European Gas Demand is Decreasing – A Dutch Fairy Tale

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

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

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

The Pretenders, from, “Brass in Pocket

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

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

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

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

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

In fact, demand for natural gas in Europe has declined only slightly, overall, and the reason for that is a global-financial-crisis recovery which remains as shaky as a blancmange has stalled development. If development resumes, which would be good news, then gas consumption will inevitably go up. However, the constant citation of a decrease in gas consumption is intended to distract you from the fact that gas imports have risen steadily. Why? Because Europe’s traditional sources of supply are in inexorable decline.

“Indigenous and North African supplies of gas to Europe declined by 50 million tonnes per annum over the last decade and are likely to decline by a similar amount in the next…The reality on the ground, often ignored, is that indigenous EU+ gas supplies have been in decline since 2004. Never mentioned is the fact that N Africa, in particular Algeria, is an important source of European gas and this too has been in decline since 2005. In 2012, supply from indigenous sources and N Africa was 50 million tonnes oil equivalent per annum (152 million cubic meters per day) below the level of 2004. In Europe, there should be a single minded focus on how to make good this shortfall…Since 1987, Russia has supplied between 25 and 30% of European gas needs and has proven to be an extremely reliable supplier throughout the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union. The only time that Russian supplies have been threatened has been when Europe’s new best friend, Ukraine, has created trouble.”

Imports of natural gas are up; well up. Europe’s suppliers could not give a tin weasel if Europe is using less gas overall, because that is having no negative effect whatsoever on their bottom line, or would not but for the current lunatic’s dance with energy prices, which has nothing to do with Europe using less gas. The canard that Europe’s demand for natural gas has decreased is used to make another Russian pipeline appear a ridiculous idea, when Europe’s demand for Russian gas is growing steadily as its traditional alternative supplies splutter and fail.

According to the Quarterly Report on European Gas Markets for last year, “After a 12% increase in the first quarter, EU gas consumption grew by 5% in the second quarter of 2015, both on a year-on-year basis.” Mind you, the year prior was an exceptionally mild winter, and consumption was low. Still, does relying on all winters henceforth to be mild seem like a sensible energy policy to you? “The reduced production cap for the Groningen field had a noticeable impact on Dutch production, which decreased by 44% in the second quarter. This contributed to an accelerated decrease in EU gas production, which fell by 14% year-on-year.” Don’t tell me De Jong did not know that; Eurasian energy security is his area of expertise. “Imports were unusually high in the third quarter, with double-digit growth in Russian, Norwegian and Algerian deliveries compared to the same period of 2014. In contrast, LNG imports fell by 7% year-on-year. Almost half of Russian imports arrived via Ukraine, the highest share observed in 2014-2015.” As already discussed, both Norwegian and Algerian supplies are in decline, and the sole major European supplier capable of increasing production…is Russia.

Almost half of Russian imports arrived via Ukraine, the highest share observed in 2014-2015. Ahhh, yes; Ukraine. Brussels and Washington’s new bestest buddy. “The trilateral discussions between Russia, Ukraine and the European Commission failed to reach an agreement for the third quarter and from 1 July 2015 Naftogaz halted Russian gas imports. In the third quarter of 2015, Ukrainian imported no gas from Russia. As deliveries coming from Hungary and Poland were also suspended, Ukraine imported gas during this period only from Slovakia…Although the interruption had no impact on the transit flows to the EU, it raised concerns about Ukraine’s ability to fill storages and ensure smooth transit during the upcoming winter…Russian gas imports were suspended again on 26 November. Ukraine claimed this was because it did not need any more Russian gas. In fact, because of the rapid fall in Ukrainian gas demand, the country’s import dependency has significantly decreased.” Oh, so I guess we’re good, then – because Ukrainian industry has collapsed, gas demand has decreased! Every cloud has a silver lining, what? Now the only standard required to maintain this brave, stiff-upper-lip gas-independent stance is to ensure there is no development. Why in hell did it take so long to think of this? Ever notice it’s the simplest solutions that are the most brilliant?

It’s not hard to see why Washington is pushing so hard to stop Nord Stream II. Reliable Russophobe hand-jobber to The Home Of The Brave, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard trumpets just today the ‘geopolitical earthquake‘ that is the United States of America’s very first LNG cargo from Sabine Pass. This, he says, is just the bow wave of a surge in exports of dirt-cheap gas which is going to change the energy game of the planet, and leave Putin groping tearfully at the shards of his country.

Uhhh….I have a question, Ambrose – may I call you Ambrose? Yes, okay, my question is, if the USA can supply Europe easily with cheap gas far below pipeline prices charged by Russia; if the USA is ‘storming the market’….why not let the Gazprom consortium build Nord Stream II? After all, it’ll cost them $10 Billion for a pipeline that will never be used! It’s not as if an overabundance of gas forces the Europeans to use it all – what are they going to do, start leaving the stove on all day while they’re at work, because they have too much gas and have to use it up? Don’t be stupid. If there is an overabundance of supply, European customers will stop buying from expensive Russia and shower Uncle Sam with Euros.

Oh ; about that. According to Platts – a fairly reliable source in the energy business – the price you just quoted in your article is half what the USA can sell LNG for and still make a profit. How many energy companies do you know of in the USA which deliberately operate on a break-even basis? What, none? You’re kidding. Gazprom can sell pipeline gas for $6.00 per MMBtu, while the indexed U.S. price for LNG would be $10.00.

Let me tell you something. Washington and Brussels are not trying to kill Nord Stream II because they believe Europe will not need it. It’s because they’re afraid it will.

Let’s not kid ourselves – this is merely the next salvo in Washington’s all-or-nothing war against Moscow for dominance of Europe, and Moscow is already handicapped by the current crop of European leaders being mostly American toadies who want to help Uncle Sam achieve complete control over Europe, with trade deals that permit U.S. companies to sue European governments if they perceive any commercial practices which hinder their competitiveness, and energy deals which will let the USA have a go at being Europe’s gas sugar-daddy instead of Russia. And before we leave that subject, there’s another factor, which I discussed in some detail just a couple of posts ago; the viability of Ukraine. Washington is okay with Russia supplying some gas to Europe, because Washington knows well it cannot really compete for volume. But it wants what Russian gas Europe gets to go through Ukraine. For two reasons – one, because Ukraine has already built $2 to $3 Billion in transit fees into its budget, and its economy has already breathed the tank down to bubbles. Ukraine simply cannot afford to lose that money, even though it was proportionately quite a small share of its income under Yanukovych, because it has blown its reserves on civil war. Two, for leverage. As I already pointed out via a cited reference, Russia has been a steady and reliable supplier, except for when its duplicitous partner, Ukraine, caused trouble. Many will recall, from the time when Russia shut off Europe’s gas, that it was due to a dispute with Ukraine over that country’s siphoning of gas for which it had not paid. Washington’s official position was that there was no proof, and Russia was probably making it up. Behold with amazement, then, Bloomberg not only stipulating that it actually did happen, but framing it as a necessary strategic tool in Ukraine’s toolbox to prevent its own supply being cut off! Nothing personal, Europe, but Ukraine needs your follow-on exports as collateral so that it can steal gas, and Russia is helpless to stop it. That’s just how you make things happen, baby. You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs, if you feel me.

“Without the gas-transit business, Ukraine wouldn’t be able to maintain its Soviet-era pipeline network. It would lose $2 billion a year in revenue (1.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product). And it would no longer be able to deter Russia from cutting off Ukraine’s own gas supplies by threatening to siphon gas that’s bound for the EU.”

There you have it. Russia needs to be stopped from establishing a pipeline link to Europe that does not go through Ukraine, so that Russia can be coerced into contributing to the repair and upgrade of Ukraine’s corroded pipeline network and bolstering its flailing economy to the tune of around $2 Billion a year, by the simple expedient of threatening to steal gas if they don’t cooperate. As a statement of western values, I….well, fuck. I just don’t know what to say.

There is no reason to believe Russia would cut off Ukraine’s domestic supplies provided it paid its bills on time for the amounts it took. Apparently western analysts, pundits and think-tankers feel that is now an unreasonable standard to demand of a commercial partnership. Russia has never once declined to supply gas which Ukraine paid for in accordance with the agreed-upon and signed terms. Never.

