Flirting With Disaster

Uncle Volodya says, “It’s like when you make a move in chess and just as you take your finger off the piece, you see the mistake you’ve made, and there’s this panic because you don’t know yet the scale of disaster you’ve left yourself open to.”

…Speeding down the fast lane, honey
Playin’ from town to town;
The boys and I have been burnin’ it up, can’t seem to slow it down.
I’ve got the pedal to the floor, our lives are runnin’ faster,
Got our sights set straight ahead,
But ain’t sure what we’re after…

Molly Hatchet, from Flirting With Disaster

Any Darwin Awards fans out there? For those few who have never heard of them, the Darwin Awards celebrate those individuals who have rendered a significant service to mankind by taking themselves out of the global gene pool. In preparing to discuss today’s subject, I am reminded of unfortunate 1999 award-winner ‘James’ from Missouri, who became so fixated upon his love interest that he tried to lop off his own head with a chainsaw to demonstrate his commitment to an outcome on his terms. Although he was ultimately unsuccessful on both counts, he did fatally injure himself, and died in hospital. Ashes to ashes; dust to dust.

My intent today is to demonstrate clear destructive similarities between the above emotional decision and the equally simpleminded decision of the US Senate to impose further economic sanctions on Russia, this time explicitly tying them to penalizing of European companies which do business with Russia – moreover, in a clear attempt to stop the latter from proceeding with the Nord Stream II gas pipeline project. This, in turn, is clearly an attempt by the USA to make Europe a captive market for its own energy products, in the form of shipborne LNG. Significantly, that goal is also finally becoming clear to Europe; or at least to the parts of it that matter, such as Germany (thanks for the tip, James!)

Try to put aside, for the moment, the insufferable arrogance of American meddling in Europe’s energy market, with a view to restricting its choice while – laughably – pretending it is broadening European energy options.

The readers and commenters of this blog will be well aware, since it has been a topic of discussion for years here, that a critical underpinning of the western plan to seize Ukraine and wrest it into the western orbit was the premise that Russia would be forced by simple momentum to go along with it. As long as events continued to unfold too quickly to get ahead of, Russia would have to help supply the sinews of its own destruction. And a big part of that was the assumption that Russia would help to finance Ukraine’s transition to a powerful western fulcrum upon which to apply leverage against it, through continued trade with Ukraine and continued transit of Europe’s energy supply through Ukraine’s pipeline system.

But Russia slapped a trade embargo on most Ukrainian goods, and rescinded its tariff-free status as it became clear Brussels planned to use it to stovepipe European trade goods into the Russian market, through Ukraine – thus crushing domestic industries which would not be able to compete on economically-favourable terms. The armchair strategists nearly shit a brick when construction of the South Stream pipeline commenced, bypassing Ukraine and depriving it of about $2 billion annually in transit fees. But pressure ultimately forced Bulgaria to throw a wrench into the works, and the pipeline plans were shelved, to much victory dancing in the west. There was not quite as much happy-dancing in Bulgaria, but they were only ever a pawn anyway.

Sidebar for a moment, here; while the $2 Billion annually in transit fees is extremely important, Ukraine’s pre-crisis GDP was $163 Billion. The funds realized for transit fees are important because (a) Russia has to pay them and (b) the west will have to come up with the equivalent in aid if Ukraine loses out on them. But the real value intrinsic to Ukraine as a transit country is its physical reality as an interface for Russian gas transit to Europe – what is a bridge can be easily turned into a wall. Any time Washington thinks Russia needs some more shit on its face, Ukraine can be prodded to announce a doubling of its transit fees, or to kick off some other dispute which the popular press will adroitly spin to make Russia appear to be an unreliable supplier. Therefore, it is essential to western strategy that significant amounts of Russian gas continue to transit Ukraine. Sufficiently so that Europe continues to evolve ever-more-desperate contingency plans in order to keep receiving gas through the country which was known to have provoked the previous shutoff of European supplies by siphoning Europe-bound gas for its own use. That’s despite the assurances of Germany and western partners of Gazprom in the Nord Stream line that it will mean cheaper gas prices for Europe.

