When I Fight Reality, Reality Always Wins.

Uncle Volodya says, "A stupid man's report of what a clever man says can never be accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.”

Uncle Volodya says, “A stupid man’s report of what a clever man says can never be accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.”

When I hear the phrase, “American rocker”, I frequently think of John Mellencamp. He started out in the 1970’s, professionally, as ‘John Cougar’ because his manager said nobody would ever buy a record by someone named John Mellencamp. Eventually, when he was well established in the music business, he went back to his birth name, after a brief transition period as ‘John Cougar Mellencamp’.

He seemed to me the quintessential American performer in the few interviews in which I saw him; although he does not come across as particularly well-educated, he is always honest, modest and direct, and…real, I guess. He still lives in the same Midwestern state where he was born, and dedicated much of his musical career to mild activism in support of American farmers, small-town life and the environment. If you were looking for an American star who is not a pretentious prick full of himself, but who reflects quiet dignity, self-awareness and what Americana beyond the delusional world of the Beltway is all about, I don’t think you could do much better than John Mellencamp.

I’ve never seen him play, although we were actually in the same city at the same time once; Norfolk, Virginia, in the early 80’s. I was only there for a couple of days, and by the time I heard about the show it was sold out.

But this post isn’t about John Mellencamp; we just want to borrow the lead-in from his “Authority Song”. When I fight authority, authority always wins, baby. In discussion of the situation in Ukraine, long-time commenter Yalensis proposed a slight rewrite to encompass the yawning chasm between Kiev’s happy talk of visa-free travel and Eurosnuggling, and the miserable penury that is the daily lot of Ukrainians who do not own a candy company, a TV station and assorted other business ventures. The new version would be, when I fight reality, reality always wins. And so it will, because you can only keep it at bay for so long.

The story that inspired his witticism was this one: “Natural Gas Shortage Will Cause Ukraine to Look to Russia”, in The Observer. That’s how it’s listed by search item, but for some unaccountable reason the headline on the actual story reads, “Russia is Hoping to Freeze Ukraine Into Submission”.

That so? Well, their hopes of doing that must have been temporarily dashed back in November, when Poroshenko assured the country that Ukraine had enough gas and coal to last through the winter. Bragged about it as just another of Ukraine-under-Poroshenko’s miraculous achievements, in fact. But who knew winter would still be going on in January, am I right? Must be climate change, or something.

I can’t speak to what the Russian state plans or thinks, but it seems to me if Russia wanted to freeze Ukraine into submission, it would refuse to sell it gas. It has demonstrably not done that, although it has insisted Ukraine pay up front for the gas it takes, since Ukraine has a habit of taking gas at an agreed price and then complaining that the cost is too high, and stiffed Russia on a $3 Billion loan that even western courts agreed was a sovereign debt for which Ukraine was liable. Kiev’s alternative plan was to buy gas from France, at about 20% higher costs than what it was offered by Gazprom. Who wouldn’t want a president with those economic chops at the wheel, right? Mind you, Yurrup keeps writing Poroshenko cheques to pay for gas, so what does he care how much it costs? European chances of ever recovering that money are somewhere between zero and nil decimal squat. And a major supplier of natural gas to France is Russia, whose sales to La Republique rose more than 27% in 2016 over 2015.

But let’s go back to the original article for a moment, because it said some alarming things. Chief among them is that Ukraine produces just a bit more than half the gas it uses each year, even though its consumption has dropped by three-quarters over what it was when Ukraine was the industrial heartland of the Soviet Union. Next is that that saving has come at a cost of the near-total collapse of Ukrainian industry.

So even with its remaining industry gasping for breath, Ukraine cannot supply anything like its own natural gas needs, and it must import significant volumes. It has a fat, jolly idiot at the helm who does not mind paying a 20% markup on gas just so he can say he didn’t get it from Russia. On that basis, Ukraine should achieve financial independence at just about the time Poroshenko’s great-great grandchildren corner the chocolate business on the moon.

On January 19, CEO of the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom Alexei Miller made an assumption that Ukraine had no more than 10.8 billion cubic meters of natural gas in her hubs. “There are still two and a half months of heating season ahead, and the demands on natural gas by Ukraine during this cold period causes our serious concern,” Mr. Miller said.

Yes, that does sound like the kind of comment someone might make who is hoping to freeze Ukraine into submission. Into submission to what, if I may ask? Does anyone think Russia, having taken the steps to bypass Ukraine as a transit country for its gas and successfully tested the capability, wants to take it on as a starving dependency with billions in damage from its years-long civil war?

Ukraine has about $15 Billion left in its treasury, reports The Observer, including aid money funneled in by the IMF. And that works out to be just about exactly what the country will have to come up with in 2017 to service its debt, according to The Economist.

Gosh: what to do? Well, Jérôme Ferrier and Florent Parmentier have a suggestion: it is astonishingly similar to Gazprom’s plan for the Turkish Stream interface with Europe – Russia would deliver gas to the border, and Europe would invest in Naftogaz’s Gas Transit System (GTS) (read, own it in everything but name) and “leave it up to the European Union to choose its preferred delivery points and volumes, rather than have delivery points imposed upon it, at the expense of Ukrainian interests.”

On the face of it, it sounds like a win/win, right? Russia would not have to pay transit fees – since its delivery point of responsibility would be the Ukraine border – and Ukraine would no longer be able to posture and prance and threaten using energy as…ummm….a weapon. Some sort of transit through Ukraine would prevail, only it would be the EU that had to deal with its hissy fits and drama, not Russia.