Let’s also dispense with the innuendo that Russia’s intent to circumvent and cease using Ukraine as a transit country is some kind of secret Kremlin plan, which would never have been discovered had clever investigative journalists not exposed it. Putin sent a detailed letter of intent to European leaders in the spring of 2014 which clearly laid out the risks along with Russia’s official position. Gazprom’s Alexei Miller announced more than a year ago that all flows currently going through Ukraine (not including those to it) would be shifted to Turkey. Ten bonus points to anyone who can guess what Maros Sefcovic’s reaction was. Yes, that’s correct – that it ‘made no economic sense’; well done. Just like Nord Stream II ‘makes no economic sense’. Makes you wonder how all but 4 EU countries could be running a budget deficit, while the EU’s overall debt is 90% of GDP, considering its Commissioner has such a comprehensive grasp of economic sense, doesn’t it?

If it’s not crystal clear by now, let me spell it out; the only terms acceptable to current European leaders – plus Washington, which should have nothing at all to say about it – for delivery of Russian gas to Europe by pipeline is the existing, creaky and substandard network which runs through Ukraine (it needed $3.4 Billion in repair in 2009 just to keep it running, which was never done and nothing has been done since), that country’s naked and carefully-nurtured hatred toward Russia and its demonstrated unreliability as a transit partner notwithstanding. This is the only solution which ‘makes economic sense’. Uh huh. More economic sense than a brand-new pipeline built at zero cost to the EU which would deliver gas straight to the heart of the EU’s de-facto ruler and most powerful economy – Germany. That settles it; I’m running for EU Commission Vice-President – vote for me. Out of my way, Sefcovic, you stammering retard. What??? It’s an appointment??? Lucky for you, Sefcovic, is all I can say – you could hold your campaign rally in a sleeping bag and all your supporters would fit, and there would still be room for a Hoover spin-dryer and a couple of floor lamps.

Whew; let’s summarize what we have established to this point. European demand for imported natural gas is increasing, not decreasing, and overall consumption is down slightly only because domestic supplies are in decline and post-crisis recovery development is stalled. Brussels and Washington are trying to force Russia to abandon Nord Stream II and continue using Ukraine as a transit country because (1) Ukraine’s economy is in crisis and it needs the money it realizes from transit fees, (2) its pipeline network is decrepit and the EU does not want to pay anything to upgrade it, and (3) Ukraine’s inherent unreliability is bound to erode Russia’s reputation as a supplier, paving the way for the American dream of taking over gas supply to Europe via LNG exports. Ukraine’s siphoning of Europe-bound gas is acknowledged, but framed as a necessary extortion method for Ukraine to ensure security of its own domestic supply. The EU Commission finds that a new pipeline, provided at no cost to Europe, to carry the gas that currently goes through Ukraine jeopardizes EU energy security and ‘makes no economic sense’, while insisting on Russia continuing to ship gas through a leaky environmental-disaster-in-the-making which crosses the territory of acknowledged thieves and extremists. Gee – when you lay it out that way, the EU looks sort of…stupid.

Could the USA really supply the EU with gas, via LNG tanker? That might make an interesting topic for discussion. Since I get first pick, I’m defending the “Ha, ha; no” side, and I invite the defenders of “Hell yes, absolutely” to make their case.

We already know from the previously-cited reference that Platts agrees with me: not before 2020, they say. “Looking at the supply and demand picture, Russia remains the lowest cost producer for Europe until 2020 at $6.00/MMBtu (Eur16.60/MWh), and it will not allow US LNG to berth in Europe, according to the analyst. US LNG supplies to Europe indexed to Henry hub prices are estimated at more than $10/MMBtu (Eur27.70/MWh) including all costs”. Oilprice goes further, declaring shale gas “The Dot-Com Bubble of the 21st Century“.  “As I review the financials of one of the largest shale producers in the United States, Whiting Petroleum (WLL), I can’t help but notice the parallels to the .COM era of 1999 which, to some extent, has already returned to the technology and biotech sectors of today. Back then, the faster you burned cash to capture customers regardless of earnings to drive your topline, the higher your valuation. The theory was that after capturing the customers (in energy today, it is the wells) spending would slow and so would customer additions allowing companies to generate cash.” That strikes a responsive chord, because it is well-known that shale-gas wells are only gushers up-front, and rapidly play out, necessitating constant drilling of new wells. Some sites have made the point that technology keeps getting better, and that is absolutely true – recovery is becoming more efficient and effective, allowing more profitable returns for less layout. But it has always been described as a “Red Queen” environment, in which operators have to continually run faster just to stay in place. There are a lot more skeptics among the investor community, as well, and what generated the big cash flows in the early days was big payouts for leasing of exploration blocks. Those have largely gone the way of the Dodo.

Bad news is echoed in The Globe and Mail, which calls it – accurately, is my guess – a ‘downturn’. “The U.S. shale oil boom that contributed to the current global glut is now in rapid retreat, with the production decline expected to hit more than one million barrels a day and the industry facing widespread bankruptcies among smaller producers…That decline in U.S. oil production won’t be enough to rebalance global markets, as analysts had expected to be the case when oil prices began falling sharply after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries failed to rescue the market by curbing production in November, 2014. The EIA expects prices to rebound somewhat this year from the 12-year lows touched this week; it forecasts West Texas intermediate oil will average $38.54 (U.S.) a barrel in 2016 and $47 next year…’The shale oil industry cannot survive on sub-$60 oil,” Mr. Gheit said in an interview.” There were rather a lot of meaty numbers in that quote and the accompanying article – first, if the price comes back up, it cannot fail to benefit Russia also, which pumps in rubles and sells in dollars. Also, the number of active drilling rigs in the USA has dropped to less than half the count in January 2014, at 516, down from 1,421. More to the point, Washington cannot sell its LNG in Europe at a profit, and still undercut Russian pipeline prices. Of course those rigs are not written off, and could be put back into service, but not unless the price rises and until then the USA cannot generate anything like the volumes Evans-Pritchard ecstatically yodels about. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Drilling Productivity Report, production has dropped off sharply in 2016, with a decline of 116,000 barrels per day from the 7 major gas plays which make up 95% of U.S. production. I have to say, that picture looks grim, and quite a far cry from a ‘geopolitical earthquake’. But Evans-Pritchard always was given to hyperbole.

How about the LNG shipping angle? Is that viable?

Not even close, in the short to medium term. As previously discussed, it takes from 14 to 36 months for a new-build LNG tanker to be completed. The owners of America’s LNG export terminals claim they will need 100 of them. The world’s major builder – South Korea – already has orders for 250, and there are only about 400 total in the entire global fleet. None of those already ordered in South Korea are American orders. In 2014, Congressman John Garamendi introduced a bill which would require American LNG cargoes to be transported in American-flagged ships which were built in the USA and crewed by Americans. This would require an almost-unbelievable galvanizing of the American shipbuilding industry, which is currently not geared up for anything like it. That’s probably why Garamendi’s bill enjoys strong support from that sector, strong enough that Congress can’t just tell him to sit down and shut up. And although he can’t get it passed, he keeps re-introducing it. Meanwhile – are you ready for the funny part? – of four LNG export terminals under construction in the entire US of A, only one has signed contracts for European shipments. One.

The USA is playing a crazy game, frantically trying to stave off another Russian pipeline from being built while it postures and pretends that abundant LNG imports are just a finger-snap away, because it is desperate to control the European energy market, in turn because it is desperate to control and manage and manipulate Europe. Europe’s current leaders are game, but the whole thing is an elaborate house of cards. There are not currently enough LNG terminals either on the import side, in Europe – although every time one opens, the press fanfare suggests the modern equivalent to penicillin has been discovered – or on the export side, in America. Meanwhile Europe’s domestic supply continues to fall off a cliff, even as its suppliers other than Russia gasp and wheeze in an effort to keep up. If Russia sticks to its guns and cuts Ukraine out of the transit loop, Nord Stream I will be running to capacity and will still not be able to keep up with demand.

I believe it’s your move, Mr. De Jong.

 

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2,209 Responses to European Gas Demand is Decreasing – A Dutch Fairy Tale

  1. Warren says:

    A woman beheaded in the road. Five headless corpses hanging from cranes. As a documentary exposes the horror of life in Saudi Arabia, why DOES Britain cosy up to this kingdom of savagery?

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3502079/Saudi-Arabia-s-kingdom-savagery-DOES-Britain-cosy-butchers.html#ixzz43jWWOdex
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

  2. moscowexile says:

    Turkish cargo vessel rams Kerch Strait bridge that is under construction.

    Incident happened on 19th, only reported today.

    No one hurt.

    See: Турецкий таран

    Turkish Battering Ram

    Turkish cargo ship “Lyra” has rammed the bridge that is now under construction across the Kerch Strait.

    The incident occurred on Saturday evening, March 19, but only now has it been announced.

