Seeing More of the Big Picture in Ukraine

Uncle Volodya says,

Uncle Volodya says, “Disaster is not necessary; the better world could be achieved through reason and common sense and a sense of fellowship — but most of the present human world is dead set against us.”

They whisper still, the injured stones, the blunted mountains weep
As he died to make men holy, let us die to make things cheap
And say the Mea Culpa, which you’ve gradually forgot
Year by year
Month by month
Day by day
Thought by thought

-Leonard Cohen, from “Steer Your Way”

A comment on the previous post reminded me of how informative it can be, particularly in the (mine)field of geopolitical analysis, to go back a year or two from the present, following a significant event, and enjoy the confident predictions of kingmakers and hacks – which could now not be much further from the situation which actually prevails.

In that spirit, let’s roll the counters back to September 18, 2013 – almost exactly three years ago.  Just before, of course, the glorious Maidan which freed Ukrainians from the oppressive yoke of Russia. At that moment in history, western analysts were trembling with eagerness to vilify Yanukovych, but were still hopeful that he would stick his head out of his shell long enough to sign the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) with the European Union. Washington maintains a kind of ongoing paternal affection for revolution – which is always less painful and noisy when it’s a continent or two away – but is practical enough to accept an easy victory if that’s the way it plays out.

It didn’t play out like that, of course, and an American-backed coup ensued in which Yanukovych offered to give the revolutionary political figures everything they had asked for – early elections, a provisional coalition government with the egghead among the revolutionaries as Prime Minister, the works. They were a little taken aback at how easy it was, and then decided it wasn’t enough – Yanukovych must  be holding back something if he gave in that easily, and therefore he must be tricking them, since the script called for the dictator-president to cower in fear and to be flung into the street in disgrace. So they went ahead with the traditional revolution, gaining nothing at all thereby except the ushering-in of a self-appointed revolutionary junta, and the empowerment of fervent fascist nationalists who had previously had to keep their admiration for the Nazis on the down-low.

It is worth mentioning here – because whenever it is brought up, the response ranges from amnesia to outright denial it ever happened – that the pre-revolutionary government went into it with its eyes wide open and a good working awareness of the probable consequences. Yanukovych and Azarov, at least, were briefed that cutting off trade with Russia, which Brussels and Washington insisted upon, would likely be disastrous for the Ukrainian economy. Deputy Prime Minister Yuriy Boiko announced that Ukraine was not blowing off the deal entirely; it was just suspending it until the state could be sure that increased trade with Europe would compensate for the loss of the Russian market. Before that, Yanukovych and Azarov tried energetically to broker a triumvirate coalition of Ukraine, Russia and the EU, to sort out the trade issues that Brussels insisted made such an arrangement impossible. Not to put too fine a point on it, Russia and Ukraine proposed a tripartite forum which would see Ukraine as a bridge between the Eurasian Economic Union and the European Union. Brussels emphatically rejected it, confident that it could pry Ukraine away from Russia, because the initiative was always strategic rather than economic.

The government of the day in Ukraine saw fairly clearly what was likely going to happen – and so did we, didn’t we? Yes, we did, as detailed here. We pointed out that nearly half those Ukrainians who answered a survey that they wanted Ukraine to join the EU did so because it would strengthen and grow the Ukrainian economy, but that it was difficult to see how that would come about considering 60% of Ukraine’s trade was with the former Soviet market, and highlighted the unlikelihood that Europe was going to pick up 60%-plus of Ukraine’s trade, resulting in prosperity. We pointed out that only half as many people who responded to the survey that Ukraine’s relations with Russia were characterized as ‘friendly’ said the same of relations with the EU. So, you could kind of see how (a) a failure to see rapid economic benefits as a result of signing the agreement, coupled with (b) the opposite effect, a precipitate drop in trade, plus (c) severing of relations with a country nearly a quarter of Ukrainians considered a friend, in exchange for a necrophiliac relationship with a trade union few cared much for except for the usual percentage of lapdog dissidents, was very likely to result in widespread dissatisfaction and an explosive situation. Did it? It sure did.

Anyway, as much fun as tooting our own horn is, that’s not exactly what I wanted to talk about. I want to review, in exquisite detail, the panorama of failure that is Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) feelgood graphic presentation for the rubes and dimwits on how association with the EU was going to be better than sex in warm chocolate for Ukraine. And that forecast has turned out to be about as accurate as a prediction that Justin Bieber would be nominated UN Secretary-General by popular acclaim.

But let’s not leave it at that. Because you know that if those who forecast disaster for Ukraine – based on, I think, the ability to read and to add – had somehow been wrong, and Ukraine had sprinted into double-digit economic growth and taken over the role of driving engine of the European economy, we would never have been allowed to forget it. Turnabout, then, being fair play…

1. The cream-skimming oligarchy, accustomed to riding to wealth on the backs of its panting workforce, will be out – swept away by a new era of small-business confidence.  Did that happen? Hardly. The President Ukraine eventually elected was fingered for starting up a new offshore shell corporation even as his troops were being driven into a disastrous encirclement at Ilovaisk. The same old oligarchs continue to control more than 70% of Ukraine’s GDP. The Anti-Corruption Committee appointed by Poroshenko, unsurprisingly, declined to investigate him for corruption. Now more than two years into his presidency, Poroshenko still has not sold his assets as he promised to do if elected, and his businesses continue to fatten his personal bottom line in direct contravention of Ukrainian law and the Constitution. Never a peep of protest about that, though, from Poroshenko’s International Advisory Council, which includes former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, former Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and make-believe-economist wooden-head Anders Aslund. This council continues to advise the President of what remains the most corrupt country in Europe.

2. The boss at the company where you work will have to learn different ways to lead, because screaming and ranting are not acceptable in Europe. In many European countries, the boss is just a senior worker who you can call by his first name.  This sort of rolls into the first point, but it seems sort of self-evident that if Ukrainian companies do not do more business with Europe and replace their lost Russian markets, and the same oligarchs still own the same companies, little will change about employee-employer dynamics. According to Eurostat, Ukraine’s trade with the EU was down sharply in 2015 in both imports and exports. A decrease in imports is not particularly surprising – Ukraine is living on handouts from the international community while it continues to pour funding into its armed forces so that it can pursue the game of civil war, and hasn’t any money. Not to mention thousands of Ukrainian working stiffs are employed by Roshen, owned by the President, so I wouldn’t be trying out, “Morning, Petro – how’s it hanging?” on my tongue any time soon if I were you. The new Prime Minister, Vladimir Groysman, is unlikely to be ‘Vova’ to very many workers, either. He’s quite wealthy in his own right, at least part of that wealth shunted from EU development funds to his father’s cement and asphalt company. However, as an unnamed Ukrainian politician is said to have quipped to a Ukrainskaya Pravda reporter when Groysman received his new appointment, “Do you know what the difference is between Groysman and Yatsenyuk? When Volodymir [Groysman] will start stealing, he will steal off the profit. Yatsenyuk was doing it off the loss.” It’s good to see Ukrainians haven’t lost their sense of humour.

3. As the standard of living improves in Ukraine, people will begin to trust each other. In Yanukovych’s Ukraine, people tended to trust only their own small circle, but in the New Ukraine, the doormat will be changed from “Beat It, Shyster!” to “Come On In, Friend!” I’ll let Thomas C. Theiner take over on the subject of trust in Ukraine, post-Maidan. A committed Atlanticist neoconservative and former cheerleader for Ukraine, Theiner lived in Kiev for 5 years, and has the advantage of personal knowledge. In his assessment, if you are the type who likes to throw away money, go to Vegas instead of Kiev – that way, at least there’s a chance you’ll see a return. Thomas?

“Even today, it’s impossible for a foreign businessman to start a company in Ukraine without being harassed for bribes. If you pay, they just demand more; if you don’t pay, you won’t succeed at all. The only way out is to hire a local to help you navigate the bureaucracy and grease the correct wheels. But whomever you hire will charge a 400-500 percent premium. Hiring a foreign law company with offices in Kyiv, which charges Western prices, is the only alternative.”

Expectations of a dramatic change were not realized, and the changing of the guard only brought in different crooks. No significant progress has been made on corruption. If your company is successful without the correct palms being greased, an expedient will be found for getting you out of town for a few days. When you come back, the company will be under new ownership, and like George Thorogood in “Move it on Over”, your key won’t fit no more. Move over, little dog, a big ol’ dog’s movin’ in. All puffickly legal, as well, by Ukrainian courts.

4. Without gross, horrible, corrupt Yanukovych in charge, trust in the police will rise and pretty soon they will be rescuing kitties from trees instead of taking bribes and roughing people up. Just last month, at least three police officers in  western Ukraine beat Oleksandr Tsukerman and shot him dead in front of his relatives, including his mother. Around 200 local residents gathered in front of the police station, and uniformed officers had to keep them back when the detained police officers who are accused of the crime were brought out. In case you were thinking the dead man was a violent criminal who somehow invited his own death, the Ukrainian Police Chief ordered the entire station disbanded. A group of people in the same region were beating up passers-by right in front of the police, and officers involved in a wrongful death and four officers who raped a woman and fractured her skull were not dismissed from their jobs. Call me a pessimist, but that doesn’t sound encouraging to me.

5. The difference in social status between the very wealthy and the middle class will gradually disappear, and rich people will no longer be VIP’s. It’s pretty easy to show this one up for the epic piece of optimistic stupidity it was. The President of Ukraine is also an active businessman and multimillionaire, while per-capita GDP adjusted for purchasing power, for the ordinary folk, has collapsed and the unemployment rate is leaping upward in great jagged peaks. Yet according to the State Statistics of Ukraine, wage growth has been  steady and touched a record high in July 2016. A month later, a Ukrainian miner on live TV set himself afire at a press conference to protest wage arrears. This desperate protest is alleged to have taken place after industrial action and hunger strikes failed to move the government. How can these two realities co-exist? I guess it’s easy for wages to be at a record high if you don’t…you know…pay them.

