Violence Once Removed: War Through the Languid Filter of Bored Academia

Uncle Volodya says, "We measure everything by ourselves with almost a necessary conceit.”

Uncle Volodya says, “We measure everything by ourselves with almost a necessary conceit.”

Mark Galeotti is Professor of Global Affairs at the Center for Global Affairs at New York University.  Touted as a “Russia Expert”, he is also a regular feature of Brian Whitmore’s podcasts for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), as well as the author of many books on Transnational Crime and Russian Security affairs. He also maintains the blog, “In Moscow’s Shadows“, which is usually a very good reference for  new legislation and legislative amendments under consideration in the Russian Federation. He comes educationally well-credentialed – sufficiently so to put PHD after his name – and generally stands in welcome contrast to “Russia Experts” like Edward Lucas, who is actually an expert on licking all the Baltic States from one end to the other in delirious adoration, and who has a head like a roasted nut. For overall density and useful application, I mean; not for appearance.

However, since he began guesting as an expert on RFE/RL’s podcasts, Mr. Galeotti has become…somewhat full of himself. Perhaps this owes its manifestations to the sycophantic gobbling of host Brian Whitmore, but whatever the reason, it is encouraging Mr. Galeotti to branch out into areas he formerly stayed mostly away from, and it would be difficult to reach any conclusion but that he now considers himself an authority on everything to do with Russia.

Consider, for example, the recent downing of a Russia Federation Air Force SU-24 fighter-bomber by F-16’s of the Turkish Air Force, in the vicinity of Turkey’s border with Syria. To the rhetorical question as to whether this is a big deal or not, his self response is – yawn – probably not. A certain amount of “sound and fury” can be expected – because we all know autocratic governments have to posture and show off on the world stage to convince their cowed subjects that they are doing something – but in the long run it is a fairly meaningless incident, and World War Three is not about to break out. In that last prediction, I am in complete agreement.

What I have a problem with is the Solomonesque assumption that Russia quite probably did violate Turkish airspace, or at least “it certainly wouldn’t surprise him” . He appears to base this on “Moscow’s willingness to cross into NATO airspace in the past”.

I suspect we can blame that on the lurid wordsmithing of the popular press – especially in his native country, where you can apparently be a journalist with the least number of measurable vital signs in the Free World – which has become admirably expert at implying Russian aircraft have violated NATO airspace when they have instead “approached” it  or “passed close to it”. Occasionally they resort to comedic lengths above and beyond the call of fantastic invention, like the report – personally cited by the NATO Secretary-General – that a Russian Ilyushin 20 aircraft passed within 300 meters of a Scandinavian Airlines aircraft taking off from Copenhagen airport. Checking reveals the actual position given is 50 miles southeast of Malmo, and more than 70 miles away from Copenhagen. But that’s how nutty memes get started. Russia’s international air safety record is considerably better than that of either the UK or USA, if measured by number of aircraft accidents.

Well, never mind – perhaps the stricken fighter-bomber blundered into Turkish airspace because it was “setting up an attack run on a rebel convoy or facility on the Turkish border.” At 6000 meters, more than halfway to the limit of its service ceiling? Ha, ha.

“Moscow may well have been assuming the Turks would be as restrained as other NATO members, which was an undoubted mistake”. Uh huh; other NATO members like the USA, whose Senators, Presidential hopefuls and all-purpose lunatics have been arguing for more than a month that somebody needs to be shooting down some Russian aircraft – the very model, if I may say so, of restraint. Apparently there is some kind of communication jamming barrier between Washington and New York that no media reports can pass.

“…[G]enerally the Kremlin has shown little signs of seeing in Ankara a serious ally, partner or player, even in the days when Putin and Erdogan were getting along.” Mmm hmm; except for offering to make it the gas hub for European deliveries and give it a generous national discount, resulting in annual revenues topping $2 Billion from transit fees alone plus the profit realized from selling gas received at a discount. The EU seemed to think that was quite a significant – not to say serious – favour to bestow, when it was the EU’s ideaSu-24-Russia

Mr. Galeotti suggests that some NATO powers are a little leery of Turkey’s social-hand-grenade personality, and that Moscow will be unwilling to let this escalate – if Turkey offers even a pretense of remorse, this will be blared to the Russian press as success in forcing them to back down, and offered to the public as a sop in exchange for not escalating this situation further. This is a very sensible analysis, or would be under ordinary circumstances – but it fails to take into account the underlying reason for Russian grimness over this incident. The Turkmen on the Syrian side of the border, who enjoy Erdogan’s protection and intervention, machine-gunned the Russian fighter’s pilot and navigator while they were hanging in their parachutes, falling from the sky. Is that a war crime? You bet it is.

Article 42 of Additional Protocol 1 of the Geneva Conventions (1977), ‘Occupants of aircraft’, states the following:

1. No person parachuting from an aircraft in distress shall be made the object of attack during his descent.
2. Upon reaching the ground in territory controlled by an adverse Party, a person who has parachuted from an aircraft in distress shall be given an opportunity to surrender before being made the object of attack, unless it is apparent that he is engaging in a hostile act.
3. Airborne troops are not protected by this Article.

Now let’s turn to the matter of warnings, which the Turks say they passed to the aircraft not less than 10 times in 5 minutes before engaging it with a Mk-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air To Air Missile). The Turks have since stipulated the aircraft was inside Turkish airspace for 17 seconds.

First, you do not pass warnings to an aircraft that is not doing anything wrong. Except – allegedly – for those 17 seconds, the Russian fighter was in Syrian airspace by invitation of the Syrian government. Second, Turkey has assumed for itself 5 additional miles of airspace, extending into Syria, and aircraft flying within 5 miles of the Turkish border are considered by Turkey to be in its airspace. This has been so since 2012, when Syria shot down a Turkish F-4 in its airspace; there is no legal precedent for it, no basis in law and Turkey has no legal right to enforce it.

Third: this is a typical aircraft warning. “Unknown aircraft in position xxx degrees range xx from xxx (you give the aircraft its range and bearing from a known navigational reference point here, because if you tell him his range and bearing from you, you have just greatly simplified his targeting); you are closing my position and your intentions are unclear. You are standing into danger and may be subject to defensive measures. Alter course immediately to XXX degrees”. That, as it happens, is the warning passed by USS VINCENNES to the Iranian airliner it shot down in 1988, according to the transcript. This warning must be read in English, the international language of air traffic control, on a common international distress frequency which all aircraft monitor. I want you to try, right now, to say it 10 times in 17 seconds. Now, to make it fair, say it 10 times in 17 seconds in a language which is not your mother tongue, because the Turks speak Turkish. Now, the second time you say it, and every subsequent time that you can squeeze it into 17 seconds in a language which is not your own, say it with different numbers; aircraft move fast, and neither you or the plane you are warning are in the same position for more than a second or two – you will have to get the new readings from your instruments. You won’t have to pretend you are flying a fighter at the same time plus gaining a weapon firing solution, because I can’t think of any way you could simulate that.

How did you do? Guess what? Turkey is lying its swarthy face off. Naturally the parameters of what constitutes a short incursion into defended airspace change depending on what country is doing it, because a very angry Prime Minister Erdogan grated in 2012, on the occasion of one of his aircraft getting shot down for being in Syrian airspace, “A short-term border violation can never be a pretext for an attack.”

Fourth; the AM-120 AMRAAM has a maximum range of 30 miles. By the time they fired at the Russian plane, the Turks were still claiming its identity was “unknown”, and even as it went down they claimed not to know to whom it belonged. Does that sound like anyone you want for a military ally? Somebody who shoots at an aircraft he can’t see or identify when it is not attacking him? How did they even know it was a military aircraft?

In spite of that, although all those things could have been known in about as much time as it would take to say them out loud, if anyone asked…the official response from Washington was that Turkey has a right to defend its territory and its air space, and President Obama blamed the incident on “an ongoing problem with Russian operations near the Turkish border.” This knee-jerk defense of a lying shitbag like Erdogan is why Russians are grim and filled with resolve.

“I would expect some uptick in ‘mischief’ – perhaps some support for the Kurds or other violent extreme movements, for example – as well as a more assiduous campaign to push back and stymie Turkish regional ambitions.

To say nothing of the fact that you can’t get too much more violent or extreme than a group which will shoot a helpless pilot in a parachute, I would expect quite a bit more than that. Every bombing mission will now be escorted by a Combat Air Patrol (CAP) of some of the best air-superiority fighters in the world. A Russian heavy cruiser with an extremely capable air-defense system is moving into station near the coast; this vessel can also function as a secondary air command center. And Russia has announced it will deploy the S-400 ground-based air defense missile system to the vicinity of Latakia. With a range of 250 miles and excellent multi-target capabilities, a pair of Turkish aircraft that pulled the stunt they just did could be smashed out of the sky while they were on final approach at Incirlik. The ante done been upped.