But we knew this was coming, didn’t we? Yes, we did, because as recently as last month, Democratic senator Jean Shaheen, who sits on the Senate Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on European Affairs, announced that the United States was considering involving itself in the Nord Stream II pipeline project, with a view to killing it stone dead. The purpose, as already mentioned, is to make way for LNG cargoes to Europe, cutting Russia out of the business, on the assumption that without energy sales the Russian economy will crumble and the country will collapse. Destroying Russia remains Washington’s overriding strategic objective.

So the stakes are high; high enough to provide context for Washington’s bizarre and aggressive behavior, and for its continued ridiculous insistence that Russia tampered with the 2016 US presidential election. What are the chances Washington will succeed with its latest adventure in global bullying?

Not good, according to multiple sources. Let’s take a look at how Platts views the prospects; Platts, a division of S&P Global, is headquartered in London and employs over 1,000 people in more than 15 offices worldwide. These include global business centers such as New York, Shanghai and Sao Paulo, and major energy centers such as Houston, Singapore and London, where Platts is based. Having hopefully established the firm’s credentials as someone who knows what they are talking about in the energy business, let’s see what Platts has to say about the potential American LNG market in Europe.

Mmmm….the review is mixed. At the outset, Platts is admiring of Cheniere Energy’s go-to-hell expansion. But a couple of things about that are cause to curb enthusiasm. One, only 8 American LNG cargoes had gone to Europe so far; that was as of April this year, when the report was released. Of those, 4 went to Spain, 3 to Portugal and 1 to Italy. Two, the Iberian Peninsula is acknowledged by Platts as not particularly significant in terms of gauging Europe’s welcome of American LNG.

“Indeed, the fact that Portugal and Spain were the first European countries to import LNG from the US is telling…The Iberian Peninsula is considered an “island market” with poor interconnection to the rest of Europe, so the delivery of US LNG into the region is not likely to be seen as a sign that it will take hold in the wider European market.”

The same passage points out that Russia does not supply the Iberian Peninsula with pipeline gas, and so is unlikely to be very concerned about the impact of US LNG on that market.

Three, Cheniere’s rapid expansion has come at a terrifying cost, and the company is currently – as of fall 2016 – overleveraged with approximately $20 Billion in long-term debt. It is unprofitable, with interest payments representing 60% of revenues, the living embodiment of ‘bicycle economics’; the second you stop pedaling, you crash.

For what it’s worth, few great business breakthroughs have occurred without risk, and while Cheniere is plunging ahead with what seems like recklessness, it could just as easily pay off with complete domination of the North American export market. That’s a hell of a debt load, though; not much margin for bad news. That does expose a flaw in the American strategy, as well – wrestling control of the European supply market from Russia would be frighteningly expensive.

Consider; apart from the ruinous expense of constructing LNG terminals and processing facilities and getting planning and development permission (which I imagine could be shortcut pretty quickly if such a juicy prospect as seizing control of the European market seemed an achievable possibility), you need tankers to ship your product. The average LNG tanker which can dock at most terminals (remember, the tanker has to be able to get to the terminal as well as berth alongside it, so you may need to dredge a channel all the way through a shallow harbour) can hold a little better than 3 Billion Cubic Feet (BcF) of natural gas, which is mostly methane. That equates to about .85 Billion Cubic Meters (BcM). But Europe uses about 400 BcM per year. That would be more than a full tanker cargo every day, assuming LNG could supply the whole European market, which is of course unrealistic. Especially considering the entire global LNG shipping fleet consists of about 410 vessels. No LNG carriers are currently registered under the US flag, and if the USA plans to be a serious exporter it is going to need about 100 new LNG carriers over the next 30 years, something which is frankly not practically achievable considering it takes about 2 years to build one, at a cost of about $200 Million apiece. Of course, miracles can be made to happen if you pour enough money into them. But we’ve already somewhat nervously mentioned how much all this is costing – how does the likely return on investment shape up?

Well, what the fuck? Platts comes right out and says that Russia has the option of cutting its prices to ensure it undercuts LNG costs in order to keep its share of the European market!