6. Women’s rights; in the European Parliament, a third of the members are women. In the Verkhovna Rada under jerky Yanukovych, only 10% were women. Well, folks, the glorious Maidan was not for nothing. The current Rada is 12.02% women – only 87.98% are men. The gain is mostly illusory, as only 416 seats of the Rada’s statutory 450 are occupied due to the banning of certain political parties. But a third of 416 would be 138 women rather than the current 50, so women’s rights groups should not relax just yet, as some work obviously remains to be done.una_unso_ukraine_lviev

7. In Yanukovych’s Russia-friendly Ukraine, intolerance was the rule and blacks and homosexuals mostly stayed hidden. Most Ukrainians would not vote for a Jewish presidential candidate, and even fewer for a black one. How things have changed! Now Nazi symbology in public is commonplace in Ukraine, whilst the government ostentatiously banned Communist symbology and recognized Nazi-era collaborators as Freedom Fighters. As best I recall, the Nazis were not known for their tolerance. How many Ukrainians in the new Europe-ready Ukraine would vote for a black or a gay presidential candidate? A Gay Pride march in Kiev scheduled for 2014 was canceled when authorities refused to police the event and said they could not guarantee the participants’ safety from homophobic violence. At another attempt in 2015, international supporters from Canada had to cross three lines of police to get to the meeting point, and were given a list of things to not do: Don’t wear bright colours. Don’t kiss or hold hands. Don’t speak to the police unless spoken to. The bus company which was approached by Kiev Pride to take the marchers to and from the march allegedly refused, saying, “We’ll take the diplomats, we’ll take the journalists, but we’re not taking any faggots.” Clearly, tolerance not only has not improved, but is in full retreat and is not a priority for the new government.

8. Life expectancy. In 2010, the year Yanukovych was elected president, it was 70.2 years. In 2016, it’s 69.6. I’m having a hard time seeing that as an improvement.

9. Health. Sports clubs encourage a healthier lifestyle. Most of Ukraine’s sports clubs and facilities were inherited from the Soviet Union.  A search for “Poroshenko opens new sports club” yielded nothing much except the news – I guess I shouldn’t be surprised – that he owns one: (search for “Poroshenko’s allies show up on website listing tax-haven firms”) Fifth Element, at 29A Electrykiv St. in Kiev. That’s also the registered address of Intraco Management, owned by deputy head of Roshen Sergey Zaitsev. Intraco Management showed up in Mossack-Fonseca’s records, which came to be better known as the Panama Papers. Meanwhile, health care in Ukraine remains deplorable and there has been no noticeable improvement.

In fact, although you can find the occasional bright spot if your business is finding bright spots and spinning them into a tapestry of success, Ukraine is a nation in free-fall. The currency is trading at 26.33 UAH to the US greenback, slowly edging up to that truly scary record spike of 33.5 to the dollar in February of last year. Pre-Maidan, the rate was about 7 hryvnia to the dollar. When Poroshenko assumed his present office, it was 12 to the dollar. The president’s approval rating has corkscrewed down to around 10%. Believe it or not – and I frankly find it incomprehensible there can  be an electorate anywhere, whose fingers must be nothing but scar tissue now from being burnt so many times, that so adamantly will not change its ways – the current leader in the polls is… Yulia Tymoshenko. Yes, indeed; if anything can save the floundering country, it’s another stinking-rich oligarch. Yulia Tymoshenko, multi-millionaire. Ukrainian family living wage, 9,950 UAH per month, about $383.00 USD. Per month. And the reduced price for gas for households was canceled in May, as an anti-corruption measure.

By the benchmarks set in the happy-time graphic, Ukraine is failing catastrophically in every metric, gasping for breath like a fish on the kitchen floor with someone standing on it. There is zero chance of any kind of peace deal this year, since Poroshenko arbitrarily decided to reverse the agreed-upon terms and announce no moves toward autonomy for the east could take place until Russia returned control of the border to Ukraine – causing Russia to withdraw from the Normandy format, since negotiations with such a fucking blockhead are a complete waste of everyone’s time.

To be completely fair to RFE/RL, they did not originate the graphic; that came from the highly-imaginative Institute of World Politics in Ukraine. But it fits perfectly with RFE/RL’s style; it’s hard for a one-time CIA-funded leopard to change its spots, and many of its columnists seem to rely far more on imagination themselves when they are writing their material. So they can own it.

This entry was posted in Corruption, Economy, Europe, Government, Investment, Law and Order, Politics, Russia, Trade, Ukraine, Vladimir Putin, Yulia Tymoshenko and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1,214 Responses to Seeing More of the Big Picture in Ukraine

  1. et Al says: How the Pentagon Sank the US-Russia Deal in Syria – and the Ceasefire

    Gareth Porter

    Another US-Russian Syria ceasefire deal has been blown up.

    Whether it could have survived even with a US-Russian accord is open to doubt, given the incentives for al-Qaeda and its allies to destroy it. But the politics of the US-Russian relationship played a central role in the denouement of the second ceasefire agreement.

    The final blow apparently came from the Russian-Syrian side, but what provoked the decision to end the ceasefire was the first ever US strike against Syrian government forces on 17 September.

    That convinced the Russians that the US Pentagon had no intention of implementing the main element of the deal that was most important to the Putin government: a joint US-Russian air campaign against the Islamic State (IS) militant group and al-Qaeda through a “Joint Implementation Center”. And it is entirely credible that it was meant to do precisely that…

    Read on! Not news for us regulars but it is laid out very clearly and nicely by Mr. Porter.

  2. Jeremn says:

    Something interesting in the air, according to the Interfax feed:

    Kyiv has still not published info on Ukrainian surface-to-air missile systems, conversations between dispatchers on day of Boeing crash – Russian Defense Ministry

    Ukrainian air defense means were located near Boeing 777 crash site – Russian Aerospace Forces

    Russian Defense Ministry accuses Ukraine of manipulating investigation into Malaysian Boeing crash

    Russian Defense Ministry says Ukraine conceals info regarding 2014 Boeing crash

    Netherlands will get from Russia irrefutable info on Boeing 777 crash in Donbas – Russian Defense Ministry

    Russian radar station didn’t register air objects coming towards Boeing in sky over Donbas from Snizhne side





    • marknesop says:

      Recently unearthed raw radar data from a civilian radar at Ust-Donetsk. The memory chips were replaced in July 2014, and they have recently come to light. Russia claims they are solid proof of the direction from which the attack came, but I’m not over-hopeful. The western point of view will be, the radar doesn’t show anything. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t anything there. Maybe the radar just wasn’t working properly. Or maybe the information was there, but has been edited out somehow. Of course, if the raw data shows MH17 right up until it is hit, it might be extremely valuable. We’ll see. Can’t wait for the Ukrainian reaction.

      Hmmmm….I guess I should have paid closer attention on the first run-through. According to the story, the raw video does indeed show MH-17, as well as two other civilian aircraft in the vicinity, the closest at only about 30 km away at the time it was shot down.

      Kiev will of course scream that the info is faked, and Russia is panicking because the final report is due, and the US State Department will of course back Kiev up for as long as it can. But experts will be able to tell if anything has been altered, and if they cannot find any such evidence they may have no choice but to accept it in the absence of any contradictory evidence – or any evidence at all – from Kiev.

      Ooooooo…the system also detected an Orlan-10 drone; much smaller than an SA-11. A lot slower, though.

  3. Special_sauce says:

    Dear Stooges, I’m having a flame war with a youtuber, called him some bad names, so I’m committed to crushing him. He claims SAA are incompetents who extort bribes from Syrians. I called for evidence, he links to this Now I ask you, does the author, Mikhail Khodarenok,’s military observer, a retired colonel, qualify as kreakl? Or anyways, as someone enamored of the United Shits, or ? How would Stooges-in-the-know characterise him? He’s obviously at odds with the present Russian leadership, from my tiny perspective. BTW, kreakl, returned one google hit, a rap album by Zippy Kid. Did I mispell the word? Or, is that the confection of one of our resident russophones, known only to us?

    • marknesop says:

      That’s our term; we adopted it spelt with a ‘k’, like the Russian alphabet, in which there is no mistake what sound it makes. It is a portmanteau of ‘creative class’, but previous users dubbed it ‘creacle’. We decided to use the ‘k’ because ‘c’ also has a soft sound in English, while it is only a soft sound in Russian and represents the ‘s’.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Long live our Creative Class!

      The iPad is the Kreakl’s weapon

      What a prick on the receiving end of a lot of pricks! That was before he stitched his gob up and before his pièce de ré·sis·tance, namely nailing his ball-bag to Red Square.

      Mother of God drive out Putin! © Pussy Riot lyrics
      Yeah, her defence efforts didn’t do the “Punk-Rock feminist performance artistes” much good.

      Fuck off, Kreakl!
      (Stylised Moskal Vatnik doing the fucking off)

      • marknesop says:

        Astounding how much Ryzhkov resembles a monkey in that first shot.

        They are so copying us.

      • Special_sauce says:

        Thanks ME, more ordnance!

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Plenty more ammo here!

          Love this:

          The Russia that we lost

          What a lovable drunken bastard Yeltsin was!

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Tweet from a suffering Kreakl, Svetlana Morozova:

          Sometimes I do not manage to get the express at Pavlovsky Posad, so then I board a normal commuter train — and realize how much I hate the Russian people. The day following such a journey, I suffer because of this loathing.. If you could just see such a parade of monsters! What types there are that wander around the carriages, offering with their vile voices all sorts of trash… [She is talking about vendors that offer goods for sale on the commuter trains — ME] And straight away there come the beggars with dogs, about whom I have written so much … and I give them some kopecks … Who do we write articles for? We write about scams and questionable banks, about books and films, about education and travel — but for whom?? And the people spit out their sunflower seeds, guzzle their beer out of cans and rest their tatty heads against those of their neighbours. I HATE THEM.

          • marknesop says:

            She should ride the bus in many western cities, full of young yobs who curse appallingly in a normal conversational voice regardless of who is nearby, because it’s such fun to be outrageous – she’d probably like that, it’s freedom. The Russian government should notify her that she has ten days to sell her belongings, and then put her free of charge on a one-way trip to Chicago – hey, how bad can it be? The President comes from there. Just roll her out on the tarmac, and turn around and come back. She’d probably have a job by next week with the Jamestown Foundation or the Heritage Institute or one of those the-people-are-rising-against-Putin think tanks.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      Mikhail Mikhailovich Khodarenok. Born – 20.02.1954, Tallin, EstSSR.