But the part that disappointed me most was the final paragraph.

It’s often said, with good reason, that Putin really wants a return to 19th century geopolitics, when might made right and realpolitik was all. Let’s not forget that one of the defining 19th century conflicts was that between Russia and the Ottoman Empire, which were sometimes openly at war, sometimes ostensibly at peace, but never anything than enemies. Here we go again.

Got that? It’s Putin who is destabilizing the world, who wants a return to might makes right. Not the NATO alliance, which backed the regional actor who openly supports ISIS. The guy who stoutly declares his right to come to the aid of fellow Turks in the neighbouring country, although when Putin mentioned defending fellow ethnic Russians in Ukraine from a government which referred to them as sub-humans and announced its intention to wipe them out, it brought a scream of rage from NATO. Mark Galeotti came down on the side of the United States, a country in which the last President who did not start a war was Gerald Ford. Who believes in might makes right? I’ll tell you. The country that made famous the quote, What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?” The same speaker who also thought that a half-million dead Iraqi children as a result of American sanctions was “worth it“. The greatest and bloodiest warmonger of our age.

I see that Mr. Galeotti – prolific writer that he is – has since come out with another post which walks back his condemnation of Russia somewhat, or at least is a little more suspicious of Turkey’s impossible allegations, albeit he does stoop to the shooting-fish-in-a-barrel ease of using chronic simpleton Pavel Felgenhauer as a foil to make his point. All those considered, he does stipulate that Lavrov likely does have a valid argument, and the Turks were probably lying in ambush for a Russian plane.

Too late for me, though.

*As always, I am indebted to my readers and commenters for links and references which support this post.

This entry was posted in Europe, Government, Law and Order, Middle East, Military, Russia, Strategy, Vladimir Putin and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1,417 Responses to Violence Once Removed: War Through the Languid Filter of Bored Academia

  1. Warren says:

    Published on 2 Dec 2015
    Since Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine conflict in 2014, nearby Baltic states have been on high alert. Estonia, the smallest country in the region, signed a military equipment deal worth 138 million euros ($147 million) last December — the largest procurement in its history.

    The country also has a growing militia, known as the Estonian Defense League, made up of 15,000 volunteers. They take part in war scenario exercises, with many of the members keeping firearms of their own at home. Should Estonia’s sovereignty be threatened, the militia will be called upon to defend it at all costs.

    The organization’s membership has risen by 10 percent since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, partly based on national Estonian fears that Russia will attempt to breach its eastern border. NATO has increased its fighter jets and ground troops in the country, as a show of what they say is support to its ally, yet Russia has claimed this is “provocative” and held its own military exercises near the border.

    VICE News follows 800 members of the Estonian Defense League on a combat training exercise to find out how they are preparing for a possible confrontation. We also meet with US NATO air support and speak to ethnic Russians in the Estonian border city of Narva.

  2. Warren says:

  3. Patient Observer says:

    Yahoo continues to surprise:
    Not far off from Russia’s position on Erdogan.

  4. Lyttenburgh says:

    Oh, btw! Today is Finnish independence day! Karl – my congratulations. Yay for more (official) reasons to get drunk!

  5. Moscow Exile says:

    WikiLeaks: Erdogan shot down Russian su-24 to win elections


    Kremlin controlled press! Kremlin propaganda!

    WikiLeaks: Эрдоган сбил российский Су-24, чтобы выиграть выборы

    • “Erdogan shot down Russian su-24 to win elections”

      And because he knew he would get away with it. Had he shot down an Israeli plane there would have been an immediate military response.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Because Russia is weak, I suppose.

      • marknesop says:

        Do you think? Israel would straightaway have declared war on Turkey, and mounted a full-scale assault?

        Syria was supposed to have shot down an Israeli warplane over al-Quneitra in August; is Israel at war with Syria?

        Has Erdogan “gotten away with” shooting down the Russian plane, do you think?

      • ucgsblog says:

        Get away with it? If being internationally humiliated to the Poroshenko Level is getting away with it, then yes, yes he did.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Karl, he sure got away with it if you don’t count wrecking the economy, giving Russia the perfect pretext to install S-400s and even getting some reluctant support from France.

        Why not shoot down another one since the results were so good for Turkey?

        You are what we call a “one-trick pony”.

  6. Moscow Exile says:

    Ukrainian saboteurs will very likely try to destroy the Russian energy bridge to the Crimea. Well known TV presenter Matvey Ganapolsky did not exclude this possibility when speaking on the Ukrainian TV channel “News-1”.

    According to the “journalist”, whatever is built by Russia for the improvement of the Crimea, will be blown up or stolen.

    And absolutely nothing said of this in the West, where the law, of course, is sacrosanct.

    One of the massive subsea power cables which is going to be used to traverse the Kerch Strait.

    One has already been laid.

    The target of Banderite buffoons/Crimea Tatar nationalists?

    They’ll need a big hacksaw!

    See: Crimean energy bridge cable (10 photos)

    • et Al says:

      Oh the temptation of making a very crude joke…. Aaaaaargh!

    • Well, Russia should threaten Ukraine that if they try anything funny then Russia will blow up something in Kiev and Lvov. But Russia will not do that.

    • cartman says:

      Ukrainians would never think to put half the effort into building stuff that they put into blowing things up.

    • kirill says:

      I am quite sure that Russia is well aware of security needs for this project. In spite of what NATO propaganda drills into the heads of the lemmings, Russia is quite capable of monitoring and reacting to any provocation. There will not be any Ukr boats loitering in the area and there will be sensors installed on the seabed and around the power line to detect any divers who may try. But there is not going to be any crew of Right Sector divers swimming in from the Ukrainian coast or from some ship on the Black Sea. Reality is a bit more challenging than James Bond movies.

      As for the statement about “stolen”. Shows you how deluded the Ukrs are. It is in Banderastan that rampant theft of infrastructure components is still present and increasing. That problem has gone away in Russia (it is never zero, just like in Canada).

      • Patient Observer says:

        An electrical current triggered by sensors should dissuade man and beast.

        • marknesop says:

          That system certainly does exist, and warships in foreign harbors have used it for decades; it’s called cathodic protection, and electrifies the hull underwater. Anyone trying to place a magnetic device like a limpet mine would have it blow up in their hands.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      KrimTatar activists and their “pobratims” already have da kunnin’ plan how to fight back Moskals! They will gather at Azov’s sea shore and piss into it! If done daily (throughout winter…) then this will surely cause a huge flood that will cleanse Crimea of all non-pure svidomites, mashallah!

      Oh, and the idea with Right Sektor/Mejlis divers won’t work – “гавно не тоне”

      • yalensis says:

        But American navy might send in trained dolphins with explosives. I’m not kidding.
        Russia has to deploy its own dolphin divers. Once again, I am not kidding.

        • Cortes says:

          The RF will just deploy its Orca Squad.

        • marknesop says:

          I think the American dolphins are trained to locate explosives and undersea electronic devices such as mines. We had them here once, operating from Esquimalt harbour; their pool was right by the Target Cell where I used to work. The American public would not tolerate murdering dolphins by using them as undersea suicide bombers, and is already uneasy enough about the Navy using them for minehunters. It’d be quite a stretch to think they could be trained to place explosive charges on a bridge, they’re not especially well-suited for that. And if it became known that the Americans had conducted or supported such an operation, it would invite attacks on similar American infrastructure. I don’t think anyone wants to go there.

    • Patient Observer says:

      If they were laying that cable in the Detroit river, it would be stripped of copper in a few days; energized or not.

  7. et Al says:

    Geo via Russia Space Travel: A Russian Cosmonaut Compares a Hollywood Movie to The Real Thing

    Cosmonaut Sergei Ryazansky watched the movie ‘The Martian’ and compares some of the scenes with the real life experience

    …Why these differences? The US modules were brought into space using shuttles with their huge cargo bay. while ours used a rocket and had to be transported to Baikonur by rail. The maximum diameter was limited by the size of any bridges or tunnels the train had to pass along the way. Recently, I heard that new modules are being developed without having to take this limitation into account…

    The rest of the interview is great too. Is Sergei referring to only to future inflatable modules here that are under development in Russia and elsewhere (USA – Bigelow)?

  8. Drutten says:

    Today is a great day for Sweden!

    It was supposed to have been finished in five years, but it took twenty two (!). It was supposed to have cost 900 million SEK, but it cost 10.5 billion (!)… It led to severe environmental destruction, the deaths of huge amounts of livestock, poisoned workers and lawsuits all over the place.

    What am I talking about? Well, the 8.7 kilometer-long rail tunnel under the Hallandsås hill in southern Sweden. Construction began in 1992, and now it’s finally opened. Hooray!