But there are a couple of flies in the ointment which make that solution impractical. One – the one nobody seems to want to talk about, which leads me to suppose few really grasp the true state of affairs – is the physical state of Ukraine’s GTS. I referenced an independent report on this blog some time ago, and although I can’t put my hand on it just now, it was horrifying in its description of how unsafe the pipeline network is and how much work would be required to bring it up to European standards. Two, according to the first commenter on the subject article, Russia plans to decommission the service to the Ukrainian GTS;

The Ukrainian route is also highly dependent on the Russian GTS connected to it, something the Russians are busy to decommission, and if the Russian GTS is no longer connected to the Ukrainian GTS then no matter how much you invest in the Ukrainian GTS it will become worthless.

I have to say, though, that the latter seems unlikely, especially as Russia will want to transit some gas through the network for Ukraine’s domestic use.

It would be precipitate to dismiss Ferrier’s musings out of hand, though; he is the former director of Total, the present President of l’Association Française du Gaz (AFG) and the honorary President of l’Union Internationale de l’Industrie du Gaz (IGU). With more than thirty years’ experience in the gas business, there’s probably not much about it he doesn’t know.

Which is why I found a couple of the points he made, in an interview in May 2015, of particular interest. Point one – and as we go through these, I’d like you to think of it in the framework of its implications for Ukraine – was that scenarios from the IEA show growth in the gas industry until 2035. You and I know forecasts that far out are just pie in the sky, as they depend on present conditions prevailing, but nonetheless, the gas industry is likely to remain dominant in the energy picture. Two, he assesses that “At the end of the day a captive buyer and captive seller will develop a strong relationship.” As an aside, but illustrative of the topic, he described Russia as a reliable supplier to Europe, with very few exceptions. Three, Ferrier is convinced that over 50% of commercial relations will continue to be vested in long-term contracts, and that the gas business is incompatible with a full spot market. Recall that Brussels (especially) and Washington have dedicated considerable effort toward forcing Russia into a full spot market using European hubs, which would greatly hamper its ability to set prices.

The Ferrier picture is not totally one-sided, of course; he also believes Europe should build more pipelines to Iran, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, and that ‘this is not the time for a 65 BCm pipeline’ (referring, at the time, to South Stream), and parrots the line that European gas consumption is decreasing. As I have frequently rebutted – yes, it is, but not as fast as European domestic supply is.

We’ll have to wait and see if Ukraine approaches Russia with a view to resuming gas purchases. If that happens, it might teach Kiev a lesson if Russia made up some reason why they couldn’t do it – sorry, I’d like to, but I’ve got a bone in my leg, something like that. Of course, it won’t, and it will simply strike an agreement as if all the prancing and face-pulling and insults never happened, because the Russian government is nothing if not pragmatic. The alternative is that Poroshenko has so tightly painted himself into a corner that he dares not pursue even the most businesslike and distant rapprochement, and will continue borrowing money Ukraine cannot ever afford to pay back to buy Russian gas from someone else at a higher price.


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1,466 Responses to When I Fight Reality, Reality Always Wins.

  1. marknesop says:

    Iraqi F-16’s bomb ISIS positions in Syria, with the negotiated permission of the elected Syrian government, marking official entry by Iraqi state forces into the war, on Syria’s side. Marko is convinced that the USA remains committed to a soft partition of Syria, with some carved off for the Kurds and some carved off for various ‘rebel’ factions. So far, that’s not going well.

  2. marknesop says:

    WADA update: In a letter sent to the International Federations (IF’s) 19 February, it was officially admitted that the findings of the McLaren Report might not meet a sufficient evidentiary standard for awarding sanctions against individual Russian athletes. However, there are a couple of other observations from that letter which are startling, to me.

    One: “It is already evident from the appeals filed against some International Federations provisional suspension decisions that the IOC decision will have to stand up to a strong legal challenge.” There are apparently some appeals already in the works which are making the IOC nervous, and I am curious why we haven’t heard anything about them or their potential to pin WADA to the wall (indirectly, since the IOC will inevitably blame them). Maybe I will see something like my cherished hope of these political games being disbanded.

    Two: “We have asked that, in the period leading up to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, every eligible Russian athlete undergo anti-doping tests with higher benchmarks than for athletes from other countries.” Ummm…what? And Russia is okay with this? Wouldn’t it look like an admission of guilt? And to what purpose? Does that mean the tests for other countries’ athletes are not good enough to catch sophisticated doping? Are you sure you want to make that public before the Games? Oh; too late.

    Three: “We are driving forward to establish an independent testing authority – independent from sports organisations and from national interests. The importance of this body being independent from national interests is demonstrated by recent decisions by national anti-doping organisations concerning athletes of the same nation.” Gee…I wonder who they’re talking about, a national anti-doping agency that protects its own athletes?

    Much will hinge on the Lausanne lab’s contention that it was never told to retain Russian samples and that they were routinely destroyed in accordance with established procedures, and whether WADA can prove that it told the lab to hold the samples before they had been destroyed. I’m betting they can’t, or they would already have done it.

    The bad news, though – three Russian athletes have already been cleared to compete as neutral athletes, which means if they medal, no credit can accrue to their country. It mentions further down, though; “The three accepted athletes’ right to compete is still subject to acceptance by themselves and competition organisers.” There is still a chance they will refuse, knowing the implications. You can kind of understand it, though, in the case of Sidorova, who is defending a European title which she will otherwise probably be bumped out of.

