Hello; I’m From the European Council on Foreign Relations – I Hear You Have a Bridge For Sale.

Uncle Volodya says, "Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man, and our politicians take advantage of this prejudice by pretending to be even more stupid than nature made them."

Uncle Volodya says, “Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man, and our politicians take advantage of this prejudice by pretending to be even more stupid than nature made them.”

Are you familiar with the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)? No? Well, have a look at their website. Not to be a spoiler or anything, but let me quote briefly from it: “Inspired by the role American think tanks played in helping the US move from isolationism to global leadership, ECFR’s founders set about creating a pan-European institution that could combine establishment credibility with intellectual insurgency.”

Intellectual insurgency – now, there’s a phrase that should inflame your mental ganglia with mingled interest and suspicion, and you’re going to see an inspired example of intellectual insurgency in just a moment.

“The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) is a pan-European think-tank which conducts research and promotes informed debate across Europe on the development of a coherent and effective European values-based foreign policy.” Having, hopefully, established its affinity for intellectual insurgency, I’d like you to take the next step with me, and think about the target of all this intellectual insurgency. The formation of a coherent and effective European values-based policy.

Once again, please expore the website and draw your own conclusions; I have no wish to apply undue influence to your development of a viewpoint – but might I draw your attention to the membership?

Oh, the hell with it. Timothy Garton Ash, obsessive non-participatory warmonger and the biggest, knobbiest Russophobic prick in a waving pink field of turgid Russophobic pricks? Carl Bildt, Psychotic Pswede of the year and compulsive tweeter of everything anti-Russian? Ivan Krastev, Mr. Moscow-is-trying-to-split-the European Union when the European Union gleefully colluded in the manipulation of Euromaidan which started the cycle of violence in Ukraine? Radoslaw Sikorski, who needs no introduction? Toomas Ilves, fourth president of Estonia, who thinks current Russian wages are close to what they are in Ukraine? Russian average wages are more than three times as high as Ukraine’s – assuming people are actually getting paid in Ukraine – when both are converted to a common U.S. dollar value. Heidi “The EU is not trying to extend its sphere of influence to its eastern neighbours ” Hautala? Do tell. Come on, for Christ’s sake – don’t you think people can read?

You might imagine from this that the ECFR’s delight in the appointment of a foreign leader would be directly proportional to how anti-Russian his policies are, and the extent to which he is an irritant to Moscow. And you would imagine correctly (thanks, Tim).

With that in mind, let’s examine the ECFR’s continuing moonie and swoony support for corpulent criminal Mikheil Saakashvili, which I frankly find incomprehensible through any filter except his value as an irritant. Can the ECFR actually believe he is a suitable candidate to fight corruption? Seriously? Using that standard of measure, such a think tank could reliably be expected to endorse Keith Martin, Europe’s fattest man, for Equestrian Jumping in the 2024 Summer Olympics. And that’s even allowing for the fact that he died last year, poor soul. Not to belabor the point, but Mikheil Saakashvili is about as ill-suited – by both his nature and his proclivities – to fight corruption as a cricket bat is unsuitable for cleaning your ears.

Holy Hannah; I’m torn between the urges to scream out the window in frustration, and guffaw like a Seinfeld laugh-track. Well, let’s look at it.

Immediately, the author indulges in wild supposition – one of the reasons, he says, that the Russians did not move on Tbilisi in 2008 was their assumption that the Georgians would finish off Saakashvili themselves. There is no reason at all to believe this, and Sharashenidze is the only person in the world who has ever postulated such a ridiculous theory – it is particularly ludicrous in light of the fact that Tornike Sharashenidze was one of the earliest voices to admit Georgia started the war by attacking Tskhinvali. He voiced his opinion at that time that Saakashvili had listened to dunces in his government and expected the United States to intervene on Georgia’s side. That’s hard to imagine, considering the U.S. Secretary of State visited him less than a month before, and told him he had to “put a non-use of force pledge on the table”  in negotiations wih the separatist provinces. No word on whether she winked broadly and significantly at him as she said it, but there’s no particular reason to imagine so. The Assistant Secretary of State and other American officials also reportedly warned him not to escalate the situation right up until just hours before the conflict went hot. Both Saakashvili’s response to direction and judgment must be viewed as reliable like a chocolate teapot. A brilliant choice for governor. I guess “loose cannon” was already filled.

Note the generous use of the passive voice in excusing Saakashvili’s more glaring failures – some people lost their jobs, some people were sent to jail, Georgian protesters were dispersed by force, the television station which backed them was raided. Nothing in there suggests Saakashvili directly participated in any of these things – they just… sort of…happened. Imagine such things just…sort of…happening in Moscow. The ECFR would scream as if it were being cooked in a giant microwave.

But the author contends confidently that Saakashvili stands a good chance of success in straightening out the situation in Odessa, in the complete absence of any reason to think so. And that is the most maddening thing of all.

Let’s take a stroll together down memory lane, shall we, and have a non-partisan look at Saakashvili’s previous corruption-fighting record. Beeeeeoooowwwowww (that’s supposed to represent a time-bending sound effect). Okay, here we are in Warsaw; March 4th, 2008. The OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission’s final report on the Extraordinary Presidential Election in Georgia on January 5th has just come out – you can smell the photocopier blistering from all the way down the hall, and the pages are still warm. Just before we open it, I want you to imagine two things – one, that the events and actions we read about  took place during a presidential election in Russia, and two, whether the ECFR would regard them as examples of corruption in those circumstances. Ready? Here we go.

Oh, dear. It doesn’t kick off very positively, I’m afraid. “The campaign was overshadowed by widespread allegations of intimidation and pressure, among others on public-sector employees and opposition activists, some of which were verified by the OSCE/ODIHR EOM. The distinction between State activities and the campaign of the ruling United National Movement (UNM) party candidate, Mr. Mikheil Saakashvili, was blurred.” Intimidation and pressure of public sector employees and opposition activists, in Moscow, benefiting Vladimir Putin and his party – examples of a corrupt and rotten government? What say you, ECFR? I think you know. “Opposition parties were underrepresented in managerial positions in Precinct Election Commissions, and the ruling UNM (United National Movement, President Saakashvili’s party) held a de facto majority“. Is that how Putin runs Moscow? Not on our watch, Sunny Jim. Is that a model for governance in Odessa? I guess it doesn’t need to be – regional governors in Ukraine are appointed, not elected – pretty democratic, I think you’ll agree.

Amendments to the election code were adopted only weeks before the election, and their meaning was sometimes subject to interpretation. “[G]overnment distribution of social benefit vouchers was perceived to overlap with the campaign of Mr. Saakashvili, and raised the concerns about an unequal campaign environment.” You could say that – vouchers for utilities and medical supplies were distributed by authorities ahead of the election to pensioners and the poor; a clear case of use of state funds to buy votes, especially as the vouchers were prominently marked as being from Mr. Saakashvili and incorporated his trademark “5” (He was number 5 on the presidential ballot). Some voucher recipients were asked by distributors if they planned to vote for Mr. Saakashvili and were asked to sign documents confirming their intention. How do you think that would go over at the ECFR kaffeeklatsch if it were benefiting Putin in a presidential election? Like a turd in a punchbowl, I suspect.

The last presidential election, held in January 2004, was won by Mr. Saakashvili with 96 per cent of the vote, in a largely uncontested race in which the main opposition figures did not stand.” Well, ‘pon my word; that’s democratic, surely, and just about as non-corrupt as…say…Zimbabwe. I can easily imagine a president elected on such a believable tide of national optimism turning into a finely-honed corruption fighter, especially when the same country issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of abuse of power.

As mentioned just a couple of posts ago, Saakashvili’s reign in Georgia coincided with record high unemployment and record low wages. You can shake and stir that as much as you like without ever being able to pour it out as success. He built himself a multi-million dollar palace that dwarfs the White House, while the Georgian per-capita GDP for a year was less than $6,500.00. His Defense Minister ran an offshore business for three years, right under his nose, that grossed nearly a Billion dollars in 2012. If all of that does not smell to you like c.o.r.r.u.p.t.i.o.n in three-part harmony, your stink-recognition rectifier may need replacement.

The efforts by this author, through “intellectual insurgency”, to repackage the Georgian Misfortune as  Georgiy Washingtonvili are insulting, sophomoric and deserving of nothing but ridicule. I am frankly surprised that even a parcel of pernicious partisan peckerheads like the ECFR would print it.

