some Nazis who brag of how many women and children they killed and a rebel military guy. Won’t work very well. Kind of like having in 1942 a united Nazi-Soviet Eastern European Empire.

  11. yalensis says:

    In agricultural and trade news:
    Russian trade with Iran is increasing, as Iranian products step in to fill Russian supermarket shelves previously occupied by European products. Until the Europeans blew it, by signing on to American sanctions.

    Russian food inspection agency has just approved a series of new products coming in from Iran. These include dairy products, fish and chicken.

    In January, luxury Iranian fish products started arriving on Russian shelves: these include “premium class”, shrimps from the Persian Gulf, followed by lobsters and trout, which are grown on special fish farms near Teheran.
    Iran also sells to Russia an expensive black caviar.

    Russian specialists say that the Iranian food products are of very high quality.
    Next in order are to come dairy products, which are also considered to be of high quality. Imports will include ordinary fresh milk, as well as a type of very firm cheese.

    Moving on to chickens:
    Iran has promised Russia that it can ship no less than 120,000 tonnes of bird per year.
    As a minimum. Since Russia only needs to import 200K tonnes per year, the Iranian birds will cover most of Russia’s imported chicken needs.
    Currently Russia does not import eggs, however. Except some incubated eggs from America, which Iran is ready to replace with Persian incubated eggs.
    In addition, Russia has contracted to EXPORT some Halal-type chicken to Qatar and UAE.

    Now here comes the best part: In the new trade deal, Iran and Russia have agreed to NOT conduct the trade in American dollars. Instead, they will conduct the trade either in national currencies, or on the basis of barter.
    For example, Iran can import chicken feed from Russia; feed the chickens; and then export the resulting meat back to Russia.

    Leaving food for a moment:
    In the atomic sphere, Russia and Iran have also negotiated a deal to build 8 atomic energy electrical stations. This deal is so lucrative, that it has the potential of earning Russia billions of dollars, as well as prestige in the Middle East.

    In conclusion:
    Iran and Russia are drawing ever closer in their geopolitical and foreign policy objectives, as well as trade deals. The 2 nations are aiming for a trade relationship worth something like 70 billion dollars. (From a low bar of only 1 billion, which is what it has been while Russia was wasting all that time trading with Europe.)

    • kirill says:

      Russia should make sure that no Doctor Strangelove US insanity is directed at Iran. Iran is the counter-balance to Saudi Arabia and its export of Wahabbi terrorism. And Iran is key to any long term strategy for Central Asia and the new silk road. That is why Iran is in Washington’s cross hairs.

      • Hopefully Russia will really deliver the S-300 system this time. But will they? As far as I know it is not delivered yet.

        • yalensis says:

          Yes, I also hope Russia will deliver the S-300 systems to Iran.
          I would personally love to see a Russian-Persian trade and military alliance, which also includes Hezbollah.

  12. Tim Owen says:

    Best laugh all day:

    If it doesn’t show the posts above try hitting Greenwald’s twitter feed.

    • kat kan says:

      I don’t get the joke. Who is it about? and what does it mean?

      • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

        Snowden.

      • marknesop says:

        As Yalensis points out, the guy who has stepped in it and says “You obviously don’t know what he did” – as if Greenwald could have been under a rock for better than two years, everyone on earth knows who Snowden is and “what he did” – is saying it to the journalist who broke the story.

    • yalensis says:

      That IS funny.
      I am starting to get the hang of Twitter, I think, although it’s still hard for me to follow who is who.
      Basically, this “Randy” character who seems to be like some hick from Maine, is lecturing Greenwald that Snowden is a traitor.
      Snowden says, no he isn’t, and Randy replies, that Greenwald has no idea what Snowden did. That’s the punchline. (’cause, see, Greenwald was the journalist who broke the whole Snowden story in the first place…. LOL)

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, that is a good one. That weightless feeling as you suddenly step into a drop-off and the lake bottom disappears.

  13. The United States had a number of FIFA officials arrested in Switzerland for “corruption” allegations. Switzerland subserviently arrested them and shipped them to the United States.

    At the same time senator John McCain has requested FIFA to cancel the Football World Cup of 2018 in Russia and give it to another country.
    This seems like the latest attack by the United States against Russia. This time the attack happens in a sports sphere. The Football World Cup is the most prestigious sports event in the world and it would be a major victory for the United States if they could sabotage the first ever Football World Cup in Russia.

    What I am amazed of is how easily Switzerland – a non-NATO and non-EU country – complied with demands of the United States and arrested these people.

    • Ali Cat says:

      I dont think FIFA will cancel the world cup in Russia, if Qatar can host that event with all the human rights violations against the workers who are building the stadiums, Russia with this stupid attacks from western countries will host it, there is a lot of money involved. Plus FIFA corruption is no surprise.

      • Depends how things go on from here. If the USA has the power to basically arrest anyone they like – including even Sepp Blatter – there is nothing to stop them from cancelling the World Cup in Russia. Switzerland just proved that they are also a complete vassal for the USA.
        There is still three years to the next World Cup so there is still lots of time to cancel it and give it to some country where the infrastructure is already in place, like Germany or Italy.
        Anyway, by only arresting the FIFA officials the USA sends a strong signal for all the sport organizations in the world: give Russia a major sporting event and prepare to be arrested.

        • marknesop says:

          Like I just said, if you are arrested and you didn’t do anything, you are a fool if you don’t sue as well as make a huge noise about what a swaggering ignorant bully the country is that had you arrested – if it was me I would go so far as seeking an amendment which would bar the USA from participation in or hosting of the event in perpetuity. It wouldn’t succeed, but I promise the USA would be taken aback by how much support the effort would rally. If, however, the officials are actually guilty of something, then there is nothing wrong with what the USA did, and it was the correct thing to do even if it seems to have been completely politicized. Let’s wait and see what the charges are and whether they are successfully prosecuted.

      • And the fact that Qatar will also host the same event is irrelevant since Qatar is a western ally/vassal.

        • marknesop says:

          Oh, I wouldn’t say that.

          And it is so typical of the sanctimonious accusers that they are just as guilty of bid-rigging themselves, although the hue and cry ended with no sentences awarded to the best of my recollection. The customary defense is “Sure it happens here. But we arrest people for it and punish them”. Really? The first part is true, but they always seem to get off once the political heat dies down and the case disappears from the front pages.

          Okay, I’ve had a little time to look at it, and from what I’ve seen so far, John McCain is just reflexively squalling about Russia. It does not appear to have anything to do with Russia, although the timing of this does seem to be with a view to attacking the top leaderaship and perhaps engineering its replacement with individuals who would be amenable to moving the event somewhere else in 2018. In short, I don’t doubt it is aimed at Russia but the attack will have to come obliquely, it is not an accusation that Russia had anything to do with bribing officials for their vote.

    • In Russia-Insider one poster had this to say:
      “With support mysteriously shifting from Blatter to Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein (Jordanian and educated in the USA/UK – I suspect he is a creature under US control), don’t be surprised if the result of him being elected is FIFA ‘uncovering’ all the corruption surrounding the venue selections, with Russia losing the WC, and Qatar merely being fined. After that normal service (corrupt venue selection process) will be resumed but just more covert.”

      I think his idea is that the US wants to replace Blatter with Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein as a head of the FIFA and now they arrested those FIFA officials that are loyal to Blatter. The end-goal would be to cancel the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

      • yalensis says:

        I agree that the Evil Empire will do everything in its power to take the soccer tournament away from Russia.
        But the good news is that Russia still has 3 years to plan its counter-strategy, in thiis skirmish! Russia should appoint a commission right now, to put their thinking caps on. There are many creative ways they could counter-act or punish the Empire in tit-for-tat fashion.

        • “There are many creative ways they could counter-act or punish the Empire in tit-for-tat fashion.”

          Russia never does this. At best Russia tries to shield against attacks directed against it. Sometimes it succeeds and sometimes it fails. But Russia never responds to these attacks in a similar way.

          • Jen says:

            Huh? Didn’t Russia apply tit-4-tat economic sanctions against the EU last year for sanctioning its products and walked away laughing with a resurgent agricultural industry while the EU, Finland included, fell into the doldrums?

            • yalensis says:

              Exactly!
              Karl got this one exactly wrong.
              Russia and before it the Soviet Union has always been famous as a tit-for-tat type player.
              For example with spy expulsions.

    • marknesop says:

      Totally predictable, Karl, and in fact is was predicted, years out, that the USA would try to get the World Cup moved, because they made the same effort in getting the Olympics moved from Sochi. Everyone knows they will try it, clothing it in some sanctimonious bullshit about teaching Russia a human-rights lesson or some such crock, but all they really care about is inflicting humiliation. The United States of America has become the biggest and most officious bully on the planet, and it is a marvel to me how it can go into its occasional navel-gazing episodes and wonder aloud why it is disliked. At least some of that dislike will disappear when Senator John McCain finally pops his clogs and his clacking mouth is silenced forever.

      I have not seen the story, but the USA would not be so foolish as to have sports officials of such a powerful organization arrested if they were innocent; the backlash story would be devastating. So there must be a reasonable supposition that they have done something wrong, and they probably should be arrested; we’ll see. But I don’t know how they make the jump that moving the World Cup to another country will stop FIFA corruption, or that Russia somehow caused it to be corrupt.

    • Drutten says:

      FIFA is, and has always been ridiculously corrupt. This goes back at least 25 years and probably involves every single bid over this time (i.e. that includes USA 1994).

      I just read that FBI claims that the FIFA Copa América to be held in the USA by 2016 involved some $110 million in bribes as well… Well, there you go.

      It’s not exactly news, this, and it’s not only FIFA but pretty much every international sports organisation (FIA, FIS, IIHF, IOC etc) has at some point been accused of the same things and lots point to these accusations being true to some extent. So one has to wonder why it’s taken them so long to crack down on it?

      Now, before everyone goes it’s all about Russia 2018… Well, that might very well be, and since they can’t retroactively cancel all these championships they might try going for the upcoming ones. However, I think Qatar 2022 is far more likely to get axed in that event.

      Russia’s bid for 2018 was entirely and undoubtedly solid. We’re talking a country where football is the team sport, with several major leagues and hundreds of notable clubs, and some Russian clubs even playing in the glorious UEFA leagues on and off. We’re talking tens of millions of hardcore football fans, and many, many more “laid-back” fans. I mean, Russia has some 14,000 clubs (!) officially registered (includes any junior backwater ditto of course), and some 5,8 million players out of which 850,000 are officially registered with FIFA. Let that sink in – it’s positively huge over there.

      We’re also talking 105 years of continous international football representation (ever since the days of the Russian Empire), and we’re talking venues/arenas most of which are already built and active, or nearing completion (plus dozens of ready fall-back options).

      Compare this to Qatar and their recent endeavours, and you see what I mean.

      In short, it’d be a scandal far surpassing any potential bribes if they would kick Russia out.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Keep big girl’s blouses out of the Evil Empire!

        They might have a bad influence on the kids!

        The German footballer at the bottom of the pile has just scored and his team mates want to give him a kiss – or something!

        This is much better. Three Englishmen trying to stop a Paddy:

      • marknesop says:

        Much will depend on whether Blatter is able to hold on to power, because his spokesman has already made a statement that there are no plans to make any changes to hosting venues already selected. I don’t doubt the investigation will go world-wide, but at present it does not seem to have any connection with Russia, being instead centered on Latin America.

        • PaulR says:

          I’m with Drutten on this one – it seems to be the product of a general investigation of FIFA corruption, not some plot to derail Russia’s World Cup.

    • Cortds says:

      Considering that the 1994 WC was held in USA, with games played in searing heat, I find the start date of the enquiries (1991) amusing: of course the award to USA was squeaky clean…

    • Jen says:

      Hey guys, here’s the agenda of FIFA’s 65th Congress in Switzerland on Friday, 29th May 2015:

      Click to access fifaagenda2015web_neutral.pdf

      If you peruse the agenda, you will see that one of the items that is to be discussed is the proposal by the Palestinian Football Association to have the Israel Football Association suspended by FIFA which would prevent Israel from competing in the qualifying matches for the World Cup. This incidentally follows a previous item regarding an update on the situation in Palestine. Would this be the real reason that all of a sudden the US has ordered the Swiss government to arrest 6 FIFA officials, not all of whom would be US citizens, just before the conference to forestall discussion of the proposal and disrupt voting on it?

      Of course the US is also forcing FIFA to carry out investigations as to whether the processes leading to the decisions to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively were corrupt, as if procedures and processes to determine the make-up of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and of the US Supreme Court, not to mention the selection of the US President, are so squeaky-clean and transparent that teaching children to blow bubbles would be a crime comparable to paedophilia.