    “The cargo ship leaned against a supporting pier of bridge No. 2, which is being built between the island of Tuzla and the fairway”.

    Pier No. 80 was destroyed and there may be hidden damage at the pierNo. 79. Two light beacons were destroyed and piers No. 79 and No. 81 are now offset.

    The damaged bridge is a supporting structure for the delivery of materials for the construction of the main construction — a bridge across the Kerch Strait.

    The cargo ship “Lyra” is owned by Turkuaz Shihhing Corp, it was piloted by a Turkish citizen. As a result of there were no injuries amongst the nine members of the crew.

    Upon receipt of an application for the detention of the vessel in connection with the incident, port staff inspected the “Lyra”. Traces of fresh paint on board tried to hide traces of collision with the piers. The ship has been detained according to maritime law for 72 hours. She is now in Taganrog. The ship is more than 30 years old.

    As previously reported by the Russian Gazette. the contractor will assess the damage and most likely sue for compensation. According to independent experts, this can reach several tens millions roubles.

    The accident occurred at 23.55. The traffic control management in the Kerch Strait gave a radio warning to the captain of the vessel of impending danger, but he ignored the message.
    Experts put forward several versions of the cause of the accident, from ignorance of a foreign language to elementary carelessness of the captain of the Turkish vessel under the Panamanian flag.

    Another cause: accidentally on purpose?

  3. Jeremn says:

    On topic, looks like Germany is talking up Nord Stream II at the highest level:

    http://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/332632.html

    ‘Germany recognizes Russia as a reliable supplier of energy resources and is actively engaged in the Nord Stream-2 debate with the European Commission for the purpose of settling legal and political matters.

    “The Nord Stream-2 project is being actively discussed by the participating companies and the European Commission. Of course, we are taking part in this debate, which needs to resolve many complex legal and political matters,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told Interfax in an exclusive interview.

    “Europe needs safe and diversified gas supply at advantageous rates. Russia has always been our reliable partner in the field of energy, including at a difficult time,” he said.’

    • kirill says:

      The problem is that there is some discussion at all. The EU has no say in the construction of the Nord Stream expansion. Germany can link to any expanded capacity as sovereign entity and does not need permission from scum in Brussels.

    • marknesop says:

      This is indeed a hopeful sign, although its inclusion on a Ukrainian site intends the opposite, and suggests that Ukraine is being betrayed by Germany. It does look like Europe is getting fed up with being saddled with Ukraine and its problems, and is beginning to regret its precipitate entry into the global great game, although the official line is still one of unflinching support. Germany was always going to be the bellwether if not an outlier in this issue, because of self-interest. But many Europeans must silently support Germany’s position, since it is their future energy supplies that Ukraine is dicing with.

      Coincidentally, I noticed on the same site a contention by Porky that negotiations to swap Savchenko for Russian prisoners can only commence once her sentence takes effect and she begins to serve her time, which is forecast for early April. Porky has a terrible habit of promising things to Ukrainians at some point in the future, and then just hoping someone will come along to bail him out and make his promise a reality. It is fairly clear from the outset that he is in a weak bargaining position, since he began talking up a swap before she was even convicted, without any public reply from Moscow at all. There is therefore no basis to believe Russia is even entertaining the notion, and it just looks like more of Porky’s one-hand-clapping nonsense. What an embarrassing buffoon. Now he has to ensure his Russian prisoners remain alive and in good health, or lose what he fancies to be his bargaining chip. I suppose he could always up the ante and sentence them to death or something, but that would not play very well in the international press.

      • moscowexile says:

        These “prisoners of war” that that foul swine is willing to exchange — are they Russian military personnel, members of the “invading Russian army” that is fighting the Ukrainian heroes, or are the Ukrainian citizens, insurgents against the Kiev regime?

        Does Porky and supporters still believe that their claim that Savchenko is a prisoner of war, a serving Ukraine commissioned air force officer, who was captured whilst on active duty with the Ukraine military can be accepted in court, by the “International Community”?

        The Russian court where Savchenko was tried refused to deal with charges made against her that she had murdered Ukraine civilians near the village of Metalist, where she had directed mortar fire against an East Ukraine insurgent post (whilst hiding in the undergrowth, acting as an artillery spotter: not from her attack helicopter or her fighter war plane), even though she admitted that she had killed people in East Ukraine. (It’s on tape where she says this.)

        She saw the insurgents against whom she was directing fire: she could hardly not have noticed the Metalist civilians who were also fleeing along the Lugansk road onto which she was directing fire. They were on the road because they knew full well that the adjacent fields had ben mined by their “fellow countrymen”.

        The reason why the Russian court would not deal with these charges that she, a Ukrainian citizen, had attempted to murder Ukrainian citizens, be they militiamen or villagers, was that to charge a foreign national for the attempted murder of other foreign nationals on foreign territory was out of the court’s jurisdiction.

        However, the charge that she, a foreign national, had participated in the murder of two Russian nationals, two journalists, albeit on foreign soil, was most certainly within that court’s jurisdiction.

        • marknesop says:

          I’m not completely sure who they are, and I may be confusing them with something Porky said earlier, but I’m almost sure they are the two Russian citizens captured by the Ukrainian army who reportedly confessed to being Special Forces or something like that. They looked pretty weedy to be Special Forces types, if they’ll forgive my saying so, and there was a good deal of speculation at the time that their confessions were coerced, but speculation is all it was to the best of my knowledge. I believe it was shown after that that one of them was no longer in the active-service military, although he had been once (not unusual in a country which has conscription to national service). I’m not sure about the other. Discussion at the time suggested they had copped to being Special Forces soldiers as their best chance to stay alive, as they figured they would if they were politically useful to Kiev.

          I think those are the guys Porky is in a sweat to swap for Savchenko.

  4. Patient Observer says:

    Coming into work today, I noticed the (American) flag at half-staff. Upon inquiry, I learned it was in honor of the terror victims in Brussels and the flag will remain at half-staff for several more days.. I note that the flag was not flown at half-staff for other terror attacks such as the Russian airliner bombing which resulted in far more deaths.

  5. ucgsblog says:

    And now the Eurasia Center just moving to outright lies: http://www.newsweek.com/misery-terror-life-under-putin-crimea-439189?rx=us

    “On March 16, 2014, Crimeans voted in a sham referendum for Russia to annex Crimea. Has life improved for the approximately 2 million people who live there?”

    Yes, yes it has according to the people living there. But I’m sure Eurasia Center will blatantly lie about it.

    “Not at all. On every measure, from the economy to its treatment of minorities, the beautiful peninsula has become a shell of what it once was. The economic situation in Crimea is desperate. Tourism, one of the peninsula’s main economic engines, took a serious nosedive in 2014, when Crimea received fewer than 3 million visitors—half the number who vacationed there in 2013. That is because Ukrainians made up the largest portion of tourists in Crimea prior to annexation. But for political and economic reasons, many now choose not to go. The Russian tourists who were supposed to flood into Crimea never came.”

    First, the treatment of minorities actually improved, as is documented by the UNHCR. Second, because of the coup in Ukraine, much less Ukrainians would’ve been going to Crimea. Third, the majority of tourists were Russians, not Ukrainians.

    “Crimeans have experienced a sharp decline in their standard of living. Western sanctions prevent European and American companies from operating on the peninsula, cutting into potential revenue and jobs from foreign investment. The Ukrainian government has imposed restrictions on trade with Crimea as well. Since switching to the Russian ruble, Crimeans have been subject to that currency’s massive depreciation, from an exchange rate of about 35 rubles per dollar in 2014 to 70 rubles per dollar today. While Crimeans’ pensions under Russian occupation may be nominally higher, their rubles have lost more than half of their purchasing power.”

    Would it have been better with Ukraine’s currency? In 2014, it was at 8.23. In 2016, it’s at roughly 26.23. Hmm, that’s substantially worse than the Ruble’s performance, and yet the article implies that Crimeans wouldn’t have been subject to such a depreciation. The lies continue.

    “The situation for the peninsula’s minorities is even worse. Russian authorities have forced Crimean Tatars to become Russian citizens and curtailed their freedoms of speech, language, education and residence—as well as their right to a fair trial. The new authorities have shut down Tatar language media, and Tatar leaders face harassment, detention and threats to their lives. Now, Russia appears ready to outlaw the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, the representative body of the largest indigenous people of the peninsula. “They’re stepping up repressive measures against Crimean Tatars,” Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group analyst Halya Coynash said in a March 15 interview.”