    • ucgsblog says:

      I’ve been following the news on WADA, and you know what’s really interesting? Not a single Russian men’s hockey player, (irrespective of where they play,) is required to undergo the more rigorous tests. Hmmm, interesting, wouldn’t you say? On the other hand Russian speed skaters, and female hockey players, might be hard hit. I wonder, do men’s hockey skates have magical WADA, excuse me, drug, repellent? Or is it because of the sheer amount of money that’s tied to performance of Russia’s hockey super stars, or perhaps Russia’s Hockey Federation de facto control of the IIHF’s World Championship Event? Men’s ice hockey is flagman of the of the Winter Olympics.

      “But UCG, Russia’s ice hockey has been sucking lately at the Olympics!”

      The ratings don’t care about that. All the ratings care about is to have Russia, the United States, Canada, Sweden – make it to the quarter finals. That’s what needed for the ratings. That’s all the ratings care about. Have those four teams made it? 2014 – yep. 2010 – yep. 2006 – yep. 2002 – all but Sweden, hence the talk of Belarus pwning Sweden. 1998 – yep. 1994 – yep. And the rest is irrelevant. That’s how ratings work.

      WADA can be a bad ass at harassing innocent women by banning Meldonium. But when they come up against multi-billion dollar organizations, they tend to WETTA their pants. And if they declare the Russians unfit, the NHL, KHL, and IIHF will explain to them what Real Justice is about. And one pair of pants won’t be enough, so it’ll definitely be entertaining to watch. And if WADA bans the women, but not the men, isn’t that gender based discrimination?

      I’ll just leave this tidbit here:

      Russian Hockey Players: “We want to participate in the 2002 Olympics!”
      NHL: “Of course, it’s very important to represent your country and to show the improvements you made in the NHL!”
      Russian Hockey Players: “We want to participate in the 2006 Olympics!”
      NHL: “You might get hurt in Italy, and all of these international sports might be bad, do you really have to? Let’s have a legal fight over it!”
      Russian Hockey Players: “We want to participate in the 2010 Olympics!”
      NHL: “Of course, it’s very important to represent your country and to show the improvements you made in the NHL!”
      Russian Hockey Players: “We want to participate in the 2014 Olympics!”
      NHL: “You want to go back to Russia, with dogs, and bad bathrooms, and Putin, and Gay Oppression?! WAAAA!!!”

      Now think about where the two Olympics that the NHL didn’t object to – were held. Which two countries? I’m getting popcorn.

    • Cortes says:

      The manufacturer of the magic sample containers will hold the key. Its commercial future is in jeopardy due to WADA’s hitherto unverifiable claims that those containers were able to be tampered with. At some point a court will be asked to make and determination. And award costs. Oh, and damages. Ideally in a forum with punitive damages.

      • Fern says:

        Cortes, exactly. I think we can safely assume that WADA has spent months and parted with huge sums of money to ‘consultants’, engineers, chemists, physicists, alchemists etc in the pursuit of opening those little sample bottles without the appearance of tampering and has failed to do so. And, of course, if the argument is that the FSB ‘magically’ did open them, then, obviously they can be opened and resealed without anyone being the wiser, leaving WADA/IOC to answer the difficult question of why they are still being used.

        • Cortes says:

          Fern: good point, but any court will be interested in the defender (WADA) producing robust, verifiable and replicable evidence of the tampering method. And then asking McLaren et al why such evidence wasn’t part of Reports 1 or 2. Although the company producing the sample containers will likely be the principal litigants, the individual athletes affected will pile in too.
          Here’s hoping the offspring of the major decision makers weren’t counting on big legacies, because by the time the court cases (yes, cases) are concluded, indicating lack of good faith, the personal accounts of some folks are going to look Micawberish.

  3. Moscow Exile says:

    У очередного актера-скакуна и киевского мигранта кончилось бабло

    Another actor-runaway and Kiev migrant has run out of loot

    They have begun to whine: having fled to the Ukraine, actor Gorbunov is yearning for work in Moscow.

    In Kiev actors earn kopeks compared with the fees they receive in Moscow. Having earlier refused to work in the Russian Federation and supported Kiev in its war in the Donbas, stage artist Aleksei Gorbunov has spoken about this in an ATR* TV transmission — Polititnavigator.

    In Gorbunov’s own words, having returned to Kiev following the worsening of relations between the Ukraine and Russia, it is as though he has come back to his impoverished student years.

    *ATR is targeted at Crimea Tatars and is now based in Kiev, having been closed down in the Crimea for not having registered with the authorities. When located in Crimea most of ATR programmes were in the Russian language (60%) with 35% in Crimean Tatar and 5% in Ukrainian — ME

    Yes, after having lived on a Moscow budget, it has been hard for me, of course, to get used to working for kopeks. I have had to start again from scratch and to reset everything to zero. The impression that I have is that I have come back to college for a third course. But I am at such an age that I understand what the meaning of life is — and it is not money. I have been through this before and I was lucky “, Gorbunov said.

    In 2015 Gorbunov starred in the TV series “The Guards”, which was in praise of members of the so-called ATO — the first Ukrainian volunteers who went to the Donbas in order to supress violently the uprising in Donetsk and Lugansk.

    The story-line of the film is fully consistent with Ukrainian state propaganda theses: in order to fight the “aggressor”, those who had previously fought on the Maidan and fellow militants signed up to join the the National Guard. Another Ukrainian actor also comes into the picture: Dmitri Stupka, who previously played roles in Russian films.