      From CNN:
      “They keep bullying here and there, and I think they have no right to keep being the bully of the neighborhood,” Palestinian Football Association President Jibril Rajoub said of Israel. “If the Israelis are using the issue of security, I can say that their security concern is mine. I am ready to fix parameters for security concerns, but security should not be used … as a tool in order to keep this racist, apartheid policies.”
      http://edition.cnn.com/2015/05/25/world/fifa-israel-palestinians/index.html

      • kirill says:

        The US is killing many birds with one stone. It is asserting its leader of the pack role, while openly disrupting the processes that would benefit Russia and others. The Olympics, the World Cup are all revenue generation sources for the host country. The stadium building, if done right, does not leave any debt. So the US is going to do anything it can to undermine the World Cup in Russia. Either by direct disruption and/or by trying to frighten off people from going there from abroad. So expect more crying for the plight of pedo-queers in Russia and the “genocide” of Ukrainians by Russian mercenaries in the Donbas.

    • ucgsblog says:

      Hmm, I wonder if Russia could simply move from the UEFA to the AFC. First, AFC is the future of soccer, or it will be in a few decades. Second, moving a major country from UEFA to AFC will charge the development of soccer in the AFC, and thus help the AFC with eventually becoming the dominant federation. Certainly an interesting chip that Putin holds. Australia moved from the OFC to the AFC, so there’s nothing forbidding said move.

      • Jen says:

        Isn’t the AFC part of FIFA anyway?

        • ucgsblog says:

          Yep. FIFA consists of six federations, UEFA, CAF, AFC, CONCACAF, OFC and CONMEBOL. Countries can move from one federation to another, so if UEFA continues to go against Russia’s interests, Russia can leave UEFA and join AFC, much like Australia left OFC to join AFC. AFC is Asia, and it has the biggest potential; with Russia in it, it’ll be unstoppable within two decades, which is why UEFA must accommodate Russia to stay, or they can sink to the same role that CONMEBOL has internationally.

  14. yalensis says:

    Okay, I think this piece has some important analysis of the military situation in Transnistria.
    As everybody knows, the hyenas of the Evil Empire are nipping at Russia’s flanks on various fronts, including Transnistria. The signs are that they will go for a push to take Transnistria back from the “pro-Russians” are absorb back into Moldova, which is currently a NATO puppet state.

    Back story: After break-up of Soviet Union, Transnistria which is the LEFT bank of the Dniestr River (albeit on the Eastern side of the River because the River flows South- so pay attention)
    anyway, Transnistria broke away from Moldova and formed one of those unrecognized statelets which are a thorn in the side of the NATO Empire.

    There are several units of the Russian army quartered in Transnistria, and their sole job is to protect giantic caches of heavy weapons. I don’t know the backstory how all those weapons came to be there in the first place; but, bottom line, the job of the Russian army over the past 25 years (like some lost outpost of the Roman Empire) has been to ensure that those weapons and various other toxic materials don’t get into the wrong hands.

    Enter NATO, who wants the Russians OUT, and also to get their grubby hands on those caches. No doubt so they can arm their nefarious zombies from ISIS, or ISIL, or whatever they call themselves these days.

    Add the junta in Kiev, and now all signs are pointing to a joint operation of NATO, Ukraine, Moldavia and Rumania. All indications are that American Special Forces will, in the very near future, invade and try to take Transnistria, thus coming into direct military contact with the Russian army. This is the background to last week’s story about Ukraine repealing the law they used to have, which allowed Russian troops and supply trucks to cross through Ukrainian territory to get to their bases in Transnistria. This has resulted in Transnistria being put at danger of blockade and starvation. (yalensis: well, maybe not, since the smugglers know every path in and out…)

    According to the rusvesna piece, the Russian Ministry is very well aware of this plan and is instituting counter-measures. Recently the “Operational Group” conducted military maneuvers, in which they simulated defending against NATO attack on their weapons caches. The rusvesna analyst (Vladimir Mukhin) writes that the plans to take Transnistria are known to all, and that the Russian Defense Ministry will simply not allow this to happen.

    • cartman says:

      How stable is the Moldovan government? They have a pattern of failure, including the time when they allowed an Israeli banker to steal 1/6 of the GDP.

    • et Al says:

      It brought back memories of General Lebed, the guy who stopped the war in Moldova/Transnistria (with the 14th Guards) which along with significant weapons caches, had shed loads of chemical weapons. He stood against Yeltsin in the fixed ’96 election in the first round and then endorsed him in the second. A straight arrow, but no politicians to handle Russia of the 90’s. My Хояин was a big fan.

      We should ask, what are the risks from a NATO operation to take Transnistria? I would say significant with all kinds of unforeseeable consequences coming out of it. Also this would have to be signed off by unanimity by NATO, which is unlikely and even if it occurred, there’s a good chance it would be leaked to the Russians by NATO members who think it is batshit. If it were going to go ahead, it would thus be far more likely outside the strictures off riddled with spies NATO. No doubt it would be claimed to be a NATO operation, but it won’t be.

      If those weapons caches aren’t already extensively wired to blow, then someone is incompetent.

    • kat kan says:

      Transnistria declared itself an independent Soviet Socialist Republic in 1990. Gorbachev declared this illegal, so did not recognise it. So they were officially part of the Moldova SSR when they left the Soviet Union. In 1992 a small local war was held about this, without successful partition, but they ended up with peacekeepers in place.

      The arms caches are all from Soviet times, like the huge stockpiles left in Ukraine, (except Transnistria didn’t have nuclear weapons or missile silos). NATO has little use for these weapons for itself. But they could be useful for handing out to other places then claiming some ex-Soviet source had supplied them, eg Russia. In the event of another civil war these would equip a local force to the same level NAF has, only with more tanks than NAF started with. .

  15. Jeremn says:

    There may be trouble ahead. Ukraine’s gas prices are set to stay high:

    Vovk said, “if the price of gas bought in Europe is multiplied by the forex rate of the dollar [against the Ukrainian hryvnia] and all the taxes are added, the final price will be higher than the highest gas rate for households.”

    http://en.interfax.com.ua/news/economic/268268.html

    • marknesop says:

      Heads up – it looks as if Ukraine might be getting increasingly interested – by virtue of being out of options – in the “odious debt” escape, announcing more frequently through its official channels that the government should not have to take responsibility for “loans borrowed by a kleptocratic regime”.

      The $3 Billion owed to Russia is due at the end of this year, but if Ukraine does not manage a debt-restructuring deal by end-June – which will entail many of its creditors taking a big haircut or simply forgiving debt altogether – it may be ineligible for its next tranche of handouts from the IMF and default may be all that’s left.

      I would just remind again at this point that all Russia has to do is nothing more than has been done already, and Ukraine will collapse absent some heroic intervention such as the west offering to just give it free money forever.

      • PaulR says:

        True, but this is a double-edged sword. It is not in Russia’s interest, as the creditor, to send Ukraine into the abyss, as that way it will never it gets its money back. In these situations the debtor has leverage over the creditor too.

        • kirill says:

          That is not a valid evaluation of the situation. Russia simply does not hold significant amounts of Ukraine’s debts. The $3 billion being yapped about is a small amount. Ukraine’s debts for not paying for Russian natural gas are almost twice as large.

          Ukraine has almost $130 billion in external debt. I have never seen the NATO media talk about any amount other than the $3 billion to Russia. This 2.3% of its foreign debt is supposedly the whole basis of its looming default.

          • kat kan says:

            There’s another $15 billion Russia lent earlier under less booby-trapped conditions. Plus the gas debts.

            There are also some debts to China. It might be good if China quietly bought up some of the Western debts, to stop the west grabbing the country.

  16. et Al says:

    euractiv: EU-Russia Relations and the crisis in Ukraine: how to proceed?
    http://guests.blogactiv.eu/2015/05/27/eu-russia-relations-and-the-crisis-in-ukraine-how-to-proceed/

    Guest blog post by Peter Van Elsuwege, Professor of European Union Law at Ghent University…

    …blah blah blah…

    How to deal with the Eurasian Economic Union?

    So far, the EU has consistently refused to formally recognize the EAEU as a partner for negotiations. This position was explicitly expressed by Commissioner Malmström in 2012 when she unequivocally declared that “the EU is not prepared at this time to step into any legal contractual relationship with the customs union.” More recently, she clarified that the EU maintains contacts with the EAEU “at technical level” and hinted at the Commission’s “conditional readiness to analyse further the possible interactions between the EAEU and the EU”.

    Significantly, the “Issues Paper on Relations with Russia”, drafted by the EU’s External Action Service (EEAS) in January 2015, also suggested “some level of engagement with the Eurasian Economic Union” as part of a broader attempt to improve the strained relationship. On the one hand, such an evolution seems not illogical. The creation of the EAEU is a reality which cannot be ignored, particularly with regard to the definition of the EU’s trade relations with the EAEU member states. On the other hand, there is a clear pitfall that a formalization of the EU-EAEU dialogue creates a ‘bloc’ to ‘bloc’ dynamic which is potentially detrimental for the EU’s bilateral relations with the countries in the region. As the EEAS document also observed, any kind of engagement with the EAEU should not affect “the non-negotiable principle of free choice for all partners in the common neighbourhood.”…
    ####

    So another Brussels writes da rulz and everyone everywhere has to follow them dies, not to mention that Brussels singly refuse to talk to Russia over the DCFTA with the Ukraine. Brussels, like the addicted dessert eaters that they are, are still trying to have their cake and eat it. And yet again, no one is held responsible for Brussels’ strategic failures and disastrous mistakes. BTW, Martin Schulz has just received the Charlemange Prize, another one he can add to his resumé

  17. et Al says:

    euractiv: Russia denies German lawmaker entry
    http://www.euractiv.com/sections/europes-east/Russia%20denies%20German%20lawmaker%20entry-314857

    he Kremlin’s refusal to grant entry to German MP Karl-Georg Wellmann has taken a new toll on strained relations between Berlin and Moscow, causing Bundestag Vice President Johannes Singhammer to postpone his own trip to the Russian capital. EurActiv Germany reports.

    On Tuesday (26 May), Bundestag Vice President Johannes Singhammer announced his intention to postpone a planned visit to Russia, after his colleague from the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) was denied entry.

    Singhammer, who hails from the CDU’s Bavarian sister the Christian Social Union (CSU), said he would delay his trip to Moscow until the circumstances have been cleared up.

    Wellmann was denied entry into Russia at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on Sunday (24 May). ..

    …Wellmann said he assumes his name is on a list of reciprocal sanctions in response to the EU’s penalty measures implemented amid the Ukraine conflict…

    ..Wellmann primarily blames Russia for the Ukraine conflict. “Russia is the warmonger in the region, because it provides separatists with heavy weapons, logistics assistance, fuel,” Wellmann told Reuters in January…
    ####

    So, Deutschland Nein Uber Alles? Has anyone heard a squeak out or Merkel? She’ll be under pressure to do something. The war is coming home!

  18. marknesop says:

    If you were wondering where all those invisible dead Russian soldiers in Ukraine are being hidden, considering the apparent inability of enthusiastic kreakly volunteers in Russia to find enough graves, wonder no more. Putin is sending in mobile crematoriums to burn their bodies, in hopes he can conceal the terrible toll the Ukrainian army is exacting on Russia. Swear to God; Nalyvaichenko told the west, and General Breedlove said “I believe it”. So I guess we can’t deny it any more.

    There probably are mobile crematoriums in Ukraine, though – and this would be a handy explanation for them, as well as providing an explanation for the disappearing imaginary Russian casualties. Lyashko printed an open letter last fall, accusing Poroshenko of using crematoriums acquired from Germany for turning killed into missing-in-action so as to (1) minimize known Ukrainian casualties, and (2) avoid paying off families for the loss of a loved one who died in the service of his country.

    Sounds like that old projection disease again. Although of course if a child told Breedlove that Putin had thrown his kitten into a tree, Breedlove would believe it.

    • PaulR says:

      This story has been going the rounds for a while, as has the reverse story you pointed out from Lyashko. I tend to the view that it’s all rubbish on both sides.

      • kirill says:

        The usual vacuous assumption of symmetry. The Ukr Kiev regime has a lot of interest in hiding its casualty numbers. That can be easily discerned from their propaganda and the official, ludicrously low death tally. They lost 4,000 men in two cauldrons in the south last summer but were still claiming under 2,000 total dead as of the beginning of this year. The two cauldrons they suffered this year have barely mad a bump in the Kiev regime death tally.

        I will note how there is no focus on Kiev regime MIAs of any sort in the NATO “human rights community”. In the case of Yugoslavia and specifically Bosnia i Herzegovina there was vastly more attention. The Srebrenica MIAs were counted as KIAs even without any proof they actually died. Yet in a war that at some stages exceeded anything seen Bosnia in terms of fighting intensity we have apparently not Kiev regime MIAs.

      • marknesop says:

        Actually, I heard from other sources around the time that Saur Moghila was taken by the Ukrainian Army that there were mobile crematoriums in use. At that time there were accusations that the Ukrainians were harvesting organs from the dead and then burning the bodies. That might not have been true, but witnesses also claimed that refrigerated trucks were present at the same time. For my part, I have to take their word for it that the apparatus in the back of that truck is a mobile crematorium, because I’ve never seen one. But there were also many online complaints in advance of the Euro 2012 football championships that Ukraine was using a mobile crematorium to burn up stray dogs and cats in advance of the expected influx of tourists. So we can be reasonably sure they have them. I have not heard of such facilities being owned or used by Russia.