This entry was posted in Caucasus, Corruption, Economy, Europe, Georgia, Government, Politics, Rule of Law, Saakashvili, Vladimir Putin and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2,017 Responses to Hello; I’m From the European Council on Foreign Relations – I Hear You Have a Bridge For Sale.

  1. Warren says:

  2. Terje says:

    Another leaked document,(like the Nobel Prize one and the Dick Durbin one). This time from Mustafa Dzhemilev to US Senator Chris Murphy.
    In my opinion it sound slightly over the top again. Either western diplomacy is very forthright in their internal correspondence, or someone is trying to compromise Russia by planting lots of dodgy documents.

  3. Warren says:

    • marknesop says:

      Much of that land once belonged to China anyway. I hope they will be careful and take the environment into account – that’s a fragile and unique ecosystem in which several species that are drawn down to a few mating pairs have their final refuge.

      • kirill says:

        What land? The only part that was associated with China is the one coloured in orange. It is called Usuriysk. The rest of it was never part of China. But it is common for many in China to believe that whatever was controlled by the Mongols at some stage is Chinese. And I believe in unicorns.

        • marknesop says:

          No, It was not a case of a visiting delegation of Chinese Mongols beating me with bamboo canes and insisting Russia actually belongs to China – the actual story is a bit more prosaic. I was having a conversation some time ago with some friends, and Vladivostok came up. The guy from this couple mentioned that what is now the Primorsky Krai was once Chinese. I said I didn’t think so, but when I got home I looked it up, and it seems the Chinese were in fact there first, although that population was nomadic and lived there only seasonally. However, the first Russian expedition did not arrive until mid-17th century, and there was no border agreement until the Nerchinski Treaty in 1689. The final agreement on jurisdiction over islands in the Amur was not signed until 2008. It was a part of the Far East’s past of which I was completely unaware.

          I don’t think the Chinese will ever colonize Russia’s Far East, because border disputes now would upset what I’m sure both countries hope will be a powerful and enduring alliance, at least until the USA is forced to withdraw from empire-building and retreat to being a regional power itself, and that is more likely to be a function of economics than anything else. They have spoken together before about the Chinese leasing large tracts of farmland, because China – despite its huge population – is a net food exporter and I’m sure they would like to expand on that.

          We visited Millionka once; the missus had a favourite shoe store in Vladivostok that sold Italian footwear, and bought a pair that gave her blisters. We went to Millionka in search of this particular natural ointment that was a great remedy for blisters; it was greenish and strong-smelling, and seemed to do the trick as well as anything I’ve ever seen. The place was a maze and I don’t know how anyone could find their way around in it. All the Chinese we dealt with spoke excellent Russian, and their relationship with the Russians appeared to be amicable. Millionka was pretty rough-looking, though, although I’m told they’ve cleaned it up a lot.

          The region is home to the Amur tiger, and the Chinese do not have a very good reputation for looking after the animal, preferring to view it as a giant gold mine of traditional medicines.

          • cartman says:

            It may have been Manchurian. I heard that the Manchurians banned Han Chinese from settling in what is now inner and outer Manchuria. I don’t think these lands were ever more than sparsely populated since they are very cold.

            • marknesop says:

              In winter they are quite cold – the Primorsky Krai (Maritime Region), I’m talking about now, and not quite Siberia – but summers are very hot and it seems to be this weird microclimate that enables these odd species to survive. The animal I was thinking about earlier but forgot to include in the comment is the Amur Leopard, down to about 50 animals but environmentalists are cautiously optimistic that they are at last beginning to increase.

          • Jen says:

            The only Clash of the Titans I would like to see in this part of the world:

      • Jen says:

        Kirill is right, the land south of the Amur River is the only bit that belonged to China before 1912 when the Manchu empire was overthrown. It only belonged to China because it was part of the original territory belonging to the Manchus before they conquered Ming China in the mid-1600s. The Manchus were a separate ethnic group then with their own language and culture but over time after the 17th century assimilated to the Chinese.

        The Chinese don’t have a very good environmental record in keeping the tributaries that feed the Amur River clear of industrial toxins. It was almost 10 years ago that a petrochemical factory explosion sent benzene into the Songhua River that then entered the Amur. Residents of Khabarovsk could not drink the water for quite a while (several weeks? I’m not sure) until all the pollution had cleared into the Sea of Okhotsk.

        The idea that China will eventually reclaim parts of the Russian Far East because of its large population size is popular but I’m inclined to put my money on Mark Adomanis’ prediction that the area will always be underpopulated because China’s population will soon start ageing very quickly, due to the impacts of the one-child policy and selective abortion that the policy has led to, and young Chinese will continue to gravitate to larger cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong, and mid-sized cities in-between.

        • Tim Owen says:

          How many of us have the following problem:

          Dear Jen,

          I am in love with you! You are like what Siri was purported to be. (And no, I have never been tempted to use that infernal service.) You appear to know everything and to never err. Err? / Ear? / oh ffs…

          It’s totally uncanny.

          I am heartbroken at the thought that my pleas to become your family’s Mr French – that is, butler – have apparently fallen on deaf errs…

          Ardently YOURS,


        • cartman says:

          It sort of contradicts the gloating over China’s “ghost cities.” There are millions of Chinese yearning to rough it in Siberia with no gas or electricity, but none want to live in any of these brand new modern cities.

        • Warren says:

          Thanks for the historical background, many racist Russian nationalists like to hype the Chinese “threat”, and advocate adopting Jack London’s fantasies regarding China.

          • yalensis says:

            Twas none other than our beloved Dr. Brzezinski who has been trying to pit Chinese against Russians. And the old goat is even open about his desire to stir up trouble. The doc longs for the good old days when Soviets and Chinese were at loggerheads, and Nixon flew to China to cement an alliance.
            Well, like every break-up, there are 2 sides to that story, but I tend to place more blame on Uncle Nikita.

            In any case, there is nothing like that going on now. Russian-Chinese friendship is at an all-time high, and hopefully will remain that way, despite the attempts of “well-wishers” such as Brzezinski and racists like Navalny to put a wedge between them.

            Having said that, there are real issues to deal with, like in any relationship. But both sides being normal nations and not hegemonistic sociopathic nations (unlike you know who), there is no reason for any issue or difference of opinion to lead to a break-up.

            As for the land issue: like people say, China doesn’t need land to own, they just need land to farm.
            Russia has land, which it can rent out. Problem solved in civilized fashion, without war or bitter words.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              From what I have observed in recent years, I reckon for a long while now the majority of foreign tourists that I have seen in Moscow has been Chinese, if that’s any indicator of the healthy state of the relationship between Russia and China. I very seldom hear or see British or or US or other native speakers of English here nowadays. Italians I see as well more than my fellow native English speakers and other Western Europeans.

              I am in the UK now, by the way, on a flying visit. I shall return to Mother Russia on 19th July. I am missing “home” already.

              I flew here on EasyJet, a cut price service that started up a Moscow – London and Moscow-Manchester service a couple of years ago. Rock bottom prices! Bought an outbound ticket online or £65. However, a fortnight ago, EasyJet announced that as from October 31st this year, it is axing the Manchester route owing to a fall in demand. Moscow times opined that this is because the Orcs can no longer afford to go abroad. Well it would say that, wouldn’t it.

              Be that as it may, my flight here was fully booked and the vast majority of my fellow passengers consisted of sub-human Finno-Ugric-Tatar-Mongols; likewise the passengers lined up at the next gate at Domodedovo bound for the EasyJet London flight. And the Orcs were all young – in their 20s. And they all seemed happy and healthy. No doubt they were in such a joyful mood because they were breaking free from the Empire of Evil.

              I wasn’t happy though. I should have preferred staying at the dacha with my Orcess and little Orcs.

      • Warren says:

        Only territory need the Amur river did China lose to Russia. The rest of the Russian Far East and Siberia was inhabited by nomadic peoples and were never at any time under Chinese rule.

        More on alleged Chinese revanchism and expansionism.

        China To Engage In ‘Six Inevitable Wars’ Involving U.S., Japan, India And More, According To Pro-Government Chinese Newspaper


        That said, the US fantasies over the possibility of a Russo-Sino War in the future and US/Western media loves to exaggerate “the yellow peril” to cause fear in Russia and provoke friction between the two countries.

        China Looms Over Russian Far East

        While trade has been blossoming, lingering concerns over military technology and worries over an influx of Chinese workers could hurt ties.


        Sino-Soviet relations did deteriorate in the sixties.