    At a concert in Kiev, Gorbunov also said that he gives financial support to the Ukrainian army fighting against the pro-Russian militias in the Donbas.

    As regards the funding of those who participate in Ukrainian punitive actions, this means financing terrorism. We should not forget that.

    • yalensis says:

      Translation correction:
      скакун = “jumper”

      When they call him an “actor-jumper” they are alluding to the “jumpers” on the Maidan.
      As in “He who does not jump is a Moscovite.”

  4. Moscow Exile says:

    Moscow police have said that 5 thousand people took part in the march.
    Recall that “Bely Schotchik”
    [“White Сounter”, a program for counting people on marches with the help of automatic video analysis — ME.] counted 15 [thousand].

    Aleksei Venediktov
    ‘Bely Schetchik’ — 15.2 thousand people on the “Nemtsov march”

    Venediktov of Ekho Moskvy: star grandad kreakl/stupid old cnut who, clearly, has very bad eyesight and/or is innumerate.

    Leonid Gozman
    The Nemtsov march went off remarkably well. According to my calculations, there turned up a minimum of 50 thousand like-minded people! We are starting a one-man picket.

    Gozman: president of Union of Right Forces. Formerly co-chair of the party Just Cause from 2008 to June 2011.

    The low-down on Leonid:

    Leonid Gozman (born July 13, 1950, Leningrad) graduated from the faculty of Psychology of Lomonosov MSU and was lecturing interpersonal relationships and political psychology at the social psychology department. In 1983 he became PhD in psychology and a head of laboratory for political psychology research in the MSU.

    1992: He met Yegor Gaidar and worked for him as an advisor. Since 1993 he has been a member of the choice of Russia movement.

    1993: He worked for Dickinson college (Carlisle, Pennsylvania, USA) and Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars (Washington)

    1994: He joined the Democratic Choice of Russia party

    1995: He took part in the State Duma elections as a candidate from Democratic Choice of Russia — United Democrats block.

    1996-1998: advisor to the head of the Staff of the President and first deputy prime-minister Anatoly Chubais

    1999: advisor to chairman of the board of directors of RAO Unified Energy System of Russia Chubais

    August 2000: he campaigns for the Union of Right Forces block

    2000: member of the board of RAO UES of Russia

    2001: He is elected member of the political board of the Union of Right Forces

    28 May 2005: he is elected the deputy head of the federal political board of the Union of Right Forces. At the elections to Moscow city council (of the 4th convocation) he was against coalition with Yabloko party

    26 September 2008: Gozman replaced Nikita Belykh as the head of the Union of Right Forces

    October 2008: he is appointed an advisor to Anatoly Chubais, the director general of Russian nanotechnology corporation Rusnano

    16 November 2008: at the founding conference he was elected co-chairman of the Right Cause political party.

    Gozman is an assosiate professor for the social psychology department of the faculty of Psychology of Lomonosov MSU. He authored 8 books, including Psychology of Emotional Relationships (1987) and Political Psychology (1996, together with psycologist Yelena Shestopal)

    Source: Russian Mafiozi

    What a splendid pedigree Leonid has!

  5. Moscow Exile says:

    The privatization in the ’90s is the greatest* action of expropriation in the history of mankind

    * Compare является самой крупной в истории человечества акций по экспроприации (above) [appears as the greatest action of expropriation in the history of mankind] with what Putin said in that frequently misquoted by Western liars and hacks speech of his made on April 5th 2001 to the Russian Federal Assembly, namely крушение Советского Союза было крупнейшей геополитической катастрофой века [the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geoplolitical disaster of the century — see Kremlin official translation].

    It is that самой in “самой крупной” that makes the difference, whereas Putin said крупнейшей in “крупнейшей геополитической катастрофой века“!

    Sergey Kara-Murza[quoted above] has become known for his anti-Globalization, anti-liberal and anti-Westernist views; however, he also rejects traditional Marxist ideology. He has sharply criticized the Russian economic reforms of the 1990s; he is in favour of a more collectivist economy. Having supported president Putin’s policies he is opposed to ‘colour revolutions’. Sergey Kara-Murza’s ideological views have been described as Russian “left-wing conservatism”Wiki

    Source: Февраль и Октябрь: юбилейные размышления

    Interesting video linked above, but, as the linked blog states, Sergey Kara-Murza is no orator.

    The first two comments to the clip read:

    — A conversation about nothing!

    — Yes, an inarticulate windbag.

    Unfortunately, there are no subtitles to the clip, but they are usually unintelligible in any case.

  6. Moscow Exile says:

    NO TO WAR!

    The same old same old:

    With “statuesque wife” as Ioffe always referred to her, which makes me suspect that Yulia Ioffe must be dwarfish.


    Navalny’s old pals: ultra nationalists.

    Dyomushkin founded the Slavic Union, which operated under that name until it was banned in 2010 on charges of extremism, which prompted Dyomushkin to reregister his movement as Slavic Power.

    Prosecutors said he and his pals promoted Nazi-like ideas.

    He has been arrested and charged many times for inciting racial hatred, but has so far managed to dodge convictions. Once, Dyomushkin was arrested for allegedly attending a party to celebrate Adolf Hitler’s birthday. He reportedly was found with Nazi paraphernalia, but he and his supporters deny those allegations. He is now under house arrest whilst under investigation.

    Dyomushkin must remain at his residence and not leave without permission from investigators. He is also banned from using all means of communication except in order to contact family members, lawyers, and officials from the correctional system.