        The last sentence might have been a prophesy of things to come: “As the Ukrainian Television News Service reports, the UEFA paid out 9,000 euro to Ukraine towards the sterilization of stray dogs several months ago, yet the money has as yet been unaccounted for.”

    • et Al says:

      Summing up a few points (from others too) I would say:

      It all smacks of propaganda (how would I know if it is true?). a) a shred of crediblity (i.e. it’s been reported before and such things do exist – where or how is a different question; b) designed to evoke the idea that the NAF are somehow like the Nazis – the trick being not to mention the Nazis and their mobile crematoria, but to bring up ideas of such, not to mention einsazgruppe etc.; c) as pointed out projection of what you are accused of – i.e. FUD – create fear, uncertainty and doubt.

      Again, it is like a (familiar) replay of the wars in the former Yugoslavia. The Serbs were the new Nazis (even though almost all of them fought against the Nazis & Ustasa in WWII), the Croatians were patriots despite using the same Ustasa symbols from WWII, rehabilitation of old war criminals and a holocaust denying president, the Bosnian moslems (as represented by the SDA) were multi-ethnic democrats despite Izetbegovic/Cengic and others having their roots as Nazi collaborators or wrote about uniting the Bakans under Islam (Izetbegovic’s Islamic Declaration). Black is White and White is Black.

      When it comes to numbers Cherif Bassouni of the UN made up the nebulous 200,000 Bosnian moslems killed in 1992 alone which was repeated by rote in the PPNN – boost the victim casualties and hide their losses – the ArBiH lost significant numbers of men to massive military incompetence, so better cover this by saying they were all murdered.

      And then there were the nazi-style concentration camps that the British Press took great pleasure in broadcasting, certainly not the fact that there were 100s of nasty camps all across Bosnia operated by all sides, just focusing on a limited number of extreme nastiness and projecting that as systematic, much bigger and more importantly, hidden.

      It’s just the standard meme repeated again in the Ukraine, except in the Balkans it required some marination to overcome the skepticism of old school journalists. Now when opinion and rumor are almost elevated to the same level of fact, any old ropy story is much more quickly adopted with the help of social media etc.

      The basic truth is that people see what they want to see, and dismiss stuff out of hand that they don’t. The people who consider themselves the most reasonable are certainly not as balanced of opinion as they consider themselves. Being non-partisan is almost impossible.

      Da rulz a) be aware of your own biases; b) reserve judgment; c) take anything reported by the PPNN with a barrel of salt (thanks Pavlo?); d) apply critical thought and logic to both sides, i.e. does it make sense, what is a reasonable conclusion and does the available information fit in to the means of achieving that goal?; and finally my favorite, e) what’s missing? what haven’t we heard or seen? what doesn’t make sense, looks out of place or illogical? Always ask “Why, why, bloody why?” and if no one can give you a sensible answer, then a bs shower is going on for sure.

  19. Pavlo Svolochenko says:

    Helden nicht sterben:

    End ohne Sieg:

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      Ah, “Maski Show”! Nostalgia…

      Ukr Army, probably, hasn’t changed much since then (it was, what – 1994?). While I can attest that Russian Army indeed “Is Getting Better”.

      • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

        That I’ve heard. Back in March last year a rare thing happened – somebody wandered into MPnet’s Ukraine thread who wasn’t a frothing Polack, an American with a personality disorder or a barely coherent Ukrainian Maidanaut.

        He was an Englishman who, by his account, had served under Sir Michael Jackson in Kosovo, and so he’d had some interactions with the Russian paratroopers deployed there. We were just starting to see images of Black Sea Fleet marines on guard duty in Crimea, and our Kosovo vet remarked approvingly on how smart and professional these particular Russian troops looked, as compared with the VDV troops he had encountered in 1999 (‘No standardised camouflage, officers walking around with bags full of cigarettes – and this was an elite unit!’).

        He didn’t post again in the thread after that. It was refreshing – brought into sharp relief the contrast between what MPnet claimed to be (army vets talking shop) and what it really was (smorgasboard of untreated mental illness).

        What was your experience with the Russian army?

  20. Tim Owen says:

    What a coinky dink: John Bolton eagerly anticipates the outcome in Syria that was the goal all along:

    Key Iraq War Architect: “Our Objective Should Be a New Sunni State Out of the Western Part Of Iraq, the Eastern Part of Syria”

    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/05/key-iraq-war-architect-our-objective-should-be-a-new-sunni-state-out-of-the-western-part-of-iraq-the-eastern-part-of-syria.html

    In what way is such a state – the US – indispensable? As they seem to intend to be the last man standing no matter how many they kill or cause to be killed they “dispense” with others while they themselves remain indispensable.

    Finally figured out that weird, seemingly meaningless phrase.

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, as the same source points out, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) recognized this possibility as an “opportunity” way back in 2012, before there ever was such an entity as ISIS.

    • cartman says:

      Their plan is to give surrogates a blank check for ethnic and religious purification. I wouldn’t throw this comparison around lightly, but Neocons have the same ethical foundation as the Nazis.

  21. yalensis says:

    Kenneth Rapoza’s latest piece:
    Yats to Washington: Please Buy Ukraine

    Rapoza uses words like “fire sale” and the “loving arms” of the U.S. – LOL

  22. yalensis says:

    Canada shelters vicious war criminal.
    This piece is about Ukrainian diaspora-Nazi Vladimir Katriuk. The 93-year-old Canadian citizen is accused (and there is much evidence to prove that he did it) of burning people alive at Khatyn (Belorussia, not to be confused with Katyn, Poland).

    Katriuk is known to have participated in the massacre of Khatyn villagers, according to Russian General Prosecutor Alexander Zviagintsev. Katriuk is wanted for the crime of “genocide”.

    Vladimir Markin, Head of Investigative Committee of Russian Federation, says that he is trying to get Katriuk extradited to stand trial for the genocide which he (Katriuk) committed during the Great Patriotic War. The Simon Wiesenthal Center would also like to gets its hands on Katriuk, saying that he helped to shoot and burn alive 149 residents of Khatyn, including 75 children. This crime occurred on 22 March 1943.

    Katriuk is Number #3 on the Most Wanted List of Holocaust perps. The Wiesenthal investigators tracked him down to the Canadian town of Ormstown, Quebec , where he lives freely, under the protection of the Nazi-lovin’ Canook government. Katriuk has made his livelihood as a farmer and beekeeper.

    Article goes on to say, that Katriuk’s guilt in the war crime is beyond any dispute. However, the Canadian government will not give him up, because they (the government) are completely cowed by the Ukrainian diaspora. Which defends Katriuk like they defend all the Nazis who live there.

    In addition to participating in the Khatyn massacre, Katriuk also murdered villagers from Novobileika. He also shot a bunch of Jews in Nalibokskaya, and also participated in tortures.

    According to the Wiesenthal Center, Katriuk was born in Northern Bukovina, which was annexed by Rumania in 1940. In 1942, Katriuk joined the 118th Battalion of the Schutzmannschaft, of which he is currently the only surviving member. This battalion was commanded by Ukrainian officers, but came under the 36th Division of the German SS. This was the so-called SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger, named after Oskar Dirlewanger, who committed the war crime at Khatyn, as well as later putting down the Warsaw Uprising. The Dirlewanger Brigade did not have a good reputation; the members were known as drunkards, robbers, and criminal sadists.

    Eye witnesses recall that Katriuk was the one who machine-gunned people at Khatyn, to prevent them from fleeing the barn, in which the victims were burned alive.
    Here is the English-language website about Khatyn massacre.

    Katriuk’s side of the story:
    Katriuk says that in August of 1944 he and some of his comrades deserted the 118th. They wandered around until they found a French Resistance cell, with which they hooked up.
    They were sent to join the French Foreign Legion, and fought alongside De Gaulle’s troops to liberate Europe from the Nazis.

    The Wiesenthal Center is not buying any of Katriuk’s B.S., though.
    But unfortunately, there is nothing they can do to him, since the Canadian government is adamant about protecting this vicious war criminal.

    • yalensis says:

      Sorry, here are the links that I messed up in above:

      Dirlewanger Brigade:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/36th_Waffen_Grenadier_Division_of_the_SS

      Khatyn massacre:
      http://khatyn.by/en/

    • kirill says:

      That story about a French Resistance cell has to be one of the lamest concoctions ever. He and his pals sort of just wandered off to the other side of the continent. During war time. Right. Did they shop for their food on the way using Eurocard credit cards?

      • Tim Owen says:

        Yes. A wormhole would make it more plausible, not less.

        Time’s running out. That man needs to see the inside of a prison before he dies.

        • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

          Prison time would be a bonus.

          But I don’t worry too much about what happens to these types. There’s no escape for the Damned.

          • Tim Owen says:

            Weird to say, but that is why I am not a materialist. I’ve always known that all that matters is what one does. What actions one takes when it matters. Everything else starts as dust and ends as dust. Otherwise we would be looking down on our ancestors, as Nazi’s and all other pitiless monsters looked down on their victims.

            • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

              I’m not sure I follow you.

              • Jen says:

                The assumption must be that those who are materialists – that is, who believe that all reality is merely what one senses directly or which is only material matter – are those who treasure the most material thing of all: one’s physical body and its immediate needs and desires. Materialists end up worshipping their short-term physical desires, to the extent of being possessed by them, and (by implication) by greed and selfishness. They assume others will be like them and so they behave accordingly: by treating others brutally.

                • yalensis says:

                  I think that is what most people assume about materialists (that they worship their own bodies and selfish desires), but it is not true.
                  All materialists (that I know of) are humanists first and believe that serving humanity is the first priority of man. (And by “serving humanity” – no! I don’t mean in the culinary sense like that Martian cookbook – ha ha!)

                  So, anyhow, if you are a materialist (which I consider myself to be), then you believe in the laws of physics (spooky as they might be, with all that quantum stuff going on), and that there is matter and energy, in some format that is still being investigated by scientists. And, most importantly, that human beings are just evolved biological creatures who die and disintegrate eventually, and there is no god or heaven. (although it is permissible to believe in sci-fi stuff like other dimensions and even alien lifeforms, just not the puerile Bible stuff).

                  And, given this, materialists believe that THIS life on Earth (unless and until we travel to other planets) is pretty much all we have going for us; therefore we have to make it better; but for EVERYONE, all humans, not just ourselves. And then this philosophy leads to certain political ideologies, as to how to improve the human experience for as many humans as possible. Or, as Chernyshevsky summed it up succinctly, in the slogan, “What to do?”

                  That is pretty much the “materialist/humanist” credo, as much as I can express it, without having taken a lot of philosophy classes.

                • Jen says:

                  Yalensis’ materialism is Marxist materialism and the materialism I spoke of earlier is Hobbesian materialism, after the 17th-century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes who was responsible for the view that humans in their natural state were brutish and selfish, incapable of self-improvement, and in need of a strong powerful sovereign “Leviathan” state to govern them.

                • Erebus says:

                  Materialism of whatever flavor (and “dialectical materialism” to the extent it is “dialectical” is really not materialism at all) is at base the claim that the universe is what it is, and not another thing. Namely, that the universe is explicable in the interactions between material things and there is no need to posit categorically non-material entities to explain these interactions.
                  To preempt some possible objections, concepts such as force and energy are meaningless in the absence of material things (and as Einstein pointed out, so are Space and Time).

                • yalensis says:

                  This is all true.
                  And, erebus, I “get” your point about matter/energy/forces not necessarily being required when it comes to truly spooky “theories of everything”.
                  I know just enough about modern physics, to know that reality could turn out to be something truly insane, not to mention ungraspable, by our puny human minds.

                  Also I would agree that “materialism” should be more like a scientific or mathematical “theory of everything” and should maybe not even involve politics.

                  But, realistically speaking, politics and metaphysics tend to go together, hand in hand. (with some exceptions)

                  Maybe that is just a relic of old Marxism/Leninism, but Marx and Lenin had some practical experiences, which always caused them to roll their eyes; whereby, just before they abandoned the theory of socialism, certain “former comrades” would suddenly write a pamphlet denouncing dialectical-materialism, after having “discovered” a more idealistic philosophy, like Burke or Kant. It got to be such a common habit, that it was almost predictable.

                  So, in those days, becoming an “idealist” was like a precursor to becoming a capitalist.

                • Erebus says:

                  I was speaking about philosophical Materialism which was a response to Metaphysics, of which Idealism (esp German Idealism) was an off-shoot. I myself am not advocating it, not least because it can be shown to suffer from almost exactly the same fundamental flaws. The Materialist is just another Metaphysician with a rival theory.
                  At that level, Materialism is utterly divorced from any political, perceptual or social colour. Indeed, humans are immaterial to the Materialist argument (ahem).
                  One could go on, but that way lies madness.