        USSR planned nuclear attack on China in 1969

        The Soviet Union was on the brink of launching a nuclear attack against China in 1969 and only backed down after the US told Moscow such a move would start World War Three, according to a Chinese historian.


        • marknesop says:

          Well, I’ll be! An old Larussophobe article! I’m overcome with nostalgia – that’s quite a collectors item now that Kimmie has declared victory and exited the battlefield.

  4. Patient Observer says:

    Had to share – almost lost my bowl of oatmeal on this:
    “An aggressor is anyone who attacks a country before the US does.”–Czech President Milos Zeman

    • Tim Owen says:

      Ms Appleblossom puts Milos’s thoughts down to Lukoil funding his election campaign*. They seem far too pointed and funny to be simply mercenary opinion from this armchair. For examples of that you have to look to the likes of Appleblossum herself, Lucas, Asslund and my favourite, Snyder. (Left a few out; can’t be arsed to look it up cuz I’m secretly Greek-Mexican. No work ethic.) Anyway, my fave moment of off-the-charts inanity was Snyder suggesting “we” need to oppose Putin because – you know – global warming. I kid you not. I ACTUALLY read that. In the NYRB no less.**

      I guess the suggestion would be:

      – Russia’s a petro-state
      – hydrocarbons are evil (as evidenced by the fact that the west has abandoned them and runs its economies on Unicorn-farts, the much vaunted “hope” and with “truthiness” in the nitro canister)
      – therefore Russia / Putin is evil

      WTF does that make the medievalist rulers / allies of the U.S. – that is the GCC -Professor Snyder?


      * This was during the Munk Debate in Toronto, far as I can recall.
      ** Can’t recall.
      *** Cuz why not.

    • marknesop says:

      That is comical. Like Homer Simpson says, it’s funny because it’s true.

    • Tim Owen says:

      Have you read Charles Bowden’s investigations? Man was a huge hero of mine. The stories he tells about the current state of Mexico are absolutely chilling:


    • AliCat says:

      Here in México we always knew he was going to escape again. So nothing new

      • Tim Owen says:

        Is there really an accent on the e? Jesus. I speak board-book Spanish only but never even noticed that.

        • Ali Cat says:

          Yes, all words that have the emphasis on the third from the last syllable or before, have accent, no exception. Thats why I prefer English better, no accents at all.

          • Cortes says:

            Tell that to Moscow Exile, reet!
            As far as esdrujulas, described by you so well are concerned, they conform to the general rules of Spanish orthography:
            1 when a word ends in a vowel, or “n” or “s”‘ the stress/emphasis falls on the second last syllable: chico, hola, guapa, playas, viven etc
            2 when a word ends in a consonant other than “n” or “s”, the stress falls on the final syllable: terror, reloj, interior, Valladolid, mujer etc
            3 when rules 1 and 2 are dis applied, the “irregularly” located stress will be marked with a written accent: carActer, rApido, intErprete, lApiz, regiOn, estrEs, Enfasis, cabrOn, VelAzquez, DalI, MirO, autobUs, panaderIa, Aguila, tirO, volviO, entendI, comencE etc
            Apologies for a being a bore and b not being able to find accents on this new tablet.

            • Ali Cat says:

              El ruso es más sensillo, todas las palabras tienen acentos, sólo hay que aprender en qué letra, en cuanto al español es más difícil por las reglas y las excepciones. pero gramaticalmente el ruso se lleva al español de calle.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                Russian stress is a nightmare! It is variable front, middle and end – and if you don’t get it right, the natives won’t understand you, e.g. замо́к – a lock; за́мок – a castle.

                As end stress is unnatural for native English speakers, they tend to shift it forwards, hence they call the the Bolshoi Theatre (Большо́й теа́тр) in Moscow the “Bо́lshoi Theatre” and not the Bolshо́i Theatre, where the first letter “o” in the first word, being unstressed, is pronounced as “a”, and say Sevа́stopol and Vladivо́stok instead of Sevastо́pol (Севасто́поль) and Vladivostо́k (Владивосто́к) as Russians do.

      • Warren says:

        Do you think El Chapo’s escape was sanctioned by Pena Nieto? Are the allegations that the Mexican government preferring the Sinaloa Cartel to others true?

        Mexican President Shamed by ‘Unforgivable’ Escape of Cartel Boss


        • Ali Cat says:

          For decades presidents have had their favorite cartel, Sinaloa, Juárez, Golfo, Guadalajara,etc. Sinaloas cartel is special since is the most powerful and rumor has it, is the one who got Peña Nieto to power, among other people. And also the one who knows a lot of things of previous PRI goverments. Another theory is that he is the only one that can bring order or stop the fighting between gangs or drug lords. He is the big boss plus he has support of the poor people, he applied the same technique as Pablo Escobar, feed the poor or help them and they will protect you since the goverment does shit. And the corruption of the system doesnt help. Every time I hear how people complain about Russias corruption, I honestly laugh, in my opinion México is even worse but thats just me. At least I dont hear gangs in Russia behead people and leave them for all the people to see. Or hang them on the bridges, women or men, they dont respect anything.

          What Bowdens talk about in the video is nothing about how really things are, my family and I havent been able to go out on vacations for years; outside central México, which is where I live, is not safe.

          I dont know if there are sites in english about it, here is one is spanish http://elblogdelnarco.com//carteles.html the videos are very hard to watch or the pics, I skip those, so youve been warned.

          • marknesop says:

            Actually, situations like this highlight our ignorance; or mine, anyway. All I recalled about “gang violence” in Mexico was the Zapatistas in Chiapas. That was so long ago that I had to look it up because I was a little fuzzy on the details. I’ll say – I remember the Zapatistas being portrayed in mainstream reporting as brutal savages prepared to do whatever violence was necessary to realize their cruel goals, which were not really specified. Now I come to find out their war was almost exclusively defensive, that they were opposed to corporate exploitation, pro-democracy and in some ways – such as the Women’s Revolutionary Law – quite progressive. I don’t know why anyone listens to the mainstream media at all; it’s almost completely lies and spin.

            But if you google “Mexican gang violence”, there’s actually an alarming amount of fairly alarming information which suggests the narcotics gangs are approaching the level of violence and lawlessness we used to see in Colombia and Nicaragua. This, for instance; more than 10,000 deaths between 2006 and 2010. Like Ukraine, there is disagreement on the figures and some say the Mexican numbers are 5 times higher than the official figures.

  5. Tim Owen says:

    Grexit update:


    “Despite my generally dour outlook, I never thought we’d arrive at the insane juncture we are at now, that of a Grexit being all but baked in. This would be a catastrophic outcome, most of all for the Greek 99%. If a Grexit comes to pass, it should deservedly blacken the names of everyone involved, most of all Merkel, whose incrementalism meant that all of the unresolved contradictions of the Eurozone produced intensifying pressure on its fault lines, and Greece proved to be the breaking point. But as we’ll see soon, her finance minister Wolfgang Schauble would also get a particularly large badge of dishonor.

    You don’t need to know much to know that the odds of Greece escaping a Grezit are becoming vanishingly small as time progresses, and there is perilously little time left. And mind you, this sorry trajectory is occurring even after the Greek government prostrated itself and offered to meet even more stringent conditions than its voters overwhelmingly rejected in a referendum less than a week ago.”

    … an age of midgets.

    • Tim Owen says:

      In case it’s not day-Glo clear: this kind of impasse has been experienced in Europe – at least twice in the past century. In the 1920s when the Bank for International Settlements was founded and the Young plan for German debt relief was implemented. (Didn’t solve it, but should have: -1 for Germany despite the injustice of Versailles.) Again in I think 1953 when more than half of German external debt and most internal debt was cancelled.

      And we survived.

      Bare (bear?) in mind that Germany was the economic / industrial powerhouse of Europe in both instances.

      Greece is 2 % of EUGDP.

      Our age in a nutshell.

    • marknesop says:

      Holy shit. How does the government prevent massive protest and revolution? Or does everyone just accept that that’s the way it is? No wonder election turnout is so pathetic compared with Russia.

      • Tim Owen says:

        I know!

        Just kidding.

        We’re all examples of this. Take the example of our – meaning North American – perceptions of Mexico. It is as entirely outrageous as the situation in the Donbas… yet we are at least actually given a glancing view of this through – massively – popular entertainment. (I’m thinking of Breaking Bad.) Full of excruciating violence. But “we” still don’t get it.