    He has been charged for “inciting hatred or enmity” based on the content of articles he has hosted on his social networking sites.

    Dyomushkin was also an organizer of the Russian March, the right-wing nationalist event that Navalny used to attend and which has traditionally taken place on Nov. 4.

    He was also the leader of yet another nationalist political organization called “Russians”,’ also now banned as it was considered to be an extremist group.

    So why did they parade in memory of Nemtsov?

    And these people (below) and ther placards are causing some comment today here in the heart of Mordor:

    No words it says above.

    They believe they live in a “police state”.

    One such kreakl said that to me last week. I was about 10 minutes late for a meeting wih him as I had to turn back, having forgotten my passport.

    When he learnt of the reason for my being late, he said, “Yes, you need to carry your passport because you live in a police state”.

    I told him that in 25 years residence here, I have only twice been asked on the street by the cops to show my “papers”.

    The kreakl looked at me disbelievingly.

    So I added, “The reason I have to carry a passport with me is because global corporations, where I often work, insist that I show my passport in order to afford entry — and they want to see the original: no photocopies, because I think they ‘read’ the biometric data in it when they take my passport off me, it then remaining out of my sight, hidden by the reception desk frontage, before they hand it back”.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      From KP on numbers:


      “Komsomolskaya Pravda” journalists: for the March in memory of Boris Nemtsov there came about 7 thousand people, although the Interior Ministry has said there were about 5 thousand, and the organizers of the March — about 10-15 thousand. The truth likely in the middle.

      Many or few? At least half of what where there on the same March in memory of Nemtsov a year ago

      I know some who don’t give a fig for Nemtsov.

      When news broke of his murder, I said to Mrs. Exile, “Nemtsov’s been shot dead!”

      “Who’s Nemtsov?” she asked.

  7. et Al says:

    Euractiv: Southern Gas Corridor’s dubious contribution to energy security

    While proudly presenting the “Second report on the State of the Energy Union” earlier this month, European Commission Vice-President Maros Šefčovič did not forget to mention the so-called strategic importance of the Southern Gas Corridor. The 3,500 km long chain of pipelines that would stretch from Azerbaijan to Italy is the EU’s largest energy infrastructure project.

    But in light of recent developments, the rhetoric around this $45 billion project increasingly looks like a heap of blatant contradictions….

    …Yet, the Commission’s narrative lies on very unstable ground.

    A first red flag arrived when in October 2016 Russia and Turkey signed an agreement on the so called “Turkish Stream” and many foresaw Gazprom’s intention to connect this new pipeline to the SGC.

    Indeed, while expected to bring more Russian gas to Turkey through the Black Sea, the Turkish Stream‘s placement appears quite strategic: the last section of the pipeline would run up to Ipsala, just opposite the town of Kipoi, across the Greek border, where the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) and Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) – the two main sections of the SGC – are planned to connect.

    Gazprom itself confirmed the experts‘ guess, when its deputy chairman Alexander Medvedev officially announced the possibility to channel their gas through TAP on the occasion of a conference in Vienna in January 2017…

    More at the link and very little new to us Stooges.

  8. Moscow Exile says:

    DPR and LPR intend from March 1 to introduce external management at Ukrainian enterprises
    February 27, 10:08 updated: 27 Feb, 11:48

    DONETSK, February 27. /TASS/. The self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) on March 1 will impose external control on all workers in those republics at Ukrainian enterprises if the Donbas blockade is not lifted. This is stated in a joint statement of the heads of the republics, Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky, published on the website of Luganskinform.

    “We have to announce that if by 00:00 Wednesday (1 March 2017) the embargo is not lifted, we will introduce external management at all enterprises under Ukrainian jurisdiction and operating in the DPR and LPR. We will cease to supply coal to the Ukraine. For the supply of coal there is neither the capacity nor a scheme of payment”, the statement stresses.

    The heads of the republics reminded that the Ukraine, using radicals, has organized and continues a blockade of railway tracks and are threatening to blockade the roads connecting the Republic of Donbass with the Ukraine.

    “This directly contradicts the spirit and letter of the Minsk agreements and, in principle, characterizes the current leadership of the Ukraine as being unable to watch over what its citizens do. Many enterprises have been forced to stop their work as a result of the criminal actions of the Kiev authorities”, reads the statement.

    “We are going to restructure all production processes and orient them to the Russian market and that of other countries. This was one of our first promises at the time of the proclamation of our Republic”, it says in the joint statement of the heads of DPR and LPR.

    Expert opinion
    According to analyst Denis Denisov, the decision of the heads of the republics is logical, given the continued sabotage of the Minsk agreements by the Kiev economic blockade of the Donbas.

    The expert recalled that in the complex measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements, it clearly stipulates that the parties shall work to define the modalities of the full restoration of socio-economic relations.

    “Instead, the complete opposite to this can be observed from the Ukrainian side, in that it is in the process of moving towards a total economic blockade of the Donbas republics. Based on this, the statement of the heads of the DPR and the LPR look quite logical”, he stressed.

    According to Denisov, “the initiative for the introduction of external management of enterprises under Ukrainian jurisdiction is legitimate and likely to be in force until the fulfillment of the Minsk agreements”.

    The analyst notes that over the past few years Russia has become the main trading partner for the DPR and LPR. “In this context, it seems a perfectly adequate solution for the reorientation of the LPR and the DPR production towards the market of the Russian Federation as the unpredictable position of the Ukrainian side carries a threat for the normal functioning of the economies of the republics”, the expert believes.