    Imagine if it had been in Russia, the outrage would be heard all the way to the moon and it would constantly be referred to as an example of Russian ineptitude and corruption.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      You never hear much about that big hole they had in Boston, Massachusetts either. It was some massive highway and tunnel construction project in downtown Boston that went far beond its scheduled finish date and cost gazillions above its estimated cost.

      See: The Big Dig

    • marknesop says:

      Congratulations! Will this be an annual celebration, do you think? “Tunnel Day”, something like that? Perhaps we could combine it with Finland’s Independence Day. Any excuse for another party! I’m marking it in my calendar.

    • et Al says:

      I don’t know if it is such bad value. If they really believe that Russia is a real strategic threat, they can go and hide in it. That should be fun.

  9. Warren says:

  10. Moscow Exile says:

    Belomor Canal Construction – Forced Prison Labour

  11. Moscow Exile says:

    Singer Sofia Rotaru has quietly flown to Moscow in order to star in a New year’s Eve TV spectacular. She has clearly decided that Russian citizens not be deprived of the pleasure of seeing her face on New year’s Eve. She will take part in several TV projects together with the stars of Russian show business, reports

    Which is pretty well hard-faced of her, considering that Rotary has openly supported the Kiev so-called government and the “anti-terrorist operation” in the Donbass. She has also collected money to buy ammunition for the “punisherment batallions”.

    See: Хитрый план Путина по геноциду Донбасса

    Cunning Putin plan as regards Donbass genocide:

    Но возмущаться мы не должны. Это – хитрый план. Так надо. Нам нужна вся уркаина. Ещё не время. Путину и его окружению видно лучше, они знают больше…

    But we should not be resentful. This is a cunning plan, so it neeeds to be done. We need the whole of the Urkaine. It is still not not time yet. Putin and his entourage can see things better, they know more…

    • Jen says:

      She reminds me of Nadia Comaneci (similar colouring) although the two don’t really look that much alike. I wasn’t surprised though to discover Rotaru has a Moldavian background. Comaneci herself was from Onești which is not far from Moldavia.

      Nadia Comaneci:

    • cartman says:

      Hopefully it’s a trick and her plane lands in Kolyma.

  12. Warren says:

  13. kirill says:

    Read the above to get a whiff of the excrement being peddled by blood libel jihadis of a certain tribe. In this case by a Mr. Gutman.

    Those bakeries blew up like arms depots and those “relief convoys” burned with thick black smoke after releasing impressive fireballs.

    • et Al says:

      Roy ‘Genocide’ Gutman. He made his name in Bosnia along with many others selling the genocide myth with great aplomb. He even got a Putzlitzer for it in 1993 for his discover via Omarska in 1992 which magically on cue became a Serb ‘concentration camp’…. 2+2=5.

    • marknesop says:

      No evidence whatsoever supplied of any such destruction of aid convoys – unless the poor refugees are now drinking oil – and I suppose, like most reporters who are not actually on-scene, he got much of his substantiation from “Syrian activists”.

      It was ISIS, in fact, whose capture of the supply route into Aleppo resulted in interdiction of food supplies to residents; Syrian government forces and Hezbollah retook the supply route more than a month ago. Gutman is just making stuff up because the USA was so ineffective for so long. Not that they couldn’t have done it, but they were just sitting on their hands and waiting for ISIS to take Damascus and kill Assad.

    • marknesop says:

      I’m sure it was an “accident” (wink, wink).

      • Patient Observer says:

        But, perhaps intended to provoke a military response by Syria and Russian against the “coalition”? If Russia, say, were to bring a few planes down then the West must respond to this disproportionate and brutal use of force? It could be the Ukraine gambit as we have discussed many times.

  14. Warren says:

  15. et Al says:

    Moon of Alambam: Erdogan Moves To Annexes Mosul

    The wannabe Sultan Erdogan did not get his will in Syria where he had planned to capture and annex Aleppo. The Russians prevented that. He now goes for his secondary target, Mosul in Iraq, which many Turks see as historic part of their country:…

    I don’t see how this could possibly work out for the better for Turkey, even if Erdogun/Davutgolu & associated morons may be desperate. I think MoA is jumping the gun on this one. It may be more likely that Turkey genuinely believed that they were legally invited in (and didn’t look to hard to question why it should be in their favor).

    Just because they are dumb enough to shoot down a Su-24 does not mean they’d go for something on a completely different scale, sending troops on the ground. They are exposed and they not that numerous in number if you assume part of that number are support and auxiliaries, not-active combat troops. Who is seeing what they want to see??? Maybe no one.

    In short, I’m vary weary of this. It’s already a big deal even if it is ‘unintentional’.

    • Cortes. says:

      Accidents happen. Coincidences occur. Patterns emerge.

    • marknesop says:

      I don’t think they believed for a minute that they were invited in; I think they took advantage of the regional government’s pretensions to have the authority to make such decisions. And it was never billed as anything so dramatic as an annexation – the Turks wanted to build a training base there and said the regional authority had given them written permission to do so. But it would have turned into a creeping annexation, with the Turks wanting to build more and more infrastructure to support their base, and before you know it they would be declaring the Turkish minority to support regional independence. The Kurds have wanted their own state for a very long time, and they probably should have it but it should not be considered an extension of Turkey.

      • astabada says:

        Turkey is surrounded by weak neighbours, much like the Eastern boundary of Germany after World War I. Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, Syria, Iraq, Armenia, Georgia.
        So someone in the leadership thinks the time is ripe for reverting the outcome of WWI – this is the essence of Turkish involvement in Libya, then in Iraq and now in Syria.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          According to Russian news service bulletin at 05:36 this morning, the Turks have decided to withdraw.

          Late yesterday, the were given 48 hours tto clear off.

          Турция решила прекратить переброску войск в Ирак

          Turkey has decided to halt the deployment of troops in Iraq

          Turkey has decided to halt the deployment of troops in Iraq. The reason was the protests of Baghdad, Reuters reported.

          Earlier, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi gave Ankara two days to withdraw its troops from the country. If this did not happen, Iraq promised to go to the UN Security Council.

          According to media reports, in the town of Mosul there are 150 troops and 25 tanks. Iraq regarded this as an invasion and violation of state sovereignty of the . The presence of Turkish troops there became known on 5 December.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Whither the permanent Turkish base in Mosul that was talked of only a couple of days ago?

            Turkish military to have a base in Iraq’s Mosul

            • marknesop says:

              Explosive and comprehensive new intelligence assessment from Ronald Thomas West (we used to see him here on occasion, although we haven’t for awhile, but I’m still on his email dist list). Goes several layers deeper than just the Putin-Erdogan-NATO triangle. If your jaw drops open at the part where blithely offers that Al Qaeda in Iraq (rebranded as Islamic State) giving its approval of oil deals signed with the Kurdish regional government means that such deals have “good security”, then that will be two of us. I think that goes far toward explaining Erdogan’s brassy military camping trip in Mosul. If he is backing off, it’s only because he didn’t get the support he thought he would – just like the business with the downed SU-24. There’s definitely something going on; NATO wants Erdogan to succeed…but they don’t dare come out and say so.

              Connections, connections, connections. Evidence, literally, all over the place. And the U.S. government dares to say “some pictures the Russians allegedly showed”, and stonewall with that “Turkey has a right to protect itself” and “any notion that Turkey is involved in the oil trade with ISIL is ridiculous”. It’s not ridiculous; it’s NATO’s worst-kept secret.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                “And the U.S. government dares to say “some pictures the Russians allegedly showed” …

                That’s rich!

                The US media showed some pictures of a successful US airforce strike in Syria – only they were action shots released by the Russian MoD of a Russian air strike.

                So they were really alleged pictures of a US strike, later proven false.

                • marknesop says:

                  Yeah, but if they say “Some pictures the Russians allegedly showed”, then they can pretend that they have not yet seen them. Meanwhile, the State Department is as usual all about its own evidence, which it has compiled from social media and activists’ reports. You will notice, too, that the western media is suddenly deeply sensitive to insults to Allah now that Putin has “gone there”, although it has only been a couple of months since the same western media supported the right of Charlie Hebdo to draw cartoons of The Prophet porking a goat if that’s what they wanted to do, je suis Charlie, bla, bla. The western media plainly has no values whatsoever, no journalistic curiousity, skepticism or ethics. It just gets its talking points from political leaders, who in turn get theirs from Washington.

  16. Patient Observer says:

    Based on a quick read, not impressed by the reasoning:
    The Saker missed it big time when he stated with high confidence that Russia would never overtly support Syria due to insufficient power projection ability and having no national interest at stake. Not learning from that experience, he now suggests that Russia is dangerously exposed in Syria thus buttressing his original arguments. I hope that a more careful read will show deeper insights.