    Odd, because according to the UNHCR, the linguistic freedoms have actually increased, and according to Ukraine’s very own electoral data, the support for Mejlis was decreasing. But please, don’t let facts get in the way of bullshitting.

    “There’s “huge pressure on religious communities,” Taras Berezovets, founder of Free Crimea, said in a May 2015 interview. After Crimea’s annexation, the FSB raided homes, mosques, schools and churches, forcing religious leaders to flee. Russia extended its stricter laws regulating religious activity to the peninsula. The new authorities have issued a legal order putting all mosques under the control of the Mufti Office of Crimea, while establishing the Mufti Office of Tavriya, reportedly a political organization with close ties to Russia. Crimean Tatars aren’t the only ones facing persecution. After annexation, the first wave of repression targeted mainly pro-Ukrainian activists and Crimean Tatars, while Ukrainians and Russians were the Kremlin’s victims in 2015.”

    And the Mejlis aren’t a political organization? Is that why they ran for office? Also, they’re saying that Russia’s oppressing religious minorities, but that Russia’s also oppressing religious majorities? Perhaps atheists too? Much like Russia weaponizing everything, Russia’s oppressing everyone. What’s next?

    “Between the 2001 and the 2014 census, the number of people identifying as ethnic Ukrainian in Crimea declined from 24 to 15 percent. Many moved to the mainland, while others feared identifying themselves as ethnic Ukrainian in occupied Crimea. In March 2015, Russia’s FSB charged Crimean journalist Andrii Klymenko with challenging the annexation’s legitimacy and threatening Russian sovereignty by writing a report that was published by the Atlantic Council and Freedom House. The report showed how Russia’s occupation and annexation of Crimea has unleashed an ongoing chain of human rights violations across the peninsula.”

    Between 1989 and 2001 the number of people identifying themselves as Russians in Ukraine fell by three million. Where’s the outrage Newsweek? Where’s the outrage? Oh, and the number of Crimean Tatars rose from 11 percent to 12 percent, whereas the number of Mejlis supporters declined. Why don’t you mention that Newsweek?

    “Under Article 280 of Russia’s criminal code, Klymenko faces up to five years in jail. As a result, Klymenko cannot visit Crimea, where his parents are buried. Nor can he enter Russia or any territory the Russian Federation controls without risking immediate arrest. Klymenko’s case is emblematic of a broader pattern of human rights abuses and freedom of speech violations that take place in Crimea on a daily basis. The Russian authorities have clamped down on all independent media. In 2015, numerous journalists and activists were arrested and harassed. All voices of dissent—journalists, academics and artists—face harassment, trumped up criminal allegations and accusations of being “undesirables” under Russia’s foreign-agent law, which stipulates that all media (including Internet sites) register as foreign agents if they receive any non-Russian support. This effectively opens all independent media up to expulsion.”

    No, it doesn’t. It prevents a whopping zero percent of organically grown protests from being banned. A whopping zero percent.

    “Any actions “violating Russia’s territorial integrity,” such as peaceful protests or social media posts challenging the annexation, are subject to criminal prosecution. Consequently, Crimea has become an information vacuum. Human rights and freedom of expression in Crimea today are more tightly restricted than in Russia, where the Kremlin cannot exert the same level of control. For Russian President Vladimir Putin, Crimea is nothing more than a domestic propaganda tool, a military asset for exerting influence in the Black Sea, and a potential bargaining chip for his geopolitical chess game with the West. The Crimean people are the main victims of this game. Melinda Haring is the editor of UkraineAlert at the Atlantic Council, and Alina Polyakova is the deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center.”

    Crimea is such an information vacuum, that over half of the Crimeans can access that article. And there goes my respect for Newsweek for running that crap. No one can obliterate its own soft power like the US Department of Hopeless Causes.

    • marknesop says:

      I was kind of looking for something to write about which would not take too long, as I know I’m overdue for another post but I’m still fiddling about collecting material for a joint project with Jen – this looks tailor-made for the situation, and you have already done most of the work. With your permission, I will go ahead with it and credit you as well, as I agree with pretty much everything you’ve pointed out.

      • ucgsblog says:

        I’d be delighted! The UNCHR Report I mentioned was first mentioned on this blog, (I forget who, I sowwy,) by a rapporteur, and it became famous after the rapporteur failed to find a single instance of ethnic based Human Rights Violations. So when I saw an article talking about how Tatar is shrinking in influence when it’s growing…

    • moscowexile says:

      Compare the above with:

      John Hellevig — The Hidden Story of Crimea’s Economic Success

      Someone must be telling fibs — but who?

      • Patient Observer says:

        Very enlightening article! Unlike the propaganda piece with its focus on one-off quotes of dissidents, the subject article stated quantifiable facts that showed an entirely different picture. Also, the article demolished the claim that somehow the average Crimean was economically worse off than the average Ukrainian.

      • Cortes says:

        Excellent article. Thanks for the link.

      • ucgsblog says:

        Excellent read. Thank you!

        Love this part: “The tourism industry is coming along very nicely, indeed, with a 21% growth of visitors in 2015 bringing the total to 4.6 million. This is often contrasted with the 6 million tourists, of which 4 million Ukrainians, that used to come before the liberation. The comparison is however quite misleading as the purchasing power and habits of that segment of Ukrainian visitors was quite different. They did not require a high standard of service in accommodation and catering and so did not bring in a profitable business and thus did not stimulate investments. Already in the difficult transition year of 2014, the proceeds from the tourist industry doubled to a value of about $1.5 billion from the level of the Ukrainian years of $700 million.”

        • moscowexile says:

          My neighbour has a holiday apartment near Sevastopol and sent me some info last summer after he had asked me if I and my family should like to stay there. We had already booked a vacation in Cyprus by then, but may consider his offer this summer. I shall try to post on here the info that he sent me: it has plenty of pictures of the Crimea coast and holiday villas that are allegedly not being used by Russian tourists.

          • ucgsblog says:

            I can no longer invest in Crimea. Had to transfer my previous investments too. Sanctions, and contrary to popular myth, Obama’s much more vicious at enforcing them than Bush. Two more presidents like the past three, and there will be a political revolution in the United States via the Amendment Process. I didn’t get hurt, pulled out as soon as I realized what was going to happen, but some others probably did. Murikan Presidents, after 1988, they just started Shooting the Moon. Props to all Hearts Players who get the reference. But I’ll still gladly look at the pictures, since it’s important to rebut propaganda.

            • moscowexile says:

              It’s a PowerPoint slide show he sent me and I cannot manage to post it here, but here are some of the pictures:

              The place is called Kacha and his apartment is in the block above.

              The block is called Nash Parus (Our Sail).

            • marknesop says:

              It might not take that long. The Mittster is waiting in the wings, hoping to be named as “a candidate we can all be proud of”, while Hillary is basking in Europe’s endorsements. Germany, at least, is no longer shy about saying publicly that Trump scares them. From my Handelsblatt Morning Briefing:

              “Republicans have now resorted to settling things with their fists. Over the weekend there were violent clashes between friends and foes of the Trump campaign in New York and Arizona. The conservative establishment broke with Trump and his incendiary rhetoric long ago. Now they’re looking for alternatives. Ex-presidential hopeful Mitt Romney called for “a candidate we can be proud of.” Romney himself may not have actually entered the election campaign stage yet, but he is lingering in the wings.

              Over the weekend I had the honor and privilege of meeting former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. After a Secret Service pat down, I attended a fundraising event at the private home of a businessman in Connecticut. There I witnessed a thoughtful and responsible presidential candidate, resisting the fever of populism. Hillary touched on all the hot-button issues – from gun violence to free trade – but stayed her course as a force for realpolitik. She seemed more focused on her first day in the White House than on her next campaign speech. She’s not just another handshaker, but a president in waiting.”

              I don’t need to tell you, I’m sure, that a President Hill’ry would be an unmitigated disaster. But that is likely the way things are headed if Trump runs as an independent and splits the Republican vote, to say nothing of the incoherent fury if Republican voters who are committed to Trump are denied the candidate who won the popular vote. Meanwhile, the Republican establishment has to come up with a ‘third candidate’, because they can’t very well announce that one who already lost to Trump in the primaries fight is their selection – hence The Mittster hanging around the door with a hopeful face.

              I read somewhere, recently, an article or a report in which a reporter from somewhere outside the USA had just returned from there, and said he had never seen Americans so angry. Small wonder. Nobody cares what the people want anymore, and the main difference is that they are not even pretending, this time around, that they do.