“Russia clearly does have the option to undercut the US LNG price to ensure it keeps its share of its key European markets and could flood the market with cheap gas, maximizing revenues and cash flow at a time when producers worldwide are suffering from the impact of such low prices.”

So, let me get this straight. All the attempts by the west, led as usual by Washington, to force energy prices down and keep them low…actually benefit Russia by putting the USA in an unacceptable profit/loss loop so that it cannot afford to sell its LNG to Europe and still make money? That appears to be pretty much how it shakes out.

“Russia, thanks to the bearish oil price environment and an enhanced export strategy from Gazprom, increased its exports to Europe by 15% (through the Nord Stream, Yamal, and Brotherhood pipelines) to 118 Bcm, taking back its place as Europe’s largest gas supplier in the process.”

Wait! I think I see a solution. All the USA needs to do is apply its global leverage to make energy costs rise!

“But US LNG could face problems of its own – the current low prices are forcing ever growing numbers of US producers into bankruptcy. According to a recent report by Haynes and Boone, 90 gas and oil producers in the US and Canada have filed for bankruptcy between January 2015 and the start of August 2016.”

Oh, hey; I just realized – if forcing energy prices back up were an option, how is that  going to hamstring an opponent who was already able to undercut you at the lower price, and still turn a profit?

Platts closes out this dismal synopsis with the consolation prize that, while US LNG is less competitive with pipeline gas given narrow Henry Hub-NBP spreads, it is coming to Europe regardless. More of that old American can-do. It will have to be, though, on what is described as a short-run marginal cost basis. Would you feel comfortable with that forecast if you were carrying, say, $20 Billion in debt?

And it’s not just Platts who sounds a warning; Forbes has a similar, if slightly more mocking outlook of the situation.

“Most of this is just political posturing and noise. The U.S. is not now and nor will it be in the near future a key resource for Europe’s energy needs…According to EIAs Annual Energy Outlook, published in April, the United States remains a net importer of fuels through 2040 in a low oil price scenario. In a high oil and gas price scenario, the United States becomes a net exporter of liquid fuels due to increased production by 2021. A lot can happen in seven years. By then, Exxon will likely be back to its deal with Rosneft in Russia’s Arctic Circle.”

As well, Forbes adds the interesting perspective that foreign sales of American gas will be a tough sell domestically if the pressure remains on the American leadership to achieve greater energy self-sufficiency and reduced dependence on foreign sources. This situation can only be exacerbated by a rise in anti-American sentiment around the world, and is likely to spike if energy prices rise. But if they stay low, American LNG exports won’t make any money. If they go up, pipeline gas will undercut LNG prices and make it noncompetitive. Jeez, we just seem to be going around in circles. Say, did you notice that little item in there, in which the author mentions the only possible way the USA could compete with Russia in the natural gas market in Europe would be if it had national rights to substantial supplies of gas abroad? Did that give your memory a little tickle, and make you think of Burisma Holdings, and Hunter Biden?

The Brookings Institute, for God’s sake, warned that US LNG could not compete price-wise before the first LNG cargo ever left the USA. Given its sympathies, it seems probable it was intended as a sobering restraint meant to keep the United States from doing something stupid that might expose it to failure and even ruin; it is much less likely to have been an endorsement of Russia’s global business practices.

As so often happens, an unhealthy fixation on taking down a largely imagined enemy results in increased risk-taking and a totally unrealistic appraisal of the likelihood of success – it becomes worth doing simply to be doing something. The costs in this instance have included the alienation and infuriating of Germany, the European Union’s anchor economy, and angry murmurs from the Gulf States that Washington negotiated production cuts simply to make its own product more competitive. All for nothing, as it happens, because a nation with surplus swing production can always undercut your price, and the nation with the world’s lowest production costs should be last on your list of “People I Want To Start A Price War With”.