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, there’s some flawed thinking in there and a tendency to be overawed by NATO, as if it were actually a crack military force well-practiced in interoperability and logistically ready for war. It is neither. However, where he was right on the money was the assessment that, by acting responsibly and refusing to give the west the response it is seeking, it is actually encouraging the west toward ever-bolder provocations.

      Syria is a line in the sand – this far, no further. If the west – and face it, we’re talking about Washington here, because the rest of the marshmallows just go where they’re pushed – genuinely thinks Russia will back down and withdraw, leaving Assad to the tender mercies of the “coalition”, it is making a terrible mistake. Because Russia knows now that it faces a ring of implacable enemies who will never be placated by retreat, but who will be encouraged by it to slink closer. Simply put, there is nothing to be gained by backing down in Syria because it would be Russia itself next. The west does not need real reasons, it merely invents them as it goes along, and its CNN-numbed populations are too stupid and cowed to make trouble. But Russia knows all that, and knows appeasement would only increase Washington’s appetite.

      The complicating factor appears to be that Washington is all out of aces, and also knows it – it’s now or never, and the balance of forces will never again so favour it. Washington is in hock up to its eyebrows, and it needs a way to wipe out its debts so it can start fresh. Paying everything back is inconceivable; it would take a century of austerity, and the American Dream philosophy is the polar opposite of austerity; the people would never stand for it. There is no conceivable way for Washington to continue being boss of the world without a major war.

  17. Moscow Exile says:

    Let’s deal with the Devil: we should work with Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad in Syria

    Don’t forget, though: Putin still remains the Evil One:

    Look, I am no particular fan of Vlad. Quite the opposite. Russian-backed forces are illegally occupying parts of Ukraine. Putin’s proxy army was almost certainly guilty of killing the passengers on the Malaysia Airlines jet that came down in eastern Ukraine. He has questions to answer about the death of Alexander Litvinenko, pitilessly poisoned in a London restaurant. As for his reign in Moscow, he is allegedly the linchpin of a vast post-Soviet gangster kleptocracy, and is personally said to be the richest man on the planet. Journalists who oppose him get shot. His rivals find themselves locked up. Despite looking a bit like Dobby the House Elf, he is a ruthless and manipulative tyrant. – Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson MP and Mayor of London.

    Criminal libel?

    And his name is not Vlad!

    Johnson was educated at Eton College and studied at Oxford, where he was a member of the Bullingdon Club.

    Sound familiar?

    Johnson’s grandfather, Ali Kemal Bey, was a Turk. Johnson also has US Nationality – he was born in New York city. His father was studying “creative writing” (a British proto-kreakl perhaps?) in the USA at the time.

    He started squealing a while back when he was sent a whopping US tax bill, because as a US citizen working abroad (as Mayor of London and a member of the British parliament, as it happens), he is liable to US federal taxation. At first, Johnson said he was going to ditch his US citizenship, but later changed his mind and paid up. So he’s not short of a few bob, but certainly a little shorter now.

    Oh – and he’s a dickhead.

    Johnson, that is.

    Criminal libel?

    • marknesop says:

      Yerss, smashing idea; let’s work with Vlad, because he’s the only bastard who looks to be accomplishing anything while the rest are just fannying about in slow circles and awarding medals to one another.

      Looks a bit like Dobby the House-Elf, does he? That’s a fun game – what Harry Potter character does BoJo most closely resemble? I’m going to go with Draco Malfoy, after he’s aged 40 years, been inflated to 110 PSI, undergone a radical lobotomy and, by the look of his preferred hairstyle, been dragged through a hedge backwards. People who live in glass houses should just shut the fuck up, if that’s not too much a mixed metaphor.

      Your offered assistance is plainly not needed, I’m sure Putin could cock up the operation by himself if that’s the way he chose to do it. In fact, I suspect the only reason NATO members are publicly talking about “working with” Putin is so they can slow things down until Barack the Magic President can come up with some idea how this will end with the USA triumphant and Bashar al-Assad dead or deposed in favour of a compliant western toady. Putin doesn’t need your help, or he’d have asked for it.

      But I must say this is an odd expression of public support for “our NATO ally”, Turkey, innit? Working with Putin, everyone must be able to grasp, surely entails the non-achievement of every one of Erdogan’s goals. Still, survey says – get stuffed, BoJo.

    • Jen says:

      BoJo and his pals in the Bullingdon Club, circa 1987:

      Oh look, who’s that second from the left in the second row? No prizes for guessing!

  18. marknesop says:

    The National Interest asks the question that nobody else will enunciate – is it time to expel Turkey from NATO? It ruins the whole thing by comparing Turkey to Russia and saying Erdogan is “just as authoritarian as Putin” when in reality they are worlds apart, but at least now the question is out there, so that Erdogan can read the writing on the wall. They’ll never do it, of course – lose the Bosporus??? But if Erdogan was wondering if perhaps the flood of NATO support for his shenanigans was just delayed by a few days…it’s not. And the more pissed off western leaders are with Erdogan, the less likely they are to go on pretending not to see his obvious criminality and the more likely they are to throw him to the wolves.

  19. Lyttenburgh says:

    And now – our special for dear friend Karl!

    Finland plans to give every citizen 800 euros a month and scrap benefits

    “Finland’s government is drawing up plans to give every one of its citizens a basic income of 800 euros (£576) a month and scrap benefits altogether.

    A poll commissioned by the agency planning the proposal, the Finnish Social Insurance Institute, showed 69% supported the basic income plan.

    Prime Minister Juha Sipila was quote by QZ as backing the idea.

    “For me, a basic income means simplifying the social security system,” she said.

    The proposal would entitle each Finn to 800 euros tax free each month, which according to Bloomberg, would cost the government 52.2 billion euros a year.

    The country’s government will make a final decision on the plan in November 2016.

    The Netherlands has already been trialling a similar proposal, with Utrecht set to undergo a pilot project next year.”

    Honestly – for me this is some kind of alien, extraterrestial logic in play. Probably something to do that I hail from a country that have never experienced any real “de-Sovietization”, as opposed to such shining examples of the “New European Way” like Baltic limitrofes.

    I also see about… a hundred of ways how it all can go horribly wrong in a few years, given the fact that Finnish budget is getting smaller this year (and the debt keeps growing), while they are saddled with more and more refugees by the Benevolent Big Brother EU. Also – a flat unadjustable income tax?

    From what I heard, the cost of living in sunny Finland is rather steep – with rent as high as 500 Euros.

  20. The US/NATO air strike against Syrian army kills at least three Syrian soldiers:

    This will continue to happen until Russia shoots down US/NATO aircraft that violate Syrian airspace.

    • And it was no accident since the Syrian government has held the bombed area for 4 years. The Syrian government troops were bombed knowingly by the US/NATO.

      This is another probing of Russia. To see how Russia reacts. So far Russia has shown that it’s plane can be shot down without military response. And now they tested whether Syrian troops can be bombed without military response.

      Things will only escalate from this.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      What a novel approach!

    • Lyttenburgh says:


      Too slow, Karl! Article was already linked here and we managed to discuss it without resorting to fearmongering and “OMG!!! We are dooooooooooooooooooooooooomed!” hysterics. Amazing, innit?

      Meanwhile in sunny Finland:

      • Let’s be as frank as possible.

        Is there a “red line” for Russia?

        How many times can Russian aircraft be shot down or Syrian troops be bombed before Russia is forces to take military action against the US/NATO?

        Or is this completely out of the question? Will Russia rather withdraw from Syria altogether than to take military action against the US/NATO?

        • Jen says:

          Karl, the way you view the situation, where there are only two options (to retreat, or to engage in tit-4-tat retaliation), has sent you into a mental cul-de-sac.

          The Russian government is closer to the action, because it receives military intelligence and other information about Turkey and Turkey’s motives, and the view of Moscow may be very different. It considers the context in which the shoot-down of the Su-24 took place and the possibility that the shoot-down may be intended to goad Russia into exactly the kind of reaction you expect, so that the West can respond just as irrationally, and both sides go into a vicious downward spiral that leads straight into World War III. There are many ways Russia can punish Turkey, and outright war is only one of them and not necessarily the best option.

          You need to look at the context in which the shoot-down occurred. Why did the Turkish bring down the plane now instead of a month ago? What does Erdogan expect to achieve out of the attack? Or was the act an impulsive act with no thought given over to the consequences? Did the attack take place to protect Bilal Erdogan’s oil tankers and the illegal transport of oil from Turkey to Israel or the EU? If so, and Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to bring down the Su-24 was rash and ill-thought out, then the right thing for Russia to do is keep piling the pressure on the oil tankers and the trucks supplying them, cut off the supply lines and punish the Erdogans in other ways. The last thing you should want the Russians to do is to react the way NATO expects them to, by engaging in acts of vengeance that give Turkey an excuse to call on the rest of NATO to defend it.

          • “Karl, the way you view the situation, where there are only two options (to retreat, or to engage in tit-4-tat retaliation), has sent you into a mental cul-de-sac.”