      Education: Minsk Higher Engineering AA missile Military School (“военное училище”) – 1971-1976; Military Command Air Defense Academy – 1983-1986; Military Academy of the General Staff – 1996-1998.

      Service record: 1976-1977 – Head of the electronic command and control battery compartment S-75; 1977-1980 – Head of electronic battery command of S-75; 1980-1983 – Commander of the air defense missile battalion of S-75s; 1983-1986 – Student of the Military Command Academy of Air Defence; 1986-1988 – Deputy commander of an air defense missile regiment of S-200; Of 1988-1992. – The senior staff officer of air defense anti-aircraft missile troops (General Staff of Air Defense Forces); 1992-1996 – Senior officer-operator 1 direction 1st control (“1 направления 1 управления”) of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff; 1996-1998,. – Student of the Military Academy of the General Staff; 1998-2000 – Head of group 1 direction 1st control of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff; transferred to the reserve 22 July 2000 r .; Colonel (since 1993)

      Media: 2000-2003. – Military commentator, “Nezavisimaya Gazeta”; Since 2003 he has been working in the publishing house “VPK- media”. “VPK” newspaper’s chief editor and of the magazine “VKO”

      My opinion: Mind you – I’m but a lowly “black-bone” private, not a “white-bone” officer. But it looks to me that Mr. Khodoryonok still thinks that we live in the glorious democratic 90s, when Russian Army was rotting away at the speed of light – right before his own eyes, and when he could do absolutely nothing to stop that. I don’t know, how can you characterize a person who in 7 years after making himself a colonel and after education in the top-rank military academy in Russia was in 2000 asked to retire while he was just 46 – well, there might be a reason for that. I’m not aware about “inner workings” of Russian officerdom, but I’d wager a theory that we also apply to a degree principle of “up or out”. Mikhal Mikhalych was out right before Russian army began its slow and ardous process of first restoration of some sort of order, followed by reforms. Instead, Khodarenok chose as his stomping ground “Nezavisimaya Gazeta” – of all the places!

      For me he sounds as your typical run of the mill “putinslivshik”, aggravated by his ex-military status and profound feeling that the system had “wronged” him.


      “Dear Stooges, I’m having a flame war with a youtuber”

      Special_sauce – why, oh why?!

      • Special_sauce says:

        A smarmy ass. One of those “Who you gonna believe, me or your own lying eyes” types. I couldn’t resist. He was(can’t see his or my posts anymore) among the commentariat at the recent youtube hosting of Crosstalk: the Media’s Syria.

    • yalensis says:

      Dear Sauce:
      I did a quick wiki on Khodarenok in Russian online. He was born in 1954, retired Colonel Air Force, has a mlitary bio.
      Author of quite a few books, including this one , entitled “Sword and Shield of the Motherland”.

      Here is my quickie translation of the book’s description, this might give you some insight into the man’s political views:

      Наша страна стоит на пороге великих, кровавых перемен, теперь это понимают все. Война на Украине, санкции Запада, предчувствие беды… Всё обрушилось на Россию неожиданно. Хотя многие предупреждали: слабость экономики, разрушение военно-промышленного комплекса, недостаточная боевая и оперативная подготовка, слабая военная наука и зависимость от Запада неизбежно приведут к большой крови. Но их не слушали, как всегда…Сегодня поздно кусать локти и колени – надо собирать оставшиеся силы для обороны. Но готов ли к этому российский ВПК? Как сильно разрушили его за годы так называемых «либеральных реформ»? Что надо сделать для того, чтобы Щит и Меч Родины по-прежнему блистали и сдерживали наших врагов?На эти вопросы отвечает компетентный и независимый специалист – главный редактор газеты «Военно-промышленный курьер» и журнала «Воздушно-космическая оборона», полковник Михаил Ходаренок.

      В нашей библиотеке вы можете бесплатно почитать книгу «Щит и Меч нашей Родины». Чтобы читать онлайн книгу «Щит и Меч нашей Родины» перейдите по указанной ссылке. Приятного Вам чтения.

      Our country stands on the threshhold of huge, bloody changes, everybody understands this now. The war in the Ukraine, Western sanctions, the premonition of disaster. Everything rained down on Russia unexpectedly. Although many people warned us: The weakness of the economy, the destruction of the military-industrial complex, an insufficient military and operative preparation, a weak military science, and our dependence on the West lead inexorably to great bloodshed. People warned us, but nobody listened to them, as usual. And now it’s too late to bite one’s elbows and knees [Russian expression for impotent rage] — it is necessary to summon all our powers for defense. But is the Russian Military-Industrial Complex prepared for this? Just how seriously was it destroyed during the years of the so-called “liberal reforms” ? What must be do, so that our Sword and Shield shine as before and hold back our enemies? These questions are addressed by a competent and independent specialist — the Editor in Chief of the newspaper “Military-Industrial Courier” and of the magazine “Ait Defense”, Colonel Mikhail Khodarenok.

      Unless they are being ironic, Khodarenok sounds like a Russian patriot. Although the fact that he writes for Nezavisimaya and might tag him as a kreakl nonetheless!


      • yalensis says:

        P.S. – shot that one off before I saw Lyt’s reply.
        Yeah, ex-military and probably holding some kind of grudge, maybe steaming that he was passed over for promotion. But kreakl? I would say no.

        • Special_sauce says:

          Thanks for both your scholarship. Can’t get this in-depth, russo-anglo insight on any other blog I’m aware of.

        • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

          I suspect you would find many serving military officers whose (off the record) opinion of the SAA is not high.

          • yalensis says:

            Probably so. But in SAA’s defense, they ARE a third-world type army, and thus typical of that breed. Give them some points for endurance, however. This has been a very long and brutal slog for them, and they are still standing. (More or less.)

            • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

              Under attack on multiple fronts by an enemy who draws upon a practically infinite pool of expendable cutthroats, and receiving minimal foreign help until a year ago, they’ve done well to have lasted as long as they have, no question.

            • shargash says:

              I suspect the SAA has improved dramatically since the war started. That is something of an evolutionary imperative for armies. IMO, if the western-salafite alliance does not destroy Syria, they will have helped create one of the toughest militaries in the ME.

            • Patient Observer says:

              According to various Arab acquaintances, Syrians have a reputation as the fiercest and toughest fighters in the Middle East. From what I have seen, they are indeed tough and resilient. I am not sure if Westerners could have done any better in similar circumstances; more likely worse.

            • Hoffnungstirbtzuletzt says:

              Commenter Contrapunctus has something to say about it.

            • Jen says:

              Erm, that Russia Insider article was written by the same Mikhail Khodarenok whom Yalensis and Lyttenburgh were discussing earlier so I’m not sure he’s really all that qualified to speak of the SAA’s weaknesses and what they imply about Syrian leadership and politics. Especially as his own military career was chequered and he seems to have been demoted or ejected in a way that did him no honour.

              The various commenters on that RI post observe that most of the territory that is occupied by the jihadis in Syria is sparsely populated desert and if the SAA is holding 30% of the country’s territory, that is because most Syrians live in that 30% and that 30% has all the major transport routes and infrastructure. It is far better for the SAA to defend and hold onto those areas with the limited resources and fighters it has. The fact that the SAA has held onto those core areas since 2011 in spite of having to fight a de facto army funded, trained and supplied by half the world should be cause for admiration and respect.

          • Chinese American says:

            From what I understand, there are some very good commanders (e. g. the famous “Tiger” Suheil Al Hassan) and heroic units (e. g. the defenders of the Kuweires air base) in the SAA, but also units of limited effectiveness or possibly even dubious loyalty in some cases. The crack troops are limited in number, so they often ended up having to be “firefighters” at the times when terrorists are on the offensive in several places. Some government positions are held by militias, not necessarily well-trained, who might run at the first sight of suicide-bombing trucks.

            Given all this, they’ve held on for four years before the direct Russian intervention. In some sense, they “earned” that intervention by holding on for so long. The nature of “protracted war” requires patience to slowly turn the tide.

            • Patient Observer says:

              They showed their loyalty to Syria. That has to figure hugely in Russia’s decision to support them. Lets hope Serbia will be able to demonstrate (again) the same.

      • marknesop says:

        He sounds as if he is blaming the Russian government for not kissing ass to the west so as to avoid an unpleasant political situation, and then running down years of ‘progressive’ government before that because it facilitated the hollowing out of the military. There apparently is no pleasing the man, and whatever steps the government took were always wrong. He sounds depressingly like a typical kreakl, in that Russia ‘should have listened’ to those who warned of disaster from weakening the military and being too dependent on energy exports to the west – what the fuck would he have done, if he were in charge? Plowed every penny into building up the military at the expense of civilian infrastructure, pensions and living standards? Good luck with that – his first term would be his last, and he’d be lucky to see that out without a revolt. Would he have sat on the oil and not sold it, concentrating instead on the exports of Russian-made computers, telephones and refrigerators? Good luck with that, too, you blinkered toad; it would have been a recipe for the collapse of GDP that he wished to rely on to build up the military. Being a critic is the easiest thing in the world, because it’s always easier to punch holes in something than it is to build it.

  4. Patient Observer says:

    I wonder if the debate scheduled for tonight will touch on this topic:'s-colossal-email-lie.html

    That Barack Obama communicated in 2012—under a redacted pseudonym—with Hillary Clinton on the then secretary of State’s permeable home-brew email server and then claimed he did not know of that server’s existence until it was reported in the press in 2014 is far more than the usual politician’s prevarication. Since the fish rots from the top—and in this case it stinks to high heaven—the surfacing of this particular presidential lie calls to question the entire FBI inquiry into the Clinton server, an investigation whose credibility was paper thin in the first place and has now completely vanished. It’s time to ask that age-old question: “What did the president know and when did he know it?”