If you were opposed to official Washington’s swaggering, bullying modus operandi, this whole unfolding of events probably seems pretty delicious to you. But I’ve saved the most delicious for last – Trump dares not make any effort to overrule the Senate vote, or get it reframed, because of the successful media campaign to portray him as Putin’s secret agent. Any effort to mollify Germany’s fury will be seized upon by the reality-challenged Democrats as an opportunity to further discredit the Trump government, by making it appear to be negotiating in Russia’s behalf.

You couldn’t make it up.

This entry was posted in Economy, Europe, Government, Investment, Politics, Russia, Strategy, Trade, Ukraine, Vladimir Putin and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

452 Responses to Flirting With Disaster

  1. yalensis says:

    Just posted latest installment on my series of posts about the International Ballet Competition at the Bolshoi which concluded last week.
    I think the story is starting to get good now.
    I’ll do some more with the Womak-Filin feud, then finish with some opinions about the current state of Russian theater.

  2. J.T. says:

    WaPo’s “big scoop” on alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election, brought to you with the help of everyone’s favorite Anonymous Sources:

    • yalensis says:

      My favorite comment from a poster called “Libertarian39” dated 6/23 7:45 AM:
      “Obama was just feckless. And it infected his entire administration.”

      There is a certain poetry and alliteration there, plus it’s just funny, although I don’t know if it was meant to be.

    • marknesop says:

      What ridiculous bullshit – all, as usual, without any attribution whatsoever, so that nobody can pin them down and say, “Did you actually say that?” “A source deep inside the Russian government” is usually code for somebody like Stas Belkovsky or Gleb Pavlovsky, fair-weather dissidents who will say anything for attention and perhaps a few bucks. American intelligence services are sufficiently good at coding that they can make anything look like it came from anywhere, and this is just another cheap attempt to make it look like Hillary really won the election, from the Democrats’ tame rag.

      Are they actually telling us that in a climate in which Russian hackers can roam at will through government networks, Hillary Clinton did official government business up to and including Top Secret on a private email server which was not even password-protected, despite warnings from State Department staffers, and the senior member of the American domestic intelligence servers recommended no charges against her after volumes of her emails surfaced in a massive leak? Emails whose content was demonstrated to be largely an accurate reflection of nefarious and unethical goings-on by the Democratic party?

      If Russia is so brilliant at ferreting out data in a foreign language which is explosive enough that it can throw the election to the candidate of Russia’s choice, well….what’s the American government to do? It’s amazing to think the world’s sole surviving superpower is so feeble in the cyberworld that it is utterly helpless before Russia’s evil skilz. Why can’t American hackers subvert and overthrow the Russian government by releasing explosive bombshells of unethical behaviour in its ranks? Because they’re just too innately good to stoop to that?n Spare me. It surely can’t be that there isn’t any.

      Nobody disputes that the information which was released regarding Team Clinton’s disgusting manipulations was true and accurate – there were no attempts by Wasserman-Shultz to pretend that she was framed, and she stepped down before she could be fired and was immediately given a position on Clinton’s campaign team. The entire effort is dedicated to making America believe it should have crowned Hillary Clinton President of the United States just to spite Vladimir Putin.

      • et Al says:

        Washington Examiner: Trump-Russia collusion fades from the media headlines

        …David Brooks, another columnist for the Times who spends his days Googling mental disorders to diagnose Trump with, admitted this week that it’s “striking how little evidence there is that any underlying crime occurred — that there was any actual collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and the Russians.”

        Axios journalist Mike Allen writes a daily newsletter widely read in Washington and on Friday he wrote that “No evidence of collusion has emerged,” which several leading Democrats have also publicly stated….

        …That comment came after Comey said that an entire New York Times report alleging “repeated contacts” between Trump and his associates with “senior Russian intelligence officials” was false.

        “In the main, it was not true,” Comey said of the Times report….

        …Liberal MSNBC host Chris Matthews said the theory held by Trump’s opponents that his campaign colluded with Russia “came apart” with Comey’s testimony…

        This is just the latest evolution of the Russia wot did it meme. Evidence that Trump is Putin’s puppet/blackmail etc. has run out of steam (and is now admitted) but the Russia angle is just too good to let go.