        In a way it reminds me of Northern Europe versus Southern Europe. Is the economic logic in the driver’s seat or is it just an epi-phenomena spat out by European prejudice and tribalism.

    • Drutten says:

      But… But… Transparency International said that the US is practically corruption-free, contrary to the likes of Russia where judging by their “score” you need to pay a hefty bribe to Putin himself in order to be able to leave your house to go shopping.

      I’m confused now.

  6. Tim Owen says:

    Sorry to give you all a “rash” of non-Russia related posts…

    U know that graph I’m fond of posting about sectoral balances? Actually, this is an even better version:

    Well Steve Keen wrote a beautiful little essay about what it means:


    The next time you hear some deficit hawk talking about balancing a government budget you can giggle… sigh… and join me in asking plaintively – again – to be “beamed up.” (FWIW I think the mother ship fucked off long ago.)

  7. et Al says:

    If you ignore most of the following article, there is this odd tidbit hidden in the middle.

    EUObserver Activists call for EU and US to blacklist Russian propagandists

    …One contact noted that Moscow itself is banning journalists, such as Simon Ostrovsky, an award-winning reporter with Vice News, from entering Russia.

    But EU sources said there’s no prospect of reciprocal action.

    “We don’t want to stoop to Russia’s level”, the Ostrovsky contact said.

    A senior source from one member state added that EU sanctions are reactive, not pro-active.

    He indicated there may be more listings if Russia escalates the conflict. But the EU won’t move first.

    “We were one of the countries which proposed Kiselyov, and not the only one, for sure”, he said.

    “But as for adding others to the list, I’m afraid there’s little mood to extend the list to anyone, let alone to target media people, given the EU’s blue-eyed approach to media pluralism”….

    I have to add, that since it the whole meme of “countering Russian propaganda” came to the fore in the west, the EU Observer has enthusiastically taken up the cudgels and reprinted all sorts of outright shite without their own analysis or comment, just reprinting stuff verbatim from NATO/assholes/Brussels etc.. Who’s paying for it all??? Politico.eu is also fairly shite.


    High quality journalism

    EUobserver is a non-profit organisation established in Brussels in 2000. It is financially and editorially independent of the EU institutions. Our team of experienced journalists file daily news reports from the EU capital and beyond and do in-depth investigations on topics of special interest. If you want EUobserver to look into a specific issue, please contact our editors. We protect our sources…

    Free Press

    EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states. We are not funded by the EU institutions. We generate our own income from subscriptions, advertising and news-syndication. We also receive institutional grant support from Adessium Foundation. In 2014, we were awarded a project grant from the Open Society Foundations.


    64% from ‘Foundations’.

    • Tim Owen says:

      That is classic. I suppose once the idea of State Dept. funded NGO’s – that is literally “non-government (funded)-organizations” funded by, errrr… the government – I guess they dropped the pretense.

    • marknesop says:

      ‘We don’t want to stoop to Russia’s level’.

      I wonder if that’s similar to what they said in Moscow when Simon Ostrovsky was strolling around the distribution point in Donbas and reporting that most of the aid boxes came from the EU. Or when Shaun Walker and Roland Oliphant were having a little giggle in the bushes next to the dotted red line on the ground which marks Ukraine’s border with Russia, and observed a Russian armored column drive past on its way into Ukraine – but didn’t get any pictures. Or when a video was later released purporting to show this column, passing some grass and weeds and assorted terrain which could be anywhere that has grass and weeds, and which was plainly shot from a vehicle within the column! Don’t be fooled by Shaun’s twatlike appearance or mild-mannered-reporter glasses – he’s a tiger for a story and no risk is too great to bring you the truth. Or when inspired charlatan and pathological liar Dr. Philip Karber showed the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee photos he claimed were Russia tanks entering Ukraine in 2015 when they were actually Russian tanks entering Georgia in 2008.

      Stay up there on your high-horse, EU. Say, do you think it’s true that liars will burn in hell? You know, I run a little sideline in asbestos underwear. Just sayin’.

      It is plain the west cannot tolerate a competing narrative – who knew it was this easy? – and doesn’t quite know what to do. It would dearly like to just ban it, but that wouldn’t look very good. So it has to settle for labeling it as the worst sort of lies generated by a desperate autocracy, and hope the public will plug their ears and cover their eyes like two of the famous three monkeys.

  8. Warren says:

    Published on 12 Feb 2015
    Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe.

    A major new book by New York Times bestselling author and geopolitical forecaster George Friedman (The Next 100 Years) with a bold thesis about coming events in Europe, this provocative work examines ‘flashpoints’—unique geopolitical hotspots where tensions have erupted throughout history—and why conflict is due to emerge again.

    “There is a temptation, when you are around George Friedman, to treat him like a Magic 8-Ball.” —The New York Times Magazine

    With uncanny accuracy, George Friedman has forecasted coming trends in global politics, technology, population, and culture. Now, in Flashpoints, he focuses on the continent that was the cultural and power nexus of the world for five-hundred years: Europe. Analyzing the historical fault lines that have existed for centuries within the borderlands of Europe and Russia–which have been the hotbed of numerous catastrophic wars–Friedman walks readers through the flashpoints that are smoldering once again. The modern-day European Union was crafted in large part to minimize these built-in geopolitical tensions, but as Friedman shows with a mix of fascinating history and provocative cultural analysis, that design is failing. Flashpoints is George Friedman’s most timely book, delivering an unflinching forecast for the coming years.

    About the author:

    George Friedman is the Chairman and founder of Stratfor, the world’s leading private intelligence company. He is frequently called upon as a media expert in intelligence and international geopolitics, and is the author of six books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Next Decade and The Next 100 Years. He lives in Austin, Texas.

    This Authors at Google talk was hosted by Boris Debic.

    • marknesop says:

      George Friedman and Stratfor are at their best when explaining events which have already happened, which is what analysts do, and he has no better a record of predicting future events “with uncanny accuracy” than any other speculative guesser who pays attention to what is going on around him. Stratfor, however, at least sometimes does report conditions and indicators accurately and without evident bias, so Stratfor is less partisan than most. It’s a big step beyond Bellingcat, Brown Noses and his Followers of Zoltan, but it’s still just an agency that operates on unclassified intelligence which it gleans by paying attention and doing research.

      • Tim Owen says:

        Does this mean… Jen could get paid?

        C’mon Jen! I’m a bargain!

      • Warren says:

        • marknesop says:

          The Americans never come in early, and when they do they come in big? Who’s he kidding? That was the Powell doctrine, overwhelming firepower, and the Wolfowitz/Rumsfeld doctrine of fast, light forces conducting a lightning thrust against an unalerted enemy shut him down cold until The Surge in Iraq. Why’s he telling the Ukrainians this? Is the USA planning to go in big? Ha, ha. Their logistics chain says there is no possible way they could go in as big as Russia could come back, not without a minimum 4-month buildup, and then they would have to reinforce constantly. The USA is not going to “go in” for a full-scale conventional war in Ukraine – it is trying to push Europe into doing it, and Europe is seven different shades of not interested because it is a recipe for humiliation.

          Putin and his advisors are ten times the planning team of Washington and the inbreeders in Brussels combined, and the Russians think capabilities, not intentions, like military planners should. If it’s something Washington could do, Moscow has assumed they would do it and planned accordingly. This is not an unalerted enemy.

  9. Pavlo Svolochenko says:

    ‘Are we slaves?’ the primitive asks.

    No, Ukrainians, – you’re barnyard animals.

  10. yalensis says:

    Photo album of Veruca’s childhood.

    Most ironic photo:
    Little Veruca clutching teddy bear mascot from 1980 Moscow Olympics.

    • marknesop says:

      I was intrigued by the photo of him as an 11-year-old transsexual, wearing a dress. It explains a lot.

      Oh, never mind; that’s his older sister, and he’s the white-haired tot. But the facial resemblance is uncanny.

      • Jen says:

        That second photo from the top in the link was taken some time after Senya had undergone a brain transplant in a secret KGB experiment that didn’t quite go right though it was not a complete failure.

      • yalensis says:

        I am sorry, but that is just one creepy looking child.
        If I were his parents, I would have thrown him back in the water.

        • Jen says:

          If I’d been the obstetrician who delivered him, I’d have scolded and smacked both parents.

        • marknesop says:

          Think of the suffering his older sister must have gone through – she must have had to wear a coat made of bacon to get the dogs to play with her, and probably had to sneak up on a bucket of water to get a drink.