                • yalensis says:

                  “Indeed, humans are immaterial to the Materialist argument…”

                  True!
                  I guess that’s the big paradox. “Humanism”, including Marxist humanism, is based on materialism, and yet REAL materialists believe (I think) that the universe would still exist, even if humans never evolved, or ceased to exist. The tree still fell in the forest, even though nobody was around to hear it fall.

                  I guess the thought is that, well, the universe DOES exist, and we ARE here, like it or not, so what else are we supposed to do except just do our thing?

      • yalensis says:

        No, it’s all quite plausible.
        See, it turns out that Katriuk spent some time serving under Sergeant Schultz at that allied POW camp. (’cause, see, Ukrainian camp guards were so servile to their German masters, that even the bumbling Schultz seemed like a god to them).

        So, anyhow, while serving there, Katriuk met Corporal Le Beau from the French Resistance. That’s how they hooked up. Le Beau and Colonel Hogan managed to smuggle Katriuk to North Africa, where he joined the French Foreign Legion.
        So, Katriuk help to defeat the Nazis, and is a war hero. Just like Stepan Bandera!

    • marknesop says:

      What is amazing to me – well, as amazing as my government’s protection of this scum because of Ukie diaspora lobbying skills – is that these wretched creatures live so long. Ninety-three years old!! Imagine!! And think of the good people whose lives were cut short in the thirties and forties, who might have done the world a great deal of good had they lived. While freaks like this ancient reptile live on and on and on, presumably enjoying his peaceful existence.

      • kirill says:

        It is galling alright. But it makes sense. Psychopaths experience much less stress during the course of their lives. This directly contributes to their longevity. Cortisol is quite literally the death hormone. One of the key characteristics of a psychopath is the detachment from emotional engagement in contrast to normal people. They did studies where brain response was measured and it is quite clear that psycho brains do not function like normal brains.

        • Tim Owen says:

          In evolutionary terms that does not bode well.

          • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

            Psychopathy may come with selection advantages for an individual psychopath, but it cannot be the case that psychopathy is evolutionarily advantageous in all circumstances. Otherwise we should have such a creature as homo sapiens sapiens sine conscientia.

            Although there is the possibility that atomised mass-society has reduced or eliminated some of the evolutionary disadvantages associated with the condition.

  23. Tim Owen says:

    Only the good die young. Literally.

    • yalensis says:

      Yeah, that was one of Navalny’s Top Ten hits, in which he advocates gunning down undesirables, like Chechens and Tadjiks!

  24. Tim Owen says:

    Proof of concept:

    Jesus, this is day-Glo bullshit.

    It’s all in the details.

    Micro-finance doesn’t work as a for-profit model for the simple reason that administering tiny – in terms of capital market size – loans to poor people is insanely costly IN TERMS OF ADMINISTRATION.

    It only works as charity because this – might – create enough room for these tiny loans to bear fruit.

    In other words: they need all the oxygen they can get and someone profiting from it is hardly going to produce more of that now is it?

    Jesus I hate these free-market, libertarian freaks. Especially when exported to a) other countries, the specific circumstances of which don’t seem to interest them and b) when the above is taken as opportunity to opine in a Versailles-era newspeak that is obviously only aimed at impressing their own kind.

    • et Al says:

      IT could help with administration, i.e. keeping track of who owes what. The local post office or whatever could take on part of the admin that would also make it more relevant to the community.

      The sickest thing is that (as pointed out) when a good charity idea comes along that can handle serious money, the amoral money grabbing f/ks turn up promising to make it work better.

      On the other side, governments who don’t want to employ their staff fully or pay a private company to do it for them – all in the interests of lowering tax and small statism which casts adrift the basics and a lot of people with them who are considered to be unproductive, are more than happy to let charities pick up the ball. Cost and responsibility officially abrogated. More money for people who deserve it!

  25. marknesop says:

    Brown Noses Eliot Higgins’ latest project, “Hiding In Plain Sight: Putin’s War In Ukraine“, due to be unveiled to the world tomorrow. Lots of interesting Google maps, plenty of adverts for Bellingcat (Eliot is now a “visiting research analyst” or something of that nature, ans apparently well on his way to international stardom) and even, for old times sake, a reprise of the “Buk that shot down MH-17” story, since it made Eliot famous and he is not going to give it up. Too tired to do anything with it right now. Maybe we can do a crowdpost and take it apart together, what do you think?

    • kat kan says:

      Working link would help???

      • marknesop says:

        Oops; sorry – I took the link straight from the open PDF file, and that doesn’t always work. Here’s the link to the NYT article, and the link to the report is in it. It should be lost on nobody that the USA is not going to offer up any of its satellite intel, and instead they are going to try once again to make believers in social media of people as Jen Psaki did.

    • et Al says:

      Brown Noses!

      Maybe he should be regularly introduced as: Brown Noses, former British government operative, chosen one and founder of nebulous claims investigative journalism outfit Bellend Cat…

      followed by claims that have fallen flat:
      Syria, Ghouta – chemical weapons used by Assad
      MH17 – brought down by Russian BUK etc.

      The real question is about social media journalists is who exactly holds them to account? Traditional journalists normally belong to some sort of organization who can try to protect them or not, but what of those people out there who claim journalistic protection and rights who are consistently found to be way off the mark and also not achieving basic journalistic standards? Actually forget it. Like any supposed club, there is no real self-regulation, like all other chosen ones.

      • Jen says:

        So-called “citizen journalists” like Brown Noses and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights are just another form of scab labour hired by the owners and controllers of the corporate news industry to bust proper investigative journalism.

    • Drutten says:

      They’re just rehashing rehashes, and rehashing rehashes of rehashes (i.e. the Nemtsov thing that they apparently tied-in). Basically, it’s all about taking the little evidence there is for occasional Russian involvement (actual state complicity still unclear in many cases) over the past year and blowing it way out of proportion to further the notion that the rebel movement somehow isn’t “genuine” enough.

      Really, it’s getting tiresome. If they would apply the same measuring standard to… Say their other favorite subject, Syria, then it’d be clear as a day that no genuine opposition to Assad ever existed, that all of Assads wrongdoings is only rebel/American propaganda and it’s all USA all over the place, from start to finish. Clearly reality’s more complex, wouldn’t you agree?

      And I mean, come the fuck on, this contrived bullshit about big bad Russia is pissing me off. It’s as if:
      1. No other civil war in the history of the world was full of foreign backers left and right.
      2. No other radical and potentially outright hostile changes in a state prompted its neighbor(s) to act.
      3. No other country has engaged in clandestine and/or covert military/intelligence activities in a foreign country and denied it.
      4. Russia’s alone trying to influence things in Ukraine in a favorable direction.

      Again, it’s so bloody retarded that I can’t find the words anymore. I just want to throw expletitives around.

  26. kat kan says:

    Russia has built a border wall to Ukraine — to keep out the arms dealers and possibly Ukie subversives. I am assuming it is a one-way wall that won’t affect voentorg.
    http://rt.com/news/262257-border-trench-russia-ukraine/

    And right on cue, Reuters claims to have found voentorg going on, although their pictures (YES this time they have IMAGES) don’t have any landmarks that would prove they are where they say.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3098407/Now-convoy-Russian-tanks-arrive-rail-border-Ukraine-days-military-trucks-rocket-launchers-spotted-rolling-town.html
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/27/us-ukraine-crisis-russia-military-idUSKBN0OC2K820150527

    • Drutten says:

      Sigh… Military equipment on the move in Rostov, how unusual (it’s the HQ of the Southern Military District and the entire oblast is completely rife with military bases and exercise fields, and has always been). As long as they can’t show them heading towards Ukraine and crossing the border, it’s completely uninteresting.

      This particular line caught my attention, by the way:
      “Many of the vehicles have number plates and identifying marks removed while many of the servicemen had taken insignia off their fatigues. As such, they match the appearance of some of the forces spotted in eastern Ukraine, which Kiev and its Western allies allege are covert Russian detachments.”

      So basically, all you need now to “prove” Russian forces in Ukraine is that they lack Russian insignia? Is that what they’re implying? Of course no mention is made of the fact that regular Russian soldiers exercising in Russia generally don’t wear heaps of identifying insignia (like big flags or whatever Reuters apparently want them to wear) other than their blood type patch. As such, they haven’t “taken them off” – they just weren’t there in the first place.

      I really hate such ignorant insinuations, and you can see where they’re going with it. Sickening.

      Just an example, here are some motor rifle people exercising in the Central Military District, in 2011:

      Preparing to go fight a covert war in Ukraine already back then, clear as a day, since they don’t look like this:

      The fact that they (Reuters) throw in photos of a regular Russian army exercise taking place nearby, with all these terrible “unmarked” soldiers and vehicles makes it even more schizophrenic.

    • et Al says:

      Yet Neuters and others are traveling unhindered in the region. Yes, it is clearly a secret!.

      Let me propose a new tagline
      Neuters*

      * ain’t no barrel deep enough

      So if Neuters is Marvin Gaye (sacrilege), then in this case Bellend Cat is Tammi Terrell.

      Let me throw this one out to the regulars and the lurkers, who from the Pork Pie News Networks do you think could replace Gaye & Terrell?

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, Reuters had this last night, too, although they billed it as an EXCLUSIVE. Please note that all this equipment is in Russia, and when the journalists speak of it “blithely trundling into town”, there is no reason to be surprised, since it is Russian equipment in a Russian town, despite their attempts to conflate equipment on the border with equipment about to surge into Ukraine.

      This must be the 40th imminent invasion, and why? Has something happened that threatens to tip the balance and see the east overrun? No? Well, then, otherwise it is hardly surprising to see Russian military equipment in places where Russia borders upon a country embroiled in a civil war.

  27. yalensis says:

    This piece is an interesting analysis/speculation as to the Mozgovoy murder. I.e., that it was a Kremlin job.

    The parallels between Stalin and Trotsky are not to be taken literally (since the issue at hand in Novorossiya is not so much about socialism as about ethnic territorial delineations), but are a valid analogy. The comments about Strelkov are right on target, IMHO.

    For the record, I personally believe that the above is the most convincing theory about Mozgovoy’s murder. In this scenario, Zakharchenko is the “good soldier” who subsumes his own personal views and the interests of the Donbass inhabitants to the wider interests of Russian foreign policy.

    • kat kan says:

      Mozgovoi was no danger to anyone. The “on to Kiev” line, also strong elsewhere in earlier days, is not a territorial objective., It was always meant in the understanding that the fascists can’t be obliterated by just establishing Novorossiya. – that the only way to free the country (the whole country) of the Nazis was to take over the whole country. The Kremlin also knows this; just they intend to do it by other means. Minsk2 was a Kiev capitulation, only it took them a few months to wake up to it, ie they always hoped they’d get away with not being held to it.

      Strelkov had to go because nobody would work with or under him anymore, as he’d made bad decisions, hesitated, kept changing his mind, and accused everyone else of betrayal once too often….after giving up half the territory they’d gained in blood. (Look in a mirror sometime, Strelkov).

      Kiev is the only one to benefit from this murder, but failed to create the hoped for havoc and distrust in LPR leadership.

      • yalensis says:

        Yeah, I just want to stipulate that I am not a Strelkov supporter.
        You are absolutely right – he needs to look in the mirror and stop whining like a disgruntled ex-employee: “But all my years of service…. waaaaaa!”

        It might even get to the point, where I feel I owe Kurginian an apology; not quite there yet, though….
        .

        • yalensis says:

          P.S. The “cui bono” concept should always be taken into account when looking at a crime. But even if somebody benefits from the crime, that doesn’t necessarily mean they did it. In this particular case, I still think it is dubious that incompetent SBU had the means or opportunity to whack Mozgovoi, although they certainly did have the motive.

    • marknesop says:

      It’s plausible, but on the other hand it is based largely on “who benefits?”. And if you apply that scale of judgment broadly the USA would be blamed for things it actually didn’t do, just because of its penchant for stirring things up all over the world and because in every instance of global instability, the USA takes it upon itself to fix it to its own advantage.

  28. yalensis says:

    Meanwhile, the color-coded revolution is well underway in Skopje, Macedonia.
    Once again, Americans have unleashed their tried and true formula, using whatever paid zombies are available, in this case ethnic Albanians, which comprise a quarter of the population of this small republic. In this case, the goal is to overthrow the current government of Nikola Gruevski, who is considered too pro-Russian for American purposes.

    By all assessments, it looks like the coup will succeed, even though everybody knows exactly what is going on, and who is behind it. It’s like groundhog day, watching the Titanic hit that iceberg every single time.

  29. yalensis says:

    Leaders of the Russian NGO “Mothers of Soldiers” complain that Russian mothers are not trying to save their sons any more.

    This particular American-financed NGO was set up in Russia around 25 years ago, as a typical Fifth Columnist organization to serve NATO interests. The job of “Mothers of Soldiers” was to work up Russian public opinion against the Chechen wars. Posing as pacifists deeply concerned about the fate of Russian soldiers, their actual goal was to help “Ichkeria” win the war and become an independent Islamist caliphate on Russia’s borders.