            There are three options actually if (and when) the West continues to probe Russia:
            1. Retreat from Syria
            2. Military response
            3. Keep taking US/NATO attacks and casualties without military response.

            The third option is problematic because it puts the Russian and Syrian militaries in a position where they are not allowed to return fire when they are attacked. They are not allowed to shoot down a US/NATO plane when it targets the Syrian/Russian assets on the ground. How can you explain to your own servicemen that they are not allowed to defend themselves in a war?

            This will be a big problem politically as well because it makes the Russian leadership look weak both at home and abroad. Turkey shooting down a Russian plane already made Russia look weak, because Russia did not respond militarily. Believe me, Finnish russophobes had a field day about it (haha, Turkey killed Russians and Russia did nothing to Turkey!).

            If these incidents keep repeating themselves where the US/NATO targets Syrian and Russian militaries with impunity it puts the Russian government in a difficult position. Fire back and risk a bigger war or do nothing and accept that the West can kill Russians and Russian allies without Russia being able to do anything about it.

            • Patient Observer says:

              You are clearly and undisputed a free-lance troll. However, like any irritant, your postings evoke an immune response which strengthens the blog community. So, don’t confuse the responses that you receive as a sign of your great insight. It is more like a reaction to a sliver of wood under the fingernail.

              So, we have two dead and one plane lost in Syria in exchange for massive damage and setbacks to the West’s foremost geopolitical engineering project. The West’s response has been oddly muted given the unprecedented forward deployment of Russia’s military in the middle of the Western playground.

              I agree that the shoot down and the bombing of Syrian forces (not confirmed yet who actually did it – could have been Turkey) is an effort to evoke a reaction but Russia is again far far too smart to over-react. They will continue to explosively dismantle all of the work by Western powers as they build a new alignment in Middle East power. What is wrong with that?

              No need for little adventures driven by ego-driven prideful responses. Without trying to get personal, it seems clear that you have little experience with responsibility in business or family otherwise you would have more experience with the adverse effects of rash behavior.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              Oh well if Finnish Russophobes had a field day over the news of Turkey downing a Russian warplane, then that throws a very different light on everything!

              Something has to be done about this shameful loss of face, especially if Finns are laughing at us!

              (I say “us” because I am an honorific Russian, having so far lived in Mother Russia for exactly one third of my life with the staus of a permanent foreign resident.)

              What are those childish phrases that war game freaks and US armchair warriors who visit military forums like to use? ….

              Ah yes: “The Turks done give those goddam Red SOBs a good spanking!”

              “Hoo-wee, you got whipped boy, well and truly whipped!”

              “When are you gonna grow some balls?”

              “Man up!”

              “Step up to the plate!”

              … etc., etc.

              All big soft-arse kids’ talk, I reckon.

              Which must really cut Karl to the quick, though, it really must … what with him being such an atypically for a Finn Russophile.

              And you know what? If Russia did, in fact, act like an impetuous kid in a schoolyard and go in with fists a-flailing as a result of continuous provocations, then the USA-team-NATO might just come piling in to Ukraine’s or Turkey’s aid, or that of whomsoever has been set up for this purpose, and WWIII might very well kick off.

              And then Russia really would get a whipping! No way would Russia lick the Exceptional Nation and its allies!

              Russia would get the whipping it well and truly deserved!

              Mission accomplished!

              Now to divvy out the spoils!

              All of which would really sadden the russophiles of this world – if there’s any world left, that is.

              And Karl would especially be really, really sad.

              In Finland…

              In Europe …

              Or what’s left of it, that is.

            • marknesop says:

              Russia is not in Syria to protect Syria from NATO. NATO has invited itself into Syria to attack ISIS, and regularly preens itself that it is doing nothing else while Russia is only attacking moderate rebels trying to overthrow Assad. Russia does not have any mandate in Syria to defend the country against NATO. It has sent plenty of signals already that any attack on its own aircraft or personnel will be met with retaliation, and demonstrated that it has the means at hand for a counterattack which would prove very damaging indeed. You are extrapolating like mad when you say that Syrian/Russian forces are not allowed to defend themselves against NATO – what part of “unprecedented” do you not get? Both countries have been led to expect no danger from NATO forces in Syria, which is supposed to be pursuing more or less common objectives, or at least it would be causing no problems for Syria if it were functioning as it pretends it is.

              Turkey’s attack has set a very dangerous precedent indeed, and now NATO aircraft will have to be scrupulously careful to avoid even the appearance of hostile intent toward either Russian or Syrian government forces. Any such behavior is very likely to result in a NATO aircraft being shot down, which you claim to crave. You will be surprised by the reaction if something like that happens, and if it does you will see that we were right when we said it is just what NATO wants. But then it will be too late, and small reward indeed.

        • marknesop says:

          Of course there is a red line for Russia, although they are not so juvenile as to broadcast it as such. All Russian bombing missions are now escorted by very capable air-superiority fighters, and operations centers are on high alert whenever sorties are going on. Radar coverage has been augmented and the S-400 system ensures that if a Turkish fighter repeated the previous action he could be shot down all the way back to his base. News sites around the world report Turkey’s action as “unprecedented” – how are you supposed to be expecting something that is unprecedented?

          Once again I thank God that you are not the Defense Minister of any country. At the first whisker-wave against it you would empty the nation’s magazines in retaliation, and the rest of the world would swiftly band together to annihilate your country in reprisal. History would record that a hot and reactionary temper on the part of Karl Haushofer caused his country to be completely erased from the planet. But at least you would get in the history books.

          Incidentally, you will see lots of reports of Putin’s hot temper and how badly he is overreacting to Turkey’s terrible mistakes by punishing the poor Turks. You can be sure Russia’s reaction is not in any way a function of Putin’s personal temperament, and that reaction will have been the subject of intense discussion with advisers before it was announced. It was very clearly a provocation, and all the caterwauling from the press is a measure of how disappointed NATO leaders are that the reaction is as firm as it is. Rather than repeating it, the best they can get out of it is how mean Putin is to the Turks.

  21. Moscow Exile says:


    Look at me!

    I’m over here!

    Listen to what I say! …..

    Порошенко заявил, что Путин намерен заселить Крым сибиряками

    Poroshenko has announced that Putin intends to populate the Crimea with Siberians

    [Porky, of course, is privy to Kremlin decision making processes.]

    Also, according to the Ukrainian President, Russia has the possibility of turning the peninsula into “a large military base.” Poroshenko said that he would make every effort for the return of the Crimea, whose reunification with the RF an absolute majority of Crimeans has voted for.

    MOSCOW, 7 Feb — RIA Novosti. The President of the Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, has said that the Russian leader Vladimir Putin is populating the Crimea with Siberians, reports the administration website of the Ukrainian President.

    “… Putin’s Crimea territory has to be populated by natives of Siberia, who are now urgently being transported there, or turned into large military base”, said the Ukrainian President in his interview to Ukrainian TV channels.

    [Hang on though! Hasn’t the Crimea been a large Russian military base for years already – since 1783 in fact?]

    Petro Poroshenko said that he intends to do everything possible to have the Crimea returned to the Ukraine “by international procedures, including judicial decisions, and diplomatic means”.

    The Crimea and Sevastopol became part of Russia according to the results of a March 2014 referendum. Reunification with Russia was supported by 96.77% of Crimeans and 95.6% of Sevastopol citizens.

    I have spoken!

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      Pffft! Just with “Siberians”! What’s wrong with you, Petro? Not enough horilka? Why not claim that the Dark Overlord plans to settle Crimea (which is Ukrainian, d’uh!) with Buryats, Chechens, Orks and Imperial Stormtroopers? Oh, wait! Imperial Stromtroopers already live in Odessa!

      In other news – vice-roy Joe Biden was welcomed warmely in the protectorate of Ukraine:

      The only thing wich kinda confuses me – those babuskas’ headscarves. Is it already zrada that they are wearing moskal’s signature head-wear, or are we about to hear about new findings from Ternipil’s shitstorians, how in fact such headscarves were invented in the Ukraine?

      • yalensis says:

        Oi, look at the way all 3 babushkas bow their heads down before their viceroy.
        It really bothers me how Ukrainians on a day to day basis are inventing new ways to debase themselves.
        What’s next? Full prostration and licking the ground like the ladies chorus of “The King and I” ?

    • Cortes. says:

      I’m convinced Porky is actually Rory Bremner’s finest creation yet

    • Patient Observer says:

      For a second, I thought it said “Serbians” which would be a fantastic idea. Still hoping.

    • kirill says:

      This is genocide planning in action. He is concocting the same myth that Ukrs were fed about the people of the Donbas: that they are squatters settled on Ukrainian land after the Holodomor reduced the indigenous Ukr population. The fact that 64% of Crimeans are ethnic Russians ***TODAY*** is being swept under the carpet by Ukr propaganda. In their hoped-for future the Ukrs will march into Crimea and reclaim their “ancestral lands”.