          • yalensis says:

            People say that Senya’s sister was so ugly…
            (How ugly was she?)
            She was so ugly that even Ivan Karamazov would never have tousled her hair. *

            *Footnote: this clever and erudite allusion to that part of Ivan’s “Grand Inquisitor” rant where he states forthrightly (and incorrectly): “There is no such thing as an ugly child.”

  11. yalensis says:

    Latest news from Mukachevo:
    The surrounded Right Sektor band seems to have slipped away and melted into the woods.
    They were surrounded by police, army and national guard units. They were asked to lay down their weapons, but they didn’t.
    Instead, they slipped out of encirclement, and are now on the lam.
    Nobody knows where they are.

    • yalensis says:

      And as a precaution Hungary has tightened up its border crossing with Ukraine.
      Hungarian border guards are searching cars and being doubly cautious.
      No doubt they don’t want to risk the Right Sektor bandits trying to slip into Hungary.

    • marknesop says:

      Here’s The Kyiv Post’s take on it. Everyone seems to loosely agree that the issue is cigarette smuggling. Cigarette smuggling from Ukraine to Russia, according to Avakov, and Russians come to Ukraine to pick up the cigarettes, and then Vladimir Putin refused to pay Avakov. Sounds a little shaky to me – isn’t Ukraine the country that’s broke?

      Still lots of potential for this to escalate, it goes without saying. And the government is “negotiating” with Yarosh. What a victory for democracy!! Ukraine is Europe!!!

      • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

        Possibly the Ragged Sphincter apes thought being the great defenders of Ukraine entitled them to a bigger cut of whatever profits were being made.

        Or the local heavies decided that they didn’t have to fork over anymore of their hard-earned money to Yarosh’s mob now that his protector Nalivaichenko has been fired from the SBU.

        Whichever it was, the phenomenon will recur. With more and more villains trying to claim their cut of a shrinking pie, desperation will breed boldness.

        • marknesop says:

          And what does that mean for the poor ordinary slobs just trying to eke out a living and get through this dark chapter in the country’s history? Which is quite possibly its last, I should point out.

          • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

            Nothing good, but you know what? Fuck them – this is what twenty-five years of apathy brings you. I don’t know the expression offhand, but I believe it translates to something like ‘what’s beyond my doorstep is none of my business’ and that, more than Banderite integral nationalism or any other sort of post-englightenment jiggery-pokery is the creed most Ukrainians live by – this is what Ukrainians presumably mean when they boast about their ‘love of liberty’, not a love of political liberty (there’s nothing they care less about than that), just total indifference to anything besides the immediate comfort of their ragged arses.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            The poor ordinary slobs are very likely cooking up bigger batches of gorlika in which they can drown their sorrows and rant and curse against the obvious cause of all their troubles – the Moskaly.

    • marknesop says:

      Gee – that’s overall kind of discouraging, isn’t it? The part about protesters taking shelter in our Embassy is bad enough (and something I didn’t know until now), and I couldn’t repress a bitter chuckle at the cover-your-ass explanation that they were just poor people seeking refuge from terrible conditions, and Embassy personnel who let them in are just humanitarians. Those same helpless humanitarians say not a word about civilians being blown up by artillery in Donbas. But I would really like to meet Bob Fowler – who is plainly not military nor ever was, with his priggish diplomat’s dismissal of it – and have a quiet conversation with him over his remark that “NATO knows our posturing is utterly vacuous”. It would begin with our going over the list of dead we left behind in Afghanistan, which was not our war but one we were shanghaied into so the Americans could go a’adventuring in Iraq, and wind up with me punching him in the head.

      • et Al says:

        Now that the tentative deal between ROSTEC & Bombardier to build a couple of hundred Q400 regional turboprops is deader than dead, Russia is resurrecting Il-114 production:

        Flight Global: PARIS: Ilyushin Finance navigates choppy domestic waters

        Only a year ago Ilyushin Finance seemed in a very different position. A longstanding debate about its mixed ownership structure was finally poised for resolution. Negotiations remained active last summer with Bombardier about a proposal to buy 100 locally-built Q400 turboprops, as the Russian lessor waited for CSeries deliveries to begin in mid-2015.

        But 12 months later Ilyushin’s split-ownership structure has only been adjusted slightly, with the biggest issue left unresolved. The Q400 deal has finally collapsed with Ilyushin Finance now involved in plans to revive the Ilyushin Il-114 regional turboprop or perhaps partner with China’s Xian Aircraft to import or locally source the rival MA-700. The Russian lessor is also re-evaluating its order for 39 CSeries aircraft over concerns about schedule delays and availability of financing….

        …But the most immediate portfolio decision facing Ilyushin Finance is how to proceed with the Bombardier CSeries order. The lessor has ordered 39 aircraft with the intention of filling a gap between the 90-seat Superjet and the 180-seat MC-21-300. But Rubtsov was counting on receiving a financing package from the Export Development Canada bank. However, the Canadian government has prohibited such deals for Russian companies due to sanctions. Rubtsov is also concerned that the CSeries’ delayed scheduled – entry into service has moved from late 2013 to early 2016 – also erodes the business case for using the aircraft as a stepping stone for the larger MC-21, which is now scheduled to enter service a year later.

        Go Canada! Bombardier is still in the schtuck financially, the government not giving a s/t.

        • marknesop says:

          Oh, Bombardier is a national institution; I was surprised to learn, when I was on a course there to learn the MAST (Marine Systems Trainer, an embedded engineering systems training aid in what then were the new frigates. Long story, I’m not an engineer and never have been) system, that Bombardier builds a stiffish proportion of all the flight simulators sold by North America. Or did. We used to get in them after class and fly to Changi Airport in Singapore, or wherever, and try to land. If we were early enough that the floor power had not been shut off, the big jacks under them were still working so you could feel the aircraft bank and alter its descent altitude – very realistic. When you are taxiing on the runway, it even makes that “bump, bump” as you go over the joins in the concrete plates. Once the instructor said “watch this”, and drove right through the front of the terminal. A few people threw up their hands in front of their faces, as if that would help as you drove a 777 through a building (I think that was before the 777 was even out, except for trainers). The building is only 2-dimensional and in a second you are looking back at the other side of it because you went through it, but it was pretty cool.

          Anyway, Bombardier is well-entrenched in the government, with any number of ridings in Quebec heavily dependent on Bombardier as an employer; 2,800 in Montreal alone. And here you can see an immediate knock-on effect of the Russian cancellation, although it’s probably part of cumulative softness in the market due to weak growth: the Montreal workforce is cutting nearly a third of the jobs in Montreal, and nearly 2000 jobs worldwide. There you go, Mr. Harper – there’s your pay for all your loyal “Russian aggression” parroting. Hope you like it.

  12. Warren says:

    Published on 12 Jul 2015
    The Sunday Show is the only English-language TV show based in Ukraine explaining the eastern European geopolitical storm. The show is produced by the Hromadske International team which is part of Hromadske TV, a non-profit, independent, Ukrainian TV channel headquartered in Kyiv.

    This Week:

    ✔️US Strategy for Ukraine
    John Herbst, director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Program and former Ambassador to Ukraine
    ✔️MH17 a Year On: Looking for Answers
    Eliot Higgins, founder of Bellingcat
    ✔️Overestimating Russia’s Intelligence Services?
    George Friedman, Stratfor Director
    ✔️Why Ukraine Matters Even More Because of Greece
    Anders Aslund, Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, author of Ukraine: What Went Wrong and How to Fix It
    ✔️Prosecuting War Crimes and Rising LGBT Violence In Ukraine
    Nils Muiznieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights
    ✔️Photographing Ukraine’s Injured
    Joseph Sywenkyj, photographer and Fulbright scholar
    ✔️Explaining Violence Outburst In West Ukraine
    Mustafa Nayyem, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament (BPP)

  13. Warren says:

    Alexey Navalny now follows me on Twitter but I don’t follow him – I don’t know whether I should be honoured or disturbed……………..

  14. Warren says:

    Published on 12 Jul 2015
    The Sunday Show is the only English-language TV show based in Ukraine explaining the eastern European geopolitical storm. The show is produced by the Hromadske International team which is part of Hromadske TV, a non-profit, independent, Ukrainian TV channel headquartered in Kyiv.

    Putin’s War on Ukraine Is More Important Than Greek Debt


    • Tim Owen says:

      Holy shit. Am I the last to realize that Ukraine is the model suite in the roll-out of the EU 2.0. Ukraine: model pupil. (Broke, split apart, cut off from its natural market and at war with – cough – itself.) While Greece is the opposite: the fool in the village stocks. (Abused by its elites care of their allies in finance and by a massive whipping up of European prejudice and “resentiment”… That is: bad faith. Really, that is still shocking even for a cynic like me.)