        • marknesop says:

          And so they just amp it up a couple of more notches, which is what you do when you have no evidence. Oh, everywhere except in court, of course. Maybe that’s the next step for Russia – take the west to court for defamation. At least Washington would have to admit it doesn’t have any proof, and that its supposed tracings of Russian links to hackings could very possibly have originated elsewhere. Not least of all, Russia would be able to introduce the angle that Hillary’s server was wide-open; a child could have hacked it, and the email disclosures all reported true information. How it looked on Clinton is not Russia’s problem, and if Americans and westerners in general prefer being lied to as long as they like what they hear, maybe it’s time to get that on the table.

  3. ucgsblog says:

    Putin Weaponized Sophistication!

  4. Moscow Exile says:

    МРАЧНЫЕ ТЕНИ ИСТОРИИ. Запад приготовил для России План «БАРБАРОССА-2»

    THE DARK SHADOWS OF HISTORY. The West has made a “BARBAROSSA-2” plan for Russia

    The previous, almost forgotten, threat of a third world war has become a topic of public discussion. Several times, especially in recent years, the U.S. and Russia have been on the verge of a military confrontation in Syria. Long before the events in the Ukraine, NATO has persistently and consistently been increasing its military potential at our border. What are the possible scenarios of a military conflict? It is necessary to think about this in order to prevent the inappropriate actions of our “Western partners”, who have never denied that Russia is “the main likely enemy”.

    The situation is so serious that the leadership of the United States has published a letter from our former compatriots, who now live and work in the United States: “We observe with growing alarm that the policy of the current leadership of the US and NATO has brought them to an extremely dangerous collision course with Russia and China. Distinguished, patriotic Americans, such as Paul Craig Roberts, Steven Cohen, Philip Giraldi, Ray McGovern and many others have issued warnings about an impending third world war. However, their voices have been almost completely drowned out by the noise of the media, full of unreliable and reality-distorting stories, according to which, and with complete lack of evidence, the Russian economy is supposedly falling apart and the Russian armed forces are allegedly weak. But we, aware of both Russian history and the current state of Russian society and the Russian armed forces, cannot swallow this lie. Now we feel that it is our duty, as Russians living in the United States, to warn the American people that they are being lied to and to tell them the truth. And the truth is this: If there is a war with Russia, then the United States will certainly be destroyed, and most of us shall perish …”

    “A direct military conflict between Russia and NATO can last no more than 10-20 days and will end with the capitulation of Moscow because of the impossibility of further resistance to the forces of the Alliance.” This is not the nonsense of a madhouse patient: this is from an interview in the Ukrainian magazine “Kraina” with the senior analyst of the US Defence Ministry in Russia, Lieutenant Colonel David Juberg. [For more on Juberg, see: TIMESHIGHEREDUCATION.ORG — ME] And this is far from the only opinion published in the media by quite informed experts.

    Military analyst V.Vasilecu from Romania, a country right in the front line of the NATO anti-Russian front, in the pages of the English-language analytical cente “Catechon” argues that the aggression of the US and its allies against Russia is not a delusional scenario. The US must at any cost stop Russia, which has been changing the American-centric status quo by its actions in Syria, and before that, in the Crimea and the Ukraine. In order to preserve its hegemony, the Americans are deliberately heading for a major war.

    In the opinion of Vasilescu, the main direction where the US will strike is in the he West. “The US does not plan to disembark in the Russian Far East: instead, as did Napoleon and Hitler, the US will seek to occupy Moscow, the strategically important capital of the country”, he sums up. According to him, the aim of Euromaidan was initially to create a convenient springboard for aggression against Russia. Lugansk, said the analyst, is only 600 kilometres from Moscow. However, the plan for American aggression was preventively foiled after the reunification of the Crimea with Russia and the creation of people’s republics in the East of the Ukraine…

    There’s much, much more at the blog linked at the very top.

    And these bastards below (and many others) are all for the liberation of Russia by the forces of all that is good in this world …

    • yalensis says:

      Yeah, unfortunately, I’m pretty sure it’s going to happen just like that. I have been saying for a while (predicting) that NATO will invade Russia by land. And probably just like that — from the West, in a straight line to Moscow. Following in the footsteps of Napoleon and Hitler.
      There is no other logical explanation for the ring of NATO bases around Russia, and the radar installations and the rabid propaganda war, and all that jazz.