    • marknesop says:

      I’m surprised it even became public knowledge – the Republicans have shown a much-decreased appetite to run with anything that embarrasses the Democrats since they decided they liked Clinton better than Trump. But apparently releasing the news late on a Friday in keeping with White House tradition failed to put everyone off the scent. Obviously Obama’s use of a pseudonym, if true, would demonstrate that he knew Clinton was using a private and unaccountable server, and decided to get on board rather than enforce the law. We’ll have to wait and see, but he could be in a very great deal of trouble, and at a minimum it will rake up all that email issue again just when Hillary thought she had put it to bed.

  5. et Al says:

    Oh dear, the dross in is full flow.

    Independent: ‘It could resonate in history’: Experts warn of ‘monstrous’ attack by Assad on Aleppo

    Deadly new ground-penetrating bombs and incendiary missiles unleashed on Aleppo ‘cannot become the new normal,’ residents beg

    Bethan McKernan Beirut

    …The UN’s Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura said he had been shown videos of incendiary bombs “that create fireballs of such intensity that they light up the pitch darkness in eastern Aleppo, as though it was actually daylight.” One diplomat described the alleged fusillade fireball attacks as “one step below a nuclear weapon.”…

    But it’s ok when the US & Israel umuses them? I had a good look through the article and cannot find the ‘experts’ cited in the title. Just a bunch of people with opinions. What a surprise!

  6. et Al says:

    Alert 5 via Ruptly: Russian Su-25UB spotted over Syria

    A video from Ruptly TV on an offensive operation in Syria’s Latakia region shows a Su-25UB attack jet. Russia had withdrawn its Su-25 attack aircraft in March, the appearance over Syria could mean that the type has been reintroduced in the region.


    It makes its entrance around 1:10. The best heavy metal for the job is finally back in theater.

    • marknesop says:

      If it’s not file footage. I didn’t see anything to indicate this is what’s happening right now, and news broadcasts often use file footage with a voice-over. It was in Syria, and I suppose they could have reintroduced it. There’s certainly a role for it, since the Gulf states keep presenting the ‘rebels’ with tanks and APC’s and artillery.

      • et Al says:

        Good point. It may also be useful disinformation but I’m not quite sure how that would work if it is actually seen by the rebels & AWACS.

        • marknesop says:

          If it has actually been seen in-country in the last few days, then it’s probably there. No reason why not, Russia can certainly use them. They’re a nasty little beast for just the kind of war the Syrians are fighting.

  7. marknesop says:

    Typical of Eliot ‘Tubby’ Higgins, his take on the newly-released raw radar data from Russia is that it proves they faked their previous evidence. Keep on trollin’, Tubby. What of all Bellingcat’s ‘evidence’ of the surreptitious Buk launcher being smuggled into Ukraine from Russia and back again? It looks like a lot of theories may go up in smoke – not least the one that it was a Ukrainian fighter jet, since the Ust-Donetsk radar would surely have seen that.

    • Chinese American says:

      But then that means he thinks the new evidence the Russian defense ministry released must be genuine, since it can be used to prove something?

      Of course, the Russian defense ministry never claimed an Ukrainian fighter jet shot down the airliner. If have always be very careful to only say “this is what we observed; we are putting it out there”. For me, it’s interesting to consider the timing of Russia’s new revelations. Clearly, Russia is playing a careful game in the info war against the powerful Western brainwashing machine.

  8. marknesop says:

    WaPo does its usual reality-shaping bang-up job of explaining how the assault on Aleppo may be proof that the USA was wrong all along in Syria…because it trusted Russia when they agreed with Washington that there was no military solution to the crisis. Those fucking Moskals, you can never trust them.

    Plainly, Moscow does believe there can be a military solution, and is pursuing it right now. Along with Bucket o’ Blood Assad, who is pulling out all the stops – he’s got yer barrel bombs, yer chlorine bombs, he’s got yer Willie Pete, it’s all falling on Aleppo like an evil rain, the people don’t know what to do or where to go. Word is, Assad’s goons have been seen on the outskirts setting up catapults, so they can loft the heads of dead rebel soldiers and their relatives and families over the walls, like in “Lord of the Rings”. All this, of course, courtesy of the White Helmets. They, too have been zeroed in on by Assad, it seems, with three White Helmets bases being targeted and two put out of action. This is astonishingly reminiscent of the titushki slashing the tires of all the ambulances in Kiev, during Maidan. But why not? they believed it then, they’ll believe it now.

    Utter self-serving rubbish from start to finish, but anything that lets America The Good preserve its faith in itself as the trustworthy partner who would never go back on a handshake agreement, whose only fault is a little bit of naivety in dealing with the unscrupulous.

    Washington plainly thought there was a military solution, too, back when ISIS had Assad pinned down in a shrinking enclave in Damascus. You didn’t hear any shit about a ceasefire then, did you? No, when you’ve got momentum, you have to maintain it. It’s only when you are losing that you cry for a cease-fire. As Russia has given up doing, because it’s not losing.

    • Patient Observer says:

      Not only is a military solution is possible, it can be proven by a simple mathematical formula:

      X= number of jihadists in Aleppo
      Y = number of jihadists killed by the SAA and allied forces

      When X-Y=0, a military solution has been obtained.

  9. Moscow Exile says:

    EU has granted visa-free travel for Yukies.

    Euro-brothels face crisis as whore price-war looms!

    • Moscow Exile says:

      President of the Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, who on September 26 had his 51st birthday, has already received the best gift for the celebration. That is what he called the decision of the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) to support the introduction of an EU visa-free regime for Ukrainians.

      See: Порошенко о решении комитета Европарламента по безвизовому режиму: Лучшего подарка на день рождения не стоит и ждать

    • marknesop says:

      This will be celebrated by Poroshenko as a great victory and the product of his talent, imagination and determination. But it is Europe that will be sorry.

      • Jen says:

        I am starting to think that one consequence of this visa-free travel regime extending to Ukraine will be Poland trying to batten down its own hatches against Ukrainian Nazis flooding into its south, and that there’ll be fighting, maybe even major fighting, between the two countries. Ukrainians are going to need a lot more metal spaghetti colander helmets, pitchforks and mammoth-slaying skills.

        • marknesop says:

          Ha, ha!! That mammoths thing just never gets old, does it? It inspired me to a frenetic bout of searching, and I finally discovered where I first brought that up; it was here, in the comments at RI, in my disagreement with Historically-Challenged Mia, back in February 2015. And here’s the original claim, from Right Sector leader Yaroslav Babych, in a sterling article full of visions of sugarplums dancing through Maidanite heads, courtesy of – surprise!! Peter Pomerantsev. And, finally, my reference for the disappearance of the mammoths 4000 years before the founding of Kievan Rus.

    • Jeremn says:

      “Next steps
      The committee also backed the opening of negotiations with the Council, by 38 to 5 , with a view to reaching a first reading agreement on the plans, and approved the composition of the negotiating team. Once the visa waiver is endorsed by Parliament and Council, Ukrainians who have a biometric passport will be able to enter the EU area without a visa for 90 days in any 180-day period, for business, tourist or family purposes.”

      But, yes, they are likely to back visa-free travel. They also look to back visa-free travel for Kosovo and Georgia.

      • et Al says:

        That’s a long road. ‘Agreeing to open negotiations’ is certainly not ‘giving visa free travel’. It won’t happen in the short term either and for Brussels is just another tool to encourage Kiev to seriously deal with corruption, judicial independence etc. etc. I mean come on, when did Brussels ever give anything free to Kiev except some fine words? You would at least expect them to pick up the bill, but even there it is done by sleight of hand and prezling the rules (IMF etc.).

        • Patient Observer says:

          Perhaps “dealing with corruption” needs further discussion. My take is that Kiev needs to align its corruption management policies with those approved by the EU. Corruption is at the heart of the EU, but being bureaucratic, corruption must be properly regulated.

      • marknesop says:

        Yes, that’s just what the EU needs – more Ukrainians in the EU for business. Considering it’s the most corrupt country in Europe.

  10. et Al says:

    British FM, Doris Johnson, says that Russia should be investigated for ‘double tap’ airstrikes and such ‘evidence collected’ for possible war crimes. Does he not know that the ‘double tap’ is widely employed by the Israeli Air Force and copied by the USAF? Clearly not. He (or is it someone else) is suggesting additional sanctions against Russia! So there you have it, final admittance of being a eunuch in a brothel! It seems to me that the (f)Atlantcists think they can counteract sanction fatigue by southern and central European states with this new reason. It smacks of little more than desperation coz they’ve got nothing, and they are going to get nothing.

  11. et Al says:

    AFP via Russia jails space engineer for 7 years for treason

    Russia has sentenced an elderly decorated space engineer and university instructor to seven years in prison for state treason, an official said Friday.

    Vladimir Lapygin was sentenced to seven years on charges of state treason, a spokesman for Moscow City Court told AFP, without giving details.

    “The verdict was pronounced on September 6,” he said, adding that the entire case was “top secret.”…

    …Russian media said Lapygin is in his late 70s and spent months under house arrest after his initial detention in May 2015. Lapygin was reportedly accused of giving Russian secrets to China…

    Topping up his pension or paranoia by the state? Just because Russia & China are best buds, doesn’t mean China isn’t interested in Russian tech. There have been other cases where it was claimed that only open sources of information was provided but you would think that anyone who has a defense related background would think twice about handing over any information and actually go and ask the authorities first. Edmund Pope the spy springs to mind. He also claimed he was innocently collecting information as a private person when he got busted.

    Edmond Pope (Russian: Эдмонд Поуп) – is a retired American intelligence officer-turned-“businessman”, convicted by a Russian court in 2000 for allegedly spying for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). He was sentenced to 20 years in prison for buying-up and smuggling classified military equipment out of the country as scrap metal.[1] Shortly in his prison term, Pope was pardoned by the newly elected Russian President Vladimir Putin. Pope has always maintained his innocence and continues to assert that the Russian authorities used him as a scapegoat for their broken system.[2]

    In the same interview with Larry King, however, he spoke of a plot by unspecified people in the U.S., as part of which Pope was being slowly poisoned in the Lefortovo Prison. Pope asserted that this was done with the hopes that he would eventually have to be transferred to a hospital, abducted on his way and smuggled out of the country; he claims that his representatives stopped the plot.