      But I’m coming round.

  15. Warren says:

    Pro-US Empire conspiracy theorists such as Eliot Higgins are indulged and celebrated by West media and think tanks.

    Published on 12 Jul 2015
    The Sunday Show is the only English-language TV show based in Ukraine explaining the eastern European geopolitical storm. The show is produced by the Hromadske International team which is part of Hromadske TV, a non-profit, independent, Ukrainian TV channel headquartered in Kyiv.

    • Tim Owen says:

      OMFG. Hard to watch but surely this is surely the takeaway:

      Addressing Elliot Higgins talk up of crowd sourced news the razor shaved fucker says “… and this is something people can do from home right?”

      What, like crochet? Is this the effing shopping channel?

      We are so fucked on this planet and Ukraine is exhibit A.

      • yalensis says:

        What’s wrong with you, Tim? Everything can be done from home, nowadays.

        Crochet, stuffing envelopes for direct mail, grading papers, satellite reconnaissance….

        • Jen says:

          That’s why Elliot Higgins can write an article called “MH-17 a Year on: Looking for Answers” – because if he were to leave his apartment and do some actual old-school investigative work, he would have had his answers already and he would be back in the dole queues.

  16. marknesop says:

    Meanwhile Halya Coynash, Ukrainian Human Rights activist and singlehanded guardian of the Russian-troops-in-Ukraine story, breaks the news that Russian soldiers face 10-year prison terms for deserting their units because they feared they would be sent to Ukraine. Shadowy recruiters dressed in fatigues without insignia – the dreaded “little green men”, I guess they don’t want even their own troops to know who they are – offered them as much as 8000 rubles a day to go to Ukraine to fight, but those stout lads were having none of it, for any price. The fearsome Ukry army, you know. The source, not surprisingly, is the would-be fifth column Novaya Gazeta, which seems to collaborate quite closely with the Kyiv Post.

    Average Russian salary according to Rosstat is about 780 rubles a day. So Russian soldiers offered 10 times the average salary to fight in Ukraine would rather do 10 years in prison than go to Donbas where there isn’t even any fighting right now. Because the Ukry Army is so scary, or because they are imbued with such a strong sense of right and wrong and just want to see Ukrainians happy in the EU. I’m beginning to believe those guys did dig the Black Sea. They must be pretty fearsome.

  17. 18 soldiers were killed and 19 injured when a barrack collapsed in the airborne training center in Omsk. The barrack was supposedly over 50 years old. It had seen some repairs over the years but TASS is saying that the most probable reason for the collapse is that there were violations during the repairs: http://tass.ru/en/russia/808026

    The figure of 18 dead seems so high though that it makes me wonder if there was a terrorist attack and they are trying to hide it?

  18. ucgsblog says:

    This is hilarious, Russia Analysts have adopted a new tactic to deal with the media’s stupidity. Write tough, but propose sane solutions that are favorable to Russia. For example: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/07/we-need-to-get-tough-with-russia-now-120002.html

    The title says: “We Need to Get Tough with Russia, Now” and even says: “Everyone should listen to Gen. Dunford’s warning of an ‘existential’ threat to the U.S.”

    Sounds tough, right? And then the article opens up: “Obama’s restraint has been wise at one level, but Washington’s tendency has been to move this issue to the back burner and hope it stays there.”

    Don’t you love it? I’m going to get tough with you Mark, by showing you wise restraint. Feel my toughness baby?

    “So the United States and its NATO allies need to get serious about the situation now, and complement their existing policy approach with new ideas… A grand solution should also be proposed to Moscow. As a complement to the Minsk concept and the continuation of economic sanctions, the West should offer a proposal for a new Central European security architecture for non-NATO states that Russia would be asked and expected to co-guarantee, if it wishes that countries like Ukraine permanently forgo pursuit of NATO membership.”

    Yeah baby! Toughness!

    “The Pew poll suggests that Western publics are firmly united behind this sanctions-based approach—and that modern democracies, while wary about the use of force, are a far cry from the paper tigers their critics sometimes purport them to be. But our policies are far from adequate to the task at hand and need to be improved now—before the situation escalates further and reduces our room for maneuver, and before the 2016 U.S. presidential race reduces Washington’s room for maneuver as well.”

    Translation: “we bit off more than we can chew when it came to Ukraine, and must now backpedal, whilst avoiding looking weak. So we need new ideas. Let’s take a proposal that Putin made years ago, and implement it under new packaging, thus pretending that we’re really forcing Putin to accept his own proposal! Toughness!”

    Although, to be fair, the Brookings Institution advocated against the Ukrainian Campaign, so I guess I shouldn’t be too harsh on them.

    The problem is that the situation changed, radically so. India and Pakistan joined the SCO. The EU is under massive economic pressure, and NATO will be unable to prevent Russia from taking the Baltics by force. Of course the Russians don’t want a war in the Baltics; nobody does, except a few crazy leaders there who have no idea how to dress. But when it comes to Ukraine, where war is already raging, why should Russia accept less than what’s available? Two more points:

    “It underscored that the West has a number of strengths in dealing with Putin—but also a number of serious vulnerabilities that will not get better just by ignoring them. The survey, led by Bruce Stokes and Katie Simmons, found that majorities of citizens in a number of key NATO states would not favor the use of force to protect another alliance member in the event of Russian aggression against them. That would seem, on its face, to ignore Article V of the NATO alliance’s founding charter, the Washington Treaty of 1949, which states that an attack on one is an attack on all, and should be treated accordingly.”

    “Meanwhile the current crisis over Greece and the Eurozone—which is not likely to end soon, if ever—is only likely to further undermine Europe’s resolve and induce it to turn inward, allowing Putin to breathe easier.”

    The point’s been made. The West cannot effectively challenge Russia on the issue of Ukraine, and must compromise. And, just as I predicted, the compromise would’ve been acceptable to Russia a year ago. But right now? If I was in charge of Russia, I would demand more concessions. Thankfully, at least intelligent analysts want this crisis to stay in Ukraine, and idiots will be idiots.

    • marknesop says:

      I agree, except I would go further and tell the west to stuff its agreement. Not because I (I’m being Putin, here) am disagreeable and unwilling to compromise – I think I have showcased that on a number of international stages as well as in continued deals with Ukraine – but because I know treaties and international agreements mean nothing to Washington. It is only looking for breathing space, and will be back at its inveigling and public blustering as soon as the election is over; it’s a rite of passage for incoming presidents.

      If this is truly going to be a clean break with the west and if Russia truly means to draw a line regionally, then the west has to know that making nice for the cameras is off the table. Not so hard when you consider the west already doesn’t mean it and can’t be trusted – it’s just looking for help to put Ukraine back together, for which it means to take all the credit.

      • ucgsblog says:

        Bill Bradley, a very respected former Senator, put forward five proposals, but I doubt that even they go far enough: http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/2015/06/bill-bradley-a-notable-former-us-senator-speaks-out.html

        1. Russian forces would withdraw from eastern Ukraine, and Russia would accept Ukraine’s current borders in a binding treaty.
        2. Ukraine would agree never join NATO.
        3. Ukraine would be allowed membership in both the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union.
        4. A new, internationally supervised referendum would be held in Crimea on whether to join Russia, remain part of Ukraine, or become independent, as Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution and others have suggested, thereby providing a victory to the West’s core values by promoting authentically democratic self—determination, as opposed to the phony democracy practiced in the referendum held in Crimea last year.
        5. All economic sanctions on Russia would be lifted.

        A year ago, (since we’re role playing as Putin,) I would’ve jumped at those terms. But a year passed and the situation changed. First part – why? Russia can annex Eastern Ukraine, a productive region where Putin can pull off a population reversal, thus bringing Eastern Europe back into Russia’s orbit.

        Second – NATO won’t accept Ukraine. To do so, is to disband NATO.

        Third – and give the EU a corridor into Russia? Not sure how beneficial that would be.

        Fourth – doesn’t really matter, as long as all UN member states accept it – why not? I mean it’s not like the Crimeans are going to vote for something other than Union with Russia, after the massive economic improvements

        Fifth – nope. EU renewed them for six months on June 22nd. Russia upped the ante to a year. No point in backing down now.

        What a difference a year makes!