      I predict, though, that NATO will receive a nasty surprise and be rudely rebuffed.
      And those Fifth Columnist compradores, which you show above, will be sorely disappointed and will not be appointed NATO Gauleters, despite their intimate dreams.
      Remember that America has not won a real war against a real foe, in decades. And there is a reason for that.

    • kirill says:

      Looks like the propaganda koolaid drinkers forgot about tactical nuclear weapons. No ground force can defend against them. Any massing of NATzO for an invasion will not get far. And I doubt that some sort of diffuse deployment would succeed since Russia could contain such a trick at its borders. In other words, to break through Russia’s borders NATzO will have to mass its forces and hence will be open to tactical nuclear strikes.

      Another possibility is that the stellar intellects in NATzO are trying to organize some sort of insurrection in Russia. This is their best chance at regime change. But I just don’t see it happening. Russia is into Banderastan and there are no UNA-UNSO type nutjobs infesting it. They can try and train some liberasts in the camps they have in the Baltics, but these militants will be mopped up faster than they can be deployed. Thanks to Putin, there FSB and other security agencies are not compromised and paralyzed. They will handle any NATzO proxies quite well. Ultimately, it would have to be the Russian people that would want regime change for any such ploy to work. And it just ain’t happening, no matter how much koolaid NATzO leaders drink.

      • marknesop says:

        NATO is in a terrible position to attack by any other means than an unalerted pre-emptive nuclear strike, and there is just too great a chance that a counterstrike would be launched even if Russia was pasted flat. As you say, large concentrations of troops and armor are easy targets for tactical nuclear strikes, and Russia has left nobody under any illusions as to whether it would use them to repel an invasion – of course it would. But NATO has never balked at sacrificing troops or equipment so that it can appear the victim, or so that a strawman democracy-is-the-victim meme can be raised, which compels the guardians of democracy to act.

        I would say that although the west appears to badly want a major war, it is just too unlikely they would be victorious without cost for them to try it. The USA has gotten itself so deeply in debt, plus the degradation its international reputation has suffered, that a vision of a catastrophic global war all fought on someone else’s turf must offer tempting memories of how the American homeland escaped two previous such wears unscathed, and was left in the de facto position of world leader. But that would be unlikely to happen again, and even the craziest Americans must know the country would pay a terrible price.

  5. et Al says:

    The Groaning Man: Cyber-attack on UK parliament: Russia is suspected culprit

    Fewer than 90 email accounts with weak passwords are believed to have been hacked in ‘sustained’ attack

    Ewen MacAskill and Rajeev Syal

    The Russian government is suspected of being behind a cyber-attack on parliament that breached dozens of email accounts belonging to MPs and peers.

    Although the investigation is at an early stage and the identity of those responsible may prove impossible to establish with absolute certainty, Moscow is deemed the most likely culprit….

    …A security source said: “It was a brute force attack. It appears to have been state-sponsored.”

    “The nature of cyber-attacks means it is notoriously difficult to attribute an incident to a specific actor.”

    MPs contacted by the Guardian said the immediate suspicion had fallen upon foreign governments such as Russia and North Korea, both of which have been accused of being behind hacking attempts in the UK before.

    In May, Russia was linked to the hacking of France’s computer systems during the presidential campaign, taking data from Emmanuel Macron’s campaign and leaking it to the public…

    Yes kids, it’s the Jews Russians again, like, coz, it had to be state sponsored as no-one else can do it (!) and some MP’s think so. What’s that about France? The head of France’s security services said that there was no evidence of Russian interference*, but why would the Guardian let pesky contradictory facts get in the way of a good smear job?

    * Independent: World heading towards ‘permanent cyber war’, France warns

    Head of cyber security agency says threat comes from other countries, criminals and extremists.

    Enjoy the linked story that says the Americans think they invented the sausage roll!