  12. et Al says:

    Sputnik Battle for Aleppo: US-Backed Rebels Shut Off Water for 1.5 Million Civilians

    …Kieran Dwyer, spokesman for the UN Children’s Rights & Emergency Relief Organization (UNICEF) explained that the Bab al-Nairab pumping station supplying rebel-held parts of Aleppo was allegedly damaged on Thursday and subsequent strikes rendered repairs impossible.

    “Then in retaliation for that attack a nearby pumping station that pumps water to the entire western part of the city – upwards to 1.5 million people – was deliberately switched off,” said Dwyer.

  13. Lyttenburgh says:

    Not a day without a Peremoga! After the blessed law of “Decommunisation” had been passed in the Ukraine, freed masses began destroying everything connected to the time of Moskal occupation. Now their victim became a statue of tyrant and usurper, St. Vladimir I, who came from Novgorod, killed his half brother (who have previously killed his own brother in order to unite southern Rus) and proclaimed himself the Grand Prince of Rus. VLDMR – KHLO! Lalalalala!

    Why are you so surprised, citizens? Did you really think that any of these laws were in fact about “condmening totalitatrian Soviet past”? Nope! They were/are always about ine thing – Russophobia. “Any Anti-Sovietist is Russophobe” (c)

  14. Special_sauce says:

    Watching the debate. Bout half hour in. Seems to be a contest in how best to jack over the rest of the planet so precious Merkins can have more jerbs.

    • marknesop says:

      I gave it a miss – press accounts will give the victory to Clinton no matter how it comes out, fawning over how statesmanlike and presidential she sounded and blabbering about her experience, so I can save myself the trouble. But if you wouldn’t mind, a short summary of impressions from someone who is not overcome by the inevitability of Clinton no matter what she’s done would be helpful.

      Every presidential candidate, for at least a brief window in the campaign, pretends to revere jobs above all other considerations, because relentless polling tells them it is a matter of major concern to the members of the electorate. And they remain interested when the monthly jobs report comes out, because it’s sort of a measure of how they’re doing, economically. But if you have a job yourself, and it’s a pretty damned good one – like when you call yourself the Clinton Foundation or whatever and then influence-peddle your way to a fortune – it’s hard to really stay interested on anything more than a purely abstract and academic level.

  15. marknesop says:

    The western press is in a frenzy of trying to bait, cajole, abuse or shame Obama into a unilateral American declaration of a no-fly zone in Syria. Richard Cohen at WaPo, who morphs into a comprehensive military tactician when duty calls – although his last actual service was two years in duration (US Army) 50 years ago – and was a tout for the invasion of Iraq, bleats that Obama’s do-nothing neglect is a humiliating spectacle of American weakness. I wanted to be sure to bookmark that one for Karl. He says it is the Nazis at Guernica all over again. Here’s a teaser;

    “Aleppo then is like Guernica, a place of carnage. It’s also a symbol of American weakness. The same Putin who mucks around in Syria has filched U.S. emails and barged into the U.S. election. He has kept Crimea and a hunk of Ukraine and may decide tomorrow that the Baltics, once Soviet, need liberating from liberation. He long ago sized up Obama: all brain, no muscle.”

    Fascinating on so many levels; this is one of America’s premiere newspapers. It’s an opinion column, of course, but he presents several allegations which are so breathtakingly stupid as to defy belief, as if they are facts. He picks up and amplifies Putin’s supposed avaricious eye on the Baltics although it is a complete trope with no evidence whatsoever to support it. He awards Russia possession of a piece of Ukraine additional to the repossessed Crimea. And he suggests that an American president who is more muscle than brain is desirable. Remarkable.

    In case you don’t like Cohen, but to ensure you get the message nonetheless, the Post’s Editorial Board (that’ll be conservative defender of the free world Fred Hiatt) blubbers agonizingly about bombs ‘raining down on Aleppo’ while the USA’s elected representatives just talk, talk, talk. The editorial insists, with no attempt to substantiate where it gets its figures (*cough* White Helmets *cough*) that hundreds of civilians have been killed and ‘as many as half’ are children.

    While WaPo moans and wails, Reuters weighs in:

    “Medical supplies were running out in eastern Aleppo, with victims pouring into barely functioning hospitals as Russia and its ally President Bashar al-Assad ignored Western pleas to stop the bombing of the last major urban area in opposition hands.”

    That’d be one of those ‘barely functioning hospitals in eastern Aleppo’ where we earlier saw the bearded chap grinning happily just before he realized the camera was on him, whereupon he pasted a suffering look on his mug and gripped his head, pretending to be wounded. This is all textbook push propaganda of the kind which has resulted in war after war with American ‘leadership’ in the last couple of decades, the same kind of manufactured outrage that pushed the USA into Iraq and Libya. The theme is the same across the reporting spectrum – we must act. There’s no time to sit down and think it through, we’ll do that later, when we have more time. But now, we must get in there and change the reality.

    It’s hard to say if America will fall for it again, as it has so many times in the past. On the face of it I would say no, but it’s unwise to underestimate the stimulating effect of calling Americans too cowardly to act. So far, it’s worked every time.

    • shargash says:

      The hypocrisy is breathtaking. This is coming from a country that vaulted to superpower status while carpet bombing civilian populations, including killing on the order of 1 million Japanese civilians after the Japanese had been trying to surrender. The Americans have bombed civilians and civilian infrastructure in every military operation since WWII.

      During the 2nd Gulf war, the military actually bragged about dropping a 1,000lb bomb on a night club to kill one of Saddam’s sons. The media uncritically reported it, despite the fact that Saddam’s son was a civilian, and that there was no military necessity, making it a blatant war crime. When the intelligence turned out to be wrong (Saddam’s son was not there), the media forgot all about it.

      Do not forget that none of this pearl clutching is being done for the people of Yemen.

      I expect Americans to fall for it again. Never underestimate the eternal sunshine of the spotless American mind. Cohen is right about one thing, however. It is a “humiliating spectacle of American weakness.” That is what gives me hope for future, rather than any hope that Americans will stop falling for this stuff.

      • marknesop says:

        Well said. I am working on a new post highlighting this hypocrisy, and I may borrow some of your references if that’s all right with you. I was thinking of the siege of Fallujah, but you’ve come up with some good stuff as well.

        • Jen says:

          “Never underestimate the eternal sunshine of the spotless American mind” … that’s a good title. Well done, Shargash.

        • shargash says:

          I don’t mind at all if you use my references though, I must say, there is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to examples of US hypocrisy.

  16. Moscow Exile says:

    Own up or he’ll shirt front someone?

    • Jen says:

      As a member of Porky Pig’s special advisory council, Abbott would say that.

      • marknesop says:

        An immediate attempt to discredit the evidence before the investigators see it was hardly unexpected. The west has a tremendous amount invested in Russia being found responsible, and that remains the likely result. If Kiev were assigned responsibility instead, international aid for it would evaporate as potential donors recalled its deliberate attempts to shift the blame elsewhere, which would be seen through hindsight as reprehensible.

    • Aristonicus says:

      That ‘evidence’ he refers to about the ‘Russian missile battery’ movement would be from a certain UK based couch potato, wouldn’t it? Rather than from credible sources…

  17. et Al says:

    EU Observer: Finland calls for ‘pragmatic’ EU defence cooperation

    Finland’s “pragmatic” blueprint for EU defence goes less far than Italian or French “visions”, while quietly designating Russia as a threat. ..

    …It said some of the new EU capabilities should target “hybrid threats”, referring to foreign states’ covert military operations, as well as economic and information warfare. …


    EU Observer: Italy lays out ‘vision’ of EU army

    Italy has laid out plans for the creation of a “European force” that goes beyond Franco-German proposals on defence integration…

    …It added that the force should be “permanently offered” to a new EU military HQ.

    It also envisaged even deeper military integration in the future, saying that “the EMF will represent the initial nucleus of a future European integrated force”. …

    …Italy said EU battlegroups should be more readily deployable and EU-funded.

    The ad-hoc, battalion-sized forces, made up of select EU states’ soldiers, have never seen action, in part, because capitals did not want to foot the bill. ..

    However they try to dress it up as some sort of victory for NATO, the Brits leaving the EU is anything but. EU nations will have to take more responsibility for their actions and not be able to continually palm it off to their citizens as being American allies. Independent EU military planning is a fundamental shift away from NATO as it is.

    What has been most surprising about this is the lack of outrage coming from the US, though a lot has changed in the decade since the EU last proposed its own planning office, sic the US recognizes it cannot pay for EU defense as well as its own. All that is left once the EU starts to pay for and asserts itself is US nuclear weapons on EU soil which the US wants to replace with new ‘civilian friendly’ B-61 mod 12 ones. The whole return of those ‘upgraded’ weapons will open up a whole can of domestic worms and political instability. What would it take, for example, for the EU to accept US nukes being stationed in Poland, the Balts and in Bulgaria & Romania, let alone if Germany and some other current nuclear holders refuse to take any?

  18. et Al says:

    EU Observer: Why Putin’s union doesn’t want to work with the EU

    By Sijbren de Jong

    …When the EU and Ukraine negotiated a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA), Russia raised a number of objections.

    According to Moscow, the treaty would cause the Russian market to be flooded with EU goods under the guise of Ukrainian products. Russia also alleged that EU technical and product standards, which Ukraine would have to adopt under the DCFTA, would then also apply to products made by Ukrainian enterprises that sell products to Russia.

    According to Russia this would harm bilateral trade, for which it should be compensated. Although presented as genuine, these objections were easily rebuffed. Goods exported to Ukraine from the EU and sold on to Russia would still be regarded as made in the EU under WTO rules, and thus subject to Russian import tariffs that apply to the EU.