    On the other hand, continues Denisov, “one can say that it is customary for the Ukraine to completely sabotage the Minsk agreement and advice on economic relations in particular, which, without any outside influence on the Ukraine, will make it impossible for constructive relations in the economic sphere and this issue will obviously remain unsresolved”.

    • marknesop says:

      Well, it sounds like a good plan, but they probably won’t be able to carry it through because Kiev is backed by the powerful west, while the DPR/LPR unfortunately chose a weak partner. I wish it were otherwise, really I do, but it’s not. It’s all over.

      Actually, I agree with the author that it is a logical move, since the writing was on the wall anyway. But it’s smart to do it this way because it calls attention to Kiev’s willful determination not to implement any part of the Minsk Agreements; and if it is not that it is Poroshenko powerless to do anything that might upset the Nazi radicals, which is just as sorry a state of affairs. The west’s only defense against this will be to not give it any press coverage and hope alternative sites do not pick it up; if they do, the mainstream press will blather that it is ‘fake news’.

      Declaring it will no longer sell coal to Kiev is a harder line than it might seem, because it means they will have to reconfigure or replace – at great expense – all their coal-fired plants, because they are designed to burn anthracite coal and cannot effectively burn anything else.

  9. et Al says:

    UNZ Review via Antiwar.com: Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia

    Pierre M. Sprey and Chuck Spinney

    The Nuclear Question is becoming increasingly obfuscated by spin and lobbying as the West sleepwalks into Cold War II — a walk made all the more dangerous when the loose lips of the U.S. tweeter-in-chief announced that another nuclear arms race is a great idea (see link and link). Two Cold War II issues are central and almost never addressed: What will be the Russians’ understanding of all the propaganda surrounding the Nuclear Question and the looming American defense spendup? And how might they act on this understanding?…

    Much more at the link.

    The only comments I would make is that Russia won’t get in to a ‘nuclear arms race’ with the USA. The whole ‘making the other side think you are crazy and much more powerful than you really are in order to hoodwink them in to bankrupting themselves on defense spending’ is sheer fantasy. Defensive countries, as Russia is, have a strong advantage militarily. It also has many thousands of tactical nuclear weapons that are not under any treaty limit, thought they are probably getting quite old by now.

    The other point is that there can be no sustainable security in Europe without Russia. The phat political phucs and NATO spox can squeak as much as they like, but their words do no a sandwich make. Excluding Russia from the European security system is far worse for ‘Europe’ than for Russia and only serves to further undermine Europe itself. Cutting its nose off despite its face, if you will. Dimwits.

    • marknesop says:

      The other other point is that this is how they broke the Soviet Union – by driving it into a spending race with a largely imaginary enemy. America does not have the money to embark on a quixotic pursuit of Total Unquestionable Global Military Domination, and the more it borrows the more precarious its financial position becomes. In the immortal words of the legendary warrior, George Dubya Bush, “My answer is, bring it on”.

  10. et Al says:

    Politico.com via Antiwar.com: House Intel chair: Trump-Russia investigation calls ‘almost like McCarthyism’

    House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, responding to calls for an independent investigation into contacts between Trump associates and Russia, said Saturday that the House would not engage in a “witch hunt” and that “at this point, there’s nothing there.”

    “This is almost like McCarthyism revisited,” the California Republican told reporters at the California Republican Party’s spring convention in Sacramento. “We’re going to go on a witch hunt against, against innocent Americans …?”

    Nunes’ remarks came after fellow California Rep. Darrell Issa called for a special prosecutor to oversee the investigation.

    “At this point, there’s nothing there,” Nunes said. “Once we begin to look at all the evidence, and if we find any American that had any contact with Russian agents or anybody affiliated with the Russian government, then we’ll be glad to, at that point, you know, subpoena those people before the House and let the legislative branch do its oversight and then we would recommend it over to, you know, the appropriate people.”

    He added, “But at this point … we can’t go on a witch hunt against the American people, any American people who have not had any contact, just because they appeared in a news story.”

  11. et Al says:

    NYT via Antiwar.com: U.S. Wary of Its New Neighbor in Djibouti: A Chinese Naval Base

    …Beyond surveillance concerns, United States officials, citing the billions of dollars in Chinese loans to Djibouti’s heavily indebted government, wonder about the long-term durability of an alliance that has served Washington well in its global fight against Islamic extremism…

    …“It’s a huge strategic development,” said Peter Dutton, professor of strategic studies at the Naval War College in Rhode Island, who has studied satellite imagery of the construction.

    “It’s naval power expansion for protecting commerce and China’s regional interests in the Horn of Africa,” Professor Dutton said. “This is what expansionary powers do. China has learned lessons from Britain of 200 years ago.”…

    …In interviews, Djiboutian officials expressed little concern that two strategic adversaries would be sharing space in a country the size of New Jersey. It helps that the Chinese are paying $20 million a year in rent on top of the billions they are spending to finance critical infrastructure, including ports and airports, a new rail line and a pipeline that will bring desperately needed drinking water from neighboring Ethiopia.

    Critics say the surge of loans, which amount to 60 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, raises concerns about China’s leverage over the Djibouti government should it fall behind on debt payments…

    Of course there is a simple point that the article misses out… having the Chinese there gives Djibouti options allowing it leverage against a pushy US. Most of the article is quite funny though. After all, actually building infrastructure and helping the country, rather than the usual western historical practice of paying cash directly to dictators, is painted as China imposing itself on the country and ‘bad’.