  19. yalensis says:

    Here is more info on that collapsing army barracks story , that was alluded to, by Karl.
    And no, it is not terrorism.
    It was caused by shoddy sub-standard repairs, and they are blaming Serdiukov’s legacy.
    Apparently, there are other military objects in Russia in similar pitiable condition, which need to be repaired ASAP, before somebody else gets hurt.

    • Patient Observer says:

      Another famous collapse story was the Charles de’Gaulle airport collapse killing four (4) weary travlers:
      Presumably caused by shoddy Russian contractors using defective Chinese materials.

      • Cortes says:

        Cameron vs Hamilton Auction Marts, Scots Law Times, 1955 (Sheriff Court) p 74′ has Sheriff Hector McKechnie’s judgement on the case of the abbatoir gatecrashing cow which managed to climb flights of stairs in a nearby tenement building, enter a flat, fall through the floor into the flat below, recover, then turn on a tap/faucet in a plugged sink which overflowed causing a further collapse into Mrs Cameron’s greengrocer shop below. The judgement is a thing of beauty. Available online, for those who admire logic and have a spare hour.

  20. yalensis says:

    Ukry starting to get worried about Trans-Carpthian separatism:

    Rada Deputy Boris Filatov, who belongs to Igor Kolomoisky’s party, was outraged when he read some blogposts written by Trans-Carpathians. Who claimed that Trans-Carpathia was unjustly taken away from Slovaks and Hungarians in the 1950’s.
    Some of the Rusyns there say they are not Ukrainians, and never have been.

    Filatov was outraged at some of this loose talk on blogs. He retorted on his own blog with the following proposed remedy to these separatist inclinations:

    «Можете почитать, что публично пишут в своих бложиках некоторые местные деятели. Врачи! Жечь падаль каленым железом. Сажать и лишать имущества», — написал Филатов на своей странице в соцсети.

    “You cannot even imagine what some of these local activists are scribbling in their blogs. I would brand these scum with a heated up iron. I would throw them in jail and confiscate their property.”

    Recall that Filatov made similar threats against Crimeans.
    Which just scared them even further into escaping from the tender embraces of Ukrainian nazis.
    I am betting most Rusyns also wish they could opt out of this Ukrainian “prison of nations” and become part of Slovakia or Hungary. Unfortunately, they don’t have that option, so they are stuck in this abusive relationship.

  21. yalensis says:

    Do they, or don’t they?
    Some people say, that Right Sektor is withdrawing all their battalions from Donbass and moving them West, back towards Kiev.
    Right Sektor denies this, and says, no, all their guys are still in place at the ATO, valiantly fighting the Colorados.

    The Donetsk News Agency says that Right Sektor is withdrawing from the front lines. Quoting DPR Deputy Minister of Defense Eduard Basurin.

    Basurin reports that the Right Sektor guys truly are leaving, thus providing some blessed relief to the people of Donetsk. Resulting in fewer incidents of shelling, etc.

    • yalensis says:

      And what’s the plan, once the Right Sektor battalions reach Kiev?
      According to this piece, Right Sektor is organizing a massive meeting on the Maidan this coming Sunday, July 19.

      Right Sektor spokesperson Dmitry Pavlichenko announced the following:
      -He urges everybody to swarm to Kiev on Sunday. The meeting (“veche”) will start promptly at noon.
      -The purpose is to form “organs of power” to replace the current government.
      -A priority will be also to form a “people’s court”.

      Right Sektor has issued ultimatum to Ukrainian government: They want Avakov’s head on a platter.
      There is constant picket of around 100 persons around President Poroshenko’s office building. The picketers wear insigna for parties such as “OUN”, “Freedom or Death”, and “Right Sektor”. The building is protected by around 30 National Guards troops, and there has been a stand-off up until this point.

  22. et Al says:

    Financial Crimes: Greece talks: ‘Sorry, but there is no way you are leaving this room’

    …In the end, some bleary-eyed diplomats emerged unsure who had prevailed in the marathon session. But they seemed agreed as to who had suffered most.

    “They crucified Tsipras in there,” a senior eurozone official who had attended the summit remarked. “Crucified.”

    Despite Hollande, you would have thought the other leaders in Europe would have known better than to humiliate a fellow leader like Tsipras. Nothing has been learned. Damn this house of cards.

  23. Drutten says:

    On a more lighthearted note… Last year, right when the Sochi olympics had just kicked off, Julia Ioffe solemnly declared that “Petty Corruption Has Killed the Great Russian Athletic Machine” in this well-known piece:

    Tomorrow, the 2015 Universiade in South Korea ends, and this presents me with a golden opportunity to check the Russian tally in this and other big (multi-disciplinary) sporting events that Russia’s been participating in and that occured after Ioffe penned said obituary.

    So we start off with the Sochi Winter Olympics themselves:

    Then we move on to the 2014 Euro Athletics (there were no World’s in 2014):

    Then the 2014 Euro Team Athletics:

    The 2015 Winter Universiade:

    The 2015 World’s Indoor Athletics:

    The 2015 Euro Team Athletics:

    The 2015 Summer Universiade (one day to go):

    Looks to me as if the “great Russian athletic machine” is doing just fine. Next up is the 2015 World’s Athletics in China, starting in late August.

    I’m not a superstitious kind of person, but it seems like whenever the usual suspects predict gloom and doom for Russia things eventually turn out rather different. Tee-hee.

    • Drutten says:

      “2015 World’s Indoor Athletics” should be “2015 Euro Indoor Athletics”.

      And I forgot to include the 2015 European Games (the inaugural “Euro Olympics”, pretty much):

      And the 2014 World’s Indoor Athletics:

      Then, Russia did absolutely fine in winter sports during this time, such as in ice hockey (gold in the IIHF World Cup 2014, silver in 2015), biathlon (gold and overall medal tally wins in the IBU Cup 2013-14, IBU Open Euro 2013-14, Euro Championships 2014-15, the IBU Junior 2014-15), cross-country skiing (individual silver in the FIS World Cup 2013-14, national silver in the same, national silver in the FIS World Cup 2014-15 etc). Usually trailing Norway in all these cross country skiing-focused sports, as one would expected (skiing is religion in Norway).

      Anyway, I’m not even Russian but I totally understand Mutkos sentiment that Julia Ioffe was quoting. Namely: “I’m not ashamed of our athletes”.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Good info. Thanks for posting.

      • ucgsblog says:

        I loved watching the Russians during the Baku Olympics.

        Russophile: “our teams shall win the Gold Medals needed to get first, and our soccer team will rock the World!”
        Russophobe: “in your dreams!”
        … time passes…
        Russophile: “hey, have you seen the Baku Olympics?”

        I stayed up watching that! Never realized how exciting beach soccer can get.

  24. Warren says:

  25. Warren says:

  26. Warren says:

    • Patient Observer says:

      What is Canada’s problem? Are they trying to win the coveted “Servilest country of the year award”? Do they sense a vulnerable in Albania as the reining Serviliest country?

  27. Warren says:

    • yalensis says:

      Stakhovsky is a Maidanut.
      Pro-Maidan, pro-ATO, pro-svidomite.
      If you look at his Twitter account , he re-tweets a lot of stuff from Radio Svoboda and other svidomite sources.

      But, as Lisitsa points out, nobody objected to any of this, they only objected when he uttered something that was mildly anti-gay.
      For which, under pressure of Western public opinion, he crawled down on his knees and apologized.

      But don’t expect him to apologize for being an Ukro-Nazi supporter!

  28. Northern Star says:


    So..the Greek Government leaders-Tsipras et al- disavow the ‘no to more austerity’ result of the referendum that it proposed to begin with???


    He gets some of it kinda sorta right…well…a little bit

    • marknesop says:

      “Washington is being played for a sucker as usual.” Ha, ha – yes, poor mild-mannered pacifist Washington, having to sort out the restive Europeans as usual. Such a martyr, it seeks only global peace and security. Just as if butter would not melt in its mouth, never mind hand-pick the leaders of the future government of a country it promised would be so democratic you wouldn’t even believe it, or maneuver the situation into violence when things were not sufficiently chaotic that people would make foolish decisions. Poor sucker Washington, always having to clean up the mess others made while never making one itself. It’s enough to break your heart.

      Wading through that whole porridge of turgid prose was worth it, just to hear Edward Lucas accuse someone else of “strategic incoherence”. What poignant irony.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Years ago, it was a popular meme that any country who wanted to prosper merely needed to declare war against the US. The US, after a quick and humane victory over the aspiring country, would shower them with aid. The “proof” was Japan and Germany. Aaah, the good old days when life was simpler.