    Moreover, technical standards would only apply to sales on the Ukrainian domestic market, or to the EU market, meaning Ukraine is free to produce for export to Russia according to Russian standards…

    I just posted this for a laugh. Brussels missed a trick by not employing Sijbren directly, a great loss of genius and great strategic thinking. Now back to his favorite song, “The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round…”

    • marknesop says:

      Fucking Sijbren de Jong. He just makes me so mad. It’s maddening to refute him because he is like the ocean looking for a breach in the dike – he just squirts through someplace else. Russia is not talking about EU goods sold on to Russia through Ukraine, but EU goods actually shipped deliberately to Ukraine from the EU to be knowingly relabeled as having originated in Ukraine. Don’t tell me that wouldn’t happen, and the WTO would be right there to insist that Russia accept them as Ukrainian goods. The only thing to do to prevent it is what Russia is currently doing – place a trade embargo against Ukraine and not accept its products unless the goods of foreign origin tariffs are applied. And that doesn’t hurt EU manufacturers as much ass it hurts ordinary Ukrainian farmers and tradesmen. But the EU doesn’t care about that, because its interests are strategic and people don’t count in strategic gains.

  19. et Al says:

    The Intercept via Trump, to the left of Obama, pledges not to use nuclear weapons first

    After Hillary Clinton attacked Donald Trump’s rhetoric on nuclear issues as reckless and dangerous, Trump pledged not to be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into a conflict. “I would certainly not do first strike,” Trump said. “Once the nuclear alternative happens, it’s over.”

    That may seem like common sense, but it’s actually a commitment that President Obama has been reluctant to make. The Pentagon argues that unless the U.S. is prepared to threaten a nuclear strike, it is less likely to deter Russian and Chinese aggression.

    Arms control advocates have been pushing President Obama to vow “no first use,” ironically in part to try and reign in a future president.

    Conclusion? Vote Hillary!

    • et Al says:

      Though on further inspection here:

      …Further on the nuclear issue, Trump presented Russia as a major nuclear threat, insisting that they have newer nuclear capabilities. He did, however, suggest he’s leaning toward the US never launching a nuclear first strike, but that he was loathe to “take anything off the table.”…

      • Northern Star says:

        Unless a “first strike” **comprehensively**annihilates the opponent’s abiliity to respond…it doesn’t really matter who strikes first…unless I’m missing something….ONE Russkie sub with a complement of MIRVED SLBMs could end life in North America as we know it…..

  20. Moscow Exile says:

    Not only does the German yellow press, as exemplified by Bild Zeitung (see above), go hammer and tongue relentlessly at wicked, evil, barbarian Russia and Putin, the thinking German’s “quality” press, such as Die Zeit (below), is no different in this respect:

    Wir kennen die Verantwortlichen

    Syriens Machthaber Assad und sein Gehilfe Putin bomben Aleppo in Staub und Asche.

    Die Weltgemeinschaft sieht zu. Das ist nicht mehr nur beschämend.

    Ein Kommentar von Andrea Backhaus


    We know who is responsible

    Syria ruler Assad and his helpmate Putin bomb Aleppo into dust and ashes. The world community is watching. This is nothing but shameful.

    A comment by Andrea Backhaus

  21. et Al says:

    PolitRussia bia FortRuss: Crimea’s Poklonskaya moves on to State Duma career

    …“Today I wrote a statement in order to be relieved of my duties as Prosecutor of the Republic of Crimea in connection with my election to State Duma,” RIA Novosti quotes Poklonskaya’s statement.

    According to her, her statement has already been sent to the General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation. “Insofar as I’ve already been elected a State Duma deputy, my powers are suspended and I am exempt from the duties of Prosecutor of the Republic of Crimea and an moving onto my elected office. My experience as a prosecutor will be kept, but I will work and fulfill my duties as a deputy, as this is an elected post,” Poklonskaya explained.

    At a congress of the United Russia party on June 27th, Russian Prime Minister and party chairman Dmitry Medvedev proposed to include Poklonskaya in the list of candidates for the State Duma. The Crimean prosecutor, in turn, reported that she would be ready to go to work in the lower house of parliament if elected…

    Oh yes! BTW, ‘poklon’ is Serbian/(s-c) for ‘present’. Indeed she is.

  22. Chinese American says:

    Check out this CNN “Global Headaches interactive quiz”:

    Gems include:
    -Would you support NATO in the face of Russian aggression? Complete with ominous graphics of Putin and bears (really). Choices: yes vs. maybe
    -Afghanistan is America’s longest war, but was it a mistake? Choices: no vs. maybe
    -Was it a good idea to remove Moammar Gadhafi? Choices: yes vs. maybe

  23. Northern Star says:
    As for super bug bacterial infections:
    Interesting how much of this work is occurring in Eastern Europe or Russia
    Besides there appear to be a number of articles of interest to Stooges in this INSERBIA net publication!!!!

  24. Cortes says:

    An article which may cast some much-needed light on the quiet (?!!!?) desperation underlying the foreign policy gyrations of Exceptionalandia:

    • Patient Observer says:

      Not to worry, FEMA will have free wi-fi and Caffè Americano at a detention center near you. Just walk right in, show proof of identity and you will have three squares every day and virtual reality helmets to while away the hours. You won’t be needing your car or home, the banks will take good care of them. The police will help you acclimatize to your new unencumbered lifestyle. It will be a wonderful life for the citizens of the exceptional nation.

    • marknesop says:

      It does indeed look grim. But as the article points out, it isn’t as if they have not been warned and warned and warned again. The thing is, I don’t think the US taxpayer is going to sit still for another round of bailouts. If there is even enough money in the kitty for that. And just printing more dollars is not going to work this time out.

      Jeez. Who would want to be president now? It’s no wonder all they can get to run is crooks and buffoons.

  25. Patient Observer says:

    This is good news indeed:

    According to SANA, the Syrian Army is now in control of al-Farafirah with sappers currently clearing the area from “mines and improvised explosive devices planted by terrorists.”

    “The army retook control of the entire al-Farafirah district northwest of the Aleppo citadel after neutralizing many terrorists. Units are now demining the area,” AFP quoted a military source as saying.

    After their retreat, the terrorists left munitions and weapons, including large-caliber machine guns, RIA Novosti reports, citing another source with knowledge of the matter.

    “We have been able for the first time in several years to move the front in Aleppo,” the Russian news agency’s source said.

    It added that the Syrian Army suffered no losses in the operation, which began in the early hours of Tuesday.

    The district of Al-Farafirah is located north-west of Aleppo’s main historical landmark, the Citadel – a large medieval fortified palace in the center of the old city. Syrian troops are also demining in other districts in Aleppo, including that of al-Ramusi.

    The area, liberated about three weeks ago, is considered extremely important since it is used by humanitarian convoys to deliver food and medicine to people in the war-ravaged city.

    The SAA is finding the solution to the military victory equation.

    A fact lost (or deliberately ignored) by Western “analysts” is that a military solution is quite feasible as a significant majority of the population supports the Syrian government. Once the foreign jihadists have either been destroyed or fled to Europe or wherever, Syria with a lot of help from China and Russia, can start to rebuild their nation. If the foregoing occurs, then the West has been defeated in a most significant way.

  26. Patient Observer says:

    “Barrel bombs” have been give a bad name by the MSM simply because the Syrian government uses them. However, the bomb seems to have less potential for collateral damage than, say, artillery or mortars or “hell cannons” mentioned below. Here is an alleged barrel bomb attack on some “rebels”:

    The bomb is dropped from a helicopter, presumably moving at a relatively low speed at a relatively low height. The crew likely has visual contact with the target. I would guess that the bomb would typically fall within 50-100 feet of the target giving it a near-precision level of accuracy.

    The insurgents use “hell cannons” which seem to have a random range and are typically fired blind.

    Of course, the MSM find nothing wrong with these weapons even thought they are purely for terror attacks.

    • marknesop says:

      The MSM found nothing wrong with barrel bombs, either, when the Israelis developed and used them before anyone else. Or when the Americans said, “Hey, that’s a shit-hot idea!” and used them against the Vietnamese.

      “The earliest known use of barrel bombs in their current form was by the Israeli military in 1948. The second known use of barrel bombs was by the US military in Vietnam in the late 1960s.”

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      Next time Free and Independent Western Media ™ starts screeching about “Assad and Putin killing innocent children” – look at these photos:

      • Moscow Exile says:

        CBS “Sixty Minutes”, May 12, 1996: former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on the expendability of certain children’s lives.

        What Russia is sponsoring and doing is not counter-terrorism, it is barbarism“, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, UN Security Council, Sunday, 25 September, 2016.


        • Moscow Exile says:

          The official spokeswoman of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maria Vladimirovna Zakharova (above left), on the speech made on Sunday, 25 September, at the UN Security Council by the US special UN representative, Samantha Power (above right):

          Постпред США при ООН, не найдя никакой иной аргументации, сравнила действия России в Сирии с варварскими. Я понимаю, что она сделала это для образности и в связи с отсутствием каких-либо фактов.

          Но даже если так. Ведь нужно же хоть сколько-нибудь знать мировую историю.

          1. Если рассуждать в историческом контексте, к варварам принадлежали и кельтские и славянские племена. Поэтому Саманта Пауэр не права, не причислив себя к ним.

          2.Если говорить об исторических параллелях, то Саманта Пауэр не права второй раз, потому что варвар — это тот, кто не принадлежит империи. Хотя… Учитывая, что империя сегодня лишь одна, и это не Россия…

          3. С точки зрения образности Саманта Пауэр не права третий раз, потому что ничего более варварского, чем Ирак и Ливия в исполнении Вашингтона мир в новейшей истории не видел.

          The US Permanent UN representative, having not found any other argument, compared Russian actions in Syria to those of barbarians. I realize that she did this for the sake of imagery and in the absence of any facts, but even so, one needs to know something about world history.

          1. If we consider things in a historical context, then both the Celtic and Slavic tribes were barbarians. Therefore, Samantha Power is wrong to not identify with them.

          2. If we talk about historical parallels, then Samantha Power is not right for a second time, because a barbarian is one who does not belong to an empire. However, one should take into account that there is only one empire today, and it is not Russia…

          3. From the point of view of imagery, Samantha Power is not right again, because in recent history the world has not seen anything more barbaric than Washington’s deeds in Iran and Libya.

          But, Samantha, do not stop: the more you talk, the less work there is for ‘Kremlin propaganda’.

          And now let us be serious. There are two reasons why the Americans are turning the Security Council into ‘Samantha Barbara.’

          The first is that Washington cannot fulfill the obligations it took upon itself in separating terrorists from ‘moderates’.