              • ucgsblog says:

                They won’t, because if they go with Romney and Clinton wins, it’ll be the end of their party and they know it. It’s going to be Trump-Clinton with Trump winning, unless they can somehow find a way to have Romney defeat Clinton, which is something I highly doubt. Drone Romney with his 47% comment is the very definition of the establishment, much like Clinton, so then it’ll come down to Latinos, which Clinton will win in a landslide. Speaking of Romney: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1Ju98N-jPc

                • marknesop says:

                  Ha, ha!!!! Mitt the Twit – yes, I remember that particular episode of ‘Roasted Mittens’. What a boob. If he wasn’t a typical rich-guy one-percenter corporate vulture, I could almost feel sorry for him, because he obviously did not have any grasp of the political repercussions which can result from even the mildest criticism.

                  It’s a good reminder, though, that indeed Europe does weigh in occasionally with its preferences for U.S. president. I’m not sure if it indicates a fondness for Democrats or if it’s just that the Republicans keep running dislikable candidates, but they are onna ho’ notha’ level with The Donald. If Romney had won, he probably would have taken no action to punish the ‘Mitt the Twit’ remark, and might have just laughed it off. The Donald tends to remember people who got up in his face, and pay them back when the opportunity comes around. Germany might be sorry for its frankness.

                  Anyway, I hope you’re right. The USA is going to experience a disastrous presidency either way, and Trump would be marginally less dangerous to the rest of the world than Hillary would be.

              • Patient Observer says:

                The Russian population firmly rejects non-systemic opposition and the US poopulation (sort of liked the inadvertent misspelling), getting a whiff of a non-systemic and credible alternative (Trump) are turning out in huge numbers in his support. The US deep state may have an unforeseen and self-inflected color revolution on its hands.

                • Patient Observer says:

                  Adding to the thought of a US color revolution, given Putin’s reverence in the US based on his actual (and imagined) actions, a popular movement inspired by his values can be organized with a little prodding. Putin is anti-Obama, anti-Muslim (an imagined position), anti-LGBT, pro-Christian, and tough on terrorists guy all rolled up into one man of action. His perceived position on these matters could find strong support in 40-50% of the US voters.

                  If Russia were to pursue the color revolution gambit, they would need a Navalny analog as Putin is otherwise employed. Actually, Trump fits the bill in many ways and now I wonder if there is a deep game where Trump is the unwitting implementer of a color revolution engineered in the Kremlin. If we believe that Gorby was a deep mole (and there is evidence of such) then why not Trump?

                  Only joking with the above, but, if I stop posting, it can only mean that I have been silenced by the FSB or, more likely, by my wife in an effort to get me to do some yard work.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Putin is not anti-LGBT or whatever.

                  He has said this publicly many times.

                  Most in the West do not believe him though, because the Western media says he is all things evil, I suppose; they think he is an out and out liar, albeit that Obama lies repeatedly and publicly, yet the sun shines out of his arse.

                  I’m sure Putin has used the “some of my associates and colleagues are gay” line many times, but such statements of his are treated with scorn in the civilized West.

                  I believe there should not be any criminal prosecution or any other prosecution or infringement of people’s rights on the basis of their race, ethnicity, religious or sexual orientation…

                  “We have no persecution at all. People of non-traditional sexual orientation work, they live in peace, they get promoted, they get state awards for their achievements in science and arts or other areas. I personally have awarded them medals” — Putin talks gay rights on 60 minutes.

                  Bear in mind, that CBS link above starts with total crap, namely:

                  Vladimir Putin made headlines this week when he agreed to meet with the singer Elton John.

                  He didn’t. poor old Reginald and the smart-arse Western media had fallen victim to a prankster.

                  See: Elton John may have been fooled by a prankster claiming to be Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin has claimed.

                • yalensis says:

                  No, but then there was a further development. After the pranksters fooled Elton once, Putin really did call him, to make amends for the joke.

                  I don’t know if they did actually meet yet, but Putin said he did want to meet with Elton at some point, and said he is a fan of his songs.

                  I “covered” both breaking stories at the time,
                  See this:
                  https://awfulavalanche.wordpress.com/2015/09/16/extry-extry-elton-john-prank-transcript/

                  And then this:
                  https://awfulavalanche.wordpress.com/2015/09/25/fool-me-once-putin-phones-elton-john-again-or-does-he/

                • Patient Observer says:

                  Dear ME, I know that Putin is not anti-LGBT but his is pictured that way in the West. Unfortunately, that is part of his appeal in the West. My point, not well expressed, is that the Western propaganda directed against Putin actually resonates with a large minority of Americans. I agree with elements of America’s angst such as “anti-Obama” in sense that Putin is a strong personality capable of original thinking and leadership versus Obama who seems little more than the human interface between the teleprompter and the American electorate.

                • marknesop says:

                  “…Obama, who seems little more than the human interface between the teleprompter and the American electorate.”

                  A pretty trenchant line, for someone who claims ineloquence.

        • PaulR says:

          It would possibly be worthwhile comparing the Crimean case to East Germany after unification. In the first couple of years East German GDP fell about 40%, reflected in a fall in industrial production of about 50%. Unemployment increased to about 30%. Inflation in 1991 was over 100%. http://aei.pitt.edu/36998/1/A3033.pdf Of course, the difference between East and West Germany was far greater than that between Crimea and Russia. East German industry was uncompetitive and collapsed rapidly (although this was also due to the decision to exchange East German marks for Deutshmarks 1 for 1). Still, compared with the German example, any negative economic results associated with Crimean (re)unification look fairly mild.

          • Patient Observer says:

            In addition, Crimea was subject to severe disruptions of water, energy and food supplies along with a virtual Ukraine travel blockage and Western economic sanctions. Energy shortages were just recently rectified and direct land transportation to the mainland will only be established upon completion of the bridge.

            Despite the numerous external factors (none of which applied to East Germany), the Crimea has indeed done well and much better than their Ukrainian counterparts.

          • Jen says:

            Wasn’t it also the case that East Germany’s economy was more integrated with other eastern European economies and that of the Soviet Union itself? Even though the East German economy might have been stagnating by the standards of capitalist economic ideology, isn’t it possible that eastern Germany’s collapse might also have been due in part because after unification it was cut off from the other former Communist economies while having to undergo integration with western Germany, and that integration not handled well by the Wessies themselves?

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            “It would possibly be worthwhile comparing the Crimean case to East Germany after unification.”

            Professor Robinson, surely, you meant “after illegal annexation”?

            • Moscow Exile says:

              Man sollte die Sowjetische Besatzungszone sagen, russische Schweinehund!
              🙂

              I used to get old Fritzes saying that to me when I lived in the Fatherland and spoke of “East Germany” or the “German Democratic Republic”. They used to go blue in the face on hearing GDR etc. It was great fun annoying them in this way.

              Frogs have a similar reaction when you say “The English Channel”.

            • marknesop says:

              Welcome back after your long sleep in your box of dirt, Count Lyttenburgh!!

              • Lyttenburgh says:

                “Box of dirt”?! Who do you think I am – count Otodracula?!

                Nah, I was just travelling. Visiting Arzamas-16 to replace my synthi-flesh, to filter the Red Mercury in my veins and crash-test my adamantium skeleton. True story – 100500%! [nods]

                • marknesop says:

                  You just dropped out of sight for awhile. Moscow Exile told us you had run away to be an Orthodox priest.

                • Lyttenburgh says:

                  “Moscow Exile told us you had run away to be an Orthodox priest.”

                  Huh! Nope – I won’t emulate Okhlobystin. Although, if I SUDDENLY decide to become a priest I will take as my new name Nikodim. It has a nice ring in it.

                • marknesop says:

                  It does indeed. Although I am just a lying Kremlin stooge, and you cannot believe anything I say. He actually did not ever say that, a fact I am sure you confirmed for yourself. He speculated that you were too weak from your strict observance of Lent to type upon the keyboard, and that once you got some meat and eggs inside you, your strength would return.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                I did not say he had run away to be a priest: I said he was probably weak and wasting away because it is now Великий пост — Lent — and many Russians take it seriously here. So until Easter — May 1st here this year — it’s nuts and berries, honey, mushrooms, spuds, beans, carrots etc., grits and little else.

  6. Patient Observer says:

    As discussed earlier, scumbag McCain is being investigated by the Pentagon over his “patriotic” plea to ditch Russian RD-180 rocket engines and use Elon Musk’s rockets. McCain was apparently trying to divert billions in business to buddy Elon at the expense of national security. McCain should be shot into space where no one can hear him scream.