      This is not a joke, people. This is bloody serious.

      • marknesop says:

        I wish he would attack Crimea. He would meet a far different response than the Ukrops have come to expect from the ragtag militias of Donbas, and the Ukrops cannot even beat them; an attack on Crimea is an attack on the Russian Federation, and Porky knows it. His vaunted army would be mown down like wheat – it has so far not had to face any air attacks at all, and that would most assuredly be the sharp end of the counterstrike. On second thought, I take that back. I hope he is just all talk as usual, because the losses would be horrific, and all for nothing – Ukraine would not be successful in re-taking Crimea. Its only foolish hope in trying would be that NATO would rush to its side, just as Saakashvili did.

        • kirill says:

          What gets me is how the same theme is woven through all this Ukr masturbation of hate. It is evil Russians doing this and that to poor us and Banderastan extends all the way to the Urals. Their reality is totally fake. These freaks are something to behold. Even the outright Russophobic Balts and Poles are more sane.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Especially when you consider the topography of the place.

          It’s bloody flat, forlorn, covered with sea lagoons (liman), wide open, no cover. The road and rail links are on causeways. That’s the way in from the north – just take a look at the lie of the land in the pictures of the “heroes” taken next to the powerline transmission towers they felled – and that’s in Kherson province, Ukraine: it gets wetter and soggier as you cross into the peninsula.

          A coastal landing, perhaps?

          There is no Yukie navy to talk of.

          And no air force either.

        • cartman says:

          You know they are planning to cut off water next. That should be met with a military response, as it is a deliberate attack on a civilian population. These little rats are allowed to willfully breach human rights treaties (Geneva Conventions, Ottawa Treaty) too often, which only emboldens them further.

          • marknesop says:

            They already did that, remember? Back in the spring of 2014. Crimea got 85% of its fresh water through the North Crimean Canal, and the Ukies closed it off. Of course they denied it, but that is a knee-jerk reaction for them and it has become habitual, along with “Putin was responsible”. They haven’t a clue how to try luring Crimea back with sweet enticements, and the only formula they know is threats and force. How’s that working out? Shits? I know – let’s try more threats and force.

            It took Russia a year to resolve it, but resolve it they apparently did, with fresh-water pipelines.

    • ucgsblog says:

      Well yeah, I’m also aware of this plan, but it appears that porky is unaware of one small detail – the duration; it’s just for winter break.

      [Hang on though! Hasn’t the Crimea been a large Russian military base for years already – since 1783 in fact?]


      “Tmutarakan’ – an ancient Russian city on the Taman’ Peninsula, on the present site of the stanitsa (large cossack village) of Taman’. In the eighth and ninth centuries A.D., it was the site of the settlement of Tama tar kha, which was under the Khazar Khanate. After the prince of Kiev Sviatoslav Igorevich routed the Khazar Khanate in 965, Tmutarakan’ replaced Tamatarkha and became the political center of the newly established Tmutarakan’ Principality.

      The city was an important trade center with a fine harbor, thus serving to maintain political and economic ties between the Russian principalities and the peoples of the Northern Caucasus and Byzantine Empire. The inhabitants of Tmutarakan’ were Kasogi, Alani, Greeks, Russians, and Armenians. A strong brick wall was built around the city in the tenth century. The Church of the Bogoroditsa (Mother of God) was built in Tmutarakan’ in 1023 by Prince Mstislav Vladimirovich, who ruled there from 988 to 1036. In 1068, as recorded on the Tmutarakan’ Stone, Prince Gleb measured the distance across the sea from Tmutarakan’ to Korchev (now Kerch’). In the 12th century, repeated attacks by the Polovtsy weakened the ties between Tmutarakan’ and the Russian realms. Excavations of Tmutarakan’ were begun in the 19th century and continued until the mid-20th.”

  22. Jeremn says:

    A very short article, for your enjoyment:

    Yats lists achievements of Ukrainian government.

    “Firstly, we’ve fully financed the Ukrainian army, which has been created from scratch. Secondly, we haven’t delayed any payment of wages or pensions to Ukrainian citizens. Thirdly, we’ve had our international debts written off – it’s not us who have accumulated those debts, but we had to take an important decision to restructure those debts,” Yatseniuk said in an interview with Ukrainian TV Channels on Friday evening.

    The premier said that the government had ended dependence on Russian gas supplies, readied the country for the coming winter, and prepared a package of reform for 2016.

    It also managed to maintain political stability in the parliamentary coalition despite political difficulties, retaining “normal relations between the president, the prime minister and Members of Parliament.”

    And … that’s it.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      So where does the gas come from that has “replaced” their gas supply from Russia?

      If they did not accumulate those debts, then who did?

      I take it then that the $3 billion gas debt to Russia has been settled.

    • Jen says:

      This is before Ratsenyuk wakes up and realises that the interview was all just a dream …

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      This reminds me of an old “Armenian Radio” anecdote:

      Q: Is it true that a chess-player Petrosyan won 1 000 rubles in the lottery?
      A: Of course its true! Only not Petrosyan but Akopyan, and not a chess player but FC’s “Ararat” forward, and not 1 but 10 thousands, and not rubles but dollars, not won – but lost”

      That’s pretty much how we must see any officialy proclaimed “peremoga” by Wabbit Senya and Porky the Pig.

      P.S. And they should’ve totally boast how the net trade with the EU increased from 27 billion euros in 2014 to 8 billion euros in 2015.


    • marknesop says:

      Ha, ha!! If he had any shame, he would not be able to say any of that with a straight face.

      1. “We’ve fully financed the Ukrainian army, which has been created from scratch.” A lie. All that was “created from scratch” was numbers, and that was not incentivized, but achieved through waves of conscription call-ups, some of them conducted as raids on universities in which the male students were formed up in the parking lot and put on buses to training camps. Most of the army’s equiment already existed, and more was received as gifts or for scrap-metal costs from NATO’s Eastern-European partners. Such a boost in numbers would not have been necessary if Kiev had not elected to attack the east in a bid to force it to submit, or if chronic mismanagement and misemployment of the army had not resulted in the cauldrons at Ilovaisk and Debaltsevo, with the resulting loss of life and loss of troops captured.

      2. “People have still gotten their pay and pensions”. That’s an accomplishment worth citing? The former Tax Minister paints a far different picture, one in which gas prices go up by 285% and the cost of home heating rises by 67%.

      3. “We’ve had our international debts written off”> Yes, through groveling and slobbering about the country’s desperate financial state, to which it was brought through the government blowing every spare hryvnia on the army and war. Having blown the contents of the treasury, Ukraine rolled on its back to expose its hairy belly and howled for mercy. What an inspiring performance – it should form part of a future Ukrainian leadership program.

      4. “We ended dependence on Russian gas supplies and readied the country for the coming winter”. Russia refused to deliver gas which was not paid for in advance, otherwise Ukraine would have taken it. How’s that search for an alternative supplier coming along? Uh oh; better forget about Kazakhstan. Yats has already acknowledged the country faces a critical shortage of coal for its power-generation plants, will run out before Spring and does not have an alernate supplier. The government has effectively prepared the country for the coming winter…so long as it ends by mid-January.

      5. “Maintained political stability in the parliamentary coalition despite political difficulties, retaining normal relations between the president, the prime minister and Members of Parliament.” Jesus wept. So in exchange for a steady paycheck, the government managed not to collapse. Epic – is it too early to ask for a raise?

    • ucgsblog says:

      Yats, you didn’t write off any debts, you restructured them, and failed to make payments on one of them. They cannot even clear the extremely low threshold they set for themselves.

    • Why doesn’t Syria declare that all the US/NATO planes in Syrian air space are deemed as hostile and will be shot down? They only talk, but do not back up their words with real action.

    • marknesop says:

      Plenty of witnesses saw the aircraft which conducted the attack. No less an authority than the UN has invited the one-man Syrian Observatory for Human Rights to meetings and enthusiastically embraces his figures without further checking – why the reluctance to believe him now? Hopefully there is some video evidence or still photographs of the attack; otherwise, spokesholes for “The Coalition” will just continue to deny they had any part in it.

      Maybe an S-400 system for every Syrian-held town?

  23. et Al says:

    Neuters: Turkish energy projects unharmed by row with Russia, says Erdogan

    …”There is no sign yet that the problems with Russia will affect projects like natural gas and the Akkuyu nuclear power plant,” Erdogan said in a speech to businessmen that was broadcast live by NTV news channel…

    ….”Do not believe the erroneous press reports that Russia has halted TurkStream. Just the opposite. This is a project that we shelved because our demands were not met,” he said.