          The second is that Washington needs to divert attention away from the investigation of its strikes on Deir ez-Zor.

          Very well, Maria Vladimirovna, is this serious enough for you?

          See: Захарова: Слова постпреда США лучше всякой «кремлевской пропаганды».

          The words of the Permanent US UN representative are better than any “Kremlin propaganda”

      • Patient Observer says:

        Those children are suffering a fate worse than death.

  27. Jeremn says:

    A new Bulgarian Grad rocket launcher being used by the Free Syria Army (now the Free Idlib Army) against government positions around Aleppo. The irony of Bulgarian weapons shelling a populated area, while Bulgaria has to put up fences to stop migrants, is probably lost on the West.

    Seems to me that “Soviet” munitions are welcomed by the Syrian rebels because they can blame the Russians if anything goes wrong.

  28. Cortes says:

    The amazing unidentifiable destroyed hospitals of Aleppo, as “reported” on (from Beirut) by the Guardian:

  29. Patient Observer says:

    The empire strikes back:

    A Dutch-led team of international investigators has released its findings in the criminal probe on the MH17 crash, concluding the plane was shot down by rebels in eastern Ukraine by a Buk missile system brought from Russia. Moscow has repeatedly denied supplying weapons to the rebels.

    There you have it. Definitive, wrong and another shot in the Cold War II.

    • Fern says:

      Yes, the Dutch seem to have gone largely with the Bellingcat version. Still, they’ve performed their function – the report will be enough to get further sanctions against Russia on the table, Samantha Power’s head to come close to exploding with the indignity of having to sit on the UNSC with Vitaly Churkin, representative of the the barbarians, more largesse and probably weapons for Poroshenko to repel Russian aggression and keep the war in the Donbas going, provide a justification (sauce for the gander and all that) when those nice, cuddly ‘moderate’ rebels in Syria use US-supplied to Gulf Allies-for-barely-credible-deniability purposes, anti-aircraft weapons to down a Russian civilan jet and, most importantly, pave the way for Russian state assets to be seized anywhere and everywhere to provide compensation for the relatives of the victims. Not a bad day’s work, all-in-all.

      • marknesop says:

        “We have determined that the weapons came from the Russian Federation. Having established this, we do not make statements about the participation of the Russian Federation as a nation or people from the Russian Federation,” the official said.

        Well, there you go. He said it, and thereby established it. And that’s the official version that will stand forever, because any evidence introduced before or forever after the ‘establishment” of guilt will be Kremlin propaganda and conspiracy theory.

        Doesn’t matter, really, because Washington decided several years ago that Russia and the west were going to be existential enemies. And now they have their wish. There was little chance of a rapprochement between Russia and the west anyway, but now there is none. So be it.

    • Jeremn says:

      Yeah, they say they have ruled out the recent radar discovery from Russia (which only came to them). But still they also manage to say:

      The Russian Federation mentioned last week that they have found ‘new’ primary radar images. Based on those images the Russian Federation concludes also that there was no second airplane that could have shot down MH17.

      • marknesop says:

        They were always going to have this little triumph, and now they have it. It establishes another low-water mark in what the west will do to have its way, and sets a new record for collusion, in that it allows the murderers to sit in on the investigation and steer the analysis of evidence. I guess we will have to find another word for incredible.

        They also took the least likely explanation – that Russia sneaked a Buk in from its own territory, and then attempted to sneak it out again undetected, implying malice aforethought and that the shooting down of a civilian airliner was planned and deliberate. Russia would hardly sneak in a Buk just to shoot down an Antonov, and then run for it when they grasped the enormity of their horrific act. So I guess Russia did this just to gleefully tweak the west’s nose – it had no other motive, since it thereby brought righteous western sanctions down upon itself which arrested its economic progress. Why not – human life does not matter to Russians because they are savage barbarians.

        Thank God for observant and right-thinking citizens who reported seeing the escorted Buk convoy, and lazy-Ivan officers who regularly checked in on their mobile phones to provide an easily-traceable path across the country on their merry jape.

        I hate to say it, but this is exactly the sort of intolerable frame-up which inspires terrorism, added to the manufactured doping scandal and the constant demonization of the military operation in Syria.

        The report was probably finalized weeks ago. They certainly weren’t going to change it because of some last-minute evidence from Russia, and probably welcomed it since they could cast it as desperate wriggling to escape the noose, although they were happy to use it to disprove the fighter-plane theory.

    • marknesop says:

      Well, you knew they were going to say that. Poroshenko doesn’t have an advisory team lousy with former European Prime Ministers for nothing; European taxpayers’ money well-spent.

      • Jen says:

        Australian taxpayer money to keep Tony Abbott away from Australia while he tries to shirt-front something, anything that he knows does not have a black belt in judo, is money well-spent.

        BTW we won’t be part of Europe until Eurovision 2017 comes around, after which (if Australia wins the competition) we will probably be offered EU and NATO memberships.

    • cartman says:

      John Helmer has his analysis up. This part is important, since the Dutch “investigators” were basing their conclusions on recorded conversations provided by the SBU (such as the one that appeared on YouTube a day before the crash?)

      “Westerbeke acknowledged that all the telephone intercepts and wiretaps reported as evidence of Russian involvement in the reported missile operation originated from the Ukrainian secret service. Evidence of the missile movement, ground launch, and smoke trail from social media, photographs and videotapes, and purported witnesses presented at today’s JIT session have all appeared publicly before; much of it already discredited as fakes.”

    • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

      The lazy swamp monkeys should mail it back to two years ago when anyone remembered or cared about MH 17.

  30. Pingback: Seeing More of The Big Picture in Ukraine | EU: Ramshackle Empire

  31. Jeremn says:

    Video used in the JiT presentation on MH17. Watch all of it, if you can bear it. But look at the back of the low-loader platform at 03:31 exactly. The red upward ramps sudddenly disappear.

    This is proof of a fake. Good God.

    • et Al says:

      It’s fairly clear that Bell End’s Cat is just the medium to feed carefully doctored intel so that the United States doesn’t have to show its satellite recording of the launch, the one John Kerry said the US had but no-one has heard of since.

      On CNN this morning, John Kerry said the US actually observed the missile launch with satellite imagery and watched it hit the plane. And yet there were no assets in the area t the time of Benghazi – or at least that is what the Administration tells us. There was no drone in the air.

      • marknesop says:

        Yes, the US can make exorbitant claims now that the decision has been rendered, cut and dried, and it no longer has to show its evidence. Now Kerry can strut and whoop and beat his chest and say we saw this, we saw that. Nobody will ever know.

  32. et Al says:

    In other news, France & the US are throwing tantrums over Aleppo.

    Neuters via Daily Fail: France wants U.N. resolution on Aleppo, force Russia’s han

    France’s foreign minister said on Wednesday he was working to put forward a U.N. Security Council resolution for a ceasefire in the Syrian city of Aleppo, and that any country that opposed it would be deemed complicit in war crimes…

    …”At this very moment, we are proposing to discuss a resolution to obtain a ceasefire in Aleppo,” Ayrault said. “This resolution will leave everyone facing their responsibilities: those who don’t vote for it, risk being held responsible for complicity in war crimes.”…


    Sky Nudes: US threatens to cut contact with Moscow over Syria attacks

    …The State Department says Mr Kerry issued the ultimatum in a telephone call to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov…

    I”m always impressed with the French state, it can, with a straight face, squeal about human rights when it has left a blood bath in Libya and it institutionally allows mass discrimination against French citizens. Butter wouldn’t melt… unless it was with garlic and shove up their ass.

    As for Kerry, go ahead, fuck off. You don’t need Russia for anything. You’re doing quite well destroying your country all by yourselves, one dead black man at a time and your genius race to the bottom economics. Every time the United States ‘helps’ anyone, it leaves devastation in its path and is allies up to their armpits in sea of shit, but like l’Oreal would say, “because I”m worth it”.

    Still, it’s just words. If the Rubicon be crossed, it will be done fully and knowingly by the West.

    • marknesop says:

      It was Sarko l’Americain who decided to take the lead in Libya by airdropping weapons to the ‘rebel’ flip-flops without any discussion with the UN. But now the west is not to be denied in Syria – it will have Assad’s head, or it will know the reason why, and Russia will step aside and allow Islamic State to prevail, or else. Well, now is as good a time as any, I guess.

      • et Al says:

        It’s all part of the West’s ‘strategy’* of shaming Russia in to a cease-fire. That is how weak it is. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Not much else. As for Kerry, where will the US get its RD-180s if it cuts off relations? Such behavior will take sanctions to the next level that will hit Boeing, Airbus, ESA and all sorts of high value stuff that hasn’t yet been touched.

        * I’m being generous here as they seem to be incapable of looking beyond their noses)

        • et Al says:

          I should add that the God of the United States ‘The Market’, does not like surprises.

          • et Al says:

            O, it’s even more pathetic than it seems, ““[Kerry] informed the Foreign Minister that the United States is making preparations to suspend US-Russia bilateral engagement on Syria — including on the establishment of the Joint Implementation Center — unless Russia takes immediate steps to end the assault on Aleppo and restore the cessation of hostilities,”.

        • Jen says:

          The “ceasefire” or “cessation of hostilities” is now Western jargon for “no-fly zone”.

    • Chinese American says:

      Screw them. There is an old Chinese saying: “Will you stop plowing the fields, because the bugs are making a noise?” And as another famous Chinese once said, there is one place where political power comes from, and it ain’t the the mouths of the likes of Kerry.

      Keep on plowing them fields, I’d say.

  33. et Al says: Bill Introduced to Prohibit US First Use of Nuclear Weapons

    Sponsor: Giving President Unilateral Control Over Arsenal ‘Flatly Unconstitutional’

    Rep., Ted Lieu (D – CA) and Sen. Ed Markey (D – MA) have today introduced the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act, which would effectively ban the United States from launching nuclear first strikes against other countries…

    …Rep. Lieu did, however, take the position that this act was necessary in general, arguing that giving the president unilateral control over an arsenal that could end human civilization was “flatly unconstitutional.” It is as-yet-unclear how much support the bill has…

    Not having a ‘no first use’ is a sign of weakness, however you try to dress it up. Let’s see how far this will go as it was Obama who said he’d change America’s stance.