    The Sputnik article is a little muddled but states:

    “The Department of Defense’s Inspector General has launched an investigation into accusations by a top United Launch Alliance executive that Senator John McCain was working with Elon Musk to outlaw a Russian rocket engine that he views as his company’s competition.

    Last week, ULA Engineering Vice President Brett Tobey resigned after it became public that he had accused McCain of teaming up with the SpaceX founder to ban the imported RD-180 engine that is used to power ULA’s Atlas V launch vehicles. ULA, a collaboration of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, and SpaceX are competing for Pentagon business following the certification of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for military space launches.”

    http://sputniknews.com/us/20160324/1036865207/pentagon-probe-mccain-musk.html

  7. Warren says:

    Published on 23 Mar 2016
    An accident involving a Flydubai plane was inevitable, a former Flydubai captain told RT on condition of anonymity. He revealed that pilots are forced to work while exhausted, while saying he had been “worked to death” despite complaints.

  8. Warren says:

    New Zealand votes to keep flag in referendum

    New Zealanders have voted to keep their existing flag after a national referendum, preliminary results show.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-35888474

  9. moscowexile says:

    Skip the light fandango — you pillock!

    State visit to Argentina.

    • marknesop says:

      He learned that arm-in-the-air opening stance from Raul Castro.

    • kirill says:

      It’s back to corporate ass rape business as usual in Argentina. Uncle Scam approves.

      They used the “corruption” propaganda BS to change the government in Argentina. In Brazil it is the same meddling to engineer pliant regimes.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I should not have called him a pillock: that was vulgar of me.

        He is a liar.

        That is an accurate statement.

        Furthermore, he lies repeatedly and is hardly ever taken to task over this.

        I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom. That means no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient. That is not who we are. And it is not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists. The FISA court works. The separation of powers works. Our Constitution works. We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and that justice is not arbitrary” — Senator Obama criticizing the Bush administration for monitoring Americans who had done nothing wrong, 2007.

        See: Obama on Surveillance in 2007

        In 2009, President Obama stood before an adoring crowd in the centre of Prague, in the heart of Europe. He pledged himself to make “the world free from nuclear weapons.” People cheered and some cried. A torrent of platitudes flowed from the media. Obama was subsequently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. It was all fake. He was lying.

        The Obama administration has built more nuclear weapons, more nuclear warheads, more nuclear delivery systems, more nuclear factories. Nuclear warhead spending alone rose higher under Obama than under any American president. The cost over 30 years is more than $1 trillion.

        A mini nuclear bomb is planned. It is known as the B61 Model 12. There has never been anything like it. General James Cartwright, a former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said, “Going smaller [makes using this nuclear] weapon more thinkable.”

        In the last 18 months, the greatest build-up of military forces since World War Two — led by the United States — is taking place along Russia’s western frontier. Not since Hitler invaded the Soviet Union have foreign troops presented such a demonstrable threat to Russia.

        Ukraine – once part of the Soviet Union – has become a CIA theme park. Having orchestrated a coup in Kiev, Washington effectively controls a regime that is next door and hostile to Russia: a regime rotten with Nazis, literally. Prominent parliamentary figures in Ukraine are the political descendants of the notorious OUN and UPA fascists. They openly praise Hitler and call for the persecution and expulsion of the Russian-speaking minority.

        This is seldom news in the West, or it is inverted to suppress the truth.

        In Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia — next door to Russia — the U.S. military is deploying combat troops, tanks, heavy weapons. This extreme provocation of the world’s second nuclear power is met with silence in the West — John Pilger, Start of a New World War

  10. et Al says:

    The desperation sets in:

    Neuters: EU helps protect UK energy supply from Russia’s Putin, says pro-EU MP
    http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-energy-idUKKCN0WQ004

    …”We have seen how countries such as Putin’s Russia use their gas supplies as a tool of foreign policy, threatening to cut off supplies or drastically increase prices,” Rudd will say according to advance extracts of her speech.

    The proportion of domestically produced gas used in Britain is expected to fall to 26 percent in 2030, down from 56 percent last year.

    “We can’t let our energy security be hijacked as a political pawn to bring Europe to its knees. By working together in the European Union, each member state can stop this becoming a reality … To put it plainly – when it comes to Russian gas, united we stand, divided we fall,” she will say…

    …Rudd’s argument was criticised as scaremongering by one of the main ‘out’ campaigns – a familiar charge in what is becoming an increasingly bitter debate.

    “Putin does not have the power to switch off the lights in Britain, as the Energy Secretary implies. In any case, we can’t decide our nation’s future based on whether we think Putin will smile or frown,” said Alex Deane, executive director of the Grassroots Out Movement.
    ###

    & in a bit more detail here:
    Spectator: Listen: Justin Webb takes Amber Rudd to task on Today over her ‘plague of frogs’ Brexit claims
    http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/03/listen-justin-webb-takes-amber-rudd-to-task-on-today-over-her-plague-of-frogs-brexit-claims/

    Claim 3 – President Putin would raise the price of Russian gas and cause havoc

    Rudd claims that if Britain leaves the EU, we will be in danger from Putin when it comes to our energy supply. She says that Britain’s membership of the EU helps protect our energy supply from Putin trying to restrict gas flows. However — as Webb pointed out — this is a bizarre argument given that Russia does not supply our gas and the majority of our gas comes from outside the EU:

    JW: How much of our gas do we import from Russia?

    AR: Very little of our gas we import from Russia at the moment, but what the report says and what I would agree with, in the internal energy market is how we keep prices down

    JW: I don’t understand the link, we import most of our gas from Norway?

    AR: About a third from Norway, a third from liquid natural gas, a third…

    JW: …and a huge amount about to be supplied from America, that’s starting to export gas and some of its going to come here. So, why is Vladimir Putin suddenly a problem if we leave the EU?

    AR: Because Russia exports a lot of gas to the rest of Europe, we access our gas through Europe

    JW: Through Norway most of it

    AR: Well Norway is in Europe…

    JW: Well it’s outside the European Union

    In short, regardless of whether of not we’re in the EU, Britain would have to source its own gas if Putin behaves badly. However, this doesn’t seem too difficult given that it already does and there is a lot of gas around.

  11. marknesop says:

    Who does the Beeb consult to get the inside track on whether Savchenko will be swapped for two captured Russian ‘intelligence officers’? You know, don’t you? Alexei Navalny, of course, for his wise pronouncements, like “”However you look at it, this doesn’t benefit Russia”. Brilliant. His English is now so fluent that he makes free use of British colloquialisms, as well; “He described the trial as such an “obvious stitch-up” you could “see the threads”. Take that, Putin. I guess you better free Nadia savchenko, or Europe and Alexei Navalny will be mad at you. And if you do, they’ll use it to argue that it shows you are weak and indecisive, and the time is ripe for regime change. There’s nothing like a predictable opponent.

    • yalensis says:

      I notice these BBC pieces don’t even allow comments. I wonder what they are afraid of?

      • marknesop says:

        I don’t think the BBC ever allowed comments. It’s possible they fear censure, but I doubt it – they’re so stuck-up it would never enter their minds that you might be smart enough to spot an error. Any lies they tell in support of state policy are meant to be so clever that plods like you and I could never detect them, and their master is not the public, so where’s the need for a comments pane?

    • moscowexile says:

      KGB officers?

      What’s the KGB?

      Where does it operate?

      Byelorussia, I think.

      And there’s been a Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Paris for yonks.

      Been there, seen it, done it!

      Opened by tsar Aleksandr II in 1861, if I am not mistaken

      No, I wasn’t mistaken.

      It’s quite close to Place de Charles de Gaulle.

      Went there with Mrs. Exile on honeymoon.

      Paris, I mean — not the cathedral.

      • PaulR says:

        There’s also a huge Russian cemetery on the outskirts of Paris at Ste Genevieve-des-Bois, where the emigres are buried. Lots of Tsarist and White military officers, plus famous political and cultural figures such as Ivan Bunin. The most colourful tomb is from a later era – Nureyev’s, which is covered is bright red and gold mosaic. There is also a small church attached to the cemetery.

        • moscowexile says:

          Done that as well!

          When I was there with Mrs. Exile, an ancient Russo-French woman, a daughter of white Russian emigrés, as she later told us, who had arrived as a child in France with her parents in 1920, on hearing my wife ab-jabbing away to me in her native tongue, zeroed in on us and gave us a guided tour of the cemetery.

          In the chapel, she drew our attention to a memorial to Cossacks “murdered by Stalin”, and then went into a rant about what a bastard Churchill was for sending off Cossack POWs of the British to the USSR in 1945 and to their certain deaths.