    Two leaders of that organization, Veronika Marchenko and Valentina Mel’nikova are still around today, and still running their usual pseudo-pacifist scam, this time in connection with the Donbass war. However, as they themselves admit, nobody is coming to them any more. They attribute this to fear and propaganda.
    In above-linked piece, they complain to the kreakl publication “Vedomosti”, how Russian soldiers are fighting and dying in Donbass, but the mothers of those soldiers are not willing to step forward and denounce the secret war.

    As one of the commenters points out, it has always been traditional in Russian society for soldiers to fight to protect their mothers. Thus, the mothers trying to keep their sons out of war, is not the normal situation, necessarily, although can be highful useful ploy for the other side of the conflict.

  30. et Al says:

    hAPpy: AP Interview: Under US pressure, Serbia ready to reduce dependence on Russian gas supplies
    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/E/EU_SERBIA_US?SITE=PAREA&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

    In a major policy shift, the Serbian prime minister said his country will accept U.S. calls to reduce dependency on Russian gas by adding an American-backed pipeline that would bring gas to Europe from Azerbaijan.

    “Regarding energy safety, energy security, we are ready to diversify the sources of gas for Serbia, which is very important for our American friends as well,” Aleksandar Vucic told The Associated Press in an interview.

    The United States has been encouraging Balkan and other states to move forward with the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, which will take Azeri gas from the Caspian Sea to Italy, rather than setting its hopes on another project that would pipe Russian gas through Turkey.

    The West has accused Russia of using gas as a tool to increase its political influence over countries like Serbia…
    ###

    Poor Vucic, I wonder what they threatened him with to get him to get this empty propaganda statement victory for The Empire? Another visit from Fruit Cake McCain, or maybe that they’d let the Albanians tear another strip of Serbian land for their Naturalist Albania project (where Albanians can walk naked freely and their corrupt politicians, institutions and organized crime syndicates can hold naked bbqs together without fear of arrest). If he played his role sensibly, he would have pretended to resist and got something decent in return. I doubt it.

    Still, as I wrote here a few days ago: https://marknesop.wordpress.com/2015/05/12/is-it-too-early-to-just-call-the-game-for-putin/comment-page-5/#comment-106537

    …As far as I can see and from what I have read so far, all pipelines within Europe will be interconnected, regardless of transit agreements or energy packages. Russia doesn’t care once it is in as you have already pointed out…

    And most of us here (unlike the West) understand fully that once the Russian gas arrives at the Turkish/Greek border, that’s it. They don’t care what happens next.

    So, the news is just fluff and doesn’t change the fundamentals. Serbia did not say it would dump TESLA for TAP. There still needs to be a pipeline and thus interconnection of pipelines now looks inevitable. If Moscow is funding TESLA, then it will be a straight forward commercial deal.

    On another level, the timing does say a lot. As quite a few people have pointed out already, the current problems in Macedonia also have extremely convenient timing for The Empire’s geopolitical goals, so it would be remiss of the US not to take advantage (whether they are behind the crisis in Macedonia or not) and put the squeeze on the US. Still, it seems like an awful amount of effort for very little in concrete result. I suppose on this level it is just “If you don’t use it, you lose it”.

    • marknesop says:

      Mmmm, yes; we’ve discussed that on several occasions, and this is just more ludicrous posturing by Captain Indispensable. As discussed in the final paragraph of this post, 25% of the natural gas consumed in Europe comes from Russia, by far the largest supplier. Azerbaijan is not even mentioned as a supplier, but as discussed here, its president – Ilham Aliyev – was awarded the unenviable title of Most Corrupt Person of 2012 by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. The flows Europe will be looking for exceed the Shah Deniz field’s capacity.

      Perhaps someday Europe will come to rue the day it allowed its decision-making to be done in Washington and rubber-stamped by Brussels, although it is likely to make Aliyev a happy man in the short term. But that day is evidently not today. And so Europe will blunder about, trying to do the will of its master, until the time to engineer hookup to Russian gas supplies has run out. Then it will squeal that Putin is using energy as a weapon. It has failed to note that if Russia really needed to deliver gas directly to the consumer – paying all transit expenses itself – it would do so, and its present unconcern is not affected, but an actual reflection of its lack of concern whether Europe wants gas or not. Because it knows that Europe will want gas, because it can’t get it anywhere else in the volumes it needs, and nothing will bring prices up like a little healthy panic. Predictable as death and taxes.

      Perhaps in the near future, the coming of spring will be reflected as much by Europe’s cockiness regarding its gas requirements as much as the appearance of robins. Cocky in spring, desperate in autumn. Not this year, because its gas will still come through Ukraine. But keep an eye on the volume it takes. An interesting note here is that of the 63 BCm Turkish Stream is expected to carry annually (construction started earlier this month), only 47 BCm of it is expected to be made available to Europe at the Turkish/Greek border.

      If you look at the language Sefcovic used back in March, he spoke of Europe as “a big client” and moaned about Russia making all these decisions without consulting “Gazprom’s long-term European customers”. It is fairly obvious that Europe knows all its mouthing off about weaning itself off of Russian gas is just lip service to please Washington – wean itself on to…what? As an old naval saying goes, don’t let your mouth get your face in trouble.

      • kat kan says:

        With all the messing around, they will not get ANY pipeline ready in time. Then Russia will generously sell them (at THEIR price) through Ukraine, by then run out of bullets; they’ll let Ukraine have some transit money, otherwise they’ll start burning bodies for heat.

        EU of course will still squeal about “playing politics with gas”.

        • marknesop says:

          Yes, a couple of observations on that note: one, Miller says Gazprom expects to increase its gas exports to Europe this year by something like 5% over 2014, and forecasts Russia’s share of supply to Europe may increase to 35% of the total, based on the decline in production in European countries. The writing is on the wall, Europe; I don’t know how much clearer it needs to be that you must stop fannying about and pretending to have all these alternatives, you just can’t make up your mind so everybody should be paying court to you to gain your favour. Two, Europe is still trying to sweeten the pill for Bulgaria to repay it for standing up to South Stream and getting it cancelled – they’re going to be a hub of gas distribution for Romanian gas. We’ll see.

          • et Al says:

            There was a piece the other day that Russia’s gas supply decreased to about 23% whilst Norway’s increased to 29 odd percent. I can’t find the source now obviously, but in my brief search for the source, I came across this:

            The Independent: Gas imports from Russia’s Gazprom giant to soar after new Centrica deal
            http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/gas-imports-from-russias-gazprom-giant-to-soar-after-new-centrica-deal-10248692.html

            Britain’s dependence on Russian energy is set to grow after Centrica announced a deal to increase significantly the amount of gas it buys from Gazprom to 4.16 billion cubic metres (bcm) a year.

            The agreement is the direct result of dwindling North Sea supplies and will see the British Gas owner increase the amount of the gas it imports from the Russian state-controlled giant by 70 per cent.

            The UK needs about 70 bcm of gas a year for heating and electricity and the deal means Gazprom will be meeting nearly 5 per cent of the country’s demands….

            …However, because Centrica has struck its agreement with Gazprom’s UK subsidiary, which can source supplies from outside Russia if need be, it is expected to be less vulnerable to problems relating to Russia.

            A Centrica spokesman said he was confident that the subsidiary, Gazprom Marketing & Trading, would be able to fulfil its contract: “Russia provides about 30 per cent of Europe’s gas imports of about 440bcm a year,” he said. “Without Russian volumes, Europe’s supply and demand balance would change significantly, impacting the ability of the UK to import materially from continental Europe, or impacting the cost of doing so.”…

            …Russia has been a “reliable supplier of gas all the way through the Cold War”, and it needed European demand too, he added.

            Well, well, well dear readers! In to the mouth of the beast… And after the UK is forcing Fridman to sell his North Sea assets he bought from the Germans.

            I would guess that ..can source supplies from outside Russia if need be.. would be from storage in Germany and all the new storage in Europe (some of which Gazprom has funded) built since the Ukraine cut off supplies in 2009. I also guess that as I’ve read Germany is only using <~50% of Nord Stream capacity, Russia could simply more in to available storage. Add to that recent plans to double Nord Steam's capacity and Gazprom has supplies covered whatever the Uke's try, though dependent on transmission from Germany, Byelorussia etc.

            It is all quite hilarious though. For a laugh and If Europe pays for it, Russia could also ship LNG to Europe (the proposed new terminal at Krk, Lithuania and other terminals) It will still be cheaper than the stuff coming from elsewhere too and for a long time before the Leviathan field starts development.

            Honestly, this news shows what a massive gulf there is between what the business people do and what we hear from the PPNN and the porkiticians. One only makes sense if your completely ignore the other! Crazy mofos.

            As for Brussels, they can continue doing a fine job of feeding their private parts in to their own meat-grinder whilst whistling Ode to Joy happily. They're quite good at doing it!

            • marknesop says:

              It’s hard to imagine Norway’s share increasing significantly – and if so, not for long – since its own supplies are in rapid decline and it is taking rapid steps to diversify away from dependence on energy sales. But an increase for Russia over 2014 is really just getting things back up to where they were, as 2014 marked a noticeable drop in European imports from Russia. Perhaps that’s what they were talking about.

              • kirill says:

                Real world constraints don’t apply to the propaganda lala land that the west is living in. It looks more and more Orwellian every day. “Our dependence of Russian gas is declining” as the actual consumption increases. The same as “the rations have been raised again this week”.

  31. marknesop says:

    Surprise!! Kudrin is saddened that Russia has poor relations with the west, and recommends Russia “find a common language” with the west. That’s easy – it’s called “capitulation”, the only common language the west will accept from Russia.

    To be fair, he does stress that Russia must safeguard its interests, both geopolitical and military, so overall his statement is not too unreasonable. But it is annoying, to say the least, that he places the onus on Russia to negotiate common ground with the west after the west launched an economic attack against it which was meant not just to scare it, but to wreck it.

      • Tim Owen says:

        Exactly. The tell is in the implied capitulation: find a common language.

        It would make a fascinating study, the way that apparently “kumbaya” notions like this have become the most effective weasel words of diplo-speak. Our language has become dishonest.

      • marknesop says:

        Yes, Gorbachev always thought much the same way as Kudrin (or talked as if he did) although he likely does not have Kudrin’s understanding of economics – whatever that means – and substitutes pro-western platitudes because those are what always got him the most applause. Throw the seal another fish.

        What neither of them seems to understand – I refuse to believe they do, because it would be the very apogee of treason – is that in order to reach an accommodation with the west, Russia must kneel to it and acknowledge itself beaten.There can never be a partnership of equals, because the claque of neoconservatives who have a stranglehold on power in Washington will never, ever allow it. There must be a victor, and a vanquished; there are no draws allowed. And Russia quite rightly will not kneel in the dirt to Washington so that populations who revile it daily can have peace and prosperity. Russia is officially tired of taking one for the team. Because there is no team.

  32. marknesop says:

    Whooooooo…scary. President Poroshenko announces that he can have martial law declared in Ukraine “in hours”. Is that what he intends to do? I suppose he could, since the constant drum-beating of Russian Aggression and Russian Invasion have everyone on such a knife-edge that it would not take much.

    Immediate advantages for the Kiev government: “Apart from the forced relocation of foreigners, martial law allows the authorities to confiscate private property, take full control of any media and ban any political parties and organizations that are deemed a threat. It will also be able to prohibit any and all rallies and mass gatherings. ” An easy way to bring down the heavy hand of the state on demonstrators, or just to cow them into not starting any. The disadvantage, martial law cannot be sustained for very long without an actual war with another state materializing, or the people get restless and direct their fury at the state. He could hardly declare martial law based on the civil war with the east, since that has been ongoing for nearly a year.

  33. et Al says:

    It’s fun for some people (usually Americans) to laugh at Russia’s military, but at least it hasn’t shipped live anthrax by accident around the country and abroad:

    Nature: US military accidentally ships live anthrax to labs
    http://www.nature.com/news/us-military-accidentally-ships-live-anthrax-to-labs-1.17653

    At least nine facilities in the United States and one in South Korea received spores.

    Neither has it accidentally flown nuclear armed cruise missiles across the country(2007):
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_United_States_Air_Force_nuclear_weapons_incident

    The US should spend more time being afraid of itself than manufacturing fake enemies.

  34. kirill says:

    Next time western “human rights lovers” bleat about Tatar rights in Crimea, show them what their darling Yatz was spewing before the Maidan events.

    • Tim Owen says:

      I think something was lost in translation. He certainly sounds and looks like a loon. There’s the moment where he basically suggests that any other group existing in the country are thereby trampling the rights of the presumably chosen who do not belong to that group… Presumably Ukrainians, whatever tf that means…

      Never mind. I think I figured it out.

      • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

        He starts off not unreasonably. ‘Forcible seizure of property is not acceptable’ ‘Problems in Crimea have to be settled by negotiation and dialogue rather than crushing everyone by force’. Then he ventures into stupidity – no Ukrainian government ever had much success bringing law and order to anywhere in Ukraine, and his own mob were as guilty of neglecting Crimean infrastructure as anybody else.