    “No negativity has resulted from the problems we have recently faced,” he said. “Turkey will not collapse because of your imports of $1 billion. Who cares if you buy it or not? We’ll find other sources behind different doors.”…

    If it is of no significance, then why the direct comments in the first place? Why so defensive? Go ahead and see other energy suppliers bend to your iron neo-Ottoman will to give you the discounts that you demand. The trigger on the other projects gets pulled in case of ‘Erd & Dav’s Excellent Adventures’ (TM). What’s not to understand?

    • ucgsblog says:

      “The progress on TurkStream has not been halted. We halted the progress on TurkStream” – Erdogan

      Apparently his alliance with Poroshenko is bringing more and more positive results…

  24. Yatsenyuk demands that the EU blocks the construction of Nord Stream II:

    Decisions are not made in Kiev though but in Berlin, Brussels and Washington.

    • Patient Observer says:

      I don’t think that he needed any prompting as it would be a disaster for Ukraine given its present economic condition.

      • kirill says:

        As I keep on saying, Russia should make it crystal clear to all these idiots that Banderastan will stop being a transit route regardless of what alternative routes are built. Then they can proceed to cancel 50% of their Russian supply and Russia can deal with it, but the EU sure as Hell can’t.

        • marknesop says:

          I don’t know how much clearer it can be. Miller (of Gazprom) has said on more than one occasion that Ukraine will be eliminated as a transit state, and that it was not announced so that it could be a starting point for negotiations. Russia has been clear that it will still supply gas to Ukraine provided it pays for the volumes in advance, but that it will no longer carry gas for Europe. Yatsenyuk’s first reaction was to thumb his nose and say, so what, who needs you, you stink. His second reaction was to try to enlist his chums at the Council of Europe to put the brakes on all of Russia’s other choices, but it looks as if it has mostly anticipated these ruses and pre-empted them. Europe would have to rewrite some laws to make what Gazprom is doing illegal, although I would not put that past them, either. Failing that, they are reduced to impotent squealing which largely reiterates what Russia said months ago, only making it look as if the EU had only just found it out through its loyal ally, Ukraine, instead of listening to Russia’s repeated warnings.

  25. Lyttenburgh says:

    [Le Gasp]

    Simon Ostrovskiy, a victim of Putinist thugs and also a brave and honest journo working for the LICE NEWS gone Manchurian Candidate… How dares he to bite the very hand that feeds him?!

    LICE NEWS: Joe Biden Is Visiting Ukraine — And It Could Get Really Awkward
    “It’s a diplomat’s job to stay all smiles and keep the business of international relations chugging along, no matter how bad things look. But sometimes, even diplomats lose their cool.

    This week, US Vice President Joe Biden is visiting Kiev to tell Ukrainians they still have Washington’s support in their fight against Russia and Russia-backed separatists in the country’s east. But his message may be overshadowed by the US ambassador to Kiev, who hasn’t been acting very diplomatically lately.

    At the end of September, Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt got up in front of a group of businessmen and investors at a conference in the city of Odessa and told them that Ukrainian prosecutors were protecting the corrupt owner of an energy company that employs the Biden’s son, Hunter, instead of prosecuting him.

    “We have learned that there have been times when the Prosecutor General’s Office not only did not support investigations into corruption, but rather undermined prosecutors working on legitimate corruption cases,” Pyatt said in Ukraine’s main port city.

    He then pointed specifically to a case involving former Ukrainian Ecology Minister Mykola Zlochevsky, owner of the Burisma Holdings energy firm, which hired Hunter Biden to its board of directors shortly after the Euromaidan revolution overthrew Zlochevsky’s former boss Viktor Yanukovych.

    Burisma likely hired Biden’s son in the hopes that some of the family prestige would rub off on the company in the uncertain times that followed the revolution, Daria Kaleniuk, director of Ukraine’s Anti-Corruption Action Center, told VICE News.

    “They want there to be less suspicion that they’re involved in corrupt under-the-table dealings and are instead seen as operating in line with international standards,” Kaleniuk said, adding that Burisma received gas production licenses in questionable circumstances under the former regime.

    Burisma insists it hired the vice president’s son to its board because he is an experienced lawyer. “This is totally based on merit,” the company’s chairman, Alan Apter said when the younger Biden was hired.

    According to the US ambassador, Hunter Biden’s boss Zlochevsky stole $23 million from the Ukrainian people. But when a British court seized the money and asked Ukrainian prosecutors to send documents to confirm the funds were illicit, they stalled, forcing the court to release the assets back to the former ecology minister.

    The elder Biden arrives in Ukraine at a time when there is no bigger issue than corruption. With the war in the east stabilized for the time being, the media have nominated graft as the country’s number one enemy — not Russia.

    The vice president also lands after months of acrimony between reformers and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko over the prosecutor general, who Poroshenko has refused to dismiss despite numerous allegations about abuse of authority.

    But the White House wants the focus of Biden’s visit to be Ukraine’s close alliance with the US. One senior administration official, who asked not to be named, said a major goal was to remind people that Ukraine was not forgotten despite the fact that attention has shifted toward Russia’s involvement in Syria.

    “That’s going to be a major theme of the trip — that nothing that’s going on in the Middle East has changed one iota of our commitment to the Ukrainian people and to their security,” the official said in a briefing for journalists.

    The official also acknowledged that the administration has had to fall into line with the ambassador’s now public views.

    “The Office of the Prosecutor General itself is in desperate need of reform,” the official said. “And so [Biden] has made this very clear to President Poroshenko in previous conversations… So I think we are largely in line with Ambassador Pyatt’s sense that much more needs to be done.”

    But Biden’s meeting with Poroshenko may be a bit awkward, given that the US backs Ukraine on the presumption that it wants to have a Western-style democratic system with checks and balances — not a Russian-style autocracy where anyone who is friends with top officials gets a free pass.

    Ukrainian reformers will be watching closely to hear what Biden tells the president.

    “We have been very happy with the criticism the embassy has been bringing against the prosecutor’s office,” said Kaleniuk. “It has been very direct. So if Biden continues in the same vein and highlights the activities of the prosecutor’s office in defending people associated with Burisma, then it will be clear that he is doing his job fairly and is not beholden to narrow family interests.”

    “Как из душа окатило.”(c)

    I really hope that such slurious accusations by obviously revealed by now Kremlin’s doubleagent won’t spread amongst more mainstream, honest, Independant and Handshakable Western Media. First of all – as everybody knows – Ukraine is Free, Independent and conducts its own policy… which they absolutely freely subject to the will of the Culturally Superior West!

    They Are Not Slaves! This is further confirmed by the appointment of the citizens of Georgia, Lithuania, Russia and the US to the top positions in the central and local government of the Ukraine.

    • marknesop says:

      Holy shit! That’s quite a find.

      not a Russian-style autocracy where anyone who is friends with top officials gets a free pass…

      Don’t make me laugh. There are any number of examples of patronage and nepotism in the United States government and corporatocracy, but Dick Cheney’s is a classic. Of course he did not get anywhere because of his friendships, and of course he did not give juicy breaks to those who were friends of his once he attained a position of power. Of course he did not misuse his office to short-circuit inquiries or stymie investigations which might have turned up incriminating evidence on his cronies. Of course not.

    • yalensis says:

      Commenter TecumsehUnfaced:

      “It could get awkward. You’re not supposed to be so greedy that you show up to take your bribes in person.”

  26. Jeremn says:

    Ukrainians working together on blockade of Crimea. Not:

    “The Right Sector said the movement, like many participants in the blockade, were surprised when representatives of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis gave their consent for the resumption of power supply to Crimea. ‘The position of the authorities and some organizers of the blockade on economic cooperation and trade with the enemy is unclear to us […] We are saying that, if electrical power supply is resumed, Right Sector will stop its participation in the public action Blockade of Crimea because it sees no point in such a blockade. We reserve the right to exercise control in a different format and prevent the supply of cargo and resources,’ the movement said.”

    • marknesop says:

      Uh huh. And the third-most-powerful army in Europe (according to Poroshenko) is not able to enforce its will against a handful of Right Sector actiovists who are not even regular military? Soon enough Crimea will be totally independent of the mainland for all its needs, and then Right Sector can camp on the roadside and crap in the bushes for the rest of their lives if they wish. I can’t believe Europe continues to defend behavior like this.

  27. Moscow Exile says:

    Молочные реки подмосковья

    Suburbian Moscow Rivers of Milk

    A blog concerning a guided tour of the Danone dairy plant situated on the suburbian fringe of Moscow.

    Third world gas station?

  28. Warren says:

    Published on 6 Dec 2015
    Last year, Saudi Arabia became the United State’s largest purchaser of arms, enshrining the untouchable status of a ruling monarchy that many accuse of fanning the flames of extremism in the Middle East

  29. Moscow Exile says:

    Porky receiving the due attention that he believes he deserves.