          She glossed over the fact that they had been fighting for the New Europe and the Third Reich.

          My wife hadn’t a clue what the old bird was going on about, so later explained to her what had happened.

          The old crone didn’t realize that I was English: she just thought I was a dour muzhik with his young wife.

          I don’t say much most of the time in any case, especially in the presence of old rat-bags like her.

      • Warren says:

        Sarkozy agreed to construction of the Russian Orthodox Church during his presidency, obvious

        Paris skyline to be remodelled by Russian Orthodox church

        http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/mar/18/paris-skyline-remodelled-russian-church

  12. et Al says:

    Neuters: EU joins Syria peace talks as sides remain at odds
    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-government-idUSKCN0WP1SQ

    blah blah blah…

    …Mogherini arrived unexpectedly on what was the penultimate day of the round of negotiations, possibly highlighting EU concerns that the talks risk getting deadlocked.

    “She came to support us to engage positively in the talks that would lead to an end to the Syrian crisis,” Ja’afari said after the rare meeting with a senior Western official…

    …blah blah blah…

    ….”My main message especially in meeting with that (Syrian government) delegation is the need to start a political transition in Damascus,” Mogherini told reporters, stressing that there had been no change in the EU’s position on the “Syrian regime”.

    “This in our opinion is the only way create conditions in the country to first find peace and security and secondly defeat Daesh (Islamic State).”

    U.N. special envoy Staffan De Mistura echoed her comments.

    “So the ball goes back to those who have been complaining about terrorism and (we’re) saying what about all of you helping us to solve politically the crisis in Syria,” he said….
    ####

    WTF? Defeating the islamic head choppers should come second? Did she and her controllers understand what happened on Tuesday in Brussels or have they already forgotten?

    They’re all out of their tiny f8£^ing minds. With logic like this, Europe is doomed. Oh, and turning up at the end to get her soundbites in really doesn’t smack of commitment, rather its taken this long to give Mogherini her talking points to parrot and get the EU’s ‘face’ in the media.

    • marknesop says:

      The EU – NATO, really – should have just specified up front that there was a precondition for peace talks, and that it was the leader a majority of Syrians want must take a powder so the west can maneuver its preferred opposition candidate into the top slot. Then the Syrian government could have just skipped the whole thing; I’m sure they are busy and have plenty to do at home. I’m not too disappointed in Mogherini, because I never really had high hopes for her in the first place. This merely confirms that she is an establishment fluffer who is in her position to ensure Washington gets its way. The EU probably is doomed, and good riddance, because it cannot stop equivocating. All the talk just before the ‘peace conference’ was that EU leaders had grudgingly accepted that Assad might have to stay for awhile. But that was just a ploy to get everyone to the table, so the western side could magically say its position had not changed. The Syrian government should just say, “Well, I think we’re done here”, and get on the plane for home before the west gets even more desperate and decides to arrest Assad for war crimes or something.

      Oh; never mind – the actual Syrian government is not there. It has said it could not possibly come before parliamentary elections early in April. I notice that Basma Kodmani is there as an ‘opposition delegate’; not hard to see what the west likes about her. Some readers will remember her from this surprisingly frank appraisal in The Grauniad, some time ago. Kodmani is a Bilderberger, and nobody seems sure she is even Syrian – at one time, her nationality was listed as “French”. Here’s a teaser, but you absolutely must read the whole section on Kodmani to get a feel for how connected she is to the neoconservative organization, and who she rubs shoulders with on a daily basis.

      “Back a few years, in 2005, Kodmani was working for the Ford Foundation in Cairo, where she was director of their governance and international co-operation programme. The Ford Foundation is a vast organisation, headquartered in New York, and Kodmani was already fairly senior. But she was about to jump up a league.

      Around this time, in February 2005, US-Syrian relations collapsed, and President Bush recalled his ambassador from Damascus. A lot of opposition projects date from this period. “The US money for Syrian opposition figures began flowing under President George W Bush after he effectively froze political ties with Damascus in 2005,” says the Washington Post.

      In September 2005, Kodmani was made the executive director of the Arab Reform Initiative (ARI) – a research programme initiated by the powerful US lobby group, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

      The CFR is an elite US foreign policy thinktank, and the Arab Reform Initiative is described on its website as a “CFR Project” . More specifically, the ARI was initiated by a group within the CFR called the “US/Middle East Project” – a body of senior diplomats, intelligence officers and financiers, the stated aim of which is to undertake regional “policy analysis” in order “to prevent conflict and promote stability”. The US/Middle East Project pursues these goals under the guidance of an international board chaired by General (Ret.) Brent Scowcroft.”

      You’ll find an interesting bio in there, also, on our old pal Michael Weiss; can’t think how I missed it before, but Skelton is owed a debt of thanks for his detailed research. Weiss is a much bigger wheel in the regime-change machine than he might appear, and has much in common with Eliot Higgins in that both are intensely-partisan civilians who have been gradually and surreptitiously eased into a military-advisory role.

  13. et Al says:

    Neuters: Turkish tourism and economy struggle due to bombings, Russia chill
    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-security-tourism-idUSKCN0WP2BY

    …RUSSIAN CHILL ..

    …Turkey is no longer able to rely on Russians seeking sunshine and southern beaches as a back-up due to the combined effects of economics and politics.

    Middle class Russians have been hit hard by an economic crisis caused by the weak price of oil, the country’s main export earner, and Western sanctions imposed over the Ukraine crisis.

    One result has been a dive in the Russian currency which has made foreign holidays, including in Turkey, much more expensive. Two years ago, Russians needed just over 15 roubles to buy a Turkish lira; now they need almost 24.

    On top of that has come the chill in relations between Ankara and Moscow. President Vladimir Putin signed a series of punitive economic sanctions against Turkey, including a ban on charter flights, in retaliation for its shooting down of the Russian warplane near the border with Syria…
    ####

    Shurely the ”dive’ in the Russian currency’ was a deliberately planned devaluation?

  14. kirill says:

    The US is full of shit.

    • marknesop says:

      Broadly speaking. What they want to see is Assad exiled or dead, and a hand-picked opposition government in place which features Basma Kodmani in an influential position, perhaps Foreign Minister – a government which will commit to binding contracts with western firms and cede control of policymaking to western think-tanks. Nobody else’s goals or aspirations are important, least of all those of the Syrian people. But I’m sure Moscow is well aware of that, now that the masks of decades are off.

    • Patient Observer says:

      and a total joke.

    • Oddlots says:

      Perhaps that piece of human filth would care to explain the US government’s position to this woman:

      • kirill says:

        So much for Daesh being true believers. Even though Islam does not afford women normal rights levels, it still has a strong element of morality. Rape is not moral. Wahabbism is not Islamic fundamentalism, it is a gross perversion peddled by the Saudi clerics and lubricated with oil money,

      • yalensis says:

        This complaining girl just needs to see the larger picture.
        Her rape was necessary to overthrow the brutal Assad regime and bring “democracy” to Syria! Hillary can explain it to her.

  15. Warren says:

    Published on 20 Mar 2016
    Did You Know that Ukrainian language includes many words from the Turkish vocabulary?

    – шатро, товар, євшан, козак, базар, харч, чай, чабан, аркан, торба, байрак, туман, курін, харбуз, кавун, тютюн, табір, чайка, шаравари, штани, чоботи, чумак, килим, кобза, гайдамака, кайдани, майдан
    – Maidan is a loan word originally from Turkish

    Ukraine and Turkey the start of something beautiful?

    • Patient Observer says:

      Two drowning men clinging to each other.

      • et Al says:

        Neither scorpion nor frog????

        I would guess that Porko & Erd both see themselves as scorpions..

        “I’ll get on your back”

        – “No, I’ll get on your back!”

        “I’ll get on your back”

        – I’ll get on your back.. итд…

    • marknesop says:

      Erd needs all the friends he can get, and except for the chocolate business and their religion, they have a lot in common.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      And in Turkish “Nataşa” has become synonymous for a whore.

      Of the Yukie variety in the majority of cases I should think.

      • yalensis says:

        Russian and East Slavic in general borrowed a lot of words from Turkic languages, going way back. Even the Russian word for “father” – “ot-ets” is thought to be cognate with Turkish “ata” – “father”. East Slavs chose this Turkish word over the original Indo-European word “*pehter” to denote the father of a family or clan.

        Languages typically borrow words they don’t have, such as “chay” and “sharovary” and that sort of thing. On the other hand, it is rather unusual, but not unheard of, for a language to borrow such a core word as a family relationship. There must be an interesting reason there, but it has been lost in the mists of time.