        He closes with a complete non-sequitur. I really cannot imagine what the point of his last outburst was.

    • marknesop says:

      I don’t care what language he is speaking, he always sounds like the Swedish Chef on “The Muppets” to me; I keep expecting him to shout “Bork! Bork! Bork!” and start throwing big spoons around.

      So the Tatars are on stolen land. Dear me; the poor souls have nothing to call their own – first the Russians deported them, and now Yats wants the Crimea just for good Ukrainians, which is to say western Ukrainians, the ones who are almost Poles, not those filthy mongrel Moskali from that Donbas. Yes, that’s a good one – you can see why Nuland tapped him. He’s about as far from liberal as you can get, in American terms.

  35. marknesop says:

    Moscow Exile, I think, posted a comment earlier regarding the Committee of Soldiers Mothers Russia (CSMR), complaining because Russian mothers of soldiers would not talk to them any more and tell them their troubles. He further suggested they were a western-friendly NGO which is less interested in the fair and ethical treatment of Russian military men than in stirring up shit which would play to western propaganda.

    Speaking of western propaganda, here’s the Queen of it, or at a very minimum a lady-in -waiting – Anna Nemtsova, always ready to bend over for Uncle Sam. Anna cites the Soldiers Mothers as a crucial mediator between Ukraine and Moscow, as they try to wheedle an admission from Russia that it has ordered active-duty military servicemen to fight in eastern Ukraine. The theory expressed here – that the soldiers confessed to being active-duty Special Forces troops to save them from being killed on the spot – is about to be put to the test, as Sergeant Alexandrov’s wife reports that he was actually kicked out of the military last year. The Daily Beast makes as much of a conspiracy story of it as it can. But it is clear she regards the CSMR as allies, and any ally of Anna And The Beast is an ally of western neoconservatism.

    Right on cue, the Ron Paul Institute inquires if the CSMR is a U.S. covert operation. Well, from last year, actually, so not quite right on cue, but you know what I mean. RPI points out that CSMR received $150,000.00 from the National Endowment for Democracy in 2011. Shortly after that NED stopped publishing lists of its grantees, because it was getting too easy to follow the money. So, short answer, the Russian government was perfectly correct to force CSMR to register as a foreign-agent NGO. And perhaps that had much to do with the sudden chill they feel and the reluctance of military Moms to dish dirt to them, perhaps believing they were a genuine advocacy group rather than a propaganda tentacle of the United States Government.

    • yalensis says:

      Amongst all the trollery, I noticed a new actual talking point on the “Beast” board:
      Pro-NATO types are claiming that Nuland’s overheard conversation was NOT planning a coup to put Yats in power, but was, rather, behind the scenes support for a Yanukovych initiative to de-escalate the situation, here is the talking point:

      Yanukovych offered PM position to Yats, and Deputy PM to Klitschko. This is what Nuland was discussing. She supported this initiative.
      (pro-NATO troll named CFL68)

      This talking point is offered as a counter-point to the one the anti-junta side always uses, the “Nuland overheard phone conversation” point.
      Anyone know if any truth to this new point? I never heard it before.

      Could be plausible, god knows Yanuk was scrambling to save his hide, and there are always a lot of backroom deals going on in these types of situations…
      Or, it could just be something made up to counter what is a pretty good debating point on the other side of the ledger.

      • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

        The offer was made. If Nuland had supported it Yatsenyuk would have taken it. She didn’t, so he didn’t.

        • yalensis says:

          Yeah, it is pretty clear that Nuland had decided to go “va banque”, as the Frenchies say.
          Or, “all in”, as the Americans say.
          In other words, no more deals with Yanuk, they want the whole pie.

      • marknesop says:

        No offer was made to Klitschko. So why the “I don’t think Klitch should go in the government”? The supposed offer to Klitschko is just an attempt to explain how he got into the conversation, and if Nuland “supported this initiative”, what the hell is she doing rejecting Yanukovych’s choices? And where does the “fuck the EU” come into such a conversation? That was plainly a rejection of the lily-livered types who shrank from getting on board the regime-change bandwagon. Why does Pyatt open his conversation with “I think we’re in play”? In play for what, considering the United States is halfway around the world from Ukraine and not a regional power?

        It’s pretty late to introduce this narrative – if there were any truth to it, it should have been offered immediately after the breach revealed it.

        • yalensis says:

          Once again, boys and girls:

          Nuland: “What do you think?”

          Pyatt: “I think we’re in play. The Klitschko piece is obviously the complicated electron here. Especially the announcement of him as deputy prime minister and you’ve seen some of my notes on the troubles in the marriage right now so we’re trying to get a read really fast on where he is on this stuff. But I think your argument to him, which you’ll need to make, I think that’s the next phone call you want to set up, is exactly the one you made to Yats. And I’m glad you sort of put him on the spot on where he fits in this scenario. And I’m very glad that he said what he said in response.”

          Nuland: “Good. I don’t think Klitsch should go into the government. I don’t think it’s necessary, I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

          Pyatt: “Yeah. I guess… in terms of him not going into the government, just let him stay out and do his political homework and stuff. I’m just thinking in terms of sort of the process moving ahead we want to keep the moderate democrats together. The problem is going to be Tyahnybok and his guys and I’m sure that’s part of what Yanukovych is calculating on all this.”

          Nuland: [Breaks in] I think Yats is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience. He’s the… what he needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know. I just think Klitsch going in… he’s going to be at that level working for Yatseniuk, it’s just not going to work.

          Pyatt: Yeah, no, I think that’s right. OK. Good. Do you want us to set up a call with him as the next step?

          Nuland: My understanding from that call – but you tell me – was that the big three were going into their own meeting and that Yats was going to offer in that context a… three-plus-one conversation or three-plus-two with you. Is that not how you understood it?

          Pyatt: No. I think… I mean that’s what he proposed but I think, just knowing the dynamic that’s been with them where Klitschko has been the top dog, he’s going to take a while to show up for whatever meeting they’ve got and he’s probably talking to his guys at this point, so I think you reaching out directly to him helps with the personality management among the three and it gives you also a chance to move fast on all this stuff and put us behind it before they all sit down and he explains why he doesn’t like it.

          Nuland: OK, good. I’m happy. Why don’t you reach out to him and see if he wants to talk before or after.

          Pyatt: OK, will do. Thanks.

          Nuland: OK… one more wrinkle for you Geoff. [A click can be heard] I can’t remember if I told you this, or if I only told Washington this, that when I talked to Jeff Feltman [United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs] this morning, he had a new name for the UN guy Robert Serry did I write you that this morning?

          Pyatt: Yeah I saw that.

          Nuland: OK. He’s now gotten both Serry and [UN Secretary General] Ban Ki-moon to agree that Serry could come in Monday or Tuesday. So that would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and to have the UN help glue it and, you know, Fuck the EU

          Pyatt: No, exactly. And I think we’ve got to do something to make it stick together because you can be pretty sure that if it does start to gain altitude, that the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it. And again the fact that this is out there right now, I’m still trying to figure out in my mind why Yanukovych (garbled) that. In the meantime there’s a Party of Regions faction meeting going on right now and I’m sure there’s a lively argument going on in that group at this point. But anyway we could land jelly side up on this one if we move fast. So let me work on Klitschko and if you can just keep… we want to try to get somebody with an international personality to come out here and help to midwife this thing. The other issue is some kind of outreach to Yanukovych but we probably regroup on that tomorrow as we see how things start to fall into place.

          Nuland: So on that piece Geoff, when I wrote the note [US vice-president’s national security adviser Jake] Sullivan’s come back to me VFR [direct to me], saying you need [US Vice-President Joe] Biden and I said probably tomorrow for an atta-boy and to get the deets [details] to stick. So Biden’s willing.

          Pyatt: OK. Great. Thanks.

          • marknesop says:

            Wow; I guess you’re right – he was offered Deputy Prime Minister. Serves me right for being lazy – I could have looked it up, I did what I think was one of the first transcriptions of it from listening to the phone call. But I think I’m right about the rest of it, and it still does not ring true as just Nuland supporting Yanukovych’s generous offer. Why does the United States State Department need to be “in play” to implement a Unkrainian cabinet shuffle? And if she was so supportive, why would she say she did not think Klitschko should take up the appointment he was offered?

            Yanukovych gave the opposition everything it asked for, to the point it went away thinking it had been had because it did not ask for more. Days later he was running for his life. Can’t be a coincidence. The USA was plainly afraid that if the opposition settled for early elections with Yanukovych staying on as leader for a few more months at least, that Russia would do something to prop him up and save his hide. And it seems clear that someone decided that was just too big a risk to take. Considering who appears to have been masterminding the whole thing, it would seem to leave little room for doubt who that was.

            If it was not deliberate, it is just possible that the muscle the State Department used to turn the demonstrations violent and put pressure on Yanukovych had slipped out of its control, and taken on a power of its own – and against U.S. wishes, was unwilling to settle for anything less that Yanukovych’s immediate ouster.

            • yalensis says:

              Yes, that all sounds plausible to me.
              Seems plausible that reality of the time was SLIGHTLY more complicated, than Nuland just picking up the horn and barking: “Get rid of Yanukovych and puts Yats in there pronto.”

              More than likely, she and Pyatt were in the middle of a whirlwind of events (mostly of their own devising), and were also on the horn with Yanukovych, as well as the Opps.
              Vickie mentions Tiahnybok too, who is not heard of much these days, but apparently he was “in play” at the time, as a possible candidate choice.

              Yes, more than likely the U.S. was also talking to Yanuk and in the midst of some complex 10-way negotiations to setup a provisional government, in which Yanuk would be phased out, maybe less abruptly than happened in the end. Maybe Yanuk even thwarted their plans by fleeing so abruptly?

              Maybe Vickie was the Lady from Niger who rode the back of a tiger?

              Either way, I think the talking point about U.S. meddling holds up in spades. That phone conversation can be construed several different ways, but none of them benign, in regard to U.S. intentions..Also, need to remember that the initial headline that burst upon the world was: “Fuck the EU!” which is the main talking point.

              • marknesop says:

                That’s an interesting point, that perhaps Yanukovych himself precipitated events somewhat by fleeing. Because if there’s anything the U.S. State Department loves more than a good hanging, it’s the captured dictator being butchered by the angry mob before more refined and civilized western diplomats can stop them. Probably Yanukovych’s capture was the forecast outcome, and it is possible his abrupt departure forced Vickie to think on her feet. But not at that point, because Yanukovych was obviously still there. I like the hypothesis in which the plan was to accept Yanukovych’s capitulation and Vickie thought she had lots of time to pick the government, but the thugs they hired as muscle were impatient and were having none of it short of Yanukovych being chased out of power immediately or killed.

                I think I remember – I’m cautious now – there being mention of Klitschko having to stay outside and do his homework, and for Yats to be talking to him and Tiahnybok several times a week. So Tiahnybok, while not considered for a political appointment, was still expected to exercise some indirect influence. I don’t think that’s the way it has turned out, though, and I’d be surprised if Tiahnybok is satisfied with the current government – especially the foreigners being brought in to the Ukraine-for-Ukrainians situation he envisioned.

    • yalensis says:

      Yeah, the “Soldiers Mothers” are fulfilling their mission as pro-NATO pawns in the global propaganda war. Melnikova is creaming over with anticipation that the latest Ukrainian ploy (over the 2 captured soldiers) has placed Russia in a trap. Either Russia recognizes the soldiers or leaves them to their fate. Either way, it’s checkmate for Russia. (According to Melnikova.)

      Well, at least this organization has clearly shown its hand as a pro-NATO Fifth Columnist type organization. Back in the days of the Chechen wars, they were all wearing masks, and pretending to actually care about the lives of Russian soldiers. Using issues like the “dedovshchnia” (hazing), etc.

      On that front, by the way, from what I can tell, things have greatly improved in the Russian army in the past few years, but I am sure there is still much room for improvement. It’s not like there isn’t a real issue to contend with, making sure that soldiers are not abused and have everything they need to fulfill their tasks in a professional army, etc. But obviously, a NATO-funded NGO is not the right instrument for addressing this type of social problem.

  36. Tim Owen says:

    One of the very best Crosstalks. With Richard Sakwa, author of “Frontline Ukraine.” (And Alexander Mercouris.)

    Sakwa has done the world an invaluable service by putting his analysis out so quickly. It’s a brilliant book.

    Many great insights but I particularly liked:

    – Sakwa’s prediction that the press coverage of the Ukraine crisis in the west will be viewed in the future as a catastrophic failure. God I hope so. (As the Jooz say at New Years as a toast: “next year no worse!”)
    – he highlights the bizarre fact that the EU – despite it many failures – DID integrate France and Germany to a degree that makes war between them, at least, unthinkable; this was somehow followed up with a complete failure to address the next challenge: making war between Europe and Russia similarly unthinkable. In fact the EU has only made this more likely.