  30. et Al says:

    The Aviationist via the Russian MOD: Unusual footage: Russian drone films American drone over Syria

    According to the Russian MoD, during the last few days the US-led coalition in Syria has deployed three times more drones than before with up to 50 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles often up in the air at the same time.

    The Russians claim that the coalition UAVs are conducting reconnaissance missions over oil fields along the Syrian-Turkish border which the terrorists allegedly use to smuggle oil into Turkey.

    “You realize that with the scale of video monitoring being done, our colleagues could share information about what is going on along the Syrian-Turkish border and how much oil the terrorists are selling and where,” Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said during a press conference in Moscow….


    The next video after the short one in the post is the 18 minute MOD briefing from December 4.

  31. Pingback: RUSSIA & UKRAINE – Johnson’s Russia List :: JRL 2015-#232 :: Tuesday 1 December 2015 | Johnson's Russia List

  32. et Al says:

    Sic Semper Tyrannis:L Jihadis now integral part in US designs for Syria (by CP)

    Yesterday, our esteemed FB Ali commented on the US plans for Syria:

    „In Syria [the US] plan was to use the non-IS jihadis against IS by promising them a part in the post-Assad Syrian regime. That is the reason why Kerry is promoting a political transition there to get Assad out, hand over Syria to these jihadis with a bunch of old Syrian politicians being the external face of the regime (mainly for pacifying public opinion back home). Saudi Arabia and Qatar have provided the necessary assurances that the US will have nothing to fear from this new Syrian government, and that it will follow the plan.

    The US will provide more arms to this ‘new Syrian army’ (ie, the non-IS jihadis) and hope that, with the Kurds and Western air support, it’ll knock IS out (or at least push it out of Syria).

    This plan has been stymied by the Russian intervention, and the rejuvenated Syrian army’s successful offensive against the jihadis. Kerry is still pushing the political plan, but Russia will never agree to anything that hands Syria over to these jihadis. The outcome is, therefore, likely to be decided on the battlefield, where it currently seems the R+6 will succeed….

    Plenty more at the link.

    I also recommend visiting Sibel Edmond’s Boiling Frogs site and the Empty Wheel for intel stuff.

    • et Al says:

      Like this:

      Empty Wheel: The Businessman’s Briefcase of ISIS Propaganda

      The Guardian has a story today about what it claims is ISIS’ manual in state-building which explains — the Guardian concludes — how it became the richest and most destabilizing Jihadi group of the past 50 years (as if that’s a category tracked somewhere)….

      …It explains that this manual came from a businessman “working within ISIS” who in turn handed it onto scholar Aymenn al-Tamimi….

      …That’s the news in this article, in my opinion — that this documents, as well as a slew of other purportedly ISIS documents, including a widely-cited financial one that “proved” ISIS was funding itself using extortion rather than donations from US Sunni allies — all came from the same businessman….

      …And yet somehow that businessman keeps wandering off with ISIS’ founding documents without getting executed.

      That’s, um, rather incredible…

      A sole source is always dodgy unless backed up with multiple other ones. The same sole source idea was used for previous ‘intelligence coups’ that were used to launch western wars…

    • yalensis says:

      What does he mean by “R+6”, I haven’t heard that term before.
      Which side of the war is that?


    Good: Turkey will lose up to $9 billion thanks to Russia’s economic sanctions.
    Bad: Russia will also lose (reduced business between the two countries and cancelling of Turk Stream)
    Ugly: There are STILL over 600,000 Russian citizens vacationing in Turkey.

  34. et Al says:

    Asia Times: Russia issuing yuan-denominated bonds

    On the heels of the International Monetary Fund’s approval for the yuan, Russia said it’s preparing to raise $1 billion in yuan-denominated sovereign bonds in Moscow, the Financial Times reported Monday.

    yuanLast week, the IMF made the yuan, also known as the renminbi, a world reserve currency by including it in its Special Drawing Rights basket. By integrating the yuan to the SDR, the IMF boosted the credibility of the currency and acknowledged it would be an accepted part of the global economic system.

    The latest move by Russia will aid the yuan’s international expansion and could lead to ruble-denominated bonds being issued in China and help promote similar cross-currency issuance by other big emerging markets, eating into the dominant role of the US dollar in global capital, said the FT.

    This isn’t just a diplomatic nicety by Russia, but an opportunity to do an end-around the sanctions imposed by the US and Europe….

    …“In London the renminbi is seen as an opportunity, but in New York it is seen as a threat,” Jon Vollemaere, chief executive of R5FX, a currency trading company specializing in emerging markets, told the FT. “The best thing to happen recently for the Chinese money market is Washington deciding not to do business with Russia for a while.”

    More at the link

  35. Tim Owen says:

    Pic of the day:

  36. yalensis says:

    Ukrainian blogger Vladimir Kornilov commented on Biden’s disrespectful pose in front of the Kiev memorial to the “Heavenly Hundred”.
    Biden stood casually and didn’t even take his hands out of his pockets.

    Let alone kneel and grovel on the ground, like the svidomites grovelled to him.

  37. Warren says:

    Estonian President Ilves engaged to Latvia cyber chief

    Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves is engaged to Latvian cyber security chief Ieva Kupce, the presidential office in Tallinn has confirmed.

  38. Cortes. says:

    Gary K Busch on Turkey’s use of its “Get out of Jail Free” cards

  39. Nat says:

    Anyone (maybe Yalensis) following the Ildar Dadin sentencing story? Seems exaggerated unless I’m missing something. Most reports say he was only picketing, not marching, which doesn’t need a permit. Anyone with more details?

  40. Moscow Exile says:

    Kremlin critic Khodorkovsky named as murder suspect in Russia

    RFE/RL has as its headline to this story:

    Khodorkovsky ‘Accused’ In Case Tied To Siberian Mayor’s Killing

    Note the way the word “accused” is presented.

    Objective reporting?

    • marknesop says:

      And of course he is only “accused” because he is a Kremlin critic, which you must accept as a real description of Khodorkovsky’s activities because it is not similarly in quotes.

  41. Jlaus says:

    Re: &

    Peter Lavelle’s Twitter reply is lacking substance. Something that has been true of Mark Galeotti.

    Excerpt from Galeotti’s above linked piece –

    “The Russians are rather more crude in their approach, labelling everything they don’t like as ‘Russophobia’.”


    An overly general opinion, that’s by no means true in the complete sense. Among other things, Galeotti goes onto write negatively of RT, which has had him on numerous times, unlike some others, who offer something substantively different from him.

    On the subject of simplistic labeling:

    Note Galeotti’s use of “Kremlin troll”, in reply to this piece:

    Excerpt –

    Turning away from PoliSport, Ali Velshi’s biased against Russia Al Jazeera America show “Real Money”, featured Mark Galeotti, who gave an incomplete assessment on what present day Russians are willing to endure. He said that Russia’s WW II suffering was awhile ago, unlike the recent economic growth it experienced. Galeotti suggested that contemporary Russians might not be so willing to take a noticeable economic decline. Downplayed in that Al Jazeera America segment, is the memory that Russians have of their economically turbulent period in the 1990s. Mainstream Russians can see thru the biases that some in the West have against Russia – Galeotti included.

    At his blog, Galeotti expressed the belief that Russia should pay a price for taking back Crimea, while uncritically referencing Josh Rogin’s Bloomberg article, which depicts the Obama administration trying to reach out to an intransigent Kremlin. Galeotti adds that it’s “immoral” to accept Crimea’s reunification with Russia, without that nation paying a price.

    For him, it’s apparently not so immoral to okay the coup like circumstances, that ousted the democratically elected Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, followed by a series of increased anti-Russian actions, which many within Ukraine’s Communist drawn boundaries don’t support. In line with neocon to neolib, to flat out anti-Russian advocacy, Galeotti downplays a trend that has been set with the support for Kosovo breaking away from Serbia (in contradiction to UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and the preference of Belgrade), Turkey’s decades long propping of the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (with comparatively limited international outrage) and a 2010 International Court of Justice advisory opinion, that gives credence to the idea of areas having the right to declare independence from an existing nation.

    Regarding the Crimea-Kosovo comparison, I noted that:

    -Crimea has a lengthy past with Russia
    -the desire for Kosovo’s designation as a separate entity is a more recent development
    – the repackaged KLA in Kosovo doesn’t come across as having a greater moral fiber than the Crimean body politic.

    Crimea’s pro-Russian majority are within reason to be against living in a state where anti-Russian slants get the upper hand.

    The bias against Russia has included some glee in its current economic challenges. Not everyone in the West is so on board with the idea of looking to economically punish Russia. The more intelligent of Western economists recognize the potential global economic pitfalls in seeking to wreck one of the ten largest economies in the world.


    At times, some paper credentialed academics (including some of the mass media propped ones) have un-intelligently carried on in a not so academic way.

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