    • marknesop says:

      Let me ask you something – what is the immediate evidence of a ‘state-sponsored attack’? A bunch of ‘likes’ from Kremlin accounts? Seriously, what tells investigators that not only did the ‘hack’ – as westerners persist in calling the assault against email accounts with weak passwords – originate in Russia, it had the approval and support of the state government? There is absolutely no information which could be gleaned from available evidence which would tell you that. Moreover, what would be the immediate reaction of the British government to an accusation from Russia that its email accounts had been hacked and the metadata included a ‘please forward results to Downing Street”? That’s right; they would scream that it was a transparent fake and any clues which are too obvious are almost guaranteed to be planted. Western investigators insist on finding Cyrillic clues in metadata although Russians, like everyone else, code in English because English is the international language of programming and many file extensions will not work in any other language.

      What kind of ‘brute force attack’ do you need to compromise an email account with a weak password? I could do it, for fuck’s sake – when the login prompt comes up, try “Password”.

      The west is just fucking embarrassing, there’s no other way to say it, and I am extremely disappointed in the British because I thought they were a little smarter than the Americans.

  6. et Al says:

    Independent: Saudi Arabia donates $67 million to tackle cholera epidemic in Yemen

    More than 200,000 cases of cholera have broken out as Saudi Arabia wages war against Houthi rebels

    Ahhh! How sweet! Teh Saudis are drizzling some of their bum fluff over Yemen! We’ll that’ll protect them from war crimes investigations… I mean their Western allies will protect them. That the West covers for the KSA & Friends over their mass crimes against humanity really goes to show how totally morally, ethically corrupt the West has become. Not a shred of shame, but that is to be expected from money grubbing politicians who are the same the world over. What is inexcusable is the role of the media that is supposed to be a fundamental check on the power, perversion and corruption of the elected. Mostly absent. Got bills to pay, backs to scratch. It should all be a massive scandal, but…

  7. Pavlo Svolochenko says:

    ‘Ukrainian media starts propaganda for the dictatorship of Poroshenko on the model of the Roman Empire’

    There’s a certain physical likeness.

    • marknesop says:

      Makes you wonder why Eastern Ukrainians would pray for Putin to annex the region to the Russian Federation, dunnit? But apparently they do, at least according to NPR. I’m not sure how solid a source that is, though; the reporter’s naivete is actually a little touching.

      It’s my first time in the self-proclaimed republic in nearly three years because American journalists are rarely allowed inside. Just how normal everything looks here is striking.

      Mmmm. If it’s your second time here, how do you know what ‘normal’ looks like? What’s your frame of reference? And let’s just drop that ‘self-proclaimed republic’ shit, too, how about? Just to show you how stupid it sounds, show me a single republic anywhere in the world, now or in the past, which was designated an independent entity by some authority other than its own first. All republics are self-proclaimed, and continuing to refer to the DPR in that manner is a little like constantly saying ‘two-legged human’. Yes, humans with less than two legs exist, but I think you would have to agree that humans with two legs is the norm. Just as ‘self-proclaimed’ republics are the norm.

      The United States is a constitutional republic. It has a Declaration of Independence – alert, alert!! But nobody refers to it as a ‘self-proclaimed republic’, although it demonstrably is; what, did Mother England announce “You’re a republic – get thee gone, say I”? Hardly – England tried quite hard to hold onto it, in fact, and although my knowledge of the period is incomplete, I feel pretty safe wagering a modest sum that no American broadsheets of the day proclaimed the King’s right to kill Americans to ‘protect his country’. In fact, as I best remember it, Americans of the day and since were inordinately proud of disobeying the law and of breaking with the monarchy.

  8. As I predicted:

    The Spectator Index‏ @spectatorindex

    BREAKING: US-led coalition official says air incident prevention hotline between the US and Russia in Syria has been reactivated

  9. PaulR says:

    I’ve just published my own thoughts on the Washington Post’s latest ‘scoop’ discussed above. Read here:

  10. Pingback: RUSSIA & UKRAINE – Johnson’s Russia List table of contents :: JRL 2017-114 :: Monday, 19 June 2017 – Johnson's Russia List

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