    (We can quibble about the whys of the above but my point is: I’ve never seen anyone point out that crazy contrast between solving the paramount challenge and then completely failing to identify the secondary one so clearly.)

    • kirill says:

      The real problem is that the “west” will never perceive the Russian barbarians to be part of it. They never wanted to reconcile and integrate so the comparison with France and Germany is rather irrelevant. It is rather absurd that so-called Europeans and their new world derivatives don’t view Russia as part of Europe. Truman called Russians “Asiatics”. This species of racism is what drives western policy towards Russia.

      • Tim Owen says:

        I agree entirely that it’s racism. In fact there was a great piece by a French scholar making exactly this point at Fort Russ or RI over the past week. Can’t find it to save my life though. He puts it down to the Catholic / Orthodox split and can chart it over a long horizon.

        We are play-things of prejudice. Depressing. But at least I understand why my family is mystified by my Russophile tendencies.

        • Tim Owen says:

          … so the point about Germany and France isn’t quite irrelevant in my view. Sakwa is appealing to the idealism that overcame the BS nationalism in Europe that sent millions to graves, at least in the 20th century. By appealing to those same ideals to extend the notion of Europe to Russia I think he’s on the right side altogether.

          And I say that as someone who thinks the EU project is more likely to blow Europe apart rather than save it. But credit where credit’s due.

    • marknesop says:

      Tayler was very good as well – he’s not as smooth a public speaker as the other two, but he comes across as the more human and compelling for that. All three made some great points, and it can’t be said often enough – having three such accomplished and obviously well-educated speakers of the English language mocking the addle-headed course the west is choosing is more damaging to its efforts than an armored battalion. The west has become accustomed to laughing at and mocking the wild-eyed crazies who defend Russia. But few speakers would dare take on this trio, and there are others nearly as good and as compelling. The western narrative is getting shriller as it begins to lose momentum, and I daresay the west’s best partisan analysts would have a hard time refuting these three. Probably why they are never invited on any of their pet networks like CNN – can you imagine how any one of them would slaughter Wolf Blitzer? He wouldn’t know if his ass was bored or punched by the end of the show.

  37. Fern says:

    I thought it was a very good Crosstalk and Richard Sakwa was particularly interesting. He seems, however, a little naive. Ukraine is not, after all, western media’s first time at the dance. Press coverage of Yugoslavia was also shockingly bad and 20 plus years on from the Bosnian wars and 15 years from the bombing of Serbia, has there been any retrospective on what went wrong? Well, there’s been books like “Degraded capability – the media and the Kosovo crisis’ and great work done by Ed Hermann, David Peterson and others but, by and large, the myths of the destruction of Yugoslavia – greater Serbia etc – remain a fixed narrative. As with Yugoslavia so, I imagine, with Ukraine.

    He also seems to assume western European leaders have genuine freedom of choice and action in determining foreign policy which completely ignores the extent to which the US exercises control over European elites ensuring they act in ways which are actively harmful to their own national interests. Ensuring Europe doesn’t pursue an independent foreign policy is a key US goal.

    • Tim Owen says:

      All good points, especially regarding the Yugoslavia context.

      I’m embarrassed to say that, at the time, i was utterly somnolent during the events in Yugoslavia. In fact worse: as a casual reader of the news I actually thought that Clinton had stepped in and solved it while the Europeans couldn’t get their act together. The Serbs were the baddies etc.

      FWIW I don’t think Sakwa is naive. You can only fit in so much to the few minutes you have on a round table talkshow. Or maybe you’ve read his book and simply disagree. But, assuming not…

      I think the abstractness of his arguments is actually a plus. What he’s saying is there’s a fundamental strategic / logical incoherence to EU / Western strategy. By arguing this way I think he’s being constructive. His target audience is not the cheap seats here or on RT – his first appearance – but corridors of power in Europe.

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, that last is a fair point that does not receive anything like enough discussion, because it is taboo to mention it.

    • yalensis says:

      Exactly.

      Alexander started making that point near the end of the show, just before they ran out of time. Alexander was saying that the neo-cons were NOT in fact sleep-walking towards a great war, it was the PUBLIC that was sleep-walking.
      With the implication that the neo-cons who control American foreign policy are marching CLEAR-EYED and awake towards a big war with Russia.
      Which seems to be their goal.

  38. Tim Owen says:

    Totally gratuitous and certainly pretentious comment… but way back in Uni I spent a time writing on Don Quixote – in translation, if that even counts – and fell in love with Cervantes. It was partially due to the fact that I read biographies of him in conjunction with his writing. The contrast between the crushing hardness of his personal life and the sardonic but loving appreciation of human weakness in his writing left an indelible impression on me.

    Anyone who can carry off that feat has lived his life very well indeed.

    My favourite “critic” – read appreciator – of Cervantes is Erich Auerbach. He wrote a stunning book called “Mimesis” while he was an exile from Nazi Europe in, I think, Constantinople. It is kind of a love letter to European literature written by someone that Europe had cast out. He was, of course, a Jew. The chapter on Cervantes is genius.

    It was an “out of fashion” book 30 years back but it was the first book of criticism I read that made me realize that reading is a talent rather than simply an aptitude like walking as an infant. Some are better at it than others.

  39. Tim Owen says:

    In a nutshell:

  40. et Al says:

    IBT: Austria to repatriate £3.5bn of gold reserves in Britain
    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/austria-repatriate-3-5bn-gold-reserves-britain-1503428

    Austria’s central bank is planning to repatriate £3.5bn (€4.9bn, $5.4bn) of its gold reserves stored in London over the next five years.

    The move to bring back the country’s 80% of entire gold reserves from Britain comes as auditors warned about the risk of keeping the bulk of gold reserves in a foreign nation. In February, the Austrian court of audit warned of a “heightened concentration risk” related to storing a major portion of the country’s reserves in Britain.

    The Austrian National Bank plans to increase its gold stock to half the total of 280 tonnes. Vienna would begin to repatriate 92.4 tonnes of gold this summer, and a further 47.6 tonnes will be transferred from Britain to Switzerland.

    Following the plan, Britain will keep 30% of Austria’s £6.7bn gold reserves, while Austria will hold 50% and Switzerland 20%.

    It is expected that the gold bars will be taken out of the country in five-tonne batches on heavily guarded planes.

    In 2013, Germany announced its plan to repatriate all of its gold reserves in France and some in the US, as the country looks to keep at least 50% of its gold stock at home by 2020.

    The Bank of England looks after much of the world’s gold as most central banks send some of the stocks to London, given the city’s fame as a major international centre for the gold trade. Having the biggest bullion market in the world, London attracts buyers from Europe, Asia, Africa and the US.
    #####

    I normally don’t post full news pieces but this one has so little fat on it. Remarkable!

    So it looks like countries are voting with their gold. I guess if the UK really does have a serious problem with the EU (real or imagined), others see no point keeping free favors…

  41. Jeremn says:

    Friday humour – only it is true

    “A leaked letter dated May 19th and sent by the Chairman of Ukraine’s parliament, Vladimir Groysman, to the chargé d’affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Oslo Norway, thanks her for “the efforts you have made to have Petro Oleksiyovych Poroshenko nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize,” but continues: “Still we consider your assurances of support by the two members of the Nobel Committee as insufficient,” because there are five members of the Committee, and the support of 3 of them is necessary.”

    https://uprootedpalestinians.wordpress.com/2015/05/29/at-first-i-thought-this-was-satire-but-no-poroshenko-will-be-nominated-for-a-nobel-peace/

    • yalensis says:

      If Porky is nominated, then Zakharchenko should also get a nomination.

      • yalensis says:

        P.S. – based on that leak, the 5 members of the Nobel Committee and their attitudes would be:

        (1) Mr. Thorbjørn Jagland (“Labour Party”) – has already agreed that Porky gets the Peace Prize

        (2) Mr. Henrik Syse (“Conservative Party”) – has already agreed that Porky get the Peace Prize

        (3) Ms. Berit Reiss-Andersen (“Labour Party”) – is still on the fence

        (4) Ms. Inger-Marie Ytterhorn (“Libertarian Party”) – is still on the fence

        (5) Ms. Kaci Kullman Five (“Conservative Party”) – is still on the fence, but there is strong implication that Nuland will try to blackmail her into giving Porky the prize:


        “We expect further efforts aimed at shifting the position of Berit Reiss-Andersen, Inger-Marie Ytterhorn and especially that of the Chair of the Nobel Committee Kaci Kullman Five. Regarding the latter, we recommend that you take advantage of the information you are going to receive from Germany. Your colleagues in Berlin have assured us that the dossier will soon be delivered to the U.S. Embassy in Oslo. It is of utmost importance for Mr. Poroshenko to have firm guarantees that he will be awarded the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize, since it could highlight the unanimous support of Ukrainian integrity by the democratic community of the world. Assistant Secretary of State Viktoria Nuland has highly estimated your job during her visit to Kyiv.”

        Very curious what kind of blackmail info Vickie has against Kaci. Apparently the dossier is being delivered, even as we speak.

        Inquiring minds want to know!

      • Jen says:

        More likely the other 2015 Nobel Peace Prize winners will include the Myanmar government for turfing Rohingya Muslims out of their homes and forcing them to leave their homes and the Saudi Arabian government for bombing sites of cultural and historical significance to Yemenis in Yemen. Maybe even Abu Bakr al Baghdadi will receive a nomination for leading ISIS and providing so many otherwise disaffected and unemployed youth in Western countries with a de facto compulsory military draft.

      • marknesop says:

        Frequently when I go all-in on a big one I am catastrophically wrong – the stiff jail sentence for Serdyukov is exemplary – but I am as confident as I can be that the world I know will never nominate for a peace prize the “elected” leader of a country in which nearly a third of the population did not vote and who immediately occupied himself with a brutal civil war against that third. I mean, just how farcical could the world get, really, before the global population just began to ignore its governments as roadside attractions, and do as they pleased? Moreover, how brass-balled could the committee be to go ahead with such a nomination after the intention to browbeat and coerce it into nominating a fat oligarchic warpig like Poroshenko had been publicly announced?

        Or maybe the article actually was satire.

        • kat kan says:

          There are 276 nominations including 68 organisations. Nominations close at the end of February. About 3 months are taken in creating a short list of about 30-40 names and these are then examined in detail, final decision taken in late September and announced in October.

          He needs to have created a lasting peace by about end August to have any chance. If at that time his forces are still firing rockets 24/7 at women and children who are his citizens, his chances diminish somewhat. And what does anyone gain from giving him the prize?

          Instead, how is this scenario for political and financial gain from a well-placed Nobel Prize? Iran Foreign Minister gets the Peace Prize for having signed the nuclear treaty. Huge personal and national pride. Norwegian exploration companies, whose reserves in the North Sea are running low, get priority in negotiations for developing Iran’s oil fields which are now suddenly un-sanctioned.
          This Iranian blogger lays it out
          http://iranian.com/posts/strange-timing-coincidence-nuclear-deal-amp-nobel-peace-prize-51008/

    • Tim Owen says:

      His math checks out.

    • Tim Owen says:

      “Eurodisney” comes to mind.

    • marknesop says:

      Dear God – I’m speechless. I would have thought the U.S. government’s secret dirty craving to be spanked and ordered around by Israel would have satisfied its need for discipline, but apparently it wants to be ordered around by Ukraine as well.

  42. Moscow Exile says:

    From Radio Liberty:

    Navalny: The opposition has the right to appeal to other states to fight against a tyrannical regime.

    Навальный разрешил оппозиции призвать Запад для разрушения России

    Navalny has allowed the opposition to call upon the West for the destruction of Russia

    • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

      ‘The opposition has the right to appeal to other states to fight against a tyrannical regime.’

    • Erebus says:

      That’s just nuts. A “tyrannical regime” would slap anyone claiming this right into the deepest dungeon for harsh treatment so fast he’d pass out from the G-forces before he got there.
      Putin’s gotta be the luckiest national leader in the world to have this sort of idiot be the best the opposition’s got. A deep-fried banana sundae would win and hold power indefinitely against that lot.

      • yalensis says:

        That’s all true. Putin is a very lucky little tyrant. If a tyrant could pick his own Opposition, then this would be it.

        Certain people even think it HAS to be a conspiracy, and that Putin is secretly funding Navalny.
        But no, this is one of those cases where the truth is stranger than fiction.

        I have been following Navalny for a long time. He IS the real deal, he is an Oppositionist and Fifth Columnist, and he IS actually the best that they have. Never forget that he came in second when he ran for Mayor of Moscow.

        Of course, if he ran today, especially after making such blatantly compradore statements, he probably WOULD lose the race to a deep-fried banana sundae. Or maybe even to a ham sandwich, as the Americans like to say…

        • Erebus says:

          A ham sandwich remains palatable a lot longer than either.
          Whether he’s already controlled opposition or not, Putin would be well advised to scour the world for Navalny’s double, in case anything happened to the original.