  34. Russia made another mistake back in 2014 when it handed the MH-17 wreck to the West. What Russia should have done is to keep all the evidence to itself and conduct its own investigation, denying the West any role in it.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      One small point that you may well not be aware of: the debris from the downed flight MH-17 was not on Russian sovereign territory and the Russian state had no jurisdiction whatsoever over what should be done with it.

      • Pro-Russian rebels controlled the territory and they would have handed the wreck over to Russia if Russia had asked that.

        Russia one again tried to play nice and got nothing good in return.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Pro-Russian some of the anti-government Donbas militia may well be, but the Donbas is not the Crimea and Russia did not and has never wished to annex it; for one thing, the majority of the citizens of the Donetsk province are probably neither “pro-Russian” or wish to that the province become part of the Russian federation.

        • marknesop says:

          Yes, I’m sure an investigation by Russia – which the west had already designated the prime suspect – of wreckage it controlled in secret and would not let the west see would have had all kinds of credibility. But you don’t think that either. You’re just trolling.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Skimming through the UK newspapers this morning, as well as the BBC, the Dutch MH-17 report seems not to have caused headline news.

            The Telegraph front page is dominated by a shock-horror football corruption scandal (I mean that big girl’s game with a round ball — what they like to call “soccer” outside the UK), the Independent has as its lead story the Congress veto on Obama, the BBC — the same. A far cry from when news of the downing broke and such headlines as “Putin’s Killed My Son!” screamed out from the British gutter press.

            And that’s not the distressed father’s son pictured next to the headline: it’s the British monarch’s great-grandson, George, whose parents are at present waving to Canadians,the child’s mother displaying, as ever, her inane, fixed grin.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              Mention of which grandson, William, has led me to discover this:

              Wicked, wicked Russians!!!!!

            • marknesop says:

              I rather like Kate; she seems quite down-to-earth thus far, and she certainly is a natural beauty despite her secondary function as a factory for Royal progeny. Or perhaps that is her primary function; I’m not sure. Yes, the Royal Couple were just in Victoria, I saw their photo gracing the front page of the Times-Communist (It’s actually called the Times-Colonist, but that’s the military’s little joke on how liberal and anti-military it frequently is). I can’t find the photo where they are doing their treetop walk (a suspended boardwalk), but most of the chatter here is about how Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the BC Union of Indian Chiefs (I didn’t realize there were so many of them that they had their own union) boycotted the much ballyhooed reconciliation ceremony, the cloddish aboriginal. I’m afraid I did not go in person to see them, but not because I was boycotting them – I simply forgot they were coming. They’re young, I’m sure there will be a next time.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                I think they are all just taking the piss:

                Alongside Katherine Windsor, neé Middleton (pictured above at the Royal Ascot races), is Chuck Windsor’s second wife, who styles herself as the Duchess of Cornwall, because “The Duke of Cornwall” is one of her husband’s many titles, including Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, Prince and Great Steward of Scotland and Prince of Wales.

                And here is Katherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, with the spouse of one of her brothers–in-law, the Duchess of Wessex. The Duke of Wessex is Prince Edward, the British monarch’s youngest offspring:

                I wonder what they seem to be constantly grinning about as they wave to the cheering crowds?

                “You stupid twats!” perhaps?

                • Jen says:

                  Maybe wearing silly white hats has the same effect on their brain functions and facial expressions as wearing white helmets did for that Syrian fellow trying to pretend he had a head injury and managing only a laugh instead.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Oh no, those are not hats that the two younger duchesses are wearing!

                  To be exact, they are called “hatinators” a combination of a “fascinator” and hat, thus:

                  Enough to make one grin with pleasure.

                  A “fascinator” is a tiny bit of head ware or headpiece.

                  Here’s another “royal” in a fascinator who is grinning like a cat that got all the cream, namely Princess Beatrice. one of the British monarch’s granddaughters.

                  She has no job or profession: she appears at public functions and grins and waves at the hoi-poloi.

    • Patient Observer says:

      Russia made another mistake back in … I should have stopped at that point but an irresistible curiosity to see the latest inanity kept me going. Yup, it was an inanity alright.

  35. Northern Star says:

    “The 2016 election campaign was dominated for many months by explosive popular disaffection with the whole political and corporate establishment. But it has concluded in a contest between two candidates who personify that establishment—one a billionaire from the criminal world of real-estate swindling, the other the consensus choice of the military-intelligence apparatus and Wall Street.
    This outcome has an objective character. The two-party system is a political monopoly of the capitalist class. Both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are political instruments of big business. The claims of Bernie Sanders and his pseudo-left apologists that it is possible to reform or pressure the Democrats—and even carry out a “political revolution” through it—have proven to be lies.”

    And of course….some warmonger gibberish from:

  36. Northern Star says:

    “The Senate’s top Democrat, Harry Reid of Nevada, predicted Tuesday Obama’s veto would not be sustained. If the House also overrides, the bill would become law. During his nearly two full terms in office, Obama has never had a veto overridden by Congress.”

  37. et Al says:

    Defense News: DCNS Delivers the Second Mistral-class Helicopter Carrier to the Egyptian Navy, the LHD Anwar El Sadat


    Russia has to seriously stop doing the French poissons rouges favors.

    • marknesop says:

      Why? The French lost a quarter of a billion euros on the sale to Egypt – after reimbursing Russia its payment – and then the Egyptians bought 46 Kamov helicopters to outfit their new carriers plus signed a bunch of other armaments deals with Russia.

      • et Al says:

        France got diplomatic cover and a very heavy discount. Your other points are well taken though.

      • Patient Observer says:

        Plus Russia will have lucrative parts/maintenance contracts and likely perform periodic refits. Also, Russia strengthened its ties to a country more important than US-occupied France.

        Russia will not be inclinded to spend another dime with Western defense contractors. Its a nice win/lose situation with Russia being the winner.

  38. Moscow Exile says:

    Proof positive of Russian perfidy!

    See: The US plans to impose economic sanctions against Russia because of the situation in Syria

    Well, “expert” Higgins seems to think it is damning proof of Russian barbarity.

    Just look at the damage that a Russian fragmentation bomb packed with 42kgs of high explosive and 15,000 / 6,900 metal balls of 8.75 / 11.9 mms. diameter can cause!

    • et al says:

      ME, you missed the photo also purportedly showing the hole it came in through in the roof, though the hole still has a steel rebar going right across it. I’ll repost it here for convenience and further dissemination.

      Sic Semper Tyranis: Bellingcat proves the Russians didn’t do it.

      By Patrick Armstrong

      The Bellingcat site has a piece entitled “Confirmed : Russian Bomb Remains Recovered from Syrian Red Crescent Aid Convoy Attack” which includes this picture as well as several others. You may look at the others, but this one picture is apodictic proof 1) that the Russians (or Syrians) didn’t do it and 2) that Bellingcat is a loyal servant of the Borg.

      He spends a lot of efforts to establish that the metal piece is the tail piece of a Russian-made OFAB 250-270 Fragmentation High Explosive Bomb. No argument there, I’m sure it is. Said bomb has 92kg of explosive. Which is quite a lot.

      If said bomb has exploded in this not very large room, all those cardboard boxes would be torn to pieces and burned. To say nothing of a lot more damage to the room itself. Therefore it did not explode in that room.

      If said bomb was a dud and did not explode, where is the rest of it? Therefore the bomb is not a dud.

      Therefore the bomb piece was put there to make it look as if the Russians had done it. (And not very competently either: note that it is supposed to have come through the ceiling and neatly placed itself underneath some undamaged cardboard boxes.)

      If it is necessary to produce a fake picture, then the Russians didn’t do it.


      And, as a bonus, by perpetrating this fraud, Bellingcat has also proved that he is a stooge of the war party.

      A lot to deduce from one photo, isn’t it? It used to be that it took more effort to disprove Bellingcat’s fakes. He’s losing his touch.

  39. Moscow Exile says:

    No “free speech” in Russia!

    A lone protest against supporters of an abortion ban.

    As far as I am aware, she was not arrested.

    Nevertheless, her right to express herself freely was somewhat limited as she chose to censor an obscenity written on her placard, which reads:

    My c♥nt — my business!

    Don’t climb into my body!

    See: А вот правда

  40. Moscow Exile says:

    I can hardly believe this!

    Ельцин-центр разместят в Москве со всеми удобствами
    В усадьбе Долгоруковых — Бобринских будет музей, библиотека, ресторан и каток

    A Yeltsin Centre with all the amenities is going to be situated in Moscow
    On the Dolgoruky — Bobrinsky estate there is going to be a museum, a library, a restaurant and an ice-rink

    Will such a scene as this(below) be re-enacted in Moscow?

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Forgot link again!

      Ельцин-центр разместят в Москве со всеми удобствами
      В усадьбе Долгоруковых — Бобринских будет музей, библиотека, ресторан и каток

      • et al says:

        I think this is about continuity. However bad Yelstin was for Russia, he is still part of its history and pretending he didn’t exist is not an option. It’s also a PR stunt to throw in the faces of PARNAS/kreakly/opps.

      • marknesop says:

        In his own way, Yeltsin was as important a figure in Russian history as Lenin or Stalin. Together with Gorbachev he marked the official turning-away of Russia from its traditional roots and the commencement of a lunatic adventure in liberal ‘free-market’ (a sardonic label, surely, as we have observed it to be anything but) engineering that brought the country to the brink of disaster. To downplay or render inconsequential this period is to risk repeating it. I agree the money could be better spent elsewhere, and it is probably wrong to create the appearance of glorifying Yeltsin (although I personally think that’s just Russia pulling the west’s leg). But in retrospect it doesn’t cost that much to give the hipsters a worthless icon to worship and the Russian people a grim reminder of how close they came to being just another western conquest.

  41. “8. Life expectancy. In 2010, the year Yanukovych was elected president, it was 70.2 years. In 2016, it’s 69.6. I’m having a hard time seeing that as an improvement.”
    Oh you’re such an old poop! The QUALITY of life has gone up because it’s much more European. (The European of Hitler, Quisling and Mussolini, perhaps, but undeniably European).

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