    • marknesop says:

      I said it before, and I’ll be happy to say it again – the single biggest strategic blunder Washington ever made was driving Russia and China into an alliance. If there was a single administrative brain inside the Beltway that is not addled, they would be working day and night to reverse it. But there’s little evidence they even see the implications yet of wedding a superior technological power to a manufacturing and production colossus with money burning a hole in its pocket.

  12. et Al says:

    AsiaTimes.com: Russia toughens stance on territorial dispute with Japan

    Russia has renewed its earlier hardline stance on the territorial feud with Japan over the Kuril Islands by announcing upcoming deployment of additional troops to the disputed islands…

    …On February 22, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu told parliamentary hearings in Moscow that the ministry planned to deploy an additional army division to the Kuril Islands later this year…

  13. ucgsblog says:

    Newsweek to Investors: “Don’t invest in Ukraine”
    Investors to Newsweek: “Duh!”

    Source: http://www.newsweek.com/nolan-peterson-why-ukraine-population-shrinking-559697

    There are two types of news, the news for the masses and the news for the classes. The second is usually hidden within the first, so you have to know how to find it. Newsweek cannot just come out and say “don’t invest in Ukraine” since that would mean that Newsweek is somehow supporting Putin. So let’s start with the really bad tidbits that investors look for:

    “In terms of the economy, this will put more and more pressure on the younger, working people to provide pensions for the retired people… Those who work will have to pay more… A 22 percent “salary fee” is currently deducted from Ukrainians’ incomes to pay for pensions.”

    Translation: Ukrainians working in Ukraine are subject to wasteful taxes of a corrupt government that will only increase, despite already being extremely high.

    “According to medical and economic studies of this trend, the life expectancy gender gap in the former Soviet Union is most commonly attributed to rampant alcoholism and a penchant for risky behavior among men.”

    Translation: Too risky to invest in, since most managers, including the country’s president, are alcoholics. You’ll note that this is followed by a bunch of largely irrelevant data. That’s to hide this tidbit. Calling the majority of Ukrainians – alcoholics, rather openly, is unpatriotic.

    “About 7 million Ukrainians died in WWII… By the end of 2016, Ukraine’s population had decreased by about 9.5 million from its 1993 peak”

    Translation: Worse than WWII, really, don’t fucking invest here, if you didn’t get the memo before, idiot. Note that the author had a choice whether or not to put the overall 9.5 million number, or to break it up into several smaller numbers, i.e. how much was “lost” when Crimea was Reclaimed, how much was lost under Yanukovich, etc.

    “According to a 2012 UNICEF study, 50.7 percent of all married Ukrainian women did not want a child in the next two years.”

    Again, even before DonBass, there was a Death Curve in Ukraine, a similar one that is being experienced by Japan. To investors this means that Ukrainian land will lose value, and is, therefore, worthless at current prices.

    Now you might be asking, why the fuck, as an investor, am I reading this article? What gives? Well, as they say in Wolf of Wall Street, a movie that you should all see, everything’s an opportunity to make money, and Ukraine is no exception, but the money will be made through emigration.

    “Consequently, many young Ukrainians, millennials in particular, have moved abroad in search of work, or would choose to do so if they had the opportunity.”

    Or would choose to do so if they had the opportunity. Translation: Ukrainians have hard workers, just like every population, who are totally fucked, so if you can get them into a relatively stable Eastern European country, like say, the Czech Republic, and employ them there, you have a nice, experienced, hard working, cheap labor force. And that’s why we read this. To hammer this point home:

    “This correspondent asked a group of high school students in Kiev if they would rather stay in Ukraine or move abroad. Only one student out of 17 preferred to live in Ukraine—he wanted to be a priest.”

    At this point you might wander – did Nolan Peterson really write this article? Perhaps, but I should note that out of the ten articles I saw on his page, only two talked about economics, and the statistics in the other article are few and far between. Odds are that Mr. Peterson was simply told what to include, and as for the rest, cannon fodder is just cannon fodder, no matter how you look at it. Then again, this is just my opinion, and I could be entirely wrong about the situation.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Heroes die at their post
      And not with whores on a bridge

      It rhymes in Russian.

      Sounds something like:

      Geroee geebnyt na pastu
      A nye s blyadyamee na mastu

      Be that as it may, he was brutally murdered, and that’s wrong.

      But to say he was a hero and should have been president etc. is nonesense.

      He had long been a political nonentity and was no threat to anybody that didn’t wear a skirt…

  14. Warren says:

    Published on 27 Feb 2017
    The slugfest and blood lust continue unabated. Trump and the media have one thing in common – contempt for the other. Also, the new administration’s foreign policy remains all over the place.
    CrossTalking with Mark Sleboda, Dmitry Babich, and Alex Christoforou.

  15. et Al says:

    Ex-PM of the UK and man of Gray, John Major made a speech on BREXIT:



    Blah, blah, blah., except for “..And – inevitably – there will be disagreements: the US wish to contain China and engage Russia; we wish to contain Russia and engage China…

    And therein you have the West’s idiocy all in one sentence! No wonder the issue of ‘mental health’ is all the rage…

  16. Warren says:

    The Brits hurrying to become German citizens

    The Brexit debate in the UK is focusing on the rights of EU migrants in the country, among them about 300,000 Germans. Many people are worried about what will happen to them after Brexit. But how are the 100,000 Brits in Germany feeling? The BBC’s Damien McGuinness says many are hurrying to apply for citizenship.


  17. Northern Star says:

    American Olympic rape artist…..and Coach!!!!!