        • Cortes says:

          athair /ahərʲ
          fir. gin. athar, iol. athraichean
          1 father 2 progenitor, sire 3 (in pl.) forefathers

          Scots Gaelic uses a number of quite common words with echoes of Slavic usage. One manifestation is the naming of newbuild houses as “Mo Dachadh” (My House).

        • kirill says:

          Turkic is not the correct interpretation for these words. They are Altaic language group words and span to Korea and Japan. Of course Turkic is part of the Altaic group.

      • Warren says:

        Natasha has now become a synonym for prostitute. Turkish and Italian sex tourists now frequent Odessa.

    • marknesop says:

      One of these guys looks confident, almost cocky. The other looks out of his depth and awkward. I think we all know who is who.

      To be fair, Putin has the home-ice advantage while Kerry is not in his own country. But you can tell none of the Americans thinks Putin is being very funny, especially when he is poking fun at the U.S. economy. Especially Nuland, with that frozen smile on her face. Someone should tell her that when she is in an uncomfortable situation like that, she should just think of a big pastrami on rye sandwich.

  16. Moscow Exile says:

    Доброе утро, страна! (25.03.16)

    Good morning, country! (25.03.16)

    Russian Railways on 23 March started selling single tickets for travel to the Crimea. The cost for a direct multimodal single ticket to the Crimea remains at the 2015 price, said the railway operator. Transportation on the Peninsula using a single ticket is scheduled to resume on April 30.
    “Transportation using a single ticket in the 2016 tourist season will be conducted in seven cities of the Crimean Federal district: Kerch, Simferopol, Sevastopol, Feodosia, Sudak, Evpatoria and Yalta”, stated in the Russian Railways (RZhD) notification.
    RZhD reports that transportation both there and back shall be along the Anapa and Krasnodar route and is to be carried out by the Federal Passenger Company and the operator for the transportation by road and over water shall be undertaken by the Autonomous Non-Profit Organization “United transport Directorate”.

    They will be going by ferry from Anapa. I saw them doing that in 2014: straight off the Moscow-Anapa train and bused directly to Anapa harbour and thence by fast ferry to Kerch.

    They use these high speed catamarans for foot passengers:

    I could see them leaving and arriving throughout the day when I was a beach-bum there 2 years ago.

    Russian Railways directors clearly must not read Newsweek!

  17. Moscow Exile says:

    To return to motivators, here’s a typically Russian one:


    🙂

    [Comrade! Fuck your job! Let’s meet and get pissed out of shape on Saturday!]

  18. Moscow Exile says:


    Maidan Nuts


    Certified Nut

  19. kirill says:

    http://russia-insider.com/en/business/russian-economy-waiting-lower-interest-rates/ri13564

    Nice article by Alexander Mercouris. The CBR is looking more and more idiotic/malicious with its high interest policy. It’s current key lending rate is 11% but the inflation rate is 6% (instantaneous not cumulative mean from last year). It is ignoring real world inflation responses to oil price drops and ruble devaluation and keeps invoking pretexts to keep the interest rates high which are now fully unjustified.

    • Patient Observer says:

      Yes, long but well worth the read.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Central Bank Chairman Nabiullina’s husband is head of the National Research University Higher School of Economics, a hotbed of kreakleness (креакльность — my contribution to the Russian language),as are all the the other economics institutes here, and there are loads of them:

        Among the first to flee in the aftermath of Putin’s return to the Kremlin was Sergei Guriev, a highly regarded, US-educated economist who had once advised the presidential administration. Guriev abruptly left Russia for France in May 2013, after investigators had questioned him over a report he had written for the Kremlin’s human-rights council on charges against Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the ex-oil tycoon unexpectedly freed by Putin ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Guriev, whose report concluded that the charges against the tycoon should be dropped, denied allegations he had received money from Khodorkovsky or anyone connected to him. But his real crime, he and many others believed, was making a symbolic donation of some $300 to opposition figurehead Alexei Navalny’s anti-corruption fund. Fearing imminent arrest, the middle-aged, bespectacled economist jumped on the next available flight to Paris, where his wife and children had been living for the past three years.

        “I have been informed that there is a list of friends of Navalny and there is a special operation against those people and I am on the list,” Guriev told me by telephone once he was safe in France. “I have done nothing wrong and I do not want to live in fear.”

        Guriev was no rabble-rousing protest leader, no radical activist calling for Putin’s overthrow. He was a well-respected professor who had earned international recognition for his work as rector of Moscow’s New Economic School. He was, in short, the kind of person Russia badly needed. His sudden departure, one blogger wrote, triggered “a sense of imminent catastrophe.”

        See: HOW PUTIN TRIED AND FAILED TO CRUSH DISSENT IN RUSSIA

        The above Newsweek article was written by the author of this, which he blatantly plugs:

  20. Patient Observer says:

    So sad, so predictable, so West:

    “By convicting Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic of genocide and crimes against humanity, the war crimes tribunal in The Hague is not bringing peace, reconciliation or closure – but a cynical victor’s justice, an endorsement of ‘might makes right.’ ”

    https://www.rt.com/op-edge/337162-karadzic-convicted-crimes-court/

    “We will bury you [Serbs]” – with lies, deception, terrorism, blockades (prettied up by call them “sanctions”), bombing and every conceivable dirty trick. Gotta protect some of the favorite tools of the Western Empires – radical Catholics of Croatia and radical Islams.

    The Western Empire has the goal to manipulate religion and society without regard to life or freedom to further their own egomaniacal needs. They are nothing more a sickness infecting humanity. We need a cure and Russia and the Orthodox world may be just that.

    • kirill says:

      NATzO needs containment. It will then wither and die. The Cold War was a nice racket for the “west” as it continued its centuries old colonial meddling around the globe in the name of a hoax ideological struggle. It thought that it had reached the top in 1991 but it turns out that the world moved in another direction and the “west” is trying to restart its colonial racket in the name of whatever BS propaganda it pulls out of its rotten ass.

      The NATzO gang rape of Serbia was a good example of how deluded and arrogant its elites are. They took out their phony hate for Russia onto the Serbs and then expected there to be no consequences. Well, Putin was a consequence and they are mad with insanity that he has not been removed by some rent-a-crowd coup.

      US blowhard, pinhead general bleaters go on about how Russia is an existential threat to the “west” (i.e. NATzO). But it is clear that they are the existential threat to Russia and most of humanity.

  21. Konga says:

    Why the comments don’t comment the actual article?

    • marknesop says:

      Well, they usually start off that way, for the first 40 or 50, but then they start to drift and I don’t really make a big fuss about it. Often off-topic comments start new discussions or lead to future posts.

  22. Stavros Hadjiyiannis says:

    What an epic summary of the gas wars between Russia and the so called free world! Lots of excellent points where raised but a few things that the Kremlin Stooge has omitted. Firstly, one of the reasons why European gas consumption is down, is because of Europe’s persistent industrial depression. Industrial activity takes a lot of of gas consumption in many cases. Now, the reason why European industry has been so depressed lately is because of the extremely high energy costs of Europe. This major problem for Europe could easily be solved by making a comprehensive deal with Russia. If Europe had not gone down the path of Global Hybrid War against Russia, then her economic performance in the past decade or so would have been a lot better. Secondly, the growth in renewable energy is yet another reason behind Europe’s catastrophic economic and fiscal situation. Renewable energy is wholly uneconomical and requires massive subsidies from the EU states. Again the EU chooses to shoot itself in the foot rather than cooperate with the gas powerhouse on its eastern flank. The use of coal is as we all know harmful to the environment. Let’s see how long will these pathetic EU leaders last. Oh, and another thing. If renewable energy had the remotest chance of being economically viable anytime this century, why would the entire planet be fighting a mega proxy war in the Middle East? Just think about that for a second.

    • marknesop says:

      Thanks very much for the excellent discussion points, Stavros! Renewable energy is a great idea in concept, and I completely support research into ways in which we can reduce our dependency on hydrocarbons – but in the real world, renewables remain pricey and do not really save that much when all costs are figured in. The popular metric is EROEI, Energy Returned On Enery Invested, and often the pie-in-the-sky projections about ‘green energy’ fail to take into account the actual overall energy used up to deliver the miracle fuel to the customer. Biofuel is at present, for example, a net loser. Wind power offers some great possibilities, but the big windmill turbines of wind farms cause a lot of unanticipated problems. An intriguing more recent possibility is tethered offshore kites. All these are exciting possibilities, but at present oil and gas still dominate markedly.

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