        • marknesop says:

          There was a book on exactly that premise, also a movie of the same name; “The Mouse That Roared“.

          • yalensis says:

            Yes, if there was remake of “Mouse” today, it would go something like this:

            Not-well-off but okay-doing country just middling along, minding its own business.
            Suddenly terrorists come out of nowhere and start attacking people, bombs raining down from the sky.
            People are murdered and cut up, their leader is assassinated, all infrastructure and social services break down, people become destitute and resort to eating rats while avoiding marauding bands of religiouis fanatics.
            But the punchline is that American President decides to ship them a few trucks of spam to tide them over.

            It sounds so FUNNY!
            paging Hollywood….

        • cartman says:

          Japan & Germany had decades of industry and infrastructure built before the US ever arrived. It is why their most cherished and recognized brands today were all engaged in wartime atrocities.

          Most everywhere else the US has invaded has been a failure because the US didn’t actually build anything in these cases.

  29. Warren says:

  30. Warren says:

  31. Warren says:

  32. Warren says:

  33. marknesop says:

    From OffGuardian, a Ukrainian tank battalion refuses to obey orders from Kiev and warns they will give up their weapons only in the event of being demobilized. The unit has not been rotated out of line positions this year, although the Commanding Officer departed on leave. They’ve had enough, and coupled with the high-profile (in Ukraine, anyway) switching of sides by Kiev’s Deputy Defense Minister, could kick off a cascade of military disobedience. It’s shrewdly timed to coincide with Poroshenko’s preoccupation with Right Sector, when he already has his hands full. It looks like Ukraine is starting to fall apart. The question is, what kind of leadership will emerge?

  34. et Al says:

    I’ve never heard of the guy:

    City Am: Putin’s old pal Sergei Pugachev flees London for France in £655m fraud case

    A once-close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin has gone on the run in the midst of a High Court case, saying his life is in danger.

    Sergei Pugachev defied a court order by fleeing the to France after he was charged with stealing more than £655m.

    The exiled Russian oligarch became a French citizen in 2009 and left Russia in 2011. He’s been fighting a legal battle over claims he embezzled millions of dollars from Mezhprombank, the Moscow bank he co-founded.

    Pugachev, once known as “Putin’s banker”, fled weeks after he said attempts had been made on his life. Russia last month demanded his extradition from the UK, and the UK High Court froze his assets last year in support of Russia’s claims….

    Exactly how is he ‘Putin’s old pal’ or ‘Putin’s Banker’? It looks like the usual Pork Pie News Networks pavlovian reaction to anyone who happened to be Russia at the same time as Putin.



    He was around a long time before Putin. The PPNN might as well have called Khordokovsy ‘Putin’s old pal’ too, not to mention a host of others. The mind boggles!

  35. marknesop says:

    France quietly gives up on blocking Russia’s bank accounts on behalf of the YUKOS suit.

    Speaking of France, a tentative deal has been struck for France to pay back $1.3 Billion for the MISTRALs. Plus the millions of euros per month to maintain them in France, and no buyers in sight, so that the cheapest option is probably to break them up for scrap or sink them.

    • Patient Observer says:

      The French should let the Russian sink it with some Brahmos anti-ship missiles. They could sink the ships while tied up to the dock or better yet set up a satellite pay-per-view sinking in the middle of the Med – should be a huge money-maker in the Russian market.

      • Jen says:

        The US will probably make an offer to the French to buy the ships off them so they can plunder them for any technology and then use the ships for target practice but by the time the idea of making an offer occurs to someone in either US Congress or the Pentagon, the ships will already have been broken up or sunk.

        • marknesop says:

          They wouldn’t be allowed; the ships very likely are bound under a third-party technology agreement and are forbidden for sale to a third nation without Russia’s consent because they contain proprietary Russian technology. Much like the deals the USA strikes regularly with allies, like the UK’s Polaris missile boats. They belonged to the UK but they were not allowed to sell them or any part of them to anyone else, and they had a U.S. Navy officer in the crew who was a part of all missile drills and launches.

  36. et Al says:


    The cure, worse than the disease? A short term victory for northern Europe? It will be fascinating to see this play out. Either way, it has done serious damage to European ‘unity’ (as if it ever existed except on paper as the lowest common denominator). No Sympathy for the Devil (German government) here…

  37. marknesop says:

    Back in 2011, Boeing was crowing (hey, that rhymed) because China’s regional commuter jet design had not received regulatory approval and had been put on hold for 4 years. That’s because China had announced a long-term plan to compete seriously with Boeing and Airbus. More recently, Boeing began making overtures to China, and claimed to hold more than 50% of the local parts market. It was fairly clear that Boeing hoped to increase market share in China. You can find those stories on Bloomberg, which for some reason is running so slow today that it keeps hanging up my computer so I can’t copy the links.

    But a couple of days ago, China signed a deal with Sukhoi to buy 100 Superjets over the next three years. Cue that “wahn, wahn, wahhhh” sound they make on TV when something goes seriously wrong. For somebody. Say bye-bye to $3.6 Billion, Boeing.

  38. et Al says:

    How did I miss this?

    New York’s Crimes: Gazprom Cancels Italian Contractor’s Deal for Black Sea Pipeline

    he Italian oil field contractor Saipem said on Thursday that Gazprom, the Russian natural gas exporter, had canceled its 2.4 billion euro, or $2.6 billion, contract to build a pipeline under the Black Sea…

    …Saipem said in a statement that the termination was for “convenience,” which was part of a standard contractual clause. It added that the terms of the contract allowed for compensation.

    The companies could not reach an agreement because of “numerous operational and commercial issues related to the new Turk Stream project,” said South Stream Transport, the Amsterdam-based subsidiary of Gazprom that is in charge of the offshore section of the pipeline.

    “Other project-related works remain ongoing,” it said, “and the company will commence discussions with potential offshore pipe-laying contractors for line one of the Turk Stream project shortly.”

    Mr. Green wrote in a note to clients on Thursday that the disagreement may have centered on added costs because of the new route to Turkey.

    It’s a fair bet that the Russian government might well have wanted a discount considering the ships had been doing nothing for six months but the company was still getting paid full whack. It clearly shows that they are not desperate to build Turkstream wily nily and be fleeced in the process. I also wonder if one major problem may have been that a change in route would have constituted initialing a new contract which would therefore be liable to EU sanctions (as pre-sanction contracts are still being honored) and have provided the EU with leverage against Russia, i.e. leading to the same bs faced with South Stream. Either way, a delay is not a crisis and in light of how exactly events in Greece will shake out and what unsaid demands may have been made vis Greek Stream/whatever, a pause for reflection may well be a very wise move altogether.

    • marknesop says:

      I don’t know how you missed it, because I posted it a few days ago. Don’t you listen to me?

      Anyway, I don’t think there’s any hurry, as you say. Washington is going to do its best to keep energy prices low, and it might not hurt Europe to get a little scared, or to have Ukraine siphon off free gas from their supply once more for old time’s sake. They’re not going to develop either an alternative fuel or an alternative market in a year – you can barely get an agreement on where a summit meeting is to be held in a year.

      • et Al says:

        WHAT?! Oh, yes. I must have been trying to think of two things at the same time and I had a memory error (only applies to boyz).

  39. yalensis says:

    Lavrov has secret crush!
    Internet was all abuzz, after video surfaced Fridayshowing Lavrov waving and blowing kiss to somebody offscreen at BRICS summit.

    Finally, today it was revealed who that person is:
    South African Foreign Minister Ms. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane!

  40. yalensis says:

    Joe Biden praises Jaresko, Pyatt and Saakashvili , while damning Veruca with faint praise.

    • marknesop says:

      I’m sorry to be such a dullard, but can someone point out to me one anti-corruption measure initiated by Saakashvili since he was appointed governor of Odessa which could be assessed as having achieved “first rate” success?

      • yalensis says:

        Well, he hasn’t been on the job very long, give the poor guy a chance.

      • Jen says:

        Modelling agencies don’t have enough male models to hire out to train as customs inspectors (and the pay is peanuts compared to runway work) so that particular anti-corruption measure can’t yet be judged successful.

  41. Patient Observer says:

    i was listening to a Jimmy Buffet song the other day that included these lyrics “… all the good lookers were Russian hookers”. Is that Russophobic or Russophile?

  42. Warren says:

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