    “COLORADO SPRINGS — The documents describing a coach’s sexual abuse of three aspiring Olympic athletes circulated through U.S. Olympic Committee headquarters in early 2014.

    It started in a hotel room in 2010, Yasmin Brown wrote. She was 16 and her taekwondo coach — Marc Gitelman, or “Master G” — was 44. Gitelman provided alcohol and suggested a game.

    A few minutes later, Brown collapsed on the bed. She felt his hand lift her shorts, then his lips on her thigh.

    Over the next three years, Brown wrote, her coach forced her to have sex dozens of times: at hotels before tournaments, at his studio, in his car. Brown’s letter was part of a packet that included letters from two other women alleging abuse by Gitelman, and a police report.

    Brown tried to get USA Taekwondo — the Olympic national governing body for the sport — to ban Gitelman from coaching, restricting his access to young athletes. USA Taekwondo officials believed her, court records show, but didn’t ban Gitelman out of fear of a lawsuit. So Brown asked the USOC for help.”

    So where is the outrage on this??


  18. yalensis says:

    My latest post is a movie review of “Birth Of A Nation”.
    A fictionalized account of the Nat Turner rebellion, starring Nate Parker and Aja Naomi King.

  19. Fern says:

    Alexander Mercouris’ take on the IOC and the McLaren Report:-

    “What is however by far the most interesting thing in the IOC’s letter is that it homes in on the growing doubts that the doping conspiracy in Russian sport which Professor McLaren claims to have uncovered was really state sponsored.  Here is what the IOC says about that

    The complexity of the Schmid Commission’s work is considerable since for instance, in his first interim report, Professor McLaren describes a “state sponsored system” whilst in the final full report in December he described an “institutional conspiracy.” The Commission will now have to consider what this change means and which individuals, organisations or government authorities may have been involved.’

    That looks to me like an implicit admission that the evidence points to the doping conspiracy being the work of Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of RUSADA, Russia’s formerly WADA approved dope testing lab, rather than anyone in the government.”

    Alexander finishes with a question

    “Innocent Russian athletes who were prevented from competing in the Rio Olympics and Paralympics would in that case have been the victims of Professor McLaren’s credulous belief in the alibi and cover story concocted by Dr. Rodchenkov, who would in that case be exposed as a big time criminal rather than (as Professor McLaren treats him) a courageous whistleblower.
    If that is indeed what happened, I wonder what Professor McLaren, WADA, the International Paralympic Committee, the IAAF, various Western athletes, and the Western media – all of whom bought into Dr. Rodchenkov’s stories – will all say.”

    that I think we all can answer. Western athletes will keep their heads down in case anyone wonders how they all manage to win medals while suffering from apparently serious medical conditions while western media will say nada. That particular caravan is already on the move – towards the 2018 World Cup. The BBC kicked off the latest propaganda campaign by running at least one programme on Russian football hooligans – no other country, of course, has problems with thuggish behaviour at sporting events. The Olympics are so last year.


    • Cortes says:

      The low rumbling on this whole matter leads me to suspect that the RF has been quietly getting all its ducks in a row before letting fly. Sir Wiggins has retired. I wonder if other asthmatic superstars are wheezing.

  20. Pavlo Svolochenko says:

    Read http://sharij.net , and follow on Facebook, and you’ll soon see that Ukrainian officials really do spend all day, every day making idiotic remarks.

  21. Moscow Exile says:

    “ВСУ хватит и месяца, чтобы очистить Донбасс”

    “A month is enough for the Ukraine armed forces to clear the Donbass”
    Yesterday, 19:14

    Another loud statement was made today by the Secretary of the National Security Council and Defense of the Ukraine, Oleksandr Turchynov – the one who signed the order about the beginning of the civil war in the Donbass. According to Turchynov, a month would be for the Ukrainian army to conquer the Donbas. The term “bloody pastor” is often used by the portal “Russian spring to refer to the NSDC Secretary:

    “Recent events on the front — in the fighting along Svetlodarsk and Avdeevki curve— has clearly shown that our army is much stronger than the hybrid one of these Russian troops. With the current balance of power, one month would be enough for us to completely clear theDonbass territory. We are destined to win. Unfortunately, this will not be a blitzkrieg. You need to understand that. You need to understand that we are not fighting against the separatists, not against an army corps of these fake republics of DPR and DPR: waging war against us is the Russian Empire with nuclear weapons and its huge army”.

    We have a friend in Jesus!

    Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!

  22. davidt says:

    Kirill’s explanation of the science underpinning climate change is the best that I have come across in a general blog, and I am prompted to ask whether he works in the area. (The one remark that I did not understand was his thought that the relationship between GDP and CO2 might reflect entropy- I have no idea what that means.) I assume, from what he said, that the reason the mathematical models did not reflect the empirical measurements well over the last 10 years was because of the unexpectedly high rate of carbon sequestration in the oceans. Freeman Dyson warns that too much confidence should not be placed on the mathematical models and makes a further point that climate scientists have been too intolerant of scientists who hold contrary opinions. I think that Dyson does well to make these two points. I remember, perhaps 40 years ago, when it was stated as a matter of fact that temperatures were dropping, that the arctic ice shelf was becoming thicker and that we were heading for a mini ice age. Contrary opinions were not well received. I bring this up now because Russian scientists at the “Antarctic Research Institute” think that the warming will be short lived.
    I think that they are mistaken, but in truth I do so ultimately because I prefer other authorities, and I found Kirill quite persuasive.

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