    • marknesop says:

      Practically speaking, there is no limit to what Navalny will say or do in order to get noticed and stir things up. There is a bit of exhibitionist nutjob Yevgenia Albats in his makeup, and I suppose he imagines if he mouths off enough he will get himself arrested. Then he can be a political prisoner of conscience like his hero, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. I can’t imagine calling for your own country’s destruction would play all that well to the electorates of the alleged “free world”, though. It must be getting harder to say “Navalny’s not a nut” with a straight face, and in his own way he is as funny as Zhirinovsky.

  43. Jeremn says:

    New report by Bellingcat, about how the Russian Ministry of Defence lied about the location of a BUK photographed in Luhansk (suggesting it was the Russian BUK which brought down the Malaysian plane). The Russians suggested it was in Krasnoarmeisk, but it does seem to have been Luhansk. Some reasonably detailed info on the location in the report

    https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2015/05/29/whos-lying-an-in-depth-analysis-of-the-luhansk-buk-video/

    Then comes the clincher, in the commnets. Vincent Verweij notes that the provenance of the video is SBU, that the date of the sighting is probably out but also adds that, at the key period, that part of Luhansk was in Ukrainian-held territory. Here is his comment:

    “However, a couple of remarks.
    1. Location. The BUK video was first released on the Facebook page of Arsen Avakov, who was then the Minister of Interior of Ukraine. He wrote that the video was recorded in the border town Krasnodon. Untrue. Later the Russians said it was Krasnoarmeisk, also untrue. Ergo: both sides lied about the real location.

    2. Time. Avakov claimed the video was shot on 18 July at 04:50 AM. That’s only 10 minutes after sunrise. Apart from the fact that the sky is too light, the shadows in the video don’t match with that time of day. You would expect to see long, stretched shadows.

    http://www.pbase.com/image/127342670

    3. Date. There is new, circumstantial evidence that this video was not shot on July 18, but earlier. I cannot say much about, because we will reveal it in our tv-broadcast end of June.
    4. Control. Who controlled the spot where the BUK drove? The rebels or the government? Three days before the downing of MH17, on July 14, the Ukrainian army launched an attack to regain control of the Luhansk airport. They used the E40 road from the north to move to the airport in the south. A wide corridor around the E40 was created and several districts of Lugansk came back under government control. On July 18th, the government firmly controlled the airport and areas around the E40. The intersection where the BUK was filmed, is 2.5 km from the E40. It’s not clear who controlled it on July 18th. It could have been both sides. This map suggests the government controlled it, but it’s unclear how precise the LiveUAMap is.

    5. Route. If this video is showing the BUK that was used to attack MH17, why was it escaping to Russia via the least logical route? From the alleged launch site, Lugansk is not on the shortest way to Russia. In fact it’s a detour of at least 146 km.

    http://tinyurl.com/plrhaj7

    The shortest route would have been only 17 km.

    http://tinyurl.com/pfeskg8

    6. Direction. The BUK is driving from the north-west to the south-east in the video. If the BUK was coming from the launch site in the south, you would expect it to drive the reverse way, from the south to the north.

    Considering all the facts, I think it’s unlikely that this video is truely showing the BUK that was used to hit MH17, fleeing to Russia via Lugansk. I think it was a propaganda setup by the Ukrainians and that the video was either shot earlier, or was a Ukranian BUK system moving through government controlled area.
    regards,

    Vincent Verweij
    journalist
    KRO Television

    • kirill says:

      Thanks for this info. This pretty much kills that video as evidence.

      But it was the USA itself that make the Buk theory unlikely to be true. The put the launch point in Shenzhnoye. That puts MH17 outside the kill envelope of the early 80s Buk missiles used by Ukraine. (This seems to explain why the video of the Buk supposedly driving in from Russia was produced).

      • Jeremn says:

        Thanks. But if we take away that theory (that it was a Russian BUK in Luhansk), we don’t have another accusation to replace it with. Bellingcat have done such a thorough job targeting Russia and pooh-poohing the notion that it might have been the rebels.

        Which means we have to start thinking that perhaps it was the Ukrainian 156th Air Defence Regiment at Donetsk that accidentally fired a missile. They had more than 20 launchers deployed. Which means it was 20 times more likely to have been a Ukrainian accident than a rebel accident.

        • marknesop says:

          I don’t think it was an accident at all – I believe it was a deliberate act by whomever did it, with a plan in place to blame it on Russia. I do not rate Kiev’s information-management skills so highly, assuming it was an accident, that they could have simultaneously pointed the finger at Russia and fiercely suppressed a confession by whoever did accidentally do it, so that they were ready to make use of the incident by the time the morning papers hit the stands. It is not only important that the Ukrainian government blamed Russia – which is more or less routine and requires no great imagination – but that there were no competing narratives from inside Ukraine: the whole thing was extremely disciplined, and if there is one thing the Ukrainian government is not, it’s disciplined.

          If an entire SAM missile crew accidentally shot down a civilian airliner, somebody would talk. Even if the first person who did talk called the government, told them there had been a terrible accident and was told to shut up and never mention a word of it again, and then saw the televised accusation that Russia was responsible and told his crew to keep quiet, somebody else would have talked. If not to a reporter, to a friend, and as soon as it’s out, it’s out. An alternative explanation is that it was a loyal crew who knew in advance what they were going to do and could be trusted not to talk. There’s still the matter of the unexplained and totally unnecessary course/altitude correction ordered by Dnipro tower that took MH-17 right over the hot zone.

  44. et Al says:

    Another car bombing in Saudi Arabia:

    Neuters via Swissinfo: Saudi Arabia says four killed in foiled attack on Dammam mosque
    http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/saudi-arabia-says-four-killed-in-foiled-attack-on-dammam-mosque/41458564

    Four people were killed when a car exploded near a Shi’ite mosque in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, on Friday, but authorities said militants failed in their bid to hit the mosque itself.

    The attack targetted worshippers in al-Anoud mosque during Friday prayers, a ministry spokesperson said, quoted by the Saudi state news agency SPA.

    Security forces became suspicious of a car parked near the mosque which exploded as they walked towards it, killing four people and setting cars beside it on fire, SPA said. One of those killed is suspected of being the driver.

  45. Drutten says:

    More paid Russian actors on the streets of Gorlovka:

    • dany8538 says:

      Wow, that is powerful. I can’t even imagine what these people are feeling right now.
      This is when the emotional side in me wants to say ” Screw all of these brilliant Putin plans and just go crush these mf’s so that at least the women and children will stop dying.”
      I have no clue how the Kremlin can look at this and not wanna kill every single one of those despicable humans who are killing innocent children. I understand that there is a bigger picture but it is beyond painful to watch.
      And then the west finds it odd that so many Russian volunteers are there fighting for their relatives and friends?
      It really sucks to say but America for example only cares if its soldiers are coming home in body bags, otherwise they couldn’t care any less.

  46. et Al says:

    Mary Djevsky on the Fifa stuff – I’ll just post her concluding paragraph:

    Independent: Fifa arrests: Is it the final whistle for corruption in world football?
    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/fifa-arrests-is-it-the-final-whistle-for-corruption-in-world-football-10279732.html

    …But the delight at Fifa finally (perhaps) getting its comeuppance needs to be tempered. What happened yesterday was a significant extension of the US judicial reach. And while Fifa might be seen as a deserving recipient of American-style justice, it is worth asking whether we would like to see Washington’s legal writ extended to other international sports bodies, to European organisations, perhaps even to branches of the UN – and where this new projection of US power might stop.
    ####

    This is ‘low-hanging fruit’, i.e. stuff PR/government folks hold back to be used at a timing of their choice. It fits in to the US meme of being the indispensable Nation, a leader of the world in morals, ethics & transparency… as long as you don’t look too closely what the US does at home to its own citizens.

    • marknesop says:

      I don’t think this is a demonstration of burgeoning U.S. power or reach; in fact, I would say both are declining since they both depend on international cooperation. Articles on the subject report the American authorities have been investigating the matter for a decade, and I imagine they have developed substantial evidence of genuinely illegal activities. International cooperation is completely warranted in this instance, and the bullying of the U.S. government as a policy tool should not preclude assistance to the U.S. authorities when they are seeking the arrest of actual criminals in cases where there is compelling evidence they are guilty.

      American exercise of power usually begins with their finagling to get their own people or known sympathizers with American national objectives to positions of power in the organization. If other nations do not cooperate, that cannot be done. However, anyone who does not think the USA controls the UN lock, stock and barrel is delusional. Ditto European organizations, considering all of Europe has been compelled to dance to the American tune despite it demonstrably being against their own national interests.

      The west will lose this one, but that is not yet apparent to it and so it will blunder on, causing further irrecoverable damage.

      • et Al says:

        Maybe she would have been best served by inserting attempted.

        Blatter re-elected for the fifth time. If the timing of the raids were set to get HRH Ali of Jordan to take the job, then it is another EPIC fail by the United States.

        BTW, did anyone see Washington’s reply to Russian accusations of the US inveigling to strip Russia of the football World Cup? It was surprisingly strong with the US saying that no Russian national is mentioned in the report and has nothing to do with Russia.

        • PaulR says:

          This article points out that what we seeing with the FIFA/Blatter business is a shift in the balance of financial power worldwide away from Europe/USA. I don’t agree with everything in the article, but that point rings true. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/with-or-without-fifa-money-rules/article24674120/

        • Fern says:

          Washington’s statement that its actions have nothing to do with Russia is true…up to a point. It is the Swiss authorities who have launched an investigation into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup to Russia and Qatar. Now, it is possible that the Swiss were planning to do this all along, independent of the US or, if you don’t still believe in the tooth fairy, the most likely explanation is that the US set-up this week’s actions to put apparent clear blue water between itself and Russia’s hosting of the 2018 championship. Should Russia be stripped of the World Cup as a result of the Swiss investigation, well, that’s very unfortunate but nothing to do with the US.

          The US’s justification for its actions is, as far as I can tell, that alleged dodgy money, at some point, touched ultra pure US banks. It would probably be difficult to find any western bank that doesn’t have some connection to banks in the US so I think Mary Djevsky’s comment reproduced above is on the money – no pun intended. If the criterion is the alleged transit of money through US or US connected banks, then it gives American authorities the right to intervene anywhere in the world at anytime. Not something that should be readily ceded to the Exceptional Nation.

      • davidt says:

        Not so sure that I go along with your 3rd sentence- when, for example, does an accused become an “actual criminal”. Further, I cannot say that I was very sympathetic to the US’s behavior with regard to Victor Bout, Konstantin Yaroshenko or Roman Selegnev, among others. At least the US had a setback with its attempts to extradite Firtash from Austria, which the court saw as politically motivated.
        http://www.dw.de/austrian-court-refuses-extradition-of-ukrainian-oligarch-dmytro-firtash-to-us/a-184422693
        I think that I might like the US to mend its ways just a touch before working in with them too closely. In this instance, Prince Ali bin Hussein seems to be little more than a Western toady and his election would not have boded well for “Russia’s” world cup. Bhadrakumar has an interesting article on this:
        blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakumar/2015/05/29/kerry-left-sochi-laughing-to-himself/
        I might even change my attitude if the US gave a few bankers their day in court:
        http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-9-billion-witness-20141106
        but perhaps they won’t.

  47. Oddlots says:

    Friday afternoon musical post to kick off the weekend. Enjoy!:

    • cartman says:

      Santorum is Catholic. Pride is a deadly sin.

    • marknesop says:

      This is actually the Rick Santorum For President Theme Song; appears to mostly follow the tune of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” – here’s a teaser verse.

      Yes, he’s a friend of family values;
      the staunchest that you’ll find:
      and if you’re down on gays and lesbians, you’d better get behind
      his crusade to lead our thinking
      back to Thirteen Ninety-Nine –
      as Rick goes marching on

      It’s got a great beat, and you can dance to it.

  48. Oddlots says:

    Still the gold standard tho:

    • marknesop says:

      Oh, my God, that’s awful. I didn’t think anything could be worse than Karl Rove rapping, but that actually is so much worse that it deserves its own category. How could he have allowed that to be recorded? If that were me, I would have killed everyone in the audience rather than let that get out. What would you call that style? PatrioPuke? Balladeering for the Tone-Deaf?

      • Jen says:

        I heard a story that when Ashcroft was Attorney-General in Dubya’s first government, all Dept of Justice employees were required to attend daily or weekly prayer meetings (whether they were actually Christians or not, and there were Jewish people employed at the DoJ) where they all had to sing hymns, some of them written by Ashcroft himself.

        • marknesop says:

          Ashcroft’s defining moment came when he was beaten by a dead man in the Missouri senate race in 2000. But if he had a moment of integrity and perhaps a shot at redemption, it was when he refused to sign the papers reauthorizing Bush’s surveillance program, brought to him while he was seriously ill in hospital, by the odious disgrace to the law Alberto Gonzales.

          Now we have what is likely for more comprehensive and intrusive surveillance, so it was all for naught. And that has been deemed illegal as well, which means the same approach will be taken – they won’t give it up, they’ll just take it covert and not talk about it, until another Snowden happens along.

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